US Open Men’s IRT Round of 16 review

Moscoso upsets Carson again in the 16s of the US Open. Photo unk.

Man, the matches come fast at US Open on Wednesday and Thursday. Here’s a review of the 2nd half of Thursday’s matches, the round of 16. There were some big time results.

– #1 Kane Waselenchuk dominated #16 Gerardo Franco Gonzalez to move into the quarters. I feel like Kane’s path this year has been more straight-forward than last year, though he gets a tough player in Mar (who he beat 12,10 in the 16s last year) next.

– #24 Javier Mar outlasted #25 Carlos Keller Vargas in a tiebreaker, dropping the first then cruising in games 2 and 3.: Mar had about 20 minutes to get ready for this match after a marathon win over his doubles partner Rodrigo Montoya Solis in the earlier round. Despite their seeds, these two players would both be pushing for the top 10 if they played the tour regularly.

– #5 Álvaro Beltrán dominated the upset-minded #21 Thomas Carter, advancing in two quick games.

– #4 Alex Landa was pushed by long-time WRT rival David ” Bobby” Horn, and had some “disagreements” on the court at times, but advanced in 2 straight to setup a rematch of the 2019 Mexican national singles final in the qtrs with Beltran. This sets up a rematch between these two long rivals, who met for the 2019 Mexican Nationals final and in the final of the 2018 Florida pro-am just after Beltran had beaten Kane.

– #3 Andree Parrilla dominated his younger doubles partner #14 Lalo Portillo 5,4. Portillo keeps making incremental moves forward on tour.

– #6 Daniel De La Rosa held serve and took out #11 Jake Bredenbeck in two.

– #23 Sebastian Fernandezwon me an ice cream cone from Brian Pineda by defeating #26 Adam Manilla in two games.

– In the upset of the round, #15 Conrrado kevin Moscoso Ortiz Racquetball defeated #2 Rocky Carson for the second time in as many meetings in Grand Slam events 13,5. This was a dominant performance from Moscoso, much more-so than his win in Bolivia, where he was in real jeopardy of losing in two quick games before catching fire. This could open up a path for him to the finals; if he can beat Carson, he can beat anyone not named Kane in this draw.

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So, the 16s were comprised of these seeds:
1,2,3,4,5,6 of top top seeds, then 11,13,14,15,16 from the next set, and then 21,23,24,25,26 seeds of qualifiers.

Now, your quarter finalists are 1,3,4,5,6,15,23,24.26. So two qualifiers remain to the quarters, but 5 of the top 8 seeds are through.

Nationalities in the quarters: 6 Mexicans, 1 Canadian and 1 Bolivian. No Americans. Someone asked yesterday if this was a first? Here’s a Q/S/F report by nationality to help: http://rball.pro/F834D0

Answer: Yes this is the first time a US Open has not featured at least one American in the quarters of the Men’s draw. In 2007, 7 of the 8 quarter finalists were from the USA … now its nearly reversed to have 6 of the 8 be from Mexico.

But not only is this the first time an American has not made at least the quarters of the US Open … this is the first time in the history of the IRT that an American has not made a pro quarter … ever.

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Quarters start today at 10am CDT. All four should be streamed.

International Racquetball Tour
UnitedHealthcare US OPEN Racquetball Championships
USA Racquetball
Federación Mexicana de Raquetbol
Federación Boliviana de Racquetball
Racquetball Canada

2019 Valentine Open Wrap-up

Kane wins again. Photo credit: unknown

Congrats to your champions on the weekend:

Men’s Pro Singles: Kane Waselenchuk
Men’s Open Singles: Andres Acuna
Men’s Open Doubles: Carlos Keller/Kadim Carrasco

Note: no pro doubles this weekend, so we had pretty solid Open Singles and Open Doubles draws. The Men’s singles open draw featured three players who made the quarters (or better) of the pro draw and a great draw of east coast amateurs to challenge the traveling pros.

And, a reminder; the 5-8 seeds were “flipped” this tournament. Seeds listed below are for this event, not of the actual rankings on tour at the moment of the event.

R2sports link:
https://www.r2sports.com/website/event-website.asp?TID=30994

PRS match Report: http://rball.pro/001AE9

I had the opportunity to be at the Sportfit Laurel club for Thursday night round of 64 and 32 matches, so I’ll describe some of the more interesting matches I witnessed in a bit more detail.

Lets review the matches of note by round:

Round of 64:

  • #24 Mauricio Zelada, playing on his home courts and with the cheering of the home crowd, eked out a brutal tiebreaker against #25 Kyle Ulliman. Zelada is a protege of former touring pro and fellow Maryland native Dan Fowler, and his game-style is really familiar to those who remember Fowler’s days on tour. Similar stroke mechanics, similar drive serve setup, and a similar game style. Zelada plays consistent ball, always putting solid consistent contact on the ball. Ulliman’s game style is flashier, more of a shooter style, taking chances and succeeding often. It was a fantastic match-up that went down to the wire, with Zelada winning on a gimme-error from Kyle after a long match.
  • #20 Maurice Miller faced off against #33 Joe Kelley in a battle of top east coast amateurs (Miller from GA, Kelley from PA). It did not disappoint, and was a back and forth athletic match between two guys with great getting ability. In the end Miller pulled away in the tie-breaker to advance.
  • #22 Hometown favorite Troy Warigon, spurred on by a vocal local cheering section, went tiebreaker against Atlanta newcomer #27 Yacouba Keita before advancing. Definitely the “loudest” crowd of the night, cheering Warigon on.
  • Colombian #23 Set Cubillos was taken tie-breaker by New Jersey top amateur #26 David Austin before advancing.
  • The biggest upset of the round and the sole upset by a local player over a traveling pro was #30 Pennsylvanian Geoff Heskett taking out #18 Justus Benson 10,12. Both players really put some power into the ball, and Heskett was able to really control the points with his excellent drive serve to Benson’s backhand.

Round of 32:

  • In a marathon evening match, #16 Bolivian Carlos Keller Vargas took a barn-burner over #17 Colombian Eduardo Garay (13),11,7. This match was a contrast in styles: Keller’s drive serve approach is controlled power, with emphasis on the location and efficiency of the drive, while Garay has as much power as anyone on tour. The ball just sounds different off of Garay’s racquet on the drive serve. But, once the ball is in play, Keller’s putting as much pace on it as anyone else. Garay flings himself around the court, with incredible getting ability, while Keller’s length (he’s well over 6-feet tall) enables him to reach a lot of shots and cover a lot of court. This match went on so long that I believe Garay soaked four shirts. Vargas outlasted Garay in the end, but both of these players if playing full time are top 10 material.
  • In the evening’s other latest running match, two players with DC-area ties fought to the end. #9 Mario Mercado split two close games with home-town favorite #24 Zelada, who (like Warigon) plays out of the club and had a large local cheering section. The toll of the earlier match got to MoMo though, as he ran out of gas in the tiebreaker. Mercado efficiently advanced 11-1 to get to the main draw. This match won the award for biggest crowd of the night.
  • #23 Cubillos nearly forfeited his match against #10 Jake Bredenbeck before showing up just before the deadline. Jake seemed distracted as a result in the first game but eventually advanced 11,2.
  • #14 Andres Acuna dispatched Bolivian veteran #19 Kadim Carrasco in two games to advanced to the main draw yet again. Acuna is quietly moving his way up the ranks and putting his name into the discussion for top 10.

Round of 16 Action:

  • #1 Kane Waslenechuk kicked off his tournament with a 1,3 pasting of #16 Keller. I don’t know if Keller was beat from two matches the night before, or if Kane was especially fired up to play. I looked forward to this match and was rather surprised to see it be such a dominant beat-down. If you wondered about the difference between an IRF champ and the Pro champ … well here you go.
  • For the second tournament in a row, #8 Rodrigo Montoya could not advance out of the round of 16 against an opponent he’d normally be favored against. He loses in two straight to #9 Mercado 14,11. This second early loss in as many events to start the season should drop him right back out of the top 8.
  • In a battle of Francos (not related), #5 Sebastian Franco was taken to the edge by #12 Gerardo Franco, eventually advancing 11-9 in the breaker. Sebastian gets past an important hurdle on his home courts.
  • Both #4 Alejandro Landa and #2 Rocky Carson were stretched to tiebreakers in surprising fashion by tour regulars, by lefties Robert Collins and Thomas Carter respectively. Landa in particular has a habit of being a slow starter, something that’s harder and harder to overcome in the 3-game format.
  • In the upset of the round, perhaps the tournament, Costa Rican #1 and #14 seed Andres Acuna continues an impressive year of results by taking out #3 Andree Parrilla 4,(7),7. Parrilla made the final of the first event of the year and had ascended to the #3 ranking, but gets upset early by the solid play of Acuna and will drop back to #4 for the US Open. Meanwhile, Acuna achieves his first ever pro quarterfinal appearance in his 9th season of playing pro events.
  • #6 Samuel Murray staved off an upset attempt from #11 Eduardo Portillo, splitting the first two games by razor thin margins before pulling away in the tiebreaker.

In the quarters…

  • #1 Waselenchuk took out #9 Mercado in two straight forward games 6,8. Even a favorable crowd couldn’t push Mercado forward. Mercado will stay ranked 10th on tour despite the quarter-final finish, but he’s significantly narrowed the gap to the 9th spot on tour.
  • #5 Franco gets a key win on home soil, taking out #4 Landa for just the second time professionally. Sebastian crushed Landa in game one 15-3, but then had to work for it, saving game point before serving out the match 15-14. Franco gets his second semi-final in a row to open the season after making just one semi all last season, a great sign for his battle to retain a top 8 ranking this year. Despite the loss, Landa will regain the #3 seed for the US Open by virtue of Parrilla’s upset early loss.
  • #6 Murray traded 15-3 game blow-outs with #14 Acuna before closing out the match in a tiebreaker. Acuna improves his ranking to #18 with this result, pushing him to his highest ever ranking.
  • #2 Carson met #7 Alvaro Beltran for the 50th time on the pro tour and improved to 28-22 against him, advancing in (what else) a tie-breaker. Thanks to Daniel de la Rosa‘s absence here, Beltran widened his lead over DLR for the 5th ranking on tour and gained a bit on the now-4th ranked Parrilla.

In the Semis:

  • #5 Franco pushed #1 Kane on his home courts to make game one close, but Kane dominated game two to advance to the finals 11,7. With this result, Franco jumps to the #7 spot on tour, which means he avoids the likes of Montoya in an 8/9 match-up and avoids Kane in the quarters at the US Open.
  • #2 Carson met #6 Murray for the 11th time professionally and improved to 11-0 over the Canadian #1 11,4. Murray just couldn’t execute shots against Carson in game two and the match slipped away from him quickly. With this semis showing, Murray bumps Montoya for the last of the top 8 protected seeds for the US Open, a significant event that means Murray avoids possible dangerous qualifiers while Montoya may run into a tough player in the 24-25 range on tour.

The final was #1 vs #2 as it normally is; Rocky vs Kane has been the final in eight events over the last two seasons. this was their 80th meeting on tour. And like 76 times before, Kane topped Rocky for the title. But it was an adventurous match: Rocky was on his way to a donut in game one and was assessed a technical towards the end; game one score of 15 to -1. But Carson rebounded to take game 2; it had been nearly 2 years since Rocky took a game off of Kane. But Kane rebounded in the breaker and won -1,(11),4 to take the title.

Its Kane’s 117th career pro win.

Quick Recap of Men’s Open Singles: 4th Seeded Mercado survived a brutal quarter against Eduardo Garay (a rematch of last week’s Colombian National championships, won by Garay) to then cruise to the final over Set Cubillos from the top half (#1 seed Murray withdrew after making the pro semis). The bottom half of the draw went chalk amongst all top seeds, with #2 seed Andres Acuna topping #3 Maurice Miller to make the final. In the final, Acuna took out Mercado 11,9 to turn the tides on their meetings as of late.

Quick Recap of Men’s Open Doubles: it was #1 vs #2, Colombia vs Bolivia in the final, with two quality teams battling it out. #1 Mercado/Garay battled against #2 Keller/Carrasco in the final. There, the #2 seeded Bolivians put a second consecutive Sunday afternoon loss on Mercado, winning the Open Doubles title 7,12


Congrats to Tournament Director Tracy Valentine for all her hard work, thanks to IRT staff Mike Grisz, Dean Baer, Pablo Fajre for all their hard work. Great to meet IRT statistician-in-training JP Edwards, who I hope gets more involved going forward.

Also, a quick shout-out to Kane, who took to the court Thursday night upon arriving to play some pro-am doubles with tournament sponsors. The normal Thursday night sponsor doubles got cancelled, but some boosters had put up money specifically to have a shot at playing with Kane, and kudos to him for taking the court to help with sponsorship efforts.

Next up? 3-Wall championships next weekend in Las Vegas, then the US Open in Minneapolis.

@irt and other links

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

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.

——————-
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.

———————
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.

—————

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.

—————

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

Canel’s 2019 Wrap-Up

Mejia a double winner on the weekend in SLP.

Congrats to your winners on the weekend:

Men’s Singles: Andree Parrilla
Men’s Doubles: Rodrigo Montoya/Javier Mar
Women’s Singles: Monserrat Mejia
Women’s Doubles: Alexandra Herrera/Monserrat Mejia

r2sports link: https://www.r2sports.com/tourney/home.asp?TID=30943

I rec’d word after posting the preview that this tournament now counts as an IRT satellite event, which is great for the participants.

Here’s a quick wrap of the event, with notable results by round.

———————
Men’s Singles:

In the 32s:
– #5 Alan Natera Chavez was stretched to a tiebreaker by youngster Elias Nieto.
– #20 Daniel Maldonado took out top Guatemalan Juan Jose Salvatierra
– In the biggest upset of the round, #4 Gerardo Franco Gonzalez was taken out by Jordy Alonso (14),14 and 9. Alonso has some solid results on his resume over the last two years, has gone back and forth with GFranco in several different venues, and made the semis of this event in 2017 (when it was an WRT event). 
– #23 David Ortega eased past #10 Christian Longoria 12,3, playing solid.

In the 16s.
– #8 Ernesto Ochoa got a solid win over #9 seeded Ecuadorian veteran Fernando Rios 12,13.
– #12 Lalo Portillo waxed #5 Natera 2,7 in a great career win. Portillo scored 25 of the match’s first 27 points to dominate a tough opponent like we havn’t seen before.
– #3 Mario Mercado was stretched to a breaker by DR #1 Luis Perez before advancing.
– In an equally surprising upset, last week’s dominant winner Javier Estradawas taken out by Ortega 8,13.

In the Qtrs:
– #1 seed Andree Parrilla took out #8 Ochoa easily 5,5.
– #12 Portillo continued his excellent run, topping off upset minded Alonso in dominant fashion 9,4.
– #3 Mercado took a tough game one against #6 Javier Mar, who then retired with an injury. It looked like perhaps Mar suffered the injury towards the latter stages of game 1. 
– #2 Rodrigo Montoya Solis blitzed past upset-minded Ortega 1,9.

So in the end; your semi finalists are 1,2,3 and 12 seeds. Not too bad.

In the Semis:
– #1 Parrilla ended Portillo’s run, dominating the younger player 9,5
– #2 Montoya was stretched to a tiebreaker by #3 Mercado but advanced.

In the finals, it was #1 vs #2 … and #1 won in dominant fashion 11,5. Montoya and Parrilla are the same age and played each other over and over in juniors coming up … Montoya generally has held the upper hand in their match-ups over the years; the last time i have them meeting in a top-level event was in the semis of 2018 Mexican Nationals, won by Montoya en route to the adult title. But now its Parrilla who is ranked in the IRT top 4, within spitting distance of #3, while Montoya has not played the tour full time and sits outside the top 10. Is the tide changing?

———————
Women’s Singles:

The draw was significantly weakened by the last minute withdrawal of its #1 and #2 seeds Paola Longoria and Samantha Salas Solis . Both took 0,0 losses in the 16s. Otherwise, the 16s went essentially chalk. We had a couple of notable matches/tiebreakers though:
– #5 Amaya Cris got a solid 2-game win over #12 Maria Renee Rodríguez
– #6 Carla Muñoz Montesinos was stretched to a tiebreaker by Dominican Republic #1 and #11 seed Merynanyely Delgado.
– #7 Ecuadorian #1 Pazita Muñoz Albornoz was taken to a breaker by #10 Erin Rivera.

In the Qtrs:
– #9 Jessica Parrilla got a tie-breaker win over #16 Ana Kristin Rivera (the walk-over recipient of Longoria’s late withdrawal).
– #5 Amaya got a great win over #4 Alexandra Herrera in an 11-9 tiebreaker. They’ve played a few times in the past on tour and Herrera has mostly held the advantage.
– #3 Montse Mejia took out #6 Carla Munoz 7,7 and is the new tourney favorite with the withdrawal of both top seeds.
– #7 Maria Paz Munoz ran past #15 seed Ana Lucía Sarmiento (the beneficiary of the Salas walk-over) to advance to the semis.

So, your semi finalists are #3,5,7,8 seeds thanks to 1&2 withdrawing. Not bad.

In the semis:
– #5 Amaya continued her great event, topping Parrilla in a tie-breaker. That’s three wins over top LPRT touring pros this weekend for Amaya.
– #3 Mejia outlasted Ecuadorian vet Munoz 12,11 to advance.

In the finals, Amaya’s cinderella run ended quickly, losing to Mejia 4,2.

———————
Men’s Doubles

Just one upset to the semis by seed (#5 Natera/Mercado taking out #4 seeded Dominican Republic national team of Perez/De Leon).

In the semis, the top seeds Montoya/Mar cruised past Natera/Mercado, while #3 Parrilla/Portillo upset the 2nd seeded team of Ochoa/Estrada.

In the final, #1 Montoya/Mar took out their younger countrymen 13,9.

———————

Women’s Doubles

In the semis, The Longoria/Salas withdrawal opened up the top of this draw, and #4 seeds Parrilla/Delgado took out the Ecuadorian national doubles team of Munoz/Munoz, then the young Mexican team of Sacrisan/Sarmiento to make the finals. There, they face a former Mexican national doubles champion team of Herrera/Mejia.

In the final, Herrera/Mejia cruised to an easy win 1,5 to make Mejia the double winner on the weekend.

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

Canel’s 2019 Preview

Mejia is the #1 women’s seed at a strong Canel’s event in San Luis Potosi

One of the better non-sanctioned events of the year is this coming week; the 2019 Canel’s event in San Luis Potosi, Mexico.

r2sports link: https://www.r2sports.com/tourney/home.asp?TID=30943

here’s a quick preview of the Men’s and Women’s “open” draw, which are basically pro draws. They’re using RKT seedings here, which will result in some wonky seeding as we’ll see below.

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Men’s Singles:

30 players, headlined by a number of the top Mexican players. Also, what looks like the projected Pan Am teams from Dominican Republic, Ecuador and Guatemala are entered to make for a solid draw.

Here’s a preview of what we may look for round by round:

In the 32s:
– #9 Ecuadorian Fernando Rios takes on #24 Dominican Ramon de Leon in an IRF-worthy first rounder.
– #3 Colombian Mario Mercado takes on #30 Guatemalan Javier Martinez in a tough first rounder for the top-10 IRT pro.
– #23 David Ortega takes on #10 Christian Longoria in an interesting first rounder between two former Mexican junior phenoms.

In the 16s:
– #8 Ernesto Ochoa likely takes on Rios in a great 8/9 seed match-up
– #5 Alan Natera Chavez takes on #12 Lalo Portillo in a great match-up. Natera is a very dangerous player (he beat both Charlie Pratt and Sebastian Franco in Chihuahua earlier this summer), while Portillo has been steadily rising in the pro ranks. Could be a statement win for Portillo if he can handle Natera.
– #3 Mercado likely takes on Dominica #1 Luis Perez, who had some really solid results earlier this year at the PARCs (beating Camacho, Murray and Ugalde). Might be a trip-up match for Mercado.

Projecting the quarters:
– #1 Andree Parrilla vs #8 Ochoa: ignore the seeds; this is no easy match for Parrilla, who has lost to Ochoa twice in the last calendar year. Ochoa was upset in the 32s last event, but has the talent to beat anyone in this draw, and I think he has Parrilla’s number. Parrilla was down to Keller in the Black Gold cup before advancing and may be vulnerable.
– #5 Natera vs #4 Gerardo Franco Gonzalez. they met in the Open draw in the last IRT event in Syosset, a Franco win. But I think Natera is the better player right now and is coming off a solid Chihuahua event. 
– #3 Mercado vs #6 Javier Mar; if Mercado can survive the gauntlet of early round opponents, he likely ends his run here at the hands of Mar, the most talented player in the draw irrespective of seeding.
– #2 Rodrigo Montoya Solis vs #7 Javier Estrada. A rematch of the final of the stacked Black Gold event two weekends ago, won by Estrada in a tiebreaker as he achieved a career win. Can he follow up his performance in another city, against another stacked draw? I’m going to go with Estrada again; he’s got the hot hand.

Predicting the semis:
– Natera over Ochoa ; they’ve played twice in the last couple of years, both Natera wins. 
– Mar over Estrada; I think Mar can handle Estrada’s power and advances, but this will be an excellent test for Estrada, as Mar can hang with anyone in the world.

Final: Mar over Natera, a rematch from 2018’s Mexican Nationals where Natera upset Mar … so this match-up if it happens could go eithe rway.

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Women’s Singles

17 players in this draw, with a slew of top LPRT players and a very international look and feel. I count 6 different countries represented here, with a number of players clearly looking for competition ahead of the Pan Am games. Here’s a quick preview:

In the 16s:
– #8 Marie Gomar, fresh off of an appearance at National Masters, takes on the recovering former top-4 pro Jessica Parrilla in the opener.
– #5 Amaya Cris takes on #12 Maria Renee Rodríguez, I have the Colombian 6-1 over the Guatemalan here career across pro and int’l events, and even though they’re neck and neck in the pro ranks Amaya should advance.
– #6 Chilean Carla Muñoz Montesinos takes on dangerous Dominican int’l #11 Mery Nanyely Ortiz in an IRF-flavored match.

Projected quarters:
– #1 Montse Mejia vs #9 Parrilla; this will be an excellent test for Mejia, who has the talent to beat any of her country-mates but who generally doesn’t face a player of the calibre of Parrilla. 
– #4 Alexandra Herrera vs #5 Amaya: two LPRT pros who rarely meet; they’ve played four times … but none since May of 2016. Herrera should advance.
– #3 Samantha Salas Solis vs #6 Munoz: they’ve met 8 times between IRF and LPRT events … and Salas has won all 8. 
– #2 Paola Longoria vs #7 Pazita Muñoz Albornoz; the Ecuadorian #1 has a long history against the Mexican #1; they’ve played 10 times dating to 2006 between IRF and LPRT events. Longoria is 10-0 in those match-ups.

Projecting the Semis:
– Mejia over Herrera; they havn’t played since 2017. I think Mejia can outlast Herrera in a game-to-3 format.
– Longoria over Salas: in what normally is the tourney final, these two face off in the semis. Longoria holds a 58-3 career record over her doubles partner … so its hard not to predict anything but a Paola win.

Predicted final: Longoria over Mejia. Mejia shocked the world topping Longoria at Mexican Nationals earlier this year, but Longoria handled their late pro season meetings and will stay focused to take this title.

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Doubles

15 teams in the Men’s Doubles: I like the experienced #1 Mar/Montoya over #5 Natera/Mercado in one semi, the solid #2 Ochoa/Estrada over the youngster team of Parrilla/Portillo in the other semi, and for #1 over #2 in the final.

8 teams in the Women’s doubles, highlighted by the #1 Longoria/Salas team, which is essentially unbeatable. Look for Longora/Salas to take out the Ecuadorian National team of Munoz/Munoz in one semi, and for the former Mexican champion team of Herrera/Mejia to take out Amaya/Munuz in the other semi. Hard to predict a Longoria/Salas loss in the final, but its happened before to the lefty/righty combo of Herrera/Mejia.

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Looks like a great event; hopefully we see some streaming. The host club in SLP has a great side-wall glass court for streaming options.

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International Racquetball Tour RKT Federación Mexicana de RaquetbolInternational Racquetball Federation – IRF LPRT

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.

———————————
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.

———————————–
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