2020 IRT Atlanta Open Preview

Landa leads the field at the 2020 Atlanta Open. Photo from 2020 USAR National doubles by Kevin Savory

Well… its been six months since I wrote a pro tournament preview in this space. I almost forgot how to write one of these things. But somehow, we have pro racquetball happening this weekend.

The 2020 IRT Atlanta Open, which was initially set to be the 2020-21 Tier 1 slate season opener, has been repurposed as a Tier 4 event and is being held this weekend at Recreation Atlanta in Lilburn, GA.

Interestingly, the draw features a huge chunk of the Colombian national team playing, including its top three ranked singles players and some players who have traveled up from Cali. I’ll call them out in the preview below.

R2 Sports App​ link for the tourney: https://www.r2sports.com/website/event-website.asp?TID=31746

There’s 16 players in the pro singles draw and 9 pro doubles teams. Its a solid draw, featuring a slew of touring pros, so its worth running through a preview.

Lets preview the draw. Here’s some interesting matches from the round of 16.
– #1 Alex Landa ​vs #16 Andres Ramirez​; interesting first rounder for the current #2 player in the world. He takes on a long-time Florida star Ramirez, who has been playing pro events for nearly two decades and has even played internationally in the past. This is no cakewalk for Landa.
– #5 Eduardo Garay Rodriguez​ takes on home-town favorite #12 Marquis Miller​ , the twin brother of regular tour player Maurice Miller.
– #6 Maurice Miller​ takes on traveling Colombian @Juan Pablo Rodriguez in his opener.
– #7 MoMo Zelada​ gets a tough first rounder in solid Florida amateur Matt Fontana.

Projected Qtrs
– #1 Landa over #9 Austin Cunningham, to advance over Jim Douglas.​
– #5 Garay over #4 Mario Mercado​; two Colombian teammates battle it out in the 4/5 spot. Mercado has been an enigma on the court; sometimes he’s lights out and sometimes he’s one-and-done. His 2019-20 season had a final reached and three round-of-32 exits. Garay topped him for the second Colombian team spot earlier this year, and that could be a trend for the young ex-Mexican junior national team member. I like Garay’s game but this could be a close one. Garay to edge Mercado in the breaker.
– #3 Sebastian Franco​ vs #6 Miller: Franco also had an up-and-down season, making two semis but also getting upset in the qualifiers a couple times and missing a bunch of events. He faces the tough Miller playing on his home courts under interesting circumstances. Has Franco been playing? The court availability in the DC area isn’t the same as Atlanta, where the clubs have been open for a bit. Upset watch here, but Franco advances.
– #2 Daniel De La Rosa​ vs #7 MoMo Zelada; DLR makes the bit trip eastward to compete in this event and gets DC-area native Zelada. I like MoMo (shoutout to Formulaflow​) but DLR outclasses him here and moves on.

Projected Semis:
– #1 Landa over #5 Garay: these two met twice last season and split, so Garay won’t be intimidated by Landa’s game. This is a contrast in style; Landa plays controlled and clinical, while Garay plays powerful and passionate. Landa ekes it out.
– #2 DLR over #3 Franco: they’ve met 9 times in top level competition (IRT and IRF) and DLR leads 7-2. Interestingly, they have not met professionally since Jan 2017 despite both being regular tour players for the past few years. DLR finished the season on fire, and I like him to keep going. DLR in two.

Finals: Landa over DLR. Yes, Landa owns the head to head record between these two, and it has been more than 3.5 years since DLR beat Alex on the court. But when they do play, they play close. Multiple 11-10 or 12-10 in the fifth encounters between them. Both have similar game styles; both are shot makers who rely more on skill than on power. If DLR is on, he’s hard to beat. But these two have played so much that they find it hard to get into their preferred game against each other. Look for Landa to win 11-9.

Doubles review
Nine teams entered, with a good mix of locals playing with traveling pros. I like the #1 seed of Landa/Zelada advancing over #4 Mercado/Miller on the top, with DLR/Donald Williams topping two teams with Colombian pros in the bottom. In the final, Look for Landa/Zelada to take the win and give landa the double.

Don’t forget to try out the IRT Fantasy Brackets this year!https://www.r2sports.com/website/event-website.asp?TID=36277 is the R2sports link for the Fantasy bracket. Enter for a chance to win and go head to head against me as I put in my picks (as predicted above).

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

Tags

International Racquetball TourInternational Racquetball Federation – IRFUSA RacquetballFederación Mexicana de RaquetbolRacquetball ColombiaFederacion Colombiana de Racquetball

IRT Shamrock Shootout Wrap-Up

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

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

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

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Lets review the notable matches in the Singles draw.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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In the Quarters

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

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

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

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

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

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Doubles review

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

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

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

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

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Other Draws:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Next up?

Well. I have no idea what is next.

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

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

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

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tags

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

IRT Shamrock Shootout Preview

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Finals: Kane over Landa.

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Doubles review

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

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

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

Tags

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

IRT 2020 22nd Annual Lou Bradley Memorial Preview

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Semis:
– Kane over Estrada
– Parrilla over Garay

Finals: Kane over Parrilla.

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

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

Tags

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