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Ben Johns Bags Another Triple Crown, ALW Hits Massive Career Milestone in North Carolina

by Erik Tice on

There were plenty of storylines and drama throughout the week at the PPA North Carolina Cup, culminating in Anna Leigh Waters reaching a crazy career milestone and another triple for Ben Johns.

The venue at Cary Tennis Park in Cary, North Carolina, looked like it was a perfect spot on the PPA Tour and will continue to be a tour stop. Championship Court had great seating and the crowds were huge all week long.

Now, on to the storylines:

100 Gold Medals for ALW

Anna Leigh Waters has earned herself 100 gold medals on the PPA Tour at the age of 17. The next closest woman on tour is Anna Leigh’s women’s partner – Catherine Parenteau – who has 37 gold medals. 

  • Waters has 36 singles titles, 31 women’s doubles titles and 33 mixed doubles titles – she is the all-time leader on the women's side in PPA Tour titles.
  • Her first Gold Medal came in August, 2021 when she won singles at the Takeya showcase. Her quest to 100 titles took less than three years to complete.
  • She has won at least one gold medal in 41 of 45 PPA Tour events played.
  • In her career, she is averaging 2.22 gold medals per event played.
  • With 24 Triple Crowns, Waters holds more than any player in the sport - male or female.

“I'm just super happy. I've been watching the video board kind of just seeing some moments, you know, from my past titles, just my past tournaments and it's all coming back to me and I'm getting emotional," Waters admitted. "I'm just super happy that I could get my 100th title here in Cary, North Carolina. This is where I grew up. This is where it all started. All my family here, all my friends are here. So thank you all for the support."

Not only is the number 100 impressive, but 24 is also ridiculously impressive. That number represents ALW's triple crowns on the PPA Tour. Anna Leigh has won women’s singles, women’s doubles, and mixed doubles at the same event 24 times in her career. That is the largest number of triple crowns on the PPA Tour for both men and women.

"Anna Leigh is an incredible athlete, competitor and ambassador for the sport of pickleball," said Connor Pardoe, Founder and CEO of the PPA Tour. "Pickleball is the fastest growing sport in America in part because of the charisma and talent of players like Anna Leigh. Her dominance on the court has been a joy to watch, helping to grow the game from both a participation and fan base perspective. One hundred titles is a remarkable career achievement, and at only 17 years old, she will continue to set and break records." 

Waters’ continued success and sustained dominance while the rest of the women’s field tries to catch up to her is truly impressive.

While Ben Johns and Anna Leigh Waters Both Triple Crowned, it Doesn’t Feel Like a Given Anymore

Yes, Ben and Anna Leigh both won triple crowns in North Carolina. However, it doesn’t feel the same as it did in early 2023. Back then, it just felt like there was no chance for anyone else to win a tournament unless Ben and Anna Leigh took the tournament off.

Ben and Anna Leigh are the best man and woman, respectively, in pickleball. However, the field is continuing to close the gap. 

While it is fun to root for underdogs and upsets, pickleball fans should be grateful they are witnessing the abilities of both ALW and Ben. Many of the records they are setting – and continue to set – will never be met again. Their dominance right now is something to watch.

Upsets Are Now a Normal Thing on the PPA Tour

Even a year ago, the first and second round matches for the top seeds were just warmups. That is not the case anymore in pro pickleball. Here are just a few of the upsets in each event:

Women’s Singles

  • No. 18 seed Genie Bouchard beat No. 6 seed Lauren Stratman, 11-5, 7-11, 11-0, making it to the quarterfinals.

Men’s Singles

  • No. 43 seed Jhonnatan Medina-Alvarez beat Tyler Loong, Jack Sock, and Jaume Martinez Vich, making the quarterfinals of the main draw all the way from the pro qualifiers.
  • No. 45 seed Robert Slutsky beat Ryan Sherry and Anton Gudz before losing to Yates Johnson in the round of 16. Slutsky also came from the pro qualifying draw and had everyone buzzing after this ATP earlier in the tournament.

Mixed Doubles

  • No. 22 seed Todd Fought and Maggie Brascia beat the following teams on their way to a fourth-place finish:
    • No. 47 seed Anudeep Kodali and Komal Safdar - 11-0, 11-4
    • No. 14 seed Julian Arnold and Parris Todd - 11-7, 11-6
    • No. 2 seed James Ignatowich and Anna Bright - 11-4, 11-7
    • No. 9 seed Hayden Patriquin and Lea Jansen - 11-8, 4-11, 11-7
  • No. 13 seed Dekel Bar and Tina Pisnik beat the following teams on their way to a silver medal:
    • No. 21 seed Collin Shick and Brooke Buckner - 9-11, 11-6, 11-1
    • No. 4 seed Tyson McGuffin and Meghan Dizon - 11-4, 7-11, 11-6
    • No. 6 seed Jack Sock and Catherine Parenteau - 11-1, 10-12, 12-10
    • No. 22 seed Todd Fought and Maggie Brascia - 11-5, 11-6

Women’s Doubles

  • No. 15 seed Audrey Banada and Sarah Ansboury beat the No. 2 seed Rachel Rohrabacher and Anna Bright, 11-7, 1-11, 12-10, making it to the quarterfinals.

Men’s Doubles

  • No. 14 seed Augie Ge and Jaume Martinez Vich beat No. 20 seed Jim Dobran and Marshall Brown, No. 2 seed Matt Wright and James Ignatowich, No. 9 seed Callan Dawson and Hayden Patriquin, and No. 3 seed Federico Staksrud and Pablo Tellez on their way to the silver medal.

Genie Bouchard is Getting Better and Taking Pickleball Seriously

When we saw Bouchard in her first tournament at the Masters this year, it was not good. Easy missed dinks, volleys going more than five feet out, and not understanding all of the rules of the game. 

There were only two ways her pickleball career could go from that point forward. Either Genie was going to be competitive and take her pickleball training seriously, or she was going to quit. Clearly, Bouchard is taking that first path based on her recent form.

Bouchard got her first two professional wins this weekend – one with Eric Roddy in mixed doubles over Steve Deakin and Michelle Esquivel and another win in singles over Lauren Stratman.

Keep an eye on Bouchard’s results over the next couple of months.

The PPA Tour is Doing a Great Job Adding Entertainment Value at Events

The PPA Tour did three awesome things this weekend to add to fan experience ...

Pickle and Pucks

Tom Dundon – the owner of the PPA Tour – is also the owner of the NHL's Carolina Hurricanes. In a really fun event, some current and former Carolina Hurricanes came out to the Cary Tennis Park and participated in a Pro-Am.

Fans were entertained by the hockey players playing with some of their favorite pickleballers.

Collegiate Pickleball Showcase

With the Progressive Draw, there aren’t nearly as many matches on Semifinal Saturday. Instead of running a light schedule, the PPA brought in two local university club teams to showcase their abilities. North Carolina and North Carolina State are both ranked in the top 10, according to DUPR's Collegiate Rankings. The two teams put on some epic competition on Grandstand Court.

Added Camera On Tuesday with No Commentary

With the Progressive Draw, there are many fun matches played on Tuesday, but fans haven’t been able to watch them. Even though the quality wasn’t the best, we appreciate the extra camera.

Top Moments From the Event

  • Thomas Wilson and Christian Alshon winning a point against Ben and Collin Johns with Wilson on the ground ...
  • Local hero with a leaf blower, Jordan Paxton, had to clean off Championship Court a few times throughout the event, due to the high winds and tree debris ...
  • Robert Slutsky had a diving ATP IN SINGLES on the bonus camera coverage - talk about putting your body on the line ...
  • Ben and Collin Johns visited the Carolina Hurricanes Thursday night and got the festivities started ...
  • Former UNC and NBA basketball player Tyler Hansbrough in a quick interview with Kamryn Blackwood ...
  • Emelia Schmidt – an Australian pickleball player – in a ridiculous point with Catherine Parenteau ...

Full PPA North Carolina Cup Results

Women’s Singles

  1. Anna Leigh Waters
  2. Catherine Parenteau
  3. Lea Jansen

Men’s Singles

  1. Ben Johns
  2. Federico Staksrud
  3. Connor Garnett

Women’s Doubles

  1. Anna Leigh Waters/Catherine Parenteau
  2. Lacy Schneemann/Vivienne David
  3. Hurricane Tyra Black/Parris Todd

Men’s Doubles

  1. Ben Johns/Collin Johns
  2. Augie Ge/Jaume Martinez Vich
  3. Federico Staksrud/Pablo Tellez

Mixed Doubles

  1. Ben Johns/Anna Leigh Waters
  2. Dekel Bar/Tina Pisnik
  3. Thomas Wilson/Vivienne David

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Erik Tice

Erik Tice

Erik produces content for The Dink related to pro and collegiate pickleball. He is an avid watcher of pickleball and became passionate about the sport in early 2022.

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