Yesterday's US Open was the first time that we have seen Ben Johns, Tyson McGuffin, JW Johnson and Zane Navratil in the same draw this year. The arguably top 4 four in the sport have found themselves on different paths growing their careers and have created ties to different organizations. But the US Open has been a time to bring the sport together and served as the first meeting for the group in 2022.
Things were set to have a top-four draw in the semifinals until Federico Staksrud inserted himself into the conversation. Staksrud has been quickly ascending the singles ranks and has taken silver in the last two APP events. In a three-game battle, he defeated Tyson McGuffin to advance to the semis.
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In the semifinals, JW Johnson bested Staksrud in two games. These matches have become a sight to see on the APP Tour. Each player is precise with their groundstrokes and every mistake is punished with aggressive passing shots.
On the other side of the draw, Zane Navratil matched up against the number one seed Ben Johns. Their last meeting was in October of last year where Navratil defeated Johns at the PPA Championships.
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A lot has changed since then, including the outlaw of the chainsaw serve. In this meeting, Johns was equipped with the new JOOLA Hyperion paddle that he still has not lost with, Johns took down Navratil 11-3, 11-2.
Still On Top
The men's gold medal match was one of the most entertaining matches in 2022. JW Johnson got the jump on Johns in game one 11-5. In game two, Johnson's consistency continued to be the most valuable trait. The usual plays that stack up points for Johns were neutralized by Johnson again and again.
Johnson continued building a lead all the way to 10-7, championship point. The packed crowd around center court thought they were witnessing history. This would be the first US Open for Florida resident JW Johnson. But pickleball's number one player had other plans for Sunday evening.
We saw a more involved and emotional Johns on the court than we have seen in years. You could see the frustration building when the normal tricks were not working and the fist pumps after points were won. There was a shift in Johns' play and it almost looked like he made peace with the idea of grinding points out against Johnson.
Instead of trying to put points away early Johns slowed each point down and was patient taking game two 12-10. From there Johns had his game plan set. He took game three 11-7.
On the women's side, there was no match for Catherine Parenteau. Parenteau went undefeated on the day and looked impressive in the gold medal round vs. Lea Jansen. Parenteau's passing shots and court coverage made it look next to impossible to steal a point on Sunday.
Rounding out the podium was Anna Bright. She adds to her impressive 2022 resume and secures another major medal for the collection.
There are split age and senior pro events throughout the week leading up to the doubles action on Friday and Saturday. Check the full schedule here.