Triple Crowns for Johns & Waters, Two Medals for Parenteau at PPA Austin Showdown
Ben Johns & Anna Leigh Waters returned to perfect form today, going undefeated across all three pro events to secure Triple Crowns across the board on Championship Sunday today at the PPA Austin Showdown. Parenteau had the next best performance, taking home one silver medal and one bronze.
The PPA Austin Showdown concluded with Championship Sunday action taking place under excellent pickleball conditions today from the Elevation Athletic Club in Lakeway, Texas. The best results came from Ben Johns and Anna Leigh Waters, who both continued their undeafeated streaks from bracket play into their Championship Sunday opportunities, going three-for-three and securing triple crowns with three medals across singles, gender doubles, and mixed doubles. Catherine Parenteau's results were next best today, securing silver in singles and bronze in women's doubles alongside her partner Jorja Johnson. The story of the weekend is the return to widespread winning ways for Waters & Johns despite the rising level of competition and rapid growth of other top players, especially Catherine Parenteau & James Ignatowich. The weekend also marked a landmark partnership for the sport as a whole, as a deal between leading paddle brand Selkirk Sport and Invited Clubs, the largest country club operator in the U.S., was announced earlier this week.
Below are your Gold Medalists/Champions for the 2023 PPA Austin Showdown:
Men's Singles: Ben Johns.
Women's Doubles: Anna Leigh Waters & Anna Bright.
Mixed Doubles: Ben Johns & Anna Leigh Waters.
Men's Doubles: Collin & Ben Johns.
Women's Singles: Anna Leigh Waters.
PPA Florida Open Women's Singles Championship:
(1) Anna Leigh Waters def. (2) Catherine Parenteau:
12-10, 9-11, 11-1.
It was Anna Leigh Waters' day today as she took on her biggest competitor on the singles court in Catherine Parenteau. The first two games were razor thin, with Waters outlasting Parenteau in the first, but Parenteau rebounded brilliantly to take game two 11-9. Waters found her best form in game three, however, when she patiently constructed points from the baseline and took advantage of any high ball opportunities.
Waters also particularly utilized her big two-handed backhand to strike balls from the baseline, mid-court, and kitchen line. She was successful in several put-away volleys, especially on that backhand side, and regularly forced Parenteau to hit shots on the stretch, moving her around throughout the points and hitting sharp angles from different parts of the court. After Parenteau got the better of Waters at last week's PPA Florida Open, the two of them have proven to become each other's best rival on the singles court, and today's very close final will set the stage for more future matchups between them.
"Props to Catherine, she has been playing amazing pickleball the last few months to start this year. I love her on and off the court and she's an amazing person so I'm happy to see her doing really well," said Anna Leigh Waters. "She's been playing on fire and came into today's match with a lot of confidence."
PPA Florida Open Mixed Doubles Championship:
(1) Anna Leigh Waters & Ben Johns def. (7) Anna Bright & James Ignatowich:
11-8, 11-13, 11-4, 11-5.
Seventh seeded Anna Bright & James Ignatowich made a terrific run at this week's PPA Austin Showdown, but fell to the top seeded Anna Leigh Waters & Ben Johns in today's final. Bright & Ignatowich, who are partners both on and off the court, are an intriguing stylistic combination and powerful duo that pushed the top seed to four games today. Game two was particularly exciting for the fans, as Bright & Ignatowich battled off several match points before coming back and winning 13-11. Waters & Johns made their adjustments, however, setting up their most effective dinking patters to build offense and come out on the winning side of quick exchanges to take games three and four.
Waters & Johns continue to be recognized as the top mixed doubles team in the world, but the recent on-court partnership of Bright & Ignatowich will certainly be one to keep an eye on. As a big threat in both power and control categories of pickleball, many expect Bright & Ignatowich to move down from their seventh seed in the future to become regular medal contenders, and potentially the combination to best challenge Waters & Johns. Until then, Waters & Johns will continue to add to their dynamic play style as they sit at the very top of the game.
PPA Florida Open Men's Doubles Championship:
(1) Collin & Ben Johns def. (2) Matt Wright & Riley Newman:
12-10, 11-3, 11-6.
The Johns brothers took on their biggest rivals in the reunited Matt Wright & Riley Newman, who returned to action as a team for the first time in a few weeks. The matchup was full of quick volley exchanges and long dink rallies. Wright & Newman came into game one with an excellent game plan in game one, entering exchanges with particular aggression to play out points more quickly, and sometimes forcing errors from the Johns brothers by catching them by surprise. They even jumped up to a solid lead in game one and had multiple match points, but the Johns brothers remained composed, proved clutch in those rallies, and rebounded to take game one closely.
The Johns brothers then continued that momentum into games two and three, punishing high balls with authority and resetting balls into the kitchen when necessary. The Johns brothers continue their hot streak as a team, having won every event they have competed in together since their loss to Wright & Newman in November of last year.
"We made a few adjustments, and it really came down to execution," said Collin Johns. "We saved a few game points which was huge, and then we carried that momentum into game two."
PPA Florida Open Men's Singles Championship:
(1) Ben Johns def. (2) Federico Staksrud:
Ben Johns has now scored back-to-back PPA singles titles after defeating the talented second seed in Federico Staksrud. Johns started hot from the jump in today's match, and it seemed he never really gave Staksrud the opportunity to build momentum or get his game going. Johns expertly incorporated drops and initiated cat-and-mouse points at will, especially in game two. Staksrud found some excellent passing shots and hit his targets in game one, but Johns proved too clinical and hit is stride in game two.
PPA Florida Open Women's Doubles Championship:
(1) Anna Leigh Waters & Anna Bright def. (7) Meghan Dizon & Vivienne David:
11-2, 11-7, 11-6.
After an incredible run from the new partnership of Meghan Dizon & Vivienne David, top seeded Anna Leigh Waters & Anna Bright brought the fire today to end the Cinderella story run. The match was played with a very aggressive style and rapid points, as both sides were willing to trade volleys, hit third shot drives, and swing through shots with maximum power. Waters & Bright came out on the winning end of most fast exchanges, and were able to get off to a hot start by winning game one comfortably.
They then played through a close game, which saw some great runs from Dizon & David, before closing it out in game three to win the PPA Austin Open title.
"When Anna Leigh and I play aggressive, that's when we play our best. We like to grip it and rip it," said Anna Bright. "Our game plan was pretty simple, it was a speed-up fest without a lot of dinking."
The PPA Tour now takes a brief three week hiatus before returning with the Selkirk Red Rock Open at the Little Valley Sports Complex in St. George, Utah. Professional brackets will take place from April 4-8 and can be viewed live on the PPA TOUR YOUTUBE CHANNEL.