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Familiar Finalists Earn Championship Bid in a Thrilling Mixed Doubles Day at the PPA Peachtree Classic

By Stephen Bass

on Sep 16, 2022

Surprise surprise, Anna Leigh Waters and Ben Johns once again get themselves into another mixed doubles championship Sunday, where they will face Catherine Parenteau and Riley Newman. That left the bronze for Jessie Irvine and Jay Devilliers, who have now medaled in their last three tournaments together. 

Friday’s Highlights

  • Waters and Johns didn’t drop a game as they cruised to another finals 
  • Number 2 seeds Lucy Kovalova/Matt Wright upset by the 7th seeds
  • Match of the day: Kovalova/Wright vs Allyce Jones/Spencer Smith 

Anna Leigh Waters & Ben Johns

Is this division even fair when Waters and Johns team up? That’s what the pickleball faithful asked themselves after the youngsters coasted in their matches on Friday at the PPA Peachtree Classic. The number one-seeded team always plays a fun, effortless and relaxed style of pickleball, while their opponents are seen frantic, distressed and frustrated. 



It’s been said countless times before, that one way of knowing a player’s/team’s prowess is by their ability to “slow the game down.” While Waters and Johns kept up a relentless attack throughout the day, it looked calm, methodical and calculated; they were able to slow the game down. The opposite side of the court looked like it was taking place at twice the speed. 

After beating Jessie Irvine and Jay Devilliers in the semi-finals in straight games, Waters was asked how teams can beat them. While the 15-year-old didn’t give too many details, she did allude to something: attacking them first. While that may in fact be the recipe, it’s going to be difficult as the young duo doesn’t give their opposition too many attackable balls. And when they do, they are always ready for the counter. 



Riley Newman/Catherine Parenteau

If in fact Waters divulged something she shouldn’t have, Newman and Parenteau would be one of a few teams with the ability to exploit that potential weakness. If Newman/Parenteau weren’t already planning to do so, championship Sunday will certainly be their time to send everything imaginable at the virtually unbeatable team. 

Newman and his men’s partner Matt Wright, have somewhat cracked the code on the dominant Johns brothers in men’s doubles by beating them the last two times they met. Their secret? Throwing everything but the kitchen sink at them, and Ben in particular. That strategy of relentless attacking Newman/Wright implemented against the siblings, could be the missing link to dethrone Waters/Johns. 

Parenteau and Newman will once again be featured in Sunday’s finals for the first time since June. Their path to the gold medal match featured tough victories against Megan Fudge/Ryler DeHeart and Lea Jansen/Tyler Loong. Both of those matches went three games. Then in their semi-final matchup, Parenteau/Newman beat Jones/Smith, who took out Kovolva/Wright in the round before. 



The Kovalova/Wright vs Jones/Smith match was easily the match of the day, with all three games decided by two points. It literally does not get closer than that! Kovolva/Wright, haven’t podiumed since June, which gets people talking. Has the division caught on to their game or are they declining? 



Bronze Medalists 

Irvine and Devilliers have clearly established themselves as a top-three team in PPA mixed doubles, winning another bronze. In their last three tournaments, they have gone bronze, silver, bronze. The only question mark really is, are they going to play Waters/Johns in the semi-finals or the finals? That in turn has been dictating what medal they are going to get. 

Other than the loss to the number one seeds, Irvine and Devilliers didn’t drop a game. They had a nice victory against Kovolva/Wright in the opportunity bracket and Callie Smith/AJ Koller in the bronze medal game. In the last few tournaments, Irvine/Devilliers have had Kovalova and Wright’s number and Friday was no exception. 

Missed Day 1? Check out the recap here: Day 1 (Pro Singles) Recap and Highlights.

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