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The Professional Pickleball Tour Finals Is Thrice As Nice For Johns And Waters

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By Jacob Jackson

Overview of the 2023 PPA Tour Finals

The Professional Pickleball Association (PPA) recently concluded its 2023 season with the annual Tour Finals event held in San Clemente, California. As an invite-only tournament, the Finals brought together the top eight players and teams across each pro division for round robin pool play leading into a single elimination bracket.

Modeled off similar year-end events in professional tennis, the Finals help crown the tour’s annual champions after a long season of competition. As the 20th and final event of the PPA’s 2023 schedule, it also provided a chance for rivals and friends alike to settle scores and vie for glory one last time before the off-season.

Pickleball Tour Finals
PPA Tour

Surprise and Dominance in Men’s Singles

The Men’s Singles draw saw its fair share of drama during Thursday’s pool play. In Pool 1, Ben Johns, Connor Garnett, and Christian Alshon all went 2-1 with a circular pattern of beating one another. Point differentials ultimately determined Johns as winner and Alshon second to advance.

Pool 2 played out more predictably as #1 Federico Staksrud and #4 Tyson McGuffin each won their first two matches comfortably to move on. However, the knockouts brought a shocker: #4 seed Alshon recovered from an 11-2 blowout loss in the first game to topple Staksrud in a 14-12 and 11-0 comeback. He then gave top seed Ben Johns everything he could handle in the final, controlling the second game in another hotly contested affair before Johns escaped 13-11 in the third.

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Waters Retains Her Crown Despite Scares

A familiar face ended up atop the Women’s Singles podium, but Anna Leigh Waters had to battle for the gold medal position throughout the event. She needed tiebreakers in both group stage wins just to make the knockout round. From there, Waters denied upstart Irina Tereschenko’s Cinderella run, ending the replacement player’s hopes with a semifinal victory.

In the final, Waters defeated frequent foil Catherine Parenteau in two straight games to cap her tournament. The dominant #1 seed did well to navigate injuries and tough opponents all weekend before sealing the definitive win when it mattered most. Parenteau had handed Waters multiple match point losses earlier in 2022 but couldn’t replicate that performance with the championship on the line.

Mixed Doubles Showcases New and Old Rivalries

Mixed Doubles provided plenty of drama both old and new, as the unlikely pair of Ana Bright and James Ignatowich shocked power duo Ben Johns and Anna Leigh Waters in pool play to claim the top spot in Group 1. Meanwhile in Pool 2, defending champions Riley Newman and Vivienne David won their opener before dropping two straight, missing the cut on point differentials alone.

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Homeschool News Today

This allowed newcomers Ariel Kovalova and Adam Wright to surprisingly grab second place on the day’s strongest showing: a dominant win over Newman and David. They then fell easily to Johns and Waters in the semis to kill their Cinderella run. But the iconic duo had a surprise test as well, as they needed an 11-9 edging of Bright and Ignatowich to return to the familiar finals, where they dispensed of Jorja and JW Johnson in two quick games to win their 27th title together since the start of 2022.

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New and Old School in Men’s Doubles

Men’s doubles pitted brotherly love against a newer partnership, as theJohns brothers downed underdog pair Riley Newman and Thomas Wilson to capture more gold. But the road there saw no shortage of emotion and politics after 20 events together.

Ben and Collin Johns efficiently won their group, though not without controversial moments including a mid-match wave off from Collin to perennial trash talker Julian Arnold. This after dropping the opening game to Arnold and his partner A.J. Koller.

Pool 2 brought even greater upheaval. Second seeds Dylan Frazier and J.W. Johnson failed to make the knockout round after the shock 1-2 pool stage record, almost getting donuted by comeback kids Newman and Wilson in their finale. Those two used that win to claim the pool on points over surprise team Federico Staksrud and Pablo Tellez.

In the semis, Riley Newman gained a small piece of vengeance over former partner Adam Wright and new partner Thomas Wilson in a tight two game win. But in the finals against the Johns clan, his luck ran out. The pairs traded blowout games before the Johns locked in back-to-back close victories to give Ben his 24th career pro triple crown across all disciplines.

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Waters Makes Good on Dominant Season in Doubles

Women’s doubles saw far less turbulence on the path to victory. Anna Leigh Waters and Catherine Parenteau quickly dismantled their opponents in pool play by a staggering combined score of 43-5, including a double donut of runners up Allyce Jones and Etta Wright.

They then posted easy semifinal wins alongside Anna Bright and Vivienne David’s own rout to set up the 1 versus 2 seeded showdown for the title. In the end, Waters and Parenteau displayed why they’ve been a cut above the rest of the pro tour all season long, denying Bright and David in a tidy 2-5-6 finals triumph that marked Waters’ 22nd career triple crown.

Overview of the 2023 PPA Tour Finals
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Senior Event Sees Familiar Face Victorious

In the side-by-side Champions (Senior) Pro event for male players, #1 ranked Matthias Johansson captured yet another singles crown after getting pushed hard in the final match. Men’s doubles went to first-time winners Dan Traxler and Lew Lewis, who finally claimed elusive gold on the senior tour.

Conclusion of Successful 2023 Campaign

With the PPA Tour Finals in the books alongside the senior capsules, the 2023 season has ended as the calendar turns towards 2024. While some top players will take offseason breaks, action will quickly pick back up in the coming year with more professional events across tours leading into the next PPA campaign and Finals.

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