Christian Alshon hits a forehand volley in pickleball.
Thomas Wilson and Christian Alshon's athleticism was on full display in their men's doubles matches on Saturday. PPA Tour

First-time partnerships shine in men’s doubles

LAKEVILLE, MN - The success of first-time partnerships was the storyline of the day in men’s doubles.

No. 3 seeds Thomas Wilson and Christian Alshon and No. 6 seeds Connor Garnett and Tyler Loong are moving on to Championship Sunday in their first tournaments playing together.

Wilson and Alshon are two of the most athletic players in the sport, and that athleticism was on full display on Saturday.

Much like he did with Vivienne David in Friday’s mixed doubles semifinal, Wilson had a lot of success driving and crashing with Alshon. This strategy helped them overcome firm resistance from Jay Devilliers and Pat Smith in the quarterfinals.

And in their semifinal match against Collin Johns and Matt Wright, it also helped them put pressure on their opponents as they tried to unwind the stack to keep Wright on the left side.

After that impressive 11-4, 11-3 victory over the top seeds in the semis, Wilson gave a comically simple explanation of their drive-and-crash strategy.

“Hit hard, be athletic, and hope it goes our way,” he joked.

Their next opponents, Connor Garnett and Tyler Loong, had some impressive results of their own.

They took down Julian Arnold and Jack Sock before overcoming No. 2 seeds Federico Staksrud and Pablo Tellez in three games.

In their semifinal match against Hayden Patriquin and Callan Dawson, they got off to a much slower start than they would have liked, going down 0-5 in Game 1.

They evidently figured it out from there, though, and won 22 of the next 27 points to cruise to an 11-7, 11-3 victory to earn their spot in the gold medal match.

“They came out hot, so credit to them,” Garnett said. “I don’t even think we were playing badly—they just played some really good points, and we just stuck in there. We had our game plan, and it eventually started working.”

The two first-time pairings will square off for gold on Championship Sunday.