The Select Medical Cup in San Clemente, California features a star-studded lineup and raises some intriguing questions. The tournament gets underway on Thursday, June 9 at Life Time Rancho San Clemente and will continue through June 12.
All of the top four women’s singles players will be in action: Anna Leigh Waters, Catherine Parenteau, Callie Smith, and Lea Jansen. Will all four reach the semifinals as they did at the Acrytech Atlanta Open? Anna Bright garnered some serious attention in Atlanta after pushing Waters to a deciding third game, so she might just be the one to break the top-four stranglehold. Will anyone be able to go one step further and defeat Waters? The PPA’s top women’s singles player overcame Bright and cruised through the rest of her matches to snatch the title in Atlanta. Bright got to the net quickly and kept the ball deep to force the deciding game with Waters, so sticking to this strategy once again might create some magic for her.
The men’s singles field has been a much different story. Atlanta was expecting PPA singles No. 2 Tyson McGuffin and No. 3 Jay Devilliers to lead the way as the top seeds, but both were unable to take the court. This opened the door for some new faces to make breakthroughs. Will we see a return to order in San Clemente or more heroics from players like Federico Staksrud, James Ignatowich, and Rafa Hewett? The competition will be even tougher this time around, with McGuffin and Devilliers returning to action plus the added challenge of #4 ranked James (J.W) Johnson. Staksrud, Atlanta’s gold medalist, would have to take his baseline game and finesse to another level against one of these superstars at the Select Medical Cup.
In women’s doubles, an exciting rivalry is brewing between Lucy Kovalova/Callie Smith and Anna Leigh Waters/Leigh Waters. These two teams have had some memorable meetings lately, including a five-game thriller in Atlanta. Kovalova/Smith prevailed in that match, but the Waters duo has scored multiple victories over them this year. If these two teams clash once again in San Clemente, who will triumph? Kovalova/Smith thrive when they crash the net and form an unbreakable wall with their volleys. Team Waters will need to find gaps and break through that wall. Catherine Parenteau and Lea Jansen will also be a dangerous dark-horse team in the running. They pushed Kovalova/Smith the distance in Atlanta and recently earned a gold medal in North Carolina.
Riley Newman and Matt Wright made some exciting strides in Atlanta when they beat the favorites, Ben and Collin Johns in men’s doubles. As Wright said “It’s not a rivalry ’til we win,” and win they did, sponsoring widespread conjecture about a possible rivalry for the ages. However, with Ben out of the country, the Johns brothers will not be teaming up at the Select Medical Cup. Without the Johns duo in the draw, who can stop PPA men’s doubles No. 1 Newman/Wright? If anyone is going to have a chance, they’ll need to be able to win long points and fast-paced hands battles. Watch out for new partnership Collin Johns/AJ Koller, who both reached the Atlanta semifinals with other partners and gave Newman/Wright a noteworthy fight. Expect extra energy from Jay Devilliers and Tyson McGuffin, who are both impatient to hit the courts again. Devilliers was unfortunately delayed in France while visiting family and did not make it to Atlanta, and McGuffin only played a few matches of men’s doubles at the first Grand Glam of the year before retiring due to illness.
Riley Newman has also been unstoppable lately in mixed doubles, winning both PPA tournaments in May with partner Catherine Parenteau. However, Riley will team up with his sister Lindsey in San Clemente, so other competitors will need to make the necessary adjustments. Will the top-seeded PPA mixed doubles pair, Lucy Kovalova and Matt Wright, finish ahead of the rest this time? They’ll need to use their impeccable short game to outlast red-hot Riley Newman and the other title contenders. The formidable team of PPA mixed doubles No. 5 Anna Leigh Waters and J.W. Johnson also can’t be overlooked. Waters/Johnson both medaled in Atlanta and have the advantage of being the youngest pairing by a significant number of years.