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Major League Pickleball Announces Roster Changes Ahead of This Week's Mid-Season Tournament

by Erik Tice on

After a crazy first waiver wire period in 2024, MLP has announced some roster changes ahead of the MLP Mid-Season Tournament, which starts Wednesday. 

This event, which coincides with the amateur Beer City Open in Grand Rapids, Michigan, is the only stand-alone MLP Tournament in 2024. The other eight events are regular season events before the two playoff rounds.

In addition, money is on the line for this double-elimination tournament. Here are the prize payouts for the winning teams:

Premier Level (per team)

  • Winner - $80k
  • 2nd Place - $40k
  • 3rd Place - $20k

Challenger Level (per team)

  • Winner - $30k
  • 2nd Place - $20k
  • 3rd Place - $10k
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Injury concerns and scheduling conflicts have caused some substitutions in this tournament, both at the Premier and Challenger Levels.

Premier Level

Arizona Drive – AJ Koller is substituting for Andrei Daescu

Daescu isn’t allowed to play in the Mid-Season Tournament, due to his 60 day suspension for a foreign substance on his paddle. This is the only event he will miss due to that suspension.

AJ has been injured with a hamstring issue for most of the first half of 2024. He has one of the highest ceilings of any available player, but also has a super low floor.

If there is a time and place for a player like Koller’s skillset, it's a one-time double elimination team tournament. I think either Patrick Kawka or Michael Loyd made more sense here with their ties to Arizona. However, if one or more of the players on the team wanted Koller, then it’s a no brainer.

LA Mad Drops – Emily Cederquist is substituting for Catherine Parenteau; Blaine Hovenier is substituting for Thomas Wilson

This is a scheduling conflict for Catherine Parenteau, as she is getting married to her partner – Athena Trouillot – during the event. Cederquist is the best available woman and she has a ton of MLP experience, making it a great pickup for LA. Congrats to CP and Athena in Cabo.

As for Wilson, I believe this is another scheduling conflict, but that's speculation. This will be a big test for Hovenier, who is playing MLP for the first time and at the Premier Level. I expect him to see a lot of the action as the first few teams are going to target him to see if he up to the level.

Challenger Level

California Black Bears - Michelle Esquivel is substituting for Susannah Barr

I believe this is a scheduling conflict for Barr, although she just made herself available during the first waiver wire period.

Esquivel is a veteran of the game and is extremely knowledgeable. She will play a steady right side with Brandon French and a solid left side with Amanda Hendry. She doesn’t have a ton of power, but that’s not really needed in this one-time substitution, because Hendry and French bring plenty of power.

Esquivel also just got drafted to Major League Pickleball Australia by the New Zealand Hustle.

Bay Area Breakers – Rachel Rettger and Samantha Parker are substituting for Allyce Jones and Jill Braverman; Grayson Goldin is substituting for DJ Young

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The Bay Area Breakers have made some of the most confusing roster changes in the last two weeks. They did a great job of getting $100k and Allyce Jones for a rising Vivian Glozman. After that, they dropped Rachel Rettger for Jill Braverman. Braverman is definitely an upgrade, but Rettger was the best statistical player in Challenger Level in 2024. 

Lastly, they dropped Patrick Kawka for an injured DJ Young - which may be the most confusing move of them all. I thought maybe Kawka was injured and then replacing him with one of the best Challenger Level players in DJ Young would almost, kind of, make sense.

However, Kawka played in the APP Newport Beach Open with Will Howells, earning a silver medal, and is seemingly fully healthy. So Bay Area dropped a healthy Kawka with the second-to-last pick of the Waiver Wire to pick up DJ Young, who is going to be out another month or so with a wrist injury. Now, Bay Area could have up to three tournaments in a row where they have to replace Young – meaning they have to get a new person every time.

All of this means they are making three substitutions in Grand Rapids. Technically, Rettger is in for Allyce Jones and Sam Parker is in for Braverman. However, in reality, one could argue Rachel Rettger is substituting in for the player she just got "permanently" replaced for (Braverman). I would have loved to be a fly on the wall during those conversations. Jones missing the event is seemingly a scheduling conflict, but that is not confirmed.

Lastly, Bay Area is subbing Grayson Goldin for the injured Young. Instead of a proven Kawka, you get Goldin to partner with Collin Shick. Goldin is rising in the ranks for singles players and was top 10 in our most recent men's singles power rankings. However, he is nowhere near the doubles player that Kawka is, so this is a downgrade – although this Dreambreaker team is SCARY good.

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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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