Welcome to the big Arizona Open, hosted by the one and only Jim Winterton on the grounds of Arizona State University in Tempe, AZ.
This weekend is a rarity in pro racquetball; a combined tour event with both Men and Women that features a major Mixed Pro doubles draw! Today we’ll preview the women and mixed doubles, tomorrow the IRT.
We don’t get to see mixed pro doubles much; the only tourneys i have tracked are from 2018 in Denver (won by the De La Rosas), 2019 in San Antonio (won by Natera/Mejia), 2019 in Syosset (won by DLR and Salas), and 2021 in Denver earlier this year (won by Montoya/Salas). But it is back, and we have a fantastic draw for the weekend.
We also have a full Women’s pro singles draw (31 players) and a full Men’s pro draw (with 46 players), so get ready for some great racquetball this weekend.
R2 Sports App link: https://www.r2sports.com/website/event-website.asp?TID=37835
top20 players missing on the women’s side: just 3 of the top 20.
Women’s top 20 players missing: #5 Mejia, #19 Riveros, and #20 Scott.
Women’s LPRT Singles.
We have nearly a full 32 here; only #1 Paola Longoria gets a bye into the 16s. Here’s some round of 32s to watch for:
- #16/#17 should be great: two top Americans in Erika Manilla and Sheryl Lotts battle it out for a shot at #1. Look for Manilla to move on; she’ll build on her US Open finish.
- #9/#24 features two more Americans duking it out with Rhonda Rajsich facing Lexi York.
- Amaya Cris and María Paz Riquelme have an intra-household battle, as they have to face off on the court for the first time.
- Kelani Lawrence takes on veteran Susy Acosta, competing in her 24th pro season.
- #6 Angelica Barrios has a tough 1st rounder against part time tour player Michelle De La Rosa.
- #7 Jessica Parrilla has her hands full against Ireland’s Aisling Hickey, who turned some heads with her play in Minneapolis.
- Like with the 16/17 match, the 15/18 between Maria Renee Rodríguez and Erin Slutzky could be tight.
projecting the 16s:
- As if karma was making the draw, we seem set to get a rematch between #1 Longoria and #16 Manilla. Lest anyone forget, these two met in a contentious semi in Minneapolis, marred by Longoria taking a reckless shot that hit Manilla in the side of the head. All eyes will be on this match to gauge the temperature early.
- I like the possibility of a tiebreaker between #5 Natalia Mendez Erlwein and #12 Carla Muñoz Montesinos.
- #3 Alexandra Herrera and #14 Kelani Lawrence always play tight matches, and this should not be any different.
- #6 Angelica Barrios and #11 Brenda Laime Jalil will have a battle; they met in the quarters in Minnesota, with Barrios ending Laime’s run, but the Colombian will be looking for revenge.
- #7 v #10 is a classic battle of Mexican veterans in Jessica Parrilla and Nancy Enriquez. They have traded off wins back and forth, but Jessica is in better form right now.
Projecting the Quarters:
- #1 Longoria over #8 Centellas; The Argentine took a game off the champ in 2019 PARC, but otherwise it has been smooth sailing for the #1.
- #4 Martinez over #5 Mendez: Mendez has toppled Gaby the last two times they have played … but Martinez seems on a mission to live up to her seeding here.
- #6 Barrios over #3 Herrera: Barrios is too tough to beat here, and beat the lefty the only other time they played.
- #2 Vargas over #7 Parrilla: Parrilla can’t hang with Vargas game, which is all the way back to her pre-pregnancy state.
- #1 Longoria outclasses #4 Martinez. Gaby still trying to get her second win over the top player in the world (she topped Paola for the 2018 world title).
- #2 Vargas over #6 Barrios: This is a rematch of the US Open semi, where Barrios cruised to the first game then collapsed under the weight of Vargas’ power. Expect a similar result here.
- Final: Longoria over Vargas
Mixed Pro doubles.
There are 17 teams here this weekend, and the seeding may leave some people grumbling. But the seeding exactly matches the pro doubles rankings for the teams, so there is a methodology. Unfortunately, this method underseeded several really strong teams, which could lead to a very wide-open draw. I feel there’s at least 5 or 6 teams here that can win it. It seems like it will come down to match-ups.
In the play in, I like the outdoor specialists Patrick Allin and Katie Neils to remember how to play with a back wall and advance to face the #1 seeds.
Projecting the 16s:
- #1 Landa/Longoria present a formidable team and should move on initially.
- #9 Moscoso/Vargas seem under-seeded, especially since she’s the #2 player in the world and Moscoso has major doubles titles to his credit (2019 PARC, 2019 Bolvian Grand slam). They move on.
- Another underseeded team is the De La Rosa husband/wife pair, seeded 12th. They get the upset over #5 Portillo/MRR to move on.
- The #4 Brother/Sister Parrilla team should topple team Formulaflow Zelada/Laime.
- #3 Murray/Martinez are my team to beat here; they start out by handling the lefty-righty brother-sister Manillas.
- #11 features the finalists from Denver in Sebastian Fernandez and Herrera; they should “upset” #6 Keller/Centellas, though it will be very close. Centellas has long been a doubles pro, winning the 2018 worlds as a 16yr old.
- Husband/Wife pair #10 Natera/Munoz should handle Mercado & Amaya, even though Mercado has proven how good a doubles player he can be.
- #2 Beltran/Mendez get their tourney started by topping the younger Bredenbeck brother playing with York.
- The #1 vs #9 could be the final; it features the top two Women’s singles players and two of the top six men’s players in the world. I like the upset here; I think Moscoso will play with some passion, and I think Vargas can hang with Longoria on the forehand side. Landa regularly plays the forehand side when he plays Nationals with Sudsy Monchik or pros with Murray, and Moscoso can out shoot him on the backhand side.
- I like the Parrillas to take out the De La Rosas in an upset. While DLR can take over a match (as we saw in Vegas), Jessica can outhit Michelle on the forehand side. It will be a close one, but look for the bro/sis to move on.
- Murray/Martinez lost to Fernandez/Herrera in the semis in Denver 14,10. They get a rematch here, but I like the same result. If they both play forehands, the Patata/Alexandra team creates a serious strategic issue for opponents. Do they drive serve to her forehand and attempt to steal points with Gaby serving the powerful Patata on his forehand? Do they mix it up and force Gaby to play her backhand against Alexandra’s forehand?
- #2 Beltran/Mendez are too experienced to lose to the newlyweds Natera/Munoz at this juncture; both the #2 seeds are incrementally better than their opponents and the result will show through in the score.
- Moscoso/Vargas will over power the Parrillas on both sides of the ball.
- Patata/Herrera’s matchup problems will take out Beltran/Mendez.
- Final Herrera can’t hang with Vargas’ power, and Moscoso the shooter puts away pinch after pinch to win it for the South Americans.
Look for Men’s Streaming in the regular places; follow the IRT on facebook and sign up to get notifications when they go Live. Look for Dean DeAngelo Baer, @Favio Soto, Pablo Fajre and the IRTLive crew all weekend on the mike, calling the shots!
Look for Women’s Streaming in the regular places; follow the LPRT on facebook and sign up to get notifications when they go Live.
Look for @ [554433128:2048:Timothy Baghurst], Jerry J Josey Jr., JP Edwards and @ [1254655965:2048:Tj Baumbaugh] on the mike, calling the shots!
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