In our preview leading up to last weekend’s PPA Takeya Showcase, we joked about how we’ve grown so used to seeing the same pose from Ben Johns and Anna Leigh Waters – suggesting that there needs to be a change of pace at Championship Sunday. Well, we definitely saw change, with two players earning their first gold medals of the year.
Hurricane Tyra Black took down defending champ Anna Leigh Waters in the quarter-finals, which propelled her forward to win the women’s singles finals match against 6-seed Yana Newell. Similarly in men’s singles, Ben Johns lost to Yates Johnson early into the main draw, allowing 24-seed Gabriel Joseph to take home his first-ever PPA gold medal.
Let’s jump into each event to see what led to one of the most exciting Championship Sundays of the year!
Women’s Singles – Hurricane Tyra Black (9) vs. Yana Newell (6)
Not only did Hurricane Tyra Black manage to defeat the number 1 women’s player in the world, Anna Leigh Waters, but she then went on to win the finals match! Black earned her first PPA women’s singles gold medal of the year in style, defeating 5-seed Lauren Stratman in the semifinals (11-5, 11-6) and then having an incredibly close win over Newell in the finals (11-13, 11-8, 11-3).
Black’s match against Waters was easily the standout moment from the tournament in women’s singles. Black had a strong showing at the recent Beer City Open, earning herself a silver medal against Jorja Johnson. Since then, she’s been on our radar as on-the-rise in singles, and she did not disappoint at the Takeya Showcase!
“I’m just so excited. It was such an amazing tournament, the atmosphere was great this week. I had so many supporters, which was really nice.”Tyra Black on her first PPA gold medal finish
Men’s Singles – Gabriel Joseph (24) vs. Federico Staksrud (2)
After Ben Johns got knocked out by APP-star Yates Johnson in the round of 16, that opened the doors for the 24-seed Gabriel Johnson to launch his first big tournament run of the year! Joseph’s side of the bracket was stacked, and the had to take down some of the PPA’s top-performing pros, including 9-seed Pablo Tellez and 8-seed Connor Garnett, before going taking down 4-seed Tyson McGuffin in the semifinals.
Everyone, us included, thought this would be Federico Staksrud’s tournament to take down Ben Johns in the finals, and he made an incredible run in the main draw, taking down Dylan Frazier, Hayden Patriquin, and JW Johnson. However, instead of battling it out with Johns, Staksrud went up against Joseph.
Maybe it’s because the two rarely meeting in PPA competition, but Staksrud couldn’t find consistent reads on Gabriel’s angles and, unfortunately, pushed a lot of shots out of bounds in response. The 2-game match was electric, an incredible display of athleticism from both athletes especially in game two, but Joseph managed to stay out on top (11-6, 12-10).
Mixed Doubles – Waters/Johns (1) vs. Johnson/Johnson (3)
While Johns and Waters didn’t get their triple crowns this week, we still got to see their classic trophy pose for mixed doubles. Together, the two took down Jorja Johnson and her brother JW Johnson.
Mixed doubles had two incredibly exciting semifinals matchups on the way to Championship Sunday. The Johnson siblings went up against 2-seeds James Ignatowich and Anna Bright, while Johns and ALW took down 4-seeds Riley Newman and Lindsey Newman. While seeing the top 4-seeded teams in the finals isn’t exactly surprising, it was fun to see how they all matched up against one another!
The finals match itself was a best-of-3 in which ALW and Johns took the first three games with ease. While we think that the Johnson siblings are one of the best mixed teams, it seems like they still need more experience playing against Johns and ALW to get an advantage going forward.
Women’s Doubles – Waters/Bright (1) vs. Smith/Kovalova (2)
The women’s doubles bracket was wide this weekend with 27 teams, but the top two teams made it to the top. Anna Leigh Waters partnered up with Anna Bright yet again, and continued their undefeated streak by taking down the 2-seeded team of Lucy Kovalova and Callie Jo Smith.
If you see Kovalova/Smith on one side of the bracket, and Bright/Waters on the other side, chances are that’s going to be your finals match. Both teams swept through the main draw without dropping a single game. Expect to see this matchup again real soon!
“I have a lot of respect for both Lucy and Callie. I think of them as killers – there are some people who just really have that dog in them, really want to win, and they’ll come in and do whatever to win. Like the last ball, I think Callie knew that was out, but she’s going to try and intimidate, she’s going to challenge and do whatever she can. I have a lot of respect for that.”Anna Bright on the duo of Lucy Kovalova and Callie Jo Smith
Men’s Doubles – Johnson/Frazier (2) vs. Johns/Johns (1)
The Johns brothers took on the rising popular duo of Dylan Frazier and JW Johnson in men’s doubles. Frazier and Johnson managed to take down Ben and Collin in four games, marking their second gold medal finish in a row.
Our favorite thing about this matchup is when these two teams get into a firefight at the net. They both like to play cat-and-mouse until one side opens it up for some wild smash hits! It feels like Frazier and Johnson have absolutely locked their drives in, and the Johns brothers just kept getting bagged at the line.
This is Frazier and Johnson’s fourth gold in men’s doubles together on the year, and their first win over the Johns brothers. We’d be surprised if it was their last.
“Every [match] adds to the confidence for sure, and we had a couple close matches this tournament. I feel like the experience we have together and just the familiarity we have with each other and each other’s shots just allows us to grind out against some teams that maybe don’t partner all the time. This is probably the biggest win for us, to play them in the finals and come out on top, but every one gets us more confidence.”Dylan Frazier on playing with JW Johnson
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