They say Disney World is “where dreams come true.” Well, just miles away, during the inaugural PPA Orlando Cup at the USTA National Campus, our dreams certainly came true as Anna Leigh won gold in pro women’s singles, and Team Waters (me and Anna Leigh) won gold in pro women’s doubles. Both finals were covered by and aired on the Tennis Channel, and to say that the emotions were running high is an understatement.
Not only were emotions high, but the conditions during the PPA Orlando Cup were particularly extreme. There were multiple rain delays throughout the 4-day event, and the heat and humidity were off the charts.
As an aside, I don’t think I’ve ever sweated as much as I did in the pro women’s final. In fact, during the 2nd game of the best of 5 game final, I could really feel myself becoming sluggish and void of energy. My husband, Stephen, had to run to the car to get me Liquid IV, which I quickly drank during the break before the 3rd game, and then continued to drink another Liquid IV throughout the rest of the match. Luckily for me, the Liquid IVs revived me and enabled me to feel strong to grind out each point thereafter.
When I woke up last Sunday morning for the championship, I felt very similarly to that morning at the 2019 USA Pickleball National Championships, where we came away pro national champions. Both the morning of Nationals and the morning of the PPA Orlando Cup Championships Sunday, I looked at Anna Leigh and said, “We are not losing. Today is our day.” Playing with confidence and believing in yourself and your teammate is crucial in putting yourself in a position to perform and succeed.
Even with this confidence in ourselves, the pro women's doubles final was one of the toughest matches Anna Leigh and I have ever played. Every point was so physical as our opponents, Lucy Kovalova and Simone Jardim, do not give away any free points. Neither of them are known for making unforced errors and their defense is pretty much second to none. We really had to stick to our game plan, stick to our strengths, and focus on every shot. We had never beaten Lucy and Simone, as a team, before (although we have tried many times), but somehow on this PPA Championship Sunday, we were determined and we believed that we could rein victorious. Needless to say, we were fortunate enough to come away with our first victory against Lucy and Simone in the best of 5 match (12-10, 9-11, 11-8, 11-7).
Mental toughness and cardiovascular fitness proved to be key at the PPA Orlando Cup. Professional pickleball is now at the level where no match in the draw is easy. To win matches or a big title, just having the pickleball skills isn’t enough. We have to work on our mindset, develop strategy based on our opponents, ensure our physical strength and endurance is tip top, and then somehow put it all together when it counts. I will NEVER forget the PPA Orlando Cup where we were able to put it all together, as mother and daughter, as teammates, and make our dreams come true.
To re-live Team Waters' winning point, check out the video below: