Paola Longoria Experience Wrap-up

Longoria wins her namesake tournament to kick off the new season.

Congrats to your winners on the weekend:

Singles: Paola Longoria
Doubles: Monserrat Mejia & Alexandra Herrera

R2 Sports App link: https://www.r2sports.com/website/event-website.asp?TID=31123

Here’s a wrap of the Singles matches of note by round:

Match report in the database: http://rball.pro/624927

In the 32s:
– #19 Denisse Maldonado took out #14 Sheryl Lotts in a tie-breaker for a career win.
– #11 Ana Laura Flores Saavedra was stretched to a tie-breaker by 15yr old Daniela Rico before advancing.

In the 16s:
– #8 Amaya Cris dominated #9 Masiel Rivera Oporto 3,9 to advance. This should be an interesting season for Amaya with her renewed training regiment.
– #12 Montse Mejia got a solid 2-game win over #5 Rhonda Rajsich, reversing the result from their meeting in Lima a few weeks ago.
– #4 Alexandra Herrera barely held off #13 Jessica Parrilla 11-9 in the breaker. Its the third straight defeat in the 16s for Parrilla at the hands of Herrera, but she keeps getting closer. 
– #19 Maldonado fared well against #3 Maria Jose Vargas Parada losing in two 9,10. A good showing for the 20-yr old.
– #11 Flores got the biggest (only) upset of the round, topping #6 Natalia Mendez Erlwein in two. Its the 2nd year in a row they’ve met in this event … and the 2nd year in a row Flores upset the Argentinian.
– #7 Nancy Enriquez was stretched to a tiebreaker by #10 Brenda Laime Jalil before advancing. Laime continues to make main events, solidifying her ranking in the 12-16 range, but she has yet to have a break through win.

In the quarters:
– #1 Paola Longoria took out #8 Amaya 8,9 to advance.
– #12 Mejia continued her upsetting ways, taking out #4 Herrera in two games and perhaps making a statement about the current heirarchy on the tour.
– #3 Vargas advanced in two straight over 18U champ Flores.
– #2 Samantha Salas Solis blitzed past #7 Enriquez 1,6.

In the semis; two heavyweight battles and two interesting matches:
– #1 Longoria and #12 Mejia were neck and neck in game one, with Longoria pulling out a close one, then she broke away in game two to advance 13,5. 
– #3 Vargas got just her 3rd pro win over Salas in a tense, back and forth 11-9 tiebreaker win.

In the final, Vargas mounted a furious comeback in Game 1 but fell slightly short, then Longoria took over in game 2 to win her namesake title 13,6.

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Doubles review:

Match report in the database: http://rball.pro/A430D7

The two top Mexican teams advanced to the final as #1 and #3 seeds. #3 Mejia/Herrera downed the #2 Argentinian national team of Vargas/Mendez 12,13 to advance.

The final was a rematch of several major events in the last couple of years (these are all Finals);
– 2016 US Open
– 2017 Chihuahua Pro stop
– 2018 Battle at the Alamo
– 2018 World Doubles
– 2018 Mexican Worlds selection
– 2018 Paola Longoria Experience
– 2018 US Open
– 2019 Mexican Nationals
– 2019 Kansas City pro stop.

The #1 team had won every one of these finals matchups save for the 2018 Worlds selection event.

On this day though, the younger team of Herrera/Mejia stuck with the hard-hitting veteran team, mounted a solid comeback in game 2 after letting game 1 slip away, then just out-shot the #1 team behind really solid serving from Herrera and took the title.

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Next up: IRF 35th Annual World Seniors is next week in Albequerque, then there’s three major tourneys the following weekend: IRT kicks off in Atlanta, the LPRT visits my home state of Virginia for the LPRT By the Beach or LPRT Chesapeake event, and the 20th annual European championships kick off in Germany.
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LPRT
International Racquetball Tour
International Racquetball Federation – IRF
Federación Mexicana de Raquetbol

LPRT Paola Longoria Experience preview

After an incredibly busy summer of events, the pro racquetball season is back. Welcome to the 2019-20 season; first up; the LPRT kicks off with a Grand Slam event; the Paola Longoria Experience in her home town of San Luis Potosi, SL, Mexico1

R2 Sports App link for the event: https://www.r2sports.com/website/event-website.asp?TID=31123.

22 pros are in SLP for this event; lets take a look at the draws.

The top 8 players are here, setting up some frequently seen possible quarter finals from last season. We’re missing the 9th, 10th, and 11th ranked players ( Frederique Lambert Adriana Riveros and Gaby Martinez), which has elevated Masiel Rivera Oporto all the way to a 9th seed. Its an odd absence for Riveros, who only missed three events in the last two seasons.

Lets preview the draw;

Interesting play-in/round of 32 matches:
– #16/#17 Mexican lefty youngster Monserrat Perez Hellman takes on Guatemalan international Maria Renee Rodriguez, who is fresh off of a solid Pan Am Games showing (she and Martinez made the women’s doubles final). I like MRR here.
– #12 Montse Mejia gets a chance to avoid the #1 seed in a pro event for the first time in a while, and starts out playing country-woman Carolina Rivera in the opener.
– #14 Sheryl Lotts made the trip and gets an early test against another young Mexican player Denisse Maldonado.
– #11 Ana Laura Flores , the reigning Mexican 18U champ, takes on the 2018 Mexican 14U champ Daniela Rico in a generational junior battle.
– #15 Veteran Susy Acosta takes on a player nearly half her age in #18 Erin Rivera.

Possible Round of 16 matches of note:
– #8 Amaya Cris vs #9 Rivera: these two played at the final LPRT stop of last season, a 4-game win for Amaya, who has not stopped traveling or playing this summer. I like Amaya here to advance.
– #5 Rhonda Rajsich vs #12 Mejia: they just played each other in LIma, a beat-down by Rajsich. But this is a great opportunity for Mejia (who has the talent to challenge for the top) to make a run. Will she learn from her Pan Am Games early exit?
– #4 Alexandra Herrera vs #13 Jessica Parrilla: Herrera has knocked Parrilla out in the round of 16 in both her top-level tournaments back so far, and likely does it again here. Despite it being more than a year removed from her knee injury, Parrilla still is not back to top form.

Projecting the Quarters: i like the top 8 seeds to advance with a lot of chalk here on out.
– #1 Paola Longoria vs #8 Amaya: Longoria will be looking to win her namesake tournament as she did last year to kick off the season.
– #4 Herrera vs #5 Rajsich: Alexandra finally broke her losing streak to Rajsich at the end of last pro season, while Rajsich is coming off a long two week period in Lima (where, to be fair, Herrera also was … but was merely on the Mexican team and did not play). I like Herrera here.
– #3 Maria Jose Vargas Parada vs #6 Natalia Mendez; as I frequently noted last spring, these two long-time Argentinian team-mates and doubles partners had not never met, now cannot stop facing each other. Vargas has never lost to Mendez, and I don’t see that starting here.
– #2 Samantha Salas Solis vs #7 Nancy Enriquez: If Enriquez does not slip up against up-and-comer Brenda Laime Jalil, she’ll fall at this stage. Salas was shut out of the Mexican singles team at the Pan Ams, but raced to the doubles gold with Longoria.

Semis and Finals: Longoria over Herrera, Salas over Vargas, and Longoria over Salas, This was the semis and finals of the final LPRT event from last season, and I think they pick right back up where they left off.

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Doubles preview:

10 teams here; I like the top two Mexican teams of Longoria/Salas and Mejia/Herrera to meet in the final, with the Pan Am Gold medalists to take another title.

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Reminder: LPRT has a new scoring system, and i’ll put up a post this weekend with a look back at the scoring systems used by the ladies pro tour over the years.

Alex Landa Torneo Internacional Wrap-Up

Landa wins his namesake event is this weekend in Juarez.

Congrats to the winners on the weekend:
– Men’s Singles: Alex Landa
– Men’s Doubles: Javier Estrada/Ernesto Ochoa

R2sports link for the tourney here: https://www.r2sports.com/tourney/home.asp?TID=31049

Here’s a quick review of the tourney

In Men’s Singles, no upsets to the quarters. In the qtrs:
– #1 Alex Landa topped #8 Ruben Estrada in an injury fft after winning the first game.
– #5 Alan Natera Chavez topped #4 Ernesto Ochoa in a tie-breaker fitting of the 4/5 match-up.
– #6 Alex Cardona took out #3 Javier Estrada in two close games. Was his amazing performance in Chihuahua earlier this year an aberration?
– #2 Eduardo Garay Rodriguez topped the veteran Polo Gutiérrez 10,2.

In the Semis;
– Landa and Natera battled in a close game 1, then Landa pulled away to take game two 15-3 and advance to the final of his namesake tourney.
– Cardona took two close games from Garay 13,12 to “upset” his 2nd straight seeded player and advance to the final.

In the Final: 
– Cardona took the first game, then Landa took over, beating his frequent Juarez club playing partner (12),5,6 to win the singles title in his name sake event. Not a bad showing for Cardona, who has stepped back from competitive play but still remains a dangerous player in every draw he enters. For Landa, two solid wins over tough opponents and a good warmup for the new season coming.

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In Men’s Doubles:
– #1 seeds Landa/Cardona were upset in the semis by #4 Estrada/Ochoa in a tiebreaker.
– #2 Natera/Garay downed #6 seeds (who got a walkover over #3 seeded team in the qtrs) Jose Martinez / Manuel Villarreal: to advance to the final.

In a good final entirely consisting of solid Mexican players who rarely feature in USA domestic IRT events, Estrada and Ochoa blasted their way to a win over Natera/Garay.

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Next up; the start of the 2019-20 pro season with the LPRT heading to San Luis Potosi.

Federación Mexicana de Raquetbol
RKT
International Racquetball Tour

2nd Annual Alex Landa 2019 Torneo Abierto Internacional de Raquetbol Preview

Landa’s namesake event is this weekend in Juarez.

Here’s a quick preview of this weekend’s Alex Landa event, being held in Juarez, CH, Mexico.

r2sports home page: https://www.r2sports.com/tourney/home.asp?TID=31049

Like last week’s event in SLP, there’s a solid Men’s Pro draw (18 players). its also an IRT sanctioned event; a Tier 2, meaning the winner does get a somewhat significant number of rankings points (120 points).

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Men’s Pro Singles draw

Lets pick up a preview at the quarter-final levels, given that it seems unlikely to have any upsets prior to that stage.

Projected Quarters:
– #1 Alex Landa likely faces #8 Ruben Estrada, brother of Javier (who is also in the draw). Ruben was a force in Junior racquetball in the early 2000s, winning multiple Junior world titles but an accident in the late 2008-early 2009 time-frame derailed his promising career. He returned to pro racquetball in 2015 and has played sporadically since.

– #4 Ernesto Ochoa vs #5 Alan Natera Chavez; a great match-up between two dark horses in pro racquetball. Natera’s win over reigning Pan Am Games champ Rodrigo Montoya Solís earlier this year at Mexican Nationals represents the potential of his game. They’ve played before and I favor Natera here.

– #3 Javier Estrada vs #6 Alex Cardona: a tough one to predict, given that Cardona has really stepped back in his pro touring. I’m going to predict Cardona gets the upset here.

– #2 Eduardo Garay Rodriguez vs #7 Polo Gutiérrez; I can’t wait to see what Polo has left in the tank after a long international career and having recovered from an arm injury. I suspect Garay is the favorite here.

Projected Semis:
– Landa vs Natera: here’s some of the players Natera has beaten this year: Montoya, Estrada, Cardona, Gerardo Franco, Sebastian Franco and Charlie Pratt. That’s a lot of talented players. This is no cake walk for Landa, who I think should advance in a breaker but don’t be surprised by an upset.
– Garay vs Cardona: Despite Garay’s resume of recent accomplishments, i still like Cardona here.

Finals: Landa over his doubles partner Cardona in a rematch of their every tuesday night league night.

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They’re also playing doubles at the events; 7 teams. The top seed is Landa/Cardona, the 2nd seed is the solid Garay/Natera team (who made the finals last weekend). Also in the Mix is the Ochoa/Estrada team.

I like the draw to go chalk; both Cardona and Landa are solid doubles players.

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International Racquetball Tour
RKT
Federación Mexicana de Raquetbol

IRT Tier 5 Feria Nacional Potosina – Corpoil 2019 Wrap-Up

Parrilla a double winner on home soil.

While the Pan American Games team events were wrapping up last weekend, there was a nice little Tier 5 IRT event happening in San Luis Potosi, SL Mexico with some top Mexican players. Here’s a quick wrap-up of the Men’s and Women’s draws.

R2sports home page: https://www.r2sports.com/tourney/home.asp?TID=31070

Men’s Singles: there was a 20-man IRT pro draw, with the top 8 being household names to IRT regular fans. There were no upsets to the quarters, so we’ll pick up the draw review there.

– #1 Andree Parrilla topped #8 Alan Natera Chavez in a tie-breaker. As is often the case with Natera, he’s under-seeded in these events and has good wins on his resume and stretched the top seed in an early round.
– #4 Eduardo Garay Rodriguez topped #5 Jordy Alonso in two tight games 13,11. Alonso has been playing well lately but couldn’t top Garay on this day.
– #3 Eduardo Portillo Rendon topped #6 Ernesto Ochoa in a tiebreaker, a great win against a dangerous opponent.
– #7 Javier Estrada took out #2 Gerardo Franco Gonzalez in a tiebreaker, a tough match-up in the quarters for Franco.

In the semis:

– #1 Parrilla outlasted Garay in two
– #3 Portillo got a great win, trouncing Estrada 2,7

In the final, Parrilla dominated his younger countryman, winning the title 4,9.

Parrilla gets a nice jump start to the season; the odds of this tier 5 factoring in the 2019-20 race seem pretty small; Parrilla gets just 30 rankings points for winning a Tier 5 … he’ll get three times that just for showing up in the first Tier 1 next month.

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Women’s Singles

The Women’s Open draw featured a smaller draw of mostly younger Mexican women and included 3 recent Mexican 18U junior national champs. The draw when chalk to the semis….

In the semis

– #4 Ana Laura Flores Saavedra topped #1 Montse Pérez Castañeda in a tiebreaker
– #3 Jessica Parrilla, still working her way back from injury, topped #2 Erin Groves in two tight games.

In the final, Flores came back from a game one deficit to trounce Parrilla in the 2nd and 3rd games to take the title.

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In the Men’s pro Doubles: Parrilla & Portillo beat Natera and Garay in the Men’s doubles final.

Fun note: it was a Parrilla family affair, with father, son and daughter all competing. Fabian Parrilla

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Next up on the racquetball calendar:
– The Alex Landa Tier 2 in Juarez this coming W/E
– the first LPRT event of the season, the Paola Longoria Grand Slam in San Luis Potosi
– then, after a break, the International Racquetball Tour slate begins with the season opener in Atlanta while the @LPRT heads to my home state of Virginia for an event in Chesapeake at the home club of former top touring pro Malia Kamahoahoa Bailey …. and the hometown of reigning US national champ Kelani Lawrence.

can’t wait to get started in on the new pro seasons!

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RKT
Federación Mexicana de Raquetbol

2019 Pan American Games Wrap-up

Congratulations to all the winners on the weekend:

Men’s Singles: Rodrigo Montoya
Women’s Singles: Paola Longoria
Men’s Doubles: Rodrigo Montoya/Javier Mar
Women’s Doubles: Paola Longoria/Samantha Salas

A sweep for Mexico, establishing their dominance. Two double gold medalists in Montoya and Longoria. The finalists in the four categories: Mexico, Argentina, Bolivia and Guatemala, demonstrating how diverse the talent pool is in our sport. The two historically dominant countries of USA and Canada ended up with bronze medals at best.

We’ll cover the team results after they wrap-up in a separate post.

See these links for full results on IRF and official Pan Am sites:
– http://www.internationalracquetball.com/lim-019/
– https://www.lima2019.pe/en/results and click on Racquetball schedule.

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Here’s a review of the Men’s Singles draw; there were a slew of great matches and unexpected results.

PRS match Report, Men’s Singles: http://rball.pro/B2835D

In the 16s, a few notable matches/surprises:
– #8 Coby Iwaasa got another solid win, topping IRT top-10 player #9 seed Colombian Sebastian Franco in a tie-breaker.
– #6 Samuel Murray took out #11 Bolivian Carlos Keller Vargas, ensuring that we’ll have a new IRF Men’s singles champion at this event (Keller was the PARC champ earlier this year). 
– #7 USA Charlie Pratt was taken to a breaker by Dominican #1 and 10th seed Luis Perez before advancing.

In the Qtrs:
– #1 Alvaro Beltran advanced over the challenge of Iwaasa by the thinnest of margins, winning 14,13. Great showing by Iwaasa in a major yet again.
– #4 Mario Mercado and #5 Jake Bredenbeck had a great back-and-forth match, with Mercado advancing 8,(8),8. Both players were blasting the ball and really making shots, but Mercado pulled it out in the end.
– #3 Rodrigo Montoya Solis advanced in 2 solid games over #6 Murray 7,10. Montoya has quietly put together a really solid tournament, not yet dropping a game to this point and having Murray’s 10 points being the most scored against him in any game.
– #2 Luis Conrrado Moscoso Serrudo got revenge against #7 Charlie Pratt for his loss in the qtrs of PARC19 by beating him handily 7,7 to move on.

So much for my predicting powers in this event: I predicted all four top seeds to fall here; instead all four top seeds advanced into the semis. In fact … the entire men’s knockout draw has gone chalk so far, with zero upsets into the qtrs and all four top seeds advancing.

In the Semis…
– Beltran d Mercado 7,5 in a match that was far closer than the scores suggested. They were on the court for well over an hour for these two games. Mercado just couldn’t get his serves working against the shot-maker Beltran, and Beltran time and again put away shots and setups to pick away at the game. 
– Montoya d Moscoso 14,10. This is a match-up i’m always wanting to see; power versus power. Two of the best young talents in the world who rarely meet. I’ve got just one prior meeting: Montoya winning a tiebreaker in the qtrs of 2018 worlds en route to the title. Montoya holds on for game 1 and then gets the win to move to the finals again.

(Historical oddity of this match: Moscoso nearly forfeited the match after getting caught in 2+ hours of traffic; he hitched a ride with a motorcycle cop to get to the venue just in time; had the ladies semi finals before him not gone on as long, this would have been a walk-over).

In the finals:

It was an all Mexican affair … and also a generational one featuring Beltran at the age of 40 versus Montoya at the age of 23. Beltran first competed in an IRF event in 1996; Montoya was born in 1996. Montoya is 3-1 in my database over Beltran in his career, and the one loss was an 11-10 match.

Beltran took game one and then, with a diving hip check, slammed into the door in game two, shattering it. After recovering, he seemed to have the wind taken out of his sails, dropping game two and getting blanked in the tiebreaker. Montoya wins (9),6,0 to improve to 4-1 over his countryman and take the title.

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Women’s Singles Knockout Draw review

PRS match Report, Women’s Singles: http://rball.pro/363FE3

In the 16s, a slew of great matches and surprising results:
– #9 Kelani Lawrence eked out a strong tiebreaker win over #8 Carla Muñoz Montesinos 11-7. 
– #12 Colombian Adriana Riveros got a solid win over #5 Bolivian Valeria Centellas in a tie-breaker. 
– #3 Argentine Natalia Mendez got a career victory, topping the reigning World Champ Guatemalan Gaby Martinez in a tie-breaker.
– #6 Ecuadorian Pazita Muñoz Albornoz got a great win over #11 Montse Mejia in a tie-breaker. Despite the seeding, I had Mejia favored in this match based on past results, including her defeat of Frederique Lambert in the RRs.
– #7 Angelica Barrios advanced past Amaya Cris by the thinnest of margins, 11-10 breaker. Amaya managed to lose to both Bolivians in this event; one 11-9 and the other 11-10.

So, despite a couple of top-level players as double-digit seeds in the 16s, we had just two upsets by seed into the quarters.

In the qtrs:
– #1 Maria Jose Vargas Parada advanced in two solid games over USA’s Lawrence 9,13. fun Fact: This was a rematch of the 2010 world Juniors 16U final. 
– #12 Riveros continued her great tournament, topping American veteran Rhonda Rajsich in two, ending Rhonda’s great tournament.
– #3 Mendez topped #6 Maria Paz Munoz in a tiebreaker. 
– #2 Paola Longoria made quick work of the Bolivian youngster Barrios 6,4 to advance to the semis.

In the semis:
– Riveros’ run ended at the hands of Vargas 8,9
– Longoria had to work for it a bit, but downed Mendez 10,10 to advance to yet another international tournament final.

In the final, the two top seeds faced off, also the two top LPRT pros represented here in Peru. Longoria improved her career record over Vargas to 33-1 across both IRF and LPRT by taking the final in two games 7,9.

Longoria wraps up her 19th career international title. Those 19 titles include 3 Pan Am games, 8 PARC titles, 2 World Games, 3 World Championships and 3 Central American/Caribbean games titles.

(see this link for her 19 career international titles: http://rball.pro/8F4146)

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Men’s Doubles wrap-up

PRS match Report, Men’s Doubles: http://rball.pro/205C38

The draw went basically chalk to the semis, where the #4 seeded Mexican team of Montoya/ Javier Mar came from a game down to top the #1 USA team of Rocky Carson and Pratt. On the bottom half, the #2 Bolivian team of Moscoso/ Roland Keller also had to come from a game down to beat the quality Costa Rican team of Andres Acuña / Felipe Camacho to make the final.

In the highly anticipated final, the Mexican team dominated the Bolivians, winning 10,1 to take the title.

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Women’s Doubles wrap-up

PRS match Report, Women’s Doubles: http://rball.pro/616FAA

The #1 seeded Mexican team of Longoria/ Samantha Salas Solis blitzed their way to the final, winning in the qtrs 2,0 over the Dominican Republic team, then dominating the semis 6,1 over the USA team.

On the bottom half, the #3 Guatemalan team of Maria Renee Rodríguez and Ana Gabriele Martinez took two tiebreaker wins over Colombia and then #2 Argentinian team to make the final.

In the final, the Guatemalans looked like they might pull off another upset, taking game one, but the Mexican pair battled back to win games 2 and 3 for the title. Final score 5,(11),5.

Salas secures her 17th career int’l doubles title, Longoria her 15th, to creep ever closer to record holder Jacqueline Paraiso-Larsson‘s 18 career IRF titles.

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Association links

International Racquetball Federation – IRF
International Racquetball Federation
International Racquetball Tour
LPRT
USA Racquetball
Racquetball Canada
Federación Mexicana de Raquetbol
Federación Boliviana De Raquetbol – Febora
Pan American Games 2019
Pan American Games 2019

Pan Am Games RR review, Knockout Preview

The Pan Am games round robin rounds for both singles and Doubles are done and the knockout draws have been published.

Lets do a quick run through of the notable/interesting RR results, then preview the knockout Draws.

An editorial: I think IRF needs to go back to having the two top seeds in the group play last, not first. I hate that the best match of the group stage happens on the opening day, when nobody knows the courts, everyone’s still jet lagged or perhaps rusty, and nobody has any tournament play under their belt yet.

Online brackets/results: http://www.internationalracquetball.com/lim-019/
or, on Pan Am Games official site here: https://www.lima2019.pe/en/results…

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Interesting Men’s Singles RR results:
– USA #1 Jake Bredenbeck got a solid win over IRT top-10 and Colombian #1 Sebastian Franco in their RR opener. Jake improved to 4-3 and broke a string of three straight losses to Franco. 
– Bolivian and #1 overall seed Luis Conrrado Moscoso Serrudo was stretched to a tie-breaker by the dangerous Costa Rican #1 Andres Acuña
– Cuban #2 Enier Chacon took out Argentinian #2 Fer Kurzbard 12,12, a solid win for the Cuban #2.
– Colombian #2 Mario Mercado got a great win, topping the 2-time reigning Pan American Racquetball Championships (PARC) champ Bolivian #2 Carlos Keller Vargas 14,11. Mercado gets the inside track to jump his pre-tourney seeding from 12 to a 3rd seed in the knockouts.
– Canadian #2 Coby Iwaasa got a career win, topping USA #2 Charlie Prattin a close tiebreaker. Iwaasa lost two close matches to Mercado in PARC19 and nearly won the last pro event held in Canada … but the last time we saw him on the IRT was in 2015. Would love to see him more.
– Ecuadorian #2 Jose Daniel Ugalde Albornoz in a huge upset, took out top overall seed Moscoso 11-10 in the final RR, throwing Group A into chaos with all three competitors finishing 1-1; by points differential Costa Rican Acuna is left out by just one cumulative point.
– DR #1 Ramon De Leon took out Cuban #1 Maikel Mollet in an 11-10 breaker as well, securing his passage to the knock outs.

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Interesting Women’s Singles RR results:
-Argentina’s Natalia Mendez​ got a solid win over Colombian Adriana Riveros10,13.
– USA’s Rhonda Rajsich destroyed Mexico’s Montse Mejia 4,7, a pretty surprising result. I thought Rajsich might win, but certainly not by these scores.
– Bolivia’s Valeria Centellas topped Colombia Amaya Cris​ by the incredibly close scores of (14),14,9. One point from the perfect match, and the youngster Centellas saved of match point against at 14-14 in the second to win. 
– Ecuador’s Pazita Muñoz Albornoz​ topped USA #1 Kelani Lawrence 5,6 in a match that still took nearly 50 minutes. (coincidentally: I love the timing provided in each match on the Pan Am website). Munoz later held on over improving Costa Rican Maricruz Ortiz 13,14 to secure the group.
– Argentina’s #1 overall seed Maria Jose Vargas​ met reigning world champ Gaby Martinez 11-9 in the tiebreaker. Tough opener for both; Martinez is clearly better than a double digit seed.
– Improving DR international player Merynanyelly Delgado took out LPRT touring vet Maria Renee Rodriguez in a tiebreaker.
– In the “Group of Death” Rajsich beat Canadian #1 Frederique Lambert 10,5 to top the group. Mejia salvaged 2nd place by topping Lambert herself 9,8. This knocked Lambert out of the knockout stages … a tough break for the former #2 player in the world.

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Men’s Singles Knockout round preview and predictions:

Unlike in other IRF competitions … the RR performance matters and qualified just 14 of the original 25 competitors to the knockouts. And, I have to be honest, I don’t entirely understand the knockout seedings. Beltran was elevated to #1 over Moscoso (who dropped from 1 to 2) despite Moscoso winning his group (albeit by the skin of his teeth). Mercado should have had the #3 seed but instead is 4th behind Montoya. Lastly, inexplicably, Pratt retains his 7th seed ahead of Iwaasa (who is seeded 8th) despite the fact that Iwaasa beat him head to head literally three days ago. I don’t get it.

Best players left out of the knockouts? Probably Acuna (the unlucky odd-man left out of the Group A logger-jam, who misses the knockout stages by two cumulative points over 3 matches). It was a bummer to see both Cubans knocked out; they have really improved lately. Otherwise the seeds mostly held and the top players are in the round of 16.

Here’s a preview of the Men’s singles knockout; Beltran and Moscoso get byes into the quarters.

– #9 Franco vs #8 Iwaasa: Iwaasa’s present for winning his group is to get a lesser seed than Pratt and to play into the current 7th ranked pro on the IRT. Tough match, but if Iwaasa keeps playing the way he has been, he could move on.
– #5 Bredenbeck gets a tricky opener against #12 De Leon but should advance.
– #4 Mercado gets a familiar opponent in #13 Felipe Camacho; they’ve played 4 times in the past three years and Mercado leads 3-1.
– #3 Rodrigo Montoya Solis who cruised through the group stage, gets the Moscoso-beating Ugalde; can the Ecuadorian keep it up?
– #6 Samuel Murray, for his troubles of winning the group, gets two-time defending PARC champ Keller as the 11th seed, a match Keller probably wins.
– #7 Pratt gets a heck of a lot easier opener than Iwaasa, going against DR’s Luis Perez.

Projecting the Quarters:
– #1 Álvaro Beltrán vs #8 Iwaasa: Beltran has his hands full here. Iwaasa can beat Franco, and Iwaasa can beat Beltran too.
– #4 Mercado vs #5 Bredenbeck: I like the way Jake is playing, I think his win over Franco in the RRs is proof enough of his focus and he should beat Mercado here.
– #3 Montoya vs Keller: Tough matchup for Montoya; last time they played was the semis of PARC18, and Keller got him in the breaker. I’m not entirely sure what to make of Keller’s loss to Mercado in the group stage; is he still hurt from earlier this summer? Montoya wasn’t really challenged in his RR group, making it tough to gauge how he’s playing. I think Keller advances here.
– #2 Moscoso vs #7 Pratt; great re-match of PARC19 quarters, when Pratt shocked the rball world and took out Moscoso 11-10 just weeks after Moscoso had won the Bolivian grand slam. Can he do it again? On the one hand, Moscoso has shown some chinks in the armor here (taken to tiebreaker by Acuna, beaten by Ugalde). On the other hand … so has Pratt shown he’s vulnerable with the Iwaasa loss. Pratt out-strategized Moscoso in Colombia and I think he can do it again.

Yes; i’m predicting that all four top seeds fall in the quarters. This is a testament to the depth of the international game these days.

Projected Semis:
– #8 Iwaasa over #5 Bredenbeck; I just like the way Iwaasa is playing.
– #11 Keller over #7 Pratt; a rematch of PARC19 final, won by Keller in a breaker. If Keller is healthy, he advances again.

Final: Keller over Iwaasa, cementing Keller’s international status by winning his third major title in the last two years.

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Women’s Singles Knockout round preview and predictions:

Unlike in the Men’s knockout draw … there seemed to be no discretion taken with the Women’s seeds; they are exactly driven from the group stage results, no deviations. (Again, why would the Men’s singles draw deviate from this formula?)

As with the Men’s draw; the top 2 seeds earn byes in the 16s and only 14 of the original 24 players advance to the knockout stages. Best player left out of the knockouts? Lambert obviously, then Rodriguez from Guatemala.

Here’s a preview of the knockout round:
In the 16s:
– #9 Lawrence over #8 Carla Muñoz Montesinos: despite the fact that they met in PARC19 and Munoz won, I like the way Lawrence is playing and think she can take this.
– #5 Centellas over #12 Riveros: the 17yr old continues to play well over her head; if she can bet Colombia’s #1 player (Amaya, as she did in the group stage), then she should be able to beat Colombia’s #2 player in Riveros
– #4 Rajsich should hold serve against #13 Delgado.
– #3 Natalia Mendez has her hands full with #14 Martinez. On paper this is a no brainer win for Martinez: she’s 4-0 lifetime over Mendez, including an 8,3 semis win at the 2018 Worlds en route to her currently held World title. But … Martinez hasn’t played competitive rball since January while Mendez has been showing solid results both internationally and professionally. I’ll go with Martinez here but it’s going to be close.
– #6 Maria Paz Munoz vs #11 Mejia; another brutal match-up for a top seed. Munoz’s award for winning her group is a match-up with a player who beat three of the top 5 players in the world en route to the Mexican national title earlier this year. I’m not sure what to make of Mejia’s loss in the RRs to Rajsich, but do think she can regroup and advance here.
– #7 Barrios vs #10 Amaya; a South American duel that, surprisingly, hasn’t happened before. Its the second Bolivia versus Colombia match-up in the round of 16 here; Amaya dropped a close one to Bolivia’s #1 player in the RRs, but Barrios may be just as good. I expect another close one here, as Amaya has really stepped up her game lately, but think Barrios still advances.

In the Qtrs:
– #1 Vargas makes quick work of #9 Lawrence
– #4 Rajsich gives a veteran lesson in tournament play to the youngster #5 Centellas
– #11 Mejia over #14 Martinez: these two have met over and over throughout the years; they’re the same age and met in the finals of Junior Worlds at least 7 times. Martinez owned their earlier match-ups … but Mejia has won three straight and should win here as well.
– #2 Paola Longoria cruises over the youngster #7 Barrios.

Semis projection:
– #1 Vargas over #4 Rajsich: these two have met no less than 30 times on the LPRT and internationally … and they’re 15-15 against each other. Vargas dominated Rajsich when they met in PARC19 and I think she’ll win again.
– #2 Longoria vs #11 Mejia: I don’t see Longoria losing to Mejia at this stage, not when it comes to winning titles.

Finals prediction: Longoria improves to 33-1 over Vargas in a rematch of the PARC19 final to win her 19th IRF tournament.

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Doubles Knockout round predictions:

On the Men’s side: no elimination at the RR stage, which is a sigh of relief for some of the teams who took surprising losses.

Also, more completely inexplicable seedings: Montoya/Mar destroyed Acuna & Camacho 2,0 in the RR stage, and won the group as the 3rd seed going in … then are seeded below them in the knockouts?? How does that happen?

I like Montoya/Mar over Carson/Pratt in one semi, Moscoso/Roland Kellerover Acuna/Camacho in the other semi, and for the Bolivians to win the final as they won the PARC final earlier this year.

On the Women’s side:

I like Longoria/Samantha Salas Solis over USA’s Rajsich/Lawrence in one semi, and for the Guatemalan team of Martinez and Rodriguez to upset the Argentinian team of Vargas/Mendez to make the final. however, in that final Longoria and Salas should capture their 14th international title together.

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Phew! Lots of matches in a short amount of time, but now we’re to the “business end” of this event. Lots of streaming available; individuals, country federations, etc. Check the regular places on Facebook for streaming notifications.

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USA Racquetball
Federación Mexicana de Raquetbol
Racquetball Canada
Federación Boliviana De Raquetbol – Febora
International Racquetball Federation – IRF
International Racquetball Tour
LPRT

Mexican Junior Nationals Data Load

In the wake of the Mexican Junior Nationals event a few weeks ago, I took some time to do some data loading so that the “matrix” reports I have showing all winners for all age divisions for all of time looked a bit better.

This is a quick notification post to rball fans to inform you of some data loading for Mexican Junior data, if you were interested.

Here’s the “matrix” reports showing all winners of all divisions:
– All Mexico Junior Boys: http://rball.pro/E1C550
– All Mexico Junior Girls: http://rball.pro/A267D1

You can also pull down the full match results for any year from the Event list in the Juniors database. I generally only put in the “older” age groups of full results (14s sometimes, 16s and 18s) and just note the final for the younger groups. Furthermore, there’s no Double Elimination results in the database; most of these events are DE.

Mexican Junior events have been a bit tough to keep track of; in any given year the US and Canada have “one” Junior National event. Mexico meanwhile has a Junior Olympics event (which sometimes takes “liberties” with the age groups, or skips them altogether), a conventional Junior Nationals, and even “World Selection events” that supersede the results of nationals. So as it turned out … some of the results I had previously for “Mexican Junior Nationals” were actually from the Junior Olympics events. I’ve now cleaned all that up.

We have online data for Mexican Jr Nationals for at least all winners from 2012-present now, thanks to some archive.org work. The earliest years generally only have winners posted, even for the older divisions. Hopefully, I havn’t made any mistakes; if anyone sees data entry errors please let me know.

Thanks to Ryan Rodgers who hooked me up with 2013 data so I could finish the data entry.

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From here … in order to fully populate the Mexican Junior data, I need help from the Association. @Federación Federación Mexicana de Raquetbol if you’re reading this, do you have past records or past draw sheets I can leverage to do data entry? Do you have a list of at least the winners of past Junior championships?

Next up, i’ll do some similar work for Canadian juniors.

thanks.

2019 Pan Am Games Preview

Pan Am Games 2019 in Lima, Peru

Welcome to perhaps the grandest international event in our sport; the quadriennial Pan American Games.

This is as close as our sport gets to the Olympic games right now. And they’re starting up this weekend, held in Lima,Peru.

This will be the 6th time Racquetball has participated in these games: they debuted in 1995, then have been in every iteration since (with the exception of 2007, when host country Brazil dropped the sport).

Here’s some lists of past Men’s and Women’s singles winners:
– Pan Am Games Men’s singles champions: http://rball.pro/C5106C
– Pan Am Games Women’s singles champions: http://rball.pro/0A12EC

The first Pan Am games Men’s singles champion was John Ellis in his final amateur match; he avenged a loss in the previous year’s Tournament of the Americas event to long time US international player Michael Bronfeld. The first Pan Am games Women’s champion was the legendary Michelle Gouldwho won a slew of international events along with nearly every Pro match she played in the 1990s.

The Women’s singles competition this year will feature two-time defending champ Paola Longoria who won in 2011 and 2015. She’ll be challenged by her country-woman Montse Mejia, who beat her earlier this year in the Mexican Nationals. She’ll also have to fend with top LPRT pros and international veterans like Maria Jose VargasFrederique LambertRhonda Rajsich and the like. And, just to add some intrigue, Guatemala’s Gaby Martinez has come out of “retirement” to compete … the same Martinez who beat Longoria in the 2018 Worlds final.

The two-time defending Men’s single’s champ Rocky Carson will only be playing doubles this event, so we’ll have a new champ. The 2015 finalist Alvaro Beltran will be playing singles, and one of 2015’s semi-finalists Luis Conrrado Moscoso Serrudo may be the favorite in the event. But, don’t count out Moscoso’s Bolivian teammate Carlos Keller Vargas, who is the 2-time defending PARC champ, nor the USA #1 Jake Bredenbeck, who destroyed the competition in May to earn his spot, nor Canada’s Samuel Murray, who finished another solid IRT season and is a tough out.

Round Robins start this weekend, and then we’ll preview the knockout draw once it is announced.

Facebook news has been sparse on the event; unlike an IRF event, the host country more or less controls things and by all accounts it was difficult event to secure streaming rights on facebook. Which is a shame … since this should be the biggest event in our sport. Nonetheless, keep an eye out for enthusiasts posting live streaming links in the usual spots.

International Racquetball Federation – IRF
Federación Boliviana De Raquetbol – Febora
Federación Mexicana de Raquetbol
USA Racquetball
Racquetball Canada
LPRT
International Racquetball Tour

IRT Season in Review 2018-19

Your new updated IRT logo, branded with the new website.

Pro Racquetball Stats fans may not know it, but at the bottom of the Report selection page for each tour I have some static pages of information that I maintain. One of those is kind of a running diary of the season of “events” as they occur.

http://www.proracquetballstats.com/i…/year_end_summaries.htm

Here’s a list of notable “events” from this past season, which has seen some significant change in the structure of the tour. This is a subset of what’s on the above link, with text abbreviated for brevity.

– August 2018: the IRT season opens with questions as to whether Kane Waselenchuk is actually “retired” after events stemming from the last event in Florida in April and comments made on social media and in interviews over the summer.

– Oct 2018: Kane enters and wins the US Open, his 14th title. Kane is now simultaneously the oldest and youngest ever winner of the US Open.

– Nov 2018: Commissioner Andy Kulback takes a “leave of absence” from the IRT, and IRT CEO John Scott announces new managerial structure for the tour, which installs Mike Grisz as the Chairman of the board.

– Nov 2018: thanks to Kane’s Jan 2018 injury, he drops in the 12-month rolling rankings to #6 while Alex Landa ascends to #1. This leads to a series of discussions and criticisms of the tour ranking system in racquetball forums, with calls for protected seeding or changes to the ranking system.

– Feb 2019: Scott resigns as CEO of the tour after experiencing some medical and personal issues. Current Chairman of the Board Mike Grisz takes over as interim CEO.

– Mar 2019: IRT announces a partnership with Pablo Fajre to broadcast events, a departure from the existing IRT Network infrastructure and presumably an end to the competing WRT tour.

– Mar 2019: the first ever IRT event occurs in Bolivia, the Open Iris Bolivia Grand Slam. #1 Waselenchuk, along with 4 other top 10 players do not make the trip. Bolivian #1  Luis Conrrado Moscoso Serrudo wins the event, defeating IRT #2 Rocky Carson in the final.

– April 2019: Former CEO Scott divests himself fully from the IRT by selling his ownership shares to Maryland-based racquetball enthusiast Slemo Warigon and his wife Charity. This ends Scott’s not-quite two year ownership of the tour, and a much longer involvement in the sport. Coinciding with this move, Grisz takes over officially as both CEO and Chairman of the IRT Board. The IRT is now a fully volunteer-driven organization.

– April 2019: Former Commissioner Kulbeck returns to the tour with some limited/as-of-yet to be determined involvement going forward.

– April 2019: Waselenchuk loses a quarter-final match in Sarasota to Alvaro Beltran breaking an 83-match winning streak on tour and becoming the first on-the-court, non injury related match loss since Sept 2013.

– May 2019: Kane wins the final Tier 1 of the season in Syosset to secure his 13th pro title.

– May 2019: US Open director Doug Ganim announces that he’s retiring after its 25th iteration in 2020, leaving some time to coordinate a replacement plan but also throwing the biggest racquetball event’s future into doubt.

– June 2019: After several non-Tier 1s wrap up, the final 2018-19 season finishes. The final event is won in surprising fashion by Javier Estrada, who takes out a slew of top IRT pros to win the title.

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Next Up: Pan Am Games. I’ll wait until the knockout draws are produced to do “previews.”