2019 Valentine Open Preview

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Final: Kane over Rocky, yet again.

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

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

IRT Atlanta Open Wrap-Up

Rocky Carson wins the season opener in Atlanta. Photo courtesy of Rocky’s twitter @rockycarsonRB

Congrats to your winners on the weekend: 
Men’s Singles: Rocky Carson
Men’s Pro Doubles: No Winner; see below for explanation.

R2 Sports App link for tourney:

#1 Kane Waselenchuk had to withdraw at the last minute, giving him a forfeit loss in the 16s and opening up the tournament for the taking, as happens when he misses an event.

Here’s a wrap-up of Singles, citing notable results by round:

PRS Reports in the DB: http://rball.pro/529EA0

In the 64s:
– Set Cubillos Ruiz got a solid 2-game win over IRT regular #22 Nick Riffel. Cubillos is really active in the game in his home country of Colombia and its good to see him active in IRT events.
– MoMo Zelada reversed the result from the Bolivian Grand Slam and topped #21 Kadim Carrasco in two straight for a solid win.
– Utah amateur Anthony Martin stretched #12 Gerardo Franco Gonzalez to a tiebreaker before falling; solid showing.

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In the 32s:
– #17 Sebastian Fernandez gets a career win, topping #16 Javier Mar 10,11. With Kane’s withdrawal, I thought Mar had a good shot at the final here. Instead, Fernandez gets one of the better wins in his career and gets a pass into the quarters for the first time in his pro career. 
– #12 Gerardo Franco was stretched to a tiebreaker by Zelada before advancing.
– #20 Carlos Keller Vargas was taken to a tiebreaker by #13 Thomas Carter before advancing. This was a closer match than I expected and makes me wonder if Keller is still nursing the injury that he was struggling with this summer (with all due respect to Carter, who played solid ball all night).
– #18 Eduardo Garay Rodriguez got a solid win over #15 Andres Acuña 11-8 in the breaker to advance. 15/18 matches are usually close, and this was no different.

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In the 16s, we saw some matches that didn’t quite go as I thought they would in my preview;
– #8 Sebastian Franco took the first round of many 8/9 matchups against #9 Rodrigo Montoya Solis taking an 11-7 tiebreaker. 
– #4 Andree Parrilla got a dominant win over 2-time defending PARC champ Carlos Keller 8,8. Parrilla was able to really put balls away and wore out Keller over the course of the night.
– #6 Daniel De La Rosa was taken to a tiebreaker by the precocious #11 Lalo Portillo before advancing. Portillo continues to impress.
– #7 Samuel Murray took a solid win over #10 Mario Mercado, a match-up not unlike the Franco-Montoya rivalry that could be one we see a lot this season. Notably, it looks like Mercado is a full timer on tour this year; he’s made both IRT events so far on the schedule.

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In the Quarters, all four matches went to tie-breaker.

– #8 Franco ended #17 Fernandez’s run, but was made to work for it, winning 11-9 in the end.
– #4 Parrilla couldn’t close out game 2’s match point opportunities, but advanced 11-4 in the breaker.
– #3 Alex Landa had his typical barn-burner against #6 DLR, winning 11-10 to move on. There’s a slew of razor-thin matches between these two over the years; this is just the latest in a series.
– #2 Rocky Carson improved to 10-0 over #7 Murray, but had to go tiebreaker to do so.

In the semis:
– #4 Parrilla dominated #8 Franco to earn his 3rd career IRT pro final.
– #2 Carson beat #3 Landa in two tight games 11,12.

In the final; Rocky earns his 27th career pro win, topping Parrilla 13,8. He now sits just 2 behind Jack Huczek for 5th place in tourney wins all-time.

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Ranking Implications of this event:

Because there was no Atlanta event this weekend last season, points earned here should just add on to existing rankings and will have some effects on the Laurel event’s seedings. For this week, Rocky overtakes Kane for #1 … but only for this week week. On 9/16/19, last year’s points fall off and Kane should be back at #1, and should be the #1 seed in Laurel.

What’s more interesting is what happens when the 9/16/19 date hits. if i have my data right:
– Parrilla will over take Landa for #3.
– Montoya will move to #7, finally getting a top-8 seed and setting up an intriguing qtr with Carson if seeds hold.
– Murray drops to #9; he loses a ton of points from last year’s Laurel event, where he made the final. He’ll have to battle Franco just to make the quarters now.
– Portillo moves up to #13, Fernandez jumps to #21.

So, pretty important ranking moves for the next Tier 1 event in Laurel in two weeks’ time.

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Doubles wrap

PRS Report in DB: http://rball.pro/34FD97

With the withdraw of Kane, the Ben Croft /Kane team that I thought would win this draw was taken out of the equation.

The #1 seeds of DLR/Beltran battled their way through two of the toughest teams in the draw, outlasting Vargas/Carrasco in the qtrs and then their Mexican nemesis team of Montoya/Mar in the semis. The #2 seeds of Landa/Murray beat the upset-minded Parrilla/Portillo team (who had upset #3 seeds Franco/Mercado in the qtrs) in the other semi.

Unfortunately, the final was not played and a Double Forfeit was declared. As per an IRT announcement, the players had a misunderstanding about scheduling (most of the time, Doubles final is sat. night, but in Atlanta it was scheduled for Sunday instead). So flights were already arranged in conflict with the final.

This is a first for me, I think. I cannot recall ever entering “Double Forfeit” in for a final, in more than 3,100 tournament draws now entered into the database. I’ve seen some 3rd place games abandoned like this before, but even that’s pretty rare. Lets hope this is a one-off and doesn’t happen again. Nobody looks good here.

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Next up on the schedule (after I wrap up the LPRT event tomorrow); we do have a small break in the schedule, possibly an RKT event in Mexico we can cover, before the IRT’s next Tier 1 in Laurel, MD.

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Fecoracquet Fecoracquet
International Racquetball Tour
Federación Mexicana de Raquetbol
Federación Boliviana de Racquetball
Racquetball Canada
USA Racquetball

IRT Atlanta Open Preview

Here it is; the moment you’ve been waiting for. The first Men’s pro tier 1 of the new 2019-20 season.

Draws are up on www.irttour.com and on R2 Sports Event Software here: https://www.r2sports.com/tourney/home.asp?TID=30291

The tour returns to Lilburn after a one-season absence, and is rewarded with a great 38-man draw and both both singles and doubles action. The top 10 players are here, then we’re missing the 11th-14th ranked players inclusive ( Jose DiazJake Bredenbeck (injured reportedly), David Horn and Luis Conrrado Moscoso Serrudo all miss this event, somewhat surprisingly for the first three). We’re also missing last weekend’s winner Charlie Pratt depriving the draw a bit of its mid-section talent.

This combination of missing players elevates Lalo Portillo all the way to the #11 seed here, his highest ever seeding in an IRT event. We’re also missing frequent tour participants like Jansen AllenAdam Manilla, and Felipe Camacho; all three treaded water or slipped in the rankings last season; is this a one-tourney blip or are we seeing a changing of the guard on tour? More to come here later. In the meantime…

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Lets preview the singles draw first.

NOTE: post publishing this analysis and the draw, Kane Waselenchuk withdrew from the event due to a personal issue. Take that into mind reading the below. I could see this most benefiting Javier Mar, who could get a walkover in the 16s and very well could run to the finals.

Notable round of 64 matches:
– #24 Maurice Miller vs Troy Warigon; a solid match-up between two solid players, who also happen to be playing doubles together this weekend. They met in the semis of the pro draw of the LPRT event in December on Troy’s home court (a Miller win); now the tides are reversed as Warigon travels to play Miller on Miller’s home court. Miller should advance here.
– #21 Kadim Carrasco vs MoMo Zelada; Carrasco is one of several Bolivian-based players to enter this draw. These two met in the opener of the Bolivian Grand Slam last March, a dominant Carrasco win. I like Zelada keeping it close but ultimately falling again to Carrasco.
– #19 Justus Benson vs Austin Cunningham; Benson takes on a talented local in a first rounder that could be closer than he wants.
– #23 Scott McClellan vs Michael Arterburn: two frequent IRT entrants face off in the opener.
– #18 Eduardo Garay Rodriguez takes on long-time touring pro Dan Fowler, who plays just his third IRT event in the last decade, making the drive down from Maryland along with Warigon and Zelada.

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Notable round of 32s, assuming some early upsets don’t occur:
– #16 Javier Mar vs #17 Sebastian Fernandez; tough match-up for both players, fitting of a 16/17 draw. I like both players chances of breaking into the top 10 with a full season on tour … but we generally only see Mar part time (He’s played just 7 events in the past 5 seasons). But Mar’s results speak for themselves; he’s always a threat to advance when he plays. I like Mar over the younger Mexican player here, but I like Patata’s chances this season.
– #12 Gerardo Franco Gonzalez vs #21 Carrasco: Franco takes advantage of the missing 11-15 ranked players to secure a top 16 seed and gets a winnable match against the Carrasco/Zelada winner.
– #20 Carlos Keller Vargas takes on #13 Thomas Carter, a tough draw for Carter facing the two-time defending PARC champ.
– #15 Andres Acuña vs #18 Garay: great match of two internationals; last time they knowingly played was in the 2014 Junior worlds (a tight Acuna win). Acuna has continued to impress with his international accomplishments, but Garay beat a number of top players last year and is looking to make some noise this season. Garay to advance but its a toss-up.

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Projecting the 16s.
– #1 Kane Waselenchuk vs #16 Mar: they’ve met 3 times; Kane crushed him at Syosset last spring, but Mar played Kane as tough as he’s been played in the best-of-three format at last year’s US Open. Mar’s tactical game can keep him in a match with Kane if he’s shooting well, but that only goes so far. Kane gets a quality match out of the gate but advances in two.
– #8 Sebastian Franco vs #9 Rodrigo Montoya Solis: the first of potentially many critical openers for both players as Rodrigo makes a run at the tour top 8. I don’t have any prior meetings between the two, so this should be telling for now, as both guys remain neck and neck at the 8/9 spot and should continue to meet at this 8/9 juncture for a bit until points settle out. I predict Montoya to advance.
– #5 Alvaro Beltran vs #12 G.Franco: they’ve played 3 times since Jan 2018, all three Beltran wins. I’d expect the same here; a win for Alvaro in 2 closer games.
– #4 Andree Parrilla vs #20 Keller; brutal draw for Parrilla. Keller was handily beating Parrilla at the Black Gold cup this summer when Keller had to retire; this will be a setback for Parrilla’s pursuit of the #3 spot on tour right out of the gate, because I think Keller wins this match in two.
– #3 Alex Landa vs #14 Robert Collins: just one meeting between these two; a 3-game win at the 2016 US Open. Landa should advance here.
– #6 Daniel De La Rosa vs #11 Portillo; this should be an interesting match; Portillo has gotten a ton of solid wins this summer, while DLR fell to his lowest ranking in a while. Is DLR in? This is just the kind of match that can trip him up if he isn’t focused. I’d expect DLR to advance here because his game is just too complete for Portillo right now, but Portillo has the talent to win.
– #7 Samuel Murray vs #10 Mario Mercado: 4 meetings between them, none in the last few years. They’re split 2-2, with all four going 4 or 5 games. I like Mercado here, building on his great Pan Am Games showing.
– #2 Rocky Carson vs #18 Garay; little to go on here but I suspect Garay will get a lesson in match management as the veteran advances in two.

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Possible Quarters:
– #1 Waselenchuk vs #9 Montoya: just two prior meetings between the two, both dominant Kane wins. It will be interesting to see if Montoya’s game has added the facets he needs to compete with Kane; i look forward to this meeting if it occurs nonetheless because there’s not too many other guys who hit it this hard on tour.
– #20 Keller vs #5 Beltran: Keller’s beaten Alvaro twice in the PARCs, including in the semis of the 2019 event en route to his title. I see another Keller tight 2-game win.
– #3 Landa vs #6 DLR; a frequent match-up between two top Mexican players: I now have Landa 7-5 in both pro and Amateur meetings with DLR, and you have to go back to 2017 to find a DLR win. I think Landa wins here to move on.
– #2 Carson vs #10 Mercado; 8 meetings, 8-0 for Carson, but Mercado took him to a tiebreaker on home soil in the Bolivian Grand Slam earlier this year. Look for a Carson win.

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Semis:
– #1 Kane over #20 Keller; Keller’s solid, but not this solid. It could be a fun match to watch though, in that Keller’s game does not really overpower players, but he hangs in. Can he hang with Kane’s power? 
– #2 Carson vs #3 Landa; Carson leads 7-4 all time … but they’re dead even split in the last 3 seasons 4-4, alternating wins. Carson won in Syosset to end last season … but Landa beat him handily in Florida the week before en route to that title. I like Rocky here.

Final: Kane over Rocky. 1 vs 2 yet again. I know nobody wants to predict the obvious 1-2 final, but as we saw last year when Rocky and Kane had locked up the top two slots with a couple of events yet to go … there’s still a gap between them and the rest of the tour.

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Men’s Doubles preview

Love this Doubles draw. The top of the draw is stacked, and there’s 11 solid teams. Portillo and Parrilla have decided to play together every event, adding to the intrigue of doubles draws with more and more “regular” teams showing up. All four quarter finals look like they’ll be great.

In the top half, look for Ben Croft/Waselenchuk to get stretched to the limit by the Mar/Montoya team (who just won gold at the Pan Am games) before advancing to face their frequent nemesis team of DLR/Beltran in one semi.

In the bottom half, I like the Colombian national team of Mercado/Franco to top Parrilla/Portillo and to face the #2 seeded Landa/Murray team, who continues to have great success playing with each other semi.

Croft/Waselenchuk took out DLR/Beltran the last time they played (Mar 2019) and we’ll go with that again, as they then continue to beat Landa/Murray in the final.

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Lets get it on. Look for Streaming announcements in all the usual places all weekend.

International Racquetball Tour
International Racquetball Federation – IRF

Alex Landa Torneo Internacional Wrap-Up

Landa wins his namesake event is this weekend in Juarez.

Congrats to the winners on the weekend:
– Men’s Singles: Alex Landa
– Men’s Doubles: Javier Estrada/Ernesto Ochoa

R2sports link for the tourney here: https://www.r2sports.com/tourney/home.asp?TID=31049

Here’s a quick review of the tourney

In Men’s Singles, no upsets to the quarters. In the qtrs:
– #1 Alex Landa topped #8 Ruben Estrada in an injury fft after winning the first game.
– #5 Alan Natera Chavez topped #4 Ernesto Ochoa in a tie-breaker fitting of the 4/5 match-up.
– #6 Alex Cardona took out #3 Javier Estrada in two close games. Was his amazing performance in Chihuahua earlier this year an aberration?
– #2 Eduardo Garay Rodriguez topped the veteran Polo Gutiérrez 10,2.

In the Semis;
– Landa and Natera battled in a close game 1, then Landa pulled away to take game two 15-3 and advance to the final of his namesake tourney.
– Cardona took two close games from Garay 13,12 to “upset” his 2nd straight seeded player and advance to the final.

In the Final: 
– Cardona took the first game, then Landa took over, beating his frequent Juarez club playing partner (12),5,6 to win the singles title in his name sake event. Not a bad showing for Cardona, who has stepped back from competitive play but still remains a dangerous player in every draw he enters. For Landa, two solid wins over tough opponents and a good warmup for the new season coming.

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In Men’s Doubles:
– #1 seeds Landa/Cardona were upset in the semis by #4 Estrada/Ochoa in a tiebreaker.
– #2 Natera/Garay downed #6 seeds (who got a walkover over #3 seeded team in the qtrs) Jose Martinez / Manuel Villarreal: to advance to the final.

In a good final entirely consisting of solid Mexican players who rarely feature in USA domestic IRT events, Estrada and Ochoa blasted their way to a win over Natera/Garay.

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Next up; the start of the 2019-20 pro season with the LPRT heading to San Luis Potosi.

Federación Mexicana de Raquetbol
RKT
International Racquetball Tour

2nd Annual Alex Landa 2019 Torneo Abierto Internacional de Raquetbol Preview

Landa’s namesake event is this weekend in Juarez.

Here’s a quick preview of this weekend’s Alex Landa event, being held in Juarez, CH, Mexico.

r2sports home page: https://www.r2sports.com/tourney/home.asp?TID=31049

Like last week’s event in SLP, there’s a solid Men’s Pro draw (18 players). its also an IRT sanctioned event; a Tier 2, meaning the winner does get a somewhat significant number of rankings points (120 points).

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Men’s Pro Singles draw

Lets pick up a preview at the quarter-final levels, given that it seems unlikely to have any upsets prior to that stage.

Projected Quarters:
– #1 Alex Landa likely faces #8 Ruben Estrada, brother of Javier (who is also in the draw). Ruben was a force in Junior racquetball in the early 2000s, winning multiple Junior world titles but an accident in the late 2008-early 2009 time-frame derailed his promising career. He returned to pro racquetball in 2015 and has played sporadically since.

– #4 Ernesto Ochoa vs #5 Alan Natera Chavez; a great match-up between two dark horses in pro racquetball. Natera’s win over reigning Pan Am Games champ Rodrigo Montoya Solís earlier this year at Mexican Nationals represents the potential of his game. They’ve played before and I favor Natera here.

– #3 Javier Estrada vs #6 Alex Cardona: a tough one to predict, given that Cardona has really stepped back in his pro touring. I’m going to predict Cardona gets the upset here.

– #2 Eduardo Garay Rodriguez vs #7 Polo Gutiérrez; I can’t wait to see what Polo has left in the tank after a long international career and having recovered from an arm injury. I suspect Garay is the favorite here.

Projected Semis:
– Landa vs Natera: here’s some of the players Natera has beaten this year: Montoya, Estrada, Cardona, Gerardo Franco, Sebastian Franco and Charlie Pratt. That’s a lot of talented players. This is no cake walk for Landa, who I think should advance in a breaker but don’t be surprised by an upset.
– Garay vs Cardona: Despite Garay’s resume of recent accomplishments, i still like Cardona here.

Finals: Landa over his doubles partner Cardona in a rematch of their every tuesday night league night.

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They’re also playing doubles at the events; 7 teams. The top seed is Landa/Cardona, the 2nd seed is the solid Garay/Natera team (who made the finals last weekend). Also in the Mix is the Ochoa/Estrada team.

I like the draw to go chalk; both Cardona and Landa are solid doubles players.

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International Racquetball Tour
RKT
Federación Mexicana de Raquetbol

IRT Tier 5 Feria Nacional Potosina – Corpoil 2019 Wrap-Up

Parrilla a double winner on home soil.

While the Pan American Games team events were wrapping up last weekend, there was a nice little Tier 5 IRT event happening in San Luis Potosi, SL Mexico with some top Mexican players. Here’s a quick wrap-up of the Men’s and Women’s draws.

R2sports home page: https://www.r2sports.com/tourney/home.asp?TID=31070

Men’s Singles: there was a 20-man IRT pro draw, with the top 8 being household names to IRT regular fans. There were no upsets to the quarters, so we’ll pick up the draw review there.

– #1 Andree Parrilla topped #8 Alan Natera Chavez in a tie-breaker. As is often the case with Natera, he’s under-seeded in these events and has good wins on his resume and stretched the top seed in an early round.
– #4 Eduardo Garay Rodriguez topped #5 Jordy Alonso in two tight games 13,11. Alonso has been playing well lately but couldn’t top Garay on this day.
– #3 Eduardo Portillo Rendon topped #6 Ernesto Ochoa in a tiebreaker, a great win against a dangerous opponent.
– #7 Javier Estrada took out #2 Gerardo Franco Gonzalez in a tiebreaker, a tough match-up in the quarters for Franco.

In the semis:

– #1 Parrilla outlasted Garay in two
– #3 Portillo got a great win, trouncing Estrada 2,7

In the final, Parrilla dominated his younger countryman, winning the title 4,9.

Parrilla gets a nice jump start to the season; the odds of this tier 5 factoring in the 2019-20 race seem pretty small; Parrilla gets just 30 rankings points for winning a Tier 5 … he’ll get three times that just for showing up in the first Tier 1 next month.

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Women’s Singles

The Women’s Open draw featured a smaller draw of mostly younger Mexican women and included 3 recent Mexican 18U junior national champs. The draw when chalk to the semis….

In the semis

– #4 Ana Laura Flores Saavedra topped #1 Montse Pérez Castañeda in a tiebreaker
– #3 Jessica Parrilla, still working her way back from injury, topped #2 Erin Groves in two tight games.

In the final, Flores came back from a game one deficit to trounce Parrilla in the 2nd and 3rd games to take the title.

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In the Men’s pro Doubles: Parrilla & Portillo beat Natera and Garay in the Men’s doubles final.

Fun note: it was a Parrilla family affair, with father, son and daughter all competing. Fabian Parrilla

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Next up on the racquetball calendar:
– The Alex Landa Tier 2 in Juarez this coming W/E
– the first LPRT event of the season, the Paola Longoria Grand Slam in San Luis Potosi
– then, after a break, the International Racquetball Tour slate begins with the season opener in Atlanta while the @LPRT heads to my home state of Virginia for an event in Chesapeake at the home club of former top touring pro Malia Kamahoahoa Bailey …. and the hometown of reigning US national champ Kelani Lawrence.

can’t wait to get started in on the new pro seasons!

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RKT
Federación Mexicana de Raquetbol

2019 Int’l Black Gold Cup Wrap-Up

Huge statement win for Estrada this weekend.

Congrats to the winners on the weekend:
– Singles: Javier Estrada
– Doubles: Javier Mar & Rodrigo Montoya

r2sports link for brackets: https://www.r2sports.com/tourney/home.asp?TID=30578

No database links at www.proracquetballstats.com; we don’t load up non Tier 1 events, despite how amazing the draw was. We’re reporting as fans of the pro game. And, what a tournament it was.

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Wrap up of the singles event, with notable matches:

In the opening round 64:
– doubles specialist Roland Keller got a solid win over regular touring pro Jaime Martell Neri 14,11.
– Erik Garcia beat Mexican Jr legend David Ortega 12,11.
– Javier Moreno‘s break from pro racquetball retirement ended quickly at the hands of youngster Erick Cuevas 12,6.
– Jose Daniel Ugalde Albornoz was given a pass into the 32s and a match-up with Moscoso when Alex Cardona withdrew. This is a bummer; I thought the Cardona-Ugalde match would be great … and that a possible Moscoso-Cardona 32 match-up would be fantastic.

In the 32s:
– Carlos Keller Vargas took out IRT touring regular Justus Benson 1,14. Good come-back by Benson to make game 2 competitive.
– #5 Rodrigo Montoya Solis got a walk-over win over Roland Keller, who had to take injury time-out time in his earlier victory and may have been preserving himself for doubles.
– #12 Javier Mar got stretched by American youngster Garcia to a tie-breaker before advancing.
– Giant killer Alan Natera Chavez took out #13 Charlie Pratt in a tiebreaker. I thought Pratt had a solid run to the qtrs or semis here; will that now be Natera?
– #19 Javier Estrada trounced #14 Sebastian Fernandez 2,6. In my personal world rankings I have these two literally one after the other but this was a pretty dominant win.
– #7 Luis Conrrado Moscoso Serrudo took out long-time Ecuadorian veteran Jose Daniel Ugalde 5,10 to get his tourney started with a solid win.
– #15 Eduardo Garay Rodriguez got revenge for last week’s loss by topping #18 Ernesto Ochoa in two close games.
– #2 Alvaro Beltran was taken to the limit by long time Ecuadorian vet Fernando Rios, saving match point against and advancing 11-10.

In the 16s, we started to see some serious upsets
– #1 Andree Parrilla lost game one 15-8, then got an injury walkover to advance over two-time defending PARC champ Keller. Carlos looked like he was in discomfort from the latter portions of game one and didn’t event take the court for game 2. A shame, because I’d have liked to see if Keller could make a run to the semis or finals here.
– #9 Gerardo Franco Gonzalez took an 11-9 close win over Lalo Portillo in the latest iteration of their rivalry (they were one year apart in Juniors and faced each other often growing up).
– #5 Montoya downed doubles partner Mar 13,6, in a reverse of their match-up in Syosset. 
– Natera kept up his upsetting ways, this time topping IRT top8 player Sebastian Franco 11-9.
– #19 Estrada continued to dominate, this time taking out top IRT pro Daniel De La Rosa 11-9 in the breaker. Estrada is another example of a dominant Mexican player who rarely plays the IRT: his sole IRT appearance was in 2010, as a 14yr old, when the tour made a stop in Chihuahua (his home town)
– #6 Mario Mercado beat Costa Rican #1 Andres Acuña for the 2nd time in as many weeks to advance.
– #7 Moscoso wiped out Costa Rican #2 Felipe Camacho to advance.
– #2 Beltran recovered from his earlier match to take out the upset-minded Garay 11,1.

So your quarter final seeds are: 1,9,5,20,19,7,2. 
– #1 Parrilla advanced eily over #9 Franco 9,6
– #5 Montoya dropped the first game but came back to beat Natera in a breaker.
– Hard hitting #19 Estrada came from 7-10 down in the breaker to score four unanswered and top IRT top 10 player and #6 seed Mercado 11-10.
– #7 Moscoso took a close first game in controversial fashion over #2 Beltran, who then hobbled off the court midway through the second in an injury fft.

Semis: 1,5,19 and 7 seeds.

In the semis:
– #5 Montoya trounced #1 Parrilla 6,3. This was technically their first IRT meeting; they’d met 8 times previously that I could track in the database (and likely more, since they’re the exact same age and were frequent competitors on the junior circuit). 
– #19 Estrada, if he hadn’t already made a statement in this tournament, made an even larger one in taking out #7 Moscoso in a streaky tiebreaker win. He raced to a 6-0 lead, then fell behind 12-6, then raced to a 15-12 first game win. In the second, Moscoso cruised to a 15-3 win. in the breaker, Estrada really bore down and broke away with solid play to dominate and take teh breaker 11-5. I had Moscoso winning this event, now I wonder if Estrada can beat the winner of Parrilla/Montoya.

In the final, Estrada indeed got the breakthrough win, beating Montoya (14),9,3.

Quite a weekend for the home-town 24-yr old. He beat 3 of the top 10 players in the world to win this event and, for me combined with past results is now clearly himself in that same category.

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Doubles event:

The draw went mostly chalk to the quarters as expected, though the #10 seeded Pratt/Garcia team easily advanced over Guatemalans Christian Wer and Javier Martinez.

In the quarters: Beltran/DLR got a walkover, the CRC team of Acuna/Camacho took a scintillating 11-10 win over Parrilla/Portillo, Montoya/Mar beat a hobbled Bolivian team of Moscoso/Keller handily, and Pratt/Garcia took out #2 Colombian team 11-10.

In the semis, the two top Mexican teams both advanced to force a rematch of the 2018 Mexican National finals; Beltran/DLR over the Costa Ricans Acuna/Camacho, and Montoya/Mar over Pratt/Garcia.

In the final, Montoya/Mar got the better of Beltran/DLR 7,12 to take the title.

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That’s a wrap for the 2018-19 IRT season! When the points post to the website, i’ll scrape it and update the PRS sites with end-of-year season rankings and what not, and will do a notification post to that end with all the yearly artifacts updated. We look forward to the initial publishing of the 2019-20 IRT calendar.

Next up on the rball calendar is US Junior Nationals next weekend in Portland. After that, we have more solid Mexican non-sanctioned events, WOR outdoor nationals in July, Mexican Junior natioanls in July, and then the Pan American games in august.

International Racquetball Tour Federación Boliviana De Raquetbol – FeboraFederación Mexicana de Raquetbol RKT International Racquetball Federation – IRF

Int’l Black Gold Racquetball Cup 2019 Preview

Moscoso travels up to Mexico and is a favorite to bring home some silverware.

The final sanctioned IRT event of the season is this coming weekend, the 2019 International Black Gold Racquetball Cup, held at the Club Campestre in Chihuahua, CH Mexico.

r2sports link: https://www.r2sports.com/tourney/home.asp?TID=30578

There is a massive, fabulous Men’s pro draw this weekend, with 46 players entered into Singles and no less than 22 pro doubles teams. The draw features 4 of the top 8 IRT pros, nearly the full contingent of Mexican pro players, all the top Ecuadorians, Guatemalans and Costa Ricans, and the top three Bolivian players who have made the flight up to make what should be a fantastic draw.

What’s at stake: from an IRT rankings perspective there shouldn’t be any change to the top 8-10 rankings on the IRT tour based on where things stood at the finish of the last tier 1 in Syosset. More likely is that we’ll see some movement (with solid results) with the players ranked in the 11-30 range.

Play runs from Tues to Saturday, starting this afternoon 6/11/19.

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Here’s a preview of the draw;

In the round of 64, there’s some good play-in matches to watch, especially:
– Bolivian Roland Keller takes on top Mexican pro Jaime Martell Neri in a tough first rounder for both. Keller is more known for his doubles play (he is currently the reigning 2019 Pan American Racquetball Championships double champ with Moscoso), while Martell is one of the top WRT players.
– #30 Jordy Alonso takes on #35 Ruben Estrada, a long time player who has a couple of quarter final Nationals appearances in the last few years.
– Long-time IRT touring pro Javier Moreno, whose first pro tour appearance was in Dec 1995, takes on youngster Erick Cuevas, who was born in 1997. 
Erik Garcia plays David Ortega, one of the most decorated Junior players ever but who stopped playing pro matches more than a decade ago. Ortega won 11 junior world titles, including one in every age group from 8 to 18, during his junior career.
– Top Ecuadorians Esteban de Janon, Juan Flores, Juan Francisco Cueva and Jose Daniel Ugalde all have made the flight and have entered. Ugalde in particular faces Alex Cardona in what could be a great first rounder.
– Guatemalans entered include long-time player Edwin Galicia, Javier Martinez, Juan Salvatierra and Christian Wer. Its great to see such a solid international draw.

In the 32s, matches to watch out for:
– Bolivan Carlos Keller Vargas, the two-time reigning PARC singles champion, takes on IRT regular Justus Benson for a shot at the #1 in the 16s.
– #5 Rodrigo Montoya Solis takes on the Roland Keller/Martell winner in a tough opener for the top seed.
– #12 seeded Javier Mar likely takes on NCAA intercollegiate reigning champ Erik Garcia. Mar as a 12 seed is a tough one; he’s more than capable of running to the finals from the top of this draw.
– #13 Charlie Pratt likely takes on giant-killer Alan Natera Chavez. Natera has made the semis of the last two Mexican Nationals events and played his first ever IRT event in Syosset last month. 
– #14 Sebastian Fernandez likely takes on Javier Estrada, fresh off a finals appearance last week at the Copa RKT event. I’ve got them neck and neck in my personal power rankings and i’m not sure who i favor here. I like Fernandez’s game lately, but Estrada is a serious player.
– #7 Luis Conrrado Moscoso Serrudo, a player who most everyone is looking forward to seeing, gets a fun opener against the criminally -and hard-hitting Alex Cardona. Cardona is the 2-time WRT tour champ who has gone to part-time pro playing lately, but is still a tough out.
– In the 15/18 match, Eduardo Garay Rodriguez takes on Ernesto Ochoa … which we know is close b/c they just played last week in Monterrey, with Ochoa advancing in an 11-10 win.

Projecting the 16s:
– #1 Andree Parrilla vs Keller Vargas. Great round of 16 match-up; the #4 player on the IRT, who’s knocking on the door to move higher, versus one of the best international players out there. I like Parrilla, but just barely and wouldn’t be surprised at all to see Keller Vargas win here.
– In the 8/9 match, two old adversaries go at it; #8 Lalo Portillo versus #9 Gerardo Franco Gonzalez. Franco was upset last weekend early while Portillo lost a tough one to Cardona. These two have played a number of times in the past few years, and mostly Franco has had Portillo’s number. But, Lalo beat him the last time they played in Mar19 and is trending higher. I’m going with Lalo here.
– #5 Montoya vs #12 Mar. A rematch of the brutal round of 32 in Syosset. They have faced each other more than a few times in WRT and Mexican local events. Its a back and forth affair, with the frequent doubles partners trading wins when they face each other. Mar won last weekend, beat Montoya in Syosset, and i’ll favor him to advance here.
– #4 Sebastian Franco vs #13 Pratt; assuming Pratt gets by Natera, he stands a good chance of upsetting Franco here. They’ve played 4 times in the past three years and Pratt has never lost.
– #3 Daniel De La Rosa vs Fernandez/Estrada winner. I like DLR in the opener here, even though it’ll be a tough match.
– #6 Mario Mercado likely faces #11 Andres Acuña. An interesting potential match-up; Mercado has struggled this season on tour while Acuna has gotten some solid wins. They met once in juniors in 2014 (an Acuna win). I’ll give Acuna the win here.
– #7 Moscoso vs #10 Felipe Camacho; assuming Moscoso powers his way past Cardona, he has a much easier path into the quarters facing Camacho.
– #2 Alvaro Beltran vs the Garay/Ochoa winner: Either way, Beltran faces some trouble here. Ochoa beat Beltran in the 2018 Mexican nationals event. Don’t be surprised if there’s an upset here.

Interestingly, it wouldn’t be too shocking to see a majority of the top 8 seeds lose in the round of 16 here. That’s how deep this draw is, and how many good non-regular IRT pros there are out there.

Possible Qtrs:
– Parrilla vs Portillo; advantage Parrilla over the increasingly tough Portillo.
– Mar vs Pratt: Pratt beat him in the 2017 PARC semis, but I feel like Mar is in a better spot right now. These two play a very similar game style, so expect a close tiebreaker nonetheless.
– DLR vs Acuna: DLR advances easily, even if Mercado holds serve to advance here.
– Moscoso vs Beltran: Moscoso beat Beltran pretty handily in the Bolivian Open earlier this year and has the kind of game that gives Beltran fits. Advantage to the hard-hitting Bolivian no matter who advances here.

Semis:
– Parrilla vs Mar: advantage Mar; he’s won their last two meetings, though its usually a tiebreaker.
– Moscoso vs DLR; they played twice internationally in 2015, splitting wins but with Moscoso getting the better of DLR in a knockout setting en route to his run to the PARC semis. Which DLR shows up? The one who can handle the kind of power that Conrrado brings and offset it with his touch shots? Or will Moscoso bring his A-game, which is good enough to beat nearly anyone in the world? I like Moscoso here.

Final: Moscoso over Mar, as Moscoso overpowers the touch game of Mar.

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Doubles preview: 20 teams, a massive doubles draw, that features some of the top teams in the world. The seeded teams include the (IMHO) top doubles team in the world in Beltran/DLR, the Colombian na’tl team of Mercado/Franco, the 2nd best Mexican pairing (who’s been nipping on the heels of #1) in Montoya/Mar, and the Costa Rican nat’l team of Acuna/Camacho.

Also present are the likely favorites; the reigning PARC champs Bolvian pairing of Moscoso/Keller and the likely Pan Am Games representative teams from Ecuador and Guatemala.

Fun Quarter final matches to watch for: Montoya/Mar and Moscoso/Keller in a rematch of the PARc semis. And, Pratt/Garcia taking on Franco/Mercado; could be an upset.

Semis prediction: Beltran/DLR and Portillo/Parrilla on the top, Moscoso/Keller and Franco/Mercado from the bottom.

Finals prediction: Beltran/DLR beat the bolivians for the 3rd time in a year.


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Follow along on facebook; the irt’s broadcast team including Dean DeAngelo Baer is heading down to watch and broadcast.

Can’t wait to see how this event turns out!

International Racquetball Tour Federación Mexicana de Raquetbol RKTInternational Racquetball Federation – IRF

Copa 2019 RKT Wrap-Up

Mar the double winner on the weekend.

Quick Wrap-up of this past weekend’s solid Copa 2019 RKT draws.

r2sports link: https://www.r2sports.com/tourney/home.asp?TID=30896

Congrats to your winners:
– Men’s Singles: Javier Mar
– Men’s Doubles: Javier Mar & Eduardo Garay

here’s notable matches by round.

In the 16s, the seeds held but there were a couple of notable matches:
– #7 Eduardo Garay Rodriguez beat #10 Jaime Martell Neri in two 14,3. I thought this would be a close match, and game one was before Garay ran away in game 2.
– Just one tiebreaker: #3 Javier Estrada dropped the middle game to junior Erick Trujillo before advancing.

In the Quarters:
– #1 Javier Mar lost game one to rising star #8 Sebastian Fernandez before advancing 11-4 in the breaker.
– #4 Alex Cardona split the first two games against fellow rising star #5 Lalo Portillo before winning a close breaker 11-7.
– #3 Javier Estrada held serve and got a solid win over #6 Gerardo Franco Gonzalez, who I favored to make the final.
– #2 Ernesto Ochoa had the closest match of them all, winning 11-10 over #7 Eduardo Garay.

Still chalk through the quarters, but 3 tiebreakers to get there.

In the semis:
– #1 Mar split two close games with #4 Cardona 13 and 14 before running away with the tiebreaker 11-4 to advance to the final.
– #3 Estrada got a walk-over win against #2 Ochoa in the other semi. Unclear what happened here; these two were doubles partners here and competed in the doubles event later on that evening .. so i doubt this was injury related.

In the final, Mar made short work of Estrada, taking the title 4,7.

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In doubles:

In one semi, #1 seeds Ochoa/Estrada lost in a breaker to #4 seeded Cardona/Martell, while the #2 seeds Garay/Mar trounced the upset-minded youngster team of Trujillo and Mauricio Delgadillo in the other.

In the final: Mar became the double winner on the weekend by teaming with Garay to beat Cardona/Martell 11-9 in the breaker.

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Federación Mexicana de Raquetbol RKT

Copa RKT 2019 Preview

Ochoa is the #2 seed this weekend in Monterrey.

Not an officially sanctioned event, but a solid draw is expected at this weekend’s Copa RKT 2019 event in Santiago (outside of Monterrey), NL, Mexico.

r2sports link: https://www.r2sports.com/tourney/home.asp?TID=30896

Lets review the 16-man Open singles draw, which is comprised almost entirely of Mexican traveling pros.

In the round of 16:
– #1 seed Javier Mar gets a straight forward opener against infrequent top-level player Alan Marquez.
– #8 Sebastian Fernandez, fresh off his victory in the Mexican Olympiad two weeks ago, takes on Daniel Herrera.
– #5 Lalo Portillo, who lost to Fernandez in that final two weeks ago, takes on newly graduated junior Mauricio Delgadillo.
– #4 Alex Cardona makes a rare appearance to face Daniel Rodriguez.
– #3 Javier Estrada takes on #14 Erick Trujillo, who is playing in his age 16 season and is a favorite in the upcoming Mexican Jr. Nationals.
– #6 Gerardo Franco Gonzalez, who finished the IRT season ranked 17th, takes on youngster #11 Daniel Herrera Maldonado.
– #7 Eduardo Garay, recently repatriated to represent Colombia, takes on #10 Jaime Martell Neri in probably the best match of the opening round. They met in the semis of the 2019 Longhorn Open, before that in 2017 both Garay wins.
– #2 Ernesto Ochoa has never appeared in an IRT event but has serious wins on his resume (Beltran, Parrilla, Mar, Mercado just in the last 2 years), faces Alejandro Chavez.

I don’t see any upsets by seed in the opening round; the 8/9 and 7/10 especially could be close but expect chalk to advance.

In the qtrs:
– I like #1 Mar over #8 Fernandez, but Patata can make it a bit closer than Mar may like. He’s really improving fast and could be a dark-horse IRT top 10 player next season.
– #4 Cardona over #5 Portillo; despite how well Lalo has been playing, Cardona is a tough out. Portillo does have some really impressive wins (Murray, Jake in the last few months), but I don’t think he can take out Cardona yet.
– #3 Estrada vs #6 Franco: the last time they faced off, it was an 11-10 win for Franco in Mexican Nationals earlier this year. So its paper-thin between them. I think i slightly favor Franco, who has been playing more and better competition and may have the edge now.
– #2 Ochoa vs #7 Garay: another match-up where I think the difference between the players is paper-thin; they met in 2018 Mexican Nats, an 11-7 win for Ochoa. They both have impressive wins over top 10 players in the last year, including Ochoa beating Mercado in Costa Rica last month. I like Ochoa here in a tiebreaker.

Possible semis:
– #1 Mar over #4 Cardona: Mar’s one of the top 6-8 players in the world, while Cardona is basically a part-time player (albeit a good one). Mar advances here.
– #6 Franco over #2 Ochoa: they met at 2019 Mexican Nationals, a closer 13,10 2-game win for Franco. I think Franco wins again here.

Projected final: Mar over Franco.

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They’re also playing doubles this weekend, with 6 pretty solid teams competing. #1 seeds Ochoa/Estrada and #2 seeds Mar/Garay will have to work to get to the final.

Follow FMR or RKT on facebook for possible streaming from the event.

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International Racquetball Tour Federación Mexicana de Raquetbol World Racquetball Tour RKTCOPA RKT 2019