My thoughts tonight are with the Toyne family. We found out today that long-time scion of the DC-area racquetball family has passed. Anyone who played tournaments on the east coast, or who knew the old “Team Ed” group, and a good chunk of the global racquetball community knew Wayne Toyne and knew what a special person he was.
For me personally, I probably first met Wayne upon moving to Arlington in 1998. We worked together for years helping run tournaments in the DC area; the older picture in this post is circa 2001, from one of the long nights we used to put in at Ed Willis’ house to organize draws ahead of big tournament weekends. Wayne’s primary role on these late nights was mostly moral support and helping to eat the chinese food we ordered (hence the picture of him eating a piece of crab rangoon). In reality he was a long time organizer, promoter, and volunteer for the sport far and wide.
The more recent picture was from the International Racquetball Tour stop in Laurel, MD in September. Wayne looked the same to me in 2019 that he did in 2001; I never gave any thought that I’d experience the day when he left us.
It was a pleasure knowing you Wayne, and I’ll miss you.
Well, everyone loved the IRT bar chart we did earlier this week, so here’s the same thing for the women.
Some interesting observations in this chart: – 97 women have appeared in a top 10 since 1975. This is a bit more than the men; we see a lot of players who reached the top 10 for short periods of time, then dropped off quickly. – The depth of the tour early on was very thin; the early parts of the graphic may look odd as it shows the early legends of the sport like Peggy Stedding and Jean Saucer lingering at the bottom of the bar chart before the tour begins to fill out. – I think its amazing how many players debuted at #2 or #1 on tour; Heather McKay finished #1 in her first pro season, won four titles in five years, then basically disappeared. Lynn Adams debuted at #2 her first full season touring, as did Michelle Gould. Marci Drexler, who may be the most underrated player in the tour’s history, debuted at #3 in 1986 … then retired at #3 13 years later. – Also interesting how so many players retired at or near the top. Gould ran off seven straight #1 titles … then never played again. Shannon Wright played seven events in 1983-84 season, made the semis in all of them … then quit and never played another pro event. In this graphic you’ll see these players’ bar charts just plummet off the screen, showing their ranking diving from a top 4 level to non-existent.
Fun stuff; Visual depiction of Men’s top 10 rankings historically
Have any of you seen those cool “Racing Bar Charts” that show stuff like population growth over time per country?
Well, thanks to a great suggestion from Jessica Swartz Amezcua, I found a site that lets you create these visualizations for free and created some one-off data spreadsheets and came up with this cool graphic:
Take a look, it shows the ebb and flow of all players ranked in the top 10 over time. It starts in the 1974-5 season, the first official “pro” tour season, and leverages results at the DP/Leach Nationals for the first few seasons to determine the top 10. In 1981-82, we had a points race for the top 10 for the first time, and have had it ever since.
Here’s a fun fact: in the entire history of the pro tour, now covering more than 45 years … there’s only been a grand total of 79 distinct players who have finished in the top 10 in a given season on tour.
Anyway, take a look at the visualization; its pretty cool. I’ll do something similar for the Ladies next.
– Both tours for all the efforts you make with streaming matches so that we nerds can watch from home. Jerry J Josey Jr.osey Jr. and Pablo Fajre n particular.
– Speaking of broadcasts, special thanks to the lead broadcasters on the pro tours Timothy Baghurst and Dean DeAngelo Baer. Also thanks to those who help out on broadcasts JP Edwards, Favio Saravia and many others who help out and make the streaming entertaining for those of us at home.
– thanks to Ryan and Tish Rodgers for R2 Sports App; where would we be without that system and its prevalent use to provide real-time tracking of tournaments. IRF: take note! can we please move to r2sports and move away from PDFs stored in dropbox?
– Thanks to Kramer X for everything you do with The Racquetball Blog, the only person out there really writing about the sport in a blog-format.
– Thanks to all the skilled photographers out there associated with the various organizations; keep up your great work. I’m talking Ken Fife, Kevin Savory, Mike Augustin, Freddy Ramirez, Roby Partovich, Geoff Thomsen, Mike Boatman, and others who I may have forgotten.
The big story ahead of this event was LPRT #1 Paola Longoria going for her 100th professional win. She had family and media on site for the event, but lost in the final. I’m sure she’s under a bit of pressure to hit a milestone win that’s been pushed in social media for months … and now she’ll have another opportunity to do so at the sport’s biggest event, the US Open.
As some of you may have noticed from the broadcasts, yours truly was at this event Friday night to see the 32s and 16s, and I got to help with the broadcast for the quarter final matches on the show court. It is the first time in a while I’ve seen the Ladies pros up close, and I had a blast working along side Timothy Baghurst, LPRT Commissioner Tj Baumbaugh and LPRT gadget king Jerry J Josey Jr., who work tirelessly to put on these events. My first time on the mike was a lot of fun and I hope you all enjoyed listening to the commentary as much as I had calling the matches.
—— Lets recap the event, and I’ll provide some additional commentary for the matches I saw up close.
There were three round of 32 matches, all involving traveling pros and local VA players, including tournament director and Hall of Famer Malia Kamahoahoa Bailey (who fell in two to Jessica Parrilla).
Notable Round of 16 matches: – #9 Brenda Laime Jalil got a solid win over #8 Adriana Riveros 3,14. – #4 Rhonda Rajsich was somewhat fortunate to get by #13 Carla Muñoz Montesinos in their round of 16 match, advancing by the scores of (14),14,4. This was a back and forth match for the entirety of the first two games, with the ladies trading points back and forth, trading leads, etc. Both veteran players played solid tactical games. Munoz had the advantage in game two, leading 14-12 when an odd sequence of events occurred; the referee asked for a replay of a point well after it was completed due to a belated ruling on the serve; this seemed to slightly unnerve Munoz, who lost the 2nd game and wasn’t competitive in the tie-breaker. Credit to Rajsich though; she sensed something was amiss, got the call she needed and kept her composure to win out. – #3 Maria Jose Vargas Parada advanced over reigning US National champ #14 Kelani Lawrence in two tight games 13,10. Lawrence was playing on the courts she grew up on and had the home town crowd rooting her on against one of the world’s best. I must also note; it’s not too often we see two generations competing in the same event like we did here with Mom Malia and daughter Kelani. That was cool to see. – #6 Nancy Enriquez outlasted #11 Sheryl Lotts (12),8,0. Lotts really played a solid game to take the first, but Enriquez settled in, took over game two with her power, and then went on a run that Lotts couldn’t stop in the tie-breaker to secure the 11-0 tiebreaker win. Enriquez has sneaky power; you don’t realize it until you’re up close how much pace she hits with. – #2 Samantha Salas Solis topped former top-4 touring pro Jessica Parrilla7,8. Salas struggled even to get to this event on time, pushing through the same local storms in the Monterrey region of Mexico that prevented 4th ranked Alexandra Herrera from traveling. She arrived in time though to face off against a tough opponent in Parrilla, and a slug-fest ensued. Both players really put some velocity onto the ball, but i’m not sure i’ve ever seen a harder hitter than Salas. Towards the end of game two, Parrilla started working Salas’ backhand more on the serve, had some success, but it was too little, too late as Salas moved on.
In the Quarters, thanks to Alexandra Herrera‘s absence we had some unexpected match-ups … in fact three of the four quarter final matches featured players who had never played each other professionally. It made for some unexpected results.
– #1 Longoria cruised past #9 Laime 1,4. Laime was outclassed by the veteran, but credit to her for getting this far (a career best showing). – #4 Rajsich squeaked past #5 Natalia Mendez in the first game, then cruised to a two game win 14,1. This is only the 2nd time these two have met in a pro setting. – #3 Vargas dominated #6 Enriquez 6,3 to move into the semis. – But the surprise of the round, perhaps the surprise of the last two seasons, was #7 Masiel Rivera Oporto beating #2 Salas 12,14. Rivera hung with the hard-hitting Salas, worked her backhand well, and got a career win to advance to her first semi final. Salas played 9 pro events last season and made the final of all nine, but now has been upset in both events so far this season.
In the Semis: – #1 Longoria raced past #4 Rajsich 5,3 to move into the finals, continuing her dominant tourney. – #3 Vargas mashed her way past Rivera 11,9 to move into her second final of the season.
In the final, Longoria took game one in her quest for 100 … but Vargas had other ideas, winning game two and the tiebeaker to spoil Longoria’s record-setting win attempt. Vargas gets her first ever professional win over Longoria and gets an early lead in the points rankings in her quest to take over the #2 spot from Salas, or perhaps to challenge for the year end title.
Before we get into the new IRT season (and the draws for Atlanta are already up, preview coming tomorrow), I wanted to wrap-up last season with the notification that we have some annual files that we update at the end of each season. I meant to post this more towards the end of the IRT season in June, but its been such a busy summer that I never got to it. So now with the first 2019-20 event days away, here’s a quick recap of where we are.
———————— We’ve already seen a ton of news items too since the end of last season: – new website www.irttour.com – Hiring of Aimee Roehler Ruiz to do Social Media – Naming of Pablo Fajre to direct both streaming and satellite events – The official return of Andy Kulback to tour management
And the schedule is looking fantastic. Last season there were 9 events. Already the IRT schedule has 11 planned Tier 1 or Grand Slam events with a 12th likely coming soon for sure, and they havn’t event started really working on the spring schedule yet. So things are looking really promising for the new season already.
Can’t wait for the first Tier 1 this coming weekend!
This past week, the LPRT became the last of the major racquetball organizations to convert to standard/amateur/international scoring standards, abandoning the 3 out of 5 games to 11 structure that had been in place for years.
This is the first time a change in the scoring system for the ladies pros has occurred since 2002. But prior to that, the ladies pro tour changed scoring constantly, and its an interesting history. I’ve kept track of the scoring system changes over the years here: http://www.proracquetballstats.com/…/lprt_scoring_changes.h… . Here’s a brief review:
– 1974: In the beginning, the NRC’s standard scoring system was best 2/3 games to 21, tiebreaker also win by 1. – 1975: some qualifying rounds were one game to 31. See Aurora 76 as an example. – 1976 est: 3rd game not to 21 but to 11. Believe this happened in 1976 along with Men’s side, fixing the tiebreaker to not be such a grind. – 1980: Scored in two sets of best of five games to 11, tiebreaker best of three; with rally scoring. Example score: 3-1, 2-3, 2-1. This scoring method has wreaked havoc on the PRS results code, coincidentally. – 1981: The third set is replaced with a single game. Still rally scoring. Example Score: 2-3, 3-2, 15-11. – 1983: Best of five, to 21; rally-scoring. Example score: 13, 17, (14), 18. – 1986: Best of five, to 11, win by one. More or less Consistent with the Men’s scoring by this point. – 1995 est: Same best of five to 11, but win by two instead of win by one. The Men’s tour had a similar change at some point in his time-frame as well. – Aug 2000: Back to Rally scoring and games to 21, win by 2. “Ping Pong” style serving where each player would serve five times in a row. It was said at the time this change was done to try to counter-act the dominance of Michelle Gould on tour. – Aug 2001: Scoring change again: best of five games format, with games played to 15, and scoring on every rally. But no more ping pong – Sept 2002: Abandoned rally scoring for 2002-03 season, back to “normal” best of five to 11, win by two conventional pro scoring. – Aug 2019: conversion to amateur/international scoring.
I may be missing some smaller variations in the scoring, but these are the major changes over the years.
We’ve updated the code in a similar fashion to what we did in Jan 2019 when the International Racquetball Tour made this same change, but we’ll have to wait until we get some data entry to ensure that the code correctly interprets the new scoring method.
My two cents on the change? Well, i’m bummed there’s no more crazy 5 game scores from a code perspective; I love watching 15-13 matches or the thrill of a 12-10 5th game super tiebreaker. But I’ve also come around on Doug Ganim‘s theories on the scoring system with respect to tiebreakers in later rounds. There’s many more of them now than there were longer matches in the old score format.
Last season on the IRT, which was the first entirely in the new scoring method, 21% of matches went to the tie-breaker (see http://rball.pro/8BD641) and 25% of matches from the Quarters on went to a tie-breaker. These stats are skewed of course by having one particular dominant player basically win every match in 2 irrespective of the round.
By way of comparison, In the last season where the IRT had 3 out of 5 games to 11 … 14% of matches from the Quarters on went to the tiebreaker 5th game. So the new scoring method is giving us more 3rd game tiebreakers than we had 5th game breakers in the previous system at the business end of tournaments.
I also feel (without much in the way of hard proof necessarily) that the 3-game format enables some players to get wins where they would have run out of gas in the 5-game format. Anecdotally we see more upsets of top players in the best-of-3 format versus best-of-5; Paola Longoria has taken losses in best-of-3 national and amateur competitions as of late, but has just two best-of-5 game losses in the last three pro seasons entirely. It is easier for a skilled but less-than-fit player to pull off a win in best-of-3 versus outlasting a fitter player in a 2 hour best-of-5 marathon.
Congrats to the 2019 Pan Am Games Team winners: – Men: Bolivia over Colombia in the final. Mexico and USA semis – Women: Mexico over Argentina in the final. Bolivia and USA in the semis.
Per-country notes: – This is Bolivia’s 2nd major Men’s title, after taking the Men’s title earlier this year at the 2019 PARC. – This is Colombia’s highest ever finish in an IRF team event, men or Women. – This is Mexico’s 17th Women’s team title. – This is the third time Argentina has finished as runner-up in the Women’s team division.
(Note: i’ve just put all the quarter finalists as finishing in “5th” place for now; if they are eventually ranked to determin a 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th place I’ll update the data).
And, since I never announced the fact that I did historical IRF Team results loading earlier this year. .. here’s the announcement and some context.
A few months back, Racquetball Canada reached out to PRS and IRF Media Relations guru Timothy Baghurst asking if we had Team standings from the historical International Racquetball Federation events. PRS had never pursued such data, but thought it was such a great idea that we’ve spent the past months digging up and compiling team results going back in time to the very first IRF events in the early 1980s, and the writing reports to query and display the data we found. Much was online, but much required digging into the magazine archives.
Today, i’m happy to announce the first release of this data research and inclusion to the database officially, and to note that we’ve loaded up the latest IRF events from this year, namely the 2019 Pan American Racquetball Championships and the 2019 Pan American Games events into the database.
The team queries are available in the the IRF Match database off of www.proracquetballstats.com. I put a couple of the team query examples in the Pan American wrap-up as a teaser, but here’s the official announcement with some more detail.
I’ve created several Team-based queries for your consumption:
– Per event: you can now select “Team Results” per international event to get a full list of the team standings for Men, Women and Combined Example report for the most recent 2018 Worlds: http://rball.pro/3E3571
– On the main pages for IRF Match, there’s a new section where you can select a “Team Category” and get all the historical Team winners sliced and diced any which way; All Men’s World championship winners, all Women’s Pan Am winners, all combined results across all tourneys, etc. Here’s an example of all Women Team Worlds winners from the first World’s championship in 1981 to the present: http://rball.pro/585BA0
– I’ve created some Matrix queries as well; showing all Team finishers per Event type (Worlds, PARC, etc). This is a quick way to see how countries have fared over the years. Here’s an example: this is the all-time Worlds Matrix for Men’s Teams: http://rball.pro/BD934A
– I’ve created some Country-specific queries: you can get a list of every result in the database per country. Here’s a list of all of Argentina’s team results throughout time: http://rball.pro/AE770C
– I’ve created a “Best ever finish” query too per country, since the IRF team competitions have basically been dominated by the three primary rball-playing countries. Here’s the Best ever finish in Men’s, Women’s and Combined for Bolivia: http://rball.pro/702BD2
– I’ve created counting queries: most Men’s team wins, Most Women’s and most combined. This has been divided into the various int’l categories too. For example, here’s a list of who has the most Team Combined titles at the Pan American Racquetball Championships over the past 30 years: http://rball.pro/F7D761
As with most racquetball historical data … the early records are sometimes sparse. The magazines of the early 1980s barely covered the first IRF events, to the point where we literally don’t know who won at the first ever Pan American championships event (in 1986). I’ve had to recreate a number of Team results from scratch by literally counting up points from the event. Others i’ve kind of made assumptions of who the team winners were by looking at the four singles results (usually this was early on when the USA was winning all four competitions anyway). We’ve also had some ties in the past, which makes some of the results look odd until I figure out an elegant way to show ties in the matrixes.
I hope I havn’t made any mistakes while doing this data collection; if so please don’t hesitate to email me if you feel there’s errors.
Next steps: Regional competitions (South American Games, Bolivarian Games, etc). We will also enter the Junior team data and include the same reports for adults into the Juniors area. We also hope to get better results from country federations for older events. We’ve had some luck getting data out of the magazines of the eras, but more research there is probably needed too.
The LPRT has released its schedule for next year and it looks great. Lots of new events, fully 5 Grand Slams, and 16 total Tier 1s/Grand Slams. That’s 6 more events than last year, great news for the sport.
In the wake of the Mexican Junior Nationals event a few weeks ago, I took some time to do some data loading so that the “matrix” reports I have showing all winners for all age divisions for all of time looked a bit better.
This is a quick notification post to rball fans to inform you of some data loading for Mexican Junior data, if you were interested.
You can also pull down the full match results for any year from the Event list in the Juniors database. I generally only put in the “older” age groups of full results (14s sometimes, 16s and 18s) and just note the final for the younger groups. Furthermore, there’s no Double Elimination results in the database; most of these events are DE.
Mexican Junior events have been a bit tough to keep track of; in any given year the US and Canada have “one” Junior National event. Mexico meanwhile has a Junior Olympics event (which sometimes takes “liberties” with the age groups, or skips them altogether), a conventional Junior Nationals, and even “World Selection events” that supersede the results of nationals. So as it turned out … some of the results I had previously for “Mexican Junior Nationals” were actually from the Junior Olympics events. I’ve now cleaned all that up.
We have online data for Mexican Jr Nationals for at least all winners from 2012-present now, thanks to some archive.org work. The earliest years generally only have winners posted, even for the older divisions. Hopefully, I havn’t made any mistakes; if anyone sees data entry errors please let me know.
Thanks to Ryan Rodgers who hooked me up with 2013 data so I could finish the data entry.
From here … in order to fully populate the Mexican Junior data, I need help from the Association. @Federación Federación Mexicana de Raquetbol if you’re reading this, do you have past records or past draw sheets I can leverage to do data entry? Do you have a list of at least the winners of past Junior championships?
Next up, i’ll do some similar work for Canadian juniors.