2019 Pan American Games Wrap-up

Congratulations to all the winners on the weekend:

Men’s Singles: Rodrigo Montoya
Women’s Singles: Paola Longoria
Men’s Doubles: Rodrigo Montoya/Javier Mar
Women’s Doubles: Paola Longoria/Samantha Salas

A sweep for Mexico, establishing their dominance. Two double gold medalists in Montoya and Longoria. The finalists in the four categories: Mexico, Argentina, Bolivia and Guatemala, demonstrating how diverse the talent pool is in our sport. The two historically dominant countries of USA and Canada ended up with bronze medals at best.

We’ll cover the team results after they wrap-up in a separate post.

See these links for full results on IRF and official Pan Am sites:
– http://www.internationalracquetball.com/lim-019/
– https://www.lima2019.pe/en/results and click on Racquetball schedule.

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Here’s a review of the Men’s Singles draw; there were a slew of great matches and unexpected results.

PRS match Report, Men’s Singles: http://rball.pro/B2835D

In the 16s, a few notable matches/surprises:
– #8 Coby Iwaasa got another solid win, topping IRT top-10 player #9 seed Colombian Sebastian Franco in a tie-breaker.
– #6 Samuel Murray took out #11 Bolivian Carlos Keller Vargas, ensuring that we’ll have a new IRF Men’s singles champion at this event (Keller was the PARC champ earlier this year). 
– #7 USA Charlie Pratt was taken to a breaker by Dominican #1 and 10th seed Luis Perez before advancing.

In the Qtrs:
– #1 Alvaro Beltran advanced over the challenge of Iwaasa by the thinnest of margins, winning 14,13. Great showing by Iwaasa in a major yet again.
– #4 Mario Mercado and #5 Jake Bredenbeck had a great back-and-forth match, with Mercado advancing 8,(8),8. Both players were blasting the ball and really making shots, but Mercado pulled it out in the end.
– #3 Rodrigo Montoya Solis advanced in 2 solid games over #6 Murray 7,10. Montoya has quietly put together a really solid tournament, not yet dropping a game to this point and having Murray’s 10 points being the most scored against him in any game.
– #2 Luis Conrrado Moscoso Serrudo got revenge against #7 Charlie Pratt for his loss in the qtrs of PARC19 by beating him handily 7,7 to move on.

So much for my predicting powers in this event: I predicted all four top seeds to fall here; instead all four top seeds advanced into the semis. In fact … the entire men’s knockout draw has gone chalk so far, with zero upsets into the qtrs and all four top seeds advancing.

In the Semis…
– Beltran d Mercado 7,5 in a match that was far closer than the scores suggested. They were on the court for well over an hour for these two games. Mercado just couldn’t get his serves working against the shot-maker Beltran, and Beltran time and again put away shots and setups to pick away at the game. 
– Montoya d Moscoso 14,10. This is a match-up i’m always wanting to see; power versus power. Two of the best young talents in the world who rarely meet. I’ve got just one prior meeting: Montoya winning a tiebreaker in the qtrs of 2018 worlds en route to the title. Montoya holds on for game 1 and then gets the win to move to the finals again.

(Historical oddity of this match: Moscoso nearly forfeited the match after getting caught in 2+ hours of traffic; he hitched a ride with a motorcycle cop to get to the venue just in time; had the ladies semi finals before him not gone on as long, this would have been a walk-over).

In the finals:

It was an all Mexican affair … and also a generational one featuring Beltran at the age of 40 versus Montoya at the age of 23. Beltran first competed in an IRF event in 1996; Montoya was born in 1996. Montoya is 3-1 in my database over Beltran in his career, and the one loss was an 11-10 match.

Beltran took game one and then, with a diving hip check, slammed into the door in game two, shattering it. After recovering, he seemed to have the wind taken out of his sails, dropping game two and getting blanked in the tiebreaker. Montoya wins (9),6,0 to improve to 4-1 over his countryman and take the title.

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Women’s Singles Knockout Draw review

PRS match Report, Women’s Singles: http://rball.pro/363FE3

In the 16s, a slew of great matches and surprising results:
– #9 Kelani Lawrence eked out a strong tiebreaker win over #8 Carla Muñoz Montesinos 11-7. 
– #12 Colombian Adriana Riveros got a solid win over #5 Bolivian Valeria Centellas in a tie-breaker. 
– #3 Argentine Natalia Mendez got a career victory, topping the reigning World Champ Guatemalan Gaby Martinez in a tie-breaker.
– #6 Ecuadorian Pazita Muñoz Albornoz got a great win over #11 Montse Mejia in a tie-breaker. Despite the seeding, I had Mejia favored in this match based on past results, including her defeat of Frederique Lambert in the RRs.
– #7 Angelica Barrios advanced past Amaya Cris by the thinnest of margins, 11-10 breaker. Amaya managed to lose to both Bolivians in this event; one 11-9 and the other 11-10.

So, despite a couple of top-level players as double-digit seeds in the 16s, we had just two upsets by seed into the quarters.

In the qtrs:
– #1 Maria Jose Vargas Parada advanced in two solid games over USA’s Lawrence 9,13. fun Fact: This was a rematch of the 2010 world Juniors 16U final. 
– #12 Riveros continued her great tournament, topping American veteran Rhonda Rajsich in two, ending Rhonda’s great tournament.
– #3 Mendez topped #6 Maria Paz Munoz in a tiebreaker. 
– #2 Paola Longoria made quick work of the Bolivian youngster Barrios 6,4 to advance to the semis.

In the semis:
– Riveros’ run ended at the hands of Vargas 8,9
– Longoria had to work for it a bit, but downed Mendez 10,10 to advance to yet another international tournament final.

In the final, the two top seeds faced off, also the two top LPRT pros represented here in Peru. Longoria improved her career record over Vargas to 33-1 across both IRF and LPRT by taking the final in two games 7,9.

Longoria wraps up her 19th career international title. Those 19 titles include 3 Pan Am games, 8 PARC titles, 2 World Games, 3 World Championships and 3 Central American/Caribbean games titles.

(see this link for her 19 career international titles: http://rball.pro/8F4146)

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Men’s Doubles wrap-up

PRS match Report, Men’s Doubles: http://rball.pro/205C38

The draw went basically chalk to the semis, where the #4 seeded Mexican team of Montoya/ Javier Mar came from a game down to top the #1 USA team of Rocky Carson and Pratt. On the bottom half, the #2 Bolivian team of Moscoso/ Roland Keller also had to come from a game down to beat the quality Costa Rican team of Andres Acuña / Felipe Camacho to make the final.

In the highly anticipated final, the Mexican team dominated the Bolivians, winning 10,1 to take the title.

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Women’s Doubles wrap-up

PRS match Report, Women’s Doubles: http://rball.pro/616FAA

The #1 seeded Mexican team of Longoria/ Samantha Salas Solis blitzed their way to the final, winning in the qtrs 2,0 over the Dominican Republic team, then dominating the semis 6,1 over the USA team.

On the bottom half, the #3 Guatemalan team of Maria Renee Rodríguez and Ana Gabriele Martinez took two tiebreaker wins over Colombia and then #2 Argentinian team to make the final.

In the final, the Guatemalans looked like they might pull off another upset, taking game one, but the Mexican pair battled back to win games 2 and 3 for the title. Final score 5,(11),5.

Salas secures her 17th career int’l doubles title, Longoria her 15th, to creep ever closer to record holder Jacqueline Paraiso-Larsson‘s 18 career IRF titles.

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Association links

International Racquetball Federation – IRF
International Racquetball Federation
International Racquetball Tour
LPRT
USA Racquetball
Racquetball Canada
Federación Mexicana de Raquetbol
Federación Boliviana De Raquetbol – Febora
Pan American Games 2019
Pan American Games 2019

Pan Am Games RR review, Knockout Preview

The Pan Am games round robin rounds for both singles and Doubles are done and the knockout draws have been published.

Lets do a quick run through of the notable/interesting RR results, then preview the knockout Draws.

An editorial: I think IRF needs to go back to having the two top seeds in the group play last, not first. I hate that the best match of the group stage happens on the opening day, when nobody knows the courts, everyone’s still jet lagged or perhaps rusty, and nobody has any tournament play under their belt yet.

Online brackets/results: http://www.internationalracquetball.com/lim-019/
or, on Pan Am Games official site here: https://www.lima2019.pe/en/results…

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Interesting Men’s Singles RR results:
– USA #1 Jake Bredenbeck got a solid win over IRT top-10 and Colombian #1 Sebastian Franco in their RR opener. Jake improved to 4-3 and broke a string of three straight losses to Franco. 
– Bolivian and #1 overall seed Luis Conrrado Moscoso Serrudo was stretched to a tie-breaker by the dangerous Costa Rican #1 Andres Acuña
– Cuban #2 Enier Chacon took out Argentinian #2 Fer Kurzbard 12,12, a solid win for the Cuban #2.
– Colombian #2 Mario Mercado got a great win, topping the 2-time reigning Pan American Racquetball Championships (PARC) champ Bolivian #2 Carlos Keller Vargas 14,11. Mercado gets the inside track to jump his pre-tourney seeding from 12 to a 3rd seed in the knockouts.
– Canadian #2 Coby Iwaasa got a career win, topping USA #2 Charlie Prattin a close tiebreaker. Iwaasa lost two close matches to Mercado in PARC19 and nearly won the last pro event held in Canada … but the last time we saw him on the IRT was in 2015. Would love to see him more.
– Ecuadorian #2 Jose Daniel Ugalde Albornoz in a huge upset, took out top overall seed Moscoso 11-10 in the final RR, throwing Group A into chaos with all three competitors finishing 1-1; by points differential Costa Rican Acuna is left out by just one cumulative point.
– DR #1 Ramon De Leon took out Cuban #1 Maikel Mollet in an 11-10 breaker as well, securing his passage to the knock outs.

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Interesting Women’s Singles RR results:
-Argentina’s Natalia Mendez​ got a solid win over Colombian Adriana Riveros10,13.
– USA’s Rhonda Rajsich destroyed Mexico’s Montse Mejia 4,7, a pretty surprising result. I thought Rajsich might win, but certainly not by these scores.
– Bolivia’s Valeria Centellas topped Colombia Amaya Cris​ by the incredibly close scores of (14),14,9. One point from the perfect match, and the youngster Centellas saved of match point against at 14-14 in the second to win. 
– Ecuador’s Pazita Muñoz Albornoz​ topped USA #1 Kelani Lawrence 5,6 in a match that still took nearly 50 minutes. (coincidentally: I love the timing provided in each match on the Pan Am website). Munoz later held on over improving Costa Rican Maricruz Ortiz 13,14 to secure the group.
– Argentina’s #1 overall seed Maria Jose Vargas​ met reigning world champ Gaby Martinez 11-9 in the tiebreaker. Tough opener for both; Martinez is clearly better than a double digit seed.
– Improving DR international player Merynanyelly Delgado took out LPRT touring vet Maria Renee Rodriguez in a tiebreaker.
– In the “Group of Death” Rajsich beat Canadian #1 Frederique Lambert 10,5 to top the group. Mejia salvaged 2nd place by topping Lambert herself 9,8. This knocked Lambert out of the knockout stages … a tough break for the former #2 player in the world.

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Men’s Singles Knockout round preview and predictions:

Unlike in other IRF competitions … the RR performance matters and qualified just 14 of the original 25 competitors to the knockouts. And, I have to be honest, I don’t entirely understand the knockout seedings. Beltran was elevated to #1 over Moscoso (who dropped from 1 to 2) despite Moscoso winning his group (albeit by the skin of his teeth). Mercado should have had the #3 seed but instead is 4th behind Montoya. Lastly, inexplicably, Pratt retains his 7th seed ahead of Iwaasa (who is seeded 8th) despite the fact that Iwaasa beat him head to head literally three days ago. I don’t get it.

Best players left out of the knockouts? Probably Acuna (the unlucky odd-man left out of the Group A logger-jam, who misses the knockout stages by two cumulative points over 3 matches). It was a bummer to see both Cubans knocked out; they have really improved lately. Otherwise the seeds mostly held and the top players are in the round of 16.

Here’s a preview of the Men’s singles knockout; Beltran and Moscoso get byes into the quarters.

– #9 Franco vs #8 Iwaasa: Iwaasa’s present for winning his group is to get a lesser seed than Pratt and to play into the current 7th ranked pro on the IRT. Tough match, but if Iwaasa keeps playing the way he has been, he could move on.
– #5 Bredenbeck gets a tricky opener against #12 De Leon but should advance.
– #4 Mercado gets a familiar opponent in #13 Felipe Camacho; they’ve played 4 times in the past three years and Mercado leads 3-1.
– #3 Rodrigo Montoya Solis who cruised through the group stage, gets the Moscoso-beating Ugalde; can the Ecuadorian keep it up?
– #6 Samuel Murray, for his troubles of winning the group, gets two-time defending PARC champ Keller as the 11th seed, a match Keller probably wins.
– #7 Pratt gets a heck of a lot easier opener than Iwaasa, going against DR’s Luis Perez.

Projecting the Quarters:
– #1 Álvaro Beltrán vs #8 Iwaasa: Beltran has his hands full here. Iwaasa can beat Franco, and Iwaasa can beat Beltran too.
– #4 Mercado vs #5 Bredenbeck: I like the way Jake is playing, I think his win over Franco in the RRs is proof enough of his focus and he should beat Mercado here.
– #3 Montoya vs Keller: Tough matchup for Montoya; last time they played was the semis of PARC18, and Keller got him in the breaker. I’m not entirely sure what to make of Keller’s loss to Mercado in the group stage; is he still hurt from earlier this summer? Montoya wasn’t really challenged in his RR group, making it tough to gauge how he’s playing. I think Keller advances here.
– #2 Moscoso vs #7 Pratt; great re-match of PARC19 quarters, when Pratt shocked the rball world and took out Moscoso 11-10 just weeks after Moscoso had won the Bolivian grand slam. Can he do it again? On the one hand, Moscoso has shown some chinks in the armor here (taken to tiebreaker by Acuna, beaten by Ugalde). On the other hand … so has Pratt shown he’s vulnerable with the Iwaasa loss. Pratt out-strategized Moscoso in Colombia and I think he can do it again.

Yes; i’m predicting that all four top seeds fall in the quarters. This is a testament to the depth of the international game these days.

Projected Semis:
– #8 Iwaasa over #5 Bredenbeck; I just like the way Iwaasa is playing.
– #11 Keller over #7 Pratt; a rematch of PARC19 final, won by Keller in a breaker. If Keller is healthy, he advances again.

Final: Keller over Iwaasa, cementing Keller’s international status by winning his third major title in the last two years.

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Women’s Singles Knockout round preview and predictions:

Unlike in the Men’s knockout draw … there seemed to be no discretion taken with the Women’s seeds; they are exactly driven from the group stage results, no deviations. (Again, why would the Men’s singles draw deviate from this formula?)

As with the Men’s draw; the top 2 seeds earn byes in the 16s and only 14 of the original 24 players advance to the knockout stages. Best player left out of the knockouts? Lambert obviously, then Rodriguez from Guatemala.

Here’s a preview of the knockout round:
In the 16s:
– #9 Lawrence over #8 Carla Muñoz Montesinos: despite the fact that they met in PARC19 and Munoz won, I like the way Lawrence is playing and think she can take this.
– #5 Centellas over #12 Riveros: the 17yr old continues to play well over her head; if she can bet Colombia’s #1 player (Amaya, as she did in the group stage), then she should be able to beat Colombia’s #2 player in Riveros
– #4 Rajsich should hold serve against #13 Delgado.
– #3 Natalia Mendez has her hands full with #14 Martinez. On paper this is a no brainer win for Martinez: she’s 4-0 lifetime over Mendez, including an 8,3 semis win at the 2018 Worlds en route to her currently held World title. But … Martinez hasn’t played competitive rball since January while Mendez has been showing solid results both internationally and professionally. I’ll go with Martinez here but it’s going to be close.
– #6 Maria Paz Munoz vs #11 Mejia; another brutal match-up for a top seed. Munoz’s award for winning her group is a match-up with a player who beat three of the top 5 players in the world en route to the Mexican national title earlier this year. I’m not sure what to make of Mejia’s loss in the RRs to Rajsich, but do think she can regroup and advance here.
– #7 Barrios vs #10 Amaya; a South American duel that, surprisingly, hasn’t happened before. Its the second Bolivia versus Colombia match-up in the round of 16 here; Amaya dropped a close one to Bolivia’s #1 player in the RRs, but Barrios may be just as good. I expect another close one here, as Amaya has really stepped up her game lately, but think Barrios still advances.

In the Qtrs:
– #1 Vargas makes quick work of #9 Lawrence
– #4 Rajsich gives a veteran lesson in tournament play to the youngster #5 Centellas
– #11 Mejia over #14 Martinez: these two have met over and over throughout the years; they’re the same age and met in the finals of Junior Worlds at least 7 times. Martinez owned their earlier match-ups … but Mejia has won three straight and should win here as well.
– #2 Paola Longoria cruises over the youngster #7 Barrios.

Semis projection:
– #1 Vargas over #4 Rajsich: these two have met no less than 30 times on the LPRT and internationally … and they’re 15-15 against each other. Vargas dominated Rajsich when they met in PARC19 and I think she’ll win again.
– #2 Longoria vs #11 Mejia: I don’t see Longoria losing to Mejia at this stage, not when it comes to winning titles.

Finals prediction: Longoria improves to 33-1 over Vargas in a rematch of the PARC19 final to win her 19th IRF tournament.

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Doubles Knockout round predictions:

On the Men’s side: no elimination at the RR stage, which is a sigh of relief for some of the teams who took surprising losses.

Also, more completely inexplicable seedings: Montoya/Mar destroyed Acuna & Camacho 2,0 in the RR stage, and won the group as the 3rd seed going in … then are seeded below them in the knockouts?? How does that happen?

I like Montoya/Mar over Carson/Pratt in one semi, Moscoso/Roland Kellerover Acuna/Camacho in the other semi, and for the Bolivians to win the final as they won the PARC final earlier this year.

On the Women’s side:

I like Longoria/Samantha Salas Solis over USA’s Rajsich/Lawrence in one semi, and for the Guatemalan team of Martinez and Rodriguez to upset the Argentinian team of Vargas/Mendez to make the final. however, in that final Longoria and Salas should capture their 14th international title together.

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Phew! Lots of matches in a short amount of time, but now we’re to the “business end” of this event. Lots of streaming available; individuals, country federations, etc. Check the regular places on Facebook for streaming notifications.

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

2019 Pan Am Games Preview

Pan Am Games 2019 in Lima, Peru

Welcome to perhaps the grandest international event in our sport; the quadriennial Pan American Games.

This is as close as our sport gets to the Olympic games right now. And they’re starting up this weekend, held in Lima,Peru.

This will be the 6th time Racquetball has participated in these games: they debuted in 1995, then have been in every iteration since (with the exception of 2007, when host country Brazil dropped the sport).

Here’s some lists of past Men’s and Women’s singles winners:
– Pan Am Games Men’s singles champions: http://rball.pro/C5106C
– Pan Am Games Women’s singles champions: http://rball.pro/0A12EC

The first Pan Am games Men’s singles champion was John Ellis in his final amateur match; he avenged a loss in the previous year’s Tournament of the Americas event to long time US international player Michael Bronfeld. The first Pan Am games Women’s champion was the legendary Michelle Gouldwho won a slew of international events along with nearly every Pro match she played in the 1990s.

The Women’s singles competition this year will feature two-time defending champ Paola Longoria who won in 2011 and 2015. She’ll be challenged by her country-woman Montse Mejia, who beat her earlier this year in the Mexican Nationals. She’ll also have to fend with top LPRT pros and international veterans like Maria Jose VargasFrederique LambertRhonda Rajsich and the like. And, just to add some intrigue, Guatemala’s Gaby Martinez has come out of “retirement” to compete … the same Martinez who beat Longoria in the 2018 Worlds final.

The two-time defending Men’s single’s champ Rocky Carson will only be playing doubles this event, so we’ll have a new champ. The 2015 finalist Alvaro Beltran will be playing singles, and one of 2015’s semi-finalists Luis Conrrado Moscoso Serrudo may be the favorite in the event. But, don’t count out Moscoso’s Bolivian teammate Carlos Keller Vargas, who is the 2-time defending PARC champ, nor the USA #1 Jake Bredenbeck, who destroyed the competition in May to earn his spot, nor Canada’s Samuel Murray, who finished another solid IRT season and is a tough out.

Round Robins start this weekend, and then we’ll preview the knockout draw once it is announced.

Facebook news has been sparse on the event; unlike an IRF event, the host country more or less controls things and by all accounts it was difficult event to secure streaming rights on facebook. Which is a shame … since this should be the biggest event in our sport. Nonetheless, keep an eye out for enthusiasts posting live streaming links in the usual spots.

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

Canel’s 2019 Preview

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

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

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

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

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Men’s Singles:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Women’s Singles

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

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

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

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

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

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Doubles

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

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

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

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

Racquetball Canada names Pan Am Games team

https://olympic.ca/…/canadas-lima-2019-racquetball-team-an…/

Racquetball Canada announced their official teams for the 2019 Pan Am games, and there were no real surprises. The team is:

– Men: Samuel Murray and Coby Iwaasa
– Women: Frederique Lambert and Jen Saunders

Thanks to their performance at the 2019 Pan American Racquetball Championships earlier this year, Team Canada qualified two men and two women to the event, so these players will be pulling double duty singles and doubles in Peru.

(team limits were announced here: 
http://www.internationalracquetball.com/xviii-pan-american…/)

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Lets take a look at the teams.

On the Men’s side … the choices were pretty obvious. Murray and Iwaasa were the two finalists in all three qualifying events (the 1st National team Qualifier in Nov 2018, the 2nd Qualifier in February 2019, and Canadian Nationals In May 2019). Murray topped Iwaasa in all three events, and these two players have clearly established themselves as the top Canadian Men.

Murray plays the IRT tour full time and finished 7th on tour this year. He should be a favorite to advance deep into the knockout stages, given his tour accomplishments and his international experience. Murray has represented Canada 8 times before internationally; his best IRF result is making the 2016 world semis, losing to Daniel De La Rosa.

Iwaasa played just one pro event this season, the WRT event that occurred in Calgary in October. In that event (PRS match report here: http://rball.pro/E7785F) he topped a number of IRT semi-regulars before falling to Andree Parrilla in the final. This will be Iwaasa’s 6th international appearance; his best results previously were a quarter final apperance at the 2014 Pan American Sports Festival (where he lost to David ” Bobby” Hornand the 2015 Pan American Games (where he lost to Alvaro Beltran).

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On the Women’s side, the two players selected are in-arguably the top two players in Canada, but some questions may arise from the qualification process. Lambert and Saunders were the finalists in the 1st qualifier, with Lambert winning. But, Lambert did not play in the 2nd qualifier nor Canada Nationals; there Saunders beat Christine Richardson​ in the finals both times. As it turns out, Canada’s team qualification guidelines specify exceptions for top-ranked IRT and LPRT pros, automatically qualifying them if they’re in the top 8 at the time of the team selection. See http://www.racquetball.ca/download/2019Racquetball_INP_PAGs.pdf for the guidelines (h/t to Frederique Lambert for the link).

Lambert obviously gives the team a better chance at medaling in Peru, but it comes at the expense of Richardson, who made a semis and two finals during qualifying and thus has a claim to the team based on the overall qualifying results.

Lambert finished the pro season ranked 9th on tour despite missing 5 of the 10 events (dropping out of the top 8 only at the last event). This after finishing the prior year ranked 2nd and making 5 pro tournament finals. She finished off Medical school, which limited her travel schedule. This will be the 10th time Lambert represents Canada; she has made two international finals, losing the 2012 and 2016 PARC finals to Longoria.

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The limits of players on both teams also means that the selected players will be forced doubles partners. But luckily, the players do have some experience playing with each other.

– Murray/Iwaasa teamed up to win the 2018 Canadian National title
– they also played together at PARC earlier this year, losing in the final.

– Lambert/Saunders first played together at the 2014 Worlds, losing in the qtrs.
– They teamed up at the 2016 PARC event, losing in the semis to eventual champs Mexico
– They made the semis at 2016 Worlds together, losing to the USA team.
– They won 2018 Canada Nationals together
– they last played at 2018 Worlds, struggling in the RRs and losing in the 16s.

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The Pan American Games, held every 4 years, start July 26th in Lima, Peru. See www.internationalracquetball.com or the official Pan Am Games sitehttps://www.lima2019.pe/deportes-panamericanos/racquetbol (in spanish) for more.
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International Racquetball Tour LPRT International Racquetball Federation – IRF

Canada National Singles Wrap-up

Congrats to your Racquetball Canada 2019 Singles Champions:

Men’s Open: Samuel Murray
Women’s Open: Jen Saunders

They take big steps towards putting themselves onto the plane to represent Canada at this August’s 2019 International Racquetball Federation – IRF Pan American Games, the biggest event in our sport. Based on the 2019 PARC qualifying Team Canada will get two players each in Men’s and Women’s, and based on the qualifying as of late it definitely seems like the two singles finalists in each draw will form the teams for Peru later this year, but we’ll wait to hear official word of attendance.

R2sports link: https://www.r2sports.com/portfolio/r2-event.asp?TID=30409

Here’s a recap of the draw, noting results I found interesting:

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Men’s Singles:
PRS Match Report: http://rball.pro/5FFA3A

No Surprises in the round of 16, with all seeds advancing in 2 games. Closest match was #13 Ian Frattinger pushing #4 Pedro Castro to 13,10 in their match.

In the quarters:
– One upset by seed: #5 Trevor Webb took out #4 Castro in two. 
– Both #2 and #3 seeds were taken to tiebreakers but advanced. 
– Coby Iwaasa came from a game down to advance past #7 Lee Connell.

In the semis:
– #1 Samuel Murray made quick work of Webb 3,2.
– #2 Iwaasa played a close game 1 then took off to win game 2 going away over #3 Tim Landeryou 13,2.

The Final was a rematch of the 2015 and 2018 Canadian finals, as well as a rematch of the last three running qualifier events. Murray and Iwaasa split the last two finals rematches, but this one was a Murray win going away 3,6. Murray captures his 2nd Canadian National title.

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Women’s singles:
PRS Match Report: http://rball.pro/315210

In the play-in round of 16, Cassie Prentice won in a slight upset by seeding, taking out the #8 Murielle Boivin 9,4. Meanwhile, the younger Parent sister Juliette beat her older sister Marjolaine 4,10 to advance.

In the quarters
– All 4 top seeds advanced, chalk.
– #3 Michèle Morissette advanced with the interesting score line of 1,(7),1 over vet Linda Marie Ellerington.

In the Semis:
– #1 Jen Saunders won a solid match over #4 Danielle Drury 13,8
– #2 Christine Richardson advanced over #3 Morissette in two close games.

In the Final, a rematch of last year’s Canadian National championship, Saunders won going away 4,1 to claim her 11th National Title. Saunders has now made at least the Canadian National singles final in NINTEEN consecutive years; every year since 2001. You have to go back to the 2000 national tournament to find a Women’s Canadian singles final that didn’t include Saunders (that year, Jackchristie Huczek beat Lori-Jane Powell for the title). Its a pretty amazing run for Saunders, who shows no sign of slowing down.

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Canadian National Doubles Wrap-Up

Saunders adds to her impressive career totals.

Congratulations to your 2019 Racquetball Canada National Doubles titlists:
Men: Samuel & Tommy Murray
Women: Jen Saunders & Danielle Drury.

r2sports link: https://www.r2sports.com/website/event-website.asp?TID=30409

This is the 4th Canadian national doubles title for Samuel Murray, and a first for his brother … who was the losing finalist each of the last four years running. Meanwhile, this is Saunder’s 13th title, and she inches closer to the record for most National doubles titles with her former partner and fellow Canadian Josee Grand’Maitre, who has 15 titles. Drury wins her 2nd title.

All Canadian Men’s Open Doubles titlists from 1975: http://rball.pro/BEE33C

All Canadian Women’s Open Doubles titlists: http://rball.pro/B26E86

Here’s a quick recap of the event, which is now live in the www.proracquetballstats.com database.

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Men’s doubles:
Match report in the PRS database: http://rball.pro/3AB576

There were 7 teams. In the semis, the two Murray brothers (Samuel Samuel Murray and Tommy Murray ) upset the #1 seeded Coby Iwaasa and Trevor Webb in a tiebreaker, while the Landeryou brothers ( James Landeryou and Tim Landeryou) took out Nicolas Bousquet and Pedro Castro in a tiebreaker.

So it was two brother teams in the final; there the Murrays staged a great comeback to take game one 17-15 (remember, in Canada its win-by-2 in all games). The Landeryous took game two, but then fell apart in the tiebreaker.

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Women’s Doubles:

Match Report in PRS database: http://rball.pro/35B3E1

There were four teams, so they played round robin. The #1 seeded team of Christine Richardson and Michele Morissette was upset by the #3 seeded team of Jen Saunders and Danielle Drury in the RRs en route to their 3-0 finish and the 2019 National title.

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The doubles champions for Canada qualify to represent the country in the Pan Am Games later this year, and will go towards qualification for 2020’s PARC and Worlds. We can’t say however that these exact teams will be in Lima later this year though, because Canada only qualified two men and two women to the Pan Am games (see http://www.internationalracquetball.com/xviii-pan-american…/ for the roster qualification spots). So likely the two singles qualifiers will team up to play doubles for Canada in Peru.

For Canada … now starts the singles competition. We’ll post that preview and recap separately (the pre-view likely before you see this).

Canada National Singles Preview

Sam Murray goes for another Men’s singles title. (photo via Rball Canada)

Just like their southern neighbors, Racquetball Canada uses the last weekend in May to host their National Singles events. They also host their National doubles (which ended yesterday and which we’ll wrap-up later this week)

r2sports home page: https://www.r2sports.com/portfolio/r2-event.asp?TID=30409

This is the 45th iteration of Canada National Singles, as far as I can tell. First held in Winnipeg in 1975, the first Men’s champ was Wayne Bowes. Mike Green (who recently announced his retirement officially from competition) is tied with Canadian legend Sherman Greenfeld for the most singles titles in Canada with 10 each. Samuel Murray is your defending champ and is the #1 seed this weekend.

On the Women’s side, they also have records dating to 1975, with Monique Parent being the first ever Women’s singles champ. Jennifer Jen Saunders hholds the record for most ever Canadian singles titles with 10, and as the defending champ and #1 seed has a chance to take the outright lead and tie American Rhonda Rajsich for the most ever country national titles (with the caveat that we don’t have full records for Mexico and other countries).

click here for a full list of all Canada National Men’s Singles finals: http://rball.pro/DEA1C6

click here for a full list of all Canada National Women’s singles finals; http://rball.pro/D48335

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Here’s a preview of the singles events.

Men’s Singles:There’s 15 in the draw. Here’s some round of 16 matches to look for:
– in the 8/9 game, Tommy Murray takes on Tanner Prentice for a shot at #1. If Murray wins, he gets to go against his brother. If Prentice wins, it would be his first ever win at Adult nationals.
– In the 7/10 game, Lee Connell (who’s been playing in National events for more than 15 years) gets a match against current Canadian 18U champ Sean Sauve in his adult debut.

Projecting the quarters:
– #1 Murray vs #8 Prentice; Sam moves on.
– #4 Pedro Castro vs #5 Trevor Webb; they met in 2017, a Castro win, and Pedro will be looking to return to the semis for the 2nd year running.
– #3 Tim Landeryou vs #6 Nicolas Bousquet; they met at this juncture in Nationals last year, a tie-breaker win for Tim. 
– #2 Coby Iwaasa vs #7 Connell: also a rematch of 2018 National quarters, an easy 5,5 win. Can Connell push it closer?

Semis: Murray over Castro, Iwaasa over Landeryou. These are the exact same semis from 2018, and i’m predicting the same chalk results.

Final: Murray over Iwaasa in a tie-breaker. These two met in the 2018 National finals, and in the finals of both Canadian qualifiers leading up to this event, and have clearly separated themselves from the rest of the Canadian field.

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Women’s Singles: there’s 10 ladies in the draw, and no Frederique Lambert, which opens up the field significantly. Lets preview the draw.

In the 16s:
– Reigning Canadian 18U Junior champ Cassie Prentice takes on #8 seeded Murielle Boivin for a shot at the #1 seed.
– Sisters Juliette and Marjolaine Parent have to face off in the 7/10 match. Juliette is the reigning 16U Canadian champ, while Marjolaine just graduated 18Us and represented Canada at Junior Worlds last year. Tough matchup for the parents; who do you root for? 🙂

Projecting the Quarters:
– #1 Saunders over #9 Prentice, marching towards a record-setting title.
– #4 Danielle Drury vs #5 Erin Geeraert: Geeraert is fresh off of representing Canada at the 2019 PARCs and will look to get back on the team for the Pan Am Games later this year.
– #3  Michèle Morissette takes on the legend Linda Marie Ellerington, whose first entry in the database is the 1987 Canadian National singles competition. Linda hasn’t competed in this event since 2015 …when she was eliminated by Morissette. 
– #2 Christine Richardson faces a Parent … i’m not sure which one, but think Richardson will be favored to advance either way.

Possible Semis: Saunders over Geeraert, Richardson over Morissette.

Final: Saunders over Richardson, a rematch of the 2018 final and the 2017 semis.

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Look for streaming notifications over the weekend. Follow Racquetball Canada for sure to get notifications. I know that Timothy Baghurst is in Canada leading the announcing, so tune in and follow along

IRT Season ending Standings Implications from Syosset

Kane wraps up his 13th pro tour title.

Syosset was the last Tier 1 of the season, and as noted in the previews for this event, the #1 spot for the season was technically in the balance heading into the event. Kane Waselenchuk entered the Syosset event with a 132 point lead over #2 Rocky Carson in the year end title race. They had both opened up a massive gap even to the #3 ranked player; nearly 700 points separated #2 and #3 heading into the event, and that gap has only widened after the event. So Syosset was all about determining #1 for this year.

By winning the event, Kane has now distanced himself by a sufficient amount of points from Rocky to have ensured himself the year end title. This post explains why (at least as I understand the system), and talks about the rest of the top 10 ramifications.

5/6/19 updated points standings are now online here: https://www.irt-tour.com/singles-rankings/

As the tour standings now sit, Kane leads Rocky by 234 points. This is roughly 100 more points of a lead than he had heading into Syosset, due to the difference of 100 points between winning a Tier 1 event (400 points) and losing in the final (300).

Now, there are still multiple events left on the IRT schedule between now and the end of June (notionally the end of the season each year); I postulated before the Syosset event that those events could actually come into play if the results went a certain way this past weekend. Players get 120 points for winning IRT Tier 2 events … and there are two Tier 2s still on the schedule (Costa Rica in two weeks time and Chihuahua Mexico in Mid June), at least one of which i’ve heard Carson is scheduled to attend.

So why can’t Rocky go win both of those Tier 2s and get 240 additional points to overtake Kane for the title, since he trails by 234 points? Because the tour only takes each players’ best 9 results for the season … and a potential 120 point Tier 2 win would not be enough to replace any bad results for Rocky this season. Plus, for the final season rankings players drop their lowest tournament result (which for Kane would be a 0 point missed event). Rocky made the semis or better in ALL NINE IRT events this year, guaranteeing him at least 220 points per event. So Rocky actually cannot improve his current points totals one bit from where they are now, hence Kane’s insurmountable points lead.

So, Congrats to Kane on his 13th pro title (click here for a season summary for Kane’s career: http://rball.pro/C08BD1) and Rocky finishes 2nd for the ninth season in his career (click here for the same for Rocky: http://rball.pro/610C77).

Once all the rest of the tourney slate plays out, I’ll capture the official season ending standings and update the database and links to show these results.

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Now, how about the rest of the top 10? What did Syosset do to their rankings and what remains to play for?

So, there’s a couple of noteworthy rankings achievements to work towards besides the #1 title for the rest of the tour:
– the top 4 players on tour avoid the seedings flip 
– More importantly … the top 8 players get protected seeds into the 16s at tier one events.
– less important; finishing in “the top 10” as a career achievement.

I know there’s lots of complaining about protected seeds on tour, especially in a tournament like Syosset with 49 guys in the draw and some players potentially having to play 3 matches to face a rested, seeded player in the 16s. I’d rather not get into it here, just noting that there were several reasons it was implemented and remains in place today: see this link http://www.proracquetballstats.com/…/guidry_post_roundof32.… for a good summary of why it was put in and how it actually *helps* lower ranked players instead of hurting them, both in terms of prize money and rankings points.

Nonetheless, while the protected seed system is in place, players really want to stay in the top 8.

Here’s how the Syosset event results shape the current top 10, and what may happen with the remaining non-Tier 1s:

– By virtue of making the semis this past weekend, #3 Alejandro Alex Landahas locked up #3 on the season. He has a 142 point lead over #4 and cannot be surpassed even if Parrilla plays tier 2s and wins them to replace his lowest scores. Landa finishes #3 for the second year running and had a nice solid run in the 2nd half of the season to get there.

– #4 Andree Parrilla should have guaranteed himself the #4 spot for year end by making the semis. This is a pretty remarkable one-season rise for a player; he finished ranked 11th last season, basically playing the tour just half time. This year though, he played all 9 events, made four quarterfinals and four semifinals and was a couple of unlucky points from doing even better. Twice this season Parrilla went out in the tie-breaker 11-10 or else maybe we’d be talking about him fishing 3rd.

– Andree’s lead over #5 Alvaro Beltran is only 107 points. And, Beltran missed the first event of the season, meaning he could possibly win a Tier 2 and add 120 points to his year end total to over take Andree for the #4 spot. But … Alvaro played (and won) the Lou Bradley Tier 2 earlier this season (see http://blog.proracquetballstats.com/…/lou-bradley-irt-tier…/ for the wrap-up of that event), meaning he’s already got a 120 tier2 win on the books, so I’m not sure how much Alvaro can improve upon his current #5 ranking with the remaining events. Alvaro did miss the first Tier 1 of the season, meaning in theory that’s a zero-point result he should be able to “replace” …

– With his early upset loss this past weekend, Daniel De La Rosa dropped to #6 on tour for the season, his lowest season-ending ranking since the 2012-13 season. He’s just 50 points behind Alvaro though for the #5 spot, and missed not one but two events on the year, so he could improve his year end standing markedly by playing (and winning) some of the remaining lower tier events. But I wonder what motivation there would be for DLR to go out of his way to play non-tier 1s just to try to improve from 6th to 5th. If he was planning on playing (say) Costa Rica, or Chihuahua, or the smaller events in Arkansas and Kansas already so be it, but with his likely focused on outdoor events and pickleball and family for the summer, we may not see him again on the IRT til the opener in August/September.

– There’s a huge gap from #6 to #7; 420 points, really showing how the guys in the 3-6 range have separated themselves from the pack, similarly to how the 1 & 2 guys have separated themselves even from #3.

– #7 Samuel Murray picked a great tournament to hold serve and make the quarters as per his seeding; he retains a 70 point lead over #8 Franco and is probably locked into that as a year end seeding.

– #8 Sebastian Franco was upset in Syosset, but so were all his possible competitors to the last coveted protected seeding #8 spot, meaning he’s in line to retain it heading into the next season. Franco also is a very active player, having two “extra” events on his resume already being dropped, so I’m not sure how much he could improve his ranking with the remaining events, or if he’d even travel to them (Franco skipped the Bolivian Grand Slam, likely for travel/family reasons, and traveling to Costa Rica/Chihuahua may also not be in the cards).

– #9 Rodrigo Montoya Solís was upset before the 16s thanks to a brutal draw (having to play Javier Mar to qualify for the main draw) and could not move from his #9 seeding in Syosset in the standings. Montoya missed a couple of tier 1s early in the season, but has himself played a couple of non-Tier1s this season, so i’m not sure if he can improve upon the 100 point gap between himself and the coveted #8 spot at this point without a deep dive into his full results on the season. Maybe if he goes to Chihuahua and wins it he could slip into the top 8.

– Both #10 Mario Mercado and #11 Jose Diaz got upset early in Syosset, costing them any shot at moving up. Despite his big run to the quarters as a #12 seed, Jake Bredenbeck remains locked into that year end seeding. #13 David Horn made the main draw but got no further and stays ranked #13 for the season.

– After #13, there’s a size-able gap to #14: Luis Conrrado Moscoso Serrudo, who has all his points from just two events (the Bolivia grand slam and a non Tier 1), and who seems unlikely to be seen on the regular tour at this point. I’d love to see him get some sponsors … but regular flights from Bolivia to the US are pretty grueling and we may not see him again til the US Open.

– The Guys ranked 15th-20th are all within 100 points of each other. Gerardo Franco GonzalezJansen AllenLalo PortilloThomas CarterAdam Manillaand Robert Collins. I’d describe all these guys similarly; they play nearly every IRT event, sometimes get upset early, and are still mostly lacking that one big run to the semis where they get a couple of solid wins in a row over top 8 guys that they’d need to really kick start their rankings. Some of these guys are moving up in the world (especially Portillo), while others are slipping (Allen), and it’ll be interesting to see how next season plays out for this crew.

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So that’s it. Hope you enjoyed, and I hope i didn’t get any of this analysis egregiously wrong 🙂

Syosset Open Mixed Pro Wrap-up

DLR continues to show why he’s the top Men’s doubles player in the world.

We got a fun treat at the Syosset open; mixed pro doubles. 20 teams entered and we got some great ball.

r2sports Mixed Pro doubles draw: https://www.r2sports.com/website/bracket.asp…

We don’t have a spot in the Proracquetballstats.com database for Mixed doubles. But we have staged these results, World Doubles 2018, and the nice mixed pro draw from San Antonio last weekend as a starting point. If anyone can think of mixed pro doubles draw from the past, i’m more than happy to dig up the r2sports links and stage them too.

here’s a quick wrap up:

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In the quarters,

– #8 Alvaro Beltran + Montse Mejia upset the #1 seeded team of Alejandro Alex Landa and Maria Jose Vargas Parada in a tiebreaker.

– #4 Paola Longoria and Rodrigo Montoya Solís topped the all-Canadian team of Frederique Lambert and Samuel Murray

– #3 Andree Parrilla and Alexandra Herrera were upset by the young #11 team of current junior world champ Eduardo Lalo Portillo and current inter collegiate champ Hollie Rae Scott.

– #2 Seasoned doubles players Daniel De La Rosa and Samantha Salas Solis cruised by #7 Jake Bredenbeck and Yazmine Sabja Ráquetbol, the current reigning World Doubles champion.

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In the semis:
– Beltran (the current men’s world doubles champion) topped the finest women’s doubles player in the world and current PARC doubles title holder Longoria with partner Montoya.

– De La Rosa (with 2018 world doubles champion with Beltran) and Salas (she the holder with Longoria of the 2019 PARC title) topped the Portillo/Scott team.

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In the final:
– DLR and Salas downed Beltran and Mejia in two straight to claim the title.

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In the three Mixed Pro events I know of, here’s the winners:
– World Doubles 2018: Daniel & Michelle De La Rosa
– San Antonio 2019: Alan Natera Chavez and Mejia
– Syosset 2019: Daniel De La Rosa and Salas.

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