Dylan Frazier & JW Johnson Upset Top Seed to Secure Ticket to Championship Sunday at PPA Indoor National Championships
The Professional Pickleball Association (PPA) Tour Indoor National Championships continued today inside the shelter and warmth of the LifeTime pickleball facility in Lakeville. Gender doubles action today some great pickleball action as several new partnerships competed together for the first time, bringing us intriguing new matchups and strategies. Below are your Championship Sunday matchups for men's and women's doubles (taking place tomorrow):
Women's Doubles Championship (Sunday, February 26th):
(1) Lucy Kovalova & Callie Smith vs. (2) Lea Jansen & Allyce Jones.
Kovalova & Smith:
Def. Walker & Ruhl 11-2, 11-0.
Def. Buckner & Gecheva 11-1, 11-3.
Def. Koop & Bright 9-11, 11-2, 11-7.
Lucy Kovalova and Callie Smith, the top seed in today's bracket, handled business throughout today's action, cruising through their first two rounds and making it look easy up until the Semifinal. Kovalova & Smith have proven to be an extremely well-rounded team and difficult puzzle for opponents solve. They are able to adjust their game and strategy on the fly, and have utilized an especially patient and controlled form of pickleball to work their way into tomorrow's Championship opportunity.
Kovalova & Smith were pushed the most in the Semifinal by the fourth seeded Andrea Koop & Anna Bright. Koop & Bright got off to a hot start in the match, edging out the top seed by two points to take the first game. Kovalova & Smith rallied, however, to dominate in game two and handle game three with an 11-7 win. Kovalova & Smith will be the slight favorite heading into tomorrow's showdown with Jansen & Jones.
"Minnesota is amazing. It's awesome to be in the finals again. This is what it is to play pickleball," said Callie Smith. "I love pickleball, I love Minnesota, and I love these fans. Let's go!"
Jansen & Jones:
Def. Hessert & Lane 0,0, 0,0 (By Withdrawal).
Def. Tereschenko & Dizon 1-11, 11-2, 11-6.
Def. Grechkina & Wright 11-4, 11-9.
Lea Jansen & Allyce Jones have been a fast-rising partnership that has quickly become on of the most elite teams on tour. They bring a unique and relentless combination of heart and pressure. Thanks to their defensive capabilities, especially from the scrappy Allyce Jones, the combination presents a tough challenge to opponents as they are able to extend rallies and force mistakes in high-pressure scenarios.
Jansen & Jones overcame the tough pairing of Irina Tereschenko & Meghan Dizon in the second round, rallying well after starting slow and dropping game one 1-11. They then handled their Semifinal matchup against Grechkina & Wright despite a late rally from the 6 seed. Jansen & Jones will look to win their first Championship as a team together tomorrow.
Men's Doubles Championship (Sunday, February 26th):
(4) Dylan Frazier & JW Johnson vs. (11) Federico Staksrud & Pablo Tellez.
Frazier & Johnson:
Def. Zogbi & Gui-Franco 11-0, 11-0.
Def. Hewett & Alshon 11-6, 11-2.
Def. Loong & Fought 11-6, 9-11, 11-8.
Def. Wright & Newman 11-5, 11-9.
Dylan Frazier (using his Selkirk Labs Project 002) & JW Johnson are an exciting and poised young team with the capability of beating anyone, as they proved again today with their Semifinal upset of the top seeded Matt Wright & Riley Newman.
After a perfect 11-0, 11-0 win in the first round, Frazier & Johnson outplayed the powerful combination of Rafa Hewett & Christian Alshon. Next, the youngsters were pushed by a first-time pairing of Tyler Loong and Todd Fought. Fought has joined the professional pickleball spotlight as a member of the Orlando Squeeze Major League Pickleball (MLP) franchise, and replaced Loong's typical partner of Callan Dawson for this week. Loong & Fought edged out game two, but fell to Frazier & Johnson's stellar kitchen consistency and hand speed in game three.
Finally, Frazier & Johnson faced the top seeded Matt Wright & Riley Newman. Frazier & Johnson had never beaten the pair before, and finally had their big win over the favorites. Not only did they secure the upset, but they did it in style, winning the match in two games and making virtually no mistakes throughout. The young team went on some solid point runs and called timeouts to halt any threats of momentum from their opponents. They enter tomorrow's final with a big opportunity to win a Championship against the 11 seed Federico Staksrud & Pablo Tellez.
"We had a gameplan going into it. We stuck to the game plan. Shout out to Matt and Riley, they're a great team. It feels good to come out on top," said Dylan Frazier. "Staying calm really helps us to play a bit looser and not make as many mistakes."
Staksrud & Tellez:
Def. Manthou & Mediratta 11-0, 11-5.
Def. Lee & Hong 11-3, 11-9.
Def. Bar & Koller 9-11, 11-7, 11-5.
Def. Devilliers & Young 11-5, 11-9.
Federico Staksrud & Selkirk's Pablo Tellez (who plays with the Selkirk Labs Project 002) brought some great partnership experience and team chemistry to today's action, but were not expected to make a run to the finals. Tellez played an excellent role as a support and setup specialist for the powerful Staksrud, who proved that he is world-class not only on the singles court, but in doubles as well. Staksrud & Tellez scored two big upset wins in the Quarterfinal and Semifinal as they played some of the best pickleball that has been seen from them thus far in 2023.
The Quarterfinal win over Bar & Koller was the most hard fought, as Bar & Koller can be a tricky combination to sort out and win against. Despite dropping game one, Staksrud & Tellez stayed positive and won the next two games. They carried that momentum into their Semifinal battle with the tricky Jay Devilliers & DJ Young. Whilst their opponents played a bit streaky, Staksrud & Tellez were solid throughout, and capitalized in the biggest moments to surprise the pickleball world and book their spot in the final despite being the 11 seed in a very tough field. They head into tomorrow as the underdogs as they hope to pull a Championship upset over Dylan Frazier & JW Johnson.
Tomorrow is Championship Sunday at the PPA Tour Indoor National Championships from Lakeville, Minnesota. Coverage on the PPA Tour YouTube Channel begins at 10:00am Central Time. Order of Championship play will be: Men's Singles, Mixed Doubles, Women's Doubles, Men's Doubles, and Women's Singles.