There was a 14-man IRT Tier 5 event at the LPRT Xmas classic; here’s a recap of that and some of the other amateur events that went on.
A ton of the LPRT pros played Mixed Open, there was a solid Women’s Open draw, and a few Men’s Open teams as well.
In the IRT Singles draw: – #1 Maurice Miller took out top VA amateur #4 Thomas Gerhardt in one semi, and then #3 Troy Warigon defeated #2 Mauricio Zelada in the other. The 2/3 match was pretty special; the two home-court players played the perfect match: 14,(14),10. – In the final, MIller overcame a game-1 loss to defeat Warigon for the title.
In Men’s Open, the two singles finalists teamed up to take the Open Doubles title over #3 seeds Dylan Pruitt and Jersey native David Austin.
In Women’s Open: Carla Muñoz Montesinos made up for her quarters loss in pros to take the singles Open title over Lexi York.
In Mixed Open, the two Mens singles finalists advanced again to the finals, and there Miller teamed up with Natalia Mendez Erlwein to take the title over #2 Warigon, who played with Virginia native Kelani Lawrence.
This made Miller the rare triple-winner on the weekend.
Congrats to your winners on the weekend: – LPRT singles: Paola Longoria – LPRT Doubles: Paola Longoria and Samantha Salas
Longoria the double winner on the weekend, but she definitely had to work for it (both finals went breaker). With the win, Longoria takes her 95th Tier1 or higher pro title and continues her dominance over the rest of the tour.
In the 32s: – #16 @ [1537006408:2048:Kelani Lawrence] stretched the reigning world champ #17 seed @ [967286746619683:274:Ana Gabriela Martínez] to a tie-breaker but fell. – #18 reigning intercollegiate champ Hollie Scott dropped the first game but rallied to advance past #15 Maria Renee Rodríguez.
In the 16s: – #1 Paola Longoria blasted #17 Martinez 2,5. More and more, the upset at 2018 worlds seems like a one off as Longoria improves to 16-1 lifetime against the Guatemalan across all competitions. – #8 Amaya Cris took out home-town favorite Masiel Rivera Oporto 7,9 to move on. This match-up continues to be one sided, and this match wasn’t nearly as close as their last one. – Continuing to prove me to be an awful prognosticator, #4 @ [775189319225691:274:Alexandra Herrera] recovered from a 15-14 game one loss to take out #13 @ [459203580867542:274:Jessica Parrilla] in a tie-breaker to move on. – #14 Carla Muñoz Montesinos got perhaps the best win of her career, topping #3 @ [189216717815799:274:Samantha Salas Solis] in a tiebreaker. After a come-back win in game one and a closer game two Salas win, Munoz ran away in the tiebreaker by forcing the action with lob Zs to Salas’ backhand and a patient approach waiting for a mistake. Salas continues her frustrating season; she’s now failed to reach the finals in the season’s first 6 events, often getting bounced well before them … after reaching all 9 of the finals she played in last year. – #10 @ [500057236758842:274:Sheryl Lotts] nearly pulled off a career win over a top8 player, but ended up losing by the slimmest of margins 11-10 in the breaker to #7 Nancy Enriquez.
—————– In the Qtrs: – #1 Longoria advanced over #8 Amaya in two straight. – #4 Herrera got a rare win over #5 Rhonda Rajsich. – #6 Mendez took advantage of #14 Munoz and advanced to just her 3rd ever pro semi. Munoz misses a great opportunity after her career win over Salas to make her first semi in several years. – #2 Vargas dominated #7 Enriquez to make the semis.
————— In the semis: #1 and #2 Longoria and Vargas demonstrated the gulf in class by each advancing in two quick games.
In the final, Longoria and Vargas met for the fourth time in five tourneys this season … and it was a barn burner. Longoria won the first game 3, then Vargas found some new approach midway through the second to push to a tie-breaker. There, she raced to a dominant lead and it looked like she’d get the upset … but Longoria found another gear and took the match 11-8.
PRS doubles match report:
It was a lot of chalk in the women’s pro doubles, but the final is where the fireworks were. In the end, Longoria and Salas won their 32nd pro doubles title since we began tracking pro doubles data, but needed a come-back win over the Argentines Vargas/Mendez to do it.
—————- Next up on the schedule: a @ [447961672301858:274:RKT] event in Juarez next weekend, then we get a holiday break until the LPRT returns to action 1/12/20 weekend in Ft. Lauderdale.
The brackets are up (for the Pro events) as of this writing.
20 LPRT pros entered into the draw, a step down from the 28 who played the Chicago event a few weeks back. Missing from the top 10 this time around is #8 Montse Mejia, which bumps #9 Amaya Cris into the 8th seed.
Missing from the 11-20 range of regular touring pros include Adriana Riveros, Brenda Laime Jalil, Ana Laura Flores and Erin Rivera, which will bump up a lot of regulars into seeds in the upper teens and will give us some intriguing round of 16 matches (as we’ll see in a moment).
The draw also sees a rare appearance by 2018 World Champion Guatemalan Ana Gabriela Martínez, perhaps taking geographical advantage of an East coast tour stop to her home country.
Lets preview the draw: ————————— In the play-ins: – #16/#17 is always fun, and this time is no different. Reigning World Champ Martinez as the #17 seed faces off against reigning US National champ and Virginia native Kelani Lawrence. Lawrence has been trying to make some traction on the pro tour this year, and has played some top 4 players tough in early round matches, and now has quite a challenge on her hands to even get to the round of 16.
– #13 Jessica Parrilla vs #20 Graci Wargo: 18U junior Wargo makes her pro tour debut, coming off of a quarterfinals result in Junior Worlds in November in her last event as a junior. She runs up against a resurgent Parrilla, who got a solid win in Chicago to advance to the Quarters.
– #14 Carla Muñoz Montesinos vs #19 Lexi York; a fun match that we would have seen last year possibly in Intercollegiates; now we see York making the cross-country trip to compete. This could be a closer match than Munoz may like.
– #15 Maria Renee Rodriguez vs #18 Hollie Rae Scott: a tough match-up for MRR, who runs into Scott, who won Intercollegiates, made the finals of USA Nationals in June and who just topped Rajsich at the Portland LPRT exhibit. I like Scott to move on here.
—————————– Round of 16 matches of note: – #1 Paola Longoria vs the Martinez/Lawrence winner: either opponent will make for an interesting show. Martinez of course topped Longoria at Worlds but otherwise has generally been dominated by the #1 (1-15 lifetime across pro and IRF events). Lawrence has played here a handful of times, including in this event last year.
– #8 Amaya vs #9 Masiel Rivera Oporto; 8/9s are always fun, and this should be no different. Amaya is 4-0 lifetime over Rivera … but the last time they played it was 11-10 (in Chicago a few weeks ago), and … this is basically Rivera’s home court, living just a few miles away. Will a strong rooting interest spur her to victory? Look for another tiebreaker here.
– #4 Alexandra Herrera vs #13 Parrilla: they met in the first event of the season, an 11-9 win for the lefty. Since, Parrilla has gained more of her game back. I like Parrilla’s chances here of an upset.
– #2 Maria Jose Vargas vs #18 Scott: I think Scott can hang with Vargas, make it a bit close, but still expect Vargas to advance.
—————————– Projecting the Quarters: – #1 Longoria over #9 Rivera – #13 Parrilla over #5 Rhonda Rajsich: these two haven’t played since before her knee injury, and in the 2017 timeframe they were neck and neck, with a bunch of 5-game marathons. I think Parrilla continues her run. – #3 Samantha Salas Solis over #6 Natalia Mendez; because of their relative seedings over the past few years … they have relatively few meetings on tour. Just two LPRT meetings and none since Apr of 2018. Salas has never lost to Mendez, and I expect her to advance here. – #2 Vargas over #7 Nancy Enriquez; they met for the first time in September, an easy Vargas win. I expect the same here.
Projected Semis: Longoria over Parrilla, Vargas over Salas.
Projected final: Longoria over Vargas.
—————————– Quick doubles preview:
The top team of Longoria/Salas looks set to run through the draw and face the #2 team of Mendez/Vargas, who will not have to deal with the power of the Herrera/Mejia team this time around. I like the #1 team to win.
—————————- Reminder, there’s also a nice little IRT Tier 5 at the same time, with a solid east coast draw. We’ll recap that at the end of the weekend.
Congrats to Kane Waselenchuk on his pro singles win this weekend in Portland at the 2019 John Pelham Memorial Tournament of Champions. With this win: – He captures his 120th career IRT Tier 1 title – Kane improves to 17-1 on the season – he extends his current on the court winning streak to 21. – He increases his points lead at the top of the tour to more than 500 points at the halfway point. – He extends his career match record to 596-53
A couple notable things about this event; it was a Saturday night finish, meaning a compressed pro schedule. Also, the 9-16 seeds continue to get byes into the 32s, as opposed to having to fully qualify. This is a tweak to the qualifying that the tour has been experimenting with when they can and I like it. It protects the regular touring players a bit more but also doesn’t force them to have to play a ton more matches than the 1-8 guys.
Lets review the notable matches in the draw. We’ll start with the 2nd round of qualifying, the round of 64. – #17 Kadim Carrasco was stretched to a tie-breaker by local amateur #33 Sunji Spencer before falling. – #20 Sam Bredenbeck took a tiebreaker win over #29 Matthew Ivar Majxner to move on. – #23 Dylan Reid played fantastically, dominating Canadian #26 Lee ConnellConnell 3,1 to move on. (Plug here for Reid’s excellent podcast The Racquetball Show)
In the 32s, we got an upset and some close matches: – #16 Felipe Camacho took out #17 Carrasco in a close tie-breaker 11-7. As expected, this was a close match but the veteran Costa Rican came out on top. – #20 Sam Bredenbeck got another IRT touring veteran scalp on his resume, topping #13 Robert Collins12,10 to qualify for his second career main draw. – #14 Andres Acuña took the first game 15-7, then got an injury default from former event champion #19 Charlie Pratt. Its a shame to have Pratt out so early, given his recent success in this event. – #23 Reid nearly upset #10 Jake Bredenbeck, having match point on his racquet before losing the tiebreaker 11-10. Reid came to play this event but missed out on an opportunity to return to the main draw of an IRT event for the first time in several seasons.
So, just one seed out of the 9-16 range fell at the round of 32, making for a pretty “chalk” event to this point.
In the main draw/round of 16: – #1 Kane Waselenchuk made fast work of #16 Camacho 2,4 in a match that took less than 30 minutes. – #9 Rodrigo Montoya Solis took out #8 Lalo Portillo 8,6. I viewed this as an interesting “show me” match for both players and the reigning World Champ Montoya came out on top. – #12 Thomas Carter got the best win of his pro career, taking out #5 Alvaro Beltran in a tie-breaker after losing the first game 15-2. Its Carter’s 2nd ever pro quarter final appearance (the first being by virtue of a walk-over). – #4 Andree Parrilla put an end to the younger Bredenbeck’s run, but had to work to do so in the second game 2,13. – #3 Alex Landa got a solid win over the up and coming #14 Acuna 12,8. – #6 Daniel De La Rosa downed #11 Carlos Keller Vargas 6,5 and spoke of his efforts to remain focused on the court. This is now Vargas’ 6th straight IRT event losing in the round of 16 .. to now 6 different pros. – #10 Jake Bredenbeck got a great win, downing #7 Samuel Murray to get to just his third pro quarter-final in the last two years. Its his best win since Syosset in May (also his last qtr appearance). – #15 Adam Manilla squandered a couple of game points on his serve in a disjointed game one, then fell quickly in game two to #2 Rocky Carson 14,5.
In the quarters: – #1 Kane took a competitive match over #9 Montoya 9,11. This is the third time they’ve met up on the IRT, and by far this is the most competitive that Montoya’s made it. – #4 Parrilla advanced in two straight over #12 Carter. – #3 Landa continued his recent dominance over #6 DLR in two tight games 10,12. Landa has now won the last 5 top-level matches they’ve played. – #10 Bredenbeck advanced to just his second ever IRT semi final with a win over #2 Carson. Jake served lights out in the first and won 15-6, then Carson withdrew with a knee injury. Lets hope it isn’t something significant.
In the semis: – #1 Kane was made to work for it against #4 Parrilla in the first, but then ran away with it in the second to advance to the final 9,4. – #3 Landa made it 8 times out of 8 on men’s pro matches by downing #10 Bredenbeck in two dominant games 5,7
In the Final: – Kane took out Landa in the final in two straight forward games 7,8.
———————- Rankings implications of the results:
– The big news is that Landa will eclipse Carson for #2 on tour. Landa has had a very consistent season so far, with 5 semis or better appearances in 6 events, while Carson now has been upset in the quarters or earlier in 3 of the first 6 events of the season. This has now led to Landa overtaking Carson by roughly 30 ranking points.
Carson has not fallen lower than #2 on tour in quite some time. He dipped to #3 in Oct 2016 for just a week or two when DLR eclipsed him briefly, but quickly gained #2 back after the 2016 US Open. Before that, you have to go all the way back to Septem ber 2010 to find the last time that Rocky was not ranked in the top 2 on tour. That’s nearly 10 years ago. Will this be a blip, or are we finally seeing a changing of the guard at the #2 spot?
Other notable rankings implications: – with his semis appearance, Jake will jump Franco for #11 on tour. This may be the highest he’s ever been ranked; its definitely higher than any season-ending rank he’s ever had. – Both Keller and Carter have moved into the top 16, ensuring a bye to the 32s (assuming the tour continues to structure the draws as they have been). – Acuna is back in the top 20. – Sam Bredenbeck gets a big jump into the top 30.
———————- No doubles at Portland to report on. the LPRT played an exhibition, with NW native Hollie Rae Scott getting a nice win over #5 Rhonda Rajsich in the final.
Next up; the LPRT does its annual Xmas Classic in my back yard, at the Sportfit Laurel club in Laurel MD. There’s also an IRT Tier 5 event associated with the event, so look for lots of East coast IRT pros to play.
Welcome to the last IRT tier 1 tournament of 2019, and a return to one of the more unique spots on the IRT’s calendar; Portland. Its the 2019 SPC John A Pelham Memorial Tournament of Champions event.
The Tournament of Champions has been held every year in Portland since 2013. Prior to that, there was a gap in holding the tournament back to 2001, when it was held pretty regularly throughout the 90s. It used to be a traditional season-ending event in the style of the ATP’s year end invitational. Now its a strong recurring event with a solid field.
Its also home to some interesting results. To wit: – In April 2013, Ben Croft made the final in Portland, one of just 5 times he made a pro tour final in more than 120 tournaments (he lost to Kane). – in May 2015, Daniel De La Rosa made just his 3rd ever pro final at the event, at the end of a successful pro season that saw him ascend to the #3 spot on tour (he also lost to Kane in the final). – In Dec 2017, the tournament saw two first-time pro tour finalists in home town favorite Charlie Pratt and Mario Mercado reach the final. Pratt won in three straight games to claim the title, and to this day its the only time either player has so much as reached a final of a pro Tier 1 event.
#1 Kane Waselenchuk has taken the title here in 5 of the 6 times it has been held since 2013 (he missed the 2017 event), and is back to defend his title.
————————- Lets take a quick run through the draw. We’re missing some key names in the top 10, which will affect the seedings.
Top 10 players missing include #7 Luis Conrrado Moscoso Serrudo; this will give current #9 Lalo Portillo a top 8 seed for the second tournament running, coming off a solid win at the San Luis Potosi Open this past weekend.
Missing from the 11-20 range this event include #11 Sebastian Franco and #13 Mario Mercado, both east coasters who may have opted to skip this event that doesn’t have a doubles draw. Also missing is #14 David ” Bobby” Horn, a curious absence in that he’s a west-coaster with an easy flight. #15 Sebastian Fernandez, #16 Gerardo Franco Gonzalez and #20 Jose Diaz also miss out on the event, as do a lot of the regular Mexican players in the 20-30 ranges who may have balked at the longer flight to Portland given their busy schedule of local RKT events.
Despite these absences, there’s still a healthy 36-man draw. More than a few Canadians have made the trip south of the border for the event, and they join a solid group of Portland-area players in the pro draw.
No flip seeding this time, so we’ll get a true draw, which will (as we’ll see) should make for a lot of chalk at the back end. Also no doubles this weekend so its one and done for the singles players.
Here’s some qualifiers to watch for:
In the 128s: – Wayne Antone takes on Canadian Ian Frattinger , fresh off a quarters appearance in the Canadian National selection event.
In the 64s: – Sam Bredenbeck likely takes on Matthew Ivar Majxner, who returns to Portland for the first time in a few years. – Dylan Reid has an interesting match against Canadian veteran Lee Connell, also fresh off a quarters appearance in the Canadian National selection event.
Projecting possible round of 32s of note: – In the 16/17 match, Costa Rican veteran Felipe Camacho likely takes on Bolivian veteran Kadim Carrasco for a spot against the #1 player. This could be a very close match between two players of similar style. – #9 Rodrigo Montoya Solis likely faces Canadian veteran Tim Landeryou, who just finished 3rd at the Canadian selection event. – The winner of the Bredenbeck/Majxner play-in takes on touring veteran Robert Collins in what could be a close match. – The match of the round though projects to be a defending champ in this event Charlie Pratt, now having fallen to #32 on tour (and is seeded 19th here) as he steps back his playing time, taking on the surging Costa Rican champion Andres Acuña, who now sits 22nd on tour and who is seeded 14th here. The last two times Pratt has played this event, he’s lost in the semis (2018) and won it (2017); he’s a force to be reckoned with in Portland. Its a tough draw for Acuna, who has already achieved his career best result this season and is looking to build on that success. – Bolivian Carlos Keller Vargas has a challenging match against Utah amateur Anthony Martin, who plays his third pro event of the season and has some wins over touring pros in the past. – #10 Jake Bredenbeck likely takes on local favorite Reid for a spot in the main draw.
Projecting the 16s: there’s more than a few compelling possible 16s matchups here. – In the 8/9: Lalo Portillo likely takes on Montoya in the 16s. This is a great test for both players to see where they are right now. I thought this was the year for Montoya to really take a step forward on tour; instead he’s basically been treading water right in the 8-10 ranking all season, with no break through wins all season. Meanwhile, Portillo is coming off a win at the SLP open, where he topped both Alan Natera Chavez and Parrilla to take the title. If Portillo can beat Parrilla, he should be able to beat Montoya as well, but they’re two vastly different animals on the court in terms of game style. Can Lalo handle Montoya’s power? This will be a very telling result. – #3 Alex Landa vs Pratt/Acuna winner: I’m assuming this is Pratt, which would make for a really compelling match here. Landa beat Pratt for the 2017 PARC title, but then Pratt turned around and beat Landa in Mar 2018 in Lombard. Pratt is a player who can give Landa some trouble. If Acuna prevails in the 32s, he’s also a player who has beaten Landa before, but under odd circumstances at the 2019 PARCs. I like Landa to advance here but it could be a battle and an upset isn’t out of the question. – #6 Daniel De La Rosa vs #11 Keller: Keller has played all five IRT events this season … and has exited at the round of 16 in all five, losing to five different players. He now projects to play a 6th distinct player in the 16s, and faces a familiar opponent. These two are the same age; Keller knocked DLR out of the 2009 and 2011 Junior Worlds, and they’ve met a handful of times since. But only once professionally, and that was more than two years ago. DLR seems vulnerable and Keller seems motivated at this stage of their careers; could be an upset to watch for here. – #7 Samuel Murray vs #10 Bredenbeck: these two good friends will celebrate the launch of Beast Made Clothing by .. likely having to play each other in the 16s. Two of the hardest hitters on tour, they both have wins over the other in top level competition. Look for a battle here.
Possible Qtrs: – #1 Kane Waselenchuk over #9 Montoya: would love to see another episode of this match-up to see if Montoya has improved against the King. – #4 Andree Parrilla over #5 Alvaro Beltran; a frequent pairing this year, with Beltran getting a couple wins over his young rival and showing he’s not done yet. I like Parrilla to move on here though. – #3 Landa over #6 DLR: if DLR advances, we get another episode of the razor-thin line that stands between these two long time rivals. Their match history is littered with 11-10 tiebreaker wins and 5-game marathons under the old scoring method. Landa again to advance. – #2 Rocky Carson over #7 Murray; they’ve played professionally 11 times and Rocky is 11-0. Despite his recent win in the Canadian national selection event Murray hasn’t quite figured out how to top the long-time #2 player on tour.
Projected Semis: – Kane over Andree – Carson over Landa; they’ve split their last 2 meetings, they’ve split their last 4 meetings … in fact, they’ve split their last 10 meetings dating to 2014. Like with Landa vs DLR, its usually razor thin between them. Landa has the harder path to this semi, so i’ll give Carson the edge on the day.
In conjunction with the LPRT event, there was a 16-man IRT tier 4 draw with some solid matches. Lets review the draw.
In the 16s: – two upsets by seeds; the IRT sanctioning means the draw is seeded exactly per IRT points, so its hard for an outsider (like me) to know true talent levels. But #10 Fernando Rivera took out #7 Ferd Samson, and #11 Rom Dresbach took out 18U player #6 Lucas Shoemaker in two games each.
In the qtrs, three of four matches went chalk. – #1 Lalo Portillo took out local player Geoff Goldblatt in two. – #5 Kyle Ulliman wiped out #4 Sam Bredenbeck1,1 – #3 Thomas Carter took out Ohioan Dresbach in two – #2 Jake Bredenbeck beat local player Rivera in two.
In the semis: – #1 Portillo advanced in two straight over Ulliman – #2 Jake was stretched to a breaker by Carter but won to setup a #1 vs #2 final.
In the final:.. – #1 Portillo crushed #2 Bredenbeck 0,6 to win the title.
Congrats to your pro winners on the weekend: – Singles: Paola Longoria – Doubles Paola Longoria/Samantha Salas
With this singles win, Longoria extends some of her own records: – 94th career Tier 1/Grand Slam LPRT title (101st overall pro title) – Improves to 455-31 career on tour – Improves to 16-1 on the season. – Extends her current lead at the top of the LPRT rankings to more than 800 points, which is the equivalent of four tier1 pro stops.
In the 32s: – Erin Rivera got the upset over her doubles partner for the weekend, #12 Ana Laura Flores11-8 in the breaker. Rivera avenges a loss to Flores in 2019 Mexican Nationals, and gets a second solid pro win in as many events (she topped Amaya Cris at the US Open). – Masiel Rivera Oporto topped former tour champ and home-town favorite Cheryl Gudinas in two straight. – In the round’s most anticipated match, reigning US Intercollegiates champ Hollie Rae Scott, who was a point from taking the US National title this past May, faced off against #11 seed Colombian Adriana Riveros. Scott ran away with game one 15-3, but Riveros held out to take a close game two 15-13 before running away with the tie-breaker to advance. I think a full-time tour playing Scott is nearly a top 10 player, making this a really solid test for both players. – 18U world junior finalist Valeria Centellas pressed former 18U junior champ Montse Mejia before falling in two 12,11.
in the 16s, a couple of significant upsets and close matches: – #8 Amaya and #9 Masiel Rivera played about as close a match as you can for an 8/9 match-up, with Rivera staving off match-points against in game two, and Amaya doing the same in game three before winning 11-10. – Erin Rivera got her second upset win in as many rounds, this time taking out #5 Rhonda Rajsich in a close tie-breaker. Its her second win over a top-8 pro in as many events and this is easily the best win of her career. – #19 Jessica Parrilla got the first significant win in her come-back attempt, taking out #3 Samantha Salas Solis in two 3,14. This game was not really even as close as the scores; Parrilla could not miss game one, and ran out to a similarly huge lead in game 2 before Salas went on a run to make a push for a tie-breaker. Its notable that Parrilla finished the 2017-18 ranked 3rd, made a final and four semis; its just a matter of time before she’s regularly making the quarters again. – #10 Mejia dominated #7 Nancy Enriquez 5,7 to move on to a juicy quarters match-up with the new #2 seed Vargas.
Salas continues her difficult season: she made 9 finals in 9 tournaments played last season. This season she’s been upset in the 16s and the quarters, and has been beaten twice at the semis stage by Vargas, which has resulted in the two ladies switching rankings spots. On the one hand she’s run into a number of hot hands … but on the other, she’s losing to players she normally dominates.
In the quarters… – #1 Paola Longoria made quick work of #8 Amaya 2,5 – #4 Alexandra Herrera also made quick work of #21 Erin Rivera 6,3, ending her great run. With this run, Rivera should improve her ranking on tour a few spots and get into the top 20. – #6 Natalia Mendez Erlwein took out ##19 Parrilla in a tie-breaker. This surely was disappointing to Parrilla, who got just her 2nd pro win over Salas to get here, then lost to a player in Mendez that she previously had a career winning h2h record (3-1 before this loss). Mendez advances to just her third pro semi final in her career. Parrilla’s big win will jump her up four spots in the rankings, to #18 overall. – But the biggest result of the round was #10 Mejia taking out #2 Maria Jose Vargas Parada in a tie-breaker to move on to the semis for the third time in as many tries this season. Mejia’s season has been a significant departure from last season, when she was eliminated in the 16s five straight times.
In the semis: – #4 Herrera’s shot-making ability got her points against the world’s top player, but it wasn’t enough as Longoria advanced to the final 8,9. Longoria now has reached the finals of the last 21 pro events she’s entered, winning 18 of them with this weekend’s event pending. – #10 Mejia continued her run to make her first pro final, defeating #6 Mendez in a tiebreaker. The winner of this match was set to advance to her first pro final and it was Mejia who made it happen.
In the final… – #1 Longoria completely dominated #10 Mejia, displaying the gulf that exists on tour between herself and the next set of competitors, going on nearly unstoppable runs in both games to take the final 2,6.
With this result, Mejia should jump Masiel Rivera for #9 on tour, which (unfortunately for Montse) will have her routed right into Longoria in a possible quarter-final next event.
As we have come to expect in ladies pro doubles lately, the top two Mexican teams both advanced to the final with relative ease. Fans were treated to a commonly seen final between what seems to clearly now be the two top doubles teams in the world.
In the final, #1 Longoria/Salas took on #3 Mejia/Herrera. It looked like we’d see another upset by the younger pairing, who took the first game 15-4, but the veteran #1 pairing rebounded to take the next two games to make Longoria a double winner on the weekend.
This represents the 41st pro doubles title for Longoria and the 29th for Salas since we started tracking pro doubles in the fall of 2013.
—————– we’ll do a quick wrap up of the Men’s IRT Tier 5 event in a separate post.
After a month and a half hiatus, the Ladies pros are back in action this coming weekend, in Chicago for the 28th Annual Turkey Shootout. This is the 2nd year in a row that this event has had an LPRT component to it, and there’s a solid draw of 28 players in Lombard for the event.
18 of the top 20 players are present. Missing are #11 Brenda Laime Jalil and #17 Angelica Barrios (fresh of her win at 18U World Juniors). And a good chunk of the players ranked 20th-30th are present, for a very solid pro draw.
With 28 players, the top 4 seeds get byes into the 16s while the rest play a round of 32 match Friday morning.
One interesting seeding note: for the first time in more than a year, Salas has been pushed out of the #2 spot on tour. Vargas has eclipsed Salas for now; Vargas has opened a 79 point lead based on results so far this season. Salas will need an early-round upset of Vargas to have a chance of reclaiming the #2 spot this weekend.
Here’s some intriguing round of 32 matches to watch for: – #16/#17: Carla Muñoz Montesinos vs Maria Renee Rodríguez: 16/17 matches are always tight and this should be no different. Munoz is 4-0 in pro/internatonal events over MRR, but they havn’t played in a top-level event in 2 years. – #9 Masiel Rivera Oporto vs #24 Cheryl Gudinas; great to see the four-time title winner playing in her home-town. – #11 Adriana Riveros vs #22 Hollie Rae Scott; despite her lower seed, Scott is a tough player and this could be a pretty close match. – #10 Montse Mejia vs #23 Valeria Centellas: Mejia (last year’s world 18U champion) takes on this year’s 18U finalist and 2018’s 16U champion in a battle of two of the better young players in the world. Mejia has taken some serious steps forward professionally and is now in the top 10 on tour, and it seems like she’s poised to keep moving up. – #15 Sheryl Lotts vs #18 Susy Acosta; Lotts has a 1-3 career record against Acosta, but they last played more than 3 years ago. Since then Acosta has stepped back from full time touring while Lotts is stepping up. Still could be close.
— Projecting the round of 16. Assuming some earlier results here’s some round of 16 matches to watch for:
– #8 Amaya Cris vs #9 Rivera: Amaya is 3-0 career in top-level events against Rivera, including a 2-game win earlier this season. I see Amaya advancing here again. #4 Alexandra Herrera vs #20 Kelani Lawrence; i’m really curious to see how Lawrence, who doesn’t play the tour part time but is the reigning US National champ, plays against other top pros. She played Vargas really tough in Virginia earlier this season, but doesn’t often get chances at players in the top 8. I think Herrera advances but Lawrence keeps it close. – #3 Samantha Salas Solis vs #19 Jessica Parrilla: Parrilla keeps running into top players in her attempts to regain points on tour; this time running into Salas, who she also ran into at this juncture in Chesapeake earlier this season. – #6 Natalia Mendez Erlwein vs #11 Riveros; if Riveros gets by Scott, we get a classic South American match between these two. Mendez knocked Riveros out of the US Open last month in a tie-breaker and leads h2h 3-1 across all tours. – #7 Nancy Enriquez vs #10 Mejia: These two Mexican Nationals have never played in an event our databases track, an interesting side note to the seedings and Mejia’s quick rise. I like Mejia’s chances here, but Enriquez’ power will be a factor.
— My projected Quarters: – #1 Paola Longoria over #8 Amaya – #5 Rhonda Rajsich over #4 Herrera: she’s 10-1 lifetime on LPRT, but Herrera won their last meeting. Is it the changing of the tide or a one-off? – #3 Salas over #6 Mendez: Mendez gets a break from running into Vargas in every pro quarterfinal … and instead gets the long-time #2 Salas on a mission. – #2 Maria Jose Vargas over #10 Mejia: they’ve only met twice on tour, most recently a 5-game marathon in San Antonio in april. While I think the 3-game format benefits a player like Mejia … Vargas has been on fire this season and I think advances here.
— Semis: – Longoria over Rajsich – Vargas over Salas
Final: Longoria over Vargas.
—– They’re also playing doubles in Chicago: 12 teams headlined by the #1 Longoria/Salas team, the #2 Argentinian team of Vargas/Mendez and the US Open champs Herrera/Mejia. Should be another great event.
Some fun players entered into doubles include 11-time USA National doubles champ and new member of the IRT team Aimee Roehler Ruiz, who is teaming up with Rivera to attempt to make some noise.
—- Streaming schedule already out: follow LPRT on facebook. Jerry J Josey Jr. and Timothy Baghurst should be onsite to broadcast all weekend.
Congrats to your winners on the weekend: – Singles: Alejandro Landa – Doubles: Daniel De La Rosa/Alvaro Beltran
Some quick stats on his win: – This is his 4th win, tied for 19th all time – As Kramer X noted in his re-cap, Landa has overtaken his country men to be the leading title winner of any Mexican player. – He improves to 13-4 on the season, 121-65 for his IRT career (23rd all time).
In the 128s: – #33 Majeed Shahin survived a tough opener against Canadian vet #32 Lee Connell 11-9 in the breaker. – #31 Luis R Avila was pushed even further, saving match point against to survive 11-10 against Mexican 18U player #34 Manuel Moncada.
In the 64s, one big surprise and a couple of close matches: – #33 Shahin kept the ball rolling from his opening win and topped #17 Jose Diaz 5,14 to advance into the 32s. A great win for Shahin and kind of a shocking loss for Diaz, who was on the cusp of the top 10 the last two seasons but now has opened his season with two missed events and two first round losses. – #24 Alan Natera Chavez took a close one against #25 Sam Bredenbeck 11,12. Solid showing from the younger Bredenbeck sibling. – #26 Mexican 17yr old Oscar Nieto got his second win this calendar year over #23 Scott McClellan 9,10. He earns a shot at a top 10 player on tour for the first time.
——– In the 32s, we started to see some of the talent out there in the player pool take over seeded players: – #9 Rodrigo Montoya Solís took out #24 Natera 11,2, dominating the match and putting down the upset attempt. – #19 Eduardo Garay Rodriguez dominated #14 @Gerardo Gerardo Franco Gonzalez 8,2 to move into his second main draw of the season. – #22 Javier Estrada took out #11 David Horn 11-9 in a back and forth match. Horn was down big in game one and came back to take it, but Estrada stormed to game 2. In the breaker, it looked like Horn was in control, but Estrada went on a run that Bobby couldn’t stop, and at the tail end of the tie-breaker Horn took a knock to his foot that hobbled him on match point against. A great win for Estrada, who advances into his first IRT pro draw since 2010
(fun fact: the IRT visited Chihuahua, Estrada’s home town, and had just a 17-man draw … so Estrada, as a 15-yr old, played in the round of 16. He’s the 4th youngest player ever to make the round of 16 in an IRT pro event.
In the 16s: – #8 Daniel De La Rosa improved to 3-1 on the IRT over #9 Montoya, taking the match in two solid games 7,10. – #5 Conra Moscoso Ortiz dropped the first game 15-9, then blized #12 Jake Bredenbeck 15-2, 11-1 to advance. – #3 Alvaro Beltran fended off a furious upset bid by #19 Garay before advancing 11-9 in the breaker. – #6 Samuel Murray dispatched #22 Estrada in two games, winning clinically 11,7. – #10 Sebastian Franco provided the sole upset-by-seed of the round, coming back from a game down to oust the upstart Mexican @Lalo Portillo 11-8 in the breaker. Even though these two players are heading in different directions ranking-wise this season, there’s not a lot between them and I sense we’re going to see more of these kind of close matches between those players in the 7-12 range all season. – #2 Alex Landa made fast work of Bolivia’s Carlos Keller Vargas 4,7. Keller has now played in all 5 IRT events so far this season and has fallen at the 16s all five times.
So, we have nearly a perfect chalk quarters in a tournament missing the #1 seed (which historically has meant a wide-open draw). In my preview I surmised we’ may see some upsets here, especially with two up and coming players Garay and Estrada in the mix, but the tour’s elite held on.
—————– In the Quarters: – #1 Rocky Carson eked out a solid game 1 win 15-14, then held on to turn the recent tide of results versus #8 DLR and advance 14,9. – #4 Andree Parrilla make a significant statement in defeating #5 Moscoso 13,7. These two met in the 2017 US Open, a 5-game Moscoso defeat that helped propel him onto the world rball stage. This time around, Parrilla gave a master class in defensive racquetball, continually retrieving shot after shot, making Moscoso hit ball after ball, until eventually a mistake was made going for too much. I thought Moscoso was the pre-tournament favorite once we heard that Kane was out, but he struggled all match to gain the upper hand against Parrilla and may have some things to think about heading into his next event. – #3 Beltran blized past #6 Murray in the first game 15-1 then held on in a closer game two to make the semis for the first time this season. Beltran’s consistency this year has kept him in the top seeds, and a semis appearance will only help. – #2 Landa took revenge on an earlier season defeat to Franco by blasting him 5,6 to move on. He makes the semis for the 4th time in 5 events this year and continues to play really solid ball. He must really rate his chances to get a win here in Kane’s absence.
——————- In the semis, more chalk. – #1 Carson, coming off of two upset losses in the last two events, absolutely flummoxed #4 Parrilla en route to a 7,3 win. Parrilla just could not find a way past Rocky’s serves, and Carson’s consistency led to easy points throughout the day. – #2 Landa topped his long time rival #3 Beltran for the 7th successive time in pro/top level competitions 12,12.
———– In the singles final, Landa got his first win over Carson since April and improved to 5-8 for their careers with a gutsy (9),14,10 win that featured Landa saving match points in both game 2 and game 3.
With the win, Landa inches closer to Carson for #2 on tour, but more importantly opens up a significant gap between himself and #4 Beltran. Landa’s consistency so far this season has really paid off and he’s closer to overtaking Rocky right now than he is in getting surpassed.
———– Here’s a review of the notable matches in Doubles
In the 16s, a couple of great matches: – The Bolivian pairing of Moscoso/Keller topped the great Mexican team of Estrada/Natera 11-7 in the breaker. – Sebastian Fernandez/ Felipe Camacho were taken to the limit by Bredenbeck & Connell, advancing 11-10.
In the qtrs: – Moscoso/Keller played a very solid match to oust the #1 seeded Landa/Murray team 6,11. – Both the #2 and #3 seeds were forced into tiebreakers to advance past solid doubles teams. Jake and Diaz took out Garay & Montoya, while Mercado/Franco took out Portillo/Parrilla.
In the semis: – The upset run of the Bolivian team continued, with Moscoso/Keller taking out Bredenbeck/Diaz 12,8. – The accomplished #2 Mexican team of DLR/Beltran was stretched to a breaker by the Colombian National team Mercado/Franco before advancing.
In the final, DLR and Beltran took the final over the Bolivians 12,8 to take the title. its their first IRT doubles title since Jan 2019.
———— A quick comment on the Men’s Open draw: Mexican 16U player Guillermo Ortega took out Mexican 18U player Manuel Moncada in the final. Ortega defeated Set Cubillos Ruiz and Shahin enroute to the final, while Moncada defeated Francisco Troncoso and Connell en route to the final. Those are some accomplished players for two kids to take out.
Interestingly, neither Moncada or Ortega won their respective Mexican Junior titles this year: Moncada fell in the semis to Sebastian Fernandez while Ortega Jr. was defeated in the 16s.
———— Next Up on the schedule: – IRF World Juniors in Costa Rica kicks off 11/8/19 and runs for a week – 17th Annual turkey Shootout, Portland, OR IRT Tier 5 event. – Marigold Resources Quad City Open, Eldridge, IA: IRT Tier 5 event – There’s supposedly an RKT event called the Copa Prince event somewhere in Mexico; if it happens we’ll cover it.
Hot on the heels of last weekend’s event in Tempe, the pros are back in action at the legendary Meridian club in Fullerton. The club has played host to a number of major amateur events over the years, but hasn’t hosted the men’s pros since the old Ektelon Nationals event ended in May of 2013.
There’s 36 pros in action this weekend, including a very solid top of the draw with 18 of the top 20 currently ranked players in action. Notably missing is #1 Kane Waselenchuk, who misses the event with an injury picked up in Tempe last weekend. The only other missing top 20 pro is Ohioan Thomas Carter who misses just his 4th event in the last three seasons.
Another notable missing player is Costa Rica’s Andres Acuña, who has been making waves on tour this season but who is headlining the 5th annual Costa Rican National event in his home country (and which has been going on since Tuesday).
For the 2nd event in a row the IRT is using a staggered qualifying system versus the “everybody not in the top 8 qualifies” system often seen. This gives the top 8 byes into the 16s, then gives the 9th-16th ranked players byes into the 32s to ease the qualifying demands on the IRT regulars who havn’t made it into the top 8 yet. Lastly this is another “flip” seeding event, so the 5th-8th ranked players are slightly jumbled to mix up quarter final matches.
———————- Lets review the singles draw:
Round of 128 matches to look for: – SoCal player #33 Majeed Shahin takes on Canadian veteran #32 Lee Connell in what should be a close match between two players who each have a lot of IRT experience – Former outdoor national champ #31 Luis R Avila takes on Mexican 18U player #34 Manuel Moncada..
In the round of 64: – #17 Jose DIAZ is the highest ranked player to miss out on the staggered qualifying; for his troubles he gets a match-up against the winner of the 32/33 play-in that should be winnable. – The #24/#25 match-ups are always fun; this time its Sam Bredenbeck versus dark horse Mexican Alan Natera Chavez. Natera plays hot and cold; he can get victories over top-10 players or he can go one-and-done to players well below his talent level. Should be an interesting match. – We get a rare appearance from #22 Javier Estrada, fresh off a solid win at the Mexico City event last week. He starts off against Chilean vet #27 Francisco Troncoso.
In the round of 32, some really great projected matches: – #16/#17 will be two Californians: Sebastian Fernandez versus Diaz. Its Tijuana/SoCal vs the 209. This will be a fascinating match; Fernandez was looking primed for a push up the rankings with a quarter-final appearance at the US Open, but has scuffled since. Diaz seems to be stepping back from full-time touring but has top-10 talent. – #9 Rodrigo Montoya Solis likely takes on #24 Natera; a tough match-up for Montoya. Natera took out Montoya in the Mexican Nationals earlier this year during a run to the semis, so he knows how to beat him. But then Montoya destroyed Natera in Syosset a few weeks afterwards. Montoya took off last week while the rest of the field played; will this be an edge? – #21 Jake Bredenbeck vs #21 Set Cubillos Ruiz: normally i’d rate this a straight-forward Jake win, but Cubillos played fantastically in Arizona; is this an upset-watch? – #14 Gerardo Franco Gonzalez vs #19 Eduardo Garay Rodriguez: Franco beat Garay in Syosset, but Garay has the talent to move on here. Look for a battle and look for Franco to try to reign in Garay’s power. – #11 David ” Bobby” Horn vs #22 Estrada: a really tough round for Horn, having to face Estrada, who comes off a weekend when he topped Cardona, Mar and Ochoa to take a stacked singles draw in Mexico City. Estrada though has proved to be inconsistent; with fantastic wins one week then curious upsets the next; can he put it together on the tier 1 stage and take out an experienced touring vet like Horn? One thing seems sure: Horn plays fast, while Estrada plays deliberately and slow … the contrast in styles may be a factor.
—————- Projected 16s matches to watch for: – #8/#9: thanks to the flip seeding: Daniel De La Rosa gets popped to #8, where he likely faces frequent Mexican National team opponent Montoya. DLR is 4-1 over Montoya on the various big stages and seems to be able to handle his game well. If Montoya exits at this stage, it would mean the fourth straight IRT event to start the season where he exits at the first round of the main draw. – #5/#12: Conra Moscoso Ortiz] gets moved to the 5th seed with the flip and likely faces big Jake. Look for a bunch of broken balls between these two power hitters but for the shooter Moscoso to advance. – #3 Alvaro Beltran] vs #19 Garay: I like Garay to advance over Franco, and I like his chances against Beltran here. Two straight weekends of play combined with doubles may be too taxing for Alvaro versus the fitness of Garay. – #6 Samuel Murray vs #22 Estrada: if this comes to pass, I also like Estrada’s chances of moving on here. – #7 Lalo Portillo vs #10 Sebastian Franco; ironically, these two seeds would have been switched just a few weeks ago, but a great run in Arizona by Portillo now has him in the top 8 while Franco is now outside looking in. But Franco is a former tour winner and this will be a solid test for Portillo’s staying power in the top 10. – #2 Alex Landa vs #18 Carlos Keller Vargas]: a tough opener for #2 Landa, facing two-time defending PARC champ in Keller. This might be closer than people would expect given the seeds. Keller won the 2019 event, it should be noted, in a draw that included Landa. Keller has now played all 5 of the IRT events so far this season but has fallen at this round of 16 gate each time.
———- Possible qtrs: I seem to be predicting an awful lot of upsets, which could be great in a Kane-less draw but also could mean that the top seeds rise to the top and go chalk.
– #1 Rocky Carson over #8 DLR: I know DLR has some recent success over Carson, but I also sense that DLR is not sharp right now (as evidenced by his one-and-done in Tempe). Carson moves on unless DLR comes to play. – #5 Moscoso over #4 Andree Parrilla: I like Moscoso here as a shooter who can overpower Parrilla and get the win here. – #22 Estrada over #19 Garay: its crazy to predict a 22nd seed into a pro semis, but I like the way the draw opens up here. Both guys have winnable 16s if they play to expectations. – #2 Landa over #7 Portillo: Landa waxed the youngster just 4 days ago 5,9; I can see Lalo learning from that outing and making it closer, but still falling here.
————- Projected Semis: – Moscoso over Carson: Moscoso really wasn’t troubled too much by Carson at the US Open and will be emboldened here without Kane in the draw to think he’s the obvious favorite. I don’t disagree. – Landa over Estrada: If this match comes to pass, look for the tactical Estrada to try to will his way into a win. Estrada has wins over the top tier of players like Landa in the past, but Landa looked really solid in AZ and should move on.
My predicted final: Moscoso over Landa; they met in the quarters of the Bolivian Open, a 11-0 tiebreaker win for Moscoso. I think we could see a similar match. Moscoso has all the same tools that frustrate Landa when he matches up with kane, and I look for the Conrrado win here.
—————- Doubles preview
They’re playing doubles too in California; 13 teams are entered into what looks to be a solid draw.
#1 Landa/Murray have jumped #2 DLR/Beltran in the rankings: these four players are head and shoulders ahead of the rest of the doubles player rankings. But I don’t think they’re a lock to make the final; the draw is stacked with really solid teams.
#1 has to play through the tough Bolivian team of Moscoso/Keller in the quarters … and thats if they can beat the really solid Estrada/Natera team in the 16s. #4 Jake/Jose have to likely face the tough Garay/Montoya team, #3 Colombian team of Franco/Mercado likely faces the newly formed and improving team of Portillo/Parrilla.
I like #2 DLR/Beltran to make the final and take on Moscoso/Keller, with the Mexicans taking the win.
—————– Looks like it will be a great tourney, with a ton of really compelling matches early on. Can’t wait!