An unexpected chill in the desert where temperatures were hovering around 40s-50s under a sheltered championship court. Balls were breaking and playing hard and fast, which became a big factor for the players in Arizona this weekend.
Anna Leigh Waters continued her contract with Paddletek this weekend, but found herself down 9-8 in her first game of the day against a new player from Taiwan with a wicked backhand who is apparently ambidextrous… Competition is beginning to show up out of nowhere and you could see frustration on the face of Waters.
For the 3rd stop on the Carvana PPA Tour, the drama starts early with men’s and women’s singles. Here are the results and most entertaining points from the championship court games on Thursday.
Men’s Singles :
With blankets in the crowd, #1 Ben Johns and #32 Christopher Haworth open up at the Arizona Grand Slam. Haworth came out aggressive with a strong ground stroke and quickly gets dialed into the lines, controlling the pace of game one with a win. Johns heats up in game two starting it 5-0, which ultimately led to a match victory in game 3.
Coach Leigh Waters in the box for #9 Christian Alshon, a formidable singles player from the University of Chicago. Known for his casual trick shots during play, he is nothing short of entertaining. After taking down Tyson McGuffin at the masters (who is out with a minor foot injury), he faces former Notre Dame tennis player #24 Nico Montoya.
Even with the high level tennis pedigree, #24 ends up with an L against the Golden boy. The walking highlight reel jets one behind the back and marches on in the tournament.
#3 Ryan Sherry has been traveling all over the country and came in with some foot pain.
Both players are elite ball strikers with the best two hand back hands in the game. Sherry claimed he has never beaten #14 Gabriel Joseph, but takes advantage in game one with a 6-0 lead. Joseph is suddenly only down 1 point, but was forced to put his track shoes on and loses 11-6. Joseph begins a run in game two that never slowed as he held the lead until game match.
In game two #21 Travis Rettenmaier finds early success forcing #4 Federico Staksrud to his backhand, but Staksrud pulls away and wins in two by painting the lines.
Rettenmaier went to a tennis academy and arrived at UCLA for two years at the age of 16 as he made his way to a top 50 doubles pro tennis player. He was humbled early on and had to learn the shots within the pickleball game before he could start chasing his potential. He is starting to better understand the geometry of the pickleball court as he climbs to #21. In 2022, he was the first owner/player of a Major league Pickleball team.
Federico Staksrud, the Argentinian, was a highly ranked collegiate standout tennis player for the University of New Orleans. It’s clear he has perfected the backhand in either direction. He will use two hands for power near the baseline, but as he moves closer to the net you will see him using a one hand backhand so that he can get more of an angle on the ball and it allows him to have more of a stretch for speed ups in the kitchen. He is also known for pushing the pace of play to wear out his opponents and found success with his forehand.
A quick win in two games for #2 Jay Devillers, former D1 tennis player at Wichita State. In game one #10 Connor Garnett who played tennis at Santa Clara loses 11-0 to Devillers who moved forward well and sent the ball side to side causing problems for Garnett. Garnett collapsed into a negative mindset in game two losing 11-3.
Women’s Singles :
A swimmer, golfer, softball player, and tennis player, #7 Mary Brascia enters the pro pickleball scene in May of 2022 after finishing her studies at University. She struggles early in game one against #2 Catherine Parenteau who just came off a fresh one game win at the last tour stop against #1 Anna Leigh Waters, but does a 180 and finds upset city on her paddle when she starts a rampage in game two that continued in game three with an 8-0 lead. She wins in three against Parenteau.
#1 Anna Leigh Waters and#4 Salome Devidze have faced each other three times with Waters winning 6 of the 7 games. Waters has a couple of triple crowns under her belt this year already… Early in this match up, Devidze took a much more aggressive approach than normal. Game one was back and forth and 6-6 at the midpoint and 9-9 near the close with pressure on the #1 Anna Leigh. To no surprise, she gets out of game one with a win against the 37 year old. Following game one, the trend rambled on as Waters started blistering the ball and becoming more vocal. She wins in 2 over Devidze with an impressive game winner and heads to championship Sunday.