The Darling Tennis Center
Back to Vegas like we never left. This time coming from the Darling Tennis Center where the PPA Championships will be hosted for the second time. The PPA has been teasing photos all week showing how the venue has been made over to accommodate the pickleball masses.
This weekend will have a beautiful stadium set-up around the three show courts and plenty of space to broadcast the main championship court.
The men’s singles field is forty-three deep for Thursday. For most, that means that Championship Sunday is five wins away. Five wins against the best players in the world. The most anticipated matchup of the bracket will be the red hot Zane Navratil trying to send off the zanesaw in style with a win over Ben Johns. This would make for a hell of a match on Sunday. If we’re not lucky enough for that one. Hopefully, we get Navratil against Gabe Joseph and get to see those two flying around the court.
Keep an eye out for Hayden Patriquin in the early rounds. He is a 14-year old that has been tearing up the 5.0 division. He would not be expected to go too far in the bracket but the only way to get some wins at the pro levels is to first get some losses at the pro level.
Without the seeding or the bracket here is the podium prediction.
We will see the return of Jill Braverman to the PPA Tour this weekend. It will be interesting to see where she stacks up after some time away. The game has been advancing quickly and the Waters-Jansen rivalry is pushing the division to new levels. Callie Smith and Catherine Parenteau will try to crash that party on Sunday. If Parenteau can repeat her performance last weekend she will have a spot at the table. Smith will likely have to beat Waters in order to advance which might just be a little too much to ask.
Friday’s action will be some of the best of the weekend. All of the new mixed teams have shaken the predictability of the field. This weekend we add four new teams to the mix, Lea Jansen with Collin Johns, Lauren Stratman with AJ Koller, Callie Smith with Spencer Smith, and Jill Braverman with Zane Navratil. It’s going to be a longshot for any of these teams to crack the podium, but anything is possible in Vegas.
Lucy Kovalova & Matt Wright
Simone Jardim & Ben Johns
Jessie Irvine & Jay Devilliers
Ben Johns and Matt Wright are back together this weekend, which is bad news for the rest of the men’s division. It usually means that there is only one other spot available at Championship Sunday. The likely candidates are Team NewGuffin and Jay Devilliers & Pat Smith. They have both struggled in the latest tournaments but I am assuming the bright lights of Vegas will bring out the best in at least of them.
Machine Gun Koller will have friends and family by his side back home in Vegas partnering with cousin Thomas Wilson. They have been putting the pieces together and I think this weekend is their shot at the podium. JW ‘Just Win’ Johnson and Callan Dawson were enemies last weekend but partners this weekend. If they are able to assimilate quickly then they will be a threat to upset anyone in the bracket. Tyler Loong and Spencer Smith are overdue for a deep run as well.
Ben Johns & Matt Wright
Tyson McGuffin & Riley Newman
AJ Koller & Thomas Wilson
The usual suspects will likely fill the podium in the women’s division. Championship Sunday in this division has been pretty epic as of late. No matter who we see in the final it will likely be a thriller.
Anna-Leigh Waters & Leigh Waters
Simone Jardim & Lucy Kovalova
Jesse Irvine & Catherine Parenteau