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New Champions Top Podium in Arizona

by Tyler Irvin on

Drum roll please🥁🥁… We have new mixed doubles champions! Anna Bright and Riley Newman were crowned the best of the division at the PPA Arizona Grand Slam after beating Jorja and JW Johnson in a five-game thriller!

That’s right, the favorites by a mile, Anna Leigh Waters and Ben Johns, didn’t even make it to Sunday in mixed, losing for the first time as a duo in just about nine months. The Johnson siblings shocked the pickleball world on Friday by upsetting the number one seeds. As a result, ALW and Johns were sent into the consolation bracket, where they immediately forfeited their next match.

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The Johnsons came ever close in the finals, but Bright and Newman won the last two games in the match to stump the siblings. While Jorja didn’t get the win, she showed another level to her mixed dubs game. She did an outstanding job of dinking the ball cross court, counter attacking when available and challenging the guy opposite to her. It was an extremely impressive tournament for the 16-year-old.

With the loss on Friday to the Johnsons, Waters was officially out of the running for her third triple crown of the season. Johns’ triple crown bid was halted on Thursday in singles when he lost an extremely tight match to Federico Staksrud in the semi-finasl. The Argentinian Staksrud, went on to play the Flying Frenchman, Jay Devilliers in the finals, which was coined the “World Cup rematch.”

And just like the World Cup, Argentina/Staksrud came out with the win, but in a much more dominating fashion. After the loss on Thursday, Johns was sent down into the bronze medal match, where he forfeited it, which gave James Ignatowich his first medal of the season.

In women’s doubles, Waters kept up with the winning tradition, doing so alongside Bright. It was a massive tournament for Bright, who walked away with two golds. They beat Jessie Irvine and Jackie Kawamoto in the finals in four games. It was a great tournament for Irvine and Kawamoto and it begs the questions if this team will play more tournaments in the future, especially as Irvine doesn’t seem to have a consistent partner so far this year.

A bit of a surprise in this division was the number two seeds, Lucy Kovalova and Callie Smith losing in the semi-finals to Irvine/Kawamoto and in the bronze medal match against Lea Jansen and Allyce Jones. This is the second tournament in a row this duo hasn’t stood on the podium.

In men’s doubles, Ben and Collin Johns handled business against Newman and Matt Wright for the third time this year. Like Wright said last year, it’s only a rivalry when both teams have wins. And right now, they are winless this year against the Johns brothers. Johnson and Dylan Frazier lost to Newman/Wright in the semis, but went on to win the bronze against newly-formed duo, Dekel Bar and AJ Koller. Hopefully they will continue to team up more in the future.

Lastly, Waters came out with an easy win in women’s singles against Jansen in the finals and still seems to be very much ahead of everyone else in this division. Catherine Parenteau was upset in the third round by Mary Brascia, and went on to withdraw in the consolation bracket.

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Tyler Irvin

Tyler Irvin

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