MLP Daytona Group A Preview

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Jason Koeppel // ONE37pm

As the pickleball world gets set to descend back on to the Sunshine State for MLP Daytona, we figured it would be a good time to get everybody up to speed on what to look out for.

Here's the current state of Group A, including a recap of MLP Mesa and some predictions of how we see it all playing out at MLP Daytona!

Group A

Mesa Recap

Seattle Pioneers 3-1 3rd Place (SF Loss to NY Hustlers 2-3)

Milwaukee Mashers 1-3 6th Place (QF Loss to Florida Smash 1-3)

California BLQK 1-2 7th Place (missed playoff)

Frisco Clean Cause 0-3 12th Place (missed playoff)

Group Overview:

This is a pretty straightforward group. On paper it is also the easiest so the path for the Seattle Pioneers to get the #1 overall seed and a first round bye sets up nicely. The Mashers and the California BLQK Bears were in the same group in Mesa, with both teams ending up 1-2 in the group stage and the Mashers advancing to the playoffs on overall team point differential. Frisco Clean Cause will be looking for their first MLP win as they were the only team to go 0-3 in the first event. Without further ado let’s dive into the numbers from Mesa and our predictions for the group.

Team Breakdown:

Frisco Clean Cause

frisco clean cause

Round 1: Zane Navratil (12th pick)

Round 2: Matt Wright (13th pick)

Round 3: Yana Grechkina (36th pick)

Round 4: Lina Padegimaite (37th pick)

The Clean Cause lead off in Group A and anxiously await their first MLP victory. As discussed this looks to be the easiest group of the three (based on the final standings in Mesa and the eye test) but the Clean Cause have some glaring weaknesses that are going to be tough to overcome at MLP Daytona. As we have seen from past MLP events motivation and energy can win out over talent so it will be up to team Clean Cause to band together as a group to make up for their on court deficiencies.

Mesa Team Point Differential (Ranked out of 12 Teams)

45.99% (12th): The Cause were dead last in overall team point differential.

Mesa Player Point Differential Rankings (Ranked Out of 48 Players)

  1. Zane Navratil: 47th (44.50%)
  2. Matt Wright: 46th (45.08%)
  3. Yana Grechkina: 35th (47.72%)
  4. Lina Padegimaite: 45th (46.63%)

Mesa Team Match Results (1-9)

  1. Florida Smash 0-3
  2. LA Mad Drops 0-3
  3. So Cal Hard 8s 1-3

Mesa Player Match Results (Group Stage Only Includes Dreambreakers)

  1. Zane Navratil 0-5
  2. Matt Wright 0-5
  3. Yana Grechkina 1-4
  4. Lina Padegimaite 1-4


The Clean Cause picked last in the first round and with the snake draft format ended up with picks #12 and #13. With most of the top tier female talent off the board they decided to go with back to back male picks in Navratil and Wright. Zane is not a top left side male in mixed or men’s doubles and Matt Wright plays predominantly the right side when he teams up in men's doubles with Riley Newman. Going with Dekel Bar or AJ Koller in Zane’s spot would have allowed them to have a much stronger men’s and mixed doubles lineup to carry their female picks of Grechkina and Padegimaite. Instead they are left with more questions than answers and fight an uphill battle as they have no clear advantage in any of the matches that they will play in the premier league.

Wild Card: 

Zane Navratil: Navratil has a ton of MLP experience. He’ll need to play like a worthy 1st round selection for the Clean Cause to have any chance to make a run.

California BLQK Bears

california blqk bears

Round 1: Andrea Koop (10th pick)

Round 2: Dylan Frazier (15th pick)

Round 3: Federico Staksrud (34th pick)

Round 4: Maggie Brascia (39th pick)

The BLQK Black Bears left Mesa with a 1-2 record, falling just short of a playoff berth. The Bears will look to regroup at MLP Daytona and improve upon their result but do they have the horses to do so? Their 4th round selection Maggie Brascia did not play in the first event and her presence might be just what the Bears need to make a playoff push.

Mesa Team Point Differential (Ranked out of 12 Teams)

50.10% (6th): The Bears finished with 1-2 record as did the Milwaukee Mashers but had a lower team point differential (total points won vs total points lost). Since only two teams can advance from each group they were the first team left out of the playoff bracket.

Mesa Player Point Differential Rankings (Ranked Out of 48 Players)

  1. Andrea Koop: 25th (48.97%)
  2. Dylan Frazier: 13th (52.11%)
  3. Federico Staksrud: 5th (54.55%)
  4. Maggie Brascia: N/A didn’t participate 
  5. Megan Fudge: 48th (44.13%)

Mesa Team Match Results (5-8)

  1. St Louis Shock 3-2
  2. New Jersey 5s 2-3
  3. Milwaukee Mashers 0-3

Mesa Player Match Results (Group Stage Only Includes Dreambreakers)

  1. Andrea Koop 2-6
  2. Dylan Frazier 4-3
  3. Federico Staskrud 4-4
  4. Maggie Brascia N/A 
  5. Megan Fudge 2-5


Megan Fudge, who was brought up from the Challenger league to fill in for Brascia, finished dead last in player point differential so the addition of Maggie should be a plus for this team. However Federico Staksrud played way above his level finishing 5th overall in player point differential and we aren’t sure he can repeat that type of performance given his recent doubles results on the PPA tour. Regardless BLQK is going to have a formidable men’s team with Dylan Frazier commanding the right side so the question becomes what mixed doubles combination can come through with some big wins for the Bears and owner Ritchie Tuazon? BLQK owns the best dreambreaker lineup in this group with Staskrud, Frazier, and Brascia all regularly competing in singles so their goal has to be to get a split in mixed so they can try and sneak out a win in the dreambreaker.

Wild Card: 

Maggie Brascia: Given that she did not compete in Mesa, Brascia is our wild card pick here. We’ll see if Maggie steps up to the plate and provides enough of a steady force on the right side to send BLQK to the playoffs.

Milwaukee Mashers

milwaukee mashers

Round 1: Callie Jo Smith (11th pick)

Round 2: Lucy Kovalova (14th pick)

Round 3: Andrei Daescu (35th pick)

Round 4: DJ Young (38th pick)

The Mashers snuck into the Mesa playoff bracket earning the 6th seed, even with a 1-2 group stage record. They will once again square off in the same group as the team they sent home and should feel confident after beating them 3-0 in their first showdown. Can the Mashers build off their performance or will they take a step back at MLP Daytona? They have the team on paper to do it but as we know talent doesn’t always translate to wins.

Mesa Team Point Differential (Ranked out of 12 Teams)

50.36% (5th): As noted earlier the Mashers ended up with the same record as Team BLQK but finished slightly ahead in team point differential earning the last and final playoff spot in Mesa.

Mesa Player Point Differential Rankings (Ranked Out of 48 Players)

  1. Callie Jo Smith:: 30th (48.09%)
  2. Lucy Kovalova: 32nd (48.00%)
  3. Andrei Daescu: 22nd (49.38%)
  4. DJ Young: 23rd (49.36%)

Mesa Team Match Results (5-8)

  1. New Jersey 5s 2-3
  2. St Louis Shock 0-3
  3. California BLQK 3-0

Mesa Player Match Results (Group Stage Only Includes Dreambreakers)

  1. Callie Jo Smith 3-4
  2. Lucy Kovalova 2-3
  3. Andrei Daescu 3-4
  4. DJ Young 2-3


This is one of the scarier teams out there on paper and we expect them to perform better in Daytona than they did in Mesa. As you can see by the stats laid out above they were very balanced but Callie Jo Smith and Lucy Kovalova didn’t play up to their full potential. Given their familiarity together as regular doubles partners on the PPA tour we anticipated them to have an advantage over the other teams that were experimenting with brand new partnerships. In theory a wise draft strategy by GM James Blake but unfortunately it did not pay off in the first event. DJ and Andrei held their own as DJ played very disciplined, smart pickleball on the right side in men’s doubles. If Callie and Lucy can up their level the Mashers chances of a run at the final are high. However this is another one of those teams that needs to avoid the dreambreaker as none of their four picks have much of a singles resume.

Wild Card: 

Callie Jo Smith: We all know how much talent DJ Young has and it was on full display in Mesa so the real wild card here is Callie Jo Smith. If she can be more of a steady force on the right side in mixed and take over matches on the left in women’s doubles the sky's the limit for this team as they drafted very well in rounds 3 & 4.

Seattle Pioneers

seattle pioneers

Round 1: Ben Johns (2nd pick)

Round 2: Etta Wright(23rd pick)

Round 3: Meghan Dizon (33rd pick)

Round 4: Tyler Loong (40th pick)

Last but not least the Seattle Pioneers round out Group A. They will be the prohibited favorites in this group as they finished 3rd in Mesa after losing a tight dreambreaker to the New York Hustlers in the semifinals. All that’s left for Ben Johns to accomplish this year is winning an MLP title. The weight falls mostly on his shoulders as he is not only the best player in the world but was also in charge of constructing the roster. We will keep a close eye on the play of Tyler Loong, as a major storyline after the draft was Ben passing on his brother Collin in favor of the lefty in round 4.

Mesa Team Point Differential (Ranked out of 12 Teams)

56.04% (2nd): Seattle ended up with the 2nd overall seed after the group stage in Mesa with a team point differential that only trailed the Los Angeles Mad Drops.

Mesa Player Point Differential Rankings (Ranked Out of 48 Players)

  1. Ben Johns: 1st (58.89%)
  2. Etta Wright: 11th (52.69%)
  3. Meghan Dizon: 27th (48.69%)
  4. Tyler Loong: 7th (53.92%)

Mesa Team Match Results (9-2)

  1. ATX 3-0
  2. NY Hustlers 3-1
  3. LV Night Owls 3-1

Mesa Player Match Results (Group Stage Only Includes Dreambreakers)

  1. Ben Johns 5-0
  2. Etta Wright 4-1
  3. Meghan Dizon 4-2
  4. Tyler Loong 5-1


This team is a shoe-in for a playoff spot and should win this group with ease. Johns is so valuable in doubles and is a lock to earn his team two wins so it will be up to the combinations of Dizon/Loong and/or Dizon/Wright to get a split in every match they play to avoid the vaunted dreambreaker. GM Ben drafted a very strong doubles lineup but none of the three picks behind him have had much singles success in their careers. Wright and Loong showed some flashes in singles in their dreambreaker loss to the Hustlers but Dizon was overmatched when facing Hustlers breakout star Lacy Schneemann. The lack of singles firepower shouldn’t be an issue in the group stage but as the matches get more difficult and the pressure ramps up someone other than Ben will have to step up to the plate and deliver a clutch performance. 

Wild Card: 

Etta Wright: Johns, Dizon and Loong are all well established pickleball pros. Wright on the other hand just turned pro in 2022 and therefore offers the most upside and room for improvement. There was a lot of Etta Wright hype leading into the draft and if the Pioneers win MLP Daytona it will be because Wright was the difference maker.

MLP Daytona Predictions

  1. Seattle Pioneers 3-0: A clean sweep again for the Pioneers as their stacked doubles lineup is too much to handle for the other teams in this group
  1. Milwaukee Mashers 2-1: The Mashers beat California BLQK in their first matchup 3-0. They match up extremely well against them in women’s and mixed doubles. The Mashers don’t own the firepower necessary to beat the Pioneers but they should comfortably take second in the group.
  1. Clean Cause 1-2: Expect a better effort from veterans Wright and Navratil as they earn their first win over California BLQK. However there are just too many holes on this team to make the playoffs as they once again pack their bags early.
  1. California BLQK 0-3: If Staksrud doesn’t play up to the level we saw in Mesa this team becomes vulnerable in men’s doubles, where they need a point in order to stay competitive. Fed comes back to life as BLQK goes winless in Daytona, even with the return of Maggie Brascia and the best singles lineup of the four teams.

Will you be tuned in to MLP Daytona? Shoot us a message on twitter @137pm and let us know who you think is set to dominate in the Sunshine State!

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