Tournament Recap


It was a full field and hot temperature for the first pro pickleball tournament in New Jersey. Tournament recap at Veterans Park in Hamilton, NJ:

Mixed Pro Doubles
Gold: Zane Navratil and Michelle Esquivel
Silver: Sarah Ansboury and Rafa Hewett
Bronze: Lauren Stratman and Rob Nunnery

Navratil got his first of three medals in New Jersey, including his first of two golds, teaming up with Esquivel and going undefeated throughout the tournament. “Zane was great,” Esquivel said. “That was a lot of fun.” The two dropped just two games throughout, including an 0-11 loss to Stratman and Nunnery in the winner’s bracket final. However, they rallied to win the next two games, 11-1, 11-8. Meanwhile, Ansboury and Hewett won three matches in the loser’s bracket, including a 2-11, 11-3, 13-11 victory over Stratman and Nunnery to reach the final. Navratil and Esquivel won the final, 11-5, 11-2. “If you were watching, that was not an 11-5, 11-2 kind of match,” Navratil said. “Rafa and Sarah are battlers. It was hard to tell who was winning.”

Women’s Pro Doubles
Gold: Maggie Remynse and Sarah Ansboury
Silver: Michelle Esquivel and Martina Kochli
Bronze: Lauren Stratman and Olivia McMillan

A dominating performance by Ansboury and Remynse. The two dropped just one game and went undefeated on the way to the gold medal, topping Esquivel and Kochli, 11-3, 11-4 in the final. Not bad for a pair who had never teamed up before. “I think it was great,” Ansboury said. “Maggie is so consistent and that was a big factor. It worked for us and our styles went well together. It’s nice to have that next to you. You kind of know what she’s going to do.” It worked out well. After the two dropped the opening game, 13-11 to Esquivel and Kochli in the winner’s final, Remynse said her and Ansboury changed things up. And that worked pretty well, too. “We needed to go for it a little bit more,” she said. “Force them to make the errors.”

Men’s Pro Doubles
Gold: Johnny Goldberg and JW Johnson
Silver: Eden Lica and Rob Nunnery
Bronze: Zane Navratil and Altaf Merchant

What a comeback for Goldberg and Johnson. After falling in the winner’s bracket semis to Navratil and Merchant, the pair won two in a row, got some revenge for their first loss and then rallied to win the final. “I was just trying to slow it down and stop doing stupid things,” Goldberg admitted. “I was just forcing too many things. Really, the best thing is to help set up J.W. He’s one of the best players in the game.” Goldberg was targeted as teams tried to keep the ball away from the younger, faster Johnson. It didn’t work though. Goldberg and Johnson beat Navratil and Merchant, 11-6, 3-11, 11-7 and then moved into the final where they needed a two-of-three win and then had to win the if-necessary game to 15. And they did it, beating Lica and Nunnery, 11-9, 11-2 before winning the winner-take-all game, 15-11. In the final game, Goldberg and Johnson were down 6-2 before going on a 6-0 run to take the lead for good. “We’ve played a lot together,” Johnson said. I know what what he’s going to do, and we have some miscommunications but he was really solid throughout the day.”

Men’s Pro Singles
Gold: Zane Navratil
Silver: J.W. Johnson
Bronze: John Cincola

Navratil cruised into the final, winning in straight sets in his first four matches before stumbling in a rematch against Johnson. Navratil, the top seed, had beaten Johnson in the winner’s bracket final, 11-6, 11-2, but Johnson earned a 11-8, 8-11, 11-6 victory to force the extra match to 15. Navratil eventually wore down Johnson and claimed the gold over the No. 2-seeded Johnson, 15-6.

Women’s Pro Singles
Gold: Annica Cooper
Silver: Olivia McMillan
Bronze: Kristen Mueller

Cooper dropped just one game in her four matches in New Jersey and won gold going 4-0 in the round-robin, including beating silver medalist McMillan, 11-4, 11-0 in the final.

Senior Men’s Doubles
Gold: Mircea Morariu and John Sperling
Silver: Paul Olin and Dave Fleming
Bronze: Alvarado and Dinopoulos

John Sperling just sat back and watched. Well, that’s what he said, anyway. “I just played my role and it paid off. I fed the machine,” he said. The machine was Morariu and the two won gold with an 11-6, 11-6 win over Olin and Fleming after Fleming and Olin got a rematch against the two. “John is a joy to play with,” Moraiu said. “It’s great for me because I get free lessons. He’s always telling me what to do! But really, our styles complement each other.”

Mixed Senior Doubles
Gold: Eva Weisher and Rick Witsken
Silver: Julie Jonson and Mircea Moraiu
Bronze: Nancy Henderson and John Sperling

Just one dropped game for the team of Weisher and Witsken as they won gold in New Jersey, topping Moraiu and Johnson, 9-11, 11-5, 11-3.

Senior Women’s Doubles
Gold: Eva Welsher and Michele Kowalkowski
Silver: Teresa Tarn and Erica Gonzalez
Bronze: Julie Johnson and Nancy Henderson

Welsher and Kowalkowski went a perfect 4-0 on the way to the gold medal in New Jersey. They topped the silver medalists in the second round, 11-1, 11-9. Julie Johnson won her second medal of the tournament, finishing with a bronze with partner Nancy Henderson.

Senior Men’s Singles
Gold: Paul Olin
Silver: Mircea Moraiu
Bronze: Todd Fisher

Gold for Olin, who beat Moraiu twice on the way to the title, including an 11-6, 11-6 victory in the championship match.