Tyson McGuffin loves the spotlight. Anyone who follows pro pickleball knows that. It’s the flowing mullet, the tattoos, the bright colors he loves to wear, his signature on-court “bark,” and a good, hearty helping of fan engagement.
The dude just shotgunned a beer with a fan after winning at Texas Open earlier this month.
He might not be the most prolific winner in pro pickleball, but he’s certainly the sport’s main showman, always ready with a quip, a line, or a statement to surprise and delight listeners who can’t believe what a character he is.
Guess what? McGuffin was back in the spotlight on Thursday at the Takeya Showcase in Newport Beach, Calif.
The second-seeded McGuffin earned his way into the finals and will face top-seeded Ben Johns – the same matchup we saw just a few weeks ago outside of Dallas. It was a matchup McGuffin won, finally besting the best player in the world.
And McGuffin is predicting it will happen again in answer to whether another upset is coming.
“For sure,” he said, “Definitely. I’m feeling dangerous right now. I’m re-inspired. I’m not over-respecting the top guys, I’m bringing a little delusion and putting myself way up here. Some key words and some self-talk goes a long way.”
“I’m coming in hot on Sunday.”
Now, trying to figure out what any of that will mean for McGuffin’s game is a mystery, but McGuffin is right. He’s coming in hot.
He didn’t lose a game all day and that included a 12-10, 11-4 victory over friend and doubles partner Jay Devilliers in the semifinals in a match that got borderline contentious with some arguing over the legality of the players’ serves.
McGuffin rallied from a 10-6 deficit in the first game and then ran away with the second game.
“Jay’s my guy,” McGuffin said. Jay’s my boy, and I get to play with him on Saturday and this is the first time this [a conflict during a match] has happened. It was a little messy, but all good. I’m happy to be moving on and looking for the same result I had at the Texas Open.”
He’ll face Johns who turned away three match points in his semifinal against Hunter Johnson to come away with a 11-13, 14-12, 11-4 win.
Like McGuffin, Johns didn’t drop a game until the semis, but he needed a third game to get by Johnson, who was playing extremely well and appeared to be about to take down the #1 seed until disaster struck.
After barely squeezing out game two, Johns went up 2-0 in game three and swung wide to hit an ATP. Johnson clambled to cover the shot, moving backwards in the court and went down hard, rolling his left ankle. Johnson took a medical timeout and decided he’d continue to play, but it was obvious he was really favoring his left side, not allowing him to play with the same intensity as he did in the first two games against Johns.
“Hunter is a great player,” John said. “It was unfortunate; you don’t want a match to go that way. I think that the best respect you can give someone is to play your best. It wouldn’t be right not to. You have to focus and give it your all.”
On the women’s side, the world’s best player, Anna Leigh Waters, will not be able to top this week’s podium, as she skipped this event to be in a family friend’s wedding. This left the field wide open for other top players.
As it turns out, top-seeded Catherine Parenteau will take on third-seeded Salome Devidze in Sunday’s final.
Parenteau advanced by beating fourth-seeded Mary Brascia, 11-6, 11-7 in the semfinals. In an exciting swing, Brascia went up 7-0 in game two by crushing penetrating groundstrokes past Parenteau, leading many to wonder if an upset was forthcoming.
“Yeah, I went to talk to them [my team],” said Parenteau about going down big in game two. “I’m like ‘Oh my god, what is happening, I feel like I’m playing amazing, but she’s just hitting everything back.’”
It seemed that Parenteau managed to figure things out, because she rallied to win the next 11 points to take the game and the match.
Devidze earned a spot in the finals with an 11-9, 13-11 win against third-seeded Lea Jansen, a match that also had a spot of controversy.
The match was delayed at 10-10 in the second game when Jansen called for, and was granted, a hindrance when a fan shouted during an overhead that Jansen hit into the net. Jansen immediately yelled at the fan not to talk during a point and argued she should be able to replay the rally. It was granted, per the hinder rule laid out in the USAP handbook.
“You cannot control the fans,” Devidze argued after the match in her interview. “They are going to scream, and it’s great that they’re so excited… If a fan gets excited, I don’t think we should be calling a hindrance on that.”
The men’s bronze medal went to Jay Devilliers after a 9-11, 11-1, 11-9 win over Yates Johnson. Lea Jansen pulled out her own bronze medal finish against Mary Brascia 11-8, 13-11.