There are not many pro pickleball players on the tour that, not only play pro pickleball, but also hold full-time professions outside of the sport and additional part-time professions inside of the sport. However, Andrea Koop is one such pro, who is also a practicing attorney and tournament director for one of the largest pickleball tournaments in the country—the Beer City Open in Grand Rapids, Michigan. And, this pickleball tournament was back for its fourth time since its inaugural year in 2018.
The Beer City Open is a part of the 2022 USA Pickleball National Championship Series, meaning that pickleball players earning a gold medal at this event would qualify to play in the 2022 USA Pickleball National Championships in Indian Wells, California—the preeminent pickleball tournament every year. Although this helped draw additional pickleball players to the event this year, the Beer City Open pulls a huge following thanks to the great Michigan pickleball following and the reputation of both Andrea Koop and the event from years past.
The pickleball pros put on a show in Grand Rapids, despite a liquid other than beer—the on-again, off-again rain—trying to put a damper on things. Let’s breakdown the pickleball action…
Men’s Singles Sees First-Time Gold Medalist, While Women’s Singles Sees Runaway Repeat Winner
The Beer City Open started on Thursday with pro singles. You may have thought a Thursday start would trigger a Championship Sunday (which the APP Tour does on occasion), but rather it left Sunday open for a Major League Pickleball event (which was essentially a showcase of the unique MLP format). Nevertheless, pro singles kicked the tournament off, and also ended with the first round of rain that would riddle the Beer City Open (and MLP series event) throughout the weekend. With that said, tournament director Andrea Koop had a back-up plan—an indoor venue—which allowed the singles day to go to completion.
On the men’s singles side of things, the #9 seed James Ignatowich came to play, as he stormed through a hard road to take home the gold medal, defeating past champions like JW Johnson, Federico Staksrud, Zane Navratil (twice). The gold medal match, which was finished indoors, was a tight one (these tight matches were a trend on the weekend). Ignatowich snuck out the victory in straight games, but the score was 14-12, 12-10. The #1 seed Zane Navratil took home the silver medal, and the #4 seed Federico Staksrud grabbed the bronze medal.
The women’s singles bracket did not feature any “upsets” on the road to the gold medal, despite the #4 seed Parris Todd taking the championship. Parris Todd has been undefeated as of late in women’s singles—on both the PPA Tour and APP Tour—so her #4 seed is a little deceiving. In the route to the gold medal, Todd did not even lose a game. Salome Devidze battled back for the silver medal after losing in the second round, while the #2 seed Jorja Johnson came away with the bronze medal.
Mixed Doubles Shows Off Sister Rivalry, But Favors the #1 Seed
Friday showcased mixed doubles at the Beer City Open in what became a very long day for the pickleball pros, thanks to the rain. No one had a longer day, though, than tournament director and pro pickleball player, Andrea Koop.
Koop and her partner, Zane Navratil (the #2 seed), battled on the court from the beginning until the very end. Their path throughout the day included playing against Koop’s sister, Maggie Remynse, and her partner, Andrei Daescu (the #15 seed), twice on the day, showing off some sibling rivalry. Remynse bested Koop in the main draw, but Koop had the last laugh, beating Remynse in the bronze medal match. Koop and Navratil fired on all cylinders and were determined to strike first, which was tough for Remynse and Daescu to keep up with. Remynse and Daescu had a great run and snagged the bronze medal.
Then, however, Koop and Navratil had to face Simone Jardim and JW Johnson (the #1 seed) in the finals. At this point, Jardim had never lost at the Beer City Open, so she was looking to continue her streak (especially since this was her first pickleball tournament since switching paddle sponsors from Prince to Joola). After a somewhat slow start, Jardim and Johnson would keep Jardim’s streak alive and take home the gold in yet another tight match in Grand Rapids (9-11, 12-10, 11-8). Koop and Navratil had to settle for silver.
Men’s Doubles and Women’s Doubles See Close Matches, But Go to the #1 Seeds
After a long mixed doubles day, the gender doubles day followed a similar pattern of rain and tight matches, resulting in another long day. But, in the end, the #1 seeds went home with the gold medals.
In men’s doubles, the long day of livestreams featured a lot of Zane Navratil and DJ Young (the #2 seed). But, they did not make the medal stand, which would result in paddle-slamming frustration for Young. Rather, the silver and bronze medalists would knock them out, as there were some incredible, high-paced performances by Dylan Frazier and Chuck Taylor (the #8 seed and silver medalists) and by Travis Rettenmaier and Gabriel Tardio (the #13 seed and bronze medalists). Rettenmaier—the former ATP tennis player that hit the pickleball courts wearing a laughable “Tennis Sucks!” t-shirt—and Tardio were the unlikely pairing and story on the day, but clearly proved to have chemistry on the court.
But, in the end, it was all about the #1 seed JW Johnson and Dekel Bar, who only dropped one game throughout the day. Johnson and Bar technically won by retirement of Frazier and Taylor, which came after the rain set in at 11-9, 9-2 in the gold medal match. By all accounts, Johnson and Bar would have likely clinched the victory if the rain had not started, as Bar was serving big and Johnson and Bar seemed to have the right strategy (with Johnson stacking on the left-hand side of the pickleball court—which is a notable change from previous tournaments with Johnson and Bar as partners).
In the women’s doubles bracket, tournament director Andrea Koop joked that she had to partner with the undefeated Simone Jardim, so that she could win at her own tournament. It was a good decision by Koop, as the #1 seed Koop-Jardim, took home the gold medal and kept Jardim’s undefeated Beer City Open run intact.
On the run to gold, Koop had to play her sister, Maggie Remynse, for a third time on the weekend. Koop and Jardim also had to face the #7 seed and eventual silver medalists, Parris Todd and Susannah Barr, twice on the day, which included a bit of slow start in the gold medal match. Koop and Jardim were down by as much as 6 points in the first game, but turned it on in the second game after the slow start, winning 11-9, 11-0.
Todd and Barr had an incredible run, which announcer Dominic Catalano and fellow pro Kyle Yates largely credited to Barr (and her killer drops and steady shots), allowing Todd to play more freely on the pickleball court. Lastly, the bronze medal went to Irina Tereschenko and Lauren Stratman (the #3 seed), and the #2 seed Jade and Jackie Kawamoto went down early in the bracket due to an unfortunate injury of Jade’s wrist, when the twins collided in the middle as both went for a shot between them. We are wishing Jade a speedy recovery!