Week 3 of the National Pickleball League inaugural season took place at Chicken n Pickle facility in Grand Prairie, Texas on July 29-30. Team Austin Ignite came into the matches tied for first place with an overall record of 6-2, hoping to move ahead of the Oklahoma City Punishers.
The first opponent of the weekend was the Denver Iconics, who came into the weekend looking to improve their season record of 2-6. Early on, both teams won matches to even the score at 2-2, but the Iconics then took over and never looked back. They built up a 5-3 lead, and while the Ignite did their best to make a comeback, the Iconics finished the match strong with a decisive 8-4 team victory.
The Saturday afternoon match featured the Ignite versus the Naples JBB, who also came into the match with a 2-6 record. Fortunately, the Ignite came out strong, and took a commanding5-0 lead before winning overall 9-3, keeping them on pace with the Punishers at 7-3.
On Sunday morning, the team faced the Boca Picklers, who also came out strongly to take an early 3-2 lead. But the Ignite fought back, winning the next 3 matches to go up 5-3, then 6-4! However, momentum shifted back the Picklers, who tied the match up at 6-6, sending the team match into a Teambreaker, the NPL’s version of a traditional tiebreaker. Every player on each team that played in the match participated in this doubles format, creating an exciting team atmosphere! The Ignite jumped out to a large early lead, 9-3 (first team to 11 wins), when the Picklers mounted a comeback to 9-8. After a timeout, the Ignite regained their composure to go up 10-8. At this time, Austin’s Steve Dawson and John Hedberg took the court, to seal the victory!
Asked about his experience, Hedberg said, “Playing in the Teambreaker and going last with Steve Dawson with the match riding on the line, I’d be lying if I told you I wasn’t feeling a bit nervy, especially playing in my first NPL weekend. Thankfully we were able to close the deal.It was a great team effort from the start to finish! Let’s gooo Ignite.”
Round four of the weekend pitted Austin against the Indianapolis Drivers, another top three team looking to dethrone the Ignite. This match was exciting from the start, as the lead changed hands back and forth throughout, with the Drivers up 5-4, only to have the Ignite come back to lead 6-5, before Indy tied it at 6-6, forcing another Teambreaker! Once again, team Ignite built an early lead, going up 6-2, 8-2, 10-2, before finishing it off for the victory.
With these results, the Austin Ignite finished the weekend back on top in first place with a record of 9-3, with both the Punishers and Drivers right behind. This was a great team accomplishment as all players contributed their share of wins, while also fully supporting each other too. Once again, the Chicken n Pickle staff and facility need to be commended for their partnership with NPL, as well as all the other league sponsors!
Let’s go Ignite!!