Yesterday was a historical day in pickleball. MLP started and totally lived up to the hype. We saw a singles tie-breaker in each of the first two matches. This element is a big win for pickleball and is an exciting twist on matches. The chart below shows how the teams finished day one. Today starts with the 1-1 Lions taking on the 1-1 Pickle Ranchers.
Lions vs Pickle Ranchers
Match 1 is in the books. The Pickle Ranchers took a 3-1 victory over the Lions. Things got a little heated in game four where the Lions were trying to even things up and force a singles tie-breaker. At 9-8-1 Collin Johns hit a put-away volley that went by Leigh Waters and was just reached by and outstretched Andrei Daescu. Michelle Esquivel of the Lions celebrated with a YEAH! a little too early in the point. Daescu’s shot fell short of the net but he called a distraction on Esquivel’s celebration saying that it disrupted his play.
This was a pretty close call at a crucial spot in the match. The Pickle Ranchers were awarded the point based on the distraction. Esquivel’s was justifiably upset but technically her celebration did start while the ball was still in play. The Ranchers went on to win game 4 15-9 to close out the match.
BLQK vs Chimeras
The women’s doubles match was a fiery one to start with. We had 3 separate challenges that went to video review. One of which was a ‘hair challenge’ where Waters wanted to check if one of her shots caught the hair of opponent Andrea Koop. The third challenge, late in the match, was a big factor in deciding the outcome. Tereschenko called a ball out that Waters vehemently disagreed with. In a show of good sportsmanship, Tereschenko used their team’s challenge to get the call reversed. Waters and Whitwell took this point and finished out the game.
Ben Johns and Rob Nunnery took care of business in the men’s game. Then BLQK sent Johns & Tereschenko to match Waters & Yates in mixed doubles. This plan backfired and the Chimeras won the first mixed doubles match.
Koller and Whitwell are still underrated as a partnership and are now 3-0 on the weekend. They took out Koop and Nunnery to secure the 3-1 victory for the Chimeras.
Team Clean vs Team Rally
Team Clean took the first two games in this matchup but with their backs up against the wall Team Rally did exactly that. They rallied back to win both mixed doubles games and force the singles tie break. The tie-break got away from Team Rally when Team Clean put together a streak where they won 9/10 points in a row. One point for Team Rally went unaccounted for on a side out that should have moved them from 5 points to 6 points, but it’s hard to say if that would have made a difference. The final recorded score was 15-8.
Discovery Warriors vs ATX Pickleballers
The Discovery Warriors continue to roll in MLP. They are now a perfect 12-0 on the weekend. The combination of Navratil and McGuffin is so exciting to watch. Jansen and David are dismantling every team they come across. They are a definitely a front runner for the DUPR Bowl at this point. They are scheduled to play the other undefeated team, the Chimeras on Sunday morning, but they will have to get by Ben Johns and team BLQK this evening. We will see if the GOAT can manage to put a loss on the perfect record of the Warriors!
Lions vs Team Clean
Team Clean gets another game of singles after splitting their match 2-2 vs the Lions. Team Clean won both of the gender doubles then the Lions took over for the mixed doubles games. The singles game was one of the best ones yet and came down to the wire. Lauren Stratman and Michelle Esquivel combined to take the last 3 points of the game and win the match for Lions 15-14!
Chimeras vs Team Rally
Lee Whitwell remains undefeated in MLP. Her and Vivienne David are the only two players without and individual loss. Whitwell and the Chimeras beat Team Rally 3-1 in the second session to close out the day as the last undefeated team. Their first match tomorrow is against the Discovery Warriors who are 3-1 but have the best game differential in the league. This could be a DUPR Bowl preview if both teams can stay on the track they’re on now.
Discovery Warriors vs BLQK
If you missed this one, go back and watch it now! It was a highlight reel in every game. Ben Johns was in his zone for the evening session. He was locked in on the ball and looked the Ben Johns we are used to seeing. He put the first two losses on the Warriors record in men’s and mixed doubles. These two wins were exactly what BLQK needed to force a tie-breaker against the Warriors.
The singles tie-breaker favors the Warriors on paper but just like we have seen in earlier matches, everypoint in these things is close to 50/50. In the battle between Zane Navratil and Rob Nunnery, Nunnery went 6-2 and was the edge BLQK needed to get the win. It was a bit of a risk to put Nunnery before Johns in the lineup but it paid off for BLQK and Johns was able to win the last three points to close the tie-break.
ATX Pickleballers vs Pickle Ranchers
The ATX Pickleballers got their first win in a gritty performance against the Pickle Ranchers.👏👏👏The chemistry between CP and Grechkina is building and they are playing better every match. Grechkina has great ground strokes and drives and has been putting pressure on her opponents with her power. CP and Loong are going to get more wins in MLP but they got a big one today over the Newmans. ATX will have their best chance at another win tomorrow but they will have to take it from a hungry Team Rally.
- Singles tie-breakers are awesome! The 15-14 Lions win over Team Clean was the moment MLP was built for. High fives from teammates in between points and hyping each other up is the atmosphere that pickleball needs.
- Players being mic’ed up is also awesome. Hearing the strategy and coaching on the court adds another layer to game that is tough to match.
- Zane Navratil was severely underrated in the draft.
- We’ve got to get better jerseys figured out for next season.
- The format makes every game and almost every point matter. Instead of just the medal rounds being important in a tournament. We have significance placed on almost every game.
- Can we get season two on the books now?