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.
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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow us on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook too!