The smaller PPA tournaments might end up being the best ones to watch. You take some of the best players out of there and mix up some partnerships, and it makes for some of the more intriguing viewing in pro pickleball. James Ignatowich/Riley Newman, Riley Newman/Andrea Koop, Lucy Kovalova/Dekel Bar, Travis Rettenmaier/AJ Koller. These shake-ups are good for the sport.
Another storyline to monitor is Tyson McGuffin getting back on the court after withdrawing from day 2 of MLP with an apparent injury. By all accounts, there is nothing to indicate Tyson was ever physically injured beyond Tyson’s withdrawal from MLP and Pickle Juice reporting the withdrawal was due to an “undisclosed injury”. A couple of days later, he was back to some intense Stallion Performance training (the thumbnail literally says “Training Back From Daytona). Moreover, Anna Bright said on her podcast that she got a wake-up call at 6:30am from her team’s GM that McGuffin was out.
The facts are that Tyson’s undisclosed injury was so severe that he had to pull out of MLP but it was not severe enough where his team had any indication he might not play until the morning of their last round robin match. The injury was severe enough that he had to withdraw from MLP but not severe enough that he was back to his regular training routine shortly after MLP. Finally, he is somehow able to play Red Rock a week and a half later. It just doesn’t add up.
Slim has it back to all square on the year after a couple of wins in a row. Slim won the toss and elected to pick first.
(1) Federico Staksrud (Slim)
(2) Catherine Parenteau (Gritty)
(3) Riley Newman / James Ignatowich (Gritty)
(4) Andrea Koop / Riley Newman (Slim)
(5) Anna Bright / James Ignatowich (Slim)
Slim – With no Ben or Anna Leigh this weekend, the first overall pick was a tough one, but Fed is one of the more consistent players out there in singles, so I went with him. I feel like the women’s doubles without Anna Leigh this weekend is fairly open, so I decided to take the top two mixed teams in Riley Newman and Andrea Koop and James Ignatowich and Anna Bright. Riley is the best player in this field, so I do give the edge to Riley and Koop.
Gritty – Catherine Parenteau has had the better results recently and it is unclear how much Lea Jansen wants to play singles these days so I take her first. I then had to go with Riley Newman and James Ignatowich. Riley is the best player in this field and it’s hard to believe in a Dekel Bar/Collin Johns partnership to beat them when they haven’t had time to gel.
(6) Anna Bright / Vivienne David (Gritty)
(7) Dekel Bar / Collin Johns (Gritty)
(8) Catherine Parenteau / Andrea Koop (Slim)
(9) Lea Jansen / Allyce Jones (Slim)
(10) Lea Jansen (Gritty)
(11) Pablo Tellez (Gritty)
Slim – I kind of like Catherine and Andrea to win gold this weekend, so getting them at 8, feels like a steal. Lea and Allyce have been one of, if not the most consistent women’s doubles team this year, so I took them at 9. It won’t be an easy road for Lea/Allyce but I like them to get there.
Gritty – Anna and Vivienne didn’t fare as well as we might have expected their first go around, but they have the right draw this time around in this field. Dekel Bar/Collin Johns are clearly the #2 team and have the ability to win a gold. Lea Jansen also has gold medal potential so we’ll see whether she can take down Catherine Parenteau. Jansen may have to get through Devidze first. Pablo Tellez has a good draw on Jay Devilliers half but with his up and down results I still liked him as the #2 singles player in the field.
(12) Salome Devidze (Slim)
(13) Jay Devilliers (Slim)
(14) Catherine Parenteau / Tyson McGuffin (Gritty)
(15) Lucy Kovalova / Dekel Bar (Gritty)
(16) AJ Koller / Travis Rettenmaier (Slim)
(17) Lucy Kovalova / Callie Smith (Slim)
Slim – Jay Devilliers has a very friendly draw, and I think this is a great opportunity for him to make a championship Saturday. AJ and Travis should be an interesting team to watch this weekend, any result for them would not surprise me. I am hoping the Utah crowd cheering for Callie, can help push her and Lucy to a good result this weekend.
Gritty – Catherine Parenteau/Tyson McGuffin have shown out well together in recent events. I went back to back here as it will be interesting to see Lucy Kovalova with a new partner in Dekel Bar who is very hit or miss in mixed. I didn’t go look this up but I’m pretty sure this is the first time Lucy has played mixed with anyone other than Matt Wright since she played with Steve Deakin at a Florida tournament a while back – the results back then were good.
(18) Callie Smith (Gritty)
(19) Tyler Loong / Callan Dawson (Gritty)
(20) Jessie Irvine / AJ Koller (Slim)
(21) Connor Garnett (Slim)
(22) Meghan Dizon / Etta Wright (Gritty)
(23) Tyson McGuffin (Gritty)
Slim – Jessie Irvine and AJ Koller’s chemistry has appeared to be off all year, but I am hoping they can figure it out this weekend. The talent is still enticing, especially in this field missing a number of top players. It is presumably going to be a cold hard ball this week, and I think that should probably favor Connor Garnett’s elite shot making in singles.
Gritty – I’m calling it right now. Callie Smith is getting by Salome Devidze in her home state of Utah. Devidze doesn’t do as well against players that come to net well and that energy is going to be there for Callie. That cold ball probably won’t be as helpful for Callie though. I like Tyler/Callan, again a hometown situation with Loong, as they have to beat AJ/Travis to get to the semis but they may be able to do it. Dizon is coming off a Championship Sunday and she has a good partner with Etta Wright in a more open field. I’m worried about Tyson but he has a good draw in a softer field.
(24) Irina Tereschenko (Slim)
(25) Allyce Jones (Slim)
(26) Jessie Irvine / Irina Tereschnenko (Gritty)
(27) Rafa Hewett (Gritty)
(28) Jay Devilliers / DJ Young (Slim)
(29) Zane Navratil / Rafa Hewett (Slim)
(30) Etta Wright / Collin Johns (Gritty)
Slim – It kind of feels like Jay Devilliers /DJ Young are due for a gold medal match in men’s doubles with another favorable draw to get there. I am presuming Rafa Hewett won’t be challenging Zane Navratil’s paddle this weekend, as they team up, and Zane is probably hoping that Rafa has that “Adi Power” working for him this weekend.
Gritty – Jessie Irvine/Irina Tereschenko have history together and are still an outside shot at a podium. Rafa Hewett is here with that Adi power and I am here for it. In singles, that Adi power is pretty much unstoppable. Collin Johns has played a good mixed game with Jessie Irvine so why not have a breakout here with Etta Wright? Probably not, but I like talent. And Etta has talent.
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