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Team Debuts, Drama and Plenty of Opportunities Lie Ahead at MLP Washington, D.C.

by Erik Tice on

The second MLP event of 2024 kicks off Thursday in the nation’s capital.

Let’s get into the details, preview and predictions.

Where: The Washington Tennis and Education Foundation - East Campus

When: Thursday - Sunday

How to Watch MLP Washington, D.C.

First and foremost, let’s give a round of applause to MLP for making changes in the broadcast schedule from Atlanta to D.C. All matches will be livestreamed.

Injuries Cause Substitutions Ahead of MLP Washington, D.C.
Two MLP teams will reportedly make changes to their rosters ahead of MLP Washington, D.C., as injuries have knocked two men out of competition.
  • Thursday
    • All Championship Court Matches - PickleballTV and Anthem (Canada)
    • All Grandstand Court Matches - MLP YouTube
  • Friday
    • 10am - Noon - Championship Court Matches - MLP YouTube
    • Noon - End of Day - Championships Court Matches - PickleballTV and Anthem (Canada)
    • All Grandstand Court Matches - MLP YouTube
  • Saturday
    • 10am - Noon - Championship Court Matches - MLP YouTube
    • Noon - End of Day - Championships Court Matches - PickleballTV and Anthem (Canada)
    • All Grandstand Court Matches - MLP YouTube
  • Sunday
    • 10am - Noon - Championship Court Matches - MLP YouTube
    • Noon - End of Day - Championships Court Matches - PickleballTV and Anthem (Canada)
    • All Grandstand Court Matches - MLP YouTube
Season-Opening MLP Atlanta Delivers Upsets, Breakouts and Plenty of Passion
Who were the winners and losers from the opening weekend of Major League Pickleball at MLP Atlanta? We share our takeaways and highlights.

Weather Forecast

The weather is actually looking good for D.C., with the biggest worry being a 30 percent chance of rain on Friday during the day.

Complete Schedule for MLP Washington, D.C.

Players making their MLP debuts

Since the majority of players played in MLP Atlanta, there are only three newcomers to MLP D.C., and they are all in the Challenger Level.

Jack Munro, Chicago Slice - The young, ambidextrous phenom is making his debut for the Slice. He is tall, has a ton of reach, and likes to play the right side. Munro is playing some of his best pickleball right now, having won two gold medals in APP NYC and two gold medals at the recent DUPR Collegiate Individual National Championships.

Chao Yi Wang, Las Vegas Night Owls - Zoey, as she prefers to be called in English, is originally from Taiwan. Zoey is coming off a great run at PPA Sacramento with Brooke Buckner, with a great win over No. 8 seed Lea Jansen/Vivian Glozman before losing to Anna Leigh Waters and Catherine Parenteau in the quarterfinals. She also made a Round of 16 run with Pat Smith in mixed doubles. Look for her to play the left where she is most comfortable in women’s doubles with her teammate Judit Castillo and Mo Alhouni.

Mohaned Alhouni, Las Vegas Night Owls - The left-handed Minnesotan is making his MLP debut with the Night Owls. The Libyan moved to the US in 2011 and is currently a GM at Life Time Fitness. Alhouni is a very good singles player, but I have seen very little of him in doubles, so I am excited to get to see more of him in D.C. If his tennis background says anything about his pickleball potential - it is high. He was a five-time Division III All-American at Gustavus Adolphus (MN) and in 2017 he was the top-ranked player in all of Division III.

Teams not participating in MLP Washington D.C.

AZ Drive, Columbus Sliders, LA Mad Drops, New Jersey 5s and Orlando Squeeze. From Challenger, the only teams not participating are the Bay Area Breakers and the So Cal Hard Eights.

List of teams making their debut in MLP Washington D.C.

Premier Level

  • Carolina Pickleball Team - Ben Johns, Andrea Koop, Jessie Irvine, Collin Johns
MLP’s Seattle Pioneers Heading to Carolina, Re-Branded Carolina Pickleball Club
The Seattle Pioneers of Major League Pickleball are relocating and rebranding, moving to North Carolina and renaming itself Carolina Pickleball Club. The team makes its debut this week at MLP Washington, D.C.

The who? The Seattle Pioneers rebranded and moved this past week and became the Carolina Pickleball Team. This veteran team is the oldest in average age, and in terms of number of years played. Ben will lead the team and probably play with Jessie in mixed doubles. Collin is getting back from Europe right before the event, so hopefully he can bring the energy needed for MLP. Koop and Irvine were supposed to play PPA Sacramento together last week but withdrew - a cause for concern. Hopefully this team is ready to go in D.C.

  • Utah Black Diamonds - Jay Devilliers, Callie Jo Smith, Tyler Loong, Alix Truong

The biggest question mark is Devilliers. Jay took a nasty spill from a high ankle sprain in the PPA Vizzy Atlanta Slam and had to withdraw.

Jay posted on X on May 28th, "I look forward to seeing you guys on court for Sacramento!” However, Jay pulled out of PPA Sacramento, citing doctor’s orders. 

The Frenchmen was then seen at Roland Garros for the French Open, playing some pickleball with Martina Navritalova. Hopefully he is ready to go for D.C.

MLP Teams Who Could be Making Moves - and the Players They Could be After
Some rosters could look a little different after MLP Washington D.C., when the first waiver period takes place. We look at which teams could make moves and which players could potentially be involved.

Alix and Callie made a great quarterfinal run in PPA Sacramento and hope to continue building the partnership for the Black Diamonds.

Challenger Level

  • California Black Bears - DJ Young, Rafa Hewett, Amanda Hendry, Emily Ackerman

DJ Young is out with a wrist injury. The Black Bears picked up Spencer Smith – a veteran Utah guy – to fill in. While Ackerman and Hendry are young, they both have played Challenger Level MLP before. I like the mix of veterans and younger players on this team – especially with Rafa Hewett bringing the energy all week long.

The Black Bears are in a tight spot. DJ is their best player and was named captain of the team. They didn’t play MLP Atlanta and they have seven matches to play in D.C., the most of any team playing in the event.

Spencer Smith is going to need to step up in a big way and Rafa is going to need to lead the group and bring the energy. I think leaving D.C. with anything less than 7 points will be a disappointment and put the Black Bears behind the eight ball for the rest of the regular season.

  • Las Vegas Night Owls - Chao Yi Wang, Judit Castillo, Mo Alhouni, Anderson Scarpa

We already talked about Chao Yi Wang (Zoey), but I was shocked that Anderson Scarpa went this low. Scarpa is definitely a victim of recency bias when it came to the MLP Draft in early April. Scarpa has been playing mostly on the APP Tour this year but hasn’t played much mixed doubles. He was definitely one of the better players in MLP last year, so hopefully for him he can find his form in D.C.

I really like the upside of this team. I haven’t seen Alhouni in doubles much, but with him and Judit leading the way, this is an extremely good Dreambreaker team on paper.

  • Chicago Slice - Jack Munro, Allison Harris, Kelsey Grambeau, Brendon Long

Jack Munro (aka Junior Mint) leads this team, but Harris was also a great pickup. We already talked about Munro and his recent accomplishments, but Harris has been having herself a nice season thus far on the APP Tour.

She has earned six medals out of the seven tournaments she has played in women’s doubles this year. While she hasn’t medaled in mixed doubles, her last two finishes with Andre Mick were fourth and seventh. Remember, Harris filled in admirably for the Miami Pickleball Club in MLP Atlanta in September of 2023 in the Premier Level

This is a good team as long as Brendon Long can maintain some consistency. Grambeau will be the X factor for this team as she is the least known player. She trains in NYC with players such as Kate Fahey, so she could be ready for the spotlight.

Most Intriguing Matchups on the Weekend

There are going to be 34 matches this weekend – 17 in each level. Obviously we can’t break all of them down, otherwise this would be considered a novel. Here are my top intriguing matches to watch:


  • 4:30pm ET - Florida Smash vs. California Black Bears 

Both teams are not at their peak in terms of player availability. Yates Johnson is replacing Pat Smith for the Smash due to injury. Spencer Smith is replacing DJ Young on the Black Bears due to a wrist injury. 

The Smash didn’t have nearly as good of a start as expected in Atlanta and now they are down a good player for four matches. Yates is a very good veteran and is a known commodity. 

For the Black Bears, this is their first of an event-high seven matches. Looking to get off to a hot start for the weekend, this match will go a long way in terms of momentum.


  • 10am ET - Texas Ranchers vs. Utah Black Diamonds

The Black Diamonds open their 2024 season against the Ranchers. Honestly, if Christian Alshon was playing, this would not have been on my radar, as I think the Ranchers would steamroll the Black Diamonds if they were at full strength.

Quang Duong is a big step down in terms of men’s doubles and even more in mixed doubles from Alshon. The Ranchers play five matches in D.C. and I think a realistic goal for them on the weekend is to come away with four or five points from the weekend. That would keep them in the hunt for a top-six finish with their best player still out.

The Black Diamonds don’t have many expectations outside of their team. However, I am higher than most on the Black Diamonds this weekend, as long as Jay’s ankle holds up. In order to get off to a good start, they'll need to get some points from this match against a less than whole Ranchers squad.

  • 4pm ET - Dallas Flash vs. Carolina Pickleball Club

Of course the pickleball Gods have allowed us this matchup this weekend. Unless you live under a rock, you heard about Ben Johns’ hot mic incident in PPA Sacramento. I am sure this incident will be discussed plenty throughout the match. 

The Flash are mostly a quiet-energy team - JW, Augie, and Tyra don’t usually get loud. Jorja is probably the loudest of the four. Chances are Augie and Tyra won’t play Ben and his mixed doubles partner, as JW and Jorja will probably have that responsibility.

Let’s hope for some fireworks between two of the top teams in MLP 2024.


  • 2pm ET - NY Hustlers vs. D.C. Pickleball Team

The Hustlers had the worst outing in Atlanta of all Premier Level teams and have six more matches in D.C. The Hustlers really need Jack Sock to step up and be a good leader along with being more consistent. After MLP D.C., the Hustlers will have played 10 matches out of the 23-match season - 43 percent of the season. If they aren’t averaging above a point-per-match, the likelihood of making the playoffs seems to be very slim. In order to hit that mark, NY is going to need to earn seven points on the weekend.

This will be the third match on the weekend for D.C. and as one of the best teams in Atlanta, I expect D.C. to continue their winning ways. While the Hustlers will be more desperate to win this match, D.C. will be favored.

  • 4:30pm ET - Brooklyn Aces vs. California Black Bears

We are here for the drama. Since the Black Bears signed Spencer Smith in place of DJ Young, we have to bring back up the Smith/De La Rosa incident from MLP Atlanta last year.

Besides the old issues, the Aces played well in 2024 MLP Atlanta, earning six points in three matches. The Aces have five matches in D.C. and an understaffed Black Bears squad could help maintain their winning ways.


  • 12:30pm - D.C. Pickleball Team vs. St. Louis Shock
  • 6:30pm - Dallas Flash vs. Texas Ranchers

The D.C. Pickleball Team was down big in Atlanta, only to come back, make it a Dreambreaker, and they won that Dreambreaker against St. Louis. Anna Bright playing against her boyfriend, James Ignatowich, and her women’s doubles partner on the PPA Tour, Rachel Rohrabacher, adds intrigue to this high level matchup.

The Flash and Ranchers played in Atlanta, but it was early in the day and the match wasn’t available unless you were in person. There were rumors of JW Johnson making a controversial line call, but because the match wasn’t streamed, there were no video challenges.

  • 4:30pm ET - Carolina Pickleball Club vs. D.C. Pickleball Team
  • 6:30pm ET - Carolina Pickleball Club vs. St. Louis Shock

The Shock and D.C. were two of the top teams from Atlanta. Carolina is playing five matches in D.C. and these last two matches will probably be the toughest. Will Ben Johns have enough in the tank to earn some points from these last two tough matches?

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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