Viva Las Vegas! It’s been nearly a month since the PPA Cincinnati Open, where Ben Johns had his historic 100th career gold medal, and what better way to celebrate that win than by heading to Vegas? This tournament is fun every year, and this year is no exception!
Over 1,000 players are registered to play at the PPA Championships, hosted at the Darling Tennis Center, about a half hour from the Strip. With just two more tourneys left in The Race to the Finals, players will be on the hunt this weekend to break into the top 8 of each event in order to secure themselves a spot in the USA Pickleball National Championships in November.
In men’s singles, we can confidently say that the top four players are likely locked in for the National Championships: Federico Staksrud, Ben Johns, Tyson McGuffin, and Connor Garnett. However, we’ve got several players who have the potential for breaking into that top eight if they are able to medal this weekend.
One early matchup to watch out for will be between Dylan Frazier and Julian Arnold, who are ranked 10th and 11th, respectively. Both of them have had excellent years so far, but it’s been awhile since we’ve seen either of them medal in singles. On top of that, if they manage to advance to the quarterfinals, they will likely be facing off against Federico Staksrud, the number 2-seed who currently has the most points right now.
We’d ultimately like to see a JW Johnson and Dylan Frazier matchup in the semis on that side of the bracket. The two have become one of the best men’s doubles teams together, and both of them have a lot to play for this tournament if they want to make it to the National Championships!
On the other side of the bracket, We’re going to call that we see Connor Garnett and Ben Johns in the finals, with Garnett taking the W in just two games to advance to the finals. Yes, it’s quite the prediction, but it would make for good television, right?
However, we’ve also got the 8-seed, Pablo Tellez, who will be fighting for a spot in the top 8. Ranked number 9 in the points race, he’s neck-and-neck with Jaume Martinez Vic, who’s ahead of him by just 50 points!
The finals race in women’s singles isn’t as tight as men’s, leaving room for lower-ranked players to break into the top 8. This is mostly because of how dominant Anna Leigh Waters has been this year, as she sits at 16,100 points, locking in her spot in the finals.
We’ve also got Catherine Parenteau in second place, who will be leading the other side of the bracket this weekend as the 2-seed. We expect her to meet 3-seed Mary Brascia in the semi finals, but both of them will have to face off against Lauren Stratman and Yana Newell, who will be fighting to secure spots in the top 8.
Returning to ALW’s side of the bracket, watch out for Hurricane Tyra Black and Lina Padegimaite, both of whom are trying to put up big points in the next couple of tournaments. Black, in particular, looks strong, as she’s one of the only people to defeat Waters this season.
With a month in between the last PPA event, MLP Atlanta, and this weekend, mixed doubles feels like, well, a mixed bag. We’ve got a lot of popular teams returning, like Anna Bright/James Ignatowich and Matt Wright/Lucy Kovalova, but there are also a few lesser-known teams to watch out for.
Right off the bat, we have to point out Rachel Rohrabacher and Rafa Hewett. Rafa is one of our favorite doubles players, known for his big energy and ability to make explosive plays – Round ‘Em Up! Rohrabacher is an up-and-comer who had a huge debut MLP outing with the Orlando Squeeze, taking home the Premier Level trophy.
Another team we have our sights on is Dekel Bar and Etta Wright. The two are powerhouses in gendered doubles, but haven’t quite caught stride in mixed. Wright and Bar seemed locked in during MLP Atlanta with their respective teams, so we feel they could take that energy into this weekend.
Men’s doubles is packed with teams to get hyped for, but of course, we should probably center the conversation around the great podcast wars, right? Tyler Loong is partnering back up with Erik Lange, and Tyson McGuffin partners with the young gun, Hayden Patriquin, for the first time this season.
Loong and Lange already have some chemistry going into this tournament, as they played on tour together this year back at the PPA Seattle Open. They will likely have an even stronger showing now that Lange has proven himself to be a force alongside Ben Johns in the MLP.
Speaking of MLP, McGuffin is a highly adaptable player when it comes to new partnerships, and he and Patriquin have duked it out against one another many times in both singles and dubs. Because of this, we’re sure they’ll be able to easily jump into games together.
We’re hoping to see a Loong vs. McGuffin matchup at some point this weekend. If we don’t get to see them meet in dubs, hopefully, we’ll see them meet in the round of 16 in singles.
Last but not least, let’s talk women’s dubs! The main draw is deep, with 37 teams registered! Anna Leigh Waters and Catherine Parenteau are looking to defend their win over the Kawamotos in Cincinnati, but they’ll have a lot of work cut out for them.
The Brascia sisters are back at it again and are always one of the top teams when playing together. Towards the end of the summer at the Tournament of Champions, the two made a huge quarterfinal run together. We’re excited to see them back on court together!
Speaking of sisters, it looks like Jade and Jackie Kawamoto will split up this week with other partners despite having earned a silver together in Cincinnati. Jackie is partnering up with Rachel Rohrabacher, and Jade will be playing alongside Irina Tereschenko. Both are fantastic teams, but we’re excited to see how Rohrabacher fairs in the PPA, so we’ll be trying to catch her every match!
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