Ignatowich & Parenteau Clinch Championship Opportunities on Singles Day at PPA Indoor National Championships
Parenteau to face Jansen on women's side, Ignatowich will square off against JW Johnson.
The top pickleball professionals in the world left the heat of the Arizona desert last week to the snowy and icy conditions of Lakeville, Minnesota, as the Professional Pickleball Association (PPA) Tour Indoor National Championship kicked off today from the LifeTime facility. Today's finalists rose to the occasion in a tough field, despite the absence of Anna Leigh Waters, Ben Johns, and Tyson McGuffin. In the remaining field of hungry contenders, Team SELKIRK's James Ignatowich (3 seed) and Catherine Parenteau (2 seed) clinched Championship Sunday appearances in singles.
Below is a look at your Championship Matchups:
Women's Singles Championship Matchup (Sunday, February 26th):
(1) Lea Jansen vs. (2) Catherine Parenteau.
Def. Stratman 11-2, 11-8.
Def. Devidze 10-12, 11-8, 11-0.
Lea Jansen has reached her third straight singles final of 2023 already, and put up two world-class performances today to clinch a Championship opportunity. In an especially small bracket for pro women's singles today, Jansen capitalized on the opportunity by winning both of her matches, and she will be especially fresh heading into mixed doubles day tomorrow. She took on Lauren Stratman in her first round and handled business comfortably despite Stratman's powerful two-handed backhand and rising skill level on the singles side.
She then entered a duel against a common foe for her in the form of Salome Devidze, a singles specialist in her own right. Both players had streaks and took games in the match, but Jansen closed convincingly to win game three 11-0.
Def. Bright 9-11, 11-6, 11-1.
Def. Buckner 11-7, 11-3.
Catherine Parenteau had a tough second round matchup (after a first round bye) against the fast-rising Anna Bright, who showed some singles talent recently in Major League Pickleball (MLP) competition. Bright proved to be a tough foe throughout the match, and the two were especially evenly matched from the baseline, exchanging powerful crosscourt backhand ground strokes often. It was Parenteau's experience and strategic adjustments, however, that won her the match. She often dictated those baseline rallies and patiently timed her approaches to the kitchen line to close out rallies with big volleys and extremely impressive court coverage. Even as Bright attempted to whizz passing shots towards the corners, it was Parenteau's quick reflexes and instincts that provided stab volleys and drop shots.
Parenteau faced Brooke Buckner in the semifinal in a matchup that saw a University of Michigan tennis alum in Buckner face a Michigan State University tennis alum in Parenteau. It was the Spartan that dictated the play and outclassed the Wolverine to secure the win and big Championship Sunday opportunity.
"Brooke's game keeps on improving every time I play her, so I was ready for a battle," said Catherine Parenteau. "I'm going to keep going and hopefully do well on Sunday."
Men's Singles Championship Matchup (Sunday, February 26th):
(3) James Ignatowich vs. (8) JW Johnson.
Def. Young 11-6, 11-4.
Def. Alshon 11-6, 11-8.
Def. Devilliers 11-5, 11-9.
James Ignatowich is developing rapidly to become one of the best passing shot creators in the entire sport. His nonstop footwork and big two-handed backhand were on full display today as he overcame challenges from three big names in pickleball in Young, Alshon, and Devilliers. Ignatowich kept his cool and made Young play on the run in his first round match, then handled the dangerous Christian Alshon in the second round.
Finally, Ignatowich took on the in form Jay Devilliers in the Semifinal. Devilliers reached the finals of last week's PPA Arizona Grand Slam and proved to be a tough test, especially in game two. Nevertheless, it was Ignatowich's relentless passing shot attempts that won him the day. A rarity in singles pickleaball, Ignatowich is able to utilize several passing shot attempts and maintain in the rally before finding the shot that earns him the point. He used this play style along with his big wingspan and tremendous footwork to prove elite amongst the competition and book his first Championship Sunday appearance.
"Jay is a great guy. It's tough to stay focused against him because he is so handsome and French and stuff", joked James Ignatowich. "Sometimes I need to call a time out just to center myself and focus on the ball."
Def. Zogbi 11-1, 11-0.
Def. Lohani 1-11, 11-7, 11-1.
Def. Staksrud 14-12, 12-14, 11-9.
Def. Arnold 11-2, 11-7.
JW Johnson took singles day off last week at the Arizona Grand Slam, but returned to the scene with a vengeance today and achieved some of the most impressive results of the day. After a shaky match in his second round where he began with a 1-11 loss in game one, Johnson rallied to handle business and book a Quarterfinal matchup against Federico Staksrud, who had claimed singles gold at last week's PPA event. The two seemed as if their singles games were made to play one another, and very little separated them throughout the contest. Johnson edged game one in extra points, winning 14-12, and then Staksrud did the exact same in game two winning 14-12 to even the score. Johnson secured the win in game three, again winning by only a two point margin, pulling off the upset over the Argentine 11-9. The two displayed an extremely high level of pickleball, combining passing shots with cat-and-mouse points to leave fans entertained and wowed.
Johnson then went on to shut down the always-energetic Julian Arnold by never really letting him get started. Johnson got off to a hot start and kept his foot on the gas pedal to win in two games, minimizing errors and remaining composed throughout.