The PPA Takeya Showcase in Newport is taking place this weekend and we’re back to the deeper fields that the PPA’s generally feature. We’re also back to the single elimination format with the Sunday finals (except strangely the mixed final continues to be Saturday). There are some interesting partnerships in all of the brackets but it’s most of the usual suspects that are a part of our fantasy draft preview this week.
Gritty won the toss and elected to have Slim pick first. It’s all tied up going into this weekend between the two of us.
(1) Simone Jardim / Ben Johns (Slim)
(2) Ben Johns (Gritty)
(3) Simone Jardim / Lucy Kovalova (Gritty)
(4) Ben Johns / Matt Wright (Slim)
(5) Lucy Kovalova / Matt Wright (Slim)
Gritty – I wanted to give Slim the first pick because I thought there were 2 clear gold medal locks and 1 almost gold medal lock. Ben Johns is Ben but he never seems to have a very good time playing with Matt Wright. I’ll be curious to see if Wright wants to give up a bit more of the court, which is what seems to get Ben engaged the most. The Waters were very close to taking down Simone/Lucy previously but I still think they are pretty close to a gold medal lock.
Slim – Ben and Simone are a near lock, you could argue that Ben is a bigger lock in singles, but as I have said before I think the doubles, especially with a team of Ben and Simone’s caliber could overcome a small injury so I take Ben and Simone first overall. At the fourth pick, Ben Johns and Matt Wright is a no brainer for me. I know they haven’t always seemed to gel but there is too much talent in that team not take to take them (don’t bet against Ben!). At five I really wanted to take a women’s singles player as I don’t like giving up potential gold medal points, but I had four players rated closely and guessed (correctly) that Gritty would pass on the singles players with his next picks.
(6) Tyson McGuffin / Riley Newman (Gritty)
(7) Leigh Waters / Anna Leigh Waters (Gritty)
(8) Lea Jansen (Slim)
(9) Catherine Parenteau (Slim)
(10) Anna Leigh Waters (Gritty)
(11) Tyson McGuffin (Gritty)
Gritty – I was a little bit unsure of what to do with women’s singles as they are 4 players in a very deep women’s singles bracket that could legitimately fight for gold. Jansen was also my #1 seed but I felt that the ability of Team Waters and NewGuffin to almost certainly take at least silver was a better bang for my buck at the #6 and #7 slots. After Slim picked Jansen and Parenteau, I went with Waters in singles who has gold upside and keeps getting better in singles. McGuffin is a bit of risky business in singles these days as him and Jay went 3 long games in the bronze at the USAP Newport Beach Championships recently and that was with the Tyson-friendly Franklin ball being used. I still have him as the #2 seed in this field without Navratil but Devilliers is closing on his heels.
Slim – I had Lea Jansen number one on my singles board and I think she has earned that spot. I had Catherine over Anna Leigh due to experience, but I have a bad feeling Anna Leigh is going to make me regret that decision.
(12) Patrick Smith / Jay Devilliers (Slim)
(13) Jay Devilliers (Slim)
(14) Anna Leigh Waters / Tyson McGuffin (Gritty)
(15) Irina Tereschenko / Callie Smith (Gritty)
(16) Catherine Parenteau / Riley Newman (Slim)
(17) Simone Jardim (Slim)
Gritty – I really like Anna Leigh Waters and McGuffin as a mixed team. McGuffin has enough juice in mixed to complement all that AL offers from the female side of things. They have silver upside without the Newman’s playing together. I am listening to Slim’s take on Jessie Irvine and so I went with Irina/Callie over Irvine/Parenteau simply because Irvine’s results haven’t been super strong these days.
Slim – Pat and Jay were a very solid number three on my men’s doubles board, and I am happy to get them here. I used to have concerns about Pat and Jay’s consistency but lately that seems to be less of an issue, which is not surprising with the number of tournament reps they have been getting. I think Jay is very clearly the number three singles player in this field, and I think he has a chance to be beat Tyson. Getting Catherine and Riley at 16 seems like a steal. I think Riley is the second best men’s mixed player in the world and Catherine is basically a Simone clone. Simone would not have been available at 17 if not for concerns about her commitment to singles. If I knew she was definitely going to play and was fully committed, I likely would have taken her at 5.
(18) Dekel Bar / Adam Stone (Gritty)
(19) Collin Johns / Steve Deakin (Gritty)
(20) Gabriel Joseph (Slim)
(21) Dylan Frazier (Slim)
(22) Irina Tereschenko (Gritty)
(23) Callie Smith / Steve Deakin (Gritty)
Gritty – I finish off my men’s team with my #4 and #5 seed ranked men’s doubles teams I think you could quibble with the #3 to #5 seeds as to who fits where, but there’s no doubt to me in this field that Collin Johns and Steve Deakin should be in the top five. The question is whether that duo has enough offence between the two of them to go real deep but they are not going to be any fun to play against. While Deakin’s mixed results have not been overly encouraging in 2021, Callie Smith and Deakin have to be the choice for mixed here as Smith is just so strong as a female compared to the rest of the teams in this field.
Slim – I needed to fill out my men’s singles here, as it was the only place where we both had open spots, so I took Gabe Joseph who I saw as a pretty clear number four in this field, and if there is any question about whether Gabe is number four in this field, the threat is likely coming from Dylan Frazier, who has burst onto the singles scene, making the podium in his first two pro singles events.
(24) Jessie Irvine / Catherine Parenteau (Slim)
(25) Michelle Esquivel / Lea Jansen (Slim)
(26) Jessie Irvine / DJ Young (Gritty)
(27) Callie Smith (Gritty)
(28) DJ Young / AJ Koller (Slim)
(29) Jillian Braverman / Susannah Barr (Slim)
(30) Ryan Sherry (Gritty)
Gritty – Irvine/DJ is a very interesting partnership. As we have expressed many times, Young is the hardest player to handicap in these pro brackets but his mixed results have been really strong over the past two to three months. The mixed fits very well with his style and he does such a good job of covering the whole court when he’s engaged. Irvine has that beastly power and it’s not too often we’re going to say DJ Young is the more consistent player than someone, but when it comes to Jeff Warnick it’s clear Young is the more consistent partner for Jessie. As I already mentioned, this is a very deep women’s field as I get Callie Smith for the 6th female in singles and feel pretty good about that when she could realistically get a podium. I also had Sherry slgithly ahead of Dylan Frazier so I can’t be unhappy about getting the mental and time zone training guru at #30 here – it’s always a bit of a tough call when Dekel Bar shows up in the brackets but either a complete or back draw withdrawal is too likely for me to use a pick on him.
Slim – I have left all my women’s teams till the end, but after Gritty quickly snapped up Simone/Lucy and the Waters, I was more than content to let him use a pick to choose between Irina/Callie and Jessie/Catherine, as I had those two teams as a virtual coin flip. I think I slightly favored Irina/Callie but I liked that on the right day I could get a silver or even gold with Jessie and Irina, while with the finals on Sunday the best I could do with Callie/Irina is bronze. I had Lea and Michelle as my number 5 women’s team. With the final pick for my women I went with the upside of Jillian Braverman and Susannah Barr who are a new partnership. It will be interesting to see how this team gels but I could see the hard hitting Braverman and funky Barr giving some of these teams fits. Notably this means that the team of Stratman/Carr does not get picked, which speaks to the depth of the women’s field. I just didn’t feel like Stratman/Carr offered much upside. For my final men’s team I pick AJ Koller and DJ Young another new partnership. Notably I picked DJ and AJ over Spencer Smith and Tyler Loong a team that has made the podium in a field like this. I just like the upside of DJ and AJ. We know DJ is talented and we still haven’t seen AJ with a ton of top tier men’s partners, so I am very interested to see how they do.
Jeff Warnick / Aaron “Magic Man” Coyle – we wanted to highlight this partnership not only because it’s a throwback to the good ol’ days of pickleball. What’s somewhat fascinating about this is that Coyle basically only plays local California tournaments these days whereas Warnick has been getting quite high end partnerships in men’s. Looking at future tourneys, having a relatively low end partner like Coyle does not appear to be an abberation for Warnick. Is this a sign that the men are out on Warnick as a partner? We’ll have to wait a bit before drawing any definitive conclusions but it appears to be the case for the risk/reward of the upside vs. consistency that is Jeff Warnick.
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