The PPA Tournament of Champions Day 3 (Men's & Women's Doubles) Recap and Highlights
Ben Johns and Anna Leigh Waters are both on triple crown alert after they punched themselves and their teammates into the men’s and women’s doubles finals, respectively. Here’s how gender doubles Friday played out!
The rivalry continues as the 1 seeds Riley Newman and Matt Wright will play against the 2 seeds in brothers Ben and Collin Johns for the championship. The last 2 times these teams met in competition, they split the matches at 1 apiece. Though, the Johns brothers win over Newman and Wright was an exhibition win, which doesn’t quite have the same validity over Newman and Wright’s PPA Atlanta win 3 months ago.
Newman and Wright cruised to their championship bid without losing a single game, while the brothers were taken to 3 games by Tyson McGuffin/Jay Devilliers and Austin Gridley/Todd Fought. However, the Johns were able to battle through adversity on behalf of Ben’s forehand, calculated aggression and court control.
McGuffin and Devilliers made the Johns sweat it out in the semi-finals and were a few points away from the upset. McGuffin and Devilliers were down big in game 2, but came back to win 10-12, which forced game 3. Ben came out determined and unwavering in his approach, which eventually got them the win in game 3, 11-8.
McGuffin and Devillier also gave us an early bid for "point of the year" when facing off against Chuck Taylor and Rob Cassidy earlier in the draw:
The bronze medal went to Tyler Loong and Callan Dawson, who got a withdrawal win over AJ Koller and Thomas Wilson. Loong and Dawson lost in the semi-finals to Wright/Newman, but recovered to win a thrilling 18-16 game against Dylan Frazier and DJ Young in the opportunity bracket, to get them into the third place game.
Loong was active all day with his signature ernie in full swing:
A 4-hour rain delay didn’t stand a chance to derail Lucy Kovalova and Callie Smith’s wrecking train that beat Jessie Irvine and Anna Bright in the semi-finals 3-11, 11-8, 11-5. After getting absolutely blitzed in the first game, Kovalova and Smith were able to get some help from the wind and ride it to a victory. The fans were going crazy for homestate hero Smith, who continuously got the crowd hyped with fist pumps.
Game 3 started with an early lead by Kovalova and Smith, with mother nature interjecting with some showers. 4 hours later, the eventual winners picked up where they left off and won the match. While Irvine and Bright had a stellar tournament performance, the middle ground between them created constant confusion for this relatively new duo to overcome.
Different tournament, same result for the Waters, as the mother-daughter duo Anna Leigh and Leigh kept the pace high and the speedups frequent on their way to beat Catherine Parenteau and Lea Jansen in the semi-finals. The wind which was a factor toward the later half of the day didn’t make a difference for the Waters, who won in straight sets.
Championship Saturday will make it the 6th time the Waters play Kovalova/Smith for a gold medal this year, with Kovalova and Smith currently up 3-2. However, the Waters got the last win last weekend in an exhibition, which technically doesn’t count as a tournament win.
Susannah Barr and Vivienne David took third in impressive fashion against Parenteau and Jansen in straight games, making it their first medal as a team. Barr’s drops were pure, which allowed David a free run to the non-volley line where she forcefully applied pressure on her opponents! Huge win for Barr and David, showing they can hang with the best teams in pickleball