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).

——————————
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.

——————————-
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.

——————————-
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.

——————————
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

——————————-
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.

———————————
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.

Associations
International Racquetball Tour

Countries
@USA RacqueTeam USA
@RaRacquetball Canada
@FedeFederación Mexicana de Raquetbol
@Federación Boliviana De Raquetbol – Febora
@FedeFederación Boliviana de Racquetball
@Racquetball Colombia
Federacion Colombiana de Racquetball
Federación Costarricense de Racquetball
@AsAsociación Argentina de Racquetball
ASOCIACION DE RAQUETBOL DE GUATEMALA

Major Sponsors
@Reaching Your Dream Foundation
@BeastmBeastmade
@suivant consulting and @Williams accounting

Hashtags #racquetball #proracquetball #outdoorracquetball #irt #lprt #wor

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.

———-
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 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

——————

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.

—————
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.

—————-
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.

—————-
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.

—————-
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.

—————–
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.

——————
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?

——————-
tags

Associations
@International Racquetball Tour

Countries
USA Racquetball
Federación Mexicana de Raquetbol
Federación Boliviana De Raquetbol – Febora
Federación Boliviana de Racquetball
Racquetball Colombia
Federacion Colombiana de Racquetball

Major Sponsors
Reaching Your Dream Foundation
FormulaFlow
Zurek Construction/Francisco Fajardo
AGE Solutions/Andy Gomer

Hashtags #racquetball #proracquetball #outdoorracquetball #irt #lprt #wor

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.

———————————
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.

Tags/Sponsor links
International Racquetball Tour
USA Racquetball
@Federacion Mexicana de Raquetbol
@Federación Boliviana De Raquetbol – Febora
Racquetball Colombia
Federacion Colombiana de Racquetball
Formulaflow

@Zurek Construction, LLC / Francisco Fajardo
AGE SOLUTIONS Andy Gomer
@Reaching Your Dream Foundation

Hashtags #racquetball #proracquetball #outdoorracquetball #irt #lprt #wor

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)