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Premier and Challenger Level Teams Descend on Grand Rapids for Compelling MLP Mid-Season Tournament

by Erik Tice on

The only stand-alone tournament for Major League Pickleball is taking place this week in Grand Rapids, Michigan. It's the only event on the calendar that incorporates all 22 teams, as both Challenger and Premier Level teams will be competing.

Oh, and the Beer City Open is also taking place in Grand Rapids, so no shortage of pickleball this week in the great state of Michigan.

Weather Forecast

What's left of Hurricane Beryl looks like it may make its way to Michigan and cause some issues Wednesday during the day. The good news is, only four matches are scheduled on Wednesday. Saturday night also has a small chance of rain, but again, only four matches are scheduled. Sunday is pretty light in terms of scheduled play, so weather shouldn’t cause a huge problem.

How to Watch the MLP Mid-Season Tournament

Major League Pickleball Announces Mid-Season Tournament Changes, Match Schedule and Prize Pool
Major League Pickleball has announced the schedule, brackets and payouts for the upcoming Mid-Season tournament. We’ve got the details.

Wednesday, July 10th

  • All matches on MLP YouTube

Thursday, July 11th 

  • 10am ET and 10:30am ET matches on MLP YouTube
  • Noon ET match on Championship Court on Tennis Channel, Pickleball TV and Game+ (Canada)
  • All 2-6pm ET matches on Championship Court on Pickleball TV and Game+ (Canada)
  • All 12:30-6:30pm ET matches on Grandstand Court on MLP YouTube

Friday, July 12th

  • 10am ET and 10:30am ET matches on MLP YouTube
  • Noon ET match on Championship Court on Tennis Channel, Pickleball TV and Game+ (Canada)
  • All 2-6pm ET matches on Championship Court on Pickleball TV and Game+ (Canada)
  • All 12:30-6:30pm ET matches on Grandstand Court on MLP YouTube

Saturday, July 13th

  • All Championship Court matches on Pickleball TV (except for ESPN2 exclusive at 1 pm ET)
  • 1pm ET match on Championship Court on ESPN2
  • 3:30pm ET match on Championship Court on Tennis Channel and Pickleball TV
  • All Grandstand Court matches on MLP YouTube

Sunday, July 14th

  • 11am ET match on Championship Court on Tennis Channel and Pickleball TV
  • 2pm ET match on Championship Court on ESPN2
  • All Grandstand Court matches on MLP YouTube

Prize Money on the Line

Premier Level (per team)

  • Winner - $80k
  • 2nd Place - $40k
  • 3rd Place - $20k

Challenger Level (per team)

  • Winner - $30k
  • 2nd Place - $20k
  • 3rd Place - $10k


There are a number of players unable to play in this tournament, either due to injury or a scheduling conflict.

Major League Pickleball Announces Roster Changes Ahead of This Week’s Mid-Season Tournament
A few scheduling conflicts and injuries have forced a handful of Premier and Challenger Level MLP teams to shake up their rosters ahead of this week’s Mid-Season Tournament.

Here’s a snapshot of the substitutions:

Premier Level

  • LA Mad Drops: Emily Cederquist and Blaine Hovenier are in for Catherine Parenteau and Thomas Wilson
  • AZ Drive: AJ Koller is in for Andrei Daescu

Challenger Level

  • Bay Area Breakers: Rachel Rettger, Samantha Parker, and Grayson Goldin are in for Jill Braverman, Allyce Jones, and DJ Young
  • California Black Bears: Michelle Esquivel is in for Susannah Barr

With so many moving parts, including Waiver Wire adds and substitutions, it may be tricky to know who is playing for what team at this particular event.

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Here is a list of Premier Level teams in order of seeding at the tournament. Substitutes are italicized. Players who are new to the team in the last three weeks are in bold.

  1. St. Louis Shock - Anna Bright, Hayden Patriquin, Gabe Tardio, Kate Fahey
  2. New Jersey 5s - Anna Leigh Waters, Zane Navratil, Will Howells, Mari Humberg
  3. Dallas Flash - JW Johnson, Jorja Johnson, Hurricane Tyra Black, Augie Ge
  4. NY Hustlers - Jack Sock, Lea Jansen, Jade Kawamoto CJ Klinger
  5. D.C. Pickleball Team - James Ignatowich, Rachel Rohrabacher, Dekel Bar, Vivian Glozman
  6. Texas Ranchers - Christian Alshon, Etta Wright, Tina Pisnik, Quang Duong
  7. LA Mad Drops - Jackie Kawamoto, Hunter Thomas, Emily Cederquist, Blaine Hovenier
  8. Orlando Squeeze - Federico Staksrud, Vivienne David, Tyson McGuffin, Parris Todd
  9. Columbus Sliders - Riley Newman, Meghan Dizon, Connor Garnett, Brooke Buckner
  10. AZ Drive - Dylan Frazier, Lacy Schneeman, Kaitlyn Christian, AJ Koller
  11. Carolina Pickleball Club - Ben Johns, Andrea Koop, Jessie Irvine, Collin Johns
  12. Utah Black Diamonds - Jay Devilliers, Callie Jo Smith, Tyler Loong, Alix Truong

Premier Level predictions

Winners are highlighted yellow 

Winner: New Jersey 5s

Second: St. Louis Shock

Third: Columbus Sliders

First Round

  • The Squeeze and Sliders are close in my mind. The Sliders haven’t played since Atlanta, where Connor Garnett had the yips and Meghan Dizon was sick. I expect them to be improved, but lose in a Dreambreaker.
  • D.C. Pickleball team was good before they traded for Vivian Glozman. Utah was bad in their only event of the year, but didn’t make any changes - I don’t see an upset happening here.
  • The AZ Drive and LA Mad Drops are the two teams who have subs in Grand Rapids – I don’t expect either of them to do too well without their starters, but someone has to win this match.
  • Ben Johns hasn’t been playing his best lately and is probably looking forward to a little break after this tournament. We'll see if we get his best stuff.


  • The Shock are the top seed for a reason – they are playing extremely high-level pickleball. I think Big H wins both his men’s match and mixed match and AB and Fahey win their women’s match. Game over.
  • The Hustlers had a bounce-back tournament in D.C., and played well, but won four Dreambreakers. Pickleball is a game of runs and momentum and I think the Hustlers come back down to Earth a little bit, losing to D.C. Also, D.C. gets revenge for an extremely close Dreambreaker loss to the Hustlers from the last event.
  • The Fives haven’t played since Atlanta. ALW doesn’t lose and Zane is going to be out for some revenge, not having won a doubles game yet.
  • The Flash swept the Ranchers at MLP DC, and none of the matches were particularly close. Now, the Ranchers do have Alshon back, so he could be a difference maker. I just think the Flash has too much firepower.


  • D.C. and St. Louis are tied up at 1-1. Who is going to take the third game? Is D.C. going to be better with Vivian Glozman? I think by the end of the year, the answer is yes. Right now, I think no. This one goes to a Dreambreaker and the Shock win.
  • The Fives and Flash have never played before, but these players definitely know each other. I expect this one to be close. I expect a Dreambreaker here as well and The Fives take it.


  • I don’t think anyone is on a bigger high right now than Big H. He helps win men’s, but loses in mixed to ALW/Howells. The Fives win women’s doubles and Gabe/Kate beat Zane/Mari to force a Dreambreaker. The Fives take the whole thing, with Howells and ALW sealing the deal in the Dreambreaker.

Loser’s Bracket

  • I actually think the Sliders are much better than they played in Atlanta, and they work their way through a tough losers bracket to finish third.
  • Additionally, I love the team energy for the Squeeze, so look for them to make a run, even if they lose early.
  • I have the Mad Drops, the Carolina Pickleball Team, and the Hustlers, as the teams going 0-2.

Challenger Level predictions

Just because I think Challenger Level is fun, I made a bracket there as well.

Here are the teams by seeding, with players listed. Substitutes are italicized. Players who are new to the team in the last three weeks are in bold.

  1. Las Vegas Night Owls - Chao Yi Wang, Judit Castillo, Anderson Scarpa, Mo Alhouni
  2. Bay Area Breakers - Collin Shick, Rachel Rettger, Samantha Parker, Grayson Goldin
  3. Brooklyn Aces - Lina Padegimaite, Daniel De La Rosa, Pablo Tellez, Layne Sleeth
  4. Atlanta Bouncers - Jaume Martinez Vich, Genie Erokhina, Todd Fought, Angie Walker
  5. Frisco Pandas - Ewa Radzikowska, John Cincola, Stefan Auvergne, Allison Phillips
  6. Miami Pickleball Club - Milan Rane, Eric Oncins, Noe Khlif, Bobbi Oshiro
  7. Florida Smash - Travis Rettenmaier, Tammy Emmrich, Martina Frantova, Yates Johnson
  8. SoCal Hard Eights - Irina Tereschenko, Erik Lange, Max Manthou, Yana Newell
  9. Chicago Slice - Jack Munro, Allison Harris, Brendon Long, Megan Fudge
  10. California Black Bears - Rafa Hewett, Amanda Hendry, Brandon French, Michelle Esquivel

Winner: Brooklyn Aces

Second: Atlanta Bouncers

Third: Las Vegas Night Owls

I think the Aces are stacked now with Pablo – he is arguably the best player in Challenger Level now.

Atlanta has the other player in the conversation in terms of best Challenger Level player in Jaume Martinez Vich.

The Night Owls have done extremely well and they are very dangerous in Dreambreakers. I think these three finish some sort of 1-2-3.

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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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