APP Tour Chicago Open – Fantasy Draft Preview

We’re all the way into September kicking off with the APP Tour’s Chicago Open hosted bt Zane Navratil and Andrea Koop. There’s a number of interesting storylines at play with Jay Devilliers’ health being a bit of a question at TOC, JW Johnson’s emergence and some interesting new partnerships like Lauren Stratman and Susannah Barr.

Slim is 1 up for the year in fantasy and he won the toss, choosing to draft second.

(1) Jay Devilliers / Adam Stone (Gritty)

(2) Andrea Koop / Jay Devilliers (Slim)

(3) JW Johnson (Slim)

(4) Zane Navratil (Gritty)

(5) Rob Nunnery / Rob Cassidy (Gritty)

Gritty – Assuming Devilliers is healthy, I liked the fact that I get him and Stone as I think this is clearly the #1 team in the whole tournament. I thought Slim went too early with JW Johnson and I want to see it on a more consistent basis from Johnson in singles before I’m putting him ahead of both Navratil and Devilliers (again, health permitting). I went with Navratil ahead of Devilliers only because of the health aspect and I chose to go with the Rob’s ahead of a female doubles or singles team as I didn’t feel strongly enough about a gold favourite in either of those brackets. I usually like Lica as a player but I really wasn’t thrilled with what I saw from him in New Jersey. I’m still buying Nunnery in this field with Cassidy.

Slim – Gritty can knock my picks but I am happy with them. I know Jay in mixed, has mixed results (I’ll show myself out), but in this field I really like he and Andrea’s chances, and no player is hotter than JW Johnson these days so I’ll keep riding with him. I like JW and Jay over Zane in men’s singles, so I am shocked that Gritty is taking him fourth overall. I feel like player’s have adjusted to Zane’s serve, and he has lost a significant edge. I also think picking Rob squared at five is a mistake, I don’t see much gold medal potential there and at five I think you want gold medal potential.

(6) Lauren Stratman / Susannah Barr (Slim)

(7) Lauren Stratman (Slim)

(8) Jay Devilliers (Gritty)

(9) Corrine Carr / Adam Stone (Gritty)

(10) Andrea Koop / Corrine Carr (Slim)

(11) JW Johnson / Johnny Goldberg (Slim)

Gritty – I had the top 3 women’s team all clumped together so Slim made my life easier by taking the 2 lead ones ahead. I did like Stratman/Barr slightly ahead of the other two teams. I’m not going to quit Carr/Stone in this draw but I don’t feel great about it with their recent results. Also, getting Jay in singles all the way down at #8 is good value when, to me, he should be the gold favorite on most days right now.

Slim – I have Lauren and Susannah as my top women’s team, I think they have the most weapons in this women’s field, and we have finally started seeing Susannah get some women’s results now that she is getting better women’s partners. Taking Lauren at number 7 overall in women’s singles is a bit of a risk, as she does not seem fully committed to playing singles, but in this field she should play singles and win singles. I had Andrea and Corrine as second women’s team, despite some concerns about Corrine in the women’s game, I like them in this field. Then I feel like getting JW and Johnny at 10 is a steal, as I said no one is hotter right now than JW (not that JW would tell you that, but that’s what Johnny is for). I really need JW and Johnny to face the Rob’s as I feel like Johnny and Nunnery have a score to settle from Jersey. Hopefully Johnny’s stomach is all good.

(12) Annica Cooper (Gritty)

(13) Michelle Esquivel / Sarah Ansboury (Gritty)

(14) Lauren Stratman / Dylan Frazier (Slim)

(15) Jade Kawamoto (Slim)

(16) Susannah Barr / Zane Navratil (Gritty)

(17) Jackie Kawamoto / Jade Kawamoto (Gritty)

Gritty – Annica Cooper has had some good singles results recently and you have to think she might be putting things together in singles with her stronger than most tennis background even at her slightly more advanced age. Cooper can definitely challenge Stratman for the gold. Susannah Barr and Zane Navratil are an interesting pairing with Barr having some very quality results lately in mixed. Navratil doesn’t really have the game to create points out of nowhere as much in mixed doubles as some of the top players do but that serve should still be deadly. To round out this set of picks, we haven’t seen much of the Kawamoto’s in bigger tournaments since their breakout run at the APP Cincinnati Open all the way back in May. I like them as a sleeper to sneak onto a podium.

Slim – Lauren Stratman and Dylan Frazier are a very solid team who has put up some results this year already, so I am very happy to get them here at number 14, and while we have not seen a lot of her, I really like Jade Kawamoto to podium in women’s singles, so I think at pick 15, she is great value.

(18) Michelle Esquivel / Rob Nunnery (Slim)

(19) Zane Navratil / Altaf Merchant (Slim)

(20) Sarah Ansboury / Rafa Hewett (Gritty)

(21) Megan Charity (Gritty)

(22) John Cincola (Slim)

(23) Annica Cooper / Megan Charity (Slim)

Gritty – I think the value I’m getting with Ansboury and Hewett at #20 is good here. I don’t think Slim made a mistake leaving them this long but they have legitimate podium upside. Ansboury’s steadiness plays well with Hewett’s weapons and ability to create some chaos in mixed. I have not seen any Charity in singles but I have to think she has an outside chance at bronze at a minimum.

Slim – In what I view as a pretty wide open mixed field, I really like getting Esquivel and Nunnery here. On the right day I think they could win the whole thing, which you seldom get for upside with the eighteenth pick in these drafts, now I just have to hope they on are same page, on game day. Zane and Altaf, really haven’t had much success this year, but I still had them as my fourth best men’s team in this field. I think this is a field where John Cincola can sneak onto the podium if any of the top three guys slip on Sunday.

(24) Austin Gridley / Mario Barrientos (Gritty)

(25) Meghan Sheehan-Dizon / Allyce Jones (Gritty)

(26) Dylan Frazier (Slim)

(27) Dylan Frazier / Jeff Pope (Slim)

(28) Jack Foster (Gritty)

(29) Alix Troung (Gritty)

(30) Taylor Uhl (Slim)

Gritty – I thought I was being clever and was surprised when we did the draft that both of us had Gridley/Barrientos firmly at #5 in this men’s doubles field. Regardless, I”m pleased to get them and I’ll be curious to see how Barrientos holds up. Barrientos is another Utah guy that’s kind of an Austin Gridley clone. He has shown up well against higher end Utah players so we’ll see how he does in an APP pro field. My feeling is that Slim made a mistake passing on Sheehan-Dizon/Jones to me but it probably won’t matter from a podium perspective. I thought #4 through #6 in men’s singles was super close so I let Slim take his guys first and that left me with the 4th place maestro, Jack Foster. I close my team with rising junior, Alix Troung, who has to have some upside in this field considering her ability to hit quality groundstrokes from both sides.

Slim – I always like talent and upside and Dylan Frazier has plenty of both, so I take him here in back to back picks. His singles results have leveled off a bit after a scorching hot start, but I still like his upside as he figures out the singles game. Dylan is clearly one the top men’s doubles player in the field and top doubles player by far left in the field, so I took a flyer on him and Jeff Pope, who appears to have only played one previous pickleball tournament before.

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