Pro pickleball’s summer California tour traveled 100 miles from the APP So Cal Classic in Encinitas, California, to the APP LA Open in El Segundo, California. With the short distance between the two tour stops, many of the same faces showed up to compete on the pickleball court. And, the results from the APP LA Open certainly evoked feelings of déjà vu.
Let's breakdown the pickleball action...
Dylan Frazier Goes Back-to-Back in Mixed Doubles
After winning the APP So Cal Classic with Dylan Frazier, Jorja Johnson traded in her friend, Dylan, for her brother, JW Johnson. The Johnson siblings were the favorites to win, as the #1 seed. However, an early loss to Thomas Wilson and Regina Franco-Goldberg (the #9 seed) bounced the Johnsons to the losers' bracket, including an 11-0 route in one of the three games, which Wilson credited to his wife telling him to "move his feet." Quality pickleball tip.
The Johnsons barely made their through the losers' bracket, as they had two tight matches at 16-14 each. However, the Johnsons were able to fight their way to the gold medal match, despite their early loss in the tournament bracket.
To meet them in the gold medal final were familiar faces, Dylan Frazier (Jorja's partner the previous week and JW's usual men's doubles partner) and Anna Bright (Jorja's women's doubles partner from the previous week). Frazier and Bright (the #4 seed) had a tight first match on the day, which pushed them to the third game (winning 13-11). However, after that match, it was smooth sailing into the gold medal, in which Frazier and Bright would have to get beat twice to lose the gold (as a reminder, the APP Tour plays a true double elimination tournament).
In a close best of 3 games, the Johnsons edged Frazier and Bright to force the game to 15 and attempt the "double dip." However, it is always difficult to beat a team two times in a row. Frazier and Bright held off the Johnsons comeback, edging them 15-7 in the final game, leading to Bright's second ever medal in pro mixed doubles. The only ever time Bright medaled was for the bronze medal at the APP Delray Beach Open with none other than Dylan Frazier.
Frazier has now won two mixed doubles gold medals in a row with two different partners. Can he go for three?
And, congrats to Lauren Stratman and Julian Arnold (the #2 seed) for snagging the bronze medal!
Runaway Play in Men’s Doubles & Women’s Doubles
At the APP So Cal Classic, Dylan Frazier and JW Johnson did not lose a single game in pro men's doubles in their run for the gold medal. This continued into the APP LA Open, as Frazier and Johnson (the #1 seed) did not drop a game for the second pickleball tournament in a row. In fact, they only gave up 35 points in 5 matches (or 10 games), which is an average of 3.5 points given up per game. Total dominance.
After his men's doubles performance with JW Johnson, Dylan Frazier had now won back-to-back men's doubles gold medals, on top of his back-to-back mixed doubles gold medals. And, Frazier had yet another triple crown opportunity heading into men's singles on Sunday.
Frazier-Johnson's opponents in the finals were Hayden Patriquin and Julian Arnold (the #8 seed), who had a strong showing at the Bobby Riggs Racket & Paddle Center for the APP So Cal Classic. In fact, Patriquin earned his first ever pro medal, with a bronze. Patriquin may have opened the flood gates, or at least earned an edge of confidence, as Patriquin and Arnold improved on their bronze medal by taking home the silver at the APP LA Open.
And, congrats to DJ Young and Thomas Wilson (the #2 seed) on their hard-earned bronze medal!
Turning to women’s doubles, some partners swapped around since the previous pro pickleball tournament. However, one face had a similar result.
Jorja Johnson (who played with Anna Bright at the APP So Cal Classic) now teamed up with Lauren Stratman, and were the team to beat as the #1 seed. Johnson and Stratman had only teamed up once before, but made their way through the winners' bracket, despite having to go to three games in a couple of matches.
To meet Johnson and Stratman in the finals were Parris Todd and Michelle Esquivel (the #2 seed). Todd and Esquivel lost to Johnson and Stratman in the winnners' bracket final, but bounced back in the bronze medal game for another chance. Todd and Esquivel admitted that it was Johnson's and Stratman's match to lose as the #1 seed. However, their goal was to play more consistent and more confident to try to pull off the upset. On the flip side, Johnson and Stratman felt they figured out a winning strategy in the winners' bracket final and were resolved to stick with their strategy - if it isn't broken, don't fix it.
The result was a back-to-back gold for Jorja Johnson, as Johnson and Stratman won in straight games (11-1, 11-8).
Shoutout to Anna Bright and Regina Franco-Goldberg (the #5 seed) who battled for bronze.
A Stop on the Triple Crown in Men’s Singles & Mary Brascia Goes Back-to-Back in Women’s Singles
Going into singles day, Dylan Frazier (the #2 seed) had another chance for a triple crown for the second straight weekend. And, without JW Johnson in the singles draw (who decided to take a break, along with his sister, Jorja Johnson, who had played seven pickleball tournaments in a row), Frazier's chances at securing the triple crown looked pretty good. In fact, Frazier only dropped one game in his route to the finals, meaning that his opponent would have to beat him twice in order to prevent the triple crown.
However, Gabriel Joseph (the #3 seed) showed a lot of grit after falling early to the losers' bracket. Joseph battled for five straight matches to get back to the gold medal match and took home his first gold medal in over a one-year span, by beating Frazier twice to complete the "double dip" in straight games (12-10, 11-3, 15-12). Joseph's run stopped Frazier from taking home the triple crown (but two gold medals and a silver medal isn't too bad!). (To learn more about Joseph, check out his guest appearance on Pickler The Podcast.)
On the women’s singles side, it was déjà vu, as Mary Brascia (the #3 seed) bested Anna Bright (the #1 seed) twice on the day, giving Brascia the gold medal (which is only her second pro pickleball medal, with her first coming the week prior at the APP So Cal Classic) and Bright the silver medal. With that said, Bright made it a bit closer than the APP So Cal Classic, as she pushed Brascia to three games in both matches. And, Bright completed the "cycle" (taking the terminology from baseball/softball) by taking home a gold, silver, and bronze medal in the same weekend.
Congrats to Federico Staksrud (the #1 seed) and Rosie Johanson (the #6 seed) on their respective bronze medals. Johanson earned her first-ever pro pickleball medal, which continues the trend from the first APP California stop of new faces on the podium. Again, this trend of new faces—particularly in the singles divisions—is likely to continue, as more and more current and former tennis players enter the world of pickleball.