The third and final event of MLP season 1 is two days away as teams will compete one last time before they flip from premier to challenger and vice versa and go through a redraft in July. Every match is important as points are accumulated throughout the 6 events with the top 12 teams earning the right to play the entire 2024 season in the premier league. Here is a quick look at the live standings (the top 12 teams would be in premier next year if we ended today) and a breakdown of all 24 teams. Enjoy!
Milwaukee Mashers: (8th place)
The Mashers didn’t wait around after Daytona in hopes that their chances may improve in San Clemente. They decided to move off DJ Young in favor of Matt Wright. They now have two doubles teams that regularly compete together on the PPA tour.
Florida Smash: (7th place)
The Smash fell just short of a finals appearance in Mesa only to finish at the bottom in Daytona due to an 0-6 record in gender doubles. Ownership decided a change needed to be made as they shipped Irvine and Johns to the Night Owls for David and Yates in an effort to improve in that area.
So Cal Hard 8s: (10th place)
The Hard 8s are another team in this group that made a switch trading Mary Brascia to the Night Owls for Lauren Stratman. Stratman will add some much needed firepower to their women’s doubles lineup but this team will need AJ Koller to perform in order to advance.
The Hustlers: (3rd place)
The Hustlers will be the favorites to take this group as the team of Bright/Schneemann have been the most dominant doubles team in the premier league through two events. Tyson McGuffin is also playing his best pickleball of the year which is scary for the rest of the group.
New Jersey 5s: (4th place)
The 5s have made two playoff appearances so far but have yet to make championship Sunday. Anna Leigh hasn’t been as dominant in this format as she has been on the PPA tour but Lea Jansen has been on a tear as of late. If the 5s can find a way to put it all together they may end up being the last team standing.
California BLQK: (5th place)
BLQK finished 2nd in Daytona and are one of the more improved rosters heading into San Clemente as Frazier, Staksrud and Maggie Brascia have all had recent success in doubles on the PPA tour. It’s a team with very few holes that isn’t going to blow you away but is going to put a ton of balls in play and make you beat them.
The Shock: (6th place)
The team of Jardim/Jones has been the bright spot sporting a 5-2 record through two events, something many (including myself) didn’t see coming. Erik Lange will be the x-factor on whether or not they can advance out of this group. Good news for Shock fans is Lange did announce on May 3rd he was 100% all in on pickleball.
ATX Pickleballers: (9th place)
ATX may sit in 9th place but they are one of more dangerous teams heading into the tournament. We haven’t seen the best out of JW Johnson yet and Gabe Tardio has made 2 semifinals in men’s doubles on the PPA tour in the last two months. With the Kawamotos being as solid and steady as they are, this is a sleeper team in Group B.
Las Vegas Night Owls: (11th place)
The Night Owls were the most active team during the trade window as they moved Stratman, David & Yates for Irvine, Brascia and Johns in a huge roster overhaul. It will be interesting to see how the two different trades end up playing out but all three players acquired are playing at a high level right now.
Seattle Pioneers (1st place)
Seattle has to be feeling good heading into the tournament as Etta Wright has come back fully healthy to make back to back women’s doubles finals on the PPA tour. If there is an Achilles heel for them it’s the dreambreaker but it’s hard to see that mattering until the later stages of the tournament.
Frisco Pandas (12th place)
The Pandas are looking for their first win in MLP. Their chances of advancing are slim but there is some familiarity with Navratil and the newly acquired DJ Young. However Young just announced a wrist injury and it’s unclear if he will be able to go. Regardless, both Grechkina and Padegimiate are playing well right now and should be motivated to prove themselves as premier players for season 2.
The Mad Drops (2nd place)
There are a lot of question marks surrounding the health of Thomas Wilson but even without him this team was still able to claw their way to a semifinal appearance in Daytona. They’ll need Julian Arnold to play his best because both Parenteau and Tereschenko are as solid as they come on the women’s side.
MIAMI PB CLUB (7th place)
Miami was one of the more improved teams from Mesa to Daytona and now adds the talented Wes Burrows to their core of Goldberg, Truong & Long. It will be interesting to see who assumes the right side role in men’s doubles but they should have two formidable mixed teams.
AZ Drive (12th place)
The Drive made another change during the shuffle draft window, dropping Burrows in favor of Cincola. With Siljestrom not available in Daytona and he & Burrows going undefeated in Mesa this was an interesting move. It was also announced last week that Heather Nobler will be out so the Drive decided to pick up Genie Erokhina. They’ll be underdogs to advance but the challenger league is usually good for a surprise or two.
Utah Black Diamonds (3rd place)
The Black Diamonds made a finals appearance in Mesa only to miss the playoffs in Daytona despite a 2-1 record. This is a high floor roster and with Spencer Smith beating several premier players in Atlanta and Texas I wouldn’t be surprised to see them take this group.
Columbus PB Club (10th place)
Columbus moved Milan Rane to Atlanta and picked up Rianna Valdes in the shuffle draft. Women’s doubles was an area they needed to improve but Rane was a force in mixed doubles going 6-0 with both Johnson and Klinger across both events. All eyes will be on Valdes in her MLP debut.
Chicago Slice (2nd place)
The Slice will be looking to break through to championship Sunday after two semifinal appearances and with a roster playing some of its best pickleball of the year they will be a tough out for just about anyone. Garnett is one of my top players to watch in San Clemente as his doubles game seems to be catching up to his singles game.
Atlanta Bouncers (5th place)
The Bouncers dropped Christine Trifunovic and traded for Milan Rane while also picking up Phillip Locklear for Ben Newell. It’s a team with more questions than answers right now as they will look to bounce back from a 10th place finish in Daytona. Their chances of advancing will rely heavily on the play of first round pick Hunter Johnson.
Texas Ranchers (6th place)
The Ranchers picked up Tina Pisnik in favor of Genie Erokhina as they look to build off their first playoff appearance of MLP 2023. This is a veteran group led by Lee Whitwell and Pat Smith but the play of Pisnik and Doerner will likely decide their fate in a group that features the Chicago Slice and Bay Area Breakers.
Bay Area Breakers (1st place)
The Breakers will be looking to 3 peat before the challenger teams flip to premier and redraft in July but they will be without Rachel Summers who was an integral part of their success on the right side. They picked up Vivian Glozman who has shown flashes of her ability but is more of a left sider at this point in her career. The fit next to Radzikowska and most likely Alshon (two left siders) will be something to watch.
Orlando Squeeze (9th place)
The Squeeze surprisingly stood pat during the shuffle draft window after finishing 9th in Daytona. In hindsight a move for Pisnik or Glozman for Rettger to pair with Oshiro would have made some sense but they will be running it back with their current roster. They will be hoping to recapture some of the magic they had in Mesa where they just missed out on a semifinal appearance.
Dallas PB Club (4th place)
No one improved their roster more than Dallas from Mesa to Daytona as they added veteran Jill Braverman and the dangerous Daniel de la Rosa. Brandon French will be out with an injury so Dallas decided to go with the lefty Ben Newell, who was recently dropped by the Atlanta Bouncers. Newell and De La Rosa play doubles together often so this move makes sense in that regard.
DC Pickleball Club (11th place)
The DC Pickleball Club picked up Judit Castilo in favor of Amanda Hendry and Castillo is showing signs lately that she is not just a singles threat. Querrey is the big question mark as we have not seen any meaningful results from him in 2o23. It will most likely be up to Bates and Auvergne to deliver a big performance if DC wants to advance.
Brooklyn Aces (8th place)
The Aces have a great chance of advancing out of Group C due to the recent play of Rob Nunnery, who has become one of the guys to beat on the APP Tour but the big storyline is the recent play of Hurricane Tyra Black, as she pushed the best women’s doubles team in the world to three games last weekend. There is a lot to like about the Aces in a group that is up for grabs.