There are plenty of ways to celebrate the opening of a pickleball facility, but Lone Palm Country Club may have set the bar at an all-time high.
The Lakeland facility is celebrating a $16m renovation by adding 13 pickleball courts and a bar to their existing golf and tennis amenities.
To celebrate? A pro-pickleball exhibition tournament, boasting an absurd $50,000k prize pool with half going to each bracket. (For context, that's about as much as a regular APP event.)
You know at The Dink, we cannot consume enough pro-pickleball, so we'll be live-streaming the matches on our YouTube channel.
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Women's Doubles Draw
The women's draw is absolutely stacked with some of the best players in the game, guaranteed to create some fantastic pickleball. Here are a few teams we think are worth the watch:
Anna Bright & Rachel Rohrabacher are back again after taking gold at the most recent Major League Pickleball event in Atlanta and will undoubtedly be a favorite in many people's books... But will they be able to repeat the success they had a few weeks back?
Hurricane Tyra Black & Lea Jansen are a dynamic duo that has some of the most power in the women's game. Look for these two to find their stride as Hurricane Tyra continues to move up the women's doubles ranks.
Megan Fudge & Susannah Barr have proven time and time again that they have a winning chemistry, taking home multiple gold medals on the APP tour.
Men's Doubles Draw
The men's draw features a number of familiar faces, as well as some newer pros on the scene. Here are some teams to watch out for:
JW Johnson & Dylan Frazier are definitely a favorite here as they train and play together across the PPA Tour. Their chemistry is on fire and might be the only men's doubles pairing close to beating the Johns brothers at this point.
Pablo Tellez & Federico Staksrud have had a breakout year in 2023. They've established themselves as a top 5 doubles team and should be on pace to battle Johnson & Frazier for a chance at the title.
Rafa Hewett & Zane Navratil won two MLP titles together in 2022 with team BLQK. They both thrive when big money is on the line and this event promises a big money payout.
Rafa 'Round-em-up' Hewett brings enough court energy to fill your gas tank, and Navratil is coming off a huge win at MLP Atlanta with the Orlando Squeeze. Look for them to disrupt the field.
Andrei Daescu & Rob Nunnery have dominated the APP tour this year. We will finally get a shot to see them square off with some of the PPA regulars. An early round matchup with Hewett and Navratil will be a good measuring stick for the team with 6 gold medals on the year.
James Ignatowich & Travis Rettenmaier have the ability to keep up with any team in the draw. But there is a lack of experience in the partnership that could put them at a disadvantage. Let's hope they get hot at the right time at put on a show.
Teddy Dupay & Ryan Sherry will represent for the home-state Gators. Dupay was a standout for Billy Donovan's UF basketball teams in the early 2000's. He will get the VIP treatment playing alongside fellow Gator Ryan Sherry. That is a team that will definitely be fun to watch.