APP Atlanta Metro Open – Fantasy Draft Preview

It’s a $60,000 prize pool this weekend at the APP Atlanta Metro Open. There’s going to be streaming on ESPN plus as this is a USA Pickleball associated tournament. We do not have women’s singles included in our fantasy draft for this tournament as there are only 5 women entered in the draw. It has to be a concern for the APP going into next year when they have only 5 women for a singles draw and 7 teams for a women’s draw despite this being a $60K prize pool.

That’s a big prize pool for pickleball and that prize pool doesn’t include any money given for appearance fees like the PPA tournaments do. It’s not the first time we have written about the dearth of women in the sport but it’s somewhat incomprehensible more women wouldn’t want a piece of this pie. Going into 2022, it looks like Lea Jansen, Catherine Parenteau and Callie Smith are all going to be PPA contracted players. That does not leave many women out there to play singles in the 30 APP tournaments in 2022, especially with Irina Tereschenko not appearing in these APP draws either. We’re hoping to be incorrect about this but, as we have said, players are going to be more picky with so many tournaments.

Slim is 3 up going into this weekend and he’s already called the win for this week’s fantasy duel. Slim won the toss and he elected to go 2nd in this draft.

(1) Ben Johns (Gritty)

(2) Ben Johns / Collin Johns (Slim)

(3) Lauren Stratman / Ben Johns (Slim)

(4) Lauren Stratman / Andrea Koop (Gritty)

(5) Jay Devilliers / Patrick Smith (Gritty)

Gritty – Ben Johns was a very late addition to this draw. I guess Ben had some time on his hands and felt like sticking his hands in this $60K cookie jar. Ben plays in 3 events and Slim rightly chooses to guarantee Ben in 2 events. I definitely made a mistake going with Jay/Pat over Lea/Jay. There’s a lot more competition in that men’s bracket and Lea/Jay should be close to a lock for a silver medal while there’s a number of teams that could give Jay/Pat a run for their money.

Slim – Electing to pick second and get to take Ben Johns twice in this field was an easy choice.

(6) Lea Jansen / Jay Devilliers (Slim)

(7) Lea Jansen / Michelle Esquivel (Slim)

(8) Jay Devilliers (Gritty)

(9) Susannah Barr / Rob Cassidy (Gritty)

(10) Zane Navratil (Slim)

(11) JW Johnson / Dylan Frazier (Slim)

Gritty – I really am not feeling my team this week despite needing a bounce back. Devilliers is probably the #2 singles guy but when there’s Zane, JW and possibly Dekel Bar in this field, that’s hardly a lock for even a podium. It’s kind of weird having to shift gears with these teams but that’s the world of pickleball with more talent coming in as I have Susannah Barr and Rob Cassidy firmly as my #3 mixed team out there.

Slim – Lea and Jay and Michelle and Lea were easy picks here, both are top two teams in their brackets and I feel like both teams have a significant gap between them and the number three team in their bracket. I had Zane and JW and Dylan solidly as the third best teams in this bracket and both teams have a fair amount of upside to finish higher as well.

(12) Susannah Barr / Lee Whitwell (Gritty)

(13) Andrea Koop / Zane Navratil (Gritty)

(14) Corrine Carr / Sarah Ansboury (Slim)

(15) JW Johnson (Slim)

(16) Rob Nunnery / Rob Cassidy (Gritty)

(17) Corrine Carr / Adam Stone (Gritty)

Gritty – I am iffy on my Barr/Whitwell pick here. I think Ansboury and Carr are better players than Whitwell still at this point even if there’s not a lot of finishing power on that team. Whitwell should be seeing a lot of balls if teams play that matchup right whereas there’s not anywhere to pick on in the Ansboury/Carr partnership. I definitely think Koop/Navratil can find their way to a podium as can the Rob’s. Slim didn’t even have Carr/Stone on his board but I think they still have as much upside as any of the other partnerships out there even if teams have seemingly figured them out a bit.

Slim – I think there is a solid argument that Corrine and Sarah are the third best women’s doubles team in this field so to get them here is solid value and then with the 15th pick to get a guy like JW who literally on the right day could win the whole thing is terrific value.

(18) Dekel Bar (Slim)

(19) Zane Navratil / Altaf Merchant (Slim)

(20) Shelton Jean-Baptiste / Austin Gridley (Gritty)

(21) Jack Foster (Gritty)

(22) Lee Whitwell / JW Johnson (Slim)

(23) Martina Kochli / Jorja Johnson (Slim)

(24) Shannon Moore / Angela Simon (Gritty)

Gritty – Steve Deakin pulled out of this tournament so Johnny Goldberg stepped in for him to play with Adam Stone. However, I went with the unique Utah duo of Shelton Jean-Baptiste and Austin Gridley. Goldberg had a big gold with JW Johnson, but I don’t think Stone can control the game enough to give that partnership the upside that JW showed. Shelton and Austin are tough, and I take them as the 6th team over Goldberg/Stone. I’m giving Jack Foster the nod over Ryan Sherry in this very tough singles field. 4th place Foster is still getting a lot of 4ths in as tough or even tougher singles brackets than this one.

My last choice is Shannon Moore and Angela Simon. I don’t see much opportunity at this 6th choice so might as well go with a couple more unknown players. Moore actually has some decent results at the pro level this year, including a win in mixed over Kasandra Gehrke and John Cincola at the APP New Jersey. Simon shows only two tournaments on PT Tourney, and at 49 you wouldn’t think there would be upside. However, a quick Google search shows her as the 1994 NCAA Champion in Singles and Team at University of Georgia in Tennis and she was the #2 ranked collegiate player when she was there. Simon even played all four Grand Slam events on the WTA.

Slim – I am still a little skeptical that Dekel is going to play singles as it is the only event he is registered in but if he does play he has as much talent as anyone. Getting Zane and Altaf coming off their gold in Chicago here seems like a solid pick. With my last mixed doubles pick I could have gone in a few different directions but I was happy to pick up the upside of JW Johnson along with the super steady Lee Whitwell.

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