IRT Men’s Qualifying wrap-up and round of 32 preview

Jaime Martel lis the higest seeded player to qualify for the 2019 main draw. Photo via Roby Partovich/US Open 2015

We’re down to the top 32, having played 2-3 rounds of qualifiers Wednesday to whittle the field from 94.

here’s the matches I found notable or upset-worthy from Wednesday’s marathon qualifying.

In the 256s:
– fellow Virginian Rich Benderoth took a tiebreaker win over Erik Solter. Shout out to Rich, who regularly spanked me a decade ago when I used to actually play this sport. Unfortunately he injured himself in the process and forfeited his next round.

– USA 18U junior Lucas Shoemaker gets a win in his professional debut, downing Bolivian Vladimir Fernando Salas in a tie-breaker.

– Colorado native Jacob Kingsford gets a win in his debut pro/national level event over Ecuadorian Fabian Cuesta].

– An intra-Dallas inter-generational battle was taken by the veteran; Diana-Shai Manzuri took out Lukas Le 5,6 to advance.

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In the 128s:
– Andrew Gale took out IRT regular Nick Riffel in a tie-breaker; very solid win for the veteran player Gale, who first played in the US Open in 2006.

– Francisco Reyes took out IRT touring regular Justus Benson 6,12.

– Erik Garcia took out the tough Mexican Christian Longoria by the scores of 10,2.

– Troy Warigon dominated rematch of a qualifier in Laurel two weeks ago against Yacouba Keita, advancing by the dominant scores of 3,1.

– Sam Bredenbeck took out Colombian international Andres Gomez in two solid games.

– Sebastian Fernandez himself still an 18U junior, was stretched to a tiebreaker by a fellow Mexican junior (albeit a younger one) in Guillermo Ortega before advancing.

– Pennsylvania amateur Joe Kelley stretched Alan Natera Chavez to a tiebreaker before the Mexican advanced.

– Former top WRT pro Jaime Martell Neri took out 20th ranked Costa Rican Felipe Camacho.

– In a battle of two IRT veterans, Colombian Alejandro Herrera Azcarate took out Japanese legend Hiroshi Shimizu in two close games to advance.

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In the 64s.

– Kansas amateur Bradley Rogers upset the highest ranked player in qualifying, 17th seeded Robert Collins 12,8 to earn a main draw berth. Rogers gets his best win on tour in four years.

– Javier Estrada advanced over Bolivian junior phenom Diego Garcia Quispe, who had to retire mid-game2 with injury. The two were playing close though, with the score 13-14 at the point of injury.

– Javier Mar dominated Ernesto Ochoa 13,5 to advance to the main draw and a meeting with his doubles partner. Tough draw for Ochoa, who was making his IRT Tier 1 debut here after putting up some very impressive results in 2019.

– Bolivian vet Kadim Carrasco was pushed to a tiebreaker by Colombian Set Cubillos Ruiz before advancing.

– Big upset of a dark horse candidate for me: Colombian Francisco Reyes Gomez upset Natera in a tiebreaker to advance. We don’t know much about Reyes; he’s got a few US Open appearances in the past but this is probably his best career win.

– Martel gets a great win to advance into the main draw, topping Garcia 14,6.

– Eduardo Garay Rodriguez held serve and topped MoMo Zelada 11,9 to advance into the main draw.

– Maurice Miller ended Gale’s upset run to qualify.

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now for the 32s. And there’s some amazing matches today. Here’s what i’m looking for:

– #1 Kane Waselenchuk vs #33 Estrada: Estrada made a statement at the Black Gold cup, topping 4 top 10 players to take the title. Well, now he can measure up against the worlds best for a status check.

– #9 Rodrigo Montoya Solis vs #24 Mar: these two ran into each other in the round of 32 at the Syosset open as well; just a function of unlucky seeding. Mar took that last meeting en route to a quarter final appearance. Expect a close match between these doubles partners that know each other’s game pretty well.

– #8 Samuel Murray vs #25 Keller: pay no attention to the seedings here: this is a battle of two evenly matched players. They met in the 16s of the Pan Am Games in Lima, a tie-breaker win for the Canadian. But Keller is no easy out; he’s an experienced, accomplished international player with two PARC titles on his resume

#13 David Horn​ vs #77 Martell; This is an interesting matchup between two long stalwards of the WRT. These two met 9 times on the old WRT, with Horn leading 5-4 h2h but Jaime Martell Racquetball​ taking the most recent meeting (May 2018 in Atlanta). This could go either way; Horn has missed time with an injury this season; is he 100%? He’ll need to be to beat his long time rival. (post-publishing correction; initially I had Martell playing into Landa here; my staging tables were incorrect and hence this correction after publishing).

– #14 Lalo Portillo vs #19 Charlie Pratt; Watch out for the upset here; every time Pratt enters a draw he makes noise. Pratt could lose here to the rapidly improving Portillo, or he could run to the semis. Expect a tactical battle here.

– #6 Daniel De La Rosa vs #27 Garay: I like this match; Garay’s power versus DLR’s guile. Daniel won’t be surprised by Garay’s pop; they met in teh 2016 Mexican nationals prior to Garay’s re-flagging and he advanced in a tiebreaker. I like DLR here but I think it goes breaker.

– #10 Mario Mercado vs #23 Sebastian Fernandez; this is a fascinating match-up between Mercado, who despite having (in my opinion) improving results on the court lately is treading water from a rankings perspective thanks to rising pressure of up and coming players, and Fernandez, who seems set to jump straight from 18U into the pro ranks and make a splash. I think this goes down to the wire with the veteran advancing.

– #15 Luis Conrrado Moscoso Serrudo vs #18 Andres Acuña; this should be another barn burner; they’ve met four times in IRF junior and senior events and 3 times it has gone breaker. All four are Moscoso wins … but Acuna always make sit hard on the Bolivian number one.

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We’ll circle back for the 16s once the 32s are done.

International Racquetball Tour
Racquetball Canada
UnitedHealthcare US OPEN Racquetball Championships

International Racquetball Federation – IRF
Federación Mexicana de Raquetbol
Federación Costarricense de Racquetball
Federación Boliviana de Racquetball
Fecoracquet Fecoracquet
USA Racquetball

LPRT Qualifying wrap-up and round of 32 preview

Gudinas qualifies for the main draw in her 21st US Open appearance. Photo via WPRO blog Mar 2012

Qualifying is done for the LPRT; lets highlight the notable matches and preview what looks to be a fantastic round of 32.

In the 64s:
– Linda Tyler took out Costa Rican junior Maricruz Ortiz in a tie-breaker to earn a shot at #1 Longoria.

– Jenny Daza Navia took out US junior Annie Roberts 8,5 in Robert’s debut. Daza feeds into the 6th seeded Mendez, a player she can beat.

– Legend Cheryl Gudinas qualifies for another US Open main draw, downing Mexican youngster Anna Rivera 13,9.

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Here’s some round of 32 matches to watch for:

– #9 Masiel Rivera Oporto vs #25 Jessica Parrilla; man, what a tough first rounder for Rivera, who has shot up the rankings in the last year and is on the cusp of a top8 ranking (Rivera was seeded 22nd in this event last year by way of comparison). Parrilla is of course on the come back trail from being a former top-4 pro. Expect a hard-hitting battle here and a possible upset by seed.

– #12 Montse Mejia vs #21 Maria Renee Rodriguez; they havn’t played in several years, and the draw is well positioned for Mejia to make a semis run this year. This is a first test. Rodriguez is trying to build on some solid wins in 2019 on the court.

– #14 Frederique Lambert vs #19 Angelica Barrios; Two years ago this would be a predicted blow out, as Lambert was ranked #2 on tour and Barrios was still in juniors. Now this is a dangerous match: Barrios dispatched two top-10 players in the Bolivian grand slam to make the semis and made the quarters of the Pan Am games before losing to Longoria. This one may come down to how rusty Lambert is.

– #6 Natalia Mendez Erlwein vs #27 Daza; The veteran Bolivian has been known to take out top ranked players; in this event last year she topped Vargas, for example. Mendez needs to be on her A-game for this South American match-up.

– #7 Nancy Enriquez takes on #26 Hollie Rae Scott; this should be an interesting one. Scott is the reigning intercollegiates champ and was the losing US national finalist in 2019. I’m not sure Scott has faced someone with the power of Enriquez before (this is their first meeting) so this should be an interesting match.

– #10 Brenda Laime Jalil vs #23 Michelle De La Rosa; people forget, but in 2015 mDLR (nee Key) finished 7th on tour in her sole full-time season of touring before stepping back for family reasons. She’s a player. Laime has climbed into the top 10 on tour with some solid results, but this is a different challenge for her.

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We’ll regroup for the round of 16s later today.

LPRT
UnitedHealthcare US OPEN Racquetball Championships
Federación Boliviana de Racquetball
Federación Mexicana de Raquetbol
Fecoracquet Fecoracquet
USA Racquetball
Racquetball Canada

US Open LPRT Qualifying Preview

Lets run through the qualifying rounds for the LPRT ahead of the main draw. Hopefully by the time you read this the matches havn’t already started 🙂

There’s 41 players in this draw, and the LPRT qualifies the top 24 into the main draw, so 17 players are competing for 8 main draw/round of 32 spots. This means one round of 128 and then a round of 32.

Here’s a quick run through notable round of 64 matches to look for.

– #32 Maricruz Ortiz vs #33 Linda Tyler; Costa Rican junior international Ortiz makes just her 3rd ever pro appearance and is set to play infrequent pro player Tyler. A good test for Ortiz, who started representing her country in her age-16 season and still has two full years left in 18U.

– #27 Jenny Daza Navia vs #34 Annie Roberts; another generational battle; Bolivian Daza has been playing for her country for more than a decade and, in 2018, took out Maria Jose Vargas Parada in the 32s of the Open. Roberts makes her LPRT debut here; she’s the two-time defending USA junior 16U champ and is playing in her 16U season.

– #31 Cheryl Gudinas, who has won this event twice, faces off against #34 Anna Rivera, who is just finishing up her age-18 year. Fun fact: Rivera was born in Feb 2000; Gudinas won four straight pro titles starting in 2001.

– #26 Hollie Rae Scott takes on Colombian veteran international #39 Carolina Gomez. Scott is the reigning intercollegiates champ and lost 11-10 in the US national final in May to Kelani Lawrence Meanwhile, we havn’t seen Gomez in a pro event since the 2010 US Open, though she’s been a regular fixture in the IRF circuit for Colombia for most of this decade.

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Once the qualifiers are set, we’ll circle back and review the round of 32.

LPRT
UnitedHealthcare US OPEN Racquetball Championships
USA Racquetball
Federación Costarricense de Racquetball
Federación Boliviana de Racquetball
Federación Mexicana de Raquetbol

US Open IRT Men’s Pro Qualifying Preview

Here we go; the biggest tournament I think i’ve ever covered is upon us. A massive 94-man pro draw features 78 players playing in the qualifiers to advanced into the round of 32.

R2 Sports Tournaments draws are here: https://www.r2sports.com/website/event-website.asp?TID=30501

Here’s a prevew of some of the projected match-ups I’ll be looking for on the first day of the US Open 2019. Below are fun match-ups to look for in the 3 rounds of qualifying.

In the opener/round of 256:
– #68 Colombian Francisco Gomez takes on Mexican youngster Manuel Moncada in a good opener for both.
– Two top east coast amateurs face off in #78 Floridian Jonathan Burns versus #83 New Jersey native Samuel Kelley. Kelley played well at the Laurel event two weeks ago as a nice warm-up to this event, while Burns has been playing the US Open for more than a decade.

– #79 Diana-Shai Manzuri versus #82 Lukas Le; what an interesting match-up here: the international veteran and long-time Argentinian representative Manzuri (who practices medicine in Texas) faces up against a fellow Dallas-area resident in Le, who’s currently playing intercollegiates and is half Shai’s age. Will youth or experience win out?

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In the round of 128 (assuming some play-in match results):

– #41 Mexican Ernesto Ochoa takes on Canadian veteran Tim Landeryou. Ochoa is a dark-horse here; he’s got multiple wins over IRT top 10 players in the last two seasons. Landeryou played two pro stops last year and can make trouble for any opponent.

– #37 Colombian Set Cubillos ruiz takes on #60 Texan A.J. Fernandez in a match that could be closer than the seeding looks.

– Current Intercollegiates reigning champ #45 Erik Garcia takes on #52 Mexican Christian Longoria. Garcia is a tough out, with several wins over regular IRT touring pros. But Longoria has a unique playing style and has some significant wins on his resume too. Great match-up.

– #77 Jaime Martell Neri takes on #20 Costa Rican Felipe Camacho in a solid match for this round. Martell left the old WRT as its #1 ranked player and won the 2018 WRT Georgia Open with wins over Horn and Bredenbeck along the way. Camacho missed the first two IRT events and may be stepping back from touring, but is a solid player worthy of his top 20 ranking. Look for a barn burner here.

– #36 Troy Warigon vs #62 Yacouba Keita an unlucky match-up between two good friends and sometimes doubles partners; they also met in the qualifiers at Laurel, a tiebreaker win for Warigon is what happened in Maryland two weeks ago and what should happen again here.

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In the round of 64 (again, assuming some earlier match results):

– #33 Javier Estrada vs #32 Bolivian 16U Diego Garcia Quispe. 32 vs 33 never disappoints; Estrada had an unbelievable tournament this summer, topping four of the best 15 players in the world to take the Black Gold cup, but his results have been hit or miss since. This will basically be his first appearance in earnest on the IRT, ever (he played in 2010 as a 15yr old when the tour came to his home-town of Chihuahua for his sole previous IRT appearance). I’m highly anticipating his performance here. To get to the main draw though, he has to go through a tough up and coming Bolivian player in Garcia, who has a slew of World Junior titles and is the current reigning 16U world champ. Garcia can hang with Estrada but it should be a win for the Mexican here.

– #24 Javier Mar vs #41 Ochoa; great match; Mar is no longer the dark-horse in these major events like he used to be; he’s got National titles in singles and world titles in Doubles to his name. And every time he shows up at the US Open he makes a deep run. Meanwhile Ochoa is a dangerous opponent here and has the capabilities of making the 16s or quarters of an IRT event, but I like Mar’s experience to move on.

– Assuming earlier results, Garcia is set to meet Martel for an entry into the main draw. I think either player could win, I think Martel should be favored but he has to play one additional match on Wednesday which could sap his endurance enough to cost him here. Look for Garcia to outlast Martel to move on.

– #27 Mexican native and Colombian national Eduardo Garay Rodriguez vs Bolivian turned DC-area native MoMo Zelada; A fun match-up here between the under-rated Zelada (who has shown he can hang with top players) and the powerful Garay, who just took the Colombian national championships over 10th seeded Mercado and can play. If you’re in the club when this match is going on, you’ll know it b/c Garay is one of the hardest hitters on tour.

– #22 Jansen Allen vs #54 Andres Gomez; Gomez is an upset pick to get here by seed, but he’s gotten some results this year, including an upset of Mercado in the PARC event in april 2019 while representing Colombia. Allen is a former top 10 player who has missed the first couple of events this season after many years of consistently touring; he’s got his work cut out to get to the main draw here.

– #31 Maurice Miller vs #34 Nick Riffel; a tight match between two touring regulars. Miller’s been active in events this summer and fall, while Riffel has missed the first couple IRT events and seen his ranking slip a bit. I like Miller here in a tiebreaker.

– #18 Costa Rican Andres Acuña Quesada vs #50 Alejandro herrera; Florida native Herrera first played the US Open in 2003 and represented Colombia internationally as recently as 2016. He’s a hard-hitter who relies on his serve to generate points. Acuna has seen his rball career drive forward in jumps lately; he made the semis of 2019 PARC, made the quarters of the Laurel IRT event and just made the singles final of Vegas 3-WallBall despite barely playing outdoor before. He’s a tough out.

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My predicted qualifiers (in the order of the Qualifying draw on R2sports, not in seed order or Qualifier # order):

Robert Collins
Javier Estrada
Carlos Keller Vargas
Javier Mar
Thomas Carter
Kadim Carrasco
Alan Natera Chavez
Erik Garcia
Charlie Pratt
Troy Warigon
Eduardo Garay
Jansen Allen
Sebastian Fernandez
Adam Manilla
Maurice Miller
Andres Acuna

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we’ll preview the main draw once the match-ups are determined after Wednesdays’ qualifiers.

Next up; a preview of the LPRT qualifying.

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UnitedHealthcare US OPEN Racquetball Championships
International Racquetball Tour
USA Racquetball
Racquetball Canada
Federación Mexicana de Raquetbol

US Open Specific Reports and Trivia

Hey rball fans! Before we do previews of the big event, I wanted to do a quick run-through of the US Open-specific reports that are available at the website.

Here’s a quick run through the reports. All the links below are available on both IRT and LPRT sites but the URLs will default to the IRT. And i’ve thrown in some fun trivia along the way.

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– US Open Participation Summary: Historical summary of all Participants in the US Open. http://rball.pro/C1040F

Rocky Carson will be participating in his 23rd US Open this weekend; per our records he’s only missed one (and he very well may have played in it; we only have the main draw in the database for the 1997 US Open; if Rocky played but didn’t qualify he’s made every one). On the ladies side, Cheryl Gudinas will be making her 21st appearance this year, moving into a tie for 1st all time among women with Susy Acosta.

– US Open Draw Sizes: Draw Sizes for the US Open (1996-present). http://rball.pro/ADFFEF

This year’s Men’s pro draw of 94 is the biggest draw we’ve seen in a decade and dwarfs last year’s 69 entries. On the ladies side, the pro draw of 41 players is right in line with the last few seasons of participation. The peak of participation for both the Men and the Women was in 2003 (110 men, 50 women).

– US Open Tourney Qtrs/Semis/Finals historically: Historical summary of Q/S/F Participants in the US Open (1996-present). http://rball.pro/70639E

– US Open Results Summary: Summary of US Open-only finishes, all players. http://rball.pro/5945F3

Only 11 men in the history of the event have even made the final of a US Open; Kane Waselenchuk of course has 14 titles. On the ladies side just 10 players have even made a US Open final, with Paola Longoria owning 9 titles.

– Ages of all US Open Winners: All US Open Winners with Age of winner. http://rball.pro/D204C8

In one of my more interesting factoids, Kane is simultaneously the youngest and the oldest ever Male US Open winner. On the ladies side, Longoria is youngest winner (at the age of 19 in 2008), while Gudinas is the oldest winner, taking the title in 2004 at the age of 37.

Lastly,

Dean DeAngelo Baer had a great new suggestion to add for this year; US Open-specific W/L records per player. So, you can select “Player W-L in US Open” report per player to get just isolated W/L records at the biggest event on the stage.

Here’s kane’s US Open only W/L: http://rball.pro/39C5FF . As you might imagine for someone who has won the last 14 US Open’s he’s entered … his W/L record is pretty solid. He’s 85-3 lifetime in this event. Here’s Paola’s record: http://rball.pro/514386 . She’s 60-7 in this event.

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Hope you enjoy!

UnitedHealthcare US OPEN Racquetball Championships
International Racquetball Tour
LPRT

10th WOR Vegas 3-wall Wrap-up

Daniel De La Rosa a 3-time pro winner on the weekend. Photo via GameChangerPhoto/Mike Augustin

Congrats to the winners on the weekend:

Men’s 3-wall Pro Singles: Nick Montalbano
Women’s 3-wall Pro Singles: Rhonda Rajsich

Men’s Pro Doubles 3-wall: De La Rosa/Beltran
Women’s Pro Doubles 3-wall: De La Rosa/Munoz
Mixed Pro Doubles 3-wall: De la Rosa/De La Rosa

Men’s Pro Doubles 1-wall: Rolon/Sostre
Women’s Pro Doubles 1-wall: Maldonado/Stephen
Mixed Pro Doubles 1-wall: Montalbano/Munoz

R2 Sports App link: https://www.r2sports.com/website/event-website.asp?TID=30648

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As you can see from the winner’s list, a fantastic weekend for, in particular, Daniel De La Rosa, who takes home three pro titles (plus a fourth Combined 75+ title with Mike Peters. Its always a good weekend when you don’t lose. Also congrats to Nick Montalbano, Michelle De La Rosa and Carla Munoz, each of whom took home two pro titles.

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Quick review of the 8 draws (the Match report for the event out of the PRS database is the rball.pro URL listed in each case)

Men’s 3-wall Pro Singles: http://rball.pro/E09A46

Relative Outdoor newcomer Andres Acuña proved himself to be a quick study, defeating 2018 outdoor national champ Luis R Avila in the quarters then dominating outdoor legend William Rolon in the semis to make the final from the bottom half. Defending champ and #1 seed Nick Montalbano took out Virginia-based Thomas Gerhardt in the semis of the top half to return to the one-wall final.

In the final, Montalbano split the first two games against Acuna, who was playing just his second outdoor tournament ever and acquitted himself pretty well. In the tiebreaker though, the experience of Montalbano wore down Acuna and he defended his Vegas title from 2018.

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Women’s 3 wall Pro Singles: http://rball.pro/F95463

Ceci Orozco upset two higher seeds in tiebreakers to make the singles final from the bottom half, defeating outdoor specialist Michelle Herbert in the quarters then LPRT vet Adriana Riveros in the semis. Rhonda Rajsich was taken deep into a tiebreaker to oust former LPRT top-4 player Jessica Parrilla in the top half.

In the final, Rajsich dominated Pratt to take the singles Vegas title 1,2. This is Rhonda’s first ever Vegas singles title, and her first WOR singles title in any major since 2015.

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Men’s Pro Doubles 3-wall: http://rball.pro/082B26

Huge upset right out of the gate in the bottom half, as the #2 seed of Rick Koll and Emmett Coe was upset 11-10 by the team of IRT veteran Charlie Pratt and Vegas resident Thomas Moore. Pratt/Moore then went out 11-10 themselves to outdoor legend Greg Solis and Joe Young. This opened the door for the #3 seeded team of Robert Sostre and Chris McDonald to get to the final. There, they met the #1 seeded Daniel De La Rosa and Alvaro Beltran, who cruised past two talented teams to get to the final.

In the final, Sostre/McDonald saved match point in the 2nd to force a tie-breaker, but DLR/Beltran ran away with it to win the title 11-3 in the breaker. The Mexican duo repeat as champs here and take their 3rd major WOR doubles title in the last two years.

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Women’s Pro Doubles 3-wall: http://rball.pro/57847B

Seeds held to the final, setting up the anticipated rematch of last year’s 11-10 final between the #1 seeds Rajsich and Michelle Herbert versus #2 Michelle De La Rosa and Carla Muñoz Montesinos.

In the final, another tiebreaker and another tough match, but t his time mDLR/Munoz came out on top. Final score 13,(10),6. They win their 3rd major outdoor title in the past two seasons.

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Mixed Pro Doubles 3-wall: http://rball.pro/2D1CE5

The draw was completely chalk to the final, with #1 seeds/defending champs Koll and Rajsich ousting #4 seeded Jacqueline Paraiso-Larsson and Coe in the top half semi, while #2 seeded husband/wife De La Rosa pairing took out #3 Sostre/Munoz pairing in the bottom semi.

In the final, the DLRs turned the tide from last year’s final and swept to a 4,12 win over Koll and Rajsich.

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Men’s Pro Doubles 1-wall: http://rball.pro/144D5C

The #1 seeds and one-wall specialists Sostre/Rolon cruised into the final by virtue of a walk-over and a dominant semis win. There, they met the #6 seeded team of Floridians Jeffrey Palmer and Garry Smith who upset the 3rd seeds in the quarters then took out the 7th seeds in the semi.

In the final, the New York duo won a solid match over the upset minded Florida pairing, taking the title 11,13.

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Women’s Pro Doubles 1-wall: http://rball.pro/E03013

This was the first event competed, and was done in a flash Thursday afternoon. All three RR matches were played and the first champion was awarded on the tourney’s first day.

The Brooklyn-based duo of Anita Maldonado and Susan Stephen took out the top seeded team of Munoz and Michelle Herbert to take the title.

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Mixed Pro Doubles 1-wall: http://rball.pro/673E67

Seeds held to the final, but not without some drama. #1 Seeds Koll/Rajsich got dominated in game one of their semi and had to save match point against before advancing in a tiebreaker over Coe and Katharine Neils. In the bottom half, #2 Montalbano & Munoz got stretched to a tiebreaker by Young/Stephen but blanked the #6 seeds 11-0 to move onto the final.

In the final, Montalbano & Munoz blitzed to the title, beating the #1 seeds 7,2 to take the title.

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Congrats to all who competed; it looked like a great event and great weather from all the streaming.

Next up! The big one. The UnitedHealthcare US OPEN Racquetball Championships. I cannot be in attendance this year, but hope to do more than just a preview and wrap-up of this huge event. I hope to do daily posts to review the qualifying and the rounds as they happen. The draws look amazing; more than 90 men and 40 women entered into the pro draws. Awesome!

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WOR – World Outdoor Racquetball
USA Racquetball
International Racquetball Tour
LPRT
International Racquetball Federation
Federación Mexicana de Raquetbol
Federación Costarricense de Racquetball
Federación Chilena Racquetball
Fecoracquet Fecoracquet

10th Annual 3Wallball World Championships Preview

Welcome to the last major WOR event of the year, the big outdoor event held in the shadow of the Stratosphere hotel in Las Vegas, NV. There’s 280 players from 6 different countries represented and competing this weekend, and the massive draw includes most every major name in the outdoor game today.

The Vegas venue is primarily 3-wall courts, but some one-wall events are included this weekend, so we’ll note the court type both below and in the results.

@R2 R2 Sports Tournaments home page for the event: https://www.r2sports.com/website/event-website.asp?TID=30648

Lets review the draws.

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Men’s Pro Singles:
Men’s 3-wall singles is just a 6-man draw, but it includes the defending champ Nick Montalbano, the defending runner up in William Rolon and the 2018 Huntington Beach outdoor nationals champ Luis R Avila. Throw in a top east coast amateur in Thomas Gerhardt and a top indoor touring pro in Costa Rican #1 Andres Acuña and we should expect some solid matches.

I’ll predict a rematch of last year’s singles final, and a repeat win for #1 seed Montalbano.

click here for a list of all past Men’s Singles major WOR tourney winners: http://rball.pro/AA519C

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Women’s Pros Singles:

Women’s 3-wall singles features 7 pros with solid outdoor creds. #1 seed Rhonda Rajsich has multiple outdoor national championships to her name, but has never won Vegas. 3-time defending singles Vegas champ Janel Tisinger-Ledkins is ineligible to compete this year, so we’ll have a new champ. The #2 seed is one-wall specialist Floridian Michelle Herbert; she’ll be challenged in the semis by a hard-hitting LPRT vet in either Bolivian Masiel Rivera Oporto (fresh of a semis appearance in Chesapeake) or Colombian Adriana Riveros (who made the semis at the Pan American Games in August).

I’ll predict its Rhonda vs Rivera in the final, with Rhonda finally taking home a Vegas singles title.

click here for a list of all past Women’s singles major WOR tourney winners: http://rball.pro/0FE709

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Enough about singles; lets get to the doubles draws…there’s full slates of both 1-wall and 3-wall doubles events. We’ll start with the 3-wall previews.

Men’s Pro Doubles 3-wall

Huge draw; 16 teams here to compete, headlined by the #1 seeds and top Mexican pairing of Daniel De La Rosa and Alvaro Beltran. These two are the defending Vegas doubles champs, the defending Outdoor Nationals champs, and have a slew of major pro and international titles to their credit. They’re easily the most accomplished Men’s doubles team today and are the favorites here as the #1 seed.

DLR and Beltran have their work cut out for them though: they could face Rocky Carson with partner Alejandro Barcelo in the quarters, then top California outdoor players Brandon Davis and Jesus Ustarroz in the semis.

On the other side of the draw, a slew of teams with top outdoor players are present, and it could be a shootout. Top one-wall guru Robert Sostre is teamed with Chris McDonald as the #3 seed, Vegas outdoor legend Rick Koll is teamed with Paddleball legend Emmitt Coe, and you have the likes of Montalbano, Charlie PrattGreg Solis and others in the mix.

I like the #1 seed to make the final and win, but have no idea who to predict out of the wide-open bottom draw. We’ll go chalk and predict the 2-seeds make it through to the final.

Click here for a list of all past Men’s doubles major WOR tourney winners from 2006-present (we don’t have older data right now): http://rball.pro/4C7C5B

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Women’s Pro doubles 3-wall

Six teams here, and the top two seeds are the finalists from last year who competed to an 11-10 tiebreaker contest.

#1 Rajsich/Herbert should force a rematch in the final with #2 seeds Michelle De La Rosa and Chilean Carla Muñoz Montesinos, who won the Outdoor nationals in dominant fashion in California earlier this year. Standing in their way are teams featuring top LPRT player Jessica Parrilla, Hall of Famer Jacqueline Paraiso-Larsson, and an all-Virginia team of Carrie Handfinger Hoeft and Amie LeBrun Brewer in the 4th seed.

I’m predicting mDLR/Munoz take the title in another tiebreaker over #1 Rajsich/Hebert.

click here for a list of all past Women’s doubles major WOR tourney winners from 2008-present: http://rball.pro/37AA13

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Mixed Pro doubles 3-wall

A solid 8-team draw featuring both of last year’s finalists plus the finalists from Florida Beach Bash (Sostre/Herbert) as the 3-seed and the 2018 outdoor nationals finalists (Coe/Paraiso) as the 5th seeds.

I like a rematch of last year’s final and I like a repeat title for Koll and Rajsich over the husband-wife duo of DLR/mDLR.

click here for a list of all past Mixed doubles major WOR tourney winners from 2008-present: http://rball.pro/95A44A

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Now for 1-wall.

Men’s 1-wall Pro Doubles:
A 9-team slate headlined by the #1 seed duo of two of today’s best one-wall players, New Yorkers Sostre and Rolon. On the bottom half, #2 seeded DLR teams with Florida one-wall specialist Ignacio Espinal.

Hard to root against Sostre/Rolon to win this draw, but they’ll have to work for it, as t he likes of Carson and Montalbano are in the top half of this draw.

Women’s 1-wall Pro Doubles:
Three teams here, headlined by one-wall Florida specialist Herbert teaming with LPRT veteran international Munoz; they’re the favorites in a small draw that may be over by the time this publishes 🙂

Mixed 1-wall Pro doubles:
#1 seeds Koll & Rajsich the favorites to do an unprecedented second straight double (winning both the Mixed 3-wall and Mixed 1-wall doubles at this event). Standing in their way are the #2 seeds Montalbano/Munoz and #3 seeds Israel Torres/Herbert looking to get the upset.

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Be on the lookout for streaming notifications starting as soon as you read this; the tourney is already underway.

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WOR – World Outdoor Racquetball
LPRT
International Racquetball Tour
Federación Mexicana de Raquetbol
Fecoracquet Fecoracquet
Federación Costarricense de Racquetball
Federación Chilena Racquetball
Federación Boliviana de Racquetball

Gregg Peck Career Retrospective

(Editor note: this was a post I published straight to the “Keep Racquetball Great” Facebook group on 9/25/19, in response to a groundswell of discussion related to his re-nomination to the USAR hall of fame. I’ll back-date it and copy/paste the content from that time).

I’m a bit late to the Gregg Peck for the Hall of Fame conversations from a couple weeks ago, but wanted to put up some stats to help spread awareness. Here’s a quick summary of Gregg’s rball career in support of his nomination:

Junior Career Accomplishments:

  • Multiple USRA State and Regional Championships
  • Multiple IRA state and Regional Championships
  • 1980 USRA Junior National champion (17U)
  • Won title as a 16yr old, defeating Brett Harnett in final

Professional Career Accomplishments:

  • 20th all-time in professional Tournament Wins
  • 18th all-time in career W/L Percentage, all rounds
  • Held career winning Head-to-Head records against Hall of Fame pro players Ed Andrews, Ruben Gonzalez, Brian Hawkes, Mike Ray and Davey Bledsoe.
  • Retired with multiple victories over 5-time pro tour champ Yellen and Hogan.
  • Youngest pro player ever to make a Semi-final (oct 1980 Coors Grand Prix I)
  • 1981 NRC Rookie of the year
  • 1983 International Racquetball Most Improved Player
  • 1985 DP Nationals Champion (defeated Mike Yellen in the final).
  • 1985 Pro Male Athlete Player of the Year
  • Finalist, 1985 Ektelon Nationals (losing to Cliff Swain in a nationally televised match)
  • Semifinalist, 1983 DP Leach Nationals
  • Semifinalist, 1983 Catalina Pro Nationals

Amateur/Age Career Accomplishments:

  • 1981 USRA National Singles Men’s Open finalist (losing to Ed Andrews)
  • 1996 USRA 30+ Men’s Doubles champion (with Brett Harnett)
  • 1997 USRA 30+ Men’s Singles champion
  • 1997 USRA 30+ Men’s Doubles champion (with Brett Harnett)
  • 2002 USRA 25+ Men’s Doubles champion (with Mike Guidry)
  • 2003 USRA 35+ Mixed Doubles champion (with ?)
  • 2004 USRA 25+ Men’s Doubles champion (with Mike Guidry)

Coaching and Mentoring Accomplishments:

  • Peck Racquetball Camp Instructor, 1978-1986
  • 14 Junior National titles won by participants in El Paso Junior program
  • Coached future pro tour champs Swain, Monchik and Huczek.
  • Head Coach, US Junior National Team, 1999-2000.
  • 2-time Gold winning Junior national team coach
  • USA won 24 junior world titles under his guidance

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Peck’s contributions to the sport span many facets; he was an accomplished player at the Junior, Professional and Adult/Age level. He was an accomplished coach/mentor who served the USRA national team. He’s well liked and well advocated for in the racquetball community. He is a worthy candidate for the Hall of Fame.

2019 Valentine Open Wrap-up

Kane wins again. Photo credit: unknown

Congrats to your champions on the weekend:

Men’s Pro Singles: Kane Waselenchuk
Men’s Open Singles: Andres Acuna
Men’s Open Doubles: Carlos Keller/Kadim Carrasco

Note: no pro doubles this weekend, so we had pretty solid Open Singles and Open Doubles draws. The Men’s singles open draw featured three players who made the quarters (or better) of the pro draw and a great draw of east coast amateurs to challenge the traveling pros.

And, a reminder; the 5-8 seeds were “flipped” this tournament. Seeds listed below are for this event, not of the actual rankings on tour at the moment of the event.

R2sports link:
https://www.r2sports.com/website/event-website.asp?TID=30994

PRS match Report: http://rball.pro/001AE9

I had the opportunity to be at the Sportfit Laurel club for Thursday night round of 64 and 32 matches, so I’ll describe some of the more interesting matches I witnessed in a bit more detail.

Lets review the matches of note by round:

Round of 64:

  • #24 Mauricio Zelada, playing on his home courts and with the cheering of the home crowd, eked out a brutal tiebreaker against #25 Kyle Ulliman. Zelada is a protege of former touring pro and fellow Maryland native Dan Fowler, and his game-style is really familiar to those who remember Fowler’s days on tour. Similar stroke mechanics, similar drive serve setup, and a similar game style. Zelada plays consistent ball, always putting solid consistent contact on the ball. Ulliman’s game style is flashier, more of a shooter style, taking chances and succeeding often. It was a fantastic match-up that went down to the wire, with Zelada winning on a gimme-error from Kyle after a long match.
  • #20 Maurice Miller faced off against #33 Joe Kelley in a battle of top east coast amateurs (Miller from GA, Kelley from PA). It did not disappoint, and was a back and forth athletic match between two guys with great getting ability. In the end Miller pulled away in the tie-breaker to advance.
  • #22 Hometown favorite Troy Warigon, spurred on by a vocal local cheering section, went tiebreaker against Atlanta newcomer #27 Yacouba Keita before advancing. Definitely the “loudest” crowd of the night, cheering Warigon on.
  • Colombian #23 Set Cubillos was taken tie-breaker by New Jersey top amateur #26 David Austin before advancing.
  • The biggest upset of the round and the sole upset by a local player over a traveling pro was #30 Pennsylvanian Geoff Heskett taking out #18 Justus Benson 10,12. Both players really put some power into the ball, and Heskett was able to really control the points with his excellent drive serve to Benson’s backhand.

Round of 32:

  • In a marathon evening match, #16 Bolivian Carlos Keller Vargas took a barn-burner over #17 Colombian Eduardo Garay (13),11,7. This match was a contrast in styles: Keller’s drive serve approach is controlled power, with emphasis on the location and efficiency of the drive, while Garay has as much power as anyone on tour. The ball just sounds different off of Garay’s racquet on the drive serve. But, once the ball is in play, Keller’s putting as much pace on it as anyone else. Garay flings himself around the court, with incredible getting ability, while Keller’s length (he’s well over 6-feet tall) enables him to reach a lot of shots and cover a lot of court. This match went on so long that I believe Garay soaked four shirts. Vargas outlasted Garay in the end, but both of these players if playing full time are top 10 material.
  • In the evening’s other latest running match, two players with DC-area ties fought to the end. #9 Mario Mercado split two close games with home-town favorite #24 Zelada, who (like Warigon) plays out of the club and had a large local cheering section. The toll of the earlier match got to MoMo though, as he ran out of gas in the tiebreaker. Mercado efficiently advanced 11-1 to get to the main draw. This match won the award for biggest crowd of the night.
  • #23 Cubillos nearly forfeited his match against #10 Jake Bredenbeck before showing up just before the deadline. Jake seemed distracted as a result in the first game but eventually advanced 11,2.
  • #14 Andres Acuna dispatched Bolivian veteran #19 Kadim Carrasco in two games to advanced to the main draw yet again. Acuna is quietly moving his way up the ranks and putting his name into the discussion for top 10.

Round of 16 Action:

  • #1 Kane Waslenechuk kicked off his tournament with a 1,3 pasting of #16 Keller. I don’t know if Keller was beat from two matches the night before, or if Kane was especially fired up to play. I looked forward to this match and was rather surprised to see it be such a dominant beat-down. If you wondered about the difference between an IRF champ and the Pro champ … well here you go.
  • For the second tournament in a row, #8 Rodrigo Montoya could not advance out of the round of 16 against an opponent he’d normally be favored against. He loses in two straight to #9 Mercado 14,11. This second early loss in as many events to start the season should drop him right back out of the top 8.
  • In a battle of Francos (not related), #5 Sebastian Franco was taken to the edge by #12 Gerardo Franco, eventually advancing 11-9 in the breaker. Sebastian gets past an important hurdle on his home courts.
  • Both #4 Alejandro Landa and #2 Rocky Carson were stretched to tiebreakers in surprising fashion by tour regulars, by lefties Robert Collins and Thomas Carter respectively. Landa in particular has a habit of being a slow starter, something that’s harder and harder to overcome in the 3-game format.
  • In the upset of the round, perhaps the tournament, Costa Rican #1 and #14 seed Andres Acuna continues an impressive year of results by taking out #3 Andree Parrilla 4,(7),7. Parrilla made the final of the first event of the year and had ascended to the #3 ranking, but gets upset early by the solid play of Acuna and will drop back to #4 for the US Open. Meanwhile, Acuna achieves his first ever pro quarterfinal appearance in his 9th season of playing pro events.
  • #6 Samuel Murray staved off an upset attempt from #11 Eduardo Portillo, splitting the first two games by razor thin margins before pulling away in the tiebreaker.

In the quarters…

  • #1 Waselenchuk took out #9 Mercado in two straight forward games 6,8. Even a favorable crowd couldn’t push Mercado forward. Mercado will stay ranked 10th on tour despite the quarter-final finish, but he’s significantly narrowed the gap to the 9th spot on tour.
  • #5 Franco gets a key win on home soil, taking out #4 Landa for just the second time professionally. Sebastian crushed Landa in game one 15-3, but then had to work for it, saving game point before serving out the match 15-14. Franco gets his second semi-final in a row to open the season after making just one semi all last season, a great sign for his battle to retain a top 8 ranking this year. Despite the loss, Landa will regain the #3 seed for the US Open by virtue of Parrilla’s upset early loss.
  • #6 Murray traded 15-3 game blow-outs with #14 Acuna before closing out the match in a tiebreaker. Acuna improves his ranking to #18 with this result, pushing him to his highest ever ranking.
  • #2 Carson met #7 Alvaro Beltran for the 50th time on the pro tour and improved to 28-22 against him, advancing in (what else) a tie-breaker. Thanks to Daniel de la Rosa‘s absence here, Beltran widened his lead over DLR for the 5th ranking on tour and gained a bit on the now-4th ranked Parrilla.

In the Semis:

  • #5 Franco pushed #1 Kane on his home courts to make game one close, but Kane dominated game two to advance to the finals 11,7. With this result, Franco jumps to the #7 spot on tour, which means he avoids the likes of Montoya in an 8/9 match-up and avoids Kane in the quarters at the US Open.
  • #2 Carson met #6 Murray for the 11th time professionally and improved to 11-0 over the Canadian #1 11,4. Murray just couldn’t execute shots against Carson in game two and the match slipped away from him quickly. With this semis showing, Murray bumps Montoya for the last of the top 8 protected seeds for the US Open, a significant event that means Murray avoids possible dangerous qualifiers while Montoya may run into a tough player in the 24-25 range on tour.

The final was #1 vs #2 as it normally is; Rocky vs Kane has been the final in eight events over the last two seasons. this was their 80th meeting on tour. And like 76 times before, Kane topped Rocky for the title. But it was an adventurous match: Rocky was on his way to a donut in game one and was assessed a technical towards the end; game one score of 15 to -1. But Carson rebounded to take game 2; it had been nearly 2 years since Rocky took a game off of Kane. But Kane rebounded in the breaker and won -1,(11),4 to take the title.

Its Kane’s 117th career pro win.

Quick Recap of Men’s Open Singles: 4th Seeded Mercado survived a brutal quarter against Eduardo Garay (a rematch of last week’s Colombian National championships, won by Garay) to then cruise to the final over Set Cubillos from the top half (#1 seed Murray withdrew after making the pro semis). The bottom half of the draw went chalk amongst all top seeds, with #2 seed Andres Acuna topping #3 Maurice Miller to make the final. In the final, Acuna took out Mercado 11,9 to turn the tides on their meetings as of late.

Quick Recap of Men’s Open Doubles: it was #1 vs #2, Colombia vs Bolivia in the final, with two quality teams battling it out. #1 Mercado/Garay battled against #2 Keller/Carrasco in the final. There, the #2 seeded Bolivians put a second consecutive Sunday afternoon loss on Mercado, winning the Open Doubles title 7,12


Congrats to Tournament Director Tracy Valentine for all her hard work, thanks to IRT staff Mike Grisz, Dean Baer, Pablo Fajre for all their hard work. Great to meet IRT statistician-in-training JP Edwards, who I hope gets more involved going forward.

Also, a quick shout-out to Kane, who took to the court Thursday night upon arriving to play some pro-am doubles with tournament sponsors. The normal Thursday night sponsor doubles got cancelled, but some boosters had put up money specifically to have a shot at playing with Kane, and kudos to him for taking the court to help with sponsorship efforts.

Next up? 3-Wall championships next weekend in Las Vegas, then the US Open in Minneapolis.

@irt and other links

2019 Valentine Open Preview

Rocky Carson looks to go back to back. Photo courtesy of Rocky’s twitter @rockycarsonRB

The IRT returns to Laurel, MD for the second year in a row for the 2019 Valentine Open, named after its tournament director Tracie D Valentine and her daughter Imanii Valentine. The tour is back at one of the legendary east coast venues of Sportfit Laurel for this event.

r2sports link: https://www.r2sports.com/website/event-website.asp?TID=30994

Lets preview the draw. there’s 33 players entered this year including a ton of internationals and some MD/VA/PA locals. As noted last week, there’s some movement in the top 8, notably Parrilla taking over 3rd and Montoya moving into 7th … but the “flip” seeding is in place here so the 5-8 seeds are jumbled from their normal spots.

Missing top players: The biggest name missing is #6 Daniel De La Rosa who misses the event sandwiched in between 3-wall in Vegas and a major pickleball event, so he may have had to take a schedule break. We’re also missing a lot of tour regulars from last season in the 11-20 range, including #11 Jose Diaz, #13 David ” Bobby” Horn, and #18-20 Charlie PrattJansen Allen and Felipe Camacho. Two tourneys missed in a row for these guys: it look like maybe there’s a changing of the guard on tour.

Here’s some round of 64 matches to watch for:

– MoMo Zelada versus Kyle Ulliman: Zelada plays on his home courts and gets the traveling Ulliman, who returns to Laurel for the 2nd year in a row. Could be a tight one.
– MD native Jamal Harris takes on The Ref, Scott McClellan in an opener. Hopefully McClellan doesn’t have any avoidables taken away from him… (inside joke on a FB discussion after last event).
– Veteran Bolivian Kadim Carrasco takes on 18U local player Dylan Pruitt also playing on his home courts.
– Justus Benson takes on a tough lefty from Pennsylvania Geoff Heskett.

Projecting the 32s:
– #16 Eduardo Garay Rodriguez vs #17 Carlos Keller Vargas; 16/17 matches are always tough, and this South American battle will be no different. Garay was just crowned Colombian Champ, while Keller is the 2-time reigning Pan American Racquetball Championships winner. I like Garay in a tie-breaker and I like seeing him make a push on tour early.
– #9 Mario Mercado vs #24 Zelada: just another night at the club for these two native Bolivians, who both lived in the DC area for a while and got more than a few local tournament match-ups. Mercado has been playing solid lately and will look to advance.
– #14 Andres Acuña vs #19 Carrasco: another international flavor match between two guys who have never managed to meet.
– #15 Thomas Carter vs #18 Benson: Just like the 16/17, the 15/18 meeting will be tight as well. I like Carter here to return to the 16s in Laurel.

Projecting the Main draw: assuming seeds hold in the qualifiers, here’s some fun 16s to look for:
– #1 Kane Waselenchuk vs #16 Garay: I can’t wait to see Kane taking on a good young hard hitting player like Garay. If its Keller instead, we’re talking about a solid tactician unmoved by power play given how much he plays @Luis Luis Conrrado Moscoso Serrudo back home. Either way, a great round of 16 that’s likely on the show/streaming court.
– #8 Rodrigo Montoya Solis vs #9 Mercado; Montoya missed a chance in the 8/9 match last tourney … now he gets a match against a guy who beat him in Lima just a few weeks ago. Look for a solid match but Montoya to advance.
– #6 Samuel Murray vs #11 Lalo Portillo; upset warning: Portillo beat Murray in California in Jan 2019 and has done nothing but improve since. Portillo continues his push for the top 10.
– #7 Alvaro Beltran vs #10 Jake Bredenbeck; A nice match-up; Bredenbeck was nursing an injury earlier this summer that reportedly kept him out of the season opener; if he’s not 100% he’ll struggle to beat Beltran, who continues to impress even as he approaches his 41st birthday.

Projected Quarters:
– #1 Kane vs #8 Montoya: would love to see this one; power v power. Montoya has just two meeting with Kane, both pretty dominant wins for the World #1.
– #4 Alex Landa vs #5 Sebastian Franco; Franco gets Landa on his (Franco’s) home courts. Franco made the semis last year and will be looking for an upset; these two always seem to play tight, and Franco beat Landa to win his sole pro title. Watch out for the upset here.
– #3 Andree Parrilla vs #6 Murray; if Murray gets past Portillo, he runs into a tough one in Parrilla, who lost 11-10 in the quarters last year in Laurel and won’t want to lose his #3 ranking at this juncture.
– #2 Rocky Carson vs #7 Beltran. These two have met no less than 49 times on tour; they’re more than familiar with each other and played a rather testy tiebreaker in their last meeting in January. This is no cakewalk for Carson. Combined age: more than 81 years between the two of them.

Semis:
– Kane over Landa: these two seem to play the same way each time: Landa keeps it close up to about 10-10, then Kane breaks away for a 15-10 win. Look for a two game victory with the scores like 10,8
– Carson over Parrilla: So here’s the interesting match up. These two met in the quarters of this event last year, and Parrilla had match point on his racquet and blew a simple cross court into the ground before losing 11-10. Then they didn’t play again until last weekend’s Atlanta final (a 13,8 win for Rocky). I like Andree’s chances here of pushing for a tie-breaker on these slower courts but won’t predict a win.

Final: Kane over Rocky, yet again.

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That’s how I see it for this weekend. I’ll be at the club all day thursday to take in the 64s and 32s before jetting back home. Hope to see you out there, and maybe we’ll do some test broadcasting later thursday night.

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International Racquetball Tour
International Racquetball Federation – IRF
USA Racquetball
R2 Sports App
Federación Mexicana de Raquetbol
Fecoracquet Fecoracquet
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