Hot on the heels of the USA Racquetball nationals/Canadian qualifier events last weekend, this past weekend we had the Federación Mexicana de Raquetbol (or FMR)’s nationals, held in the Mexican hotbed of racquetball San Luis Potosi, SL, Mexico. It looks like mid-February is going to be “North American Nationals” period going forward, which is great for the pros planning out their schedules.
Congrats to your National title winners on the weekend:
– Men’s Singles: Andree Parrilla (2nd qualifier = Eduardo Portillo)
– Women’s Singles: Paola Longoria (2nd qualifier = Montse Mejia)
– Men’s Doubles: Andree Parrilla & Eduardo Portillo
– Women’s Doubles: Monserrat Mejia and Alexandra Herrera
– Mixed Doubles: Javier Mar and Monserrat Mejia
The winners of the three doubles competitions form the Mexican National team for those events. The winners of the two singles titles, along with the winner’s of the consolation bracket form the two-person Singles teams that represent Mexico. This is a distinction from the way that USA, Canada, and others qualify; they take the two finalists of the single-elimination singles bracket to form the team, but in Mexico the losing finalist has to play one more match, which often times leaves them out of the team. More on that in the recap.
These players all qualify to represent Mexico in the upcoming cycle of International events, starting (I believe) with PARC 2024 next month in Guatemala City but certainly for the 2024 Worlds to be held in San Antonio in August plus any regional events on the schedule for this summer.
R2 Sports App home page for event: https://www.r2sports.com/tourney/home.asp?TID=42046
This post also signifies that the data has been loaded into the database. Here’s the direct links to the match reports for the 5 divisions:
– Men’s Singles: https://rball.pro/c7z
– Women’s Singles: https://rball.pro/q2e
– Men’s Doubles: https://rball.pro/ru4
– Women’s Doubles: https://rball.pro/8fq
– Mixed Doubles: https://rball.pro/khm
Let’s review the notable matches in the draws.
The Singles draw for Nationals was way down from prior years, with just 20 players. Last year they had 37 by way of comparison. It could be a one-off, or it could be acknowledgement of a passing of the guard so to speak. Missing out of the draw in 2024 were a couple of defections to the USA (DLR And Landa), and a slew of long-time veterans such as Beltran, Polo, and Cardona. Mar did not play singles as he continues to battle injury, and then there were curious absences like Natera, Martel, and Renteria. This also seems tacit admission that players like Garay, Gerardo Franco, Estrada, and Ochoa, none of whom we’ve seen at an IRT event in some time, may be through playing racquetball at a top level, which is a blow to the depth of the sport in Mexico for sure.
Luckily, there’s a slew of up-and-coming Mexican Junior players who are not terribly well known in the USA yet, but who can play, and many of them advanced into the quarters of nationals. Keep an eye out for players like @Sebastian Hernandez , @Jose Carlos Ramos, and of course for players who have already made impacts like @Erick Trujillo , @elElias Neto , and Diego Gastelum .
As for the draw, the top four seeds and the main IRT touring pro regulars all advanced into the semis as expected. Trujillo was stretched by the always dangerous @Jordy Alonso in the 4/5 quarter, but held on, further evidence of his continuing improvement that we saw recently with his win over #2 Bredenbeck on tour. Defending Mexican champ Rodrigo Montoya topped Trujillo in one semi, while #2 @Andree Parrilla held off @Eduardo Portillo in the other to advance to the final.
Parrilla has had tough luck in this event, having made the semis five times in the last decade but with only one final and zero titles to show for it, but he turned the tides on home soil at this event. But it was a nail biter final: Andree took the first two games and had multiple match points in the fourth, but Montoya forced a fifth game. After the letdown of letting the fourth game go, it would have been understandable if Parrilla lost the final to his long-time rival, but he dominated game 5 11-6 for his first Adult Mexican national title.
In the loser’s bracket, losing semi-finalist Portillo took out Sebastian Hernandez and Alonso to force a consolation final against Montoya for the second spot on the team. This is exactly what happened to Lalo last year and he took the consolation final to make the team. And this year, Lalo did it again, shocking Montoya in 3 games to claim the 2nd national team spot. Amazingly, Montoya is shut out of the Mexican National team despite being its most decorated male over the past 6 years, and despite being the #1 seed in all three draws. Pretty amazing.
It was a top-heavy draw, with four of the current top 10 ladies pros playing (Longoria, Mejia, Herrera, and Salas) along the #2 seeded Parrilla, who’s slipped to #14 on tour but retains a top seed here by virtue of her performance in 2023.
#5 Samantha Salas got things started with an upset of #4 Alexandra Herrera in the 4/5 match, turning back the clock to grind out a five game win. Salas then managed to take a game off her doubles partner Longoria, but fell in four in the semis. From the bottom half, #3 seed @Monserrat Mejia took care of business, taking out #2 Parrilla in four games in the semis to setup a rematch of last year’s final. In the winner’s bracket final, Longoria was not to be denied, topping Mejia in four to claim her 10th title in 11 years, and what I believe is either her 16th or 17th national title. Our records only go back to 2014, but I believe Longoria swept the ladies titles from 2008 onwards. Amazing feat.
There was still work to be done though; last year saw a huge upset in the consolation bracket final to send a surprise second singles player … could we see more fireworks. The Loser’s bracket now had Salas, Herrera, Parrilla, and Mejia all battling it out for one spot on the team. Herrera made a statement with a 3-game win over Parrilla, ending her chances at returning to the team early. Salas got a walkover against rising junior talent Angela Veronica Vera Ortega to face off against Herrera for a shot against Mejia, but could not top her lefty rival.
The second singles spot came down to two friends and doubles partners; Herrera vs Mejia. They know each other’s game so well, and often there’s “weird” results between the two as a result. On this day though, Mejia cruised to a 3 game win to claim the consolation bracket and the 2nd national team spot. Mejia, despite losing the singles final, triple-qualified on the weekend and will play a big part in returning Mexico to team glory over Bolivia at the next international competitions.
It seemed like a fait accomplis for the two top teams to make the final, and they did, giving us a final featuring four tour regulars and four of the best doubles players in the world. #1 Mar/Montoya, who are also #1 on tour and have claimed multiple major and international titles together, faced off against #2 Portillo & Parrilla, who have become somewhat of a regular doubles pair on the IRT and are gaining familiarity with each other.
In the final, we got a rematch of 2023’s final, and we got a fantastic back and forth match for the neutrals. After going down two games to one, the defending champs Montoya & Mar came out on the right side of a grueling 17-15 game four win, which may have been demoralizing for some teams, but Lalo/Andree fought back and took game 5 11-7 to claim their first ever Mexican National title. It capped off a amazing weekend for the SLP based pro Parrilla, who won both singles and doubles after having never won a Mexican adult title before. Same for Portillo, who also double qualified on the weekend by virtue of his big win over Montoya in the singles consolation final.
Only four teams competed in Women’s Doubles, and there was little doubt that the final would be between Mejia/Herrera and Longoria/Salas. They’re the top two seeds here, they’re the top two seeds regularly meeting in LPRT finals right now, and they have been trading back and forth both pro and National titles for the last few years. They both advanced as expected to compete in the Saturday final.
In the final, the two familiar teams played a barn burner. The match went five games, with Herrera/Mejia on the wrong side of two nail-biting 15-13 games before running away with the final 11-5 to claim the title. Herrera & Mejia repeat as Mexican national champions, and it’s hard not to look at this as the official passing of the baton in Mexican history.
After curiously not competing Mixed doubles at the 2023 FMR nationals, the event was back on the slate for 2024, and the draw was small but stacked. Five of the six teams were comprised of touring pros, and it was anyone’s tourney to win. The #5 seeds Mar & Mejia seemed like a dark horse, in that Mar is one of the most accomplished doubles players in the world and Mejia is the current LPRT #1, and they did not disappoint. Mar & Mejia topped #4 Portillo & Herrera (no doubles slouches themselves) in the opener, then upset the last team to win a Mixed title in #1 Montoya & Salas in the semis.
The bottom semi featured two brother/sister pairs competing, with the Parrillas outlasting the Longorias in five games to make the final. In the final though, it was three straight for Mar & Mejia to claim the title.
Per our handy master racquetball calendar …
We have a break in the schedule next week, then I have four “big” events set for the first weekend in March:
– 2024 USA Racquetball High School Nationals, this year held at the Vetta clubs in St Louis
– the International Racquetball Tour heads north for the Minnesota Hall of Fame event, put on by the Bredenbeck family.
– the ladies head to Boston for the LPRT Boston Open, put on by USAR President Stuart Solomon
– The crew in Florida hosts their 55th Annual Florida State Championships, which is easily the longest running state tournament in the country.