Daescu's Double Golds and Truong and Nunnery's First 2023 Victories
Parris Todd, Simone Jardim, and Andrei Daescu keep undefeated doubles gold streaks alive; Alix Truong and Rob Nunnery earn first gold medals of 2023; Yates Johnson earns second-straight men’s singles gold; Salome Devidze earns second women’s singles gold of 2023; more than 900 players competed in six-day tournament at Sawyer Point Pickleball Complex.
Championship Sunday wrapped the 2023 APP Vlasic Classic with electrifying action across all five pro gold medal matches, with the women’s and men’s doubles matches being featured live on CBS Sports Network. Andrei Daescu, Parris Todd, Simone Jardim, Yates Johnson, Salome Devidze, Rob Nunnery and Alix Truong came out on top on Sunday in front of a capacity crowd at Sawyer Point Pickleball Complex on Cincinnati’s scenic riverfront. Sunday crowned six days of pro and amateur APP Tour pickleball action which featured more than 900 players competing in the Queen City’s premier pickleball tournament over the duration of the event.
Truong and Daescu stole the show with their mixed pro doubles victory – Truong’s first career pro gold medal on the APP Tour. Daescu, Jardim and Todd continued their men’s and women’s doubles undefeated streaks with their fifth gold medals of the season in the category. Yates Johnson defended his men’s pro singles title against his brother Hunter, and Devidze was triumphant in her return to APP Tour action.
Daescu paired up with Truong in the mixed pro doubles final, facing off against Nunnery and Barr. Game one went to Daescu and Truong, 11-4, before Barr and Nunnery responded with an 11-7 win in game two. A back-and-forth game three went to Daescu and Truong, 11-9, setting up the deciding tiebreaker match to end the day. Daescu and Truong jumped out to a 6-0 lead and cruised from there, winning 15-9 – awarding Truong her first career APP Tour gold medal and Daescu’s second of the day.
“Winning my first gold means so much to me, because of the crowd. I had a bunch of my hometown pickleball friends watching the final – they all drove eight hours from Northern Virginia to be here in Cincinnati – and I’m so glad I was able to win gold with them cheering me on. I earned two medals in this tournament and that gives me a lot of confidence for the rest of the season. Now, I’m even more excited to see what’s to come.”
“I’m very lucky,” Daescu said, after earning his APP-leading eighth gold medal of 2023. “I’ve been around sports long enough to savor every moment – I know it can be taken away in a heartbeat. I’ve been fortunate to win these gold medals this year and play in front of crowds like we had in Cincinnati. I loved their energy, which made it a lot of fun. Alix played outstanding. All credit goes to her – she played great and deserves her first gold medal. I’m glad we were able to win together.”
The Championship Sunday slate kicked off with a rematch between the Johnson twins, Yates and Hunter, with Yates going for his second gold in a row after victory in men’s singles at the APP’s last event in Sacramento. Yates picked up right where he left off, winning game one easily, 11-4, and a close game two, 11-9, to force a tiebreaker match. The elder Johnson twin would not be denied as he took the tiebreaker, 15-8, claiming his second-straight men’s pro singles gold medal. Before Sunday’s final, up-and-coming star William Sobek played impressively to earn the bronze medal on Thursday.
“It was really exciting to not only get another gold, but to do it against my own twin brother, twice,” an ecstatic Yates commented. “We had a great match – my shots were landing, and Hunter said there wasn’t a lot he could do. I felt like I was on it today, and everything clicked.”
In the women’s pro singles final, Salome Devidze took on Jenna Hessert – making her first APP Tour Championship Sunday appearance of the year. Devidze was dominant, winning game one 11-2 and taking the second game 11-6 to win her second gold medal of 2023. The win capped a completely undefeated women’s pro singles run for Devidze in Cincinnati, not dropping a single game all tournament. Hessert’s silver medal was her first APP Tour medal in 2023, and on Saturday, Amanda Hendry earned bronze for her first medal of the year.
“It means a lot to win my second gold of the season,” said Devidze. I’m being more and more aggressive in my game, especially with coming in to the net. I love Cincinnati – I feel really at home here. The crowd was incredible, they were super welcoming on and off the court. It’s a real pickleball-loving community and it was so much fun to play here.”
The Championship Court action continued with the women’s pro doubles gold medal match live on CBS Sports Network to a nationwide audience, featuring four-time defending champions Jardim and Todd against Barr and Fudge. Fudge and Barr started strong, taking game one 11-8, but Jardim and Todd fought back, recording an 11-8 victory of their own in game two before a commanding 11-2 win in game three. The win gave the Jardim/Todd duo their fifth women’s doubles gold medal in as many tournaments, continuing their strong APP Tour victory run in 2023. Truong and Milan Rane earned bronze medals on Saturday.
“I sound like a broken record every time I talk about the relationship Simone and I have, but it’s so special to play alongside her,” said Todd. “The bond we share is very special too. When one of us is down, we pick the other one up, and that’s been such a key to our partnership this year.”
“The pressure is all on us,” added Jardim. “Parris has such a powerful shot, and I’ve been doing my job of setting her up. I feel very fortunate I get to compete with her, she’s a great partner and she compliments my game really well. ‘No guts, no glory’ is my motto – you have to leave it all out there and that’s what we did again today. It was so great to see all the people around to watch and cheer, and they saw some exciting pickleball today.”
Daescu and Nunnery then took the court to face John Cincola and Brendon Long for men’s pro doubles gold. Dasecu’s doubles dominance continued once again, as he and Nunnery defeated Cincola and Long, 11-4 and 12-10. Cincinnati witnessed Daescu’s fifth-straight men’s doubles gold and Nunnery’s first gold of the 2023 APP Tour season. For Daescu, the win continues to demonstrate the position he has at the very top of the pro pickleball game – winning with multiple partners, across both men’s and women’s doubles. For Nunnery, his first gold of the year will likely be strong motivation to continue winning form in more APP Tour events in 2023.
“I expect to win, so it means a lot to get the first one of 2023,” said Nunnery. “Andrei is a pleasure to play with – he’s a very big guy and can cover a lot of the court, so I had to be solid on the right side when I’ve mostly played on the left side this year. [Andrei] really loves to win, and that helps drive our energy – I’m looking forward to playing more with him.”
“I’ve been trying to partner with Rob for a while now, and I’m glad we were able to do it in Cincinnati,” said Daescu. “I love his energy and his competitiveness – he’s a very experienced player and you’ll see a lot more from us.”
In APP Tour senior pro action in Cincinnati, Rick Witsken was the big winner – taking home a Triple Crown with three gold medal victories. Witsken took home the men’s singles title, earned gold with Beth Bellamy in mixed doubles, and partnered with Altaf Merchant to win men’s doubles gold. Bellamy and Anna Shirley won gold in women’s doubles, and Sheri Courtier earned women’s singles gold.
In super senior pro action, Scott Moore and F.D. Wilder earned men’s doubles gold, Nancy Henderson and Linda Thompson took home women’s doubles gold, and Thompson and David Spearman won gold in mixed doubles.
The APP travels to the Big Apple for its sixth event of the year, The Boca Raton 2023 APP New York City Open, May 23-28 at the legendary USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows, New York. Registration for the event closes at midnight, EST on May 14 and full tournament information can be found on PickleballTournaments.com.
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