LPRT 2024 Sweet Caroline Wrap-up

Vargas wins her 5th title of the season, and moves closer to the year end title. Photo US Open 2019 Kevin Savory

Congrats to your Pro winners on the weekend:

– Singles: Maria José Vargas

– Doubles: Alexandra Herrera and Montse Mejia

Both #1 seeds take the pro draws, but both also had to endure 11-10 wins to do so along the way.

R2 Sports App home page for event: https://www.r2sports.com/website/event-website.asp?TID=42306

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Let’s review the notable matches in the Singles draw.

Singles Match report in the PRS database: https://rball.pro/v9b

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In the 32s:

– #17 Michelle Key continues to build points after being away from touring for years by topping #16 Stephanie Synhorst

– #21 Sheryl Lotts, who’s also been away from the tour for months after being a regular fixture, returned with a great win over #12 Hollie Scott .

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In the 16s:

– #9 Carla Munoz took out #8 Cris Amaya 7,6 to try to stay in the tour’s top 10.

– #11 Natalia Mendez got her best win in months, taking out the mercurial #6 Brenda Laime to move into the quarters for the third time this season.

– – #7 @Kelani Lawrence survived a 15-14 game one to advance past the the resurgent #10 @Jessica Parrilla .

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In the Quarters

– the top 4 seeds advanced as expected, with a couple of the matches being close.

– #4 @Alexandra Herrera ground out a close 13,14 win against #5 Ana Gabriela Martinez to get back to the semis.

– #1 Vargas was pressed by long-time South American rival #8 Munoz 11.10.

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In the Semis

– #1 Vargas cruised past #4 Herrera 8,5 to earn her 5th final out of the 7 tournaments played this season.

– #3 Paola Longoria reminded everyone where she belongs in the pecking order right now, taking out last year’s tour champ #2 Mejia in a hard fought 11-8 breaker.

In the Finals, Vargas took game one 12, then fell in game two 7 to setup another finals tiebreaker against the long time tour champion. In the tie-breaker, Vargas was fully in control and cruised to a 10-5 lead, but Longoria fought back. Vargas served for the match another 6 times without winning the final point as Longoria amazingly got it it back to 10-10 and had some opportunities, but couldn’t capitalize. Unfortunately, the match ended on a disputed serve that Longoria was adamant was a screen serve or foot fault. The lines judges didn’t agree, and that was that.

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Points Implications of results

With the win, Vargas now has 5 titles on the year, out of 7 events. Longoria has the other two. In the two tourneys Vargas missed, she had a semis loss and, going all the way back to Denver 2023, a loss in the 16s to Martinez. So, even though Vargas has far more titles, the points race for the title remains within Longoria’s reach. Assuming that SC was a “regular” grand slam, and that the last tournament next month in Chesapeake is also a “regular” grand slam … Vargas can still be caught for the 2023-24 title. It’ll take a miracle though: she leads Longoria by around 282 points, and you get 300 for winning a GS. So if Longoria wins Chesapeake (300) and Vargas misses the event, or loses in the round of 32 (worth 18.75), there’s a chance. However, if Vargas advances to the 16s in Chesapeake that’ll enough to seal the deal.

Mejia still sits #2 in rolling rankings, but will fall to #3 as soon as last year’s Chesapeake event (which she won) falls off. There’s a massive gap from the top 3 to #4 Herrera, then another huge gap to the ladies ranked 5th-13th, who are all within 100-120 points of each other. Based on her results in this event, Lawrence should move up to #5 on tour, a career high. Manilla is holding on at #7 despite being out for months. Despite making the quarters, Munoz will fall to #11 and the missing Salas will lose 4 spots and fall to #13. Most of the rest of the tour stays relatively the same.

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Doubles review

Match report in the PRS database: https://rball.pro/t0c

The top ranked team survived an 11-10 thriller in the semis against the hodge-podge team of Martinez & Parrilla, then destroyed #2 Vargas/Mendez in the final for yet another title. Herrera & Mejia have now won 5 of the season’s 6 titles, and lost in the final of the one event they didn’t win.

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Open Singles, other notable draws

– Mendez topped San Antonio USA junior Naomi Ros in the final of Women’s Open. Ros got there by beating #1 seed Munoz, which has to be a career best win.

– the Commish @TJTj Baumbaugh teamed with Kanesha Madison to take the 3-team Women’s Open Doubles draw.

– Former IRT touring pro @Maurice Miller topped #1 seed @Dylan Pruitt for the Men’s Open singles title.

– Pruitt teamed with Georgia’s @Austin Cunningham to take the Men’s Open Doubles title.

– Pruitt made it a “double double” (also my favorite order at In-and-Out Burger) by taking the Mixed Pro/Open title with Lotts.

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Thanks for all the streaming on the weekend, especially from broadcasters Timothy Baghurst, Jerry J Josey Jr., JTRball, and Tj Baumbaugh. Miller sat in on the singles final.

Reminder to Players! Please like and follow this page so that when I tag you, you see it. Facebook will only retain tags of people that like/follow a page, which means lots of you are not getting the notoriety of getting tagged and noticed on Facebook. If your name is here and it isn’t tagged … it probably means I attempted to tag you but Facebook stripped it.

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Next up?

Per our handy master racquetball calendar …

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1V6OTid6rZ356voXVkoV2sN7KMMbIP9SZd0MssH_nPGU/edit?usp=sharing

The IRT is in Canoga Park next weekend for the 2024 SoCal Open. Great to see the men and women playing back to back!

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tags @LPRT

LPRT 2024 Sweet Caroline Preview

Vargas closes in on the Season Ending title. Photo via usaracquetballevents.com

Welcome to the penultimate event of the 2023-24 @LPRT season, and its a big one. The 8th annual Sweet Caroline Classic in Greenville is perhaps the most important stop on tour. Greenville is the home of the LPRT Hall of Fame and it has supported the tour like none other.

R2 Sports App link: https://www.r2sports.com/website/event-website.asp?TID=42306

We have a solid draw of 23 players. We’re missing #7 Manilla (injury) and #9 Solis from the draw, but have most of the rest of the top 20 along with the likes of @Sheryl Lotts who has been an infrequent player this season. Play starts friday 5/17 and continues through the weekend.

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

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In the 32s:

– #21 Lotts takes on #12 Hollie Scott in a fun opener.

– #13 @Maria Paz Riquelme takes on fellow South American lefty Martina Katz .

– #14 @Lexi York takes on junior ##19 @khKhyathi Velpuri to start.

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round of 16: Here’s some good ones to look for:

– 8/9 Munoz v Amaya. Cris Amaya has had a great season and now has overtaken Carla Munoz to get back into the top 8. It’s been more than a few years since Amaya was in the top 8 on tour and she’ll need this win to stay there.

– 5/12 Gaby Martinez likely gets Scott in a tough opener for the Guatemalan.

– whoever wins the play-in will give #4 @Alexandra Herrera a lefty opponent in the 16s

– #7 @Kelani Lawrence seems likely to face off against #10 Jessica Parrilla . Believe it or not, these two have never played in a top-level indoor match.

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Projected Qtrs:

– #1 @Maria José Vargas shouldn’t struggle with either potential opponent Amaya or Munoz

– #4 Herrera projects into #5 Gaby, a tough match up of two former Tier1 winners. I like the way Herrera is playing and project the seeds to hold.

– #3 Paola Longoria projects into #6 Brenda Laime , who does have a H2H win over the long-time #1. Laime has been struggling lately though so I’ll project Longoria to move on here.

– #2 Montse Mejia gets the winner of Lawrence/parrilla in a match she should move on from.

Semis:

I continue to predict chalk; the cream has definitely risen to the top of the tour right now, and its hard to see anyone moving forward right now from outside the top 4-5.

– #1 Vargas over #4 Herrera: they’ve met four times this season and Vargas is 4-0, but it was an 11-10 win in San Antonio in their most recent meeting that has this being closer to a coinflip than many might think.

– #2 Mejia over #3 Longoria; a rematch of the San Antonio semis, which featured a come-from-behind win for Mejia over her long-time rival. That broke a streak of 4- straight losses against Paola for Montse; can she repeat the feat? She needs to “remember” what she did to turn around that match in Texas to move forward.

Finals; #1 Vargas over #2 Mejia. They’ve met three times this year, all three Vargas wins. Their last meeting was the final of San Antonio, an 11-7 grinding win for the #1 player.

Fun fact: if Vargas wins this event, and it gives the Grand Slam points I believe it will, then Vargas will have an insurmountable lead heading into Chesapeake. However, the points assignment may change slightly if either event becomes a “Grand Slam plus” so don’t quote me on that.

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Doubles review

No Salas means Longoria is completely out of the doubles draw, which is pretty crazy considering that she’s played in 66 Pro doubles finals since 2013. There’s some very solid, long-standing pairings in the Doubles draw all looking to un-seat the #1 dominant pair of Mejia & Herrera, and the semis onward will be great. Look for Munoz/Key to push the #1 in the top semi but fall, and look for the Argentines Vargas & Mendez to push past the American duo of Lawrence & Scott. Mejia & Herrera remain too good to lose at the top.

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

Coincidentally, if you’re interested in playing Fantasy Racquetball for this event, the links to the brackets are advertised on LPRT’s main page. The winner each week gets free swag!

LPRT 2024 Battle at the Alamo Recap

Vargas wins again. Photo US Open 2019 Kevin Savory

Congrats to your Pro winners on the weekend:

– Singles: Maria Jose Vargas

– Doubles: @Alexandra Herrera & Montse Mejia

Vargas wins her 4th event of the season and extends her lead in both the current rolling standings and the season-to-date standings. Read on for details and points implications for the @LPRT season.

Match reports on proracquetballstats.com:

– Singles: http://rb.gy/o9dqp2

– Doubles: http://rb.gy/12de8l

R2 Sports App home page for event: https://www.r2sports.com/tourney/home.asp?TID=42123

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Let’s review the notable matches in the Singles draw.

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In the 32s:

– US Junior national team member and San Antonio resident @Naomi Ros got a solid win over USA veteran Lexi York 14,10.

– Michelle Key got a very impressive win over Argentine @Natalia Mendez to move into the round of 16. Key continues to improve her singles profile at the expense of Mendex.

– Cris Amaya took out former top touring pro Frederique Lambert in a tie-breaker to continue her strong 2023-24 season.

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In the 16s:

– In the 8/9 match, Kelani Lawrence got the better of her close rival Munoz Carla in a tiebreaker.

– #5 Herrera was pressed by Angelica Barrios , losing the first game badly before turning on the jets and cruising to the win.

– #13 Jessica Parrilla shocked #4 Brenda Laime in a breaker for the biggest upset of the tournament.

– Amaya almost took another high-seed scalp, toping #7 @SamaSamantha Salas 15-2 in the first game before the Mexican veteran woke up and cruised 3,3 the rest of the way to move into the quarters.

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In the Quarters

– #1 Vargas had little trouble with #8 Kelani wining 5,4

– #5 Herrera topped her Mexican rival Parrilla with ease 2,2

– #3 Mejia had to go breaker to top Ana Gabriela Martinez but avoided the upset to move on.

– #2 Paola Longoria took time away from her political campaign to renew her long-time singles rivalry with Salas, winning two close games 14,11 to move into the semis.

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In the Semis

– #1 Vargas survived a scare, and had to save match points against, to top #5 Herrera by the score line of (3),10,10. Herrera turned back the clock this weekend but couldn’t close out the win. She returns to the final for the 4th time this season.

– #3 Mejia turned around her match completely against #2 Longoria after losing the first game, winning (12),6,6 to make her 4th final of the year.

In the Finals, Vargas took a back and forth slug fest in the tie-breaker to win her fourth tournament of the year.

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Points Implications of results

Vargas replaces a semis loss in this event a year ago with winner points, and extends her lead at the top of the tour with just two events remaining. Per our calculations (which, caveat, may not have the tiers/points right for the events if something unexpected has been done), Vargas now leads in rolling 365 rankings by about 90 points (a semi final in a regular event) and more than 180 points in the season to date rankings (which is more points than you get for making a final). With two events remaining, both of which (I believe) are grand slams, there’s still a lot that could happen …. but unless Vargas starts getting upset early, the title seems more and more likely to be going to the Argentine come the end of June.

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Doubles review

Munoz & Key were the big surprise in this draw, competing as the #7 seeds and getting two great wins. In the quarters they topped consensus #2 seeds Longoria & Salas in a breaker, then didn’t let down in the semis versus #3 Vargas & Mendez to secure a final. Alas, Herrera & Mejia were too much for the team, as the clear #1 doubles team in the world took the final 7,10 to extend their lead atop the LPRT’s rankings.

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Open Singles, other notable draws

The LPRT pro events were done Saturday evening, which led to the rest of the very solid amateur draws competing most of Saturday into Sunday. There were a slew of IRT touring pros playing in the Open events… here’s a quick recap:

– Men’s Open Singles: 18 players headlined by 14-time pro champ @Kane Waselenchuk competed in a solid Men’s Open draw. The event went mostly according to seeds/expectations, with Kane beating up and coming Mexican #5 Elias Nieto in one semi while IRT touring pro #2 seed Alan Natera beat fellow IRT touring pro and near top 10 player Erick Trujillo in the other. The final was one-way traffic for the San Antonio-based Waselenchuk, winning 5 & 9 for the title.

– Men’s Open Doubles: curiously, 3-time defending IRT champ Daniel De la Rosa was here (instead of at the competing PPA pickleball event in Utah), and also curiously he chose not to play singles. Instead he paired up with fellow San Antonio native David Mendoza in doubles. They were topped in the semis by the all-Junior national team of DJ Mendoza & Cole Sendrey. From the top, #1 Natera & Trujillo powered past Waselenchuk & @Matthew Barron in the semis to take on the kids in the final. There, the veterans overtook the juniors, winning 9,6 for the title.

– Women’s Open Singles: The women’s open draw unsurprisingly came down to the two non-top8 ranked ladies who entered and were seeded 1 & 2. In the final, Mendez took it to Munoz to win 5,3.

– Women’s Open Doubles: @Sandy Rios and Disney Linares took the small Open/A round robin competition.

– Mixed Open doubles: Alan Natera teamed up with fellow Chihuahua resident Yanna Salazar to take the Mixed Open doubles title.

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Thanks for all the streaming on the weekend, especially from broadcasters Timothy Baghurst and Sandy Rios

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Next up?

Per our handy master racquetball calendar …

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1V6OTid6rZ356voXVkoV2sN7KMMbIP9SZd0MssH_nPGU/edit?usp=sharing

Next weekend there’s a long-running DC area event called Wintergreen, that used to be IRT related but which has downsized considerably since its old days being held in Laurel. the US Open of Paddleball is also next weekend, which features some crossover names who play a ton of Rball. The LPRT returns to action mid-May in South Carolina, and the IRT has its SoCal Open later in May.

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tags

LPRT 2024 Battle at the Alamo preview

Gaby makes a rare LPRT appearance. Photo via Gaby

It’s been a minute since we posted, thanks to an incredibly busy March on the world racquetball calendar and a subsequently light April. But here we are, back in San Antonio for the 2024 Battle at the Alamo event. This tournament has been going on for years, with tournament director @Mike Cantu at the helm, and has been hosting an LPRT component since 2012. After a covid-break for a few years, the event returned last year and it’s great to see it back for 2024.

R2 Sports App link: https://www.r2sports.com/tourney/home.asp?TID=42123

There’s a healthy draw of 27 players in Texas this weekend. The only top 10 player missing is Erika Manilla , who’s likely to be out until October recovering from hip labrum surgery. The only other top 20 player missing is Valeria Centellas, who has played just one LPRT event since last June and who may be stepping back, either for personal or financial reasons.

The only curious situation here is that, normally with a Texas-based pro event we’d get an influx of Mexican players who can drive to the tournament … and we didn’t really get that here. I was hoping to see some of the up-and-coming Mexican junior females, like Maria Gutierrez (2-time reigning Mexican U21 champ), or Cynthia Gutierrez (reigning Mexican 18U champ) or Leonela Osorio (who made the semis at Worlds U21) or Angela Ortega (2022 Mexican 18U champ and world semifinalist last fall), etc.

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

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Round of 32: Thanks to some surprise entrants, there’s a couple of first round match-ups that should be juicy:

– Texan @naomi ros faces off against Lexi York in the 16/17 seed match (they’re also playing doubles together, it’s always kind of a bummer to play your doubles partner in singles). These two played last December at the Xmas classic, a TB win for the junior, so expect another close match here.

– #11 @Natalia Mendez is the unlucky draw of #22 Michelle Key , who is coming off a qtr final loss in PARC and who is playing singles regularly for the first time in years. Mendez’s results have been spotty lately, with her ranking continuing to slip, and this could be a one-and-done.

– #23 @Frederique Lambert makes a surprise appearance, and the unlucky 1st round opponent is #10 Amaya Cris . Amaya’s had some great results lately, making the quarters and even a semi this season, something she hadn’t done since the 2013-14 season. But she gets a tough 1st rounder in Lambert, a Tier 1 winner and former top 2 player who now just plays sporadically.

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round of 16: Here’s some projected fun matchups in the 16s

– 8/9 is always tough, and here’s no different. #8 @Kelani Lawrence is set to battle #9 @Munoz Carla yet again. They just played in Boston (Kelani win), they played at this event last year (Carla win), and they’ve now played 8 times in their careers in top-level matches. They’re tied 4-4 head to head. This is a coin flip.

– #5 @Alexandra Herrera gets the always-tricky to play #12 Angelica Barrios in the 16s here. Barrios leads career h2h 3-2 and won their last matchup in Feb 2023. But Barrios hasn’t been making all the tour stops, so she may be dealing with a bit of rust in her game.

– Mendez/Key winner versus #6 @Gaby Martinez. Martinez and Mendez both used to be top 4 ranked players simultaneously, but despite not really touring full-time it’s Gaby who has kept her ranking up. She’ll be favored to go through here.

– Salas vs Lambert/Amaya winner: whoever advances, it’ll be a matchup of two of the longest-touring players in the world. Salas has been touring full time since 2004, Amaya since 2009, and Lambert toured regularly from 2008 until 2018 when she headed off to her medical residency.

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Projected Qtrs:

– #1 Maria Jose Vargas over the Lawrence/Munoz winner. There’s only a couple of names who i think can top Vargas right now, even in the best conditions.

– #5 Herrera over #4 Brenda Laime : these two just met in the qtrs of Boston, a 14,6 Herrera win. Will we see the same thing here? Alexandra seems to be steadying the ship after slipping a bit from her streak of nearly ascending to #1 on tour.

– #6 Martinez over #3 Montse Mejia . These two know each other’s game pretty well. They’re in the same “class” and played at junior worlds year after year for the better part of a decade between 2010 and 2018. In the Adult/Pro world though, they’ve rarely played; Montse beat Gaby in the 2021 SuperMax semis on the way to winning her first ever pro title, Montse beat her again in 2023’s PARC on Gaby’s home soil, and Gaby beat Montse in the 2023 Central American/Carribean regional games before losing to Paola in the final. So, what to make of this match here? Mejia has struggled since winning the title last June, with a ton of early-exits and upsets, and I think that can happen again here.

– #2 Erika Delgado will cruise past whoever comes out of the Salas section of the draw. If it is indeed Salas, it’ll be yet another in a series of the most prolific head to head rivalry in the sport’s history. Longoria & Salas have played 60 times professionally and probably a dozen more times in National competitions over the years.

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Semis:

– #1 Vargas over #5 Herrera; they’ve already played 3 times this season, each a two game dominant performance from Vargas with game scores like 15-3 and 15-5. No reason to expect anything different this weekend.

– #2 Longoria over #6 Martinez: Gaby had the famous Worlds win in 2018, but for their careers Paola is dominant: 24-2 in all competitions (the other loss was at last year’s 2023 Sweet Caroline, during the tail end of Paola’s season-long slip). Paola has righted the ship and will be looking for a final’s rematch.

Finals; Vargas over Longoria.

This rivalry is interesting. The two have played more than 50 times now in top-level pro and international competitions. Longoria won the first 26 times they played, with Vargas finally breaking the duck in 2018’s group stage of the PARC event. However, since the beginning of 2023 it’s an even rivalry: Vargas has won 5 of the 8 meetings since then. These two met in the semis in Boston though, and Longoria won rather handily. In San Antonio, i’ll expect a rebound from the Argentinian as she looks to seal off the season title.

The season points race cannot be won or lost in San Antonio, not with two more stops remaining, but it is highly unlikely Mejia can stay in the race unless she wins out. So, every match counts for Longoria and Vargas.

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Doubles review

The LPRT has definitely settled into very regular doubles teams, and the seeds and matchups often look the same. Mejia & Herrera are solidly #1 on tour now, and Longoria & Salas are solidly #2. Vargas & Mendez are the relatively clear-cut #3 team. From there the rankings scatter. Lawrence & Scott have formed a longer-term partnership. Gaby’s regular partner for years MRR has stepped back from touring, so she just picks up randoms. the rest of the teams are cobbled together with players who don’t have regular partners anymore.

These regular partnerships are all top seeds for a reason; they play together often, and it’ll be an upset if this draw doesn’t go chalk. #1 over #2 in the final.

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Look for Streaming in the regular places; follow the LPRT on Facebook and sign up to get notifications when they go Live. Look for Timothy Baghurst, Sandy Rios, Jerry J Josey Jr., and Tj Baumbaugh on the mike as normal, along with special guests.

Coincidentally, if you’re interested in playing Fantasy Racquetball for this event, the links to the brackets are advertised on LPRT’s main page. The winner each week gets free swag!

Associations

LPRT

2nd Annual Montana Winter Classic Recap

Kane wins in Montana Photo US Open 2019, Photographer Kevin Savory

There was an IRT Satellite event last week in Billings Montana, which did a great job putting pro racquetball in the state for the first time last year and was able to do it again this year.

r2sports site for brackets: https://www.r2sports.com/website/event-website.asp?TID=41762

Here’s a recap.

In Pro Singles, there were 8 regular touring players, including #2 @jaJake Bredenbeck , #4 Andree Parrilla , #6 @Kane Waselenchuk , and #7 @Adam Manilla playing in Montana. This is consistent with the long-standing tour rules that only four of the top 8 seeds can enter a non-tier1 at any time. In addition, top 20 players Alan Natera , Carter Thomas , @Sam Bredenbeck and @JJim Douglas were on hand to compete.

There were no unexpected upsets to the quarters (#8 Douglas was upset by top Canadian #9 @Lee Connell but otherwise seeds held). In the quarters, Natera got a solid win in the 4/5 seed match, topping lefty Manilla in a tie-breaker.

In the semis, #1 @Jake Bredenbeck topped Natera in two, while #3 Kane Waselenchuk “upset” #2 Parrilla in two to setup a hard-hitting final.

In the final Jake hung with Kane for stretches but the GOAT overcame, winning 8,10 to claim the title. Satellite events do give points to the players, but they only count if there’s enough tier 1s to even the playing field. Right now we’re short on IRT events, so it remains to be seen if this event eventually makes a difference in the standings.

Other draws in MT:

– in Open Doubles, @Sudsy Monchik and Mark frank took the title in a walkover.

– Mystery Mixed doubles was taken by jake and Kelly Grimley, with Jake topping his brother in the final.

– Canadian Tanner Prentice took the Pro drop/down consolation division

– last year’s LPRT pro champ @Montse Mejia took the LPRT exhibition event over Lexi York and .. a rare appearance from Rhonda Rajsich .

Thanks to Sudsy and Leo for broadcasting all weekend.

Next up in the world of Racquetball is the Boivarian Youth Games, with a rball component, and then at the end of the month we get an LPRT event in San Antonio.

2024 Outdoor Cup Series Standings Post Beach Bash

As team @3Wall Ball has done the last couple of years, 2024 will have an Outdoor Cup series covering all three Outdoor “Majors” (Beach Bash, Outdoor Nationals, and 3WallBall in Vegas).

This post is to cover the results and standings of the Cup series after the first event of the year, the just-finished Beach Bash.

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Men’s Cup Series:

Full Standings xls: https://docs.google.com/…/1s6PHS…/edit…

Standings after the 2024 Beach Bash discussion:

Robert Sostre and @Benny Goldenberg are tied for the lead after the first Outdoor major, having teamed up together to take the Men’s one-wall Pro doubles, then each winning a second event (Sostre Mixed, Benny CPRT). Sitting in third is U18 junior DJ Mendoza, winner of the singles competition. There’s a small gap to 4th place, where Florida’s @Javier Trujillo sits, with an impressive tournament that included making the finals of pro doubles and the semis of singles. 5th place belongs to Marcos Gravier , my broadcast partner in Vegas, who entered and won just the CPRT event with Benny.

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Women’s Cup Series:

Full Standings xls: https://docs.google.com/…/1gpMyYigsDvwwP5Hk…/edit…

Standings after the 2024 Beach Bash discussion: @Kelani Lawrence sits in first place on the strength of winning the biggest pro draw of the weekend Mixed with the Iceman. 2nd place belongs to 2022 cup winner Michelle Key , who took home the Women’s doubles crown in Hollywood. #3 sits outdoor and LPRT vet Jessica Parrilla , who made 2 semis and a final on the weekend. Two ladies are tied for 4th place. The first is Arizona’s @Katherine Neil , winner of the doubles with Key. The next is @Veronica Sotomayor, who defended her one-wall singles title at the Beach Bash event.

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We’ll revisit the outdoor cup after the next major, that being July’s Outdoor Nationals.

WOR

@World Outdoor Racquetball

@USA Racquetball

2024 PARC Individual Event Recap

Sam Bredenbeck with his first international medal. Photo via Sam’s instagram

The 35th annual Pan American Racquetball Championships tournament is in the books. Here’s a recap of the knockout stage action, along with links for the results as entered into the Pro Racquetball Stats database.

Congratulations to the winners:

– Men’s Singles: @Rodrigo Montoya , Mexico

– Women’s Singles: Maria Jose Vargas , Argentina

– Men’s Doubles: Andres Acuna & @Gabriel Garcia , Costa Rica

– Women’s Doubles: Maria Jose Vargas & Natalia Mendez , Argentina

– Mixed Doubles: @Michelle key & @Sam Bredenbeck , USA

Executive Summary: Montoya wins his third major IRF Men’s Singles title. Vargas also wins her third IRF singles title, her last one coming in 2018. Costa Rica’s doubles title is just the second major IRF title for that country. Argentina’s women’s doubles title is their 3rd together. lastly USA’s mixed title is the second in a row for team USA, who also won last year’s World title.

Pro Racquetball Stats DB match results. Click on these links to see the match results in the DB:

– Men’s Singles: https://rball.pro/wsd

– Women’s Singles: https://rball.pro/b0m

– Men’s Doubles: https://rball.pro/vr8

– Women’s Doubles: https://rball.pro/n6z

– Mixed Doubles: https://rball.pro/vde

Team Points Results From Knockouts

PARC now includes a “Team competition” where the countries compete against each other, but for decades the “Team Standings” were determined by a standard algorithm that awarded points based on group stage and knockout performance. I’m unclear whether IRF continues to name “team winners” in this same way, but here’s the team results

(You can get these “team results” via queries available from the IRF singles page off of proracquetballstats.com historicall)

Combined Team (Overall)

1st – USA

2nd – Argentina

3rd – Canada

4th — Chile

The combined team title came down to the Mixed final between USA and Canada; if that result had gone the other way, then USA and Canada would have switched places at 1 & 3.

Men’s Team

1st – Canada

2nd – Costa Rica

t-2nd – USA

4th – Mexico

Canada’s two men’s finals power it to the Men’s team. CRC and USA tied for 2nd, but CRC pips them with better knockout results.

Women’s Team

1st – Argentina

2nd – USA

3rd – Chile

4th – Canada

Argentina win both singles and doubles in the Women’s competition and dominate.

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Let’s run through the individual draws and talk about notable results.

Men’s Singles:

There were a couple of “upset by seeds” results in the knockouts that probably weren’t really upsets on paper. In the quarters, Costa Rican #5 @Andres Acuna took out USA’s #4 Charlie Pratt Racquetball in three straight. In the semis, Mexican #1 Rodrigo Montoya cruised past Acuna in three easy games 9,2,3 despite having lost to Acuna on the IRT in the most recent event to get to his 6th international Men’s singles final since 2018. From the bottom half, Canada’s #3 @Samuel Murray destroyed USA’s #2 @Jake Bredenbeck 3,0,3 in a scoreline that can only indicate some sort of injury to Jake (I have no information and didn’t see the match live, so this is an assumption).

In the final, the pair of IRT regulars split the first two games, then Montoya won a very long 15-13 game three that seemed to take the air out of Big Canada. Montoya holds on 11-8 in the fourth for the title.

Women’s Singles:

#5 Chilean CArla Munoz scored two straight upset by seed (though not by current LPRT rankings), topping USA #4 Michelle Key in the quarters, then Argentinian #1 Natalia Mendez in the semis to earn the final. From the bottom, current LPRT #1 Argentinian @Maria Jose Vargas held serve against Canadian @Juliette Parent in the quarters and then Dominican Republic’s Merynanyelly Delgado in the semis to make the final.

In the final, Vargas crushed her south american rival Munoz 1,3,5. Thanks to rally scoring, the final was finished in less than 30 minutes, featured just 22 minutes of on-the-court time, and Munoz’s 9 total points included just two points on her actual serve (the rest being side-outs). One of the reasons I struggle with rally scoring is a result like this: rally scoring prevents players from “digging in” and grinding out sideouts to keep games close and try to gradually turn the tide of matches.

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Men’s Doubles.

A huge upset from the top-side, as the #1 Mexican team of Montoya and @Sebastian Hernandez was taken out in the semis by team Costa Rica (consisting of Acuna and Gabriel Garcia . Great win for team CRC. On the bottom side, team Canada (the 2022 PARC champs and runner’s up last fall at the Pan Am Games) held serve in a close 4-game match against team USA Jake and @Sam Bredenbeck to earn a return to the gold medal match for the 4th time internationally since 2019.

In the final, team CRC continued to impress and scored another upset, taking out the favored Canadian team in a long 5-game match.

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Women’s Doubles:

The overwhelming favorite #1 Argentines Mendez & Vargas cruised into the final from the top half, topping teams from Cuba and the DR along the way. Team USA #2 seeds @Naomi Ros and @Lexi York nearly squandered a 2-game lead in their semi against team Chile, but came alive in the fifth 11-1 to secure a gold medal appearance.

In the final, team USA played admirably against the two LPRT touring veterans and pushed the match to five games. It couldn’t really have been closer, with Argentina winning 11-9 in the fifth. Total points scored in the match for each team: 50 for Argentina, 49 for Team USA. Crazy.

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Mixed Doubles

The Mixed draw saw a huge upset in the semis, with #1 Argentina (@Gerson Miranda

and Vargas) going down in five games to Team Canada (Parent and Coby Iwaasa ) in five back and forth games, securing a third gold medal match for Canada here in Guatemala. From the bottom half, team USA got revenge from their group-stage loss to team Chile (Munoz and Jaime Mansilla ), winning in four to secure a second gold medal appearance for the Americans.

In the final, Team USA worked its way to three straight nail-biting games, winning 9,10,9 to claim the title.

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Congrats to the International Racquetball Federation for another successful event. Thanks to the IRT streaming crew, and thanks to @Gary Mazaroff and all his co-announcers for their hard work all week.

Next up on the Racquetball Calendar: https://docs.google.com/…/1V6OTid6rZ356voXVkoV2…/edit…

There’s an IRT satellite in Billings Montana next weekend, then an LPRT stop in San Antonio later in April.

Next up on the IRF calendar is the Bolivarian Youth Games in two weeks’ time, then nothing until 2024 Worlds, also in San Antonio.

International Racquetball Federation

International Racquetball Federation – IRF

35th Annual IRF Pan American Racquetball Tournament Knockout Preview

Montoya is #1 seed in both men’s singles and doubles; can he convert with a new partner? Photo Kevin Savory 2022 Portland IRT event

Welcome to the 35th iteration of the Pan American Racquetball Tournament, held every year since 1986 (with the exception of 2 Covid cancellations and a civil unrest cancellation in 2000). The tournament was first held in 1986 in San Jose, Costa Rica, and was initially called the Tournament of the Americas. It generally is a showcase for Central and South American countries, having been held just once in the USA (1990 in Jacksonville). This year is back in Guatemala City, same host as last year, when the original planned host of Tarja, Bolivia fell through at the last minute.

This year’s tournament and its participation portends some possibly dark times coming to the international component of the sport. Because its annually held and is lesser regarded than the every-two-years World championships (to be held later this year in San Antonio), the PARC event often fails to attract the best players from the major countries. This year in 2024 however, we’re seeing a huge gap in the player pool across the spectrum of the sport.

– Bolivia does not have a team represented here at all, despite being the defending team champs from the last int’l event.

– Colombia is not here, thanks to their confederation collapsing in corruption a couple of years ago

– Argentina only sent one male participant, a u21 player in Miranda who only recently converted.

– Despite the tournament being IN Guatemala, their top two ladies players (Gaby Martinez and Maria Renee Rodriguez) are not playing. MRR now lives in the states and has a job, but Gaby’s absence reportedly is due to a financial dispute with her home country.

– Mexico did not send a single female player, almost shocking in that Longoria clearly treasures these int’l titles.

– Honduras: also just sent two males, no females.

– Ecuador does not have a team here at all. Nor does Venezuela or Puerto Rico, two smaller countries who infrequently attend.

– Speaking of federation financial issues, @USA Racquetball chose not to fund this trip at all for its players, who resorted to private fundraising and gofundme pleas to finance the trip. Bravo to Team USA players who are there, but its clear we have a weaker team there with a number of our top qualified players absent for various reasons (injury, retirement, suspension, and pickleball).

It’s sad to see this happen in real time, but this is likely to be the story going forward as federation financing becomes harder to come by. That all being said, as of this writing we’re through the group stages and the knockouts are set, and there’s some very solid matches coming up featuring regular touring pros that should be great to watch.

Three reminders for this event:

– IRF plays rally scoring

– there’s a group stages that determines the seedings for the knockout stages.

– Group stage seeding is done by country, NOT by the player, and then group results turn into knockout staging.

Interestingly, for what i believe is the first time, the organizers have split the singles knockouts into two groups. Normally the group stage of 20 guys results in 20 players seeded 1-20 in the knockouts. Here, there’s now a “Gold Draw” of the best 10 knockout players and then an “Elite Draw” of the remaining 9 players who all finished 3rd or 4th in their groups. This is an interesting development, probably giving the lesser players more of an opportunity to win something here. (Doubles still goes into one big knockout).

R2 Sports App link: https://www.r2sports.com/website/event-website.asp?TID=42151

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Let’s preview the Knockouts: We’ll go singles then doubles.

Men’s Singles: There were no real upsets in the group stages of the Men’s Singles. The sole upset by seed came when @Samuel Murray took out Mexican #2 @Sebastian Hernandez in the group stage to claim the #3 knockout seed. Miranda took Acuna to five games, but still came in 2nd in the group.

The quarters could have some good matches: @Andres Acuna probably “upsets” #4 Charlie Pratt Racquetball in the quarters to play into #1 @Rodrigo Montoya from the top-half, while both bottom-half quarters are solid: Murray versus @gerson Miranda and Jake Bredenbeck taking on Mexican u21 Hernandez.

Both semis could go either way, but I like Montoya over Acuna as he seems to be extra-tough internationally, and I like Bredenbeck to work his way past Murray despite the two having a relatively even h2h history.

I like Montoya over Bredenbeck in the final.

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Women’s Singles:

Group stage recap: Group 2 was gutted by missing top players and upsets, leading to the DR’s Merynanyelly Delgado to top the group and claim the #2 knockout seed and send USA’s @Lexi York to the “elite draw,” out of medal competition.

The knockouts will feature a very tough 4-5 matchup between CArla Munoz and Michelle Key , kind of a bummer but there’s basically 5 touring pros in the knockouts and two of them had to meet early. Maria Jose Vargas should cruise to the final from the bottom half, while #1 Natalia Mendez will have her hands full with whoever wins between Munoz and Key. I’m guessing Carla wins both those matches to face Vargas in the final, with Vargas winning.

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Men’s Doubles:

The only real “upset” in the group stage was the Bredenbecks taking out team Costa Rica (Acuna & @Gabriel Garcia) in five, coming from 2-0 games down to do so. This earned them the #3 seed and a slightly better pathway to the final in the knockouts.

Knockouts prediction: the quarters should be easy to call, then the semis will be fun. I think team Mexico will be led by Montoya to the final over Costa Rica, while from the bottom half team Canada (Murray and @Coby Iwaasa ) are going to be too tough for team USA (@jake bredenbeck and Sam Bredenbeck ) to handle. In the final, I like the experience of Canada to pick on the younger Hernandez and edge out a win.

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Women’s Doubles:

The #1 seeds Vargas & Mendez are the clear class of this competition, which only really has one other touring pro even playing in Munoz. @Naomi Ros and Lexi York played well to earn #2 seed in the knockouts, and the final should be Argentina cruising past team USA.

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Mixed Doubles:

In the group stage, Team Chile shocked team USA to claim the 2nd seed, but in terms of the knockouts they’ll be playing again in the semis. The odds-on favorite here is Argentina, who is powered by Mendez and the very-good Miranda. Look for them to top the winner of the Chile/USA semis rematch for the title.

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Check the IRF page for streaming notifications, which should have already started today for the knockouts.

Associations

International Racquetball Federation – IRF

2024 Warhawk Open Recap

Congrats to your Pro/Open winners on the weekend:

– Singles: Erick Trujillo

– Doubles: @Cole Sendrey & @Robert Collins

R2 Sports App home page for event: https://www.r2sports.com/tourney/home.asp?TID=41953

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Let’s review the notable matches in the Singles draw.

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In the 16s, we got some good first round matches for the neutrals.

– Georgia’s @Austin Cunningham got a solid win over U21 DJ Mendoza in a breaker in the 8/9 match.

– @Brennen Jennings got the win over Yacouba Keita 13,8.

Richard Eisemann stretched #2 seed @Erick Trujillo to a tie-breaker before falling; great showing against an irt top 10 player.

—————-

In the Quarters, a couple big upsets:

– #1 Carter worked his way past Cunningham 10,9

– U18 Cole Sendry topped former IRT touring pro @Maurice Miller in two games 8,9. Solid win for Sendrey.

– Dylan Pruitt shocked lefty IRT touring veteran Robert Collins 9,12 for the biggest upset of the round.

– Trujillo was pushed a bit but moved past Jennings 11,11

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In the Semis

– #1 Carter held serve and downed the kid phenom Sendrey 9,7

– #2 Trujillo cruised past Maryland amateur Pruitt 6,4 to setup the expected 1-2 final

In the Finals, Trujillo topped Carter 10,7 to take the title.

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Doubles review

The top 2 seeds were upset late friday, sending a couple of unexpected teams into the final. #1 Pruitt/Cunningham were taken out by Carter & Flowers in one semi (probably not really an upset given how well Carter is playing these days), while Sendry & Collins took out Miller & Trujillo in an 11-10 thriller.

This left the two lefty touring pros facing off in the final. There, Sendrey & Collins cruised to the title, beating Carter & Flowers 3,9.

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Thanks for all the streaming on the weekend from the usual streaming sources, like Iceman and Jennings and Mendoza. It’s always good to watch some live racquetball.

Thanks to the Tourney Directors and Sponsors for making this event happen.

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Next up?

Per our handy master racquetball calendar …

https://docs.google.com/…/1V6OTid6rZ356voXVkoV2…/edit…

PARC is now underway with the group stages. I’ll put out a knockout round preview once the groups are done.

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tags

USA Racquetball

International Racquetball Tour

2024 Warhawk Open Preview

There’s a nice pro draw at the Warhawk open this weekend, a great local tournament held on the campus of the University of Louisiana – Monroe (hence the Warhawk moniker; that’s their mascot).

Quick tangent on the mascot name “Warhawk.” My high school’s mascot was also the Warhawks, which seemed initially like an odd choice for a high school in the leafy suburbs of Washington DC named after a President who served in the early 1800s (James Madison High School in Vienna, Virginia), until one does a little bit of research into the War of 1812. The war, fought against the British, occurred during Madison’s term and was spurred on thanks to a faction of congress called, yes you guessed it, the “War Hawks.” They were convinced that the British were “violating the honor” of the young country and pushed for war, to which eventually Madison agreed. A “hawk” in political parlance continues to be used today to describe someone who forcefully advocates for something usually related to the military (i.e., someone is a “Military Hawk” if they push for more military spending).

See https://sharetngov.tnsosfiles.com/…/exhi…/1812/index.htm or https://sharetngov.tnsosfiles.com/…/exh…/1812/intro3.htm

So, how does a university in Monroe, Louisiana end up with Warhawk as a mascot? Ironically, Louisiana (which was purchased by Madison’s predecessor in the White House, Mr. Jefferson) became a state in April of 1812, about 2 months before the declaration of war was made, but there’s no evidence politicians from the former French territory were part of the War Hawk movement that led to war. Instead, It turns out that UL-Monroe, like many universities in the US, had a Native American-themed mascot that the NCAA forced them to change. And in 2006 the school conducted a poll of its students, and War hawk was a suggestion.

So where’d they get that name from? Well, it turns out a famous general from WWII named Claire Lee Chennault grew up in Franklin parish, just outside of Monroe, commanded a squadron of planes nicknamed “War hawks” in the war, and there’s now a Chennault Aviation and Military Museum near the Monroe airport. So its a fitting tribute to a famous local military hero.

see https://ulmhawkeyeonline.com/…/warhawk-is-more-than…/ for more.