LPRT 2020 Boston Open Wrap-Up

Longoria the double winner on the weekend. Photo US Open 2019, Photographer Kevin Savory

Congrats to your winners on the weekend:
– Singles: Paola Longoria
– Doubles: Paola Longoria/Samantha Salas

Longoria wins her 98th career Tier 1 or higher event (105th title overall). See http://rball.pro/65DCE3 for a list of all LPRT tourney winners. Longoria beats her doubles partner in the final, then they turn around and take their second tournament in as many weeks (they won Mexican Nationals last weekend). They improve to 96-5 as a team since we began tracking LPRT pro doubles data in Sept 2013. click here for Longoria’s pro doubles history W/L by partner report; http://rball.pro/F5E61D

R2 Sports App home page for event: https://www.r2sports.com/website/event-website.asp?TID=31948

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Lets review the notable matches in the Singles draw.

Singles Match report in the PRS database: http://rball.pro/4B764C

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In the 32s, a bunch of surprises to me, which in and among itself is NOT surprising in that this draw was stacked from the get-go:

– #12 Ana Laura Flores got a solid win over #21 Hollie Rae Scott 11-5 in the breaker. I thought this was an upset special waiting to happen but the lefty Flores recovered from a game one loss 15-14 to take the match and on.
– #14 Valeria Centellas flipped the script from a few weeks back in Laurel and topped #19 Kelani Lawrence in a tie-breaker.
– #10 Brenda Laime Jalil trounced #23 Ana Gabriela Martínez 13,5 to move on in a pretty surprising result for me. I’d love to have seen this match to gauge whether Martinez is rusty, or if Laime played out of her mind.
– #18 Maria Renee Rodriguez got a solid win over #15 Erin Nocam (i.e. Erin Rivera)11-8 in the breaker. Really solid win for MRR, who was stuck on several straight one and dones in the past few pro events.

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In the 16s, a lot of upsets.
– In the 8/9 game, a tie-breaker. After losing the first game 15-1, Masiel Rivera Oporto rebounded to force a tiebreaker but eventually fell to #9 Jessica Parrilla. Parrilla closes the gap a bit on the #10 ranking on tour but probably cannot get there this season.
– #5 Rhonda Rajsich overcame a strong upset bid from lefty youngster #12 Flores before advancing in a tie-breaker.
– In the biggest upset of the round, veteran #13 Adriana Riveros took out #4 Natalia Mendez in two games 8,10. Mendez was all out of sorts on the match, really seemed off from the get-go and Riveros took full advantage. This loss may end up costing Mendez the #5 spot on tour as Rhonda’s result moves the two players basically even on ranking points.
– #3 Samantha Salas Solis had a pretty amazing turnaround in her match against junior phenom #14 Centellas. She dropped the first game 15-3 and was essentially getting beat with 3-shot rallies over and over (serve, return, kill). Then mid-way through the second she found the light and dominated from there out, winning the second game and eventually the tie-breaker 11-4. A common refrain in these recaps is the sudden loss of form for Salas this season; can she build on this rebound and move forward?
– #11 Carla Muñoz Montesinos gets her second win over a top-10 player on the season, coming from a game down to top the #6 seeded Mexican veteran Nancy Enriquez in a breaker. She advances to her second quarter of the season and faces a player she beat the last time they played.
– #10 Laime gets a walk-over over #7 Amaya Cris; I thought her name in the draw indicated that she was going to attempt to play through her injury, but instead it just indicated that her hand injury occurred too late to change the draw. Reports indicate that she’ll be out of action for 6 weeks, which may put her participation in April’s PARC championships at risk. Amaya has represented Colombia at every PARC event (save one) since 2008.

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In the Quarters, the three top seeds plus a surprise advanced.

– #1 Paola Longoria dominated #9 Jessica Parrilla in a rematch of last week’s Mexican National singles final 6,3 to move on.
– #2 Maria Jose Vargas blitzed past #10 Laime 1,9 to advance to the semis.
– #3 Samantha Salas Solis turned the tables on #11 Munoz from their last meeting, advancing in two games 10,6
– The big surprise of the round was #13 Riveros beating her second top-8 player in a row, moving past #5 Rhonda Rajsich Fan Club in two solid games 13,10. Riveros makes just her second ever pro semi final; the only other time was more than four years ago (Jan 2016 in Cincinnati).

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In the Semis
– #1 Longoria trounced #13 Riveros 4,1 to advance to the final. Its been nearly 3 years since Longoria failed to make a LPRT final and this tournament was no different.
– #3 Salas got a well-earned win over #2 Vargas to make her first final of the season. It was a streaky match, with Salas racing to a huge first game lead before Vargas took it, then Salas saving off match point against and gutting out a second game win. From there, Vargas’ spirit seemed broken and Salas cruised to a well earned win.

In the Finals, Salas hung with Longoria early, running out to a lead even, and had some wondering if it was an upset-special … then Longoria turned it on and cruised to an 8,3 win.

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Points Implications of results: There’s only two remaining LPRT stops on the schedule right now: a tier 1 in San Antonio.in April and a “super max” grand slam in Kansas in June. While there could be more events added last minute, based on the fact that there’s just 2 events left…
– Irrespective of results at the remaining 2 events, Paola has a large enough lead over #2 Vargas (782 points) that she has guaranteed the #1 year end spot. It will be her 11th year end title.
– Despite Salas’ win over Vargas here, she remains well behind Maria for #2. Far enough behind that the only way Salas could catch Vargas for #2 is if she wins both remaining events (worth 500+ points) and for Vargas to miss them. That seems pretty unlikely, so we’re ready to declare that Vargas has sewn up #2 on the season.
– Salas seems pretty locked into #3 as well; she’s got a huge lead to #4 that would take some unlikely scenarios to overcome.
– #5 and #6 on tour may flip b/c of this event: Rhonda and Natalia both have nearly identical points right now.
– #7 and #8 might flip as well: based on my records Mejia and Enriquez also have identical number of points right now.
– thanks to a relatively large points gulf between 10 and 11, it seems likely that the year end top 10 has been sewn up for all participants; its just a matter of the order in the latter half.

The only other significant moves in the rankings would be Riveros moving up one spot, and MRR moving up two spots thanks to their results on the weekend.

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Doubles review

Match report in the PRS database: http://rball.pro/352057

The top 2 seeds cruised to the final with little difficulty. There, the #1 seed continued their dominance over the doubles tour, beating the Argentines Vargas/Mendez in two. Longoria/Salas have never lost to Vargas/Mendez, and they continue the streak.

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Other Draws in Boston:
– Munoz topped MRR in the Women’s Open final
– Connecticut’s Jose Flores Jr. won a 20-man Open draw, topping Massachusetts’ Orlando Cabana in the final.

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Thanks for all the streaming on the weekend, especially from broadcasters Timothy Baghurst, great technical work and streaming graphics/replays by Jerry J Josey Jr., and mike work/tour leadership from Tj Baumbaugh.

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Next up on the schedule? we’ll publish wrap ups of the two IRT events that went on this past weekend tomorrow, then the IRT returns to Tier 1 action with the 35th annual Shamrock Shootout in Chicago next weekend.

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tags

LPRT
International Racquetball Federation – IRF
USA Racquetball
Federación Mexicana de Raquetbol
Federación Boliviana De Raquetbol – Febora
Federación Boliviana de Racquetball
Racquetball Colombia
Federacion Colombiana de Racquetball
Asociación Argentina de Racquetball
Federación Chilena Racquetball
Jugadores Racquetbol Guatemala

LPRT 2020 Boston Open Preview

2018 World Champ Ana Gabriela Martinez makes a rare LPRT appearance.

Hot on the heels of Mexican Nationals last weekend (which involved a good percentage of the current LPRT regular touring squad), the LPRT returns after a five week break in the schedule.

We’re in Boston this week for the 2020 Boston Open. The Boston Open first popped up on the schedule in Oct 2016, was held three years running, missed 2019 but its great to see them back on the schedule for 2020.

R2 Sports App link: https://www.r2sports.com/website/event-website.asp?TID=31948

24 Pros in the draw, a good sized draw and one of the bigger turnouts of the season so far. Notables playing this week include Amaya Cris, who just had hand surgery on her non-playing hand but will gut it out and play on the weekend. #12 Ana Laura Flores is here after curiously missing Mexican Nationals last week.

Notables missing this week: #4 Alexandra Herrera and #7 Montse Mejia. Herrera’s absence is odd; she has missed just two pro events in the last 5 seasons combined. Mejia continues to balance school and travel and probably could not miss two straight weeks of time.

From the 11-20 ranked players, only tour stalwart Adrienne Fisher Haynes is missing, meaning that the event is stacked, with 17 of the top 20 players present.

And, just to make this an even deeper draw, we have 2019 US champ Kelani Lawrence, the 2020 US qualifier champ Hollie Rae Scott, and 2018 World Champ Ana Gabriela Martínez making a rare appearance to make this one of the best LPRT draws in some time. All these top non-regular touring players will make the opening rounds brutal.

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Lets preview the singles draw. Here’s some notable qualifying matches that i’m looking forward to:

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In the 32s, here’s some matches to look for:

– #21 Scott versus #12 Flores: Great opener; Scott defeated Flores in the sole h2h match I have on record … in 2017. Flores started off the 2019-20 season with a bang, making the quarters, but has been one-and-done in 3 straight pro events since. Scott is hot (hey! I’m a poet and i didn’t even know it), is coming off a great showing in Tempe to take the qualifier title and essentially guarantee herself a spot on the US National team, and will be looking to make noise here. Look for Scott with the “upset” here.
– #13 Adriana Riveros vs #20 Susy Acosta; interesting match here; they met earlier this season and Acosta got the upset win, but otherwise Riveros has a ton of really solid wins lately on her resume. She was fantastic at the Pan Am Games in Lima, downing Centellas and Rajsich to make the semis. I’d favor Riveros here but the match-up with the veteran lefty may make for an upset as it did earlier this season.
– #14 Valeria Centellas vs #19 Kelani Lawrence; Centellas has raised some eyebrows on tour this year, with multiple wins over top 10players, but to get there in Boston she’ll have to go through a player who just topped her dominantly in a local event a month ago in Lawrence. This should be a really competitive match.
– #11 Carla Muñoz Montesinos vs #22 Lexi York; Munoz keeps climbing up the rankings on tour, now on the brink of the top 10. She’ll have a tough younger opponent in York to start her tournament this weekend.
– #10 Brenda Laime Jalil vs #23 Martinez: The presence of Martinez in the draw is the ultimate wild-card; when she’s playing regularly, she’s a top 4-5 player in the world and a threat to make the semis or better of any event she enters. But since “retiring” to go to school she’s played sporadically with mixed results. Here she runs into Laime, who has had a hit or miss season, missing more events than she’s played but making a quarter final in Virginia Beach in September. I think Martinez moves on here.
– #15 Erin Nocam vs #18 Maria Renee Rodriguez; An intriguing match between Rivera, the righy with an unconventional swing path and a number of solid wins this season, versus MRR, who seems stuck in a rut right now with five straight one-and-dones. I think Rivera moves on.

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Round of 16; here’s a look at the round as it may play out if my round of 32 predictions come to pass:
– #1 Paola Longoria vs #16 Sheryl Lotts; 9 times they’ve played, mostly in the 2012-13 time frame, Longoria is 9-0 against the American. Paola is fresh of a double win in Tijuana and hopefully shows no ill-effect of the nasty-looking turned ankle.
– #9 Jessica Parrilla vs #8 Masiel Rivera Oporto: Rivera unfortunately draws Parrilla, who took out defending Mexican champ Mejia en route to the final and qualified for the Mexican national team for the first time in years. Rivera beat Parrilla handily at the US Open earlier this season, but has suffered some early upsets since, while Jessica has been red-hot. Look for the upset here.
– #5 Rhonda Rajsich vs #22 Scott; Hollie didn’t have to play Rhonda at the doubles qualifier but won it by defeating the player who downed Rhonda in the final. Is it a changing of the guard in US Racquetball? Every time Rhonda does NOT win a title we have the same talk. But Scott is candidate 1-A right now to take over the mantle of the “Best American” based on results. This will be a good test for both player, and I think Scott moves on.
– #4 Natalia Mendez likely takes on #13 Riveros: a nice south american matchup; Mendez leads 4-1, Riveros beat her in jan 2019 but not since, and the matches are often close.
– #3 Samantha Salas Solis vs the Lawrence/Centellas winner: Salas has never lost to either player, and crushed Lawrence when they played in Greenville in January. Look for Salas to move on here in a close match.
– #6 Nancy Enriquez vs #11 Munoz: these two played three times in 2017, never since. Munoz has been creeping up the rankings, now sitting at #13 while Enriquez has been showing some vulnerabilities in earlier rounds this season. I think Munoz can get the upset here.
– #7 Amaya vs likely #23 Martinez: On paper Martinez is the better player, but she’s not playing full time. Meanwhile Amaya just had surgery and isn’t 100%. Not knowing just how sharp Martinez is … i’ll go out on a limb and predict the upset here.
– #2 Maria Jose Vargas Parada likely takes on #15 Rivera, in what I believe is a debut meeting for the two players. Vargas to move on.

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Projected Qtrs:
– #1 Longoria over #9 Parrilla: a rematch of last week’s Mexican National final, won by Longoria in two.
– #4 Mendez vs #22 Scott: these two are nearly the same age and have prior junior worlds meetings. But that was a while ago. I see a tough match here that could go either way, but I’ll go with the higher ranked Mendez to move on.
– #3 Salas vs #11 Munoz; if this meeting comes to pass, Munoz has a win already over Salas this season and should be able to repeat the feat. Salas took a slight knee knock last weekend; not sure if it was serious or not (it did not seem to affect her in the doubles final), but something to look out for.
– #2 Vargas vs #23 Martinez. Great match-up. They met at 2018 worlds (a Martinez win) and 2019 PARC (a Vargas tiebreaker win). I like Vargas here over the non-touring Martinez.

Semis:
– #1 Longoria over #4 Mendez; Natalia has never beaten the #1 player, and that won’t change here.
– #2 Vargas over #11 Munoz: Argentina vs Chile, a battle of two of the best Syrah-growing countries in the world. Oh, and two solid players. I have Vargas 8-0 lifetime over Munoz in pro and IRF competitions; she makes it 9-0 here.

Finals: #1 over #2 Longoria over Vargas.

6 of the first 7 finals this season have been Longoria v Vargas, might as well make it 7 of 8.

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Doubles review

13 teams entered. Some interesting teams this time around trying to dethrone Longoria/Salas. We have a number of internationally flavored teams: the #2 Argentinian national team pairing of Vargas/Mendez, a promising all-american team of #6 Lawrence/Lotts, the Guatemalan national team #9 Martinez/Rodriguez, and an interesting “all veteran” team of Rajsich/Acosta, with more than 40-years of pro experience between them. One last team of note: María Paz Riquelme steps in for Amaya to partner with Riveros this time around; Riquelme and I used to play at the same club in Arlington VA. If you’re reading this Maria … hello!

In the end, I’m going with the #1 team to prevail over the #2 Argentines in the final.

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Look for Streaming in the regular places; follow the LPRT on facebook and sign up to get notifications when they go Live.
Look for Timothy Baghurst], Jerry J Josey Jr., JP Edwards and Tj Baumbaugh on the mike, calling the shots!

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LPRT
International Racquetball Federation – IRF
USA Racquetball
Federación Mexicana de Raquetbol
Federación Boliviana De Raquetbol – Febora
Federación Boliviana de Racquetball
Racquetball Colombia
Federacion Colombiana de Racquetball
Federación Costarricense de Racquetball
Asociación Argentina de Racquetball
Federación Chilena Racquetball
Jugadores Racquetbol Guatemala

Copa Mexico 2020 Preview

Beltran is the #1 seed; can he make the team in 2020? Photo US Open 2019 via Photographer Kevin Savory

Its time for one of my favorite tournaments of the year; Its the 2020 Campeonato Nacional Selectivo de Raquetbol. This year the event is being held in Tijuana, not one of the hotbeds of racquetball in the country like San Luis Potosi and Chihuahua, which will be an interesting home-town advantage for some Tijuana based players and may also explain the dip in attendance from last year’s event.

There’s 26 in the Men’s open draw and 15 in the Women’s open: compare this to last year’s Nationals event in Chihuahua; 34 in Men’s Open, 19 in Women’s. Nonetheless, the draws are stacked and nearly every round of 16 match on the Men’s side (and all the quarters on the women’s side) are “back end of the tournament” pro-quality match-ups.

r2sports.com link:
https://www.r2sports.com/tourney/home.asp?TID=31821

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Lets preview the Men’s Singles draw.

First, some interesting players missing, and some similarly interesting players entered. First off, the elephant in the room; as most of the rball world knows, former Mexican #1 Alex Landa is not here; he entered (and won) US National Doubles a few weeks ago after having asked for his release from the Mexican team mid last year in the wake of the Pan Am Games Team selection controversy. So in his place, last year’s finalist Álvaro Beltrán ascends to the #1 seed in this draw.

We also see that Sebastian ‘Patata’ Fernandez is entered here, and specifically did NOT enter US National doubles a few weeks back. Fernandez (like Landa) has dual citizenship and has represented both US and Mexico in years past. However in a 3-week span in 2019 he played in both US national doubles and in Mexico National doubles, prompting some eligibility and access questions. No such issues this year.

Other notables missing: Ernesto Ochoa misses the event; he was the #11 seed last year. No Jaime Martell Neri here this year; he lost in the 16s last year and had a great run at the 2019 US Open. The draw also misses frequently seen players such as Jordy Alonso, former junior phenom David Ortega, last year’s #7 seed Edson Martinez and two of the top juniors in the land Emir Martinez and Jose Ramos.

Here’s some matches to watch:

In the 32s, there’s 10 matches, many involving top touring IRT pros. I don’t see much in the way of upset potential, but here’s a couple of interesting play-ins:

– @Miguel Rodriguez Jr. will give #9 Andree Parrilla (current #5 ranked IRT pro) an early run for his money.
– Mexican 18U top player Manuel Moncada faces off against Daniel Rodriguez.
– Mexican 18U reigning champ Sebastian Fernandez will face last year’s 16U finalist Erick Trujillo
– Two of the top players in 16U last year face off for a shot at #3 Natera in Sebastian Longoria and Guillermo Ortega. I like Ortega in his home town here even if there’s little between these two players.

The fireworks start in the 16s.
– #1 Beltran likely gets his tourney started against #17 IRT regular Erick Cuevas.
– #9 Parrilla likely takes on #8 Christian Longoria in a battle of SLP tour regulars.
– #5 Gerardo Franco Gonzalez gets zero favors from the draw, likely having to face an underseeded #12 Javier Estrada. Estrada has been giving the IRT a go this season and has a couple of solid wins, but no breakthroughs past the round of 16 yet. But we know what he’s capable of given his win last summer at the Black Gold cup. Franco has proven to be a tough out at times, with a quarter final appearance in the most recent IRT stop.
– #4 Javier Mar likely takes on the junior Moncada in the 16s here.
– #3 Alan Natera Chavez will kick off his latest Nationals event likely against the young Ortega, who will be spirited in defeat.
– #6 Former WRT #1 Alex Cardona gets a brutal opener against #11 Fernandez. I still think the part-time tournament player Cardona is the better player, but Fernandez has been improving and looked tough earlier this year. This could be a statement win for either player, and could go down to the wire in the breaker.
– #7 Rodrigo Montoya Solís] takes on #10 Lalo Portillo in another fantastic round of 16 match. Montoya crushed Portillo in Portland in December, but it was Portillo making a final in Sioux Falls a couple months later. its odd to see Montoya seeded 7th here, considering the fact that he’s the defending Pan Am Games and World Singles champ. He’ll have his work cut out for him again to make the team here unless we see more chicanery from the federation (see Landa, Alex).
– #2 Daniel De La Rosa will face a relative unknown (to me) either way to get his nationals tourney started; it should serve as a great warm-up for his brutal projected quarter final match. Read on.

Projected Quarters:
– #1 Beltran over #8 Parrilla. I know Parrilla finished last year higher than the elder Beltran, but he’s going through a really tough stretch. Andree lost three straight IRT round of 16 matches while Beltran held serve and eventually jumped him in the rankings last month. Beltran is 6-4 over Andree in their career, and i like Alvaro to rise to the challenge in his home town to move on.
– #4 Mar over #12 Estrada; in a battle of Javiers, i give Mar the upper hand. Estrada beat Mar h2h twice in two RKT events in Dec, but Mar gets up for these national events and I think handles Estrada.
– #6 Cardona over #3 Natera; yes I know Natera has made the semis in this event two years running with a slew of upsets. I like Cardona here if he can get past the bulked up Fernandez.
– #2 DLR over #7 Montoya: this is a rematch of the 2018 Nationals final AND the 2018 Selection event final. But its DLR who has had the upper hand in this rivalry lately, winning their last 3 meetings and 4 of 5. Some of their matches have been close … but often DLR really dominates Montoya, including a 1,4 stomping in the semis of the 2019 Lewis Drug. I think DLR builds off of some great recent results on tour and moves on here.

Great projected quarter finals here: it includes potentially four of the current IRT top ten players and another 2-3 players who are top 10 quality.

My semis:
– Mar over Beltran; if Mar gets to this point, I like his chances of taking out Beltran. Mar faced Beltran in the semis of the 2016 Mexican Nationals event and topped him then, and I like him to move to the final here.
– DLR over Cardona: Cardona’s run ends at the hands of DLR, who can handle his power and will outlast him from a fitness perspective on the court at the end-game. These two faced off in last year’s nationals in the quarters, and DLR advanced in a tie-breaker. I see a similar result here.

Final: DLR over Mar, a rematch of the 2016 National final also won by Daniel. DLR returns to the title seat of Mexican racquetball.

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Women’s singles draw preview;

15 women in the draw. All the major LPRT touring pros are present, meaning the quarters on should be action packed.

Notables missing:no Ana Laura Flores here after she dominated the Mexican 18U event last year. Also missing are periodic LPRT players like Montserrat Pérez, Denisse Maldonado, Eleni Guzman Velgis, Diana Aguilar, and Sofia Rascon (who I don’t have any tourney results for in more than two years now).

Round of 16s to watch for:
– #5 Nancy Enriquez takes on #12 Lucia Gonzalez in an upset-special. Gonzalez made the semis of the 2018 Mexican Nationals (she also made the semis of 2015 version just after graduating juniors), but missed 2019 so she gets a bottom seed. Nonetheless, she’s proven her ability to beat top LPRT players and Nancy should be on the watch here. I’m going to go with the upset; there’s always a 12 seed beating a 5-seed, right NCAA fans?
– #4 Alexandra Herrera takes on the 14U phenom Angela Veronica Ortega. Ortega was the 14U finalist in 2019 in Mexico, then made the Junior worlds 14U final as well. She’ll be playing in her home town against the touring pro Herrera.
– #10 Erin Rivera takes on the 2018 Mexican 16U champ Maria Gutierrez in the opener.

Projected quarters:
– #1 and defending champ Montse Mejia likely takes on Jessica Parrilla in a pretty tough quarter for the #1 seed. Mejia has never beaten Parrilla … but they also havn’t played since 2017, which means they havn’t played post knee injury. Parrilla continues to struggle to get back to her former lofty ranking; the talent pool is deeper and she has had really rough luck running into top players early in these draws. I think Mejia moves on but it could be a nail-biter tie-breaker.
– #12 Gonzalez takes on #4 Herrera; These two are familiar foes; they’re the same age and played on the junior circuit frequently, often in junior national finals. The last time they played was 2018 Mexican Nationals, a straight-forward 2-game win for Gonzalez. I’ll predict another upset.
– #3 Samantha Salas Solis vs #6 Susy Acosta Racquetball; Salas has really struggled on tour this season, but I don’t see her losing to the veteran Acosta at this stage. These two veterans have played more than a few times so they’ll know each other’s game well.
– #2 Paola Longoria who must feel odd not being seeded #1 in an event for the first time in perhaps a decade or so, likely faces up and coming LPRT player Rivera at this stage. Longoria is on a mission and isn’t stopping till she gets to the final.

My semis:
– Mejia over Gonzalez to end the run
– Longoria over her doubles partner Salas

Final: Longoria re-takes the title and downs Mejia in two quick games in similar fashion to their past few pro meetings.

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Doubles preview:

In the Men’s doubles, 13 teams headlined by two of the best doubles teams out there in the top 2 seeds. DLR/Beltran were upset in the semis last year and slip to the #2 seed, while Montoya/Mar are the defending champs and #1 seed. Despite the seeding, DLR/Beltran have never lost as a team to the Montoya/Mar team, so if seeds hold expect DLR/Beltran to retain the title.

Standing in their way are a couple of intriguing teams: #6 Portillo/Parrilla are a frequent pairing on the IRT and could make for an edgy semi against the veterans. The #4 seeds of Estrada/Natera are a frequent pairing that could make noise … but they face a dark-horse in #12 Franco/Cardona, an intriguing pairng that includes the very talented doubles player in Cardona.

In the Women’s doubles draw there’s 8 teams entered but really only 2 teams to talk about: the #1 seeded Longoria/Salas team is one of the most decorated doubles teams of all time, but the #2 seeded team of Mejia/Herrera has been pushing into their territory, taking a couple of pro doubles titles already this season, including the US Open title. Expect #1 vs #2 and for the Longoria/Salas team to push for the win and the international representation spot.

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Streaming options: there’s usually good streaming of these events, by following FMR or RKT on facebook and by following the specific players’ pages.

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Federación Mexicana de Raquetbol
RKT
International Racquetball Tour
International Racquetball Federation – IRF
LPRT

2020 LPRT Sweet Caroline Wrap-Up

Longoria the double winner on the weekend again. Photo US Open 2019, Photographer Kevin Savory

Congrats to your winners on the weekend:
– Singles: Paola Longoria
– Doubles: Paola Longoria/Samantha Salas

Longoria dominates the competition, never giving up more than 8 points in a game on the weekend to cruise to her 97th career tier-1 title. And, the #1 doubles pairing holds serve against the upstart Mejia/Herrera duo to take the title.

R2 Sports App home page for event: https://www.r2sports.com/portfolio/r2-event.asp?TID=31722

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Lets review the notable matches in the Singles draw.

Singles Match report in the PRS database: http://rball.pro/8DECFC

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In the 32s:

– #12 Jessica Parrilla made a statement in her win over junior Bolivian Angelica Barrios – Raquetbolista, winning the first game 15-1 and holding on 15-12 in the second.
– Good friends and doubles partners Ana Laura Flores and Erin Nocam (Erin Rivera) battled it out in a tie-breaker, with Rivera advancing.
– #22 Susy Acosta Racquetball got a solid win over tour vet Adriana Riveros Racquetball 7,12 to advance into the 16s for the 2nd time this season.
– #23 Valeria Centellas got the better of #10 Masiel Rivera Oporto for the second week in a row, earning the upset win to move into the 16s.
– #15 Sheryl Lotts got a hard-earned tie-breaker win over #18 Guatemalan Maria Renee Rodriguez to move on.

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In the 16s:
– #9 Montse Mejia took out #8 Cristina Amaya Cassino in a tight 14,9 match, as one would expect in the 8/9 meeting.
– #12 Leona Parrilla took #5 Natalia Mendez to the brink, nearly pulling off the upset before Mendez advanced 11-8.
– #23 Vale Centellas RaquetBol made short work of #7 Nancy Enriquez, dominating to win 7,5 and move into the quarters for the second time this season. She’s a force to be reckoned with.

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In the Quarters:
– #1 Paola Longoria dominated her young Mexican rival #9 Montse Mejia 3,8 to move into the semis. More and more Mejia’s win over Longoria at the 2019 Mexican Nationals is looking like a fluke; Longoria has beaten Montse the last three times they’ve played on tour by the score lines 5,6 then 2,6 and today 3,8.
– #4 Alexandra Herrera needed a tie-breaker to get past #5 Natalia Mendez Erlwein in what could be an interesting budding rivalry.
– #6 Rhonda Rajsich became the latest player to get an upset win over #3 Samantha Salas Solis this season, taking out her long-time rival in a breaker by the slimmest of margins 11-10. Salas has now been beaten prior to the finals in all six of this season’s events she’s entered; last season she played 9 events and made 9 finals.
– #2 Maria Jose Vargas Parada was pressed in game one by the junior phenom Centellas (now officially her country-woman having made the switch to represent Argentina), but pulled away to win in two.

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In the Semis
– Longoria continued to dominate in Greenville, beating #4 Herrera in two games 3,7 to return to the final.
– Rajsich pushed Vargas to the breaker and looked for a moment like she could get to a final for the first time since June 2017 … but ran out of gas in the breaker.

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In the Finals, we get the 5th final between Longoria and Vargas on the season. The first four were Longoria wins … and we got another Longoria win here too. Paola dominated the #2 player on tour to win 5,6 for the singles title.

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Points Implications of results: there’s definitely some interesting movement in the rankings as a result of this event.

– The top 1-6 stay the same, and in the same order. Longoria treads water in that she’s the defending champ, while Vargas gains on her and Salas loses more ground. Vargas now has a large enough lead on Salas that it likely is impossible for Samantha to regain #2 this season.
– Despite her run to the semis, Rhonda actually loses ground to Mendez for #5 thanks to Rajsich having to defend semis points from last year.
– The big news is that Enriquez has been knocked from the #7 perch that she’s held for quite a while. Mejia has moved up to #7, which means that she avoids Longoria in the quarters and could have deeper implications for draws going forward. This also bumps Amaya to #9, which is less impactful to her in that 8-9 still plays into #1.
– Parrilla has now ascended to #11; its been a long grind for her attempting to get back her top 4 ranking, due partly to unlucky play-in matches and partly to increased depth on tour. But every tick up in rankings means a slightly “easier” round of 16 for her, and more opportunities for her to get deeper into events.
– Munoz makes a big jump from 18 to 13, and will continue to rise since she played no events in the 2nd half of last season, meaning every point earned is a net point gained on the rest of the field. I could see her getting up as high as #11 by the end of the season, but it’d be tough to get much higher thanks to a points gulf from 11 to 10 on tour.
– Centellas continues her meteoric rise; last week she was ranked 25th, now she’s 16th. She started the season outside the top 30. And she’s proving that her results are no mistake, taking down multiple top 10 players along the way.

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Doubles review

Match report in the PRS database: http://rball.pro/6F84A6

In doubles, the all-Bolivian junior team of Barrios/Centellas upset the 5th and 4th seeds to advance to the semi; there they joined the top 3 seeded teams.

We got the expected all-Mexican final, though this time the #1 team Longoria/Salas held serve in a tiebreaker to take the title over #3 Mejia/Herrera

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Other Draw results:

– In Women’s Open, Carla Muñoz Montesinos took a solid win, downing Amaya in the semis and Kelani Lawrence in the finals.

– In Men’s Open, Maurice Miller downed fellow Georgia native Austin Cunningham in the final.

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Next up? the LPRT has a break until Boston the first weekend in March.

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tags

LPRT
International Racquetball Federation – IRF
International Racquetball Federation
USA Racquetball
Racquetball Canada
Federación Mexicana de Raquetbol
Federación Boliviana De Raquetbol – Febora
Federación Boliviana de Racquetball
Racquetball Colombia
Federacion Colombiana de Racquetball
Asociación Argentina de Racquetball
Federación Chilena Racquetball
Jugadores Racquetbol Guatemala

LPRT 2020 Sweet Caroline Grand Slam Preview

World Junior 18U champ Barrios travels to compete in the Sweet Caroline. Photo via Barrios’ facebook page.

The LPRT is back in action, with its annual Sweet Caroline event in Greenville, SC. Once again this event is a Grand Slam event, which means more points, more money and a deeper draw. This event also features a banquet (held last night) where the players fly in early to support a great local cause in Safe Harbor (see LPRT’s page for more, or visit https://safeharborsc.org/).

R2 Sports App link: https://www.r2sports.com/website/event-website.asp?TID=31722

There’s 26 ladies in this draw, making it the 3rd largest draw of the season. More importantly is the depth of the draw; just one player in the top 20 is missing (Colombian #12 Brenda Laime Jalil). We also have some tough players in the 20-30 range making the trip from abroad and making the opening round one full of top match-ups.

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Lets preview the draw. Play kicks off bright and early 9am Friday, so by the time you read this it probably is already underway!.

Here’s some notable qualifying matches that i’m looking forward to:

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In the 32s:

– #13 Ana Laura Flores vs #20 Erin Rivera: great first rounder; Groves already has two top-10 upsets on her resume this season, and these two met in Chicago in November with Rivera getting an 11-8 upset win. Expect a close match here again and another upset.

– #12 Jessica Parrilla vs #21 Angelica Barrios – Raquetbolista; tough match for the traveling Bolivian, the reigning 18U world champion. I see this as an interesting clash of styles; Parrilla plays fast and powerful, Barrios plays tactically and deliberate. Parrilla has had some recent success in rebuilding her former top-4 ranking, but will be made to work for it here.

– #15 Sheryl Lotts] vs #18 Maria Renee Rodriguez; these two have played a few times professionally and internationally over the years, always going to tiebreakers. MRR got a win at 2018 Worlds, their most recent known meeting. But Lotts has been improving all season, losing an 11-10 heart-breaker to Enriquez at the last pro stop. Expect Lotts win a breaker here.

– #10 Masiel Rivera Oporto vs #23 Valeria Centellas: Centellas is on an extended tour of the US, and played in the Wintergreen event last on Rivera’s home courts, where they met and Centellas got the win. Now they meet less than a week later in a grand slam. The 18yr old Centellas is a dangerous player with growing power and accuracy, and I like her for the upset here.

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Projecting the round of 16: I see a few notable matches to watch for in the 16s.

– #1 Paola Longoria over #17 Carla Muñoz Montesinos; Munoz runs into the world #1 too early despite her improving play as of late.
– 8/9 is always a tough match: this time it likely features Montse Mejia versus Cristina Amaya Cassino]. I like Mejia to advance but for Amaya to keep it close.
– Expect a tight match between the winner of the Parrilla/Barrios match and #5 Natalia Mendez. I like Parrilla to get the better of Mendez here, after losing a tight match to the Argentine earlier this season. But Mendez has shown she can beat both players, so anything goes.
– #4 Alexandra Herrera could face a tricky opponent if Rivera advances, or face a rare lefty if Flores advances. She’s never lost to either and should advance.
– #3 Samantha Salas Solis returns after missing an event and likely gets a dangerous opponent in reigning US National champion Kelani Lawrence], who just topped both Rivera and Centellas in a local event in Maryland and reached the quarters of the Florida event.
– #6 Rhonda Rajsich faces off against #11 Adriana Riveros Racquetball, a battle of two international vets who have played each other in IRF events frequently. Riveros won their last meeting, her first in this h2h series; can she get an upset here?
– #7 Nancy Enriquez is the likely unlucky opponent of #23 Centellas; this will be a hard-hitting battle that I think the young Bolivian, increasingly gaining confidence against top pros, can win.
– #2 Maria Jose Vargas Parada gets her tourney started against the Lotts/MRR winner; she’ll be favored but Lotts in particular has been playing top players tough all season.

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Projected Qtrs:

– #1 Longoria over Mejia: despite seeds two of the top four women in the world, but Longoria has the upper hand on the pro ranks.
– #4 Herrera over #12 Parrilla; I don’t think Parrila is ready to take this step yet.
– #3 Salas handles #6 Rajsich
– #2 Vargas ends the run of the youngster #23 Centellas.

Semis:
– Longoria over Herrera
– Vargas over Salas

Finals
– Longoria over Vargas for the 5th time this season in a final.

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Doubles review

There’s 12 teams in the doubles draw, and with Salas’ return the regular #1 pairing is back intact. In fact, the top 4 seeded teams are now the regular top 4 teams we frequently see advancing in these tournament and the semis and finals of LPRT doubles are becoming increasingly more compelling.

Interesting entries include the all-junior Bolivian team of Centellas/Barrios and the Colombian national doubles team of Riveros/Amaya getting back together.

I like the Bolivians to upset Parrilla/Enriquez in the quarters, and for Herrera/Mejia to upset the #2 Argentine national team in the semis to get a frequent repeated all-Mexican finals match-up.

Prediction: Herrera/Mejia take out Longoria/Salas in the final.

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Look for Streaming in the regular places; can’t wait for this event! Look for Timothy Baghurst], Jerry J Josey Jr., JP Edwards (with ties to my home town!) and Tj Baumbaugh on the mike, calling the shots!

Tags

LPRT
International Racquetball Federation – IRF
USA Racquetball
Racquetball Canada
Federación Mexicana de Raquetbol
Federación Boliviana De Raquetbol – Febora
Federación Boliviana de Racquetball
Racquetball Colombia
Federacion Colombiana de Racquetball
Asociación Argentina de Racquetball
Federación Chilena Racquetball
Jugadores Racquetbol Guatemala

28th Annual LPRT Christmas Classic Preview

World Champ Ana Gabriela Martinez makes a rare LPRT appearance.

Here we are; its the last domestic pro tournament of the calendar year. And the LPRT is back at a frequent location, the Sportfit Laurel club in Laurel MD for 28th annual running of this event.

R2 Sports App link for the event: https://www.r2sports.com/website/event-website.asp?TID=31661

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 JalilAna 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:
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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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LPRT
Jugadores Racquetbol Guatemala
USA Racquetball
Racquetball Canada
Federación Mexicana de Raquetbol
Asociación Argentina de Racquetball
Federacion Colombiana de Racquetball
International Racquetball Federation – IRF

LPRT 28th Turkey Shootout Wrap-up

Longoria with the double this weekend Photo via Fran Davis Racquetball

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.

r2sports link for the event: https://www.r2sports.com/website/event-website.asp?TID=31372

Here’s a quick wrap-up of the Singles draw, with notable results by round:

PRS Match Report: http://rball.pro/D3B284

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.

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Doubles wrap-up.

PRS match report: http://rball.pro/53132B

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.

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we’ll do a quick wrap up of the Men’s IRT Tier 5 event in a separate post.

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LPRT
USA Racquetball
Federación Mexicana de Raquetbol
Federación Boliviana de Racquetball
Fecoracquet Fecoracquet
Asociación Argentina de Racquetball

2019 World Juniors Preview

Welcome to the biggest stages for Juniors every year; its World Juniors. Every country in the IRF can send two representatives to compete for the title of Junior World champion.

Click here for a Matrix of all past World Junior Boys titlists: http://rball.pro/043BA8
Click here for the same for Girls: http://rball.pro/BCE571

Draws for the Round Robins are now available via www.internationalracquetball.com, with RRs having started Saturday morning 11/9/19.

The structure of the event is as follows: several days of round robin competition, with pre-tournament seeds dictated by last year’s results-by-country (in other words, if a Mexican 18U boy won last year, which is what happened with Lalo Portillo took out countryman Sebastian Fernandez in the Boys 18U final, then Mexico would be seeded #1 in this RR draw, which is the case this year as we’ll discuss).

Once the RRs are complete, then the draw is re-seeded based on the results of each RR group and a knockout competition is played to its completion a week from today, Saturday.

In this post, we’ll preview the big names to watch for, then we’ll do another “preview” predicting the knockout draw. Thanks to the late release of the draw, some of these key RR match-ups may have already happened.

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Boys 18U:

18 players in the 18U boys draw.

Top seeds: #1 Emir Martinez (Mex), #2 Gerson Miranda Martinez (Bolivia), #3 Jose Carlos Ramos (Mexico) and #4 Charlie Chavez (Bolivia). In 2019, the semis were both Mexican players and both Bolivian players, hence the top four seeds here.

Unfortunately, this draw is significantly weaker than it should be: presumptive top 18U player in the world Fernandez (last
year’s runner-up, the reigning 18U Mexican junior champ and currently ranked 16th on the IRT who just made the quarters at the US Open) is not present. Nor is US 18U champ Antonio Rojas, who announced his decision not to attend this event earlier this year.

Emir Martinez was the losing Mexican finalist and ascends to the #1 seed here, but you have to think Miranda (who made the semis last year as a 17yr old) is the favorite in this draw. USA’s two representatives are seeded 5th and 7th in Micah Farmer and Ben Baron respectively, and they’ll have their work cut out for them in the knockouts if seeds hold. Baron in particular has a nice chance of improving his seed in the RRs; he has a group with 4th overall seed Bolivian Chavez, who is newer to this stage and gets in by virtue of Garcia’s absence. #3 Ramos was last year’s losing 16U finalist and could be a sneaky force here to watch for.

One last post-publishing correction: I had thought mistakenly that Diego Garcia Quispe​ was missing from the draw; upon looking closer he’s there … he’s seeded dead last 18th out of 18 and is representing his new country. Garcia is the reigning 16U world junior champ and switched countries this year; he’s going to be a force in this event and I wouldn’t put it past him to make the final and face off against his former country-man Miranda.

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Girls 18U

There’s 13 players in the 18U Girls draw.

tops Seeds: #1 Maria Gutierrez (Mexico), #2 Nikita Chauhan (USA), #3 Ana Rivera (Mexico) and #4 Graci Wargo (USA). Both the Bolivian players are outside the top 4 ( Angelica Barrios and Valeria Centellas).

A big changing of the guard in 18U from last year, when two of the world’s best young players ( Montse Mejia and Ana Gabriela Martinez) met in a final that looked more like the back end of a pro event than a junior title.

Missing from this draw is the USA 18U champ from earlier this summer Briana Jacquet, who won the title w/o dropping a game. And also missing is the Mexican 18U champ Ana Laura Flores Saavedra, who beat Gutierrez 1,1 in the Mexican 18U final. So like with the Boys, we’re missing both the reigning Mexican and USA champ from this draw.

I have to question the seeds in this draw. I fail to understand why neither of the Bolivians are seeded in the top 4, based on Barrios’ 2018 performance (she was the #2 seed last year and made the semis). Both the Bolivian players entered here have made serious impressions in major pro events: Centellas lost 11-9 in the 5th to eventual Bolivian Grand Slam winner Maria Jose Vargas Parada and is the current reigning World Doubles champion, while Barrios made the semis in that same event, defeating two current LPRT top-8 pros in the process.

Going into this RR stage, I think both under-seeded Bolivians (seeded 5th and 7th respectively) will be forces to reckon with. Centellas is in #2 Chauhan’s group and could easily be #2 in the knockouts, while Barrios may very well upset Wargo in their group to improve her knockout seeding as well. The first couple of days of knockouts here will be telling. Gutierrez is last year’s losing 16U world junior finalist and has the chops to compete but I think she’ll fall before the final.

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Boys 16U

18 boys in this draw.

Top seeds: #1 Sebastian Longoria (Mex), #2 Hector Barrios (Bol), #3 Aldo Caraveo (Mex) and #4 Adrian Jaldin (Bol). As with the Boys 18U, all four top seeds from Mexico or Bolivia. But the next 4 seeded players all come from either Ecuador or USA, thanks to strong showings in last year’s 16U event.

Mexico’s 16U finalist Erick Trujillo and USA’s 16U champion Rojas (also the 18U winner) miss this event, weakening the draw. But Longoria and Jaldin (who made the semis last year) should be strong candidates to make the final. USA’s entries Andrew Gleason and Timmy Hansen should prove tough outs too: Gleason made the world 14U final last year, and Hansen won USA 14U last year.

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Girls 16U

17 girls in the draw.

Top seeds: #1 Guadalupe Griffin (Mex), #2 Michaela Meneses, #3 Ximena Martinez (Mex) and #4 Fernanda Mendez (Bol).

The two top Mexican seeds were the 16U finalists this year. #2 seed Meneses was last year’s 14U winner and is a strong candidate to take the title here. Also in this draw: #6 Maricruz Ortiz, who made the final last year in 16U yet somehow only rates a #6 seed; rough path for the seeds in her way. USA 16U champ Annie Roberts is seeded 9th, probably a bit low. Missing is USA’s Heather Mahoney, who was the work 14U runner up and 16U USA runner-up (she’s competing only in 14Us at worlds); she’s replaced in the 16U draw by Erin Slutzky, seeded 11th.

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Notables in the younger draws:

– In Boys 14U #1 Nikhil Prasad and his countrymate #3 Vedant Chauhan both just competed ably in the IRT Tier 4 Bay club open pro tournament; they run a good chance of meeting again in the final. Standing in the way though are a couple of solid Bolivian juniors (as always) and #5 seed Luis Renteria, who just made the semis of the IRT Tier 5 Bi-national event in El Paso.

– In Girls 14U, Heather Mahoney goes for her 3rd junior world title since 2015.

– In Boys 12U, both the 2017 and 2018 Boys 10U world champions are in the draw, both from Mexico in Eder Renteria and Sebastian Ruelas. Neither is the #1 seed; that goes to American Joseph Marshall.

– In Girls 12U: 2017 10U world champ American Sonia Shetty is the #2 seed behind Mexico’s Fernanda Trujillo.

– In Boys and Girls 10U, the draw is dominated by Bolivians and Mexicans, all new to the world Junior stage.

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Word on the street is that streaming won’t officially start til the knockouts; we’ll be on the lookout for parents and associations doing streaming on the side. As always, follow the Facebook group “live streaming of Racquet sports” for notifications.

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

US Open LPRT Women’s Pro Singles round of 32 and 16s review

Mejia an upset winner into the quarters of the US Open. Photo unk.

we’re catching up on the LPRT action from yesterday; here’s a review of the 32s and 16s.

In the 32s, here was the notable results for me:

– #17 Adrienne Fisher Haynes took out #16 Sheryl Lotts in a tie-breaker for a surprising result (for me). Haynes turns the tide on Lotts from the last time they played at the 2018 Nationals and moves on.

– #9 Masiel Rivera Oporto made a statement with a dominant win over #24 Jessica Parrilla 8,4. I thought this was an upset special; instead it was a dominant performance by Rivera, who continues to impress this season and is racing up the LPRT rankings.

– Big upset by #25 Erin Rivera who took out #8 Amaya Cris in two close games 13,13.

– #12 Montse Mejia defeated #21 Maria Renee Rodriguez 12,4 to move on. Credit to MRR for staying in game one against a tough opponent, but Mejia ran away in game two.

– #20 Carla Muñoz Montesinos got a great result, topping #13 Ana Laura Flores Saavedra in a tie-breaker to move on. She’ll get her second lefty in a row later this afternoon in the 16s.

– #14 Frédérique Lambert vs #19 Angelica Barrios went as close as it could go, with Lambert squeaking by in two games over the Bolivian youngster 14,13.

– #6 Natalia Mendez Erlwein dominated #27 Bolivian Jenny Daza Navia 4,3 to move on. No hiccup here for Mendez; she kept the pressure on Daza relentlessly and controlled the match from the start.

– #11 Adriana Riveros Racquetball dominated #22 Kelani Lawrence 6,12 in a somewhat surprising result to me. Lawrence played Vargas really tight in Chesapeake but couldn’t get anything going against the Colombian on this day.

– #7 Nancy Enriquez took on #26 Hollie Rae Scott in a tense, contested match that was tight all the way through. Enriquez fought off game-point against in game two when it was looking like this might go tie-breaker and won 12,14 to advance. Not much between these two players on the day.

– #10 Brenda Laime Jalil was taken out in two straight forward games by #23 Michelle De La Rosa.

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16s Review

– #1 Paola Longoria dominated #17 Haynes to move into the quarters.

– #9 Rivera held on and ousted upset-minded #25 Groves in a tie-breaker to move into just her fifth ever career quarter final.

– #12 Mejia wiped out #5 Rhonda Rajsich 6,8 in a match that seemed to take about 15 minutes. Mejia showed the whole arsenal today; power drive serves, touch in the front court, rally control, and Rhonda couldn’t get anything going. Mejia plays fast, Rhonda couldn’t slow her down and she looks pretty focused for this event.

– #4 Alexandra Herrera ended #20 Munoz’ run, taking a close first game then moving on in two 13,8.

– #3 Maria Jose Vargas dominated former world number two and #14 seed Lambert 4,9; we heard during the match that Lambert was working in the ER til 2am on the day of hte match, caught a same-day flight then played two pro matches. Yeah; i think we understand why she may have lost to one of the best players in the world.

– #6 Mendez showed some mettle and outlasted #11 Riveros in a tiebreaker to setup yet another showdown in the quarters of a pro event against her doubles partner Vargas.

– #7 Enriquez got a solid win over outdoor specialist #23 Michelle De la Rosa, who pushed her to 11-7 in the breaker but held on.

– In the dominant performance of the day, #2 Samantha Salas Solis made a statement by downing 2018 world champ #18 Ana Gabriela Martínez12,4. Salas has been “upset” early in both pro events so far this season and faced a stiff challenge here, but she made a statement in this win.

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16s seed review: 1,2,3,4,5,6,7 (seven of the top eight), then 9,11,12,14,17,18,20,23 … only one qualifier in #25 Groves into the 16s.

Then, the seeds into the qtrs: 1,9,12,4,3,6,7,2; mostly chalk, with #9 and #12 breaking in.

Quarters Nationalities represented: 5 mexicans, 2 Argentinians, 1 Bolivian.

Same question for the men; is this the first time a US Open has not featured a single American into the quarters? here’s the QSF report by Nationality for LPRT: http://rball.pro/032ACA

Answer: yes it is the first time the US Open has not featured an American into at least the qtrs. It has happened multiple times before though (a LPRT event w/o an American into the quarters) before this; first time was Nov 2016 in Monterrey.

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

Paola Longoria Experience Wrap-up

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

Congrats to your winners on the weekend:

Singles: Paola Longoria
Doubles: Monserrat Mejia & Alexandra Herrera

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Doubles review:

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

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

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

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

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

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