How Anna Bright/Andrei Daescu Beat ALW/Ben Johns

Anna Bright and Andrei Daescu battling Ben Johns and Anna Leigh Waters (not shown)

If you haven’t already heard, the best-performing doubles team in pro pickleball was recently taken down for the first time in over a year by Anna Bright and Andrei Daescu. 

We caught up with Andrei after the win to glean more on how he and Anna defeated Ben Johns and Anna Leigh Waters – a pair who previously hadn’t lost a single gold medal match. 

Following are some insights from Andrei:

The winners’ mantra was simple: stick to the plan

“We respected them, but knew we had a chance for victory if we executed our plan,” Andrei says. 

In game 1, the pair’s plan seemed to stick. Even when they were on the defensive, they doggedly pursued resets to shape the course of the point. 

One amazing example of this: 


“We put together a tactic that played to our strengths,” Andrei tells us. “And we stuck to it.”

It all hinged on game 2

Take a look at the scores for all three games played in this match: 11-3, 11-9, 11-3. Where game 1 was a closeout for Daescu/Bright, game two was critical. 

Some early misjudged speedups on Anna Leigh by Andrei and several lead changes slowed the pair’s progress.

“Game 2 was tough, I was getting shut down by Anna Leigh. But Anna was great at coming in and taking timeouts at the right times, talking to me and telling me what I needed to hear.” 

An unsuccessful point challenge by Anna Leigh Waters at 9-9 ultimately set favor back on Daescu/Bright, and it wasn’t long until they clinched game 2.

Takeaways for recreational or competitive players

We tend to think of the pro and recreational scenes as completely different beasts. But are they? 

“The court is the same dimension and the balls and paddles are more or less the same no matter the level of play,” Andrei says. “Really, the only difference might be overall athleticism.”

And while that can only be gained by intense training, there are some things Andrei says players at all skill levels can glean from watching this match

Stay focused, even when you gain momentum. Two out of three games were easy wins for Daescu/Bright – not that it was easy to do, just that they stayed locked onto their mission and stuck to the strategy they set for themselves. 

But they also knew they’d face some points that wouldn’t go their way, so they had to be ready to accept pressure and reel it in when it counted.

We asked Andrei if there was a particular moment during the match that he felt most confident in securing their victory…in hindsight, that may have been a stupid question.

“You gotta go in believing you can win. It would be arrogant to expect it, but you have to believe,” Andrei says. “If you start thinking about winning while you’re playing, you’re not playing anymore, you’re spectating.”

Understand your team’s strengths. “A lot of players play kind of randomly. We were prepared for most situations knowing what to do when things didn’t go our way because we knew we’d picked a strategy that played to our strengths.”

A great example of the theme of this match: Daescu floats a ball that could be wide, but the team takes advantage of ALW hitting it anyway, staying locked-in during the reset to ultimately pounce on a speedup:

No, you shouldn’t expect a recurring Bright/Daescu partnership

Many may now wonder: will the Bright/Daescu team strike again? Andrei wants to get ahead of any rumors that could spark now that the pair achieved such a momentous win.

“There’s no intention whatsoever of me getting in the way of Anna’s playing partnership with James. I live less than 30 minutes away from them and we practice together often. I’m confident they’ll dominate together once James is healed.”

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