CJ Klinger and Jackie Kawamoto celebrate a point.
CJ Klinger and Jackie Kawamoto celebrate a point. Major League Pickleball

A final look at MLP Washington, DC

The second MLP event of 2024 is over. It took place in Washington, DC, and featured some hot temperatures, and long matches. Because of the lack of lights and time pressures, not all scheduled matches went forward as scheduled. Fourteen total Premier matches were completed and we are now about one-quarter through the season. Of the twelve Premier teams, seven were in action in DC. Some helped themselves, others not so much.
The DC hits:
1. New York Hustlers. There is no question but that the big winner from DC was the team from New York. They played six matches and racked up 15 points in those matches, an excellent record. They went undefeated. New York did not appear very strong coming out of MLP Atlanta and their ability to make the playoffs was in doubt to many, including me. New York proved me very wrong in DC. Can they keep it up going forward?
2. Jackie Kawamoto. Kawamoto won nine matches in DC, more than anyone. She also was instrumental in the three matches New York won in Dreambreakers. Not known for her singles prowess, Kawamoto showed the importance of depth in Dreambreakers. She was the MVP of the DC event.
3. Dallas shows their potential. Dallas started slowly, going 1-1 on the first day and sitting out day two of MLP DC. But, Dallas finished strong on day 3, going 2-0, defeating Utah 4-0, and then Texas 4-0. That gave Dallas nine points for the event, in only four matches. It catapulted Dallas to third in total points, but more importantly second in points per match, a fairer way to rank the teams as it takes into account the fact that teams have played different numbers of matches. Dallas was the favorite at the beginning of the season to win it all and they keep showing flashes of that potential. They just need a little more consistency.
4. JW and Jorja Johnson. The brother and sister duo for the Dallas Flash both went 7-1 in DC, to be at the top of the individual player standings. It was seen as a smart move for Dallas to draft the duo and DC showed why that very well may be true. As with their overall team, can they keep it going?
5. St Louis. St Louis came into DC at the top of the standings, and they emerged a little beaten up, but still on top. St Louis is second with 17 points, but more importantly is in first place with 2.13 points per match. St Louis suffered a surprising 3-1 loss to New York to start DC, but came back on the final day with a outright win and a Dreambreaker win, to grab five points in their three matches. St Louis looks like a solid bet to be one of the six playoff teams.
6. Dreambreakers. Unlike in 2023 or at MLP Atlanta in 2024, lots of matches in DC went to Dreambreakers. Seven of the sixteen matches in DC went to Dreambreaker (and the percentage was even higher in Challenger matches). When nearly 50% of the matches go to Dreambreaker, it is not only exciting for the fans, but it puts a lot of emphasis on singles skills. Will this trend continue or was DC a fluke?
The DC misses:
1. Utah saw its first MLP action in DC, and they probably wish they had been given another bye. Utah played four matches and lost them all either 3-1 or 4-0, netting zero points for the event. Utah was projected before the season to be the worst team, and they played to those expectations. Utah has time to regroup but at this point looks lost.
2. Alix Truong. Truong was a bit of a surprise pick in Premier, and that pick will continue to be questioned, as she went 0-8 in her DC matches. Unfortunately, her matches were also not particularly close. She never scored more than 20 points in any of her women’s doubles or mixed doubles matches, and lost her matches by an average score of 25-18. Not that anyone on Utah played great, but at this point, Utah may need to start thinking about a replacement for Truong.
3. Carolina. The Ben Johns led Carolina team saw its first action in DC, but their performance created more questions than answers. Carolina played five matches but only scored five points in those matches. They only won one match, and that one in a Dreambreaker. Speaking of Dreambreakers, Carolina lost three matches in Dreambreakers. The commentators repeatedly remarked on the fact Ben Johns is Carolina’s only above-average singles player. Ben Johns was 8-2 in DC; if he loses a match, Carolina is likely to lose. If he goes 2-0, they are still likely headed for a Dreambreaker, so the decision to draft three below-average singles players may well haunt Carolina all year. Can they pick up their play in women’s doubles and/or Collin Johns’ mixed match? If not, this team is in some trouble. Carolina may be a team looking to make a player switch, to add a woman more skilled at singles. Is Vivian Glozman in their future?
Next up for MLP is a waiver wire process on June 19-20. We will have to wait and see what changes, if any, are made by Premier and Challenger teams. I don’t expect much action at the Premier level and indeed it would not be shocking for no moves at all to be made. The Challenger teams will likely be busier.
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