We definitely omitted a few teams in our pro split age men’s and women’s doubles preview yesterday that could have been mentioned and we expect that could happen again for tomorrow’s mixed pro split division. Granot/Cincola, the Dawson’s, Merchant/Witsken, Farias/Waddell and Wilhelm/Whitwell were all teams that had some really good wins today.
However, the headline for us from the doubles split age day is another reminder of how far pickleball has come in a short period. 2018 Nationals was a time when Dave Weinbach and Kyle Yates competed against each other for a men’s pro national title. Weinbach and Yates were part of a small, elite group that was considered the pinnacle of “pro” pickleball. In the pro split age division today, Weinbach/Yates did not podium. They were pushed to the brink by John Sperling/Wes Gabrielsen, steamrolled by Dayne Gingrich/Riley Newman outside a small stretch in game 2, and lost to Steve Kennedy and Dekel bar in two games in the bronze. Different times, different times.
Most of the top pairings that we see in the mixed split age feature a pro woman with a senior pro man. It seems to us it’s more difficult for a senior pro female to hold up as the senior pro. However, Eva Welsher/AJ Koller did win a mixed split age event earlier in the year that we noted in yesterday’s preview. The big names are missing mostly but the mixed draw is still very deep and there are a lot of teams that could be in the mix.
Mixed Split Age
1. Callie Smith / Dayne Gingrich – Gingrich ran over the competition yesterday with Riley Newman in men’s, can he do the same with Callie Smith in mixed? Callie Smith’s offence and Gingrich being so strong seems like a perfect fit. If our analysis is correct, there doesn’t seem like a team that should touch these two. However, we have such limited information about split age matchups that we could see a lot of variation in the results.
2. Lea Jansen / John Sperling – This is essentially a poor person’s Callie Smith and Dayne Gingrich. Jansen, an offensive female, and Sperling, a very strong male. This is another good pairing and one that should do some major damage.
3. Jade Kawamoto / Dave Weinbach – This is a podium team from our perspective because of the Dave Weinbach partnership – although that may be overvaluing Weinbach too much as we saw in men’s split age. Kawamoto can definitely hold her own at the top women’s pro level. We know what Dave can do and he can still do it at a very high level.
Podium Chasers: Lauren Stratman/Scott Crandall is once again a pairing in the vein of Jansen/Sperling or Smith/Gingrich. It would not be a surprise to see them anywhere in this podium mix after a very rough women’s split age day for Stratman. Callan Dawson/Jennifer Dawson is the first men’s pro and senior female pro we see with big potential because of Jennifer’s prowess as a higher end senior female. We would be remiss not to mention the other prominent mother-son duo with JW/Julie Johnson – Julie got a bronze with Jorja today in women’s. Jorja Johnson/Mircea Morariu train together and should have good chemistry. Irina Tereschenko/Steve Dawson have a longstanding relationship as well and Dawson is still as smooth as they come on the court. Michelle Esquivel/Jose Derisi are previous fellow Engage sponsored players and Derisi is someone always to watch despite his disappointing day today. Lee Whitwell/Rick Witsken are an interesting pairing and it is fun to see Whitwell try to cover more court in these types of partnerships
Wild Cards: Cammy MacGrego/John Cincola are the less ideal pairing in our view but Cincola had a good day with Dan Granot today. Eva Welsher/Joey Farias and Helen Wilhelm/Wes Gabrielsen both had strong days in their respective division today as well. Finally, Sarah Mitten/Rafa Hewett are notable simply because Mitten is on the rise a bit and Rafa is a mixed force on the right day.
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