Tournament of Champions 2016 – Mixed Doubles Final

Tournament of champions
The Tournament of Champions (TOC) Mixed Doubles Masters finals didn’t disappoint. Great points emerged as both teams fought for the win. The teams were Wesley Gabrielsen and Sarah Ansboury vs. Rafael Siebenschein and Simone Jardim. Wow, they all played great with so many long rallies with great strategies. The pickleball used at this tournament was the new Onix Pure 2, which is a bit slower and softer then the Dura Fast 40 ball used here in the past. In the end the winners were Wes and Sarah, and boy was it close… Wes and Sarah stayed consistent and had a plan – Great Job!

For fun I asked Rafael and Simone to share a bit of insight into their day of mixed doubles at TOC – here is what they had to say:

Simone Jardim:

We knew going into the day it was going to be tough since there were so many good teams. Our draw had us playing Enrique and Stephanie first round, then Daniel and Bonnie, and then Kyle and Corrine. So many great teams and making it through was going to take a lot of work!

After playing for a few days I was pretty sore especially on my left side, so we figured we would stack. Stacking worked for most of our matches except against Wes and Sarah since Wes is a lefty and plays the right side. During our first game against them, they got us pretty good since I felt more pressure having to go down the line with dinks.

We went to play Oliver and Irina and we knew we had to be patient and slow down the game. We beat them in 3 in a very competitive match, which then gave us another chance against Wes and Sarah.

For the finals, we decided to play regular formation most of the time as well as play more aggressive so the points wouldn’t last forever. We were able to do that for the most part, but a lot of points were long and it was hard to put the balls away. At the end Wes and Sarah played solid and made fewer errors, which is crucial in this game.

Rafael Siebenschein:

The first time we played Wes and Sarah they did a really great job keeping the guy completely neutralized the entire time, which makes it really hard for the opponent guy to find a way into that match. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen as few balls in a match as in that first match we played them.

We then had a really fun 3-game match in the bronze-medal match against Irina and Oliver. That was a quite fast paced game and probably my favorite match of the day as we had lots of good rallies. However, I think it did take a toll on both Simone and I and cost us a lot of energy.

Anyway, the final match… We knew we’d both be more tired than Wes and Sarah so part of our strategy was to speed up the game as much as we could. That worked quite well for us the first match, where we won in 2. We then went up (I believe) 10:4 in the final game to 15 and at that point I felt pretty comfortable. But after a time-out Wes and Sarah came back extremely disciplined and hardly committed any unforced errors after that, making us fight hard every single point. Sarah started being extremely consistent, not missing many shots, and Wes was always a danger in the middle with his huge wing span. I think at the end the energy level also made a difference. I don’t think we had the energy to speed up the game enough anymore and in the end lost a lot of the long and tight points.

I give a lot of props to Simone for fighting so hard all day! She was so exhausted even before the finals but is such a fighter and would never even give up on a single rally. In the end, I think the consistency and routine of Sarah and Wes got the best of us. Great come back by them in a really fun match and day!

Thanks so much Simone and Rafael for the insight – this helps other players work on their strategy and game plan.

Can’t get enough doubles action? Here are some points from the same tournament –  Men’s Doubles Finals.


2 comments on “Tournament of Champions 2016 – Mixed Doubles Final”

  1. When I first became serious about pickleball four years ago, 5.0 mixed doubles were dominated by the men. A female teammate of Tim Nelson sometimes stood outside of the court, allowing Tim to cover 70%+ or more of the court. Then, two years ago, the women and men became more closely balanced in play. A good example is the 2014 TOC Mixed gold medal match between Jen Lucore and Tim Nelson and Enrique Ruiz and Gigi LeMaster. In this year’s TOC mixed gold medal match, play nearly always settled into cross court dinking wars between Sarah and Simone, with both Wes and Rafael getting very few balls. The exception that underscores the rule is the lone cross court duel between Simone and Wes, a point won by Simone with an up speed winner down the middle.

    In other words mixed doubles is now almost the complete opposite of the male-dominated play of just a few years ago. Now the two women get almost the balls, and the two guys are like hungry puppies panting for a treat: a rare ball to hit!

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