NML Pickleball Player Rankings 3.0 – Doubles

📸 @catherineparenteau.pb

We finish today with part 3 of our 3.0 definitive player rankings. Singles and mixed are fun, but you make your bones in the classic doubles game. We save the best for last. Let’s get to it.

Men’s Doubles Rankings

(1) Ben Johns

(2) Riley Newman

(3) JW Johnson

(4) Matt Wright

(5) Collin Johns

(6) AJ Koller

(7) Dylan Frazier

(8) Dekel Bar

(9) Tyson McGuffin

(10) Tyler Loong 

Almost Made the Cut: Erik Lange, Jay Devilliers, Andrei Daescu, Kyle Yates, Rob Nunnery, Zane Navratil, DJ Young, Thomas Wilson 

Our sentiment at the top of the doubles list is similar to the men’s singles rankings. JW Johnson gets a lot of love, including in this space, but Ben Johns and Riley Newman are too consistent as doubles players to be leapfrogged by JW. Ben continues to win with Collin by his side while Riley continues to get results with different partners. Newman has beaten the Johns brothers wins with Matt Wright and AJ Koller, and he got good results with Tyson in 2021. Until JW Johnson can knock those two off on a regular basis, we have to keep JW at #3 on the list. 

Matt Wright and Collin Johns are two guys who still need the right mix of partners to get it done at the very highest level. That’s why Matt Wright put his ego aside to team up with a guy he didn’t really like in Riley Newman. Matt and Collin are still elite players, and some people may push back against the idea of Collin as a top 5 men’s player. However, the fact of the matter is that Collin wins PPA tournaments, and Ben is not so dominant now that he can take any random pro out to a tournament to win a gold.

AJ Koller has not had as good a year as he has probably hoped, but the fact that he can win with Riley Newman is indicative of his top end ability. Dylan Frazier has had a very strong year teaming up with JW Johnson, but if you put AJ Koller with JW instead of Dylan, are the results for JW better? 

Dekel Bar would not have been this far down on our list at the start of the year when his men’s game was on the rise and he was getting results with different partners. Dekel has been fine in 2022 but he has not taken the jump that we expected. We will always wonder how seriously Dekel treats being a professional athlete and that could be hurting him as we see most players out there grinding harder than ever before. 

The #9 and #10 spots were fully up for grabs here. Tyson McGuffin and Tyler Loong get the final two slots because of their overall consistency. Loong does not have high end results for the most part, but he wins when he gets paired up with better partners like Tyson. It also wasn’t very long ago that Loong was getting legitimate results with Spencer Smith on tour. Jay Devilliers has missed the cut here as his partnership with Tyson has not gone well, but you put him back with Patrick Smith and who knows what those results look like for him, For the rest of the guys that just missed the cut, there’s not enough high-end body of work to warrant them being in the top 10. 

Women’s Doubles Rankings

(1) Anna Leigh Waters

(2) Catherine Parenteau

(3) Lucy Kovalova

(4) Callie Smith

(5) Lea Jansen

(6) Jessie Irvine

(7) Andrea Koop

(8) Leigh Waters

(9) Anna Bright

(10) Simone Jardim 

Almost Made the Cut: Lauren Stratman, Vivienne David, Jackie Kawamoto, Jade Kawamoto, Parris Todd, Jorja Johnson 

Anna Leigh Waters is the clear #1 women’s doubles player out there and it’s not close right now. Anna Leigh playing with her mother allows there to be more parity in the women’s doubles game, but if you pair her with any of the other top players there might not be any parity. The fact that Anna Leigh is still winning gold medals is a testament to her ability as the best women’s player in the game. 

The #2 through #4 slots could have gone any which way. Parenteau is there at #2 because of her steady results with a variety of partners. Parenteau demonstrated in 2021 she can win with Calle Smith and Jessie Irvine. While there were no championships with Irvine in 2022, they had a number of 2nd place finishes, and she was then able to win at the US Open with Lea Jansen in April. Lucy and Callie have done well together in 2022, but if you play the hypothetical game it’s hard to see them having the same success as Catherine has with different partners. 

This may be controversial but Lea Jansen gets the #5 nod ahead of Jessie Irvine barely. Yes, she has been playing with weaker partners but Irvine hasn’t had anything in the way of results since her split with Parenteau. The fact is that Jansen won the US Open with Catherine Parenteau then won another one the following weekend. You can’t deny the results for Jansen. 

#7 through #10 was difficult overall. Although we don’t see Andrea Koop a ton at the bigger events, she has had some results there, and she’s dominating with Simone at the APP events. Leigh Waters wins PPA Championships but it’s hard to imagine Leigh winning without Anna Leigh. On the other hand, it is possible we are underrating her ability to get results because we don’t get to see her in different partnerships. 

Simone Jardim has had a resurgence and her consistency has been really solid the past few months. She doesn’t have the long-term upside that a player like Anna Bright has, but the consistency is still there. Anna Bright is a shiny talent but the high end results haven’t always been there recently, particularly at bigger events. 

The hardest players to figure out that missed the cut were Lauren Stratman and Vivienne David. The problem for Stratman is her recent APP women’s results have not been a great indicator for her ability to play as the more dominant player in a female doubles partnership. Vivienne, on the other hand, almost seems to care more about being nice than getting the right partners. David has to play on the right side with a more powerful female to have success, but she’s finding herself with players like Lee Whitwell and Corrine Carr far too often. You know what, a David/Stratman partnership would be quite intriguing at either an APP or PPA event.

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

5 thoughts on “NML Pickleball Player Rankings 3.0 – Doubles

  • August 3, 2022 at 8:46 am

    It’s interesting to me because generally in sports you have to expect higher ceiling guys to get better at steeper rates. Higher ceiling typically means more athletic gifts and tools. However, pickleball is unique in that not every top pro works hard. So, while conventional wisdom would tell us someone like Dekel or Thomas Wilson will be better than Zane in the long run, it’s not easy to project. Zane is working harder than they are, so projecting relative improvement between two polar opposites (Zane and dekel) is difficult. I would bet that Zane will be more successful in the sport than dekel in the long run.

  • August 3, 2022 at 3:24 pm

    I don’t think you should have had Dekel higher. I still think his first 2 tournaments with JW were an inexplicable fail. I would probably pick Julian Arnold over some of those in the almost made it cut. And as you said if we were to see more body of work – i.e., Daescu, they could easily get into the top 10.

    For the women, I’d choose Jorja even over 2 of your top 10. Not to say she should be in top 10 but to say if I was a pro player needing a partner, I’d take a bet on her. When she’s on, she’s amazing.

    • August 3, 2022 at 5:40 pm

      Julian could have been there but we still think his doubles is too inconsistent. Jorja had that nice bronze with Koop at a PPA and if she had some more rest her game may be in a different spot

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