This weekend’s APP Chicago Open attracted over 800 players and a remarkable number of fans. Championship Court brimmed with vibrant energy, creating an electrifying atmosphere complemented by first-rate ESPN+ coverage.
A Series Of Upsets
What we saw was a series of upsets across the four days of play leading to one of the most exciting Championship Sundays to date, with four out of five of the matches going to the 15-point championship tiebreak.
Men’s Singles – Jaume Martinez Vich Vs. Christopher Haworth
At APP tournaments, it’s common to see Hunter Johnson facing off against his brother, Yates, in the finals. With Hunter absent from the draw, Yates secured the #1 seed.
Ross Whittaker, a relative newcomer who began the year competing in singles qualifying rounds before earning a place in the main draws, achieved the first major upset of the weekend by defeating Y. Johnson (11-13, 11-6, 12-10).
Jaume Martinez Vich
If you’ve been following the professional pickleball scene recently, you’re likely familiar with the rising star Jaume Martinez Vich.
Martinez Vich, the former hitting partner of Rafael Nadal, has been consistently turning heads at PPA tournaments, so it came as no surprise when he advanced to the gold medal match.
Although he faced a tough loss in the opening round against Aanick Lohani (11-9, 11-8), he quickly rebounded, breezing through the backdraw. He found redemption against Lohani (with a decisive score of 15-1) before defeating Ryler Dehaert (12-10, 11-7) in the bronze medal match.
In contrast to Martinez Vich, Christopher Haworth had a relatively smooth journey to the gold medal match, successfully defeating numerous formidable opponents. As Sunday arrived, both athletes were excited to play in front of the lively Chicago crowd.
Throughout the match, they engaged in friendly banter with each other and interacted with the enthusiastic fans, even cracking jokes when the score was tight.
“When I play with people, I feel less pressure for some reason because I like talking to them. Thank you to everybody for coming to support and thank you to Ken and the APP in general for giving me this opportunity to compete in this tournament.”Martinez Vich when asked about his preference to play in front of a crowd.
Ultimately, Martinez Vich won the 2 out of 3 matches (11-6, 11-5), forcing a thrilling 15-point championship tiebreak, which he barely pulled off (15-13). One of the points from this thrilling gold medal match even made it to SportsCenter’s Top 10.
Women’s Singles – Dominique Schaefer vs. Salome Devidze
Schaeffer has consistently demonstrated her potential to compete at the highest level in women’s singles over the past few months, and now, she appears to be emerging as the player to beat.
Schaefer secured commanding victories against Klara Nowack (11-0, 11-4) and Alix Truong (11-0, 11-0) before sending Devidze to the back draw in the semi-finals (0-11, 11-3, 11-2). Her exceptional performance on Friday concluded with an impressive win over the highly skilled singles player Judit Castillo (6-11, 11-5, 11-5).
Devidze made a resilient comeback, dominating the backdraw with decisive victories against Shelby Bates (15-7) and Jenna Hessert (11-5), leading up to a hard-fought three-game showdown against Judit Castillo in the bronze medal match (11-2, 10-12, 11-8).
The gold medal match between Schaefer and Devidze showcased an impressive level of women’s singles pickleball. Schaefer ultimately emerged victorious (11-5, 5-11, 11-4), and it seems a compelling new rivalry has now been ignited.
Mixed Doubles – Pisnik/Emmrich vs Erokhina/Lanier
Susannah Barr and Andrei Daescu have made themselves at home on the top of the podium for quite some time.
So, the decisive upset that Tina Pisnik (Slovenia) and Martin Emmrich (Germany) delivered in the round of 16 was surprising (11-5, 11-3). Pisnik and Emmrich are both new to the professional pickleball scene but have been improving rapidly. They made it straight through the bracket into the gold medal match.
Genie Erokhina and Spencer Lanier delivered several big upsets of their own. They beat Rob Nunnery and Meghan Fudge (8-11. 11-3, 11-5), Michael Loyd and Shelby Bates (11-3, 11-7) and Allison Phillips and Ryler DeHeart (11-9, 4-11, 11-8) on their way to the winner’s bracket final.
Tightly Contested Match
After losing that tightly contested match (6-11, 12-10, 4-11), they were set to play Barr and Daescu, who had battled all the way back through the back draw, on Championship Sunday.
On Sunday, Erokhina and Lanier continued their upset streak by defeating Barr and Daescu (11-5, 2-11, 11-7) in the bronze medal match.
They also triumphed over Pisnik and Emmrich (11-9, 11-9) in the first part of the gold medal match, leading to another intense 15-point championship tiebreak where Pisnik and Emmrich regrouped and fought their way to clinch the gold (15-11).
This is the first gold medal for the team of Tina Pisnik and Martin Emmrich, but it probably won’t be the last.
Men’s Doubles – Auvergne/Cincola vs. Daescu/Nunnery
Rob Nunnery and Andrei Daescu have been consistently dominant, securing numerous gold medals on the APP tour in 2023, making them the perennial favorites in men’s doubles. So, it was no surprise to see them breeze through the competition on their way to the gold medal match, only giving up 26 points in 4 matches on Saturday.
Stefan Auvergne and John Cincola faced a more challenging path. Their journey began with an upset by Caden Nemoff and Jack Munro (5-11, 7-11) in their first match of the day, which led them to the back draw. Losses like this serve as a reminder that having a bye may potentially put you at a disadvantage when facing a team that is already warmed up from their previous match.
An Impressive Streak
Auvergne and Cincola went on an impressive streak, securing victory in seven back-draw matches before defeating Michael Loyd and Augustus Ge in the bronze medal match (11-7, 11-6) to secure their spot in the finals. Loyd and Ge had a breakthrough performance this weekend, successfully establishing themselves as formidable contenders on the APP Tour.
On Sunday, Auvergne and Cincola achieved the most significant upset of the weekend, convincingly defeating Nunnery and Daescu (11-4, 11-3), leading to an intense 15-point championship tiebreak.
This match was a battle, and in the end, Auvergne and Cincola secured their first gold medals as a team in 2023 (15-13).
Women’s Doubles – Fudge/Barr Vs. Truong/Glozman
Without the undefeated team of Parris Todd and Simone Jardim to contend with, the women’s doubles field was wide open.
Meghan Fudge and Susannah Barr, affectionately known as “Fudgebarr,” were the frontrunners. They often clashed with Todd and Jardim in the finals and won gold when their rivals were absent.
Their journey through the bracket was relatively smooth until they found themselves in a hard-fought battle, narrowly clinching victory against Alix Truong and Vivian Glozman in the winner’s bracket final (11-2, 9-11, 11-8).
Fiery And Expressive Playing Style
This is only Alix Truong and Vivian Glozman’s third APP tournament as a partnership. Truong, at just 18 years old, has been part of the APP tour since 2021, while Glozman made her professional debut only a few months ago.
Truong’s fiery and expressive playing style often leads to jubilant cheers after great points, while Glozman, with a perpetual smile, maintains a mild-mannered demeanor. Despite their contrasting personalities, both possess impressive athleticism and formidable power.
Their dynamic chemistry was on full display as they took this tournament by storm.
Following their loss in the winner’s bracket final, Truong and Glozman defeated Tammy Emmrich and Tina Piskik, both of whom had an impressive tournament, in the bronze medal match (3-11, 11-1, 12-10). This match stood out as one of the most thrilling of the entire tournament, as all four players recognized the opportunity before them to reach the top of the podium.
The gold medal match was challenging, but Truong and Glozman appeared to be in control for most of the match. They won the first two out of three portion (11-6, 11-9), leading to yet another best-of-15 championship tiebreak. While this match was closely contested, Barr and Fudge couldn’t handle the heat coming from the opposing side, ultimately resulting in a victory for Truong and Glozman (15-12).
“This is my first women’s gold and I’m so happy to do it with Viv by my side. We have several more to go together so we really want to bring it. I think it sets the standard that we can be here every week.”Alix Truong in her post-match interview
The next stop on the APP Tour is the New Jersey Open (September 6-10,) where we can expect to see more fresh faces shake things up.
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