DUPR has decided to do some interesting exhibition type things so we decided to write a bit about it. Later tonight it will be the first in their Tuesday series of exhibitions. Possibly the most interesting part of the first installment in this series is the fact that we have three PPA contracted players involved in this – Anna Leigh Waters, Leigh Waters and Collin Johns. While we are fairly confident the Waters only signed the one year, not fully exclusive deal, given Ben Johns’ support for 3-year contracts, we would have thought Collin would also be on a three-year exclusive deal.
However, if Collin is playing this event, it makes us wonder if he’s on a one-year or if he has been able to get PPA approval to play this event. This event is being played the weekend after Lauren Stratman’s withdrawal from the Delray tournament where she was signed up to play singles and mixed. While Stratman officially withdrew due to an injury, we suspect the PPA may have nixed her attempt to play a non-PPA event considering that on Sunday she was already posting excited to play the PPA event in Austin this coming weekend on social media.
Of course, we’re really here to preview this event. It’s going to be an MLP style format with rally scoring to 21 – with rally scoring stopping at 20. The rally scoring is also supposed to be simplified from what we are used to with players only serving on their even or odd side. We’re not sure to regular pickleball viewers that simplifies anything from a familiarity standpoint right away but DUPR is always trying new things. It’s an intriguing mixture of players so let’s give a brief preview of what we expect the matchups to be.
Update: It looks like Irina is in for Vivienne David who alluded to an injury on social media after the APP Delray. We missed that. It is notable Irina is another PPA player.
This is the only event where the matchups are up in the air. Both DJ Young and Dekel Bar have history of good success with Vivienne David, but DJ Young played with Lee Whitwell this past weekend in Delray. We expect Team Dream will go Dekel/Vivienne and DJ/Lee. On the other side, it seems like you could go either way. Stone and Johns are both capable mixed players, but neither are elite. On the other hand, Stone and Johns have played some right sided mixed, which would work well with Anna Leigh.
We like Team Dream in the mixed matchups because you have two alpha-oriented men. With DJ Young, we are betting on a more focused DJ for this event. Anna Leigh is obviously the best female out there so it will be fun to watch her outside of the Ben Johns partnership once again – side note that Anna Leigh is playing with Dekel Bar at the PPA Austin this coming weekend. It should be noted that Leigh Waters has had an uptick in terms of mixed results this year. Her power exceeds either female on Team Dream.
Anna Leigh’s dominance would make this seem like it will be a split, but if this is going to go 2-0 we’ll bet on Team Dream getting the 2-0 win.
Irina Update: With Irina in the fold that really changes things. Irina doesn’t give the same steadiness that Vivienne does and counter punching ability. Team Challenger should have the edge in both matches.
The women’s matchup features Anna Leigh and Leigh vs. Vivienne David and Lee Whitwell. This is pretty straightforward. The Waters have been winning PPA golds and David/Whitwell simply don’t have the firepower to keep up. This should be a win for the Waters. The only thing that throws a wrench into things is the rally scoring. 21 goes quick and rally scoring can definitely lead to more upsets.
Irina Update: It likely won’t be enough but Irina is a better fit for Whitwell as a more comfortable left-side player. The Waters are winning gold at the PPA and we don’t see that changing.
In terms of the men, as noted for the mixed, it’s really team alpha vs. team beta. DJ and Dekel are both used to taking a lot of court in men’s doubles so I’m not sure how they will gel together – side note that DJ and Dekel are playing together in the PPA Austin this coming weekend. There is a lot of firepower with the two big double Ds on the same side of the court. In contrast, Adam Stone and Collin Johns are both used to being the betas. They have played a couple of times together and at the first PPA ever in Mesa back in early 2020 they made the final together. Collin has not had much success without Ben since then though. We have to give the advantage to the team with the firepower.
If we find our way to a singles matchup, Anna Leigh is the dominant female singles player out there and can undoubtedly hang in a few points with anyone out there, including Dekel Bar who should breathe a little easier being on the same team as Lee Whitwell. DJ Young does not enjoy singles whereas Adam Stone and Collin have more capability to win some singles points if needed. Lee Whitwell showed she can smack some ground strokes and the play in our eyes is to bring her up to the net rather than punch balls back for her to have a crack at another winner. Just like Dekel, Vivienne can play some singles but clearly doesn’t have much interest in it.
All that being said, there’s a lot of players in this event that don’t have much interest in playing singles on a regular basis, but we like Team Challenge by a smidge if this one goes to a singles rally.
Irina Update: Irina is a more comfortable singles player and is an upgrade from Vivienne given that she actually plays singles. She isn’t enough to move the needle but that should help Team Dream if this goes to a tiebreak. However, that tiebreak seems more unlikely now.
This is probably too much analysis for a fun exhibition, but why the hell not. More pickleball. Enjoy it!
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