LPRT Qualifying wrap-up and round of 32 preview

Gudinas qualifies for the main draw in her 21st US Open appearance. Photo via WPRO blog Mar 2012

Qualifying is done for the LPRT; lets highlight the notable matches and preview what looks to be a fantastic round of 32.

In the 64s:
– Linda Tyler took out Costa Rican junior Maricruz Ortiz in a tie-breaker to earn a shot at #1 Longoria.

– Jenny Daza Navia took out US junior Annie Roberts 8,5 in Robert’s debut. Daza feeds into the 6th seeded Mendez, a player she can beat.

– Legend Cheryl Gudinas qualifies for another US Open main draw, downing Mexican youngster Anna Rivera 13,9.

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Here’s some round of 32 matches to watch for:

– #9 Masiel Rivera Oporto vs #25 Jessica Parrilla; man, what a tough first rounder for Rivera, who has shot up the rankings in the last year and is on the cusp of a top8 ranking (Rivera was seeded 22nd in this event last year by way of comparison). Parrilla is of course on the come back trail from being a former top-4 pro. Expect a hard-hitting battle here and a possible upset by seed.

– #12 Montse Mejia vs #21 Maria Renee Rodriguez; they havn’t played in several years, and the draw is well positioned for Mejia to make a semis run this year. This is a first test. Rodriguez is trying to build on some solid wins in 2019 on the court.

– #14 Frederique Lambert vs #19 Angelica Barrios; Two years ago this would be a predicted blow out, as Lambert was ranked #2 on tour and Barrios was still in juniors. Now this is a dangerous match: Barrios dispatched two top-10 players in the Bolivian grand slam to make the semis and made the quarters of the Pan Am games before losing to Longoria. This one may come down to how rusty Lambert is.

– #6 Natalia Mendez Erlwein vs #27 Daza; The veteran Bolivian has been known to take out top ranked players; in this event last year she topped Vargas, for example. Mendez needs to be on her A-game for this South American match-up.

– #7 Nancy Enriquez takes on #26 Hollie Rae Scott; this should be an interesting one. Scott is the reigning intercollegiates champ and was the losing US national finalist in 2019. I’m not sure Scott has faced someone with the power of Enriquez before (this is their first meeting) so this should be an interesting match.

– #10 Brenda Laime Jalil vs #23 Michelle De La Rosa; people forget, but in 2015 mDLR (nee Key) finished 7th on tour in her sole full-time season of touring before stepping back for family reasons. She’s a player. Laime has climbed into the top 10 on tour with some solid results, but this is a different challenge for her.

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We’ll regroup for the round of 16s later today.

LPRT
UnitedHealthcare US OPEN Racquetball Championships
Federaci贸n Boliviana de Racquetball
Federaci贸n Mexicana de Raquetbol
Fecoracquet Fecoracquet
USA Racquetball
Racquetball Canada

US Open LPRT Qualifying Preview

Lets run through the qualifying rounds for the LPRT ahead of the main draw. Hopefully by the time you read this the matches havn’t already started 馃檪

There’s 41 players in this draw, and the LPRT qualifies the top 24 into the main draw, so 17 players are competing for 8 main draw/round of 32 spots. This means one round of 128 and then a round of 32.

Here’s a quick run through notable round of 64 matches to look for.

– #32聽Maricruz Ortiz聽vs #33聽Linda Tyler; Costa Rican junior international Ortiz makes just her 3rd ever pro appearance and is set to play infrequent pro player Tyler. A good test for Ortiz, who started representing her country in her age-16 season and still has two full years left in 18U.

– #27聽Jenny Daza Navia聽vs #34聽Annie Roberts; another generational battle; Bolivian Daza has been playing for her country for more than a decade and, in 2018, took out聽Maria Jose Vargas Parada聽in the 32s of the Open. Roberts makes her LPRT debut here; she’s the two-time defending USA junior 16U champ and is playing in her 16U season.

– #31聽Cheryl Gudinas, who has won this event twice, faces off against #34 Anna Rivera, who is just finishing up her age-18 year. Fun fact: Rivera was born in Feb 2000; Gudinas won four straight pro titles starting in 2001.

– #26聽Hollie Rae Scott聽takes on Colombian veteran international #39 Carolina Gomez. Scott is the reigning intercollegiates champ and lost 11-10 in the US national final in May to聽Kelani Lawrence聽Meanwhile, we havn’t seen Gomez in a pro event since the 2010 US Open, though she’s been a regular fixture in the IRF circuit for Colombia for most of this decade.

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Once the qualifiers are set, we’ll circle back and review the round of 32.

LPRT
UnitedHealthcare US OPEN Racquetball Championships
USA Racquetball
Federaci贸n Costarricense de Racquetball
Federaci贸n Boliviana de Racquetball
Federaci贸n Mexicana de Raquetbol

Montana Tier 3 Wrap-Up

Pratt upsets two to win the Montana Tier 3.

Congrats to the winners on the weekend:
– Men’s Pro singles: Charlie Pratt
– Open doubles: Iwaasa/Brayley
– Women’s Open singles: Hollie Scott

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Here’s a recap of the Men’s pro draw.

In the play-ins,聽Rich Carver,聽Tyler Thielen,聽Gavin Usher,聽Garrett Tyler,聽Mitch Brayleyand Cody Mattucci advanced to face top seeded touring players.

In the 16s, seeds held perfectly chalk; #8 Andrew Gale took out #9聽Hr Coein two tight games, #5聽Justus Benson聽was stretched a bit by Carver, but all top 8 seeds advanced in 2 straight.

In the Quarters, again we saw the draw go chalk:
– #1聽Sebastian Franco聽dominated #8 Gale
– #4聽Charlie Pratt聽took out #5 Benson in 2 straight forward games.
– #3聽Mario Mercado聽was challenged a bit but took out #6聽Dylan Reid聽in two game 8,11
– #2聽Rodrigo Montoya Solis聽played well and beat #7聽Coby Iwaasa聽in two games that weren’t as close as I thought they’d be.

In the semis:
– #4 Pratt took out #1 Franco in one semi 8,7. Pratt remains perhaps the most dangerous non-full time touring pro in the world, with a slew of solid wins, a semis finish in Portland last season, and a finals appearance at the 2019 PARC.
– #2 Montoya beat #3 Mercado in the other semi in two straight forward games, avenging a loss in the Pan Am team competition.

In the final, Pratt again took out a favored player in Montoya, playing more consistent ball and putting away opportunities to win the title 12,9. I thought Montoya struggled with accuracy early and then struggled to maintain his focus as he battled calls that didn’t go his way on top of the ever-consistent Pratt.

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Women’s Singles recap:
#1聽Hollie Rae Scott聽beat local player Laurie Dreneck in one semi, and #3 Linda Tyler beat #2 seeded聽Ceci Orozcoin the other.

In the final… #1 Scott took out Tyler in two games for the title.

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Open Doubles results: the Canadian duo of Iwaasa and Brayley took out聽Josh Doniak聽and Mercado in the final.

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Congrats to all the organizers for bringing pro racquetball to Montana. Thanks to聽Matthew Ivar Majxner聽for sending me draw sheets and results and helping me write the preview and this summary….

Next up? Three big events next weekend:
–聽International Racquetball Tour‘s first Tier 1 of the season is in Atlanta, where we’ll likely see at least 5-6 of the Montana competitors in action.
–聽LPRT聽will be in my home state of Virginia as聽Paola Longoria聽goes for her 100th career pro title (I’ll be there at the tournament Friday for the round of 16 action)
– the聽European Racquetball Federation‘s 20th annual European championships are being held in Germany. I’ve never loaded up the European champs, but may put in some place holders into the聽International Racquetball Federation – IRF聽match database.

Montana Open Preview

We have one more lower-tiered IRT event on the schedule prior to the beginning of the tier 1 slate in Atlanta in two weeks’ time, and its this coming weekend in Missoula, Montana.

We’ve never had either a Men’s or a Women’s full-slate pro stop in Montana (at least as per what’s in the database for the IRT and LPRT), so its great to see the sport getting to a market where there’s clearly some players.

See the FB page for the event for news, draws and information on the weekend: https://www.facebook.com/Themontanatier3/

There’s 25 players in the draw, including 6 IRT regulars, three top-10 players, a couple other well-known amateurs and internationals, and a slew of top local players. 25 players with 5 countries and 13 states represented.

Lets preview the singles draw:

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The 32s are play-ins among locals for the most part.

In the 16s, here’s some potential match-ups to look for, assuming no upsets-by-seed in the 32s.

– #8聽Andrew Gale聽vs #9聽Hr Coe; Gale is a long-time pro player, with IRT appearances dating to 2006 and with some solid wins on his resume (he beat current #4聽Andree Parrilla聽back in 2012 and even beat聽Cliff Swain聽in 2013). Coe has significantly less pro experience (just one result in the DB, a 1999 loss to Swain in Denver) but is a solid local player.聽
– #5聽Justus Benson聽vs #12 Rich Carter; Benson may have his hands full here against a guy in Carter who played a couple of pros tough in WRT events in Seattle over the past few years.
– #6聽Dylan Reid聽vs #11聽Mitch Brayley; Brayley mostly plays locally in Canada regional and national events and has never ventured south to play a top-level USA-domestic event. Reid has some solid wins over IRT-touring pros on his resume and has qualified for several main draws in IRT events in the last few years. He also is, of course, the master of the Racquetball Podcast, a must-listen for fans everywhere of the sport. See聽https://podcasts.apple.com/鈥/the-racquetball-s鈥/id1310228396聽for subscription information in Itunes. Disclosure: Reid interviewed me in June of last year (see聽https://podcasts.apple.com/鈥/episode-12-todd-鈥/id1310228396鈥聽for that episode).

Projecting the quarters:
– #1 Sebastian Franco vs #8 Gale: Franco is fresh off the Pan Am Games, where he represents Colombia and was knocked out early in the round of 16 by Canadian Iwaasa (more on him later). He faces someone of a make or break season this year on tour, with a slew of names looking to push him out of the top 8. He shouldn’t have trouble with Gale here.
– #4 Charlie Pratt Racquetball vs #5 Benson: Pratt also is a veteran of the 2019 Pan Am Games, having represented USA and played both singles and doubles. In singles, he also suffered an upset loss at the hands of Iwaasa, then exited in the quarters at the hands of Bolivian Luis Conrrado Moscoso Serrudo (a rematch of the 2019 Pan American Racquetball Championships semis, where Pratt shocked the sport with an 11-10 defeat of the Bolivian Grand Slam champ. Pratt should advance easily here.
– #3 Mario Mercado vs #6 Reid: Mercado also represented Colombia at the Pan Ams (playing #2 to Franco), and really had a solid tournament, taking out two-time defending PARC champ Carlos Keller Vargas and USA #1 Jake Bredenbeck before falling in the semis to #1 seed Alvaro Beltran. He also managed to beat Keller a second time in the team competition, along with both Iwaasa and Montoya to wrap up a fantastic tournament. Mercado’s attendance here indicates to me he’s going to plan on a full slate of tournaments, which is great news for the tour and could spell some trouble for the IRT players in the 7-10 range, based on the wins he got in Lima. Mercado should advance over Reid here.
– #2 Rodrigo Montoya Solis vs #7 Coby Iwaasa; This is a finals-quality match-up that happens in the quarters, since Iwaasa has no ranking points. That’s a shame, because Iwaasa has demonstrated his ability to beat top IRT players. Representing Canada in Lima, he beat both Pratt and Franco before losing to Beltran in the quarters 13,14. The last time he played a pro event, he made the finals (WRT Calgary open in oct 2018). Meanwhile, Montoya took his second major international title in two years by winning the 2019 Pan Am gold over his countryman/teammate Beltran in a match that will long be remembered for Beltran’s hip check/shattered glass door (which just made ESPN’s top 10 plays of the day). I think Montoya wins this in the end, but it’ll be in two close games or perhaps drawn to a tiebreaker.

Projected Semis:
– #4 Pratt over #1 Franco: they’ve played 4 times in pros and IRF events in the last three years and Pratt is 4-0. I think Pratt has Franco’s number, and should advance here.
– #3 Mercado over #2 Montoya: they’ve played once in the DB; a Mercado win over Montoya at the 2018 US Open. They also played in the team event in Pan Ams, also a win for Mercado. I’m going to go out on a limb here and predict the upset, even though I think Montoya is the better player.

Finals prediction: 
– #4 Pratt over #3 Mercado: they’ve played 3x in the database, and Pratt has never lost to Mercado. It goes tie-breaker but Charlie prevails.

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On the women’s side, there’s also a few solid players in town to compete: Hollie Rae Scott , Linda Tyler , and Cecilia Pratt head up the Ladies Open draw.

Lastly they populated the Open doubles draw with teams selected by raffle, to make for a fun integration of traveling pros with local players.

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Congrats to Tourney Director Matthew Ivar MajxnerJosh DoniakWayne LeBlanc and Gavin Usher for making this event happen.

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International Racquetball Tour
International Racquetball Federation – IRF

LPRT US Open Pro Women Qualifying Preview

The Ladies pro singles event at the 23rd annual US Open kicks off Wednesday afternoon with one round of qualifying. A solid draw of 40 professionals matches the 2017 draw and continues a solid showing at this event for the Ladies pros. 17 of the top 20 women in the world are present, and 24 of the top 30 players. Notably absent is #8 Jessica聽Leona Parrilla, still recovering from a major knee injury. Also missing from the top 20 is Guatemalan vet Maria Renee Rodriguez and #19 Mexican聽Eleni Guzman Velgis.

r2sports.com link for the event is here.

A quick note: here’s direct links to four US-Open specialty reports of interest. These links are for the LPRT version of these reports:
LPRT US Open Player Participation summary聽. Mexican vet Susana聽Susy Acosta聽is breaking the US Open appearance record this year, playing her 21st. Only聽Rocky Carson聽has played more (he missed just one of the 23 events held since 1996).
– LPRT US Open Draw sizes:聽40 is solid, but is a bit below the even’ts best ever showing of 50 ladies pros in 2003.
– LPRT US Open Quarters/Semis/Finals historically:聽A nice way to quickly see all the top finishers for all 22 events.
– LPRT US Open Results summary: all players and all finishes, throughout time

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The top 24 women qualified into the main draw; the remaining 16 face off in qualifiers. Here’s a quick preview of those 8 matches, being played Wednesday morning and early afternoon:

– Veteran Jennifer聽Jennifer Mayadas-Dering聽faces off against Mexican Anna Rivera.聽 Dering first played a US Open back in 1998, when the event was still held in Memphis.

– US Collegiate player聽Erika Manilla聽(sister of IRT touring pro聽Adam Manilla) takes on veteran LPRT player聽Laura Brandt. Brandt first played the US Open in 2008, while Manilla graduated Juniors in 2016 with an 18U world title.

–聽Michelle De La Rosa, fresh off two finals appearances at the 2018 3WallBall WOR event held last weekend in Vegas, will take on fellow Southwestern US player, Texan聽Linda Tyler.

– An IRF-flavored qualifier awaits Costa Rican Maricruz Ortiz and Bolivian Angelica Barrios.

– Two younger Mexican players Denisse Maldonado and Daniela Rico face off for a shot at 4-time US Open winner聽Rhonda Rajsich

Kelani (Bailey)聽Kelani Lawrence, who made the finals of US nationals earlier this year but had to pass on the ticket to Worlds because it conflicted with her wedding, is back in action post nuptuals and faces off against the veteran Korean player聽Young Ock Lee. Lee is playing in her 8th straight US Open, making the trip halfway around the world every year.

Hollie Scott faces off against long-time Canadian threat Michele聽Mich猫le Morissette.

– Lastly, Bolivian veteran聽Jenny Daza Navia聽gets a match with Maiko Sato, who has been representing Japan at IRF Worlds for more than a decade.

Follow the LPRT on facebook and sign up to get Facebook Live notifications to get streaming broadcasts all weekend.