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

International Racquetball Tour
LPRT
International Racquetball Federation – IRF
Pan American Racquetball Confederation – PARC
UnitedHealthcare US OPEN Racquetball Championships
USA Racquetball
Racquetball Canada
Federación Mexicana de Raquetbol
Federación Boliviana De Raquetbol – Febora
Federación Boliviana de Racquetball
Racquetball Colombia
Federacion Colombiana de Racquetball
Asociación Argentina de Racquetball
Federación Chilena Racquetball
Racquetball Rancagua, Chile
Jugadores Racquetbol Guatemala
Ferac Racquet
Reaching Your Dream Foundation

New reports at ProRacquetballStats.com! (Part 2)

Here’s some more reports we’ve added lately. There will be a part 3 of this post: we’ve added a lotta a stuff in the last year or so.

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– I added a couple of specific IRF queries around the time of the Pan Am games in Aug 2019 that i’ll cover in a separate post, probably revisiting the next time we actually have an IRF event (they have cancelled the Pan American Racquetball Confederation – PARC championships for 2020 thanks to Covid-19). But if you’re bored you can fire up the IRF section and run all sorts of new reports.

– In support of the UnitedHealthcare US OPEN Racquetball Championships last October, we created two new US Open specific reports:
o Player W/L Record just at US Opens: this was suggested by Dean DeAngelo Baer to help highlight just US Open performance and it has shown some amazing stats. Here’s Kane Waselenchuk’s US Open W/L record report: http://rball.pro/ABF04B (he’s 90-3 lifetime at the sport’s biggest event)
o Player Match History just at US Opens: a full list of all US Open matches per player. Here’s Conrrado kevin Moscoso Ortiz Racquetball‘s match history: http://rball.pro/2F8B8C

– Player Lefty-Righty W/L Splits: great suggestion from Brian Pineda (who still owes me $10 from a bet made during a match last fall), who surmised that some players are better than others against lefties. Well, now you can query that. Here’s Alex Landa ‘s splits L vs R: http://rball.pro/28335A

– Head to Head Summary report: interesting suggestion by Timothy Baghurst to emulate a graphic we saw posted on a Squash broadcast: if you fire up the “Tale of the Tape” report, you can now select this H2H Match Summary report, which breaks down the h2h wins/losses, plus gives details on 3-game wins, 4-game wins and 5-game wins in both the best-of-3 and best-of-5 format. Here’s an example of this data for matches between Kane Waselenchuk and Rocky Carson: http://rball.pro/49B9BA

– Slight improvement to the Player Summary report as suggested by Evan Pritchard (aka Kramer X, aka the guy who writes The Racquetball Blog) to add in # of tournaments played along side # missed and total per player, per year. This does make the report more readable definitely. Here’s an example of a player summary for Paola Longoria showing the new column: http://rball.pro/7F61BB

– Addition of Player Home pages as suggested by JT R Ball. We don’t know too many stand alone pages for players, so I’ve added in some known “Facebook home pages” that some players are using in lieu of an external page. This data is now seen on the Player Profile reports. I’ll continue to add home pages as I encounter them. JT also just sent me some youtube playlist links that I may use instead of home pages for some players.

– Added functionality to the “Oldest to…” and “Youngest to…” reports after a conversation where Keerti Kumar asked whether Lalo Portillo99 was the youngest player ever to break into the top 10. I’ve modified the “Youngest to..” and “Oldest to…” queries to also list the Youngest and Oldest players to ever finish a season ranked in the top 10 on tour.

Here’s the report
http://rball.pro/1DE1E5

The answer to the question, “was Lalo the youngest ever to break into the top 10?” requires a bit of a history lesson.

Short Answer: No.

Longer Answer: Prior to 1982 there wasn’t a points system on tour used to determine the year end winner; the year end Nationals tournament determined the winner. They did have a ranking system, but it was just used to seed events properly. In the early days of racquetball, the tour was dominated by very young players succeeding at an early age. Marty Hogan (racquetball) for example finished as runner up in the Nationals in 1976 and 1977 at the ages of 18 and 19 respectively. Brett Harnett amazingly played most of the 1980-1 season at the age of 16, then made the semis of Nationals just after turning 17. Newly elected Hall of Famer Gregg Peck was just a few months younger than Harnett and played alongside of him, making the quarters of the 1981 nationals also at the age of 17.

Harnett then finished ranked 4th on tour the first year there was a ranking system in 1982. Other teenagers to finish in the top 10 once there was a ranking system include Gregg Peck, Gerry Price in 1983, Cliff Swain in 1985, Jack Huczek in 2002 and most recently Daniel De La Rosa in 2013.

– Added a section to the “Oldest to..” report to have a “non Ruben Gonzalez version of the “Oldest players to make the round of 16” on the Men’s tour. Ruben held 19 of the top 20 spots; now you can see who else is getting close.

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We’ll do part 3 next week to spread out the rball content!

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tags:

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

LPRT 2020 Boston Open Wrap-Up

Longoria the double winner on the weekend. Photo US Open 2019, Photographer Kevin Savory

Congrats to your winners on the weekend:
– Singles: Paola Longoria
– Doubles: Paola Longoria/Samantha Salas

Longoria wins her 98th career Tier 1 or higher event (105th title overall). See http://rball.pro/65DCE3 for a list of all LPRT tourney winners. Longoria beats her doubles partner in the final, then they turn around and take their second tournament in as many weeks (they won Mexican Nationals last weekend). They improve to 96-5 as a team since we began tracking LPRT pro doubles data in Sept 2013. click here for Longoria’s pro doubles history W/L by partner report; http://rball.pro/F5E61D

R2 Sports App home page for event: https://www.r2sports.com/website/event-website.asp?TID=31948

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Lets review the notable matches in the Singles draw.

Singles Match report in the PRS database: http://rball.pro/4B764C

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In the 32s, a bunch of surprises to me, which in and among itself is NOT surprising in that this draw was stacked from the get-go:

– #12 Ana Laura Flores got a solid win over #21 Hollie Rae Scott 11-5 in the breaker. I thought this was an upset special waiting to happen but the lefty Flores recovered from a game one loss 15-14 to take the match and on.
– #14 Valeria Centellas flipped the script from a few weeks back in Laurel and topped #19 Kelani Lawrence in a tie-breaker.
– #10 Brenda Laime Jalil trounced #23 Ana Gabriela Martínez 13,5 to move on in a pretty surprising result for me. I’d love to have seen this match to gauge whether Martinez is rusty, or if Laime played out of her mind.
– #18 Maria Renee Rodriguez got a solid win over #15 Erin Nocam (i.e. Erin Rivera)11-8 in the breaker. Really solid win for MRR, who was stuck on several straight one and dones in the past few pro events.

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In the 16s, a lot of upsets.
– In the 8/9 game, a tie-breaker. After losing the first game 15-1, Masiel Rivera Oporto rebounded to force a tiebreaker but eventually fell to #9 Jessica Parrilla. Parrilla closes the gap a bit on the #10 ranking on tour but probably cannot get there this season.
– #5 Rhonda Rajsich overcame a strong upset bid from lefty youngster #12 Flores before advancing in a tie-breaker.
– In the biggest upset of the round, veteran #13 Adriana Riveros took out #4 Natalia Mendez in two games 8,10. Mendez was all out of sorts on the match, really seemed off from the get-go and Riveros took full advantage. This loss may end up costing Mendez the #5 spot on tour as Rhonda’s result moves the two players basically even on ranking points.
– #3 Samantha Salas Solis had a pretty amazing turnaround in her match against junior phenom #14 Centellas. She dropped the first game 15-3 and was essentially getting beat with 3-shot rallies over and over (serve, return, kill). Then mid-way through the second she found the light and dominated from there out, winning the second game and eventually the tie-breaker 11-4. A common refrain in these recaps is the sudden loss of form for Salas this season; can she build on this rebound and move forward?
– #11 Carla Muñoz Montesinos gets her second win over a top-10 player on the season, coming from a game down to top the #6 seeded Mexican veteran Nancy Enriquez in a breaker. She advances to her second quarter of the season and faces a player she beat the last time they played.
– #10 Laime gets a walk-over over #7 Amaya Cris; I thought her name in the draw indicated that she was going to attempt to play through her injury, but instead it just indicated that her hand injury occurred too late to change the draw. Reports indicate that she’ll be out of action for 6 weeks, which may put her participation in April’s PARC championships at risk. Amaya has represented Colombia at every PARC event (save one) since 2008.

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In the Quarters, the three top seeds plus a surprise advanced.

– #1 Paola Longoria dominated #9 Jessica Parrilla in a rematch of last week’s Mexican National singles final 6,3 to move on.
– #2 Maria Jose Vargas blitzed past #10 Laime 1,9 to advance to the semis.
– #3 Samantha Salas Solis turned the tables on #11 Munoz from their last meeting, advancing in two games 10,6
– The big surprise of the round was #13 Riveros beating her second top-8 player in a row, moving past #5 Rhonda Rajsich Fan Club in two solid games 13,10. Riveros makes just her second ever pro semi final; the only other time was more than four years ago (Jan 2016 in Cincinnati).

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In the Semis
– #1 Longoria trounced #13 Riveros 4,1 to advance to the final. Its been nearly 3 years since Longoria failed to make a LPRT final and this tournament was no different.
– #3 Salas got a well-earned win over #2 Vargas to make her first final of the season. It was a streaky match, with Salas racing to a huge first game lead before Vargas took it, then Salas saving off match point against and gutting out a second game win. From there, Vargas’ spirit seemed broken and Salas cruised to a well earned win.

In the Finals, Salas hung with Longoria early, running out to a lead even, and had some wondering if it was an upset-special … then Longoria turned it on and cruised to an 8,3 win.

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Points Implications of results: There’s only two remaining LPRT stops on the schedule right now: a tier 1 in San Antonio.in April and a “super max” grand slam in Kansas in June. While there could be more events added last minute, based on the fact that there’s just 2 events left…
– Irrespective of results at the remaining 2 events, Paola has a large enough lead over #2 Vargas (782 points) that she has guaranteed the #1 year end spot. It will be her 11th year end title.
– Despite Salas’ win over Vargas here, she remains well behind Maria for #2. Far enough behind that the only way Salas could catch Vargas for #2 is if she wins both remaining events (worth 500+ points) and for Vargas to miss them. That seems pretty unlikely, so we’re ready to declare that Vargas has sewn up #2 on the season.
– Salas seems pretty locked into #3 as well; she’s got a huge lead to #4 that would take some unlikely scenarios to overcome.
– #5 and #6 on tour may flip b/c of this event: Rhonda and Natalia both have nearly identical points right now.
– #7 and #8 might flip as well: based on my records Mejia and Enriquez also have identical number of points right now.
– thanks to a relatively large points gulf between 10 and 11, it seems likely that the year end top 10 has been sewn up for all participants; its just a matter of the order in the latter half.

The only other significant moves in the rankings would be Riveros moving up one spot, and MRR moving up two spots thanks to their results on the weekend.

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Doubles review

Match report in the PRS database: http://rball.pro/352057

The top 2 seeds cruised to the final with little difficulty. There, the #1 seed continued their dominance over the doubles tour, beating the Argentines Vargas/Mendez in two. Longoria/Salas have never lost to Vargas/Mendez, and they continue the streak.

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Other Draws in Boston:
– Munoz topped MRR in the Women’s Open final
– Connecticut’s Jose Flores Jr. won a 20-man Open draw, topping Massachusetts’ Orlando Cabana in the final.

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Thanks for all the streaming on the weekend, especially from broadcasters Timothy Baghurst, great technical work and streaming graphics/replays by Jerry J Josey Jr., and mike work/tour leadership from Tj Baumbaugh.

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Next up on the schedule? we’ll publish wrap ups of the two IRT events that went on this past weekend tomorrow, then the IRT returns to Tier 1 action with the 35th annual Shamrock Shootout in Chicago next weekend.

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tags

LPRT
International Racquetball Federation – IRF
USA Racquetball
Federación Mexicana de Raquetbol
Federación Boliviana De Raquetbol – Febora
Federación Boliviana de Racquetball
Racquetball Colombia
Federacion Colombiana de Racquetball
Asociación Argentina de Racquetball
Federación Chilena Racquetball
Jugadores Racquetbol Guatemala

LPRT 2020 Boston Open Preview

2018 World Champ Ana Gabriela Martinez makes a rare LPRT appearance.

Hot on the heels of Mexican Nationals last weekend (which involved a good percentage of the current LPRT regular touring squad), the LPRT returns after a five week break in the schedule.

We’re in Boston this week for the 2020 Boston Open. The Boston Open first popped up on the schedule in Oct 2016, was held three years running, missed 2019 but its great to see them back on the schedule for 2020.

R2 Sports App link: https://www.r2sports.com/website/event-website.asp?TID=31948

24 Pros in the draw, a good sized draw and one of the bigger turnouts of the season so far. Notables playing this week include Amaya Cris, who just had hand surgery on her non-playing hand but will gut it out and play on the weekend. #12 Ana Laura Flores is here after curiously missing Mexican Nationals last week.

Notables missing this week: #4 Alexandra Herrera and #7 Montse Mejia. Herrera’s absence is odd; she has missed just two pro events in the last 5 seasons combined. Mejia continues to balance school and travel and probably could not miss two straight weeks of time.

From the 11-20 ranked players, only tour stalwart Adrienne Fisher Haynes is missing, meaning that the event is stacked, with 17 of the top 20 players present.

And, just to make this an even deeper draw, we have 2019 US champ Kelani Lawrence, the 2020 US qualifier champ Hollie Rae Scott, and 2018 World Champ Ana Gabriela Martínez making a rare appearance to make this one of the best LPRT draws in some time. All these top non-regular touring players will make the opening rounds brutal.

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

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In the 32s, here’s some matches to look for:

– #21 Scott versus #12 Flores: Great opener; Scott defeated Flores in the sole h2h match I have on record … in 2017. Flores started off the 2019-20 season with a bang, making the quarters, but has been one-and-done in 3 straight pro events since. Scott is hot (hey! I’m a poet and i didn’t even know it), is coming off a great showing in Tempe to take the qualifier title and essentially guarantee herself a spot on the US National team, and will be looking to make noise here. Look for Scott with the “upset” here.
– #13 Adriana Riveros vs #20 Susy Acosta; interesting match here; they met earlier this season and Acosta got the upset win, but otherwise Riveros has a ton of really solid wins lately on her resume. She was fantastic at the Pan Am Games in Lima, downing Centellas and Rajsich to make the semis. I’d favor Riveros here but the match-up with the veteran lefty may make for an upset as it did earlier this season.
– #14 Valeria Centellas vs #19 Kelani Lawrence; Centellas has raised some eyebrows on tour this year, with multiple wins over top 10players, but to get there in Boston she’ll have to go through a player who just topped her dominantly in a local event a month ago in Lawrence. This should be a really competitive match.
– #11 Carla Muñoz Montesinos vs #22 Lexi York; Munoz keeps climbing up the rankings on tour, now on the brink of the top 10. She’ll have a tough younger opponent in York to start her tournament this weekend.
– #10 Brenda Laime Jalil vs #23 Martinez: The presence of Martinez in the draw is the ultimate wild-card; when she’s playing regularly, she’s a top 4-5 player in the world and a threat to make the semis or better of any event she enters. But since “retiring” to go to school she’s played sporadically with mixed results. Here she runs into Laime, who has had a hit or miss season, missing more events than she’s played but making a quarter final in Virginia Beach in September. I think Martinez moves on here.
– #15 Erin Nocam vs #18 Maria Renee Rodriguez; An intriguing match between Rivera, the righy with an unconventional swing path and a number of solid wins this season, versus MRR, who seems stuck in a rut right now with five straight one-and-dones. I think Rivera moves on.

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Round of 16; here’s a look at the round as it may play out if my round of 32 predictions come to pass:
– #1 Paola Longoria vs #16 Sheryl Lotts; 9 times they’ve played, mostly in the 2012-13 time frame, Longoria is 9-0 against the American. Paola is fresh of a double win in Tijuana and hopefully shows no ill-effect of the nasty-looking turned ankle.
– #9 Jessica Parrilla vs #8 Masiel Rivera Oporto: Rivera unfortunately draws Parrilla, who took out defending Mexican champ Mejia en route to the final and qualified for the Mexican national team for the first time in years. Rivera beat Parrilla handily at the US Open earlier this season, but has suffered some early upsets since, while Jessica has been red-hot. Look for the upset here.
– #5 Rhonda Rajsich vs #22 Scott; Hollie didn’t have to play Rhonda at the doubles qualifier but won it by defeating the player who downed Rhonda in the final. Is it a changing of the guard in US Racquetball? Every time Rhonda does NOT win a title we have the same talk. But Scott is candidate 1-A right now to take over the mantle of the “Best American” based on results. This will be a good test for both player, and I think Scott moves on.
– #4 Natalia Mendez likely takes on #13 Riveros: a nice south american matchup; Mendez leads 4-1, Riveros beat her in jan 2019 but not since, and the matches are often close.
– #3 Samantha Salas Solis vs the Lawrence/Centellas winner: Salas has never lost to either player, and crushed Lawrence when they played in Greenville in January. Look for Salas to move on here in a close match.
– #6 Nancy Enriquez vs #11 Munoz: these two played three times in 2017, never since. Munoz has been creeping up the rankings, now sitting at #13 while Enriquez has been showing some vulnerabilities in earlier rounds this season. I think Munoz can get the upset here.
– #7 Amaya vs likely #23 Martinez: On paper Martinez is the better player, but she’s not playing full time. Meanwhile Amaya just had surgery and isn’t 100%. Not knowing just how sharp Martinez is … i’ll go out on a limb and predict the upset here.
– #2 Maria Jose Vargas Parada likely takes on #15 Rivera, in what I believe is a debut meeting for the two players. Vargas to move on.

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Projected Qtrs:
– #1 Longoria over #9 Parrilla: a rematch of last week’s Mexican National final, won by Longoria in two.
– #4 Mendez vs #22 Scott: these two are nearly the same age and have prior junior worlds meetings. But that was a while ago. I see a tough match here that could go either way, but I’ll go with the higher ranked Mendez to move on.
– #3 Salas vs #11 Munoz; if this meeting comes to pass, Munoz has a win already over Salas this season and should be able to repeat the feat. Salas took a slight knee knock last weekend; not sure if it was serious or not (it did not seem to affect her in the doubles final), but something to look out for.
– #2 Vargas vs #23 Martinez. Great match-up. They met at 2018 worlds (a Martinez win) and 2019 PARC (a Vargas tiebreaker win). I like Vargas here over the non-touring Martinez.

Semis:
– #1 Longoria over #4 Mendez; Natalia has never beaten the #1 player, and that won’t change here.
– #2 Vargas over #11 Munoz: Argentina vs Chile, a battle of two of the best Syrah-growing countries in the world. Oh, and two solid players. I have Vargas 8-0 lifetime over Munoz in pro and IRF competitions; she makes it 9-0 here.

Finals: #1 over #2 Longoria over Vargas.

6 of the first 7 finals this season have been Longoria v Vargas, might as well make it 7 of 8.

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Doubles review

13 teams entered. Some interesting teams this time around trying to dethrone Longoria/Salas. We have a number of internationally flavored teams: the #2 Argentinian national team pairing of Vargas/Mendez, a promising all-american team of #6 Lawrence/Lotts, the Guatemalan national team #9 Martinez/Rodriguez, and an interesting “all veteran” team of Rajsich/Acosta, with more than 40-years of pro experience between them. One last team of note: María Paz Riquelme steps in for Amaya to partner with Riveros this time around; Riquelme and I used to play at the same club in Arlington VA. If you’re reading this Maria … hello!

In the end, I’m going with the #1 team to prevail over the #2 Argentines in the final.

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Look for Streaming in the regular places; follow the LPRT on facebook and sign up to get notifications when they go Live.
Look for Timothy Baghurst], Jerry J Josey Jr., JP Edwards and Tj Baumbaugh on the mike, calling the shots!

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LPRT
International Racquetball Federation – IRF
USA Racquetball
Federación Mexicana de Raquetbol
Federación Boliviana De Raquetbol – Febora
Federación Boliviana de Racquetball
Racquetball Colombia
Federacion Colombiana de Racquetball
Federación Costarricense de Racquetball
Asociación Argentina de Racquetball
Federación Chilena Racquetball
Jugadores Racquetbol Guatemala

Copa Mexicano 2020 Wrap-up

Longoria the double winner on the weekend. Photo US Open 2019, Photographer Kevin Savory

Congrats to your winners on the weekend:
– Mens Singles: Daniel De La Rosa
– Men’s Doubles: Rodrigo Montoya/Javier Mar
– Women’s Singles: Paola Longoria
– Women’s doubles: Paola Longoria/Samantha Salas

The two singles finalists on the Men and Women’s side qualify to represent Mexico at upcoming IRF events. The Doubles winners also qualifies to represent the country at upcoming IRF events. I’m assuming this is for the 2020 PARC games to be held in April in Bolivia and for the 2020 World Championships, but as with prior years there may be additional qualification parameters for the 2020 World Championships team that come to light later on.

R2 Sports App home page for event: https://www.r2sports.com/tourney/home.asp?TID=31821

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

Men’s Singles Match report in the PRS database: http://rball.pro/279793

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In the 32s: no upsets to this observer; all 10 round of 32 matches were two-game victories for the expected winner. The three closest games all involved the three highest ranked players playing in the play-in round, who were likely playing themselves into shape for the next round.

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In the 16s, some notable results/upsets:
– #8 Christian Longoria topped #9 Andree Parrilla in a tie-breaker. This is a pretty significant upset, as Parrilla currently sits #5 in the world while Longoria (albeit in limited pro appearances) has yet to even qualify for a main draw. Parrilla continues his miserable tourney streak; he lost in the 16s of the last three pro events as well.
– #5 Gerardo Franco Gonzalez @got an excellent win over #12 Javier Estrada 6,(13),7 to move on. Franco continues to show he’s a tough out, and takes out the enigmatic Estrada.
– #11 Sebastian ‘Patata’ Fernandez dominated Alex Cardona 8,8 to move on. Solid win from Patata, who I thought had a chance to beat Cardona but certainly not in two dominant games.
– #10 Lalo Portillo took out reigning World and Pan Am games singles champ Rodrigo Montoya Solís with relative ease 9,11. Portillo frustrated Montoya with off-speed Z-serves that were quite effective, then matched Montoya’s athleticism to keep balls in play with diving gets and great retrievals.

By seeds, mostly chalk through the 16s with the seeds 1,8,5,4,3,11,10,2 advancing, but for me four of the eight matches were upsets or surprising results.

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In the Quarters
– #8 Longoria gave #1 Alvaro Beltran a scare, taking the first game and giving Alvaro a run in the second before fading in the breaker. Final score (12),12,3.
– #4 Javier Mar took it to #5 Franco, controlling the match and advancing in two games 12,5.
– #11 Fernandez got his second statement win in a row, topping #3 Alan Natera Chavez 11,11 to move on. Natera’s streak of making the semis at Nationals ends after two straight years, while Fernandez moves into the semis of Adult nationals for the first time (he made the quarters twice before, in 2017 and 2018).
– #10 Portillo pushed #2 Daniel De La Rosa, saving match point against in the second game to force a breaker, but DLR ran away with it there, advancing to the semis. DLR keeps his streak of making the semis alive; he’s made the semis or better in every Mexican Nationals back to at least 2014 (he did miss 2017’s event).

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In the Semis
– #1 Beltran gave credence to the old statement, “It only takes 26 to win” in dropping the second game to #4 Mar 15-1 but moving on by the final score line of 8,(1),9.
– #2 DLR put an end to #11 Fernandez’s run, frustrating the young Mexican at the precipice of the National team by the score line of 10,11.

With these wins:
– Beltran secures his singles spot on the Mexican National team for the second year running after a 3 year gap from 2016-2018.
– DLR returns to the singles Mexican team after a year absence (he was beaten by Landa in the semis last year). DLR has now qualified for the team 4 of the past 7 seasons.

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In the Finals; a rematch of the 2015 Mexican National Finals, won by Beltran for his last National title. But on this day, DLR ended up on top of a close but casual match between friends and doubles partners 14,11 to take the title.

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Lets review the notable matches in the Women’s Singles draw.

Women’s Singles Match report in the PRS database: http://rball.pro/3480BB

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In the 16s, a couple of notable results
– #12 Lucia Gonzalez dominated LPRT top 10 player and #5 seed Nancy Enriquez 2,11 to move on. Gonzalez doesn’t have a top-level match in the database since Dec 2018, but makes noise every time she plays.
– #10 Erin Nocam “upset” #7 Maria Gutierrez in two to advance. Gutierrez was a finalist at 18U last summer in Mexican junior nationals and still has a year left in the junior ranks, while Erin continues her excellent season of results.

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In the Quarters, two pretty big upsets.
– #8 Jessica Parrilla returned to the semis of Mexican Nationals after a two year absence, and she did it by dethroning the defending champ Montse Mejia in two straight. Parrilla was in control for large parts of the match, taking advantage of Mejia’s mistakes throughout.
– #12 Gonzalez got her second upset in a row, downing #4 Alexandra Herrera in a tiebreaker. These two are familiar foes, often competing for junior national titles as they grew up, and Lucia was able to get past her in a major event yet again.
– #3 Samantha Salas Solis cruised past veteran #7 Susy Acosta, improving to 12-0 in top-level/pro events over the lefty, to move into the semis.
– #2 Paola Longoria blitzed past #10 Erin Rivera 0,3, giving her younger countrywoman little chance to get some of the upsets she’s gotten lately on tour.

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In the Semis
– #8 Parrilla played solid ball and outlasted #12 Gonzalez to make the Mexican national finals 12,10.
– #2 Longoria survived an injury scare to move past doubles partner #3 Salas 14,9 to get to the final. Early in game on at 1-6 down, Longoria and Salas got tangled up and Longoria seemed to have landed on her ankle wrong; it did not look good, and a full injury time out was taken. She recovered though, Salas could not take advantage of the mobility issues, and Longoria seemed to gain strength and confidence as the match moved on. In the second game Salas had her own injury scare, tweaking her knee in a rally but persevering without an injury time out.

With these wins:
– Parrilla returns to the Mexican national team singles spot for the first time in years: she last represented Mexico internationally at the 2016 PARC event, and before that at the 2013 World Games.
– Longoria secures her spot on the National team, and extends her streak held since 2006 of representing Mexico in singles at IRF events.

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In the Finals, Parrilla really put up a fight but couldn’t convert in game one when it counted, dropping it 15-14, then collapsing in game two to lose 14,4. Longoria regains the title she lost last year and returns to the top of Mexican racquetball.

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Mens Doubles review

Men’s Doubles Match report in the PRS database: http://rball.pro/1D2489

In the Men’s competition,

In the early rounds:
– Seeds 1,2,4 and 6 advanced to the semis.
– #5 team of Fernandez/Miguel Rodriguez Jr. took out Cardona/Franco early and pushed Estrada/Natera before falling.
– The #6 team of Portillo/Parrilla “upset” the #3 seeds Sebastian Longoria/Erick Trujillo to advance.
– The #7 team of Christian Longoria and Cesar Barragan really pushed the #2 team DLR/Beltran, falling 14,11

In the semis:
– #1 Montoya/Mar moved into the final over #4 Estrada/Natera, but had to save off game point against in the second game to do so 4,14.
– #2 DLR/Beltran kept their qualification hopes alive … by by the skin of their teeth, taking a scintillating match over #6 Portillo/Parrilla 11-10. The tiebreaker was a shot-makers paradise, with rallies generally only ending with splat rollout kill shots. Fantastic racquetball.

At 10-10, with both teams having saved match point against and with DLR/Beltran re-gaining the serve … something weird happened. DLR/Beltran were assessed a technical for … i’m not sure. At 10-10 against Parrilla called a time out, and Beltran playfully hit the ball towards him. I’m assuming the referee deducted a point for it (based on DLR’s reaction when getting back the 10th point). Nonetheless, when play resumed it was 9-10. They gutted out the 10th point, then on match point rally DLR absolutely buried a reverse forehand pinch from 39′ feet to take the match with quite a statement.

In the final, these two teams went tie-breaker as expected. In the breaker Montoya/Mar jumped out to a bit lead but couldn’t close out at match point. DLR/Beltran quickly ran off several points and it looked like maybe they could pull magic out of a hat again, but Montoya/Mar got the serve back and the ended the match with an amazing winner from Mar.

Montoya/Mar repeat as Mexican National champions and get a chance to build on their 2019 Pan American Games title. Perhaps more importantly, they get a rare win over the veteran Beltran/DLR team in their increasingly exciting rivalry.

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Women’s Doubles review:

Women’s Doubles Match report in PRS database: http://rball.pro/D0916F

In the quarters
– #1, #2 and #4 teams advanced easily
– #6 Angela Veronica Ortega/Maria Gutierrez upset the #3 seeded team of Acosta/Sacristan in a tie breaker for the round’s only upset.

In the semis:
– #1 Longoria/Salas, both of whom picked up knocks in their singles semi final match against each other, gutted out a two game win over the #4 team of Parrilla/Rivera 9,10.
– #2 Mejia/Herrera cruised past the upset minded #6 team of Ortega/Gutierrez 3,4.

In the Final, we got the quite-frequently seen doubles final as of late: these two teams have now met in the finals of four LPRT doubles events just this season, three last season, last year’s World Doubles pro final, plus last year’s Mexican National final. While the Mejia/Herrera team has gotten a couple wins in this rivalry lately, on the day today the veterans held serve, winning in two games 7,13 to take the national title and the right to represent Mexico in the upcoming IRF events.

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Next up?

After a month’s break, the LPRT is back in action next weekend in Boston. The IRT has a couple of lower-tier events next week (in Minneapolis and in Pueblo, CO), and then returns to Chicago for the 35th annual KWM Gutterman classic the following weekend.

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

Copa Mexico 2020 Preview

Beltran is the #1 seed; can he make the team in 2020? Photo US Open 2019 via Photographer Kevin Savory

Its time for one of my favorite tournaments of the year; Its the 2020 Campeonato Nacional Selectivo de Raquetbol. This year the event is being held in Tijuana, not one of the hotbeds of racquetball in the country like San Luis Potosi and Chihuahua, which will be an interesting home-town advantage for some Tijuana based players and may also explain the dip in attendance from last year’s event.

There’s 26 in the Men’s open draw and 15 in the Women’s open: compare this to last year’s Nationals event in Chihuahua; 34 in Men’s Open, 19 in Women’s. Nonetheless, the draws are stacked and nearly every round of 16 match on the Men’s side (and all the quarters on the women’s side) are “back end of the tournament” pro-quality match-ups.

r2sports.com link:
https://www.r2sports.com/tourney/home.asp?TID=31821

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Lets preview the Men’s Singles draw.

First, some interesting players missing, and some similarly interesting players entered. First off, the elephant in the room; as most of the rball world knows, former Mexican #1 Alex Landa is not here; he entered (and won) US National Doubles a few weeks ago after having asked for his release from the Mexican team mid last year in the wake of the Pan Am Games Team selection controversy. So in his place, last year’s finalist Álvaro Beltrán ascends to the #1 seed in this draw.

We also see that Sebastian ‘Patata’ Fernandez is entered here, and specifically did NOT enter US National doubles a few weeks back. Fernandez (like Landa) has dual citizenship and has represented both US and Mexico in years past. However in a 3-week span in 2019 he played in both US national doubles and in Mexico National doubles, prompting some eligibility and access questions. No such issues this year.

Other notables missing: Ernesto Ochoa misses the event; he was the #11 seed last year. No Jaime Martell Neri here this year; he lost in the 16s last year and had a great run at the 2019 US Open. The draw also misses frequently seen players such as Jordy Alonso, former junior phenom David Ortega, last year’s #7 seed Edson Martinez and two of the top juniors in the land Emir Martinez and Jose Ramos.

Here’s some matches to watch:

In the 32s, there’s 10 matches, many involving top touring IRT pros. I don’t see much in the way of upset potential, but here’s a couple of interesting play-ins:

– @Miguel Rodriguez Jr. will give #9 Andree Parrilla (current #5 ranked IRT pro) an early run for his money.
– Mexican 18U top player Manuel Moncada faces off against Daniel Rodriguez.
– Mexican 18U reigning champ Sebastian Fernandez will face last year’s 16U finalist Erick Trujillo
– Two of the top players in 16U last year face off for a shot at #3 Natera in Sebastian Longoria and Guillermo Ortega. I like Ortega in his home town here even if there’s little between these two players.

The fireworks start in the 16s.
– #1 Beltran likely gets his tourney started against #17 IRT regular Erick Cuevas.
– #9 Parrilla likely takes on #8 Christian Longoria in a battle of SLP tour regulars.
– #5 Gerardo Franco Gonzalez gets zero favors from the draw, likely having to face an underseeded #12 Javier Estrada. Estrada has been giving the IRT a go this season and has a couple of solid wins, but no breakthroughs past the round of 16 yet. But we know what he’s capable of given his win last summer at the Black Gold cup. Franco has proven to be a tough out at times, with a quarter final appearance in the most recent IRT stop.
– #4 Javier Mar likely takes on the junior Moncada in the 16s here.
– #3 Alan Natera Chavez will kick off his latest Nationals event likely against the young Ortega, who will be spirited in defeat.
– #6 Former WRT #1 Alex Cardona gets a brutal opener against #11 Fernandez. I still think the part-time tournament player Cardona is the better player, but Fernandez has been improving and looked tough earlier this year. This could be a statement win for either player, and could go down to the wire in the breaker.
– #7 Rodrigo Montoya Solís] takes on #10 Lalo Portillo in another fantastic round of 16 match. Montoya crushed Portillo in Portland in December, but it was Portillo making a final in Sioux Falls a couple months later. its odd to see Montoya seeded 7th here, considering the fact that he’s the defending Pan Am Games and World Singles champ. He’ll have his work cut out for him again to make the team here unless we see more chicanery from the federation (see Landa, Alex).
– #2 Daniel De La Rosa will face a relative unknown (to me) either way to get his nationals tourney started; it should serve as a great warm-up for his brutal projected quarter final match. Read on.

Projected Quarters:
– #1 Beltran over #8 Parrilla. I know Parrilla finished last year higher than the elder Beltran, but he’s going through a really tough stretch. Andree lost three straight IRT round of 16 matches while Beltran held serve and eventually jumped him in the rankings last month. Beltran is 6-4 over Andree in their career, and i like Alvaro to rise to the challenge in his home town to move on.
– #4 Mar over #12 Estrada; in a battle of Javiers, i give Mar the upper hand. Estrada beat Mar h2h twice in two RKT events in Dec, but Mar gets up for these national events and I think handles Estrada.
– #6 Cardona over #3 Natera; yes I know Natera has made the semis in this event two years running with a slew of upsets. I like Cardona here if he can get past the bulked up Fernandez.
– #2 DLR over #7 Montoya: this is a rematch of the 2018 Nationals final AND the 2018 Selection event final. But its DLR who has had the upper hand in this rivalry lately, winning their last 3 meetings and 4 of 5. Some of their matches have been close … but often DLR really dominates Montoya, including a 1,4 stomping in the semis of the 2019 Lewis Drug. I think DLR builds off of some great recent results on tour and moves on here.

Great projected quarter finals here: it includes potentially four of the current IRT top ten players and another 2-3 players who are top 10 quality.

My semis:
– Mar over Beltran; if Mar gets to this point, I like his chances of taking out Beltran. Mar faced Beltran in the semis of the 2016 Mexican Nationals event and topped him then, and I like him to move to the final here.
– DLR over Cardona: Cardona’s run ends at the hands of DLR, who can handle his power and will outlast him from a fitness perspective on the court at the end-game. These two faced off in last year’s nationals in the quarters, and DLR advanced in a tie-breaker. I see a similar result here.

Final: DLR over Mar, a rematch of the 2016 National final also won by Daniel. DLR returns to the title seat of Mexican racquetball.

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Women’s singles draw preview;

15 women in the draw. All the major LPRT touring pros are present, meaning the quarters on should be action packed.

Notables missing:no Ana Laura Flores here after she dominated the Mexican 18U event last year. Also missing are periodic LPRT players like Montserrat Pérez, Denisse Maldonado, Eleni Guzman Velgis, Diana Aguilar, and Sofia Rascon (who I don’t have any tourney results for in more than two years now).

Round of 16s to watch for:
– #5 Nancy Enriquez takes on #12 Lucia Gonzalez in an upset-special. Gonzalez made the semis of the 2018 Mexican Nationals (she also made the semis of 2015 version just after graduating juniors), but missed 2019 so she gets a bottom seed. Nonetheless, she’s proven her ability to beat top LPRT players and Nancy should be on the watch here. I’m going to go with the upset; there’s always a 12 seed beating a 5-seed, right NCAA fans?
– #4 Alexandra Herrera takes on the 14U phenom Angela Veronica Ortega. Ortega was the 14U finalist in 2019 in Mexico, then made the Junior worlds 14U final as well. She’ll be playing in her home town against the touring pro Herrera.
– #10 Erin Rivera takes on the 2018 Mexican 16U champ Maria Gutierrez in the opener.

Projected quarters:
– #1 and defending champ Montse Mejia likely takes on Jessica Parrilla in a pretty tough quarter for the #1 seed. Mejia has never beaten Parrilla … but they also havn’t played since 2017, which means they havn’t played post knee injury. Parrilla continues to struggle to get back to her former lofty ranking; the talent pool is deeper and she has had really rough luck running into top players early in these draws. I think Mejia moves on but it could be a nail-biter tie-breaker.
– #12 Gonzalez takes on #4 Herrera; These two are familiar foes; they’re the same age and played on the junior circuit frequently, often in junior national finals. The last time they played was 2018 Mexican Nationals, a straight-forward 2-game win for Gonzalez. I’ll predict another upset.
– #3 Samantha Salas Solis vs #6 Susy Acosta Racquetball; Salas has really struggled on tour this season, but I don’t see her losing to the veteran Acosta at this stage. These two veterans have played more than a few times so they’ll know each other’s game well.
– #2 Paola Longoria who must feel odd not being seeded #1 in an event for the first time in perhaps a decade or so, likely faces up and coming LPRT player Rivera at this stage. Longoria is on a mission and isn’t stopping till she gets to the final.

My semis:
– Mejia over Gonzalez to end the run
– Longoria over her doubles partner Salas

Final: Longoria re-takes the title and downs Mejia in two quick games in similar fashion to their past few pro meetings.

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Doubles preview:

In the Men’s doubles, 13 teams headlined by two of the best doubles teams out there in the top 2 seeds. DLR/Beltran were upset in the semis last year and slip to the #2 seed, while Montoya/Mar are the defending champs and #1 seed. Despite the seeding, DLR/Beltran have never lost as a team to the Montoya/Mar team, so if seeds hold expect DLR/Beltran to retain the title.

Standing in their way are a couple of intriguing teams: #6 Portillo/Parrilla are a frequent pairing on the IRT and could make for an edgy semi against the veterans. The #4 seeds of Estrada/Natera are a frequent pairing that could make noise … but they face a dark-horse in #12 Franco/Cardona, an intriguing pairng that includes the very talented doubles player in Cardona.

In the Women’s doubles draw there’s 8 teams entered but really only 2 teams to talk about: the #1 seeded Longoria/Salas team is one of the most decorated doubles teams of all time, but the #2 seeded team of Mejia/Herrera has been pushing into their territory, taking a couple of pro doubles titles already this season, including the US Open title. Expect #1 vs #2 and for the Longoria/Salas team to push for the win and the international representation spot.

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Streaming options: there’s usually good streaming of these events, by following FMR or RKT on facebook and by following the specific players’ pages.

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

2020 LPRT Sweet Caroline Wrap-Up

Longoria the double winner on the weekend again. Photo US Open 2019, Photographer Kevin Savory

Congrats to your winners on the weekend:
– Singles: Paola Longoria
– Doubles: Paola Longoria/Samantha Salas

Longoria dominates the competition, never giving up more than 8 points in a game on the weekend to cruise to her 97th career tier-1 title. And, the #1 doubles pairing holds serve against the upstart Mejia/Herrera duo to take the title.

R2 Sports App home page for event: https://www.r2sports.com/portfolio/r2-event.asp?TID=31722

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Lets review the notable matches in the Singles draw.

Singles Match report in the PRS database: http://rball.pro/8DECFC

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In the 32s:

– #12 Jessica Parrilla made a statement in her win over junior Bolivian Angelica Barrios – Raquetbolista, winning the first game 15-1 and holding on 15-12 in the second.
– Good friends and doubles partners Ana Laura Flores and Erin Nocam (Erin Rivera) battled it out in a tie-breaker, with Rivera advancing.
– #22 Susy Acosta Racquetball got a solid win over tour vet Adriana Riveros Racquetball 7,12 to advance into the 16s for the 2nd time this season.
– #23 Valeria Centellas got the better of #10 Masiel Rivera Oporto for the second week in a row, earning the upset win to move into the 16s.
– #15 Sheryl Lotts got a hard-earned tie-breaker win over #18 Guatemalan Maria Renee Rodriguez to move on.

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In the 16s:
– #9 Montse Mejia took out #8 Cristina Amaya Cassino in a tight 14,9 match, as one would expect in the 8/9 meeting.
– #12 Leona Parrilla took #5 Natalia Mendez to the brink, nearly pulling off the upset before Mendez advanced 11-8.
– #23 Vale Centellas RaquetBol made short work of #7 Nancy Enriquez, dominating to win 7,5 and move into the quarters for the second time this season. She’s a force to be reckoned with.

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In the Quarters:
– #1 Paola Longoria dominated her young Mexican rival #9 Montse Mejia 3,8 to move into the semis. More and more Mejia’s win over Longoria at the 2019 Mexican Nationals is looking like a fluke; Longoria has beaten Montse the last three times they’ve played on tour by the score lines 5,6 then 2,6 and today 3,8.
– #4 Alexandra Herrera needed a tie-breaker to get past #5 Natalia Mendez Erlwein in what could be an interesting budding rivalry.
– #6 Rhonda Rajsich became the latest player to get an upset win over #3 Samantha Salas Solis this season, taking out her long-time rival in a breaker by the slimmest of margins 11-10. Salas has now been beaten prior to the finals in all six of this season’s events she’s entered; last season she played 9 events and made 9 finals.
– #2 Maria Jose Vargas Parada was pressed in game one by the junior phenom Centellas (now officially her country-woman having made the switch to represent Argentina), but pulled away to win in two.

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In the Semis
– Longoria continued to dominate in Greenville, beating #4 Herrera in two games 3,7 to return to the final.
– Rajsich pushed Vargas to the breaker and looked for a moment like she could get to a final for the first time since June 2017 … but ran out of gas in the breaker.

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In the Finals, we get the 5th final between Longoria and Vargas on the season. The first four were Longoria wins … and we got another Longoria win here too. Paola dominated the #2 player on tour to win 5,6 for the singles title.

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Points Implications of results: there’s definitely some interesting movement in the rankings as a result of this event.

– The top 1-6 stay the same, and in the same order. Longoria treads water in that she’s the defending champ, while Vargas gains on her and Salas loses more ground. Vargas now has a large enough lead on Salas that it likely is impossible for Samantha to regain #2 this season.
– Despite her run to the semis, Rhonda actually loses ground to Mendez for #5 thanks to Rajsich having to defend semis points from last year.
– The big news is that Enriquez has been knocked from the #7 perch that she’s held for quite a while. Mejia has moved up to #7, which means that she avoids Longoria in the quarters and could have deeper implications for draws going forward. This also bumps Amaya to #9, which is less impactful to her in that 8-9 still plays into #1.
– Parrilla has now ascended to #11; its been a long grind for her attempting to get back her top 4 ranking, due partly to unlucky play-in matches and partly to increased depth on tour. But every tick up in rankings means a slightly “easier” round of 16 for her, and more opportunities for her to get deeper into events.
– Munoz makes a big jump from 18 to 13, and will continue to rise since she played no events in the 2nd half of last season, meaning every point earned is a net point gained on the rest of the field. I could see her getting up as high as #11 by the end of the season, but it’d be tough to get much higher thanks to a points gulf from 11 to 10 on tour.
– Centellas continues her meteoric rise; last week she was ranked 25th, now she’s 16th. She started the season outside the top 30. And she’s proving that her results are no mistake, taking down multiple top 10 players along the way.

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Doubles review

Match report in the PRS database: http://rball.pro/6F84A6

In doubles, the all-Bolivian junior team of Barrios/Centellas upset the 5th and 4th seeds to advance to the semi; there they joined the top 3 seeded teams.

We got the expected all-Mexican final, though this time the #1 team Longoria/Salas held serve in a tiebreaker to take the title over #3 Mejia/Herrera

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Other Draw results:

– In Women’s Open, Carla Muñoz Montesinos took a solid win, downing Amaya in the semis and Kelani Lawrence in the finals.

– In Men’s Open, Maurice Miller downed fellow Georgia native Austin Cunningham in the final.

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Next up? the LPRT has a break until Boston the first weekend in March.

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tags

LPRT
International Racquetball Federation – IRF
International Racquetball Federation
USA Racquetball
Racquetball Canada
Federación Mexicana de Raquetbol
Federación Boliviana De Raquetbol – Febora
Federación Boliviana de Racquetball
Racquetball Colombia
Federacion Colombiana de Racquetball
Asociación Argentina de Racquetball
Federación Chilena Racquetball
Jugadores Racquetbol Guatemala

LPRT 2020 Sweet Caroline Grand Slam Preview

World Junior 18U champ Barrios travels to compete in the Sweet Caroline. Photo via Barrios’ facebook page.

The LPRT is back in action, with its annual Sweet Caroline event in Greenville, SC. Once again this event is a Grand Slam event, which means more points, more money and a deeper draw. This event also features a banquet (held last night) where the players fly in early to support a great local cause in Safe Harbor (see LPRT’s page for more, or visit https://safeharborsc.org/).

R2 Sports App link: https://www.r2sports.com/website/event-website.asp?TID=31722

There’s 26 ladies in this draw, making it the 3rd largest draw of the season. More importantly is the depth of the draw; just one player in the top 20 is missing (Colombian #12 Brenda Laime Jalil). We also have some tough players in the 20-30 range making the trip from abroad and making the opening round one full of top match-ups.

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Lets preview the draw. Play kicks off bright and early 9am Friday, so by the time you read this it probably is already underway!.

Here’s some notable qualifying matches that i’m looking forward to:

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In the 32s:

– #13 Ana Laura Flores vs #20 Erin Rivera: great first rounder; Groves already has two top-10 upsets on her resume this season, and these two met in Chicago in November with Rivera getting an 11-8 upset win. Expect a close match here again and another upset.

– #12 Jessica Parrilla vs #21 Angelica Barrios – Raquetbolista; tough match for the traveling Bolivian, the reigning 18U world champion. I see this as an interesting clash of styles; Parrilla plays fast and powerful, Barrios plays tactically and deliberate. Parrilla has had some recent success in rebuilding her former top-4 ranking, but will be made to work for it here.

– #15 Sheryl Lotts] vs #18 Maria Renee Rodriguez; these two have played a few times professionally and internationally over the years, always going to tiebreakers. MRR got a win at 2018 Worlds, their most recent known meeting. But Lotts has been improving all season, losing an 11-10 heart-breaker to Enriquez at the last pro stop. Expect Lotts win a breaker here.

– #10 Masiel Rivera Oporto vs #23 Valeria Centellas: Centellas is on an extended tour of the US, and played in the Wintergreen event last on Rivera’s home courts, where they met and Centellas got the win. Now they meet less than a week later in a grand slam. The 18yr old Centellas is a dangerous player with growing power and accuracy, and I like her for the upset here.

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Projecting the round of 16: I see a few notable matches to watch for in the 16s.

– #1 Paola Longoria over #17 Carla Muñoz Montesinos; Munoz runs into the world #1 too early despite her improving play as of late.
– 8/9 is always a tough match: this time it likely features Montse Mejia versus Cristina Amaya Cassino]. I like Mejia to advance but for Amaya to keep it close.
– Expect a tight match between the winner of the Parrilla/Barrios match and #5 Natalia Mendez. I like Parrilla to get the better of Mendez here, after losing a tight match to the Argentine earlier this season. But Mendez has shown she can beat both players, so anything goes.
– #4 Alexandra Herrera could face a tricky opponent if Rivera advances, or face a rare lefty if Flores advances. She’s never lost to either and should advance.
– #3 Samantha Salas Solis returns after missing an event and likely gets a dangerous opponent in reigning US National champion Kelani Lawrence], who just topped both Rivera and Centellas in a local event in Maryland and reached the quarters of the Florida event.
– #6 Rhonda Rajsich faces off against #11 Adriana Riveros Racquetball, a battle of two international vets who have played each other in IRF events frequently. Riveros won their last meeting, her first in this h2h series; can she get an upset here?
– #7 Nancy Enriquez is the likely unlucky opponent of #23 Centellas; this will be a hard-hitting battle that I think the young Bolivian, increasingly gaining confidence against top pros, can win.
– #2 Maria Jose Vargas Parada gets her tourney started against the Lotts/MRR winner; she’ll be favored but Lotts in particular has been playing top players tough all season.

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Projected Qtrs:

– #1 Longoria over Mejia: despite seeds two of the top four women in the world, but Longoria has the upper hand on the pro ranks.
– #4 Herrera over #12 Parrilla; I don’t think Parrila is ready to take this step yet.
– #3 Salas handles #6 Rajsich
– #2 Vargas ends the run of the youngster #23 Centellas.

Semis:
– Longoria over Herrera
– Vargas over Salas

Finals
– Longoria over Vargas for the 5th time this season in a final.

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Doubles review

There’s 12 teams in the doubles draw, and with Salas’ return the regular #1 pairing is back intact. In fact, the top 4 seeded teams are now the regular top 4 teams we frequently see advancing in these tournament and the semis and finals of LPRT doubles are becoming increasingly more compelling.

Interesting entries include the all-junior Bolivian team of Centellas/Barrios and the Colombian national doubles team of Riveros/Amaya getting back together.

I like the Bolivians to upset Parrilla/Enriquez in the quarters, and for Herrera/Mejia to upset the #2 Argentine national team in the semis to get a frequent repeated all-Mexican finals match-up.

Prediction: Herrera/Mejia take out Longoria/Salas in the final.

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Look for Streaming in the regular places; can’t wait for this event! Look for Timothy Baghurst], Jerry J Josey Jr., JP Edwards (with ties to my home town!) and Tj Baumbaugh on the mike, calling the shots!

Tags

LPRT
International Racquetball Federation – IRF
USA Racquetball
Racquetball Canada
Federación Mexicana de Raquetbol
Federación Boliviana De Raquetbol – Febora
Federación Boliviana de Racquetball
Racquetball Colombia
Federacion Colombiana de Racquetball
Asociación Argentina de Racquetball
Federación Chilena Racquetball
Jugadores Racquetbol Guatemala

Florida LPRT Pro/Am Wrap-Up

Longoria the double winner on the weekend. Photo US Open 2019, Photographer Kevin Savory

Congrats to your winners on the weekend:
– Singles: Paola Longoria
– Doubles; Paola Longoria/Alexandra Herrera

A double win on the weekend for Longoria, who takes her 96th Tier-1 singles tournament win along with her 43rd pro doubles title since the fall of 2013.

R2 Sports App home page for event: https://www.r2sports.com/website/event-website.asp?TID=31860

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Lets review the notable matches in the Singles draw.

Singles Match report on www.proracquetballstats.com: http://rball.pro/D163E1

In the 16s, a couple of upsets:
-#12 seeded junior Valeria Centellas took out veteran #5 Rhonda Rajsich in a tie-breaker. Centellas won a topsy turvy match where she dropped the middle game 15-2 but held on in the breaker, keeping the pressure on Rhonda with a lot of pace and great getting ability.

– #13 fellow Bolivian junior Micaela Meneses Cuellar fared well against #3 Natalia Mendez, losing 6,8. Its worth noting that Meneses just finished her age-15 year.

– #11 Kelani Lawrence finally got a pro win over a top 8 touring player, downing #6 seeded Nancy Enriquez in a tight 13,14 match. She achieves her first pro quarterfinal appearance with a great showing.

– #7 Amaya Cris held on to down #10 @Maria Maria Renee Rodríguez 11-8 in the breaker.

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In the Quarters, the top 3 players advanced and we got another big upset.
– #1 Paola Longoria handled #8 Jessica Parrilla 6,9 to move into the semis.
– #2 Maria Jose Vargas took two closer games against #7 Amaya to move on.
– #3 Alexandra Herrera held off upset-minded #11 Lawrence 6,13.
– But the big result of the round was another upset at the hands of the Bolivian junior Centellas. #12 Centellas took out #4 Natalia Mendez Erlwein in two games 5,12 to move on to the semis. This is just her 5th pro tournament and she’s got a match-up with #1 Longoria.

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In the Semis and finals, the draw went chalk.
– #1 Longoria showed Centellas what it means to be #1 in the world, advancing 5,8. A great showing for Centellas on the weekend, as she also won the Women’s open RR draw.

– #2 Vargas advanced over #3 Herrera in two, but it almost went tiebreaker 5.14.

In the final Longoria raced to a game 1 win, then held on for the title 6,12 over Vargas.

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Doubles review

Match report in the PRS database: http://rball.pro/54B7D4

In the final it was #1 versus #2, but it was as close a final as fans could ask for. Longoria and Herrera, who are now 13-0 together as a pro doubles team, took out the #2 Argentinians Vargas/Mendez by the razor thin scoreline of 14,14.

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Next up? The Men are back in action next weekend in Austin, then the subsequent weekend is the Sweet Caroline Grand Slam event in Greenville, SC.

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LPRT
USA Racquetball
Federación Mexicana de Raquetbol
Federación Boliviana De Raquetbol – Febora
Federación Boliviana de Racquetball
Asociación Argentina de Racquetball
Federación Chilena Racquetballacquetball
Federacion Colombiana de Racquetball
Jugadores Racquetbol Guatemala

Florida LPRT Pro/AM Preview

Bolivian junior Valeria Centellas makes a rare state-side appearance. Photo via Deportivo Boliviana

Welcome to the first pro event of the 2020 calendar year!

https://www.r2sports.com/website/event-website.asp?TID=31860 for the R2 Sports App home page for the event.

The LPRT returns to the Miami area for the first time since 2014, and what a great place to have an event in the dead of winter (as I scrape ice off my windshield this morning)…

Perhaps because of the proximity to the new year, the pro draw is a bit small; just 16 players in the event. Missing are top 10 players #3 Samantha Salas Solis, #7 Montse Mejia and #10 Masiel Rivera Oporto. Its pretty rare for Salis to miss and event; the only one she missed last season was due to travel problems; perhaps she’s taking a mental break after getting some upset losses early this season. Traveling to his event is a trio of top Bolivian players, which should make for some great round of 16 match-ups; read on.

Thanks to missing players in the 11-14 range, Jessica Parrilla gets elevated all the way from her #14 ranking to the 8th seed here.

Lets preview the draw.

Matches to watch for in the 16s:
– 8/9 Carla Muñoz Montesinos vs Jessica Parrilla; 8th vs 9th always seem tough, and this one is no exception. Both players have notched wins over Salas this season, and both seem to be on the upswing. I’ve only got two career meetings in the database, one in 2013 and on in 2017 (they’re 1-1). Expect this to go tie-breaker, and I’m leaning towards the former top 4 pro Parrilla to end up on top.

– #5 Rhonda Rajsich vs #12 Valeria Centellas; If ever there was a “youth versus experience” match, this is it. Centellas was born in 2001; in the year 2001 Rhonda was busy finishing 3rd on the pro tour. Centellas is perhaps the most promising junior in the world today; as a 17yr old she finished runner-up to her country-woman at World Juniors and is already a regular representative of Bolivia in international events. So what may happen here? Based on her results against LPRT pros, i’m guessing Centellas takes this to the breaker but Rhonda prevails.

– #4 Natalia Mendez vs #13 Micaela Meneses Cuellar; well if you thought Centellas was precocious … Meneses just lost in the 16U world junior final 11-10, playing in her age 15 year season. She has just one LPRT appearance; last year’s Bolivian grand slam, where she took a game off of #1 seeded Salas in the 16s. She could trouble Mendez but I expect the Argentinia veteran to move on.

– #6 Nancy Enriquez vs #11 Kelani Lawrence; no prior meetings between these two players, but I suspect that Lawrence might keep this pretty close. Kelani has a couple of closer losses to Vargas this year, one of the few players on tour with power that rival’s Enriquez.

– #7 Cristina Amaya Cassino vs #10 Maria Renee Rodríguez; these two are frequent international competitors, given that they’re both frequent representatives of their home countries of Colombia and Guatemala respectively. Amaya holds a 6-1 career h2h, but the games are often close.

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Projecting the quarters:

– #1 Paola Longoria over #8 Parrilla: Jessica is 0-9 versus Paola in the database, but they havn’t met in more than two years.

– #5 Rajsich vs #4 Mendez: last meeting was an interesting game; Rhonda won 14,1. In 2018 worlds, Natalia beat Rhonda by the scores of 1,13. What may happen here? I like Rhonda in this one.

– #3 Alexandra Herrera over #6 Enriquez. Herrera is 5-2 over Enriquez, but Nancy beat her in last year’s SC event in a 5-game marathon after losing the first two games. I think the shorter match format favors Herrera, and I expect a two game win.

– #2 Maria Jose Vargas vs #7 Amaya: Another international tinged matchup; they’ve met 9 times with a lot of IRF meetings; Vargas is 7-2, but those two losses were years ago. Expect a Vargas win.

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Possible semis:

– Longoria over Rajsich: this would extend the most populous head to head matchup in the tour’s history: these two have met 66 times on the pro tour and quite a few other times internationally. After a shock upset at the 2018 Pan Ams, Longoria has regained control of their rivalry.

– Vargas over Herrera: Vargas is 6-0 lifetime over Herrera, but none of them really have been blowouts.

Projected Final: Longoria over Vargas.

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Doubles preview:

A 6-team doubles draw is scheduled; Salas’ absence robs the top team of one of its partners, and Mejia’s absence robs the 2nd best team of one of its partners … so it only made sense for Longoria to team with Herrera here. They’ll likely run into either the Enriquez/Parrilla team (which has been playing well together), or the #2 seeded Argentinian national team of Vargas/Mendez).

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Great to be back in action!

LPRT
USA Racquetball
Federación Mexicana de Raquetbol
Federación Boliviana De Raquetbol – Febora
Asociación Argentina de Racquetball
Federacion Colombiana de Racquetball
Racquetball Colombia
Federación Chilena Racquetball