Lea Jansen competes at the CIBC Texas Open powered by TIXR.
Lea Jansen competes at the CIBC Texas Open powered by TIXR. PPA Tour

A final look at the CIBC Texas Open

The latest stop on the PPA Tour was the CIBC Texas Open. The players had to deal with intermittent rain during the event, but on Championship Sunday, the sun came out, it was a nice day, and the event ended with some great pickleball. Most events were dominated by the #1 seed, but we did have one big surprise.
Let’s take a last look at each event in turn.
1. Women’s doubles
The #1 seed was, as usual, the combination of Anna Leigh Waters and Catherine Parenteau. They lived up to their billing, taking gold without losing a game. In the final, they were not really tested, easily defeating Lucy Kovalova/Callie Smith 11-3, 11-3, 11-4.  The top seed was tested in the quarters, where they faced the silver medalists from the prior PPA event, Jade Kawamoto/Andrea Koop. Kawamoto/Koop looked like they were going to win game one, but as usual, ALW/CP are at their best late in each game. ALW/CP won 11-8, 11-4. The performance by Kawamoto/Koop confirmed they are a team to watch. Koop has long been one of the most underrated players on the women’s side, and it looks like she may have found her perfect partner. Let’s hope they continue to play with each other. Among other teams, one to watch is Kate Fahey/Anna Bright, who finished fourth. Rachel Rohrabacher sat out this tournament, so Bright signed up at the last minute with her MLP partner, Fahey. Fahey showed she can play well in a PPA event, as well as at MLP. It will be interesting to see who picks up Fahey as a quality partner going forward on the PPA side.
2. Mixed doubles
The #1 seed won again in mixed doubles, the almost unbeatable pair of Ben Johns/Anna Leigh Waters. They did not lose a game on their way to gold. In the final, Johns/Waters defeated Jorja and JW Johnson 11-7, 11-7, 11-9. The Johnsons had a nice run, which included a victory over #2 seed Thomas Wilson/Vivienne David in the semis. Anna Bright picked up Tyson McGuffin as her last minute mixed partner and they took the bronze medal for their efforts.
3. Men’s singles
The #1 seed won again here, but this one was close. Ben Johns cruised into the final, and faced #22 seed Chris Haworth. Haworth had been tested earlier, needing three games to win his round of 64 match over the very underrated Noe Khlif. After defeating Khlif, Haworth also dominated, losing only 12 games total in his next 3 matches! Haworth then knocked off #2 seed Federico Staksrud in the semis, ending Staksrud’s long streak of making the finals in singles. In the final, it was an interesting duel between Haworth’s power and length against Johns’ mixed game of power and finesse. Haworth took game one easily, 11-2. But, Johns adjusted, winning game two 11-3. The deciding third game was close, with Johns hitting an early run and got to 10-5. However, Haworth was not giving up. He reeled off four points to close to 10-9. However, a missed Haworth forehand followed by a missed serve return and Johns had the deciding game by a score of 11-9. The victory confirmed Johns’ status again as the #1 singles player. But the competition is getting tougher, and we can anticipate more upsets in the future. Men’s singles remains the most wide open of the five events.
4. Men’s doubles
The #1 seed, Ben and Collin Johns, did not win this event. They were upset in the semis by #4 seed Matt Wright/Dekel Bar. Both of the Johns seemed a bit off in the semi, even to the point of some seemingly negative body language between the brothers. It lead to some speculation in social media about how they were getting along. From my standpoint, I would pour cold water on any idea of the Johns’ partnership ending any time soon. Collin’s right side defensive game remains a good fit to go with Ben’s domination of the middle. Wright and Bar’s tournament ended with a silver, as they lost in the final to Dylan Frazier/JW Johnson. Wright/Bar did take game one 11-9, but then Frazier/Johnson dominated thereafter, winning the final three games 11-3, 11-5, 11-4. It was a great run by Wright/Bar, but they did almost lose in the round of 32. In the round of 32, Stefan Auvergne/John Cincola had a match point but could not close it out.  Once again, this type of result shows how close the competition is on the PPA tour. There often is not that big a difference between a round of 32 exit and a medal.
5. Women’s singles
The women’s singles draw featured the biggest upset of the tournament, when #4 seed Salome Devidze beat #1 Anna Leigh Waters in the semis. As ALW virtually never loses in singles, losing even as late as the semis is a big deal.  In the final, Devidze fell to #3 seed Lea Jansen. Jansen defeated #2 seed Catherine Parenteau in the other semifinal. Jansen then defeated Devidze in a three-game final.
The CIBC Texas Open had really good attendance, despite the weather. The stands for the finals were packed, indicating this PPA stop could use a bigger center court stadium. Pickleball is exploding and the PPA tour shares in that explosion. It was great to see.
Next stop is the Veolia Sacramento Open beginning June 5. Riley Newman returns to the PPA Tour at Sacramento; it will be interesting to see how he does.

Tune in to see Newman and all the other best players in the world.
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