Etta Wright and Ben Johns celebrate a pickleball point.
Etta Wright and Ben Johns celebrate a point at the Veolia Houston Open. PPA Tour

Wright, Johns endure late rally to make mixed doubles final

ATASCOCITA, TX - Etta Wright and Ben Johns are into Championship Sunday after their semifinal victory over Jackie Kawamoto and Christian Alshon.

It looked like the No. 2 seeds would quickly close things out when they jumped out to a 10-2 lead in the second game after winning Game 1, but they came dangerously close to having to play a decider.

Kawamoto and Alshon put together a desperate run of seven consecutive points after saving two match points at 2-10.

A missed third at 9-10 gave the serve back to Wright and Johns, and they closed it out from there to secure the 11-4, 11-9 victory.

“We may have gotten a little lackadaisical, and they also just made some good plays,” Johns said of the rally. “I think it’s important for both of us to stay engaged and locked in, but of course we’re happy to lock it up without having to go to a third game.

They’ll face Tina Pisnik and Dekel Bar in the final.

For Johns, this will be the second week in a row that he’s faced off against Bar—a good friend of his—for gold. He admits that it’s a weird feeling, since he was the one who first introduced Bar to the sport.

“It’s funny, and we often talk about it,” Johns said. “A number of years ago, we never thought we were going to be playing pickleball together as a career, so it’s just something to be appreciated.”