It's officially a new year and a new APP season! We kicked off the 2024 pro tour in Punta Gorda, Florida, and if this event was any indication of the year to come, we are in for a roller coaster adventure of a treat, featuring highs, lows, and every dink in between. With a rain delay, withdrawals due to injury, new champions and the inaugural Humana Cup, the 2024 APP Punta Gorda Open had a storyline for every type of reader. So let's get reading!
Dear Diary: Richard Livornese Jr. leads off the player blog for 2024 and he discussed every facet of his tournament week from his accommodations to his in-game habits, to cheering on - and coaching - his friends during Championship Sunday. Want to know what game he played with his housemates during his six-hour rain delay? Check it out.
Go Team: Champions and Masters division players have a new team competition to look forward to at select Tour stops this year, called the Humana Cup. Players participated in a ribbon cutting ceremony prior to play and we can already feel the excitement!
Girl Math: If you didn't get your APP merch, did you really play the tournament? Those teal hoodies, though. ::heart eyes::
It's the Relationships for Us: One of our favorite things about the APP Tour is the priceless friendships and relationships we pick up along our pickleball journeys. Ask Richard Livornese - watching our friends compete is just as much part of the tournaments as our own matches. Who else can agree that watching is more nerve-wracking than playing?
Welcome to the Club: Shout out to all the people who played their first APP Tournament at the 2024 APP Punta Gorda Open! We are thrilled to have you!
Rain, Rain, Go Away: A six-plus hour rain delay forced most of the tournament to find resourceful ways to spend their Friday mornings, but APP Pro, Will Sobek, decided he'd be productive before his mixed pro doubles action later than night. What a work ethic!
Kids These Days: Let's be clear - the APP doesn't have any kind of division for kids, so if the younguns want to play, they play with the big kids (read: adults). We know the future of pickleball is bright when we see this! Way to go, boys!
Danger Alligators: Punta Gorda was a pretty and pretty picturesque location for an APP Tour stop, but yes, there was really a sign that said read "Danger Alligators" - pretty sure it needs a comma somewhere, but fortunately for those that aren't that hip with the punctuation, no alligators were spotted in the production of this tournament.
Goal Getter: A month ago, Chris Haworth's New Year's resolution was to win a gold medal. After Chris beat Hunter Johnson in the men's pro singles match on Championship Sunday, that resolution became reality. We love it when a plan comes together. Congratulations, Chris, and welcome to the Champions Club!
Johnson and Johnson: Jorja Johnson and Yates Johnson may not be related, but they were definitely in sync in their first tournament playing as mixed pro doubles partners. They beat Andrei Daescu and Megan Fudge on Championship Sunday to take home the gold. Will we see this pair again at a future APP Tour stop?
Satisfied Sponsors: Milan Rane won her first APP Tour gold medal on Sunday when she and her partner, Bobbi Oshiro, defeated the team of Megan Fudge and Susannah Barr in women's pro doubles. This one is also a win for all the sponsors!
Sweet Success: Judit Castillo let out an exhilarating scream after she won the match point that gave her the women's pro singles championship against Megan Fudge on Sunday. After the two battled and Fudge came away with gold at the 2023 APP Sunmed Atlanta Open, Judit had been waiting for redemption and she got it in Punta Gorda. Más!
Big Brother is Watching: Will Howells and CJ Klinger both had their families in Punta Gorda this weekend, and what a show they put on for them! Will earned his first APP Tour championship ever as he and CJ won men's pro singles gold. Andrei Daescu and Rob Nunnery pulled out after one game in the final due to injury, but Will and CJ played the pickleball of their lives to deserve that trophy!
Numbers Game: Over 1,000 people came out to Pickleplex to participate in the 2024 Punta Gorda Open. Well done, pickleball fam, bravo! See you at the next one!
That's all from the 2024 APP Punta Gorda Open! We'll catch you at our next Tour stop in Sacramento, California!
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