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Premier Level Semifinal Matchups Set in Major League Pickleball's 2023 Opener


By Kyle Whatnall

on Jan 28, 2023

5th Seeded New York Hustlers Pulled Off an Upset Over New Jersey 5's to Punch Ticket to Semifinals. 

In the first event of the 2023 Major League Pickleball calendar, the Legacy Sports USA facility based in Mesa, Arizona, has been the center of the pickleball universe this weekend. Dozens of the biggest names in the sport have competed across two divisions (Premier and Challenger) in an exciting showcase of new matchups, formats, and strategies. 

After a busy day of matches today, captured both by fans in person and across multiple court livestreams on the MLP YouTube Channel, the semifinal matchup is set for tomorrow. One of these four teams will be crowned as Champions tomorrow in what is a historic event for the MLP and team-based pickleball format. Below are your semifinal matchups:

(1) Los Angeles Mad Drops vs. (4) Florida Smash.

Mad Drops: Catherine Parenteau, Irina Tereschenko, Julian Arnold, Thomas Wilson. 

The top seeded Mad Drops have lived up to the hype, pitching a perfect game thus far to reach the semifinals by securing all possible points in all three matches. The Mad Drops have not lost a single game to 21 (rally scoring), as Parenteau & Tereschenko have shown their experience in high-pressure situations, whilst Arnold & Wilson's exciting blend of firepower and court coverage has proven to be a winning combination. In Mixed Doubles, Julian Arnold & Catherine Parenteau have been perfect thus far. 

 Florida Smash: Jessie Irvine, Jorja Johnson, Travis Rettenmaier, Collin Johns. 

The Florida Smash have been a bounce-back story to earn their Semifinal slot. After dropping their opener to the Mad Drops 0-3, they rallied with shutout wins over Frisco Clean Clause and the Socal Hard Eights before earning a 3-1 Quarterfinal win over the Milwaukee Mashers. 

Whilst their gender doubles results have been excellent, they have tried a few different mixed doubles combinations throughout their matches thus far, eventually relying on pairings of Johnson & Rettenmaier and Irvine & Johns to get the job done. They have the opportunity tomorrow to avenge their only loss in a rematch with the Mad Drops. 

(5) New York Hustlers vs. (2) Seattle Pioneers. 

New York Hustlers: Anna Bright, Lacy Schneemann, Tyson McGuffin, Rafa Hewett. 

The arrival of the New York Hustlers to the Semifinals has been the story of the event thus far. Their only loss comes against the team they face tomorrow in the Pioneers, as they dropped a 3-1 match versus their rivals this morning. The Hustlers redeemed themselves with big wins over the ATX Pickleballers before a hearbreaking Dreambreaker loss to the Las Vegas Night Owls. This setup a Quarterfinal matchup with the favored New Jersey 5's, which turned out to be an absolute barn burner all the way too the end. The Hustlers pulled off the upset in a dramatic Dreambreaker to earn their slot. 

McGuffin & Hewett have brought unparalleled power to the bracket with aggressive and high-intensity play. Schneemann & Bright have proven to be a dynamic and steadfast pairing despite their young age. Hewett has combined with Schneemann whilst McGuffin has teamed up with Bright thus far to work their way through the bracket. 

Between matches, McGuffin had a chance to sit down with Paul Olson on his Future of Pickleball Podcast to discuss the growth of the sport.  

 Seattle Pioneers: Etta Wright, Meghan Dizon, Ben Johns, Tyler Loong. 

The Pioneers, like the Mad Drops, went 3-0 to earn a Quarterfinal bye. Thus far they have recorded a 3-1 win over the Las Vegas Night Owls, a 3-1 win over the New York Hustlers, and a 3-0 win over the ATX Pickleballers. 

Ben Johns & Tyler Loong have been perfect in the men's doubles category thus far. The Utah-based pairing of Dizon & Loong has also brought fun firepower, whilst Johns & Wright have been flawless with their pinpoint accuracy and patience. 

CHALLENGER DIVISION

Championship Matchup: 

(4) Utah Black Diamonds vs. (2) Bay Area Breakers. 

Utah Black Diamonds: Michelle Esquivel, Olivia McMillan, Spencer Smith, Robert Cassidy. 

Bay Are Breakers: Ewa Radzikowska, Rachel summers, Pablo Tellez Christian Alshon.

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