The APP Mesa Open last weekend was full of surprises from the APP’s top athletes. From Salmoe Devidze’s stand out match in women’s singles to the first time partnership of Pesa Teoni and Andrei Daescu in men’s doubles, the Mesa Open truly was pro pickleball at its finest.
With over 400 pros competing in the main draw at this event, with 1,300 players total, the Mesa Open was the largest tournament so far for the APP Tour this year. The beautiful Bell Bank Park facility in Phonix, AZ has quickly become one of the premiere pickleball venues in the nation. It was the perfect place to host this tournament, let’s take a look at what went down!
Men’s Pro Singles – Eduardo Irizarry vs. Hunter Johnson
Number 1-seed Hunter Johnson was the favorite in men’s singles in Mesa, as he claimed gold in this event back at the previous tournament, the Daytona Beach Open. However, he had to face off against the underdog 8-seed, Eduardo Irizarry, who battled through 5 tough matches in the consultation draw to make his way to the finals match.
Johnson was able to keep the pressure on in the kitchen, pushing Irizarry to the back of the court throughout game one, winning 11-5. Game two saw very similar results, with Hunter winning 11-5 and becoming the men’s singles champion.
“I just try to stay focused. I try to get my gameplan going there, have a strategy, stick to the strategy, and keep the energy. Keep fighting.”Hunter Johnson on His Strategy in Men’s Singles
Women’s Pro Singles – Salome Devidze vs. Megan Fudge
Women’s singles was the second match of Championship Sunday, seeing 3-seed Megan Fudge take on the 1-seed Salome Devidze. Both Fudge and Devidze have medalled several times this season, with Devidze having won silver in singles back at APP Daytona.
Game one went to Fudge, who quickly came back from a slow 2-5 start, winning 11-7. Devidze took a fast lead in game two with 8 uncontested points, 8-0. Fudge was able to make a strong come back, but Devidze secured the win in game two, 11-8.
Game three went in similar fashion, going to Devidze, pushing the match to a 15-point tiebreaker. It first appeared as though Devidze would have an easy win, starting the game 14-2; but Fudge was able to catch a second wind, rallying all the way back, 9-14.
Devidze fought hard in a back-and-forth rally for a match-winning point, 15-9. In her post-match interview, Devidze said she wanted to be more aggressive on the court, which played a huge role in allowing her to take home the gold.
Men’s Pro Doubles – Teoni and Daescu vs. Johnson and Johnson
The spotlight seemed to be on Phoenix local Pesa Teoni all weekend long as he partnered up with Andrei Daescu in men’s doubles. This was the duo’s first tournament together, and their on-court chemistry immediately clicked, allowing them to battle their way to the final match against Hunter and Yates Johnson.
This match-up was all about the finesse displayed at the kitchen line. Both teams bring a lot of aggression and power, so slowing the game down at the net was crucial for setting up both teams with those big drives that we commonly see from Daescu and Hunter Johnson.
The teams traded the first two games, with Daescu and Teoni winning game one, 11-7, and the Johnson brothers taking game two, 11-9. The Johnson brothers lit up in game three, winning 11-0 and pushing the match to a tiebreaker.
Coming off of such a strong game three win, everyone was expecting to see similar results in game four. However, with the championship on the line, Daescu and Teoni decided it was their turn to dominate.
After taking the lead early, 5-2, Teoni and Daescu were able to completely shut down the Johnson brothers, not allowing them to score another point the rest of the match. Winning the match 15-2, Teoni achieved his first gold medal in the APP and Daescu takes home his third-straight gold medal in men’s doubles.
Women’s Pro Doubles – Todd and Jardim vs. Barr and Fudge
The 2-seeded team of Susannah Barr and Megan Fudge played well together in the main draw, setting themselves up to play confidently through their bracket to reach the finals. Simone Jardim and Parris Todd hadn’t lost a match yet all season, so Fudge and Barr had their work cut out for them in this close match-up.
Todd and Jardim came out of the gates strong with an 11-4 victory in game one. Fudge and Barr made some adjustments in game two and were able to stay on top for most of the match, even leading them to a game-point position at 10-9.
Jardim and Todd were able to quickly adjust, scoring three points in a row, winning the game 11-3, and securing their third-straight gold medal win in women’s pro doubles.
Mixed Pro Doubles – Todd and Johnson vs. Barr and Daescu
The final match of Championship Sunday saw Susannah Barr and Andrei Daescu take on Hunter Johnson and Parris Todd in mixed pro doubles. All of these athletes participated at least one of the previous matches, so all of them were warmed up and ready to fight for the gold.
Barr and Daescu took a quick 6-1 lead in game one, but Todd and Johnson quickly responded, coming back and fighting for an 11-9 win.
Game two saw the exact opposite results, with Todd and Johnson starting with a 9-4 lead, only for Daescu and Barr to bring it all the way to a 10-9 match-point lead. However, Todd and Johnson were able to clutch a 12-10 victory, pushing the match to a tie-breaker.
Barr and Daescu dominated throughout the entirety of the tie-breaker, winning 15-6 after an incredible final rally, with Susannah Barr scoring the winning point. This is Barr’s first gold medal of 2023, and was Daescu’s second gold at the Mesa Open.
“It feels really good. I’ve medalled at almost every APP, but I haven’t gotten a gold in probably a year and a half. So this is really great.”Susannah Barr on Her Win in Mixed Doubles
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