Gender doubles at the Select Medical Orange County Cup in beautiful San Clemente, California did not disappoint. In fact, both the men’s and women’s semifinal matches were composed of gripping, nail-biting stuff that kept fans on the edge of their seats.
In the men’s division, #1 seeds Matt Wright and Riley Newman made it all the way to the finals, only dropping two games along the way. In their semifinal match, broadcast live on the Tennis Channel, Wright and Newman showed what a formidable powerhouse they are. Playing against #4 seeds Tyler Loong and Callan Dawson (who defeated sixteen year old Hayden Patriquin and partner Julian Arnold 11-9, 11-6 on their way to the semifinal) the match was filled with incredibly precise dink battles, thrilling counter punches, tweeners, and lobs from Dawson that tended to land picture-perfect right on the baseline.
Loong and Dawson did not drop a game in the main draw until they came up short against Newman and Wright in the semis, losing 11-6, 9-11, 11-5.
In the bottom half of the main draw of the men’s bracket, #2 seeds Collin Johns and AJ Koller made it all the way to the semifinals, only dropping one game in their quarterfinal match against #7 seeds Patrick Smith and DJ Young 11-7, 5-11, 11-2. Incredible defensive shots, along with jaw dropping ATPs by Collin Johns and powerful speed-ups from A.J.Koller, make this team one to watch for on Sunday. Their opponents, Matt Wright and Riley Newman, will be looking to secure their 4th title together this year.
#3 seeds Jay Devilliers and Tyson McGuffin were knocked out of the main draw by 6th seeds JW Johnson and Dylan Frazier 11-9,11-6 – a team that ultimately went on to win the bronze medal match, defeating Smith and Young 11-5, 11-6.
The women’s division, made up of 15 teams in total, featured some of the hardest hitting, most entertaining pickleball of the day. The #1 seeds, Lucy Kovalova and Callie Smith, made it to the finals in the top half of the draw. Their semifinal match against 4th seeds, Jessie Irvine and Lindsey Newman, could not have been any more thrilling.
The defense, precision, and patience of Lindsey Newman, who has been absent from the tour for some time in order to have her second child, demonstrated that she’s back, better than ever. Jesse Irvine’s power, resets, and ability to get to every single ball, is truly inspirational to watch.
However, Callie Smith and Lucy Kovalova displayed why they are the reigning number one team. After losing the second game of the semifinal match, having won the first, they came back for the third and final game, utterly determined. The battle was brilliant, with Callie Smith and Lindsey Newman facing off in endless dinking battles while all four players searched for an attackable ball. Together, Smith and Kovolova beat Newman and Irvine in the semis 11-8, 6-11, 11-8, landing themselves in another championship Sunday.
In the bottom half of the women’s draw, mother-daughter duo, #2 seeds Leigh and Anna Leigh Waters, proved yet again that they are just too strong and fierce of a team for most competitors to deal with. Fifteen year old Anna Leigh set the tone for the match when she came out blazing, poaching, and attacking on the very first point of her semifinal game against Lea Jansen and Catherine Parenteau. The Waters team secured their spot in the final, beating Jansen and Parenteau 11-5, 11-2.
This means that Anna Leigh will be playing in all three finals on Championship Sunday and is looking to secure another Triple Crown.
In the women’s consolation bracket, 6th seeds Anna Bright and Jorja Johnson upset the #4 seeds Jessie Irvine and Lindsey Newman, beating them in a very close game, 17-15. However, the bronze medal ultimately went to Lea Jansen and Catherine Parenteau, who beat Bright and Johnson 11-9, 11-4.
Championship Sunday matches will be televised live on Tennis Channel.