Mixed doubles mania: Johns and Waters, Johnson siblings to battle Sunday

Mixed doubles mania: Johns and Waters, Johnson siblings to battle Sunday

DALLAS, TX - Anderson Scarpa and Cass Hoag had an early morning on Friday. Their first match in the mixed doubles pro qualifying draw at the Hertz Gold Cup began at 7:03am ET.

The team won that match, and the next one, to make it to the Round of 64 in the main draw.

That’s an accomplishment in and of itself for a pair playing their first tournament together, but Scarpa and Hoag weren’t done yet.

Six hours after their first victory of the day, the No. 48 seeds took the court against No. 16 seeds Zane Navratil and Lacy Schneemann.

Seventy-five minutes and three games later, they emerged with an 11-8, 9-11, 11-3 victory.

“I was so nervous,” Hoag recalled. “But I was like, ‘We have nothing to lose, so let’s just go out and rip and see what we can get away with.'”

Scarpa and Hoag fell to No. 1 seeds Ben Johns and Anna Leigh Waters in the next round, but it’s safe to say that they, along with Callan Dawson and Rachel Rohrabacher, stole the show in the first half of play.

The second half and later rounds, however, went the way of familiar faces on the PPA Tour, with three of the top four seeds making it to the semifinals.

The first semi featured No. 2 seeds Riley Newman and Jessie Irvine taking on No. 3 seeds and siblings JW and Jorja Johnson.

Newman came out playing on the right side, which isn’t common for the male in mixed doubles, and the No. 2 seeds took the opening game 11-8, before going up 5-1 in the second game.

But the Johnsons weren’t out yet. Relying on Jorja’s aggressive crosscourt speedups and their ability to win hands battles, the siblings rallied to take the next two games 11-7, 11-6.

For the duo, staging a comeback was all about remembering what they know they’re capable of.

“We just had to trust each other, trust our shots, and start moving our feet a little bit more,” said Jorja.

In the second semifinal, Johns and Waters battled No. 5 seeds Thomas Wilson and Vivienne David in a match filled with devastating drives from both sides.

Wilson and David jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first game and had a chance to take it at 10-7, but the ever-reliable Johns and Waters persevered for a 13-11, 11-3 victory.

One of the challenges for the team was trying to get a read on David’s shots from the kitchen line as she hit a variety of speedups down the line, to the body, and through the center that caught the No. 1 ranked tandem off-guard at times.

“It’s a fine balance of looking to be aggressive when [Vivienne] is hitting the ball, but also very much protecting your line because she’s good at holding you there,” Johns explained.

This result sets up a tantalizing Championship Sunday matchup with the Johnsons, who are still the only team to have defeated the top seeds with their quarterfinal win at the PPA’s Arizona Grand Slam in February.