Waggish, aka Pickleball Jan, helps us out on the site with her commentary on the live blogs. She is a pickleball aficionado and follows pro pickleball as closely as just about anyone that we have interacted with. While the infamous Jim Kloss provided his daily reviews from the PPA Championships in Las Vegas, our own Waggish presented us with her own observations and takeaways from the weekend in-person at the PPA Championships. Jan provided these to us at the end of the weekend and we decided to put them into a separate post for everyone to see. We’re curious to hear what other people’s experience was like either at the PPA Championships or at other PPA events.
I saw a surprising number of small paddle companies well represented and what may have been a very niche company called Crush. I saw various models of Vatic, ProXR (mainly Zane model), Volair, Holbrook and Six Zero. It struck me how much variety you see of different brands and models. Selkirk and JOOLA might still dominate, but people are getting wise to other paddles being just as good. Other than the sponsored Paddletek pros like AL, I didn’t see any Paddleteks being used by players in the pro division (main, bonus draw, and point draw).
The top players warm-ups were noticeably different. In fact, I thought one female was a 4.5 stand-in to warm-up the pro player. Her lack of athletic stance and dink only looked like something you’d see in your typical rec play “warm-up”. I saw Ben do some flicks that looked remarkably similar to JW’s. If you didn’t know them, you could probably list who the top pros were just by watching their warm-ups. Not all players warmed-up with the paddle they selected for their first match.
Championship Court was set-up for lots of high dollar seating. VIP sections were on both baselines. Cabanas were on one side in front of the bleacher seating, preventing any court side seating on that side. The other side had bleachers, but the court view was cut-off from the end sections. So overall, courts-side seats were limited. Even then, they never got 100% full. Very empty on Friday (estimate 40%), slightly fuller on Saturday, and even space on Sunday which is very rare.
You could say PPA didn’t oversell the seats as much as they have in my past experiences where they packed you in like sardines and you may not get a seat at all. Lots of VIP tickets wandering around and those seats might have been full on one side if everyone sat in the VIP section at the same time.
The cabanas weren’t used much until Sunday. Cabana seats didn’t seem to get anything special other than a table and a tent around the area, but I’m not 100% certain. If the PPA isn’t over-selling, then that is very welcome! But if they can’t sell the seats, then that’s a problem. It looks like they could keep adding more VIP seats and they would sell (or give away the VIP passes which may account for some the VIP ticket holders).
Volunteers kicked you out if you didn’t have the proper ticket – even early morning when less than 20 people were sitting court-side. But as the day wore on, they got less strict. By the time of the semi-finals, lots of people had left and you seemed to be allowed to take a seat without people checking if you were allowed to be there.
The Hype Guys did their best to fire up the crowd, but I felt like the audience just didn’t get into it most of the time. The announcer also had odd timing. When the announcer was trying to fire up the audience, it didn’t match activity or team presence on the court. In general, the announcements did not keep you informed. They got the quarterfinal schedule wrong and there was no mention of the bronze mention.
Personally, I preferred the side courts and the four grandstand courts because you were able to get much closer to the action and weren’t bomb-blasted with loud music every 5 minutes. By the second day, the loudness on Championship Court got very old. Choosing what matches to watch without any delay was also very welcome. As a note, the side courts weren’t very full either. For those that had seating, you could get a seat if you wanted one.
The venue itself seemed fine. Due to the way the seating was arranged, you didn’t get a very close seat to Championship Court no matter what level of ticket you bought. Some people complained about lack of food trucks and their prices. The vodka drinks booth seemed very popular.
Updated Medal Count
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