Collin Johns gets ready to hit a return in pickleball.
Collin Johns won't have his usual men's doubles partner in Minnesota. PPA Tour

New partners for Collin Johns in Minnesota

DALLAS, TX - Some of pickleball’s biggest names are set to miss the Indoor USA Championships in Lakeville, MN next week.

Ben Johns, Anna Leigh Waters, Tyson McGuffin, and James Ignatowich are just a few of the players not planning to compete, but let’s focus on Johns and Ignatowich for a moment.

Johns didn’t play the event last year and has been vocal about preferring to play outdoors, so it’s not entirely surprising to see him sit this one out.

Ignatowich is a different story. The 23-year-old won his first two PPA gold medals at this event last year and birthed his “Big Poppa Jimmy” nickname in an iconic post-match interview with Liv Borski. 

He’s not playing in Minnesota this year, though, because of a shoulder injury he sustained ahead of the Mesa Arizona Cup that clearly affected him in his men’s doubles and mixed doubles semifinal matches.

His absence leaves Anna Bright without a mixed doubles partner and Matt Wright without a men’s doubles partner. Ben Johns’ absence leaves Collin Johns in need of a men’s doubles partner, and he doesn’t seem to have a long-term commitment in mixed.

You see where I’m going with this, right?

Collin Johns will play men’s doubles with Matt Wright and mixed doubles with Anna Bright in Minnesota.

Johns has medaled with four partners who aren’t his brother in men’s doubles: Dekel Bar, AJ Koller, Zane Affleck, and Adam Stone.

There’s a decent chance to make it five next week, especially since the last time Wright partnered with a Johns, he took home gold playing with Ben at the Kansas City Open.

It’s hard to say which side Johns and Wright will play since they both usually play the right side in their current partnerships, but I expect Wright to make the switch to the left for this tournament.

Johns’ mixed doubles partnership with one of the most aggressive and powerful female players on tour in Anna Bright brings the same considerations. 

A great right-side counterpart to Ignatowich on the left in mixed, Bright usually plays the left in women’s doubles.

With her left-side skillset and Johns’ expertise on the right, I don’t expect the Bright/Johns combo to look like your typical partnership where the male almost exclusively plays the left. 

I think we’ll see a good mix of each player on both sides as Johns looks for what has been an elusive first mixed doubles medal.