It was another wild Championship Sunday at the 2023 APP Sunmed Sacramento Open, hosted at the Johnson Ranch Pickleball Complex. The Championship court saw many familiar faces, and some of those players claimed their first-ever gold medals on the APP Tour.
Over 730 players competed at the Sacramento Open, but the finals matches were primarily composed of the stars we tend to see on Championship Sunday. Competition is proving to be tight among the APP’s top-ranked players, and the Sacramento Open’s results reflect who’s taking control of the APP right now.
The results can simply be broken down between the doubles and singles events: In men’s, women’s, and mixed doubles, we saw the same results as the APP Mesa Open, and in singles, we saw Yates Johnson and Judit Castillo win their first professional gold medals.
Men’s Pro Singles – Hunter Johnson (1) vs. Yates Johnson (2)
Championship Sunday kicked off with a sibling rivalry match between Hunter Johnson and Yates Johnson. The Johnson brothers last faced off in men’s singles at APP Daytona Beach, where Hunter was able to come out on top.
Not only was Yates looking to get revenge, but he was also competing for his very first APP men’s singles gold medal. Yates maintained the lead for the entirety of game one, winning 11-7.
Hunter was able to play down the line at a much quicker pace in game two, which allowed him to take a quick 8-1 lead. Despite Yates being able to make a bit of a comeback, Hunter earned game point in game two, 11-8.
Game three felt like a combination of games one and two. Hunter stuck to his aggressive gameplan, directing lots of powerful forehand drives at his brother, while Yates continued to try and play cat-and-mouse at the line. At 8-7, Yates was able to score three consecutive points to win, 11-7, and claim his first gold medal finish against his brother.
“It’s always fun to compete against your own twin brother – we’ve had a lot of close battles over the years, and this one means a lot. I’ve been waiting all year for this – Hunter’s gotten a couple of golds over me this year – so it feels good to get him back and win my first career gold. The California fans were great, and it always helps when there’s a big crowd cheering you on and supporting you.”Yates Johnson
Women’s Pro Singles – Judit Castillo (4) vs. Megan Fudge (2)
Due to illness, 2-seed Megan Fudge withdrew from women’s singles, allowing her opponent Judit Castillo to win her first gold medal. Castillo is a tennis player turned pickleball pro, having played Tennis at Northwestern State where she earned 54 career wins.
She started playing pro pickleball in November of 2022 and has been climbing the DUPR ranks ever since. While it might not have been how she wanted to earn her first gold, Castillo played through many other incredible matches during the tournament to achieve her victory. Expect to see more appearances by Castillo at future APP Championship Sundays.
Men’s Pro Doubles – Daescu/Teoni (1) vs. DeHeart/Nunnery (4)
Pesa Teoni and Andrei Daescu went into Sacramento after a huge gold medal finish at APP Mesa, which was also their first tournament. Their newfound chemistry continued to shine at the Sacramento Open as they defeated the 4-seed duo of Rob Nunnery and Ryler DeHeart.
Nunnery and DeHeart had a great weekend overall, taking down the 3-seed team of Stefan Auvergne and Brendon Long in the bronze medal match. They brought that success into game one, winning 11-9.
Daescu and Teoni made adjustments going into game two and took control of the kitchen, similar to how we saw them play in Mesa. Even when DeHeart and Nunnery tried to keep them at the back of their court, Teoni and Daescu were locked in, winning 11-4.
Game three was incredibly close. It looked like DeHeart and Nunnery would run away with it at 10-2, but Teoni and Daescu rallied for seven consecutive points, bringing the score to 10-9. DeHeart and Nunnery shut their streak down, winning game three 11-9 and pushing the match to a 15-point tiebreaker.
Teoni and Daescu kept their energy high in the tiebreaker, showing speed-up after speed-up at the line. They were able to play into this as one of their core strengths, keeping DeHeart and Nunnery on their toes throughout the tiebreaker, and winning the match, 15-7.
Daescu and Teoni have now won their first two tournaments partnering up together, so expect to see more of the duo in future events.
Women’s Pro Doubles – Jardim/Todd (1) vs. Fudge/Oshiro (3)
Simone Jardim and Parris Todd team up once again to take on Megan Fudge and Bobbi Oshiro. Jardim and Todd had won the first three APP tournaments this year and were gunning for their fourth gold medal victory.
Oshiro and Fudge faced the Jardim and Todd duo together at the recent Minto US Open Pickleball Championships, where they took home silver. Fudge missed her singles championship match due to illness, so many wondered if it would affect her performance in doubles.
Fudge and Oshiro were in command all of game one, maintaining a lead for its entirety and claiming an 11-6 win. However, in game two, we saw the Todd and Jardim combo we’ve grown used to witnessing on Championship Sunday. They won it decisively, 11-4, pushing the match to game three.
Jardim and Todd kept their momentum going into game three while also upping their defense. They held Fudge and Oshiro to only two points, winning the match with an 11-2 victory.
“It’s just our relationship on and off the court and the trust between us. If we’re not playing out best, we have a B plan and a C plan, and we’re able to bring it. It’s just an honor sharing the court with her.”Parris Todd
Mixed Pro Doubles – Barr/Daescu (3) vs. Todd/Johnson (1)
Mixed pro doubles was the day’s final event and saw the exciting rematch of Susannah Barr and Andrei Daescu versus Parris Todd and Hunter Johnson. Barr won her first gold medal of the season alongside Daescu at Mesa, and Johnson and Todd were looking for revenge after the Mesa loss.
Mesa’s competition was incredibly tight between the two teams, and it even went to a 15-point tiebreaker. Sacramento was equally close in game one, but Daescu and Barr maintained their lead through the entire game, winning 11-8.
Barr and Daescu took complete control of game two, only allowing Todd and Johnson one point in their 11-1 win. Barr and Daescu attribute their second consecutive win to their team growth and building a better understanding of one another as players.
“I think we just continue to build our energy together and our partnership. We move really well, we seem to know who’s going to get which ball. It’s just a lot of fun.”Susannah Barr
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