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Catherine Parenteau is not unfamiliar with winning. In fact, she’s used to it.

A veteran player on the PPA Tour, Parenteau has seen plenty of success, from mixed doubles to singles to women’s doubles, too.

Truthfully, Parenteau might be playing the best pickleball of her career. She’s coming off a double gold medal effort after winning mixed doubles and singles last time out at the Indoor National Championships in Minnesota, and she arrived in Florida this week for the PPA’s Florida Open as the No. 4 seed in the women’s singles draw.

But Thursday—yes, Thursday, and not a Championship Sunday, not a gold medal match, or a nationals final, or anything in between—Parenteau said she had the best win of her career.

That’s what you say when you beat a No. 1 seed. That’s what you say when you beat the unbeatable. That’s how you feel when you take down the best women’s player in the world, Anna Leigh Waters, in just two consecutive games, 11-7, 11-9.

“Yes, this is my biggest win,” Parenteau said with a gigantic smile. “Yes it was.”

It was, and it should be. Parenteau is just 3-12 overall against Waters in career match-ups, but more significantly, Waters’ arc has been trending upward. The 16 year-old phenom has been unbeatable. Waters hadn’t lost this season in singles and had already earned a pair of triple crowns in 2023. Until Thursday, Waters’ singles winning streak stretched back to the Orange County Cup in June of 2022 where she lost to Parris Todd. That’s over eight months of playing singles on tour without a loss.

And now, here’s Parenteau earning a second chance at a gold medal for the second tournament in a row. She beat Lea Jansen during their last meeting out in Minnesota and will face Jansen again on Sunday.

“It was my confidence,” Parenteau said of the victory over Waters. “I was really believing in myself, and I was really in it mentally. It was just different today.”

Parenteau has always been an advocate of the power of positive thinking and has more than once talked about how difficult singles play is for her because of the fact she’s out there alone. She’s done a lot of work on her mental game over the last year and has been one of the first players on tour to travel consistently with both a trainer, Connor Derrickson, and a coach, Athena Trouillot, to help her perform at her very best. 

“I had to stay aggressive and be confident,” Parenteau said. “I got her [Waters], and I know I can beat other players as well.”

Parenteau got a bye in the first round, beat the 13th-seeded Ava Ignatowich (yes, sister to James Ignatowich) in the second round in two games and then got a shot at Waters in the semifinal after the fifth-seeded Lauren Stratman had to withdraw because of sickness.

And after winning the first game, Parenteau built a lead in second game, but saw it shrink. It took five chances on match point before she was able to earn the victory.

“I was getting nervous,” Parenteau said. “I was getting tight at the end, and I was thinking I might not get another opportunity, so for sure I was thinking, I better finish.”

Jansen, the No. 2 seed, beat Etta Wright, then beat her doubles partner Allyce Jones in the quarterfinals before getting by Salome Devidze in three games, 11-5, 3-11, 11-7. It will be Jansen’s fourth try at a gold medal in singles this season. She has lost to Waters twice and to Parenteau once.


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