PPA Foot Solutions Arizona Grand Slam – Fantasy Draft Preview

This is the first in a set of back-to-back weekends for the PPA. While the top teams are more or less the same going into the weekend, we’re getting some new partnerships that definitely fall into the podium contention/dark horse kind of category. Tyler Loong/AJ Koller, Rob Cassidy/Julian Arnold, Mario Barrientos/DJ Young, Lea Jansen/Jillian Braverman, Lauren Stratman/Andrea Koop, Andrea Koop/JW Johnson, Lea Jansen/Collin Johns, Lauren Stratman/Tyson McGuffin, Dylan Frazier/Simone Jardim – to name just a few! This is a tournament where we would love to have a second court streamed as there are going to be some fun ones that we’re going to miss out on. It’s early in the year so lots of fresh matchups for us to keep an eye on still.

Slim 3 for 3 in fantasy draft wins for the year. Gritty won the toss and elected to pick second.

(1) Ben Johns (Slim)

(2) Anna Leigh Waters (Gritty)

(3) Anna Leigh Waters / Ben Johns (Gritty)

(4) Ben Johns / Collin Johns (Slim)

(5) Lucy Kovalova / Callie Smith (Slim)

Slim – I take Ben Johns here hoping he is motivated after losing his first match of the season, and having to settle for bronze a couple weeks ago. Ben and Collin looked dominant in the first tournament of the year and I can’t help but wonder if they might actually be widening the gap on the competition with Collin now regularly getting high end play and practice with his move to Austin. I know Jessie and Catherine took Lucy and Callie to 5 games, but I think Lucy and Callie are about to go on a dominant run in women’s doubles. They just have too much power for the other teams, so getting them at number five feels like a real steal.

Gritty – It’s a bit of a dicier roll taking Anna Leigh in this slot as she is most likely going to have to contend with both Lea Jansen and Catherine Parenteau if she wants to win gold. Parenteau has continued to play Anna Leigh tough and we’ll see if this time off for Jansen helps her performance. I like getting Anna Leigh/Ben at more than I did at the last PPA. They appear to have some of the kinks worked out after almost dropping an early round match to Callie Smith/AJ Koller. I expect they will continue to roll.

(6) Catherine Parenteau (Gritty)

(7) Jessie Irvine / Catherine Parenteau (Gritty)

(8) JW Johnson (Slim)

(9) Riley Newman / Matt Wright (Slim)

(10) Jessie Irvine / Jay Devilliers (Gritty)

(11) Lea Jansen (Gritty)

Slim – I am a bit worried about shenanigans being played with JW Johnson’s seeding, but I know that won’t affect him much, so I continue to ride with JW every chance I get. Riley and Matt are clearly the second best men’s doubles team, so I grab them with the 9th pick. The question is what adjustments will they make if they face the Johns brothers again? Also against the Johns brothers they moved Matt to the left side after having Riley there all day, how will they play this week?

Gritty – Picking Catherine Parenteau here is in large part a seeding choice. She is still narrowly the number 1 seed by PPA points so the best player she will have to play before the gold match is Callie Smith. Not to mention she has just been playing really well in singles recently. Add in Jansen’s recent mid-tourney withdrawals, and I think Parenteau is a good bet here. Irvine/Parenteau almost lost to the Waters but narrowly lost to Lucy/Callie. I am taking their consistency even though I think the Waters are right on their heels. Picking Irvine/Devilliers is mostly a seeding pick as well. I expect they will have the #4 seed, which would give them the #1 seed by PPA points, Kovalova/Wright, in the semi-finals. As unfair as that may be, the PPA is choosing to do seeding based off total PPA points. My final pick in these cycle is Lea Jansen. I think she’s the 2nd best singles player in this field. If her health can hold up, this should be a women’s singles sweep for me.

(12) Lucy Kovalova / Matt Wright (Slim)

(13) Anna Leigh Waters / Leigh Waters (Slim)

(14) Catherine Parenteau / Riley Newman (Gritty)

(15) Tyson McGuffin (Gritty)

(16) Dylan Frazier / JW Johnson (Slim)

(17) Jay Devilliers (Slim)

Slim – Matt and Lucy should benefit from being the number one seed in mixed, and avoiding Ben and Anna Leigh. They did not look great a couple weeks ago, and the top end of these mixed fields is much deeper this year, but I still like them to have a bounce back weekend. The Waters are clearly a top three women’s team. Dylan Frazier and JW are coming off a bronze medal performance, and I will continue to bet on JW every chance I get in these drafts. Jay Devilliers singles performances have been down a bit lately, but he is clearly a podium contender so getting him at 17 is again great value.

Gritty – I slightly regret not going with the Waters at my Lea Jansen selection. The Waters still have gold upside. However, Parenteau/Newman are the 2nd best mixed team out there so if the seeding goes a different way than I expect then this is a very good value for them. Tyson McGuffin continues to grind out wins even if it isn’t always the prettiest. He was handled easily by JW Johnson last time out, but JW should have the fortune of playing Ben in the semi-finals should everything break as expected. I’ll take Tyson over Jay right now if it gets there as Jay’s singles results have underwhelmed lately.

(18) Thomas Wilson (Gritty)

(19) Lea Jansen / Jillian Braverman (Gritty)

(20) Lauren Stratman / Andrea Koop (Slim)

(21) Callie Smith (Slim)

(22) Jay Devilliers / Tyson McGuffin (Gritty)

(23) Tyler Loong / AJ Koller (Gritty)

Slim – Lauren Stratman and Andrea Koop are an intriguing pairing. If one of the top three women’s teams falters, they could find themselves on the podium. Callie Smith is the one woman who presents a real threat to prevent podiums of just Anna Leigh, Lea and Catherine at the PPA’s. Callie just really started playing singles last year and her game continues to improve.

Gritty – I like Thomas Wilson but I made a mistake picking him here when Slim was full on men’s singles teams. I should have gone with the two women’s teams since Slim was filled up on women’s doubles. Nevertheless, I had Jansen/Braverman a hair ahead of Stratman/Koop. Both these pairings are new partnerships. Health continues to be a concern for me in taking Jansen, but I’m still not as high on Andrea Koop as Slim is. Braverman is super intriguing to me as a talent even if she appears to be the weakest of the 4 players here. I don’t see either of these teams making the podium, but I think Jansen/Braverman have a better chance to find an upset of one of the top 3 teams.

Jay/Tyson did not look good in Mesa, but I’ll happily take them as the 4th men’s team. It was apparent in their match against JW/Dylan that their lack of elite hands could hold them back as a pairing. I know they haven’t played together before but I couldn’t understand why their default alignment wasn’t Tyson on the right side. It’s early though so I’m giving them the benefit of the doubt they will figure it out. Tyler Loong finally has a partner who can create some offence with AJ Koller and I could see this first time partnership doing major damage this weekend.

(24) Andrea Koop / JW Johnson (Slim)

(25) Irina Tereschenko (Slim)

(26) John Cincola (Gritty)

(27) Irina Tereschenko / Yana Grechkina (Gritty)

(28) AJ Koller / Callie Smith (Slim)

(29) Lauren Stratman (Slim)

(30) Rob Cassidy / Julian Arnold (Gritty)

Slim – Quite happily, I am all in on JW Johnson this weekend, and playing with Andrea Koop, I think they are a legitimate podium threat. Irina has had a real resurgence the last few months, can she carry that momentum to a podium spot in singles this weekend? AJ Koller and Callie Smith will get some podiums this year when they are clicking, I am convinced of it, not many mixed teams have better combined weapons. Will this be one of those weekends, where everything clicks? I continue to grab Lauren Stratman late in these drafts in singles, hoping she can piece together a couple games of great ground strokes.

Gritty – Sorry Sher Bear, despite the no spin serve rules, I go with Cincola for my last singles spot. It’s a big field and I trust Cincola more than Sherry to find a podium. In a different field, I would be more intrigued with Irina/Yana Grechkina. Irina is playing very well of late and Yana is a little ball of power who seems to have added a sweet 2-hand backhand speed up off the bounce. I like them more than Jones/Sheehan-Dizon as I don’t think the short or long-term ceiling is all that high for the Utah pairing. There were a few men’s doubles teams I could have gone with in the final slot. I left Barrientos/DJ Young and Spencer Smith/Callan Dawson on the board in favor of the unknown pairing of Cassidy/Julian Arnold, who will be a firecracker pairing. For whatever reason, Cassidy doesn’t regularly get partners that are on his level, but Arnold is a guy who looks to be climbing the pro ladder as fast as just about anyone. Why not go boom or bust for my final selection?

Notable Undrafted: This is a particularly deep field so we wanted to flag a few undrafted teams. Jansen/Collin Johns are an interesting partnership. Collin needs to play more mixed to get better but how much time will it take for him? Frazier/Jardim are slated to play more tournaments. Jardim does not appear to be healthy from what we saw earlier this year so we are not bullish. Lauren Stratman/Tyson McGuffin appear to be a partnership borne out of necessity. Some extra power could be helpful for Tyson with Stratman by his side but it doesn’t seem like these two have enough to keep up with the top end teams. Mario Barrientos/DJ Young are a natural fit together, and it will be notable to see Barrientos play with a high level partner that isn’t Austin Gridley. Spencer Smith/Callan Dawson lack weapons to be a true podium threat at these PPAs, but they won’t be a fun team to play with their combined steadiness. Looking out for Julian Arnold in singles.

Agree or disagree? Let us know in the comments below or email us at nmlpickleball@gmail.com. Follow us on Instagram and Facebook too!

7 thoughts on “PPA Foot Solutions Arizona Grand Slam – Fantasy Draft Preview

  • February 16, 2022 at 6:48 am

    My thought concerning JW and Andrea is that JW doesn’t take many timeouts and doesn’t seem to talk much to his partners. Haven’t we seen Andrea need the timeouts and the communication with her partners if she starts making unforced errors?

    • February 16, 2022 at 2:42 pm

      Honestly not sure about this one. It’s an interesting observation. Neither are high energy players for sure. We’ll have to see I guess

  • February 17, 2022 at 6:19 am

    I would have gone with Smith/Dawson or Gabrielson/Lange over Loong/Koller. Loong is no doubt talented but he has not shown much when it comes to knowing how to win matches. Maybe Koller can help him get there? We will see.

    Same goes for Rob Cassidy yet he played great with Chuck Taylor recently. Can he repeat with Julian Arnold? Definitely another one I will need to see to believe.

    • February 17, 2022 at 7:19 am

      Love Lange but not Gabrielsen. Like Dawson when he has an alpha partner but Smith lacks weapons. The Arnold/Cassidy choice is more questionable for sure

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  • February 17, 2022 at 8:54 am

    I am curious that Dylan isn’t playing singles.
    I definitely agree PPA is LONG past due to provide more courts in their coverage. Come on people.

    • February 17, 2022 at 10:46 am

      No clue. Possibly other obligations. And if you check PB Live Streaming Network group, Jack posted a link to multiple court streams but they are unlisted on YouTube it appears


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