U.S. Open Pickleball Championships: Johns brothers, Parenteau repeat as doubles pro champions
Ben and Collin Johns, and Catherine Parenteau and Lea Jansen overcame challenges off and on the court to win doubles titles at the Minto U.S. Open Pickleball Championships on Saturday.
With inclement weather forecast, organizers moved up the spotlighted men's and women's professional doubles championships from 7 p.m. Saturday to 11 a.m.
Mother Nature didn't like that plan either, with the Johns brothers having to wait out a 2 1/2-hour rain delay, which also delayed Parenteau and Jansen in the women's match that followed.
When it was all over though, it was like many thought it would be.
The Johns brothers beat Matt Wright and Riley Newman, 11-8, 11-9, for their second straight Open title. Ben Johns, the top-ranked men's player, won the men's pro singles title last Sunday and was in the quarterfinals of mixed doubles with Simone Jardim when rain Saturday afternoon delayed those matches until Sunday morning.
"They say pressure is a privilege," Ben Johns, 23, said of the expectations with his 28-year-old brother. "I stand by that."
Johns took another triple crown on Sunday, teaming with Jardim to win mixed doubles with an 11-5, 11-2 victory over seventh-seeded Jessie Irvine and Tyler Loong.
Pickleball started as a hobby. Now she's No. 1:Catherine Parenteau discovered pickleball, moved to Naples and now is No. 1 in the world
Parenteau, the top-ranked women's player who also lives in Naples, and Jansen, a new partner this year, staved off Irina Tereschenko and Andrea Koop, 11-1, 11-13, 11-5. It was the second straight doubles title for Parenteau, who also won the women's singles crown a week ago. She is teamed with Tyson McGuffin in mixed doubles, but they lost to Johns and Jardim in the semifinals, 11-4, 11-7, on Sunday morning.
"We just never gave up," Parenteau said. "We just kept fighting. Yeah we got a little tight, and just tried to be a little more active and try to tell each other, 'That's not how we're going to win.' We've just got to go for it, and just swing, and that's better when we're aggressive."
The Johns brothers don't typically get off to strong starts, and that proved the case, falling behind Wright and Newman 8-1 in the first set. But a timeout served as a wake-up call, and they breezed through the next 10 points to win the set 11-8.
"We're notorious for being slow off the starting block," Ben Johns said. "It's nothing new for us. We just have to buckle down and we've been there before."
"We got off to such a good lead," Wright said. "We were high energy. The points were playing like we wanted. I think they got off to a little bit of a slow start so it was a perfect storm for them and everything came together perfectly for us.
"These matches have become so close right now that they keep edging us out it feels like. They're playing the big points better than we are right now. They're more disciplined. They stick to the game plan a little bit better, and we're still trying to find answers a little bit."
In the second set, this time the Johns brothers started out on fire, winning 7 of the first 8 points before Wright and Newman got within 9-3. Then lightning struck near the Zing Zang Championship Court, rain soon followed, and so did the delay.
The Johns brothers couldn't get going right after the delay, and Wright and Newman closed within 9-8. The teams traded points, and then the Johnses finished off their second straight Open title.
"It's the fourth time we've played them now this year, all in the final," Collin Johns said. "They present a big challenge because they're both very, very good players. I think that we work better as a team. They're still getting better as a team and certainly pose a threat every time they play us."
"I knew partnering with Matt we were going to have a never-say-die attitude," Newman said. "We were going to fight until the last minute. We came back, it's 9-3, it's not looking great for us, but the thing is we came out really hot. We were just aggressive, energy was high."
On the women's side, Tereschenko and Koop had upset top-seeded Callie Smith, Parenteau's victorious doubles partner last year, and Lucy Kovalova 11-9, 4-11, 11-5, in the semifinals Friday. Parenteau and Jansen knocked off three-time triple crown winner Jardime and Lauren Stratman, 13-11, 11-7.
Parenteau and Jansen looked like they would make quick work, breezing to an 11-1 win in the opening set and leading 3-0 in the second. But Tereschenko and Koop battled back, taking a 10-8 lead. They couldn't finish it off, though, and trailed 11-10, but Tereschenko forced a sideout, and Jansen made a couple of errors that gave Tereschenko and Koop a 13-11 win.
"The match isn't over until you shake hands," said the animated Tereschenko, who at one point after an error exclaimed that it looked she had never played the game. "In pickleball, you have maybe an extra advantage of getting a sideout and your ability to hold serve and not let your opponent score. We just fought hard, fought really hard.
"I think we had super exciting points at the end of the second set. Everybody was super entertained, and just an honor to be part of this experience."
Parenteau and Jansen regained their focus in the third, though, building a 7-1 lead. Tereschenko and Koop closed within 9-5, but Parenteau and Jansen won the final two points to take the title.
"Catherine played pretty fast today," Tereschenko said. "She was covering a lot of court and she definitely didn't make any mistakes. I think we have to keep her honest and move the ball around."
"It's always fun to play Irina because she's tricky," Parenteau said. "I know it's going to be a fun match when I play her."
Greg Hardwig is a sports reporter for the Naples Daily News and The News-Press. Follow him on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter: @NDN_Ghardwig, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Support local journalism with this special subscription offer at https://cm.naplesnews.com/specialoffer/