DUPR is doing their 3rd installment of Tuesday night pickleball, which is now being called Pickleball Night in America, at least for this week. Last week’s Battle of the Sexes installment was pretty universally considered somewhat of a yawner. The potential problem that we had highlighted in our preview last week was the lack of incentive for the players to perform at 100% intensity. That problem came to fruition as the players, other than maybe Anna Bright, were playing as if it were a rec game in the battle of the sexes. It’s really tough to create a tournament atmosphere for an exhibition, but DUPR is determined to keep experimenting with different concepts to see what can work.
In our view, tonight should be the most anticipated DUPR Tuesday night event. There are 8 players who will be randomly selected to partner with and play against one another. The 4 winners from the first 2 matches will play a semi-finals remix and then play again for the finals (honestly, we’re not quite sure how this is going to work). The big difference to us with this event is that the winners are getting $4,000 each whereas the runners up only get $1,000 each and the rest of the participants get $500 each. That’s a $3,000 difference per player between 1st and 2nd place, which we believe is more than the gold versus silver prize money difference at any pro tournament this year.
In pickleball, the difference between $4,000 and $1,000 is a lot. If that level of discrepancy in prize money doesn’t bring the full intensity of these players, we’re not sure what will. Furthermore, most of the players involved in this event are not players that are always on the top of podiums. Beyond the money that these players will surely be incentivized by, we are intrigued to watch these lesser-known players in this type of high stakes environment with partners that they may never have played with. At least one of us is still not on board with the rally scoring that has been implemented but there is some understanding that there is a desire to keep the time pretty tight and experiment with new concepts.
The list of players for the tournament are Dekel Bar, Thomas Wilson, DJ Young, Julian Arnold, Travis Rettenmaier, Ryler DeHeart, Brandon Nsekpong and Stefan Auvergne. It’s pretty safe to say that the vast majority of pickleball viewers have not seen much of the last 4 or 5 players on this list. We don’t always have the best sense of what the average pickleball viewer wants but having lesser known, lower end pros play a higher stakes event is right up our alley.
We’re not going to give any preview of matchups because it would be ridiculous to try to account for the amount of matchups. Some random thoughts about the player and the event:
(1) Dekel bar is the best doubles player in this group, and we will have to see if he can find his way to a victory regardless of partner. If Dekel gets to partner with either Wilson or DJ in a matchup, it might be game over. The one caveat with Dekel is that he may not feel the stakes of this event the same way as a lot of the other participants, which could be good and bad. We’re not sure.
(2) Retteinmaier/DeHeart and Nsekpong/Auvergne are regular partnerships in their relatively short time on tour. As relative newcomers, they do not have as much experience playing with different, higher level partners. That could be tough for them.
(3) Like Anna Bright, you know Julian Arnold is going to bring the fire and intensity. As an side, let’s get them partnered together for a tournament and get some mics on them.
(4) DJ Young is always a wildcard, but his alpha style lends itself well to making just about every partnership in this setting workout. The only other true alpha out there is Dekel Bar, who DJ has played with before.
(5) Rally scoring equalizes the random nature of having a hat draw determine the partnerships. The running theme of the past two events is almost every match ends up being very close. Something doesn’t feel right about that.
We don’t know if we’ll keep doing short previews for these events if they are going to be every week. But if they continue to be as intriguing as this one sounds, you bet we’ll be all over it.
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