Ignatowich Secures Bronze Medal, Brascia Takes Fourth on Singles Day at PPA Arizona Grand Slam
Waters to face Jansen on women's side, Johns loses Championship Sunday spot to Staksrud, who will face second-seeded Devilliers in men's final.
The Professional Pickleball Association (PPA) Tour Arizona Grand Slam kicked off today from the well-known and massive Legacy pickleball facility in Mesa. Today's results were especially interesting as the most upsets took place today in singles for a PPA Tour event thus far in 2023. Team Selkirk's Mary Brascia (7 seed) finished fourth whilst James Ignatowich (6 seed) earned bronze in a historically deep bracket.
Below is a look at your Championship Matchups:
Women's Singles Championship Matchup (Sunday, February 19th):
(1) Anna Leigh Waters vs. (3) Lea Jansen
Anna Leigh Waters:
Def. Hsieh 11-9, 11-7.
Def. Grechkina 0-0, 0-0 (by Withdrawal).
Def. Devidze 11-9, 11-6.
Def. Jones 11-5, 7-11, 11-2.
Def. Tereschenko 11-7, 11-4.
Def. Brascia 11-2, 7-11, 11-7.
World No.1 Anna Leigh Waters remains especially fresh heading into Mixed Doubles day tomorrow after only playing four games to 11 on singles day. After a close 11-9 win in the first game of the first round against a tough rising contender in Hsieh, Waters warmed up and looked dominant as usual throughout the day. After having a second round bye due to an opponent withdrawal, Waters proved best in her semifinal duel with Salome Devidze, utilizing her firepower and court coverage to punch her ticket to a third straight singles Championship Sunday in 2023.
Lea Jansen, another top-ranked singles player in the world, had a tough first round matchup against the always game Allyce Jones, who chased down every ball showing the heart and effort that has made her a fan favorite. Jansen dropped game two after a few error streaks, but bounced back impressively to handle the third game comfortably, taking it home 11-2. After another amazing showing to win in two games over Irina Tereschenko, Jansen faced the dark horse of the bracket in the form of Mary Brascia in a three-game thriller. Brascia bounced back after a slow start and took game two, but eventually fell in a close game three. A round earlier, Brascia pulled off the upset of the day over second-seeded Catherine Parenteau. Brascia's tennis background was on display all day with her ability to dictate points from the base line patiently, perfectly timing her transitions to the kitchen line for put-away volleys. Brascia competes with the popular Selkirk Labs Project 002 paddle.
"I just kept pressuring her and hoping she wouldn't keep coming up with those crazy shots," said Lea Jansen. "She had a great win against Catherine who is playing great, so I knew this was going to be a battle."
Men's Singles Championship Matchup (Sunday, February 19th):
(2) Jay Devilliers vs. (4) Federico Staksrud
Def. Warner 11-0, 11-4.
Def. Markowitz 11-6, 11-0.
Def. Garnett 11-0, 11-3.
Def. Ignatowich 11-5, 2-11, 11-4.
Def. Grabovic 11-1, 11-7.
Def. Cincola 11-1, 11-8.
Def. Rettenmaier 11-8, 11-5.
Def. Johns 12-10, 4-11, 12-10.
The second-seeded Jay Devilliers has reached his first singles Championship Sunday appearance of the year after working through a tough bracket and only dropping one game to 11. Along the way, Devilliers handled his first few matches with ease before taking on the fast-rising and always exciting James Ignatowich, who represented Selkirk in the absence of Tyson McGuffin (who is out due to a minor foot injury). After Ignatowich started the match off cold, he caught some fire in the second game to push it to a deciding third. Devilliers remained composed throughout, finding his range particularly with his patented one-handed backhand to string together some excellent passing shots and punch his ticket to Sunday's Championship.
"I felt one side of the court was a bit easier. I was really focused on trying to start strong," said Jay Devilliers. "I am very happy that I closed it, I'm going to give it my best and try to beat Federico and win the title."
Federico Staksrud has been most successful in the singles realm thus far with his professional pickleball career, and he achieved a tremendous accomplishment today with his semifinal upset over top-seeded and World No.1 Ben Johns. Staksrud had lost to Johns in both finals of the first two PPA events of 2023, and earned his revenge in dramatic fashion, pushing both of the games he won to extra points and winning them both 12-10. Johns had an opportunity to punch his third straight ticket to a singles final while serving up 10-9 in the third but he missed his serve. Staksrud rallied to snap the long singles win streak of Johns and give himself an especially good shot at gold on Sunday.
The PPA Arizona Grand Slam continues tomorrow with Mixed Doubles action. Coverage will begin at 10:00am Mountain Time on the PPA Tour YouTube Channel.