New Format Brings Extra Excitement to Nationals
The pro draws for the BioFreeze National Championships got underway today in Dallas, TX experimenting with the pro tennis format for the first time. Pros competed in the first round of singles, mixed doubles and gender doubles rather than competing in the three events on separate days. Also, doubles are best 3 out of 5 throughout the tournament rather than just on Championship Sunday. It’s an interesting twist but with the pro sport still in its infancy stage it’s smart to try new ways to bring more eyeballs and keep the current fan base engaged at the same time. Let’s start with the top of the order and work our way through.
Men’s Singles: APP Men Start Strong
Not a ton of upsets across the board. The top seeds (1) Ben Johns, (2) Tyson McGuffin, (3) Connor Garnett and (4) JW Johnson all advanced relatively easy. The theme today was the strong showing from the men of the APP Tour. Both Hunter and Yates Johnson advanced while Ryler DeHeart and William Sobek upset Jay Devilliers and Hayden Patriquin.
Women’s Singles: No Surprises
Most of the top women earned a first-round bye so there were no real surprises in the draw today. (7) Mary Brascia, (8) Simone Jardim and (9) Jorja Johnson all won comfortably in straight games.
Mixed Doubles: Draw Opens Up for James & Anna
All three upsets today happened in James Ignatowich and Anna Bright’s quarter of the draw. (26) Lina Padegimaite and Stefan Auvergne took out (7) Dylan Frazier and Callie Jo Smith in five hard fought games. (23) Meghan Dizon and Yates Johnson defeated (10) Julian Arnold and Lauran Stratman in five as well. (18) Gabe Tardio and Megan Fudge won in four games over (15) AJ Koller and Jade Kawamoto.
Women’s Doubles: Softer than Expected Field
We have no Jackie Kawamoto, no Lea Jansen, no Etta Wright and no Lucy Kovalova this week so the draw is definitely open outside of Anna Leigh Waters and Catherine Parenteau. Anna Bright and Jade Kawamoto are the favorites on the bottom half but the APP powerhouse of Megan Fudge and Susannah Barr may present some problems in the QF. The match to watch in round 2 will be the Brascia sisters going up against the up-and-coming team of Rianna Valdes and Rachel Rohrabacher.
Men’s Doubles: Top Seeds Breeze
All the top 8 seeds on the men’s side didn’t drop a single game today. It sets up some very exciting matchups tomorrow. (8) James Ignatowich and Tyler Loong will face off against the MLP Bay Area Breakers men’s team of Connor Garnett and Rafa Hewett. The Texas boys Julian Arnold/Thomas Wilson will go to battle against the twins Hunter & Yates Johnson. Andrei Daescu and Tyson McGuffin will go up against the youngster Hayden Patriquin and men’s doubles specialist Callan Dawson.
On the Horizon
When looking at all of the draws men’s doubles looks like a gauntlet in round 2 so make sure to tune in to as many matches as possible. All round 2 matches will go off tomorrow starting with singles, followed by mixed doubles and concluding with gender doubles. The PPA Tour is streaming five courts with commentators on stadium and grandstand. Also PickleballTV is making its debut and providing coverage this weekend. Make sure to follow the PPA Tour on all social media platforms for updates on the schedule for the rest of the week. Strap in because this is as good as it gets for pickleball fans.