Northern Crocs win MLPA Auckland Open

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Auckland Tennis Park was action-packed with highlights on Easter Sunday, the final day of the Major League Pickleball Australia competition. The Northern Crocs and Eastern Rush battled for the ultimate Major League Pickleball Australia bragging rights. In front of a huge New Zealand crowd, the Northern Crocs were crowned Auckland Open MLPA Champions. Roos Van Reek was named the match MVP.

The semi-finals kicked off at 2:30 pm with fiery battles on both courts. The Crocs secured a straight Semi-Final berth by placing at the top of the table from the group stage, while the South East Asia Surge had fought off the young Western Vipers (3-0) on Saturday evening. The Northern Crocs dismantled SEA Surge in the replay of the last event Championship Match securing a 3-0 sweep and a spot in the final.  All three matchups proved too dominant in this encounter. 

Semi-Final Two showcased the Eastern Rush and Gold Coast Glory. It was fitting to see the teams from South East Queensland battle it out for a spot in the Championship match. The Gold Coast came out strong claiming the women's doubles but the Rush drew back level with Joey Wild and Vishal Masand taking the honours in the men's. The mixed matchups saw a team take one each leading u to the all-exciting Dreambreaker. Gold Coast pushed the Rush all the way, making them fight off multiple match points before a 22-20 scoreline, sent them into Championship Match. 

The MLP Australia Final was full of dramatic moments, sensational plays and all-out efforts from the athletes. Van Reek and Dalla-Bona gave the Crocs an early lead, dominating the Rush combination 21-7. Bhatia and Chen were pushed all the way by Wild and Masand with fast hands dominating the show.  The Men from the Crocs sealed the deal at 21-19 forcing the Eastern Rush in a do-or-die Mixed Doubles to save the match. Captain Katy Hart put herself and Joey Wild into the mix to try and save the match for the Rush. Bhatia and Van Reek represented the Crocs with an impeccable record so far in their MLPA Season and took the early advantage and changed ends leading 11-7. Eastern Rush stormed out of the break pushing the Crocs and tied it all up at 20-20. The firepower from Katy Hart and the consistency of Joey Wild proved too much in the crucial stages and the Eastern rush took the game with a 24-22 scoreline and kept themselves alive in the match.

Game 4 saw absolutely everything with Chen and Dalla-Bona stretched all of the way. It was Naimi Mehta and Vishal Masand who put together their strongest display of mixed doubles so far for their MLPA season securing a victory and sending the Championship Match to a Dreambreaker. 

There were insane battles in all four combinations with outstanding performances from Armaan Bahtia going 7-3 and Katy Hart putting her team right in the mix with a 5-3 scoreline on Captain Dalla-Bona. The difference maker was Roos Van Reek with a 7-1 run to not only clinch the title for the Northern Crocs but fittingly see her named MVP.

The MLPA Final concluded on a high note, with Anthony Liveris, President of the PPA Tour Australia commending the event's success. “The Auckland Open was a smashing success The Kiwis are remarkable hosts and came out in force to support the NZ Hustle and Starts. Our first international tournament is a strong sign of what's to come!” Remarked Liveris, hinting at a bright future ahead for pickleball enthusiasts in our region.

Congratulations Northern Crocs on back-to-back MLPA victories.  It was a fantastic end to Event Two of Season One Major League Pickleball Australia!

With the Northern Crocs and the Eastern Rush taking 1st and 2nd respectively, the Gold Coast Glory and South East Asia Surge round out the top 4 placings. All attention now shifts to Brisbane for Event 3, May 17-19 at Focus Pickleball Redcliffe.

Rewatch the action from the championship match on our YouTube channel

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