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The PPA Tour finals end the year with a bang | UK South East Pickleball League taking applications | APP Team Format Announcement

Unlocking the Power of the Two-Handed Backhand in Pickleball | Upcoming UK Tournaments & Festivals

The PPA Tour finals end the year with a bang

Source: PPA Tour

As I reported last week, the finals of the PPA Tour were played at the weekend. It was an invite-only affair with the top 8 men and women in singles and the top 16 men in mixed and gender doubles battling it out to be crowned champions.

The players were separated into two pools for each event (seeded on PPA Tour points) and the games were played in a round-robin format with the top two from each pool progressing to the semi-finals. In doubles, players even got to pick their partners. For more details on the structure, the draw, and who picked who, see the last newsletter.

Men’s Pro Singles

In the group stages of men’s singles, we saw some drama in Pool 1. Connor Garnet beat his nemesis Ben Johns only to lose to Christian Alshon. This left all three players on a record of 2-1 during pool play, with Garnet failing to get through to the knockout stages on points difference. Imagine beating Ben Johns and then not making the knockout stages! That must’ve been hard to take.

Pool 2 was more straightforward with Tyson McGuffin and Federico Staksrud winning their first 2 games guaranteeing them a place in the knockout rounds. Staksrud beat McGuffin convincingly to win the group 3-0.

Staksrud looked to be cruising in the semi-final too taking the first set off Alshon 11-2 before being taken all the way in set two losing 14-12 and then getting pickled in set 3, 11-0.

Johns walked past McGuffin in the semi-final 11-2, 11-7 before setting up a final between Johns and Alshon. Alshon did manage to take Johns to 3 sets but ultimately he was too strong for Florida-based Alshon.

There were no bronze medal matches in this format, and bronze medals were awarded to the best knockout semi-finalist. In the case of men’s singles, this was Federico Staksrud.

Gold: Ben Johns. Silver: Christian Alshon. Bronze: Federico Staksrud.

Women’s Pro Singles

There were moderate levels of drama in the women’s pro singles culminating in an unsurprising final. In Pool 1, Anna Leigh Waters had to survive two tiebreakers but managed to top the group 3-0, with Mary Brascia taking the second spot.

As expected, Catherine Parenteau won Pool 2 and then easily dispatched Brascia 11-5, 11-3 to set up a final with Waters who beat Tereschenko 13-11, 11-9.

Sadly for spectators, Parenteau did not manage to put up much of a fight this time around, losing 11-7, 11-1 in the final.

Gold: Anna Leigh Waters. Silver: Catherine Parenteau. Bronze: Irina Tereschenko

Mixed Doubles

Another shock result in pool play involving Ben Johns as he and Anna Leigh Waters lost 11-8, 11-8 to Anna Bright and James Ignatowich after both teams had won their first games to guarantee a place in the semi-finals. As a result, Bright and Ignatowich topped the pool.

Pool 2 was more tightly contested with 3 teams ending on a record of 2-1 requiring a points difference to decide who progressed. Lucy Kovalova and Matt Wright won the group, with Jorga and JW Johnson taking second place edging out Riley Newman and Vivienne David.

In the semi-finals, Johns and Waters easily dispatched Wright and Kovalova 11-2, 11-4 whilst the second semi-final went to 3 sets with the Johnson siblings edging out Bright and Ignatowich 11-9 in the final set meaning both pool winners lost their semi-final matches.

Sadly again for spectators, the final was not a competitive one as Johns and Waters easily beat the Johnsons 11-1, 11-2, 11-4.

Gold: Waters & Johns. Silver: Johnson & Johnson. Bronze: Bright & Ignatowich

Woman’s Doubles

The woman’s doubles results were as predictable as they come with no surprises or twists to write about.

Waters and Parenteau won their group without breaking a sweat, even beating the second-place finishers, Allyce Jones & Etta Wright, 11-1, 11-1.

Anna Bright and Vivienne David also predictably topped their pool with relative ease.

Both teams advanced to the finals but again Waters and Parenteau, as they have all year, showed that there is a huge gap between them and the rest of the field beating Bright and David 11-2, 11-5, 11-6 in the final.

Gold: Waters & Parenteau Silver: Bright & David Bronze: Kovalova & Smith

Men’s Doubles

So far no gold medal surprises, and the same can be said for the men’s finals. Ben and Collin Johns managed to top pool 1 undefeated whilst the rest of the teams all finished 2-1 with Wright and Ignatowich taking second place on points.

Pool 2 provided more of a surprise, with pool favourites Dylan Frazier & JW Johnson only managing to finish 3rd on points with Newman & Thomas Wilson finishing top and Staksrud & Tellez finishing second.

The Johns brothers breezed past Staksrud & Tellez 11-5, 11-1 in the semi-final while Newman and Wilson cruised to victory 11-7, 11-8 against Wright & Ignatowich.

The final was a much closer match going to 4 sets after starting with one set each, both won convincingly. The 3rd and 4th sets were a much tighter affair but ultimately went to the Johns brothers 11-9, 12-10 for them to take the title.

Gold: Johns & Johns. Silver: Newman & Wilson. Bronze: Wright & Ignatowich

Triple Crowns

So that’s how it panned out. Ben Johns and Anna Leigh Waters continued doing what they’ve been doing most of the year with another triple crown a piece.

Congratulations to Ben and Anna for truly stellar years in 2023.

To read more, take a look at the PPA Tour coverage here.

UK South East Pickleball League expanded to two shorter seasons per calendar year

Following a successful South East Pickleball League (SEPL) in 2023 and feedback from players, SEPL has decided to have two shorter seasons in 2024.

Season one will run from January until the summer, with season two running from September until the end of the year. This frees up the summer for people to book holidays without the risk of missing a league match.

All league matches will be played at David Lloyd Woking, one Sunday per month.

SEPL is now taking applications for the new season. Note that teams must come from the southeast region. Interested people should contact Louise Stephens of Andre Strachan on Facebook or email Louise at [email protected].

Coaching Corner

Unlocking the Power of the Two-Handed Backhand in Pickleball


The two-handed backhand is a powerful stroke in pickleball, offering a unique blend of control, power, and spin. This technique can really elevate a player’s performance on the court. This article will guide you through the essentials of mastering the two-handed backhand in pickleball.

Key Components of the Two-Handed Backhand

Engage Both Arms Effectively: The key to a successful two-handed backhand is the active involvement of both arms. The dominant arm provides stability and direction, while the non-dominant arm (usually the left for right-handed players) contributes significantly to power generation.

Proper Body Alignment: Your stance and body alignment play crucial roles. Position your body sideways relative to the net, with your feet shoulder-width apart. This stance provides the necessary balance and power.

Paddle Grip and Positioning: Grip your paddle with both hands, ensuring that the non-dominant hand is higher on the handle. This grip gives you better control and leverage for the stroke.

The Swing Mechanics: Initiate the backhand swing from the shoulders, keeping your wrists firm. The power comes from a combination of arm extension and torso rotation. Ensure a smooth, continuous swing through the ball.

Contact and Follow-Through: Strike the ball at waist height, extending both arms towards the target. Follow through with your swing, maintaining the direction and extending the arms fully to maximize power and accuracy.

Benefits of the Two-Handed Backhand

Increased Power: The two-handed backhand allows for more powerful shots due to the combined strength of both arms.

Enhanced Control: This stroke offers greater stability and precision (compared to one-handed backhands), making it easier to place shots accurately.

Improved Topspin: Generating topspin is more manageable with two hands on the paddle, making it harder for opponents to return.

Practice Drills

Wall Drills: Practice hitting against a wall to develop consistency and control. Focus on your swing mechanics and follow through.

Shadow Playing: Without a ball, practice your swing motions. This helps in muscle memory development.

Partner Drills: Play with a partner, focusing solely on delivering two-handed backhands. This builds accuracy and confidence in game-like scenarios.


The two-handed backhand in pickleball is a versatile and powerful stroke that can significantly improve your game. With practice and attention to technique, you can develop a more formidable and controlled backhand, making you a more competitive player on the court. Remember, the key to mastery is consistent practice and a focus on proper technique.

To see this in action, watch this instructional video from Simone Jardim.

APP blindsides the pickleball world with team format announcement

In 2023, whilst the MLP and the PPA battled away during the tour wars saga and continue to be in the news for controversial announcements (and have still not merged!), the APP has quietly gone about its business diversifying its offering.

In their announcement, the APP stated: “With the addition of a team-based competition, the APP Tour now offers the most variety of any pickleball organization, appealing to both players and spectators with a schedule of pro competitions in teams, singles and doubles all in a single week during these five events.”

And without the MLP and PPA merger in place, for now, this is true. The APP could also extend that list of variety to school, college, senior and international competitions. The APP has been busy spreading its wings whilst the MLP and PPA battle over the top Pros.

“We are committed to growing the game, and adding a format that players love to a tournament environment that sets the standard for pickleball events is yet another reason why we're the place to be for the best in pickleball”

APP Founder Ken Herrmann

The team-based format will consist of 5 single day-long tour stops consisting of singles, gender doubles, and mixed doubles with a prize pool of $100k.

There is no doubt that team competitions are good for Pickleball so this is a welcome addition to the APP Tour.

Read more on the APP website here.

Upcoming UK Tournaments & Festivals

Thanks to everyone using the Pickled Events website to promote their events. More have been added this week!

To find events popping up near you, visit the Pickled Events website!

If you’d like to promote your event for free in the Pickleball Addiction newsletter and on the Pickled Events website. Go here.

Visit the Pickleball Addiciton Store this Christmas

Whether you’re looking for Christmas presents or a new paddle to tear up the court with. The Pickleball Addiction store stocks a wide range of Paddles, Balls, nets, and accessories.

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