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Pickleball Highlights: San Clemente Showdown 2023

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Editor’s Note: Meet Kerry Pittenger, the eyes behind the lens at Pickleball Portal. With a knack for capturing the high-flying action, the nail-biting moments, and the pure joy of the game, Kerry transforms ordinary pickleball scenes into extraordinary visual narratives.

A Premier Display of Skill

In the world of pickleball, it’s always a thrill to see the titans of the game battle it out on the court. The recent MLP San Clemente by Margaritaville tournament, the third stop on the 2023 Major League Pickleball (MLP) season tour, proved to be a spectacle, broadcasted live on ESPN2.

Premier Division Triumphs and Tribulations

Let’s talk about the big leagues first – the Premier Division. The Seattle Pioneers, with the unstoppable Ben Johns at the helm, emerged triumphant for the second time running. In a twist of fate, the Milwaukee Mashers and ATX Pickleballers also had a field day, both teams crushing their group stages with a clean 3-0 record. On the flip side, the California BLQK Bears and the SoCal Hard Eights were left licking their wounds, with the latter failing to make the playoffs.

The Finals Showdown

Ultimately, the Seattle Pioneers hoisted the trophy high after a head-to-head battle with the New Jersey 5’s. Ben Johns proved his mettle, leading his team to victory over a squad led by the top female player, Anna Leigh Waters.

Challenger Division: The Underdogs Rise

Moving on to the Challenger Division, the Dallas Pickleball Club, under the leadership of Jill Braverman, clinched the title and MVP honors. The Bay Area Breakers, undefeated in 2023, breezed through the group stage, securing their spot in the Super Finals with apparent ease. The Dallas Pickleball Club emerged as the true underdogs, clinching the San Clemente crown with a 3-1 victory over Chicago.

Super Finals: The Big Payday

In the Super Finals, the LA Mad Drops, with MVP Julian Arnold leading the charge, humbled the Seattle Pioneers, the top-seeded team, to secure the Premier Super Finals title. The icing on the cake? A whopping $240k paycheck. In the Challenger Super Finals, the Chicago Slice pulled off a stunning upset, toppling the Bay Area Breakers and claiming the Super Finals title.

Rule Changes: A New Game?

The tournament also saw some new rules come into play. Tweaks were made to improve the overall player experience, including an improved video review system and changes to team lineup positions.

Looking Ahead: The Next Showdown

Looking ahead, pickleball fans should mark their calendars for the next MLP event in September, taking place at the Peachtree Corners Life Time facility. After this, there will be a complete re-draft of all 96 players, and the rest of the 2023 season will be played out to decide the 2024 Premier Division lineup. So, keep your eyes peeled for more pickleball action!

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About Dan Langston

With experience in the ecotourism industry and time well spent as a fly fishing guide in the remote absaroka mountain range for 6 years, Dan brings a unique perspective on customer service to the digital world. As the operator, Dan is now committed to revitalizing Pickleball Portal and plans to build a support system for content creators and provide helpful information for the pickleball community. dan@pickleballportal.com

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