PPA Orlando Cup – Fantasy Draft Preview

We are back with another PPA event this week. It is the Orlando Cup and Championship Sunday is going to be shown on Tennis Channel, which they are saying is somewhat of a deal. We’re still not so sure about that but you have to think the Tennis Channel has a better targeted audience than something like ESPN plus, assuming the tennis people aren’t too mad about the fake sport being broadcast on their channel. Most of the big dogs will be in Orlando and we’ll do our best to handicap it with our fantasy draft preview.

Slim is now a big 2 up on the year after last week’s win. Gritty won the choice and elected to pick 2nd in this draft.

(1) Ben Johns (Slim)

(2) Simone Jardim / Ben Johns (Gritty)

(3) Ben Johns / Matt Wright (Gritty)

(4) Anna Leigh Waters (Slim)

(5) Simone Jardim / Lucy Kovalova (Slim)

Slim – Despite a couple losses lately, I am of the mindset that you don’t bet against Ben Johns, so I took him first overall in singles. Anna Leigh’s singles game continues to improve and her results have been strong, so I take her with the fourth pick. I know that Jessie and Catherine have gotten Simone and Lucy the last two tournaments, but I like Simone and Lucy to bounce back this weekend. I look for Simone in particular to bounce back this week, teams have been playing her and having success and I suspect she has taken this personally and will be looking to make a statement.

Gritty – I got choice of pick and I let Slim go first. Ben plays 3 times and I want 2 of them as those should all be gold medals. Simone outside of Ben is no longer the lock she was and the singles is very tight at the top with Anna Leigh, Lea Jansen and Catherine Parenteau all real gold medal candidates with Callie Smith and Simone hanging around as a dark horse if she actually plays.

(6) Lea Jansen (Gritty)

(7) Catherine Parenteau / Jessie Irvine (Gritty)

(8) Riley Newman / Tyson McGuffin (Slim)

(9) Lucy Kovalova / Matt Wright (Slim)

(10 Jay Devilliers (Gritty)

(11) Catherine Parenteau / Riley Newman (Gritty)

Slim – After Ben Johns and whoever his partner may be, Tyson and Riley are the most consistent men’s doubles team, so I am pretty happy to get them with the 8th pick, and similarly Matt and Lucy are far and way the second best mixed doubles team so I am happy to get them with the 9th pick. Both of these teams are heavy favorites for second, unfortunately for both of them Ben Johns stands between them and gold.

Gritty – I actually had Lea Jansen very slightly ahead of Anna Leigh Waters in singles so I’m good with getting her at #6 after Slim took Anna Leigh. While I also had Simone/Lucy as my #1 team, getting Catherine and Jessie at #7 is something I can’t hate when they have beaten Simone/Lucy the last two tournaments they have played. Slim and I are sometimes too much on the same page, but I think this draft has worked out well for me. Catherine/Riley are arguably the #2 team in this mixed field and completely disagree with Slim that they are far and away the second best mixed team after Catherine/Riley were one bad call away from taking them down the last time they played. I want Devilliers in singles at this point barely ahead of Tyson McGuffin.

(12) Tyson McGuffin (Slim)

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

(14) Catherine Parenteau (Gritty)

(15) JW Johnson (Gritty)

(16) Collin Johns / Steve Deakin (Slim)

(17) Callie Smith / Tyson McGuffin (Slim)

Slim – I was a little surprised Gritty skipped Tyson to take Jay, so I run to get Tyson with the 12th pick. I always love Tyson’s value in these drafts from the perspective you know he is always going to compete. The Waters have been on a streak of bronze medal performances, so we will see if they can get back into a final this weekend. Some might be surprised with the Steve and Collin pick here, but I just love the fact that they are two of the most consistent players on the tour, they aren’t going to give other teams many free points, and they now have a tournament under their belts. I love the Tyson and Callie partnership from the perspective that they are both competitors and I am going to buy Callie stock in most mixed draws, just because she might have the best set of hands in the women’s mixed game which is so important.

Gritty – It’s all chalk right now with the first half of the draft. Catherine Parenteau has gold upside but she has a lower floor than Anna Leigh and Jansen. JW Johnson also has gold upside, which is quite a thing to say, but his floor is the lowest of any of the top 4 singles players and that’s why he gets picked where he does.

(18) Callie Smith (Gritty)

(19) Callie Smith / Corrine Carr (Gritty)

(20) Dekel Bar (Slim)

(21) Lea Jansen / Irina Tereschenko (Slim)

(22) Jay Devilliers / Dylan Frazier (Gritty)

(23) Adam Stone / Dekel Bar (Gritty)

Slim – Every time I pick Dekel in singles it seems like he withdraws, so I am just hoping that he is actually healthy and plays this week. If he plays, he has as much potential as anyone in the draw outside of Ben Johns. If a team outside of the top three women’s doubles teams is going to make the podium this weekend, I think it will be Irina and Lea.

Gritty – At this point, Callie Smith is the JW Johnson of the women’s singles field. High end upside with a much lower floor, but that floor can only be so low in the smaller women’s singles field. I actually had Adam/Dekel as well Jay Devilliers and Dylan Frazier (thanks to Matt Mayfield for the tip on his boy Dylan’s late entry!) ahead of Collin Johns and Steve Deakin on my big board. I am worried that Deakin withdrew from TOC after hurting his wrist playing mixed with Callie. In hindsight, I think it was a mistake going with Callie and Corrine here – I went best girl available but Corrine likely isn’t enough for podium upside.

(24) Irina Tereschenko / Steve Deakin (Slim)

(25) Irina Tereschenko (Slim)

(26) Spencer Smith (Gritty)

(27) Jessie Irvine / Jeff Warnick (Gritty)

(28) JW Johnson / AJ Koller (Slim)

(29) Simone Jardim (Slim)

(30) Lauren Stratman / Michelle Esquivel (Gritty)

Slim – Irina and Steve are a new team, but they are a couple of veteran players who I think could sneak onto the podium with a bronze on the right day. Irina hasn’t been getting the results in singles lately, but at this point in the draft she has more upside than most of the players left. The JW and AJ partnership is one that intrigues me, and I think on the right day, they could really do some damage in the men’s draw. I will keep buying JW stock. I have to suspect that Simone will not play singles, as she hasn’t been lately, but she is currently registered so with the 29th pick to get an opportunity to take a player with gold medal potential, you have to take them. As I also said, I suspect Simone may be playing with something to prove this week.

Gritty – Apparently Jessie and Jeff are no longer playing together, and it’s going to be Jay Devilliers in for Jessie. I think if we had known they were playing together when we did the draft, Jessie/Jay would have been the #5 team out there. They have high upside but didn’t show it at their one tourney together in Newport. I chose Jessie/Jeff due to the upside and Irvine’s recent surge in play. I missed out on Spencer Smith at TOC so I’m taking him here with the last singles pick ahead of guys like mental prep guru Ryan Sherry, Jack Foster and AJ Koller (side note: his cousin Thomas Wilson is back playing in this field so I’ll be curious how he does). Lauren Stratman and Michelle Esquivel were the pretty obvious 6th choice in the female bracket. I also loved the Simone Jardim pick from Slim. My women’s singles was filled up but I actually had Jardim at #18 on my board despite the fact there’s a very good chance she doesn’t play. Gold upside is hard to come by in the 2nd half of these drafts, especially PPA ones.

Agree or disagree? Let us know in the comments below or email us at nmlpickleball@gmail.com

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