This past week, the LPRT became the last of the major racquetball organizations to convert to standard/amateur/international scoring standards, abandoning the 3 out of 5 games to 11 structure that had been in place for years.
This is the first time a change in the scoring system for the ladies pros has occurred since 2002. But prior to that, the ladies pro tour changed scoring constantly, and its an interesting history. I’ve kept track of the scoring system changes over the years here: http://www.proracquetballstats.com/…/lprt_scoring_changes.h… . Here’s a brief review:
– 1974: In the beginning, the NRC’s standard scoring system was best 2/3 games to 21, tiebreaker also win by 1. – 1975: some qualifying rounds were one game to 31. See Aurora 76 as an example. – 1976 est: 3rd game not to 21 but to 11. Believe this happened in 1976 along with Men’s side, fixing the tiebreaker to not be such a grind. – 1980: Scored in two sets of best of five games to 11, tiebreaker best of three; with rally scoring. Example score: 3-1, 2-3, 2-1. This scoring method has wreaked havoc on the PRS results code, coincidentally. – 1981: The third set is replaced with a single game. Still rally scoring. Example Score: 2-3, 3-2, 15-11. – 1983: Best of five, to 21; rally-scoring. Example score: 13, 17, (14), 18. – 1986: Best of five, to 11, win by one. More or less Consistent with the Men’s scoring by this point. – 1995 est: Same best of five to 11, but win by two instead of win by one. The Men’s tour had a similar change at some point in his time-frame as well. – Aug 2000: Back to Rally scoring and games to 21, win by 2. “Ping Pong” style serving where each player would serve five times in a row. It was said at the time this change was done to try to counter-act the dominance of Michelle Gould on tour. – Aug 2001: Scoring change again: best of five games format, with games played to 15, and scoring on every rally. But no more ping pong – Sept 2002: Abandoned rally scoring for 2002-03 season, back to “normal” best of five to 11, win by two conventional pro scoring. – Aug 2019: conversion to amateur/international scoring.
I may be missing some smaller variations in the scoring, but these are the major changes over the years.
We’ve updated the code in a similar fashion to what we did in Jan 2019 when the International Racquetball Tour made this same change, but we’ll have to wait until we get some data entry to ensure that the code correctly interprets the new scoring method.
My two cents on the change? Well, i’m bummed there’s no more crazy 5 game scores from a code perspective; I love watching 15-13 matches or the thrill of a 12-10 5th game super tiebreaker. But I’ve also come around on Doug Ganim‘s theories on the scoring system with respect to tiebreakers in later rounds. There’s many more of them now than there were longer matches in the old score format.
Last season on the IRT, which was the first entirely in the new scoring method, 21% of matches went to the tie-breaker (see http://rball.pro/8BD641) and 25% of matches from the Quarters on went to a tie-breaker. These stats are skewed of course by having one particular dominant player basically win every match in 2 irrespective of the round.
By way of comparison, In the last season where the IRT had 3 out of 5 games to 11 … 14% of matches from the Quarters on went to the tiebreaker 5th game. So the new scoring method is giving us more 3rd game tiebreakers than we had 5th game breakers in the previous system at the business end of tournaments.
I also feel (without much in the way of hard proof necessarily) that the 3-game format enables some players to get wins where they would have run out of gas in the 5-game format. Anecdotally we see more upsets of top players in the best-of-3 format versus best-of-5; Paola Longoria has taken losses in best-of-3 national and amateur competitions as of late, but has just two best-of-5 game losses in the last three pro seasons entirely. It is easier for a skilled but less-than-fit player to pull off a win in best-of-3 versus outlasting a fitter player in a 2 hour best-of-5 marathon.
Pro Racquetball Stats fans may not know it, but at the bottom of the Report selection page for each tour I have some static pages of information that I maintain. One of those is kind of a running diary of the season of “events” as they occur.
Here’s a list of notable “events” from this past season, which has seen some significant change in the structure of the tour. This is a subset of what’s on the above link, with text abbreviated for brevity.
– August 2018: the IRT season opens with questions as to whether Kane Waselenchuk is actually “retired” after events stemming from the last event in Florida in April and comments made on social media and in interviews over the summer.
– Oct 2018: Kane enters and wins the US Open, his 14th title. Kane is now simultaneously the oldest and youngest ever winner of the US Open.
– Nov 2018: Commissioner Andy Kulback takes a “leave of absence” from the IRT, and IRT CEO John Scott announces new managerial structure for the tour, which installs Mike Grisz as the Chairman of the board.
– Nov 2018: thanks to Kane’s Jan 2018 injury, he drops in the 12-month rolling rankings to #6 while Alex Landaascends to #1. This leads to a series of discussions and criticisms of the tour ranking system in racquetball forums, with calls for protected seeding or changes to the ranking system.
– Feb 2019: Scott resigns as CEO of the tour after experiencing some medical and personal issues. Current Chairman of the Board Mike Grisz takes over as interim CEO.
– Mar 2019: IRT announces a partnership with Pablo Fajre to broadcast events, a departure from the existing IRT Network infrastructure and presumably an end to the competing WRT tour.
– Mar 2019: the first ever IRT event occurs in Bolivia, the Open Iris Bolivia Grand Slam. #1 Waselenchuk, along with 4 other top 10 players do not make the trip. Bolivian #1 Luis Conrrado Moscoso Serrudo wins the event, defeating IRT #2 Rocky Carson in the final.
– April 2019: Former CEO Scott divests himself fully from the IRT by selling his ownership shares to Maryland-based racquetball enthusiast Slemo Warigonand his wife Charity. This ends Scott’s not-quite two year ownership of the tour, and a much longer involvement in the sport. Coinciding with this move, Grisz takes over officially as both CEO and Chairman of the IRT Board. The IRT is now a fully volunteer-driven organization.
– April 2019: Former Commissioner Kulbeck returns to the tour with some limited/as-of-yet to be determined involvement going forward.
– April 2019: Waselenchuk loses a quarter-final match in Sarasota to Alvaro Beltran breaking an 83-match winning streak on tour and becoming the first on-the-court, non injury related match loss since Sept 2013.
– May 2019: Kane wins the final Tier 1 of the season in Syosset to secure his 13th pro title.
– May 2019: US Open director Doug Ganim announces that he’s retiring after its 25th iteration in 2020, leaving some time to coordinate a replacement plan but also throwing the biggest racquetball event’s future into doubt.
– June 2019: After several non-Tier 1s wrap up, the final 2018-19 season finishes. The final event is won in surprising fashion by Javier Estrada, who takes out a slew of top IRT pros to win the title.
Next Up: Pan Am Games. I’ll wait until the knockout draws are produced to do “previews.”
Hello racquetball fans! This coming weekend is what has now become the 2nd biggest International Racquetball Tour event of the season and is the reported longest running Pro event in the land; the Lewis Drug Pro-Am held in Sioux Falls, SD. Thanks to the long-standing generosity of the sponsors, this event generally features the richest and best draws outside of the US Open.
Quick note: keep IRT CEO John Scott in your thoughts; he underwent some emergency surgical procedures in the past couple of weeks and is recuperating at home.
This year, the event falls right on the same weekend as the massive annual Longhorn Open, which has a WRT event that unfortunately drew away a few of the names that may have considered entering. Nonetheless, there’s a solid draw of 39 pros entered into Lewis.
Ranking implications of this event: after months of kvetching about the IRT ranking system and the implications of Kane’s four missed events in the spring of 2017-18 season, this event likely rectifies the situation. This is the first event from last spring that Kane missed, meaning he has zero points to “defend” from the Lewis Drug event last season. Therefore, he has no where to go but up. Meanwhile, current #1 Landa won this event last year and therefore has 400 points to defend. If Kane wins … irrespective of who makes the final Kane should ascend back to #1 ranking. He will have gained more points than either of the two guys ahead of him could earn.
The only top 20 pros missing are #6 Sebastian Franco (on his Honeymoon as per IRT press release) and #10 Bobby David Horn, who was ill at the California Open, has been fighting through some injuries all season and seems to be taking off the weekend to recuperate for the busy spring schedule. These two absences give Jose Diaz his first ever top 8 seeding, which immediately gets “switched” to a #7 seed for the tourney.
Notable players we don’t regularly see in the draw include former IRT touring pro Tony Anthony Carson, who made waves in the Portland event earlier this season and will be a tough out. #18 ranked and reigning International Racquetball Federation World champ Rodrigo Montoya Solis is in the draw, hoping for a better result. Unfortunately he’s seeded 16th, which has him playing right into #1 Alex Landayet again. We’ll cover that in the predictions. World 18U runner-up Sebastian Fernandezis back after making waves in Canoga Park. US Open Men’s Open champ Alejandro Herrera Azcarate has made the trip up from Miami for this tourney and is playing doubles with none other than US Open tourney director and rball legend Doug Ganim. Lastly the geographic proximity to Canada has drawn down some of Canada’s top players too, including Tim Landeryou, Lee Connell and Tanner Prentice.
Lets preview the draw. Here’s some round of 64 matches of interest: – #21 Sebastian Fernandez goes up against fellow 18U recent graduate and current US Junior National champ Ricardo Ricky Diaz. Tough draw for Diaz, who runs into a guy who has been really making waves on tour so far this season. – #20 Mauro Daniel Rojas vs Christian Longoria; a great first round match between contrasting styles; the shot-making control game of Longoria versus Rojas’ power. – #13 Adam Manilla vs Timmy Hansen; Manilla plays the youngster Timmy Hansen, who enters a pro tourney for the first time. Hansen is the reigning US 14U national champ and makes up one half of a potentially pretty darn good Father/Son team with his dad Tim Hansen (one of the most decorated amateur players of all time and USAR hall-of-fame inductee). – #19 Nick Riffel vs Lee Connell: Connell has been playing Canadian National events since Riffel was in grade school; we’ll see if the veteran can handle the newbie. – #11 Jake Bredenbeck vs Cesar Castillo; Castillo enters a pro tournament for the first time since 2015; he’s a long-time international representative of Venezuela, last playing for his country in the 2017 Bolivarian games. – #10 Jansen Allen gets a tough 1st round draw in Sioux Falls native John Goth. Goth only has a few major tourneys on his resume over the past few years … but rolled to the US National final in 2012 and has taken out touring pros like Sebastian Franco and Christian Longoria in recent WRT events. This could be a tough one for IRT regular Allen. – #15 Felipe Camacho matches up against Matthew Ivar Majxner, a tough player who has been playing pro events since the late 1990s. – #18 Gerardo Franco Gonzalez faces the always-tough Alejandro Herrera, last seen taking the Men’s Open draw in Minneapolis and who played Robbie Collins tough in the pro draw in Minneapolis before losing. Herrera plays with pace, and Franco will need to adjust.
Projecting to the 32s: – Montoya over Robert Collins; tough draw for Collins, who has had a solid season, but I see a Montoya win here. – #9 Mario Mercado vs Tony Carson: missing out on the bye comes back to haunt Mercado, who runs into former touring pro Carson, who has the wherewithall to advance here. I see a Carson win and Mercado’s tough season continuing. – Charlie Pratt versus Sebastian Fernandez: wow, tough match up here. Pratt has experience on his side but these two play a very similar game; all about control. I give the cerebral Pratt the advantage here over the youngster. – Manilla vs Rojas: I like Rojas here, out-pacing the lefty Manilla in what should be a shoot out of power players swinging out of their shoes. – Carter vs Riffel: these two buddies have met three times on tour, with Riffel taking two of them. I think Riffel wins again and advances to the main draw. – Jake over the Ref Scott McClellan; at some point the Ref will force his way into making … someone else ref his back-of-the-tournament matches 🙂 – Allen vs Landeryou: I like this match-up; i think this could be a pretty tight game. I like Allen’s game lately; he has not been an easy out, but Landeryou’s game could frustrate. – Franco over Camacho: assuming we don’t see a surprise upset, I like Gerardo Franco in this match. He’s got the game and has the capabilities to do a break through.
Main Draw: round of 16. – #1 Landa vs #16 Montoya: for the 2nd straight event, and for the third time in two months, we get Landa v Montoya. Last time, I predicted the upset, and instead Landa cruised to the semis. This time … i’m predicting Landa returns to the site of his first ever pro victory energized and takes a 2 game win. A semis-quality match-up in the 16s yet again. – #8 Alvaro Beltran v Tony Carson: Carson has beaten DLR and Parrilla the last two IRT events he’s entered; he can beat Beltran. But … they’ve met 6 times on the IRT and Beltran has won all 6. I’ll go with a tiebreaker win for Alvaro Beltran. – #5 Samuel Murray v #12 Pratt: last time they played was at the 2018 Worlds, where Pratt waxed Murray in two. Can he repeat the favor? I think he can; since making the final in the season opener, Murray has four early exits in a row in pro events, including two round of 16 upsets. Pratt can make it another early exit here. – #4 Daniel De La Rosa vs Rojas: DLR converts back to Racquetball from Pickleball and downs the youngster Rojas in the 16s for the 2nd tourney in a row. – #3 Kane Waselenchuk gets his first match likely against Riffel and makes quick work of the youngster to advance. – #6 Andree Parrilla vs #11 Jake Bredenbeck: these two have met a few times … and Jake has never lost to Andree. They havn’t met in a year and a half though, and in that time Parrilla has taken a big step ahead. I think Parrilla advances. – #7 Jose Diaz vs #10 Allen: they’ve met 5 times and have gone back and forth; Allen got him in their most recent meeting in Laurel. This is an excellent opportunity for Allen to regain some of his momentum and get back to the quarters. Expect a tough match here. I’m not sure who I favor. I liked what I saw out of Allen in the last event; we’ll go with the Texan here. – #2 Rocky Carson vs Gerardo Franco: they met in Laurel earlier this season and Rocky pasted him. No reason to expect a different result here.
Projected Quarters: – #1 Landa over #8 Beltran: Landa has his number and has had it for a while. – #4 DLR over #12 Pratt: they met at the US Open, a tight but 2-game win for DLR. I like the way DLR is trending this season … he seems like he’s been much more consistent this season than last. After missing the first event, he’s made two finals and a quarter and is a good bet to make at least the semis here. – #3 Kane over #6 Andree: a rematch of the quarters from California, a 3,5 beat-down. No concrete courts in Sioux Falls, so perhaps Parrilla can keep it close, but expect a 2-game win for the King. – #2 Rocky vs #10 Allen: they’ve played 13 times … and Rocky has won 13 times. Expect 14 for 14 here.
Semis: – #1 Landa vs #4 DLR: these two met at the Lewis Drug in 2017 semis and in the 2018 finals (an 11-10 Landa win for his first ever pro title)… so its only fitting if they meet again in 2019. Landa has beaten him h2h 3 straight times now, but they’re always battles. Can DLR turn the tide? I’d like to see Kane vs Landa in the final but it wouldn’t surprise me if it was Kane-DLR again. – #3 Kane vs #2 Rocky; they’ve met 76 times (!) … but if they meet here it’ll be the first time they’ve faced off in a match that was NOT a final since 2009. That’s 10 years of match-ups for tourney titles. Nonetheless, Kane makes it 74-3.
Finals: Kane over Landa. Or maybe DLR. Or perhaps Montoya if I get my predictions way wrong.
——————– There’s also a solid Doubles draw for only the third official IRT doubles event of the year., with 10 teams playing and the regular suspects (Beltran/DLR, Landa/Murray, Montoya/Parrilla). Beltran & DLR are unvanquished in nearly a year of doubles competition and remain the team to beat.