What to expect from Bouchard and Loong in mixed doubles

What to expect from Bouchard and Loong in mixed doubles

DALLAS, TX - With nearly a week having passed since the announcement that former pro tennis players Genie Bouchard and Donald Young would be making their pro pickleball debuts at January’s PPA Masters tournament, let’s talk about who they’ll be playing with.

While Young has yet to announce his partners, Bouchard will team up Tyler Loong in mixed doubles.

Loong, a lefty from Salt Lake City, UT, is a 13-time medalist on the PPA Tour and always threatens with forehand Ernes playing the right side.

It’s hard to make predictions about their game style because the pair haven’t played together yet, but one thing to look out for will be where Loong lines up.

Traditionally, the male plays the left side to be able to dictate with their forehand in the middle, but having Loong on the right will allow the pair to have both of their forehands in the middle.

Of course, playing the right side will also give the ‘Erne King’ plenty of chances to Erne with his forehand.

The former WTA No. 5, Bouchard has stated that she doesn’t have a ton of expectations for Palm Springs because it will be her first event, but Loong expects her tennis background to allow her to rip her shots from the baseline.

“I imagine she’ll have a lot of raw power, which will translate well to drives,” he shared.

With a partner who has particularly strong drives, there could be opportunities for the duo to drive-and-crash on serve to potentially earn some quick points.

It might seem difficult to predict exactly what to expect from this tandem, but I’m far less sure about their prospects than PPA pro Travis Rettenmaier, who doesn’t see Bouchard and Loong going very far in California.

On an Instagram post by The Dink announcing the union, Rettenmaier suggested that they would lose in the first round and defended this claim by writing: “I highly doubt [Bouchard] is practicing much, and Tyler, while he’s played better lately, is far from a mixed titan. I’d love to hear some other predictions, but this seems like an easy one.”

With how new this partnership will be next month, the three-time PPA medalist and owner of MLP's Florida Smash may have a point.

In the meantime, though, Loong is moving forward knowing any team can win on any given day.

“Even nowadays, many top teams don’t make it out of the first or second round,” he said. “I think both of us are going in with an open mind.”

One thing’s for sure: Loong and Bouchard will be a team to watch during the PPA’s 2024 season-opener.