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Ignatowich & Bright Come Out Swinging


By Joshua Gartman

on Dec 01, 2023

The CIBC PPA mixed doubles finals were competitive all day long at LifeTime Fitness in San Clemente. The top eight men and the top eight women paired up and were placed in two different pools, competing in a round robin format to determine four semifinalists before moving into a single elimination bracket for a spot in Sunday's final. Let’s breakdown what we saw today on the grounds.

Mixed Doubles Championship: Ben Johns/Anna Leigh Waters vs JW Johnson/Jorja Johnson

Ben Johns and Anna Leigh Waters faced some early morning adversity as they dropped their first match in pool play to the team of James Ignatowich and Anna Bright. What makes this tournament so exciting is that there is no room for slow starts as each team in the field has a chance to make a run at the title. Johns & Waters were able to battle back though to win their next two matches over Parenteau/Wilson and McGuffin/Jansen to advance out of the group.

The other team to advance out of Pool A was Bright/Ignatowich as they went undefeated and earned the #1 seed after pool play. James continues to show that he is one of the rising stars in the sport with his ability to overpower opponents and create offensive opportunities from just about anywhere on the court.

In Pool B JW Johnson and Jorja Johnson also stumbled out of the gate as they lost their first match to Riley Newman and Vivienne David in three tight games. They were able to regroup quickly and win their next two matches over Wright/Kovalova and Irvine/Frazier.

The last semifinal spot came down to the match between Newman/David and Wright/Kovalova. Wright and Kovalova won in convincing fashion 11-5, 11-5 and advanced based on point differential. No love has been lost between Matt Wright and Riley Newman (they are former men's doubles partners) which made for some entertaining exchanges in between points.

In the semifinals the match of the day was at the top half of the bracket between Bright/Ignatowich and the Johnson siblings. Unfortunately, Ignatowich was dealing with cramping issues in the third game and his partner Anna Bright did her best to try to push him across the finish line but it wasn’t to be as the Johnsons clinched the first of two spots on Championship Sunday.

On the bottom half of the bracket Johns and Waters found their top gear and defeated Wright and Kovalova in two short games. Johns & Waters ability to get into their preferred patterns at the kitchen line and force Wright & Kovalova into some uncharacteristic errors proved to be the difference. They’ll face the Johnsons on Sunday who they just beat two weeks prior at the PPA Tour event at Holly Hill in Daytona. The Johnsons are one of the two teams to beat Ben and Anna Leigh this year.

On the Horizon

Gender doubles gets underway tomorrow morning and a team to watch out for has to be James Ignatowich and Matt Wright. They made a semifinal run together in Vegas in October and will be playing together in 2024. On the women’s side Catherine Parenteau and Anna Leigh Waters will look to finish off the year with an unblemished record so that will be exciting to monitor. Catch all the action on PPA’s YouTube Channel and PickleballTV.

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