Nearly 700 players competed in last weekend’s APP Atlanta Metro Open, hosted at the Spalding County Pickleball Complex in Griffin, GA.
As this APP Tour season has progressed, we’ve seen many top seeds stake their claim as gold medalists and become relentless in defending those titles. While we certainly still saw that across the board in doubles during last weekend’s tournament, we did get to see some new faces in singles hit the podium, gold medal in hand.
Men’s Singles – Jhonnatan Medina Alvarez vs. Roscoe Bellamy
Jhonnatan Medina Alvarez has been exciting to watch this year as he’s slowly but surely made his way up the ranks, even securing a big silver-medal finish at the APP St. Louis Open back in August. Last weekend, he managed to earn himself his first-ever APP gold medal in men’s singles.
In Atlanta, Alvarez went through three tough battles in the main draw, including an extremely close match against Ryler DeHeart in the quarter-finals (9-11, 11-8, 12-10). Roscoe Bellamy met Alvarez in the semi-finals, losing in two games (0-11, 11-13), and then Alvarez managed to clutch victory in a quick 2-game finals win (11-6, 11-9).
The match included some pretty wild moments, including the most egregious missed line call by a ref that we’ve seen in a long time. Alvarez missed one of his serves in game one, pushing the ball into the wrong side of the court on the serve.
Bellamy called it out, plain as day, but the ref at the net called the ball good. Hopefully, the APP will look into this incident because it was an impactful call during game one of the Gold Medal Match, unnecessarily putting Bellamy on tilt.
It wasn’t all rough for Bellamy, who played his heart out in the finals. The shot seen above was easily the highlight of the tournament in men’s singles, and even made its way to the Sportscenter Top 10.
Women’s Singles – Judit Castillo vs. Megan Fudge
It was only a matter of time until Megan Fudge took home a gold medal in singles this year, and she finally pulled it off in Atlanta! Fudge has been a top contender in women’s singles all year, with 19 medals to her name going into Atlanta, but often found herself taking home silver in singles.
Not only did she manage to battle her way through the back draw to get back into the finals, but she took down her rival Salome Devidze in the process, defeating her in the back draw final (10-12, 12-10, 11-4). In the finals, she met back up with Judit Castillo, who initially took her out in the quarter-finals.
Despite losing in the finals, this was clearly Castillo’s strongest tournament to date. She didn’t drop a single game in the main draw, which says a lot because she managed to defeat the top two women’s singles players, Fudge and Devidze, both in two-game sweeps.
The finals match was back and forth the whole way through. Fudge quickly secured game one (11-3), but Castillo bounced back with an 11-8 win. Fudge again responded with a strong 11-1 win in game three, which pushed the match to a 15-point tiebreaker.
Castillo started strong with a 10-3 lead over Fudge, but Fudge came all the way back to tie things up at 11-11. From there, it was a tough back-and-forth game between the two, but Fudge managed to come out on top and secure her first gold in singles for 2023.
Mixed Doubles – Todd/Johnson vs. Barr/Daescu
“Bouncing” back from a big weekend at MLP Atlanta, Parris Todd and Hunter Johnson partnered back up and took down the mixed doubles event together last weekend. The two managed to clear the main draw without dropping a game and then met Andrei Daescu and Susannah Barr in the semi-finals/finals matches.
Every time these teams meet on the APP Tour this season, it’s been a close match, and this finals wasn’t an exception to that rule. Daescu and Barr took game one (11-9), but then Johnson and Todd responded with a win of their own (11-7).
The final game of the match could’ve gone either way, but Todd and Johnson came away with the win (11-9), securing yet another gold medal on the year.
Women’s Doubles – Jardim/Todd vs. Fudge/Barr
Fudge took home a second gold medal from the Atlanta Metro Open in women’s doubles alongside Susannah Barr. The two played Simone Jardim and Parris Todd in the finals, who were also at the top of their game going into the finals.
After getting knocked out in the quarter-finals by Vivian Glozman and Alix Truong, #FudgeBarr fought the back draw to make their way back into the finals. Knowing they’d have to fight for a tie-breaker, they came into the finals with a huge 2-0 match win (11-8, 12-10), and then proceeded to clutch a 15-11 win in the tie-breaker.
“It’s obviously a lot of fun to play with your friends – We’ve worked through a lot this year, on and off the court, and it’s just been an awesome year, awesome season, and it’s not done yet. Also, shout out to my mom, she brought me my lucky socks today, and my lucky socks went all the way.”Megan Fudge on winning with Susannah Barr
Men’s Doubles – Daescu/Nunnery vs. Dow/Scarpa
Rob Nunnery and Andrei Daescu continue their winning streak in men’s doubles with yet another gold medal, reaffirming their spots as the top men’s doubles players on tour right now. In the finals, they faced the duo of Anderson Scarpa and Greg Dow, who made the comeback of the year.
Scarpa and Dow got knocked out in the Round of 16 to none other than Daescu and Nunnery (9-11, 4-11), but then went on to win seven back-draw matches in a row to make it back into the finals! However, once they got there, they got run over by Daescu and Nunnery, who hit them with back-to-back pickles (11-0, 11-0) for the win.
Daescu and Nunnery were unstoppable, winning every single game they played in this tournament. The Johnson brothers are probably the next closest team in the APP right now, but as it stands, the men’s doubles title feels relatively uncontested.
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