As noted in our Fantasy Draft Preview, we will have thoughts on the MLP-Vibe merger announcement later in the day on Thursday so keep an eye out for those. In the meantime, we have our usual live random thoughts for the tournament. This tournament will follow the typical schedule we are seeing, except there is not the Championship Sunday situation as the events will all finish on the same day (edit: there will be a Championship Sunday). We didn’t do any preview for the senior events or split pro age stuff, but the split pro age events are particularly enjoyable as we do not get to see that kind of variety very often. A lot of was streamed on YouTube so you can go back and check that out if you’re curious at all.
As an FYI, all of the pro events will not start until 2:00 pm EST each day so the draws will go later into the evening. The night atmosphere on that Indian Wells centre court is special.
Sunday, November 13th – Championship Sunday
9:10 pm EST – Nationals triple crown for Anna Leigh. She is too good. She and Riley win 11-3, 11-0, 11-3. Complete dominance. We’ll have a controversy heavy takeaways tomorrow for you all!
8:22 pm EST – So they still made them double dip after a 3 out of 5, which the Johns were able to do. They win in 3 straight then go 15-6 to win it all. Not the most exciting men’s final.
6:28 pm EST – Anna Leigh and Parenteau get it done. They went down 2 games, including blowing an 8-1 lead in game 2. But they stayed resilient, coming away with game 3 in a close one and then pulling away in games 4 and 5. It’s a win for the favorites as everyone was rooting against them, at least from home, and surely Catherine has had a 24 hours, deserved or not. It’ll be some justification to her she made the right choice by coming away with a win.
3:33 pm EST – Ben Johns is still number 1. He beats Julian Arnold in 4 games, including 11-0 in the 4th. It has not been as easy as it once was for Ben but the staying power is still there after another year, doing it at an event without PPA generated friendly seeding with most of the top talent in the field.
1:54 pm EST – AL over Lea yet again in 3 straight. Lea had a lead in game 2 but could not hold on. AL’s dominance in singles is unmatched right now.
Saturday, November 12th – Doubles
12:43 am EST – A real tight one goes the Johns’ way again, 11-9, 6–11 and 11-8. Late nights here at Nationals. It is still close in this matchup but the Johns are coming out on top of these. Not an ideal day for Riley and Matt, but hooray for new matchups. Sunday should be an interesting day.
10:36 pm EST – The Johns win easily in the rematch 15-4. We get another rivalry matchup but this time in the bronze. It’s another win for new matchups that we get to see in the gold medal match.
Jessie and Anna are off to another gold medal match after beating Lauren and Parris in 2. We’ll see how they fare tomorrow with another shot at the now very controversial Anna Leigh/Catherine duo.
9:30 pm EST – Gosh, what a day it has been. Dekel and JW will play in the gold match after spanking Riley and Matt 2 and 3. They got the benefit of Tyson and Jay ousting the Johns, but this result over the clear number 2 team in pickleball is exactly what JW and Dekel were hoping for when they teamed up. It’ll be interesting to see if that was a one off or if this is the start of the two figuring something out together. In the meantime, a rematch of Jay/Tyson against the Johns is happening in the backdraw and it’s quite the weekend we get to see Benny Backdraw fight hard for something real.
A team with another good day together was Staksrud and Ignatowich. They squeaked one out pretty early in the day against Lange and Gabrielsen, 16-14, but made a good run before losing to Tyson and Jay.
Stratman and Todd have a huge day. They are currently playing for bronze as they beat David/Jansen, 16-14, and then beat Remynse/Barr, who also had a strong comeback with 4 backdraw wins after a not so great loss to Ansboury/Gaytan-Leach in round 1. Stratman/Todd are playing Irvine/Bright. Lucy/Callie another close but no cigar day. They lost 11-8 to Jessie/Anna in the third and then lost to Remynse/Barr as those backdraw letdown losses have been an issue for them. Pro tourneys not giving losers from the main draw a little more time after a loss continues to be baffling.
7:10 pm EST (Waggish) – Smith/Kovalova vs Irvine/Bright. Intense match with plenty of speed-ups from both teams. 11-4, 9-11, 11-8. Irvine/Bright to face Waters/Parenteau who didn’t seem to have any trouble winning their matches.
From commentator: ESPN+ was chosen because the matches are not limited to a time block. Also, some gold matches are supposed to be rebroadcast on ESPN or ESPN2 at some point.
6:00 pm EST (Waggish) – We have the mens semis teams. Frazier/Hewett hands, atps, and pronated wrists were too good for Wilson/Koller. They face Wright/Newman. Devilliers/McGuffin face Bar/Johnson. CC#1 has ended its streaming.
5:30 pm EST (Waggish) – UPSET ALERT! Devilliers/McGuffin had the same playbook as Frazier/Hewett (below) and took game 1 off the Johns 11-8. Of course, you don’t keep the Johns sleeping 2 games in a row and Ben was there to defend the attacks. But a flying erne by Devilliers set up game point for them! 11-8. Johns in backdraw.
Frazier/Hewett’s game play was clearly to be aggressive and the attack dog. That worked well for them game 1 11-7. But two can play that game and Koller turned himself into the pit bull in game 2 playing the right side. 11-7 for them. Game 3 in progress.
4:43 pm EST (Waggish) – Wright/Newman vs Yates/Arnold. This is why we watch. Lots of finger wagging. Yates trick shots. Fire from Arnold. Yates/Arnold game 1 11-7. Unfortunately for the viewers, games 2 and 3 were anti-climatic. Wright/Newman games 2 and 3 11-4, 11-4 in solid play. Game 3 Arnold was getting aggressive early but Wright/Newman was able to continue from game 2 with their judicious selection of when to attack. Wright humbled himself and realized he couldn’t keep getting into firefights with Arnold.
WD: Irvine/Bright vs Stratman/Todd. A river runs through it. Stratman/Todd maintained a wide middle gap and Bright took advantage. 11-3, 11-1. The lack of experience as a team was hurting Stratman/Todd as they seemed disjointed at times.
3:10 pm EST (Waggish) MD: Yates/Arnold vs Dawson/Smith goes to 3 games. Dawson/Smith placement skills won them game 1. Yates/Arnold aggression skills won them game 2. Yates particularly targeted Spencer but also set himself up for some good 1-2 punches. Game 3 was tight but the relentless attacks to Smith’s backhand won the game and match for Yates/Arnold. Smith had some opportunities to play his forehand offensively but chose to keep with his backhand defensively. 7-11, 12-10, 11-8.
WD: Brascia/Brascia vs Todd/Stratman goes to 3 games. 11-8, 0-11, 11-7 for Todd/Stratman.
2:17 pm EST – One more post on the Allyce Jones, Parenteau, Waters situation before we focus on play for the day. Both of us agree this should not happen and it is beyond unprofessional – USA Pickleball should not allow it either this late in the game. Where we disagree is whether any blame falls on the Waters, which Slim feels absolves Catherine of some blame. To be clear, we both feel this is mostly on Parenteau as she made the commitment to Jones, not Anna Leigh or Leigh. Bottom line, it’s a bad move.
1:33 pm EST (Gritty) – So the corrections poured in quickly. We missed that Catherine Parenteau was set to play with Allyce Jones going into Nationals. What is interesting is that it sounds like Jones did not have a choice in the partnership switch. This is not surprising. This is pro pickleball. It would be bad if the number 1 female did not have a partner for Nationals and, of course, Parenteau is going to want a shot at winning gold as is Anna Leigh. I get all that. Pickleball is more business-like than ever, which is fine to a point. However, if all this is true (I am quite confident it is despite how quickly this information has come in), something feels wrong about leaving Jones standing in the corner by herself without a partner at the very last minute.
It’s always easier to shout from the cheap seats and take the moral high ground in these situations when you’re not the one who has to make the decision. Nevertheless, I’d like to think that if I was in that position, I would not be making the decision the Waters and Catherine Parenteau have made leaving Allyce in the dark. I am also giving less benefit of the doubt to the parties involved due to events that have happened this year (Catherine dumping Jessie and Lob-Gate). This is all with the caveat that it sucks that Leigh got hurt and hopefully she is okay. We’ll provide additional information if anything comes along. Also, Slim may have a different opinion on me than this and we have not had a chance to connect today so I’m wanting to be clear this is my opinion alone, at least for now. Very curious what everyone else thinks about this as this is another one of those grey areas and when it comes to professional sports how much should we care about this?
12:50 pm EST – The big news heading into today is that Leigh Waters had to withdraw yesterday after hurting her leg while playing mixed. Anna Leigh Waters is now playing with Catherine Parenteau. We are fairly confident Parenteau was without a partner for women’s heading into the weekend so we think she was a free agent to be picked up. Parenteau was not part of our fantasy draft preview. If that is incorrect, please let us know. In any event, hopefully Leigh is okay and the injury isn’t too serious. From a pickleball playing standpoint, it makes for a unique set of matchups with Anna Leigh and Catherine pairing up. They should be even stronger favorites based on pure playing ability, but they are not regular partners so it should be intriguing from a viewing standpoint.
It is far less important with the double elimination aspect of the tournament, but JW/Dekel end up on the Johns brothers half of the bracket. For once, Matt/Riley should have an easier road to the Johns brothers than they have been in recent PPAs, but Ignatowich/Staksrud pushed them to 3 games in a recent tournament, and you cannot sleep on either Frazier/Hewett or Rettenmaier/Burrows at this point.
Friday, November 11th – Mixed
11:56 pm EST – We are going to get our expected final after all. Benny Backdraw doing Benny Backdraw things, working all the way through capped off by a 12-10 and 11-7 win over JW and Parris. That’s a quality day for Parris and JW after what had to have been a disappointing silver recently losing twice to Vivienne and Thomas Wilson, who did not have a good day together after losing 16-14 to Sheehan-Dizon/Dawson.
It was another down day for Jay and Jessie. They lost to Parris and JW then Matt and Lucy in the backdraw. Curious if they continue to play together in 2023.
10:45 pm EST – What an interesting day of mixed. It’s been nice to get a change up of the partners and a mix-in of the the two tours. Todd/Johnson were unable to really push Newman/Anna Leigh, but they were able to play a close 2nd game, losing 13-11. Unsurprisingly, that means Newman/Anna Leigh are into Championship Sunday and we’ll have to see who they face. Parenteau/Johns get another shot at Todd/JW to avenge their loss earlier today. Parenteau/Johns barely squeaked through to the bronze but Benny Backdraw is out there doing his favorite backdraw things. They beat Kawamoto/Bar, 15-13, which ends up being almost a very good day for that pairing. Then Parenteau/Johns eeked by Lucy/Matt, 16-14, which would have been a massive bronze for that pair as well.
8:00 pm EST (Waggish) – Kawamoto/Bar vs Bright/Loong came down to the wire. Near the end 1 point leads were exchanged with no one getting a run. Kawamoto/Bar 15-13. Jorja Johnson/Frazier defeated Brascia/Lange 15-11 in a surprise comeback. Jorja looked under the weather with much lower energy than usual.
7:15 pm EST (Waggish) – Todd/Johnson win game 1 11-8 over Parenteau/Johns. Ben and JW knew it’d come down to a battle between them. Not much cross-court dinking between the females. JW was able to take better advantage of his opportunities in game 1. Ben of course was going to do his best to dictate and dominate the court in game 2 after losing game 1. 6-1 for Todd/Johnson before Johns started getting/taking some opportunities to execute and they get to 8-6. But Todd and Johnson stay engaged and focused throughout. It took them a few tries at match point but they win 11-8. Extremely good playing from Todd/Johnson against obviously strong opponents.
6:25 pm EST (Waggish) – Waters/Newman into semi’s over Kawamoto/Bar 11-7, 11-2.
In the Waters/McGuffin back-draw match against Remynse/Staksrud, it looks like Leigh got injured in her right leg. She couldn’t put weight on it and had to retire when score at 11-3 for Waters/McGuffin.
5:50 pm EST (Waggish) – Todd/Johnson vs Irvine/Devilliers. Todd/Johnson easily win game 1 11-3 but game 2 Irvine/Devilliers has them down 1-8 before Todd/Johnson get their 2nd point. Game 2 goes to them 3-11 mostly through the attacks coming from Devilliers. But Todd/Johnson able to regain control in game 3 11-4. Todd’s dinking cross-court was able to create enough opportunities for JW to get involved. Parenteau/Johns vs Smith/Koller. Parenteau/Johns 11-6, 11-1. Johnson/Frazier vs Kovalova/Wright 11-8, 11-5. Johnson/Frazier tried to out dink them and that strategy didn’t work. Semis: Parenteau/Johns vs Todd/Johnson. Kovalova/Wright waiting to see who they get.
4:50 pm EST (Waggish) – Smith/Koller knock out David/Wilson 11-9, 1-11, 11-6. They’ll be the first real competition for Parenteau/Johns.
4:25 pm EST (Waggish) – All the streams are now going. The Irvine/Devilliers vs McGuffin/Waters was a great match to watch. So many incredible ATPs and behind the back shots. It was Irvine’s misdirection shots that determined the ultimate winner in a very close game 2. They’ll be playing Todd/Johnson on CC#2 (court 22). Newman/Waters came close to losing game 1 in their first game of the day against Ansboury/Deheart streaming now on CC1.
1:00 pm EST – The mixed draw is usually less interesting but there are so many good teams. Vivienne/Thomas should be seeing Callie/AJ in round 2 and that’s the type of matchup that is super intriguing for us. Catherine and Ben are the 2 side with Riley and Anna Leigh as the 1 seed. World Pickleball Rankings are supposed to be the seeding metric, which favors the players who play more tournaments and hurts PPA players – so you end up with Jay and Jessie as a 6 seed. Although, if anyone wants to do the exact math to make sure seeding is correct, we would be happy to hear if it is. It appears the top side of the draw looks a little tougher compared to Anna Leigh and Riley’s potential road.
Thursday, November 10th – Singles
11:58 pm EST – Julian Arnold is in the gold match after a win over Tyson McGuffin in the bronze, 11-5 and 11-7. Arnold will get another shot at Ben, who he has beaten earlier this year.
9:41 pm EST – Lea Jansen 12-10 and 12-10 over Devidze in games 2 and 3 after losing 11-3 in game 1. What a tight win and a crushing loss for Devidze. We likely won’t have much of a final yet again, but impressive resilience all day from Jansen after losing first round to Todd.
Who would have thought, Ben and Tyson at it again in a winners bracket final. Ben has been pushed hard today, including barely pulling out game 2 after dropping the first to Julian Arnold en route to the winners bracket final. Johns looked completely unengaged against Tyson, almost as if he felt like he should throw him a bone last weekend. Anyway, he dominates Tyson 11-2 and 11-4.
Julian Arnold is on the podium with wins over Rettenmaier and Hunter Johnson. The last month has been a helluva run for Arnold in singles. Two guys over 30 on the singles podium at Nationals. What year are we in again?
7:22 pm EST – Anna Leigh Waters is into the gold medal match and will play on Sunday for the gold, getting by Devidze 6 and 6. AL wants this Triple Crown. She’ll play the winner of Devidze and Jansen as Lea Jansen smoked Parris Todd in a match where you really wonder how Jansen got beat by Todd earlier in the day. Players have learned you have to pick your spots against Parris on when to come in and Jansen’s length made it very difficult for Parris to pass her at the net.
On the men’s side, Tyson McGuffin won what appears to have been an epic match against Jay Devilliers – 12-10, 7-11 and 12-10 in the third. After a breakthrough against Ben last weekend, you really have to admire the fight in Tyson to come out here and guarantee himself another podium. The man is a dawg. He’ll play the winner of Ben Johns and Julian Arnold as Ben as able to get past Hunter Johnson in 3 games.
Some close matches in the back draw on the men’s side. JW Johnson is slowly chugging along after beating Staksrud 15-10 in an error riddled game. Hunter Johnson will play JW after beating Pablo Tellez, 15-12. We get a match of former doubles partners, DeHeart and Rettenmaier as well. Rettenmaier beat Frazier 16-14 and DeHeart beat Sobek 16-14.
5:59 pm EST – Anna Leigh Waters over Parris Todd. 11-2 and 11-9. The side with the wind a big advantage but AL overcame it. Quality win for AL who was really picking her spots to come to net more carefully this time around against Todd.
Julian Arnold over Staksrud in 2, Devilliers over DeHeart easily and same story for McGuffin over Frazier. Did not expect to see another Jay and Tyson matchup. Tyson played an error riddled match in DC against Jay. This is for a podium too.
Just so everyone knows, the end of the day is on ESPN+ and that will be the case for each of the 3 days, which we are huge fans of obviously. They are doing a very weird thing with their content from earlier in the tournament in that we cannot go back to watch previous days. Don’t try to watch the pro split age and senior pro matches because you can’t, or even the stuff from earlier today. It shows as Private on their YouTube page. You want to make Nationals this big thing yet fans cannot go back to watch matches from earlier in the tournament. It makes zero sense. Sheesh.
5:05 pm EST – Remember when we were asking if JW Johnson was the #1 singles player in the world after the US Open? Well, JW Johnson just lost in 3 games to Ryler DeHeart, 11-9 in the third, in his first match of the day. Obviously a major win for DeHeart who is always competitive in these brackets, but it’s still not a good loss for the #1 seed JW. The level has not been there in recent tournaments. Does it have to be more than mental and physical fatigue at this point? DeHeart will play Devilliers in the quarter-finals.
Yates Johnson gave Ben Johns a run for his money, 12-10 and 11-9, but couldn’t quite close out either game. It sets up a quarter-final matchup between Johns and Hunter Johnson. Travis Rettenmaier had Hunter Johnson on the ropes up 7-1 in game 3, but could not push past that. Johnson got 10 straight points to win 11-7 in the third. It looked like Rettenmaier might have gotten a little heavy in the legs in attempting to close. We got another paddle toss but a relatively mild one at that. The men’s draw is so deep. Other quarter-final matchups are Staksrud vs. Arnold, McGuffin vs. Frazier.
Salome Devidze had a much easier time with Bright than Tereschenko, winning 1 and 3, putting her into a spot for a guaranteed medal in the winners bracket final. Anna Leigh Waters beat Stratman so we will get the Parris Todd rematch we have been waiting for. Quite the backdraw match with Fudge and Tereschenko. Fudge was up 9-2, then down 12-11, and ended up winning 15-12. Good win for Fudge.
3:20 pm EST – The results are already pouring in with the dual 2pm EST starts. On the women’s side, it is always a testy match between Irina and Salome, and this one was no dfiferent. Devidze has had some trouble with Tereschenko, but she pulls it out in 3. No challenges available on center court yet and Irina wanted to use her challenges. There’s no live chat available either so we don’t get to see the chat going after Salome. The two close ones Irina was upset about in the third appeared to be out from the views available. Other results we see Parris Todd taking down Lea Jansen 7 and 6, which sets up a very exciting Anna Leigh Waters matchup. Anna Bright got the best of Megan Fudge in a tight 3 game match, 11-7, 9-11, 11-4.
On the men’s side, a couple of notable early results are William Sobek beating Rafa Hewett in 3 games, 11-8 in the third. As good as Hewett has been the second half of the year, you still never know what you’re going to get from him in a given match. Travis Rettenmaier took down Ryan Sherry in 3 games after losing the first to him. Ben Johns is currently playing Yates Johnson and will likely have to go through his twin brother Hunter if he wins.
11:41 am EST – It’s fun to see some singles draws not skewed in favor of a few select players. Ben Johns is going to have to work if he wants a medal today, much less a gold. He has Hunter Johnson looming in the quarter-finals and then likely Arnold or Staksrud in the semi-finals. Tyson actually found himself with a generally favorable draw for how strong the men’s singles field. Kyle Lewis will likely be his first matchup, which is not a freebie, and then Dylan Frazier in the quarters. Those are more favorable matchups for Tyson.
On the women’s side, Lea Jansen and Parris Todd play in round 1, which means a potential Anna Leigh/Parris rematch could be on the horizon. Todd lost twice to Megan Fudge in the wind of Houston so it will be very interesting to see how she fares against Jansen and possibly Anna Leigh. On the other side, Salome Devidze has the more friendly draw, but Irina has caused her trouble in their two recent matchups so don’t sleep on Irina here – notably Irina withdrew last weekend due to injury so where her health is at is unclear. Fudge and Bright is not what the #2 seed Bright probably wanted to see.