Ben Johns and Etta Wright are joining forces again this week in Utah.
Ben Johns and Etta Wright are joining forces again this week in Utah. PPA Tour

Looking ahead to the Selkirk Red Rock Open

Next up on the PPA Tour is the Selkirk Red Rock Open from St. George, Utah, beginning April 24. The event is being held at the Little Valley Sports Complex, an excellent venue, but one sometimes troubled by wind. The weather report is calling for at least moderate winds, which can lead to some upsets.
Let’s take a look at each draw to find some potential upsets and project the winners.
1. Women’s doubles
Anna Leigh Waters and Catherine Parenteau are still taking a break from the PPA tour, as is Rachel Rohrabacher this week, so the top seed goes to Callie Smith and Anna Bright. Bright cruised to an easy gold medal last week in LA with Rohrabacher. The new pairing with Smith promises to be loaded with firepower. Expect them to play a full power style. The #2 seed on the other side of the draw is Etta Wright/Meghan Dizon. This pair is very steady, and typically they are very difficult to upset. So, expect Wright and Dizon to make the finals from the bottom half. One possible longshot challenger to Wright/Dizon is #10 seed Milan Rane/Chao Yi Wang. This new pairing has a lot of talent and potential and could surprise. For a challenger in the top half to the #1 seed, watch out for #6 seed Mari Humberg/Jorja Johnson. The last time these two teamed up on the PPA tour, they made a deep run to a bronze medal. They have a reasonable draw and are capable of another deep run.
2. Women’s singles
With ALW and CP out, the top seed again goes to Mary Brascia. As we saw from the last two events, Brascia while a fine player is not a strong top seed, and thus a lower seeded champion is likely in the cards. #6 Kaitlyn Christian looks strong enough to take the top half of this draw. In the bottom half, both #2 seed Lea Jansen and #3 seed Judit Castillo have reasonably good draws, and could face each other in the semis. I have been expecting Christian to take a singles gold, and this may well be the week she does.
3. Mixed doubles
With Anna Leigh Waters out, Ben Johns again shifts partners, this time back to Etta Wright. Ben took gold with Etta two events ago, before settling for silver last week with Anna Bright. Ben looked a little out of sorts when paired with Bright, but his prior partnership with Wright went smoothly. Expect to see them win again.  However, they will be tested early, likely by #14 seed Mary Brascia/Jaume Martinez Vich in the round of 16. The #2 seed has Anna Bright back with regular partner James Ignatowich. Hopefully, James’ shoulder injury is fully healed this time. Like every pickleball player with every injury, James tried to come back a little too early last time out. The #3 seed is a new pairing of Federico Staksrud and Jorja Johnson. They should be a strong team, but drew a very tough likely round of 32 opponent in #29 seed Mari Humberg/Augie Ge. Humberg has had recent success off the PPA Tour, while Ge has been a hot new name medaling often in recent PPA events. That expected round of 32 match is easily worthy of being a semifinal or even final match. Jack Sock returns to pair with Allyce Jones as the #9 seed. They have a fairly reasonable draw that could well see them play Bright and Ignatowich in the quarters.
4. Men’s doubles
The men’s doubles draw, as always, is extremely difficult. Ben and Collin Johns are the #1 seed and are deserved favorites.  However, their path to the gold medal is littered with very strong players. If they win this week, they will have earned it. They will likely face #15 seed Brandon French/Wyatt Stone in the round of 16. Stone has beaten the Johns in men’s doubles before, and French is quite the talker on court, a trait that sometimes irritates Collin Johns. That match will be interesting. The rest of the top half of the draw is brutally tough. The #9 seed is Andrei Daescu/Gabe Tardio. That pair has already won a gold on the PPA tour this year and is the best #9 seed you will ever see. They are likely to face #5 seed Connor Garnett/Christian Alshon in the round of 16, which again is a match that if it was the final, would surprise no one. The winner of that match likely will play #3 seed Federico Staksrud/Pablo Tellez in the quarters. Staksrud and Tellez are rumored to be breaking up their long-time partnership, but are certainly strong enough to be a threat for a medal in this event. The winner of that quarterfinal would then likely face Ben and Collin in the semis. Also in the top half are potential upset pairs like #18 Jack Sock/Collin Shick and #11 AJ Koller/Augie Ge. Quite the difficult road for whoever comes out of the top half! The bottom half of the draw is much easier than the top half. The #2 seed is JW Johnson/Dylan Frazier. They have a very reasonable path to the semis. One pair with upset potential is #10 Tyler Loong/Jaume Martinez Vich. JMV has had recent multiple successes with different partners and pairing with another lefty in Loong makes a lot of sense. This event could well go to JW/Dylan because of the extreme difficulty of the top half of the draw.
5. Men’s singles
Ben Johns is sitting this one out, so the #1 seed goes to Federico Staksrud. He will not have an easy time of it, as his likely quarterfinal opponent is #7 seed Jaume Martinez Vich. Each time those two play, it is a treat of skill and athleticism. In the bottom half of the draw, there are tough matchups everywhere. #2 seed Connor Garnett will have no time to enjoy his gold medal from last week. He will likely have to face #12 Hayden Patriquin in the round of 16. Patriquin upset Ben Johns last week, so he has shown he can beat anyone. If Garnett can get by that one, he will probably play the winner of #8 Quang Duong v #11 Jack Sock. The Duong/Sock match is must see pickleball. Another battle that likely will occur is an expected quarterfinal match of #4 Christian Alshon v #5 JW Johnson. These high seeds are all great players but they can’t overlook lower seeds looking for an upset. The #21 seed is Roscoe Bellamy, who won a bronze last week in LA as a #23 seed. The #22 seed is Cason Campbell, who has shown he is capable of a deep run in any singles event. The #23 seed is Yates Johnson, another player who has demonstrated singles skill at a high level. Those three low speeds will all be upset hunting. I think we will see a different winner this week, maybe JMV or JW.
If you are in St. George or close enough to make the journey there, this event will be well-worth your time. Every draw is very deep, so even round of 32 and round of 16 action will be super competitive. I will be doing commentary on grandstand court, so hope to see you there. If you cannot attend personally, tune in on PickleballTV and YouTube to catch all the play.
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