The number 1 seeds took care of business in Jorja Johnson/Lauren Stratman and JW Johnson/Dylan Frazier at the APP Los Angeles Open on Saturday. Johnson and Frazier continue to show that they are the kings of men’s doubles on the APP tour as they didn’t drop a game in their gold medal run.
In the finals, they played Hayden Patriquin and Julian Arnold, winning 11-4, 11-8. Patriquin and Arnold were certainly the closest team to challenge them, scoring 8 points on them in game 2. The next closest score in the tournament was a handful of 11-4s. That’s right! The second closest score all day was 11-4, showing everyone watching just how far ahead they are from the pack.
Patriquin and Arnold proved that last week's bronze in Encinitas, CA (and Patriquin’s first pro medal) wasn’t a fluke by following it up with another unbelievable performance Saturday taking silver. The main difference that separated Patriquin and Arnold from their competition, other than Johnson and Frazier, was Arnold’s speedups at the kitchen.
In the bronze medal match against DJ Young and Thomas Wilson, it was Arnold’s speedups that posed a real threat, created points and eventually closed the show. Whenever Arnold was about to hit, his opponents became extremely tight and defensive, questioning where Arnold was going to hit it next.
First Time Pairing Goes for Gold
Johnson and Stratman had a similar play style on the women’s side of the ball, as they beat Michelle Esquivel and Parris Todd in the finals 11-1, 11-8. Johnson and Stratman were the number 1 seeds entering Saturday and showed exactly why they belonged in that spot. The firepower they brought was unparalleled.
Esquivel and Todd played in the most exciting women’s match of the day, beating Anna Bright and Regina Franco Goldberg in the bronze match in a 3-game thriller 10-12, 11-6, 11-4. Like the gold medalists, Esquivel and Todd pushed the pace and started attacking more which paid dividends at the end of game 1 and into games 2 and 3. Todd continues to show that she is a force in doubles, which nicely complements her nasty singles game.
Calf Cramps Force a Match Point Withdraw
Both 4th-place finishers in Etta Wright/Susannah Barr and Warren Tamanaha/Moo Venkatesan showed extreme grit and resolve in their performances on Saturday, proving to the pickleball world, they are here to stay. Tamanaha and Venkatesan have been constantly improving their games in the past few years, indicating that drilling, focus and persistence WILL get you to the next level. Saturday’s performance was their’ best finish to date.
They also played in the most thrilling men’s match of the day against Pesa Teoni and number 1 men’s racquetball player, Daniel de la Rosa, which ended in a 15-14 win by retirement, after Teoni couldn’t go any further suffering brutal calf cramps.
At 15-14-2, Teoni and de la Rosa got a key stop and the ball back to serve. However, as soon as that point was finished, Teoni’s calf started cramping. Credit to Venkatesan for going to the other side of the court to help Teoni out. After a 15-minute medical timeout and two Teoni/de la Rosa serves later, Teoni knew he couldn’t continue. Heartbreaking loss, as they were in striking distance of moving on and potentially medaling.
Wright and Barr had a gritty tournament as well, making it clear they belong at the top. They ultimately lost to the bronze medalists in Bright and Franco Goldberg 15-12. Wright and Barr had the lead at the 8-point side swap, but slowly started to lose their momentum on defense. Wright, who has only been playing for roughly a year, took advantage of playing at sea level, which is much lower than her home courts near Salt Lake City, at almost a mile high.
3rd-seeded Lee Whitwell and Emily Ackerman definitely left more to be desired as they had a quick tournament going 1-2. Given that it’s Ackerman’s first tournament in almost a year, it makes sense her consistency wasn’t 100% there. Nevertheless, her footwork, dexterity and backhand drives showed she definitely has a place on the pro level. Look for her to rebound on Sunday in singles.
Catch up on yesterday's mixed doubles action where Anna Bright and Dylan Frazier took home the gold.