IRT Suivant Consulting Grand Slam preview

Kane has re-appeared; will he make a run to the podium? Photo US Open 2019, Photographer Kevin Savory

The IRT returns to Atlanta for its first big tourney of the new season, and its a Grand Slam thanks to the continued patronage of Donald Williams and his firm @Suivant Consulting .

Its time for the 2022 Suivant Consulting Grand Slam.

In the early days of the sport, Atlanta was a frequent host on the men’s pro tour, hosting a Catalina event in 1980 and then hosting the DP/Leach Nationals in 1983 and 1984. The city returned to hosting in the mid 1990s, being the main host of the VCI named events. But then there was a hosting gap from 1997 to 2015, when pro racquetball returned to the city and has been an continued presence ever since. Recreation ATL is the host club in Lilburn, a north-east suburb of Atlanta proper, host to a very active racquetball community that hosts tournaments all year long.

This year’s tournament, as is now well known to the racquetball community, marks the return of 14-time Pro tour champion Kane Waselenchuk to the court. Kane’s been an infrequent presence on tour ever since Covid shut things down in March 2020; he’s played in just two of the six IRT tier 1 events hosted since, and only played singles in last year’s US Open. Despite not having taken an on the court loss since April 2019 (when he was hampered by a hand injury), he has slid to #6 on tour based on points and faces an interesting gauntlet of matches to get to a prospective final.

R2 Sports App link: https://www.r2sports.com/tourney/home.asp?TID=38056

There’s a big draw for this event: 46 pros are entered, making for an excellent and deep tournament. Despite it being a grand slam, we are missing a couple of the more regular IRT touring pros at this event: #12 Carlos Keller Vargas , #14 @Adam Manilla, #15 Eduardo Garay , and #20 @Javier Mar are missing out of the singles draw. Mar is at the event, but only playing doubles (he did the same at the US Open, an interesting trend for a player who I still rate as one of the top players in the world).

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Lets preview the draw. Here’s some notable qualifying matches that I’m looking forward to. Because this is a grand slam, the main draw starts in the 32s so there’s just one qualifying round on Thursday; the round of 64.

– #32/#33 NY up-and-coming junior @Josh Shea gets an interesting matchup against IRF veteran Guatemalan @Javier Martinez. Martinez has shown himself to be a tough opponent, taking top-20 IRT pros to breakers on tour recently. Shea had a great showing in his first IRT event last November, taking out Canadian team member @Pedro Castro before falling 11-9 to @Sam Bredenbeck . I like Shea to take the next step and make the main draw here.
– #21 @Erick Cuevas versus #44 @Alejandro Bear: two Mexicans facing off; Bear is relatively new to the scene while Cuevas has been a tour regular for some time. Can the newcomer force the issue against Cuevas?
– #28 @Bobby Horn vs #29 @Jordy Alonso: perhaps the best match of the round, you have a former top 10 player in Horn who has stepped back a bit in the past two years versus a player in Alonso who is not a frequent IRT player, but who has a number of big wins on the old WRT and took Keller to an 11-8 breaker loss in his last IRT appearance. I’m looking forward to this match.
– #29 Atlanta native @Austin Cunningham has an interesting match-up against Argentine veteran #36 @Shai Manzuri. I’d expect the younger player to outlast Shai, who has been playing for Argentina at IRF events since 1998, but there’s a reason Manzuri continues to be selected to represent his home country.
– Look for #35 @Rodrigo Rodriguez to upset #30 Guatemalan vet @Christian Wer in the opener; the lefty Rodriguez has splashed onto the scene lately with big wins.
– One more fun matchup for Thursday is #31 @Dylan Pruitt versus #34 @Abraham Pena. Pruitt is a frequent tour player, having just matriculated out of US Juniors, while Pena is a veteran Mexican player of the previous generation, representing Mexico at IRF events in the mid 2000s before the likes of De la Rosa and Beltran started taking all the Team Mexico slots. Pena plays an athletic, powerful game but Pruitt is excellent at playing controlled racquetball on the court, making for a great contrast in styles.

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Projecting the 32s: here’s some possible matchups, though the depth of this draw could make for some upsets and make these predictions moot:

– #16/#17: once again Patata gets stuck into the #16/#17 match. This time, @Sebastian Fernandez takes on @Alan Natera Chavez at this juncture. I like Fernandez here; he topped Natera at the same juncture last November in Arizona.
– #9 @Rocky Carson projects to play his USA teammate and frequent doubles partner @Charlie Pratt in the 32s. Pratt has shown he can take out Rocky in the past, but I sense Rocky is the favorite here.
– #5 @Lalo Portillo projects to play the winner of Horn/Alonso. That should be a great round of 32 irrespective of the 64-winner.
– #3 @Samuel Murray projects to play the lefty Rodriguez in his opener. Rodriguez will score points here; probably not enough to win, but enough to press Big Canada.
– #11 @Alvaro Beltran projects to play his young countrymate @Erick Trujillo in the 32s. Probably not the player Beltran wanted to see; Trujillo already has significant wins over solid IRT players and just finished blowing through world juniors. Upset watch here.
– #26 Jaime Martell faces a stiff challenge, going up against the winner of last November’s Sarasota IRT event in #7 @Conrrado Moscoso. Martell pushed DLR in last week’s Wintergreen and should hang with Moscoso but I sense the Bolivian has too much firepower here.
– #15/#18 @Thomas Carter versus @Kadim Carrasco; these two met at this exact juncture in this event one year ago, a slim 11-8 win for Carter. This match will come down to form; who is sharper? They’re evenly matched and i give Carter the slight edge.

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Round of 16 predictions
– #1 @Daniel De La Rosa is set to face Fernandez for the third straight tournament at this juncture. Look for a close match as Patata uses his athleticism to stay in the game, but for DLR to pull away in two games.
– #9 @Jake Bredenbeck is set to face Carson in another all-USA team matchup. Ironic that three of our team members are all in the same mini-quadrant here. I like Jake here in the mini upset.
– #5 Portillo over #12 @Sebastian Franco, who he’s topped a couple times lately and shouldn’t trouble him too much. Franco is recovered from surgery and didn’t show much in the way of wear last weekend at Wintergreen.
– #4 @Andree Parrilla versus #13 @Andres Acuna. After months of work getting out of the dreaded “16-seed hole,” Acuna looks to build on his win over Landa in the last IRT event and his run to the final of Worlds against Parrilla. These two players are similar in age and have been meeting in World Juniors for years, but their pro experiences against each other are limited. Andree crushed Acuna at this event last year, but Acuna topped Parrilla in Sept 2019 to advance to his first ever pro quarter. Acuna has improved mightily in the last year; upset watch here for me.
– #3 Murray vs #14 @Rodrigo Montoya : a very interesting matchup here; Montoya continues to be an enigma to predict; he has stellar wins but curious losses all throughout his resume. He absolutely has the ability to out-power Murray (he topped Sam in the 2019 Pan Am Games en route to the gold medal), but will he? Will the winner of this match be the one doing the least amount of bracket watching? On paper, the prediction is Murray, but upset watch here.
– #6 Kane Waselenchuk is set to face the winner of Beltran and Trujillo. If its Beltran, it makes for an interesting matchup between the top player in the world and a guy who is not afraid of him at all. Beltran has always shown the ability to hang with Kane with his excellent shot making abilities, but Kane might be a man on a mission this weekend.
– #7 Moscoso takes on #10 @Mario Mercado , a player who will play Conrrado tough. Last time they met it was a two game win for Moscoso, but he was made to work for it. Mercado has been playing great ball lately, got a win over Lalo in Maryland last weekend and really pushed the #1 player in the final, and could surprise Moscoso if he’s not focused.
– #2 Landa should outclass either of Carrasco or Carter advancing to move on.

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Projected Qtrs: There’s a lot of what-ifs in this draw, so take these projections with a grain of salt.

– #1 DLR over #9 Jake: it was 11-10 to DLR the last time they met in Sarasota last fall; it probably will be close again, but DLR wants a matchup with Kane.
– #5 Lalo over #4 Parrilla: another quarters rematch from Sarasota, where Portillo easily handled Parrilla and I predict it happens again.
– #6 Waselenchuk over #3 Murray: Canada on Canada crime; Kane moves on here.
– #7 Moscoso over #2 Landa: I’m not sure Landa is recovered enough from his back ailments from last fall to hang with the younger, more powerful Moscoso here.

Semis:
– #1 DLR over #5 Portillo; yes Lalo beat DLR 11-10 in Sarasota; i don’t think DLR is coasting through this event.
– #6 Kane over #7 Moscoso; well, if you asked me which matchups i’d most like to see on tour, this is a close #2 to the final we’re likely to see. They’ve only met four times, but neutrals were really treated to some fun top level shot making each time. This was the 2019 US Open final, and gave us a scintillating game one between these two players. Lets hope for another barn burner.

Finals; if all goes well, we will see the match everyone wants to see. The current #1 DLR versus the presumed #1 Kane, irrespective of his current ranking. The big questions for this match:
– we’ve watched DLR really mature over the past year, playing lots of controlled, smart racquetball on the court, beating all comers. Can he maintain his poise against the relentless power and pressure of Kane?
– how rusty is Kane? He’s played exactly three pro singles matches since March of 2020. In that time he’s gone from age 38 to 40 and has been contemplating his future in the sport. But, when he comes to a tournament, he comes to win.

Prediction: Kane over DLR 12,10

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Doubles review

The doubles draw looks awesome: #1 DLR/Beltran and their heirs-apparent in Mexico #3 Montoya/Mar are my favorites to advance to the final. however, the top half features two tough teams in #4 Keller/Moscoso and #5 Lalo/Carson that will make for a fun semi. From the bottom half, Fernandez and Parrilla make for an interesting pairing, and of course the #2 seeds Murray/Landa will have something to say about my prediction.

Finals prediction: Montoya/Mar over DLR/Beltran.

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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 Dean Baer , @Favio Soto, @Pablo Fajre and the IRTLive crew all weekend on the mike, calling the shots!

Thanks to the Tourney Directors Chad Bailey and @Rob Lyons for putting this event on!

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 FB. If your name is here and it isn’t tagged … it probably means I attempted to tag you but FB stripped it.

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2022 Holiday Park WOR Shootout Recap

Joe Young took the open double’s title on the weekend. Photo 2021 Beach Battle via Rick Bernstein

(recap by Todd Boss with help from Jeff Wright and Rob Mijares)

While huge swaths of the country were bracing for a debilitating snow storm (yours truly included; as I wrote this on Sunday there’s a blizzard of snow falling at my home in Virginia), it was 75 and sunny in Fort Lauderdale, Florida for yesterday’s 2022 Holiday Park Shootout. Why do we all not live in Florida again?

r2sports home page: https://www.r2sports.com/tourney/home.asp?TID=38174

Holiday Park is a cool facility. It is home to the Jimmy Evert Tennis center, a 21-court tennis facility named for its long-time teaching professional who happens to be the father of long-time #1 female tennis player Chris Evert (who grew up playing on the courts). The outdoor courts are tucked in-between a gym and a roller rink on the grounds; they’re three-wall mid-wall courts that are a bit wider than normal (23′ wide), and have side walls that run well past the short line, which makes for very unique play and strategy on the courts as compared to other 3-wall/mid-wall courts. Like many places in Florida, the regulars at the park have the advantage over traveling parties due to these unique factors, and welcome all covers to challenge the locals.

The park’s leading benefactor for decades has been the legendary George Daurio, who has worked with local officials for years for upgrades and is known as the “Godfather” of the courts. Tournament play has been present here for decades as well, and the park has been the home court for many top outdoor players over the years, including Ken Mooney, Billy Montana, Dave Smith, Ken Grandy, Dave Conway, and Rob Mijares.

Here’s a recap of the day’s action, which featured 37 of some of the best outdoor players in the state.

—-
Men’s Open Doubles recap

12 players/6 teams split into two RR groups of three to determine a group winner advancing to the knockouts. One group was taken by top seeds @Joe Young and @Garry Smith , while the other group was surprisingly taken by Max Heyman and Javier Trujillo, who played consistently all morning and made it to their first ever Open finals.

In the final, the powerful Young/Smith pairing vanquished the upstarts to take the title.

—-
Men’s Elite Doubles

The story of the day was longtime Holiday Park veteran Valeria Trabucco Clemmensen . The women’s draw was depleted due to some Covid exposures, so she entered into the Men’s Elite division with partner @Juston Cooklin and won the draw. She is a warrior and played amazing against some tough competition. Fittingly, Valeria hit a flat rollout to win it all in the tiebreaker. She has won many tournaments over the years, but this one was epic!
They topped the very tough @Eric Gomez and Luis Gonzalez in the Elite final.

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The winners of the rest of the events on the weekend:
– Men’s A/B Doubles: Giovanni Pezo / Luis Salinas
– Women’s Elite Doubles: Susan Suid / Carolina Pisana
– Mixed Elite Doubles: Miriam Benard / Max Heymann

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Thanks to Tournament director Jeff Wright for hosting the event and for all you do for Florida outdoor racquetball. Thanks to tournament staff @Rob Mijares and Hale Sakoff , who are ever-present figures at outdoor events in the state. Thanks to Vic Leibofsky for providing breakfast for the tournament; Vic is another behind the scenes supporter of programming who never asks for credit but who has been a great help to me over the years. And thanks to the city Parks and Rec staff, who gave the courts a fresh pressure wash ahead of the event.

2022 Holiday Park WOR Shootout Recap

(recap by Todd Boss with help from Jeff Wright and Rob Mijares)

While huge swaths of the country were bracing for a debilitating snow storm (yours truly included; as I wrote this on Sunday there’s a blizzard of snow falling at my home in Virginia), it was 75 and sunny in Fort Lauderdale, Florida for yesterday’s 2022 Holiday Park Shootout. Why do we all not live in Florida again?

r2sports home page: https://www.r2sports.com/tourney/home.asp?TID=38174

Holiday Park is a cool facility. It is home to the Jimmy Evert Tennis center, a 21-court tennis facility named for its long-time teaching professional who happens to be the father of long-time #1 female tennis player Chris Evert (who grew up playing on the courts). The outdoor courts are tucked in-between a gym and a roller rink on the grounds; they’re three-wall mid-wall courts that are a bit wider than normal (23′ wide), and have side walls that run well past the short line, which makes for very unique play and strategy on the courts as compared to other 3-wall/mid-wall courts. Like many places in Florida, the regulars at the park have the advantage over traveling parties due to these unique factors, and welcome all covers to challenge the locals.

The park’s leading benefactor for decades has been the legendary George Daurio, who has worked with local officials for years for upgrades and is known as the “Godfather” of the courts. Tournament play has been present here for decades as well, and the park has been the home court for many top outdoor players over the years, including Ken Mooney, Billy Montana, Dave Smith, Ken Grandy, Dave Conway, and Rob Mijares.

Here’s a recap of the day’s action, which featured 37 of some of the best outdoor players in the state.

—-
Men’s Open Doubles recap

12 players/6 teams split into two RR groups of three to determine a group winner advancing to the knockouts. One group was taken by top seeds @Joe Young and @Garry Smith , while the other group was surprisingly taken by Max Heyman and Javier Trujillo, who played consistently all morning and made it to their first ever Open finals.

In the final, the powerful Young/Smith pairing vanquished the upstarts to take the title.

—-
Men’s Elite Doubles

The story of the day was longtime Holiday Park veteran Valeria Trabucco Clemmensen . The women’s draw was depleted due to some Covid exposures, so she entered into the Men’s Elite division with partner @Juston Cooklin and won the draw. She is a warrior and played amazing against some tough competition. Fittingly, Valeria hit a flat rollout to win it all in the tiebreaker. She has won many tournaments over the years, but this one was epic!
They topped the very tough @Eric Gomez and Luis Gonzalez in the Elite final.

———-
The winners of the rest of the events on the weekend:
– Men’s A/B Doubles: Giovanni Pezo / Luis Salinas
– Women’s Elite Doubles: Susan Suid / Carolina Pisana
– Mixed Elite Doubles: Miriam Benard / Max Heymann

———-

Thanks to Tournament director Jeff Wright for hosting the event and for all you do for Florida outdoor racquetball. Thanks to tournament staff @Rob Mijares and Hale Sakoff , who are ever-present figures at outdoor events in the state. Thanks to Vic Leibofsky for providing breakfast for the tournament; Vic is another behind the scenes supporter of programming who never asks for credit but who has been a great help to me over the years. And thanks to the city Parks and Rec staff, who gave the courts a fresh pressure wash ahead of the event.

2022 IRT Wintergreen Classic Wrap-Up

DLR wins the 2022 Wintergreen classic as a tune up for Atlanta. Photo US Open 2019, Photographer Kevin Savory

Congrats to your major division winners on the weekend:
– Pro Singles: Daniel De La Rosa
– Open Men’s Singles; Alan Natera
– Open Doubles; Eduardo Portillo & Sebastian Franco
– Mixed Doubles: Erika Manilla & Mario Mercado

R2 Sports App home page for event: https://www.r2sports.com/website/event-website.asp?TID=38089

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Lets review the notable matches in the Singles draw.

The Men’s Pro draw basically went chalk in the round of 32 and 16. #9 @Jaime Martell upset #8 @Mauricio Zelada as the only upset by seed, but Martell might be the best player in the world who does not regularly feature on the IRT, so this is no surprise to regular followers of the sport. #4 @Sebastian Franco was pushed to a breaker in his round of 16 match by Ohio-based up and coming player @Victor Migliore but persevered 11-7 in the breaker to move into the quarters.

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In the Quarters
– It looked for a hot second like #1 @Daniel De La Rosa was going to get upset by Martell, losing the second game 15-14 and then going down early in the tie-breaker, but he flipped the script in an instant and cruised to the 11-4 breaker win.
– #5 @Andres Acuna got a solid win against #4 Franco in two games. This is another excellent example of why Acuna is a player to watch going forward; he’s beating the players he should beat, and is starting to get top-8 wins.
– #3 @Mario Mercado cruised past #6 @Alan Natera 11,7
– #2 @Lalo Portillo took out #7 Bolivian @Kadim Carrasco in two 9,8.

In the Semis, a couple of interesting results.
– #1 DLR labored to get past Acuna in a breaker 11-6. Perhaps its still just a bit of rust for the #1 player, or perhaps its another sign that Acuna is a player to be reckoned with. Or perhaps its a bit of both.
– #3 Mercado continued his hot streak of late, dispatching #2 Portillo with a streaky score line of 2,,(8),2. A really nice win for Mercado.

In the Finals, Mercado took the first game and was up big in the second game, and the broadcasters & viewers were wondering if DLR would even *score* in the second game. Well, not only did he score, he basically stopped Mario in his tracks and took game two 15-10 (going on a 15-2 run to do so), then took the tie-breaker to claim the title. Never count out the #1 player in the world. DLR takes the win here as a great tune-up for next week’s Grand Slam in Atlanta.

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Men’s Open Singles review

The Open Singles had 20 players, including one touring LPRT pro in @Erika Manila . Here’s a recap of the action.

From the top side, #1 seed Martell cruised into the final without dropping a game. He topped Migliore in the semis. Victor had topped Thomas Gerhardt in the quarters, a solid win for him.

In the bottom Half, an under-seeded Manilla took out New Yorker @Anthony Armaneuse in the round of 32 opener, then upset #3 seed @Kyle Ulliman in the next round. She couldn’t move forward though, losing a nail-biting 11-10 breaker in the quarters to Maryland local open player @Dylan Pruitt. But it was #2 Natera who advanced to the final, beating NY junior @Josh Shea and then Pruitt in the semis.

In the final, Natera had a nice run to finish off a game 1 win that looked for a while like it was lost, then blew away Martell in game two to take the title 12,6. Natera wins the open draw without dropping a game.

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Men’s Open Doubles review

The 13-team Men’s Open draw went completely chalk to the semis. From the top side of the draw, #1 Portillo/Franco took out #4 Natera/Acuna, while on the bottom #3 home-town favorites Mercado/Zelada took out the Bolivians Keller/Carrasco to move into the final.

In the final… Franco/Portillo drove the action and dominated play against the Maryland-based FormulaFlow brothers, and won going away 9,4 to take the title.

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Mixed Open Draw

The Mixed open draw was mostly competed on Sunday, and featured a 5-team RR draw of top competitors mostly with DC-area ties. And, unfortunately, the looming snow storm took a toll on this draw, as the traveling NY-team forfeited to get a jump on the weather, and a couple hours later the Junkin/Weinberg team did the same.

In the end though, the top two seeds ended up going undefeated and met in the Sunday final, with the #1 seeded pairing of Erika Manilla & Mario Mercado squeaking out game one over #2 Brenda Laime & Zelada and advancing to the title 14,9.

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Thanks for all the streaming on the weekend, especially from broadcasters Dean Baer and Pablo Fajre and the IRTLive crew, who braved the weather forecast to travel into the area this weekend.

Thanks to the Tourney Director @slemo Warigon for putting this event on and for your continued patronage of the sport.

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Next up?

Per our handy master racquetball calendar …
https://docs.google.com/…/1V6OTid6rZ356voXVkoV2sN7KMMbIP9S…/

Next weekend is a big one: the 2022 Suivant Consulting IRT Grand Slam in Atlanta. The draws look fantastic and it should be a barn burner. And, by the time you read this we may have a big-time announcement related to the IRT draw. How’s that for a teaser?

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tags

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2022 Wintergreen Classic Preview

Zelada competes on home soil this weekend at the Wintergreen. Photo from US Doubles 2020 via Kevin Savory

The first appearance of the top IRT pros of the new year is set to happen this coming weekend, at the annual Wintergreen classic held in Severna Park, located halfway between Baltimore and Washington in Maryland. This year’s event, run by long-time racquetball benefactor and IRT investor Slemo Warigon , has been upgraded to be a tier 3 event for the first time, which has attracted a slew of top IRT regulars for a solid draw.

R2 Sports App link: https://www.r2sports.com/website/event-website.asp?TID=38089

Lets review the major draws on the weekend, which will feature some solid women’s draws, fun doubles matchups, and even some pro-level mixed doubles.

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IRT Pro Singles

There are 20 players entered, including three top-10 players, another 5-6 regular touring players ranked in the teens, and a slew of top east coast open players. It should be a fun draw.

Fun round of 32 and 16s to look for:
– #8/#9 is MoMo Zelada versus @Jaime Martel Neri , in what should be a very interesting match. Zelada has been playing regularly and has some good wins, while Jaime rarely travels outside his native Mexico but has been known to make noise when he does play. Look for Martel to upset Zelada here (they met in 2015 and Jaime won in 3 easy games).
– #6/#11 Alan Natera takes on NY junior @Josh Shea in what could be a closer match than Natera may want. Shea has been improving his results lately and has been facing better and better competition.
– #7/#10 Bolivian vet @Kadim Carrasco takes on Maryland’s own Dylan Pruitt in what should be a stiff test for the local player playing on courts he knows pretty well.

projected quarters.
– #1 Daniel de la Rosa faces the winner of the Martell/Zelada match, but should have no problems moving on.
– #4 Sebastian Franco projects to face #5 @Andres Acuña , an interesting matchup of mid-teens IRT regulars. Franco is 3-0 lifetime against Acuna, never really being pushed, but all their past meetings are in the 2016-18 range. Acuna is a different player right now, and I sense an upset here, even though these courts are well known to the long-time Maryland resident Franco.
– #3 @Mario Mercado versus #6 Natera. Mercado is fresh off a tier 1 win late last year and an excellent showing at Worlds. He beat Natera twice heads up on tour last year, but both times were really close. I expect Mercado, a long-time DC area native who is quite familiar with this club, to advance in a close match again.
– #2 @Lalo Portillo projects to face #7 Carrasco. They have played once; in 2017, when Lalo was a shell of the player he is now. Portillo moves on in two.

Projected Semis and Finals:
– DLR over Acuna
– Lalo over Mercado

Final: Lalo upsets DLR, but not without DLR putting up a fight. He didn’t fly here from Arizona to not get the top prize. Lalo took the IRT component at this tourney last summer, taking out Franco and Zelada along the way, so he is not unfamiliar with the courts. And Lalo upset DLR in Sarasota last November, so he’s got a playbook for winning. How motivated is DLR in his first tourney back? We’ll see.

———————————
Men’s Open doubles

13 teams are entered into Open doubles, and the top four seeded teams are all touring regulars, which should make for some great semi finals action.

From the top half, look for #1 seeds Portillo/Franco to advance to the final, vanquishing teams that include top Maryland amateur @Dylan Pruitt playing with top junior from New York @Josh Shea, the #4 seeds Acuna/Natera, and the voice of the IRT Dean Baer , playing with fellow New Yorker @Anthony Armanuse.

From the bottom half, I like the #3 seeded team of @FormulaFlow players Zelada & Mercado to upset the #2 seeds from Bolivia Keller/Carasco to make the final. They’ll advance out of a quadrant that includes top teams from Virginia (Peter Appel and Ross Weinberg), Texas (@Richard Eisemann and @Cole Sendry), and frequent east coast tourney players @Brent Walters and Thomas Gerhardt.

In the final, Lalo/Franco win to give Lalo a double on the weekend and some serious confidence heading into the 2022 season.

———————————
Mixed Open doubles features five teams and some top women’s players. @Erika Manila is in town; she’s teamed up with the excellent mixed doubles player Mercado as the #1 seed in the RR draw. They’ll be challenged by fellow LPRT touring pro Brenda Laime at the #2 spot (teamed with house-mate and fellow FormulaFlow player Zelada) for the title. Also competing are two top-level Virginia mixed pairings in Kristin Junkin & Weinberg and two outdoor regulars @Aime Brewer and Gerhardt.

I like the draw to play out chalk; with Manilla/Mercado taking the title.

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

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 FB. If your name is here and it isn’t tagged … it probably means I attempted to tag you but FB stripped it.

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3WallBall SoCal Outdoor Season Kickoff Invitational Shootout Recap

Danny Lavely powered his team to victory in the season opening shootout. Photo via Outdoor Nats 2021/Steve Fitzsimons

To kick off the 2022 season, on January 8th 2022 3Wall Ball and MC Vegas hosted an invitational Outdoor shootout at the courts of West Newport Park, right on Highway 1 in Newport Beach, California. These 3-wall/mid-wall courts are Rocky Carson ‘s favorite, his “home courts” that he practices on most frequently, and he was part of one of nine top-level teams invited to play in this shootout. Some of the players were rusty; it had been several weeks of inaction for most of the competitors, but eight games of round robin cleared off the dust by day’s end for everyone. And the shootout featured a great collection of top talent from SoCal and beyond.

Here’s a recap of the action.

The nine teams played a pure round-robin, one-game to 11 against the other eight teams, making for a ton of racquetball on the day. The top 6 teams from the RR stage advanced to a knockout round. Two teams dominated in the RRs (Geis/Rich and Lavely/Solis) going 8-0 and 7-1 respectively, and looked to be the favorites for the cash.

Here’s how the knockouts went.

In the quarters:
– #5 @Tom Durham and @Matt Barserian upset #4 @Tony Berg and @Scott Sinclair 15-10. This is a great result for the relatively unknown Barserian, who (like Micah Rich) is a great player who plays recreationally and can put up results when he’s in practice.
– #3 Rick Koll (aka “Soda Man”) and Emmett Coe took out the home-court playing Carson and his regular partner @Jesus Ustarroz 15-11. Soda Man traveled to LA with Coulter from Vegas and teamed up with the ever-tough Paddleball champion Coe to take out the two-time Outdoor National champs Carson & Jay.

In the semis:
– #1 @Jason Geis and @Micah Rich, your 2021 Outdoor National champs and Vegas 3WB pro finalists, topped Durham/Barserian 15-5 to move into the final.
– #2 @Greg Solis, WOR Hall of Fame inductee in 2018, and partner @Danny Lavely crushed Koll & Coe 15-2 to move into the final.

In the final, Lavely got hot and made the best adjustments to the fast penn ball being used, took advantage of some tiring arms after a long day, and pushed his team to the upset win over #1 Geis/Rich 15-5.

Thanks to @Mike Martinez and @prokennex for stopping by, thanks to 3WB and other sponsors, thanks to Coulter as always for his support of the sport, and thanks to the players for putting on a show.

(Photos courtesy of Mike Coulter)

State of the IRT: things to look for in 2022

Can Portillo continue his climb in the rankings? Photo US Open 2019, Photographer Kevin Savory

We published the LPRT” version of this post earlier this week. Now here’s the same post for the MEn’s pros.

Lets take a look forward at what may come on the pro tour in 2022.

Top 10 players right now:

#1 Daniel De La Rosa had a 2022 to remember; he won his first US Open, and he secured his first pro year end title. He ends the season with a massive lead atop the rankings (more than 900 points), thanks to winning three of the year’s six events and making the final of another. He finishes the season 20-3; all 3 losses were in tiebreakers. In fact, the last time he lost in two was all the way back in January of 2020, a 9 & 10 loss to Kane in the final of the 2020 Longhorn Open. He’s playing consistent, thoughtful racquetball, controlling the power players he faces and out-playing the tacticians on tour. It seems like we’re entering a new era on tour, given that DLR is 28 and many of his long-time rivals are in their mid 30s or older. Unless a certain Texan returns to tour, I see no one in the immediate horizon who can challenge DLR for the top.

#2 Alex Landa somehow remains ranked #2 on tour despite an (for his standards) awful 2021 on tour. He failed to make a single final this season, and took uncharacteristic losses to players like Bredenbeck, Acuna, and Mercado. No offense to these players, but they’re not multi-time tournament winners. 2022 will see Landa’s ranking dip and quickly, but he just had a career win at the Worlds, where he looked like his old dominant self, so perhaps he can build on that victory and rebound. Working in his favor will be the points expiration battle; he’ll be defending lesser points and has a great opportunity to replace poor 2021 results with better 2022 results as the year moves on. His biggest issue is health; he’s been battling a back issue for months and needs to get healthy.

#3 Samuel Murray started 2021 with an unbelievable win in Atlanta, taking out four players who I believe ranked him in the world pecking order to win his first title. He’s been hit or miss since, with a couple of curious losses (twice to Keller, once to Franco), and then the even more curious decision not to play singles at Worlds. He sits at #3 now, but his points lead is perilous and he’ll lose a ton of points once his January 2021 grand slam expires. He may quickly slip in to the 5-8 range and will have to fight to get back to the top 4.

#4 Andree Parrilla has completely rebounded from his awful spell in early 2020, where he lost in the round of 16 in four straight tournaments before Covid shut things down. He has been a model of consistency on tour this year, with 3 semis and 3 quarters to his name. His big challenge will be to fend off the players right behind him on tour (specifically his former doubles partner Portillo) to maintain the status quo while trying to get big wins to make more finals.

#5 Lalo Portillo is the busiest player on the planet, somehow fitting in 18 tournaments in the last two years with some players struggled to do half that. It has led him to ascend to #5 on tour, and he seems set to move forward. He’s done a great job of holding serve against lower-ranked players (with the exception of a 16s loss to Manilla in Arizona), and has gotten a ton of wins over higher ranked players (he’s topped Landa, Parrilla and De La Rosa this year). By the end of next year he may be DLR’s main challenger to the title.

#6 Kane Waselenchuk is, of course, the biggest question mark on tour. He has played just one singles draw since March of 2020, and in that one tournament he inexplicably retired due to a “disagreement” with the tour that, frankly, should have been dealt with after the tournament was completed. In his long-winded interview to explain what happened, he stated he was taking some time off. How much time off? Will he play again? Will he only play the US Open, a title he most covets? Whatever happens, he’s set to plummet in the rankings, and by the end of March may be buried in the 20s unless he plays more events.

#7 Conrrado Moscoso remains an interesting player to predict. He entered four pro events this year; he made the final of three of them, winning in Sarasota to finish the season. But he’s lost his edge; DLR has topped him the last two times they’ve played and he took an inexplicable loss to Keller at the US Open (paving the way for Carlos’ run to the finals). He continues, amazingly, to foot fault about every third drive serve attempt, a maddening mechanics flaw that a world class player should have addressed two years ago. Where does he go from here? Well, he needs to play every event if he wants to be #1. But traveling from Bolivia for every event is a tall order. Does he (and his home country) covet international titles more than pro titles? Perhaps. Whenever he enters an event, he’s a favorite to make the final, and if he can keep his focus he’s got a great chance to win.

#8 and #11 Rocky Carson and Alvaro Beltran are now 42 and 43 respectively, and their rankings have shown that gradual slip for a couple years now. Carson made one semi final in six tries this year; two seasons ago he made the semis in all 9 of the events on tour. Beltran made the quarters or better in 9 of 10 events in the 2019-20 season; he lost in the 16s in every tournament he entered this year. Beltran readily admits he’s more interested in Doubles play right now, and we may see him cut back on touring to only play events where doubles is offered. Carson is a couple early round upsets from getting bumped from the top 8, which means one additional qualifier and an even longer road to profitability. 2022 may finally be the year these two stalwarts step back from touring.

#9 and #10 Jake Bredenbeck and Mario Mercado are worth talking about together, because they’ve played each other frequently as of late, trading wins at Worlds and at the LPRT Xmas event in Maryland. Both are players on the rise and are getting good wins lately. In 2021, Jake has topped Landa, Parrilla, Montoya, Mercado, Franco and Keller, all players he would have struggled with a couple years ago. Meanwhile, Mercado had an astounding Arizona Open for his first title, topping Beltran, Landa, Carson and DLR in order. Both players will look to stay consistent and push their way into the top 8 by mid-2022.

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Notables in the Teens

#12 Carlos Keller Vargas toured for the entire season 2019-20, losing in the 16s seven times and the 32s twice. I figured, well that’s about as good of an indicator of talent level as any, and I figured that’d be the end of his full time touring. But I was wrong; in 2021 he made a quarter, a semi and a final (at the US Open), getting solid wins against players like Murray (twice), Mercado, and Moscoso.

#13 @Sebastian Franco just had a surgical procedure done in his home country of Colombia and is set to miss some time, further dropping him in the rankings. Can he get back to the top 10 or is his days of full time touring complete?

#14 Adam Manilla remains an enigma on tour, getting amazing wins but then following them up with curious losses. He has wins over the likes of Parrilla, Mercado, Mar, and Portillo. But he’s struggled to dominate against his fellow mid-teens ranked players, splitting recently with the likes of Acuna (whom he played three events in a row in the 16/17 round). He needs to consistently make more quarters to have a shot at the top 10.

#16 Andres Acuña, in this observer’s opinion, has added some serious velocity as of late. He looked like he was really hitting for power in Guatemala, and the results show it. He made the finals of Worlds, with wins over Montoya and Mercado along the way. In the last pro stop, he vanquished his long-time rival Landa to advance to the quarters. I feel he’s on the rise, and will push for the top 10 by the end of 2022. His biggest issue is his seeding: #16 means he’s playing into a top 2-3 seed at every event, and advancing means a huge upset is required.

#17 Rodrigo Montoya Solis and #20 Javier Mar are now, together, inarguably the best doubles team in the world. They’ve topped DLR/Beltran in the last two Mexican Nationals finals, they’re the reigning World and Pan Am Games champions, and they’re getting to the point where they may simply choose to focus on doubles moreso than singles. In the last pro event, Mar did not even bother to enter singles. Montoya, despite all his power and skill on the court, cannot seem to put it all together consistently enough to make a legitimate top 10 push. But, he’s also been nursing some injuries lately; he forfeited out of the US Open and didn’t play for two months until Worlds. So, maybe we’ll see what happens next. When healthy and focused, Montoya is one of the best 5-6 players in the world.

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Notables in the 20s and beyond

– #21 and #22 Alan Natera Chavez and Javier Estrada, the Chihuahua pair of hard hitters, remain wild cards on tour. Estrada has shown he has what it takes to win, taking out a slew of top players to win the Black Gold cup on home soil two years ago. But he has not parlayed that into any success on tour for some reason.

– #28 MoMo Zelada is becoming more of a fixture on tour, thanks to his promotion of his new brand Formulaflow. Look for him to move up in the rankings since he’ll be a constant presence at events and he has the ability to make main draws.

#32 Erick Trujillo has blown onto the scene with an impressive tournament in Chicago (where he beat Martinez, Mar and Collins), and then played Landa tough in Minneapolis. He then cruised through the Worlds 18U draw, winning the gold medal. He can play on tour, right now, and if he plays a full 2022 i have no doubt he’d be in the mid teens by year’s end.

#52 Rodrigo Rodriguez is a recent Juniors grad who got some impressive wins in 2021. At the US Open he topped Pruitt and Zelada, then in Arizona he handled Diaz and Camacho . In his eventual losses to top8 pros, he pressed both Parrilla and Franco before losing. Like Trujillo above him, this is a player who could easily push his way into the high 20s or low teens with a full year on tour.

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Predicted 2022 final top 10

1. DLR
2. Portillo
3. Parrilla
4. Landa
5. Murray
6. Moscoso
7. Jake
8. Mercado
9. Keller
10. Acuna

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Looking forward to the new year and new season!
International Racquetball Tour

State of the LPRT: things to look for in 2022

Mejia is an enigma for 2022. Photo Kevin Savory US Open 2019

Inspired by an idle question from Steve Castleberry on a post a few weeks ago, I’m writing up a couple of forward looking missives to talk about the movers and shakers on the LPRT, looking forward at 2022. I’ll post the IRT version tomorrow or Friday.

The LPRT uses a split-year schedule, so we’re basically at the halfway point of the 2021-22 season. So, looking at the standings now we’ll do some proclamations and talk about players to watch.

We start at the top: #1 Paola Longoria has a 1200 point lead at the top of the tour rankings as we speak. Players earn 200 points for a Tier 1 win, 300-320 for a Grand slam win. So, basically, Longoria already has this season’s title sewn up, unless we get an influx of tournaments and Longoria suddenly fails to enter any of them.

Have we seen chinks in the armor of the long-time #1? Not really; after a couple of less-than-sporting incidents at the US Open and Mexican Nationals, she was on her best behavior in a dominant run to the 2021 Worlds title and the subsequent pro event. It is hard to envision the sport without her at this point, nor envisioning someone pressing her at the top. #2 Vargas is a career 2-41 against Longoria, and the player who i thought would most press Longoria going forward (Mejia) is scuffling.

– #2 and #3 Maria Jose Vargas Parada and Alexandra Herrera might be starting to show something of a rivalry at the 2/3 spot, which is great for the sport. Vargas holds a dominant h2h lead over Herrera (9-1) for their careers, but that one loss was recent and their matches are getting closer. Can Herrera make a push for #2 the rest of the way? She’ll have to continue to hold serve in the quarters against challengers and continue to look for ways to beat Vargas in the Semis.

– #4 Ana Gabriela Martínez had a disappointing Worlds event on home soil, and suffered an upset loss to Manilla at the US Open. Her win against Longoria in the 2018 Worlds looks like a fluke win; in all competitions Gaby is now just 1-18 against the world #1. But, she’s playing the tour regularly and seems a lock to stay in the top 8.

– #5 Natalia Mendez Erlwein sits tight at #5 and has a couple of key wins against Martinez this year. But, she’s had little success against the top 3 players on tour (a combined 1-23 lifetime against the current 1-3rd ranked players) and seems like she’s plateaued a bit. She does a good job beating players who she “should” beat, but needs to get some success against her fellow top 4 players.

– #6 Angelica Barrios made the semis of the US Open, taking advantage of some upsets on her side of the bracket, but took an early loss at Worlds to Lawrence. She’s spent the last 2 years on tour generally only losing to players who she “should” be losing to, and has some notable wins. She’s a lock to stick in the top 8 and could move up to #4 with the right results.

#7 Montse Mejia continues to be an enigma on tour. She had an amazing run to win Kansas City, topping Centellas, Herrera, Gaby and then Paola to win the title, never dropping a game. But in her 3 tournaments since she has losses to Laime and two losses to Manilla. She went a number of tournaments basically winning until she ran into Paola (whether that was in the 16s, quarters, semis or the final), but has scuffled as of late. Can she right the ship?

#8 Samantha Salas Solis and #10 Rhonda Rajsich both have the same questions facing them: are they done being forces on the pro tour at this point? Salas went from making 9 finals in the 2018-19 season to her current struggle to get past the opening rounds. Same with Rhonda, who hasn’t made a pro semi since Jan 2020 and has nearly fallen out of the top 10. Both played well at worlds, with Salas losing to eventual champion Longoria at the quarterfinal stage and Rhonda putting a loss on Vargas before losing to her teammate Lawrence, so they can still play. But the realities of aging on tour face them both.

#9 Jessica Parrilla just cannot get back to where she once was on tour. She finished #3 in the 2017-18 season, then badly injured her knee … and she’s has not made even a pro semifinal since. Her tripwire is the quarterfinals; she’s made 9 of them in the past three seasons but has gone no further.

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Thoughts on Players ranked 11-20 range of Note

– #11 Valeria Centellas is too young to be having a mid-life career crisis, but she’s seemingly at a cross roads right now. She made a pro semi in Jan 2020, but has struggled since then, taking a number of losses against players she should be beating if she wants to maintain a top 10 finish. She has lost in the 16s in 5 of the last 6 pro events, and seems to have lost her way on the court.

#12 Brenda Laime Jalil is now part of Team Zurek Construction, LLC, which is great news for her career and the supportability of her aspirations. And she’s had some really promising results in 2021, with wins over Mejia, Herrera, and Vargas. She seems like a lock to be in the top 10 if she can play full-time. She curiously missed the most recent LPRT event (basically held at her home court), an opportunity missed with the thin field.

#13 Carla Muñoz Montesinos has had a very busy year, lots of travel, lots of court time. She’s had some up and down results on tour, with solid wins against the likes of Centellas and Salas, but losses to Lawrence and Scott. She needs a couple more marquee wins in the 16s and to challenge in the quarters to eke her way back to the top 10.

#16 Kelani Lawrence had a dream run to the finals of Worlds, but is stuck in a very dangerous ranking position on tour that guarantees a very difficult opening round match. She’s got several round of 16 losses to players ranked in the top 4, which makes it hard for her to move up. She had a great win against Barrios at Worlds, and has played the likes of Vargas and Herrera tough, but needs a marquee win to get herself into the 12-14 range that makes for an easier first round matchup.

#18 Erika Manilla might be the biggest dark-horse on tour right now. She blew it up at the US Open, with wins over Mejia and Gaby before a controversial close loss to Longoria. She followed that up with another convincing win over Mejia at the Xmas classic before falling for the third time this year to Mendez. She she’s put herself on the map as a player who can beat some of the best on tour. I see no reason why she can’t get to the top 10 … perhaps not by the end of this season, but sometime in the fall of 2022.

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Players to watch for in the 20s and beyond

– #22 Micaela Meneses Cuellar just won Junior Worlds, and if I have her birthday right still has another year of juniors to go. She’s getting plenty of LPRT experience, and already has some solid wins against regular touring pros like Enriquez and MRR. When she’s faced off against the tour elite she’s generally held her own, taking games off of Vargas and Barrios. Assuming she can get back to the US during the school year, she’s one to watch for.

– #23 Ana Laura Flores has some solid wins on her resume (Mendez, Hollie Scott), but has gone one-and-done in her last four tournaments, which can be pretty discouraging, especially for a traveling international player. Lets hope she gets some results going forward and continues to play.

– #29 Montserrat Pérez plays part time and presents as a tough lefty out; is she more of a doubles specialist going forward?

#31 Lucia Gonzalez remains the darkest of the dark horses on the LPRT. When she gets the right draw, she’s dangerous (in the last two Mexican nationals she’s beaten Herrera twice and Enriquez), but she’s lost in the 32s in the last four pro events she’s entered (to stiff competition, but still). Without results you can’t get seeding, and without seeding you’re playing into the top seeds, so she has kind of a chicken or egg thing going on, but she has the talent to compete. Will she going forward?

#38 Vero Sotomayor; who is now living in Florida and is back on the pro tour after a 4 year absence, is ready to make waves. She’s clearly the “player who nobody wants to face in qualifying” right now, and has shown she’s easily got top 8 talent. How far can she move up in the second half of the season? It remains to be seen, but the next scheduled stop is at her home club.

#43 Aisling Hickey, Ireland’s #1, has now relocated to California and should be playing more tour events. She raised some eyebrows at the US Open, defeating a couple of solid players in Pazita Munoz and Rivera, and though she went winless at Worlds she played four tough LPRT vets and will be in Birmingham for the 2022 World Games. I could see her moving into the 20s soon and pushing for a higher ranking.


Predicted 2021-22 Season ending Standings:

1. Longoria
2. Vargas
3. Herrera
4. Mendez
5. Barrios
6. Gaby
7. Parrilla
8. Salas
9. Mejia
10. Laime or Manilla

Looking forward to 2022!

LPRT

New Report at Pro Racquetball Stats: Best Career Win!

Merry Xmas and Happy Holidays to all racquetball fans!

So, when i’m writing previews or doing commentary, i’m often asking myself, “what is this player’s career best win?” To do that, I’ve generally fired up a player’s comprehensive match history and then tried to eyeball who i thought was their best win. But that’s difficult to do accurately and subject to some opinion, so i’ve often wanted some way to create a report that attempts to do just this.

I’ve just created a new way to try to answer the question: a new report called “Best Career Win.” This report sorts all wins in the database for the player by the vanquished player’s seeding, from highest seed to lowest. The report isn’t perfect (it doesn’t really work for players like Kane Waselenchuk or Paola Longoria , who have spent huge portions of their career at #1 and for whom the question of “best career win” doesn’t really apply), and since it is based on seeding data doesn’t really work for older players, but it does work pretty well for lower ranked players and especially non-regular tour players.

An interesting side-effect of the report answers a fun trivia question: how many times has PlayerX defeated a #1 seed in a tournament?

Reminder: seeding data is only accurate from 2009 forward, so this is also a query that generally only works for the modern player.

To find the query, go to www.proracquetballstats.com, select the tour, pick your player from the pulldowns, then select the button next to “Career Best Win” from the report options.

Here’s a couple of players that i’ve used as examples during testing:

– Daniel De La Rosa: http://rball.pro/E53B2E . Six times he’s defeated the #1 seeded player (every time it was @Rocky Carson).

– @Carla Munoz: http://rball.pro/9282AC . Did you know Carla defeated @Rhonda Rajsich when Rhonda was ranked #1 on tour?

Enjoy!

Court Wars Wrap up

Bredenbeck helped his team to victory at the Court Wars PPV. Photo Kevin Savory 2020 USAR national doubles

The first ever Court Wars PPV racquetball event, held a the Bay Club in Pleasanton, CA, is in the books; here’s a wrap-up of the action.

In the first match, two NorCal juniors (well, near juniors) Antonio Rojas and Nikhil Prasad battled it out.

Prasad looked to me like he’s grown 6 inches since we last saw him, and he came out firing. Rojas came out quite cold and got smoked in the first game 11-2. Tatoe rebounded, found his game, and took the second game 11-7. In the breaker, Rojas seemed to tire a bit, and tried to keep it close, but Nik pulled away to take the match. Final score: 2,(7),7.

In Match #2…Mercado came out on fire, and won a crisp first game 11-4. Parrilla rebounded and played smarter shorts in game two and reversed the score, winning 11-4. After flipping a coin for the serve in the breaker, Mario ran out to a 4-1 win and was looking good … then Parrilla turned it on, went on a 10-0 run and took the breaker. Final score: (4),4,4

In Match #3, the two ladies pros battled out a back and forth match. In game one, Parrilla cruised to an 11-6 win. Erika came roaring back and raced to an 11-1 game two win. In the breaker, Erika got rolling in the service box, won a fantastic rally at 9-5, got a service winner on an iffy-maybe-it-was-a-screen-serve, then got a clear winner to take the 11th point and the match. Final score: (6),1,5.

Match #4 was perhaps the most anticipated “fun” match of the evening, featuring a couple of players who we know would “talk” their way through the match. Rojas showed a bit more rust than was expected, and Diaz was clearly frustrated by the calls, and the Bredenbeck’s won in two.

Match #5 was an interesting one: a rematch of The World’s final from just a week ago. Acuna came out hot and just blasted Landa, who looked like he was nursing an injury. But whatever was bugging Alex loosened up, and he cruised to game 2 and 3 wins.

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An excellent job by all parties, pulling this off for the first time.

Thanks to all the sponsors who made this possible including @Donald Williams and Williams Accounting & Consulting, Suivant Consulting , Dovetail/Mike Kinkead , plus all the other sponsors. Congrats to Adam Manilla , Erika Manilla and @Manilla Athletics for the great idea and for putting it on. Thanks to Wayne Antone for reffing, @Bobby Horn and @Elli John and Brian Pineda for all their announcing work.

2021 AGE Solutions Hollywood Beach Battle Wrap-up

Sostre the double winner this weekend. Photo Steve Fitzsimons 3WB 2020

Congrats to your One-wall Doubles winners on the weekend:

  • Men’s Pro Doubles: Robert Sostre/William Rolon
  • Women’s Pro Doubles: Masiel Rivera/Aimee Roehler
  • Mixed Pro Doubles: Robert Sostre/Masiel Rivera
  • 75+: Sergio Rivera/Suresh Vemulapalli

R2 Sports App home page for event: https://www.r2sports.com/website/event-website.asp?TID=37870

The weather looked great and the competition was awesome all weekend. Here’s a recap of the four biggest draws.


Men’s Pro Doubles recap:

12 teams entered this draw, split into three RR groups. The format gave the winners of the RR groups byes into the knockout semis, and then the three second place teams played a winner-take all mini-RR group to determine the last semi finalists.

Group winners:

  • @Robert Sostre and William Rolon
  • @Yasmani Perez and Alejandro Barceló
  • @Ignacio Espinal and Eric Faro

The three 2nd place teams who duked it out for the last semi spot were:

  • @Thomas Gerhardt and @Mike Harmon
  • @Richie MIller and @David Blatt
  • @Freddie Ramirez and @Joe Young

Ramirez and Young claimed the last knockout spot by topping the wild card RR group.

In the semis, Sostre/Rolon took out Ramirez/Young in a matchup of long-time one-wall partners Iceman and Freddie. In the other semi, Espinal & Faro topped the surprise group winners Perez/Barcelo.

In the final, Sostre/Rolon were just too strong and took out Espinal & Faro in two close games.


Women’s Pro Doubles Recap:

The Women’s pro doubles played one big RR group to determine the top two teams, who then met again in a winner take all final.

In the group stage, LPRT touring pro @Masiel Rivera and Hall of Famer @Aimee Roehler cruised to a group win, with #1 seeds and NY one-wall legends @Maira Ramos and @Kathy Guinan taking second.

In the knockout final, Rivera/Roehler won the rematch against the New Yorkers to take the pro title.


Mixed Pro Recap;

An excellent mixed doubles draw was hit somewhat by injuries by Sunday morning, but still featured some top teams battling it out. The 10 teams split into RR groups of five each, with the top two teams advancing to the knockouts.

Group A winners: Sostre/Rivera
Group B winners: @Ruben Pagan / Roehler.

Second place finishers: @David Blatt and @Anita Maldonado from Group A, and @Richard Miller / @Maira Ramos from group B.

In the knockouts, Sostre/Rivera held serve in the top half, while Pagan/Roehler were upset by the NYC pairing of MIller/Ramos. In the final, Sostre/Rivera made it a double, winning the Mixed 21-16.


Combined 75+ Recap

The Combined 75+ was nearly as big of a draw as the Men’s Pro, and was hotly contested. Like with Mixed, the 11 teams split into two big RR groups, with the top two teams advancing to the semis.

From Group A, @Alejandro Barcelo and @Richie Miller took the group, with the traveling VA team of @Sergio Rivera and @Suresh Vemulapalli taking 2nd.

In Group B: the pro finalists Espinal and Faro took the top spot, while the Miami duo of @Daniel Talamo and @Gleiber Barrios Subires surprised some one-wall top pros to take second.

In the knockouts, some amazing upsets. Barcelo/Miller took out the underdog Miami pairing in the first semi, but the Virginians shocked the pro finalists to get to the finals. There, Rivera and Vemalapalli took out another favored pro outdoor pairing to surprise the tournament and win the final. Kudos to Rivera and Suresh for their big win!


Thanks to the Tourney Directors @thao le and @maddie melendez for putting this event on! Thanks to @vic leibofsky for his help on the draws and making sure all of us watching from afar knew what was going on.

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 FB. If your name is here and it isn’t tagged … it probably means I attempted to tag you but FB stripped it.


Next up?

Per our handy master racquetball calendar …
https://docs.google.com/…/1V6OTid6rZ356voXVkoV2sN7KMMbIP9S…/

… The next big tournament on the schedule is the IRT Suivant Consulting Grand Slam in Mid January 2022. We have a few lower tier events in the early part of January.


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