Major League Pickleball Starts Tomorrow
Everyone is excited to see how MLP will look bright and early Friday morning. We’ve got some key matchups that we are looking out for and we will break it down day by day.
The first matchup of the day will likely be the Ben Johns show. He is expected to win both of his games in the first match but the question will be, can his teammates get that third win to give BLQK the W.
The most interesting matchup of the morning session will be Team Rally vs the Pickleball Ranchers. Andrei Daescu returns to professional pickleball and we will find out what that means for the rest of MLP. If he is anything like we have seen in the past then the rest of the league could be in trouble.
Team Rally is a sleeper in this competition. The young guns JW Johnson and Dylan Frazier have climbed to top 10 players in 2021 and Jesse Irvine has been tearing up the doubles scene. They can really make a run at the title but this first match will be one of their biggest hurdles. I can’t wait for the picture of the men’s doubles match where the giant Ranchers team is staring across the net at two of the youngest players in the league.
In the afternoon session, the match I have my eye on is between the Pickleball Ranchers and the Discovery Warriors. This match is interesting because I think it will be a DUPR Bowl preview. These are the two teams I think will have the best record following the round-robin and will compete for the Pritchard Cup.
The second day of MLP will be a big day for strategy. All of the teams should be acclimated to the format and their teammates at this point. The main area where strategy comes into play, is deciding how to put together your mixed doubles teams. The home team will have the advantage in deciding who to put on the court for game three. If the home team wins the first two games, it makes sense for them to stack their best available mixed doubles team together and take on the perceived weaker pairing from the away team.
On the other hand. if they lose or split the first two games it will be crucial to try to match the strengths of your opponent and try to win both of the remaining two games.
The key matchup for the morning session is Team Rally vs Team Clean. Dekel Bar and Adam Stone will likely be favored in a majority of men’s matches after their recent first-place finish at the PPA Championships. Bar is primed to have a great MLP season overall. He will likely be playing mixed doubles with Callie Smith who is playing some of the best pickleball in the mixed game. This match could go either way but it is one of the matches Team Clean needs to make it to the final.
In the afternoon, tune into the Discovery Warriors vs BLQK. If this one goes to a tie-breaker, we could see more singles between Johns and Navratil who are number 1 and number 2 in the world right now. If Johns wins both of the matches he is a part of, then it will come down to how the ladies play. Lea Jansen and Vivienne David can definitely matchup with Irina Tereschenko and Andrea Koop but they would need to get the win to keep the Warriors in it. In mixed doubles, I would be looking to get Zane in the opposite game that Johns is in. His serve will be a weapon in mixed and that will be most effective for the Warriors if it is used in the game without Johns.
The Chimeras will have back-to-back matches on day 3 of MLP. While fatigue is not expected to be an issue with MLP we could see if rolling from one match into the next will actually be an advantage. They will be warmed up and ready to go following their first match. We will see Anna Leigh Waters play Lea Jansen in possibly 3 events in this match. They have a developing singles rivalry and we could see a little extra fire in this match.
The Lions play the Chimeras in the morning and the ATX Pickleballers in the afternoon. These are matches they will have to win if they want to make it to the DUPR Bowl. Jay Devilliers will be attracting attention flying all over the court throughout the weekend but looking for him to be at the top of his game Sunday trying to make a push for the finals.
Both the family matchups were saved for Monday morning, I assume intentionally, but maybe by coincidence. We get Waters vs Waters first thing in the morning. So make sure to have the stream ready to go Monday morning. I’m hoping we see the Waters play against each other in the mixed game as well but that is for the coin to decide.
If that does happen, then we will Lindsey Newman face Lee Whitwell twice and there will be probably 5-6 Ernes in each game to 15. Newman is always dangerous with the Erne when playing with Riley. Whitwell is left-handed which will be great for playing with Anna-Leigh and either partner in mixed. She can let Anna-Leigh or AJ Koller play their game in the middle of the court and smash anything that comes down that right sideline.
We will also get Johns vs Johns at 12:30pm. This time around Collin gets to play with Jay Devilliers. The Freestyle boys will have their hands full with Devillers on the move and CJ providing cover fire. This will be one of the last matches in season one so qualifying for the finals will be on everyone’s mind.
The main event is Monday night, the first ever DUPR BOWL!
My prediction is the Discovery Warriors will win the finals over the Pickleball Ranchers in a thrilling tie-breaker finale!
Tune into the event all weekend on the MLP YouTube, the dink FaceBook and CBS Sports Network.
DUPR will be launching Fantasy Pickleball later today so you can get in on the action. Go to fantasypb.net to sign up, set your roster and win. There is $2000 in cash prizes and $600 of pickleball equipment up for grabs.