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

Natera the double winner on the weekend in San Antonio.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Mixed Pro Doubles.

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

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

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International Racquetball Tour LPRT USA Racquetball Federación Mexicana de Raquetbol

Intercollegiates Wrap-Up

Scott denies Munoz a 4th straight title.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Team winners:

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

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

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

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

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

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

USAR Intercollegiates Preview

Erik Garcia is the #1 seed and defending champ.

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

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

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

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

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

2019 WRT Longhorn Open Preview

Javier Mar could make some waves in Austin this weekend.

After a down year in 2018 and a website outage that fueled rumors of its demise, the World Racquetball Tour returns to action with its annual event held in conjunction with the most popular amateur event in the land, the 2019 Longhorn Open Racquetball Tournament held on the University of Texas campus in Austin.

Despite falling on the same weekend as the IRT event in Sioux Falls, the WRT pro draw has a solid 22 players, mostly local and Mexico based. We have several WRT regulars and should see a good tournament. As we’ll see below the bottom half of this draw is definitely the tougher side, and whoever comes out of it will have well-earned it.

Click here for the r2sports.com home page for the tourney.

Here’s a preview of possibly interesting matches by round:

In the 32s…
– Texas native and collegiate player Lukas Le takes on Mexican vet Alexi David Cocco Hayes.
– Alejandro Almada takes on Louisiana native Joseph Lee in an interesting first rounder.
– Underseeded Javier Estrada takes on fellow Mexican Juan Loreto in the first round.

In the 16s, here’s some matches of possible note:
– Edson Martinez faces off against long-standing pro Hiroshi Shimizu. Shimizu’s first entry in the database was in an IRT event in March, 2002.
Jordy Alonso takes on the winner of the Hayes/Le match
– #4 seed Eduardo Garay Rodriguez takes on the Almada/Lee winner.
– #3 seed Justus Benson gets a tough draw in his home-town tourney, having to face Estrada in the 16s.
– #7 Alan Natera Chavez kicks off the tourney against another long-playing IRT pro in Shai Manzuri. Shimizu’s first appearance on tour was in 2002? Manzuri’s first was all the way back in Jan 1997, and he continues to represent Argentina internationally to this day. Amazing.

Projecting the Quarters: we could be seeing some good ball here.

– #1 Jaime Martell Neri is set to face #9 Edson Martinez. This is a winnable match for Martell, but the enigmatic Martinez can put losses on players easily enough.
– #4 Eduardo Garay versus Jordy Alonso; Alonso is improving, but Garay has nearly arrived, with wins over top WRT and IRT pros and should advance here.
– #6 Javier Mar would be my #1 seed if you were seeding this by my rankings; he takes on the equally dangerous #19 seed Javier Estrada. While Estrada has some marquee wins in the past year (Landa, Beltran), Mar is among the world’s elite and should advance.
– #2 Alex Cardona takes on #7 Alan Natera. These two are neck and neck in my rankings; Natera getting great wins lately while Cardona’s ranking is slipping due to outside interests. This could go either way; i’ll give it to the former WRT champ on this day.

Projecting the Semis;
– Martell v Garay: I like Garay’s game … but I think Martell wins on this day.
– Mar vs Cardona: An old-school match-up of two of Mexico’s best. I don’t have them meeting in a pro event since 2015, and a lot has happened since.
Mar takes the match on this day.

Final: Mar over Martell.

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In the doubles draw, I’m going with a #1 vs #2 final, with Mar making it a double on the weekend paring with Garay to take out Martell/Natera.