Squeeze look like the team to beat again

Squeeze look like the team to beat again

Hard to argue that there’s a better team in Major League Pickleball than the Orlando Squeeze.

The Squeeze won the MLP Atlanta event and they’ve shown nothing has changed through the first two matches of group play in Dallas.

But while MLP is built on the team concept, it’s singles where the Squeeze have dominated.

They celebrated a title in Atlanta with a finals Dream Breaker win, and Friday in Dallas, after letting a two-game lead slip away in the doubles format, the Squeeze figured it out in singles once again.

“We don’t have a huge upside in singles,” said Andrei Daescu. “We’re solid all across, so we’re not worried about a Dream Breaker. I’m just happy to have won it this way, especially after that mixed match. It’s not easy to come back and produce that type of energy and to take on players like that.” 

Daescu and partner Anna Bright lost their mixed doubles match against the Chicago Slice and then Zane Navratil and Rachel Rohrabacher lost their mixed doubles match, failing to finish on four game points, and the Squeeze gave up a 2-0 lead to the Slice. 

But when these players break away from the team format, it hasn’t been a problem.

The Squeeze moved to 3-0 all-time in Dream Breakers, dominated the Slice 21-9 Friday, moving to 2-0 in pool play, setting themselves up for another run at another MLP title.

Orlando will take on the Arizona Drive Saturday morning. A win guarantees a spot into the knockout round. Even a loss would likely get the Squeeze into the playoffs. They were the only team, other than the D.C. Pickleball Club to go 2-0 Saturday.

After a 3-1 victory against the Texas Ranchers to start the day, the Squeeze got out to a 2-0 lead against the Slice, led by Ben Johns. But Chicago got the match even with Erik Lange and Lacy Schneemann hanging on for a 25-23 victory which forced the Dream Breaker.

No problem. Bright, Navratil, Daescu and Rohrabacher are more suited for singles than the Slice. While Johns is undoubtedly the best in the world at singles, teammates Jessie Irvine, Lange and Schneemann are not regulars in singles brackets.

“Everyone is improving and there is still a lot of pressure,” Bright said. “But I do my best when everyone is living and dying on every point.”

Bright and Daescu went 4-1 overall on Friday and Bright won 75 percent of her Dream Breaker points.  

“Dream Breakers are a crapshoot,” she said. “Singles ability matters to a threshold, but beyond that it’s about clutchness and not getting tight and swinging free. And we all have done that really well.”