Memorial Day weekend was full of pro pickleball action thanks to The Boca Raton 2023 New York City Open. Over 1,100 pros and amateur players came out to compete in this Golden Ticket Qualifier event, held at the legendary USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows, NY.
As has been true for the APP recently, Championship Sunday saw a fair mix of new and old faces in the finals. From the incredible comeback victory for 18-year-old William Sobek in men’s pro singles to Simone Jardim and Parris Todd’s continued reign in women’s pro doubles, there’s a lot to discuss!
Women’s Pro Singles – Salome Devidze (1) vs. Megan Fudge (2)
We got the rematch we were all hoping for: Salome Devidze vs. Megan Fudge. The two last faced off in the finals at the APP Mesa Open, where tensions rose between the two. This time around, both players appeared level-headed and focused on the game, leading to an intense, two-game match.
Both games felt fairly balanced, but it was clear that Devidze was in control and maintained the lead for the majority of both games (11-8, 11-7). She was able to take home yet another gold, affirming her place as the APP’s number 1 player in women’s pro singles.
Men’s Pro Singles – Vuk Velickovic vs. William Sobek (7)
Ah yes, exactly what we were all expecting, the unseeded qualifier Vuk Velickovic vs. the 7-seed William Sobek. Jokes aside, both of these players earned their spot in the finals, fighting through the main draw and facing some serious opposition along the way.
We’ve grown used to seeing the Johnson brothers show up at the finals, especially with the previous two APP tournaments having a Yates vs. Hunter sibling-rivalry showdown. At the NYC Open however, both Velickovic and Sobek managed to take down the Johnsons during the quarterfinals, with Velickovic upsetting the 1-seed Hunter (10-12, 11-3, 11-7) and Sobek taking down 2-seed Yates in a wild comeback (0-11, 11-5, 11-8).
Sobek kept that comeback energy in the finals match, which went to an amazing tie-breaker match. Sobek was down 6-14, meaning Velickovic was just one point away from victory. However, Sobek was able to keep up his incredible defense and played the long game from his own baseline.
Velickovic might’ve been controlling the kitchen line all game, but Sobek managed to play that to his advantage, turning on his offensive game in short bursts when he saw an opening. In what might be the best men’s singles match of 2023, Sobek fought all the way back to win 16-14, earning himself his first gold medal.
“It means so much to me – I’ve been fighting so hard for this. I’ve been playing pickleball since I was four years old, training and practicing every single day to be here. Finally having that work pay off when it means most is truly amazing. The crowd was amazing, the level of play is so competitive, and I’m just so happy to be here in New York. I’ve earned a few bronzes at the last few APP tournaments, so it’s such a big relief to break through and pull off winning my first APP gold medal.”William Sobek
Women’s Pro Doubles – Jardim/Todd (1) vs. Fudge/Truong (2)
Not much to say here that hasn’t already been said about Simone Jardim and Parris Todd this year, besides the fact that they now remain undefeated for the 2023 season. Todd and Jardim absolutely dominated their side of the bracket, once again not dropping a single game on their way to the finals.
They faced off against the new 2-seed duo of Megan Fudge and Alix Truong, who made an incredible debut tournament together. Fudge keeps meeting Todd and Jardim in the finals, but has been changing partners frequently this season.
Perhaps now that we’ve seen solid success from her and Truong, we’ll see them continue to pair up and build a game plan together in future tournaments.
Men’s Pro Doubles – Daescu/Nunnery (1) vs. Johnson/Johnson (2)
Rob Nunnery and Andrei Daescu team up for the second time this season, following their debut at the Vlasic Classic, and earn themselves back-to-back gold medals in men’s pro doubles. The two went up against the 2-seed Johnson brothers, who have yet to pull off a win in men’s doubles together thanks to Daescu’s complete control of the even this year.
In the finals match against the Johnson brothers, Nunnery and Daescu took a commanding lead in game one, winning 11-6, and went on to secure their gold medal in a close game two, 12-10.
If Nunnery and Daescu continue their partnership this season, we predict that they will remain undefeated. While Daescu’s been the undisputed champ in the event this year, Nunnery has been a top-10 player in men’s doubles alongside Ryler DeHeart and has already proven himself an asset when playing with Daescu.
Mixed Pro Doubles – Jardim/Auvergne (3) vs. Barr/Nunnery (4)
Championship Sunday concluded with Simone Jardim and Stefan Auvergne facing off against Susannah Barr and Rob Nunnery. The Nunnery-Barr duo debuted at the Vlasic Classic where they earned silver, and this time around they were able to take home the gold in an incredibly close 4-game match.
Jardim and Auvergne didn’t drop a single game on their side of the bracket, even taking down Andrei Daescu and Maggie Remynse in the quarterfinals. Nunnery and Barr saw similar success through the main draw, where they took on the formidable duo of Parris Todd and Hunter Johnson.
The finals match went back and forth the first three games: Barr and Nunnery took game one, 11-9; Jardim and Auvergne won game two, 11-9; Barr and Nunnery won game three, 11-5. This pushed the match to one of the best 15-point tiebreakers we’ve seen this season.
Both teams went point-for-point at the start of the match, but then it looked like Jardim and Auvergne might win it as they started to pull away at 10-5. However, Nunnery and Barr were able to pick it back up and tied the game 13-13. From there, they went on to secure championship point, 16-14, earning their first gold medal together this year.
“Winning another gold was incredible. Obviously, it went down to the wire with Simone and Stefan – they’re so tough, and I’m just really proud of how Rob and I played. New York was incredible – we had a huge crowd, it was super loud and super fun to play in. That kept us motivated and excited to keep playing hard.”Susannah Barr
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