Stefan Auvergen and John Cincola playing men's doubles.
Stefan Auvergne and John Cincola competing for the Frisco Pandas at MLP Atlanta. Major League Pickleball

MLP Washington D.C. Preview: Challenger Edition

WASHINGTON, D.C. - There are 34 matches set to take place during the second Major League Pickleball event of the year. 

17 of those matches are at the Challenger level, so those teams and matchups certainly deserve some attention.

Here’s everything to note on the Challenger side ahead of MLP Washington D.C.

Event Details

Eight of the ten Challenger teams will be in action in the nation’s capital. Here are the rosters of every team set to compete:

California, Chicago, and Las Vegas are set to make their season debuts this week; Chicago will play three matches, Las Vegas will play five matches, and California will play a whopping seven matches over the course of the four-day event.

The Bay Area Breakers and SoCal Hard Eights, who both competed at the season-opening event in Atlanta, will not be making another trip east this weekend.

Challenger play begins Thursday with the first match scheduled to begin at 2pm ET.

Where Things Stand Currently

With one event in the books, the Breakers and Brooklyn Aces are leading the way, earning an average of 2 standings points per match.

Major League Pickleball Challenger Rankings
Major League Pickleball Challenger Rankings. Major League Pickleball

Note that the current leaderboard does not take into account the number of matches that each team has played.

Let’s look at some of the biggest storylines going into the event.

(Some of) What to Watch For

  • One of the biggest storylines comes from the Black Bears, who will temporarily replace the injured D.J. Young with Spencer Smith, a two-time Challenger-level finalist himself. There’s never an ideal time to deal with an injury on an MLP team, but this timing is especially tough: right before the team’s first event where a heavy schedule awaits. We’ll see if grabbing an additional MLP veteran to play alongside Rafa Hewett helps the Black Bears.


  • For Las Vegas, No. 8 overall pick Chao Yi (Zoey) Wang comes into her first MLP event with momentum after making it to the women’s doubles quarterfinals at PPA Sacramento alongside Brooke Buckner. The Night Owls' men’s doubles team of Anderson Scarpa and Mohaned Alhouni is intriguing, too. Scarpa has some good wins this year—including one in mixed doubles over Tina Pisnik and Dekel Bar(both players that are on Premier teams)—and will be fun to watch alongside the lengthy lefty Alhouni.


  • Chicago is led by No. 2 overall pick Jack Munro. Just a few weeks removed from securing his first pro title at APP New York, he should come into this event with no shortage of confidence. Allison Harris admirably filled in at the Premier level for Miami Pickleball Club last year and should provide valuable experience—and stellar women’s doubles play—for the Slice.


  • The Black Bears aren’t the only Challenger team dealing with injury issues this week. Florida Smash’s Patrick Smith is sidelined with an eye injury, so Yates Johnson will sub in for this event and play men’s doubles alongside Travis Rettenmaier.



  • Each one of the Atlanta Bouncers’ four matches in their hometown went to a DreamBreaker, and the team finished with a 1-3 record. Outside of DreamBreakers, the team’s performance was a mixed bag. The pairing of Genie Erokhina and Todd Fought went a perfect 4-0 in mixed doubles, while the women’s doubles team of Erokhina and Angie Walker went 0-4. Both pairings will need to be sharp as the Bouncers search for their first regulation win of the season.


  • The Frisco Pandas were on the other end of the spectrum in terms of DreamBreaker success in Atlanta, going 2-0 in matches that went to a decider. The team used its No. 1 overall draft pick to select Ewa Radzikowska, and that decision is paying off so far. She and the lefty Stefan Auvergne went 4-0 together in mixed doubles and will look to keep that momentum going into this week.


  • The Brooklyn Aces were blanked by the Breakers in their first match of the season, but they responded well and finished out their time in Atlanta with two regulation victories to leave the Peach State with six points. Their men’s doubles pairing of Martin Emmrich and Daniel de la Rosa should have high spirits coming into this event after upsetting the tandem of Federico Staksrud and James Ignatowich en route to a quarterfinal run in Texas a few weeks ago.


Where to Watch

Challenger matches have Thursday’s coverage all to themselves, and Premier level competition will begin on Friday.

Here’s the broadcast schedule, taken directly from MLP Washington D.C.'s Event FAQ page:

  • Thursday: All Championship Court matches on Pickleball TV & Anthem (Canada)… Grandstand matches on MLP YouTube
  • Friday: Championship Court matches on Pickleball TV & Anthem (Canada), starting at Noon… Championship Court 10 a.m. match and all Grandstand matches on MLP YT
  • Saturday: Championship Court matches on Pickleball TV & Anthem (Canada), starting at Noon… Championship Court 10 a.m. match and all Grandstand matches on MLP YT
  • Sunday: Championship Court matches on Pickleball TV & Anthem (Canada), starting at Noon… Championship Court 10 a.m. match and all Grandstand matches on MLP YT.