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Double dipping will be the norm on Championship Sunday

Author: Andrew Gilman | March 10, 2024

If you like Ben Johns, this is not your weekend.

If you’re a huge fan of Anna Leigh Waters, well, maybe this isn’t your weekend, either, or Riley Newman or James Ignatowich. 

Better luck next time. They’ll be back soon enough

But if you like Federico Stakrsud, Sunday is your day. If you wanna watch Thomas Wilson or Connor Garnett, or cheer for a new face to go gold, like Rachel Rohrabacher, well, Sunday is going to be pretty sensational.

No Ben and no A.L. means the bracket has opened up in Minnesota, the fourth stop of the PPA Tour this year, and some new names are going to be celebrating like they never have been able to before.

Christian Alshon has no gold medals. Neither does Wilson, Garnett, or Tyler Loong. All of them will share the court on Sunday in the men’s final. Rohrabacher doesn’t have a gold either.

Staksrud has been the most consistent singles player in the game in 2024. He’s back in another singles final and will be out there in the mixed doubles final, too.

Wilson will go for double gold, as he’s in the men’s and the mixed final, and Garnett will double up as well, as he’ll face Staksrud in the singles final and pair with Loong in the men’s doubles final.

And Rohrabacher gets two chances, too. Along with teaming up with Staksrud in the mixed doubles bracket, she’ll be on the same side of the net as Anna Bright in the women’s final, who beat Parris Todd and Tyra Black late Saturday evening, clinching the match in a 16-14 thriller after winning the first game, 11-1. 

Not a bad chance for a resume builder for these players. 

“I’m just stoked to be in Championship Sunday,” Garnett said after he and Loong lost the first five points of the match to Hayden Patriquin and Callan Dawson and then turned the match around by winning 22 of the final 27 points. “All the adrenaline I’ll need is being in front of the fans and competing for some golds.”

New frontiers reached for Wilson, Rohrabacher, Garnett, and Staksrud. None of them have ever played in two finals on a Sunday. And new discoveries for Loong and Garnett, who partnered for the first time this week, as did Alshon and Wilson.

“I saw a text message from Thomas Wilson,  and I wasn’t planning on playing, but I didn’t have a choice,” Alshon said of his decision to add the Lakeville, Minn., tour stop to his already busy season. 

Meanwhile, Garnett and Loong decided on their partnership about three weeks ago when Loong realized neither had a partner for this week. They didn’t practice much together, and as Loong said, “I think we just dove right in the pool.”

They made the semifinals one-sided, blasting Patriquin and Dawson, another pairing that hasn’t won golf on the PPA Tour.

On the other side, Wilson and Alshon paired up when Wilson found out Newman wouldn’t be playing this week. 

“It’s all new territory for me,” Wilson said. “I’m just preparing mentally for a long day. Hopefully I’m up for it. I’m excited to be out there.”

Wilson and Vivienne David, the No. 1 seed in mixed doubles, will take on Staksrud and Rachel Rohrabacher in the final.

“Just hit hard and be athletic,’ Wilson said. “We’ll keep riding the wave if we can.”

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