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Streaks Were Broken, Debuts Were Made and Pickleball Hit National TV at the PPA Texas Open

by Erik Tice on

Weather was the biggest story on the weekend at the PPA Texas Open, wreaking havoc on Thursday and Saturday. The venue had a few covered courts, so the event could go on, but players were playing until well after 11pm local time on Thursday.

Top Storylines

John Isner made his pro pickleball debut

The former No. 8 singles tennis player played in men’s doubles with Wyatt Stone. They won their first game, 11-9, before losing the next two to Jay Wang and Sep Attar. The 6'10" big man towered over both his opponents and his partner.  

Dave Fleming, one of the PPA commentators, was able to get an interview with Isner from the PPA Studio. Definitely worth watching, especially if you are a tennis fan. Isner doesn’t play very often, so don’t expect to see him on tour regularly, but he left the possibility open to play more when the tour comes to Dallas.

Championship Sunday on FOX

The PPA Tour was able to get both the mixed doubles finals and the women’s doubles finals aired nationally on FOX. We have seen the tour streamed on the Tennis Channel, FS1, FS2, but rarely on the full national broadcast. Thankfully, the weather cooperated with the tour timing, allowing for the full broadcast to take place.

The broadcast started with the finish of the men’s doubles final, with JW Johnson and Dylan Frazier beating Matt Wright and Dekel Bar.

Anna Leigh Waters and Ben Johns put on a great show along with Jorja Johnson and JW Johnson in mixed doubles.

That was followed up with Anna Leigh and Catherine Parenteau facing off against Lucy Kovalova and Callie Jo Smith in the women's doubles final, beating them in three straight games.

Anna Leigh loses for the first time in 2024 in singles

I was watching live and I double checked my watch at the end of the match. Yes, the Salome Devidze match against Anna Leigh Waters in the semifinals finished at 11:19 pm local time on Thursday night. Anna Leigh lost to Devidze, 11-8, 5-11, 7-11.

It has been nearly 10 months since Anna Leigh lost a singles match, which is just preposterous. The last time ALW lost was at the Takeya Showcase in Los Cab on Aug. 3 to Hurricane Tyra Black. 

Here are Anna Leigh’s results since the Takeya Showcase, just to show you how good she has been:

  • 8/27/23 - PPA Kansas City Open - Win
  • 9/20/23 - PPA Cincinnati Open - Win
  • 10/8/23 - PPA Las Vegas - Win
  • 11/12/23 - Nationals - Win
  • 12/3/23 - PPA Tour Finals - Win
  • 1/14/24 - PPA Masters - Win
  • 2/4/24 - PPA Desert Ridge - Win
  • 2/25/24 - PPA Mesa Arizona Cup - Win
  • 4/7/24 - PPA North Carolina Cup - Win
  • 5/19/24 - PPA Atlanta Slam - Win

That's 10 tournaments in a row with a win. Some other fun stats for you on Anna Leigh’s amazing singles run after the Takeya Showcase:

  • 47 - Number of matches Anna Leigh played in a row without losing
  • 96 - Number of games Anna Leigh won during the same time
  • 8 - Number of games Anna Leigh lost during the entire 10 month period
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What a run it has been for Anna Leigh Waters. With competitors getting better and better, I doubt anyone is able to go on another winning streak like this one.

Lea Jansen guts out her second victory on the PPA Tour in 2024 in singles

Jansen has been playing some of her best pickleball recently in all three disciplines. In singles, she finished 4th, 4th, 3rd, 9th, and 3rd before getting a well-deserved win at the PPA Houston. Lea also earned a silver medal at PPA Red Rock Open.

Devidze bested Jansen in the last tournament in Atlanta for a bronze medal. I think Jansen is happy to give up that bronze from Atlanta to win the gold in Texas. 

Both Jansen and Devidze are known for their line-calling issues, and Devidze requested line judges in the final match of the day. They were EVERYWHERE. Even still, at one point in the match, an out call was confirmed by a line judge, only to be overturned after video replay. 

In her post-match interview, Jansen gave a lot of credit to her new coach, Mike Wolf, for helping her develop her game. He is the coach of her MLP team, the NY Hustlers, and former tennis coach for Jack Sock. Jansen is playing some of the best pickleball of her career.

Dylan Frazier and JW Johnson win their third straight men’s doubles title

The duo is on a hot streak in 2024. They have medaled in every PPA Tour event they've played in 2024, except the Masters. This win marks the fourth of the year for Frazier and Johnson, one shy of the Johns brothers. Dylan and JW are going to make it a race to see who can win the most men’s doubles gold medals in 2024.

What makes this duo so good?

  • Never too high and never too low - Whether they are winning or losing, you can’t really tell. Johnson and Frazier keep their composure throughout every match and don’t show too much emotion.
  • Clean dinks - This team can dink FOREVER. A big part of their strategy is wear their opponents down at the kitchen line and wait for a pop up. This was exhibited in their finals win over Wright and Bar.
  • Quick hands - Ask anyone who knows anything about pickleball to name the top-five fastest hands at the kitchen line, and every single person would include JW and Dylan. The duo basically begs their opponents to speed up at them because they are always ready to counter attack.

Federico Staksrud lost before the finals for the first time in 2024

Ten straight events winning either gold or silver for Federico to start 2024 before he lost to Chris Haworth in the semifinals in Texas. Staksrud has been the epitome of consistency this year with 10 medals - the next closest is Ben Johns with five.

This was the first weekend that the new JOOLA Gen3 paddles were banned on the PPA Tour. Federico had to play with a different paddle than the one he had been using. Did that affect his play? I don’t think it really affected the outcome. At some point, Fed was going to lose. Haworth played an amazing match against Federico.

It wasn’t all bad for Staksrud, because he was able to pull out a bronze medal on Sunday, beating Dylan Frazier in a tough, three-game match. Expect to still see Federico on Championship Sunday consistently throughout the rest of the year.

Chris Haworth makes a name for himself on the PPA Tour

Haworth is a great singles player, but he hasn’t had the success he would probably like on the PPA Tour yet. He got over that this weekend at the PPA Texas Open.

Haworth is not an exclusively signed PPA player, splitting his time on the PPA Tour and APP Tour. Chris has two wins on the APP Tour this year, one in Punta Gorda and another at Delray Beach. He also has a bronze in APP Sacramento. 

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The only two PPA events that Haworth played this year were in Arizona. He lost in the quarterfinals in PPA Desert Ridge and in the Round of 16 at the Mesa Cup.

Haworth had a tough road to his first silver medal on the PPA Tour. Here are the players the No. 22 seed from Oklahoma beat:

  • No. 42 seed - Noe Khlif - 6-11, 11-2, 11-2
  • No. 15 seed - Roscoe Bellamy - 11-3, 11-3
  • No. 36 seed - Dusty Boyer - 11-3, 11-1
  • No. 33 seed - Hunter Johnson - 11-1, 11-1
  • No. 2 seed - Federico Staksrud - 11-6, 11-2

Top Five Plays of the Weekend

Jon Isner with a nice putaway set up by his partner Wyatt Stone:

Anna Bright and Tyson McGuffin teamed up in mixed doubles in Dallas - what a point:

Brooke Buckner with a nasty angled winner over Milan Rane to win the match:

Collin Shick showed off his elite athleticism playing with Patrick Kawka:

Just a ridiculous point on FOX on Championship Sunday

MLP Team Medal Count

  1. Dallas Flash, Seattle Pioneers, Orlando Squeeze - 3

T-4.   New Jersey 5’s, LA Mad Drops - 2

T-6.   NY Hustlers, Utah Black Diamonds, D.C. Pickleball Team, AZ Drive, Columbus Sliders, St. Louis Shock, Atlanta Bouncers - 1

Paddle Manufacturer Medal Count

  1. Joola - 9

T-2.   PaddleTek, Selkirk, Franklin - 3

5.   Onix - 2

T-6.   Babolat, Head, Proton, SixZero - 1

Complete PPA Texas Open Results

Women’s Singles

  1. Lea Jansen
  2. Salome Devidze
  3. Catherine Parenteau

Men’s Singles

  1. Ben Johns
  2. Chris Haworth
  3. Federico Staksrud

Mixed Doubles

  1. Anna Leigh Waters/Ben Johns
  2. Jorja Johnson/JW Johnson
  3. Anna Bright/Tyson McGuffin

Women’s Doubles

  1. Catherine Parenteau/Anna Leigh Waters
  2. Lucy Kovalova/Callie Jo Smith
  3. Meghan Dizon/Etta Wright

Men’s Doubles

  1. Dylan Frazier/JW Johnson
  2. Matt Wright/Dekel Bar
  3. Tyson McGuffin/Jaume Martinez Vich
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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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