PPA Tour Tournament of Champions (TOC) – Live Random Thoughts

📸 @ppatour

How the mighty have fallen. Someone posted that 2022 TOC had over 1200 players registered. This year it is showing as 644 players registered. If you don’t know the history, TOC started as an invitation only to high level 5.0 players – before they were called pros. It started in Ogden then later moved to Brigham City. The next year they opened it up but still limited it to a certain level which I think was 5.0 — the highest at the time. Once more courts were built, they opened it up further to amateur players. It was one of the three majors before the PPA took it over last year.

NML Pickleball Podcast, Ep. 4, Fantasy Draft Preview for TOC

The drop in registration by almost 50%. I have seen lots of Facebook posts practically begging players to sign up for TOC. Notable pros that are missing are Ben and Collin Johns, who lost the gold match last year to Riley/Matt, Matt Wright, Anna Leigh Waters, Lucy Kovalova and the Johnson siblings.

I was surprised Ben did TOC in 2022 as on his defunct Freestyle Boys podcast he said it was just a park and didn’t have the cachet it originally had. Other pros have complained about the lack of eateries late at night if their match ended late. And traditionally, TOC didn’t have the private player’s lounge tent for the pros to get away/hide from their fans. I’ve heard this year that has been “corrected”. I’m surprised Ignatowich wants to go back because 2022 he struggled with the altitude.

We still get to watch plenty of pros. Dylan once again teams up with Daescu. They won gold at the 2022 APP Chicago against JW/Dekel. Many may not remember the Patrick Smith and Devilliers partnership anymore, but they are reunited for this tournament and I hear for a few more. We see Garnett with Alshon, which is intriguing as they are both promoted from MLP Challenger to MLP Premier so we’ll see how they do together and what their stacking plan is, if any. Tardio has snagged Dekel. For WD, the intriguing partnerships are Black/Bright and CP/Todd. Utahns will be screaming their heads off for Smith and Jones.

We are back in Utah so that means Championship Saturday! May the balls stay in and your lungs be filled (altitude).

Championship Saturday, August 19th

PPA has posted the order of play. Tyson has to play back to back doubles, MD then MXD. Catherine has to play back to back doubles too. So we get MD, MXD, WD, MS, WS unless something changes starting at noon EST time. We’ll see 2 new faces in the gold matches today: Tina Pisnik and Patrick Smith. No results shown for WD bronze. MXD bronze goes to Irvine/Newman after Navratil/Koop withdrew.

2:10 pm EST (Waggish) – MD: #1 Koller/Newman vs #7 Ignatowich/McGuffin. Quick game 1. McGuffin team got stuck on 4 while Newman team ran up to 10. Game 2 brings the fire with all players warmed up. At 8-4-2 with Riley serving, Riley sees a chance at an erne, he moves towards side of NVZ, hits the ball as he’s moving, then stands out of bounds poised while James gives him another ball to hit as an erne! It was so funny to watch that set-up and execute. It’s entertaining when players do antics like this. As in game 1, Newman team gets to 10 while McGuffin team got stuck at 4. Game 3 is different. McGuffin team have no problem immediately getting to 11 on their server 1. OMG! Riley never served. Tyson never served. That is going to be a huge demoralizer for Team Newman to overcome. Game 4 has a target front and center on Koller. Koller on left for some of game. If he doesn’t get dialed in, it won’t matter which side he’s on. After a few points and a clash in middle, Koller goes back to right. But another clash when Koller receives on left and runs to net. Team Newman take a badly needed time out with some stupid errors due to lack of being on the same page for whose play is it. I don’t know if Koller is trying to fool his opponents but he changes his hand position at the last second. He looks prepped and ready to hit the ball then changes. It is causing him a lot of errors. At 7-7, Ref appears to make Tyson remove some hangnails on his paddle edge-guard. We get the tie-break game 5 which has to favor team McGuffin as the winner of the last 2 games and the UEs coming from Koller. Ref didn’t seem to like the shirt Ignatowich was wearing for game 5 and he changed shirts after modeling the shirt for ref. It is one frequently worn by other Selkirk players so odd. It looked to have the required PPA logo on its back. The crowd is loudly cheering every time Tyson makes a good hit which is keeping Tyson and James fired up. Koller keeps getting into a defensive weak position that Tyson/James take advantage. Game 5 looked over long before match point for team McGuffin based on the body language of Riley/AJ. But at 4-10, team Newman able to reach 8. Great winning match point fight. (5-,4-,0,7,8) It looked like James had to throw up a few times after the match.

3:40 pm EST (Waggish) – MXD: #4 Parenteau/McGuffin vs #19 Tina Pisnik/Patrick Smith. Nothing flashy in this match. McGuffin and CP looked like their goal was to conserve energy. At end of game 2, Smith said he had a head-ache and taking a medical time-out. He is not cleared to continue. Retirement. (7,5,0)

5:25 pm EST (Waggish) – WD: #4 Parenteau/Todd vs #3 Smith/Jones. Match of 5 was changed to match of 3 due to weather. Close game 1. CP/Todd brought the speed-ups in game 2. Game 3 rain delay at 2-3. After rain delay, it is now match of 5. Team Parenteau finish off game 3 and easily take game 4 with deep serves and relentless aggression. (8-11,11-5,11-5,11-1). YT chat was on fire with how Todd belongs in PPA. At Atlanta Open in May, she got bronze with CP. At FL Open in March with AB, they lost in match preceding quarters to Lacy and Jade. Last fall, she got a bronze and a silver with AB.

WD Bronze was played. Bright/Black over Irvine/Jansen (7,7).

6:15 pm EST (Waggish) – MS: #2 McGuffin vs #4 Garnett. Rematch between these two. In the gold match in Orange County, San Clemente in June, McGuffin won. Game 1 gets tied at 6. McGuffin holds Garnett there with good use of angles and deep shots. In game 2, the tables are turned when Garnett employs those angles against a McGuffin who’s already played 8 games (5,2,1) today. It gets to 9-2 and here comes the Muffin man after a time-out. He ties it at 9! Like I’ve said before “Tyson’s time-outs are pure magic!”. The crowd has been for Tyson all day and he’s boosted by their energy. Multiple chances at game point for Garnett before Tyson ties it. And wins! This loss might haunt Garnett for a long time. Tyson gets his triple crown. (6,10) Well-played by both men.

6:45 pm EST (Waggish) – WS: #1 Parenteau vs #2 Devidze. Gold Rematch from Red Rock in southern Utah. Remember that one? Jansen said Devidze was playing with a delaminated paddle. The test came back clean. Parenteau won that one. Game 1, CP looks fresher than Salome. See that nice game point play from CP. Game 2, Salome coming to the net more and it is helping her. Tied at 5. Time-out at 7-5 puts new blood in Salome and she runs CP all around the court for a few rallies. But CP keeps the lead and wins (2,6). A triple crown for Catherine too!

6:58 pm EST – It wasn’t a great day of pickleball but it sure felt pretty good simply from the first match alone. The men’s final was one to remember as Newman/Koller and McGuffin/Ignatowich went 5 games. Down 2-0 in controlled fashion, McGuffin and Iggy just dug deep, didn’t switch anything up and trusted the process. Ignatowich on the left is so interesting and fits super well for Tyson who can counter bigger on his forehand on the left. It also provides Ignatowich with a steady hand as he gets more reps in men’s doubles. They may be regretting their choice to part ways.

The rest of the matches were kind of blah. The mixed final was expectedly flat and hopefully Pat Smith is okay with the concussion he suffered. The women’s final looked like it was going to be close but Todd/Parenteau took over after game 1. Tyson and Catherine secured their triple crowns with strong performances in singles.

Friday, August 18th – Doubles

1:10 pm EST (Waggish) – MXD QF 4 result: #19 Pisnik/Smith take down #22 Tardio/Black (4-,8,6) then go on to take down #14 Navratil/Koop (8,1). Navratil didn’t look very lively in that game 2. A Championship appearance for Pisnik/Smith has to be as much as a surprise for them as to their opponents that they battled through who are used to defeating Smith in mixed. Well done by them!

1:42 pm EST (Waggish) – MD (CC) #6 Loong/Patriquin vs #11 Garnett/Alshon – Garnett stacking left. Some really nice rallies in game 1, for example at 7-3-2. Game 2 had a good rally at 7-8-2. Garnett/Alshon looked good as a team but ran into a few stack unwind clashes. They win (3,7). Alshon with his controlled resets could turn into a good right side player if he embraced the role.
The stream viewership numbers are up and the CC stands are fuller from the previous days.

2:10 pm EST (Waggish) – (GS) #7 McGuffin/Ignatowich vs #10 Lange/Young Game 2 was 8-3 when DJ gets hot and tie at 8. They then get to game point, M/I tie at 10 then get their own game point. After a side-out, they win (2,10).

3:20 pm EST (Waggish) – #5 Tardio/Bar vs #12 Hewett/Navratil – Bar made it a match in game 2 but that’s all they got. Hewett/Navratil (3, 9-, 4).
#3 Tellez/Staksrud vs #14 Kento Tamaki/Ben Newell was a surprisingly close match. Newell team almost pulled off a win in game 2 with a tie at 10. (9,10)

4:00 pm EST (Waggish) – (CC QF 1) #1 Koller/Newman vs #8 Arnold/Wilson. The focused AJ is in the house today. Maybe playing against his cousin and his rival for Newman partnership has motivated him to pay attention and play smart. In game 2, Wilson plays left. At game point for Newman team, Arnold team gets back the serve and Arnold is on fire owning that middle, screaming when they tie it. Technical warning on Riley for hitting ball towards side after missing a shot. Koller continues to make errors when they get serve. Tied at 11, 12. Koller is clutch and they win! (6,12)
(GS QF 2) #2 Frazier/Daescu vs #7 McGuffin/Ignatowich. In game 2, Dylan switches to play left. Fairly close games but M/I win (9,8). It seemed awkward to watch Dylan play without JW.

4:50 pm EST (Waggish) – (CC QF 3) Devilliers/Smith vs Hewett/Navratil. Great play by both teams in game 2. It was very close until the last few points. Devilliers/Smith win! (6,7) I couldn’t help but remember when Jay talked about how difficult it was for him to sit across the kitchen table from his close friend Pat and tell him he was changing partners (to Tyson). It is great to see them do well together.

5:10 pm EST (Waggish) – (GS QF 4) #3 Tellez/Staksrud vs #11 Garnett/Alshon. Game 1 was about 30 minutes long! Very close and anyone’s game with tie at 10. Team Garnett takes it at 12. Game 2 was even longer and stayed close with S/T leading or tied. The opposing team didn’t seem to ever like a line call. Staksrud is disgusted with his missed shot at 9-8-2 and throws his paddle down on the court. But no TW. Team Staksrud get the serve back and make it game point. But the fight is by no means over and G/A get the serve back and get the 3 points for the win. (10,10) Game 2 was about 38 minutes long. Great match and I’m starting to think Garnett/Alshon will not disappoint but they face McIgnatowich in SF so we’ll see!

6:25 pm EST (Waggish) – GS QF #4 Parenteau/Todd vs #5 Kawamotos. Team CP struggled against Barr/Glozman and almost didn’t make it to the QF (5-,5,10). Team Kawamoto had 10-3 when CP/Todd seemed to figure out CP should be on the left. They get aggressive and attack. They tie at 10! Kawamotos get their chances but team CP keep them handcuffed. Both teams get to game point and eventually Team Kawamoto win at 13. Game 2 is dominated by team CP all the way. They hold Kawamotos to only 2 points until 2-8 where they are able to string some points together. Team Kawamoto make it to 8 before team CP wins. Game 3: By now, team CP knows what to do and they get it done despite the pushback from team Kawamoto. They are held at game point for about 7 minutes but team Kawamoto are not making much dent in their score. Team CP (11-,8, 5).

Other WD results: Brascia sisters beat Dizon/Schneemann (4,5) then get beat by Black/Bright in QF in an unbalanced game 1 and 2 to drive it to a close 3rd (2-,1,8). Pisnik/Koop beat Newell/Stratman (7,8) to make it to the QF against Smith/Jones. They easily win game 1 but run into a strong Callie in game 2. Game 3 looks like it is over when Pisnik/Koop stage an unexpected comeback from 2! They fall just short. Team Smith (1-,7,8)

8:00 pm EST (Waggish) – SF #1: #1 Koller/Newman vs #4 Devilliers/Smith
At 2-1-1 in second game, Pat takes a fall. He gets up and seems okay. But they take a time-out and Pat looks like he might be concerned about something with towel over his head then talking something over with Jay. He hit his head in the fall but it was after his back hit so less impact. There is a medical time-out. Play resumes with a medical professional watching the stream per Michelle – hmmm. I wonder how serious she is about that statement. 😮 We get a tight game 2 with ties and no-point serves. Team Newman get to game point then side-out. But they win next time. Game 3, team Newman lead 6-1 at end-change. Too many errors off Devilliers paddle preventing them from getting points. Team Newman win (8-,9,3). Newman still has a MXD SF to play against Tyson/CP – after Tyson’s MD SF.

9:10 pm EST (Waggish) – WD SF #1: #2 Black/Bright vs #3 Smith/Jones. Tyra stacking left. Game 1, Smith/Jones are down 4-10 and get all the way to 11-10 by dialing into their aggression. Team Smith take it at 14. About a 38 minute game. Game 2 was much shorter and Team Smith pull it off with loud support and boisterous energy from the home crowd. (12,7)

10:20 pm EST (Waggish) – MD SF 2: #7 Ignatowich/McGuffin vs #11 Garnett/Alshon. Game 1, Team Alshon lost a time-out at 0-1 on a ref ball in challenge. Doesn’t seem smart to risk a time-out loss so early in the game. Tyson stacking left. Their plan seems to be to target Garnett. Team McGuffin are very good at targeting the opponent’s feet. Team Garnett need to emulate plus realize the reach of James to attack out of the air. Connor is not winning the fire-fights with James, but he keeps trying that losing play. Alshon should pull him aside and whisper “reset”. Game 2, Team Garnett showing some better strategy. See great rally at 2-1-1 where McGuffin team gets the point for 3. Team McGuffin win. (6,3) Disappointing not to see Garnett/Alshon use their full toolbox, apply pressure, or use smart aggression. For example, Garnett and Alshon are both good at angles yet we saw little of that ability. They also didn’t use their speed for some shake and bakes. I’d estimate Garnett played at 70% and Alshon at 80%. Devilliers/Smith withdrew so Garnett/Alshon get bronze.

10:35 pm EST (Waggish) – Unlike MXD, no withdrawals in MD Bonus draw. Of course, no one was needing to conserve their energy/body for doubles day. So we find Rettenmaier/DAmato, Gabrielsen/Lanier, Cassidy/Weinbach, Duong/Beasley, Gingrich/Palm in the bonus draw. The winners were none of those teams. Kyle Koszuta/Augustus Ge defeated Austin Read/Eduardo Irizarry 15-4. In WD, we see a withdrawal by Newell/Stratman. Paige Miles/Sarah Pham defeat Sienna Susko/Dominique Canale 15-4.

11:15 pm EST (Waggish) – WD SF 2: #1 Irvine/Jansen vs #4 Parenteau/Todd. Close game 1 but team CP were the ones able to close the deal. Game 2 goes to team CP also (9,5). They had an easier wind side – going into the wind in game 2. Parris didn’t know until Sunday that she’d be at TOC. She got the call after CP’s original partner withdrew – which I think was Etta Wright. Irvine and CP will play in the MXD SF next. No word when they’ll do WD bronze but I would think it’d need to be Sunday unless Jansen/Irvine withdraw.

12:35 am EST (Waggish) – MXD SF 2: #1 Irvine/Newman vs #4 Parenteau/McGuffin. See good rally at 5-5-1 when McGuffin team serving. Tyson doing a good job moving Newman all over the court. Jessie is so attackable with how she holds her paddle close-in. Newman playing very aggressive takes game 2. Game 3, Jessie gets trapped into fire-fights that she can’t win. Painful to watch. Much of game 3 was watching Tyson at NVZ punching hard, fast balls at Jessie’s feet at baseline. Jessie’s return is high and Tyson does it again and again. Jessie would benefit from a closed stance to get more control on her returns. Newman team get their first point at 0-10. McGuffin team wins (6,9-,1) CP and Tyson each in 3 bracket matches on Championship Saturday.

1:10 am EST – 3 mixed matches and gender doubles all in one day to set up an expectedly unique Championship Saturday. Pat Smith and Tina Pisnik will undoubtedly be takeaways for us this week as both of them are not only into Saturday but were very close to bigger days in gender doubles, Pisnik with Koop and Smith with his ol’ buddy Jay Devilliers. Another takeaway obviously will have to be Tyson who will a chance at a legitimate triple crown. He played fantastic on the left with James Ignatowich and they basically made teams dink with Tyson cross-court while James mostly countered, attacked and dinked the ball straight on. Tyson is so gosh darn consistent over there and James’ counter ability is so high end, especially when he doesn’t have to worry about taking as much court.

Slim margins, as we always discuss, for Parenteau/Todd. They beat Glozman/Barr 12-10 in their first match and now they are into a Saturday final as the clear favorites. The day could have been very different for them but their easiest match came against Irvine/Jansen, who just have not gelled as a partnership and this might be near the end for them together depending on what they have committed to. Another close to over day for the Utah ladies, Allyce Jones and Callie Smith, as they were close to losing against Pisnik/Koop losing game 1, 11-1, and then going down 5-0 in game 2. Then down 10-4 in game 1 to a straight games win over Bright/Black. It seemed like the crowd was of assistance for Jones/Smith and they were more aggressive, figuring out that Black’s vulnerable away from that forehand pancake she likes to counter with so much. Another disappointing women’s result for Anna Bright.

Thursday, August 17th – Mixed

Brackets: The teams most likely to get to the upper half SF: #1 Irvine/Newman vs #4 Parenteau/McGuffin. Two players to watch out for due to recovery from injury is Dizon (concussion) playing with Arnold. If Dizon is fully recovered, they could make it to QF against Newman team and Rettenmaier (knee) playing with Schneemann.
Lower half SF: #2 Bright/Ignatowich vs #6 Staksrud/Jansen (#3 withdrawal). Staksrud/Jansen came close to winning the QF match against Newman siblings at Takeya. They should have an easier time of it in their QF but could face the new team of Tardio/Black. NML says David has withdrawn (#3 David/Wilson) so #14 Garnett/Tereschenko could sneak in an appearance in the SF.
Without Ben/ALW to worry about, these teams will be fired up to get a Gold! I expect the men will press extra hard.

1:40 pm EST (Waggish) – #16 Jade Kawamoto/Bar vs #17 Maggie Brascia/Patriquin. When playing against a quick as sand teenager like Patriquin, your movements may always seem slow. But Kawamoto/Bar seemed sluggish and no match for the quick hands of Patriquin. (7,3)
#13 Stratman/Tellez vs #20 Jackie Kawamoto/Alshon. Alshon’s team was a run-away train in game 1 with no points from their opponents. Tellez got them on the same track in game 2 and close game at 11-8. Game 3: Alshon blasted their way to 11. (0,8-,5).
#19 Tina Pisnik/Patrick Smith defeat Garnett/Tereschenko (9,1). That was Smith team first match after their round 1 team withdrew so good for them to play so strong in first match. They meet Lopez ?/Irizarry in QF who had a pass after the David/Wilson withdrawal.

News: NML said in the Takeya take-away comments: “Collin posted an update saying bruised Achilles and he expects to be good for the next KC event”. Currently, pbb shows Matt Wright as Ben’s partner.

2:05 pm EST (Waggish) – #19 Tina Pisnik/Patrick Smith defeat Garnett/Tereschenko (9,1). That was Smith team first match after their round 1 team withdrew so good for them to play so strong in first match. They meet Lopez ?/Irizarry in QF who had a pass after the David/Wilson withdrawal.
#4 Parenteau/McGuffin defeat #29 Philipps/Fought. Schneemann/Rettenmaier make it to QF after defeating DJ Young/Jillian Braverman (2,5-,3). Navratil/Koop also make to QF after defeat of Loong/Glozman in close games ( 9-,9,8).

UPSET ALERT! #31 Rachel Rohrabacher/Andrei Daescu defeat #2 Ignatowich/Bright (7,6). Match was not streamed but excellent results for Rohrabacher. Another upset is #25 Rianna Valdes/Rob Cassidy defeat #8 Susannah Barr/Koller (6,4-,6). They play Arnold/Dizon in QF after they narrowly won against Shick/Castillo (8,10).

4:00 pm EST (Waggish) – #23 Ackerman/Lange defeat #10 Jones/Hewett. See the body roll Jones does in game 2 at 8-6. Suddenly Lange starts fighting hard and they pull off a close win. Game 3 wasn’t even close. (3-,10,2). Frazier/Mary Brascia easily beat Ackerman/Lange (8,0).
Navratil/Koop easily beat Rohrabacher/Daescu. They tried Rohrabacher on both right and left. Her 2BH is super strong. Pisnik/Smith make it to QF over Lopez?/Irizarry (3,3). Tardio/Black takes 3 games to win over Newell/Spencer Smith (9,6-,7). Parenteau/McGuffin over Alshon/Jackie K. (7,10). Irvine/Newman beat Maggie Brascia/Patriquin (9,7). They play Arnold/Dizon in QF after their defeat of Cassidy/Valdes (8,7).

5:15 pm EST (Waggish) – GS Court: #22 Black/Tardio vs #6 Jansen/Staksrud QF. Game 1 did not disappoint. Black/Tardio looked very comfortable with each other and probably do play a lot together with the Florida crowd around Delray Beach/Boca. Jansen/Staksrud got to game point but Black/Tardio blew past them. Tardio’s hand speed continues to impress. And now he has more of the body movements to go with the hands. Black might be the queen of transition zone when it comes to returning drives with control and power both. Game 2: Tardio’s mistakes are adding up to a good lead for Staksrud’s team. With his record of mistakes, he should quit pressing so hard and let Black take more balls. Finally, a time-out at 6-3 (not clear who called it) but Black/Tardio aren’t discussing anything so I guess no change in game plan, which may show lack of experience on Tardio’s part on how to adapt. Tardio hasn’t caught on that Lea and Staksrud continuously go to his BH or right hip. Not a pretty game 2 with only 3 points for Black/Tardio. Game 3: see point at 2-4 that led to 5 for Black/Tardio – great partner coverage from both teams. Black/Tardio played game 3 as if game 2 never happened — good mental ability not to dwell on it. It’s 9-4 for them but some long dinking rallies with some speed-up finishes help Staksrud team. But not enough and Black/Tardio get to QF against Pisnik/Smith. (10,3-,6)

CC Court: QF 1 result: #1 Irvine/Newman defeat #9 Dizon/Arnold. Game 2 was a close one and looked like it should be going to a game 3 but Newman team pulled it off. (4,8). #5 Smith/Devilliers over #12 Schneemann/Rettenmaier (10-,6,2). They play CP/Tyson in QF.

6:25 pm EST (Waggish) – QF 2 result: #7 Frazier/Mary Brascia vs #15 Navratil/Koop. Game 2 ties at 6. But Zane looks like he’s slightly limping, possibly cramping? They manage to get to game point where it gets tied. Zane manages to get the win despite his impairment! Game 3: Very close game and Zane moving better. Mary missing easy shots. Dylan seems too passive about constructing points. Zane’s team wins (6-,10,9)

7:40 pm EST (Waggish) – QF 3 result: #5 Smith/Devilliers vs #4 Parenteau/McGuffin. Game 1 was well-played and close. We got to see Jay go down on his knee to do a scorpion. Game 2 was a blow-out for Team McGuffin with only 1 point earned by Team Devilliers at game point. Game 3 had Jay playing out of his mind at times in the first 6 points. Ties at 8 – anyone’s to take. We see a finger wag from Devillier at CP. Team McGuffin win ((8-,1,8). There were times in the games when McGuffin went off court and I’m not sure CP even noticed – she had it covered. Amazing focus by her. Some high caliber play by all players.

8:30 pm EST (Waggish) – On wind delay (which I’ll talk about later). I looked at the Bonus Draw bracket. Most of the pros who lost in their first match withdrew. But Hewett and Jones ground it out and won bronze. They went 7,1,2,0 in their 4 matches. Interestingly, Tellez/Stratman played one match (15-0) then withdrew. Full withdrawals after their loss in the main draw on their first round match: listing men names in the team only: Koller, S.Smith, Garnett, Ignatowich. “First round” isn’t the same for all teams: 64 or 32, maybe even 16 for a small bracket.

8:52 pm EST (Waggish) – Wind delay has been extended. Here is QF 4 up until then. #19 Pisnik/Smith vs #22 Tardio/Black. Tardio/Black dominated in game 1 though Pisnik/Smith do get 4. VERY windy and dark clouds in game 2. I thought PPA had a wind mph rule where they stopped play. I guess it depends? But they seem to have to hold down the net! 4-1 for team Smith who are handling the wind better. Stanley comes to do a wind reading. 28 mph has not been reached so play will continue after they find some sand bags to hold the net down! Odd because in TX they stopped play at 17 mph according to its broadcast. Play resumes and Tardio decides to do a lob! Oh, my! That didn’t end well. See fun point at 5-3. Black does a lob as if it’s an ATP. Ha, wind limit is flexible – now they are going to use 20 mph. On wind delay at 6-3 for team Smith. Is it crazy to anyone else the wind “rule” can change like this. Rain is predicted at some point tonight too.

9:50 pm EST – The day is over due to wind. They’re going to finish tomorrow morning. We have one quarter-final left to play, Black/Tardio vs. Pisnik/Smith, who will go on to play Koop/Navratil. It will be a completely unexpected quarter-final regardless after Rachel Rohrabacher/Andrei Daescu knocked off Bright/Ignatowich, only to get tuned up by Koop/Navratil the next round. Koop/Navratil both have not had good 2023s but they got a quarters win over Frazier/Brascia, 11-9 in the third, We expected weird things to happen this weekend and they are. Tardio/Black also beat Jansen/Staksrud, which is an upset but not shocking given the way Gabe and Tyra have been playing as of late. 

In the other half, Catherine/Tyson are playing Jessie/Riley in the semi-final tomorrow morning .Catherine/Tyson barely got past Jay/Callie who were up on them late in the 3rd game. Jay was giving finger wags off of drop shots. It was spicy out there but the better team on paper prevailed. Big opportunity for both Jessie/Riley and Catherine/Tyson as the winner here is going to be the favorite on Championship Saturday. 

Other notable results from today: AJ Koller/Susannah Barr losing to Rob Cassidy/Rianna Valdes. AJ Koller gonna AJ Koller. The DC teammates, Alshon/Jackie Kawamoto, taking down Tellez/Stratman as Tellez mixed results have not caught up to his men’s results. Lange/Ackerman beat Hewett/Jones. Allyce may be better served being on the traditional right in mixed. Pisnik/Smith beating Garnett/Tereschenko 9 and 1 is just a very good result as Pat Smith may not be washed and Pisnik’s stock is still way up. 

Wednesday, August 16th – Singles

10:50 am EST – A far more wide open field all weekend and that begins in singles. Parenteau is the favorite of the women but outside of that it should be interesting to see where the medals go. In men’s, there is no Ben and that means it could go any way pretty much with all the talent around.

11:00 am EST (Waggish) – Even without Ben, we have a deep Mens singles field and the seeding could be deterministic. If Dylan once again makes it to the gold match, at least he won’t have to wait 45 minutes for Ben to show up like last year. I’m expecting women’s singles to be all chalk unless there’s a surprise in the seedings.

11:55 am EST (Waggish) – MS Bracket: Gabriel Joseph and Staksrud who met in the Gold match at Takeya Showcase may meet up in QF. Also in the upper half, we could get Garnett vs Alshon in QF but there are some strong contenders such as Duong and Arnold. McGuffin leads the lower half and could meet either Frazier or Shick in QF. The other quarter has Devilliers, Sherry, and Patriquin.

WS Bracket: You have to expect CP and Salome to make their respective SF but Black could spoil Salome’s chances.

It looks like they changed the MS start time from 10:00 to 9:30. There are a few players who haven’t checked in and you wander when they made the time change.

12:14 pm EST (Waggish) – Looks like “live” updates on brackets website: https://pickleballbrackets.com/ptsbe.aspx?plid=fa5bec3f-0a80-471b-86d0-acd247973268 Take “live” with a grain of salt. The site has always been slow to update and still shows Alshon as not checked in (red dot) though he is currently playing. I still wish the tournament software would keep GS and CC as permanent notations so you would know what matches you can go back to watch later on the stream.

3:05 pm EST (Waggish) – #4 Garnett def #20 Duong. It was 8-2 in the third when Duong got hot and got within 1. (3-,7,8). Garnett plays #5 Alshon in QF after Alshon defeated Arnold (6-,9,3). #10 Shick def #7 Frazier (7-,5,5) He plays Tyson in QF. This time Tellez def Gabriel Joseph (4,8-,7). At Takeya, he lost to Gabriel in round 1 in 2 games. Tellez plays Staksrud in QF. #22 Christopher Haworth def #11 Patriquin in a close second game (3,10). Then Haworth defeated Sherry (3,3). He plays Devilliers in QF.

3:50 pm EST (Waggish) – #1 Staksrud vs #8 Tellez QF. Maybe Staksrud was feeling it after Tellez did him the favor of knocking off Joseph in round 1. He was full of something to stop Tellez at 1 point! Game 2 was Tellez holding Staksrud to 2 points to 9. Before Tellez could close it out, Staksrud ties at 10! After a several side-outs at 11-10, Staksrud’s incredible come-back pays off and he wins. (1,10)

WS: 2 withdrawals has some unexpected names in QF. Mary Brascia and Tyra Black withdrew. So we get a #13 Averee Beck and a #10 Sharienne Recardo in separate QF. Salome defeats Jamie Haas (10-,4,5) to play Ricardo in QF. CP plays Yana Newell. Tereschenko also made it to QF and plays either Castillo or Callie Smith.

4:35 pm EST (Waggish) – #2 McGuffin vs #10 Shick. Shick almost pulled out a Staksrud at 2-9 when he reached 3. It gets to 3-10 and Shick makes it to 8. Tyson didn’t take any chances in Game 2 and got a strong lead despite the amazing athletic feats of Shick. McGuffin wins (8,6) but what fun to watch Shick achieve unbelievable gets. The Judit Castillo vs Callie Smith match grinded it out over 1 hour. Close games with a Castillo win (9,8-,7)

6:50 pm EST (Waggish) – Another women’s match that grinded it out for a long match. CP prevailed over Newell. (8,2-,7)

MS: #4 Garnett vs #5 Alshon. Game 1 very close with no one maintaining a lead for long. Alshon had the edge and won it. Game 2 started the same way but Garnett took control and kept Alshon to only 5 points with some help from the net. Game 3 was close until end change and tie at 6. Then Garnett gets 3 and wraps it up with another 2. (8-5,6) It was a rather sloppy game 3 with the players showing their depleted energy.
MS: #22 Haworth defeated #3 Devilliers (3,9).
WS: #3 Tereschenko defeated #6 Castillo (6,4)

7:00 pm EST (Waggish) – #2 McGuffin vs #22 Haworth SF. McGuffin had the lead in game 1 aided by a sluggish Haworth. But Haworth put some speed in his play and chased McGuffin’s lead down. Doesn’t overtake him though. Game 2 was 4-7 in favor of Haworth but McGuffin does his magic again and takes that game for a Saturday appearance. (8,7)

8:00 pm EST (Waggish) – #2 Devidze vs #3 Tereschenko SF. Game 2 at 4-2, Tereschenko didn’t score a point for 14 serves. Tereschenko breaks the log-jam to make it 4-3. That was almost 8 minutes of play with no one scoring a point! That change in score opened the flood gates for Devidze to accumulate points on her serve. No love lost between these ladies despite it being 10 months or longer since they last opposed each other. Irina didn’t do a paddle tap at end of game 1 or end of match. Devidze makes it to Saturday (7,3).

9:20 pm EST (Waggish) – We see some great ATPs and ATP defense from both players in games 1 and 2. See the ATP defense by Garnett at 7-6 in game 2 as just one example. Game 1 is a tight game but Garnett sneaks from behind to win it. Game 2 goes to Staksrud. Game 3: Gets tied at 9. Coming down to the wire for this hotly contested match. Each get match point. See Garnett’s impressive effort at 11-10 to get that extra point. You hate to see a loser in a close match like this but eventually someone has to get that 2 point lead. In this case, it’s Garnett. (10,6-,12) Staksrud wants to challenge the out call on match point but can’t. Ref didn’t have a good view of it to make their own call. Camera replay doesn’t show a good view either. A later replay camera angle seems to show it as out. No paddle tap at match end shown on camera. Garnett plays Tyson for gold. He said he was just in Idaho with Tyson so probably no surprises for Tyson on how to play him.

10:00 pm EST (Waggish) – Parenteau defeats Stratman (4,5). Staksrud wins bronze over Haworth (1,2). I assume Haworth was completely gassed and had nothing left. Staksrud may have had some pent-up emotion he needed to blow-off.

10:50 pm EST (Waggish) – Tereschenko withdrew from Bronze so Stratman wins by default.

11:31 pm EST – Do you know the Muffin Man? He lives in Idaho? Well, he also lives for championship matches in fields where the PPA is happy to give him the softer end of the draws. After not being in peak form at Takeya, Tyson has been playing a lot more pickleball and he made relatively light work of his toughest match on paper today, Collin Shick. Tyson always has been good about taking care of business against significantly less experienced players and he did that today with his wins over Shick and then Haworth in the semi-finals.

Garnett is also onto Sunday and he gutted one out over Staksrud. Impressive stuff from both players. Fed somehow was able to play the bronze and win despite looking next to dead at the end of the semis match with Garnett. Major props to him for the fight.

We had a couple of significant withdrawals on the women’s side. Tyra Black and Mary Brascia both opted out of this event. Hopefully this is a body maintenance thing, which is crucial for these players as we are seeing more and more injuries. Jillian Braverman is coming back from a hamstring issue she suffered in Denver. We’ve heard Vivienne David has pulled out of TOC, although we don’t know if that’s injury related. It opened the door for other players as Tyra was on the non-CP half of the draw and Mary B losing meant Lauren Stratman got to play an unknown to get to the semi-final and got a withdraw to win bronze. Nice day for her. Devidze and Parenteau in the final. Not all that exciting.

Very sparse singles day and lower views Youtube day relative to other PPA singles days. Maybe the Wednesday? Lower registration numbers? No atmosphere in Brigham today. We’ll see what mixed brings.

47 thoughts on “PPA Tour Tournament of Champions (TOC) – Live Random Thoughts

  • August 16, 2023 at 10:48 am

    Appreciate that TOC history. Another piece of oral history I heard was that TOC paid better than the other tournaments, and paid further down the bracket (e.g. 8th place got paid). If you know about that, please let us know.

    Regarding the 50% drop off in players, the word is that the risk/reward for amateur players in PPA tournaments is not good. The entry is spendy, and the brackets are small. In Denver, the PPA told amateurs to use the temporary water closets in the parking lot, and the amateurs (who were already out of pocket to the tune of $150 plus) had to pay the same entry fee to see the pros play on center court as the public, which is a slap in the face.

    • August 18, 2023 at 9:31 pm

      The PPA has never treated amateurs well but the other locations without as many tournaments and pickleball as Utah it is far more exciting for those places to see pro pickleball. It also may be that Brigham City has decided they aren’t going to accept what the PPA is doing to amateurs when they have so many options.

  • August 16, 2023 at 12:19 pm

    Old: I have not heard that they make an exception to the payouts for PPA TOC. TOC is 1000 tier. The payout is here: https://www.ppatour.com/how-it-works/ and you click for 1000. In the early days, it did pay well (before pro tournaments) because of its founding owner. Making everyone pay for a CC ticket regardless of being a player or not has been in effect for all of 2023 and may have started in 2022. Some players claim they have gotten in without a ticket if they needed seats to be filled for a good look on stream. Then they get kicked out once they have enough ticket holders.

  • August 16, 2023 at 5:08 pm

    Collin Schick had two of the most athletic points I’ve ever seen. That dude has quickness that would make an NBA point guard envious. If you haven’t seen them, watch his games against Tyson and Frazier. Wow.

    • August 17, 2023 at 6:26 am

      Fred: I didn’t see all of the Shick/Frazier match but Shick/Tyson match was fun to watch. BTW, you do what I do and spell Shick with 2 c’s before I correct myself.

    • August 18, 2023 at 9:31 pm

      Great athleticism. He hasn’t been able to put it all together since his big run in Daytona though.

  • August 16, 2023 at 11:04 pm

    Waggish wrote about Irina and Salome: “No love lost between these ladies despite it being 10 months or longer since they last opposed each other.”

    Fleming and Stone talked about Irina’s bad body language — but no mention on the broadcast (that I heard) about the history of bad line calls between the two ladies. Has the PPA made geldings of its commentators? I say let them talk openly about things viewers may not know. Even during a line call review of an out call by Salome (which I think was overturned), they did not do their jobs.

    Has Salome played ALW? ALW probably too athletic, but SD can hit passing shots.

    • August 18, 2023 at 9:32 pm

      The PPA commentators have to be there every weekend and they avoid any of these things that should be noted on the broadcast. They don’t want to upset the players who they have to see every tournament, which is understandable. Salome has played ALW and it hasn’t gone well. Salome just can’t compete athletically with her.

  • August 17, 2023 at 6:40 am

    Metaphor: PPA keeps tight control over what is said. I wonder if they made Dylan go back and redo his The Drop podcast because he didn’t toe the party line. Version 2 was more aligned. I remember when Fleming used to tell us (years ago) how all these players are friends off the court and the animosity you’d see on court wasn’t genuine. ha, ha After a few broadcasts, PPA got Kyle to start commenting repetitively about Ben’s best player status. PPA must think we all have short term memory and forget within 10 seconds that Ben is the best and that AL is 16.

    Salome played ALW in only one gold match – Orlando, December, 2022. In the brackets, she’s played her but I don’t know the number of times. She has accumulated bronze medals and has a few silvers when ALW wasn’t at the tournament plus Orlando.

    • August 18, 2023 at 9:34 pm

      This exactly. There have to be limitations and often are. There’s a huge difference for major sports between national and local broadcasts. The PPA is more in the realm of a local broadcast.

  • August 17, 2023 at 7:46 am

    What did Dylan say on his podcast?

    Was Dylan’s podcast really changed? What did he say in version 1 that was removed from version 2?

    Is it your understanding that the PPA has editorial control of what players say?

    • August 17, 2023 at 9:32 am

      Most likely Dylan and Anna redid the broadcast due to the low volume on version 1. But since Dylan’s discussion of the gold match was a lot different (that aligned with the broadcast spiel) I thought PPA could have said something to him. I don’t know what the player’s contracts look like but I would expect they do have restrictions on the public face they show in regards to PPA. When people jumped on Yana’s color of shirt, she said she had to wear a shirt with PPA on it and that was the only clean one left in her bag. So their contract appears to go into a lot of details. If you ever listen to Loong’s podcast he alludes to stuff that would make a good documentary but never outright says.

      In case PPA did say something to Dylan, I don’t want to “undo” Dylan’s new version and get him in trouble. It was a legitimate Gold win for them and no asterisk needed IMHO.

      • August 17, 2023 at 6:36 pm

        What did Tyler say?

        I think he’d have to say it in the doco.

        • August 17, 2023 at 7:10 pm

          Long story: Tyler has never said anything other than that all the stories would make a good documentary about PPA.

          • August 18, 2023 at 9:36 pm

            It’s why the KOTC podcast didn’t seem interesting at first but Jimmy says lots of stuff so makes it interesting.

      • August 18, 2023 at 9:34 pm

        This is more speculation though or educated speculation?

        • August 19, 2023 at 5:31 am

          What speculation are you talking about? I think a lot of Jimmy’s stuff is speculation.

          • August 19, 2023 at 12:18 pm

            Just about Dylan being directed by the PPA?

          • August 19, 2023 at 12:51 pm

            Speculation because in version 2 Dylan specifically referred to Collin’s injury in the same way the broadcast did about a million times. So the similarity struck me. In version 1, Dylan said he thought Collin was moving okay when he went after 2 ATPs. Version 2 didn’t have that.

  • August 17, 2023 at 1:39 pm

    What the heck happened to Anna/James? They lost handily to Rohrabacher/Daescu, who then went on to get slaughtered by Koop/Navratil.

    • August 17, 2023 at 2:27 pm

      That was a weird one. You would have thought Daescu team was strong but after their match against Koop/Navratil you have to think it was because James/AB was weak. Maybe James/AB is one of those teams that need an easy match to warm up in round 1. Or maybe it was altitude that doesn’t seem to like James much. No stream so we don’t know.

      • August 17, 2023 at 6:18 pm

        What’s with the “Lopez?” Is that how this player is listed? With a question mark?

        • August 17, 2023 at 7:07 pm

          Query: Pickleballbrackets cuts off the name and uses 3 dots. So I assume it is a 2 part last-name. The list of players disappears for some odd reason once the bracket is ready so I couldn’t look it up.

          • August 18, 2023 at 9:36 pm

            Yeah certain players with too long names.

      • August 18, 2023 at 9:35 pm

        Very weird one especially after Daescu/Rohrabacher got smoked by Koop/Navratil

  • August 18, 2023 at 11:50 am

    Pat Smith in mixed final!?! Mon dieu! Sorry, Mein gotte! He and the French Stallion were in some men’s finals against the Johns bros. back in the day. Then he disappeared. Good to see a legacy old guy back in the mix.

    • August 18, 2023 at 12:24 pm

      “disappeared” – Smith had a lot of injuries and a bad hip. He said he’s feeling healthy now. Hope the legacy pairing does well but they face Hewett/Navratil next.

      • August 18, 2023 at 9:37 pm

        Pat/Jay almost got to Championship Sunday. It would have been an amazing throwback.

    • August 18, 2023 at 9:36 pm

      Never saw this coming. Pat is healthier now as he wasn’t healthy for quite some time. But he hasn’t been getting any results other than the recent period of time.

  • August 19, 2023 at 5:38 am

    Social media is claiming one of the reasons for Pat’s long time-out and uncertainty to continue was the lack of medical personnel on site. Supposingly they tried to call someone in. Don’t know if that is true but it does explain why Michelle said someone was watching him on the stream which I thought was odd.

    • August 19, 2023 at 9:31 pm

      Who’s Michelle? The woman commentator?

      What’s become of Hannah Johns? Out of the line-up? Or she only goes where Ben/Colin go?

      Pat Smith continued yesterday in men’s, but out today in mixed. Delayed concussion protocol?

      • August 19, 2023 at 9:40 pm

        P.S. Interesting to see players other than Ben and ALW winning 3x crowns, which was boring.

      • August 20, 2023 at 4:53 am

        Michelle is the woman commentator who is always asking her male commentator questions right at time of serve. lol. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Hannah at a tournament where Ben was not there. She sometimes skips for other reasons. She wasn’t at TOC last year either but Ben was. Hannah seems to be doing less traveling over all this year. Pat said he had a headache and broadcast claimed doctor would not let him continue in the gold match.

  • August 19, 2023 at 11:33 am

    That was a heck of a men’s match. It looked like a stinker through two games as James struggled to get out of first gear, but then he woke up and the match flipped. There were a bunch of great points. I’m happy for James as it’s his first men’s gold… ironic that he and Tyson have won a bronze and gold after telling Tyson he did not want to continue to play every tourney with him.

    James won his first two golds at the Vulcan Indoor tourney in Minnesota and now he gets his first gold at the Vulcan TOC in Utah. I’m pretty sure the same woman awarded the trophy at both tourneys. In Minnesota James got the trophy for singles and said he didn’t really care that much about singles, but really wants to win men’s, and then this time James finally won men’s, but left the interview before the woman gave them the trophy. LOL

    • August 21, 2023 at 7:34 am

      You could tell in the first two games that Tyson/Iggy could beat Riley/AJ, but both Iggy and Tyson were playing tight/doing stupid stuff/making silly errors.

      Also, early on AJ was playing fairly well, on some points even near-peak-AJ, and when you combine that with the above mental issues from Tyson/Iggy, you get two straight losses by a big margin.

      But it all switched starting in game 3. Both Tyson/Iggy started playing like themselves, and AJ reverted back to what has been his mean lately, and that was essentially the end of the match.

      Interesting to note that Riley simply does not have the handspeed to dominate Iggy. First JW, now Iggy — Riley’s age might be starting to catch up to him.

      • August 21, 2023 at 11:45 am

        Crazy game 3, 11-0, that is not something we should see in a championship match. Based on all comments here and other places, went back to watch game 3 – these are the rallies in order:

        1 – AJ serve, J & R dink, R into net
        2 – J serve, AJ touches 1x, R hits out
        3 – J serve, AJ 1x, R loses speed up with J
        4 – J serve, AJ 2x, T to AJ who can’t handle speed up
        5 – J serve, AJ 2x, AJ bad lob, T puts away
        6 – J serve, AJ 0x, R hits long
        7 – J serve, AJ 8x, long point, R misses erne, AJ into net, R foul for crossing net line
        8 – J serve, AJ 5x, dink battle, AJ into net
        9 – J serve, AJ 3x, R overheads, AJ hands battle then AJ long
        10 – J serve, AJ 1x, R popup, T puts away
        11 – J serve, AJ 5x, AJ into net out of air
        12 – J serve, AJ 0x, R into net

        So “AJ reverted back to what has been his mean lately, and that was essentially the end of the match” implies what? In game 3, rallies 5, 8 and 11 were on AJ but 1, 2, and 6 were on R; rest were just the game of pickleball.

        My take: R and AJ let up in game 3, J and T after getting up a little got their mojo back, R and AJ lose confidence for games 4 and 5, but they had a chance in five to come back, I think they just got too far down.

        • August 21, 2023 at 1:32 pm

          It’s kinda straightforward: In games 1&2, AJ was playing better than he played in the other games. He couldn’t sustain the level of play from games 1&2, he regressed back to his mean, his normal level of play for much of this year.

          They got pickled in game 3 FFS, obviously both players completely crapped the bed, nobody is saying it was 100% AJ’s fault. But after game 3 they were still up 2-1, just needing 1 game to win. Riley kept being Riley, but the AJ from games 1&2 was gone.

          I did a similar beyond-basic-stat-y thing for game 4. Just noting who won the point (did something great, like a speed-up or overhead smash) or who lost the point (did something stupid, like hitting a dink into the net or failing to return a serve or foot-faulting in a dink rally, etc).
          Riley won 6 rallies, AJ won 7. OK….
          AJ lost 8 rallies, Riley lost 1. Not OK…for AJ.
          The other rallies were won or lost by Iggy/Tyson.

          And it’s not just about the massive error total from AJ, look at the number of times he was involved in determining the outcome of a rally. AJ is the beta here, and yet he’s inserting himself way too much. We all know doubles isn’t 50/50, but it’s not even 60/40 when you’re Riley’s partner, because Riley is way better than you (unless you’re Ben or a very few others).

          AJ just can’t seem to get the obvious memo. No doubt his hands can be top-tier, but they’ve been handcuffed by his cluelessness.

          • August 21, 2023 at 1:58 pm

            I don’t agree with “obvious memo” because AJ was switching left and right. So to many players that would be a role reversal for who should be the aggressor. I’m not sure how much AJ is doing to set up a point instead of trying to win the point out-right but you have to be in sync with your partner to do that. Tough to do when it’s not a steady partnership. Riley is back with Julian for Kansas City so we’ll see if that goes better than Seattle for those two.

            Funny that you mentioned doing the stats for game 4. I went back and watched Takeya MD Gold for the 5th time. I did stats for games 3 and 4 of that match to evaluate why JW/Dylan lost game 3.

          • August 21, 2023 at 2:06 pm

            Thanks for looking at other game, I was focused on 3 because of the thrashing.

            Wondering if “cluelessness” is a harsh description – after the win vs Jay/Pat AJ said ” the right side is tough, I feel like you know, I can’t totally control the point, I really hate the right side, I don’t know if it’s been obvious or not, but I’m a team guy with a stud on the left and so we are trying to win a trophy so I’m going to shut my mouth and do my job on the right”

            Based on previous analysis and discussion about the future of right side players, AJ probably has to decide that if he is going to play that role with Riley he is going to have to work at it. He is not naturally a beta.

  • August 19, 2023 at 5:04 pm

    The PPA is moving to Kansas City next week just in time to meet up with a brutal heat wave. Through Thursday, Kansas City is expected to be over 100º every day. It will likely make the recent Texas Open seem cool. A strong cold front will move through on Friday, so the weekend will be ok, but players are going to struggle to grind through the singles tournament on Thursday.

    • August 19, 2023 at 6:04 pm

      The weather seems to always want to curse the PPA. But at least Seattle co-operated with no rain.

  • August 19, 2023 at 6:01 pm

    NML: “Ignatowich on the *right* is so interesting and fits super well for Tyson who can counter bigger on his forehand on the left.”
    Ignatowich talked about this on his most recent podcast. He said being on the left had problems because his drops weren’t very good and he was very slow to get to the NVZ. So when serving Tyson can take the 3rd shot most of the time. He claims he is much more comfortable doing the right side and be the beta player. He can let Tyson do cross-court dinking all day and he can do attacks and counter-attacks. I imagine the lesser pressure also allows him to maintain his focus on the ball instead of his performance.

  • August 21, 2023 at 12:54 pm

    iggy is going to be a force in mlp and on tour. his one real weakness was his drop and transition game. he has fixed that. He missed very few drops on Saturday and got to the net with ease. The one area that tyson has on virtually every other player out there is mentality. Nobody can match him. riley can’t match him. none of the young guns playing singles can match him. hardly anyone is talking about this yet but I will say it. it’s quite clear that riley has lost something, or the field is catching up with him. the record this year speaks for itself as does the eye test. the second best player in the world needs to be dominant and take over games. he isn’t dominant any longer, and isn’t taking over games and winning titles any longer.

    • August 21, 2023 at 1:45 pm

      JW and Dylan probably has caught up with the old team of Riley and Matt. In a match today, Riley and Matt would likely be the losers to them.

      I don’t know who was making the errors but AJ and Riley never got into a rhythm after game 3. No game plan for the suddenly well-playing Tyson and James.

      I agree that mentality is very important. On one of Tyson’s podcasts, he talked about doing some mental training (with a coach). He said it helped him stay in those brutal ice baths. James mentioned he needed to do some meditation for a few days after a bad tournament. Very impressive to see performance improve for all of these: JW, Dylan, James, Tyson. James also mentioned he’d been drilling drops by the hundreds so that has paid off for him.

    • August 21, 2023 at 6:56 pm

      Agree Iggy is going to be a force, but I think his one weakness is mental, and I think he has shown great progress recently.

      I hope the confidence gained from winning his first MD gold allows him to make further progress, and we see the Iggy from game 5 consistently.

      I did the beyond-basic-stat-y thing for game 5, and it suggested only 1 thing: Iggy was the best player in a competitive game with the gold on the line:
      aj wins 5 / loses 5
      riley wins 12 / loses 5
      tyson wins 7 / loses 5
      iggy wins 13 / loses 5

      As for mentality, I think Ben has it at least as locked down as does Tyson, but I agree no other players are on that level, at least yet.

      As for Riley losing something/the field catching up, I also agree. Probably a bit of both. He’s past 30 in a game that favors youth. Also, who is Riley training with? All the kids in Austin/South Florida are grinding on each other, and steel sharpens steel. Meanwhile Riley has some random 5.0s? Plus he’s got a different partner every tournament (and not exactly a great relationship with any of them), whereas many other teams are building chemistry. Seems like an uphill battle to me.

      My only thought is that maybe he’s periodizing, hoping to peak for, say, Nationals in Dallas. I guess we’ll see.

  • August 21, 2023 at 2:18 pm

    Tyson and James did the same thing all tournament. Tyson kept it in front of James, and it looked like James just dinked straight on and dared people to attack him. This team was smart to avoid putting the ball in front of Tyson. Attacking James head on was something that nobody had sustained success doing. his counters are silly. And Tyson is just so damn solid. This is the best I’ve ever seen Tyson play. I wonder how Ben will try to attack James, or if he will at all.

  • August 22, 2023 at 3:15 pm

    And Matt just said in the PPA YT vid with Hannah and Ben that he and Iggy are partnered up for the first 6 months of next year.
    Matt on one side and Iggy on the other? Teams are going to get wrecked by those counterattacks.


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