and ben johns they almost lost the second match they ever played together against cali smith and aj kohler so maybe they brought a little bit of that into this match too because they look dominant so far yes i was just about to bring that update where.

They had just started their partnership in january and they played this very team and very nearly lost i believe they were down 8-3 or 9-3 in the second game in the best of three after having lost the first game and they found a way to claw back they also struggled this team in atlanta so they played them again.

And again it went three very close match so i can expect this match to be closer any time i mean once cali and aj kind of find the range i expect this match to be very closely contested and you saw what happens when two alphas go after a ball in the middle they both took big cuts at it and that's.

Sailed well deep just tremendous defense from john's wall was set up in midcourt there for a second just trying to reset into the kitchen but aj caller not to be denied then eventually went for the shot and overhit it kohler a little overzealous there kohler also known for.

His lobs we haven't seen one yet i'm certainly will before the end of the match but we really haven't gotten settled into some good dinks and kitchen play so far and that's where he usually brings that shot out kelly smith hitting a great shot there finding the outside hip of annalee waters.

Popping the ball up giving aj the finish i expect to see more of that cali plays her best when she's aggressive and she gets gets in a lot of hands battles she's probably got the fastest hands on the women's side certainly second to none aj tremendous hands as well they're gonna play well when they're aggressive they just.

Haven't had a chance yet around the post by waters is stopped by kohler you can do that just got to get it over there it doesn't matter if it goes around or through and that is a beautiful ball again by kohler so a lot of energy coming their way there's the atp or the around the post but beautiful defense there's some of that.

Hockey nice block buy cooler but then you have all that energy and then you miss a serve and you just don't want to do that when you're trying to climb the mountain here and fight back make them feel your pressure yeah you put together two of the best.

Points you've played so far to follow it up with a miss serve as a real downer so they really got to make sure you get the ball back quickly and that missed by anna lee will definitely help their cause this crowd wants to get behind them i just need a reason to do it you saw hannah lee waters threaten.

What's called an ernie you can actually jump over the kitchen and stand there and take that down the line shot away and just that movement can sometimes force an error it certainly did there and then a short return is absolutely punished again that cross-court attack favor return says annalee waters there to cali.

Yup she does enjoy a good short juicy return that she can drive since the waters brand of pickleball for sure and i say water that's her last name but she also plays with her mom you're going to see them play together a little bit later in the women's doubles okay so smith and kohler were looking for a time.

Out there they have used their timeout so our referee said we will play on here and we are at 942 here cole are saying go good communication especially when they've been switching sides important to know who's got what ball especially in the middle.

But that high back end is just slammed down by anna lee waters into that open court yep and it was all set off by ben's backhand roll there at cali jamming her enough to pop up the ball to annalise dreaded backhand and this is a game point very quickly and ben johns finishes with a fury backhand forehand.

Forehand five hole on the hockey star aj kohler the top team is dominant here in brigham city dave fleming back here with colin johnson colin's little brother ben johns and annalee waters are putting on a show you always wonder if you take the top.

Two players and put them together will that mesh well or sometimes it does not and there's they both want to hit all the balls man this team looks fantastic today yep they are firing on all cylinders and undoubtedly if you put the two best players together once they figure it out they're going to be a formidable duo and.

It has certainly been true of these two so they get a point to start what do you do if you're kohler and smith yeah i feel like they've made just too many loose errors on balls they can control so you see the the serves the returns you don't see them make that many errors on those shots and there's another missed third if they can just.

Clean it up a little bit and get to the line get up to the kitchen line get to neutral and start to play that aggressive brand of pickleball um that that really benefits them um i could see them definitely clawing back into this match it's gonna be tough i mean uphill battle ben and lee are very comfortable right now and it looks like.

We got a little stoppage due to the court being a little wet out there but uh so they could definitely benefit kohler and smith a little stop right now so when it spits a little bit on a court like this the lines especially get slick and certainly we choose safety over anything else so.

We talked about what they can look at and again maybe a delay to just you know we talked about calmness down okay we've lost the first two games the players on the other side are on fire as i mentioned borrowing from basketball they're going for a double triple both of them have a chance to win a triple crown today do.

Ben johns and anna lee waters so maybe we can just go over there what would you talk to your partner about here if you were in a match like this where you're playing a team that's seated higher than you and they're playing at their best yeah i would really go back to execution you could tell that callie and aj are nervous maybe crack a joke just.

Something to lighten the atmosphere and say hey we're not the team that's favored to win right now we have a crowd that wants to cheer for us let's have a little bit of fun see if we can string a few points together you never know what can happen but first and foremost you got to get back to basics and give yourself a chance because right now.

They're just making too many loose mistakes that they're not used to making so this is the ppa tour and the best players in the world mother nature is the best player in the world when it comes to deciding whether we will continue we'll be right back after this welcome to.

And see you know it's like just enough for us not to play but let's talk a little bit about pickleball in general the ppa tour has stops throughout the country and what's really cool about this particular sport it's on meteoric rise we've got the best players in the world you're one of them but so many people get to play right.

Next to you at these tour stops the amateurs everyone who's fired up about this how's that for you to be able to see the growth and see these folks that really look up to you and admire you and your peers on the tour yeah it's really just such an interesting time for pickleball because it's growing so fast and you.

Have these tournaments i mean the cameras are on the stadium court but all around us there are courts where amateurs are playing there are other pro matches on most of the days so it's really just fun to walk around the the fans and the other amateur players can interact with the pros it's just so early on you would never.

Have that as something like the tennis us open the golf us open you would come merely to spectate so it's a real treat for the amateurs to come and watch them pro play play some pickleball themselves and it's in the great state of utah where actually believe it or not there is more pickleball i believe courts and participation than any state in the.

Country yeah they love their pickleball i think every town you go to has a complex of 20 30 courts and it's a public complex like the one we're playing on here so folks if you want to get into this sport check out the ppa tour website you'll see where you can watch where you can play we're coming all over.

The country you talked about tennis our next stop is actually where right now the western and southern tennis tournament is being played so we're gonna go from tennis this weekend to pickleball in a few weeks for you who played very high level tennis what is it gonna be like to go back there and play pickleball on those courts yeah i think.

It's gonna be something else because i always aspired to play the tennis tournament there having played protests for a number of years so i never thought i'd be back playing a sport named pickleball but here we are a few years later and can't wait to go there that's going to be the best venue i think that we've ever had we've had some great ones.

We have a partnership with lifetime fitness we had a fantastic event out in san clemente california there are hosts in a lot of different cities but yeah definitely check out the ppa tour calendar we're going to be all over the united states throughout the year and we're just starting up the second half of the year so i'm excited.

For what the second half of the season holds so colin you're also one of the best teachers of the game so many people are now discovering pickleball we've got celebrities last week i played with sugar ray leonard how fun is that we've got so many people wanting to get involved and now they're hearing about it from their neighbor hey i want to do.

This what would you tell somebody that wants to ride this train that is moving down the tracks right now yeah it's really wonderful to see and you can tell it's kind of hit that threshold where it's not just popular it's it's trendy now and you see a lot of the celebrities playing we've had sugar ray come out among other.

People i mean it's growing everywhere and it's sort of unprecedented the growth that's happened and it's just really cool to see and i get to go around and teach people about the game and you see people learn more every year all over the country more people getting certified i mean i work for a company called ppr.

Part-time where i'll certify different people whether you're a tennis coach or what have you and teach you how to teach pickleball and spread the game so if you want to get involved there are plenty of people that are extremely enthusiastic about this sport i've never seen so many people so passionate about a sport so if you want to get involved i promise.

You there's someone in your area that is very passionate about pickleball yeah pickleball's actually become a lifestyle it's what people love and i think it's the inclusivity and the camaraderie that comes from this sport my parents love this sport they're almost 80. wow that makes me old but they can play on a court with my daughters in their 20s my.

Cousins my nephews you can put any combination i saw a dad and his 12 year old playing in this tournament talk about what that means to you as one of the top players to see this variety of ages just having so much fun on a pickleball court yeah i mean that can't be overstated i mean what other sport could a mother-daughter do win the.

National championships i mean you're going to see the waters later annalee being on the court right now that's just so cool at the highest level but like you mentioned the amateurs i mean i've seen a grandfather playing with his grandson so it's so cool that so many people can play a sport and enjoy it and the barrier to entry is very low so.

Whether you have an athletic background or not you can pick it up you can play it it's very conversational i mean a lot of the points are played up at the kitchen line and you're a mere 14 feet apart so i mean what other sport are you that close where you can have a conversation like this without raising your voice that's what in my mind makes.

It more social than anything you can just have so many more fun social conversations while you're playing yeah you know people like to bring their music out there you got def leppard on one court you've got some country on the other and you know what i always see i see smiles i see smiles on.

The court always and i don't know anyone that's quit pickleball that's what's amazing it's it's people are obsessed with it and i think it's it's that one thing you can do with your entire family but it's also active you are moving it's a smaller court but after you've played colin this is no joke this is a workout it is and a lot of people don't realize.

How big of a workout it is i mean once you get on the court you sweat a little bit you realize hey this isn't just for old people this is for everybody and a lot of people liking it to giant ping pong i mean who doesn't like ping pong once you get out there you kind of get a taste of it you get a taste of the hands battles and.

The touch it gets very addicting very quickly like i said i don't think i've seen a sport where people get this addicted this passionate about it and that's why it's the fastest growing sport in the us it really is and it's it's great to see how that inclusivity just spreads out and you started out you talked about.

Utah arizona florida now we have a tournament in ohio we're moving all over the country we had the first and largest tournament in north carolina earlier this year this thing is just going to keep growing and growing the one thing i do want to ask you about because now this is elevated here we are on fox sports we've.

Got all of these eyeballs on pickleball what does that mean to you as a pro player because people want to come for you you and your brother are the marked men so let's talk about that when we come back but this is a great sport and we will be right back with the action as we got the court all.

Dried up here at the club tournament of champions all right we are back dave fleming with colin johns colin right before the last break talked about the growth of pickleball the amateurs everyone getting involved at all ages to play at the highest level we see what.

You do on the court but my goodness the amount of work you got to do off the court is significant to be able to maintain the level that you're at give us a sense for what your week is like so that you can play at the optimum level yeah it's really just gone up since i first started playing i mean ben was a full-time student student at the.

University of maryland for the last four or five years i had a full-time job until this past year so our training has definitely increased as more and more players are more and more competitive and now we're to the point where we're training pretty much every day for multiple hours a day and also adding a physical element ben told me this.

Morning how good he feels on the court just from the workouts he's doing outside of pickleball so i think that that's going to become every bit as important as practicing pickleball and you see new techniques new shots coming in so you got to be developing that you can't be stagnant and it's something ben and i take seriously i mean we have.

Target on our back we've been winning the most so that's where everyone wants to be and we take seriously that we need to practice to stay there so it's something that makes it really fun i mean if it were that easy to stay on top it wouldn't be much fun so um i always enjoy that part of it training and thinking of ways to.

Get better so oh i told you folks we're sticking around welcome to the fs1 audience joining us here on pickleball i'm dave fleming with one of the best pickleball players in the world.

Colin johns and let's set the stage for you guys welcoming yourselves into the club tournament of champions here on the ppa tour anna lee waters and ben johns the best two players in the world teamed up earlier this year and they are on fire in this match they've won game one eleven five they've won game two eleven.

Four they're down one here in game three we've had a rain delay we are ready let's play pickleball best three out of five win by two when you get to 11. there's a good look at the 15 year old phenom anna lee waters a little fortunate sorry not sorry from.

Aj kohler as it kisses off the tape and jumps over a paddle yeah following the etiquette but very much not sorry they got away with one there that is not a place you want to leave the ball right into the teeth of the annalee waters to end it back in good look at aj kohler right there so.

They've got a little lead and they need to build on it cali smith there has all the fans the utah girl and that goes off the edge of kohler's paddle see the triangles on the scoreboard each team gets to have both parties served so they are on their second server that would be callie smith right there and a nice third shot right there and.

Why don't you explain the third shot drop what do they mean by that yeah so in pickleball lingo we go by the number of the shot of the rally meaning the serve is one the return is two the server would be hitting the third shot so that's their second shot after the serve and it's one of the most important shots in the game.

Because of the two bounce rule meaning the ball has to bounce on the court twice before anyone can hit it in the air so that gives the returning team the advantage they're able to come forward first so that's why that third shot is so important the the serving team is trying to get from neutral from the back of the.

Court trying to get to neutral rather from the back of the court up to the front of court and there's the ferocity of cali smith you see those feet always moving and then a big swing down gives a pedicure to anna lee waters you want to go down well done there by cali smith and that.

Was a great example of the returning team having the initiative the serving team was not able to establish up there at the kitchen line and just a beautiful controlled two-handed backhand there a lot of players would pull that wide because there's really no space there colin yeah and annalee definitely sitting on that.

Shot she knows ben's covering her in the middle but man to be that accurate with it and beat aj cooler behind it's very impressive so to get the ball back tied at two here in game three again best three out of five for the title here on the ppa tours club tournament of champions and we had a much better third shot.

There by cali smith setting up aj overcooked that one but they can hit some more third shots like that they're going to give themselves the opportunity to score which is really what was lacking in those first two games but that is going to hurt that was more of the same where they missed some serves they missed some returns in that.

First and second game and it's proved very costly so far that's just a beautiful roll by ben johnson just to reset that miss served by kohler because you did see it hit the net and go over but it landed in the kitchen that net serve must clear the kitchen including the line to get a re-serve.

Off speed pitch i know we were joined after some baseball threw down the change up there and it worked perfectly yeah speed differential is a huge thing in this game because a lot of times everyone wants to hit the ball hard but just like baseball if you throw in some off speed stuff every now and then it throws off the timing like that one.

And this is slipping away from cali smith and aj kohler quickly you do not want to give anna lee and ben any more confidence to go for more shots that's for sure you've heard that a few thousand times say coming when he leaves the ball up he's warning you to get into defensive position so smith and kohler need to get.

Going right after this we are back here at the club tournament of champions the first stop on the ppa tour second half really we had some fun events out in california but here we go and the top two players.

In the world are on a rampage very good move there by anna lee got a little bit greedy doesn't quite go for it but you have the luxury of going for extra shots when you're up two games in five two and again the precision just isn't there and when you know you're at a disadvantage from a talent perspective.

You've got to execute better yup you really got to do your fundamentals well to give yourself a chance and then that says i will have a fundamental assistant for you here and that just kisses wide so within two yeah because aj and cali are talented enough to really make this a very good match but you could tell they're just a.

Little nervous they haven't been here before together see if they can get it going here yes great defense for manali waters a little firefight slows back down what a point and it is finished off by a j kohler you heard him urging callie smith to go a couple times in the middle.

Of that point but it is kohler himself who finishes and they are within one yep one of the points of the match there and you see that beautiful balance by aj kohler being the hockey player that he is almost looks like he's on skates there balancing up at the kitchen line reaching over over and breaking the plane in the kitchen nicely.

Welcome to Championship Saturday at the Club Tournament of Champions presented by Selkirk.

Today brings us all five finals as we wrap up the classic tournament from Brigham City, UT.

Schedule (all times MTN)
10:45 AM – Men’s Singles: (2) Ben Johns vs. (8) Dylan Frazier (Winner: Ben Johns)
12:15 PM – Women’s Singles: (1) Anna Leigh Waters vs. (3) Lea Jansen (Winner: Anna Leigh Waters)
4:00 PM – Mixed Doubles: (2) AL.Waters/B.Johns vs. (5) C.Smith/Koller -FS1
6:00 PM – Women’s Doubles: (1) Kovalova/C. Smith vs. (2) Waters/Waters – Tennis Channel
7:30 PM – Men’s Doubles: (1) Newman/Wright vs. (2) Johns/Johns – Tennis Channel

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