LPRT 2019-20 season Officially Complete

Longoria secures her 11th pro title. Photo US Open 2019 by Kevin Savory

With the last potential scheduled LPRT event on the schedule cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the LPRT has officially declared the 2019-20 season complete.

This is our season-ending post for the Ladies Pro tour.

Now updated at www.proracquetballstats.com for the end of the season:

– 2019-20 Rankings online: http://rball.pro/5DC5C8

– LPRT Tour History in bullet points: https://www.proracquetballstats.com/…/lprt_tour_history.html . Updated for the end of hte season

– LPRT List of Year End title winners: https://www.proracquetballstats.com/…/lprt_year_end_titles.…

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A note about the points at season’s end: there’s a rolling 12-month period of points, and then a season-to-date points total. In some cases they do not show the players in the same order. Thanks to the sudden end of the season there likely will be a decent reshuffling of player seeds upon the restart of next season. Where it mattered, I’ll note it in the write-up below.

See https://www.ladiesprofessionalracquetballtour.com/rankings for the current Singles rankings online.

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Congrats to Paola Longoria, who secures her 11th year end pro title. She went 32-1 on the season, winning 7 of the 8 events she entered and making the final in her sole loss (in Virginia in September of 2019). Her career W/L record on tour is now 472-31, an astounding 93.8 Winning percentage. She holds 99 tier 1 titles plus an additional six satellite titles for 105 pro titles for her career. She’s just turned 30 and seemingly has many more years of dominance ahead.

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Here’s some analysis of the rest of the top 10 and beyond.

– #2 Maria Jose Vargas Parada dominated this season, making 6 of 8 pro finals and downing Paola Longoria in Virginia for her 5th career LPRT title. She holds a significant lead now over #3 Salas heading into next season.

– #3 Samantha Salas Solis had an inconsistent season, making just one pro final on the season after making the final 9 times in 9 tries last season. She still holds a significant points advantage over #4 though, but has to be facing some questions in this off-season as to why her season went off the rails and what she can do to get it back on track.

– Alexandra Herrera holds steady at #4 for the third straight season. She made 4 semis, 2 quarters and missed 2 events in the 8-event season.

– #5 Natalia Mendez improved her year end standing for the fourth straight season, just barely pipping #6 Rajsich for the 5th spot on tour. She made two semis on the season.

– #6 Rhonda Rajsich finishes off her 20th straight season on tour ranked in the top 6 or better. She had an up and down season, getting upset in the 16s four times, but also making two semis. She seemed to improve as the season went on.

– #7 Montse Mejia finishes 7th on tour despite only playing half the events, and she made statements whenever she did play. This is her first career pro top-10 finish. In each of her four appearances, she exited at the hands of #1 Longoria and has a slew of wins over top 8 players. She actually led #6 Rajsich in season-to-date points and will likely jump up quickly next season. It is relatively safe to say that if Mejia played the tour full time, she’d be pushing for #2 just behind Longoria.

– #8 Nancy Enriquez held onto the #7 seed for most of the season, getting knocked out of it thanks to two late-season round-of-16 upsets to finish ranked 8th.

– #9 Amaya Cris survives a mid-season injury without too much rankings damage thanks to the abrupt end of the season, but she loses her long-held foothold on the #8 spot for the time-being and would face a tough opponent in Enriquez in the 16s just to face Longoria. Its hard to get out of the 8/9 spot.

– #10 Masiel Rivera Oporto takes the 10th spot by the skin of her teeth, pipping #11 Parrilla by just four points. This is Rivera’s first career top 10 finish.

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#11 Jessica Parrilla just missed out on a return to the top 10, but she had a great 2nd half of the season to build upon in her attempt to regain her former lofty ranking. She also made up some of the most ground on tour rankings wise, finishing last year ranked 37th after missing most of the season with a serious knee injury.

A side note here; the difference in points from #12 to #15 is just 33 points this season; that’s basically one additional quarter final appearance. One result can vault these players up the rankings significantly.

#12 Carla Muñoz Montesinos also made a great jump this season after finishing #20 last year. She had a couple of solid wins this year over top-8 players and should push for a top 10 spot next year.

#13 Brenda Laime Jalil repeats at #13 from last year’s season ending rankings. She made two quarters on the season and proved to be a tricky opponent all year.

#14 Ana Laura Flores also repeats at #14; she had a couple of solid wins on the year after blowing through Mexican 18U last summer.

#15 veteran Adriana Riveros takes a step back from touring and falls from #10 to #15 this season.

#16 Sheryl Lotts played top 10 pros tough all season, was seeded as high as #10 at one point but settles in at #16 on the season.

#17 Erin Nocam had a couple of solid wins and made a pro quarter this year, improving to #17 for the season.

#18 Maria Renee Rodríguez grinded (ground?) her way through the season to improve from last year’s #23 finish.

#19 Cassandra Lee played 6 of the 8 events on the season and played top-8 seeds tough all year. She falls slightly from last year’s #15 finish.

#20 Bolivian turned Argentine Valeria Centellas only played 4 events but made a quarter and a semi. She had wins over four of the current top 10 players on tour as well as the reigning US national champ. She’s also got one more year in juniors, which should send shudders down the spines of ladies pro players as she gains confidence and power.

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Notables in the 20-30 range:

#21 Adrienne Fisher Haynes finishes ranked on tour for the 21st straight season. The tour veteran got a solid win at the US Open and played top 8 players tough all season.

#22 Kelani Lawrence played 6 of the 8 events on tour this season and made a quarter-final after a solid win over Enriquez in Florida. The reigning US National champ seems poised to make a run up the rankings.

#23 Susy Acosta Racquetball finishes her 23rd season on tour.

#24 Frederique Lambert falls from 9th last season and 2nd the season before now that she’s a practicing medical doctor. The tour misses having such a talent involved on a regular basis.

#25 Hollie Scott continues to tour part time while in college and is a dangerous player when she does play.

#27 Ana Gabriela Martínez came out of “retirement” to play a few events, but falls precipitously from last year’s #11 spot. I’m hoping she returns to full time touring when her school commitments allow and competes for a top 10 spot.

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Other Notables the rest of the way

#35 Cheryl Gudinas earns ranking points in her 27th straight season, every season since 1993-4.

#33 Graciana Wargo was a pro debutant this season, as was #37 Megan Shelton, #46 Kathy Nells, #54 Ayoko Hanashi and #54 Annie Roberts . Wargo and Roberts are US junior national team members who played pro events for the first time this season.

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What’s next for the LPRT?

The team is working on rescheduling the TeamRoot.com classic to be the opener for the new season. No word yet on when that might happen. But the next time the ladies take the court it will be to start the 2020-21 season.

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Tags

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Reaching Your Dream Foundation

US Nationals Wrap-Up

Landa secures the National team Doubles spot in his first US competition since switching countries. Photo Kevin Savory

Congrats to your winners on the weekend:
– Men’s Doubles: Sudsy Monchik & Alejandro Landa
– Women’s Doubles; Aimee Ruiz & Erika Manilla

And the winners of the Singles qualifiers:
– Men’s Singles: Rocky Carson
– Women’s Singles: Hollie Scott

Sudsy/Landa win three straight 11-9 breakers over former USA National doubles championship teams to take the title. Ruiz secures her 12th title (13th won on the court) and brings along Manilla for her first ever National Doubles title.

R2 Sports App home page for event: https://www.r2sports.com/tourney/home.asp?TID=31680

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Lets review the notable matches in the Men’s Doubles draw.

Men’s Doubles Match report in the PRS database: http://rball.pro/989C2B

All three round of 16 matches were two game wins that weren’t necessarily that close: #9 MoMo Zelada/ Robert Collins “upset” the #8 seeded team of Brent Walters and Thomas Gerhardt 13,3 as the round’s closest match.

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In the Quarters, we saw some fun matches.

– #1 Rocky Carson and Charlie Pratt Racquetball dominated the #9 seeded team of Zelada/Collins 9,3 to move on.

– The #5 team of Alex Landa and Sudsy Monchik barely got by a very good #4 seeded team of Tony Carson and Jansen Allen (13),12,9. Carson/Allen jumped out to a huge lead in game one and it looked for a time like the match would be a blow-out, but Landa/Monchik battled back and lost game one on a disputed call. Game two was more in Landa/Monchik control towards the end, leading to the inevitable tiebreaker.

In the breaker, a very tense match reached its crescendo. There was almost nothing between these teams and throughout the 3rd game rallies often ended with spectacular pinch winners or debatable hinders. Carson’s backhand was lethal throughout the match, and his backhand hard Z gave Sudsy fits all night. At the end, Landa was able to find a serve that Allen couldn’t (or didn’t) attack, which led to scoring opportunities that they didn’t miss to pull away and get the last two points to win 11-9.

– After dropping the first game, #6 David ” Bobby” Horn] and Erik Garcia] were able to get the upset over #3 Adam Manilla] and Nick Riffel (7),3,5.

– #2 Jake Bredenbeck and Jose DIAZ were pushed to a breaker, but eventually advanced over #7 Maurice Miller and Troy Warigon.

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In the Semis
– #5 Landa/Monchik dethroned defending champs Carson/Pratt in a fascinating match that went down to the wire. After dropping the first game rather easily, the #5 seeds regrouped and forced a tie-breaker. There, it went down to the a couple of critical rallies, just as their match in the quarters. Carson & Pratt looked like they had the match in hand, up 8-4 with the serve … they missed two opportunities to push it further, giving the serve back. There, a skip, a funny bounce a mis-communication and a crack-ace quickly got the match to 8-8. From there, Landa crushed a service return for a half out, then Rocky buried a pinch kill from 39 feet for 9-8. Sudsy then crushed a pinch kill to get a side out … called a skip for 10-8 but overturned by both line judges for a critical side-out at 8-9 for Landa/Monchik. From there … destiny took over; Pratt got hit by a call heading for a setup for 9-9, Landa buried a kill shot for 10-9 and then Pratt skipped a service return for an anti-climactic end to a great match.

– #2 Jake/Diaz overcame a first game defeat to cruise to the win, advancing to the final for the third time in five years, defeating #6 Horn/Garcia (11),5,3.

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In the Finals, Sudsy/Landa looked for a time to be cruising to the title, jumping out to a big game one lead before Jake/Jose fought back to make it a game. Game two was one-way traffic, setting up yet another nail biting tiebreaker. There, the veterans jumped out to a big lead, only to have Jake/Jose grind back to 9-9. Then, as with the two previous matches, Landa/Monchik faced 9-9 down without the serve, got it back and served it out for the match.

The cardiac kid veterans beat three former champs, each time 11-9 in the breaker, to secure the title and claim National team spots.

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Women’s Doubles review

Match report in the PRS database: http://rball.pro/846600

In the quarters, two matches:
– The young #4 seeds Jazmin Trevino and Erin Slutzky prevailed in a breaker over #5 Cassie Lee and Fran Transfiguracion 11-8.
– the #3 seeds of collegiate stars Hollie Scott and Lexi York dominated the team of Graciana Wargo and Jessica Chen 4.3.

In the Semis:
– #1 seeds Aimee Roehler Ruiz and Erika Manilla cruised to the final over the #4 team of Trevino/Slutzky 7,7
– #3 Hollie Scott and Lexi York] outplayed the #2 seeded team of Kelani Lawrence and Sheryl Lotts, winning in two games 8,13 to move into the final.

In the Finals: the #1 seeds dominated, led by Ruiz’ experience and cruised to the title 6,9.

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Men’s Singles Qualification:

(No match report in PRS database b/c we’re not loading this data right now).

Here’s a review of the singles qualifier:

round of 16 notable matches:
– #8 Maurice Miller got a solid win over #9 Erik Garcia 12,(6),5.
– #12 MoMo Zelada got the biggest upset of the night, playing a solid match to down #5 Charlie Pratt 12,11. Pratt made the semis of the last two US Nationals event, and Zelada has really been playing well lately.
– #6 Thomas Carter came back from a 15-0 first game defeat to down #11 Robert Collins (0),7,9 in a battle of lefty IRT tour veterans. Collins really couldn’t do anything wrong in the first, but Carter made some adjustments to advance.
– #7 Manilla took two solid games over the improving #10
Sam Bredenbeck 8,12 to move on.

In the Quarters: all four top seeds advanced in two games in the near-chalk draw:
– #1 Carson over #8 Miller
– #4 Horn over #12 Zelada
– #3 Bredenbeck over #6 Carter
– #2 Landa over #7 Manilla

In the Semis:
– #1 Carson remained undefeated against #4 Horn, but was pressed to a tie-breaker to advance.
– #2 Landa also remained undefeated against #3 Bredenbeck, winning in two straight.

In the final, a fatigued Landa fell to Carson in two games; it looked for a bit like Landa could rally for a breaker in the second game, but a couple of curious calls went against him at the tail end of game two, he lost focus and the match was over; Carson wins 6,14.

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Women’s Singles

Round of 16 notables:
– #8 Jessica Chen took out her doubles partner #9 Wargo in two.
– #6 York dropped the first game against junior Slutzky before advancing.

In the quarters: all four top seeds advanced.
– #1 Rhonda Rajsich over #8 Chen
– #4 Erika Manilla went tiebreaker to advance over #5 Lotts, dropping the first game 6 then winning (6),7,3.
– #3 Scott downed her doubles partner York 8,9
– #2 Lawrence took out fellow LPRT touring regular Cassie Lee 6,1.

In the semis:
– #4 Manilla got a career win, topping #1 Rajsich in a tie-breaker.
– #3 Scott upset #2 Lawrence in a rematch of last year’s US National singles final.

I said my peace on the seeding issues here in the preview; this event was mis-seeded, and these semis match-ups demonstrate why it was mis-seeded and why Lawrence in particular probably feels hard done by here.

In the final…Scott prevailed over Manilla in the breaker to put herself in the driver’s seat for a National team spot.

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National Team Standing Implications of these results.

(see https://www.teamusa.org/…/Team-U…/Qualifying-for-the-US-Team
for qualifying guidelines and point scoring here).

On the Men’s side, if my calculations are correct, then the top for candidates in the race for the two National team singles spots are:
1. Landa: 36
2. Carson: 32
3. Jake: 20
4. Horn.20

Despite losing the final here, Landa is in the lead for a national team spot thanks to the vast difference in US OPen results. Landa and Carson have a pretty sizeable lead over Jake and Horn; the only way Jake or Bobby could surpass Landa or Carson is to win US Nationals this coming May and have one of Landa/Carson upset prior to the semis.

On the Women’s side, here’s the current standings:
1. Scott: 31
2. Manilla: 24
3. Rhonda: 20
4. Kelani: 19

Hollie pretty much has a spot sewn up at this point: The second spot will come down to how 2 thru 4 play at Natioanls in May.

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Other notable draws from National Doubles:

– Miller and Warigon took the Men’s Open Doubles title.
– Trevino and Slutzky took the Women’s Open Doubles title.

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Next up?

There’s no major tournaments anywhere in the world (pro or amateur) until the first week of March. So we have a bit of a break.

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USA Racquetball
International Racquetball Tour
LPRT
International Racquetball Federation – IRF

US National Doubles (with Singles qualifier) Preview

Carson to go for the double this weekend as the #1 seed in both Singles and Doubles. Photo Portland 2019, Photographer Kevin Savory

Welcome to the first major Amateur Nationals event of Fy2020. Its the US National doubles event, being held in Tempe, AZ on the campus of Arizona State University.

This is the 53rd iteration of US National doubles: The first was held in 1968 in Madison, Wisconsin and the first Men’s US national title was won by the team of Simie Fein and Jim White. The Women’s event doesn’t seem to have started until 1972; the first winners I have on record were Jan Pasternak and Kimberly Hill, who won the title in Memphis in 1972.

Click here for a full list of all Men’s titlists: http://rball.pro/8862E4

Click here for a full list of Women’s titlists: http://rball.pro/A7F6CA

Rocky Carson holds the Men’s record for most National Doubles titles; he has 11 titles in 13 appearances. Jacqueline Paraiso-Larsson holds the record on the Women’s side with 14 titles in 15 appearances.

R2 Sports App link: https://www.r2sports.com/tourney/home.asp?TID=31680

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Lets preview the Men’s Doubles draw:

The Men’s draw has 11 teams, highlighted by both of last year’s finalist teams as the #1 and #2 seeds. The big news of course this year is the entry of one team in particular: Alex Landa , the current #2 player on the IRT has entered with 5-time pro tour champ and Hall of Famer Sudsy Monchik.

Landa, who has represented Mexico his entire career, famously was left off the Mexican delegation to the Pan American Games last year despite winning the 2019 Mexican Nationals event. The Mexican federation made this decision based on rather “debatable” guidelines to say the least, and in the aftermath Landa asked for (and was granted) his release from the Mexican team. He’s a dual citizen and has resided in Texas for many years, and quickly was able to obtain clearance to enter in US national events. He’s an accomplished doubles player, currently ranked #3 on the IRT doubles ranking, and is a right-side (forehand) player. He’s teamed a legend and a great left-side (backhand) doubles player in Sudsy to make a pretty formidable team. They’re handed the #5 seed, meaning they’ll have to play through both top seeds to win it.

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Lets preview the Men’s doubles draw:

Round of 16: there’s three play-in round of 16 matches, with some interesting match-ups

– In the 8/9 matchup; an east coast flair: North Carolina native Brent Walters teams with top Virginia player Thomas Gerhardt to take on Maryland native MoMo Zelada and his partner, Hawaiian-turned-NorCal guy Robert Collins: Collins as a lefty gives that team an advantage here over the two east coast veterans.
– The solid #6 team of David ” Bobby” Horn and reigning intercollegiate champ Erik Garcia takes on #11 team of Arizona youngsters Ben Baron and Preston Tribble.
– #7 team of good friends from the east coast Maurice Miller and Troy Warigon take on #10 team Justus Benson and Sam Bredenbeck. Four semi-regular IRT players here battle it out and a ton of hard hitters.

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Projected Qtrs:
– #1 Defending champs Carson and Charlie Pratt Racquetball likely take on Zelada/Collins and should control the floor.
– #5 Monchik/Landa get started against the #4 team of Jansen Allen and Tony Carson, the 2013 champions. Both former top-10 IRT pros, Carson is just coming back from a year-long injury to his achilles heel and had to forfeit out of the last pro event he entered, while Allen has taken a step back from touring full time. This will be a good first test for Monchik/Landa and a tough draw for the former champs.
– #3 Adam Manilla and his college buddy Nick Riffel likely play Horn/Garcia. Manilla as a lefty gives this team a big advantage, but Garcia can be the x-factor here. Look for the upset.
– #2 Jake Bredenbeck and Jose DIAZ likely face the #7 seeds Warigon/Miller and should advance.

Semis:
– I like Monchik/Landa to upset the #1 seeds Carson/Pratt here. My simple theory in predicting doubles matches is to look at the match-up on the right-hand side to predict matches; If there’s a weak link on the court, it often presents on the forehand side of the weaker team. Pratt is by no means a “weak” player, but Landa isn’t #2 in the world by accident. I think Sudsy hangs with Rocky on the backhand and Landa makes the difference on the forehand.
– I like #2 Jake/Diaz to make the final again; they’re just too experienced playing together and too good of a team.

Finals:
– Landa didn’t switch to the USA to not make the team; he’s on a mission in Arizona, and I like them for the upset win.

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Lets preview the Women’s Doubles draw:

Just 6 teams entered here. #1 seed includes one member of last year’s on-the-court champion team in Aimee Roehler Ruiz, who is second all-time to Paraiso-Larseen in career US National doubles titles with 11. She was part of the winning team last year before having the title vacated, but now she’s back with a new partner as the top seed. The #2 seeds from last year (the Key sisters Michelle De La Rosa and Danielle Maddox) are not entered, thus we’ve got a wide-open field.

In the Quarters i’m predicting chalk:
– #4 Jazmín Treviño and Erin Slutzky over #5 Cassie Lee and Fran Transfiguracion
– #3 Hollie Scott and Lexi York over #6 Graci Wargo & Jessica Chen.

In the semis:
– i like the #1 team of Ruiz and Erika Manilla to advance to the final.
– I think the #2 seeds of Kelani Lawrence] and Sheryl Lotts, two LPRT regulars who are impressing this season, will have their hands full with Scott and York but will prevail.

Predicted final: I like Lawrence/Lotts over Ruiz/Manilla. Ruiz’ leftiness helps, but I suspect that the overall talent level of the #2 seeded team will overcome the #1 seeds in the final.

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Singles qualifier Review:

The USA added the singles event to National Doubles in 2016 as part of a revamping of the way the National team is decided. US players now compete in three events to gain “points” towards team qualification; the US Open in October, National doubles in February and National singles in May. One may argue that using US Open pro results is unfair (it is; you’re often playing non-US players while competing towards a US team spot), but it is the only other “major” event we have at the moment.

A reminder: I have captured these non-Nationals events in my staging area, but they are NOT loaded into the database and are not currently queryable. I’ve had requests to add this data for a better head to head representation (especially for Canadians, who have been holding these types of events for years), or to get winners of these past events … but it would take significant retrofitting of the reports to do so, so its back burnered for now.

That being said, its a great draw in Tempe and I look forward to it as a fan.

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Men’s singles draw review:

Some questions have arisen related to the seedings here: if Landa just converted to USA … how is he seeded 2nd? Well that’s because USAR uses their internal rankings and Carson is ahead of Landa. See https://www.usaracquetballevents.com/rankings.asp . The USAR rankings do include basically all pro players, and is driven mostly by head to head match-ups. But, just because playerA beats playerB doesn’t automatically move them ahead; the last time Landa played Carson was in the final of the Nov 2019 Fullerton event, a Landa win … yet he remains behind Rocky until he beats him again.

Here’s some notable matches from the 16s I look forward to:
– 8/9 Erik Garcia vs Maurice Miller should be a great match; I think the collegiate champ moves on.
– 5/12 Zelada vs Pratt is interesting: Zelada doesn’t play every pro event but can hang with the players regularly in the 9-16 range. Pratt used to make noise in nearly every event he entered, but as he winds down from full time touring he’s been taking more and more earlier early round losses; in his last 7 pro stops over the last two years he’s made just 3 main draws.
– 6/11: Collins vs Thomas Carter: love the lefty on lefty matches.
– 7/10: Adam Manilla vs Sam Bredenbeck: could be an interesting match here; can Sam get the upset?

Projected Quarters:
– #1 Carson over #9 Garcia
– #4 Horn over #5 Pratt: Bobby beat Charlie in last year’s US Nationals and recently in a local event on his home court and I think he prevails again.
– #3 Jake Bredenbeck over #6 Carter
– #2 Landa over the Manilla

Semis:
– #1 Carson moves on over Horn; he’s 4-0 lifetime over Bobby.
– #2 Landa tops Jake Bredenbeck; he’s 8-0 lifetime over Jake.

Final: tough one to call; I think Landa is super motivated to win and get a big leg up on qualifying for the team. If this was actually Nationals i’d go with Landa, but here Rocky takes the title since by Sunday I perceive Rocky will be out of doubles while Landa will be shooting for two titles.

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Women’s singles draw review:

First, can someone explain the seeding in this event to me? Right now, on USAR’s ranking page Kelani Lawrence is ahead of Rhonda Rajsich. Kelani BEAT Rhonda in Nationals last year en route to the title and is the defending champ. How is Kelani not seeded #1? I don’t get it. You may say “oh seeding doesn’t matter you have to beat everyone to win” … but as you’ll see, Kelani now has a significantly harder semis match than the #1 seed has.

Nonetheless, here’s a preview of this draw. Notable early matches to watch:
– 8/9 Wargo vs Chen: young doubles partners square off early.
– 6/11: York vs Slutzky: can the junior Slutzky (just finishing her 16U year and making her adult debut) challenge York?

quarters projection:
– #1 Rajsich over Wargo
– #5 Lotts over #4 Manilla; this should be a great match.
– #3 Scott over #6 York, again doubles partners squaring off.
– #2 Lawrence over #7 Lee.

The rubber meats the road in the semis.

– #1 Rajsich vs #5 Lotts: Rhonda has had a tough pro season so far: four times she’s lost in the 16s, but she’s also made two semis. Lotts has competed well against top-8 players but has yet to break through with a round of 16 win. Rhonda has never lost to Lotts, and this may go deep but Rhonda prevails.
– #2 Lawrence vs #3 Scott: this is a rematch of last year’s final (which is why seeding accuracy is so important); Kelani prevailed there 11-10 but it could have gone either way. Since then, Lawrence has made a concerted effort to play the LPRT more, and has a slew of solid results. I think Lawrence has grown more in the last year as a player than Scott, and prevails here.

Final:

Lawrence and Rajsich again. These two met in US Nationals events in 2016, 2018 and 2019. They’ve also met in this qualifier event every year since it started: 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019. So its only fitting that they meet in the 2020 iteration.

In all of these 7 matches, Rhonda is 6-1. But that one win was in last year’s Nationals event. Lawrence got that break through win and hasn’t looked back. Lawrence for the win here too.

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Look for Streaming in the regular places; follow USA Racquetball on Facebook and register for live video notifications. Leo Ray Vasquez on the mike all weekend as usual.

Tags

International Racquetball Tour
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28th Annual LPRT Christmas Classic Preview

World Champ Ana Gabriela Martinez makes a rare LPRT appearance.

Here we are; its the last domestic pro tournament of the calendar year. And the LPRT is back at a frequent location, the Sportfit Laurel club in Laurel MD for 28th annual running of this event.

R2 Sports App link for the event: https://www.r2sports.com/website/event-website.asp?TID=31661

The brackets are up (for the Pro events) as of this writing.

20 LPRT pros entered into the draw, a step down from the 28 who played the Chicago event a few weeks back. Missing from the top 10 this time around is #8 Montse Mejia, which bumps #9 Amaya Cris into the 8th seed.

Missing from the 11-20 range of regular touring pros include Adriana Riveros, Brenda Laime JalilAna Laura Flores and Erin Rivera, which will bump up a lot of regulars into seeds in the upper teens and will give us some intriguing round of 16 matches (as we’ll see in a moment).

The draw also sees a rare appearance by 2018 World Champion Guatemalan Ana Gabriela Martínez, perhaps taking geographical advantage of an East coast tour stop to her home country.

Lets preview the draw:
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In the play-ins:
– #16/#17 is always fun, and this time is no different. Reigning World Champ Martinez as the #17 seed faces off against reigning US National champ and Virginia native Kelani Lawrence. Lawrence has been trying to make some traction on the pro tour this year, and has played some top 4 players tough in early round matches, and now has quite a challenge on her hands to even get to the round of 16.

– #13 Jessica Parrilla vs #20 Graci Wargo: 18U junior Wargo makes her pro tour debut, coming off of a quarterfinals result in Junior Worlds in November in her last event as a junior. She runs up against a resurgent Parrilla, who got a solid win in Chicago to advance to the Quarters.

– #14 Carla Muñoz Montesinos vs #19 Lexi York; a fun match that we would have seen last year possibly in Intercollegiates; now we see York making the cross-country trip to compete. This could be a closer match than Munoz may like.

– #15 Maria Renee Rodriguez vs #18 Hollie Rae Scott: a tough match-up for MRR, who runs into Scott, who won Intercollegiates, made the finals of USA Nationals in June and who just topped Rajsich at the Portland LPRT exhibit. I like Scott to move on here.

—————————–
Round of 16 matches of note:
– #1 Paola Longoria vs the Martinez/Lawrence winner: either opponent will make for an interesting show. Martinez of course topped Longoria at Worlds but otherwise has generally been dominated by the #1 (1-15 lifetime across pro and IRF events). Lawrence has played here a handful of times, including in this event last year.

– #8 Amaya vs #9 Masiel Rivera Oporto; 8/9s are always fun, and this should be no different. Amaya is 4-0 lifetime over Rivera … but the last time they played it was 11-10 (in Chicago a few weeks ago), and … this is basically Rivera’s home court, living just a few miles away. Will a strong rooting interest spur her to victory? Look for another tiebreaker here.

– #4 Alexandra Herrera vs #13 Parrilla: they met in the first event of the season, an 11-9 win for the lefty. Since, Parrilla has gained more of her game back. I like Parrilla’s chances here of an upset.

– #2 Maria Jose Vargas vs #18 Scott: I think Scott can hang with Vargas, make it a bit close, but still expect Vargas to advance.

—————————–
Projecting the Quarters:
– #1 Longoria over #9 Rivera
– #13 Parrilla over #5 Rhonda Rajsich: these two haven’t played since before her knee injury, and in the 2017 timeframe they were neck and neck, with a bunch of 5-game marathons. I think Parrilla continues her run.
– #3 Samantha Salas Solis over #6 Natalia Mendez; because of their relative seedings over the past few years … they have relatively few meetings on tour. Just two LPRT meetings and none since Apr of 2018. Salas has never lost to Mendez, and I expect her to advance here.
– #2 Vargas over #7 Nancy Enriquez; they met for the first time in September, an easy Vargas win. I expect the same here.

Projected Semis: Longoria over Parrilla, Vargas over Salas.

Projected final: Longoria over Vargas.

—————————–
Quick doubles preview:

The top team of Longoria/Salas looks set to run through the draw and face the #2 team of Mendez/Vargas, who will not have to deal with the power of the Herrera/Mejia team this time around. I like the #1 team to win.

—————————-
Reminder, there’s also a nice little IRT Tier 5 at the same time, with a solid east coast draw. We’ll recap that at the end of the weekend.

—————————–
LPRT
Jugadores Racquetbol Guatemala
USA Racquetball
Racquetball Canada
Federación Mexicana de Raquetbol
Asociación Argentina de Racquetball
Federacion Colombiana de Racquetball
International Racquetball Federation – IRF

Junior Worlds 2019 Singles Wrap-Up

Congrats to all your Junior World singles winners from this past week’s competition in San Jose, Costa Rica:

Boys 18U: Gerson Miranda, Bolivia
Boys 16U: Hector Barrios, Bolivia
Boys 14U: Jhonatan Flores, Bolivia
Boys 12U: Eder Renteria, Mexico
Boys 10U: Alvaro Guillen, Costa Rica

Matrix of all Junior world Boys Winners through 2019: http://rball.pro/043BA8

Girls 18U: Angela Barrios, Bolivia
Girls 16U: Maricruz Ortiz, Costa Rica
Girls 14U: Heather Mahoney, USA
Girls 12U: Sonia Shetty, USA
Girls 10U: Nicol Mancilla, Bolivia

Matrix of all Junior World Girls Winners through 2019: http://rball.pro/BCE571

We’ll run through the Doubles winners in a post tomorrow.

All the match data for 14U, 16U and 18U competitions are loaded into the database, along with just the finals of the younger competitions. Listed below are Match Reports for each division as we review them.

—————-
Summary of Singles results: 5 of the 10 junior world singles titles to Bolivia.

– Bolivian wins in Boys 18U,16U,14U, Girls 18U, 10U
– Costa Rica wins Girls 16U, Boys 10U
– America wins Girls 14U, 12U
– Mexico wins Boys 12U

In 2018 by way of comparison, Bolivia won 5 of the 10 junior singles titles, Mexico took 4 and USA took one.


Lets run through the results from the 14s, 16s and 18s divisions, citing notable results and upsets.


In the Boys 18U:

PRS Match Report: http://rball.pro/539FFE

– Just one top-8 seed failed to advance to the quarters: #3 Chilean Johan Igor was taken out in two close games by home-country favorite Pablo Freer 14,10. Freer was the unlucky recipient of a group stage that included drastically under-seeded Garcia and is clearly better than a 14th knockout seed. He faces his countryman Tomas Sanchez in the quarters, ensuring a home-country representative into the semis.
– Mexican Jose Carlos Ramos was stretched to a breaker by Guatemalan Nathan Martinez and faces his Mexican teammate in the quarters.

In the Qtrs:
– #1 Bolivian Gerson Miranda Martinez cruised over American #8 Ben Baron winning in two.
– #4 Argentinian Diego Garcia topped Ecuadorian Juan Flores, setting up the highly anticipated match with Miranda (which most observers think are the two top players in this draw).
– #6 Costa Rican Tomas Sanchez topped his team-mate Freer to advance.
– #7 Ramos topped his teammate easily, beating #2 Emir Mtz 6,7 to move into the semis and put himself in a great spot to advance to the finals.

In the semis:
– #1 vs #4 turned out to be kind of a dud, as #1 Miranda really outclassed his younger former countryman Garcia 6,8.
– #6 Sanchez won over #7 Ramos by the curious scores of 10,(0),10. It took him three shots at match point, but he eventually took the win and proved that “it only takes 26 to win.”

In the final, Miranda dominated the home favorite Sanchez to take the 18U world title 6,7. He improves on his semis finish last year and graduates from the junior ranks as the top dog.

—-
In the Girls 18U:

PRS Match Report: http://rball.pro/F53055

– No surprises or upsets-by-seed to the quarters.

In the quarters, chalk; all four top seeds advance in two games.
– #1 Centellas and #3 Barrios each eliminate a Mexican player early; there will be no Mexican girls even to the semis of 18U after having a Mexican win both of the last two 18U titles.
– Surprising Argentinian #4 Katz dominated USA’s Wargo in a battle of lefties to move on.
– #2 Ecuadorian Sarmiento downed USA’s Chauhan to move on.

Its a changing of the guard; no Americans or Mexicans in the 18U girls semis.

In the semis:
– Both Bolivians advanced to the final in dominant fashion as #1 Centellas and #3 Barrios vanquished Katz and Sarmiento by the cores of 5,3 and 4,0 respectively.

Fun fact; to this point in the event, here’s the total number of points allowed by the two Bolivian 18U players:
– Centellas: 27 points in 4 matches; that’s an average of less than 4 points a game.
– Barrios: 20 points in 5 matches. That’s an average of 2 (two!) points per game.

In the final, Barrios turned the tide on her country-woman from their nationals event, taking the title over the #1 seeded Centellas 10,13. Barrios improves on her semis finish from last year and graduates the junior ranks as the champion.

—–
In the Boys 16U:

PRS Match Report: http://rball.pro/19F6CC

– Two upsets in the round of 16: Chilean #12 Jaime Mansilla took out #5 Ecuadorian Josue Bermeo Solano in a tie-breaker. He moves on to face the Bolivian #4 seed Adrian Jaldin, who himself was stretched to a breaker in the 16s.
– Home-town favorite #10 Costa Rican Felipe Guillen took out #7 Canadian Nathan Jauvin in the 16s to move on.
– the 16s were robbed of potentially its best match when American Andrew Gleason had to retire due to injury ahead of his rematch versus #3 seed Mexican Aldo Caraveo Carrasco. You hate to see any player head out of a major event like this with injury.

In the quarters:
– Three of the top 4 seeds advanced in two games: #1 Sebastian Longoria, #2 Hector Barrios and #4 Adrian Jaldin. #6 American Timmy Hansen was the sole upset winner, taking out the #3 seed Mexican Aldo Caraveo in two games. Hansen is on fire in Costa Rica, having won all five matches and having given up no more than 10 points in any game.

In the Semis:
– #1 Longoria came from a game down to squeak by the Bolivian #2 Jaldin 11-8 in the breaker.
– #2 Barrios came from a game down to top American Hansen in 11-5 in the breaker to setup 1 v 2 in the final, the top Mexican vs the top Bolivian.

In the Final, the Bolivian #2 dropped the middle game but won the tiebreaker over the Mexican #1 to give the Bolivians another world junior title.

—–
In the Girls 16U:

PRS Match Report: http://rball.pro/47CC7A

Two “upsets” in the 16s, though they’re both probably not really upsets in that they’re in the 8/9 and 7/10 matches where its rather hard to separate players.
– American #9 Annie Roberts blasted #8 Cuban Sunlaris Rodriguez 1,0; she moves on to face the top seed in the quarters.
– American #10 Erin Slutsky took out #7 seeded Costa Rican Sofia Freer in a tie-breaker to move on to face the #2 seed in the quarters.

In the Quarters, we got one big upset.
– #1 Mexican Lupita Griffin, who was a semi-finalist in World 16U last year, was taken out by American #9 Annie Roberts
– #5 @ [100003954106579:2048:Maricruz Ortiz] took out #4 Katz 12,4. Interestingly, Katz has now made it further in the 18U draw than she will in the 16U draw, and Ortiz looks like the next big thing in Women’s racquetball.
– #2 Meneses and #3 Martinez each advanced to setup the expected semi-final.

In the semis:
– #5 Ortiz crushed the upset-minded Roberts 1,2 to advance to the final. Despite her seed, I’ve felt Ortiz was the favorite in this field and it will be interesting to see how she fares in the final.
– #2 Meneses cruised past the Mexican #3 Martinez 0,9 to advance to the final and setup a great show-down with Ortiz.

In the final, Ortiz mounted a furious comeback in the tie-breaker after dropping the first and blitzing Meneses in the second to take a thriller 11-10 and give the home country a gold medal to cheer for.

————
In the Boys 14U:

PRS Match Report: http://rball.pro/11D127

The #3 and #4 seeds were both upset in the 16s of the knockouts, but the top two seeds both advanced to the final without breaking a sweat.

In the final, Bolivian #1 Jhonathan Flores came from a game down to top American #2 @ [507188469660347:274:Nikhil Prasad] in a tiebreaker to take the 14U crown.

—————
In the Girls 14U

PRS match Report: http://rball.pro/7A77EC

– The #1 seed was toppled in the quarters 11-10 by #8 seed Mexican Angela Ortega, who advanced to the final. #2 American Heather Mahoney won a tight semi then took the final to win her 3rd World Junior title.

—————-
Another major IRF event in the books. Great job by Gary Mazaroff and his staff for their work on the broadcasts, and to Pablo Fajre for his streaming efforts.

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Org links

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

Junior Worlds: RR review, Knockout Preview

We’re through the round robin phase of the event; lets do a quick re-cap of surprising results in the RRs and preview the knockouts.

Draws located at www.internationalracquetball.com website (click on the “Divisions and Results” button on the home page).

Live streaming is usually shared to the Facebook group “Live Streaming of Racquet Sports” when found, and the official streaming by the IRF is via their facebook page. I suggest you follow both.

We generally just focus on the oldest age groups at PRS (18U and 16U), but capture 14U and younger winners for the record books once the tourney is complete.

A reminder: The IRF seeds the draw for the RR stage, then re-seeds the draw for the knockouts based on the RR results. Sometimes the RR results don’t exactly match the knockout seeds (meaning, if you enter as #1 seed, win your group … you’re not guaranteed the #1 seed in knockouts). I don’t know what the criteria used is to flip around these seeds. But generally in the write-up below I attempt to distinguish between the RR seeds and the Knockout seeds; apologies if its confusing to read.

————
RR recap; here’s some notable results from the RRs:

In Boys 18U
– The top 2 seeds cruised through (Mexico’s Emir Mtz and Bolivia’s Gerson Miranda Martinez but for reasons unknown they’ll be flipped in the knockout draw.
– The 3rd and 4th seeds were beaten in the RRs and will drop; Argentina’s Diego Garcia Quispe won his group with the 3rd seeded Jose Carlos Ramos and will be the 4th seed in the knockouts while Chilean Johan Igor surprised everyone by taking his group as the 14th seed. He’ll slot into the 3rd seed in knockouts.

In Boys 16U:
– As with the 18u, the top two seeds cruised through the RR stage without incident. Mexico’s Sebastian Longoria and Bolivia’s Hector Barrios advanced without dropping a game.
– the 3rd seed, Mexican Aldo Caraveo Carrasco was stretched 11-9 by American Andrew Gleason, but took the group as expected. Gleason was upset later on and will be a dangerous 14th seed in the knockouts.
– The 4th seed, Bolivian Adrian Jaldin won the group, but was pushed by Canadian Nathan Jauvin
– American Timmy Hansen upset the 5th seed and dominated his group to advance as the group winner.

Girls 18U
– The #1 seed, Mexican Maria Fernanda Gutierrez Justiniano was upset by Ecuadorian Ana Lucía Sarmiento 11-10; she ascends to the 2nd seed in the knockouts.
– As expected, Bolivian Valeria Centellas dominated her group as the inexplicable 7th seed, dropping just 10 points in four games to win the group; she’ll be the top seed in the knockouts.
– Argentinian Martina Katz upended her group as the 11th seed, topping 3rd overall seed Mexican Anna Rivera and ensuring that neither Mexican would be a top 4 seed in the knockouts.
– Also as expected, Bolivian Angelica Barrios dominated her group even more thoroughly than Centellas, giving up just four points in six games (!) and handing out four donuts en route to winning her group going away.

I know I keep harping on the seeding here, but really. Centellas and Barrios advanced by winning their combined 5 matches/10 games while giving up a combined 14 points between them. Tell me again why they weren’t the two top seeds going into this draw?

Girls 16U
– the top 3 seed’s RR groups went completely chalk, with Mexicans Lupita Griffin and Ximena Martinez along side #2 seed Bolivian Micaela Meneses Cuellar advancing unscathed.
– Argentine Katz (who also won her 18U group in an upset) blitzed her way to a win in her 16U group too. What a great tournament she’s had so far.
– Unsurprisingly, Costa Rican Maricruz Ortiz won her group but will only improve her knockout seed slightly. What was surprising was to see Cuban Loraine Felipe finish in 2nd place as the 17th and lowest seeded player.

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Knockout Previews/Predictions

Boys 18U:

Top 4 seeds go: Miranda, Martinez, Igor, Garcia.

There’s some fun matches in the early rounds to watch for:
– Garcia has to play his former countryman Charlie Chavez the 16s
– the two Mexicans (Ramos, Martinez) likely have to face each other in the quarters
– #1 Bolivian Miranda likely eliminates both Americans; one in 16s, the other in the Quarters, as he seems set to face Micah Farmer in the 16s and Ben Baron in the quarters.

Otherwise I feel the draw goes chalk to the semis.

In the semis, I’m going with Garcia over Miranda in a dog-fight, Martinez over Igor, and whoever takes the Garcia/Miranda semi winning.

—–
Boys 16U

top 4 seeds go Longoria, Barrios, Caraveo, and Jaldin.

Early round Matches to watch for:
– Caraveo has to play American Gleason in a RR group rematch right out of the gate. They played close in the group stage; can the lefty Gleason learn from his loss and force the upset here?
– If Gleason can’t beat Caraveo, then his teammate Hansen could; they’re projected to meet in the quarters.

In the semis, i’m going Longoria over Jaldin, Barrios over Hansen, and Longoria over Barrios in the final. But to be honest, this is a deep draw and i’m not confident that the knockouts will go chalk at all. Look for upset runs.

——
Girls 18U:

top 4 seeds: Centellas, Sarmiento, Barrios and Katz.

Early round Matches to watch for:
– #4/#5 Katz vs American Graci Wargo in the quarters could be a solid match
– #7/#2 Sarmiento vs American Nikita Chauhan could also be interesting. Both are upset potentials.

In the semis, i’m predicting that both Bolivians advance over whomever comes out of the other side, and i’m going with Barrios over Centellas in the final.

—-
Girls 16U

top 4 seeds: Griffen, Meneses, Martinez and Katz.

Early round matches to watch for:
– 8/9 Annie Roberts versus Cuban Suniaris Rodriguez: Rodriguez upset the pre-tourney 4th seed from Bolivia in the group stage: this could be a tight match.
– #3/#14: @ximena martinez will have her work cut out for her taking on the Bolivian @fernanda mendez in the 16s.
– 4/5 in the quarters: The surprise Argentine Katz set to take on last year’s finalist Ortiz, playing on home court. Tough match-up; i’ll go with Ortiz to ride the crowd to victory.

In the semis, I’m going with Ortiz to upset Griffen, Meneses to hold serve against Martinez, and for Ortiz to win the title on home soil in the final.

—-

Knockouts are starting today, going all day. Should be an exciting tournament.

International Racquetball Tour
International Racquetball Federation – IRF
International Racquetball Federation
USA Racquetball
Racquetball Canada
Federación Mexicana de Raquetbol
Federación Boliviana de Racquetball
Fecoracquet Fecoracquet
Federación Costarricense de Racquetball
Asociación Argentina de Racquetball

2019 World Juniors Preview

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

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

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

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

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

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

——————
Boys 18U:

18 players in the 18U boys draw.

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

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

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

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

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Girls 18U

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Boys 16U

18 boys in this draw.

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

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

——————
Girls 16U

17 girls in the draw.

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

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

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Notables in the younger draws:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

USA Junior Nationals Wrap-up.

Antonio Rojas a triple winner on the weekend; two singles and one doubles gold.

Congrats to all the winners from this past weekend’s 46th Junior Nationals in Portland.

Boys:
– 18U: Antonio Rojas 
– 16U: Antonio Rojas 
– 14U: Nikhil Prasad
– 12U: Joseph Marshall 
– 10U: Nathan Rykhus
– 10Udb: Alejandro Robles Picon
– 8U: Alejandro Robles Picon
– 8Umb; Kabir Sethi

Girls:
– 18U: Briana Jacquet 
– 16U: Annie Roberts 
– 14U: Heather Mahoney
– 12U: Sonya Shetty
– 10U: Andrea Perez-Picon 
– 10Udb: Addison Thomas 
– 8U: Natalia Canchola
– 8Umb: Natalia Canchola

We currently load full draws for 14,16 and 18s, just winners for the younger draws. Here’s links to the match reports for the three oldest divisions:

Boys:
– 18U: http://rball.pro/383AFC
– 16U: http://rball.pro/F824DC
– 14U: http://rball.pro/7B90DA

Girls:
– 18U: http://rball.pro/B9FF39
– 16U: http://rball.pro/FADF97
– 14U: http://rball.pro/2C7CC4

And lastly, here’s a direct link to the “Matrix report” for every junior winner in every category across time. These are my “go to” reports for seeing all junior champs very quickly.

Boys USA Junior Champs Matrix: http://rball.pro/A48C21
Girls USA Junior champs Matrix: http://rball.pro/61FFEC

These reports are available for USA, Mexico, Canada and World Juniors throughout the history we have loaded up (which is complete for USA and IRF, not so much for Canada and Mexico).

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Here’s some observations/highlights about some of the draws:
– Boys 18U: Antonio Rojas takes the 18U title as the #2 seed over #4 seed Micah Farmer. Farmer survived match-point against in the qtrs to cruise past #1 seed Cayden Akins to make the final, while Rojas topped #3 seed Ben Baron in the semis en route to the final.

– Boys 16U: Antonio Rojas takes the 16U title without dropping a game. The draw went chalk from the quarters on, with Rojas topping Krish Thakur in one semi and finalist Timmy Hansen topping #3 seed Andrew Gleason in the other.

Antonio Rojas becomes just the 3rd ever junior boy to hold both 16U and 18U titles simultaneously; previously done by Jack Huczek in 2000 and Antonio’s cousin Jose Rojas in 2007. Rojas also secures his 7th and 8th junior national titles, tying him for 4th all time for USA boys. He adds to his 2019 haul, having won HS nationals earlier this year.

Top winner in history for US Jr titles? Huczek, who won 13 titles (two each in every available jr category from 8 to 18 plus an extra18U title).

– Boys 14U: Nikhil Prasad took the 14U title as the #1 seed over #3 seeded Vedant Chauhan. Prasad topped Gatlin Sutherland in one semi, Chauhan upset #2 seeded Josh Shea in the other. This is Prasad’s 5th US junior title.

– Girls 18U: #1 Seed Briana Jacquet cruised to the title, defending her 2018 18U championship and representing her 5th career junior title. She missed 2018 jr worlds, and probably looks forward to competing at worlds one last time. She topped #2 Nikita Chauhan in the final, with #3 Graciano Wargo and #5 seed Shane Diaz comprising the semi-finalists.

– Girls 16U; #1 seed Annie Roberts earned her 3rd jr title and added to her earlier 2019 High School Nationals title by defending her 16U title. The draw went mostly chalk the entire way, with Roberts topping #4 Shane Diaz in the semis, while finalist #3 Heather Mahoney topped #2 Erin Slutzky in the sole upset-by-seed in this draw. Roberts came from a game down in both the semis and finals to win.

– Girls 14U: #1 Seed Heather Mahoney defended her 14U champ and won her 8th career US junior title, topping #3 Ava Kaiser in a tie-breaker final. #4 Karina Matthew and #2 Arya Cyril to the semis. She stands a chance to beat Adrienne Fisher Haynes‘s record for most ever female junior titles if she can continue to win year over year.

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A reminder; we don’t load Junior doubles results. But doubles winners are an important part of the Jr National teams.

Singles and Doubles winners on the weekend qualify to represent hte US at this year’s World Juniors event. 2019’s World Juniors event is going to be in mid-November in San Jose, Costa Rica.

Congrats to all the winners, thanks to Leo Ray Vasquez for traveling and broadcasting all weekend.

Next on the schedule? We have a couple of RKT/Mexican summer tournaments, which sometimes get solid draws. Mid July features WOR outdoor nationals in Huntington Beach, and then Mexican Junior Nationals.

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USA Racquetball Federación Mexicana de Raquetbol WOR – World Outdoor Racquetball International Racquetball Federation – IRF

USA Racquetball Junior Nationals Preview

Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/2229209060725324/

r2sports home page: https://www.r2sports.com/portfolio/r2-event.asp?TID=30664

Welcome to US Junior Nationals, 2019, held this year in Portland, Oregon. Its the first time they’ve held this event in Portland since 2011 (though Portland basically holds every other HS national championship right now).

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We have several 2018 winners back to defend championships, and we’re guaranteed to have some new winners especially at the older levels thanks to graduations from the Junior ranks.

Here’s a matrix of all historical Boys Junior winners: http://rball.pro/A48C21

And here’s the same matrix for the Girls: http://rball.pro/61FFEC

Here’s a quick preview of the draws:

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18-U draws:

Boys 18U:

Cayden Akins is #1 seed; he was 3rd place in 18U and 2nd place in 16U last year, and represented USA at World Juniors in 16U, losing in the qtrs.

#2 seed is Antonio Rojas, who made the semis two years running in 16U, being eliminated last year by #1 seed Akins. Rojas is the reigning US High School champ and will be looking to make it a double (or triple) this weekend.

#3 Ben Baron made the qtrs of 16U two years running, then missed his first 18U tourney last year. #4 seed Dylan Pruitt made the semis of both 16U and 18U last year, losing the 3rd place game to Akins. #5 Micah Farmer made the qtrs of 18U last year, losing to Pruitt, and setting up a possible rematch in the qtrs of this year’s event. #6 Lucas Shoemaker made the qtrs of both 16U and 18U in 2018 and will be looking to improve. #7 Ivan Hernandez and #8 Cody Boucher will be looking to improve on qtr and round of 16 results last year.

Girls 18U:
#1 Briana Jacquet is the defending champ and will look to defend her title. #2 seed Nikita Chauhan was also the #2 seed last year and lost in the final to Jacquet. #3 Graciano Wargo was also #3 last year, lost in the semis but represented USA at Junior Worlds (losing in the qtrs). #4 Megan Carver will be looking to improve on last year’s qtrs appearance.

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16-U Draws:

Boys 16U: 
#1 Antonio Rojas (who is the #2 seed in 18s) leads the way and is looking for his first title since 2016. #2 is Timmy Hansen, who won 14s last year and is moving up an age group. #3 is Andrew Gleason, who made the finals of 14U Junior Worlds last November. #4 is Krish Thakur, who has 3 US jr titles but none since 2016. Other interesting players in the draw include #6 Julius Ellis, son of John Ellis and the latest from the Stockton junior pipeline.

Girls 16U

#1 Annie Roberts is back to defend her title; and she’s also the reigning High School national champ. #2 Erin Slutzky was also the #2 seed in 16s last year, losing in the final to Roberts. Both represented the US in Junior Worlds and ended up meeting again in the knockout stages, where Roberts advanced before losing in world quarters.

Trying to knock the top two players off will be the likes of #3 Heather Mahoney, last year’s 14U champ and losing finalist in 14U worlds. Mahoney has 6 US Junior titles to her name and will be gunning for the top players here. #4 Shane Diaz made the semis of 16s and the qtrs of 18 last year and will be a tough out.

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Other defending champs back to defend titles include:

– Boys 14U: Timmy Hanson, graduated to 16U and is the #3 seed
– Boys 12U: Nikhil Prasad, graduated to 14U and is #1 seed
– Boys 10U: Eshan Ali, graduated to 12U and is #2 seed there
– Boys 8U : Ashton Guiraud, graduated to 10U and is #2 seed there.
– Boys 8UMB: Ayan Shama graduates to 8U.

– Girls 14U Heather Mahoney; entered 14s and 16s
– Girls 12U: Ava Kaiser: graduated to 14u, where she’s #3 seed
– Girls 10U: Lilian Ford-Cirmi: graduated to 12U and is the #4 seed
– Girls 8U: Alea Guiraud graduates to 10U and is #1 seed

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Other names of note playing:
– Ellis’ kids Jordan Ellis and Julius.
Tyler Aldinger, son of top PA amateur Travis Aldinger
Olivia Baer, son of IRT board member and broadcasting afficionado Dean DeAngelo Baer, who undoubtedly will be cheering her on and asking her to hit more “flattys.”
– California rball enthusiast Knox La Rue‘s daughter Tess in 14/16s.

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Look forward to Leo Ray Vasquez broadcasting all weekend; follow USA Racquetball on facebook for streaming and interviews.

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USA Racquetball

2018 World Juniors Knockout Preview

The 2018 30th annual International Racquetball Federation – IRF World Juniors event has been underway since Saturday in San Luis Potosi, Mexico. The round robin matches are now complete and the knockout brackets are set. We’re to the business end of this tourney, so lets preview the draws and make some predictions.

Draws are available at IRF’s website http://www.internationalracquetball.com/ by clicking on the event and then the direct link for draws. Follow the IRF on facebook to get notified of live feeds; Timothy Baghurst is broadcasting all day every day for a week straight and is doing a great job.

Note: we only really track 16U and 18U (for now), so here’s a preview of the 16 and 18U knockout draws for both Boys and Girls. Lots of familiar names in these draws, especially for fans of international racquetball and the growing international game.

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In the Boys 18U, USA 18U champ and pre-tourney #1 seed Ricardo Ricky Diaz lost twice in the RRs, dropping his knock-out seed to #11 Similarly, USA #2 Dane Elkins saw his pre-tourney seed take a hit with two round-robin upsets himself. The two favorites to make the final (the two top Mexicans) Sebastian Fernandez and Eduardo Portillo Rendon both cruised through the round robins to maintain their top four seeds in the knockout phase.

Predictions for the knockouts: I can see some minor upsets in the early rounds, especially with the two now under-seeded Americans, but I still see the top four seeds (the two Bolivians and the two Mexicans) advancing to the semis.

In the semis, I see the two Mexican players advancing over their Bolivian rivals; Portillo over #1 seed Fernandoz Ruiz Michel and Fernandez over #3 Gerson Miranda (which would be a rematch of the 2017 16U world final). This would setup a re-match of the 2018 Mexican Junior 18U final, won by Fernandez in a tiebreaker. I see Fernandez taking this title and becoming a force to be reckoned with on the pro tours soon.

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In the Girls 18U, the top four seeds entering round robin play maintained their seeds into the main draw, and gave us a likely preview of the final on day one. Looking ahead at the draw:
– Look for the two Americans Elyse Duffy and Graciana Wargo to advance to the quarters but run into heavy favorites.
– In the Quarters, the top 3 seeds Ana Laura Flores, Bolivian Angelica Barrios and #3 Montserrat Montse Mejia should advance easily to the semis. #4 seed and current reigning adult World Champion Ana Gabriela Gaby Martinez fell to Mejia in the round robins and has to face #5 seeded Alexis Iwaasa in the quarters.  Martinez beat Iwaasa at this same stage in last year’s World Juniors and should win again.

– In the semis, Martinez should outlast the #1 seeded Flores to setup a rematch with Mejia of the 2017 World 18U girls final (2017 18U match report here: https://bit.ly/2RCPMVu).

– In the final, I predict Martinez returns the favor and captures the first ever double-double world title of Adult and 18U.

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In the Boys 16U, there’s a couple of familiar names in the draw to those following the IRT this year. #2 seeded Diego Garcia Quispe played in both the Laurel event and in the US Open and acquitted himself quite well. I predict he runs to the title, defeating American Sahil Thakur in the semi and #1 seeded Mexican Jose Ramos in the final.

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In the Girls 16U…the two Americans Annie Roberts and Erin Slutzky have to play each other in the first knock out round, but the winner plays into the #2 seed Mexican Maria Gutierrez. It may not matter; the #1 overall seed is current reigning World doubles champion Valeria Centellas, who played 18U last year in World Juniors (as a 15 yr old) and still made the semis. I predict Centellas over Gutierrez in the final.