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New Teams, New Winners and a Sticker Controversy Highlight PPA Sacramento

by Erik Tice on

This weekend in Sacramento was HOT.

Players were constantly hydrating and thankfully everyone was able to make it through the weekend healthy. The event was action-packed and brought a ton of drama with plenty of upsets and a great Championship Sunday.

Top Storylines

Let’s Talk About "Stickergate"

First and foremost, I did not create the term "Stickergate." Dave Fleming and Roscoe Bellamy continued to use the term throughout the broadcast. 

If you didn’t see it, here’s what happened:

  • James Ignatowich and Anna Bright played Hurricane Tyra Black in mixed doubles Thursday night in the quarterfinals
  • At 0-5-2, James served and in the middle of the point, AB lobbed over Hurricane and started a battle where Hurricane Tyra Black and Dylan were trying to get the kitchen, but James took over
  • James smashed one of his patented overheads and finished the point - or did he?
  • Onisha Smith then asked to see James’ paddle, and confirmed the "approved" sticker placed on the paddle by the PPL testers had fallen off, falling in the kitchen, for a kitchen violation
  • Arguments ensued and then Don Stanley was called in and confirmed the kitchen violation for the sticker and play continued
  • To say that Anna Bright looked frustrated and mad would be AN understatement

I have so many questions about "Stickergate" ...

  • Should players check their stickers before every game to ensure they are stuck?
  • Should a player be responsible for a sticker placed on their paddle by the paddle testers (PPL)?
  • Should a rule change be enacted to prevent this in the future, or is this the same as something like a player’s lead tape falling off their paddle?
  • Did James Ignatowich play the second game with an illegal paddle because it didn’t have a sticker on it? 

Hopefully we hear some decisions from the PPA soon on the sticker issue.

Hayden Patriquin and Federico Staksrud Win Their First Men’s Doubles Gold Together

The look of glee, excitement, and pride shown on Hayden and Fed’s faces as they won gold was amazing. These two paired up for the first time in Sacramento and played extremely well throughout. 

As the No. 4 seed, here is the route the duo took to win gold:

  • Round of 32: No. 32 seed - Farzin Amiri/Derek Shearer - 11-8, 11-5
  • Round of 16: No. 16 seed - Pesa Teoni/Craig Johnson - 11-3, 11-9
  • Quarterfinals: No. 30 seed - Kevin Dayan/Naveen Beasley - 11-3, 11-0
  • Semifinals: No. 6 seed - Gabe Tardio/Riley Newman - 6-11, 11-4, 11-8

In the finals they faced the hottest men’s doubles team right now: Dylan Frazier and JW Johnson. They were coming off three-straight gold medals on the PPA Tour, going for their fourth - only Ben and Collin Johns had done that before. The result?

A three-straight game win: 11-7, 11-7, 11-0. Pickled. Hayden Patriquin and Federico Staksrud pickled JW Johnson and Dylan Frazier in order to win their first golds in men’s doubles.

Expect to see this team back in action together soon.

Anna Leigh Waters Wins Another Triple Crown

Anna Leigh lost in singles last week. The last time Anna Leigh lost in women’s doubles was in Austin against Rachel Rohrabacher and Anna Bright. Do you think those things were in her mind this weekend? It sure seemed like it.

On the Championship Court, Anna Leigh first played women’s doubles with Catherine Parenteau against Rohrabacher and Bright. They made quick work, 11-2, 11-1, 11-5. In the beginning of the second game, Bright and Rohrabacher went down six or seven to one and called their second timeout. Dave Fleming made the correct statement that Bright/Rohrabacher had now taken more timeouts in the match (four) than points scored (three). ALW and CP went on to win in convincing fashion.

Anna Leigh then went out with Ben Johns in mixed doubles against Anna Bright and James Ignatowich. They made quick work of them - winning in three straight games. 11-5, 11-9, 11-0.

ALW and Ben Johns pickled James Ignatowich and Anna Bright.

The most emphatic win came in women’s singles. Anna Leigh faced off against her women’s doubles partner, Catherine Parenteau. The scoreline was 11-3, 11-4, but it really wasn’t even that close. Anna Leigh had match point at 10-0 in the second game before giving up those four points. 

The women’s field is getting better all the time. However, it seems like Anna Leigh is still by far the best female in all three events for the foreseeable future.

Men’s Doubles was Really Fun to Watch

I watch A LOT of pickleball – my wife definitely says too much. In my humble opinion, pro men’s doubles is the least watchable event on the PPA Tour. With paddles being super hot, everyone is ready to pounce on counter attacks, forcing matches into extremely long dink battles. 

Sure, at the beginning of the draws, things are chaotic and fun. Underdogs try drive-and-crash tactics, speeding up when they probably shouldn’t because they have nothing to lose. But as the draw gets into the quarterfinals and semifinals, everyone knows everyone else’s game, and things usually slow down. Not so in Sacramento.

New teams and new strategies dominated the play in men’s doubles in Sacramento. Gabe Tardio and Riley Newman were electric in their first event together. Chest bumps, Riley screaming "si," and Tardio playing a huge right side was fun. 

Maybe the heat of Sacramento caused the ball to be a little slower and gave a lot of the players the ability to speed up more shots. There were so many great fire fights in men’s doubles throughout Saturday. Here are some matches to watch that I thought were entertaining:

Top Moments from the weekend

What a point in the mixed doubles final:

The celebration after winning a gold medal in men’s doubles for both Hayden Patriquin and Fed Staksrud:

Hayden Patriquin playing unbelievable defense followed up with a midcourt tweener reset and they won the point?!?

An epic way to win Game 1 from Gabe Tardio and Riley Newman over Ben Johns and James Ignatowich:

A crazy point with Julian Arnold doing Julian Arnold things:

Domi Schaefer hit the Max Effort button on this point against Catherine Parenteau:

Rohrabacher hits a beautiful ATP in mixed doubles with Federico Staksrud:

MLP Medal Count

  1. Dallas Flash - 6

T-2.   New Jersey 5s, DC Pickleball Team, Orlando Squeeze, St. Louis Shock - 3

6.   LA Mad Drops - 2

T-7.   Columbus Sliders, AZ Drive, Seattle Pioneers - 1

Paddle Manufacturer Medal Count

  1. JOOLA - 8
  2. Selkirk, Franklin - 6
  3. Paddletek - 3
  4. PIKKL - 1

Complete Results

Women’s Singles

  1. Anna Leigh Waters
  2. Catherine Parenteau
  3. Brooke Buckner

Men’s Singles

  1. Federico Staksrud
  2. JW Johnson
  3. Quang Duong

Mixed Doubles

  1. Anna Leigh Waters/Ben Johns
  2. Anna Bright/James Ignatowich
  3. Jorja Johnson/JW Johnson

Women’s Doubles

  1. Catherine Parenteau/Anna Leigh Waters
  2. Rachel Rohrabacher/Anna Bright
  3. Jorja Johnson/Hurricane Tyra Black

Men’s Doubles

  1. Hayden Patriquin/Federico Staksrud
  2. Dylan Frazier/JW Johnson
  3. Tyson McGuffin/Dekel Bar
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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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