2023 PPA Tour Red Clay Florida Open Recap

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Jason Koeppel // ONE37pm

Holly Hill, FL – Over the weekend, Pictona at Holly Hill was the host of the Carvana PPA Tour Red Clay Florida Open, the Tour's first ever pickleball event in the area.

This professional and amateur tournament featured over 1000 registered players throughout multiple divisions and age brackets. The prize purse was nearly $240,000.

Related: Get to Know the Major League Pickleball Owners

The MLP's Pictona tournament is scheduled for March 23-26, and ONE37pm will be live on location giving you all the breaking news and highlights, so make sure to follow @ONE37pm on Instagram.

Here's all the exciting news and information from throughout the weekend at the PPA Tour Red Clay Florida Open!

Thursday March 9th

What the Shick?

Out with the old and in with the new.

More and more talent is entering the pickleball scene and it’s introducing us to fresh faces. Most players make their first breakthrough in singles as it translates the easiest from the tennis court. We have seen it from the likes of James Ignatowich and Federico Staksrud, but it still took those guys time to find their first podiums.

In his first ever PPA event, Collin Shick made it through the qualifying draw and into championship Sunday, winning seven matches over ten grueling hours. We don’t know much about Collin other than he is a medical student at University of North Carolina and was a former D1 tennis player at NCST, but we sure learned a lot more on Thursday.

He took out veterans Julian Arnold and Dylan Frazier before ultimately running into the freight train that is Ben Johns. There is a lot to love about Shick’s game. He’s 6'2", a great mover and can pass off both wings. However, what was most impressive (and what holds most singles players back early in their careers) was his decision making.

He followed up strong 3rd shot drives by closing air space, putting pressure on his opponent to hit a good 4th. He also showed incredible instincts and feel as he hit several slice drop volleys, a shot most singles players are hesitant to use as they want to keep their opponents back on the baseline. 

If Collin ever decides to commit to pickleball full time he’ll likely be a top five singles player in short order. For now, thank you Mr. Shick for giving us our pickleball version of a Cinderella story in March.

Leaky Waters

The gap is closing and it’s closing quickly.

In the first women’s semifinal on Thursday, Anna Leigh Waters was dethroned for the first time in ten tournaments, a win streak that extended 254 days. She was defeated by her doubles partner Catherine Parenteau, who ended a seven-match losing streak to Waters, moving her overall record to 3-12.

However, the result wasn’t completely unexpected. Catherine and others have been slowly creeping up on ALW as we have seen much closer scores against the sixteen-year-old star this year (Parenteau lost 11-6 in the 3rd set to Waters at the PPA Desert Ridge just last month).

If Catherine had any weaknesses last year it was firepower but her switch to Selkirk’s Power Air Invikta in January from the Paddletek Tempest Reign has turned that weakness into a strength, giving her more offense off both wings without sacrificing any feel. It’s back to the drawing board for Waters as she will try to regain a singles gold at the PPA Onix Austin Showdown next week. 

Tale of Tellez

The twenty-seven-year-old southpaw followed up his doubles silver medal in Minnesota two weeks ago by taking home a bronze medal in men’s singles. After watching him take down the 4th seeded Jay Devilliers in round two, it's clear Tellez is taking a page or two out of the book of his buddy and doubles partner Federico Staksrud.

Staks loves finding forehands and closing to the net as soon as possible, utilizing his athletic ability to take time away from his opponents. We saw Tellez do exactly that on Thursday forcing Devilliers into some uncharacteristic decisions.

His poise on the big points ultimately got him over the finish line and with more men’s players being selective in what singles events they choose to play, expect to see more of this lefty on your championship court livestream.

Friday March 10th

Don’t Forget About Me

The McGuffin/Parenteau partnership is fairly new, and with Tyson missing a month of competition with a minor foot injury and pulling out of the singles draw on Thursday, it looked as if they might be a non-factor in Friday’s mixed doubles draw.

That was not the case at the PPA Tour Red Clay Florida Open, as the duo was firing on all cylinders, cruising through to championship Sunday without dropping a set. They defeated both Ignatowich/Bright and the red-hot Johnson siblings, pickling the Johnson’s 11-0 in the 2nd set.

McGuffin and Parenteau have similar styles of play as they are both selective with their offense and are elite dinkers and counter attackers. Given how interchangeable they are on both sides of the court, their strategy to alternate formations was flawless. This didn’t allow their opponents to lock in on a specific pattern (a strategy we saw work successfully for Ignatowich and Parenteau in Minnesota) and Tyson, being as much a student of the game as he is a player, clearly had this in mind heading into Florida.

A confident Catherine and a healthy Tyson is a combination no one wants to see on their side of the bracket as the PPA season rolls on. 

J&J Return to Form

No, we are not talking about JW and Jorja Johnson.

Jesse Irvine and Jay Devilliers finally got their groove back, earning a bronze medal in mixed doubles. After a lackluster performance at the Vulcan Championships in Minnesota, losing 11-1 11-1 in the second round, we weren’t sure what version of this team we were going to get.

After experimenting with different partners earlier in the year, they decided to lock arms again but after their performance in Lakeville it was fair to question if that was a good idea. For now, they put that question to bed.

Jesse was sporting a new Engage MX Ultra paddle that she admitted in an on-court interview has more grit. We saw her more open to 3rd shot drives and initiating early offense at the kitchen so you have to wonder if she’s looking to add more variety to stay competitive with the top mixed doubles teams. What really carried this team through though was the flying Frenchman who brought a level a focus we haven’t seen too much of this year. If there is a knock on Jay, it’s that he can be too casual and make silly unforced errors as his focus drifts in and out of matches. All day Friday he looked hyper focused, pumping himself up after every point. A motivated Jay and an offensive minded Jesse should see some championship Sundays in 2023. 

Saturday March 11th

4th Place:

(11) Navratil/Young is a combo we saw on the APP tour in 2022. They were having a blast playing together as they sped it up early and dared teams to test their hand speed. They took out (6) Devilliers/Daescu and (14) Hewett/Tardio before falling in a heartbreaker to (7) Arnold/Wilson. With no Matt Wright to team with Riley Newman and no Callan Dawson to team with Tyler Loong, DJ/Zane made a nice run falling just short of championship Sunday.

Seattle Pioneer MLP teammates (4) Wright/Dizon defeated the Florida Smash combo of (5) Irvine/Johnson in a minor quarter final upset. Wright was impressive on the left, aggressively dinking at Johnson’s outside foot with consistent success as she forced multiple pops up and unforced errors. Wright needed to take that aggression up a notch vs (1) Waters/Parenteau in order to be competitive but did not as they lost 11-0, 11-2. 

3rd Place:

(2) Jansen/Jones are one of the most successful new partnerships of 2023 as their chemistry looks like a match made in heaven. They are both warriors and clearly love to battle together (Jones was seen crying in a post-match interview when talking about Jansen after their quarterfinal victory). They earned their 4th medal of the year together but won’t be happy with their semifinal performance losing to (6) Schneemann/Kawamoto 8&1.

(4) Frazier/Johnson handily beat (6) McGuffin/Ignatowich in the quarterfinals. Frazier continued to show his right-side dominance, often handcuffing and surprising Ignatowich on speed ups. They eventually lost to (1) Johns/Johns 3&8 in the semifinals. JW has to take more court and add a speed up off the bounce if they want to compete with the Johns’ boys as his shot selection is becoming too predictable.

2nd Place:

(7) Arnold/Wilson finally made it to a championship Sunday taking out (11) Navratil/Young in an 11-9 third set thriller in the semifinals. We thought this partnership would take off after all their MLP success together but it took them some time to find their rhythm. They take home a well-deserved silver medal losing to the Johns’ 8,6 & 9.

(6) Kawamoto/Schneemann upset both (3) Bright/Todd and (2) Jansen/Jones en route to championship Sunday before meeting their match in (1) Parenteau/Waters losing 9,3, & 8 in the final. Schneemann’s ability to hold her own on the left vs top tier female talent was extremely eye opening as she was one of the last picks in the MLP premier league draft. The lefty Jade Kawamoto played the right and was sporting a new paddle, the Selkirk Power Invikta Air, giving her game some much needed firepower on speed ups and counters. Great run by these two to earn a silver.

1st Place:

(1) Johns’ boys cruised to championship Sunday looking bored at times in their first two rounds. They rolled past (8) Koller/Bar 5 & 3 in the quarterfinals and took out their top competition going into the event in (4) Frazier/Johnson 3 & 8 in the semifinals. They earned gold over (7) Arnold & Wilson 8,6 & 9. Still the team to beat on the men’s side by a wide margin.

(1) Waters/Parenteau weren’t challenged at all Saturday losing just 13 points in 3 matches. They take gold on Sunday over (6) Schneemann/Kawamoto. We won’t see this partnership in Austin as Waters seems to be rotating events with both Parenteau and Bright. Parenteau seems like the better fit for Waters as Bright can go through stretches of inconsistency.


(3) Todd/Bright were upset in the quarterfinals losing to (6) Schneemann/Kawamoto. The match wasn’t on any of the streams but Todd’s lack of high-level matches (spending most of the year on the APP tour as she didn’t strike a deal with the PPA this year) was a concern heading into the tournament. She takes two earlier than expected exits in doubles 

Sunday March 12th

Guess Who’s Back?

We thought Ben would be black for blood this weekend after taking some time off and only capturing one gold medal at the PPA Carvana Grand Slam last month, losing to Federico Staksrud in the semifinals of singles and the Johnson’s in the semifinals of mixed doubles. The GOATs in sports have this uncanny ability to sense a moment and if Ben didn’t walk away with at least two golds this weekend the storyline heading into Austin would have been “is the field starting to gain on Ben Johns”? After close to a month off and looking well rested Ben captured his third triple crown of the year. He faced some adversity in the singles final losing the first set to Collin Shick but cruised to two doubles finals victories without much of a sweat. Johns is the best player in the world and until we see someone consistently beat him week after week it’s his mountain and the rest are trying to climb it. 

Parenteau Party in Pictona

Catherine Parenteau’s hot streak continued in Florida.

After capturing two gold medals in Minnesota, she backed up her performance with two golds in singles & doubles while earning a silver in mixed doubles with Tyson Mcguffin. Parenteau is cementing herself as the #2 women’s player in the world and that didn’t look like the case a few months ago as the younger Anna Bright seemed to be gaining on her. Bright may possess more weapons but Parenteau’s ability to defend, counterattack and adapt to different styles of play has put that debate to bed (for now at least). 

What was the most surprising result from the PPA Tour Red Clay Florida Open? Shoot us a message on Instagram @picklejuice.pb and let us know!

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