Nearly 900 amateur and pro pickleball players participated in the APP Tour’s fifth tournament of the season: The APP Vlasic Classic. Hosted at Sawyer Point Pickleball Complex in Cincinnati, Ohio, last weekend saw plenty of incredible pro pickleball action!
Championship Sunday saw the continued success of Andrei Daescu, who earned himself another set of gold medals in men’s and mixed doubles for the third tournament in a row. Outside of “Daescu Domination,” a lot more went down at the Vlasic Classic. Let’s talk about it!
Men’s Pro Singles – Yates Johnson (2) vs. Hunter Johnson (1)
Surprise, surprise: The Johnson brothers took over men’s singles yet again! The two have been dominant in this event all year long. After Yates’s first gold medal finish against his brother Hunter at the recent Sacramento Open, many predicted that the two would face off in a rematch at last weekend’s tournament.
Yates changed up his game plan in Sacramento, slowing his game down and focusing on drop shots, a sound strategy against Hunter who tends to play a fast game. He held his composure throughout the entirety of their match in the finals, taking home his second gold against Hunter.
Game one, Yates came out confidently, taking a quick 11-4 win. Hunter kept it a little closer in game two, but Yates held the lead for the entirety of the match, winning 11-9. This pushed it to a 15-point tiebreaker match.
In the tiebreaker, the pattern of Yates maintaining the lead held up, winning 15-8 and taking home his second gold medal. He clearly has a sound reading on his twin brother’s game, and in his post-match interview believes that his confidence is building in singles.
Women’s Pro Singles – Salome Devidze (1) vs. Jenna Hessert (3)
This was one of the most exciting matches of the weekend, as we got to see Championship Sunday newcomer Jenna Hessert take on one of the top APP women’s players, Salome Devidze. Devidze didn’t drop a single game all weekend and was looking to pick up where she left off at the APP Mesa Open, making her the favorite in the bracket, but Hessert fought hard through the main draw to make it all the way to the finals.
The two met in the winner’s bracket final, where Devidze manages a quick two-game victory (11-7, 11-4), but Hessert made it through the bronze medal match over the 4-seed Amanda Hendry to make it back to the gold medal match.
Devidze completely dominated the court in game one, winning 11-2. Hessert was able to adapt in game two, pushing Devize to the back of the court and even starting with a strong 4-1 lead. However, Devidze was able to come back and once again gain the edge, winning the game 11-6 and claiming another gold medal.
Women’s Pro Doubles – Jardim/Todd (1) vs. Barr/Fudge (2)
Women’s pro doubles saw the undefeated champions, Simone Jardim and Parris Todd, take on the returning partnership of Meghan Fudge and Susannah Barr. While Todd and Jardim coasted through their side of the bracket without dropping a game, Barr and Fudge did the same on their side of the bracket, even taking down the powerhouse 3-seed team of Truong and Rane.
The teams last met at the APP Daytona Beach Open, and last weekend’s Vlasic Classic yielded almost identical results: A win for Jardim and Todd.
In the finals match, we saw a strong showing from both teams. Barr and Fudge took game one, Jardim and Todd took game two, pushing the match to a third game. Just like at Daytona Beach, Jardim and Todd win quickly in game three, 11-2, taking home their fifth gold medal together this year.
Men’s Pro Doubles – Nunnery/Daescu (1) vs. Cincola/Long (3)
Andrei Daescu teams up with Rob Nunnery for the first time this season, and it was clear from the start of the weekend that these two would be taking home the gold. They swept through the main draw with ease, even taking down the formidable 5-seed duo of DeHeart and Donkena.
Silver medalists John Cincola and Brendon Long also had a great run throughout the weekend on their side of the bracket. They were able to clear their draw without having to face the Johnson brothers who were upset by the 15-seed team of Mick Andre and Jason McNulty.
Mixed Pro Doubles – Barr/Nunnery (4) vs. Truong/Daescu (3)
The final match of the day returned to APPTV’s live streaming services after men’s and women’s doubles were televised live on CBS Sports Network. Mixed doubles saw the defending Sacramento champs Susannah Barr and Andrei Daescu return to the finals; however, this time they were on opposite sides of the court.
Daescu teamed up with Alix Truong, and Barr partnered up with Daescu’s men’s doubles partner, Rob Nunnery. Barr and Nunnery had an incredible showing in the main draw, going into the finals without dropping a game and even taking out the 1-seed team of Parris Todd and Hunter Johnson. Truong and Daescu also managed to make it all the way through only dropping one game, and avoiding the other Johnson brother, Yates, who was paired up with Simone Jardim.
Daescu and Truong took game one quickly, winning 11-4. We saw some amazing points from the duo, including an ATP and a game-winning smash from Daescu.
Barr and Nunner responded in game two with some impressive work at the kitchen line, leading them to an 11-7 win. Game three was close but ultimately went to Daescu and Truong (11-9) which pushed the match to a 15-point tiebreaker.
Truong and Daescu started strong with a 6-0 lead which became unsurmountable for Barr and Nunnery as the game went on. The majority of this final game was played at the kitchen, with Daescu and Truong displaying their quick hand abilities with serious power. The tiebreaker ended with a powerful fifth-shot backhand drive from Truong straight into Nunnery, giving them the win at 15-9.
“The strategy was to just go for our shots. Andrei was telling me to take things, be aggressive. That’s my game, that’s his game; so when we put it together, I think it works out great.”Alix Truong
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