Megan Fudge and Susannah Barr celebrate a pickleball point.
Megan Fudge and Susannah Barr will be looking for their first APP gold of 2024 this week in Miami. APP Tour

Next up: APP Miami Pickleball Open

DALLAS, TX - There aren’t any PPA tournaments this week after back-to-back events in Minnesota and Texas, but the APP is picking up the slack with both the inaugural Atlantic Cup and the first major of the year set to take place this week in south Florida.

Here’s everything to watch for at the APP Miami Pickleball Open.

Men’s Doubles

Andrei Daescu and Gabriel Tardio are running it back after their gold medal last time out in Sacramento. Daescu is coming off of a career week in Austin, where he won titles in men’s and mixed doubles alongside Matt Wright and Anna Bright, respectively. Daescu and Tardio come into the event as one of the favorites outside of JW Johnson and Dylan Frazier.

Brothers Hunter and Yates Johnson are set to return to competing together after a brief hiatus and will be looking for their first medal of the year as a pairing. Winners of six APP men's doubles medals in 2023, the Texan duo will be a tough out.

One pairing to watch features Patrick Kawka and Augie Ge. Both players have found success in mixed doubles so far this year, with Ge reaching the semis of February’s Desert Ridge Open alongside Hurricane Tyra Black and Kawka coming through the qualifiers to earn silver with Daria Walczak at APP Sacramento. Look for this pairing to do some damage with both of their forehands in the middle.

Men’s Singles

Will Howells should come into South Florida with plenty of confidence in singles after securing gold at APP Sacramento (in addition to a silver in men’s doubles). The former University of Notre Dame tennis player is establishing himself as a force on the tour and is a threat to medal again this week.

JW Johnson reminded the pickleball world of his skill in singles with his national title in November, but he hasn’t medaled in the event since. He’s fallen to Ben Johns in the quarters in each of the last two PPA tournaments he’s played in, so there’s a real chance for him to make a deeper run this week.

Dustin Boyer is my player to watch for men’s singles. He notched quality wins against Aanik Lohani and Quang Duong on his way to a quarterfinal finish at PPA Minnesota and is a dark horse candidate in Miami.

Mixed Doubles

Susannah Barr is set to team up with Hunter Johnson this week in what might just be the most intriguing pairing of the tournament. They haven’t played together in recent history since Johnson has played mixed almost exclusively with Parris Todd, but Barr and Johnson have 32 pro mixed doubles medals between the two of them and should be a tough out.

The partnership of Jorja Johnson and Gabriel Tardio is another one to watch out for. Johnson became the youngest ever APP Triple Crown winner in Sacramento and has taken home mixed doubles gold in both APP events this year. Tardio himself is coming off a bronze in Sacramento with Jill Braverman. This pair of teens has the firepower to go far.

Women’s Doubles

Megan Fudge and Susannah Barr will be looking for their first APP gold of the year after earning four titles and 11 medals together in 2023. They made the semis in both Punta Gorda and Sacramento, but they have yet to make a final. I expect them to be extra motivated to return to the top of the podium this week.

One of “Fudge-Barr’s” main competitors in Miami will probably be Johnson partnering with Milan Rane. Rane won gold alongside Bobbi Oshiro in Punta Gorda just like Johnson did alongside Jill Braverman in Sacramento. I wouldn’t be surprised to see these teams face off on Championship Sunday.

Women’s Singles

Judit Castillo’s confidence should be sky-high as she travels to the 305. She’s fresh off her first PPA gold medal in Austin, where she earned three-game victories over Jorja Johnson in the semis and Kaitlyn Christian in the final. Johnson and Fudge are likely to be the greatest obstacles in Castillo’s pursuit of her second gold medal in as many weeks.

Taylor Garcia is another name to watch in Miami. She’s had a quiet start to the year and has played only a few tournaments so far, but she had an impressive ending to the 2023 season that culminated in a semifinal run at the Hertz Gold Cup in November. Don’t be surprised if another run awaits Garcia in the Sunshine State.