April 10-14, 2024

New tourney, new partner and no problem for Bright in Austin

Author: Andrew Gilman | March 16, 2024

Andrei Daescu has been doing a bit of talking and Anna Bright has been spending too much time scrolling the socials.

Good thing they found enough time to get on the court together. 

Here they are, first-time partners on the PPA Tour and set to play Championship Sunday against No. 1-seeded Ben Johns and Anna Leigh Waters at the Veolia Austin Open.

“I do tend to stalk the Facebook groups,” Bright admitted after she and Daescu won their semifinal match Friday evening against Thomas Wilson and Vivienne David, 11-9, 11-9.

“After the Mesa tournament, I saw a post suggesting that Daescu-Bright > Johns Waters. I sent him the screenshot with a laughing face, because I didn’t think we would be playing together any time soon.”

And what was his response? 

“All Andrei says is, ‘You’re on social media too much,’” Bright said.

Well, maybe it was that random Facebook post that planted the idea for Bright, because she needed a partner once again. Her regular running mate James Ignatowich is still out with a shoulder injury, so this week she called on her Major League Pickleball Orlando Squeeze teammate Daescu. 

And he answered.

“I’ve been saying James is overrated, and she proved that today,” Daescu said jokingly. “Anna can get to the championship with anyone.”

OK, so the talk by Daescu was all in good fun, and Bright isn’t burdened by “screen-time.” It only makes sense that this pairing would work out – plus Bright is one of the top players in the game and Daescu, while not a PPA Tour regular – has gone through an impressive ascension in the last year, winning Major League Pickleball titles as well as fistfuls of medals on the APP Tour. He’s already medaled this year on the PPA Tour, getting to the finals in men’s doubles with Gabe Tardio in Mesa.

“I do struggle with people who aren’t James, because the way he plays is so unique,” Bright said of Ignatowich’s hyper, manic style. “It’s spastic, but when he’s hot, he’s the best. ”With Andrei, it’s very cerebral and calculated, and we’re making good decisions and grinding all day. It’s really different.” 

Bright played alongside Collin Johns in Minnesota last week and the two couldn’t close more than a half-dozen match points in a quarterfinal loss, and they failed to medal. 

“You know, I loved playing with Collin,” Bright said.  “It was different, and I still wanted to do really well. We just barely lost and if we had just won one of our match points we would have had a chance to medal.”

Friday, with Daescu, the two beat Dekel Bar and Tina Pisnik, then Tardio and Dizon and the second-seeded team of David and Wilson, who earned gold last week in Minnesota.

“We have some experience playing together,” Daescu said. “Her energy is good and we go through adversity well and we know we can play well under pressure. I was super-excited when she asked me to play and I’m excited to be in the finals here in Austin.”

Bright probably won’t be checking out Facebook or Insta looking for a new partner next time out. She said Ignatowich should be healthy and ready to go when the tour hits North Carolina starting April 1.

“Well, if he doesn’t play, Andrei will be the first person I’ll call,” Bright said.

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