Andrei Daescu and Gabriel Tardio hold up their trophy.
Andrei Daescu and Gabriel Tardio won their first gold medal as a partnership at the APP Sacramento Open. APP Tour

Triple Crown in Cali: APP Sacramento Recap

ROSEVILLE, CA - While the PPA ventured north for its latest event, the APP traveled west for its second tour stop of the year.

Here’s everything to note from the APP Sacramento Open.

Johnson Makes History

17-year-old Jorja Johnson made history when she became the youngest player to Triple Crown at an APP event.

She joins Simone Jardim and Parris Todd as the only women to do so.

Her first title came Saturday evening, where she and Jill Braverman took down Yana Newell and Milan Rane 11-1, 11-6 for the women’s doubles title.

That concluded a dominant tournament for the pair during which they didn’t drop a single game.

Johnson took Game 1 of the singles final against Megan Fudge 15-12 and had a match point at 14-12 in Game 2, but she faced firm resistance from the top seed, and it ultimately went to a deciding game.

She reset mentally in Game 3, though, and eventually converted her third match point to secure the 15-12, 14-16, 15-13 victory for her second title of the weekend.

“I tried to remind myself to just hit my shots and not worry about the score,” she said of dealing with nerves late in the deciding game.

Johnson teamed up with a familiar partner—her brother, JW—in mixed doubles, but their first match together on Friday didn’t quite go to plan.

The siblings found themselves trailing Amanda Hendry and Richard Livornese Jr. 1-10 in the deciding game and fended off nine (!) match points to escape with an 11-7, 7-11, 14-12 victory.

It was all good from there, though, as they didn’t drop another game on their way to the gold medal match, where they defeated qualifiers Daria Walczak and Patrick Kawka 11-5, 11-2 to seal the deal and etch Jorja’s name into the APP record books.

Jorja Johnson with her gold medals.
Jorja Johnson went 3/3 on gold medals at the APP Sacramento Open, becoming the youngest player to earn a Triple Crown on the APP Tour. APP Tour

Howells Earns First Singles Gold

Will Howells had already made a splash on the APP Tour by winning men’s doubles gold alongside C.J. Klinger at January’s Punta Gorda Open, but in Sacramento he showed that he’s got the goods in singles, too.

The former University of Notre Dame tennis player ran through the singles draw, even beating Punta Gorda champion Chris Haworth in straight games in the semifinals.

He took on No. 2 seed Jack Foster in the finals and earned his first pro singles gold medal after a thrilling 16-14, 10-15, 15-10 victory.

The key for Howells was finding ways to neutralize the offensive capabilities of the Foster forehand.

“He puts on a lot of pressure with his serve and his forehand,” he said of Foster after the match. “I just tried to exploit the backhand.”

Howells is already making a name for himself early in 2024 and will certainly be a name to watch moving forward.

Tardio and Daescu: Team to Beat

Gabriel Tardio and Andrei Daescu made waves when they beat Ben and Collin Johns (among other top teams) en route to a second-place finish at the PPA’s Carvana Mesa Arizona Cup.

Despite their run of impressive performances, Tardio and Daescu were still looking for their first title together.

And they found it in Sacramento.

The No. 1 seeds flew through the draw to the finals without dropping a game.

They faced No. 2 seeds and first-time pairing JW Johnson and Will Howells in the final.

The teams split the first two games, but Tardio and Daescu brought their best in Game 3 to secure an 11-3, 5-11, 11-0 victory and claim their first gold medal together.

For Daescu, it was Tardio’s calculated-yet-fearless aggression that gave them the edge after dropping the second game.

 “Gabriel goes for it without any doubt in his mind, and that’s the kind of competitive spirit that we needed,” he shared.

The APP Tour will next be in action in south Florida for the Chase APP Miami Pickleball Open running March 20-24.