The final pickleball event happens this weekend at Mandalay Bay Casino in Las Vegas. We posted our mock draft late last night and we’ll have draft grades that will follow the big 2023 season 1 MLP draft reveal in a couple of hours on Tennis Channel. In the meantime, we decided to give a short preview of an event that is a lot more intriguing than we expected.
For a brief breakdown, there are 4 teams made up of 3 women and 4 men, with a pro tennis player as the 8th member of each team – Sam Querrey, Jack Sock, John Isner and Donald Young (there’s a name you probably have not seen in a while). What makes this event legitimately intriguing is that the tennis pros are competing alongside the pickleball pros in a competitive environment.
There will be round robin matches with rally scoring to 21, with the freeze at 20, best 2 out of 3. There will be 2 men’s doubles match, 1 women’s doubles match and 1 mixed match. The fun part is that one of the men’s doubles matches will feature each team’s tennis pro and the mixed match will include a tennis pro with a mandatory substitution of a pickleball pro player for the tennis pros when the first team gets to 11 points in game 2. The semi-finals and championship matche are oddly going to be only mixed doubles, but the first of those matches will still require a tennis pro. Here’s the full breakdown of the event.
While we were not all that interested in a random team event with no real stakes at play, the inclusion of known tennis pros is a fantastic idea that should at least draw some more casual pickleball viewers to tune in. We’re not expecting the real pros to be implementing a no mercy game plan against the tennis guys, but it should be far more interesting to watch than these celebrity pro-am events that keep popping up.
We know that Sock, Isner and Querrey all have some pickleball background, and it’s always a question as to how good high-end professional tennis players could be at pickleball. We won’t be sitting around all weekend to watch, but we will definitely find a way to watch the matches that Querrey plays in. It was reported by the Dink that Querrey sent out an email to all the MLP owners prior to the draft with his pitch of why he should be selected. While it would seem insane for a Premier division team to select Querrey without some intimate knowledge of his ability, he could be an option for a Challenger team, who could simply choose to drop him if he’s bad after the first event.
Querrey has expressed that he could be a top 10 doubles player within 3 months of starting tournament play and this weekend should be the perfect showcase for him, even if the pickleball pros are not playing their absolute hardest against him. Although, we think the pros may have some motivation to show Querrey this pickleball thing is not so easy.
Regardless, it should not take long to figure out whether Querrey has the stuff to hold up if he is selected at the first MLP event in January for either division. As much racquet talent as Querrey has and as much pickleball as he has played in the over the past 6 years, he has never played in a tournament. The rules don’t apply the same way to top 10 world ranked tennis players, but it’s hard for us to believe some rec play with celebrities, 5.0s and some pros sprinkled in can get a player ready for high stakes tournament play.
It should be a fun weekend. The event will be broadcast on YouTube and Tennis Channel with the semi-finals and championship happening from 12 pm to 3 pm EST on ABC.
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