Saturdays in MLP are always thrilling. Teams play their third and final group match to decide who makes the knockout round. We also get two quarterfinal matches and the Challenger Level final.
This Saturday in Dallas came with some extra flames in Group C. A shocking outburst on Championship Court earned Federico Staksrud an Orange Card souvenir.
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The Squeeze ended the Drive's weekend with a 4-0 sweep. The Slice had a 1-1 record and we're battling for shot at the playoffs. The Chicago squad actually lost their match against the Ranchers but against all odds still earned a playoff spot based on net games.
In group B, the Bay Area Breakers were inches away from earning a playoff spot. With their backs against the wall, they pushed the DC squad to a Dreambreaker but came up just short with a 21-19 loss.
This left the door open for Columbus to slide into the playoffs with a win over the Bouncers. Win is exactly what they did. The Sliders took the first 3 games against Atlanta to seal the deal.
Ahh Group C, where do we start? It was win and you're in, for all four teams in the group. The Aces got their win against the Dallas Pickleball Club 3-1.
Over on Championship Court, Miami had a 2-0 lead on the Utah Black Diamonds. On top of that, Federico Staksrud and Hurricane Tyra Black were up 20-10 on Anna Leigh Waters and AJ Koller.
Staksrud won a hands battle against Waters then had a completely uncalled for outburst directed at ALW. The outburst contained offensive language and earned Staks an Orange Penalty Card and a point deduction.
The moment stopped action on the court and had the crowd in awe. It was one of the most absurd moments in pickleball that I have ever seen.
With a commanding lead there was not much hope of a comeback for Utah. They were ultimately swept by Miami who clinched a spot in the knockout round.
Quarterfinal 1 - Aces vs Sliders
The first quarterfinal between Columbus and Brooklyn was a doozy. The underdog pair won in both the women's and men's games to create a 1-1 tie. Megan Fudge was huge in her fill in role for Maggie Brascia as her and Collin Johns got the win mixed.
The fourth game of the match was a nail-biter. Unfortunately, Meghan Dizon suffered a head injury from JW Johnson's paddle down the stretch. She reminded in the game but the Sliders couldn't pocket the Aces who forced a Dreambreaker with the 24-22 win.
In the Dreambreaker, Catherine Parenteau saved the day for the Aces. She scored 3 late points against Collin Johns to give the Aces a 20-19 lead. A few points later Andrea Koop smacked a backhand passing shot down the line to complete the win.
Quarterfinal 2 - Slice - Miami PC
In quarterfinal 2 there was too much Ben Johns and the Slice for Miami to handle. The Slice women's team started the match with a victory. This allow Ben to take the courts twice in a row to end things with a 3-0 sweep.
The Slice get a little vengeance against Miami who knocked them out of the Atlanta payoffs. It goes to show you that it's hard to beat Ben once but nearly impossible to beat him after he's got some tape to review.
This could be bad news for the Squeeze who will have another run-in with the Slice in the semifinals.
Challenger Level Final
We can't forget about the Challenger Level who had a thrilling final of their own. The underdog Pandas pushed the Hard Eights to a Dreambreaker in the finale.
The brilliant draft strategy of the Eights gave them the best Dreambreaker team at the Challenger Level and they crushed the Pandas run 21-14. CJ Klinger's dominant performance throughout the weekend earned him MVP honors again in Mallas. Congratulations to the back-to-back champs. Roll them dice.