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

Junior Worlds 2019 Singles Wrap-Up

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


In the Boys 18U:

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

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

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

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

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

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In the Girls 18U:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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In the Boys 16U:

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

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

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

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

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

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In the Girls 16U:

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

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

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

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

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

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In the Boys 14U:

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

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

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

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In the Girls 14U

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

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

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

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Org links

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

Junior Worlds: RR review, Knockout Preview

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Knockout Previews/Predictions

Boys 18U:

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

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

Otherwise I feel the draw goes chalk to the semis.

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

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Boys 16U

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

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

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

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Girls 18U:

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

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

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

—-
Girls 16U

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

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

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

—-

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

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

2019 World Juniors Preview

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Boys 18U:

18 players in the 18U boys draw.

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

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

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

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

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Girls 18U

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Boys 16U

18 boys in this draw.

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

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

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Girls 16U

17 girls in the draw.

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

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

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Notables in the younger draws:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mexican Junior Nationals Wrap-up

Ana Laura Flores wins Girls 18U.

The Campeonato Nacional de Raquetbol Infantil y Juvenil 2019 event was this past weekend, with the Junior National teams named for this coming November’s World Juniors.

r2sports link:https://www.r2sports.com/tourney/home.asp?TID=30780

Congrats to the top finishers by division:

Boys 18U: Sebastian Fernandez, Emir Martinez
Boys 16U: Sebastian Longoria, Erick Trujillo
Boys 14U: Luis Renteria, Jorge Gutierrez Ortiz
Boys 12U: Eder Renteria, Ricardo Velarde
Boys 10U: Luis Carlos Ochoa, Santiago Castillo
Boys 8U: Rene Palomino, Arturo Gonzalez

Girls 18U: Ana Laura Flores, Maria Gutierrez
Girls 16U: Guadalupe Griffen, Ximena Martinez
Girls 14U: Ivanna Balderrama, Angela Veronica Ortega
Girls 12U: Mariafernanda Trujillo, Yanna Salazar
Girls 10U: Ximena Barraza, Mariajose Franco
Girls 8U: Maria Malo uncontested

I *believe* this list is also the Mexican Junior team for Junior Worlds in November. However, some of the younger divisions saw different players advancing out of the loser’s bracket and may be the actual 2nd place finishers. The results above show the finals of the winner’s bracket throughout.

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Here’s the updated Mexican Junior Nationals Matrix of all winners, now that we’ve updated the 2019 winners:

Mexican Boy’s Winner Matrix: http://rball.pro/E1C550

Mexican Girls Winner Matrix: http://rball.pro/A267D1

These results are very sparse when compared to USA, Canada and Worlds. I have some past r2sports links and will do an update, but any results prior to 2013 will require help from the Mexican National organization.

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Here’s some wrap-ups of the divisions. From a database perspective, I have put in just the winner’s bracket matches from the 14U, 16U and 18U divisions on both sides. i’ve just put in winners for younger divisions.

Boys 18U: PRS match report: http://rball.pro/F11B26

In the 18U, #1 seed Sebastian Fernandez dominated the weekend, dropping just one game en route to a repeat 18U title. He beat #11 seeded Emir Martinez 1,3 in the final, who came out of a lower-side of the bracket clearly seeded poorly (the #2, #3 and #6 seeds all lost in the first round). The winner of the loser’s bracket/3rd place winner turned out to be #9 seeded Jose Ramos, who topped #4 seed Manuel Moncada (the only person to take a game off of Fernandez).

Boys 16U: PRS match report: http://rball.pro/B9A6AB

In the 16U, the seeds held to the final, where #2 Sebastian Longoria took out #1 Erick Trujillo 12,6. #12 seed Aldo Caraveo recovered from his semi finals loss to win the loser’s bracket/take 3rd place.

Boys 14U: PRS match report: http://rball.pro/68878C

In the 14U, #2 seed Luis Renteria took out #4 seeded Jorge Gutierrez Ortiz in the final. #1 seed Christhian Sanchez recovered to take 3rd.

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Girls 18U: PRS match report: http://rball.pro/81EC3C

In the 18U, #2 seed Ana Laura Flores Saavedra blitzed her way to the title, winning the final 1,1 over 9th seeded Maria Gutierrez. #1 seed Ana Kristin Rivera recovered to take the loser’s bracket final and 3rd place, keeping her in play for a Junior World spot.

Girls 16U: PRS match report: http://rball.pro/533E1D

In the 16U, #1 seed Guadalupe Griffen topped #6 seed Ximena Martinez in the final 6,8. #2 seed Daniela Rico recovered from an upset qtrs loss to take the losers’s bracket and 3rd place.

Girls 14U: PRS match report: http://rball.pro/25A4A2

In the 14U, #2 Ivanna Balderrama topped #4 Angela Veronica Ortega in the final 13,8. #1 seed Naomi Ros recovered to take 3rd.

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That’s a wrap.

The next major tournament is Pan Ams in early-to-mid August. I’ll do a reaction piece to the ridiculousness of the Mexican Adult national team selection this week. I’ll also post some IRT season wrap-up content that i’ve had ready to go for a few weeks.

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Federación Mexicana de Raquetbol
International Racquetball Federation – IRF

Mexican Junior Nationals Preview

Sebastian Fernandez looks to cap off a very decorated junior career with his last 18U Junior tournament.

This coming week and weekend is Campeonat Nacional de Raquetbol Infantil y Juvenil 2019. This tournament should determine the representatives Mexico sends to World Juniors, being held later this year in November in San Jose, Costa Rica.

r2 site: https://www.r2sports.com/tourney/home.asp?TID=30780

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Our records for Mexican Nationals events aren’t nearly as complete as for the USA and Canada: for the juniors, we only have records going back to 2013, and only for the older groups in the database. here’s some links to Mexican past junior champs:

Boys Junior champs: http://rball.pro/E1C550

Girls Junior champs: http://rball.pro/A267D1

There are a few defending champs entered into the draws. On the boys side:
– defending Mexican 18U champ Sebastian Fernandez is here to defend his title. 
– defending 16U champ Elias Nieto has graduated to the 18U ranks.
– defending 14U champ Omar Gonzalez has graduated to the 16U draw.

On the girls side:
– 2x defending 18U champ Montse Mejia has matriculated, so we’ll have a new champion. 
– defending 16U champ Delia Aguilar is not at the event.
– defending 14U champ Daniela Rico has graduated to the 16Us and will take on a group that includes some players already playing in the LPRT ranks.

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Lets preview the 18U and 16U draws, the ones with the players who followers of the pro game may have heard of or seen entered into draws.

Boys 18U: the seedings frequently confound me in these events (for example, last year the final was certainly predictable by observers of the draw, but the two finalist seeds were #12 and #23). This year Fernandez is the clear #1 seed, but the #2 seed Saul Rivero was topped by the guy seeded 14th in this draw Adrian Fernandez. Furthermore, Fernandez has to go against the 3rd seeded Nieto, the reigning 16U champ despite making it to the qtrs last year. I don’t get it.

I like Fernandez to repeat, irrespective of who comes out of the bottom. I’ll predict semis of #1 Fernandez, #4 Manuel Moncada, #3 Nieto and #15 Cuevas Fernandez, with Nieto losing in the final to the repeating Fernandez.

Boys 16U: #1 Erick Trujillo and #2 Sebastian Longoria would be my favorites to make the final, but there’s already been a slew of upsets of other seeded players, so it may be a wide-open draw.

Girls 18U: The two top seeds are the two Anas who I would have expected to be there. Ana Laura Flores Saavedra and Ana Kristin Rivera were both semi-finalists from 2018’s 18U competition are in the draw and should be the favorites to meet in the final.

Girls 16U: #1 seed Guadalupe Griffin and #2 seed Daniela Rico have pro experience, but so do a few others in the draw despite it being a 16U draw. It should be competitive.

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International Racquetball Federation – IRF
Federación Mexicana de Raquetbol

Mexican Junior Olympics Wrap-Up

Fernandez takes another Jr Title.

In addition to all the other stuff going on with USA and Canada this past weekend, Federación Mexicana de Raquetbol held its Olimpiada Nacional de Raquetbol for 2019.

Official Mexican Junior Nationals are later on this summer, so this seemed to be a junior-focused tournament. As a result, this is a “fan only” posting and no database loading of results will occur.

Congrats to your winners:
Boys 20U: Sebastian Fernandez over Eduardo Lalo Portillo, a rematch of last year’s Mexican 18U AND World 18U championship final.
Boys 16U: Erick Trujillo over Sebastian Longoria
Boys 14U: Christian Sanchez over Luis Renteria.

Girls 20U: Montse Mejia over Ana Kristin Rivera
Girls 16U: Guadalupe Griffin over Daniela Rico 
Girls 14U: Naomi Ros over Ivanna Balderrama

r2sports link: https://www.r2sports.com/tourney/home.asp?TID=30779

note: the draws actually were “20 and under,” so that’s not a mis-print.

Participation: notably, this event drew more than 200 players … more than the participation of USA National singles. And it was just for basically three age divisions (14, 16, and “20”) in a non-national event. There were 36 in 20 and Under boys, 41 players in boys 14 and under, 27-30 in each of the three girls divisions.

Contrast this to the last USA junior national events, which featured 24, 20 and 19 in the three top boys events, and just 9, 11 and 9 girls in each of the three top girls age groups. And it’s even fewer in Canada, where some of the junior age groups end up being combined into round robin events just to give everyone more than a couple of matches.

For everyone who complains about participation in our sport in the US … look no further than the junior pipeline south of the border. What is going on in Mexico that we can leverage in the US?

Battle of the Alamo IRT Tier 4 and Mixed Pro Doubles wrap-up

Natera the double winner on the weekend in San Antonio.

It was quite a busy weekend for pro racquetball. A 35-man IRT tier 1 draw in Florida was actually missing a slew of quality players, who opted mostly to stay closer to home and compete in the IRT tier 4 draw held in conjunction with the LPRT Battle at the Alamo event in San Antonio, TX.

Because of the quality of the event, and the solid mixed pro doubles event, I thought i’d do a quick review of the draws here.

A note: we do not load lower IRT tier events into the database, but as a fan of the game here’s a draw review.

r2 sports IRT draw: https://www.r2sports.com/tourney/drawsOut/view-bracket.asp…

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A 15-man pro draw; here were the notable results round by round.

In the 16s:
– Erik Garcia won a rematch of the USAR intercollegiate finals earlier this month, topping Texan Alejandro Almada in a tiebreaker. 
Alejandro Alex Cardona whitewashed the youngster Sebastian Longoria 0,0. Sebastian Longoria is playing in his age 17 season, while Cardona is one of the top 15-20 players in the world, so this is hopefully a good learning experience for Sebastian.

In the Quarters:
– #1 seed Gerardo Franco Gonzalez beat #9 seed A.J. Fernandez 4,5.
– #5 Seed Garcia got a very solid win over #4 Ernesto Ochoa in a tiebreaker. I have Ochoa in my top 30, and Garcia just took a big step up based on this win and his performance against Rocky Carson at qualifiers in Feb.
– Perpetually under-seeded Alan Natera Chavez took out #3 Javier Estrada7,7. Natera has wins over Javier Mar and Rodrigo Montoya in the past year and has made the semis of Mexican Nationals two years running … but has never appeared in a Tier 1 IRT event and thus has no points. 
– #7 seed Cardona topped #2 seed, IRT regular Nick Riffel11 and 12. A tough first match-up for Riffel in this event, coming up against the two-time WRT tour winner.

In the semis:
– #1 Franco topped Garcia 3,7, ending the collegiate champ’s run.
– #6 Natera squeaked by Cardona 11-10 in the breaker, probably a good indicator of where both players are right now. I think its probably fair to say the bottom half of this draw was more challenging than the top.

In the final, Natera defended his San Antonio title by wiping out Gerardo Franco 10 and 5. A solid weekend of victories over world top 30 players for Natera, who continues to impress.

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Mixed Pro Doubles.

Interestingly, the LPRT didn’t play ladies pros and instead opted for Mixed Pro doubles. So there was a solid draw of 14 Mixed pro teams that included most of the top LPRT pros playing with (primarily) the Mexican traveling pro players.

In the final, Paola Longoria teamed with Gerardo Franco to face Montse Mejia, who was playing Natera. Mejia and Natera came out on top, making Natera the double winner on the weekend.

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International Racquetball Tour LPRT USA Racquetball Federación Mexicana de Raquetbol

WRT Longhorn Open Wrap-Up

Mar takes the Longhorn Open.

Congrats to Javier Mar for winning the big Longhorn Open WRT draw on the weekend. He comes out on top of a 22-player draw that ended up having a very Mexican-flavor from the 16s on-wards.

NOTE: this is a correction post-publishing; the wrong winner was initially put into the bracket on r2sports.com. My apologies. Corrected now thanks to feedback from Jaime Martell.

Here’s the match report: http://rball.pro/FFDFB6

Lets review the draw.

In the 32s, a couple of surprises for this observer:
Lukas Le took out Alexi David Cocco Hayes in a tie-breaker.
– Nico Miramontes downed fellow Mexican 18U player Mauricio Delgadillo 11-9 in the breaker.
Erik Garcia took out Sebastian Longoria, who is still playing in 16U, in two straight.

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In the 16s…
Edson Martinez saved match point against before advancing against long time Japanese International player Hiroshi Shimizu.
– Javier Estrada upset #3 seeded IRT regular Justus Benson in two straight, an unfortunate underseeding match-up that cost Benson a too-tough early round match.

10 of the 16 players in the round of 16 were Mexican … and all 8 of the quarterfinalists also hailed from south of the border.

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In the Quarters:
– #1 Jaime Martell Neri played a solid match to down #9 Edson Martinez in two.
– #4 Eduardo Garay was stretched to a breaker but downed #5 Jordy Alonso.
– #6 Javier Mar took out the under-seeded #19 Estrada in two
– #2 Alex Cardona looked fantastic taking out the solid #7 Alan Natera Chavez by the dominant scores of 6,1

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In the semis, 
– #4 Garay outlasted an at-times frustrated Martell in a tie-breaker. 
– #6 Mar took a close two game win over a rejuvenated Cardona 14,11.

In the final, Mar got a solid win over Garay 12,11 to take the title.

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In the doubles finals, the two singles finalists teamed up to take on the upset-minded Estrada/Alonso team, making Mar the double winner on the weekend.

Doubles Match report: http://rball.pro/00C90F

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Next up for the WRT? No idea. The website is back up, but still shows data and tourneys from 2017 (which seems to indicate to me they suffered a pretty significant data crash and restored a very old backup). In 2018, the next event after the Longhorn Open wasn’t until May (the Georgia Open in Atlanta). Lets hope we get some announcements soon.