St. Louis Shock members Gabe Tardio and Hayden Patriquin competing during the 2024 MLP season.
St. Louis Shock members Gabe Tardio and Hayden Patriquin competing during the 2024 MLP season. PPA Tour

Preview of MLP Washington DC

The next stop for the pros is in Washington, D.C., for the second MLP event. It begins June 13 with Challenger play and June 14 for Premier matches. There are a total of 17 Premier matches, over the course of the three days.

Carolina (formerly Seattle) and Utah will be in action for the first time. They will be joined by five other teams.

Let’s take a look at each of the three days and preview the interesting matches.
1. Friday gives us a first look at Ben Johns’ team
Carolina and Utah will both get their first action in DC, with Utah playing four matches and Carolina five. The opening match on Friday is Utah against Texas. Texas features Quang Duong, Pablo Tellez, Etta Wright and Tina Pisnik. They had a so-so performance at MLP Atlanta. I expect Texas to get off to a good start against Utah (Tyler Loong/Jay Devilliers/Callie Smith/Alix Truong), although Utah is not the pushover that some people think. Carolina (Ben Johns/Collin Johns/Andrea Koop/Jessie Irvine) start off with New York (Jack Sock/CJ Klinger/Lea Jansen/Jackie Kawamoto). Carolina will be the favorite in that first match, with Carolina’s strategy obviously being to look to Ben Johns to get two wins and hope for a third win in either women’s doubles or Collin Johns’ mixed match.
MLP DC is a big event for New York. They only scored four points in three matches in Atlanta. New York likely needs to net at least ten points in DC to remain in the hunt for a playoff spot. I do not expect NY to get ten points in DC and they could well be in a poor position going forward once MLP DC wraps up.

Dallas and DC are both in action twice on Friday. Dallas (JW Johnson/Augie Ge/Jorja Johnson/Tyra Black) grabbed seven points in Atlanta from four matches; not a bad performance but certainly disappointing when it appeared they were going to get at least 9-10 points. Dallas will have two winnable matches on Friday, facing Carolina and then New York. DC (James Ignatowich/Dekel Bar/Rachel Rohrabacher/Allyce Jones) netted eight points in four matches in Atlanta, and thus sit in second place overall. DC plays two matches each day in their hometown, and as they will have played the most matches of any team after MLP DC concludes, the DC team will want to be in the lead or close to it in overall points after this event. But, five of the six DC matches are against high quality teams, so DC will not have an easy time.
2. Saturday is Jack Sock day
MLP DC only has four matches on Saturday. But, two will feature top fan favorite Jack Sock and his New York team. Win or lose, Sock is must see pickleball. New York will play back to back matches, first against St. Louis (Hayden Patriquin/Gabe Tardio/Anna Bright/Kate Fahey), and then DC. St. Louis emerged from MLP Atlanta in first place, grabbing 12 points from five matches. St. Louis will be a big favorite against New York. St. Louis may well leave DC with half of the points they will need to snag a playoff spot, even though they will have played only one-third of their matches. If St. Louis plays as well in DC as they did in Atlanta, they will be hard to stop from grabbing one of the two playoff byes.
Saturday will be big for the DC team as well. DC faces New York and then Dallas. DC defeated Dallas 3-1 in Atlanta, so Dallas will be looking to avenge that close loss. The DC/Dallas matchup ends play on Saturday but will be a match worth waiting to see. I expect both teams to make the playoffs and this match could be a playoff preview.
3. Sunday is packed with good matches
Sunday is the third and final day of MLP DC, but has the most matches with seven. The day starts off with Utah and New York. This should be a fun match to watch, although I do not see either team as playoff caliber. That match does provide Utah with its best chance to score a win. League leader St. Louis is in action twice on Sunday, facing DC and Carolina. Both matches should be close and competitive, as I expect all three of these teams to make the playoffs. St. Louis v Carolina gives us the best player (Ben Johns) against the most valuable MLP player (Anna Bright), so that match alone is worth the price of admission.
In other action, the day will end with Texas against Dallas. Dallas won this matchup in Atlanta 3-1, but these teams are closely matched. It should be an excellent match to close MLP DC, and could very well be decided by a Dreambreaker.
4. Final thoughts
With MLP DC being the second event, we should start to see some teams separating themselves from the pack, either in a positive or negative direction. Pressure in on New York, as they will have played almost half their season once MLP DC is over. If they leave DC with less than ten overall points, they will have little chance to make the playoffs. St. Louis, DC, Dallas, and Texas all need solid performances to stay on track for a playoff berth. Carolina will look to put up a solid 8+ points to get off to a good start to their season. The final team, Utah, enters with low expectations. If Utah can get as many as just five points from MLP DC, they will have surprised people.
If you are in or near Washington, DC, get out to MLP and watch it all live.

For the rest of us, it will be four days of great action, with Friday to Sunday featuring Premier teams.
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