MLP Mesa by Margaritaville proved to be an exhilarating start to the 2023 MLP season. All 24 Major League Pickleball teams came together to compete in their first official event, and the results were nothing short of remarkable.
The tournament ran this past weekend from January 26th-29th at Legacy Sports USA in Mesa, Arizona, and spectators saw some exciting matchups in both the Challenger Level and Premier Level brackets.
The Los Angeles Mad Drops won the Premier Level, defeating the New York Hustlers 3-1. The Challenger Level tournament was won by the Bay Area Breakers, who had a clean sweep in their matches against the Utah Black Diamonds, 3-0.
What an incredible four days at MLP Mesa! Congrats to the Los Angeles Mad Drops and the Bay Area Breakers for their huge wins at the Premier and Challenger Levels respectively! Hmm… now did somebody say Daytona? #MLPMesa #MLPDaytona pic.twitter.com/Exad38Lfya— Major League Pickleball (@MajorLeaguePB) January 30, 2023
Both Premier and Challenger Level Championship brackets were set by the top 6 seeded teams in after the group stage of the event, and consisted of quarter finals, semi finals, and finals matchups. MLP’s unique ruleset makes each team meeting consist of up to 5 matches: Women’s Doubles, Men’s Doubles, Mixed Doubles (Up to 2), and a tie-breaker round known as the Dreambreaker.
MLP Mesa saw just how exciting the new MLP format can be. From the incredibly close, back-and-forth Challenger Semi Finals between the Bay Area Breakers and Atlanta Bouncers, to the intense 3-0 sweep seen in the Premier Semi Finals between the LA Mad Drops and the Florida Smash, each match felt just as exciting to witness as the last.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the stand out moments from the MLP Mesa tournament at both the Challenger and Premier Levels.
Challenger Level Recap
The MLP Mesa Challenger Level Champions are the Bay Area Breakers. Ranked as the 2nd seed in the tournament with three of the top five ranked MLP players at the Challenger Level, the Breakers were one of the favorites going into the championship bracket.
The Breakers started the finals bracket with a bye in the Quarter Finals, which led them to being matched up with the 3 seed Atlanta Bouncers in the Semi Finals. This was a remarkably close meeting, with the Breakers winning it all 3-2 in the final Dreambreaker match.
In the Challenger Level Finals, the Breakers went up against the 4 seed Utah Black Diamonds. The Black Diamonds were able to upset the 1 seeded Chicago Slice in their Semi Finals matchup, going 3-1, but were completely swept by the Breakers in the final round. Going 3-0, the Breakers didn’t even need to go to the second Mixed Doubles match, and were able to claim the title of MLP Mesa Challenger Level Champions.
Premier Level Recap
The Los Angeles Mad Drops absolutely dominated the premier league, earning themselves the title of MLP Mesa Premier League Champions. After earning the 1 seed in the group stage by going 9-0 in matches with a 56% overall point advantage over their opponents, it became abundantly clear that the Mad Drops were going to compete at their highest level in the Finals Bracket.
After their bye in the Quarter Finals, the Mad Drops swept the Florida Smash 3-0 in the Semi Finals. While all three matches were close, with all of them having final scores of 22-20, the Mad Drops secured their spot in the Finals where they went up against the underdog 5 seeded team, the New York Hustlers.
The Hustlers started the Premier Level Finals strong, securing a victory in Women’s Doubles right out the gate. However, the Mad Drops then proceeded to turn up the heat with a clean 21-16 victory in Men’s Doubles.
Mad Drops’ Thomas Wilson and Irina Tereschenko were able to keep this momentum going into the first Mixed Doubles match, securing a 21-16 victory over Rafa Hewett and Lacy Schneemann. In the final exciting Mixed Doubles matchup of the tournament, Julian Arnold and Catherine Parenteau were able to exhibit some incredible team chemistry in their stunning 21-12 victory over Anna Bright and Tyson McGuffin.
For the championship match’s final point, the surrounding audience fell completely silent, creating a wonderfully intense atmosphere as the Mad Drops fought for victory. As the final point was scored, the court erupted into cheers of excitement and the Mad Drops claimed their title as MLP Mesa’s Premier Level Champions.
Now that MLP Mesa has concluded, Major League Pickleball fans can start looking forward to the next big event of 2023’s Season One: MLP Daytona, taking place March 23-26 in Daytona Beach, FL. Stay tuned to the MLP’s website for upcoming announcements regarding the next tournament events.
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