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Some New Blood Emerges at the PPA Tour's USA Indoor Championships

by Erik Tice on

The USA Indoor Championships did not disappoint this past weekend in Lakeville, Minnesota.

This event was unique in that many of the top top pros were missing. At least 10 of the top 30 pros in the world took this tournament off, including Ben Johns and Anna Leigh Waters. This made for a really fun weekend with some new partnerships that we may see again.

There were so many cool moments from the weekend as well as so many cool shots. Here are my top five favorite moments of the weekend:

  • Two ATPs from Alex Neumann and then Lohani wins the point with Neumann completely off the court
  • It wouldn’t be a weekend of pro pickleball without Allyce Jones diving on the floor for a ball
  • Collin Johns wasn’t planning on playing in Minnesota, but got partnered with Matt Wright and Anna Bright, so he decided to play. His melt down reaction to the net cord winner in this video is hilarious ...
  • ATPs are very regular occurrences at the pro level, but running around your backhand for a FOREHAND ATP on the left? Jack Sock is showing us new shots pretty much every weekend now
  • A total of 16 volleys in a row on this point with Dave Fleming’s favorite saying, “The Floor is Lava”

Top five takeaways

5. Salome Devidze still has it - Not only did Devidze beat Parris Todd in the final to win Gold, she also beat Catherine Parenteau for a second straight time. The 38-year old is definitely not as quick as some of her counterparts, but she makes up for that with incredibly accurate passing shots. She has both a forehand and two-handed backhand that are deadly. 

Devidze, originally from Georgia (the country, not the state), grew up playing tennis and had a lot of success as a professional tennis player. She became the youngest player to win a Davis/Fed Cup match at the age of 13 years and 270 days. Salome was ranked as high as 254 in the world in singles tennis and 250 in doubles.

In her celebration speech, Salome said it had been 11 months since her last PPA Gold and she is hoping it isn’t that long between this one and her next. It looks like her skill, combined with her mental toughness, could make that happen.

4. The use of eye protection is increasing amongst pros

Anna Bright, Collin Johns, Tina Pisnik, Rachel Rohrabacher, Andrea Koop, and the list is going to keep growing. I love to see the pros starting to use eye protection more and more. The game is getting faster every day with paddle technology. 

There are many different forms of eye protection for pickleball. There are sports goggles, sunglasses, prescription glasses, glass frames with no lenses, etc. Eye protection seems to be growing in popularity among the pros and recreational players.

Why Eyewear in Pickleball is Quickly Gaining Momentum
The rise in pickleball popularity is undeniable, with participation growing faster than any other sport in America. With that increased participation comes an uptick in many factors, from court expansion to injuries. One area that is quickly becoming a hot topic in the sport is eye protection.

3. Thomas Wilson has become a top 5 guy

Less than a year ago everyone was worried about Wilson and his heart. His heart started racing multiple times while he was playing and doctors couldn’t figure out what was happening. He met Dr. Horton at St. David’s Medical Center and had a procedure to fix his heart and was back playing in a few days.

Since then, Wilson has been on the rise. He has four medals in men’s doubles and six medals with his mixed doubles partner, Vivienne David, over the past eight months. He also picked up Riley Newman as a regular men’s doubles partner and they have been on the rise. Without Newman in Minnesota, Wilson played great with Christian Alshon. Thomas won two gold medals this weekend and is a force to be reckoned with.

2. Tina Pisnik is an underrated player

Pisnik got onto the scene last year, after the BLQK Black Bears drafted her in the MLP Challenger Draft for season 2. The former tennis star is regularly playing with Dekel Bar and hasn’t missed the quarterfinals with him this year. Last year at TOC, Pisnik and Pat Smith got a silver medal.

Tina’s work in women’s doubles may be even better than her doubles success. This year, Tina and Jorja Johnson finished fifth at The Masters. She followed that up with an eighth place finish at Desert Ridge with Andrea Koop. At the Mesa Open, Tina and Jessie Irvine got another eighth place finish. This past weekend, Koop and Pisnik fought hard for a fourth place finish in Minnesota. 

In the four tour stops this season, Pisnik hasn’t missed the quarterfinals in any of her eight events. Her stock is clearly on the rise.

1. Having some top pros take an event off every so often is a good thing

The NBA struggles with this topic in a real way. They have implemented rules against players sitting out of games too much for "rest." Fans miss out on the biggest stars otherwise.

I think the opposite is true in pickleball. Not having some of the top players in Minnesota allowed for new partnerships, new winners, and some really great storylines.

Having new winners and new faces on Championship Sunday allows for fans to get to know more players, which will only continue to grow the sport.

FIVE different pros got two medals this weekend:

  • Connor Garnett
  • Rachel Rohrabacher
  • Thomas Wilson
  • Federico Staksrud
  • Christian Alshon

Final results from the weekend:

Women’s Singles

  1. Salome Devidze
  2. Parris Todd
  3. Catherine Parenteau

Women’s Doubles

  1. Rachel Rohrabacher & Anna Bright
  2. Lucy Kovalova & Callie Smith
  3. Hurricane Tyra Black & Parris Todd

Men’s Doubles

  1. Thomas Wilson & Christian Alshon
  2. Tyler Loong & Connor Garnett
  3. Hayden Patriquin & Callan Dawson

Men’s Singles

  1. Federico Staksrud
  2. Connor Garnett
  3. Christian Alshon

Mixed Doubles

  1. Thomas Wilson & Vivienne David
  2. Federico Staksrud & Rachel Rohrabacher
  3. Lea Jansen & Hayden Patriquin

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