Today marks the start of the Red Clay Hot Sauce Florida Open, as the PPA finally makes its way to the legendary Pictona at Holly Hill in Daytona Beach, FL. As the tournament’s sponsor might suggest, this is going to be a spicy one!
The tournament will run from today, March 9th through Championship Sunday, March 12th. It’s the biggest tournament of the 2023 season so far, as 1,189 players, 215 of which are pros, are signed up to compete.
There’s a lot to look out for this weekend, as many of pickleball’s star athletes make their return to the spotlight. Anna Leigh Waters and Ben Johns have officially returned after a hiatus from the Indoor National Championships that went down in Minneapolis a couple weeks ago.
Another contender to watch out for is Tyson McGuffin who has been out with a foot injury. Expect big things out of him as he hopes to bounce back and once again prove his dominance on the pickleball court.
UPDATE: According to the PPA, Tyson McGuffin has officially withdrawn from the singles event today. There’s still no word as to if he will return for Mixed and Men’s Doubles.
‼️NEWS‼️ The #4 seed, Tyson McGuffin, just announced that he is withdrawing from the singles draw today. No word if he’ll be playing the rest of the weekend or not.— CARVANA PPA TOUR (@PPAtour) March 9, 2023
With McGuffin once again out of the mix, all eyes are on the other top 3 Men’s Singles competitors: Ben Johns, Federico Staksrud, and James Ignatowich. However, this tournament also marks the largest pool of players competing in Men’s Singles. With 80 pro players in this bracket, who knows if someone new will make their way to the championship court?
One thing is certain: the monkey is off of Big Papa Jimmy’s back. James Ignatowich had a stand out performance at the Indoor National Championships, securing a championship win over JW Johnson in a quick 2-game match, 11-1, 11-8. Expect to see big performances out of him, and hopefully we get to see some more post-match interviews out of him.
It’s no surprise that all eyes are on Anna Leigh Waters as she makes her return to PPA Women’s Singles. She has won 10 events in a row prior to this event, and will be determined to secure an 11th win.
Her competition is tough though, as Catherine Parenteau and Lea Jansen have consistently been reaching the semifinals and finals matches in the last several tournaments. We’ll see if Parenteau can continue her winning streak off of her victory at the National Indoor Championships.
At the Indoor Championships, we saw Callie Smith and Lucy Kovalova take home the gold after a close match against Lea Jansen and Allyce Jones. Smith and Kovalova will both be absent this weekend, opening up doors for other teams to go for the gold.
However, the unstoppable duo of Catherine Parenteau and Anna Leigh Waters will be reunited. They are currently 12-0 as a team, and it’s apparent that they want to keep that streak going into this weekend.
Ben and Collin Johns are reunited this weekend, and they will once again be one of the bracket’s top teams. In Ben’s absence at the Indoor Championships, Collin paired up with James Ignatowich where they were unfortunately knocked out early by Julian Arnold and Rob Nunnery.
Julian Arnold will now be pairing up with Mad Drops teammate Thomas Wilson, and together they were able to bring home the gold at MLP Mesa. Keep an eye on this duo, as they have a good chance at making it to Championship Sunday.
The dynamic duo of Ben Johns and Anna Leigh Waters are together again, and will be gunning for an appearance at the main stage event on Sunday. While they were knocked out of the Mixed Doubles competition at the PPA Arizona Grand Slam, they will surely use that as motivation to once again make a podium appearance.
Big Papa Jimmy will be partnering up with Anna Bright, who has continually proved her ability as a doubles player. At the PPA Arizona Grand Slam, Bright won in both the Mixed Doubles and Women’s Doubles events. The pair are also a couple off of the court, so it will be interesting to see how their personal dynamics translate to the pickleball court.
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