2024 50th Annual Outdoor Nationals Recap

Florida’s Chris McDonald had a dominant weekend at Outdoor Nationals. Photo 2023 Outdoor Nats via Lara

Congrats to your winners on the weekend:

– Men’s Pro Doubles: Rocky Carson & Kane Waselenchuk

– Women’s Pro Doubles: Carla Munoz & Brenda Laime

– Mixed Pro Doubles: Chris McDonald & Michelle Key

– Men’s Singles: Eduardo Portillo

– Women’s Singles: Carla Munoz

– CPRT: Chris McDonald & Kane Waselenchuk

A big weekend for the McDonald clan, who took home a slew of titles. Munoz got the double and missed out on a Triple Crown by one division. Two wins for King Kane, adding his name to the outdoor record books, and yet another title for Rocky.

R2 Sports App home page for event: https://www.r2sports.com/website/event-website.asp?TID=42032

ProRacquetballStats.com Match Reports by Pro division (notification that the results have been loaded to the database):

– Men’s Pro Doubles: https://rball.pro/s0x

– Women’s Pro Doubles: https://rball.pro/km7

– Mixed Pro Doubles: https://rball.pro/6zj

– Men’s Singles: https://rball.pro/5tx

– Women’s Singles: https://rball.pro/xyg

Triple Crown Reports: (these show the winners of all Pro divisions at all WOR outdoor majors across time)

– Men’s Pro Doubles: https://rball.pro/j47

– Women’s Pro Doubles: https://rball.pro/2vv

– Mixed Pro Doubles: https://rball.pro/y43

– Men’s Pro Singles: https://rball.pro/86z

– Women’s Pro Singles: https://rball.pro/x8g

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Lets do a quick recap of the pro draws.

Men’s Pro Doubles:

Thanks to very balanced seeding, there were really no surprises to the semis in the Men’s pro Doubles draw. All top 4 seeds advanced as expected, and only one tie-breaker blip in an earlier round forced one of the favorites to stress.

In the semis, the #1 seeds and defending champs @Josh Tucker and Brandon Davis struggled with the veteran/youth combination of Mexican #4 seeds @Alvaro Beltran and @Eduardo Portillo , losing the first game 13 before grinding out a three game win. In the bottom semi, two-time Outdoor Nats pro winners @Micah Rich and @Jason Geis faced off in a highly anticipated match against 5-time Outdoor Nats pro

winner @Rocky Carson and 14-time IRT tour champ Kane Waselenchuk . Kane first played outdoor just a few years ago, coming out to Las Vegas during the Covid year to make a huge run to the final before falling to the DLR/Beltran team. He came to Huntington Beach last year, but struggled to gel with Alvaro and lost early to the same team they played on Sunday (Jason and Micah). In 2024, with a more natural left-sided partner in Rocky, Kane was unbeatable. Unlike in years past, when Kane’s court coverage was a liability, he was deadly today, and any ball that ventured to the right side of the court that was below his shoulders was basically a roll out. Rich and Jason worked primarily to Rocky, but Rocky’s defensive game is top notch, and there was just only so many shoulder height overheads Micah could take in the middle of the court before one popped over to Kane for the kill. The final score line was 7,7, and the two legends of the sport were moving on.

In the final, Kane & Rocky white-washed the defending champs in game one before they made the adjustments needed to get back into the match. Like one would expect, Davis & Tucker ground their way to a game two win to force a breaker. There, Rocky & Kane took back over and won the title 11-7. Rocky claims his 6th Outdoor Nationals doubles title, tying him with Greg Solis and Clubber Lane for 2nd all time. Meanwhile, Like indoor legends Brumfield, Swain, Carson, Beltran, and De La Rosa before him, Kane got to put his signature on the champion’s surfboard for the first time.

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Women’s Pro Doubles:

Carla Munoz won her 6th straight Women’s Pro doubles title at Outdoor Nationals, and her third in a row with a different partner, by teaming with Brenda Laime to down her former partner Michelle Key playing with @Katie Neils in a close 11,14 match Sunday morning.

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Mixed Pro Doubles

Chris McDonald played his patented “pressure defense” game while teaming with the best and most decorated female doubles outdoor player of all time in Michelle Key to take the final in dominant fashion over the #1 seeds Rich & Munoz, denying Munoz the triple crown on the weekend. Final score: 9,5.

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Men’s Singles

In his first ever foray into outdoor singles, @International Racquetball Tour veteran Eduardo “Lalo” Portillo made fast work of the competition to take the title. He downed Hall of Famer Greg Solis in the semis 4,6 and then toppled the defending champ and #1 seed Danny Lavely 3,5 in the final.

Portillo is now the 8th different man to win this title in the last 8 years it has been held. Before him was Lavely, Acuna, Diaz, Covid, Tucker, Avila, Beltran, and then Rocky … who won it 10 out of 11 years dating back to 2007 and beyond.

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Women’s Singles

#1 seed Carla muñoz won her 3rd Women’s pro singles title at Outdoor Nationals in four years, topping fellow LPRT pro Brenda Laime 7,14 for the title.

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Other Major Draws in California:

– CPRT: the future Vegas World Team Racquetball team KWM pair of McDonald and Waselenchuk used this draw to get acclimated as partners, and they ran through the draw learning each other as they went to end up with the title. After topping the NorCal based Torres/Ramos, they vanquished the top seeds Tucker & Solis 14,6. In the final, they faced 2-time pro champs Carson & Ustarroz, who have played together for many years. The two legend-led pairs split the first two games before the fire of McDonald caught ahold and they raced to an 11-3 tie-breaker win for the title.

– Men’s 75s: Chris McDonald made it three titles on the weekend, teaming with his younger brother Jack Mcdonald to take the 75+ division. They beat Florida’s Max Heymann and Sweet @Lou Orosco in the final.

– Men’s 100/Centurion: Heymann went one step further than he did in 75s, teaming with @Gabe Medina to win the 100s.

– Men’s Open: Jack McDonald and Lou Orosco both claimed a second title on the weekend, winning the Open Doubles crown.

– Men’s Paddleball “Upper” title: Danny Lavely & Jeremy McGlothin won an injury-riddled Paddleball Upper division title, getting a walk-over in the final when Brian pineda got hurt earlier in the weekend.

– Mixed Paddleball upper title: San Diego pair Aaron Hager & Roxanne Rehling surprised the draw by taking the title as the #5 seeds.

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Thanks for all the streaming on the weekend from various fans and players. Outdoor mavens did a great job of sharing the streams so we could follow along.

Thanks to the Tourney Directors Geoff Osberg and Jesus Ustarroz for putting this event on, and congratulations on your induction into the WOR Hall of Fame for your decade-plus of service here.

Thanks once again to all the sponsors, especially 3Wall Ball , @kwKwm Gutterman , Keith Minor , Pro Kennex , @Melissa’s, Joe Splathead and GearBox .

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Next up?

We’ll do all the accounting for the Outdoor Cup series and publish a status of updated standings post Outdoor Nats later this week.

Per our handy master racquetball calendar … https://docs.google.com/…/1V6OTid6rZ356voXVkoV2sN7KMMb

The last weekend of July features NMRA National Masters/IRF Senior Worlds plus Mexican Junior Nationals, then the first weekend of August we get an early start to the LPRT calendar with the Denver open.

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3Wall Ball

@worWorld Outdoor Racquetball

USA Racquetball

Outdoor Nationals 2024 Preview

Carla Munoz is well positioned to take the triple crown this weekend, being the #1 seed in all three pro divisions entered. Photo Mike Augustin 2019

This coming weekend is the 50th annual Outdoor Nationals event, the longest running outdoor tournament in existence and one that has been the standard bearer in the genre for decades.

If you missed my preview and oral history of the event, which dates to 1974 and has included many of the sport’s pivotal contributors and players over its 50 year history, please see https://www.usaracquetball.com/…/outdoor-nationals-50th…

R2 Sports App link: https://www.r2sports.com/portfolio/r2-event.asp?TID=42032

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Let’s preview the pro draws. We’ll run through them one by one.

Men’s Pro Doubles

A great seeding job will result in a slew of exciting matches throughout this draw. We have some new partnerships this year in pro, and it will be interesting to see how the draws shake out.

Last year’s champs (@Josh Tucker and Brandon Davis are back and the #1 seeds, while the 2022 and 2021 champs @Micah Rich and @Jason Geis are the #2 seeds. However, trouble awaits both top seeds if they want a grudge match for the title this year. Lurking in the top half is 3-time Outdoor Nats pro doubles champ #4 @Alvaro Beltran, teamed with @Eduardo Portillo , who has a 3WB title and has proved to be a very fast study, but the team i’m looking at for the semis is #5 @Danny Lavely and WOR hall of Famer and 6-time Outdoor Nationals pro champ Greg Solis , who I think can get to the semis and might push Tucker & Davis a bit.

Meanwhile, the bottom half features the all-star pairing of Rocky Carson with the king himself @Kane Waselenchuk as the #3 seeds; they’ll get a fun opener against another legend of the sport Cliff Swain (paired with the hard-hitting Mike orr ), and project into the #6 seeds Chris McDonald and Brian pineda , who outdoor legends themselves who have a history with Kane stemming from last year’s Vegas event. The bottom half semi could be epic, with two lefty-righty teams battling, pitting power and tactics head to head.

In the end, I think its #1 versus #2 reach the final, and I think Rich & Geis reclaim their crown. But I could also easily see any of the top 4-5 seeds winning this thing.

Women’s Pro Doubles

Just four teams are entered, with a final projected between the two top seeds. #1 @Carla muñoz and Brenda Laime should face the Arizona-based pair of Michelle Key and @Katie Neils for the title. Munoz/Laime will isolate on Neils and should take the title. Munoz has won this title five years in a row and will look to make it six by topping the sport’s most decorated player in Key.

Mixed Pro Doubles.

Eight solid teams are entered into Mixed, including the Legendary @Martha McDonald, playing with her son Jack as the #4 seeds. Then, her other son Chris is the #2 seed with Michelle Key . Both teams would have some serious work ahead of them to have an all McDonald final.

The #1 seeds @Micah Rich and Carla muñoz likely have to beat the very tough looking team of @Eduardo Portillo and @Brenda Laime to get to the final, but Rich’s experience on his home courts should push them through. I think it’ll be 1v2 in the final, and I like the emotion of Chris McDonald and Key’s legendary talent in outdoor doubles to win out over Rich/Munoz for the title.

Men’s Pro Singles

There’s 8 players in the Singles draw, highlighted by defending champ Lavely, tough touring pro Portillo, and Hall of Famer @Greg Solis , who’s made the singles final three times (99,01,19) across a 20+ year career but has never won it. The draw is not out as of this writing, but Lavely is a beast in singles and will be my favorite to repeat.

Women’s Pro Singles

Six ladies are entered, highlighted by the #1 seed Carla muñoz , who won this in 2021 and 2022 and was a finalist last year. She seems likely to face fellow LPRT touring pro #2 @Brenda Laime in the final. This is Laime’s debut at outdoor singles, but based on her outdoor doubles acumen she could push Munoz for the title, but I favor the experience of Munoz (who holds 4 career outdoor singles major titles).

Other Divisions of note:

Men’s Open Doubles is essentially a pro-quality draw, with Brandon Davis & Brian Pineda as the #1 seeds. They’ll be hard to beat, but there’s several other pro entrants scattered throughout the draw. Look for Davis to do the Pro & Open double this weekend.

CPRT has 10 teams, highlighted by the star-studded McDonald/Waselenchuk team. the draw isn’t available as of this writing, but they’re a team looking out for. Defending champs Solis & Tucker will be tough to beat as the #1 seeds. St. Clair & Burg made the CPRT final last year and are no slouches either. This draw also has 2-x Outdoor pro champs Rocky & Jesus and @Cliff Swain and @Mike Orr (who, if this was 1995, would be perhaps the hardest hitting doubles team in the history of the sport). Great draw, should be a fun one to watch.

Combined 75+ also has some solid teams, including Beltran & Chavez, Rich & Osberg, the McDonald brothers, and Gerhard & Allin.

Men’s combined 100+/Centurion features some really good teams. the #1 seeds are HB veterans Tony Burg & Scott St. Clair, and they’re #1 for a reason. The legendary @Rocky Carson is playing with NoCal’s Jerry hall and are favorites for the final. Don’t sleep on #7 @MMax Heyman and Gabe Medina , nor #3 Geoff Osberg and @Eric Fernandez , who are also playing on home courts and know their way around.

There’s also a healthy Paddleball competition at this year’s tourney, with some crossover from Racquetball to Paddleball in the divisions. The top-level paddle division features several excellent players in Danny Lavely , Jeremy Mcglothin , Beltran, Pineda, Riffel, and the like.

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Look for Streaming online, both from players and from WOR/3WallBall pages.

Thanks to the Tourney Directors Jesus Ustarroz and Geoff Osberg for putting this event on! The pair are being recognized this weekend with entry to the WOR hall of fame for their decade+ contribution of running this event.

Thanks to many gold-level sponsors of this event. KWM Gutterman Inc. and @Keith Minor, @Prokennex , @3wallba3Wall Ball and @Mike Coulter, Melissa’s produce, Gearbox Racquetball and @Rafael Filipini , @splathead and @Joe Hall, and @LPL Financial and Halsey Roscoe . It goes without saying that without you and your support, we don’t have a sport.

Associations

USA Racquetball

WOR – World Outdoor Racquetball

USA 2024 Junior Nationals Recap

Naomi Ros took home the triple crown at 2024 Junior Nationals. Photo Ken Fife

@USA Racquetball held its 51st annual Junior Nationals event last week in Pleasanton, California. The first Junior Nationals was held in 1974, in San Diego. The first junior national only featured boys competitions and was won by future touring pro Jerry Zuckerman. None other than the legendary @Marty Hogan won the second 18U national tournament in 1975, the same year he won his first NRC pro event (in Burlington, Vermont in the fall). Ever since, Junior National winners have fed into the pro tours and many of the game’s top American players cut their competitive teeth at Junior Nationals each year.

With this post, is official notification that the Junior Nationals results have been entered into the ProRacquetballStats.com database. For Juniors, we upload full bracket results for 21s,18s,16s, and 14s, but just load up winners and finalists for all age groups younger than 14U. For doubles, we load up just the finalists.

The best way to see Junior Singles winners is with the cross-year/cross-age group Matrix reports built into the site. They show all the winners for all age divisions going back to 1974. Here’s direct links for each Matrix report:

– Boys USA Junior National Singles Champion Matrix: https://rball.pro/mey

– Girls USA Junior National Singles Champion Matrix: https://rball.pro/cpf

Each full division draw can be accessed from the “event” pulldown after you enter either the Juniors or the Junior Doubles section. One Junior Nationals results in 18-20 singles draws plus another 15 doubles draws being entered into the database, so there’s a lot of new data here this week.

R2sports home page for the event, with all the full brackets: https://www.r2sports.com/tourney/home.asp?TID=41777

For 2024, congrats to your Boys Singles winners:

– Boys 21U: Vedant Chauhan

– Boys 18U: Nikhil Prasad

– Boys 16U: Nathan Rykhus

– Boys 14U: Vaishant Mangalampalli

– Boys 12U: Scott Haacke

– Boys 10U: Fernando Miguel Carpena

– Boys 10Udb: Jasur Pridatko

– Boys 8U: Jasur Pridatko

– Boys 8Umb: Zane Horner

– Boys 6Umb: Xavier De La Torre-Berrera

Congrats to your Girls singles winners:

– Girls 21U: Annie Roberts

– Girls 18U: Naomi Ros

– Girls 16U: Aanshi Thakur

– Girls 14U; Aarya Shetty

– Girls 12U: Addie Strobach

– Girls 10U: Yana Alegria

– Girls 10Udb: Sameera Rai

– Girls 8U: Sameera Rai

– Girls 8Umb: Nithya Mangalampalli

– Girls 6Umb: Sasha Rai

Congrats to your Boys Doubles winners:

– Boys 21U: Iain Dunn & Paul Saraceno

– Boys 18U: Cole Sendrey & DJ Mendoza

– Boys 16U: Nathan Rykhus & Eshan Ali

– Boys 14U: Vaishant Mangalampalli & Grant Williams

– Boys 12U: Scott Haacke & Noah Jackola

– Boys 10U: Dhruv Venalapalli & Reyansh Chandel

Congrats to your Girls Doubles winners:

– Girls 21U: Annie Roberts & Shane Diaz

– Girls 18U: Naomi Ros & Ava Kaiser

– Girls 16U; Victoria Rodriguez & Montserrat Torres

– Girls 14U: Aarya Shetty & Sarah Bawa

– Girls 12U: Lexie Sikorski & Anna Sikorski

– Girls 10U: Sameera Rai & Sloka Marivada

And Congrats to your Mixed Doubles winners:

– Mixed 21U: Iain Dunn & Shane Diaz

– Mixed 18U: Cole Sendrey & Naomi Ros

– Mixed 16U: Eshan Ali & Victoria Rodriguez

– Mixed 14U: Ayan Sharma & Aarya Shetty

– Mixed 12U: Noah Jackola & Anna Sikorski

– Mixed 10U: Dhruv Venalapalli & Sloka Marivada

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Note: there are some combined divisions here. I determined the champions when age groups were combined by looking at head to head results to “name” an age group champion. In some cases there are uncontested winners for younger entrants who competed with the next higher age group.

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Here’s some quick commentary on the Singles champions by grouping.

Boys Singles;

Vedant Chauhan returns to the winner’s circle in 21U for the first time since he won 12U in 2017, and he did it as the #8 seed and by dominating the defending champ @Krish Thakur in the quarters. In 18U, @Nikhil Prasad repeated as 18U champ and won his 9th career Junior National title. This ties him for 2nd all time among all Boys, sitting only behind the legendary @Jack Huczek , who won 13 junior titles in his career (amazing b/c he didn’t even have 3 years in 21U to pad his totals back when he played, nor did he have 10Udb).

In 16U, @Nathan Rykhus, the 2-time defending 14U champ, moved up and beat last year’s champion @Eshan Ali in the final. This draw featured 23 players, the largest draw of the event. This is Rykhus’ 5th career junior title. In 14U, Vaishant Mangalampalli gets back on top for his 2nd junior title after winning 12U a couple years ago.

We got a first time junior national singles winners in Scott Haacke in 12U and with Fernando Miguel Carpena in 10U. Jasur Pridatko took home two titles: the Boys 8U and the boys 10U double bounce. Zane Horner followed in his older brother’s footsteps by taking the 8UMB: Benjamin Horner took the same division a decade ago in 2014. Lastly, the 5-man 6UMB draw, famously won by Jake Bredenbeck in 1998, was taken by Xavier De La Torre-Berrera.

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Girls Singles quick recaps.

In 21U, Annie Roberts took her third straight Junior 21U title. It seems a little odd to refer to Roberts, a married woman and soon to be a college graduate, as having won the “Girls 21U” title, honestly. This will be her final time at Junior Nationals, but she still has one intercollegiate title to chase. In 18U, @Naomi Ros cruised to the title, her 4th straight since switching from her native Mexico to represent the USA back in 2020. Aanshi Thakur got her first jr title since 2017 by upsetting @Victoria Rodriguez in the 16U final. In the 14U, Aarya Shetty wins her 2nd career Junior title by blitzing the competition.

All six divisions from 12U to 6Umb were taken by first time winners. Congrats to Addie Strobach and Yana Alegria for taking 12U and 10u respectively. Sameera Rai took both the 8U and the 10U double bounce divisions. Lastly we had three competing for the 8U and 6U mb competitions, including one 6yr old with a rather famous name: that being Raelynn De la Rosa, playing in her first junior nationals competition, following in the footsteps of both her quite-accomplished parents.

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Notable multi-title winners

The following players took home the coveted “Triple Crown,” winning singles, gender doubles, and mixed doubles this year:

– Naomi Ros (18U)

– Aarya Shetty (14U)

The following players took home the “double,” winning both Singles and gender Doubles in their age groups:

– Nathan Rykhus (Boys 16U)

– Vaishant Mangalampalli (Boys 14U)

– Scott Haacke (Boys 12U)

– Annie Roberts (Girls 21U)

These players took the “Double Double,” winning both Gender and Mixed doubles titles.

– Iain Dunn (21U)

– Cole Sendrey (18U)

– Eshan Ali (16U)

– Victoria Rodriguez (16U)

– Anna Sikorski (12U)

– Dhruv Venalapalli (10U

– Sloka Marivada (10U)

Phew. that’s it for Junior Nationals. Congrats to all the 2024 winners. The National team includes the two singles finalists and the doubles winners in each division; those players have first right of refusal to represent Team USA at Junior Worlds later this year in Guatemala. Hopefully the proximity of Junior Worlds this year (as in, its not in South America in a country that just underwent an attempted coup) means we field a stronger team and have a chance to take back some world team titles.

Next up on the racquetball calendar? 2024 Outdoor Nationals in Huntington Beach! We’ll preview and recap that event as we always do, plus it’s the second leg of the 2024 Outdoor Cup Series. There’s already some big names and fun partnerships committed to HB, so can’t wait to see the draws and the competitions.

LPRT 2023-24 Season in Review Part 3

Maria Renee Rodriguez took a big step back touring this year while completing school. Photo 2022 Outdoor Nats via Steve Fitzsimons

In this last part of the 2023-24 season recap, we will highlight notables outside the top 20 and then wrap up with a list of the notable news items from a historical perspective.

– #22 Sheryl Lotts missed most of the season’s events after moving to Florida, but was a regular training partner there with Sudsy Monchik and Veronica Sotomayor and is seemingly well positioned to return to the tour and regain her mid-teens expectations.

– #25 @Maria Renee Rodriguez, a mainstay on tour for years, took most of this season off while she finished off a master’s degree at Liberty University. She remains on the Guatemalan national team and earns their stipend, but sources tell me she’s career focused going forward and will continue to be stepped back from the tour.

– #26 Martina Katz, just recently matriculating from the U21 ranks, traveled up from Argentina for a couple pro events this year. She’s held her own against the best of her age groups in international competitions for years and would fare quite well if she could join the Vargas/Mendez travel train up and down the Americas.

– #28 Frederique Lambert made it to two events, not bad for a full-time practicing physician. She continues to own the #1 spot for Canada.

– #30 @Valeria Centellas has completely stepped back from touring after being an incredibly promising junior coming out of Bolivia/Argentina. My sources tell me there might be money issues to fund travel for Centellas. My other sources tell me she’s expected to be back for the beginning of the next season.

– #32 @Veronica Sotomayor recently relocated to the Pacific Northwest, which would make it even tougher for her to commit to touring. Many believe her performance in limited appearances would warrant a return to the top 10 if she toured regularly; odds are we’ll never find out.

– #32 @Maricruz Ortiz has gotten great international wins, but has never really made that big of an impression on the pro tour.

– #32 @Adriana Riveros, a stalwart on tour for a decade, played in just one event this year.

– #32 @Victoria Rodriguez is one of the best US juniors to come up in years. The 16yr old just made the US Junior national team, has been a regular in outdoor events for a couple years now, and will be very interesting to see on tour if/when she can.

– #41 @Susana Acosta got one appearance in this year to extend her season streak to 26. She’s played in a pro event every season for 26 years in a row.

– #42 Annie Roberts , the reigning intercollegiate champ and three-time defending U21 champion, could only get to one pro event while going to college full time and getting married this year.

– #42 Lucia Gonzalez , who always seems to get wins against top 8 players at Mexican Nationals, made just one event t his year.

– #47 @Erica Williams , better known for her outdoor exploits and being one of the leading outdoor programming promotors in the sport in her home area of the Bay Area, entered one pro event.

Players who were unranked this season of note:

– Texan @Linda Tyler usually makes a couple events a year but missed this season.

– As noted above, top-ranked Bolivians @Jenny Daza, @Michele Meneses and @Yazmine Sabja missed this season entirely. All are top 15 quality players.

– @Adrienne Haynes failed to play an event this season for the first time in 23 years.

– Top Mexican Ana Laura Flores is reportedly going to Law School and has curtailed training.

– The #1 in Ireland @Aisling Hickey, who got a couple of solid wins last season while working in the US, did not play any pro events this year.

– It was an off year in general for the whole new generation of top Mexican junior girls coming up: where were the likes of Daniela Rico, Angela Veronica Ortega, Cynthia Gutierrez, Maria Gutierrez, Ximena Gonzalez, or the Aguilara clan?

– Quick follow-up from a previous post: Barrios struggled to make events this year because she’s going to medical school. So, that’s awesome for her personal career, but probably a Lambert-like dagger for her racquetball career.

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Lastly, notable LPRT news items for the season,

– 6/21/23: Just ahead of the 2023 Central American & Caribbean championships, an article comes out that seems to indicate that Paola Longoria’s long-simmering conflict with Conade has reached a conclusion in her favor. She implies that the lawsuit that conade filed against the athletes for back payments has been dismissed.

– 10/18/23: Cristina Amaya releases a video ahead of the Pan Am games that details her struggles with the Colombian olympic committee, revealing that she was cut off

of her government salary in November 2022 and that furthermore even though Amaya and Riquelme had qualified for the Pan Am games that their spots were given away. Amaya still traveled to Chile to referee, but her dreams of competing in the Pan am games were shattered. This situation still infuriates me; clearly someone at the IRF allowed these two players, who do a ton for the game, to miss deadlines to enter the Pan Am games, and gave away their slots to other players from other countries. Someone at the IRF could have dropped a dime here to let Amaya/Riquelme know they had to file paperwork, but didn’t. It’s shameful.

– >12/11/23: With her semi-finals loss at the 2023 Xmas Classic, Paola Longoria will drop to #3 on tour. It is believed to be the first time since roughly October 2008 that

Longoria was not ranked #1 or #2 on tour. Vargas takes the event and moves to #2 ahead of Longoria and is now within strikign distance of #1 Mejia, who she’s beaten twice in the last three LPRT events.

– 1/14/24: Maria Jose Vargas wins her third straight tournament in a row, taking a commanding lead in the season to date points ranking.

– 2/11/24: LPRT #4 and USA #1 Erika Manilla is forced to retire the US National singles final due to what was thought to be a back injury at the time. Subsequent test and MRIs show that Erika suffered a hip labrum tear. She goes in for surgery to correct the issue mid March, but the injury costs her several LPRT stops, and she’ll be laid up for 6 months.

– 3/3/24: Despite losing in the semis, Vargas ascends to #1 on tour for the first time in her career. She now leads both the rolling 365 calendar and the season to date points rank and is the odds-on favorite to take the title. Defending tour champ Mejia drops to 2nd on tour, and now sits a distant 3rd in the season to date points race, having failed to win an event this season after her dominant 2022-23.

– 3/3/24: Paola Longoria announces her candidacy for the Mexican Chamber of Deputies (the US Equivalent of the House of Representatives) from District 5/Nuevo Leon. Elections are in June. Salas apparently is also running in teh same election.

– 3/24/24: Erika Manilla is featured in a full-page story in the <a href=”https://www.denverpost.com/2024/03/24/erika-manilla-pro-racquetball-player/”>Denver Post</a>.

– 4/28/24: Maria Jose Vargas wins her 5th event of the season at the Sweet Caroline grand slam, essentially wrapping up the 2023-24 title. It’s her first title, and

she dominated the tour this year. She topped Paola in the final 11-10.

– 4/28/24: After the 11-10 loss, Longoria’s new husband posted accusations on social media in the aftermath, claiming biased refereeing (one of the line judges was Argentine for the final) as the main reason that Paola lost this event. The issue does highlight the difficulties the tour has in finding “unbiased” refs for a group of women who all travel together to the same events. The IRF solves this by spending thousands of dollars flying in referees from a wide variety of countries, but nearly the entire LPRT tour comes from just a few countries, making it difficult sometimes to find neutral refs.

– 6/5/24: Neither Longoria nor Salas, both of whom were running for the Mexican chamber of Deputies, were directly elected in the National elections. They

can still be selected/appointed by the party.

– 6/9/24: Vargas officially wins her first ever pro title by entering the season’s final event in Chesapeake and advancing past the opening rounds. She had a large enough lead on Longoria to essentially have the title wrapped up after Greenville, so this was a formality to complete her dominant season. She becomes the third

different pro to win the last three LPRT seasons.

LPRT 2023-24 Season in Review Part 2: Players ranked 11-20.

Salas missed out on another top 10 finish. Photo US Open 2019 by Kevin Savory

This is Part 2 of my 2023-24 LPRT season in review. In part 1, we did a deep dive into the top 10 players with commentary on each of their seasons. In this part 2, we’ll cover the players who finished ranked 11th-20th, which will for the most part cover the “touring regulars” plus some interesting names.

Part 3 will cover other notable players plus do a news review for the season.

(note: there was a tie for 10th on tour this year, so we start with the 12th ranked player).

12. Samantha Salas Solis , age 37, 6-7 for the season, 3 quarter finals, 322.50 points.

This is as good of a time to mention this fact as any, but the gap between the 7th ranked player (Mendez, with 393.50 points), to Salas at #12 with 322.50 is just 71 points. 71 points across an entire season is about the amount of points one would get for reaching the quarterfinals of a grand slam event. In other words, there’s not a whole lot separating all the ladies ranked 7th-12th this year on tour.

Salas missed the Sweet Caroline grand slam this year; had she played that event and made the quarters, she’d have finished 7th instead of 12th. Had she entered and lost in the 16s, she would have finished the season ranked 8th. It was a bad event to miss, and ends up costing Salas her first top 10 finish since 2020-21. As it was this season, Salas had relatively the same performance she’s had for several seasons now, making a few quarters when she wins that 7/10 round of 16 match.

Prediction next year: probably around the same #12-14 range.

#13 Jessica Parrilla , age 33, 5-7 for the season, 1 quarterfinal. 256 points.

There is a gap from Salas to Parrilla in the ranking points, defining kind of a thin line between the 7-12 ranked players and the 13th ranked player. Parrilla made one quarter final this year (when she got a solid win over Laime in the Chesapeake opener last fall), but otherwise was out in the 16s. After three seasons hanging in the 7-8 range, Parrilla’s season represents a big step backwards, one that may be her new norm. It’s hard to identify players ranked in the set of 5-6 above her that you’d argue she can regularly beat now, especially now that she’s entering that magic age where so many pro pickleball players hang ’em up.

Prediction next season: Same 12-14 range.

#14 Hollie Scott , age 25, 3-7 on the season, six round of 16s, 214.25.

Hollie’s big success this season was her USA nationals triple crown in February. On tour, she consistently ran into top ranked players in the 16s and mostly hung with them, but had no break through wins. She had losses in the 16s this year to Herrera, Laime, Gaby, Vargas, and Mejia. She had a couple of winnable matches that would have jumped up her ranking not go her way, but still improved on her ranking the last couple of seasons.

prediction next season: #13-14 again.

#15: Lexi York , age 27, 2-8 on the season, three round of 16s, 199.25 points.

York and Scott had similar seasons, always running into top players in the 16s. Scott just had a couple more of them. York’s three round of 16s this season were her career first three, and #15 is a big step up from the last couple of seasons. Her training with Bredenbeck brothers is paying off.

Prediction next season: #13/14 range again.

#16: @Maria Paz Riquelme , age 36, 3-8 on the season, 4 round of 16s, 183.75 points

Riquelme, who used to play in the same club as I in Arlington Virginia back in the early 2000s, made it to all 8 events and made a handful of round of 16s. The Chilean turned Colombian frequently ran into the #1 or #2 seed in the 16s by virtue of her ranking most of the season, which makes it hard to move on.

Prediction next season: same general area, in the 16-18 range.

#17: Stephanie Synhorst , age 31, 1-8 on the season, 2 round of 16s, 165.50 points

Synhorst got her first career LPRT win this season, topping Riquelme in San Antonio in April. The 31yr old only started playing pro a few years ago, but made every event and got a ton of open draw experience on top of the LPRT experience.

Prediction next season: 18-20 range.

#18: @Naomi Ros , age 18, 4-6 on the season, 4 round of 16s. 162.25 points.

Ros, the Texan junior who converted from Mexico to USA in 2021, won Junior Worlds 16U two years ago and is the current reigning USA 18U national champ. As we speak she’s in Pleasanton defending her national 18U title. She had some success on tour this year, getting a couple of wins over York and playing to players tough (she took a game off of Mejia in Greenville). Assuming she plays the tour full time and doesn’t miss events, she’s primed to be ranked higher.

Prediction next season: #13-14 range

#19: Angela Barrios , age 24, 4-3 in three events this season, 151 points

Barrios, after three years in the top eight, missed most of this season and fell all the way to #19. Her talent level hasn’t changed: she just won the Bolivian National triple crown, but she had little impact this season one year after making 2 semis and a pro final. She remains a dangerous opponent when she does appear. We can only assume that the financial issues that many Bolivian players encounter are behind her sudden drop in touring appearances. There were practically no appearances from any of the Bolivians this year (Barrios, Meneses, Daza, etc).

It’s unclear if t his is just what we’re to expect from Barrios going forward: a source tells me that she’s not even training regularly anymore. So, unfortunately the pro tour looks like its losing one of its better players.

Prediction for next season: out of the sport.

#20 Michelle Key , age 35, 3-4 on the season, 3 round of 16s, 112.50 points.

After years of only sporadically entering tour events (it had been since 2015-16 since she toured regularly), Key played half the tour’s events this season and qualified for the US National team in February. She represented the US in an international event for the first time in nearly a decade. On the LPRT she got a couple of good wins (Mendez, York) and seems primed to move up the rankings now that it seems like she’s touring more regularly.

Prediction for next season: #16

That’s it for part 2; next episode we’ll talk about notables outside the top 20 and wrap it up with a review of the season’s news events.