DALLAS, TX - The next stop on the Carvana PPA Tour is in Phoenix, at the JW Marriott, the PPA Desert Ridge Open
. This one uses the traditional format, with singles on Thursday, followed by mixed doubles on Friday, gender doubles on Saturday, and then Championship Sunday.
Let’s take a look at each event and the interesting story lines.
In men’s singles, the main story is the same one we will follow all year — the rise of the tennis players. No Jack Sock this week, but plenty of tennis converts looking to dethrone Ben Johns. The draw includes usual singles stars Christian Alshon, Connor Garnett, and Federico Staksrud (in addition to Mr. Johns). Leading the charge of the tennis converts are Chris Haworth, Gabe Joseph, Aanik Lohani, and Jaume Martinez Vich. The former tennis players have been enjoying increasing success in singles. Will they prevail over the pickleball veterans this week? Watch for the contrast in styles. The tennis converts use hard ground strokes and aggressive volleys; the pickleball veterans will mix in the cat and mouse game. Which style will win this week?
In women’s singles, the draw lacks Tyra Black and Catherine Parenteau. It will still be Anna Leigh Waters against the world. Top challenger Lea Jansen will try again, joined by Parris Todd. Barring an unexpected upset, it looks like another gold for ALW.
Mixed doubles features some new pairings to challenge the established pairs. As usual, the draw includes Johns/Waters, Bright/Ignatowich, Wright/Kovalova, and Wilson/David. Riley Newman and Jackie Kawamoto give it another try. But the story here are some new pairs. The most interesting one to me is Federico Staksrud with Rachel Rohrabacher. Rohrabacher has been the most improved player in the last several months. Her power game has been impressive in women’s doubles. Can she translate it to success in mixed play? Christian Alshon teams with Parenteau. This new pair should do well. A final new pairing is Lea Jansen and Jack Munro. The Jansen/Staksrud pairing did not live up to its billing; will Lea have more success with a new partner?
In women’s doubles, the story will continue to be the emergence of pairs playing “blast ball” — continuous pressure on the opponents. Rachel Rohrabacher and Anna Bright are using constant hard-hitting pressure to challenge for the top spot. Will other, new pairs employ this same technique and enjoy success? Meghan Dizon pairs with Etta Wright; this is a pair which can certainly employ a blast ball strategy successfully. The new pair of Lea Jansen and Susannah Barr is another pair that could go full power. The strategy to use constant power/constant pressure is a successful strategy in women’s doubles. It is essentially how ALW/CP have played for some time. Bright/Rohrabacher have taken it up a notch; others with the capability of playing a power game should follow. The older style of playing defensively, dinking, and looking to counter is on the way out in women’s doubles. The older style is exemplified by Lucy Kovalova and Callie Smith. Despite these players being very talented, their style will not stand up to the young power players who are exploiting the new paddle technology to their advantage. Watch for the defensive style players to have trouble with the power players at Desert Ridge, just as they did at The Masters.
Finally, in men’s doubles, we have the same top pairs butting heads. Ben and Collin, Thomas and Riley, Dekel and Tyson, Federico and Pablo, Matt and James, Julian and Christian; no last names needed for these well-known players. Could any new pairs have success? It will be difficult, but one to watch will be CJ Klinger coming over from APP to pair with Jaume Martinez Vich. JMV has been steadily improving at doubles, proving he is not a singles specialist. CJ has enjoyed success at APP and at the Challenger level in MLP. Can he succeed at PPA? I think he will struggle with the vastly superior competition he will now face, but it will be fun to watch.
The PPA Desert Ridge Open will be a fun event. Come on out and see the best play the best.