New partners. New matchups. Smaller field. There should be plenty to talk about when the dust settles in Utah this weekend. Keep up with the action here!
Sunday, April 10th – Championship Sunday
6:443 pm EST (Gritty) – AL over Lea in 3 again. What more is there to say here.?
Catherine and Riley are the team that has given the most trouble to AL and Ben, but it’s not enough. They lose in 4. Riley showed all day he’s a monster. He isn’t quite enough of a monster when it comes to facing the number 1 male and female out there. Those are quality silver medals even if disappointing for Riley this weekend.
4:22 pm EST (Gritty) – A barn burner of a 5 gamer for the men’s final. The Johns brothers went up 2-0 and Riley/AJ almost made it all the way back. They were up 8-3 in the 5th before the Johns went on an 8-0 run to close it out. It is fascinating that Koller has now been the one partner with Newman that gives the Johns brothers the most trouble. Matt Wright is elite while AJ has been up and down in men’s this year, but there is something about AJ that works with Riley really well. Tensions were high in this match too. You have to wonder whether Riley wishes he had a few more AJ partnerships lined up.
2:24 pm EST (Gritty) – A really good match to start off the day with the Waters coming out on top over Lucy/Callie in 4. These teams are pretty tightly matched up but the Waters just look a bit better right now. Another thing that gets lost with Callie is that she really hasn’t figured out how to roll her backhand on balls out of the air. She can flip it straight on to initiate an attack but that is her weak spot. It gets exposed only against the best teams as she can’t punish you from there. And that Waters defence has becoming something that must be really annoying to play against.
I think I have come around on the video replay even if limited in pickleball. I have some thoughts that I may save for a takeaway but it’s probably good overall. There were 2 calls in that 3rd game and the replay takes out the frustration from the team that feels slighted.
Also, Tyson is not playing singles today due to illness. If it was almost anyone other than Tyson, I would question the withdrawal but Tyson is not one to withdraw unless there is something wrong.
Saturday, April 9th – Doubles
8:34 pm EST (Gritty) – The women’s day looked like it would be fun and did not disappoint. Barr and Stratman get the bronze. That’s a fun team to watch and they get a nice win over another surprise team in the bronze, Grechkina and Tereschenko. Barr continues to get wins as her women’s results are finally coming to fruition. Maybe it’s all thanks to her racquetball experience:
7:52 pm EST (Slim) – Jessie Irvine and Anna Bright fall to Lauren Stratman and Susannah Barr so both Catherine and Jessie fail to reach the medal matches in their first tournament apart.
7:40 pm EST (Slim) – Loong and Dawson take the bronze in men’s doubles ending an impressive run for Pesa and Daniel. I think Daniel is the biggest talent in the men’s game who doesn’t play pro tournaments regularly.
7:30 pm EST (Slim) – Not a promising start to the Parenteau/Jansen partnership as they get knocked out of the loser’s bracket by Tereschenko/Grechkina. It will be interesting to see how this partnership goes, if results don’t start coming fast.
Bright/Irvine went 3 against Smith/Kovolova and but could not get it done, as Smith/Kovolova advance to championship Sunday.
6:20 pm EST (Gritty) – Close but no cigar for Jansen/Parenteau in their first time out. Same result for Catherine but not without a fight. The Waters defence was really good today even though Leigh takes her sweet time getting up to the kitchen. These two keep rolling along.
Jay’s run at the triple bronze crown is thwarted by Pesa and Daniel, who had their best run in Red Rock last year too if memory serves correct. They are both very talented as I noted earlier in the day so you get up against them when they are hot and it is tough. Loong/Dawson in the bronze too after a convicing 15-7 win over Nunnery/Smith who end a disappointing day in a thinner field without a medal.
5:00 pm EST (Gritty) – The women’s top 4 matches are all set. Todd/Gayten-Leach did not give any trouble to Kovalova/Smith this time around. We’ll see if Jansen/Parenteau or Bright/Irvine can give any trouble to either of the top 2 seeds.
Johns brothers are into another Championship Sunday. Pretty easy road for them today. Koller/Newman are through as well after being pushed in game 2. It will be fun to see if they are able to give the Johns brothers any trouble tomorrow.
2:09 pm EST (Gritty) – The story continues to be Jay and Tyson’s inability to go deep into tournaments. Loong/Dawson is as grindy a matchup as it gets for them and it exposes their lack of elite weapons. We’ll continuing talking about it until the cows come home. There is not that much ability to create offence between them and when you have two guys on the other side who don’t give you much and/or have really good hands, it is an issue. And unfortunately, it’s not an issue that can easily be fixed.
Spencer Smith and Chuck Taylor lose their first match to Pesa Teoni and Daniel de la Rosa. Two guys who have success in pro draws, Taylor and Smith are not the most ideal fit together. Teoni and de la Rosa give teams trouble as there are a lot of weapons there. Not a fun matchup for anyone.
Friday, April 8th – Mixed
8:12 pm EST (Gritty) – In her first tournament after apparently receiving a break-up text from Catherine Parenteau, Jessie Irvine loses in the semi-finals to Parenteau/Newman but was able to come back to win a bronze with Jay Devilliers. It was a tight bronze match against Stratman/McGuffin, who continue to show good chemistry together, but they were able to pull away in game 3 after a couple of 12-10 splits in games 1 and 2. Jay and Jessie are still getting results, and they very easily could have been in Championship Sunday. Anna Leigh and Ben, of course, are back to the gold medal match and they will get the aforementioned Parenteau/Newman.
Otherwise, it was a pretty as expected day. None of Stratman/McGuffin, Koller/Smith or Kovalova/Nunnery were able to find a podium. Anna Bright is going to get there at some point but she isn’t there yet. I’m not as confident to say the same for Lea Jansen and Collin Johns as a duo, but they definitely looked better today from what I saw. It was their best run so far. It is hard not to demand results in this immediate world but it has only been a couple of months for them. If they are willing to work through the early struggles, there is a lot of upside between the two of them, especially with them both being able to train out of Austin together now.
3:25 pm EST (Gritty) – The semi-finals are set now. Anna Leigh/Ben will play Stratman/McGuffin after what has appeared to be a breezy first couple of matches for the pair, including against Bright/Loong. Nunnery hasn’t consistently had high end mixed partners for the most part and you do sometimes forget about the shot making ability he has. There were a number of backhands, both off the bounce and out of the air, that Nunnery took cross court all the way across Tyson’s body to the far sideline that he was able to keep in. He went to the well a couple too many times in game 3 though. McGuffin continues to be steady in mixed and, if you want to talk about shot making, Stratman can do a heck of a lot off that forehand wing of hers.
Parenteau/Newman will play Irvine/Devilliers after each team has also had a relatively straightforward run to the semis with wins over Jansen/Collin Johns and Sheehan-Dizon/Dawson respectively. They are playing right now and in game 1 of their match.
1:13 pm EST (Gritty) – Early mixed results are often quite interesting and today is no different. Anna Bright has played a number of really close matches the past two days and she is able to come through in another one. Bright/Loong get the win over Pat Smith/Leigh Waters 13-11 in the third. Their reward is Anna Leigh and Ben. At the bottom of the bracket, Sheehan-Dizon/Dawson get a very big win over Callie Smith/Koller, including a convincing 11-2 score in the third. That consistency with Smith/Koller is always a concern.
We noted the weird Dave Weinbach playing mixed pro in our opening so I would be remiss not to note a couple of good wins for the Badger today! Weinbach and Amy McDermott get a first round upset over the matching couple Grechkina/Newell and then go down to the losers bracket to beat Parris Todd/Warren Tamanaha. The Badger. Not washed yet!
Also, the Lucy/Rob and AL/Ben matchup is still in play. Lucy/Rob playing Lauren/Tyson is super interesting and hopefully we get to watch that one.
10:41 am EST (Gritty) – What we need in our lives with this draw is an AL/Ben and Lucy/Nunnery semi-final. I had them as my #5 mixed team but I also get why Slim left them out. Kovalova is really good and even though Rob has no mixed results to his name the partnership is intriguing. They should have two tough matches to get there though.
Thursday, April 7th – Singles
12:10 am EST (Gritty) – Quite the bronze. 3 game barn burner that Bright came out on top over Callie Smith. The ref overruled a Bright return that looked out at 7-9 but Callie was able to get match points at 10-9 (Bright had match points in game 2 when she was up 10-6 and lost). Some controversy with Bright serving 9-10 and Callie thought she had won the point, Bright got it back but Callie had started celebrating, Callie then finished the point after it came back and a hindrance was called. Callie seemed to be nodding in agreement when it was called but thought the rule was replay point off the hindrance. They gave the point to Anna for 10-10 and I had always thought that’s the rule, lost point not replay. Don Stanley came on court to confirm. I’m not a hindrance guy in general but by the rules it was the right call all around it seemed. Bright pulls it out 13-11. Some crazy matches today on the women’s side. Bright still getting more comfortable at the net but she looks better each time out.
7:43 pm EST (Gritty) – The women’s Championship Sunday is set. Surprise! It’s Anna Leigh and Lea again. Lauren Stratman had an upset win over Irina but got rolled by AL while Lea got through Callie fairly easily as well with a tighter game one. Parris Todd then proceeded to lose 15-3 to Callie on the loser’s side and you have to wonder how much energy she had left in the tank with those long first couple of games. Anna Bright versus Callie in the bronze would be fun to watch.
On the men’s side, Jay Devilliers secured bronze after beating Mario Barrientos 11-8, 11-4. Barrientos really is able to compete in these brackets. He has such a weird style but he makes it work somehow. Always competitive, he is a guy that I’ve had as a possibility in these fantasy drafts but never someone either of us has pulled the trigger on. He’s clearly someone to monitor and keep in mind going forward.
5:45 pm EST (Slim) – Parris Todd’s day so far has been 9-11, 12-10, 12-10, 11-13, 10-12. AL was up 7-1 in game one and Parris was up 7-0 in game 2. Not many can say they have legitimately pushed Anna Leigh for an entire match. It’s definitely not out of the realm to say Parris has the best ground strokes in the women’s game as she made Anna Leigh very uncomfortable to the point where she stopped coming to the net for a good chunk of the match. Todd is clearly not comfortable on the occasions she goes to the net and she needs to be more comfortable at the net to get to the next level. However, Todd continues to impress every time she’s out there. Unfortunate draw for her as that’s 5 long games to start off her day against really tough competition.
On the men’s side, Jay Devilliers is back into the bronze match after cruising through the backdraw. Barrientos will then play Tyler Loong who was able to push Ben Johns almost to the brink as well in game 2. He won game 1 and then found his way back in game 2 after being down 7-2. Loong ultimately lost game 2, 11-9, and then lost 11-2 in game 3, but he continues to show he still is able to hang at the top in singles while Ben continues to look vulnerable – tight squeeze line call from Ben at 7-8 against Tyler as well in game 2 at a very, very key moment.
3:07 pm EST (Gritty) – Quite a bit happening so far today. Ben and Tyson are both in the semi-finals. McGuffin had a particularly soft draw today and he’ll face FAD in the semis. The other semi will feature Tyler Loong, who had a big win over Jay Devilliers. You have to wonder if Loong has some extra motivation for the hometown PPA tournament. He came back after getting rolled in game 1. A noteworthy result on the men’s side was Julian Arnold losing to AJ Koller. Koller doesn’t take these singles draws too seriously anymore and has already withdrawn after losing to Ben Johns in his next match.
I see some stuff in our comments about the women’s singles seeding, particularly Bright and Todd playing one another round 1. Their result just came through with Parris Todd winning games 2 and 3, 12-10 and 12-10, but I don’t think this is intentional, even if it is odd that the two best non-PPA players have to face each other and then go against the unbeatable Anna Leigh. One of Jansen or Callie Smith should be into Championship Sunday no matter what as a result of this draw considering Irina and Lauren Stratman are also on AL’s side of the draw.
11:15 am EST (Gritty) – A little bit unfortunate that Todd and Bright face each other in round 1 with their reward being to get Anna Leigh Waters. Those are the breaks in these tourneys, especially for non-PPA players who do not have many points. This is just bad luck for Todd and Bright, and for the fans.