It’s finally time: the grand finale of the PPA Tour’s 2023 season. The top players from each singles and doubles event have made it to the biggest tournament of the year, hosted at the Lifetime facility in San Clemente, California.
Because this event features the top 8 players/teams in each event, the PPA Finals format differs from the traditional single-elimination bracket we’ve seen all year. Instead, players/teams have been divided into two separate round-robin draws, which will conclude with semi-finals matches to determine who will be playing on Championship Sunday!
Players/teams will receive points earned based on wins and losses in each match, and the top-performing teams in each draw will have a shot at making the finals. This exciting new format allows for more matches to be seen and forces players to remain resilient throughout the tournament. Truly, the best of the best will come out on top.
Let’s break down each pool to see who we think will make it to Championship Sunday. We’ll display the teams in order of seeding, but remember that each team will face every other team in the pool – it’s really anyone’s ballgame!
- Ben Johns and Collin Johns
- James Ignatowich and Matt Wright
- Tyson McGuffin and Dekel Bar
- Julian Arnold and AJ Koller
- JW Johnson and Dylan Frazier
- Thomas Wilson and Riley Newman
- Federico Staksrud and Pablo Tellez
- Jay Devilliers and DJ Young
Finals Prediction: Johns/Johns defeat Johnson/Frazier
We think that the only way for men’s dubs to wrap up in fashion would be to see yet another matchup between the top two teams of 2023: Johns/Johns vs. Johnson/Frazier. The Johns brothers are one of the top men’s teams and have been for years now, while JW and Dylan quickly became one of the most popular newcomer teams this year!
In Pool 1, the Johns brothers have plenty of tough competition they’ll need to overcome if they’re to make it into the finals. The team we’re most interested in is that of Matt Wright and James Ignatowich – a partnership we think has the potential to be on the level of Newman/Wright.
One of the big storylines this year was Matt Wright and Riley Newman ending their partnership. The two had medalled 27 times together over the last couple years, but with the dramatically changed landscape of the PPA Tour, Newman decided it was time for a change. The two of them have rotated through several partners since, though it’ll be interesting to see how they fare with new partners in the Finals!
On the other hand, Newman will be in Pool 2, playing alongside Thomas Wilson. Wilson has been consistent since returning to pro pickleball after dealing with some heart issues earlier in the year. It’ll be interesting to see how he performs with Riley this weekend.
- Anna Leigh Waters and Catherine Parenteau
- Allyce Jones and Etta Wright
- Jorja Johnson and Meghan Dizon
- Jessie Irvine and Lacy Schneemann
- Anna Bright and Vivienne David
- Lucy Kovalova and Callie Smith
- Lea Jansen and Jade Kawamoto
- Irina Tereschenko and Yana Newell
Finals Prediction: Waters/Parenteau defeat Kovalova/Smith
ALW and CP are arguably the best and most consistent doubles team on the PPA Tour. Most recently, they won at the PPA Hertz Gold Cup, where they didn’t drop a single game.
In their pool, the team we think could give them the most trouble is that of Jorja Johnson and Meghan Dizon, both of whom have seemingly been on the rise lately.
Pool 2 feels much more challenging to decipher, as each team feels equally stacked. However, Lucy Kovalova and Callie Smith also just had an incredible tournament at the Hertz Gold Cup, where they took down the likes of Lea Jansen/Hurricane Tyra Black and Lacy Schneeman/Jade Kawamoto. As we mentioned in our Gold Cup recap, we think a Smith/Kovalova vs. Waters/Parenteau rematch is the most likely outcome in the Finals.
- Anna Leigh Waters and Ben Johns
- Anna Bright and James Ignatowich
- Catherine Parenteau and Thomas Wilson
- Lea Jansen and Tyson McGuffin
- Vivienne David and Riley Newman
- Jorja Johnson and JW Johnson
- Jessie Irvine and Dylan Frazier
- Lucy Kovalova and Matt Wright
Finals Prediction: Waters/Johns defeat Kovalova/Wright
The two top players in pro pickleball, Anna Leigh Waters and Ben Johns, come together and form the perfect pickleball team. They’ve won consistently throughout 2023 when playing together, and it’s difficult to imagine that they’ll be toppled in the finals.
However, they also share a pool with several other top teams on the PPA Tour. James Ignatowich and Anna Bright, in particular, have exhibited a lot of growth this season, and we’re sure they’re going to show up this weekend with the goal of making it to the finals.
In Pool 2, we’ve got a wide range of teams, and while all of these players have been fun to watch in mixed this year, we have to give it to team Onix Pickleball: Matt Wright and Lucy Kovalova. Matt and Lucy have a lot of experience playing together in both the PPA and MLP, and we think that this added chemistry is what might give them the edge on a couple of the other teams.
- Ben Johns
- Connor Garnett
- Christian Alshon
- Jay Devilliers
- Federico Staksrud
- Tyson McGuffin
- JW Johnson
- Pablo Tellez
Finals Prediction: Federico Staksrud defeats Ben Johns
This is our “upset” prediction of the tournament, where we think that the 2-seed Federico Staksrud will defeat Ben Johns and take home the gold! Federico is one of the only other players on tour to come away with a gold medal finish, including a huge win over Ben at the Cincinnati Open!
Staksrud will have his work cut out for him in his pool, especially against JW Johnson, who also has a gold medal in singles under his belt this year at the USA Pickleball National Championships. Tyson McGuffin is always a wildcard when it comes to singles, but he also snagged a big gold medal finish back at the Red Rock Open.
Ben Johns will likely feel some pressure from Connor Garnett, who has earned himself multiple medals this year, including a gold at the Beer City Open. Christian Alshon has also evolved as a player a lot this year, making him a serious contender in Pool 1.
- Anna Leigh Waters
- Mary Brascia
- Lauren Stratman
- Judit Castillo
- Catherine Parenteau
- Lea Jansen
- Irina Tereschenko
- Yana Newell
Finals Prediction: Anna Leigh Waters defeats Catherine Parenteau
While we’d like to say that women’s singles is a toss-up, it feels pretty cut and dry. ALW has a lock on Pool 1 in our eyes, and CP has been holding it down as the 2-seed all year long.
We will be seeing Lea Jansen return to singles, coming out of her mid-season retirement, but it’s been a while since she’s truly played against the PPA’s top competitors in women’s singles. So, while it would be exciting to see one last Jansen vs. Waters rematch, it feels like the odds are stacked slightly against Jansen. However, a CP vs. Jansen semi-finals match feels likely, which would make for a highly entertaining match!
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