Tuesday had a significant amount of Singles play at the 2019 Margaritaville USA Pickleball National Championships, as both Men’s and Women’s Skill/Age divisions took to action throughout the courts at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden. While the highest-level matches had centered around Doubles for the first few days at the tournament, Tuesday brought the energy with exciting Singles action all day long.
Tuesday also featured the St. Jude Skills Challenge Fundraiser and the second annual Parent/Child Round Robin. The St. Jude Skills Challenge was once again a tremendous success, as the great event for a great cause returned with approximately 45 teams comprised of 2 people that are rated on total number of points across 5 different skills. The Parent/Child Round Robin demonstrated the multigenerational appeal of the sport as family members of all ages played and competed in a fun, yet competitive environment.
Moving back to the main on-court action, pickleball enthusiasts gathered around Championship Court to take in the medal matches in the Men’s and Women’s 5.0 Skill/Age groups. The matches did not disappoint, as perennial favorites as well as surprise medalists put forth incredible efforts that showcased what the sport of pickleball is all about.
On the Men’s side in the 5.0 19+ division, one of the most highly-anticipated brackets of 2019 Nationals brought out the likes of last year’s champion Tyson McGuffin, 2019 standout Joey Farias, as well as a loaded roster of other worthy competitors. Speaking of Farias, the predicted favorite made the Gold medal match, but ultimately fell in a surprise to Dekel Bar. For the likes of Farias and McGuffin, they’ll get another chance to solidify themselves in the Singles division during Open play on Sunday.
Moving up an age group, the 35+ players provided a highly entertaining set of matches throughout the day on Tuesday. including three players who did not medal last year but have a great chance to change that in 2019. Ripsken Witsken, a one-of-a-kind competitor who plays with an unmatched passion, fought valiantly on his way to the bronze medal. Chuck Taylor, the 2018 silver medalist was able to move up a medal ranking and secure the silver this year. Lastly at Gold, former tennis player Daniel Roditi who some predicted would be a dark horse in the division, proved many correct with an incredible run to the title.
Moving on to the Women’s bracket in the combined 5.0 19+, 35+ division, it was a surprising run of medalists each of whom outlasted the predicted favorites. 2018 podium participants including Gold champion Michelle Esquivel, as well as Gee Gee Garvin and Jaci West all were unable to replicate their success this year. Ultimately, Lauren Stratman overcame the field with a day for the ages and claimed the Gold medal. Only time will tell, but it could be the start of an incredible run in the sport for Stratman.
Let’s take a closer look at Tuesday’s gold medal winners:
Now, let’s see what’s on tap for tomorrow:
Events – Wednesday, Nov. 6
Mixed Doubles Open (5.0 or greater skill level only) – Wed. 11/06/19 – Thurs. 11-07/19
Mixed Doubles Senior Open – 50+ (5.0 or greater skill level only) – Wed. 11/06/19 – Thurs. 11-07/19
Men’s Skill/Age Singles – 4.0/4.5
Women’s Skill/Age Singles – 4.0/4.5
Who/What to Watch
Mixed Doubles Open (5.0 or greater skill level only)
2018 Result (Gold/Silver/Bronze):
1. Lucy Kovalova/Matt Wright
2. Simone Jardim/Kyle Yates
3. Sarah Ansboury /Tyson McGuffin
The 2019 Mixed Doubles Open division will see a lot of big names in the sport over Wednesday and Thursday with a field of 64 teams. Several teams to be on the lookout for include Jessie Irvine and Morgan Evans, as Morgan is playing extremely well throughout 2019 and makes them a team to watch with Gold potential. Irina Tereschenko and Tyson McGuffin will once again partner up, and will get another chance after Monday’s loss to Morgan’s team. Smooth power hitter Corrine Carr is partnered with Daniel Moore, forming a team that is continually aiming for a top medal position. Callie Smith and Adam Stone are a team flying under the radar as a dark horse to go deep, but not to pickleball enthusiasts in the know. We can’t forget Anna Leigh Waters and Tyler Wren who are exciting to watch and always draw a crowd. Simone Jardim and Kyle Yates are another team to keep a close eye on, as they will be looking to upgrade last year’s performance and take the Gold back to Florida. Last but not least, Lucy Kovalova and Matt Wright are a proven Mixed team pairing, and will look to repeat as champions.
Mixed Doubles Senior Open – 50+ (5.0 or greater skill level only)
2018 Result (Gold/Silver/Bronze):
1. Kris Anderson/Scott Moore
2. Cammy MacGregor/Brian Staub
3. Lisa Naumu/Kevin Booth
The Senior Open 50+ will also see a strong field that includes 48 teams. Cammy MacGregor and Paul Olin are the No. 1 contenders, each of whom possess a beautiful game combining smooth touch and powerful strokes. Helen Wilhelm and Dave Fleming are consistent medal contenders but have an undeniably tough road ahead, amidst a bracket loaded with great competition. Returning Gold medalist Kris Anderson has partnered with new senior Dave Weinbach, who is looking to make his mark at Nationals this year.