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

—————-
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).

—————
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.

——————
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.

——————-
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.

————–
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.

—————
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.

—————-
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

2019 World Juniors Preview

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

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

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

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

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

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

——————
Boys 18U:

18 players in the 18U boys draw.

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

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

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

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

——————–
Girls 18U

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

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

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

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

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

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

———————
Boys 16U

18 boys in this draw.

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

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

——————
Girls 16U

17 girls in the draw.

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

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

——————–
Notables in the younger draws:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mexican Junior Nationals Wrap-up

Ana Laura Flores wins Girls 18U.

The Campeonato Nacional de Raquetbol Infantil y Juvenil 2019 event was this past weekend, with the Junior National teams named for this coming November’s World Juniors.

r2sports link:https://www.r2sports.com/tourney/home.asp?TID=30780

Congrats to the top finishers by division:

Boys 18U: Sebastian Fernandez, Emir Martinez
Boys 16U: Sebastian Longoria, Erick Trujillo
Boys 14U: Luis Renteria, Jorge Gutierrez Ortiz
Boys 12U: Eder Renteria, Ricardo Velarde
Boys 10U: Luis Carlos Ochoa, Santiago Castillo
Boys 8U: Rene Palomino, Arturo Gonzalez

Girls 18U: Ana Laura Flores, Maria Gutierrez
Girls 16U: Guadalupe Griffen, Ximena Martinez
Girls 14U: Ivanna Balderrama, Angela Veronica Ortega
Girls 12U: Mariafernanda Trujillo, Yanna Salazar
Girls 10U: Ximena Barraza, Mariajose Franco
Girls 8U: Maria Malo uncontested

I *believe* this list is also the Mexican Junior team for Junior Worlds in November. However, some of the younger divisions saw different players advancing out of the loser’s bracket and may be the actual 2nd place finishers. The results above show the finals of the winner’s bracket throughout.

——————————–
Here’s the updated Mexican Junior Nationals Matrix of all winners, now that we’ve updated the 2019 winners:

Mexican Boy’s Winner Matrix: http://rball.pro/E1C550

Mexican Girls Winner Matrix: http://rball.pro/A267D1

These results are very sparse when compared to USA, Canada and Worlds. I have some past r2sports links and will do an update, but any results prior to 2013 will require help from the Mexican National organization.

————————————–
Here’s some wrap-ups of the divisions. From a database perspective, I have put in just the winner’s bracket matches from the 14U, 16U and 18U divisions on both sides. i’ve just put in winners for younger divisions.

Boys 18U: PRS match report: http://rball.pro/F11B26

In the 18U, #1 seed Sebastian Fernandez dominated the weekend, dropping just one game en route to a repeat 18U title. He beat #11 seeded Emir Martinez 1,3 in the final, who came out of a lower-side of the bracket clearly seeded poorly (the #2, #3 and #6 seeds all lost in the first round). The winner of the loser’s bracket/3rd place winner turned out to be #9 seeded Jose Ramos, who topped #4 seed Manuel Moncada (the only person to take a game off of Fernandez).

Boys 16U: PRS match report: http://rball.pro/B9A6AB

In the 16U, the seeds held to the final, where #2 Sebastian Longoria took out #1 Erick Trujillo 12,6. #12 seed Aldo Caraveo recovered from his semi finals loss to win the loser’s bracket/take 3rd place.

Boys 14U: PRS match report: http://rball.pro/68878C

In the 14U, #2 seed Luis Renteria took out #4 seeded Jorge Gutierrez Ortiz in the final. #1 seed Christhian Sanchez recovered to take 3rd.

————————————-

Girls 18U: PRS match report: http://rball.pro/81EC3C

In the 18U, #2 seed Ana Laura Flores Saavedra blitzed her way to the title, winning the final 1,1 over 9th seeded Maria Gutierrez. #1 seed Ana Kristin Rivera recovered to take the loser’s bracket final and 3rd place, keeping her in play for a Junior World spot.

Girls 16U: PRS match report: http://rball.pro/533E1D

In the 16U, #1 seed Guadalupe Griffen topped #6 seed Ximena Martinez in the final 6,8. #2 seed Daniela Rico recovered from an upset qtrs loss to take the losers’s bracket and 3rd place.

Girls 14U: PRS match report: http://rball.pro/25A4A2

In the 14U, #2 Ivanna Balderrama topped #4 Angela Veronica Ortega in the final 13,8. #1 seed Naomi Ros recovered to take 3rd.

————————————–
That’s a wrap.

The next major tournament is Pan Ams in early-to-mid August. I’ll do a reaction piece to the ridiculousness of the Mexican Adult national team selection this week. I’ll also post some IRT season wrap-up content that i’ve had ready to go for a few weeks.

————————————–
Federación Mexicana de Raquetbol
International Racquetball Federation – IRF

Mexican Junior Nationals Preview

Sebastian Fernandez looks to cap off a very decorated junior career with his last 18U Junior tournament.

This coming week and weekend is Campeonat Nacional de Raquetbol Infantil y Juvenil 2019. This tournament should determine the representatives Mexico sends to World Juniors, being held later this year in November in San Jose, Costa Rica.

r2 site: https://www.r2sports.com/tourney/home.asp?TID=30780

———————-
Our records for Mexican Nationals events aren’t nearly as complete as for the USA and Canada: for the juniors, we only have records going back to 2013, and only for the older groups in the database. here’s some links to Mexican past junior champs:

Boys Junior champs: http://rball.pro/E1C550

Girls Junior champs: http://rball.pro/A267D1

There are a few defending champs entered into the draws. On the boys side:
– defending Mexican 18U champ Sebastian Fernandez is here to defend his title. 
– defending 16U champ Elias Nieto has graduated to the 18U ranks.
– defending 14U champ Omar Gonzalez has graduated to the 16U draw.

On the girls side:
– 2x defending 18U champ Montse Mejia has matriculated, so we’ll have a new champion. 
– defending 16U champ Delia Aguilar is not at the event.
– defending 14U champ Daniela Rico has graduated to the 16Us and will take on a group that includes some players already playing in the LPRT ranks.

———————-
Lets preview the 18U and 16U draws, the ones with the players who followers of the pro game may have heard of or seen entered into draws.

Boys 18U: the seedings frequently confound me in these events (for example, last year the final was certainly predictable by observers of the draw, but the two finalist seeds were #12 and #23). This year Fernandez is the clear #1 seed, but the #2 seed Saul Rivero was topped by the guy seeded 14th in this draw Adrian Fernandez. Furthermore, Fernandez has to go against the 3rd seeded Nieto, the reigning 16U champ despite making it to the qtrs last year. I don’t get it.

I like Fernandez to repeat, irrespective of who comes out of the bottom. I’ll predict semis of #1 Fernandez, #4 Manuel Moncada, #3 Nieto and #15 Cuevas Fernandez, with Nieto losing in the final to the repeating Fernandez.

Boys 16U: #1 Erick Trujillo and #2 Sebastian Longoria would be my favorites to make the final, but there’s already been a slew of upsets of other seeded players, so it may be a wide-open draw.

Girls 18U: The two top seeds are the two Anas who I would have expected to be there. Ana Laura Flores Saavedra and Ana Kristin Rivera were both semi-finalists from 2018’s 18U competition are in the draw and should be the favorites to meet in the final.

Girls 16U: #1 seed Guadalupe Griffin and #2 seed Daniela Rico have pro experience, but so do a few others in the draw despite it being a 16U draw. It should be competitive.

———————-
International Racquetball Federation – IRF
Federación Mexicana de Raquetbol

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.

————-
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.

————
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.

——————-
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.

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

Mexican Junior Olympics Wrap-Up

Fernandez takes another Jr Title.

In addition to all the other stuff going on with USA and Canada this past weekend, Federación Mexicana de Raquetbol held its Olimpiada Nacional de Raquetbol for 2019.

Official Mexican Junior Nationals are later on this summer, so this seemed to be a junior-focused tournament. As a result, this is a “fan only” posting and no database loading of results will occur.

Congrats to your winners:
Boys 20U: Sebastian Fernandez over Eduardo Lalo Portillo, a rematch of last year’s Mexican 18U AND World 18U championship final.
Boys 16U: Erick Trujillo over Sebastian Longoria
Boys 14U: Christian Sanchez over Luis Renteria.

Girls 20U: Montse Mejia over Ana Kristin Rivera
Girls 16U: Guadalupe Griffin over Daniela Rico 
Girls 14U: Naomi Ros over Ivanna Balderrama

r2sports link: https://www.r2sports.com/tourney/home.asp?TID=30779

note: the draws actually were “20 and under,” so that’s not a mis-print.

Participation: notably, this event drew more than 200 players … more than the participation of USA National singles. And it was just for basically three age divisions (14, 16, and “20”) in a non-national event. There were 36 in 20 and Under boys, 41 players in boys 14 and under, 27-30 in each of the three girls divisions.

Contrast this to the last USA junior national events, which featured 24, 20 and 19 in the three top boys events, and just 9, 11 and 9 girls in each of the three top girls age groups. And it’s even fewer in Canada, where some of the junior age groups end up being combined into round robin events just to give everyone more than a couple of matches.

For everyone who complains about participation in our sport in the US … look no further than the junior pipeline south of the border. What is going on in Mexico that we can leverage in the US?