The Association of Pickleball Professionals finished off the busiest section of its 2023 calendar by heading east on I-90 from Chicago and not stopping until they hit the Jersey Shore, pulling into Avalon for the 2023 Sunmed APP New Jersey Open.
The APP pros got to play some pickleball at the beach, turning the last leg of this section of the event into a mini beach vacation, while competing against some interesting newcomers to the tour.
Let’s Recap the action.
Men’s Pro Singles Recap
After missing Chicago entirely, #1 Hunter Johnson returned with a vengeance, cruising through his opening rounds and then outlasting #6 Eduardo Irizarry in the winner’s bracket final to secure a spot in Sunday’s gold medal match. Irizarry advanced to the winner’s bracket final over #7 Richard Livornese Jr., who had upset #2 Yates Johnson in an earlier round.
Irizarry sent #2 Yates Johnson home with the bronze medal in the consolation bracket final to force a rematch for the gold. In Sundays’ final, a massive rainstorm swept through the upper north-east, sending the APP players to an alternate site to complete the gold medal matches. When they finally took the court, Hunter blitzed past Eduardo in a rematch of the APP Mesa final from April to secure the gold. This is Hunter’s 7th career APP pro singles gold medal.
Gold: Hunter Johnson. Silver: Eduardo Irizarry. Bronze: Yates Johnson.
Women’s Pro Singles Recap
#1 Salome Devidze continues to run roughshod over the APP’s Pro Women’s singles draw, cruising to a gold medal in New Jersey without giving up more than 4 points in any one game. Neutrals looked forward to the APP’s other top singles pros Parris Todd and Megan Fudge challenging Devidze for the title, but both pulled out of the event mid-way through with injuries.
#3 Parris Todd topped pickleball newcomer Chao Yi Wang in a tough 3-gamer 11-9 in the third, then retired from the event. Wang, a former WTA Tennis pro from Chinese Taipei who is now the reigning #1 Asian pro, then went on a consolation bracket run, falling in the Bronze medal match to #2 Fudge.
Devidze got a walk-over in the final, as Fudge suffered a leg injury and withdrew as a precaution. This hands Salome her 10th APP singles pro gold medal.
Gold: Salome Devidze. Silver: Megan Fudge. Bronze: Chao Yi Wang.
Mixed Pro Doubles Recap
There were no real surprises in the opening rounds of the Mixed pro draw, with all eight top seeds advancing to the quarters of the winner’s bracket. #1 Andrei Daescu & Susannah Barr topped the caravanning husband/wife pair of Ryler DeHeart & Megan Fudge in one semi, while #2 Hunter Johnson gets a replacement partner in Allison Harris (presumably because of Parris’ injury on singles Friday) and makes a massive run, topping #1 Daescu & Barr in the winner’s bracket final to compete for the Sunday gold.
Daescu & Barr rebounded in the loser’s bracket, sending DeHeart & Fudge to the bronze to force a rematch with Johnson & Harris. In the gold match, Daescu & Barr returned order to the APP Mixed pro division by taking the rematch in three to force the winner-take-all final game, which they took as well. This is the third gold medal in the last four APP mixed pro events for Daescu & Barr.
Gold: Daescu & Barr. Silver: Harris & H.Johnson. Bronze: Fudge & DeHeart.
Men’s Pro Doubles Recap
One of the fun things about the APP Men’s Doubles draws is that there always seems to be a Cinderella run from a team of unknowns, and Avalon was no different. The #19 seeds Michael Forster & Jericho Grollman flew up from Florida and went four rounds into the winner’s bracket, including upsets of the #3 seeds Ryler DeHeart & St. Louis gold medal winner Andre Mick. They fell in the semis to the Johnson brothers, and then fell short of a medal in the loser’s bracket, losing to another team that certainly raised some eyebrows, #18 seeds Jayden Broderick & Vinicius Da Silva. Teenager Broderick & former Norfolk State tennis star Da Silva lost in the opening round, but then took 6 games straight in the back draw to salvage a medal, the first professionally for both players.
The two top seeded teams meanwhile ground their way to what seemed like the inevitable gold medal match, with #1 Andrei Daescu & Rob Nunnery topping #2 Hunter & Yates Johnson in the winner’s bracket by two close games 12-10, 11-9, then faced off against them in a rematch for the gold. In the gold medal final Sunday, Daescu & Nunnery won even more convincingly than they had on Saturday, winning 3,7 to win their fourth Men’s Doubles gold medal of the season. This also represents the 5th “double double” of Daescu’s 2023 season, mostly done with Nunnery & Barr.
Gold: Daescu & Nunnery. Silver: Johnson & Johnson (not the shampoo). Bronze: Broderick & Da Silva.
Women’s Pro Doubles Recap
With Harris filling in for Todd in Women’s doubles, Parris’ normal partner Simone Jardim didn’t miss a beat, cruising through the draw as the #2 seeds and then taking the winner’s bracket final over the #1 seeds Megan Fudge & Susannah Barr to secure a spot in Sunday’s Gold medal match.
The #1 seeds had to settle for bronze, taken out in the loser’s bracket final by #3 Alix Truong & Vivian Glozman in a breaker. Truong & Glozman, the gold medalists a week ago in Chicago, head into Sunday’s final looking for revenge, having lost to Jardim & Harris late Saturday afternoon.
In the gold medal match, Harris and Jardim were just as dominant as Todd & Jardim generally are, winning the gold medal 11-2,11-3 over Truong & Glozman. This is Allison Harris’ first ever pro gold medal, and it was well earned.
Gold: Jardim & Harris. Silver: Truong & Glozman. Bronze: Fudge & Barr.
Champions (Senior) Pro Competition Quick Recap
The senior pros seem to have taken this weekend off, with competing tour events, a really difficult travel schedule as of late, and next week’s NPL event on the horizon. Just one Senior division was competed in New Jersey.
- Men’s Champions Pro Singles: #1 seed Robert Wright got a come-from-behind win over Oberge Janvier to take the singles title.
The Pro Pickleball Medal Tracker has now been updated with these results; check out this link online for a complete pro medal history for all tours and all pro events.
Next up on the Pickleball Calendar? According to my Master Pickleball Schedule, which has now been updated with a 2024 tab, all the three pro entities are idle next week. The NPL has its next team event in San Antonio for the only pro action on the weekend. The weekend following will be the return of MLP, kicking off the 2nd half of its 2023 season in Atlanta.
Next up for the APP tour? They have a few weeks off to catch their breath, then head to Atlanta for the Sunmed Atlanta Open on October 1st weekend.