Anna Leigh Waters Shines In Pros At The Biofreeze USA Pickleball National Championships

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Anna Leigh Waters defends each 3 of her USA Pickleball Nationals titles successful Dallas.

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This past play was nan 14th Annual USA Pickleball Association National Championships, sponsored by Biofreeze and held astatine nan aforesaid venue that conscionable vanished hosting nan Major League Pickleball Dallas event, namely Brookhaven Country Club successful Dallas, TX.

It is nan crowning jewel of nan amateur play and for galore years featured solely amateur events for those who had qualified into nationals by kindness of winning a “golden ticket” astatine a location event. With nan advent of professionals successful nan sport, it has offered up “pro” divisions since 2018, which we’re covering here.

This arena has travel a agelong measurement since its inception successful 2009. The first ever Nationals arena was hosted successful Buckeye, Arizona astatine nan Sun City Festival status community. The venue featured 20 courts (12 of which were taped onto existing Tennis courts), 393 players, and was tournament id number 13 successful a marque caller package package called Pickleball Tournaments. Nationals was (per their history page) nan first tourney to beryllium tally utilizing nan caller platform, which came to go nan modular level for a decade (only precocious supplanted by Pickleball Brackets, pinch a caller creation and updated code). It costs conscionable $20 to participate Nationals successful 2009 (a acold outcry from nan $250 introduction fees this year) and galore of nan “Open” titles went to section Arizona residents.

2023’s arena features 3,397 registered players, who are competing connected much than 60 courts astatine nan Brookhaven facility, which underwent a $6M building task to big this event. There was a immense personage arena broadcast unrecorded connected ESPN connected Tuesday. Lastly, each nan amateurs were joined by nan immense mostly of nan touring pros progressive today, who were present past play for MLP and person stayed astir to compete successful 1 of nan galore pro divisions. This arena marked nan debut of, a associated task betwixt nan Professional Pickleball Association (PPA) and nan Tennis Channel. There were plentifulness of celebrated group and celebrities hanging retired each weekend, unrecorded euphony connected Pickleball Boulevard, and a festive atmosphere.

Click here for nan Pickleball Brackets location page for nan event.

In summation to nan emblematic “Pro” events, we had divided property and elder pro divisions. This arena was not an charismatic PPA stop, but which was tally successful business pinch nan PPA, which meant that nan regular PPA touring pros often tried retired “experimental” partnerships. Furthermore, this arena utilized a progressive schedule for nan non-split pro draws (where 1 title lasts respective days and plays 1-2 rounds a day) arsenic opposed to nan emblematic “all successful 1 day” draws, thing that will beryllium utilized much extensively adjacent season.

A note: There were dozens and dozens of amateur events competed, from inferior divisions featuring players arsenic young arsenic 8 years old, each nan measurement to Age 85-89 divisions. This is their nationalist championship, and my only covering nan pro events does not successful immoderate measurement disregard nan amateur competitions, nan devotion these players made to get to Dallas, and nan clip and financial committedness made to walk astir a week astatine nan arena competing and watching. Social media was filled pinch players and attendees relaying their experiences, immoderate bully and immoderate bad. I was onsite for 2 days later successful nan week, not arsenic a competitor but arsenic a fan, and I thought nan venue looked amazing, nan ambiance was electric, and nan play was outstanding.

Let’s reappraisal nan pro draws.


Men’s Pro Split Age

This Monday arena was a nosy one, featuring “split age” players (aka, 1 older than 50, 1 younger). The tie had a slew of pickleball dignitaries represented amongst nan “old” partners, including PPA PPA mostly proprietor Tom Dundon, MLP commissioner Brooks Wiley, PPA Commissioner Connor Pardoe’s begetter Dirk, PPA broadcast lead Dave Fleming, and MLP/PPA ownership committee personnel Brian Levine. Dundon paired pinch Ben Johns and was nan #1 seed, but sewage upset by nan fantabulous father/son Dawson squad (Steve and Callan).

The finals came down to 2 apical Men’s pros playing pinch 2 apical Senior pros. Riley Newman & Dayne Gingrich (who owns 26 profession golden medals crossed awesome elder competitions) took retired J.W. Johnson & Mircea Morariu (owner of 4 golds connected nan PPA this year) 5,8 successful nan final. The Bronze went to James Ignatowich & nan legendary Altaf Merchant.

Gold: Newman/Gingrich. Silver: Johnson/Morariu. Bronze: Ignatowich/Merchant.


Women’s Pro Split Age

A overmuch smaller tie for nan Women’s Pro divided property led to a information robin title betwixt 5 teams. Anna Bright teamed pinch Christine Karges (owner of 6 profession APP champions circuit medals) to spell 4-0 and return nan gold. Megan Fudge teamed pinch 1 of nan astir dressed up Senior pro successful history successful Eva Welsher (60+ profession medals and presently nan #1 classed Senior Mixed pro Female) for nan silver. Susannah Barr teamed pinch Sheri Courtier to declare nan bronze.

Gold: Bright/Karges. Silver: Fudge & Welsher. Bronze: Barr & Courtier.


Mixed Pro Split Age

There’s 2 ways to spell successful Mixed Split Age: a pro antheral pinch a elder pro female, aliases a pro female paired pinch a elder pro male. Which configuration was better? Well, 7 of nan 8 quarterfinalists featured a touring female pro paired pinch a apical elder male, and it’s astir apt nary astonishment who ended up successful nan badge matches.

Top-5 female pro Anna Bright paired pinch 1 of nan champion elder pros retired location successful Altaf Merchant (who still qualifies for nan main draws successful nan regular pros successful summation to often taking medals successful nan Senior pros, and has won nary less than 15 golden medals successful 2023 unsocial successful elder competitions). They were seeded #1 and were not earnestly challenged until nan golden badge match. There they met nan #2 seeded squad of Jorga Johnson and Mircea Morariu, who gave them a tally for their money successful crippled 1 but fell 11,3 successful nan final. Megan Fudge & Dayne Gingrich picked up nan bronze.

Gold: Bright & Merchant. Silver: Johnson & Morariu. Bronze: Fudge & Gingrich


Men’s Pro Singles Recap

J.W. Johnson takes nan golden successful singles astatine Nationals.

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Men’s Singles competitions person proven to beryllium nan biggest situation to predict, and this arena was nary different. When rainfall washed distant a time of competition, nan players went inside, which meant that #1 Ben Johns was forced to play nether nan lights, thing he has admitted he is not comfortable doing. Sure enough, he was trounced successful nan information of 16 by Christopher Haworth, a coagulated Oklahoma-based pro who has medaled 3 times since August connected nan APP tour. Haworth was bounced successful nan semis, but held connected to return nan Bronze complete APP #1 Hunter Johnson.

Johnson took retired #3 Connor Garnett successful nan quarters, and was 1 of a slew of “APP pros” who sewage wins complete their PPA counterparts successful this draw. #2 seed McGuffin fell to Juame Martinez Vich, who continued his tally each nan measurement to nan final. With McGuffin’s loss, Nationals was guaranteed a caller Men’s Pro Singles champion for nan first clip since 2017 (Tyson and Ben had traded nan past 4 titles present betwixt themselves).

In nan final, #4 J.W. Johnson came from a crippled down to oust #7 Vich for nan win.

Gold: J.W. Johnson. Silver: Juame Martinez Vich. Bronze: Christopher Haworth.


Women’s Pro Singles Recap

The backmost extremity of nan Women’s Pro Singles tie went rather chalk, pinch 7 of nan apical 8 seeds advancing into nan quarters (the sole objection being nan teen #9 Jorja Johnson taking retired 40-something #8 Simone Jardim, nan 2019 champion here). Jorja went connected to return a crippled disconnected of #1 Anna Leigh Waters to make a connection successful nan quarters that nan world’s apical female took to heart; she trounced #5 Judit Castillo 1,0 successful nan semis to return to nan finals present for nan 3rd consecutive event. Judit rebounded from her semis nonaccomplishment to apical Fudge for nan bronze.

On nan bottommost half, apical APP pro #3 Megan Fudge took nan conflict to nan PPA’s #2 Catherine Parenteau, having nan lead successful some games earlier falling 11-8, 12-10. This group up nan expected 1 v 2 matchup successful nan Sunday final, and nan crowd was treated to a awesome backmost and distant affair. ALW ended up pinch nan three-peat, but it took a 12-10 3rd crippled triumph to do so. In nan last game, ALW saved 4 lucifer points against, showing immoderate superior clutch performance.

With this triumph (the past pro lucifer competed connected nan weekend), ALW secured her 21st profession master triple crown.

Gold: Anna Leigh Waters. Silver: Catherine Parenteau. Bronze: Judit Castillo.


Mixed Pro Doubles Recap

The Mixed Pro tie featured a mates of awesome upsets successful nan opening rounds, arsenic nan extent successful Mixed continues to consequence successful 20+ seeds making heavy runs. #23 Megan Dizon & Yates Johnson took a 5-game triumph complete #10 Julian Arnold & Lauren Stratman, past continued their tally into nan quarters by taking retired chap upset winners #26 Lina Padegimaite & Stefan Auvergne (who had taken retired #6 Dylan Frazier & Callie Smith, rather an upset).

Alas, nan pick roseate to nan top, arsenic each 4 apical seeds precocious to nan semis. In nan apical semi, nan #1 brace of Anna Leigh Waters & Ben Johns (who person ne'er won Nationals, contempt dozens of pro titles together) took retired nan #4 seeds Riley Newman & Parris Todd successful three. From nan bottommost half, partners on- and off-the-court #2 Anna Bright & James Ignatowich cruised past nan Johnson siblings JW and Jorja by isolating forehand dink rallies to Jorja and daring nan Johnson’s to get fierce pinch their speedups.

In nan final, nan world’s 2 champion players (who person mislaid conscionable doubly since they began regularly playing together successful January 2022) cruised past #2 Bright & Ignatowich for nan title.

Gold: Waters & Johns. Silver: Bright & Ignatowich. Bronze: Johnson & Johnson.


Men’s Pro Doubles Recap

Collin Johns (L) connected nan protect alongside relative Ben Johns (R) during nan Men's Pro Doubles ... [+] final.

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The immense Men’s Pro Doubles tie astatine Nationals kept its seeding shape for nan astir portion successful nan second portion of nan draw. #8 Tyler Loong & James Ignatowich did their champion portion to effort to upset that pome cart, taking nan #1 Johns brothers to a 5th crippled earlier falling 11-8. But nan semis featured nan apical 4 doubles teams successful nan onshore and nan crowds sewage immoderate coagulated play.

In nan semis, #1 Collin & Ben Johns (the defending Nationals champs) handled #4 Federiko Staksrud & Pablo Tellez successful three, while nan clear-cut #2 squad successful nan world Dylan Frazier & JW Johnson took retired #3 Riley Newman & Christian Alshon (who are besides teamed up successful MLP this season) successful four.

In nan final, Frazier & Johnson came up short erstwhile again versus nan Johns brothers, settling for Silver.

Gold: Johns & Johns. Silver: Frazier & Johnson. Bronze: Newman & Alshon


Women’s Pro Doubles Recap

The communicative of nan Women’s Pro Doubles tie was nan magnificent tally by nan Brascia sisters Mary & Maggie. As nan #6 seeds, and without a pro badge playing together since a bronze badge astatine nan December 2022 APP arena successful Mesa, they cruised past nan red-hot Rachel Rohrbacher & Rianna Valdes successful nan 16s, past topped #3 Parris Todd & Jesse Irvine successful nan quarters. In nan semis, they mislaid nan first crippled 11-0 to #2 Bright & Kawamoto but bounced backmost to triumph a grueling 5-game conflict to get to nan final.

From nan apical side, #1 Anna Leigh Waters & Catherine Parenteau, who look to person settled successful arsenic regular partners, winning nan past 3 PPA events together, cruised into nan last without being earnestly challenged. And successful that final, they dominated for agelong stretches astatine a clip to triumph 7,0,4 and return gold.

Gold: Waters & Parenteau. Silver: Brascia & Brascia. Bronze: Bright & Kawamoto


Champions (Senior) Pro Competition Quick Recap

  • Men’s Champions Pro Singles: The event’s apical 3 seeds were each upset successful nan quarters, starring to Connecticut-based Steve Rogers, who has a slew of golds connected nan APP Champions circuit this year, to return nan gold.
  • Women’s Champions Pro Singles:#1 Jennifer Dawson defeated #5 Jenny Marcos successful nan winner’s bracket semis and past again successful nan golden badge lucifer to return nan title.
  • Men’s Champions Pro Doubles: #1 Altaf Merchant continued his 2023 power by pairing pinch Dayne Gingrich to return nan title. They topped #5 Matthias Johansson & Paul Olin successful nan semis, past again for Gold.
  • Women’s Champions Pro Doubles: #2 Lily Kordic & Nathalie Bagby held disconnected a furious comeback effort from #5 Anna Shirley & Sheri Courter to return nan title.
  • Mixed Champions Pro Doubles: Dawson and Gingrich some secured doubles for nan play by topping Evelyn Welsher & Altaf Merchant successful nan golden badge match. This is 1 of nan fewer (if only) elder losses Merchant has taken nan full 2023 season.


The Pro Pickleball Medal Tracker has now been updated pinch these results; cheque retired this nexus online for a complete pro badge history for each tours and each pro events.

Next up connected nan Pickleball Calendar? According to my Master Pickleball Schedule, nan exhausted PPA unit heads eastbound to Daytona Beach for nan 2023 Hertz National Championships, nan past arena successful which to gain points towards nan twelvemonth extremity championships successful San Clemente. The APP has a NextGen arena successful Dallas, DUPR is hosting its Collegiate Championships astatine nan awesome Life Time Peachtree Corners installation successful Atlanta, and nan SPT is having its past arena of nan twelvemonth successful Mesa. A very engaged tourney weekend.

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