MLP Daytona Group C Preview

MLP Daytona C mobile
Jason Koeppel // ONE37pm

We are less than 72 hours away from the premier league kicking off in the Sunshine State for MLP Daytona. We have already broken down what to expect in Groups A & B but now we look forward to the preview of Group C.

Related: MLP Daytona Group B Preview

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

Group C

Mesa Recap

ATX Pickleballers 1-2 10th Place (missed playoff)

Florida Smash 3-2 4th Place (SF Loss to LA Mad Drops 1-3)

LA Mad Drops 5-0 1st Place (Won MLP Mesa)

St Louis Shock 1-2 8th Place (missed playoff)

Group Overview:

Last but not least the final group for MLP Daytona includes our Mesa champion Los Angeles Mad Drops who went undefeated on their way to the title, leaving with an unblemished 5-0 record. The Mad Drops were led by none other than third round pick Julian Arnold who was the MVP of the event and played lights out, taking over matches and seemingly winning every hands battle he found himself in. The Mad Drops will first be tasked with taking out the other three teams in their group before they can think of repeating, a group that features not only young talent but veterans with big stage experience. Although the ATX Pickleballers and the St Louis Shock didn’t advance to the knockout stage they were both a few points away from walking away with a much different result in Mesa. Let’s dive into the numbers and find out which teams have the best chance of advancing in Daytona.

ATX Pickleballers

ATX Pickleballers

Round 1: JW Johnson (3rd pick)

Round 2: Jackie Kawamato (22nd pick)

Round 3: Jade Kawamoto (27th pick)

Round 4: Gabriel Tardio (46th pick)

The ATX Pickleballers left Mesa with a disappointing result, going 1-2 and now head to Daytona in 10th place out of 12 teams.They had an opportunity to advance to the knockout stage with a win over the New York Hustlers in Saturday’s last group play match but fell short losing 1-3. ATX took the first big swing of the draft, opting to pass on top females Anna Bright and Catherine Parenteau for JW Johnson, a move that drew criticism from the top followers of the sport. JW was less than impressive in Mesa as Anna Bright and Catherine Parenteau found themselves playing against each other in the finals. ATX has to be wondering if they made the right decision and it will be up to Johnson to help right the ship and prove he was worthy of that 3rd overall pick if his team wants a chance of sniffing a playoff berth.

Mesa Team Point Differential (Ranked out of 12 Teams)

48.37% (10th): The ATX Pickleballers finished 10th in team point differential finishing only ahead of the LV Night Owls and team Frisco Clean Cause.

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

  1. JW Johnson: 40th (46.96%)
  2. Jackie Kawamato: 28th (48.50%)
  3. Jade Kawamoto: 29th (48.12%)
  4. Gabriel Tardio: 44th: (46.63%)

Mesa Team Match Results (4-8)

  1. Seattle Pioneers 0-3
  2. LV Night Owls 3-2
  3. NY Hustlers 1-3

Mesa Player Match Results (Group Stage Only Includes Dreambreakers)

  1. JW Johnson 2-5
  2. Jackie Kawamoto 3-3
  3. Jade Kawamoto 3-4
  4. Gabriel Tardio 2-4


The drafting of JW Johnson at #3 looks like a miss at this point as Johnson finished with a 2-5 overall match record and 40th overall in player point differential in Mesa. However, the selections of the Kawamoto sisters may have saved their draft. Although the Kawamoto’s are not full time touring professionals they are both consistent doubles players that give ATX nice lineup balance next to their two male counterparts. The lefty Jade is coming off an improbable run to the women’s doubles final at the Florida Open as she made her debut with Selkirk’s popular Invikta Power Air (a paddle made famous by Tyson Mcguffin and Catherine Parenteau). The paddle gave her some much needed power on speed ups and counters and were assuming both sisters will be sporting that paddle in Daytona. If this young nucleus wants to avoid a similar fate they’ll need JW Johnson to not only play like the #3 pick but to also help lead when he’s on the sidelines cheering on his teammates.

Wild Card: 

Gabriel Tardio: We have talked at great length about what JW Johnson needs to do in Daytona but the x-factor for this team will be the 18 year old Gabe Tardio, one of the last picks of the premier league draft. Tardio is extremely talented and showed flashes of that ability in Mesa but he also suffered through stretches of inconsistency around the kitchen line. Can Tardio rise to the occasion or will the pressure be too much for him playing against the savvy veterans in Group C?

Florida Smash

Florida Smash

Round 1: Jesse Irvine (8th pick)

Round 2: Jorja Johnson (17th pick)

Round 3: Travis Rettenmaier (32nd pick)

Round 4: Collin Johns (41st pick)

The Florida Smash made a strong run to the semifinals losing a tightly contested battle to the eventual champion Los Angeles Mad Drops. One of the major storylines on draft night was surrounding Travis Rettenmaier. For those who don’t know Rettenmaier is the co-owner of the Florida Smash. The question was would he draft himself or would another team draft him, creating a massive conflict of interest? Well, Travis decided to bet on himself in the 3rd round and based on the results in Mesa he backed it up as he finished 12th in overall player point differential and helped lead his team just shy of a spot in the final. The real story of the draft though were the selections of Jesse Irvine and Jorja Johnson, who seemingly fell into their laps in rounds 1 and 2 after some interesting swings on male picks by the ATX Pickleballers and the St Louis Shock. There is a lot to like about this battle tested group but repeating the same result in Daytona won’t be easy as they once again will have to face off against the Mad Drops in group play.

Mesa Team Point Differential (Ranked out of 12 Teams)

51.04% (3rd): The Smash finished 3rd in overall team point differential behind the LA Mad Drops and the Seattle Pioneers

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

  1. Jesse Irvine: 21st (49.52%)
  2. Jorja Johnson: 9th (53.23%)
  3. Travis Rettenmaier: 12th (52.56%)
  4. Collin Johns 26th (48.89%)

Mesa Team Match Results (6-3)

  1. Frisco Clean Cause 3-0
  2. LA Mad Drops 0-3
  3. So Cal Hard 8s 3-0

Mesa Player Match Results (Group Stage Only Includes Dreambreakers)

  1. Jesse Irvine 2-2
  2. Jorja Johnson 4-1
  3. Travis Rettenmaier 4-1
  4. Collin Johns 2-2


Gender doubles is a strength of this team as each individual knows exactly which position on the court they are going to play and is very comfortable in that role. Irvine is a right ride rock that allows the sixteen year old Jorja Johnson the freedom to be aggressive and take chances on the left.  Meanwhile 4th round pick Collin Johns fills the exact same role in men’s doubles which puts Rettenmaier in his familiar left side position, playing the pseudo  Ben Johns role in that partnership. The personalities also blend together nicely with Rettenmaier/Irvine being more vocal leaders and Johnson/Johns leading more by example. The Smash clearly put a lot of thought into how all their pieces would fit together and it paid dividends in Mesa. However, they did have one of the easier roads to playoffs, knocking off last place Frisco Clean Cause and the So Cal Hard 8s, who were without first round pick Riley Newman. We’ll see how they fare this go around with a much tougher schedule of opponents in the group stage.

Wild Card: 

Jorja Johnson: Both Irvine and Johns play a more conventional style of pickleball, often waiting for the action to come to them and forcing their opponents into uncharacteristic mistakes, The Smash know what they have in those two but the play of Jorja Johnson in MLP continues to surprise us given her age and experience. She’s clearly not afraid of the big moments and that type of confidence is crucial when competing on pickleball’s biggest stage. This team will go as far as Johnson’s play takes them as she offers the most upside of any player on this roster.

Los Angeles Mad Drops

Los Angeles Mad Drops

Round 1: Catherine Parenteau (5th pick)

Round 2: Irina Tereschenko (20th pick)

Round 3: Julian Arnold (29th pick)

Round 4: Thomas Wilson (44th pick)

The Mad Drops couldn’t have dreamed of a performance like they had in Mesa, as they went undefeated and only dropped two total matches en route to the MLP title. With the ATX Pickleballers taking a swing on JW Johnson the Mad Drops were left with a little easier of a decision as they selected Catherine Parenteau. Parenteau,along with James Ignatowich, is in the running for most improved player of 2023 as she has shown a level of consistency we hadn’t seen from her in 2022. The Mad Drops backed up the pick by going with MLP legend Irina Tereschenko who was one of the leaders of two time champion team BLQK last year. With all that experience in the first two rounds, the Mad Drops now needed some dominant left side males to fill out their roster. Sitting with the 29th pick in round three they went with Julian Andiamo Arnold, who ended up as the MVP of MLP Mesa. They rounded out their draft taking uber talented Thomas Wilson who has quietly put together a great year playing alongside Arnold and Vivienne David. This team will be the favorites once again and it’s easy to see why as they not only have experience but hit a home run on all four of their picks.

Mesa Team Point Differential (Ranked out of 12 Teams)

56.25% (1st): The Mad Drops finished 1st in overall team point differential slightly ahead of the Seattle Pioneers

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

  1. Catherine Parenteau: 3rd (55.25%)
  2. Irina Tereschenko 6th (54.22%)
  3. Julian Arnold: 2nd (55.64%)
  4. Thomas Wilson: 4th (54.74%)

Mesa Team Match Results (9-0)

  1. Florida Smash 3-0
  2. Frisco Clean Cause 3-0
  3. So Cal Hard 8s 3-0

Mesa Player Match Results (Group Stage Only Includes Dreambreakers)

  1. Catherine Parenteau 6-0
  2. Irina Tereschenko 4-0
  3. Julian Arnold 6-0
  4. Thomas Wilson 4-0


It’s hard to find any flaws with this roster and the stats back it up as all four players finished in the top six in player point differential. That type of performance will be nearly impossible to repeat but they still find themselves as the overwhelming favorites to advance out of this group. The question isn’t about talent or on-court fit, it's how they will handle adversity and high expectations will all eleven teams now gunning for them. With the year that Catherine Parenteau is putting together alongside the experience of Tereschenko, energy of Julian Arnold and shot making of Thomas Wilson it’s hard to envision a scenario where the Mad Drops are not once again in a position to win the title on championship Sunday. We’ll see how it all unfolds but this team seems destined to have a similar year that team BLQK had in 2022.

Wild Card: 

Julian Arnold: Arnold is our wild card pick as his relentless aggression can both win his team a match or just as easily lose it. We never saw a drop in his level at MLP Mesa which is a big reason why the Mad Drops went undefeated. However, what if Arnold’s play slips a bit?  Will he pull back on that aggression and allow his teammates to get more involved or will he continue to try and take over? If the Mad Drops happen to take an early exit it may be because Arnold tries to force the issue too much rather than take a backseat if his A game doesn’t show up.

Saint Louis Shock

St Louis Shock

Round 1: Jay Devilliers (7th pick)

Round 2: Simone Jardim (18th pick)

Round 3: Allyce Jones (31st pick)

Round 4: Erik Lange (42nd pick)

Last but not least we have the St Louis Shock who were one of the seven teams in Mesa with a 1-2 record. They finished last place in their group and missed out on the playoffs, a result they will be looking to change in Daytona. This is another team with a heavy veteran core, but unlike the Florida Smash, their draft strategy was a bit of a head scratcher. They reached for Jay Devilliers in round one who only has one medal on the PPA tour in doubles this year. In rounds two and three they selected Jardim and Jones who both own impressive resumes but are right side players at this point in their careers. Lange wasn’t a bad swing in round four but his upside is limited and he’s not the best fit next to Devilliers in men’s doubles. The Shock have a lot of questions to answer still and they will most certainly be the underdogs to make it out of Group C.

Mesa Team Point Differential (Ranked out of 12 Teams)

49.40% (7th): The Shock finished in the middle of the pack in overall team point differential. 

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

  1. Jay Devilliers: 37th (47.41%)
  2. Simone Jardim: 16th (50.40%)
  3. Allyce Jones 8th (53.27%)
  4. Erik Lange: 34th (47.91%)

Mesa Team Match Results (7-6)

  1. California BLQK 2-3
  2. Milwaukee Mashers 3-0
  3. The 5s 2-3

Mesa Player Match Results (Group Stage Only Includes Dreambreakers)

  1. Jay Devilliers 4-4
  2. Simone Jardim 5-3
  3. Allyce Jones 3-4
  4. Erik Lange 2-5


Although the fit between Jardim and Jones looked to be an issue heading into Mesa they performed well together as their grind it out styles were able to break down some of the stronger women’s teams out there, evident by their win over the Mashers Callie Jo Smith and Lucy Kovalova. They also secured wins over Anna Leigh Waters/Lea Jansen and Andrea Koop/Megan Fudge as they swept the board in women’s doubles. Jones looks to be one of the steals of the 3rd round as she not only finished 8th in overall player point differential but has four doubles medals to her name in 2023. In order to become one of the Cinderella stories of Daytona they’ll need a better performance out of first round pick Jay Devilliers. Although Jardim will go down in pickleball history as one of the greatest to ever do it, we expect to see Jones to team up with Devilliers as she is the hotter player of the two right now (Jardim no longer plays a full schedule of events). That lineup switch will give the Shock more firepower on line one and may give some of the stronger teams in this group some headaches.

Wild Card: 

Jay Devilliers: This team will go as far as the flying Frenchman takes them as we expect a similar effort out of Jardim and Jones in Daytona. If Jay can play like a worthy first round selection the Shock go from underdogs to contenders to make it out of Group C. Devilliers is more than capable but he’lll need to bring a higher level of energy and focus to get the job done against what is a very strong and well balanced group of teams.


  1. The LA Mad Drops 3-0: The LA Mad Drops have little to no holes on their roster. Even if they get pushed to a dreambreaker, all four of their players have the ability to play singles. We don’t see them dropping a match in this group.
  1. ATX Pickleballers 1-2: ATX has the youngest core out of all four teams in Group C and their lack of energy is a major concern but we think talent wins out here as they take the tiebreaker in overall team point differential. This is a bet on JW Johnson and the 18 year old wild card Gabe Tardio getting it done in men’s doubles.
  1. Florida Smash 1-2: In our second group stage upset we have the Smash being the first team left out of the playoff. Irvine’s PPA results haven’t been up to her standards of late and Collin Johns is still a question mark on the left side in mixed doubles. They should form very strong gender doubles lineups but the dreambreaker may ultimately cost them a playoff spot as Irvine/Johns are seen more as liabilities than assets in singles.
  1. St Louis Shock 1-2: As good as Jardim and Jones were in Mesa, having to carry the load against the likes of Irvine/Johnson, Parenteau/Tereschenko and the Kawamotos is too much to ask of them. The pick of Devilliers in round one continues to rear its ugly head as the Shock once again find themselves at the bottom of their group.
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