Breaking Down the New 2023 Pro Pickleball Partnerships

📸 @annabright.pb

Last year, we spent some time before the season started breaking down the new partnerships for 2022. While last year we had a number of prominent break-ups such as Riley Newman/Tyson McGuffin, Pat Smith/Jay Devilliers, Lucy Kovalova/Simone Jardim and Ben Johns/Simone Jardim, the new partnership hot stove has been more lukewarm heading into 2023. It does not appear we have any major, unanticipated partnership breakups, but there is still a lot of shaking up to account for. With all the tour changes that have happened in the last couple of months, it is likely a lot of players have been scrambling to figure out their plans. The PPA pros have been playing their partnership cards close to the vest as the registrations trickled in for the PPA Masters event coming up in a couple of weeks. We finally have some more clarity on partnerships for 2023 so we’re going to get into all the intriguing new partnerships that are, or appear to be, a more regular thing for the year.

Women’s Doubles 

Anna Leigh Waters / Anna Bright – This is not a permanent partnership…yet. However, it is our understanding they have at least a few tournaments lined up early in the year, including the PPA Masters to start the year. Partnerships take time to mesh, and we all may underrate the value Leigh brings in a partnership with Anna Leigh. With that being said, Anna Bright and Anna Leigh Waters are a dominant partnership on paper. There is versatility between the two players as Anna Leigh is very comfortable on the right and Bright is more comfortable on the left. They both bring top notch hand speed and firepower. Anna Leigh Waters winning titles with Leigh Waters makes it difficult to comprehend how she could lose being paired up with someone of Bright’s calibre. Crazier things have happened though. 

Lea Jansen / Allyce Jones – A theoretical fit of a partnership with a left-sider in Jansen and a steady rock right-sider in Allyce Jones, this is a wait and see how it goes situation for us. Jansen looked very good to finish off the year at the PPA National Championships and the Bubly Team Championships. The biggest question for us is whether Jones brings enough juice to this partnership to knock off higher end teams. Jones’ defence is some of the best out there, but how does she hold up to seeing most of the balls against elite teams? We will be surprised if this team can find podiums regularly, but that may not be giving enough credit to what Jones is able to do on the court and the weapons Jansen possesses. 

Catherine Parenteau / ???? – As of a few weeks ago, it was still our understanding that Parenteau has been unable to secure a 2023 women’s doubles partner. She may have a few early events with Anna Leigh, but we’re not certain of that as the PPA players are being very coy about their registration. It will be interesting to see who she can find as you will see below that it does not seem like she learned anything from the Partner-Gate situation involving Allyce Jones. She is set to play with Yana Newell at the PPA Masters event. 

Parris Todd / Simone Jardim – These two are playing together at the APP’s first event in Punta Gorda and should form a completely dominant APP partnership with all the talent shifting over to the PPA. It is unknown to us what Parris’ plans are going forward. Registrations are scarce for the APP other than the Punta Gorda event. If it is primarily APPs in Todd’s future with Simone Jardim, that should mean a lot of winning.

📸 @catherineparenteau.pb

Mixed Doubles 

Tyson McGuffin / Catherine Parenteau – Wait, what? Yes, Parenteau/McGuffin will play together in 2023 as Tyson announced on his most recent podcast episode, despite previously announcing that he would be partnering with Lea Jansen for 2023. What we have heard is that Catherine’s team petitioned Tyson to drop Jansen in favor of Parenteau. It has been a rough run for Catherine recently but here we go again with Parenteau and what appears to be a leopard not being able to change their spots type of situation. Tyson should not be guilt free here either as it takes two parties to make this decision and he publicly announced his partnership with Jansen for 2023 – there was partnership drama with Lea/Tyson last year as well so it was already a surprise that they were previously set to partner in 2023. Regardless, it is a situation that certainly cannot be going unnoticed by other pros following the Partner-Gate mess.

In terms of the on-court stuff, this is, at best, a high floor, low ceiling situation. Parenteau and McGuffin are two grinders, who probably won’t find themselves on the end of many bad losses. On the other hand, it’s hard to see how they can take down the elite teams with the limitations both players possess in terms of weapons and power. It was all positive vibes on Tyson’s podcast in discussing Parenteau as a partner but, with Parenteau’s history, you have to wonder if this is a team we could see splitting up part-way through the year.

A final note is Parenteau was seen practicing with a Selkirk paddle last week prior to her announcement of parting ways with Paddletek.

Riley Newman / Anna Bright – This was alluded to as a possibility during James Ignatowich’s appearance on the ‘It Feels Right’ podcast, and we have it on good information this will be a 2022 partnership. Boy, this is going to be a fun partnership to watch grow. We have been looking for a challenger to Anna Leigh/Ben, and this is as good as we could have hoped for. Bright will ultimately need to figure out how to be elite on the traditional right side in mixed, but it should be a big benefit to this team that Riley will be super comfortable with Bright on the left. They have versality to give teams different looks and, if Riley can be the 2nd best mixed team with Catherine Parenteau’s limitations, the sky could be the limit with Anna Bright as his partner.

We should mention that Riley is playing the first tournament of the year with Jessie Irvine, and we wonder whether Irvine was hoping to play with Riley in 2023. Is Jessie scrambling to find a mixed partner for 2023? 

Lea Jansen / Travis Rettenmaier – This one was a surprise to hear about because we had thought Jansen was playing with Tyson as noted above. Travis has been talking publicly about his upcoming partnership with Lea Jansen and he sounds excited by the prospect of it. There’s no sugar coating that Jansen needs to show it in mixed at a certain point. She is not shy talking publicly that she does not enjoy playing mixed doubles in comparison with other events. Her power and weapons are higher end, but the lack of consistency gets her into trouble to topple elite teams and have long days in deep draws. Rettenmaier has shown the ability to get good wins in mixed. The question is whether the pairings with Jansen can produce anything more than spoiling a good team’s day.

Men’s Doubles 

Dekel Bar / AJ Koller – According to Adam Stone, these two are going to play about half of the year together. It’s another square peg, round hole type of partnership for Dekel, but it’s also one that is filled with upside. AJ Koller has shown he can be more of the beta in a partnership with Riley Newman and it seems like Dekel needs to be on the left to get the best out of him. We’ll have to expect they will start with Dekel on the left and AJ on the right. We were wondering if there would be any teams out there that could find their way onto a podium with the Johns brothers, RIley/Matt and JW/Dylan forming the clear top 3 partnerships in men’s doubles. This is a team that may take some time to gel, but they conceivably have the raw ability to break through.

Tyson McGuffin / James Ignatowich – The McGuffin/Devilliers partnership never really worked and it meant the pair had to slog through a very long year together. Tyson is going a different direction with an upside partnership in James Ignatowich. This is another one of those theoretical fits that is good, assuming Tyson concedes the left to Ignatowich as the aggressor and McGuffin sits on the right as the steady-Eddy. There are two parts to this equation for success. The first is Ignatowich’s ability to bring his doubles level up a few notches. The second is for Tyson to maintain his level as a doubles player in the quickly evolving sport. High ceiling, low floor range of results for 2023.

Steve Deakin / Travis Rettenmaier – Steve Deakin must have impressed Travis when he beat him in the bronze medal match, 12-10 in the third, at the PPA Texas Open because they are going to partner together in 2023. This looks about as good as a fit could get for two 40-plus players. Deakin will be on his last year before senior pro eligibility but, in his short time back on tour, he has proven he can still compete at a high level in men’s doubles. Deakin looks to be going all-in on being a right-side specialist, and Travis wanting to be that alpha on the court should go well together. This team has the potential to give some very good teams a lot of trouble. As with many of the non-elite teams, we have questions as to how high their ceiling can be.

Zane Navratil / Thomas Wilson – We have no information on these two other than they are registered for the PPA Masters event together. We are curious what this could mean for the cousin partnership of Koller/Wilson. This is a better fit than Koller/Wilson and Wilson may need to be on the left-side to maximize his abilities in men’s doubles. Our belief is that Navratil is best suited for a right-side role and this is a smart partnership where wins are going to be very hard to come by on the PPA with the depth every event will feature. 

Jay Devilliers / DJ Young – This is another team we are unsure of whether they are playing more than the Masters together. It would make sense that they find their way together as there are not many seats left in the partnership musical chairs game. With DJ leaning into that right-side role, this is an intriguing pairing. It would allow Devilliers to play more freely once again, and DJ to provide some dynamic offence on the right. The potential problem for these two is neither have elite hands and you wonder where that gets you in terms of upside. At the end of the day though, this is a pretty solid fit for two guys with a lot of length and the ability to put a lot of pressure on their opponents.

Sam Querrey / Wes Burrows – Okay, this is somewhat in jest, but these two are playing the PPA Masters event together. We expect they will have more tournaments with each other as the year goes on, and it will be intriguing to watch Querrey’s development in the early stages of pro pickleball. He currently does not appear to be an elite professional player and we were very hard on his #1 overall selection in the Challenger division for MLP. That does not take anything away from the fact that he is still an extremely talented racquet sports player, and we have to expect he should improve immensely with consistent, high-level. Admirably, Querrey is leaning into the criticism of his unjustified Challenger division selection. Let’s have this Querrey conversation again in 3 months.

Agree or disagree? Let us know in the comments below or email us at nmlpickleball@gmail.com. Follow us on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook too!

33 thoughts on “Breaking Down the New 2023 Pro Pickleball Partnerships

  • January 9, 2023 at 7:31 am
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    So excited for the upcoming PPA. We are finally getting a tourney with all the top players in one bracket! There are 54 teams in the Men’s Pro Doubles and 76 entrants in Men’s Pro Singles. Huge.

    I also noticed that Julian Arnold and Rafa Hewett are playing together. That could be an intriguing pairing. If nothing else, they will set the record for the most peacocks in a match.

    I also found it interesting that the long-time mixed partnership of Hewett/Ansboury seems to be coming to an end. She is playing with Chuck Taylor and Hewett with Lacy Schneeman. May be a tough transition for Ansboury after playing for years on that left side.

    Etta Wright/Lacy Schneeman could be a doubles team to watch.

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    • January 9, 2023 at 10:47 pm
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      It is a cool thing that we are finally getting these complete draws for the most part. Julian and Rafa may have a bit of a ways to go together. More of a day spoiler at this point but probably no one out there wants to see them in a single match. Fun to watch.

      Hewett/Ansboury was a limited partnership. Hewett and Lacy will play MLP together and Ansboury is a legacy player whose time is coming to a close pretty soon. She did well with Rafa.

      Etta and Lacy will also be interesting to see where they land in terms of ability at the end of the day as well.

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  • January 9, 2023 at 7:33 am
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    What will Ms. Koop be doing this year?

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    • January 9, 2023 at 10:48 pm
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      She is not PPA signed so imagine she will do something similar in the past with less than full-time schedule balanced with her very full-time job as a lawyer.

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  • January 9, 2023 at 7:33 am
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    Anna * 2 we know is going to bring the fire. It’ll be the most fun to watch and I’m sure I won’t be able to sit down during any of their gold matches! Probably AL will win with either Catherine or Bright but I would expect Bright will be the easier win. I don’t blame Tyson one bit for switching MXD because he seemed surprised last year when Lea dumped him. So why should he not do the same this year to her. Riley and Anna should be fantastic together!!! Can’t wait to see them settle in and get the gold and create a real rivalry in MXD like he’s done in MD. Go Riley! Tyson and James will hopefully settle in together too. Zane and Thomas should have lots of practice together, both being in TX so I would expect that helps them tremendously. It’s an advantage Tyson and James won’t have! You didn’t mention Vivienne David. So hopefully we see her with Thomas a lot along with Jorja.

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    • January 9, 2023 at 7:58 am
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      I dropped Tyson because of my health at the beginning of last year, if you don’t remember my health was in seriously bad form end of last year and beginning of first part of year and explained it to him. He then contacted multiple close ones and went on a victim charade.

      I said OK understand and moved on.

      I see victim mentality and controlling the narrative works. Thanks for the clarifying

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      • January 9, 2023 at 11:56 am
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        LOL. Is this really Lea Jansen? Please tell me this is a fake.

        I refuse to believe that you care enough about some random person who replies on these blog posts to actually post this.

        Lea has all the talent in the world but until she finds a way to develop some true self-confidence, she will never be one of those top players.

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        • January 9, 2023 at 1:44 pm
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          Are you really CBrent? I refuse to believe that their are clowns like you making comments like that. If it is her… fine. I love it. If it is a fake, do you expect the fool to admit it? Either way, you come off as an obnoxious clown.

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        • January 10, 2023 at 2:59 pm
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          I can’t speak to this particular situation, but in general the female players take a lot more s*** for doing the same stuff the male players do (whether it’s losing their temper on the court, or switching partners, et cetera), so I can see why they would feel more pressure to respond directly. They have to care because the commentariat will tear women players to pieces in a way they don’t when the men do it

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      • January 9, 2023 at 6:10 pm
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        Lea: Thank you for your side of the story. Always hard to tell how things went down. I was giving my personal impression that I got from Tyson’s podcast.

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        • January 9, 2023 at 8:45 pm
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          I stopped watching Tyson’s videos and podcasts a while back. Too much BS w/ PPA draws and his attitude on and off the courts.

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      • January 9, 2023 at 8:42 pm
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        Thank you very much for clarifying. And I think it’s great that you read, what’s this site’s name again… Oh ya… NML. Best of luck for this year. Win a bunch and have FUN. 🙂 And ya, there are some real idiots out, I see them all the time in comments. Read one article and you are an expert on what is going on. But I do really like the NML content. Again, best of luck this year, see you at Legacy in Mesa. 🙂

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        • January 9, 2023 at 10:56 pm
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          Thanks as always David. Keep sharing your thoughts even if you disagree!

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    • January 9, 2023 at 10:52 pm
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      It could take some time to gel but we expect Bright will be the easier win. Not sure that two wrongs make a right, but it is part of the story that it was the other way last year. Whether it is a better team is up for debate too.

      Anna and Riley should be lots of fun. There’s a lot of fun partnerships this year. We didn’t mention Vivienne because she has already played with Jorja and Thomas. Only were highlighting the new ones that we would not have talked about.

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  • January 9, 2023 at 10:22 am
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    Are the PPA Pro’s going to stand up and demand to play in the US Open and Nationals? this is where they all started and where their fan base is. who is in?

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    • January 9, 2023 at 6:06 pm
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      Fan: I’ve heard several pros say on podcasts the problems they have with the Open. And if they can play for PPA for more money and better treatment, why wouldn’t they? Plus their exposure on the broadcast channels like Tennis Channel is so much better than the limited broadcasts that the Open does. Open has a very limited broadcast time and the gold is usually on some paid broadcast that is not available to as many as what PPA does when they dual broadcast on YT and Tennis Channel.

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      • January 9, 2023 at 10:54 pm
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        We would echo these sentiments to our most recent reply. Where is the incentive for pros to play those events? The tournaments are legacy in terms of history and most new players don’t care enough about that to make sure it continues, even if it would be better for the sport that we have big time majors like in tennis or golf.

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    • January 9, 2023 at 10:53 pm
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      US Open and Nationals have not been well run recently from a pro perspective. They did better at US Open last year but there is clearly a difference in how the pros are treated at a PPA vs. US Open or Nationals. Nationals in particular had a lot of issues such as the winners bracket men’s doubles final not being on center court and the streaming copyright issues meaning the YouTube content would have to go down at the end of the day. The pros likely are not that concerned about playing US Open or Nationals at this point, but that could be wrong.

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      • January 10, 2023 at 10:58 am
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        i think the ppa is trying to break the US OPEN. US open represents unaffiliated competition to the PPA tour. The US Open is in a weird place. it’s in real danger of becoming the largest PB party on the planet, and a magnet to the 3.5 player who wants to prove themselves on the national stage. But largely irrelevant to the typical pro. The US Open needs to dramatically increase prize money and perks for Pros. It’s crazy how backwards they are with streaming and social media attention grabbing.

        I believe the Nationals has a better chance of remaining relevant. But the USAP seem intent on shooting itself in the foot like clockwork. That org needs to Step Up big time if it wants to remain at all relevant to Pros. Both tournaments will likely continue to attract the competitive amateur players who wish to be able to shout to their followers on FB that I AM a national champion! who cares if it’s 3.0 women’s 50s.

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        • January 16, 2023 at 2:57 am
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          Guys, review the history of pro tennis. The tours and the Majors we’re at odds over many of the same issues for the pro players. Sponsors and TV are driving the bus and the independent events will have to do business the way business is done or risk becoming irrelevant.

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  • January 9, 2023 at 8:05 pm
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    Reading this couldn’t help but think Parenteau really does not care what her professional peers or others think. But, her partner changes does make for some great storylines.
    Dallas Native watching live Frisco Round Up & PPA Texas Open both times Jansen and Parenteau were very heated. Jansen was audibly taunting Parenteau after every fast exchange and relentlessly made it a point the whole match. The Texas open singles semifinal was heated with Jansen again starting words and chippy behavior with Parenteau returning the favor with no paddle tap- and this all while still partners!

    Jansen vs Parenteau in singles I am going to have my popcorn ready for, Lea isn’t shy about making it chippy! She seems to enjoy it. women’s singles needs these storylines, ALW dominance has made me skip viewing that event entirely. Cannot be forgotten too that Jansen will be playing with Jones in doubles, following partner gate at nationals. Those two vs Parenteau should prove for some exciting matches as well.

    While pro players may have their qualms as they should. As a fan I have to admit Catherine Parenteau is making me look forward to matches I would’ve otherwise not cared for this year.

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    • January 9, 2023 at 10:56 pm
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      She may not care but it is looking like it may cost her in the women’s department. It was suggested by a commenter maybe she gets some Parris Todd partnerships if Parris decides to come over. Unless she does something drastic with her game, it’s going to be her game that leaves her without partners at the end of it.

      Rivalries are fun at the end of the day so if we get any Jansen vs. Parenteau matches over the weekend, we’ll be sure to tune in.

      Reply
  • January 10, 2023 at 5:28 am
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    Lea is lying. She is saying that now to make herself look better. She dropped Tyson for Collin intentionally. Hence Tyson’s reaction.

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    • January 11, 2023 at 8:16 am
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      I don’t think you know conversations had with Tyson and how his reaction was not right. And to undermine where I was health wise last year speaks volumes. I could care less about looking better, I let him speak publicly all of last year to make me look bad. Hence, your comment makes no sense.

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    • January 11, 2023 at 8:18 am
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      And more was illuminating how I handled the situation much better and not going on victim charade. Hence, my comment 🙂

      Reply
  • January 10, 2023 at 10:34 am
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    CP is running the Tyson “build my brand” playbook on the women’s side. Each are having lots of success developing their PB brands, despite being well down the list of top players. In fact Tyson was the 10th male player drafted for mlp. Yet he probably has the #2 brand in men’s pickleball. It’s worth paying attention to how he has done that, and what he is “actually” marketing.

    I continue to say that absolutely nobody cares about what happened with CP at the nationals. In fact she just signed with Selkirk and continues to be featured on Jigsaw and Takeya spots. Her brand has not suffered one iota.

    AB just parted ways with Jesse because she got a chance to play with ALW. AB just dropped Dylan because she is now partnering with Riley. Nobody cares. This is Pro Sports. Everybody is dropping everybody for the chance to pick up the large amounts of money that happen to now be on the table.

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    • January 10, 2023 at 11:40 am
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      You may be right about CP. Tyson has had a much more extended period of trying to build his pickleball brand than anyone in the game and it is working for him. However, it’s not fair to compare what has happened with Anna and what Catherine has done. Clearly she is not being harmed financially right now or else they would stop doing it, but it begs the question for CP whether there may be any impact going forward if she is not able to stay relevant. She has also built a brand well for herself.

      Reply
    • January 10, 2023 at 12:43 pm
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      Hi! This is Anna. I did not part w Jessie to play with AL. We had no commitments for this year and I wanted to play with different people and was planning on doing so before Leigh unfortunately got hurt. I loved playing with Jessie but I felt we had lost in a lot of finals and I thought my best chance to win might be to play with some different players. I could be wrong though! We will see. Nothing personal or callous or last minute.

      Secondly, I did not drop Dylan. Dylan and I were scheduled to play a lot of APPs together (NO PPAs) and I was committed to also play a lot of PPAs w Riley. I was intending to play a lot on both tours just as I did in 2022.

      When PPA / MLP merger happened and myself and many others signed, of course the APPs were no longer events I and others could play so my tournaments with Dylan no longer existed effectively, but my commitments to Riley did. I had the US Open with Dylan up until we just found out we can’t play. Just an unfortunate situation all around as I love playing with Dylan but I am stoked for my partnership with Riley. Just wanted to clear that up. Thanks NML!

      Reply
  • January 10, 2023 at 1:06 pm
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    WONDER WHY NO ONE WANTS TO PLAY WITH IRVINE? I CAN SEE WHY PARENTEAU NC YOU CANT TRUST HER SEEMS LIKE, SOUNDS LIEK HER MANAGER IS A REAL PIA

    Reply
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  • April 28, 2023 at 10:06 pm
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    I don’t follow the comments about Parris Todd.

    She’s won a lot of titles in a short period of time despite being relatively new to the game. She has beat several of the top players including Waters. She looks excited every time she wins a point and a match.

    Reply

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