No Tier 1s or major events on the calendar last week, but we did have a couple of interesting pro-level competitions going on. Here’s a quick recap of two events that had some pros and internationals competing.
First up; the Montana Winter Classic, an IRT-500 (which means basically players get $500 per round won from the quarters onward). This tournament drew a handful of regular touring pros and some top Canadian players.
Pro finals: Alan Natera Chavez took out Thomas Carter . Semi finalists included recently crowned National Singles Open champion Ty Hedalen
Open doubles: won by LPRT #4 Erika Manilla and Matthew Ivar Majxner , who topped the all-Canada pairing of Lee Connell and @Tanner Prentice .
Men’s Open singles: also won by Manilla in a small RR group.
Bravo to the Montana crew, Andrew Weber , Majxner, and others who made this tournament possible.
the brainchild of top Florida amateur Alex Zamudio , this tournament featured an old-school open only draw; big money to enter, winner takes all style competition.
25 Pros from around the country and around the world entered the singles (34 together for 17 teams in the doubles), and here’s how the action went down.
The story of the tourney had to be Mexico 21U player Diego Gastelum , who upset Ecuador international Juan Francisco Cueva in the 16s, then Guatemala’s Edwin Galicia in the quarters, then the #1 seed and easy tournament favorite @aAlejandro Herrera in the semis to make the finals as an #12 seed.
From the bottom side, Ecuador’s longtime veteran @Jose Daniel Ugalde worked his way th rough the draw, upset #2 @Nolsen Jimenez
in the semis, then took out Gastelum in the final to claim the big prize.
The Doubles draw was wide open, with top seeds falling early on both sides. The #1 seeded team of Zamudio & Morales was taken out by Gastelum & Gomez in the quarters, while the #2 seeds (Team Ecuador Ugalde/Cueva) was upset by the legendary Sudsy Monchik playing with Charles George . Neither of these upset-minded pairings could go much further though.
In the end, the Floridians rose to the top, with Herrera (paired with Bolivian Fronton veteran @Marcelo Vargas Aguilar ) taking on Jimenez and Mike Harmon from the bottom half. Jimenez and Harmon blew it up in the final, winning 6,6 to take the title.
Next up, we have a busy weekend.
Next weekend we have HS Nationals, IRT in Minnesota, and the LPRT in Boston.
– Carrasco loses to Guatemalan #1 Salvatierra 8,14. Even though these two are similar in stature on the world rankings stage, I would have thought the Bolivian would have pulled it out.
– Jose Daniel Ugalde did not seem that pressed to defeat Erick Trujillo 8,11. An interesting result; Ugalde now plays into Acuna, who he beat at 2022 Worlds in the group stage. Could we see a run?
– Erik Cuevas takes out Jesus Guillermo Ortega in a breaker. This seems like an upset in my book, as he’d beaten Cuevas the last couple of meetings.
In the 16s, a couple of notable results for me:
– #4 @Alejandro Landa held off the usually dangerous @Jaime Martel in two. These two players will both be part of a larger issue later on in the weekend, so read on.
– In kind of a shocking result for me, #11 Sebastian Franco took out #6 Rodrigo Montoya with ease 4,11. The Jeckyl and Hyde performances of Montoya continue; in my mind he’s one of the bets 3-4 players out there, but he can’t seem to beat players consistently that he should beat. Franco had lost 8 of his last 9 matches on tour, mostly to amateur entries in the opening rounds of events, and should never beat a guy who’s making pro finals.
– Ugalde could not continue his run, and Acuna took him out with ease to move into the quarters.
– #4 Landa reverses his recent trend in events and lives up to his seeding, taking out his former doubles partner @Samuel Murray in a breaker.
– #3 @Jake Bredenbeck crushed Franco 8,3 to make the semis for the 4th time in his last 6 IRT events.
– #2 Andree Parrilla blasted #7 @Andres Acuña 3,4 to move into the semis and squelch any possible upset.
In the Semis
– DLR got a walk-over against Landa, (his doubles partner both this weekend and on the US Team) after Landa tweaked his ankle in their doubles match earlier in the day.
– #3 Jake got a solid win over his long-time rival Parrilla to move into his 3rd final in his last 6 events.
In the Finals, DLR and Jake played the expected “close but never really in doubt” match, with DLR winning 10,12. Jake continues to really make a mark on tour and seems a safe bet to get another tourney win eventually.
Points Implications of results
– Thanks to Moscoso’s absence and DLR’s performance, Daniel will re-ascend to #1 on tour for the time being. And going forward for a while, it will be a dog-fight at the top as both DLR and Moscoso have varying results expiring and we may see more flip flopping. Just hope Conrrado doesn’t miss events.
– Portillo’s absence costs him: he’ll drop slightly in the rankings.
– Despite his early loss, Montoya will move up to #7
– Adam Manilla will rise up to #9, his career best.
The doubles draw overall was very chalk-y, with the top 4 seeds advancing to the semis and the top 2 to the final.
However, that’s not the storyline of the weekend.
In a tense semi-final between #2 seeds DLR/Landa and #3 Murray/Jake, a possible match-point for the US champs was given in the form of an avoidable hinder. It was a wrap around shot and though Jake was definitely in the way, it was a borderline hinder call. Which, upon appeal, is exactly what was called; the line judges’ calls turned the avoidable into a replay hinder, much to the chagrin of Landa.
Landa, without warning, shockingly spiked the ball back towards the back wall, ostensibly towards the line judge who called the rally a replay instead of an avoidable, nearly pegging Murray in the face. Murray and Jake were shocked that Landa received no technical or warning for the action, and the match was over on the next rally. But the reaction on social media was fast and furious; how could there not have been any penalty given for this behavior at the moment? The referee was a highly experienced IRF level ref in Jaime Martell; did he miss what happened?
Murray, Landa’s long-time doubles partner, took the rare-step of posting on KRG specifically to call out what happened, and Landa took the also rare step of responding (and not apologizing) in real time defending his actions.
I’m sure this is not the last we hear of this; IRT generally issues fines and suspensions after the fact (and in private) even if there’s no on-the-court penalty. But more importantly, Landa’s US National team spot is now in severe jeopardy. He was already on probation for actions stemming from the PARC event last April, and his actions here could absolutely lead to a suspension from the team. The timing couldn’t be worse, as Landa just re-qualified for the team by winning National doubles two weeks ago, and is scheduled to play both singles and doubles at the upcoming 2023 PARC event, a qualifier for the 2023 Pan Am Games.
In the final…the chatter in the Facebook live stream group chat focused on asking why Landa was even allowed to be playing, but the play on the court was far more interesting than the keyboard warriors in action. Landa was clearly hobbled; pundits said it was his ankle but he seemed to also be favoring his back to this observer, and DLR was taking a ton of shots that normally Landa would be handling. Parrilla and Montoya tried to work the ball to the right hand side as much as possible; when it was left out in the middle, more often than not DLR would bury it.
The match still went breaker, but Landa’s stamina ran out; long-time rivals Parrilla and Montoya took the tiebreaker 11-6 to take the doubles title.
Men’s Open, other draws
– Natera beat Trujillo to take Men’s Open. Solid wins by Ortega Jr to make the semis.
– Veteran Ecuadorian team Ugalde/Cueva topped Atl locals Cunningham/Miller to win Open Doubles.
– Costa Rican junior Maricruz Ortiz took the Men’s Elite singles crown.
Thanks for all the streaming on the weekend, especially from broadcasters Favio Soto , Pablo Fajre , @Karen Grisz and the IRTLive crew
Thanks to the Tourney Director @Michael Miller for putting this event on, and thanks as always to title sponsor Donald Williams for everything you do in the sport.
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 Facebook. If your name is here and it isn’t tagged … it probably means I attempted to tag you but Facebook stripped it.
Per our handy master racquetball calendar …
There’s an IRT satellite in Montana next weekend with some great talent that we will cover. The unsanctioned big-money Xelani open is in Miami and hopes for a full 32 draw of top Open players. The weekend after both LPRT and IRT are in full stops while High School Nationals happens in Portland. A busy March coming up.
Mejia wins her 3rd straight LPRT event and has a 12-match winning streak on tour (see https://rball.pro/qx5 for longest LPRT winning streaks). In doubles, Longoria teams with Rajsich for the first time since 2016 and wins the title again, improving her pro doubles record to 6-0 with her long-time rival (see https://rball.pro/i0s for Longoria’s full LPRT doubles match history)
Interestingly, the entire LPRT stop was played out by early Saturday afternoon. I cannot recall seeing a pro event that ended before at the earliest Saturday Night. This took me by surprise when the ladies started on Thursday (normally they don’t kick into gear until Friday morning).
Lets review the notable matches in the Singles draw.
In the 32s: a tale of two kinds of qualifiers. Several of the round of 32s were complete blowouts: three of the scores were of the “1 and 0” variety. But then there were several interesting matches:
– Both players were gone a while; but only one could advance. #16 Maria José Vargas took out @Rhonda Rajsich in a breaker to earn a shot at Longoria.
– #12 Valeria Centellas was definitely pressed by USA’s Lexi York , going 11-8 in the breaker before advancing.
– I was expecting a bit more from Lucia Gonzalez against #9 Kelani Lawrence ; after losing the first game 11, the American turned on the guns and raced to an 11,3 win.
In the 16s, an absolute shock.
– Vargas upset #1 Longoria with a well earned tie-breaker win. Vargas came back big in both the first and third games and just played better than Longoria. This is the earliest exit for Longoria in an LPRT event since January of 2007, and she now has more losses so far this season (four) than she had in the prior four seasons combined, and we still have several stops to go (Longoria career W/L here: https://rball.pro/z2i, and see here for Longoria’s losses on tour https://rball.pro/v2p.). Bravo to Vargas for this win, but the storyline has to be this: are we looking at the potential fall of the long-time #1?
Other Round of 16 observations:
– #9 @Kelani Lawrence with a great win over #8 Brenda Laime .
– #6 Jessica Parrilla with a solid win over #11 Hollie Scott ; these two are very closely matched.
– #2 Alexandra Herrera held off Gaby Martinez in two tight games in a round of 16 that should have been a semi (not unlike Vargas-Longoria). Solid win for Herrera to avoid a possible upset here.
In the Quarters, more crazy results.
– Vargas continues her run by taking out USA’s Lawrence in a breaker. This could have been a huge emotional letdown for a player to have to come back after toppling #1, but Vargas held serve in a match she should win, despite just coming back from months off.
– #5 Natalia Mendez continues her dominance over #4 Erika Manilla by winning in a breaker and donutting the American #1 11-0 along the way. Mendez has never lost to Manilla in a match tracked by PRS, dating back to their junior days.
– #3 Mejia reversed the result against Parrilla from Mexican Nationals last week, winning easily to move on.
– #2 Herrera was taken out in two closer games by #7 Angelica Barrios 12,11. The Bolivian champ improves to 3-2 lifetime over Herrera.
In the Semis
– Vargas continues her run, downing her long-time doubles partner Mendez to make the final as a #16 seed. Its the 4th highest seed to ever make a final in the known seeding history of the tour.
– Mejia crushed Barrios 6,5 to return to the final for the 3rd straight event, and for the fourth time this season.
In the Finals, Vargas took game one 15-12 but (finally) ran out of gas and Mejia cruised the rest of the way, winning (12),2,4 to take her third straight title.
Points Implications of results
– Around this time last year, we were asking if Herrera was the heir apparent after two straight wins over Longoria. Well, Mejia now has won three straight events and should overtake Herrera for #2 on tour if My math is correct.
– Longoria remains #1 still though by a sizeable margin (nearly 600 points) and it will take a number of additional early round upsets for Mejia to overtake her for the title, especially by season’s end.
– Barrios’ result jumps her up from #11 to #8
– Laime’s upset will drop her 3 spots from #8 to #11.
– Vargas’ return and run to the final will jump her from #15 to #12, and she’s in a good position to continue to rise.
Longoria and Rajsich race to the title, beating the reigning US champs Michelle Key and Erika Manilla in a breaker along the way. Not a good result for team USA, who could not focus on Rajsich enough to take a winnable match.
The story of the tourney though was the shock early round loss of the reigning Mexican champs and #1 seeds Herrera/Mejia, who were upset in the quarters by Barrios & Laime. Now, Barrios is no doubles slouch; she’s a world champ in fact and just won Bolivian doubles … nor is Laime, who has proven to be a heck of a doubles player in the last year, but this is still a shocking loss.
The ladies doubles competition at the upcoming PARC is going to be wide open.
Thanks for all the streaming on the weekend, especially from broadcasters JT R Ball , @jJerry Josey , Timothy Baghurst and others who got on the mike and helped out (@Richard Eiseman )
Thanks to the Tourney Director Jim Winterton and to the RPAA for putting this event on!
Big props to @Jim Winterton and all of Arizona Racquetball (known as the Racquetball Players Association of Arizona or RPAA for putting on a full blown ladies pro stop in conjunction with their state doubles event. Official title of this event: “023 Arizona State Doubles Championships w\ LPRT hosted by RPAA,” held at the same facility at Arizona State that two weeks ago hosted National Doubles.
Big news this weekend; the return of several big names on tour from the last few years. First off, 4-time LPRT champ and future Hall of Famer Rhonda Rajsich is in the pro draw for the first time since she “quiet quit” the tour after last year’s Kansas City grand slam. The Arizona resident didn’t have to go far to enter this event, likely a factor for her entry. Also back this weekend off of maternity leave is former #2 player on tour Maria José Vargas . Unfortunately for all parties, Rajsich and Vargas have to play first round. Lastly, former World champion Ana Gabriela Martínez is entered for just the third time this season; she’s seen her ranking plummet and will have to fight her way back up.
Top-20 players missing: just two: #8 Salas, likely taking a break after nationals. #17 Enriquez is not here, also likely taking a break after Mexican Nationals.
Lets preview the draw. Here’s some notable qualifying matches that i’m looking forward to:
– #16/17 Vargas vs Rajsich. I have no idea who’s been playing, or how much. Rhonda was at US Nationals two weeks ago and finished in 3rd. But Vargas is closer to her prime and is the favorite here.
– #9 Kelani Lawrence gets the always dangerous Lucia Gonzalez in the first and is a prime upset watch.
– #12 Valeria Centellas faces off against #21 Lexi York in what could be an interesting first rounder.
round of 16:
– #1 Paola Longoria versus Vargas: wow; a year ago this would have been a final. Now its a round of 16. I’m guessing Vargas is not nearly in playing shape to challenge Paola right now.
– #8/#9: If Lawrence can get past Lucia, she projects into Brenda Laime in a good old-fashioned Mid-Atlantic showdown. Advantage Laime here, who can’t quite get out of the #8 seed and a Longoria quarter.
– #5-12 is an all-Argentine affair with Natalia Mendez and Centellas facing off.
– #6 Jessica Parrilla versus #11 Hollie Scott : tough one: Scott beat Jessica the last time they met but it was 11-10. Parrilla just topped both Herrera and Mejia to qualify at Mexican Nationals and is on fire. Advantage Leoni.
– #10 Angelica Barrios , fresh off her triple crown at Bolivian Nationals, faces #7 @Carla Munoz . Advantage Barrios, who is 3-1 lifetime against the Chilean.
– #15 Martinez over #2 Alexandra Herrera : what an awful matchup for Herrera, who is #2 on tour but yet is just 1-5 lifetime against Gaby. Practically any other play-in and you’d favor the lefty, but she is the underdog here.
– #1 Longoria over #8 Laime: after one shock loss, Paola won’t look past the Colombian again. It still likely goes breaker.
– #4 Erika Manilla over #5 Mendez: Manilla is focused and won’t look past the challenging Mendez.
– #3 Mejia over #6 Parrilla: I know this is a reverse of what just happened in Juarez, but Mejia will see the draw opened up and will pounce.
– #15 Gaby over #10 Barrios: Angelica has a win over Gaby, but it was on home soil internationally. Gaby’s the better player.
– Longoria over Manilla: Erika got a game off Paola at the US Open but then collapsed. What did she learn, and what can she do to take the next step? I expect another breaker, closer in the breaker.
– Mejia over Martinez: Montse has topped Gaby the last four times they’ve played, and will do it again.
Finals; Mejia over Longoria.
Montse has beaten Paola twice in a row on the LPRT, the last time handily, and should do it again. Yes, Paola just destroyed Montse at Mexican Nationals … something’s different about Nationals versus pros for Longoria right now. A year ago we were asking whether Alexandra was the new heir-apparent … now I think we know who is.
We don’t normally preview in detail pro doubles, but there’s a ton of interesting storylines in Arizona.
First off, Mejia and Herrera are back together; after splitting up for a couple of events and not really being happy with the move, they’re back together, the #1 seeds, and the clear favorites. They just took out Longoria/Salas to take Mexican Nationals together and break something like a 15-year streak of those two winning the title in mexico.
But there’s a ton of good teams from the top half to contend with. Team Argentina (Mendez/Centellas) is here, along with the former team Argentine Vargas (playing here with Munoz). USA’s vanquished former national champs Scott/Lawrence are the #5 seeds, and two very dangerous doubles players in Barrios/Laime are the #8 seeds.
In the bottom half … Longoria’s regular partner Salas is not here, so she’s teamed with Rajsich as the #3 seed, but I can’t see them getting past the newly crowned USA champs Manilla and Michelle Key. I see Manilla/Key taking out both the Longoria team and then the #2 Guatemalan team of Martinez/Rodriguez before losing to the Mexican champs in the final.
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!
The Men’s tour returns to Atlanta and has its first Grand Slam of the 2023 season at Recreation Atlanta, in Lilburn, GA. Great friend of the sport Donald Williams and his namesake companies have sponsored the Grand slam event.
The draw includes 31 pros, and continues a downward participation trend we’re seeing on the men’s tour this year. Three events and the singles draws have gone 36, 30 and 31. Most of the 2022 tour events had draws in the 40-48 player range and its a situation to monitor. Perhaps as we get closer to the international events we’ll have better turnout from international teams.
Top20 players missing; we’re missing the newly ascended #1 player on tour Moscoso due to reasons that will likely be announced soon. We’re also missing #3 Portillo (injury), #9 Waselenchuk (injury), #12 Mercado (visa/travel issues), #13 Carson (semi-retiring), #15 Mar (unknown), #18 Patata (travel), and #19 Garay (unknown). These absences give Jake a career best #3 seed and give some really high seeds to mid-teens players.
Most importantly, it opens a huge door for #1 seed and #2 ranked Daniel De La Rosa to return to #1. This tournament expires the 2021 Sarasota open, which Moscoso won, so he’s losing 400 rankings points with no defense. Meanwhile, DLR has the chance to replace his semis loss (220 points) at that event with Grand Slam points this weekend. By my calculations, if DLR gets to at least the semis, he’ll jump Moscoso and return to #1.
The 31 players in the draw are playing a straight draw, so we start with the round of 32. Here’s some openers to watch:
– 16/17 Kadim Carrasco vs Guatemalan Juan Salvatierra : Carrasco is fresh off a doubles win at Bolivian Nationals, and had a quick turnaround and long flight to Atlanta here; he’ll battle jet lag fatigue in this match but should advance.
– #4 Alejandro Landa versus #29 DJ Mendoza : Landa has gone one-and-done in two straight IRT events, complaining all the while about the slower ball. Is he in his own head at this point? Could we see a huge upset at the hands of USA 18U team member Mendoza? Probably not here, but something to watch for.
– #10 Erick Trujillo versus #23 Jose Daniel Ugalde : Trujillo gets a very tough opener in the veteran Ecuadorian, who has some solid international wins in his career. Upset watch.
Round of 16: matches to watch for:
– #5 Samuel Murray vs #12 Alan Natera : is Murray back to being 100% ? He won the Canadian qualifier, but Natera played solidly at the last event.
– #4 Landa vs #13 Jaime Martell : Martell can get wins and can upset Landa if he’s distracted. Landa has been distracted for weeks; i’m going with a Martell upset.
– #7 Andres Acuña versus #10 Trujillo: this is a solid matchup of two players on the rise. Acuna is higher seeded and is the better player, but this is the kind of statement match Trujillo can build on. If Trujillo wants into the top 10 on the IRT, this is the kind of match he needs to win.
– #1 DLR over #8 @Adam Manilla Manilla was the star of USA Nationals, winning mixed with his sister @erErika Manila and surprisingly making the men’s doubles final with Wayne Antone . He was on fire all weekend; can he press the two-time defending IRT champ?
– #13 Martel over #5 Murray: last time these two played, it was a 2-game win Jaime and that was when Sam was full strength.
– #6 Rodrigo Montoya over #3 Jake: these two have played a bunch since both were on the WRT back in 2015. Rodrigo leads H2H 5-4, and has won the last two, and is coming off an impressive win at Mexican Nationals.
– #2 Andree Parrilla over #7 Acuna: Andree finally gets a straight forward path into the weekend and won’t drop the ball.
– DLR over Martel: Jaime’s run ends.
– Montoya over Parrilla: he’s the better player right now.
Finals: DLR over Montoya; Rodrigo has a handful of wins over DLR in their careers, but mostly DLR beats his fellow countryman and won’t miss the opportunity to get 600 valuable ranking points to take back control of the tour.
– USA National champs Landa and DLR have (finally) paired up on tour and are the #2 seeds. They’ll be challenged by some newish looking teams (#3 seeds are Murray and Jake, who have played together a couple of times but not for quite a while) but should advance to the final.
#1 seeds Montoya and Parrilla used to be a frequent pairing and have a 9-4 career IRT doubles record together, but I can’t see them topping the excellent DLR/Landa pair.
Look for Streaming in the regular places; follow the IRT on Facebook and sign up to get notifications when they go Live.
Look for Favio Soto, Pablo Fajre and the IRTLive crew all weekend on the mike, calling the shots!
Thanks to the Tourney Director Donald Williams for putting this event on!
USAR had National doubles team qualifying (along with amateur singles), Mexico hosted National Singles and Doubles (though they didn’t play Mixed), and Canada had their Winter 2022-23 season Singles only qualifier.
Congrats to the Open/National team winners on the weekend:
– Women’s Doubles: Alexandra Herrera & Montse Mejia
– Men’s Singles: Samuel Murray
– Women’s Singles: Michele Morrissette
– Men’s Doubles: Moscoso/Carrasco
– Women’s Doubles: Barrios/Daza
For USA, Mexico and Bolivia, these winners (and singles finalists) now qualify to represent their country in the 2023 IRF events.
– PARC in April in Guatemala City
– Central American & Caribbean Games in July in the DR (Mexico Only)
– The big one: The 2023 Pan American Games in Chile in October (though qualifying for Pan Am games depends on performances in PARC, and not all national team members from each country are automatically qualified).
Note: different countries use different rules: the PARC representatives for the USA will be the existing 2022 team and these winners “terms” start July 1. I’m not sure what Mexico will do for its 2023 PARC team at this point, and Canada’s actual Nationals are in May to determine the Worlds/Pan Am games team.
Newly switched De La Rosa paired with another former Mexican national in Landa to capture the Men’s Doubles title. They were pushed to a 5th by the Bredenbeck brothers, but blew them away 11-2 in the breaker. From the top side, defending national champs Rocky Carson and @Charlie Pratt were taken out by the surprise pairing of Adam Manilla and amateur Wayne Antone . Manilla and Antone couldn’t do much against two top-5 IRT pros in the final, losing in three straight.
– USA Women’s Doubles:
@Erika Manilla and Michelle De La Rosa dethroned the defending champs Scott & Lawrence in four games to take the title. mDLR makes her 3rd National team while Erika makes her 4th straight.
– USA Mixed Doubles:
The Manilla siblings took down two-time IRT champ De La Rosa and Scott to claim the MIxed title. This is the first time Adam has qualified to represent the USA in an international competition.
– Men’s Singles:
In a massive draw, #1 seed Montoya held serve and ran a gauntlet of tough players to take the title. It is his 3rd National singles title since 2018 and his 4th time qualifying for Singles.
He certainly earned it: by virtue of FMR’s weird seeding, a slew of better-than-their-ranking players were drastically under-seeded and played into top players early. Montoya defeated, in order, Eduardo Garay in the 32s, 7-time Junior national champ Jose Carlos Ramos in the 16s, then rising star Trujillo in the quarters, his doubles partner Mar in the semis, and then current top-4 IRT player Portillo in the winner’s bracket final. Phew.
Portillo dropped to the loser’s bracket and topped Parrilla for the second time in two days to finish in 2nd place and secure his first ever Mexican National team spot.
– Women’s Singles
Even though she’s faltered a bit lately, Longoria crushed the competition this weekend, beating Parrilla 4,2,6 in the semis and Mejia 2,3,8 to win yet another Mexican National title. Our records only go back to 2014, but it is believed that Paola has won every singles title save for one since 2007.
– Men’s Doubles
Mar/Montoya won their 4th National title in 5 years by taking an 11-9 5th game thriller over Portillo/Parrilla. Fun fact: Montoya has been in every single Mexican National doubles final since 2016.
– Women’s Doubles
It finally happened: Longoria & Salas were beaten in a Mexican Nationals event. The 15-time defending champions (that’s every single tournament since 2007) were toppled by Mejia/Herrera in a 5-game showdown. It didn’t look like it would be close, with the two long-time veterans taking the first two games. however, the lefty/righty pair stormed back to take the next three games and cruise in the 5th 11-6 for their first Mexican National title.
– Men’s Singles
Samuel Murray shook off an injury that has vexed him for months and outlasted #2 Coby Iwaasa in five tight games. It couldn’t be any closer, with Sam winning in the 5th 12-10 to take yet another Canadian National event. The two players split the selection events and will remain the top 2 seeds at Canadian Nationals in May.
– Women’s Singles
Michele Morrisette took her 2nd career Canadian National event title, defeating the #4 seed Danielle Ramsay in the final. Ramsay had topped #1 seed Christine Keay in a big upset and was the first time she had advanced to a National level final.
Bolivian National Doubles:
From what we can glean from Facebook posts, Barrios & Daza took Bolivian Doubles over Sabja and an unknown partner.
For the men, it was four familiar names in the final, but they were teamed up in an unexpected manner. Moscoso teamed with Carrasco, while Moscoso’s regular partner @Roland Keller teamed with his brother @Carlos Keller Vargas. In a hard hitting final, Moscoso and Carrasco came out on top.
It is a big week for Amateur racquetball! All three original O.G. countries (USA, Mexico, and Canada) are having National level events to some extent or another this week. Let’s do a quick preview of all three, highlighting some storylines. I’ll abandon my typical round by round previews in the interest of time (my own time; i moved this week and i can’t find half my office in the stonehenge mound of boxes I have in our new home).
USAR is in Tempe AZ for the tournament titled “National Doubles and Singles Championships.” Due to financial factors (and the losses we took last year on these two events being held separately), USAR combined the two events for 2023, cancelling the typical May singles-only event. However, in the interests of not burning national team qualifiers out with too many matches, “National Team Singles Qualifying” will be held as a one-off event sometime in May (likely in Chicago during Memorial day). All Doubles National team qualifying (Men’s, Women’s and Mixed) will be t his weekend, along with all amateur doubles and all other amateur singles.
US Men’s Doubles: the big story line for the weekend is the switching of countries by the 2-time defending IRT pro tour champ Daniel De La Rosa . A dual passport holder by virtue of living in the USA for so long (and being married to an American), DLR made the switch thanks to the ongoing funding issues FMR is having, and he senses an opportunity to get onto the US national team and reap the benefits that it offers as a national player. This is the 2nd time in 3 years that a top Mexican dual citizen has switched, though the reasons behind @AAlejandro Lanús ‘s switch were a bit different.
Nonetheless, DLR’s presence certainly complicates the pathway onto the team for the rest of the players. DLR is teamed with Landa and are seeded third. They’ll project to play the Bredenbeck brothers in the semis if seeds hold, and they’d play the two-time defending champions @Rocky Carson and Charlie Pratt in the finals.
It is hard not to see DLR/Landa winning this; DLR is among the best doubles players in the world and Landa prefers the right side.
US Women’s Doubles: Scott/Lawrence are #1 seeds and defending champs, but have a possible semis upset watch playing two of the most decorated doubles players in history in @Aimee Roehler and Janel Tisinger-Ledkins . On the bottom side, Rhonda Rajsich is back, and is the #2 seed with @SSheryl Lott but seem likely to get beat by the powerful Manilla/De La Rosa pair.
Manilla made the final last year playing with Roehler, but now will play the backhand side with an excellent doubles player in mDLR on the forehand, and I think they’ll upset Scott/Lawrence for the title.
US Mixed Doubles: all eyes will be on the upper half semis, as long time doubles partners Daniel and Michelle De La Rosa have split ways and are set to face each other. Daniel has teamed up with Scott, while Michelle is playing with Alex, and fireworks are sure to fly. Advantage DLR here, and I see the #4 seeds advancing to the final.
Its hard to see anyone but the bro-sis Manilla team advancing to the final from the bottom half, but the question will be whether they can out-hit a DLR/Scott team.
My prediction: DLR doesn’t lose this weekend and is the double winner.
Ironically DLR is prominently featured on the Mexican home page, even though he entered the USA event weeks ago.
As usual, the draws are massive for Mexican Nationals, and by the time you read this they’ll have already played a couple of rounds. Here’s some predictions:
Men’s Singles: #1 @Rodrigo Montoya probably isn’t troubled until the semis, when he projects to face his doubles partner Javier Mar. The bottom half likely is a showdown in the semis between Portillo and Parrilla, assuming Lalo can get by the #3 seeded veteran Polo Gutierrez . There’s a ton of other players in this draw to watch for, guys who may become household names in the future, but it seems to be playing out as Montoya-Parrilla for the title. Advantage Montoya.
Women’s Singles: The back end of the Women’s open is projecting just like the LPRT is right now: Longoria from the top with little stopping her from a final, and the semis from the bottom likely coming down to another Mejia-Herrera battle.
Longoria covets these titles, so even though she’s stumbled against Mejia and Herrera lately, whoever makes the final will lose so that Paola can add another championship to her collection.
Men’s Doubles: The gulf between Montoya/Mar as #1 seeds and any other team in this draw is huge. Look for some fun matches in the bottom half (especially with the Garay cousins and Lalo/Andree teaming up again), but without the regular DLR/Beltran pairing the champion seems pre-ordained.
Women’s doubles: Well … here we are at Mexican Nationals and Longoria/Salas are back together after taking a 2-tournament break. Maybe its because Longoria’s camp realized they needed Salas. But only 4 teams here and expect a huge battle between Longoria/Salas and Mejia/Herrera. I like the lefty/righty pair to win.
Unlike Mexico and USA, Canada is having a national event, but not THE nationals (which still happen in May). This is the second of two qualifiers team Canada plays in order to seed for Nationals.
Here’s a quick overview of the competitions:
Men’s Singles: Samuel Murray is here, but he’s been hurt and has forfeited out of the last two IRT events. Is he healthy? Every single Canadian national men’s final in the last 10 events has come down to Murray and Iwaasa, so no reason for me to predict anything else. But if Sam isn’t 100%, is he at risk? I’m going to predict Iwaasa wins the event, either by forfeit in the final like last time or by defeating whoever tops Sam earlier on.
Women’s Singles: No Lambert this time, so @CChristine Keay (nee Richardson) gets the 1 seed. I favor #2 Michelle Morissette though to make the final, as she’s made the last 3 singles finals in Canadian national events.
Phew! Lots of racquetball going on this weekend, lots of streaming, and lots of excitement.
A post in KRG came up recently that featured the venerable former pro @Egan Inoue , along with the familiar claim that he owns the title of ‘fastest ever recorded racquetball hit” at 191mph.
Except … the “proof” of that claim is basically word-of-mouth lore that has persisted over the years, without anyone providing a place where said MPH was measured or who actually measured it.
Over the years, as I’ve done thousands of hours of research in our sport, reviewed old magazines for results. As i’ve done this, I’ve kept a collection of MPH claims and competitions, and I figured this was as good of a time as any to put these down in a post for reaction in one place.
I’m going to order these claims in order of “highest MPH claimed” down to lowest, and for each claim I’ll list the source and the validity.
– 210MPH Backhand by Sudsy Monchik :
Source of claim: hyperbole in a Head advertisement.
likelihood of truth: doutbful.
Notes: Sudsy has some verified readings further down, which are 25% lower than a 210mph backhand claim. He had a great backhand, no doubt. 210? no.
– 200mph serve by Scott Reiff at a pro stop in Atlanta in the early 1990s.
Source of claim: unknown
likelihood of truth: doubtful.
Notes: Reiff is known as a power hitter from back in the day, but is not really in the same class as the other players listed here.
Notes: Cliff appears several times here, with lower verified readings; read on.
– Egan Inoue: 191mph
Source of claim: this is oft-repeated claim of fastest ever recorded speed is essentially internet lore
Likelihood of truth: doubtful
Notes: Even though this is the number that most people repeat, I have my doubts. We all just saw the link to the Inoue-Doyle 1990 final, where the two players were playing with probably 20″ racquets and, well, anyone who’s seen modern racquetball could see that their serves were nowhere near as fast as what we see today.
– @Brian Baker; claims 190-192.
Source of claim: Baker himself in a discussion in 2013 on the old 40×20 forum.
– Likelihood of truth: maybe? still no verification.
Notes: Baker was pinged on the discussion and chimed in with what seemed like credible details. He seemed quite confident and exact in his MPH capabilities. He also claimed to have played with Fredenberg and thinks he’s a tick ahead of the big Texan. However, this 190 figure is 20 mph higher than Fredenberg recorded when on a gun in a public setting … which doesn’t seem credible.
A copy of the discussion is here. Still isn’t really “proof” in as much as we have eyewitnesses or an official event, but this is more believable than the records above it to me right now.
Notes: this is significantly higher than a verified, published reading noted further below. seems unreliable.
– Egan Inoue: during exhibition 170-175 range, 179 in Houston at Nationals in late 1980s
Reliability: we’re closer to what I think is reasonable for Inoue.
– Fredenberg: 171
Source: 2002 US Open had a gun on players for $1000 (Eddie Meredith running it). Each got 5 hits and here’s how it went:
– Reliability: solid
– Notes: this is the first set of readings I really trust. This is from a published competition run by a trusted source. Fredenberg came in on top, followed by two known big-hitters in Walters and Mitch. Kane a tick below, which, if you’ve seen both Mitch and Kane on the court at the same time isn’t out of the realm of possible.
Notes: this seems more in line with what he could do, as opposed to claims of 180+ made above.
– Mitch Williams: 160-162 at Arlington regionals event
Source: personally verified; hardest ever seen on a radar gun. I measured him myself. (I hit it 133 in the same competition as a point of comparison, a decent figure for a low-open player, but well below the 140-range we generally see pros hit today at a minimum, or the 150 range we generally see harder hitters.
– Reliability: 100%
– notes: Mitch was by far and away the crispest, hardest hitter on the east coast during the 2000s. I measured plenty of other hard hitters who were in the low 150s and he was a clear step ahead.
Spalding Power-Serve contest
source: Nov/Dec 1995 Racquetball magazine
1. Sudsy Monchik: 164mph
2. John Ellis: 161mph
3. Tim Doyle: 157mph
4. Andy Roberts: 156mph
5. Cliff Swain: 153mph
6. Luis Vogel: 145mph
6. Woody Clouse: 145mph
8. Tony Jelso: 142mph
Notes: perhaps the best source of comparison for players in the mid 1990s. This was a verified sponsored competition with published results in Racquetball Magazine. 22″ racquets were available by 1995 (the current 22″ max length rule was adopted officially by USAR in 1996 and remains the rule today).
Honestly, I have a really hard time believing any number above Fredenberg’s 171 figure.
With the exception of Baker, there’s not a player on this list i have not personally witnessed hit. And nobody comes close to what I saw Fredenberg do on the court in Houston one year in the early 2000s at Nationals.
With all due respect to everyone else, these claims of 190mph with a 21 inch racquet and substandard string, as compared to 22″ racquets a decade later with better string and more reliable rubber seems ridiculous.
Also there’s this: to believe that no one has approached Inoue’s 190 claim in the last 30 years, given the fact that Athletes evolve and equipment improves is laughable. Odds are today’s big hitters (Jake, Moscoso, Montoya, Garay, and Kane) are right where yesteryear’s big hitters (Inoue, Conine, Doyle, Swain, and Monchik) were. Right in the 160 range, maybe a tick higher one day to the next.
So, anybody got what they think is irrefutable evidence of a different n umber for a different player? I’d love to hear it.
Lets review the notable matches in the Singles draw.
Singles Match report in the PRS database:
In the 64s and 32s, no real surprises to this observer.
– Just one tie-breaker: Utah’s Anthony Martin going deep to take out Tanner Gross 13,(14),8.
– Jordan Barth dug deep in both games to come back against Montana amateur Ty Hedalen to advance 14,12.
– Argentina’s Diego García cruised past @Sam Bredenbeck in game one 15-2 then held on for a 2,12 win to advance in the 16/17 seed match.
– @Adam Manilla made fast work of Bolivian u21 @Gerson Miranda 2,6. Miranda showed he has a bit of work to do to be broaching the top 10.
– Erick Trujillo topped Canadian veteran Lee Connell 10,7 to move into the 16s.
– Costa Rica’s Andres Acuña won a straightforward 7,10 match over Barth, making it much less close than I anticipated.
In the 16s, no big surprises for me.
– In the 8/9, Manilla got a solid win over Mario Mercado to get another pro quarter.
– As predicted, #12 @Javier Mar ousted #5 Alejandro Landa to move on.
– #4 Portillo destroyed his younger Mexican countryman Trujillo 0,2.
– #6 @Jake Bredenbeck was pushed to a breaker by Illinois-based pro Thomas Carter but moved on.
– As was rumored earlier in the week, Samuel Murray missed a second straight event with a lingering injury, defaulting to Acuna.
In the Quarters: a couple of upsets
– #4 Portillo held serve and ousted #12 Mar in two. I thought this might go the other way, but Lalo played well to outclass his fellow control specialist.
– #6 Jake got a solid win, taking out #3 Andree Parrilla in two. These two met over and over on the WRT adn now they’re frequently meeting on the IRT.
In the Semis: two straightforward wins for the top 2 seeds:
– #1 Moscoso took out #4 Lalo in two straight. These two had played 3 times previously, all tiebreakers. But Conrrado played solid ball to win 10,7.
– #2 DLR was pressed by #6 Jake in both games but persevered 13,8 to get to the final.
In the Finals, for the second event running we get #1 vs #2, Moscoso vs De La Rosa. After watching DLR’s master class in control to win in Austin, I thought going in he was the favorite, but I discounted the effect the panel walls would have on the Gearbox ball and specifically Moscoso’s serve. Moscoso served lights out this match, scoring aces left and right and controlled the match for long swaths. DLR was flummoxed and flustered and could not consistently score points, and that was the match. Moscoso wins 9,12.
Points Implications of results
Irrespective of this result, Moscoso was going to keep the #1 seed thanks to this tournament replacing the 2021 Arizona open (which Canrrado did not play). With the win suddenly he’s got a sizeable gap in front; nearly 500 points.
The rest of the results here gave us some interesting points machinations:
– Portillo will overtake Parrilla for #3 on tour.
– Jake moves up to #5 as Landa continues to slip with two one and dones in a row.
– Despite missing the event to receive an award back home, Montoya moves up to #8.
– Acuna is now in the top 10.
– Mercado and Carson take a big slip, dropping to #12 and #13 respectively. Its amazing how quickly Rocky has been falling by missing 3 straight events.
– Trujillo is now ranked #16, which puts him safely into the “second bye” section and given the odds of several players ahead of him missing each event right now, gives him an even better seed going forward.
– Diego Garcia is now #24.
The doubles draw went perfectly chalk to the final, with all expected seeds winning. That chalkiness continued in the final, as #1 seeds team PK DLR/Mar eked out a win over #2 Landa/Moscoso.
Men’s Open, other draws
– Alan Natera went breaker to top Bolivian Miranda to take Men’s Open singles.
– Trujillo got a surprising win over Garcia to take the IRT U21. He won 8,5 and made a statement.
– @Vallana Perault took the 3-person Women’s Open RR draw.
– the legend @Ruben Gonzalez flew in from HHI to compete in Centurian Doubles, winning the title with Montana’s Hedalen. They took out some tough teams, including Minor/Coyle in the group stage and Kisling/Adam in the final.
Thanks for all the streaming on the weekend, especially from broadcasters Favio Soto, Pablo Fajre and the IRTLive crew. Adam Manilla did a fantastic guest spot at the final and has a future in streaming.
Thanks to the Tourney Director Mark Gibbs for putting this event on!
Per our handy master racquetball calendar …
In two weeks’ time its Nationals time. USAR is holding National Doubles with team qualifying along with National Amateur singles in Arizona. Mexico was scheduled to hold its Nationals but I’ve yet to see an R2 site. And Canada is having its 2nd qualifier in Grand Prairie. Lots of ball going on.
Welcome to one of the longest running tournaments in the world, and certainly the longest running Pro tournament that we have in the sport. The Lewis Drug event has been a pro event (either a satellite or a full Tier 1 event) for all 43 years of its existence, and it has become a must-play for many pros on tour.
We’ve been missing Sioux Falls; it hasn’t been played since January of 2020 thanks to Covid concerns the last two years, but we’re back and the community is ready. The event gets a ton of local media coverage, with all the local TV stations and the local paper well-covering the event.
Tournament Director and IRT part-owner Mark Gibbs puts on a fantastic event every year, guarantees RR competitions, throws a banquet every year, and always draws a solid crowd of pros and top amateurs from the Midwest and Canada.
This year is no different, as we get to see no less than 5 members of the Canadian National team competing, one of seven different countries represented at this event.
Thirty players are entered into singles draw. Top-20 players missing this week include #8 Montoya, #10 Carson (semi retiring), #11 Waselenchuk (injured), #16 Franco, #17 Fernandez, #19 Garay, and #20 Beltran (injured). These absences give in particular @Erick Trujillo a huge boost; he’s ranked 18th but is the 13 seed here. Furthermore, @Robert Collin and @Sam Bredenbeck both slip into the top 16 despite being deep into the 20s in the rankings.
Lets preview the draw. Here’s some notable qualifying matches that i’m looking forward to:
In the round of 64, most of the Travelling Canadians have a play in thanks to having so few IRT points. Look for the likes of Tanner Prentice , Lee Connell , and @Kurtis Cullen to make some noise. Also look for top mid-west players like Jordan Barth , John Goth , and of course our Montana contingent Matthew Ivar Majxner and @Ty Hedalen to compete well.
Projecting the 32s: I see some fun matches here.
– In the 16/17 matchup, Diego García will take on the younger Bredenbeck in a competition to see who takes on the new #1.
– #9 Adam Manilla projects to face the upstart Bolivian former junior world 18U champ Gerson Miranda . Miranda is a tough out and Manilla will have his hands full here.
– #12 @Javier Mar projects to face the top Minnesotan Goth in the 32s. Goth is a power player who trains regularly with the Bredenbecks and is no slouch. Mar must focus here.
– The match of the round may be #10 Andres Acuña versus Barth. For those of you not familiar with Barth’s resume, he owns 9 US Junior National titles and another 3 Junior world titles; he’s the same age-class as current IRT #4 Eduardo Portillo and beat Lalo several times internationally as kids. Barth basically stopped playing competitive racquetball to focus on a baseball career at age 17, and played in both College and briefly professionally. He’s one of the more highly ranked players on USAR’s rankings right now, and Acuna will have to be on his toes for this match.
Round of 16: thanks to the absenses and the recent ranking shuffling, we have a ton of really intriguing round of 16 matches.
– #1 Conrrado Moscoso projects to face Garcia in my predictions. I don’t think Garcia is winning, but he’ll get some points.
– In the 8/9, Manilla vs @Mario Mercado is a close one: these two are neck and neck in my personal rankings and I think we get a slight upset with Manilla as the 9th seed winning.
– 5/12: Alejandro Landa has seen his ranking slide as of late and made it well known he can’t stand the Gearbox ball; he’s set to face the classy Javier Mar here, and I think Mar can beat him. They’ve split match-ups in the past, but i think they’re heading in opposite directions on tour right now.
– #4 Portillo versus #13 Trujillo; While I don’t think Trujillo is ready to beat Lalo, this is another excellent test for the rising junior Mexican star.
– #3 Andree Parrilla projects to get #14 Alan Natera in the 16s. Natera of course is coming off a solid tournament in Austin. Andree must be breathing a sigh of relief to get a reasonable round of 16 matchup; he’s drawn Mar twice in the past few months for early exits.
– #6 Jake Bredenbeck likely draws fellow USA player @Thomas Carter in a manageable match for him.
– #7 Samuel Murray , who bowed out of the last event with the same injury that cost him the November Canadian qualifier final, projects to face the Acuna/Barth winner. Keep your eye out for a possibly still hampered Murray to struggle here and give an upset winner an easy ride into the quarters.
– #2 Daniel De La Rosa , fresh off his PPA 2023 pro pickleball debut last week in Palm Springs, trades 75 and sunny for 25 and windy in South Dakota and likely takes on IRT vet lefty Collins in his opener.
– #1 Moscoso over Manilla: Conrrado benefits from being the top seed with the most straight-forward quarter final matchup.
– #12 Mar over #4 Portillo; both play similarly; Mar is better at it.
– #6 Jake over #3 Andree: Parrilla never really plays well in SD, and this is a rematch of the Portland semi, also a Jake win. I like the hot hand.
– #2 DLR makes fast work of the Costa Rican Acuna in this quarter.
– Moscoso over Mar; a rematch of the semis in Austin; Mar kept it close because he’s quality, but Moscoso will prevail because he’s better.
– DLR over Jake: Jake has pushed DLR in the past, but not this weekend.
Finals; DLR over Moscoso, again. DLR prevailed in two close games in Austin, which were cement courts that mitigated the new slower ball a bit. I think we’re going to see a similar game in the SD final. DLR just does not make mistakes and plays patient racquetball. Moscoso does not; he is a shooter, goes for low-percentage shots, makes a ton of them, but misses enough to cost him against top players. Moscoso may be #1, but DLR is a better strategist right now.
By the way, as I noted in my in-depth review of “Why Moscoso became #1 even though Daniel beat him head to head last week” … Moscoso will REMAIN #1 this weekend irrespective of results. That’s because he’s defending zero points from the next tournament to expire (Arizona 2021) so he can only improve his lead at the top.
Montoya’s absence means Mar teams up with a new partner … and he picks another fellow Mexican, fellow Pro Kennex player, and fellow top doubles player who also needs a new partner in DLR. A precursor of a more frequent pairing going forward?
It is slightly curious that DLR chose not to play with Landa, with whom he’s playing in two weeks’ time at USAR nationals (That’s a whole ‘nother story, why DLR is possibly converting after decades of playing/representing Mexico). But Landa has picked up Moscoso and is the #2 seed. It’s hard to envision a scenario where these two teams are upset by anyone prior to the final; team Dovetail at #3 (Acuna/Lalo) will try, as with the Bredenbeck brothers at #4, but both will fail.
In the final, I think a DLR/Mar pairing is unbeatable.
Look for Streaming in the regular places; follow the IRT on Facebook and sign up to get notifications when they go Live. Look for Favio Soto, Pablo Fajre and the IRTLive crew all weekend on the mike, calling the shots!