It’s full steam ahead on the PPA Tour as we cruise into the middle event of a back-to-back-to-back series that started with the Selkirk Labs Showdown last weekend and will end with the Tournament of Champions next week.
For now, it’s the Skechers Invitational that is stealing the spotlight as play is kicked-off Friday and will go through Sunday. The buzz word is “CBS” since the national network powerhouse will be broadcasting pickleball for the first time ever on Saturday, guaranteeing pickleball its largest live audience ever before.
The event will feature 24 of the most prestigious players on the PPA Tour, and things get really interesting during the final two days. On Saturday and Sunday, fans will witness the “All-Star Game” of pickleball: the top two seeds in singles, doubles, and mixed doubles squaring off. All of the matchups that pickleball fans dream of seeing will come to life at Riviera Country Club.
PPA women’s doubles No. 2 Anna Leigh Waters/Leigh Waters will challenge No. 1 Callie Smith/Lucy Kovalova. Smith/Kovalova have won the previous two meetings but needed five games to do it in Atlanta. Team Waters plays with a dangerous mixture of finesse and power, so they could rewrite the script this time around if they can draw more errors with their short game.
Immediately after, the top two men’s doubles teams take the court. It will be No. 1 Riley Newman/Matt Wright vs. No. 2 Ben Johns/Collin Johns – another exhilarating matchup. Newman/Wright won a nailbiter against the Johns brothers in their most recent meeting in Atlanta, but Ben and Collin own the head-to-head record in 2022. Expect the revenge-seeking top seeds to dazzle on national TV. Both women’s and men’s doubles matches will air on CBS, Paramount+ and PPA TV.
Newman and Wright go from partners to rivals during the premier mixed doubles matchup set for Sunday. Matt Wright/Lucy Kovalova, who are ranked #1, will share the court with the #2 team, Riley Newman/Catherine Parenteau. Newman/Parenteau have won the last two meetings without losing a game, so the advantage is with them, even though their ranking is not. Wright/Kovalova forced two very close games in those two meetings, and Wright used his knowledge of Newman to expose some weaknesses: jamming him at net and executing lob-dropshot combos. To score the massive upset, Wright will have to utilize these strategies to perfection.
Singles is on the docket next and with it, one of the most well-known rivalries will be renewed. Tennis fans, this is the “Federer vs. Nadal” of pickleball. Ben Johns and Tyson McGuffin, who have had many epic battles over the last few years, will face off for the first time since March. Johns won that meeting, as well as a matchup in February with clutch volleys under pressure, so get ready to see some more first-class net play.
No. 2 Parenteau returns to action in women’s singles to take on No. 1 Anna Leigh Waters. Waters breezed through their only meeting in the last few months, so the 15-year-old is a heavy favorite in LA. Although Waters lost to Parris Todd in the final of her last event, the Select Medical Cup, Parenteau also fell short to the surprise gold medalist.
The matchups described above for mixed doubles, men’s singles, and women’s singles will be broadcasted to CBS Sports on Sunday.
Although a major network won’t be carrying the coverage, Friday kicks-off the weekend’s action with nine stand-alone matches featuring all your favorite PPA pros. These matches can be watched via PPA TV. Stand-alone PPA TV matches will also happen throughout Saturday and Sunday, book-ending the CBS coverage to create a weekend filled with exciting matchups!