Unlike tennis, doubles reigns supreme in pickleball. The respect is garnered from winning in doubles. We have already released our definitive singles and mixed rankings for the time being. Now, it is time for the gender doubles.
Top 5 Men – Gender Doubles
- Ben Johns – Kings stay kings. Men’s doubles has been the one spot where people have been able to catch Ben a few times in the last couple of years. I think that is likely at least in part, to men’s doubles being pretty clearly the deepest fields of all the events. Ben though, has not seemed to be the most supportive partner over the last year, when Wright or Collin having been having tough days and you have to wonder if this might be the one chink in his armor? Does he have the ability to pick up and lift his partner when they are down? This is nitpicking and Ben is clearly the best player and should he ever leave the partnership with his brother Collin, the list of suitors would be endless.
- Matt Wright – We had wondered, if Matt Wright might be slipping a bit last year, and I think there was, for a moment, slight slippage, but he seems to have refocused and is probably working harder than he ever has, which is evident in his improved fitness. Outside of Ben Johns, nobody in the game has scarier attacks. He has been getting it done with a variety of partners this year too, which is always all the more impressive.
- Riley Newman – His elite athleticism and quick hands make him a very tough match up for most opponents. He definitely plays the most frenetic style on the tour and at times, it can overwhelm opponents and, similar to Navratil, if he toned his game down 10 to 15% maybe it would lead to better results in the long term. Riley also always seems to give off the energy that he feels that he is the best player on the court, which you have to respect. Unlike some other players I do not feel like he is resigned to Ben being the best.
- Steve Deakin -Deakin earns this spot due to his consistency. He has hit the podium in 14 of his last 17 events with a variety of partners which is very impressive. It does not seem to matter who he plays with, he usually finds his way to the podium at the end of the day. Partners that he has reached the podium with recently include Joey Farias, Erik Lange, Kyle Yates, Matt Wright and Adam Stone.
- Collin Johns – He was probably the hardest guy on this list to rank. It is clear that Collin is very good, but when you are always playing Robin to Batman, it is hard to figure out exactly how good you are. Collin has some of the quickest and softest hands in the game, which make him very hard to attack, and is just smooth out there.
Knocking on the Door: Dekel Bar and Tyson McGuffin
Dekel Bar – When we look back on this list in a few months not having Bar on the top 5 of this list might look a little silly. Bar has been on the podium in men’s double in every event he has played this year except for the PPA’s Mesa stop, where I feel like he and Jeff Warnick’s games may not have mixed well. If the Dekel we saw at the US Open starts showing up every weekend, I think he is clearly a top 5 player in the game, and the scary part is that there is still plenty of room for his game to grow.
Tyson McGuffin – While we were a little critical of Tyson’s inability to keep evolving his singles games, it is very evident that he has put a lot of work into his doubles game as it continues to grow. His backhand and ability to attack with the backhand in particular has really improved over the last couple of years. He and Riley missed a couple podiums this year, but both times it was when they had the unenviable task of having to face Ben Johns in the back draw, which just never seems unfair. He was also able to capture an impressive Gold with Andrei Daescu in Punta Gorda as well as a hard fought bronze with Callan Dawson at Red Rock.
Consistency is Key: Adam Stone and Callan Dawson
Team on the Rise: Jay Devilliers and Patrick Smith
The Wildcards: Jeff Warnick and DJ Young
Top 5 Women – Gender Doubles
- Simone Jardim – She and Lucy lost for the first time ever at the US Open. Take away that Franklin ball and are they losing to Callie/Catherine? Regardless of the answer, she is the best and it’s not a debate at this point.
- Lucy Kovalova – it would be interesting to see Lucy without Simone. Jardim only got a bronze at 2019 nationals with Corrine Carr but that was prior to the leap we have seen from Carr this past year. It’s been so long since we have seen either player partner with someone else. The Pippen to Simone’s Jordan. It would be fun to see Kovalova partner with another high end female.
- Catherine Parenteau – Outside of the top 2, her game is the most well rounded of the women. Having Simone as a regular drilling partner has to be immensely valuable and hitting podiums at big events with multiple partners is always a good sign – her partners she has podiumed with since 2019 nationals include Simone Jardim, Callie Smith, Jessie Irvine, Lauren Stratman, Corrine Carr, Leigh Waters and Andrea Koops. Her fellow Canadian is nicknamed Podium Steve. Should Catherine be Podium Parenteau?
- Callie Smith – Likely the fastest hands in the women’s game. She seems to have found her stride and there are only a few women who can handle her power with any regular success. She is a bright star in the game. It’s kind of scary to think that there is still a lot of room to improve on that backhand side with those in between balls out of the air.
- Anna Leigh Waters – This came down to Anna Leigh and Jessie Irvine. We decided on Anna Leigh because of the upside. For whatever reason, Irvine has plateaued a bit since her deep run at 2019 nationals. Anna Leigh, on the other hand, appears to be trending upward. Her mother now gets played the majority of the balls and she seems to only be getting better as she matures. We wouldn’t expect anything less from a person who was a literal child winning nationals in 2019.
Knocking on the Door: Jessie Irvine and Leigh Waters
Jessie Irvine – Plateaued is a relative term for Irvine. It’s all about expectations sometimes and the way Irvine burst onto scene may have created some unrealistic expectations about where he game could get to. Her power is as good as anyone’s out there and she has all the shots. She has posted on her social media about her improved conditioning. However, the results simply haven’t been there the way we would have expected them after her big 2019.
Leigh Waters – Her daughter has surpassed her as the better player, and she needs a little bit more patience to get to the top in our eyes. Similar to Callie Smith, there is room for improvement on that backhand side at the net too. She’s still an amazing player but there are enough players on the female side that can handle her banging to keep her out of the top 5.
The Veterans: Corrine Carr and Irina Tereschenko
Corrine Carr – We are not the first to say this but the Adam Stone relationship seems to have brought the best out of Carr. She is playing more unpredictably and players on the other side of the net are having more trouble getting anything past her. She is a bit limited compared to the top players when it comes to power but she resets the ball extremely well so if she is paired next to a more alpha player she is tough.
Irina Tereschenko – There’s not much more to say about Irina than we have already said. It’s interesting to note that her results without Irvine as her partner have been quite good.
Team to Watch: Lauren Stratman and Lea Jansen
This is a team that is slated to continue playing quite a few tournaments together and there is upside here. Both players clearly love the grind and the improvement in their games reflect that. Jansen has developed a nice backhand roll. This team is starting to get results and it’s always easier to get on board with player that you know are putting in the work behind the scenes.
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