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It’s the usual suspects emerging from men’s and women’s doubles day on Friday at the club. Tournament of Champions in Brigham City, UT. 

On the women’s side, #2-seeded team Waters blazed through their half of the bracket without dropping a game, their closest match posted against the dangerous duo of Susannah Barr and Vivienne David 11-9, 11-7. They went on to take down #3 seeds Lea Jansen/Catherine Parenteau in their semifinal match 11-5, 11-6.

Because of a 4 hour rain delay, the Waters’ semifinal didn’t take place until late in the evening after dark, which was a new experience for them.

“[Playing this late] was really tough for a couple reasons. First, I’m usually asleep by this time and second, we don’t play at night, so playing under the lights was different for us.”

– Leigh Waters

On the other half of the draw, #1 seeds Callie Smith and Lucy Kovalova had a slightly bumpier but still successful ride to the finals. In their semifinal, they faced #4 seeds Jessie Irvine and Anna Bright – a partnership still in the making as Irvine has been swapping between Bright and Lindsey Newman for the last few tournaments.

The match was an exceptional one and started with a decisive game one going to Bright/Irvine, 11-3, which got the audience excited to see a potential upset. However, Kovalova/Smith came back to win game two 11-8 and were up 2-0 in the third when the rain delay disrupted the match. Upon returning to the court in the evening to finish their match, Kovalova/Smith were able to close out their semifinal with a final score of: 3-11, 11-8, 11-5.

It’s not about what you do in-between but what you do on the court. So we came out, we had a great warm-up, we had great fans here and I want to say, you’re not fans, you’re family.”

– Callie Smith on dealing with the rain delay

On the men’s side, the field was packed. #5 seeds Callan Dawson/Tyler Loong played a nerve-racking three games against #4 seeds AJ Koller/Thomas Wilson and came away with it 11-3, 11-13, 11-8. This set them up to meet #1 seeds Matt Wright/Riley Newman in the semis, which turned out to be a match riddled by the effects of altitude, wind, and lobs. Wright/Newman were able to dispatch Dawson/Loong 11-5, 11-4.

“Yeah, I mean, I like the lob, I can look foolish sometimes, look like a complete idiot, and like, ‘what’s this guy doing out here,’ but when you lob, you typically want to do it against the wind and […] you should think about lobbing when you’re serving so that you don’t lose a point. You can lose some battles to try to win the overall war to get your opponent maybe a little more uncomfortable or unsettled.”

– Matt Wright

On the other half of the draw, #15 seeds Austin Gridley/Todd Fought gave the #2-seeded Johns brothers a scare in their first round, taking them to 3 games and leading by a wide margin in the third before Johns/Johns were able to rally and win 10-12, 11-3, 11-8.

Johns/Johns went on to play another close one against #3 seeds Jay Devilliers and Tyson McGuffin who cruised through their portion of the bracket and played phenomenal pickleball in their semifinal against the Johns duo. Ultimately, Johns/Johns took the match, clinching their spot in Championship Saturday 11-2, 10-12, 11-8.

“It’s always a downer when you have a match point and you don’t get it and you have to go to a third game, but I felt like we bounced back. I don’t think we needed to change too much; we just made a few sloppy mistakes and just had to clean that up. […] It wasn’t the prettiest match, but we got it done.”

– Collin Johns

The women’s bronze medal went to #7 seeds Barr/David after a long battle through the backdraw where they took out a parade of top seeds including #6 seeds Tereschenko/Grechkina, #4 seeds Bright/Irvine, and, finally, #3 seeds Jansen/Parenteau 11-7, 11-6. It was a great day for the unfamiliar pairing that should give them confidence moving forward into the rest of the year.

The men’s bronze medal went to #5 seeds Dawson/Loong by withdrawal. They were set to play Koller/Wilson, but as the men’s bronze was the last match left to play on Friday night after the rain delay, the start time was pushed back to past 10pm, leading Koller/Wilson to bow out.

Since Anna Leigh Waters and Ben Johns have locked in all three finals after their play on Friday, they both have the chance to go for the Triple Crown on Championship Saturday. Callie Smith will also be competing for the Double Crown thanks to landing in the women’s doubles final and mixed doubles final.

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