The PPA OGIO Newport Beach Doubles Shootout might’ve been the most exciting PPA event we’ve seen so far this year. With singles events out of the picture, the fan-favorite doubles brackets rose to the occasion with some incredible matchups on the championship court.
This weekend had it all: the young stars against the veterans, arguably one of the best women’s doubles matches of all time, and the Johnson siblings getting their first finals win in mixed doubles. Let’s dive right into some of the tournament highlights!
Mixed Doubles – Johnson/Johnson (7) vs. McGuffin/Schneeman (12)
Because the tournament didn’t have to support a full singles event schedule, the finals matches in doubles were split between both Saturday and Sunday. The main draw of the mixed doubles bracket went down on Friday, which led to the Championship match being broadcast on CBS Sports on Saturday.
While the top four players in PPA mixed doubles weren’t present on the championship court, the final matchup was an exciting one to say the least. In the finals, the brother and sister, 7-seed team of Jorja and J.W. Johnson took on the 12-seed team of Tyson McGuffin and Lacy Schneeman.
After McGuffin’s recent double gold medal performance at PPA Red Rock, almost everybody anticipated seeing him in the finals. Partnering up with Schneeman, the two were able to fight their way to the finals, taking down Red Rock champs Anna Bright and James Ignatowich along the way.
In the finals, the Johnsons were able to secure in game one, 11-9, and they kept that momentum going into game two, sweeping McGuffin and Schneeman with an 11-7 win. The siblings have been playing pickleball together for a while, and they’re excited to finally get their first PPA gold medal together.
“There are not a lot of sports where I could play with my brother. Pickleball is special like that.”Jorja Johnson
Women’s Doubles – Smith/Kovalova (1) vs. Bright/Koop (3)
Kicking off Championship Sunday was the women’s doubles final of Callie Jo Smith and Lucy Kovalova versus Anna Bright and Andrea Koop. With three of the top five players in women’s doubles, everyone expected a fantastic match, and it ended up being one of the best matches of the season.
After Koop and Bright took game one, 11-7, Smith and Kovalova quickly responded with a win of their own in game two, 11-7. Game three was the closest battle of the match.
Kovalova and Smith started with five unanswered points, but Bright and Koop were able to adapt and adjust to tie it all up, 5-5. Smith and Kovalova went on the charge and scored another five unanswered points, bringing the game to match point at 10-5.
However, Koop and Bright made a miraculous comeback, bringing the score back to their favor even with a match point at 11-10. Kovalova and Smith were able to once again turn the tides in game three, winning it at the third game point, 13-11.
Kovalova and Smith settled into a rhythm in game four, with Smith showing her strength as server and Kovalova taking command at the kitchen line. Smith and Kovalova won decisively in game four, 11-3, taking home the women’s doubles title.
“It’s not just working hard, it’s having great chemistry on the court and a great partner … It’s about getting to the next point and competing your best, and I thought everybody on this court today, including Anna and Andrea, competed their hearts out.”Callie Jo Smith
Kovalova and Smith have now won eight PPA titles together, with Kovalova continuing her record of being the winningest women’s doubles player of all time with 21 gold medals.
Men’s Doubles – Wright/Newman (2) vs. Johnson/Frazier (4)
The final championship match of the weekend saw two of the best men’s partnerships go head to head: Matt Wright and Riley Newman versus J.W. Johnson and Dylan Frazier. Both teams are known for their success and chemistry together on the court, and it was a perfect matchup for a firefight at the kitchen line.
Coming off of the win on Saturday, Johnson was eager to battle it out for another gold medal with Frazier, as the two previously won together back at the Vulcan Indoor National Championships. Game one was an absolute hands battle, going to a second game point at 10-10. Johnson and Frazier were able to take it after a quick side out from Wright and Newman, 12-10.
Game two went similarly, with Frazier and Johnson taking advantage of some miscommunications on the other side of the court, winning 11-8. In game three, Wright and Newman got their game back online, and they put on a show at the line. Newman came out on top during several of the early-game rallies between him and Johnson, helping them maintain a lead all the way to game point, 10-6.
With a gold medal on the line, Frazier and Johnson made an incredible comeback. They came all the way back to claim match point of their own, 11-10, and were able to put on an incredible defensive at the kitchen. The court was dead silent as the game came down to a battle of dinks, with Johnson and Frazier coming out on top, 12-10, taking home the gold.
“I think lots of new players are coming in, so the competition’s getting tougher and tougher, but we’re going to do our best to stay on top.”Dylan Frazier
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