Another Triple Crown for Johns and a surprise Singles finalist at Daytona

Pictonia in Daytona Beach hosted its second pro pickleball event in as many months as the Carvana Professional Pickleball Association rolled into town to hold the Red Clay Hot Sauce Florida Open. Nearly 1,200 players turned out for the Spring Break hotspot, and the Tour’s presence in Florida meant the pro-draws were huge. Between the main draws and the qualifiers, 80 players competed in the men’s singles and 96 players in the men’s pro doubles. Surprises were inevitable for many players.

Ben Johns returned to action, winning the Triple Crown for the third time in four events in 2023, but the big Florida story was the player he defeated in the singles final.

Let’s summarize the action.


Men’s Pro Singles Recap:

No fewer than 56 players entered the qualifying draw for 8 coveted spots in the main draw and by the end of Singles Thursday the Tour had a truly shocking finalist. Collin Shick, a former NC State tennis star and relative newcomer to professional pickleball, was seeded 31st in the qualifying draw (and 55th overall) and worked his way past a number of established PPA pros, including two guys who already have individual medals this season in #6 Julian Arnold and #7 Dylan Frazier to secure a spot in Sunday’s finals.

In the top half of the draw, #1 Ben Johns had to break to get past #8 JW Johnson but then managed to grab a win over surprise semi-finalist #14 Pablo Tellez to return to the gold medal match for the third time so far in 2023 Tellez took the bronze, his first singles medal of 2023, in a tiebreaker over #7 Frazier.

In the final, Shick used a “chip and charge” strategy on Johns’ serve and put on a huge run to win the first game, giving the crowd hope that the ultimate Cinderella story might happen. However, John’s No. 1 had other plans for the Finals and started his own big run to win games two and three 11-3, 11-0 to sew up the gold.

gold: Ben Johns. Silver: Collin Schick. Bronze: Pablo Tellez.


Recap of the women’s professional singles:

With #1 Anna Leigh Waters absent in Minnesota, Catherine Parenteau rode to a gold medal in the individual. However, Waters returned to Daytona and played in her home state, and repeating the feat would prove challenging.

Parenteau was up for the challenge. In the Winner’s Bracket semifinals, Canada beat Waters with a 7.9 to give the #1 player her first singles loss of the year. Parenteau finished the task by defeating #2 Lea Jansen in the gold medal match, just like she did in Minnesota. Jansen is on the podium for the 5th time in 5 events this year but has still not claimed a title.

gold: Catherine Parenteau. Silver: Leah Jansen. Bronze: Salome Devidze


Summary of mixed professional doubles

The big buzz leading up to this event was the “big breakup” of the super team of Riley Newman and Anna Bright. Was that some kind of personality problem? Was any of the players too difficult to work with? Speculation on social media seemed to focus more on the racy than the obvious: Bright is in a personal relationship with James Ignatowich, and after “Big Jimmy”‘s team defeated Bright & Newman in Minnesota, Anna might have held it makes more sense to compete with him than against him.

Newman didn’t miss a beat, brought in Parris Todd (arguably the best non-PPA player in the world) and provided some interesting storylines in this week’s mixed competition. In the end, however, the Newman-Todd and Ignatowich-Bright teams couldn’t really assert themselves here, as both teams lost in the quarters.

At the end of the day, No. 1 seeders Johns & Waters rode to another gold, their third in four attempts so far this year, defeating No. 3 seeded Tyson McGuffin & Catherine Parenteau in the final.

gold: Waters & Johns. Silver: McGuffin & Parenteau. Bronze: Irvine & Devilliers.


Men’s pro doubles recap

Tyson McGuffin missed the last few PPA events with a foot problem and returned; He teamed with the Minnesota Ignatowich sensation but failed to defeat Dylan Frazier & JW Johnson #4 in the Quarterfinals. Riley Newman’s tournament continued its poor run with a shock defeat in the Round of 32 as the No. 2 seed with partner Tim Parks. This opened the door from the bottom half for #7 seeds Julian Arnold & Thomas Wilson to advance to the finals.

In the end, however, it was four gold medals in four attempts for the Johns brothers, who defeated Arnold & Wilson in the gold medal match. Frazier & Johnson salvaged the bronze medal after losing to the Johns brothers in the semifinals.

gold: Johns & Johns. Silver: Arnold & Wilson. Bronze: Frazier & Johnson.


Recap of the women’s pro doubles

Anna Leigh Waters keeps switching back and forth between Anna Bright and Catherine Parenteau as her partner, winning gold every time. It was Parenteau’s turn that weekend and the pair rode to a gold medal with Waters, giving both women ‘doubles’ for the weekend. Bright teamed up with Parris Todd after he was dropped by world No. 1 but the pair were upset early on by 6th-seeded Lacy Schneemann & Jade Kawamoto in the quarterfinals. Schneemann & Kawamoto then wiped out 2nd seed Lea Jansen & Allyce Jones for a gold medal spot. Jansen & Jones saved bronze for the weekend.

gold: Waters & Parenteau. Silver: Snowman & Kawamoto. Bronze: Jansen & Jones.


Senior Pro Competition Short summary

· Men Senior Pro Singles: #1 Mark Palus took gold, just like he did a month ago when the APP was in Daytona Beach.

· Men Senior Pro Doubles: Altaf Merchant won his fourth PPA Senior Pro Doubles title of 2023 and second straight with Dave Weinbach, giving up just 16 combined points in three games en route to the title.

· Mixed Senior Pro Doubles: Top senior pros Julie Johnson & Mircea Morariu captured gold 4-0 in the Mixed Senior Pro round robin competition.


Next on the PPA tour? According to my master pickleball schedule…a quick turnaround for the pros flying from Florida to Austin, the current mecca of the pickleball world, for the Austin Showdown.

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