IRT 2019-20 Season Complete: Year End Rankings Analysis Part 1

Kane secures his 14th career pro title. Photo US Open 2019, Photographer Kevin Savory

The realities of the Covid-19 pandemic have come home for both pro tours at this point; the IRT, which held out hope that its last scheduled Tier 1 could be held in June has made the decision to officially end the season.

The rolling 12-month points for the players were frozen on 4/1/20 and remain frozen now; they’re now the season ending points. The tour made the decision not to penalize players with expiring points where there were no tournaments to play in which to make them up from Mid-March til now. Once the tour starts up again, we’ll see all the last few month’s of older points expire, making for an interesting start to next season. More on that in Aug/Sept.

With this post, the 2019-20 season ending rankings have been officially updated to the database. All relevant data has been loaded and all relevant links have been updated.

– 2019-20 year-end points in the system: http://rball.pro/B8C116
– Year End Pro titles list: https://www.proracquetballstats.com/irt/year_end_titles.html
– Running Tour Summary document updated (kind of an ongoing oral history document in bullet point format): https://www.proracquetballstats.com/…/year_end_summaries.ht…
– Number of overall titles: https://www.proracquetballstats.com/i…/number_of_titles.html

Meanwhile, here’s some of my favorite seasonal reports to run, and which i’ll draw heavily to write the rest of this post:

– Season Summary Report: http://rball.pro/8F437B
– Season Seed Report: http://rball.pro/553125
– Year End Ranking Matrix: http://rball.pro/E441EB

(the last one is a relatively new report; it shows all the current players and shows all their season ending rankings in one matrix; its pretty cool if you have not yet seen it).

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Congratulations to Kane Waselenchuk , who secures his 14th pro title in dominant fashion. He went 29-1 on the season (that one loss being a last-minute withdrawal in the season’s first event). Furthermore, he lost only one GAME on the season, that being a dropped game to Rocky in the Laurel final in September. Just eight times all season did his opponent even score double digits in a singular game against him. I’ve seen some speculation on FB about whether the tour is “catching up” to Kane Waselenchuk … i think its safe to say the answer is “No.”

He now holds a career .920 winning percentage and has won 123 of the 177 Tier 1 events he’s ever entered. In his age 38 season, he is as dominant as ever and shows no signs of slowing down.

See http://rball.pro/88FC92 for Kane’s match W/L record
See http://rball.pro/0AD532 for Kane’s Game W/L record
See http://rball.pro/67990A for Kane’s Career summary rpt
See http://rball.pro/9237E3 for Kane’s Player Profile page

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#2 Alex Landa ended a tumultuous season with a dominant lead over #3 Rocky in the standings, finishing #2 for his highest ever pro ranking. He secured his 4th career tourney win, made 3 other finals and 3 semis. It’s still kind of hard to believe he didn’t really tour full time until his age 29 season, when he suddenly rocketed up the rankings to hold his currently lofty status. Landa also switched country allegiances, won US National Doubles with partner Sudsy Monchik, and essentially guaranteed himself a spot on the US National singles team as well with his finals appearance in the national team singles qualifier in Tempe. Not a bad season.

See http://rball.pro/8B6B3D for Landa’s Career Summary report.

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#3 Rocky Carson was knocked from the #2 spot on tour for the first time in a decade, enduring a tough season where he underwent another knee operation. The rehab ended up costing him at least one missed event, and then he took another off in the midst of the 3-tourney midwest swing (a rarity for racquetball’s ironman). Two seasons ago, he made the semis or better in 8 of the 9 events; this year he got upset in the 16s or quarters five times as the tour has gained depth and he’s faced tough opposition earlier. He also got unlucky with early round match-ups: his round of 16 loss was to Moscoso at the US Open, and two of his quarters losses were to DLR, whose early season slide forced him into a lower seed than he is merited by his quality. That being said, Rocky’s in a great position to make a big run back up the board this coming fall and winter, as he won’t have many points to defend. Just making the semis or final at the US Open will be a huge points swing when it happens (or if it happens, as the US Open scheduling might be in flux). The #2 slot next season is shaping up to be a big dogfight.

see http://rball.pro/FCB94D for Rocky’s Career Summary report

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#4 Andree Parrilla edged #5 Beltran for the #4 spot by just a few points thanks to his performance at the season’s final event. Parrilla had lost the #4 ranking after holding it for much of the season, but made the semis in Chicago (perennially one of his favorite events) and ends the season #4 for the second year running.

How Parrilla got to #4 is pretty amazing; he endured a stretch in Jan/Feb where he was defeated in the 16s in three successive Tier 1 events and looked lost on the court. This is no disrespect to the players he lost to (in order Manilla, Mar and GFranco), each of whom are solid players and earned their wins. Parrilla also suffered a very early out in Mexican Nationals right afterwards, but rebounded to play strong in Chicago. He takes the #4 spot by just 40 ranking points (by way of comparison; you get 40 points for making the round of 32 in a tier 1) and trails Carson by less than 200 points for #3.

Here’s where things will get interesting next season: Parrilla has a chance to rocket up the rankings in the season’s second half, thanks to all these early round losses. If he turns three round of 16 losses into three semi final appearances? That’s a 400 point swing and may be enough to vault him to #3 or higher.

click here http://rball.pro/3C78A0 for Andree’s Career summary rpt.

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#5 Álvaro Beltrán as noted above gets edged for #4 and thus finishes ranked 5th for the third year running. More impressively, Beltran finishes his 21st straight year touring and he’s finished ranked 6th or better in 18 of those seasons (the other three being his debut season, and then two seasons impacted by a knee injury).

Beltran was able to navigate the landmines of up and coming players on tour all year, making the quarters or better in 9 of the 10 events he entered. He did not break into the semis once this year, the first time that’s happened since his injury season of 2009-10, But, he ends up edging his doubles partner DLR for #5 by the skin of his teeth, currently sitting just 15 points ahead of Daniel for #5.

In fact, just 212 points right now separate #3 Rocky from #6 DLR, meaning we will see some major jumbling when the tour kicks back up next season.

Beltran also qualified for the Mexican national team with DLR, losing a close singles final in February for the National title.

See here http://rball.pro/5D443D for Alvaro’s career summary rpt.

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#6 Daniel De La Rosa had a very interesting season, finishing 6th for the second successive season. To the outside observer, DLR may look like he’s fading; after all he was in the top 4 for five successive seasons leading into the 2018-19 season. But DLR’s season ended a heck of a lot stronger than it started.

He missed an event early, then was upset in the 16s in his “home” event in Arizona in October. He was knocked out in the quarters in both events in December and some thought he may be reconsidering touring altogether. But, he came back in January energized, making the final of the stacked Longhorn Open, winning the Lewis Drug, then winning Mexican Nationals. He lost a tough tiebreaker to Landa in the season’s last event, but the statement has been made. DLR will race up the standings with a strong start to the 2020-21 season, with fewer points to defend in the fall, and then will have to hold on next spring.

DLR continues to be a force on the outdoor scene too, winning the Men’s and Mixed Pro Doubles titles at both the 2019 Outdoor Nationals and the 2019 3WallBall Vegas event. DLR and Beltran continue to be arguably the top doubles team in the world, and DLR with wife Michelle De La Rosa are arguably the top mixed doubles team.

see http://rball.pro/A8C548 for DLR’s career summary report.

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#7 Samuel Murray finished ranked 7th for the second consecutive season, having a very consistent season. He played to his seeding 6 times out of 10 events, losing in the quarters to higher-ranked opposition. He made two semis to offset two early-round upsets.

The Canadian #1 took both of his country’s qualifier events, securing his place on the national team once again. He also continues to be one of the top pro doubles players, playing most of the season with Landa.

see http://rball.pro/48CA0B for Murray’s career summary report.

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#8 Lalo Portillo rocketed up the rankings this season, finishing 8th on the season after being ranked 17th at season’s end last season. Touring full time for the first time, he qualified for the main draw 10 times out of 10, and got upset wins throughout the season to add a quarter, a semi and, at the Lewis Drug, making his first pro final. He lost that final to DLR 14,9, but his performance rewarded him with a 5th seed the next event.

Portillo has room to grow; once he got into the top 8, he suffered three straight one-and-dones at the hands of his immediate competition for the back end of the top 10 spots (SFranco, Montoya, Mercado), but held on to #8 in the end.

One last note; Portillo is easily winning the IRT’s unofficial off-season social media contest, frequently posting both serious and funny videos nearly daily. He’s a good follow if you havn’t already done so.

see http://rball.pro/24862F for Lalo’s career summary report.

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#9 Conrrado Moscoso committed to playing the tour in a significant fashion in the 2019-20 season, traveling up for long stretches of time from Bolivia to compete. He ended up playing in 6 of the 10 events and fared well.

He made the final of the sport’s biggest event, the US Open, playing a scintillating first game against Kane before losing in two He stayed in the country to compete the two following events, making a semi in Arizona and then losing to Parrilla in the quarters of Fullerton before returning to Bolivia. He came back for the 3-events-in-3-weeks stretch and got a lesson in the rigors of pro touring; he limped out of a quarter final against Kane, played well but lost to DLR in the semis in Sioux Falls, then got dominated in a one-and-done loss to long-time nemesis Montoya in Sun Prairie. He was ranked as high as 7th until he missed the final event, dropping him two slots to #9 where he ends the season.

The #9 seeding slot might be the worst one to have on tour; If everyone shows at an event he’ll have to play a qualifier, then beat a top 8 player in order to then match-up with Kane in a quarter. Its hard to earn points when you’re playing a major final quality match in the quarters. He’ll have his work cut out for him to move up next season; lets hope he can get the resources to play as much as we’d like to see him.

click here http://rball.pro/5E7B89 for Moscoso’s career summary report.

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#10 Jake Bredenbeck improves his year end ranking for the fourth successive season, and at season’s end just held onto his first ever top 10 finish over Franco.

Jake made his second ever career pro semi in Portland with wins over two top-10 pros, and nearly took out DLR in an 11-10 heart-breaker loss in Chicago. His season has a number of just misses that might easily turn into wins next season.

Off the field, Jake is leading the charge on a new clothing line called Beastmade Apparel, with t-shirts, hats and now long sleeve pullovers. Support a fellow rballer and buy some gear.

click here http://rball.pro/F31CDD for Jake’s career summary report

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Since I tend to be a bit verbose, i’m breaking up this season ending rankings analysis into multiple posts. That way we’re not reading 5,000 words in one clip. Stay tuned for the next set of players in the rankings and my thoughts on their season.

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tags

International Racquetball Tour
International Racquetball Federation – IRF
Pan American Racquetball Confederation – PARC
UnitedHealthcare US OPEN Racquetball Championships
WOR – World Outdoor Racquetball
USA Racquetball
Racquetball Canada
Federación Mexicana de Raquetbol
Federación Boliviana De Raquetbol – Febora
Federación Boliviana de Racquetball
Racquetball Colombia
Federacion Colombiana de Racquetball
Reaching Your Dream Foundation

New reports at ProRacquetballStats.com! (Part 1)

Since we don’t have any tourneys to talk about … and may not for some time, I thought i’d fill the time describing some of the additions we’ve made over the past few months. I’ll do this post in a few parts, since we’ve added a ton of stuff in the year since I last did one of these posts.

We’re always trying to add new stuff to the Pro Racquetball Website; if you ever have a suggestion, please don’t hesitate to contact us and we’ll see about putting it in!

Here’s some of the new reports and functionality that we’ve added;

– Career Best Ranking and Career Best Seeding: we previously had a Career Best Showing report for players: now we added two more to show the highest tournament seed a player has achieved along with their highest career ending ranking. See these two examples for Andree Parrillahttp://rball.pro/B43B09 and http://rball.pro/8A65E8 .

– Individual Player Profiles: basically the same data we show in the Tale of the Tape reports … just for a specified player. Here’s Cliff Swain‘s Player Profile report: http://rball.pro/603ED7

– Misc Match Stats: with the conversion to best-of-3 format in both pro tours, we have done some work on the Misc tour Stats reports to highlight some of the information there. In this report you can find out, for example, the percentage of 3 game matches won by the player who lost the first game, or how many 5-game matches we have on record.

Here’s the report for the LPRT: http://rball.pro/B28CD6 . We know this report needs a bunch more work to really be a statistically relevant post suitable for research; the logic is a bit tricky and needs time.

– Most Matches, Most Wins, Most Losses: put in several additional counting reports to show some interesting stats. Here’s the link to “Most Matches” on tour: http://rball.pro/D74465 . Not Surprisingly, Swain leads the way by a significant margin for the Men’s pros historically.

– Added more Junior categories for some countries (like Canada) for more reporting options. So now you can run reports like, “Show me all the Canadian Junior Girls 18U finals” and get breakdowns like that (that report btw is here: http://rball.pro/3EEA3E)

– Adding WOR categories to singles reporting so you can get just One-Wall results, or just Huntington Beach outdoor National Female champs for all of history, etc.

– Plus, Thanks to a ton of research by Brett Elkins we have a lot more detail on the Men’s outdoor champs. Here’s all Men’s outdoor national champs plus in many cases the semifinalists and finalists to 1974: http://rball.pro/3C386C . We also now have, for the first time, Women’s champs as well.

– Created Player Profiles per Season report: this lists all the player profile data for all players who appear in a particular season. Here it is for the IRT for last season: http://rball.pro/B47A74

You can now run player profiles at multiple grains of data:
– Per individual
– Per event
– Per Season
– For all regular players on tour
– For all players in the database (nearly 1,800 players now!)

– Created a “Worst player W/L record” report … i won’t put in the link to protect the innocent, but its an enlightening report 🙂 .

– We created “All Matches per Season” so that you can see, as it sounds, a list of all the hundreds of matches that occur in a particular season. I ended up commenting it out b/c it was just too much data to present nicely. But if someone really wants it I can make it available.

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We’ll do another post with some more updates next week to help pass the time and create some racquetball content

tags

International Racquetball Tour
LPRT
International Racquetball Federation – IRF
USA Racquetball
Racquetball Canada
Federación Mexicana de Raquetbol
WOR – World Outdoor Racquetball

IRT Shamrock Shootout Wrap-Up

Kane wins again. Photo US Open 2019, Photographer Kevin Savory

Congrats to your winners on the weekend:
– Singles: Kane Waselenchuk
– Doubles; Daniel De La Rosa/Alvaro Beltran

R2 Sports App home page for event: https://www.r2sports.com/portfolio/r2-event.asp?TID=31369

——————

Lets review the notable matches in the Singles draw.

Singles Match report in the PRS database: http://rball.pro/2D58FF

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In the 128s: no surprises. Local @Victor Migliore took Guatemalan veteran Christian Wer to a tie-breaker but fell 11-9. The other three traveling members of the Guatemala national team all won their openers and moved on. Oregon’s Jim Douglas, an active member of the online rball community, went down in a tie-breaker to local player Nadeem Sharifudden.

In the 64s, a couple of notable matches:
– Guatemalan Juan Salvatierra downed IRT touring regular Justus Benson in two close games 12,13. Solid win by Salvatierra to move on.
– Semi-regular IRT regular Kyle Ulliman was stretched by another traveling Guatemalan in Edwin Galicia before advancing in a breaker.

—————-
In the 32s, we got some upsets and close matches.
– In the 16/17 match, a tiebreaker as expected. #16 Sebastian ‘Patata’ Fernandez held off the Costa Rican number one Andres Acuña 11-7 in the breaker.
– Jaime Martell Racquetball showed he came to play, crushing the #9 seed Mario Mercado 7,2 to make the main draw as a #24 seed.
– #13 Thomas Carter crushed the upstart #20 Sam Bredenbeck 1,9 to make the main draw.
– #19 Robert Collins pushed #14 Eduardo Garay Rodriguez to a breaker before falling.
– In the 15/18 match, a surprise. #18 Adam Manilla outplayed and outhustled #15 Javier Mar to advance 9,9. Mar was off, but Manilla was definitely on. can he make another run (he made the Semis in Austin in January?

—————-
In the 16s:
– #1 Kane Waselenchuk got his tourney started off against the upstart youngster #16 Sebastian Fernandez, who lost 6,9. Good showing here against the king.
– #8 Lalo Portillo99 got a very solid win against #24 Martell 13,13 to move on. Martell pushed but couldn’t break through here, though there wasn’t much between these players on the day.
– #5 Andree Parrilla reversed his recent one-and-done trend with am emphatic win over #12 Gerardo Franco Gonzalez 0,11.
– #4 Alvaro Beltran held serve against #13 Carter 8,8 to move on.
– #3 Rocky Carson was stretched to a tiebreaker by #14 Garay before advancing 11-7.
– #6 Daniel De La Rosa went to the limit against #11 Jake Bredenbeck, saving match point against to win 11-10.
– #7 Samuel Murray dominated #10 Rodrigo Montoya Solís 11,3 to get another quarter final appearance and put some distance between him and Rodrigo in the race for the top 10. Montoya, who had been as high as #8 this season, will dip down to #12 with these results, and he has to be thinking about what he can do to turn things around.
– #2 Alex Landa advanced by the skin of his teeth, beating upstart lefty #18 Manilla 11-10.

So, the quarters are chalk, with the top 8 seeds advancing, but it could have gone either way with a number of these matches.

—————-
In the Quarters

– #1 Kane held serve against #8 Portillo, advancing to the semis 6,7.
– #5 Parrilla continued his best pro showing in months, coming from a game down to take out veteran Beltran in a breaker.
– #6 DLR crushed #3 Carson 5,5. This is Rocky’s 5th exit this season at the quarters or earlier … last season he made the semis or better in every event. Meanwhile DLR continues his resugence; these results will be enough for him to supplant Moscoso for #6 on tour, and within shouting distance of #5 and #4.
– #2 Landa cruised by his doubles partner #7 Murray in two shorter games.

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In the Semis
– #1 Kane showed how formidable he can be, coming down from a large game two deficit to cruise into the final 6,11 past #5 Parrilla. With this semis appearance, Parrilla nearly catches back up with Beltran for 4th on tour; its going to be a great battle for that 4/5 spot the rest of the way.
– #2 Landa ended the DLR freight train but needed a tiebreaker to do so. Landa extends his recent dominance over DLR (he’s won their last 7 meetings).

In the Finals, it was one-way traffic like it often is with Kane, who took about 10 minutes to take the first game 15-3 and eventually the match 3,5.

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Points Implications of results; This tourney replaces the same event last season, so there’s some players defending higher than average points. In Chicago last season, Kane d Rocky in the final and Andree/Montoya made the semis. Also notably, DLR got upset in the 16s, so he had great gains here this weekend.

Notable ranking moves:
– DLR overtakes Moscoso for #6
– Bredenbeck should jump to #10; he was #13 entering the event. Jake and Mercado are now separated by just 2 points in my worksheet for the #10 spot, which would be the first time Jake finishes in the top 10 if he can retain the spot.
– Horn’s injury-driven absence costs him 3 spots in the rankings; he falls to #18 from #15 last week.
– Sam Bredenbeck jumps back into the top 30; he is now #28.
– Jaime Martell makes a huge jump from #42 to #35

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Doubles review

Match report in the PRS database: http://rball.pro/B01855

Chalk to the quarters, though both the #1 and #2 seeds went tiebreaker to get there.

In the semis, the top to Mexican teams advanced yet again to the final to face off. #1 DLR/Beltran dropped a game to the quickly improving Portillo/Parrilla pairing before moving, while Montoya/Mar dominated the #2 seeds Landa/Murray 11,3 to force a rematch of the Mexican Nationals event that happened just a few weeks ago.

In the final, DLR/Beltran got back the upper hand in their burgeoning rivalry with their younger Mexican teammates, taking a closely fought 10,13 match for the title. Its their 7th pro doubles title together since Jan 2017.

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Other Draws:

Men’s Open went nearly chalk into the quarters, and chalk to the semis with the top 4 seeds (all IRT regulars) advancing.

In one semi Fernandez topped Franco in two, while in the other Acuna spanked Mercado to make the final. There, both guyts played like they had a plane to catch (both are very fast workers), and Acuna took out his Mexican rival 11,13.

Women’s Open; a decent 8-woman draw was taken by Erika Manilla, who beat top junior Erin Slutzky in the semis and then Costa Rican international Melania Sauma in the final.

Men’s Open Doubles was taken by Cuevas/Franco over top seed Illinois locals Keith Minor and Fernando Javier Rivera.

Mixed Open Doubles was taken by Slutzky and India international Alok Mehta.

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Thanks for all the streaming on the weekend, especially from broadcasters Dean Baer, Favio Soto, Pablo Fajre and the IRTLive crew

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Next up?

Well. I have no idea what is next.

Its pretty amazing what has transpired in this country in just the last 7 days. A week ago we were finishing up the Boston Open on the Ladies side without any real national movement on this Covid-19 Corona Virus. Then in the last week, from a rball perspective we’ve seen every major tournament planned for the next month cancelled. WOR Beach Bash, a number of state singles competitions, an IRT tier 5 in Monroe, LA, USAR intercollegiates, and most notably the annual PARC event to be held in Bolivia.

That clears out the racquetball schedule through at least mid April. But who knows what will transpire between now and then. We’re already seeing travel bans; it seems unlikely that a “tour” based sport like pro racquetball could function if none of the traveling players could travel to the events.

So who knows. Is it possible we’ve seen the last pro events until well into the summer? Maybe. Depends on how dangerous this virus turns out to be, how exponentially it expands, and how much more of an impact it makes on society. Crazy times.

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tags

International Racquetball Tour
LPRT
International Racquetball Federation – IRF
USA Racquetball
Racquetball Canada
Federación Mexicana de Raquetbol
Federación Boliviana de Futbol
Racquetball Colombia
Federacion Colombiana de Racquetball
Federación Costarricense de Racquetball
Jugadores Racquetbol Guatemala

IRT Shamrock Shootout Preview

Rare appearance on tour from Mexican Jaime Martell. Photo via US Open 2019, Photographer Kevin Savory

The full Mens tour is back in action for the 35th Annual KWM Gutterman, Inc. Shamrock Shootout Tier 1 Pro Stop Presented by MyPillow, being held in Lombard, just outside of Chicago IL.

The 35th annual running event, which makes it one of the longer running events in the land. It has been a full tier 1 stop for the past 5 years. Chicago itself has been a regular home to IRT stops in general, for years hosting Pro Nationals, and then for years before that the famous Halloween Open. A lot of this was due to former tour commissioner and long time rball organizer Dave Negrete being Chicago-based.

R2 Sports App link: https://www.r2sports.com/website/event-website.asp?TID=31369

This year, we’ve got a large draw: 39 players entered.

top20 players missing: Bolivians #6 Conrrado kevin Moscoso Ortiz Racquetball and #14 Carlos Keller Vargas are both absent, probably saving travel dollars for next month’s Pan American Racquetball Confederation – PARC event. Moscoso’s absence elevates #9 Portillo into a top 8 seed here. #12 Sebastian Franco is missing; the 4th event this season he’s missed. #15 David Horn picked up what he described as a “bad injury” last weekend in Pueblo and is out. The rest of the top 20 is present plus a good chunk of the guys ranked 21-30 so this is a great draw.

is it a flip draw? Nope, this is a straight draw 1-8.

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

In the round of 128:
– Thanks to the proximity of the upcoming Pan American Racquetball Championships, we’ve got the full Guatemalan team here (Edwin Galicia, Javier Martinez, Juan Salvatierra and Christian Wer). Each of these four is playing a local IRT debutant in the opening round of 128, so welcome all first time pro players.

———————————-
In the round of 64: things start to heat up.
– #17 Andres Acuña manages to be the highest player not getting a bye into the 32s; for his trouble he likely gets a juicy central american match-up against Guatemalan Martinez.
– #24 Jaime Martell Racquetball vs #25 Anthony Martin; great opener, as we would expect from a 24/25 match-up. Martel makes a rare appearance on tour, while Martin plays his 6th event of the season.
– #19 Robert Collins likely takes on Guatemalan veteran Christian Wer.
– #26 Guatemalan Edwin Galicia likely takes on #23 Kyle Ulliman in what could be a close match.

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Projecting the 32s: here’s some possible match-ups, though the depth of this draw could make for some upsets and make these predictions moot:
– #16/#17 looks like a potential doozy: #16 Sebastian ‘Patata’ Fernandez, who has been stuck at the #17 seed the last couple of tournaments, jumps a spot and thus gets the bye into the 32s. He’ll likely face #17 Acuna, who has been getting solid wins all season. Tough one to predict: I like Patata to build on his Mexican Nationals showing and move on.
– #9 Mario Mercado versus likely #24 Martell: Rough possible draw for Mercado, who has faced Martell a few times before and never beaten him. I like a run for the Mexican here.
– #13 Thomas Carter versus likely #20 Sam Bredenbeck; fun match here between two of the younger guys on tour. Sam beat Carter in 2019 Sioux Falls but it was tight.
– #11 Jake Bredenbeck vs likely #22 Justus Benson: lots of broken balls in this one; two hard hitters.
– #15 Javier Mar versus likely #18 Adam Manilla: this is the highest i can recall seeing Mar seeded in an event; he’ll fancy his chances to move on and face a familiar opponent in the 16s.

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round of 16:
– #1 Kane Waselenchuk versus the Fernandez/Acuna winner; neither will be favored to beat the King of course, but I like what i’ve seen lately out of Fernandez and i’d like to see what his confident game style brings against Kane.
– #24 Martell vs #9 Lalo Portillo: this is a stretch, but if Martell pulls off the upset of Mercado he could very well also upset Portillo. They faced off in 2019’s Mexican Nationals, a straight forward 2-game win for Jaime. Portillo won the Minnesota event last weekend and had a very solid Mexican nationals in 2020 (topped Montoya, took DLR to a breaker). This could be a fascinating match.
– #5 Andree Parrilla vs #12 Gerardo Franco Gonzalez: Parrilla is in a rut; he’s gone one and done the last three pro events, he lost in the 16s at Mexican Nationals to a player he should have beat, and one of those pro round of 16 losses was to Franco. I sense another upset here until Andree can right the ship.
– #4 Alvaro Beltran faces the Carter/Bredenbeck winner: either way i like Beltran, though Carter did put a Loss on Alvaro in Portland in December.
– #3 Rocky Carson returns to action after a rare missed pro event in January and likely faces the tough Eduardo Garay Rodriguez in the 16s. Garay has been playing increasingly well against top opponents, while Carson topped Landa in his last on-the-court match, seemingly having fully recovered at this point from his knee issue in December.
– #6 Daniel De La Rosa vs #11 Bredenbeck: Jake has a couple of wins over DLR … but DLR has been playing some great ball lately. He advances.
– #7 Samuel Murray vs #10 Rodrigo Montoya Solís; just a couple of meetings between these two on the books; they’re 1-1 h2h. This is the kind of match Montoya needs to win in order to establish his spot in the rball elite. Both players have had kind of up and down seasons; this could be a win to build on.
– #2 Alex Landa vs #15 Mar: Neither guy here can be happy with this draw; they’re pretty evenly matched, they have split a couple of meetings at Mexican Nats over the years but have not played professionally. I think it could be tight but will favor Landa to move on.

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Projected Qtrs:
– #1 Kane over #24 Martel
– #4 Beltran over #12 Franco: they’ve played 4 times, Beltran has never dropped a game to him.
– #3 Carson vs #6 DLR: they’ve been trading wins back and forth for a few years now. DLR topped him earlier this year in Sioux Falls and has been playing really consistent ball; i’ll go with the upset here.
– #2 Landa vs #10 Montoya; when they do play, its often close: last meeting was an 11-10 win for Rodrigo in Sioux Falls in 2019. I’ll go with Landa here.

Semis:
– Kane over Beltran in what would be their 54th pro meeting.
– Landa over DLR; Landa has beaten DLR the last 6 times they’ve played and seems to have his number. But, its always close.

Finals: Kane over Landa.

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Doubles review

We’re playing pro doubles this weekend too; 10 teams with three of the best teams in the world present, plus the Bredenbeck brothers and the two national Guatemalan teams playing.

I like a rematch of the Mexican national finals to happen between #1 Beltran/DLR and #3 Montoya/Mar, but both teams will have to earn it to get t here against tough semi-finalists.

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Look for Streaming in the regular places; follow the IRT on facebook and sign up to get notifications when they go Live.
Look for Dean DeAngelo Baer, Favio Soto, Pablo Fajre and the IRTLive crew all weekend on the mike, calling the shots!

Tags

International Racquetball Tour
International Racquetball Federation – IRF
USA Racquetball
Racquetball Canada
Federación Mexicana de Raquetbol
Federación Boliviana De Raquetbol – Febora
Racquetball Colombia
Federacion Colombiana de Racquetball
Federación Costarricense de Racquetball
Jugadores Racquetbol Guatemala

Copa Mexicano 2020 Wrap-up

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

Congrats to your winners on the weekend:
– Mens Singles: Daniel De La Rosa
– Men’s Doubles: Rodrigo Montoya/Javier Mar
– Women’s Singles: Paola Longoria
– Women’s doubles: Paola Longoria/Samantha Salas

The two singles finalists on the Men and Women’s side qualify to represent Mexico at upcoming IRF events. The Doubles winners also qualifies to represent the country at upcoming IRF events. I’m assuming this is for the 2020 PARC games to be held in April in Bolivia and for the 2020 World Championships, but as with prior years there may be additional qualification parameters for the 2020 World Championships team that come to light later on.

R2 Sports App home page for event: https://www.r2sports.com/tourney/home.asp?TID=31821

——————

Lets review the notable matches in the Men’s Singles draw.

Men’s Singles Match report in the PRS database: http://rball.pro/279793

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In the 32s: no upsets to this observer; all 10 round of 32 matches were two-game victories for the expected winner. The three closest games all involved the three highest ranked players playing in the play-in round, who were likely playing themselves into shape for the next round.

—————-
In the 16s, some notable results/upsets:
– #8 Christian Longoria topped #9 Andree Parrilla in a tie-breaker. This is a pretty significant upset, as Parrilla currently sits #5 in the world while Longoria (albeit in limited pro appearances) has yet to even qualify for a main draw. Parrilla continues his miserable tourney streak; he lost in the 16s of the last three pro events as well.
– #5 Gerardo Franco Gonzalez @got an excellent win over #12 Javier Estrada 6,(13),7 to move on. Franco continues to show he’s a tough out, and takes out the enigmatic Estrada.
– #11 Sebastian ‘Patata’ Fernandez dominated Alex Cardona 8,8 to move on. Solid win from Patata, who I thought had a chance to beat Cardona but certainly not in two dominant games.
– #10 Lalo Portillo took out reigning World and Pan Am games singles champ Rodrigo Montoya Solís with relative ease 9,11. Portillo frustrated Montoya with off-speed Z-serves that were quite effective, then matched Montoya’s athleticism to keep balls in play with diving gets and great retrievals.

By seeds, mostly chalk through the 16s with the seeds 1,8,5,4,3,11,10,2 advancing, but for me four of the eight matches were upsets or surprising results.

—————-
In the Quarters
– #8 Longoria gave #1 Alvaro Beltran a scare, taking the first game and giving Alvaro a run in the second before fading in the breaker. Final score (12),12,3.
– #4 Javier Mar took it to #5 Franco, controlling the match and advancing in two games 12,5.
– #11 Fernandez got his second statement win in a row, topping #3 Alan Natera Chavez 11,11 to move on. Natera’s streak of making the semis at Nationals ends after two straight years, while Fernandez moves into the semis of Adult nationals for the first time (he made the quarters twice before, in 2017 and 2018).
– #10 Portillo pushed #2 Daniel De La Rosa, saving match point against in the second game to force a breaker, but DLR ran away with it there, advancing to the semis. DLR keeps his streak of making the semis alive; he’s made the semis or better in every Mexican Nationals back to at least 2014 (he did miss 2017’s event).

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In the Semis
– #1 Beltran gave credence to the old statement, “It only takes 26 to win” in dropping the second game to #4 Mar 15-1 but moving on by the final score line of 8,(1),9.
– #2 DLR put an end to #11 Fernandez’s run, frustrating the young Mexican at the precipice of the National team by the score line of 10,11.

With these wins:
– Beltran secures his singles spot on the Mexican National team for the second year running after a 3 year gap from 2016-2018.
– DLR returns to the singles Mexican team after a year absence (he was beaten by Landa in the semis last year). DLR has now qualified for the team 4 of the past 7 seasons.

—————
In the Finals; a rematch of the 2015 Mexican National Finals, won by Beltran for his last National title. But on this day, DLR ended up on top of a close but casual match between friends and doubles partners 14,11 to take the title.

———————————
Lets review the notable matches in the Women’s Singles draw.

Women’s Singles Match report in the PRS database: http://rball.pro/3480BB

—————-
In the 16s, a couple of notable results
– #12 Lucia Gonzalez dominated LPRT top 10 player and #5 seed Nancy Enriquez 2,11 to move on. Gonzalez doesn’t have a top-level match in the database since Dec 2018, but makes noise every time she plays.
– #10 Erin Nocam “upset” #7 Maria Gutierrez in two to advance. Gutierrez was a finalist at 18U last summer in Mexican junior nationals and still has a year left in the junior ranks, while Erin continues her excellent season of results.

—————-
In the Quarters, two pretty big upsets.
– #8 Jessica Parrilla returned to the semis of Mexican Nationals after a two year absence, and she did it by dethroning the defending champ Montse Mejia in two straight. Parrilla was in control for large parts of the match, taking advantage of Mejia’s mistakes throughout.
– #12 Gonzalez got her second upset in a row, downing #4 Alexandra Herrera in a tiebreaker. These two are familiar foes, often competing for junior national titles as they grew up, and Lucia was able to get past her in a major event yet again.
– #3 Samantha Salas Solis cruised past veteran #7 Susy Acosta, improving to 12-0 in top-level/pro events over the lefty, to move into the semis.
– #2 Paola Longoria blitzed past #10 Erin Rivera 0,3, giving her younger countrywoman little chance to get some of the upsets she’s gotten lately on tour.

—————
In the Semis
– #8 Parrilla played solid ball and outlasted #12 Gonzalez to make the Mexican national finals 12,10.
– #2 Longoria survived an injury scare to move past doubles partner #3 Salas 14,9 to get to the final. Early in game on at 1-6 down, Longoria and Salas got tangled up and Longoria seemed to have landed on her ankle wrong; it did not look good, and a full injury time out was taken. She recovered though, Salas could not take advantage of the mobility issues, and Longoria seemed to gain strength and confidence as the match moved on. In the second game Salas had her own injury scare, tweaking her knee in a rally but persevering without an injury time out.

With these wins:
– Parrilla returns to the Mexican national team singles spot for the first time in years: she last represented Mexico internationally at the 2016 PARC event, and before that at the 2013 World Games.
– Longoria secures her spot on the National team, and extends her streak held since 2006 of representing Mexico in singles at IRF events.

—————
In the Finals, Parrilla really put up a fight but couldn’t convert in game one when it counted, dropping it 15-14, then collapsing in game two to lose 14,4. Longoria regains the title she lost last year and returns to the top of Mexican racquetball.

—————-
Mens Doubles review

Men’s Doubles Match report in the PRS database: http://rball.pro/1D2489

In the Men’s competition,

In the early rounds:
– Seeds 1,2,4 and 6 advanced to the semis.
– #5 team of Fernandez/Miguel Rodriguez Jr. took out Cardona/Franco early and pushed Estrada/Natera before falling.
– The #6 team of Portillo/Parrilla “upset” the #3 seeds Sebastian Longoria/Erick Trujillo to advance.
– The #7 team of Christian Longoria and Cesar Barragan really pushed the #2 team DLR/Beltran, falling 14,11

In the semis:
– #1 Montoya/Mar moved into the final over #4 Estrada/Natera, but had to save off game point against in the second game to do so 4,14.
– #2 DLR/Beltran kept their qualification hopes alive … by by the skin of their teeth, taking a scintillating match over #6 Portillo/Parrilla 11-10. The tiebreaker was a shot-makers paradise, with rallies generally only ending with splat rollout kill shots. Fantastic racquetball.

At 10-10, with both teams having saved match point against and with DLR/Beltran re-gaining the serve … something weird happened. DLR/Beltran were assessed a technical for … i’m not sure. At 10-10 against Parrilla called a time out, and Beltran playfully hit the ball towards him. I’m assuming the referee deducted a point for it (based on DLR’s reaction when getting back the 10th point). Nonetheless, when play resumed it was 9-10. They gutted out the 10th point, then on match point rally DLR absolutely buried a reverse forehand pinch from 39′ feet to take the match with quite a statement.

In the final, these two teams went tie-breaker as expected. In the breaker Montoya/Mar jumped out to a bit lead but couldn’t close out at match point. DLR/Beltran quickly ran off several points and it looked like maybe they could pull magic out of a hat again, but Montoya/Mar got the serve back and the ended the match with an amazing winner from Mar.

Montoya/Mar repeat as Mexican National champions and get a chance to build on their 2019 Pan American Games title. Perhaps more importantly, they get a rare win over the veteran Beltran/DLR team in their increasingly exciting rivalry.

—————–
Women’s Doubles review:

Women’s Doubles Match report in PRS database: http://rball.pro/D0916F

In the quarters
– #1, #2 and #4 teams advanced easily
– #6 Angela Veronica Ortega/Maria Gutierrez upset the #3 seeded team of Acosta/Sacristan in a tie breaker for the round’s only upset.

In the semis:
– #1 Longoria/Salas, both of whom picked up knocks in their singles semi final match against each other, gutted out a two game win over the #4 team of Parrilla/Rivera 9,10.
– #2 Mejia/Herrera cruised past the upset minded #6 team of Ortega/Gutierrez 3,4.

In the Final, we got the quite-frequently seen doubles final as of late: these two teams have now met in the finals of four LPRT doubles events just this season, three last season, last year’s World Doubles pro final, plus last year’s Mexican National final. While the Mejia/Herrera team has gotten a couple wins in this rivalry lately, on the day today the veterans held serve, winning in two games 7,13 to take the national title and the right to represent Mexico in the upcoming IRF events.

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Next up?

After a month’s break, the LPRT is back in action next weekend in Boston. The IRT has a couple of lower-tier events next week (in Minneapolis and in Pueblo, CO), and then returns to Chicago for the 35th annual KWM Gutterman classic the following weekend.

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

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

————
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.

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

IRT Lou Bradley Memorial Wrap-Up

Kane dominates in Wisconsin for the win. Photo US Open 2019, Photographer Kevin Savory

Congrats to Kane Waselenchuk on his 122th career IRT Tier 1 title on the weekend. He triumphed over a trio of top Mexican players then blasted Mercado in the final to take the title.

R2 Sports App home page for event: https://www.r2sports.com/website/event-website.asp?TID=31897

——————

Lets review the notable matches in the Singles draw.

Singles Match report in the PRS database: http://rball.pro/EB643C

—————-
In the 64s:
– #25 Sam Bredenbeck eked out a tie-breaker win over #24 Scott McClellan
– Both Kelley brothers (Sam and Joe), travelling from the NJ/PA area, fell in two to traveling pros. Great job supporting the event though, along with all the traveling players.
– #23 Kadim Carrasco] took a close match from #26 Justus Benson.

—————-
In the 32s, we started to see some interesting results.
– As suspected, the 16/17 match was close, with #16 Javier Mar taking out younger countryman #17 Sebastian ‘Patata’ Fernandez] in a tie-breaker.
– #12 Carlos Keller Vargas was stretched by Costa Rican veteran #21 Felipe Camacho, winning two closer games.
– #13 Thomas Carter got revenge from last week, topping #20 Javier Estrada in a breaker to move on. Sold win for Carter to reverse his two-tourney one-and-done streak.
– #11 Mario Mercado Valenzuela held serve against #22 Alan Natera Chavez, winning in two closer games.
– #10 Sebastian Franco was stretched by South American neighbor Carrasco, advancing 14,13.
– #15 Eduardo Garay played a complete match and dominated #18 Adam Manilla 8,8 to move on.

So, the 32s went perfectly chalk; all the seeds from 9-16 advanced into the next round. I think I predicted at least 2-3 upsets here but the seeds prevailed this time around.

—————-
In the 16s:
– #1 Kane Waselenchuk got his tourney started against a tough foe in #16 Mar, but advanced 7,8. We saw a similar pattern in game 2 to a lot of Kane’s games against solid opponents; it was even for a while … then it was 8-8 … then you blink your eye and its 15-8 as Kane turns up the pressure and moves on.
– In a fascinating result, #9 Rodrigo Montoya Solís] dominated #8 Conrrado kevin Moscoso Ortiz Racquetball 12,4 to remain unbeaten against the Bolivian Iris Grand Slam winner and move on.
– #5 Samuel Murray held serve against Keller, moving on after taking a close game one.
– #4 Álvaro Beltrán stifled any chance of another upset at the hands of the lefty Carter (as had happened in December in Portland), cruising to a 4,12 win.
– #3 Andree Parrilla is ready to put this month behind him; the player I thought could make a run to the final here instead was upset in the round of 16 for the third successive week, this time at the hands of Gerardo Franco Gonzalez 11-7 in the breaker. Franco advances to his 4th pro quarter final.
– #6 Lalo Portillo‘s dreams of back to back finals ended early; he was dropped by #11 Mercado in the round of 16s for the 2nd time in three weeks, this time by the overwhelming scoreline of 4,7.
– #10 S.Franco evened up his career h2h line with #7 Jake Bredenbeck, taking him out in two to advance.
– #2 Alex Landa showed little ill-effects from his arm injury of last weekend, advancing over a tough foe in #15 Garay 6,(7),5.

So, three upsets at this stage; the top is nearly chalk 1,9,5,4 in the quarters, while the bottom is 14,11,10,2. I had predicted some upsets here … but none of them came to pass.

—————-
In the Quarters
– #1 Kane topped #9 Montoya to move on, but not with out a bit of controversy. Early in the second game a long rally had the players come together and Kane seemed to almost shove Montoya to get out of the way of a shot. It was kind of reminiscent of the early physical days of the sport. No penalty was given and nothing seemed to come of it … but at the end of the tourney Montoya scored the most points of any player against Kane in a game on the weekend, and seems to be getting incrementally better against the King each time they face each other.
– #4 Alvaro Beltran came from a game down to top Canadian #1 Murray and keep his perfect h2h record alive over him.
– #11 Mercado advanced to his first pro semi since the Bolivian Grand Slam by topping upstart GFranco 13,2. Franco looked frisky in game one … but collapsed once he lost the close opening game.
– #2 Landa made short work of #10 S.Franco 5,5.

—————
In the Semis; two interesting matches.
– #4 Beltran dominated #1 Kane …. for a quarter of their match. Beltran led 5-0 and 7-3 in the first …. and then didn’t score again. Kane ran off 27 unanswered points from 3-7 down in the first game to win the match 7,0. Just a complete white washing where Kane played textbook ball for most of the match.
– #11 Mercado saved game point in the first and then took a close one from #2 Landa to advance to just his second ever pro final 14,11. He becomes the rare double-digit seed to make a pro final.

In the Finals…. it was one way traffic. Kane crushed Mercado 2,3 to take the title. 5 total points against represents the 2nd most dominant final scoreline in the history of the tour (see http://rball.pro/C1E703 for the full list … not surprisingly Kane owns most of the top scorelines on this report).

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Points Implications of results;

There’s no expiring tier 1 from last season to drop off, but there’s still a lot of movement in the top 20 on tour after this event:
– Parrilla’s 3-tourney swoon finally costs him in the rankings: he’ll drop to #5 behind Beltran.
– DLR’s absence costs him too; despite Moscoso’s early upset exit, he’ll pip Daniel for #6 on tour.
– Montoya and Mercado will both jump over Jake in the tightly bunched set of players in the 10-13 range. Around 30 ranking points separate 10th from 13th and these three players along with Sebastian Franco continue to juggle spots based on tournament results.
– Gerardo Franco jumps to #16, Mar continues to rise up (now #19), and the missing Acuna gets dumped three spots to #21.

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Other Draws:

In the Men’s Open, a solid bracket included several former top-8 IRT players plus a ton of locals. As it turned out, two of the pro quarter-finalists were the 1 and 3 seeds in the Open (and both forfeited out, thinning the draw) and the 8 quarter-finalists ended up being 6 touring internationals plus mid-western top amateurs Lee Meinerz and Anthony Martin.

In the qtrs:
– SFranco topped Meinerz 8,11
– Fernandez crushed Garay 4,1 to advance.
– Camacho got a walkover when Mercado withdrew.
– Portillo topped Martin 8,4

In the semis:
– Fernandez walks over Franco
– Portillo crushes Camacho 2,3

In the final, a familiar battle. Mexican nationals Fernandez and Portillo are a year apart and often met in the back end of junior nationals and junior worlds events. Some of their recent match history includes these notable finals:
– Portillo d Fernandez in the 16U World junior finals in 2016
– Fernandez d Portillo in the Mexican 18U natioanls final in 2018
– then, 3 months later the two met in the 18U junior worlds final, Portillo’s last junior event, and Portillo won.

So how about on this day? They played a back and forth match eventually won by Patata Fernandez (4),7,8.

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In the Men’s Open Doubles, in the absence of an official IRT pro doubles draw we saw a 15-team bracket headlined by the reigning Pan Am Games gold medalists Mar/Montoya. Also in the doubles draws were a couple of old friends from the East Coast, Brent Walters and Russ Bruns, both of whom have strong ties to the Virginia Racquetball scene.

In the end though, the top two seeds, both all-Mexican traveling teams, advanced to the final. #1 Montoya/Mar, one of the best teams in the world and the reigning Pan American Games gold medalists, ended up topping Natera/Estrada in two tight games for the title.

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Next up?

The IRT takes a break until mid-march when they return to Chicago. Meanwhile, USA National Doubles is next weekend, featuring a juicy pairing of 5-time pro champ Sudsy Monchik teaming up with IRT #2 Landa, who has to represent the USA.

In fact, there’s almost nothing going on that we’d normally track in February; I may have to come up with some fun ideas to discuss during the break.

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International Racquetball Tour
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
Federación Costarricense de Racquetball

IRT 2020 22nd Annual Lou Bradley Memorial Preview

Portillo shocked the tour with his run last week; can he repeat it? Photo US Open 2019, Photographer Kevin Savory

Welcome to the last event of the 2020 IRT mid-west swing, and its a special one. “The Lou,” a long-running IRT satellite in Sun Prairie, WI (outside of Madison), has stepped up this year for the first time to become a Tier 1 event.

This represents the first time the IRT has had a full tier 1 in the state of Wisconsin since 2004, and this is the first time ever going anywhere except Milwaukee within the state for a major event.

Fun fact: the very first US Amateur Nationals event was held in Milwaukee in 1968. The first major racquetball tournament ever held, won by Bill Schultz over Hall of Famer Bill Schmidtke in the final.

R2 Sports App link: https://www.r2sports.com/portfolio/r2-event.asp?TID=31897

There’s 34 players in this singles draw. There’s not a pro doubles draw but there is a healthy Men’s Open draw filled with top players that will be fun to watch.

The draw is missing two major names: #3 Rocky Carson picked up an injury (or perhaps came back a bit too soon from his Dec 2019 surgery) and misses the event. This is pretty notable; in 20 years on tour full time this is just the third event he’s missed. Also missing the draw is last week’s champ #6 Daniel De La Rosa (also reportedly out with a knock), which has to be a bummer b/c he’s been playing some of the best ball of his career this month.

Other top 20 players missing: #14 David ” Bobby” Horn (who has stated he’s stepping back from touring for financial reasons), and #18 Andres Acuña, who may be heading back to his home country to help with a big tourney starting up next week.

is it a flip draw? Yes. The 5th-8th seeds are:
– Moscoso: ranked 7th, 5th highest seed in draw, seeded 8th
– Murray: ranked 8th, 6th highest seed in draw, seeded 5th
– Portillo: ranked 9th, 7th highest seed in draw, seeded 6th
– Bredenbeck: ranked 10th, 8th highest seed in draw, seeded 7th.

Obviously, Moscoso is hardest done by, flipped into the #8 spot meaning a meeting with Kane in the quarters. Jake would have been in the same quarter he got flipped into anyway without the missing top seeds. Portillo gets a big break and is in line to face #3 seed Parrilla, who he beat recently. Biggest benefactor has to be Murray, who gets out of a Kane quarter and instead feeds into #4 Beltran (who he’s never beaten, but has been playing close).

A comment about the impact of 3 straight events; it seems to have taken a toll on some the tour’s older full-time players:
– Kane (age 38): missed the middle event
– Rocky (age 40): missed 2 of the 3 events
– Landa (age 31) fft’d out of Lewis, wonder if he’s still showing any ill effects of the injury this weekend.

Of course that being said the tour’s oldest regular (Beltran, age 41) has made all three and shown no ill effects, so maybe its more coincidence and less causation.

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

In the round of 64:
– #28 Minnesota native Lee Meinerz takes on former top-10 touring vet Costa Rican #21 Felipe Camacho. I like what I saw from Meinerz last week; he can give Camacho a match here for sure. He puts pressure on the ball on every shot and could push for an upset.
– #22 Mexican Alan Natera Chavez takes on #27 Anthony Martin in a solid first rounder. Natera lost out to Pratt in the 64s last weekend but will shoot for a better result this weekend.
– #23 Bolivian Kadim Carrasco takes on #26 American Justus Benson in the opener; 21-yr old Texan Benson has gone one-and-done in four straight tourneys and will be looking to break that streak here.

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Projecting the 32s:
– #16 Javier Mar likely takes on #17 Sebastian ‘Patata’ Fernandez in a very tasty match between two solid players. Somehow Fernandez gets exactly the 17th seed for the second straight event, meaning he has to play that extra match before facing a top opponent. Last week he qualified into the #1 seed; this time around he won’t be favored to repeat the feat. Mar slots into the brutal #16 seed, meaning that with a win he faces Kane in the first round of the main draw instead of the quarters (as he did in last year’s US Open) or later. A great match either way to see where Fernandez’ game is these days.
– #13 Thomas Carter likely takes on #20 Javier Estrada for the second week running. Estrada took him out in a breaker last week; will we see a different result here?
– #11 Mario Mercado Valenzuela likely vs #22 Natera; Both these players were taken out last week by the same guy (Charlie Pratt Racquetball): now they slate to face off for a spot in the main draw. Mercado’s season has been hit and miss: he’s got solid wins and surprising losses. its anyone’s guess here.
– #15 Eduardo Garay likely takes on #18 Adam Manilla. Manilla surprised everyone with his run in Austin and has committed to the tour full time; he has his hands full though with Colombian Garay, who beat Landa in Austin two weeks ago and is moving up in the world.

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Projecting the round of 16:
– #1 Kane Waselenchuk takes on the Mar/Fernandez winner; Kane took last week off and should be refreshed as compared to either player here, who are doing play-ins and working on two-three straight weeks of play.
– #8 Luis Conrrado Moscoso Serrudo vs #9 Rodrigo Montoya Solís]; Great match for the 16s. Montoya beat Moscoso in both 2018 Worlds (en route to the gold medal) and in the 2019 Pan Am games (en route to the gold medal). Both matches were close. Both are hard hitters, with great diving abilities. Moscoso has a slight knock sustained in Austin that still seemed to be bothering his mobility on the court in Sioux Falls. I’ll favor Montoya here.
– #5 Samuel Murray likely vs #12 Carlos Keller Vargas: another intriguing match; Murray knocked Keller out of the 2019 Pan Am games in the quarters, but Keller upset Murray in the 32s of the US Open (a big loss in the season’s biggest event for a top 8 seed). I like Murray here.
– #4 Alvaro Beltran likely vs #20 Estrada: These two met just last week at this same gate, an 8,9 win for Beltran. Can Estrada flip the script in a week’s time? Is three straight weeks and a ton of court time too much for the 41-yr old Beltran?
– #3 Andree Parrilla likely vs #14 Gerardo Franco Gonzalez; Parrilla has not been enjoying the mid-west swing so far: two one-and dones in a row in Austin and Sioux Falls. He’s now been beaten in the 16s three times this season: he had just one upset prior to the quarters the entirety of last season. If he wants to keep his top 4 seed, he needs to be making semis regularly. First up: an old WRT adversary in Franco. Parrilla is 4-0 against him in the old tour; they havn’t met professionally since 2017. I suspect Andree advances.
– #6 Lalo Portillo vs the Natera/Mercado winner. Match-ups matter: Portillo has a couple of wins over Natera in RKT local events in the last year, but lost to Mercado two weeks ago in Austin. Which Portillo shows up this week? The guy who looked absolutely dominant in a run to the finals last week? Or the guy who lost three straight round of 16 openers in Nov, Dec and Jan? I’m going to go with the former and project another run here for the youngster.
– #7 Jake Bredenbeck vs #10 Sebastian Franco; they’ve met 7 times in pro/IRF events over the years: Jake leads 4-3 and won their most recent skirmish; a RR affair at the 2019 Pan Am Games in Peru. I like Jake here; he’s been playing more consistent all season, while Franco has been missing events and taking upset losses.
– #2 Alex Landa vs #15 Garay. How hurt is Landa? He was really struggling against Murray last week before retiring. Next week is US Nationals, where he’s playing with Sudsy Monchik in an attempt to qualify for the US team … which I have to think is pretty darn important to him given all that transpired with the Mexican federation last year. Meanwhile, Garay is tough and just beat an un-injured Landa in Austin two weeks ago. I sense another upset here, whether its Garay beating him on the level or Landa protecting his arm.

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Projected Qtrs:
– #1 Kane over #9 Montoya: Kane’s 3-0 against the young world champ … but their most recent meeting in Portland in Dec was closer than it had been before. I sense a pattern in kane’s “close” matches; when a top player is playing well, they’ll hang with Kane for most of each game .. you’ll see scores like 8-8 or 10-9 … then poof, Kane hits another gear and suddenly its 15-10 game over. Its tough to play flawless racquetball for two straight hours against the GOAT; how close can Montoya come this time?
– Beltran/Estrada winner vs Murray; Which ever Mexican advances, i’ll favor over the big Canadian. It’ll be either Beltran (who’s never lost to Murray), or Estrada (who, if he beats Beltran it means he’s “on” this week and will be tough to stop).
– Parrilla over Portillo: I don’t think Parrilla is going to get upset three tourneys in a row; he’s never lost to Portillo in an IRT or WRT event (but did lost to him last year in SLP local event). But it’d be quite a statement if Lalo made another run.
– Garay over Jake/SFranco; if Garay tops Landa, no reason not to think he’d also get a win here.

I know I keep predicting wins for Estrada and Garay in particular; something about their games really strikes me as solid. Maybe i’m crazy, but both players have power, athleticism, good wins on their resumes and are growing tourney by tourney. What can I say, i’m a sucker for upsets.

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Semis:
– Kane over Estrada
– Parrilla over Garay

Finals: Kane over Parrilla.

Andree has come an awful long way from the 0,0,0 beating he took in the US Open 2016 at the hands of the king. Parrilla took a game from Kane in Syosset last season (though, to be fair Kane was nursing a hand injury), and was dominated in their most recent meeting (Portland semis). Look for Andree to find unique ways to keep this close but for Kane to pull away.

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Look for Streaming in the regular places; follow the IRT on facebook and sign up to get notifications when they go Live.
Look for Dean DeAngelo Baer, Favio Soto, Pablo Fajre and the IRTLive crew all weekend on the mike, calling the shots!

Tags

International Racquetball Tour
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
Federación Costarricense de Racquetball

IRT 42nd Lewis Drug Pro/Am Wrap-Up

DLR the big winner this weekend, winning both Singles and Doubles. Photo US Open 2019, Photographer Kevin Savory

Congrats to your winners on the weekend:
– Singles: Daniel De La Rosa
– Doubles; Daniel De La Rosa/Alvaro Beltran

De la Rosa wins this event for the second time in four years (he loves Sioux Falls: he’s made the final here now four years running), and captures his 4th Tier 1 victory, moving him into a tie for 19th all-time with heady names like Steve Serot, Gregg Peck, Bo Keeley and his long-time Mexican rival Alex Landa . Click here http://rball.pro/E75E50 for a list of all 40 tier 1 men’s pro titlists throughout all of history.

R2 Sports App home page for event: https://www.r2sports.com/tourney/home.asp?TID=31789

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Lets review the notable matches in the Singles draw.

Singles Match report in the PRS database: http://rball.pro/FA1E69

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In the 128s:
– Minnesota amateur Lee Meinerz played some solid ball and hung with Tony Carson in his first tourney back, taking the first game 15-14 before Carson had to retire.

In the 64s:
– Meinerz continued to play tough and stretched #17 Sebastian Fernandez to 8,12 in his tourney opener.
– #25 Kadim Carrasco played a tough tiebreaker against #24 Jansen Allen to advance.
– #28 Sam Bredenbeck played #21 Felipe Camacho tough, falling 9,14 in a hard-hitting match.
– Charlie Pratt Racquetball got a solid win over Alan Natera Chavez 10,8 to move into the 32s.
– Set Cubillos Ruiz got a tie-breaker win over the Ref Scott McClellan to advance.
– Robert Collins got a tough earned win over Canadian Tim Landeryou 12,12 to move on.

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In the 32s:
– #16 Adam Manilla could not keep the momentum going from last weekend and fell to #17 Fernandez 6,10. Fernandez looked bulked up and ready to challenge #1 Landa in the main draw.
– #21 Camacho got his best win of the season, ousting #12 Carlos Keller Vargas in a tie-breaker to advance to just his second main draw of the season.
– #20 Javier Estrada went breaker but took out #13 Thomas Carter to get into his third main draw of the season.
– #19 Javier Mar eased past the Costa Rican number one #14 seed Andres Acuña to get into the main draw. Mar has a history of disrupting IRT draws, and he’s well positioned to do so again here.
– #22 Charles Pratt moved to 4-0 lifetime in top-level events against #11 Mario Mercado Valenzuela in a streaky game that looked like was going against him early. Pratt gets a juicy match-up against a player he shocked in last year’s PARC event in Moscoso (also his doubles partner on the weekend).

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In the 16s: some notable matches:

– #20 Estrada could not get the breakthrough win he’s been pursuing, losing to #4 Alvaro Beltran in two solid games.
– #19 Mar proved once again why fans wish he’d play the tour full time, topping #3 Andree Parrilla in an 11-9 breaker. Its the second straight one-and-done for Parrilla, having been shocked last week in Austin by Manilla.
– #6 @Luis Luis Conrrado Moscoso Serrudo] got revenge on Pratt from their last meeting (the 2019 PARC) and topped him in two. He seemed to show little side effect of whatever malady caused him to exit so easily in Austin.
– #7 Daniel De La Rosa continued his h2h dominance over country-man Rodrigo Montoya Solis, beating him 11-8 in the breaker in a tough match.

So, 7 of the top 8 seeds into the quarters; a slight surprise to this observer who keeps waiting for some of the guys in the 9-20 range to step-up.

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In the Quarters though … all upsets.
– #8 Samuel Murray got a walk over when #1 Alex Landa pulled up lame midway through the second game. Murray had won the first, and it was hard to tell if the core injury (strained back?) was affecting Landa early on. Murray has beaten his oft-doubles partner before, so it wasn’t a huge surprise for him to get a game up on the notorious slow-starting Landa … but Murray into the semis was unexpected, especially from the #8 spot.
– Whatever #5 Lalo Portillo figured out … he needs to bottle it up and sell it. After three straight one-and-dones since earning a top 8 seed … he held serve against a former top 10 touring pro in Camacho in the 16s, and then dominated #4 Beltran 5,6 in the quarters. He gets a second semi on the season, and a winnable one at that versus Murray.
– #6 Moscoso continued to have the upper hand over Mar, dating to their junior days (they’re the same age-year and often met in the back end of Junior World events), and advanced in two games.
– #7 DLR took advantage of #2 Rocky Carson’s first game back from injury, playing solid ball and advancing in two 12,11.

So; for the for the first time in recorded seeding history on the Men’s tour, all top 4 seeds are upset prior to the semis, leaving the rest of this tourney to be contested neatly by the #5, #6, #7 and #8 seeds. We’re guaranteed to have a shock finalist; Murray has just one finals appearance in his career, Portillo none. The Lewis Drug event continues to provide surprises year after year.

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In the Semis:

– #5 Portillo raced out of the gate to blow away #8 Murray in game one, then mounted a huge comeback after going down big in game 2 to advance 4,14 and move into his first tier 1 professional final. Lalo is just 20 years of age and is one of the youngest finalists we’ve seen in years, and will have his hands full against a seasoned pro.

– In just their 4th career meeting (pro or international), #7 DLR continued his red-hot form and reversed the result from the US Open earlier this season and topped the Bolivian 8,11 to move into the final. Its hard to say whether Moscoso showed any ill-effects of the leg injury he picked up in Austin; one observer in the chat-box noted that Moscoso was merely “shuffling” to his right and not crossing over footsteps, perhaps implying he still was favoring his left leg. I also find it curious that the foot fault issues that plagued him at the US Open continue to be a factor; its now to the point where the referee knows to look for the FF and I believe now calls it even when its a borderline case.

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In the Finals:

It looked for a while like the young Portillo may provide a shock, as he played consistent solid ball to jump out to a lead, but DLR pulled back, played smart racquetball and eked out game one, saving game point against 15-14. In game 2, it was never really as close as the eventual 15-9 scoreline showed; DLR was in control despite Portillo’s excellent game plan.

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Points Implications of results:
– Landa had a chance to take over #1 with a tourney win, but by existing at the qtrs along with Carson they stay 2-3 in the standings behind Kane.
– Parrilla and Beltran remain 4-5, but Alvaro picks up some ground.
– DLR moves up to #6 with the win, gaining enough points on Moscoso to switch places and dropping the Bolivian to 7th.
– Despite the finals appearance and the win over Murray in the semis, Murray and Portillo remian 8-9 in the standings.
– With the missed event, S.Franco drops to 12th, which elevates Jake Bredenbeck into the top 10 for what I believe is the first time in his career.
– Mar jumps from #23 to #20, which is important because more than a few guys in the 11-20 range right now are either stepping back from touring or periodically miss events, meaning Mar could slip into the top 16, meaning a bye into the 32s.

the IRT now has enough events on the 12-month schedule that they’re counting points in 11 events, dropping other events. Which makes it even more amazing that guys like Kane and Conrrado can maintain top-8 seeds despite not even playing the minimum # of events.

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Doubles review

Match report in the PRS database: http://rball.pro/548396

The doubles draw was chalk in the semis, with all four top seeds advancing. Landa’s injury took out the Murray/Landa team, giving Montoya/Mar a walk-over into the finals. There they met their long-time Mexican nemesis team of #1 DLR/Beltran.

DLR/Beltran vs Mar/Montoya is becoming a frequent match-up in major doubles events. This final is a rematch of the following major matches:
– 2018 Mexican Nationals final
– 2018 Mexican Worlds Selection event final
– Quarters of 2018 World Doubles
– Semis of 2018 US Open
– Semis of 2019 Atlanta open

The veterans DLR/Beltran won all these meetings. And they won again in the Sioux Falls final, though they had to go breaker to do so. Beltran continues to be such a skilled shot maker even at 41, that I wouldn’t be surprised if he remained a dangerous pro doubles player for years to come.

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Men’s Open:

The top four seeds in the Men’s Open draw are all IRT pros ranked in the 9-16 range, and as expected they all advanced into the semis. Only Gerardo Franco Gonzalez was really troubled along the way, taken to a tie-breaker by Canadian veteran Landeryou.

In the Open semis: Franco upset Acuna while Montoya handled Mercado, and in the final Montoya cruised to the Men’s Open singles win.

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Next up?

The third of three IRT events in a row; the Lou Bradley Memorial in Sun Prairie, WI. It should be interesting to see what toll these back-to-back-to-back events take on players: we’ve already seen Kane bow out of one, Landa forfeit out with injury, and see both Beltran and Carson exit earlier than their seeds. Will we see another run from an unexpected source next week?

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International Racquetball Tour
International Racquetball Federation – IRF
International Racquetball Federation
USA Racquetball
Racquetball Canada
Federación Mexicana de Raquetbol
Federación Boliviana De Raquetbol – Febora
Racquetball Colombia
Federacion Colombiana de Racquetball
F

42nd Annual Lewis Drug Pro-Am Preview

Could Javier Mar make a big run this weekend? Photo US Open 2019, Photographer Kevin Savory

Hot on the heels of the Longhorn Open, we have one of the longest running tournaments in the nation being held in Sioux Falls, SD. its the 42nd annual Lewis Drug Pro-Am.

Renowned for its hospitality for the touring pros, this event has become one of the favorite stops each season, and continues to draw players from far and wide.

The Lewis drug pro-am is also known for delivering fans of the sport upsets and surprises. To wit, here’s some of the surprising results from past years:

– in 2019, #1 Alex Landa was upset in the first round by fellow Mexican and eventual World Rodrigo Montoya Solís. Montoya made a run to the semis before falling.
– in 2018 Landa got his first ever IRT Tier 1 win as the #8 seed, topping #1 Rocky Carson in the quarters and then winning a thrilling 11-10 tiebreaker over countryman #2 Daniel De La Rosa to win the title.
– in 2017 Landa made a run to the semis as a 14 seed, and DLR got just his second ever pro win in the final.
– in 2016 Jose Rojas topped both the #2 and #3 seeds to make the final before falling to #1 Waselenchuk
– 2015 featured a mostly chalk draw, with Kane at #2 topping Rocky at #1 but not before both the 3 and 4th seeds fell in upsets in the qtrs.
– 2014 was the final pro appearance of long time touring vet Mike Guidry, who hadn’t entered a pro event in years after retiring in Jan 2006. He fell in the 16s to eventual tourney finalist Alvaro Beltran.

So that’s some fun history.

The 2020 instance is also setup to perhaps provide some surprises … because we have late breaking news that #1 Kane Waselenchuk is ill and is not attending. So now we get a wide-open draw and possibly some surprises. And, let me tell you, projecting out the tourney here I see the possibility for some fascinating, rarely seen match-ups between top players.

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R2 Sports App link:https://www.r2sports.com/tourney/home.asp?TID=31789

36 players entered, and its a solid draw. As we saw in Austin, we have a number of non-regular top players in this draw waiting to make some noise. The biggest question mark for me is the health of Moscoso; he hobbled out of the Austin event and looked like he may have badly hurt his knee.

We are using a slight flip seeding this time, but thanks to the absence of #1 Kane just one top 8 seed got flipped away from where they should have been: 9th ranked Portillo got a top 8 seed, then got flipped 5th seed in the event. Seeds 6,7,8 mirror where the players are currently ranked.

Top-20 players missing; past Kane, we’re missing #10 Sebastian Franco (who misses his 3rd event of the season), #14 David Horn (who misses his 4th event of the season), and #17 Eduardo Garay, who misses out on a chance to build on his big wins last weekend in Austin.

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

In the round of 128:
– The tour welcomes back #32 seed Tony Carson Racquetball, who tore his Achilles heel nearly a year ago. He plays Minnesota-native Lee Meinerz, who hasn’t played an IRT event in several years but could be a good first-back-match for former top -10 player Carson.
– there’s three other play-ins in the round of 128, all involving non-tour regulars from the mid-west or Canada. Its great to see the tour in areas where these guys can travel and play.

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In the round of 64:
– #17 Sebastian Fernandez, who has struggled to make it to events this year and has seen his ranking fall, likely faces Carson to move on. A solid match here that could go either way, depending on how recovered Carson is from his injury. Its worth noting that in the last three IRT events that T.Carson has played … he’s got wins over De La Rosa, Parrilla and Mercado.
– In the #24/#25 seed, Kadim Carrasco takes on former touring regular Jansen Allen in an interesting match. Allen has taken a significant step back from touring and missed an event close to home last week in Texas but travels to South Dakota for this one. this could be a close match.
– #21 Felipe Camacho vs #28 Sam Bredenbeck: Camacho is another former top-10 touring pro who has stepped back from touring, now seeing his ranking fall into the 20s. He faces off against the younger Bredenbeck, who got two solid wins over tour regulars at this event last year to make the main draw.
– #22 Alan Natera Chavez vs #27 Charlie Pratt Racquetball; wow, what a tough match in the 64s; I think both of these guys are pushing for top 10 spots if they were still touring full time, and now they meet here. As I often observe, Natera can be hit or miss; one day he’s beating Montoya and Mar (as he has done in the last two Mexican Nats), then the next day he’s losing to relative unknowns in local events. Meanwhile, Pratt has a history of getting solid wins even as he curtails his touring.
– #18 Robert Collins vs #34 Tim Landeryou; Assuming Landeryou gets past Andres Gomez in the play in, he faces an opponent that he can hang with in the 64s. Could be an upset in the making here.

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Projecting the 32s: here’s some possible match-ups to watch for and some upset warnings:

– #16/#17 Adam Manilla vs the Fernandez/Carson winner: Was last week’s version of Manilla a one-off fluke, or has he turned the tide under the tutelage of a new coach Jim Winterton? This will be a good first test; which ever player advances will be a tough opponent that, up until last week, I’d have favored over Manilla. Now? I’m not so sure who to predict.
– #14 Andres Acuña vs #19 Javier Mar: Acuna has to be frustrated with this draw; the under-seeded Mar can beat practically anyone at this tourney and he travels through Acuna to get into the main draw.
– #11 Mario Mercado vs the Natera/Pratt winner: Pratt has never lost to Mercado in an event PRS tracks, and hasn’t played Natera in nearly 5 years. This is an upset warning for a 20-seed to advance here.

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round of 16:

– #1 Alex Landa vs #16 Manilla: so, assuming that Manilla gets here … is this a possible 16 over 1 situation? I mean, Landa as a #2 seed was upset by the 18th seed Garay last week, and Manilla had the best event of his career with wins over Parilla and Mercado and going one game up on DLR. It wouldn’t surprise me to see this be a 5,6 blow out for Landa or a monumental upset by Manilla.
– #8/#9: Samuel Murray vs Jake Bredenbeck; its a coin-flip between these two hard hitters; they’ve split their 2 prior match-ups and play a similar game style.
– #5 Lalo Portillo vs #12 Carlos Keller Vargas; Portillo has now been beaten in the round of 16 four straight times … and I think Keller makes it 5 for 5. These two play a very similar game style, which makes sense since they both are tall, lanky and have great court coverage. Can Keller finally break through and make a pro quarter? Or can Lalo reverse his trend of getting upset early?
– #4 Alvaro Beltran vs #20 Javier Estrada: well, last week I thought Beltran might get upset by a younger countryman who’s been making waves in Mar … and I think the same could happen here. I also think back to back tourneys and flights add up for a 40-yr old; i’m predicting the upset here.
– #3 Andree Parrilla vs #19 Mar: a brutal round of 16 for Parrilla, who’s coming off an upset loss in Austin in the same round. Not a lot of past history to go on; they met a few times on the WRT back in 2016-2017 range, and they met in a local RKT event in SLP late last year. They’re about even on the court head to head through these matches; who will prevail here? I expect a dog-fight and for Mar to prevail in the upset.
– #6 Conrrado kevin Moscoso Ortiz Racquetball vs … someone. Is this Natera, Pratt, Mercado? It could be any of these guys. Bigger question is; how healthy is Moscoso here? Is he 100%? How much of a run can he make? If Moscoso is not at full strength, he can easily lose to whichever of these plays advances out of this section to meet him. Lets hope he’s healthy, since he’s traveled an awfully long way to play these events.
– #7 Daniel De La Rosa vs #10 Rodrigo Montoya Solis; Another gang-busters round of 16; this is the final of 2018 Mexican Nationals and the semis of this event last year. I think DLR has Montoya’s number; the only win Montoya has over DLR h2h was in a match that had already guaranteed both guys spots on the Mexican international team. DLR looked like a new guy last week in Austin and despite being the 7th seed has a draw he must like to get back to the finals again.
– #2 Rocky Carson vs Gerardo Franco: both guys missed Austin; Carson still recovering from a knee op in December; is he 100%? I don’t think Franco can beat him, but I wonder if Carson is ready to take on this deep field.

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Projected Qtrs:
– Landa over Murray; Landa takes out his frequent doubles partner.
– Estrada over Keller: I like Estrada’s big serve over Keller’s tactical game.
– Mar over Moscoso: I sense Moscoso still isn’t 100% and may fall at this juncture to a veteran pro
– DLR over Carson: DLR is hot, Carson is recovering, and when they do play its often close. I like DLR with the upset here.

Semis:
– Landa over Estrada: I’m not sure they’ve met …its hard to keep track of all the RKT draws that feature all these players. But by game style I think I like Landa to outlast Estrada.
– DLR over Mar; flip a coin between these two on the court, if it comes to this. I’ll go with DLR just based on experience and recent form, even if I have Mar slightly ahead of him on my personal world rankings.

Finals; Landa over DLR, a rematch of the 2018 Lewis Drug final.

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Doubles review

Great doubles draw. I’d expect the #1 team of DLR/Beltran to make the final from the top, and for Mar/Montoya to make it from the bottom for a solid all-Mexican final. It’d be a rematch of the 2018 Mexican Nationals and I’d favor the #1 seeds.

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Look for Streaming in the regular places; can’t wait for this event! make sure to log in and say high to Dean DeAngelo Baer and Favio Soto on the facebook feeds.

International Racquetball Tour
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
Federación Costarricense de Racquetball