Nearly 1,500 pickleball players battled the heat and humidity last weekend for the PPA Selkirk Texas Open, hosted at the Oasis Tennis Club in Rockwall, TX. We saw plenty of excitement in the main draw leading up to Championship Sunday yesterday, which featured many familiar matchups for the PPA Tour.
While the resulting Double-Triple Crown performance by Ben Johns and Anna Leigh Waters isn’t surprising, the matches leading to their second double-triple of the season were anything but expected. Let’s take a look at the journey Johns and Waters this weekend and highlight some of the stand-out moments in each event!
Men’s Singles – Ben Johns (1) vs. Jaume Martinez Vich (19)
The standout story of men’s singles was the rise of 19-seed Jaume Martinez Vich. Vich used to be the hitting partner for Rafael Nadal, and now teaches tennis in Hawaii.
The pickleball newcomer not only made it to Championship Sunday, but he had a crazy lineup of matches to get there. He managed to beat the likes of Yates Johnson, Jay Devilliers, Dylan Frazier, and Federico Staksrud, some of pro pickleball’s top-performing players.
In the finals match, Vich faced off against the top men’s singles player in the world, Ben Johns. Johns took game one quickly, 11-2, but Vich managed to bounce back in game two, winning it 11-7.
Johns dialed it back in game three, winning his first gold medal for the day, 11-5.
Women’s Doubles – Parenteau/Waters (1) vs. Dizon/Wright (7)
Catherine Parenteau and Anna Leigh Waters are one of the best doubles teams in the PPA, and they proved that yet again in Texas. They faced off against 7-seeds Etta Wright and Meghan Dizon, who managed to take down the 2-seed team of Lucy Kovalova and Callie Smith in an impressive two-game match (11-4, 11-7).
Parenteau and Waters took games one and two quickly (11-1, 11-3), butt Dizon and Wright started strong in game three with a 5-1 lead. However, they weren’t able to maintain this lead for long, and Waters and Parenteau came back to secure the gold, 11-7.
“We knew they were going to fight until the end, so we had to stay focused … I felt like we had to move the ball around because they’re both so good when they are staying still. They have great hands, great speed-ups, so we really had to make sure that we were moving them before we could look for an opportunity to attack.”Catherine Parenteau
Men’s Doubles – Johns/Johns (1) vs. Frazier/Johnson (3)
Ben Johns and Collin Johns have only lost once this year in the PPA, and they kept their winning streak going in Texas. They faced off against 3-seeds Dylan Frazier and JW Johnson, who have continued to prove their strength this year as one of the most exciting teams to watch in men’s doubles.
Along the way in the main draw, Frazier and Johnson faced off against Matt Wright and Riley Newman, who they’ve had to face off against in several tournaments recently. They last faced off at the PPA North Carolina Open in the finals, where Wright and Newman were able to take home the gold. This time around, Frazier and Johnson got the “W” and made it to the finals.
On the Johns’ side of the bracket, it was pretty smooth sailing all the way to the finals, having only dropped one game against Federico Staksrud and Pablo Tellez in the quarterfinals.
Every other match the Johns brothers played, they won 2-0, and that pattern persisted into the finals match. They managed a clean, three-game sweep over Frazier and Johnson (11-6, 11-4, 11-8), taking home yet another gold medal together.
Women’s Singles – Anna Leigh Waters (1) vs. Lea Jansen (2)
The women’s singles finals match was the highlight of Championship Sunday for us. After 14 straight silver medals in women’s singles, Lea Jansen was on the hunt once again for a gold medal – something she hasn’t been able to achieve since August 2021 on the PPA Tour.
Unfortunately, the Texas Open yielded silver number fifteen for Jansen, as Waters was able to keep up her winning streak for that triple crown. However, the match was incredibly hard-fought between the two, especially right out of the gates in game one.
Jansen demonstrated her mastery over the drop-shot in game one, finding plenty of great carve-angle openings at the kitchen line. The pace of game one just kept getting faster and faster, and Jansen was one step ahead all of game one, winning 11-3.
Game two started similarly, with Jansen pulling away with a 7-3. However, Anna Leigh came all the way back to win it after the two fought at match point, 14-12.
Game three was the culmination of games one and two, with both players battling it out to 10-10. In the back half of the match, Jansen missed several game-changing shots, pushing many of them wide. Waters was able to secure the win in game three, 12-10, taking home her second of three gold medals.
Mixed Doubles – Waters/Johns (1) vs. Newman/Newman (3)
The final match of the day was in mixed doubles, which was broadcast live on ESPN. With two triple crowns on the line, Anna Leigh Waters and Ben Johns had to come together and face off against the sibling duo of Lindsey and Riley Newman.
To no one’s surprise, Johns and Waters showed up to the Texas Open and had a clean sweep of their side of the bracket without dropping a single game. The Newmans also cleared through their side of the bracket without dropping a game, including a tough quarterfinals match against 15-seed Meghan Dizon and Federico Staksrud who managed to take down the 2-seed pairing of Tyson McGuffin and Catherine Parenteau.
Game one was claimed quickly by Johns and Waters, 11-2, but the Newmans took game two 8-11. Johns and Waters bounced back and won in game three, 11-6, securing themselves their second double-triple crown of the season.
In the post-match interview, Ben Johns spoke on the impact of weather conditions on tournament play, and how his new Joola paddle has been instrumental to his strong start to the season. He also fielded a couple of questions for Anna Leigh, who wasn’t present at the interview due to the fact she wasn’t feeling well.
“I’m just happy to be 16 and winning a bunch of gold medals basically. I’m going to celebrate with some Italian and some cake probably, and then I will get back to playing on the court on Tuesday.”Ben Johns as Anna Leigh Waters on her triple crown performance
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