It looked like another really fun event at Beer City. The APP typically does not do a good job of creating much in the way of atmosphere at their events but this stop has organically created an atmosphere. There were consistently fans filling the relatively small bleachers, but that’s all you really need. It doesn’t have to be larger than life at this stage. There probably needs to be something like that for every tournament that the APP should care more to facilitate as the PPA does (update: Beer City is not owned by APP, only an affiliation). Good event in the Great Lakes state with deep fields all around.
1. Long Live the Queen (Gritty) – Don’t call curtains on the career yet for Simone Jardim. It was a rough ride for Simone towards the latter part of 2021. She lost her health, lost her mixed partner and seemingly saw the game of pickleball pass her by.
Fast forward to summer 2022. Simone may not be top dog anymore but she has a new paddle deal with JOOLA, she’s making a ton of good Youtube teaching content and she’s still winning a lot.
Outside of the top 3 PPA teams, Simone and Andrea Koop have been a dominant female duo. They had two very tight matches against the Kawamotos early in the year. However, outside of that, they have been really good. Andrea Koop really takes on a more offensive role in this partnership and, while Simone may not have the same juice that she had at peak health, she is still as steady as anyone out there and has enough power to take on most teams out in tour.
In an ask me anything type thing on Instagram this past Wednesday, Simone was less unequivocal about whether she would be retiring from competition at the end of 2022. She noted she was unable to walk when she announced her retirement previously. We were skeptical of whether a retirement would end up occurring at the time she announced it and, really, why would she retire? She also won another gold with JW Johnson this past weekend in mixed and it’s clear she is able to hang with the best out there. Heck, she won the US Open with Ben Johns in April with most pros in Naples.
It’s always a bit of a shame when we get less of best on best with the split tour. Not that I think they would win, but it would be fun to see Jardim and Koop against those top PPA teams. At the same time, the split tours has given Simone the opportunity to build up her competitive level and demonstrate she is still right in the mix of all the top pros out there. Beer City was yet another example of that.
2. Overlooked: the Gabe Tardio and Travis Rettenmaier Story (Slim) – There has been a lot of talk about and people dismissing Travis Rettenmaier as only being drafted to MLP because he is an owner of the Florida Smash, including us at NML. Even after they finished second at the first MLP stop, we had people suggesting that the Smash should drop him in favor of others players. Rettenmaier’s partner at Beer City, Gabe Tardio, has yet to land himself a spot on a MLP team, despite the number of player’s that have had to be picked up, the supplemental draft etc. He has been a player that we have thought teams should be taking a look at and likely have overlooked because of his age. Heck, we thought Tardio was well in the range of should be drafted the first time around.
This weekend, Travis and Gabe teamed up and they have to have given the haters, at least pause for thought, as they took bronze in one of the stronger APP fields this year with wins over Lica/Daescu, Cassidy/Yates, Navratil/Young, and Auvergne/Arnold among others. It was a very impressive showing by both, and demonstrated that their games continue to be in the rise, even if they are often overlooked. Tardio may lack a bit of consistency needed but we believe he is a guy that should be in MLP.
Rettenmaier’s mixed day also should not be overlooked as he teamed up with Rachel Rettger to defeat Thomas Wilson/Parris Todd, Jade Kawamoto/Altaf Merchant and Anna Bright/James Ignatowich among others, before losing 18-16 to Jackie Kawamoto and Rob Cassidy. Hard to call him unworthy of being drafted now.
3. What to make of Zane’s singles game? (Gritty) – James Ignatowich had a big gold this past weekend, which included wins over JW Johnson and Federico Staksrud, and two wins over Zane Navratil. It was an impressive gold to say the least from the talented newcomer who hasn’t been in pickleball for even a year. The question that came from his win for us was highlighted by Kenny Chou, husband of Maggie Remynse, who commented on the blog essentially that it looked like Iggy had a better handle on Zane’s serve in the gold match than earlier in the day.
Navratil and Ignatowich went 3 tight games (11-6, 9-11, 11-8) on the winners side while Ignatowich was able to get Zane in two very tight sets (14-12, 12-10). Now, those scores alone indicate both matches could have gone either way but Kenny’s comment highlighted to us what a lot of people question somewhat frequently – where does Zane’s singles game fit in without the spin serve?
Zane has played well this year. He has found his spin serve after it wasn’t the same weapon to start the year and the rest of his game has followed suit as the year has gone along. Unlike most others, Navratil is 100% APP tourneys and he is about as good as anyone with keeping his schedule manageable to rest his body. As a result, we don’t see him at PPAs these days without a spin serve in singles.
It’s my expectation the spin serve will be gone in 2023 (this is not reporting but educated speculation). Zane is clearly not all spin serve but it’s a valid question to ask where he sits in that top 10 without it. He’s bascially all ground stroke in his singles game when trying to create offence so less free points and short returns makes life quite a bit more difficult.
Zane has done a good job revamping his serve in accordance with the spin rules. But the question will still remain as to how much Zane’s singles game is predicated on that serve.
4. Parris Todd. Looking Elite in Doubles Too. Obviously. (Slim) – Parris Todd, with her gold over Anna Leigh Waters at the PPA Oronge County Cup, cemented herself as an elite singles player and nothing has changed there. After taking a few tournaments off singles, she was dominant this weekend in taking gold.
She, however, continues to also show signs that she is going to be an elite doubles player as well, if she isn’t already. Todd took silver with Susannah Barr in women’s doubles this weekend. This is on the heels of Todd and Anna Bright’s dominant gold at the Newport Beach Championships. She also picked up a silver in women’s doubles with Michelle Esquivel at the Los Angeles Open and the week before at the SoCal Classic she went double bronze with Susannah Barr in women’s and Alex Neumann is mixed doubles, giving Alex his first pro podium. The results are starting to come and her doubles game also just continues to look stronger, she seems to counter particularly with her forehand as well as any woman.
5. Andrei Daescu’s Improving Mixed Game (Gritty) – Andrei Daescu had a very strong mixed day on Friday with Maggie Remynse. They ended up with a bronze medal and they got wins over Stratman/Arnold and Koop/Navratil, before running into the Simone/JW juggernaut and losing a tough one to Koop/Navratil in the bronze. What was interesting about their run is that it highlighted Daescu being more of a force in mixed.
Going into the first ever 2021 MLP, it was a real question how Andrei would fare in mixed as he was primarily a men’s doubles player in his limited events. He is now playing more of both events when he is entering tournaments and the results are starting to come. Daescu and Remynse continue to be underrated by us as mixed team but they have been getting good wins.
There is no reason Andrei can’t be a mixed force as he has all the tools to do it. The thing is, you need reps on top of the raw tools and Andrei is starting to get more of those reps. Mixed is not the same game as men’s doubles even for left-sided guys like Andrei. It doesn’t always come easily for as we have seen with Dekel Bar, but Andrei has to be a guy to watch for in mixed going forward.
Fantasy Update: It was a shellacking of an 18-7 win for Gritty. The time off may have been a momentum killer for Slim who got zero points on the singles day, which was what led to the big discrepancy in scores. Always betting on JW in singles recently has not been as reliable.
Agree or disagree? Let us know in the comments below or email us at email@example.com. Follow us on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter too!