Racquetball Canada Winter Selection Event recap

Murray wins his 10th straight Canadian national team event. Photo via us2019 Kevin Savory

For the first time since February 2020, Racquetball Canada hosted a selection event. Normally, Canada hosts two of these events each season (usually, in late November and then again in early February) to determine seeding for its eventual Nationals (held in May). But, thanks to Covid, we hadn’t seen one of these tournaments since right before the Pandemic took grip of society.
Trackie.com site for the event: https://www.trackie.com/…/racquetball-canada…/474684/…
Lets do a quick recap of the results.
Note: thanks to IRF’s decision to go to rally scoring, this tournament was played with the rally scoring rules. Three out of Five games to 15, win by one.
In Men’s Open, #1 Samuel Murray and #2 Coby Iwaasa met up in the final for the eight successive Canadian Nationals or Selection event, with Murray taking the title over his countryman for the 8th successive time. Murray’s 10th straight Canadian national tournament title came with the scores of 8,11,14.
click here for the Match report: http://rball.pro/F20E68

Click here for a list of all Canadian Men’s National event finals dating to 1975; http://rball.pro/2CB02F

In Women’s Open, #1 @Frederique Lambert continued her dominance over Canadian Racquetball (when she can play, given her medical residence requirements) by taking out #2 @Michele Morisset in the final (😎,10,6,10. The draw was missing @Christine (Keay) Richardson, who had made the final of the previous five Canadian national tournaments.
click here for the Match report: http://rball.pro/DCDEDE

Click here for a list of all Canadian Women’s National event finals dating to 1975; http://rball.pro/AF9A18

Murray and Lambert retain their #1 positions in Canada heading into May’s Canadian Nationals, and should be representing their country at the upcoming PARC event in Mid April In Bolivia.

@Racquetball Canada

This coming weekend is a busy one on the racquetball calendar

  • USA Racquetball High School Nationals is in St. Louis
  • the LPRT is in Boston
  • there’s an IRT Tier 3 in Findley, Minnesota that has a handful of touring pros attending.
  • there’s an IRT Tier 4 or 5 in Pueblo, Colorado, also with a few IRT regulars in the field.
    Click here for my running Racquetball “major” event tracker:

Longoria-Herrera Match Stat Breakdown

Herrera celebrating her first LPRT win. Photo screen capture from LPRT Facebook video of awards ceremony

I thought it would be illuminating to break down the LPRT final between Paola Longoria and Alexandra Herrera, looking for some trends and interesting data points.

Using my standard detailed Match Tracker, I filled in match stats for the first game of the final, a nail-biting 15-14 win for Herrera.

Here’s a link to the match tracker detailed data: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1t8GgzPppq4dZvZwkS3yITkZAlKGSRQAGROM6woq-0G4/edit?usp=sharing and here’s a link to the video on Facebook for the match: https://www.facebook.com/watch/live/?ref=watch_permalink&v=372683864314937

Here’s some breakdowns.

Duration Stats
Game start in Video6:45 in video
Game end43:23 in video
Game duration36mins 38 seconds
Avg time per rally36.6 secs

So, this was a long game. 36 minutes overall. Both players took both their time-outs, both players took a brief equipment time-out, and there were a couple of appeals. All told, including the time-outs the average time per rally was 36.6 seconds. This is slightly longer than the average rally time for the last match I did this for; the Parrilla-Waselenchuk Atlanta final tie-breaker.

Serving Breakdown:

Serving# of svc attempts# of AcesServes Good1st Serve %1st Drive Serves1st Drive serve %1st Lob Serves1st Lob Serve %
AH Serves30222 of 3073.33%30 of 30100%0 of 300%
PL Serves30325 of 3083.33%30 of 30100%0 of 300%

Both players served exactly 30 times. Both players drove serve on every first serve, and Paola actually ended up with a higher first serve percentage than Alexandra on the day.

Serve Selection% 1st to F% 1st to B% 2nd to F% 2nd to B

Paola basically split her drives between Alexandra’s forehand and backhand on the day, hitting 16 drives to the left side, 14 to the right. Meanwhile, as a lefty Herrera has grown up accustomed to primarily serving to right handers, and thus focused mostly on hitting drives to Paola’s backhand. Both hit mostly simple lobs to the backhand as 2nd serves; there was almost no variation on the lob serves used: no nick lob attempt, no wall paper; just half-height lobs meant to solicit a ceiling ball in return.

Serve Breakdown and Success rates

Serve Type SelectionServe selectionhow often usedPct UsedHow often point?Pct points
AH #1 1st Serve SelectionDrive to Backhand19 of 3063.33%10 of 1662.50%
AH #2 1st Serve SelectionDrive to Forehand10 of 3033.33%4 of 580.00%
AH #3 1st Serve selectionHard Z-Serve to Backhand1 of 303.33%0 of 10.00%
AH Most frequent 2nd serve selectionLob Serve to Backhand6 of 875.00%1 of 616.67%

Here’s where we get some interesting information. Alexandra hit 19 of her 30 serves as drives to the backhand, and got points on 10 of the 16 successful first serves she made. That’s a 62% rate, pretty good. Furthermore, she tried 10 drives to Paola’s forehand, missed half of them, but got points on 4 of the 5 successful serves. She only varied away from these two straightforward serves once; a z-ball to Paola’s backhand that did not work.

Serve Type SelectionServe selectionhow often usedPct UsedHow often point?Pct points
PL #1 1st Serve SelectionDrive to Forehand16 of 3053.33%9 of 1275.00%
PL #2 1st Serve SelectionHard Z-Serve to Backhand9 of 3030.00%3 of 933.33%
PL #3 1st Serve selectionDrive to Backhand5 of 3016.67%1 of 425.00%
PL Most frequent 2nd serve selectionLob Serve to Backhand5 of 5100.00%1 of 520.00%

Meanwhile, Paola had a ton of success when driving to Alexandra’s forehand, getting 9 of her 14 points that way and having a huge success rate when she got that serve in. It was clear during the match that she started with the hard-Z to the backhand with little success, then got some points on the forehand drive, and the stuck with it the rest of the way.

 Serves leading to pointspct
AH 1st Serve good14 points out of 2263.64%
AH 1st Serve bad1 point out of 812.50%
PL 1st Serve good13 points out of 2552.00%
PL 1st Serve bad1 point out of 520.00%

This chart basically shows why you need to get your first serves in. The two players combined to score exactly 2 points on their second serves all game.

RalliesRallies WonPct of Rallies
AH Rallies won31 of 6051.67%
PL Rallies won29 of 6048.33%
Replays0 of 600.00%

This shows just how even the match was: out of 60 rallies, they nearly split them 50/50. Alexandra won two more rallies than Paola b/c Paola served first and then Alexandra scored the last point. There was not a single replay in the entire first game.

 Rally Winner/Error Stats
(not including serves)TtlFHBHPassPinch
AH Rally Winners20137119
AH Rally ending Errors321  
PL Rally Winners221111184
PL Rally Ending Errors972  

So, this shows some interesting information. Alexandra hit 13 of her 20 winners on the forehand, and pretty evenly split all her winners between passes and pinches. Meanwhile, Paola really does not shoot for the corners, getting 18 of her 22 winners as passing/kill shots. Paola also shows

The story of this game though is right here: 9 errors for Longoria versus 3 for Herrera. And of those three errors, one was an “off the back wall’ attempt that fell short and a second was a ball that bounced weird off the back wall and jammed her. In other words, Alexandra had just one skip this entire game. Longoria had 9 skips, 7 on her forehand.

Ratio of Winners to ErrorsRatioRatio
AH20 to 36.6 winners for every error
PL22 to 92.44 winners for every error

Further illumination of the shotmaking in this game: 20 winners to 3 errors for Herrera.

(these figures not including serve)Rally Stats
Average # of shots per rally , entire game3.95
Average # shots in AH-won rallys4.25
Average # of shots in PL-won rallys:3.62
Average # of shots in replay ralliesn/a
longest Rally of game17 and 16: both ended with PL error

The average number of shots per rally (not including the serve) was 3.95 in this game, but much shorter in Paola won rallies. The 3.95 figure compares to the average rally length for the Parrilla-Kane match, which was just 2.24. Women’s rallies tend to be longer.

Short Rally Statstotal% of rallies
# of Aces58.33%
# of 2 shot rallies (serve, return)813.33%
# of 3 shot rallies (serve, return, end)46.67%

A decent percentage of the 60 rallies were “short” rallies: 1,2 or 3 shots including the serve.

 Game points Saved
by AH4
by PL3

The players managed to save seven game points between them; that’s a heck of an accomplishment by both.

Lastly, since Rally scoring has now been introduced by the IRF, I thought i’d show you what this game would have looked like if it was rally scoring:

(all these times include Tos)Rally Scoring Stats
Game end if rally21:46 in video
Game duration if rally15mins 1 sec
Game score at Rally finish8-4 for AH

If playing rally scoring, the game would have been over in 15mins with the score 8-4 for Alexandra. Instead, we got a 36 minute barn-burner that saw Longoria rally from an 11-4 deficit and nearly take the game. What problem exactly are we attempting to solve with rally scoring? Because every time I do this analysis we’d basically neuter an excellent game.

LPRT Vero Beach Open Wrap-up

Herrera with her first pro win! Photo Denver 2021 KenFife

Congrats to your winners on the weekend:

  • Singles: Alexandra Herrera
  • Doubles; Herrera & Montse Mejia

    A career weekend for Herrera, who vanquished both her top rivals Vargas and Longoria on the weekend to take her first professional singles title. Heading into this event, Herrera was a career 0-18 against Paola and 1-9 against Vargas; she beat them both to secure her first pro win. She becomes the 30th known champion on the women’s professional tour.

R2 Sports App home page for event: https://www.r2sports.com/website/event-website.asp?TID=38227

Lets review the notable matches in the Singles draw.

In the 32s, there were a couple of upsets by seed and a couple of surprising results.

  • #17 Cris Amaya played #16 Hollie Scott as closely as you could expect, losing an 11-9 breaker. We always get great 16/17 matches and t his was no different.
  • #13 Kelani Lawrence advanced past hard-hitting Mexican 18U junior Daniela Rico 6,9. Rico continues to play LPRT veterans tough on tour but is still searching for a break-through win.
  • #14 Maria Renee Rodriguez cruised past Mexican lefty @Montserrat Perez 7,6. MRR really controlled this game and snuffed out any thoughts about an upset.
  • #22 Veronica Sotomayor upset #11 veteran @Nancy Enriquez in a come-back, hard-fought match 11-9 in the breaker. Sotomayor continues to show she’s in her former top-10 form but needs more tournaments to get the points she needs to be ranked suitable to her talent level.
  • The Biggest shock of the round was Bolivian veteran @Jenny Daza Navia upsetting #10 Carla Munoz in a breaker 11-6. Daza (who was in the same “junior class” as Longoria) has been playing internationally for a decade and a half representing Bolivia but is an infrequent participant on the LPRT. However, she continues to show she’s a dangerous opponent when she does play, adding another top-10 scalp to her resume.

– Reigning 18U World junior champion Bolivian Micaela Meneses made quick work of #15 Sheryl Lotts 6,7 to move into the 16s. Meneses improves with every tournament, and is the kind of gym rat that you know is going to get tougher every time she plays.

In the 16s, some significant results with major upsets.

  • #1 Paola Longoria cruised past #16 Scott in game one, then Hollie really made a game of it in game two before falling 15-14.
  • #9 Brenda Laime blasted #8 Rhonda Rajsich in game one then held on in game two for a statement win 3,12.
  • #12 Erika Manilla got another statement win, taking out #5 Angelica Barrios in a straight-forward 12,9 win. This is the fourth tournament this season where Erika has toppled a top-5 seed to advance, and its just a matter of time before she herself is a top-5 seed.
  • #13Kelani LawrenceKelani Lawrence got a career-best win, beating #4 Mendez in two straight. She sets up a meeting against countrywoman Manilla for a shot at the semis.
  • #3 Maria Jose Vargas made quick work of MRR 8,2 to setup a key quarter final match.
  • #6 Montse Mejía played a really comprehensive game to blast the upstart #22 Sotomayor 4,9 to move on. Mejia controlled the game from the start and was never in danger of losing. She’ll be tough to beat this weekend if she plays like this the rest of the way.
  • #7 Jessica Parrilla suffered an injury that took her out of both singles and doubles, giving Daza a walkover into the quarters. It’s just the 2nd time ever that Daza has made a pro quarterfinal.

– #2 Alexandra Herrera blitzed the junior Meneses 8,2, showing the gulf in talent that the young Bolivian has to make up.

In the Quarters

  • Longoria made quick work of Laime 7,0.
  • Manilla made a statement both on tour and in the national pecking order by cruising past her countrywoman Lawrence 7,13 to return to the semis for the second time this season.
  • Vargas was stretched thin by Mejia in a battle of perhaps the 2nd and 3rd best players on tour, but Vargas held on in the breaker to advance.

– Herrera outclassed the Bolivian veteran Daza 4,2 to move into the semis.

In the Semis

  • For stretches of this match, Manilla hung with Longoria and matched her punch for punch. But then for stretches Longoria does what she always does: consistently makes shots, rolls balls out, and relentlessly keeps the pressure up, which drives her to victory. Longoria advances in a hard-fought 11,6 match.
  • Herrera absolutely crushed her closest rival Vargas 3,8 to move into the final. This was never close from the get go, and whatever changes Alexandra has been making are working. She looks to be playing the best ball of her career.

In the Finals, a shock result. Herrera and Longoria traded off stretches of dominance, each running off multiple points in a row with excellent play and long rallies. In both games, Herrera mounted game-saving comebacks to win a two-game 14,13 thriller was just as close as the scores suggest. Herrera showed mental confidence and stayed in points and rallies, forcing Longoria into rare errors and pressure.

Points Implications of results

  • Herrera and Vargas should switch spots at 2/3, but not much else changes in the top 10.
  • Manilla continues her climb up the rankings; she should now improve to 14, meaning she’s getting close to a top 10 seed with the expected absences each event.
  • Centellas dives down, now at #13 with several early losses and a missed event.

– Daza doubles her existing points total and jumps 12 spots.

Doubles review
The doubles tournament was an interesting case study of how far Longoria could advance with a brand new partner with whome she had never played …the answer turned out to be the final, where she and MRR were vanquished with relative ease by Herrera/Mejia.

Herrera wins the double on the weekend, and Longoria loses two finals in an event for the first time in recorded/known history.

Thanks for all the streaming on the weekend, especially from broadcasters Timothy Baghurst , Jerry J Josey Jr. ., and Tj Baumbaugh .
Thanks to the Tourney Directors @sudsySudsy Monchik and his wife Veronica for putting this event on! It was an excellent time, great matches, the courts looked great, and thanks to all the sponsors.

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 …

Next weekend there’s a lower tier IRT event in Atlanta and an experimental tournament in Tallahassee being run by Baghurst that will feature variants of the sport and rally scoring.

LPRT 2022 Vero Beach Open Preview

Sotomayor hosts the LPRT at her home club; how far can she go in the tourney? Photo unk source

The first LPRT event of the new year comes in a brand new location with a brand-new host: the one and only Sudsy Monchik. Sudsy and his family recently relocated to Vero Beach from Ecuador, took over programming at their club, and committed to bringing the ladies pros to South Florida.

This event is unique: no amateur draws, no full-service weekend long tournament. Just a pro draw, being held at a facility with two courts. This could be an interesting pathway forward for the pro tours, one that’s more in line with what we see in other professional racquet sports like Squash and Tennis. Thanks to this setup, every single pro match will be streamed live on the weekend, starting at 10am today 2/17/22! Log in and follow @LPRT to get live streaming notifications.

R2 Sports App link: https://www.r2sports.com/website/event-website.asp?TID=38227

24 Ladies are committed to Florida for the weekend.

top-20 players missing; We have 17 of the top 20 ladies pros here; No #4 Gaby Martínez, no #11 Valeria Centellas, And #9 Samantha Salas Solis was a last-minute drop, which definitely changes the pathway for several key players and radically alters the doubles draw. Read on for more.

Lets preview the draw.
In the round of 32, the top 8 pros neatly get a bye. We have some pretty compelling play-in matches. Here’s

  • #16/#17 Amaya Cris versus Hollie Rae Scott is a solid match, as the 16/17 always is. They’ve met once: a 12-10 fifth game barn burner back in 2019. Since then, Scott has been improving and Amaya has been slipping, so I expect a straight forward Scott win here.
  • #9 Brenda Laime Jalil gets jumped three spots thanks to absences and matches her career best seeding. She faces Costa Rican junior Maricruz Ortiz in her opener. While Cruz is tough, Laime has been spending time practicing with two top IRT touring pros and gets better every tournament.
  • #14/#19 features an intriguing matchup between the lefty Mexican Montserrat Pérez and the LPRT veteran @Maria Renee Rodriguez. I can see this going breaker with a possible upset.
  • #11 Nancy Enriquez is the unlucky loser of the “who gets to play Verónica Sotomayor in the opening round” sweepstakes. Sotomayor is the #22 seed and is on her home court. Enriquez has been playing well … but nobody out there has a better training partner than Vero. Look for the upset here; Sotomayor was a top-8 player before starting a family and is still in her prime years of playing.
  • In the #15/#18 match-up, we have an interesting one as well. Veteran @Sheryl Lotts faces off against the junior Bolivian phenom Micaela Meneses Cuellar. Meneses has a couple of decent wins on tour, and has played some top players tough. Lotts faces a tough opponent who gets better every tournament. Upset watch here, in as much as an 18 over 15 seed is an upset.

Projecting the round of 16:

  • #1 Paola Longoria should cruise past Scott, who can hang for some points but isn’t as consistent in her shot making as the champ (who is?)
  • In the #8/#9 we get Laime versus the veteran Rhonda Rajsich. They played a couple times back in April 2019, both times Rhonda wins but both times five game barn-burners. The shorter format (and the early round) favors the older player here, but Laime has also markedly improved since. I still like Brenda for the upset.
  • #5 Angelica Barrios vs #12 Manilla. This is an excellent opportunity for Manilla to get back to the pro quarters; of all the top 8 seeds she probably matches up best with the Bolivian. Angelica plays an ultra control game with her abbreviated swing mechanics, while Manilla plays more of a classical power game with athleticism and shot-making. This match will come down to whether or not Manilla grows frustrated with Barrios’ ability to hit little dink winners from all over the court and sticks with a gameplan of overpowering her younger opponent. A winnable match for Erika.
  • #4 Natalia Mendez faces USA’s @Kelani Lawrence. Amazingly, they’ve never met in any competition that PRS tracks, so this is all speculation. Mendez is #4 for a reason, Lawrence has played top-4 players tough tournament after tournament but has yet to get a breakthrough win. It may be tough for her this weekend.
  • #3 Maria Jose Vargas Parada, pushed out of #2 for the first time in months, should cruise past the winner of Perez/MRR to advance to the quarters.
  • #6 Montse Mejia projects to face Sotomayor, which should be interesting because these two have been training together in advance of this event. So they’ll be quite familiar with each other’s game. It will be a too-early departure for one of these top players; both are quarter final or better players on tour right now. This game comes down to Mejia’s mental state; she’s the most gifted natural player on tour (and yes I’m including the #1 player), and has shown the ability to cruise through draws and beat everyone in the world (including Longoria). But she takes weird losses early all the time. I’m going with Sotomayor in the upset again; Vero plays with such steely, controlled emotions on the court; she doesn’t get rattled, she calmly goes through point to point. That can unnerve a more passionate player.
  • #7 @Jessica Parrilla versus #10 Carla Muñoz Montesinos. Tough match here: the last time they played it was 11-10 in the breaker. I’m thinking this goes breaker again, and the Mexican pulls it out, but would not be surprised to see Munoz advance either.
  • – #2 Alexandra Herrera is set to face the junior Meneses, who will get some points here and there, but the solid Herrera will move on.

Projected Qtrs:

  • #1 Longoria over Laime with little trouble. Laime’s game will be neutralized by the methodical Paola, who will run off points in streaks to advance.
  • #4 Mendez stops Manilla’s run in the quarters. It should be spirited, but Mendez is tough to beat before the semis on tour right now. Manilla will need to scheme long and hard with brother Adam Manilla to find a winning game plan.
  • #3 Vargas versus Sotomayor; two more ladies who regularly train with each other. Both play the same game; classical power racquetball. Who can do it better? I like Sotomayor’s mental game here a bit more than Vargas, but if Maria Jose has her game going she’s tough to top. Vargas in a breaker.
  • #2 Herrera over her countrywoman Parrilla. It has been more than 6 years since Jessica was able to top Alexandra, and I don’t see that changing here.
    Semis: I’m predicting chalk to the semis. From there …
  • #1 Longoria over Mendez; Mendez has lost all 7 meetings to Longoria, but has taken games here and there.
  • #3 Vargas tops Herrera. Alexandra got a first win over Vargas in Chicago in November 2021, enough to propel her to #2 on tour, but Vargas is the better player and should advance.

Finals; Longoria over Vargas.

Doubles review
Salas’ last minute withdrawal has made for a new doubles team; Longoria has picked up MRR as her partner and get the #2 seed. It should be interesting to see whether Longoria can carry a new partner along to the title.
From the top of the doubles draw, its hard to see anyone other than the top pairing of Herrera/Mejia advancing. They’ve been regularly playing together for a while now, have a couple of Mexican national titles over the Longoria/Salas team, and are tough to beat.
From the bottom of the draw, can MRR hold her own against these top teams if they double-serve her? We’ll see. The Vargas/Mendez team is tough to beat and I like them for the final.

In the final, Look for Mexico over Argentina.

Look for Streaming in the regular places; follow the LPRT on facebook and sign up to get notifications when they go Live. Look for Timothy Baghurst, @Jerry J Josey Jr., and Tj Baumbaugh on the mike, calling the shots!
Also, the venerable JT R Ball is heading to Florida and has been doing promotion of the event for weeks.
Look for Streaming on USA Racquetball’s page, with Leo Vasquez on the mike as always!
Thanks to the Tourney Director @Sudsy Monchik again for putting this event on!
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