We can’t keep harping on this but the small brackets are even more jarring to look at once they come out. The venue has looked great as always for the senior pros but it’ll be interesting to see how many fans these pro matches get throughout the weekend.
Championship Sunday, December 12th
6:45 pm EST (Gritty) – Not much of a championship Sunday overall. Anna Leigh had a walk through of sorts over Braverman. She won with relative ease 11-7, 11-3.
Then in both doubles finals, the best 3 out of 5s proved to be a bit of a snooze fest with the Waters and Newman/McGuffin winning easily in straight games. No more than 6 points were scored by either losing pair in a game for both finals. No upset city today.
We’ll have takeaways tomorrow. Stay tuned.
Saturday, December 11th – Men’s Doubles
9:04 pm EST (Gritty) – Just when we were out on Irina Tereschenko, her play has really gotten better. It’s basically since MLP that she has been playing well and that’s a great win over Jessie and Catherine to put them into the gold final. 5 and 6, very convincing, after Stratman and Irina almost beat them at the PPA Masters.
7:47 pm EST (Gritty) – Dawson/JW end up in the men’s final after going through Gabrielsen/Lange in 2, which is what we would have expected going into the day. However, I just want to put a little bit more commentary on Gabrielsen/Lange today. Those games to 15 are quite a different world and watching their match with Bar/Wright I’d expect them not to win the 2 out of 3. I noted it yesterday in the live blog below, but Gabrielsen is doing something with those 2-hands other than stabbing at his dinks. As we know, new weapons are a work in progress so he must have been playing around with that 2-handed speed up for a while now but only recently become comfortable using it. It was very effective against Wright/Bar and he also is using it to disguise an effective lob. Lange/Gabrielsen overall did a really good job being the aggressors and Wright/Bar probably haven’t seen a ton of Wes Gabrielsen speed ups. Good bronze for then.
I have a minor Dom Catalano gripe too. Irina made a joke to Dom about how long his questions are after a very long question he asked her. In all seriousness, he needs to cut down his questions. He likes to tell the players what he wants them to talk about but, in my opinion, an interview is not about your thoughts. Let the players speak and if they don’t bring up what you wanted, then that’s the way the interview goes.
6:18 pm EST (Gritty) – Irina and Lea with a good win to go to bronze over Koop and Kovalova. It’s not a great start for Kovalova without Simone by her side while Irina continues her good run. I was concerned going into the day about how close to 100% Jansen would be but she looks to be just fine.
Newman and McGuffin on the men’s side were able to outlast Dawson and JW in 3. I’m now very curious to see how this bronze match goes as we’re going to have one team in there that wasn’t expected to be there. Dawson and JW have played tight matches all day so we’ll have to see what comes from this one.
In case you missed Zane Navratil’s personal update on the whole not playing fiasco, here is a link to it. We will go into this more in our takeaways after we see whether there’s any response from USA Pickleball. Although this doesn’t appear to be handled well, we still have more questions as the situation may not be as clear cut as some are making it out to be in our view.
5:06 pm EST (Gritty) – It is the women’s winners final we expected with the Waters against Parenteau/Irvine. I thought Kovalova and Koop could have given the Waters more but the Waters well deserved win.
Big W for Wes Gabrielsen and Erik Lange. I have been more critical than Slim of Gabrielsen but that’s a huge win over Matt and Dekel. Rough day for the pairing we both thought was a clear favorite going into the day. The Erik Lange elite bandwagon continues to get more full.
Also, Denise H reader pointed out my error. Lea and Irina are the #4 seed and I didn’t look closely enough with the small field. They are seeded correctly.
3:47 pm EST (Gritty) – The big surprise of the day comes in a very tight 3 game win for Callan and JW over Dekel and Matt Wright. Theoretically that partnership fits well together but their results haven’t been there. Big win over a first time partnership.
2:20 pm EST (Gritty) – First round matches are through. The only notable thing is Lea/Irina getting screwed with one of the bottom 2 seeds. Not sure how that happens in this field but for them to have such a low seed with some of other teams in this field.
11:33 am EST (Gritty) – This is not yet 100% confirmed but this is from pretty good intel on our end. It was weird that Zane/Altaf were not in the draw here this morning. Our understanding of the reason whyis that Zane has been kicked out of nationals because he has to go to Conneticut on Sunday to be there for his girlfriend’s Miss America competition. The tourney organizers were not happy that the Sunday broadcast schedule was thrown off by Zane’s absence so Zane and Altaf are out of men’s doubles even though Zane competed in mixed yesterday. Again, this is still to be confirmed 100% and we’ll make a correction if wrong, but this seems like a poor move on their part. Some of this depends on timing. We have questions. When did Nationals set their broadcast schedule? Why didn’t Zane tell them earlier? This does not seem like the right way to handle this regardless from the Nationals organizers. However, there too many unanswered questions right now to give a definitive opinion.
TLDR: Zane and Altaf are not in the men’s draw today.
Friday, December 10th – Mixed Doubles
1:00 am EST (Gritty) – Lucy/Matt battled hard to take it to the game to 15 but once again the Newman’s proved to be too much. It’ll be tough for Lindsey to come back again from another pregnancy as the game of pickleball continues to evolve and you wonder whether what she has will continue to be enough if she doesn’t evolve as a player herself. It’s the same for Matt/Lucy who are both still really good but the game is catching up to them a bit.
7:30 pm EST (Gritty) – Lucy/Matt barely get it done against Tyson/Anna Leigh. It would have been more fun to see Tyson/AL in the final as seeing another final featuring these teams is a bit stale too. It’s going to be interesting to see Anna Leigh next year as Tyson is a very good mixed partner but they haven’t done better than bronze together.
6:44 pm EST (Gritty) – I was wrong about the Newman’s and should not underestimate Lindsey with her pregnancy. They are still so strong together and the movement issues aren’t as apparent for her. Whatever she kind of tweaked last weekend also appeared to be a non-issue today.
Tyson and Anna Leigh have had another good day but no breakthrough yet. We’ll see if they can do it against Matt and Lucy who are clearly no longer than #2 mixed team in pickle now.
3:53 pm EST (Gritty) – It didn’t look like it would go the expected way for a little while but both semi finals end up going as expected. Lucy/Matt in particular played a really tight game 2 after being down a game already ultimately pulling it out 13-11 and then getting game 3. The Newman’s are just so much to deal with over 3 games and keeping your top level after all those balls come back is tough.
Leigh Waters and Dave Weinbach are also making a nice run through the backdraw. The big win for them was over Jansen/Bar. You do have to wonder where Jansen is at physically. She withdrew from singles yesterday so she can’t be at full capacity.
1:30 pm EST (Gritty) – Not a lot to report so far. Dekel Bar’s poor run in mixed continues as he loses 11-1, 11-9 with Lea Jansen to Koop/Navratil. This is an expected result but it continues to be weird not to have any results in mixed basically.
One other thing I wanted to mention is Gabrielsen’s use of two hands on his backhand. I noted in the Casa Grande preview I didn’t understand what he was doing but some more recent match footage shows he’s also using that two hander for speed ups, which at least makes some sense. It doesn’t look good right now but it is something worth working on I think. He and Barr lost 5 and 5 to Irina and Callan Dawson though.
Thursday, December 9th – Singles
9:10 pm EST (Gritty) – Same story in the bronze. Tyson loses game 1 badly and then storms back to win games 2 and 3 over JW. Tyson and Zane for gold on Sunday.
7:37 pm EST (Gritty) – Tyson loses to Zane in the winners bracket final. It’s funny how important matchups are. JW has a good time with Zane but Zane smokes Tyson but Tyson and JW are fairly even with a slight edge to Tyson. It’s a little pickleball love triangle of defeat and victory. We’ll see what JW can do in the bronze after beating Cincola 15-9 to get there.
6:50 pm EST (Gritty) – Looks like they must have been having some trouble with the stream on Championship court because they only have the live cam on but no sound. After losing a blowout first set, Tyson took down JW in 3 and again showing that Franklin ball is for him. Tougher to pass, more balls back for Tyson. He plays Zane in the final.
Anna Leigh has rolled to the gold and then we had Jillian Braverman getting another shot at her. It shows up as a retirement on the site but on the no sound feed it looked like Irina retired down 11-8 and 10-7 in the 2nd. A good win for Braverman in a very small field and it’s obvious she has the talent to compete at this level. She just needs to play more
3:24 pm EST (Gritty) – Ryan Sherry may do more with his backhand roll than anyone in pickleball. The entire repetoire was on display in game 1 against Tyson McGuffin but he wasn’t able to keep it going through the rest of the match. As much as we love Sherry’s mental training, he probably needs some more physical off court training if he wants to beat the best in the game consistently. I’m not sure he cares about that but a truly fit Sherry would be scary for the rest of the players out there.
Frank Anthony Davis also took down Jack Foster in three games. We did not note it in our fantasy draft Preview but the Franklin ball is a big game changer for these players in singles. It really favors players like Tyson MacGuffin and FAD rather than guys like Foster and Zane Navratil. Make a note for the rest of the tourney.
10:45 am EST (Gritty) – Besides the small draws, it looks like we have a number of withdrawals going into the day. Of course, Dekel Bar is not playing on the men’s side. Daniel Roditi had announced on his social media that he was pulling out of singles so we’ll see if he actually plays as his name is still in the draw.
Unfortunately, Lea Jansen is not present in the women’s draw but the surprising omission is Catherine Parenteau. That’s a lot of major talent missing from a tiny women’s draw that consists of five people.