Makes total sense that Matt Wright would want to pair up with John McEnroe.
After a super-charged match, the kind of play that fist-pumping was made for, Wright was asked what celebrity he’d like to play alongside.
So, naturally, Wright, one of the Pro Tour’s top players, mentioned McEnroe, the champion tennis player and also one of the loudest, brashest athletes in any sport of all time.
“This sport needs more energy. It needs more characters and needs some excitement,” Wright said.
There was plenty of that Friday when Wright and partner Lucy Kovalova outlasted No. 4-seeded Jessie Irvine and Julian Arnold, 8-11, 12-10, 12-10 in the semifinals of the Invisalign North Carolina Open in Charlotte, N.C.
“It was one of the most emotionally charged matches on the Tour,” said PPA broadcaster Dave Fleming.
Yeah, that’s what happens when you pair up the intensity of Arnold and Irvine with Wright and the fiery Kovalova. Both teams and all four of the players weren’t shy about showing their feelings, and that’s what made the match memorable and exciting.
“I think you saw we weren’t entirely calm,” Wright said. “There was some tension out there and we knew it was going to be really tight.”
How tight? Well, the top-seeded Wright and Kovalova were down 6-4 in the final game, went up 7-6, went down 10-7 and then needed to hold off five match points before rallying.The winner finally coming on a beautiful lob from Wright, which peeled Arnold back from the non-volley zone, forcing Arnold to mishit the ball.
The result was a scream from Wright and applause from Arnold. The win puts Wright and Kovalova into the final on Championship Sunday, which will be broadcast on a delay by FOX Sports next week. Their team they’ll be coming up against? Catherine Parenteau and Riley Newman.
“The crowd was cheering for us hard,” Kovalova said. “Thank you to them, and I’m excited to play on Championship Sunday.”
The Newman-Parenteau team had no issues in their semifinal victory, cruising past Lauren Stratman and Tyson McGuffin, 11-6, 11-2. Newman and Parenteau allowed only 17 points all tournament and didn’t drop a game.
“Riley played awesome,” Parenteau said.
The finals appearance for Newman will finish off a pretty exciting week. He spent a few days in Raleigh, N.C., and even got to go to a Carolina Hurricanes hockey game where he was recognized and got a shout-out mid-game. The Hurricanes are owned by Thomas Dundon.
“Life on the PPA Tour is pretty fun,” Newman said.
Irvine and Arnold ended up earning the third-place beating Stratman and McGuffin, 11-6, 11-6.