A wild week in New York culminated with Championship Sunday at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. The five day pro tournament fought through rain delays Friday and Saturday and concluded with the gold medal matches on Sunday.
The NYC open had the largest prize pool of any event on the APP Tour this year at $125k. Players and fans reveled in the opportunity to play and tour the famous tennis facility. One of the players actually made it to this venue in their tennis career.
During her professional tennis career, Salome Devidze competed in Flushing Meadows and was back this weekend to compete for gold in pro pickleball. She climbed out of the loser's bracket to take on Parris Todd in the finals.
Todd sent Devidze to the loser's bracket with a win in the semifinals. She then took down Anna Bright in the highly anticipated winner's bracket final. Todd has been untouchable in three straight APP tournaments racking up gold in Cincy, St Louis, and here, in New York.
Zane Navratil vs JW Johnson All Day Long
In the men's game we had a unique situation develop with Johnson and Navratil. They played together in the men's doubles finals but played against each other in mixed doubles and men's singles. This opened up the opportunity for a triple crown for either player, or the chance to deny the triple crown from the other.
Navratil started the day with a big win. He double dipped Johnson in the Championship round. Navratil lost in the semifinal round to eventual bronze medalist Federico Staksrud. In the finals. Navratil won games one and three to force a final game to 15. He was dominant in the final game and won by a surprising margin 15-3.
Soon after battling in singles, the duo came together for men's doubles against Andrei Daescu and Eden Lica. The consistency from Zane and JW frustrated the Romainian giants. There seems to be nothing to gain from speeding the ball up at JW Johnson. He is ready and waiting for any attack. And he is not looking to reset, he counterattacks and finishes the point quickly. Navratil enjoyed the benefit of playing with Johnson in men's doubles, they finished the day with gold 11-8, 11-4.
But his triple crown luck ended when he had to face Johnson in mixed doubles. Johnson and sister Jorja Johnson have been making strides as partners in the last two years. This was the first time that everything came together for the siblings and was their first APP gold together. They beat Andrea Koop and Navratil 11-1, 11-6.
With Johnson playing lights out in doubles, the pressure was moved to Jorja Johnson. She was the only option for keeping the ball away from JW. Jorja stepped up big time on the big stage. She showed the ability to turn defense into offense and end points against some of the best in the game. She even started pulling the Vivienne David backhand erne to force balls back towards JW.
Koop and Simone
Koop still enjoyed her weekend in the big city. She and Simone Jardim went undefeated in women's doubles bringing home the gold against Parris Tood/Lauren Stratman. She was also the #1 overall pick in the Major League Pickleball draft. It's an honor to be recognized and selected first of all the great players in the draft. She lived up to the hype making it to both doubles finals and winning in women's.
The Major League Pickleball draft reveal was Saturday night at the Billie Jean King Tennis Center. Draft picks were announced in front of an audience of players, fans, sponsors, and owners. At the party, MLP announced an expanded prize pool up to $1 million spread across the 3 events. The twelve teams selected are all looking equally matched and we are in for another big week in Austin with MLP starting on June 3.
Surprise in the Amateur Ranks
The pro courts were not the only ones attracting attention in NYC. David Dobrik, a content creator with a massive following dropped in for some men's singles. We've posted a little about Dobrik playing recreationally but it had to be pretty crazy for those amateurs facing him for medal.
Dobrik proved that he had game. He waited out the rain delay on Saturday and won gold in his division. With the gold medal in his pocket hopefully he jumps into more tournaments in the future.