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
LPRT
International Racquetball Federation – IRF
International Racquetball Federation
USA Racquetball
Racquetball Canada
Federación Mexicana de Raquetbol

Happy Thanksgiving 2019!

On this holiday, I thought i’d print out what i’m thankful for in our Racquetball community, and recognize those who help me do what I do for the Pro Racquetball Stats site.

– International Racquetball Tour commish Mike Grisz for moving the tour forward and already having an impactful change.
– LPRT commish Tj Baumbaugh for keeping tour moving forward and ever expanding the schedule and reach.

– Both tours for all the efforts you make with streaming matches so that we nerds can watch from home. Jerry J Josey Jr.osey Jr. and Pablo Fajre n particular.

– Speaking of broadcasts, special thanks to the lead broadcasters on the pro tours Timothy Baghurst and Dean DeAngelo Baer. Also thanks to those who help out on broadcasts JP Edwards, Favio Saravia and many others who help out and make the streaming entertaining for those of us at home.

– thanks to the amateur orgs out there: International Racquetball Federation – IRF and USA Racquetball and Federación Mexicana de Raquetbol and Racquetball Canada for all the events you put on.

– Thanks to the IRF and USAR lead broadcast voices Gary Mazaroff and Leo Ray Vasquez for all you do for the major USA and international events.

– Thanks to IRT staffers like Andy Kulback and Mark Gibbs for ongoing discussions on various issues related to the integration and use of the data.

– Thanks to Reaching Your Dream Foundation and Michael Lippitt for your sponsorship and assistance provided to younger players to keep them playing.

– thanks to Ryan and Tish Rodgers for R2 Sports App; where would we be without that system and its prevalent use to provide real-time tracking of tournaments. IRF: take note! can we please move to r2sports and move away from PDFs stored in dropbox?

– Thanks to Kramer X for everything you do with The Racquetball Blog, the only person out there really writing about the sport in a blog-format.

– Thanks to all the skilled photographers out there associated with the various organizations; keep up your great work. I’m talking Ken FifeKevin Savory, Mike Augustin, Freddy Ramirez, Roby Partovich, Geoff Thomsen, Mike Boatman, and others who I may have forgotten.

– thanks for the 20 years now of the UnitedHealthcare US OPEN Racquetball Championships and Doug Ganim’s stewardship. I hope we can find someone to continue this great tradition; the one event per year that draws basically everyone in the sport.

– Thanks to all the tournament directors who put up their own time, money and effort to put on tournaments, both professional and amateur. With out you, we have no sport.

– And thanks to anyone who I may have forgotten.

Happy Thanksgiving! Eat some turkey, then hit the courts!

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