Waters, Parenteau Were the Talk of Nationals on Championship Sunday

Waters, Parenteau Were the Talk of Nationals on Championship Sunday

FARMERS BRANCH, TX - There was extra excitement in the crowd for two matches, in particular, at Nationals on Sunday - Anna Leigh Waters and Catherine Parenteau facing Mary and Maggie Brascia in women's doubles and Waters and Parenteau going head-to-head in singles.

The PPA Tour's crowd engagement specialists, The Hype Guys, were eagerly anticipating the doubles contest.

“We’re super pumped for Mary and Maggie. Everyone loves Catherine and Anna Leigh, but nothing beats an underdog story. We’re looking for an upset and for everyone to get loud,” remarked Erik Iverson (aka Nighthawk).

The Hype Guys may have been cheering for the Brascia sisters, but Waters and Parenteau had their fair share of fans in the crowd as well.

Among them was Kristen Floyd, a 3.5 player who attended Nationals after learning the fundamentals of pickleball online.

“I taught myself to play pickleball from YouTube, and then I put a whole women’s league together. We learned how to play in my backyard, started going to the courts, and now we’re at Nationals,” explained Floyd. “I’m so excited to watch AL and Catherine. When I started playing, AL was playing with her mom in Brigham City, UT. She wasn’t yet famous or a pro, so I got to play with her in those beginning days, and to see her now, it’s just so exciting.”

The Donowski family from Cape Cod, MA, cheered loud and proud from the grandstand all weekend, especially during every Waters and Parenteau match. 

Daughter Sage Donowski delivered an enthusiastic “Yeah!” after every point in Waters and Parenteau’s favor.

“Our voices are a little harsh from cheering everyone on all week,” said Mr. Donowski. “This whole experience has been fantastic. We’ve seen matches on TV, and then to see it here, it’s just on a whole different level."

“The atmosphere has been amazing all week,” said Parenteau, after winning gold with Waters. “The crowd is just really into it, and as soon as you’re walking away from the courts, you have fans coming over and wanting autographs. It’s been super cool.”

Parenteau’s play was so spectacular that she even inspired the Donowski family to buy the Selkirk Vanguard Power Air Invikta Paddle she regularly uses on court.

Up next for Waters was a shot at singles gold against the Canadian star.

“We’ve played together and against each other a million times so we're used to it now, but it’s still tough,” said Waters between matches. “I’m just glad we got to play our women’s doubles before we have to play each other in singles.”

Waters and Ben Johns won their mixed doubles matchup, and Waters was quickly on to the next match versus Parenteau.

“She’s a bit tired after two matches, but I told her to drink a Coke, so she’s using that and the energy of the crowd to amp her up,” said Waters' mother, Leigh, from the sidelines.

Parenteau was a force on the court, at one point leading 7-1 in the third game.

It seemed as if another upset was in the works in North Texas, but that wouldn't materialize.

During an all-important timeout, Waters chugged half a Coke and ran back onto the court with newfound energy and mental stamina.

She subsequently overcame four match points to secure her 20th career Triple Crown.

“I’ve always been a fighter and a grinder out there on the court, and I have the will to win. Out there on the court, it's life or death to me,” said Waters. “I’m proud of myself for being consistent.”

Consistency, of course, is Waters' key to success.