IRT Syosset Tier 1 Preview

IRT back in action.

Welcome to the final Tier 1 event on the International Racquetball Tour slate for the 2018-19 season, a return to Long Island for the 2019 Syosset Open. Long Island held a long-running IRT stop branded the “New York City” Pro-am, which ran annually from 2003 until 2016, so its great to see the pro tour return to one of its most important clubs.

R2sports home page: https://www.r2sports.com/website/event-website.asp?TID=30716

Dean DeAngelo Baer posted the draws in the morning of 5/1/19 onto the IRT’s facebook page; make sure to follow it to get all the latest updates.

There’s a HUGE draw this weekend: 49 players in the IRT draw, which is the largest non-US Open draw we’ve seen on tour since Sept 2014 (see this link for the largest known draw sizes in pro tour history: http://rball.pro/797BF4). Because of the huge number of players, they’re they’re playing a round of 128. to get thing started early thursday.

This may be the most talented non-US Open draw i’ve seen since the days of Pro Nationals in Vegas. 28 of the top 30 IRT players are here (only missing two Bolivians Luis Conrrado Moscoso Serrudo and Diego Garcia Quispe of the top 30), and 36 of the top 40 IRT ranked players are here. Amazing.

There’s also IRT tour debuts all throughout the qualifying draw, which we’ll highlight in the previews below.

Lets highlight some of the fantastic qualfiying matches to look forward to:

In the round of 128:
– Frequent tour player Nick Riffel takes on Canadian Junior Sean Sauve, fresh of last week’s Racquetball Canada 18U title. Sauve is in his age 17 season and makes his IRT debut.
– New Yorker and reigning Vegas 3-wall champion Nick Montalbano himself gets a Canadian traveler in his opener, going up against Michael Leduc.
– Canadian Pedro Castro plays in his first IRT tourney in more than 6 years and matches up against touring regular Michael Art ER Burn.
– New Jersey top amateur David Austin gets a shot at Colombian international Andres Gomez, fresh off of representing his country at the PARC championships.

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In the round of 64:
– #9 Rodrigo Montoya Solís versus Alan Natera. Man, what a match we have here. Montoya is the highest seed forced to qualify and he runs right into a player who beat him handily at Federación Mexicana de RaquetbolNationals earlier this year. Alan Natera Chavez appears in his first ever IRT Tier 1 event; he won last week’s solid Tier 4 draw in San Antonio and has made the semis of Mexican Nationals two years running. Meanwhile, Montoya has gotten bounced in the round of 16 the last two IRT events, both against opponents he probably should have beaten. This is a coin flip; Natera is hot right now; is that going to be enough to cause the massive upset?

– #24 Javier Mar vs #25 Eduardo Garay Rodriguez; these “consecutive seed” match-ups never seem to disappoint, do they? Mar was your 2017 Mexican National champ and the last time we saw him he was giving Kane fits, losing in the 16s at the US Open 12,10. Garay has multiple wins over top 10 IRT players, including a win over Mercado in Florida last weekend. Mar is favored here in my book but this is a tough starter match.

– #16 Adam Manilla vs #33 Montalbano; A solid match for the 64s between a good infrequent tour player in Montalbano, playing on home turf, versus an up and coming tour regular who has some solid wins on tour this season.

– #22 Andres Andres Acuña vs #27 Maurice Miller; Miller plays his 5th pro event of the season, with some solid performances against regular tour players but no break through wins yet. Acuna had an amazing run to the semis of PARC last month, but then got wiped out by Landa the week after upsetting him in Colombia. These players both play solid, mistake-free ball and this could be a tight match.

– #23 Mauro Daniel Rojas vs #26 Sebastian Fernandez; The 2017 World Junior 18U champ (Rojas) versus the 2017 World Junior 16U champ (Fernandez) (see http://rball.pro/88ADAE for the complete IRF junior world champion matrix). Two of the best young players in the world meet … for the first time, amazingly. Neither has appeared on tour since January, but both had solid wins earlier in the season. I like Fernandez here, on the better track record of top wins.

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Projecting the round of 32

– #9 Montoya vs #24 Mar. So, on the off chance that both Montoya and Mar advance unscathed from very tough round of 64 matches … they get to play each other in a battle royale. This is the 2017 Mexican national champ versus the 2018 champ. These are regular tournament finalists, and who met twice in WRT finals in 2017 (splitting them). This would be another tough one to predict, as Mar can beat practically anyone in the world if he’s “on.” Meanwhile, we know what Montoya, the 2018 International Racquetball Federation – IRF World Champion can do. What a match. Oh, and instead if it was Natera vs Mar (Natera upset Mar as the 32 seed in the 2018 Mexican Nationals), or Montoya vs Garay (last time they faced it was an 11-9 tiebreaker win from the 2018 Longhorn Open), or even Natera vs Garay (who I don’t have a record of playing each other in a sanctioned event), it’ll still be a great match.

– #16 Manilla vs #17 Eduardo Lalo Portillo: 16/17s are always good, and this would be no different, whether it was Manilla or Montalbano. Portillo (the reigning 18U world champ) has really played well this season, with a couple of top-10 wins. I’d favor him here over either possible opponent.

– #12 Jake Bredenbeck vs #21 Charlie Pratt; A tough match-up for Jake, running into a criminally under-seeded Pratt, who has more than shown he can beat practically anyone not named Kane. Pratt is fresh off a very good run to the PARC finals, dispatching along the way Mercado, Moscoso and Acuna before running out of gas against Carlos Keller Vargas in the final. These two have played once before; a 2015 US Open Jake victory, but I sense Pratt’s going to neutralize Jake’s power here and move on. Question is, how deep will Pratt run in this event?

– #11 Jose Diaz vs #22 Acuna: I like this as an interesting contrast of styles. Acuna can frustrate shooters, but Diaz is lightening fast on the court and is a shooter. This could go fast Diaz’s way, or could be a 2 hour grind.

– #10 Mario Mercado vs #26 Fernandez. Mercado has been showing time and again this season the perils of dropping out of the top 8, and has suffered four one-and-dones in events this season. Here he’ll face a very tough young player who has the talent to beat him. Expect a dogfight here.

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Projected 16s:
– #1 Kane Waselenchuk over #17 Portillo: they played at the 2017 US Open, and Portillo lost by the respectable scores of 6,9,9. I don’t think these two are *that* close though, but this will be the first test for Kane since his shock loss last weekend. What will we get out of Kane this weekend?

– #9 Montoya over #8 Sebastian Franco; If Montoya can survive the qualifying guantlet, he faces a fresh Franco here. By talent this is Montoya (or Mar) over Franco … but two potentially grueling matches thursday night may drain whoever advances to face Franco friday morning. we’ll see.

– #21 Pratt over #5 Daniel De La Rosa; my first big upset prediction. DLR hasn’t looked himself lately, taking three early losses this season, often by lopsided scores. Meanwhile, when Pratt shows up, he shows up to play, and has shown time and again the tactical mindset to develop a gameplan against any one in the world.

– #4 Andree Parrilla vs #13 David Horn; they met last weekend in Florida in the quarters, a dominant 2,6 win for Parrilla, who seems to be a safe bet to have guaranteed himself a top 4 spot for the season ending standings.

– #3 Alejandro Alex Landa vs #14 Gerardo Franco Gonzalez; Franco has to beat a couple of tour regulars to get here, but once he does Landa likely ends his run easily.

– #6 Alvaro Beltran over #11 Diaz: they’ve split in two match-ups this season; Diaz got him at the UnitedHealthcare US OPEN Racquetball Championshipsbut then Beltran got him in Portland. I like Beltran’s trending lately; in his last 5 tourneys he’s made the Finals of Mexico Nats, Quarters in Chicago, Semis of Bolivia grand slam, Semis of PARC, and the finals of last weekend’s Florida stop, beating Kane along the way. Beltran’s on fire!

– #7 Samuel Murray vs #26 Fernandez: another interesting match-up. After making the final of the season opener in Laurel, Murray has not advanced past the quarters since, and has taken two one-and-done losses to players right in the same talent range as Fernandez. Murray’s in a dog-fight to retain his top 8 protected seeding and needs a result here, but may struggle if Fernandez plays like he can.

– #2 Rocky Carson vs #15 Jansen Allen; Allen was seeded as high as #3 in an event early last season, now he’s seeded 15th, having run into solid players over and again in the early rounds once he lost protected seeding. I think he fights his way through qualifying though here, only to lose to Rocky at this stage.

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Possible Quarters

– #1 Kane vs #9 Montoya; would *love* to see this happen, a lot has to go right for Montoya to make it this far. But if Kane’s not 100% from last weekend, he’ll have problems here.

– #21 Pratt vs #4 Parrilla: I like Pratt’s chances here too. Parrilla is a chameleon, adapting his game style to who he plays. But Pratt’s game style is to find your weakness and exploit it. I don’t believe they’ve ever played. Could be interesting.

– #3 Landa over #6 Beltran: a rematch of last week’s final, a close-but-comfortable Landa win over his long time Mexican rival.

– #2 Carson over #7 Murray: Rocky is 8-0 career h2h over Murray, including a win at the quarters in Chicago. He makes it 9-0 as he tries to overtake Kane for the year end points lead.

Possible Semis:
– Kane over Pratt; Kane’s 9-0 career over Pratt, and has never dropped a game. If he’s good, 10-0 here.
– Landa over Rocky: Landa is just 3-7 lifetime vs Rocky, but beat him handily last week 5,7 at this stage and seems like he’s on a roll.

Final: Kane over Landa.

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We’ll see how close my predictions come … if Kane’s still ailing from last weekend, we could really see some surprises coming out of the top of this draw. Pratt to the finals? Montoya finally making a run to an IRT final? What about Parrilla? Can’t wait.

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Battle of the Alamo IRT Tier 4 and Mixed Pro Doubles wrap-up

Natera the double winner on the weekend in San Antonio.

It was quite a busy weekend for pro racquetball. A 35-man IRT tier 1 draw in Florida was actually missing a slew of quality players, who opted mostly to stay closer to home and compete in the IRT tier 4 draw held in conjunction with the LPRT Battle at the Alamo event in San Antonio, TX.

Because of the quality of the event, and the solid mixed pro doubles event, I thought i’d do a quick review of the draws here.

A note: we do not load lower IRT tier events into the database, but as a fan of the game here’s a draw review.

r2 sports IRT draw: https://www.r2sports.com/tourney/drawsOut/view-bracket.asp…

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A 15-man pro draw; here were the notable results round by round.

In the 16s:
– Erik Garcia won a rematch of the USAR intercollegiate finals earlier this month, topping Texan Alejandro Almada in a tiebreaker. 
Alejandro Alex Cardona whitewashed the youngster Sebastian Longoria 0,0. Sebastian Longoria is playing in his age 17 season, while Cardona is one of the top 15-20 players in the world, so this is hopefully a good learning experience for Sebastian.

In the Quarters:
– #1 seed Gerardo Franco Gonzalez beat #9 seed A.J. Fernandez 4,5.
– #5 Seed Garcia got a very solid win over #4 Ernesto Ochoa in a tiebreaker. I have Ochoa in my top 30, and Garcia just took a big step up based on this win and his performance against Rocky Carson at qualifiers in Feb.
– Perpetually under-seeded Alan Natera Chavez took out #3 Javier Estrada7,7. Natera has wins over Javier Mar and Rodrigo Montoya in the past year and has made the semis of Mexican Nationals two years running … but has never appeared in a Tier 1 IRT event and thus has no points. 
– #7 seed Cardona topped #2 seed, IRT regular Nick Riffel11 and 12. A tough first match-up for Riffel in this event, coming up against the two-time WRT tour winner.

In the semis:
– #1 Franco topped Garcia 3,7, ending the collegiate champ’s run.
– #6 Natera squeaked by Cardona 11-10 in the breaker, probably a good indicator of where both players are right now. I think its probably fair to say the bottom half of this draw was more challenging than the top.

In the final, Natera defended his San Antonio title by wiping out Gerardo Franco 10 and 5. A solid weekend of victories over world top 30 players for Natera, who continues to impress.

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Mixed Pro Doubles.

Interestingly, the LPRT didn’t play ladies pros and instead opted for Mixed Pro doubles. So there was a solid draw of 14 Mixed pro teams that included most of the top LPRT pros playing with (primarily) the Mexican traveling pro players.

In the final, Paola Longoria teamed with Gerardo Franco to face Montse Mejia, who was playing Natera. Mejia and Natera came out on top, making Natera the double winner on the weekend.

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International Racquetball Tour LPRT USA Racquetball Federación Mexicana de Raquetbol

LPRT Battle at the Alamo Wrap-up

Longoria wins again.

r2 sports link: https://www.r2sports.com/tourney/home.asp?TID=30301

Congrats to your Ladies Pro Singles: Paola Longoria takes the crown on the weekend.

PRS singles match report: http://rball.pro/2F7086

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Here’s a wrap of the notable matches by round to me:

In the 32s:
– Laura Brandt took a game off of #16 seed Guatemalan #1 Maria Renee Rodríguez before losing in four. Notable because Brandt is 56 years old, still competing with players nearly 1/3rd her age. Bravo.

In the 16s:
– the #8/#9 match gave us a classic yet again, with doubles partners and Colombian team-mates Amaya Cris and Adriana Riveros going to a 5th game tie-breaker before Amaya pulled it out.
– #5 Rhonda Rajsich was stretched to the limit, getting an 11-9 fifth game tiebreaker win over Colombia youngster Brenda Laime Jalil.
– #3 seed Maria Jose Vargas Parada held on for a 5th game win over Montse Mejia in a semis-quality match-up. Vargas won the first two games, Mejia the next two, and the tie-breaker was 11-8.

In the Qtrs:
– #5 Rajsich continued her career dominance over #4 Alexandra Herrera, improving to 9-0 lifetime with a 5-game win. 
– #3 Vargas beat her country-mate and doubles partner Natalia Mendez for the third time in the last month (after having *never* faced each other).

In the semis:
– #1 Paola Longoria took out long-time rival Rajsich in three. Rhonda owns 15 of the 30 career pro losses on Longoria’s resume, but could not beat her on this day.
– #2 Samantha Salas Solis held serve against Vargas, advancing in three games to face off against Longoria.

In the final, Longoria improved to 48-3 against her doubles partner Salas on the pro tour, winning in three for the title. There have been 8 LPRT events this season; Longoria and Salas have met in the final of six of them.

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With the win, Longoria extends these personal streaks:
– She’s now won 33 straight matches, the 5th best such streak known.
– She’s still undefeated on the season, now 29-0.
– She’s only dropped 4 games this season.
– She’s now got 89 wins in the Pro Racquetball Stats database (which, we know, does not match what her media team claims; we’re still working to resolve that issue).

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Points implications for the rest of the season:

There’s two more events on the LPRT schedule; this coming w/e in Syosset then a Grand Slam in Overland Park, KS to finish off t he season

https://www.lprtour.com/schedule

Longoria holds a 450 point lead over Salas for 2nd, who then has an even larger lead over Herrera and the rest of the tour. In order for Salas to overtake Longoria, Paola would probably have to miss both the remaining events and Salas would have to win the Grand Slam and make at least the final of the Syosset event to take the title. There’s no way any other player has enough time to catch up.

So, while its mathematically possible for Longoria to lose the title, its likely that she’s basically sewn it up for this season.

IRT Florida Pro Am Wrap-up

Landa gets his 3rd career singles IRT title.

International Racquetball Tour

r2sports link: https://www.r2sports.com/portfolio/r2-event.asp?TID=30402

PRS Match Report: http://rball.pro/6A2E20

Congrats to Alejandro Landa, who wins his 3rd career title on the weekend.

Here’s a review of the event, citing notable matches (to me) by round:

In the 64s:
– Maurice Miller advanced by the skin of his teeth over Kyle Ulliman 11-10. 
– Set Cubillos Ruiz got a solid win over “the ref’ Scott McClellan to advance.

In the 32s:
– Thomas Carter got his first career win over Felipe Camacho with a pretty solid 6,13 win. He advances into the main draw for just the 2nd time this season.
– Eduardo Garay Rodriguez upset 9th seeded Mario Mercado 11-9 in the breaker. A solid win for Garay, which earns him a rematch with Beltran.
– #13 Jake Bredenbeck saved game point against Miller in game 1, then cruised to a two game win, avoiding this pitfall and advancing to his 7th main draw in 8 IRT events this season.
– Andres Acuña won a hard-fought tiebreaker win over #14 Jansen Allen. Allen’s tough season continues; he’s only qualified for the main draw now in 4 of the 8 events, after cashing in all 11 events last season. 
– Lalo Portillo got a solid win over tour vet Robert Collins to continue his impressive season.

In the 16s:
– David Horn got a solid win over #5 Samuel Murray 11,12. He avenges a bad loss a month ago to Murray and moves on to his second QF of the season.
– Alvaro Beltran made quicker work of Eduardo Garay than I thought he would, winning 7,9.
– #3 Alejandro Alex Landa absolutely destroyed Acuna 3,2. Where was this dominance at the Pan Am Games? 
– #7 Daniel De La Rosa got an easier-than-expected win over Rodrigo Montoya Solís 12,3, the latest in a back-and-forth rivalry with Montoya.
#6 Sebastian Franco got a solid win over Jose Diaz to advance.

Nearly 100% chalk into the quarters, with only Horn’s upset of #5 Murray a blemish on the resumes of the top 8 seeds.

In the Quarters:
– In a shocking result, #8 Beltran topped #1 seed Kane Waselenchuk in an 11-8 tiebreaker. I’ll do a separate post on this result, which streaks it ends for Kane, and what it means for the title race later on.
– #4 Andree Parrilla dominated his former WRT rival #12 Horn 2,6.
– #3 Landa took a close one over Franco
– #2 Rocky Carson wiped out #7 De La Rosa 7,3.

Semis:
– Beltran came back from looking like he’d get wiped off the court to take Parrilla in an 11-10 thriller.
– Landa played one of the more complete games of his career, beating Carson 5,7 to advance to the final.

In that final, a rematch of the Mexican National championship, Landa fended off the veteran Beltran to take home his 3rd career title.

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Next up; the Syosset Open, the last Tier 1 of the season!

2019 LPRT Battle at the Alamo Preview

Draws: https://www.r2sports.com/portfolio/r2-event.asp?TID=30301

Post Publishing Editor’s note: the draw was remade completely just prior to the begining of play when Frederique Lambert withdrew. So most of the predicted matchups below are now moot. Apologies; I don’t have time to re-write it and re-analyze it.

Like the IRT, the LPRT is back in action this weekend in San Antonio, the 8th year running for an LPRT component at the Battle at the Alamo event.

22 pros entered here, coming on the heels of a huge PARC event in Colombia, which may have dampened attendance a bit. Nonetheless, the top 10 active pros are here, and a good chunk of the ladies ranked 11-20 are here as well, and it looks like a solid draw.

here’s some of the singles matches to watch for:

Round of 32:
– The #16/17 seed match is a good one: Maria Renee Rodríguez taking on Mexican vet Susana Susy Acosta. Rodriguez got a solid win at PARCs representing Guatemala over 6th ranked Mendez but lost in the knockouts early. 
– #11 Adrienne Fisher Haynes takes on Daniela Rico, the current reigning World 14U junior champion. Haynes was the most accomplished female junior in the sports history, winning 10 World Junior titles. Rico won’t get there, but has four more years to extend her record.

Round of 16:
– #8 Frederique Lambert vs #9 Adriana Riveros; Lambert, Canada’s undisputed #1 female, couldn’t commit the time to play in PARC this year, and her training has driven down her ranking to its current #8 spot. She was the #2 ranked player at the end of the last two seasons running, lest anyone forget. Fred should advance here and give Paola an early QF test.
– #4 Alexandra Herrera versus #13 Brenda Laime Jalil; nothing like lefty versus lefty to make both players uncomfortable. Laime has challenged a bit lately on tour, perhaps a benefit of playing at CSU-Pueblo with fellow touring pros Munoz and Riveros. 
– #7 Nancy Enriquez vs #10 Amaya Cris; they’ve met once; in the 16s of this event last year, an Enriquez 3-game win. Amaya is coming back from a long week at PARC, and may struggle to keep up with the tough Enriquez here.
– #2 Samantha Salas Solis vs #15 Montse Mejia; wow, what a brutal match-up for a round of 16. I have these two players 2nd and 3rd in my world power rankings right now, and they meet here in the 16s. Mejia is coming off an upset loss early in the PARC knockouts to Mendez, while Salas paired with Longoria to dominate the doubles and win her 16th career IRF doubles title. I suspect that the longer pro format favors Salas here, even though in their last meeting Mejia shocked Salas (and then Longoria) to win the 2019 Mexican national title. Salas comes back to win a 5 game battle.

Projected quarters:
– #1 Paola Longoria vs #8 Lambert; an early battle between the top two players over the past 3 seasons. Lambert’s focus hasn’t been on touring, while Paola Longoria just cruised to her 8th PARC title. Longoria runs away with this one.
– #4 Herrera vs #5 Rhonda Rajsich; despite fighting through a lingering knee issue that hampered her in both Bolivia and at PARC, Rajsich still made the quarters of both events with tough wins throughout. She’s also never lost to Herrera, 8-0 lifetime on tour. What happens here? Its been a year and a half since they met, and Herrera has consistently made the semis this season (5 of 7 events; semis or better). I think Herrera may break through here.
– #3 Maria Jose Vargas vs #6 Natalia Mendez Erlwein; these Argentinian countrymates had never met until this year; now they’re slated to play for the third time in 2 months. Their semi finals meeting at PARC was a tough one, with line judges called in early, eventually won by Vargas in the tiebreaker. I sense Vargas continues to have the upper hand over her doubles partner.
– #2 Salas vs #7 Enriquez; Enriquez does have some career wins over Salas … but they were a while ago. Miami 2011, then before than in juniors in 2005. Salas has otherwise held serve, though it took a huge comeback in South Carolina in January for her do to so, winning a5th game tiebreaker. I like Salas here thought.

projected Semis:
– Longoria over Herrera: Longoria is 12-0 lifetime over Herrera and in those 12 wins has only dropped a couple of games. Seems likely to be 13-0.
– Vargas over Salas: a rematch of the Bolivian Open final, won 11-9 in the 5th by Vargas. Salas leads h2h on the LPRT 5-2, but including international competitions its nearly dead even now. I like Vargas’ trend right now, I think she’s the hot hand, and will head to the final.

Projected final: 
– Longoria over Vargas, a rematch of last week’s PARC final and what would be their 34th meeting. Longoria is 32-1 through the first 33 meetings, so odds of a Vargas win seem slim.

That’s it: my predictions look pretty chalky, with only one upset by seed from the quarters on. Hopefully i’m wrong and we have some darkhorse upsets on the weekend.

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A quick note: this event also is an IRT lower tier event …and because of its proximity to Mexico, a ton of solid IRT regulars opted to play here instead of in Florida. There’s 12-13 guys in Texas this weekend who normally would be at the main event, including a couple of top 30 guys in Gerardo Franco Gonzalez and Nick Riffel (who are the top two seeds). It looks to be a very solid draw and we’ll review it separately later on.

IRT 2019 Florida Pro-Am Preview

IRT back in action.

International Racquetball Tour

r2sports home page for the tourney: https://www.r2sports.com/portfolio/r2-event.asp?TID=30402

Draws: at the r2sports page eventually; early release at IRT’s facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/…/racquetb…/posts/10157094029691737

The tour heads to its regular April Florida stop for the penultimate event of the 2018-19 season. This is the 12th straight year this event has been on the schedule and has historically been a solid, important stop on the schedule given its timing. Last year, it was the last event of the season and led to the end of the 9-straight pro title run of Kane Waselenchuk at the hands of Rocky Carson.

This year though, the tables are turned; Kane heads into the Florida event with a solid lead in the rankings (https://www.irt-tour.com/singles-rankings/) despite missing the Bolivian grand slam. Kane would essentially have to miss his flight to Florida in order for Rocky to overtake him for the tour lead this coming weekend. And, with one additional event on the books and a 300+ points lead the odds of Kane missing out on his 13th tour title seem slim.

That being said, there’s lots to play for. Alejandro Alex Landa and David Horn made the semis last year and are defending large amounts of rankings points. meanwhile, Daniel De La Rosa and Andree Parrilla, who are currently sitting 5th and 4th respectively in the rankings, could easily overtake Landa in the rankings with solid results this weekend. DLR missed this event last year so has zero points to defend, while Parrilla was upset in the 16s and could really improve on his rankings heading into the final NY event.

So, that being said, lets preview the draw. 35 players in this draw, another solid pro draw, and some dark horses present. Here’s some good matches to look for in the qualifying.

In the 64s:
Eduardo Garay faces off against tour regular Justus Benson in the first round, a tough draw for both players. Garay brings a ton of power and has been making waves with solid wins lately and is a name to watch for this weekend.
– Maryland native Troy Warigon makes the trip down the coast and gets a solid opener versus Costa Rican international Sergio Acuna.
Andres Acuña, Sergio’s brother, Costa Rican #1 and coming off of a very impressive semi-final showing at the Pan American Racquetball Championships, faces off against the best 50yr old player in the land, long time Japanese veteran Hiroshi Shimizu
Scott McClellan faces off against Colombian international Set Cubillos Ruiz.

In the 32s:
– #16 vs #17: Felipe Camacho versus Thomas Carter; the 16/17 match is always tough and this should be no different. They’ve already met twice this season, both Camacho wins but both 11-8 tiebreakers. Can Carter break through and get on the right side of what projects to be a close match?
– #9 Mario Mercado vs Garay: they met at the 2016 US Open and Garay got him 12-10 in the 5th. This could be a similarly close battle here, but I suspect Garay moves forward despite Mercado’s semis appearance in the Bolivian Grand Slam.
– #13 Jake Bredenbeck vs #20 Maurice Miller; Miller makes the quick drive down from Atlanta to compete, and heads up against Bredenbeck. These two have met 3 times in the past 4 years, all Jake wins. Miller will need to find a weakness to advance.
– Acuna vs #14 Jansen Allen; Allen continues to fall down the rankings after getting as high as the #3 seed in an event in March 2018, and he runs into a guy who just took out Landa in the PARC event. These two play a similar style, solid, tactical, but Acuna has the hot hand.
– #10 Rodrigo Montoya Solís vs Kadim Carrasco; an interesting match between two extremely hard hitters. Lots of broken balls in this one, but Montoya should advance with the more complete game.
– #15 Robert Collins vs #18 Lalo Portillo; the 15/18 match, like the 16/17 match, always seems intriguing and this is no different. The reigning junior world 18U champ Portillo versus IRT touring regular Collins; this is a good test for Portillo, facing a tough lefty.

Projected 16 matches:
– #1 Kane over Camacho; they met in Chicago at this gate, a blow out Kane win.
– #8 Alvaro Beltran vs Garay; assuming Garay gets past Mercado, we would get a rematch of the round of 16 match these two played in Bolvia. That was a close, two game win for Beltran. If Mercado wins, we get a rematch of a round of 16 match from last weekend’s PARC championship, a tie-breaker Beltran win. Either way, advantage Beltran, who is having a nice rebound 2nd half to the season.
– #5 Samuel Murray vs #12 Horn: Murray crushed him in Chicago in March; both are coming off of the long travel to PARC where Murray logged twice the court time, playing both singles and doubles. I’d still favor Murray here but it could be an upset win.
– #4 Parrilla vs #13 Jake Bredenbeck: they met in South Dakota, a tiebreaker win for Parrilla, his first win over Jake in 4 tries across tours. I’d expect another close match here but for Parrilla to eventually move on and continue his fantastic season.
– #3 Landa vs Acuna; a rematch of the huge upset from last weekend’s PARC championships, when Landa was the #1 seed and lost in the quarters by Acuna. Can Acuna do it again? Landa sits 3rd in the standings and really has no shot of getting much higher on the season, but should have incentive to stay in the top 4 to avoid “the flip” going forward. I’ll go with Landa holding serve and avenging last week’s loss.
– #6 Sebastian Franco vs #11 Jose Diaz; they’ve already met twice this calendar year and split; Diaz won in California when Franco was coming off injury, while Franco won in Chicago in two close games. I’m guessing Franco wins again, and again in two close games here.
– #7 Daniel De La Rosa vs #10 Montoya. Thanks to the “flip” seeding, DLR (who was the 3rd seed last event) falls into the 5-8 range and gets a scrambled seed to #7 … and runs into frequent recent nemesis Montoya at this stage. These two go back and forth lately; DLR crushed Rodrigo in Chicago, but got similarly crushed in South Dakota. In 2018, Montoya beat DLR for the Mexican Nat’l title with a solid win, but then got whipped in the Worlds qualifying event later in the summer. So this could go either way. I’m going to flip a coin and go with DLR, who didn’t have to travel and compete for a week straight in the PARC.
– #2 Carson faces Portillo. Carson debuted on tour in 1995; Portillo was BORN in 1999 and is less than half his age. No matter; Carson should control this match and advance.

Projected Quarters:
– #1 Kane vs #8 Beltran; thanks to the seedings flip, these two have a rare quarterfinals meeting. Ironically, they last met in the quarters in this event last year, a 12,2 Kane win. Notably, 12 points is the most Kane has had scored on him in a single game since the movement to a 3-game format, a feat Beltran repeated in the Portland final in November. Look for another Kane 2 game win, with scores like 8,11.
– #4 Parrilla vs #5 Murray: Andree is 3-0 over Murray, and makes it 4-0 here. This is the year of Parrilla, who finished last season ranked 11th and is now in real position to finish ranked 3rd this year.
– #3 Landa vs #6 Franco: a rare meeting between these two players; they’ve only met 5 times since 2011, and the only time Franco won was to take his sole tier 1 victory in San Antonio in March of 2018. I’d favor Landa normally, but he’s coming off the brutal travel trip to Colombia for the PARC, so Franco is more rested. 
– #2 Carson vs #7 De La Rosa. Or maybe Montoya, depending on the coin flip round of 16 event between two of Mexico’s top players. Either match will be compelling. Carson really gave Montoya a lesson when they met in the semis of Chicago. but DLR has topped Rocky the last 3 times they’ve played. So we know who Rocky is rooting for. I’ll go with DLR over Rocky here.

Semis:
– Kane over Parrilla, who looks to avoid the 5,2 beating he took the last time they played in Chicago in March.
– Landa over DLR: they’re close, but Landa has the edge of late, having won their last 4 meetings across tours.

Finals: Kane over Landa, who keeps the games close as he typically does for about the first half of each game, then loses out as Kane goes on a 5-6 point run to close each game out. Kane wins 8,7.

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This is a tough tourney to predict; I’ve got Landa going to the finals … but he very well may lose in the 16s to a guy who just beat him a week ago. I could have DLR in the semis … or be one-and-done to a tough countryman in Montoya. Either way, I see lots of good matches through out the weekend in all the rounds; look forward to Dean DeAngelo Baer broadcasting from Florida and calling out all the “flatties” as they happen.

Intercollegiates Wrap-Up

Scott denies Munoz a 4th straight title.

Here’s a wrap-up of this past weekend’s USA Racquetball Intercollegiate championships, held at Arizona State University in Tempe.

R2sports link: https://www.r2sports.com/tourney/home.asp?TID=30466

A reminder: we don’t load this data into the database at current, but we do keep track of past champions for informational purposes. At the bottom i’ve got some school-based factoids including the 2019 champs.

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On the Men’s Singles #1 side, a couple of upsets in the 16s but the top 6 seeds all advanced. In the quarters, only one upset with #5 Jacob Matthews of ECU taking out 4th seeded Nick Buring of Oregon State.

In the semis…both top seeds advanced with ease, with #1 Erik Garcia of CSU-Pueblo topping #5 Matthews 3,7 and #2 Alejandro Almada from Texas topping #3 seed Jeremy Dixon from Baldwin-Wallace 2,5 to setup the anticipated final.

In the final, #1 Garcia downed #2 Almada in a tiebreaker to win the title. Garcia repeats as champion, becoming just the 10th male to hold more than one intercollegiate title.

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On the Women’s side, the top 8 seeds all advanced to the quarters. There, similarly to the Men’s side just one upset in the #5/#4 match with Costa Rican international Melania Mela Sauma Masis (playing at her home courts at ASU) topping 4th seeded Lexi York from Oregon State in a tiebreaker.

In the semis, #1 seed Carla Muñoz Montesinos of CSU-Pueblo knocked out Sauma in two games, while #3 seeded Hollie Scott (playing out U of Washington), continued her solid form lately and topped 2nd seeded (and my pre-tourney pick) Erika Manilla from N. Arizona in dominant fashion 9,4.

In the final…Scott dominated Munoz for the win 2,8 to deny Munoz a chance at 4 straight intercollegiate titles.

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On the doubles side:
– Mens doubles went to Garcia/Le from CSU-Pueblo, who downed the Texas pair of Almada and his partner Jerry Yang.

– Women’s doubles went to the CSU-Pueblo team of Riveros/Laime, who downed OSU’s York & Natalie Lorati in the final.

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Some quick facts coming out of this event:
– Garcia’s Men’s #1 win represents the 8th Men’s #1 title for players from CSU-Pueblo (formerly known as the University of Southern Colorado). They still trail University of Memphis (formerly Memphis State University) which had 12 Men’s #1 winners in their history.

– Half of the now 47 Men’s #1 intercollegiate title winners have come from just three schools: Memphis, CSU-Pueblo and Southwest Missouri state.

– Tim Sweeney remains the sole player in history to win four consecutive intercollegiate titles, a feat Munoz was attempting to match.

– Scott’s victory for University of Washington represents the 25th distinct college to provide a #1 women’s winner. Memphis remains the #1 school for Women as well, providing 7 titlists.

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Team winners:

Overall: 1. CSU-Pueblo 2. Oregon State. 3. BYU
Mens: 1. Oregon State. 2. BYU. 3. CSU-Pueblo.
Womens: 1. CSU-Pueblo. 2. Oregon State 3. BYU

CSU-Pueblo wins its 2nd ever overall title. Oregon State has been the dominant overall team leader here, having won 11 of the 16 overall team titles awarded since 2004.

Oregon State wins its 3rd ever Men’s Title. They have a long way to go to catch CSU-Pueblo & Memphis here, as those two schools combined have won 31 of the 47 ever Men’s team awards given out.

CSU-Pueblo wins its 1st ever Women’s title. Memphis, BYU and Oregon State have dominated here historically, winning 31 of the 45 ever women’s team titles given out.

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A side note: I know this tourney runs similarly to a tennis tournament, where schools provide teams seeded 1-6 … but the state of collegiate racquetball right now is such that the top rball colleges (specifically, CSU-Pueblo) are contributing such more dominant talent than other schools that I wonder if there wouldn’t be value in changing the format so that more players from the top schools could compete in the #1 division.

To wit, the #2 female player from CSU-Pueblo was current LPRT #10 ranked player Adriana Riveros and their #3 female player was Brenda Laime Jalil, currently ranked 16th on tour. Both obliterated their respective draws, barely being scored upon (Riveros won the #2 draw giving up a total of 9 points in four matches, and Laime won the #3 final 0,0). It was the same to a lesser extent on the Men’s side, with Lukas Le representing CSU-Pueblo in the Men’s #2 and likely being the 2nd or 3rd best men’s player in Tempe. Perhaps he was the sole example of a player who may very well have made the semis or higher in the Men’s #1, but my point remains. International competitions feature two players from each country; maybe intercollegiates should as well.

USAR Intercollegiates Preview

Erik Garcia is the #1 seed and defending champ.

R2sports link: https://www.r2sports.com/tourney/home.asp?TID=30466

Wanted to do a quick preview of the Intercollegiates event going on this weekend. Play started Wednesday 4/3/19 and finishes up Saturday, so they’re already well underway, but wanted to get this out before the back end of the tourney.

In the Mens #1, the defending champ Erik Garcia from CSU Pueblo is back, seeded #1 and seems to be the overwhelming favorite. UTexas player Alejandro Almada is the #2 seed, Jeremy Dixon from BWU #3 and Oregon State’s Nick Buring #4. I’d imagine the draw will go chalk and Garcia will repeat. With all due respect for the rest of the Gold #1 boys draw, the 2nd best player in Tempe very well may be the #2 player out of CSU Pueblo Lukas Le.

In the Womens #1 draw though, we have a dog fight with at least 5 players who have pro or international experience. The #1 seed and defending champ from CSU-Pueblo is Carla Muñoz Montesinos, who represents Chile internationally and finished last year ranked #10 on the LPRT. To repeat though she’ll have to get through a draw that includes:
– #2 Seed Erika Manilla of N.Arizona and who beat Munoz last month at the Pueblo shootout and was the 2016 world junior 18U champ
– #3 Hollie Scott of UWashington, who beat LPRT top 10 player Amaya at a pro event in January and who was the 2014 US 18U champ.
– #4 Lexi York from Oregon State, who was the 2015 USA 18U champ
– #5 Melania Sauma, playing on her home courts at ASU and who represents Costa Rica internationally, lost to Manilla in the 2016 18U final and who has been playing in Adult IRF events for years.
– #6 Elyse Duffie, who made the quarters of 18U world juniors last fall, losing to eventual champ Montse Mejia.

That’s a lot of good players, and the quarters will be fun. I predict that Munoz will top York in one semi, and Manilla will squeak by Scott in the other semi, and Manilla takes out Munoz in the final in a tiebreaker in a repeat of the PAC Shootout final.

2019 WOR – World Outdoor Racquetball Beach Bash Wrap-Up

DLR was the big winner on the weekend, taking the singles and mixed doubles titles.

Congrats to the winners on the weekend at the 2019 Beach Bash:
– Men’s Singles: Daniel De La Rosa
– Women’s Singles: Hollie Scott
– Men’s Pro Doubles: Ben Goldberg/Ryan Lopez
– Women’s Pro Doubles: Anita Maldonado/Rhonda Rajsich
– Mixed Pro Doubles: Daniel & Michelle De La Rosa

Here’s the match reports for each of the 5 pro draws on the weekend:

– Men’s Singles: http://rball.pro/14B6AD
– Women’s Singles: http://rball.pro/02E1EC
– Men’s Pro Doubles: http://rball.pro/9F60DE
– Women’s Pro Doubles: http://rball.pro/4E8CA5
– Mixed Pro Doubles: http://rball.pro/72C84B

Thanks to Vic Leibofsky for loading up all the round robin/preliminary results this year; all the matches are in the above match reports.

Here’s some quick commentary on each draw:

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– Men’s Singles: http://rball.pro/14B6AD

Top IRT touring pro Daniel De La Rosa took the title, beating defending champ and #1 seeded Robert Sostre in the final. 2018 runner-up Nick Montalbano and reigning 3-wall outdoor champ Luis Luis R Avila were both upset in the quarters.

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– Women’s Singles: http://rball.pro/02E1EC
Defending champ Hollie Rae Scott defended her 2018 title in this event in a rematch of last year’s final, again downing 2nd seeded Michelle Herbert in the final.

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– Men’s Pro Doubles: http://rball.pro/9F60DE
The Men’s pro doubles draw was the biggest of the weekend and saw some of the bigger upsets. 21 teams battled it out in the round robins to advance to the quarter final round, and along the way #2 overall seed Robert Sostre & Freddy Alfredo Benjamin Ramirez (last year’s runner’s up) were eliminated. Also surprisingly eliminated at the RR stage was Rocky Carsonwith partner Alejandro Barcelo, who somehow ended up in a grouping with both the eventual finalists (talk about a “Group of Death”).

In the quarters, defending champs and #1 seeds William Rolon and David Blatt were upset by the team of Nick Montalbano and Cliff Swain. Montalbano is the defending Vegas 3-wall singles champ and of course Cliff is Cliff, so this was a heck of a quarter final. They however ended up being no match in the semis for DLR, partnered with fellow racquetball legend Marty Hogan, in a semis match that featured a combined 11 pro IRT year end titles and 134 indoor tournament titles.

DLR and Hogan faced a round-robin rematch against Ben Goldberg and Ryan Lopez, who took out outdoor legend Rick Koll and reigning outdoor champion Luis Avila in the semis.

In the final, DLR and 61-yr old Hogan were taken out by Goldberg and Lopez 11,9, and the large traveling NY contingency celebrated together.

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– Women’s Pro Doubles: http://rball.pro/4E8CA5

In the RR section, #3 seeded Michelle De La Rosa and partner Regina Franco took time off the Pickleball circuit to blitz their way to a 4-0 RR record, securing a spot in the final.

In the semis, defending champs Michelle Herbert & Hollie Scott were ousted by Anita Maldonado and rball legend Rhonda Rajsich.

In the final, Maldonado/Rajsich avenged the RR single-game loss to take out the DLR/Franco pairing in two close games 11,13.

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– Mixed Pro Doubles: http://rball.pro/72C84B

The De La Rosa’s took out defending champs Sostre & Hebert in the final of a heavily competed draw, where 5 of the 7 matches went tie-breaker and the draw featured a who’s who of the outdoor game today. The #2 seeded team and defending Vegas one-wall mixed title team of Koll & Rajsich was upset in the first round.

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Excellent weekend for the DLRs; two titles and a final for Daniel, a win and a final for Michelle.

Next up: Bolivian Grand Slam! Look for a preview later this week.

IRT Shamrock Shootout Wrap-up

Kane is the double winner on the weekend.

Congrats to the winners on the weekend:
– Singles; Kane Waselenchuk 
– Doubles: Kane Waselenchuk & Ben Croft

R2sports link for the event: https://www.r2sports.com/website/event-website.asp?TID=30236

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Lets wrap-up the Singles event. Here’s the matches I found notable for each round:

Singles Match Report: http://rball.pro/3A30E4

In the 128s and 64s … there were a few closer games but no upsets in my mind:
– Jansen Allen and Hiroshi Shimizu were both extended to tiebreakers against Alok Mehta and Juan Salvatierra respectively but advanced.
– Felipe Camacho won 10,10 over Kyle Ulliman
– Troy Warigon played a closer-than-expected match to beat Ferd Samson11,13
– MoMo Zelada made it twice in two months over Georgian Maurice Miller 11,10. Miller subsequently caught fire in the Men’s Open draw, racing to the final with a number of what i’d characterize as “Career Best” wins.
– Adam Manilla took out Jordy Alonso 12,10
– David Horn got a solid win over Eduardo Garay 10,11.

The 32s were played Friday morning, with a couple of “upsets” by seeding and a couple of tie-breakers.
– #9 Jose Diaz dropped the first game to long-time IRT veteran Hiroshi Shimizu but recovered to take the match. Shimizu looked pretty darn good for someone who is north of 50. 
– The 16/17 match, as always, was a tight one, with Felipe Camacho coming out on top of Thomas Carter 11-8 in the breaker. A close match.
Eduardo Lalo Portillo blasted Jake Bredenbeck 5,8 to advance in the upset by seedings. We know Portillo is no slouch and this win doesn’t surprise me, but the score does. Jake is definitely in a rut this season.
Rodrigo Montoya blitzed by countryman Gerardo Franco Gonzalez 15-1, then dropped the second game before racing to the tiebreaker win. Final score: 1,(10),3.
– In the 15/18 match, Adam Manilla won the lefty-on-lefty crime match, topping Robert Collins in two tight games 13,11.

In the 16s… several matches that surprised me and went against my predictions, but in the end was nearly chalk by seeding:
– In the 8/9 match, Sebastian Franco turned the tide on his results lately and took out Jose Diaz in two tight games 12,12.
– #4 Alejandro Alex Landa took out the upset-minded Eduardo Portillo 5,12 to eliminate the highest advancing seed out of the 16s.
– In the biggest upset of the night, #14 Montoya took out #3 Daniel De La Rosa with relative ease 3,9. While these two are neck and neck in true world power rankings … DLR has had the better of him lately, including a shellacking in Sioux Falls two months ago. Surprising result for me … and opens up the draw for Rodrigo completely.
– #7 Samuel Murray dominated #10 David Horn 3,7. I thought this match might have gone the other way … but a 3,7 win is pretty convincing.

So your seeds into the quarters are 1,2,4,5,6,7,8 … and 14. Pretty chalk. But i’m guessing that 14 seed may make some more noise here.

In the Quarters…
– #1 Kane Waselenchuk let #8 Sebastian Franco hang with him til about 6-6 in the first, then ran off more than 20 unanswered points, winning the first game 15-7 and donuting the Colombian 15-0 in the second. 
– #5 Andree Parrilla continues his dominance at this event (his two best career finishes are at this event over the last two seasons), cruising to a win over #4 Alejandro Landa 8,9. Parrilla has beaten Landa now twice in a row, improving his career h2h record against the former #1 to 4-6 across all competitions.
– #14 Montoya made it 3-0 against Alvaro Beltran on the IRT tour, taking this match and beating the #6 seed 8,9. Montoya advances to his 3rd career IRT semi final (out of 8 career IRT tourneys) and second this season (he made the Semis in Sioux Falls after beating #1 seed Landa in the 16s).
– #2 Rocky Carson dropped a game to #7 Samuel Murray for just the second time ever, but Murray ran out of gas in the tiebreaker and lost a 2+ hour marathon 7,(13),2.

In the Semis…
– Kane blitzed by Parrilla 5,2, never really giving Andree a chance to junk ball his way into the match.
– Carson took the first ever meeting against Montoya 11,2. The first game was a shot-maker’s paradise, with the players going toe to toe and firing at all cylinders. In the second game, Carson put on a master class of game management, completely controlling the match and bewildering the young Mexican to a crushing 15-2 defeat. Make no mistake; there is still a gulf between the 2nd ranked Carson and his challengers.

In the Finals…
– Kane won a match that he really controlled throughout by the not-as-close-as-it-looked scores of 10 and 10. Lots of lob serving from Kane, who put in twice the court time he normally does this weekend and may have been conserving his arm by not drive serving in the title match.

With the win…
– Kane captures his 115th career IRT Tier 1/Grand Slam title.
– Kane improves to an amazing 75-3 against Rocky, the lions share of which were tournament finals.
– Kane raises his current match winning streak to 82 matches, good for 3rd best ever streak. He’s got a long way to go to top his record of 134 straight.
– Kane extends his current GAME winning streak to 72 games, and moves into 2nd place all time to his own 113 game winning streak that I previously thought was his career achievement. He’d have to win 21 more matches w/o dropping a game to top it, or probably 6 more tourneys… and there’s no end in sight to his current dominance.

Ranking Implications on the weekend: Using my personal points projections (which aren’t exactly in line with IRT total points but are pretty close), here’s what I think this weekend’s events means for the points race:
– Kane now has a nearly 500 point lead … and still has one more tournament to play without defending any points from last season’s injury, which means a win in Bolivia and its double points would lead to a nearly 900 point advantage with just two events left. Which means … if Kane wins in Bolivia he’s clinched the title.
– Landa and DLR should switch places with DLR’s early upset.
– Beltran should rise to #5.
– Franco should rise to #6.
– Parrilla drops from 5 to 7 despite making the semis.
– Murray drops from 7 to 8.
– Horn drops from 10 to 13.

– Montoya rises from 14 to 12, meaning he’s away from the top 3 in terms of a potential round of 16 match-up now. He’d now project to play the 5th seed in a round of 16, which gets him away from the top 4 players and just increases his chances of gaining more rankings points.

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Wrap-up of the doubles:

Match Report: http://rball.pro/2865FD

No upsets in the full round of 16. In the quarters, in the 4/5 match-up Jake/Diaz got a solid win over Montoya/Parrilla, and the 6th seeded favorites Kane/Croft “upset” the 3rd seeded Colombian pairing of Mercado/Franco.

In the semis, DLR/Alvaro got a solid win over Jake/Diaz, while Kane/Croft got an injury-driven walkover win against #2 seed Landa/Murray to setup the final everyone wanted to see.

In that sat. night final, Kane/Croft recovered from losing the first game to out-shoot DLR/Beltran and improve to 4-1 head-to-head against the reigning World Doubles champions on the pro circuit.

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Thats it, thanks for reading!

Next up is the Bolivian Grand Slam. Can’t wait to see this event, since there’s 5-6 really quality Bolivian players who we rarely get to see. Moscoso, the Keller brothers, Ruiz Michel, Gerson, Garcia, Mercado and Carrasco all could be in this draw and make noise. Maybe even the legendary Ricardo Monroy could come out of “retirement” to play; if you’ve never heard of Monroy, he was the first non-North American international player to win a major IRF title, taking the 2010 Pan American Championships. And there’s also a Women’s pro stop, with lots of quality Bolivian female pros too.