LPRT 2024 Battle at the Beach Recap

Longoria won the battle, but Vargas won the war. Photo US Open 2019, Photographer Kevin Savory

Congrats to your Pro winners on the weekend:

– Singles: @Paola Longoria

– Doubles: Montse Mejia and Alexandra Herrera

Singles tourney report in PRS database: https://rball.pro/zup

Doubles tourney report in PRS database: https://rball.pro/p2m

Longoria wins her 113th career LPRT tier1 title, but it isn’t enough to keep Maria Jose Vargas from winning her first career pro title. Mejia & Herrera finish off a complete domination of the LPRT doubles season, winning 6 of the 7 tournaments held (and losing in the final of the only one they didn’t win).

R2 Sports App home page for event: https://www.r2sports.com/website/event-website.asp?TID=42244

Editor note: my apologies for not publishing a preview of this event; I had to fly out for a two day conference Wednesday afternoon, at which time the draws had not been released, and I couldn’t even look at my computer until Sunday afternoon, by which point the tourney was over.

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

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In the 32s, just one match with a 17-person draw. Newly crowned Liberty University graduate Maria Renee Rodríguez , who has missed most of the season after being a tour regular for years, entered and fell to #16 @Sheryl Lots, who herself was also a regular on tour for years but who missed most of this season. Hope to have both back full time touring next season.

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In the 16s, there was just one upset by seed but a couple other notable matches;

– In the 8/9, #9 Carla Munoz took out #8 @CAma Cris 8,4 but it wasn’t quite enough for Munoz to finish the year ahead of the Colombian (see later on for points analysis).

– #5 @Kelani Lawrence , a career high ranking, topped her doubles partner #12 Hollie Scott playing on home turf in Chesapeake.

– The most shocking result was probably #7 @NaNatalia Mena beatinSamantha Sala’s by the dominant scoreline of 3,4.

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In the Quarters

– #1 @MarMaria José Vargas , who entered the event with a 278 point lead on Longoria for the year end title, realistically only had to just show up and advance a round to seal the year end title, left no doubt about it by moving into the semis with a solid win over fellow South American Munoz here. We’ll talk more about Vargas’ accomplishment in a bit.

– In the always fun 4/5 match, Lawrence (who always plays tough on her home courts), took #4 Herrera to a breaker before falling.

– #3 Longoria, who needed a win here plus a lot of help to secure her 14th career LPRT tour title, made fast work of #6 Brenda Laime 8,1 to move on. Laime shocked Longoria last season but the GOAT left no doubt here.

– #2 Mejia had to work for it, but moved past the resurgent Mendez 9,8.

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In the Semis, two upsets.

– #1 Vargas fell to the left Herrera in three close games 14,(9),9.

– #3 Longoria cruised past Mejia 9,8 to secure 2nd place this season for certain.

In the Finals, Longoria dominated for stretches and took the title 5,10 over Herrera.

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Points Implications of results

Caveat: this analysis is based on my calculations; the final tour rankings have yet to be published and there might be some changes based on information unavailable at the time of this writing.

As noted above, once Vargas advanced a round she essentially sealed the 2023-24 title. We’ll cover the season in depth and discuss Vargas’ place in history in a future post. Longoria secured 2nd place for the season. Mejia will slump to 3rd after winning the title last year.

There will be little change elsewhere in the top 10 at season’s end. The injured Erika Manilla retains enough points to hang onto #10 and will be a force to reckon with next season as she defends zero points all season. Missing regulars Gaby and Parrilla fall into the Teens. We’ll do a fuller story later.

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Doubles review

There were only 7 doubles teams, but the competition was fierce. An 11-10 breaker in the quarters, and both semis going tiebreaker as well, but the final was as expected: the two top Mexican teams. Once it was Mejia/Herrera versus Longoria/Salas, the battle was on. But the final ended up being anticlimactic, as the #1 pair won 5,9.

Mejia & Herrera finish off a complete domination of the LPRT doubles season, winning 6 of the 7 tournaments held (and losing in the final of the only one they didn’t win).

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Open Singles, other notable draws

– Mendez took Women’s Open over Lotts

– Dylan Pruitt won the Men’s open over chesapeake’s Justin Carpenter

– Maurice Miller teamed with MRR to win the Mixed Pro doubles exhibition, an event that featured a slew of the LPRT pros playing with the top men who had travelled to play this event.

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That’s it for the 2023-24 LPRT season! As mentioned, we’ll let the final rankings get calculated and posted, load them into the database, then do our typical end of season recap.

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Next up?

Per our handy master racquetball calendar …

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

This past weekend also featured a Junior Olympics event in Mexico that isn’t “Mexican Junior Nationals” but was a good competition. We may do a review of that. Next big event though is US Junior Nationals in Pleasanton the last weekend of June.

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tags

Canadian Nationals 2024 Recap

Murray continues his reign atop Canadian Men’s Racquetball. Photo 2019 US Open Kevin Savory

This past weekend, @Racquetball Canada held its all-encompassing National championships in Calgary. Unlike other countries where singles, doubles, and Juniors are held separately, Canada now has them all on the same weekend. So we have a ton of titlists to cover.

Congrats to your 2024 Canada National Open Singles winners on the weekend:

– Men’s Singles: Samuel Murray

– Women’s Singles: @Frederique Lambert

Congrats to your 2024 Canada National Open Doubles winners on the weekend:

– Men’s Doubles: @Christian Pocsai and @Trevor Ward

– Women’s Doubles: Frederique Lambert & Michele Morissette

(Canada doesn’t separately compete Mixed Doubles, instead selecting the international Mixed partners from the qualified pool)

And, Congrats to your 2024 Canadian Junior National Singles Champions:

– Boys 21U: Christian Pocsai

– Boys 18U: Leyton Gouldie

– Boys 16U: Raphael Guillemette

– Boys 14U: Oren Gouldie

– Girls 18U: Ofelia Wilscam

– Girls 16U: Kaitlyn Couckuyt

– Girls 14U: Ariana Buller

We’ll do some commentary for each of the groups down below.

Trackie Sports App home page for event: https://secure.racquetballcanada.ca/entry-list/matches/1000485/4657/0/F/

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Men’s Open Singles

PRS report: https://rball.pro/d6m

Murray wins his 6th straight Canadian Nationals title and his 18th Canadian National-level singles event in a walk-over win against his frequent finals rival #2 seed Coby Iwaasa , who couldn’t reschedule some work-related exams and forfeited the final. This event featured the fun return of former Canadian great Roger Harripersad, two-time Canadian champ in 1985 and 1989.

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Women’s Open Singles

PRS report: https://rball.pro/kke

Lambert won her 4th straight Canadian national title, and her 6th overall, with a straightforward tournament where she did not lose a game. #2 seed and finalist Juliette Parent made her 2nd straight national final and seems to have taken the reigns as “next best” female Canadian right now from the likes of Morisste, Key, and Ramsay in the Canadian pecking order.

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Men’s Doubles:

PRS Report: https://rball.pro/fyc

Sam & @Tommy Murray were upset in the finals of Canadian doubles for the 2nd year running, this time by @Trevor Webb and @Christian Pocsai. Webb wins his 2nd ever title while long-time junior champion Pocsai takes his first ever Canadian adult title.

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Women’s Doubles:

Lambert wins her 5th Canadian National title, the first of which came way back in 2010. Morissette also wins her 5th, and the pair have won the last three straight. The Parent sisters return to the final for the first time since 2021 but are still waiting for their big breakthrough.

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Boys Junior Results.

Matrix report of all Canadian Junior boys champs: https://rball.pro/ny4

Christian Pocsai graduates out of 18U and dethrone’s last year’s 21U champ Gauri, and wins his family’s 10th career junior title. Meanwhile, the Gouldie brothers Leyton and Oren take 18U and 14U respectively. Rafael Guillemette repeats as 16U champ, almost 20 years after Francis Guillemette took the 16U title in Canada in 1995.

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Girls Junior Results.

Matrix report of all Canadian Junior boys champs: https://rball.pro/5zu

Ofelia Wilscam wins the Wilscam clan’s 7th junior title in 18U, after a couple of down years on the Canada junior circuilt. Kaitlyn Couckuyt moves up one division after taking last year’s 14U division and wins again. Lastly a debut jr title for Ariana Buller, two years after her older sister won 14U.

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That’s a wrap for Racquetball Canada Nationals for 2024. We’ll be back next fall with their qualifier.

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Next up?

Per our handy master racquetball calendar …

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

In two weeks time the season ending LPRT event!

IRT SoCal Open 2024 Recap

He didn’t win, but Alonso certainly raised some eyebrows this weekend. Photo via Alonso’s twitter account.

Congrats to your Pro winners on the weekend:

– Singles: Conrrado Moscoso

– Doubles: Rodrigo Montoya and @Erick Trujillo

– Singles PRS Match report: https://rball.pro/yxv

– Doubles PRS Match report: https://rball.pro/q3p

This was a crazy tournament for a few reasons we’ll go into below. Lots of really amazing results to talk about.

R2 Sports App home page for event: https://www.r2sports.com/website/event-website.asp?TID=42331

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

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In the qualifying round/64s, nothing too notable other than a player named “Wer” played a player named “Wolfe” and I didn’t see it; h/t to the reddit user who pointed it out. Wolfe topped Wer with an injury retirement. The #14 qualifying seed and #30 seed overall @Jordy Alonso topped his fellow Mexican Alejandro Bear, looking to make the main draw in just his 12th career pro event.

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In the 32s:

– Former #1 Rocky Carson dusted off the sticks and topped Chilean @Rafael Gatica

to move into the 16s and setup a match with #1 Moscoso.

– #9 Carter Thomas got a very solid win over @Alejandro Cardona , who continues to be a dangerous opponent when he shows up.

– US Junior Cole Sendry got a TB win over #13 @Carlos Ramirez to make the round of 16 for the first time in his pro career

– #11 Jaime Martell took out the up and coming Elias Nieto in a breaker, in a match that I thought might go the other way.

– #23 Diego Gastelum , strong Mexican junior, took out countryman #10 Erick Cuevas to make his first round of 16 in a pro event.

– However, the match of the event, and perhaps the season, was the shock upset of #3 Kane Waselenchuk at the hands of #30 Jordy Alonso. I’ll be honest; I tuned in mid-match and saw that Kane had won game one 15-7 and was up 7-2 in the second and thought the match was over. Only when I started seeing random social media questions did I realize an upset had occurred, so I pulled up the video and watched it from the mid-way point. From the point where I left off … Alonso ground back into the match to take game two 15-12 then blitzed the 14-time tour champ 11-1 in the tie-breaker. I don’t think the analysis was difficult: Alonso’s drive serve was 100% “on,” and he was putting pressure on Kane for the entire second half of the match that Kane doesn’t normally see from most players on tour. Alonso didn’t screw around with his serve; he pounded drives to Kane’s backhand, got aces, forced weak returns, and he hit really unbeatable pinch shots once his feet were set. Kane really couldn’t do anything to stop the train of points in the tiebreaker and essentially threw in the towel at about 1-9 down.

Alonso, as i’ve commented elsewhere, is not a nobody; he’s got a slew of solid wins on his resume, but he rarely tours. This is just his 12th pro event and he turns 27 in early June. But clearly this is a shocking result. This is the first time Kane’s EVER lost on the court prior to the round of 16 in his 20-something year career (He has one round of 64 forfeit loss from last August). The interesting thing about Alonso what happens next is this; the draw kind of opens up, and there’s no reason to think at this juncture that he can’t move on. His career best finish is a round of 16 loss, but he’ll easily beat that as we’re about to see.

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In the 16s:

– Moscoso was forced to mount a massive comeback in game one to top Carson 15-14, and the effort seemed to exhaust the 40-something Rocky, who lost the second game in just a few minutes 15-1.

– In the 8/9 matchup, Alan Natera crushed Carter 8,6 to move on. He achieves his second quarter final of the season, having only ever made the quarters twice in nearly 30 previous pro events.

– Alonso made fast work of #14 Robbie Collins 2,7, facing his second straight lefty and using the same strategy to move on. He makes his first ever pro quarter.

– #11 Martell shocked #6 Andres Acuna 11-10 to make his first quarter of the year and throw the refereeing schedule completely off for the tournament (Martell generally does the back end reffing of the events as an international qualified referee).

– Trujillo crushed Gastelum, who had several h2h wins over Erick in Mexican nationals of late, to move into the quarters.

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In the Quarters

– #1 Moscoso cruised past #8 Natera 3,9, probably looking ahead knowing that his leading nemesis Kane was out of the draw.

– #4 Jake Bredenbeck got revenge from a shock US Nationals qualifying loss last year against #5 Adam Manilla , crushing the lefty 4,9 to move into the semis.

– #30 Alonso came from a game down to drop #11 Martell in a battle of Mexican Cinderellas.

-#2 @Rodrigo Montoy , who saw his side of the draw open up nicely with Kane’s loss, ground out a win against his double partner Trujillo to move on.

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In the Semis

– Jake pushed Conrrado but couldn’t break him, losing 12,8.

– Alonso continued his amazing weekend with perhaps his biggest achievement yet, coming down from 5-10 in the tie-breaker to shock #2 Montoya 11-10 to move into the final.

As the #30 seed, Alonso becomes the 2nd highest seeded player to EVER make a pro tour final. The highest ever seed? #39 Waselenchuk, who was seeded dead last at the 2008 Motorola Championships when he came off his 2-year break.

In the Finals, Alonso’s run came to a relatively unheralded end, as Moscoso destroyed the Mexican 3,5 to take the title. It’s Moscoso’s 9th career IRT win.

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Points Implications of results

This round of 32 loss does a ton of damage to Kane’s 2024 title aspirations, but he remains in the lead for 2024 season to date points by a hair right now over Moscoso.

As for the rolling 365-calendar, it’s hard to say what the rankings will be come tuesday when they re-run, because I’m not aware of how the tour is handling satellite points right now. There’s not enough Tier 1 events to exclude them/go into the points replacement system, and when just counting tier 1s in the rankings I can’t make my current XLS match the r2sports-generated rankings. So, I *think* with this win Moscoso opens up a sizeable 400-point lead on #2 Montoya, Kane remain sat #3, and most of the rest of the top 10 remains the same. The big news might be that Trujillo moves ahead of Natera, and (given that DLR is seemingly retired) might now get “stuck” in that 8/9 slot that feeds into Moscoso. That’s a typical tripping point for players moving their way up the rankings, and it can be tough to move past it.

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Doubles review

#1 ranked IRT doubles Montoya made his fourth pro doubles final out of four held this season and took it with Trujillo. They top the Bolivian team of Moscoso/Carrasco in a breaker.

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Open Singles, other notable draws

The 32man Men’s Open Singles draw opened up nicely when #2 seed Alonso withdrew to focus on the pro side; this opened up the bottom half for #6 Ecuadorian Juan Francisco Cueva to make the final with wins over a slew of international opponents. Gastelum made his way to the final from the top half as the #1 seed, but Cueva took the title.

Jose Caceres / Carlos Ramirez took the Men’s Open doubles title over

Alejandro Bear / Elias Nieto.

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Thanks for all the streaming on the weekend, especially from broadcasters Favio Soto, Steve Schulze, Pablo Fajre and the IRTLive crew

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Next up?

Per our handy master racquetball calendar …

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

We’ll cover the Canadian National event next in this space, which also happened last weekend. Then we have a week break until the LPRT finishes up its 2023-24 season in Chesapeake, Virginia, just a couple hours drive from me.

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tags

@internaInternational Racquetball Tour

IRT 2024 JMB Produce SoCal Open Preview

Can Trujillo make some noise in SoCal? Photo US Open 2021 via Kevin Savory

Welcome back to the IRT 2024 season. This coming weekend is the 4th event of the season, with the tour returning to Southern California at one of the biggest clubs in the LA area in Canoga Park. Thanks to tourney director Cindy Tillbury for making this event happen, and thanks to JMB produce and its owner Craig Rolandelli for being the title sponsor.

R2 Sports App link:https://www.r2sports.com/website/event-website.asp?TID=42331

This week we have a nice contingent of Mexican players who have been able to drive over the border to play. There’s 37 pros in the singles draw. There’s also a slew of regular touring pros/top 10 players missing: #4 Parrilla, #5 DLR, #9 Murray, and #13 Portillo all miss this event for various reasons (It’s Canada nationals this weekend for Murray, for example). These absences have given some career high seedings to a couple of players, including Erick Trujillo getting a 7 seed and @Erick Cuevas being seeded 10th.

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

In the round of 64/qualifying, there’s only 5 qualifiers this weekend:

– Wer/Wolfe could be interesting: Wer a long-time international player and Wolfe briefly a touring pro a few years back.

– Alonso-Bear is a tough draw for the youngster Bear.

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Projecting the 32s: here’s some great matches to watch for in the 32s.

– 9/24: @thomas Carter vs @Alejandro Cardona is a fun first round. Cardona doesn’t tour full time but he’s tough. Carter has been playing well, but this could be close.

– #5 Adam Manilla projects to play @DJ Mendoza, USA adult team member versus USA junior team member.

– Fellow USA junior team member Cole Sendrey gets a winnable match against Carlos Ramirez.

– Alonso feeds into #3 @Kane Waselenchuk , and will get some points off of him.

– #11 Jaime Martell gets Elias Nieto , a tough matchup.

– Trujillo takes on veteran international Juan Francisco Cueva .

– with his career best seeding, Erick Cuevas gets tough junior Diego Gastelum. Upset watch here.

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round of 16:

– Current #1 Conrrado Moscoso projects to play former #1 @Rocky Carson , who’s entering his home town event and comes in as a #17 seed.

– #8/#9 Alan Natera projects against the Carter/Cardona winner, either of which will make for a solid match here.

– In the 6/11, Andres Acuna projects to play Martell/Nieto winner, which will be a solid match.

– In the 7/10, I could see Trujillo v Gastelum, two guys who are both competing in Mexico U21 right now, and which we could see Gastelum getting a win. The last time they played was at 2023 Mexican Nationals, and Gastelum beat him easily.

– #2 @Rodrigo Montoya gets a resurgent #15 @Sam Bredenbeck .

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Projected Qtrs:

– #1 Moscoso over #8 Natera. There’s really only one or two guys who can top Moscoso right now, and they’re both on the opposite side of the draw this weekend.

– #5 Manilla over #4 @Jake Bredenbeck . Manilla got Jake at US Nationals last year, and Jake’s been on a season-long slide, so I’m playing the trends here.

– #3 Waselenchuk over #6 Acuna. Acuna took a game off Kane earlier this season by sticking to a simple game plan: get drive serves in and go for 3 shot rally wins. Is he consistent enough to do this for three games? No, but if Kane’s having an off day this could be close.

– #2 Rodrigo Montoya over Gastelum Montoya is #2 for a reason and won’t be falling here.

Semis:

– Moscoso over Manilla

– Waselenchuk over Montoya. Now, this is no gimme; they played in Minnesota and it was a 14,(7),2 win for Kane … first game could have gone either way and Montoya blitzed Kane for the game two win before a bad call derailed Rodrigo mentally in the breaker. The thing is, Kane doesn’t have mental breakdowns on the court; he’s relentless, and you can’t have any slip ups. Can Rodrigo put it together and get a first career win?

Finals;

Kane over Moscoso. The last couple of times we’ve seen this anticipated matchup, its been disappointing. Moscoso is a front runner; when he’s ahead, he dominates. When he loses the first game, he struggles to come back. Conrrado has a h2h win over kane so its possible, but I don’t think the court conditions (playing at sea-level with the slower gearbox ball) will play into Conrrado’s favor.

If Kane wins, he will have an almost unbeatable lead for the year end title … he’s already 300 points ahead in season to date and has basically no points to defend for 2023.

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Doubles review

No Javier Mar this weekend, so the top doubles player Montoya picks up Trujillo as the #1 seed. They have to play two tough SoCal players in Allin/Shahin right out of the box. Alvi and Rocky take time away from Centurion to play pro doubles together as the #8 seed; they’re good at doubles but won’t get past #1. I like the Bredenbeck brothers at #5 to make the semis but fall.

From the bottom half, two kids in Gastelum & Sendry should push #2 Moscoso/Carrasco but fall in the Quarters. I like Natera/Acuna as a team and I thi nk they can get past the reigning Bolivian champs in the semis if they pick on Carrasco, who sometimes struggles to put balls away when he needs to.

Finals though, Montoya/Trujillo should win.

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Look for Streaming in the regular places; follow the IRT on Facebook and sign up to get notifications when they go Live. Look for Favio Soto, Samuel Schulze, Pablo Fajre and the IRTLive crew all weekend on the mike, calling the shots!

Associations

International Racquetball Tour

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