Surrounded by the sights and sounds of one of the most iconic venues in all of sports at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows, N.Y., the Association of Pickleball Players (APP) concluded The Boca Raton 2023 APP New York City Open with a spectacular Championship Sunday slate in front of a packed crowd.
18 year-old William Sobek stole the show, continuing his meteoric rise in pro pickleball by earning his first-ever APP Tour pro gold medal in an epic men’s singles final against Australia’s Vuk Velickovic. The match, which went to a nail-biting tiebreaker and saw Sobek overcome a 14-6 deficit, is already being described by many pickleball fans as the greatest men’s singles match of all-time.
Simone Jardim and Parris Todd continued their women’s doubles undefeated streak, while Andrei Daescu and Rob Nunnery successfully defended their men’s doubles title. Salome Devidze defended her women’s singles title, and Nunnery teamed up with Susannah Barr to earn mixed doubles gold.
Devidze and Megan Fudge kicked off Championship Sunday with a rematch of their women’s pro singles final from the 2023 APP Mesa Open. Both games were tightly contested, but Devidze emerged victorious, 11-8, 11-7 to secure her second-straight APP women’s pro singles gold medal. Judit Castillo battled hard to earn bronze - her second APP medal of 2023.
“Playing in New York City – here at Arthur Ashe Stadium – is iconic,” said Devidze. “It means so much to me to compete here – I don’t fully have the words to describe it, but it’s incredible to be here and win another gold.”
An electric Championship Court crowd then witnessed one of pickleball’s most exhilarating matches ever with the men’s pro singles final - pitting rising star Sobek against Velickovic, who fought all the way from the qualifier rounds to reach the final. In each player’s first Championship Sunday appearance, the match did not disappoint. Sobek took a tight game one, 11-8 and cruised in game two, 11-3, to set up a pivotal tiebreaker match. Velickovic started hot, jumping out to an early 10-2 advantage, and looked poised for the win, up 14-6 late in the game. However, Sobek, determined to win his first APP gold medal, fought all the way back to tie the match at 14 apiece, before breaking through - winning 16-14 to earn gold.
The 18-year-old Sobek commented, “It means so much to me – I’ve been fighting so hard for this. I’ve been playing pickleball since I was four years old, training and practicing every single day to be here. Finally having that work pay off when it means most is truly amazing. The crowd was amazing, the level of play is so competitive, and I’m just so happy to be here in New York. I’ve earned a few bronzes at the last few APP tournaments, so it’s such a big relief to break through and pull off winning my first APP gold medal.”
The women’s pro doubles final pitted the five-time defending champions Jardim and Todd against Fudge and Truong. The Jardim-Todd duo showed no signs of slowing down, defeating Fudge and Truong 11-4 and 11-5 to earn their sixth consecutive women’s doubles gold medals on the 2023 APP Tour. Emily Ackerman and Riley Bohnert, both members of the 2023 APP Next Gen National Team, paired up to earn bronze medals on Saturday.
“It’s great to be back in New York,” Todd said after her Tour-leading ninth gold medal of 2023. “I grew up watching the US Open here as a kid, so to play pickleball here is an absolute dream. The 2022 APP New York City Open was one of my first pro tournaments – I was fortunate to win gold in women’s singles and silver in women’s doubles last year, so it’s amazing to see all the progress that has happened in my career since then. It’s amazing to take home another gold and I’ve been so blessed to be here.”
“Parris and I played well yesterday all day, and were able to carry the momentum over to today,” Jardim added. “We were grooving out there, and it’s been fun to continue this amazing run we’ve been on.”
In the men’s pro doubles final, Daescu and Nunnery faced off against twins Hunter and Yates Johnson. Game one went to Daescu and Nunnery, 11-6, and game two was a back-and-forth affair. In the end, Daescu and Nunnery squeezed out a 12-10 victory to defend their men’s pro doubles title. The win marked Daescu’s sixth consecutive men’s pro doubles gold medal in 2023. John Cincola and Brendon Long fought through a stacked men’s doubles bracket to earn bronze on Saturday.
“Getting a gold medal is always special – I know how tough it is to win,” added Daescu. “I’m extremely glad Rob and I were able to come away with the victory – we got tested pretty hard, but that made it a lot of fun to compete. Winning a gold medal here at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center is very special, there’s a lot of history here, and I had so much fun playing in front of such an awesome crowd. The New Yorkers really get into it!”
“Andre is always a blast to play with – he’s so solid on the left side and I’ve been staying solid on the right side,” Nunnery commented. “We haven’t dropped a game yet together and I’m really excited to keep that streak going.”
Championship Sunday concluded with Nunnery and Susannah Barr taking on Jardim and Stefan Auvergne in the mixed pro doubles final. The teams traded 11-9 wins in the first two games to set up game three, which Barr and Nunnery went on to win, 11-5, and set up the deciding tiebreaker match. The ensuing contest came down to the wire, with Nunnery and Barr pulling out the 16-14 victory. On Friday, Daescu and Maggie Remynse earned the mixed doubles bronze medals.
“Winning another gold was incredible,” said Barr, who now has three mixed doubles gold in 2023. “Obviously it went down to the wire with Simone and Stefan – they’re so tough, and I’m just really proud of how Rob and I played. New York was incredible – we had a huge crowd, it was super loud and super fun to play in. That kept us motivated and excited to keep playing hard.”
“Susannah and I are really starting to gel together – she’s always bringing great energy”, added Nunnery. “New York City brought it, man. That’s as fun of a crowd I’ve seen at a tournament in a long time. Having Arthur Ashe Stadium in the backdrop and the city skyline beyond that is so iconic and it’s been a pleasure playing here this week.”
In APP senior pro Champions Tour action in New York, Steve Rogers won men’s singles gold, Karin Ptaszek-Kochis earned women’s singles gold, Chris Karges and Sheri Courter took home women’s doubles gold, Rick Witsken and Peter Prodanov won men’s doubles gold, and Eva Welsher and Jaime Oncins teamed up for mixed doubles gold.
In APP super senior pro Masters Tour action, Ken Lehman and Bill Muno earned men’s doubles gold, Pam Gilbert and Sue Johnston won women’s doubles gold, and Muno and Kelly Ojeda took home the mixed doubles title.
The APP travels to Orange County, California for its seventh event of the year, the APP Newport Beach Open, June 28-July 3 at the historic Newport Beach Tennis and Pickleball Club. Registration remains open through June 18 and full tournament information can be found on PickleballBrackets.com.
o Gold: William Sobek
o Silver: Vuk Velickovic
o Bronze: Jhonnatan Medina Alvarez
o Gold: Salome Devidze
o Silver: Megan Fudge
o Bronze: Judit Castillo
o Gold: Andrei Daescu and Rob Nunnery
o Silver: Hunter Johnson and Yates Johnson
o Bronze: John Cincola and Brendon Long
o Gold: Simone Jardim and Parris Todd
o Silver: Megan Fudge and Alix Truong
o Bronze: Emily Ackerman and Riley Bohnert
o Gold: Susannah Barr and Rob Nunnery
o Silver: Stefan Auvergne and Simone Jardim
o Bronze: Andrei Daescu and Maggie Remynse
o Gold: Steve Rogers
o Silver: Lee Sponaugle
o Bronze: Lance Cowart
o Gold: Karin Ptaszek-Kochis
o Silver: Brenda Tilford
o Bronze: Missy Grant
o Gold: Chris Karges and Sheri Courter
o Silver: Jenny Klitch and Eva Welsher
o Bronze: Tabitha Johnson and Mardie Corcoran
o Gold: Rick Witsken and Peter Prodanov
o Silver: Jaime Oncins and Paul Olin
o Bronze: Matthew Schiller and Jeff Burton
o Gold: Eva Welsher and Jaime Oncins
o Silver: Chris Karges and Rick Witsken
o Bronze: Sheri Courter and Peter Prodanov
o Gold: Ken Lehman and Bill Muno
o Silver: F.D. Wilder and David Spearman
o Bronze: EJ Karsten and Mark Redding
o Gold: Pam Gilbert and Sue Johnston
o Silver: Cass Rollins and Laura Fenton
o Bronze: Moira Roush and Yvonne Ting
o Gold: Kelly Ojeda and Bill Muno
o Silver: Jenny Reifeis and Pablo Salas
o Bronze: Kristin Hickman and David Spearman