Quang Duong at work during MLP DC.
Quang Duong at work during MLP DC. Major League Pickleball

Hits and misses from MLP DC: Premier Day One

The second MLP event of the year is in Washington, DC this week. Players had to battle some high temperatures as they played until the sunlight gave out. Highly competitive play, great matches, and a freeze that created a lot of close games. The play of certain players and teams stood out, some on the good side, some on the not so good side.
The hits:
1. Texas was hurt by the absence of top pick Christian Alshon. They substituted in Quang Duong, who was not even drafted Challenger. But Duong proved he could keep pace. He displayed his usual power game but was able to toss in some quality dinks as well, an element mostly missing from his PPA play. Kudos to Duong for his strong play on day one of Premier play in DC., as he kept Texas competitive in both their matches.
2. Jack Sock has not played recent PPA tournaments like a player who deserved to be drafted in the first round of the Premier draft. In New York’s first match of the day, Sock and his New York teammates defeated Ben Johns and Carolina in a dreambreaker, although Sock lost both his matches and was down 7-1 on his points in the dreambreaker. But, in a late afternoon shocker, New York beat heavily favored Dallas 3-1. In that match, for at least one time, Sock played up to his draft status. He won both his matches and helped carry his team to what is to date the biggest upset in 2024 MLP play. Which Jack Sock will we see going forward?
3. DC continues to look tough. DC was the second best team at MLP Atlanta. They continued their strong play in their home city. DC defeated Utah easily, 3-1. DC and New York were tied 2-2 and were headed to a dreambreaker when darkness fell. DC will be in an early but dominating position to claim a playoff spot if they can defeat New York.
The misses:
1. Utah was projected after the draft to be the worst Premier team. After their first day of play, that projection looks generous, if anything. Utah lost to a Texas team missing their first round pick, and then lost to DC after being behind 3-0. The question at this point is which team is worse, 2024 Utah or 2023 Atlanta, a team that went winless.
2. Can Ben Johns carry Carolina? Carolina had its first taste of play in DC, having skipped MLP Atlanta. But it was a bad day for Johns and company. Carolina lost 3-2 to an inferior New York team, and then lost 3-1 to Dallas. In the Dallas match, Ben and Collin Johns lost their men’s doubles match. The formula for Carolina has always been to have Ben score two points and then to try to eke out a win in either women’s doubles or Collin Johns’ mixed match. But, Ben and Collin led off the Dallas match by losing 25-17. When they lose, Carolina has almost no chance. Carolina is particularly weak at singles (even with Ben on the team), so this is a team in trouble. Drafting with a focus on singles play is a mistake, but on the other hand, to draft a team with three below average singles players is also a mistake.
3. The inconsistency of Dallas.  I picked Dallas to win it all before MLP Atlanta. But they are maddeningly inconsistent. How can Tyra Black and Jorja Johnson lose 25-12 to Lea Jansen and Jackie Kawamoto? Dallas must lead the league in leads blown late. I would still maintain Dallas has the most talent of any team but they just cannot put together two straight matches with any consistency. And that is not a recipe for a championship team.
Day two of MLP DC is up next. Only four matches but all good ones. Tune in to see the great play.
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