Junior Worlds: RR review, Knockout Preview

We’re through the round robin phase of the event; lets do a quick re-cap of surprising results in the RRs and preview the knockouts.

Draws located at www.internationalracquetball.com website (click on the “Divisions and Results” button on the home page).

Live streaming is usually shared to the Facebook group “Live Streaming of Racquet Sports” when found, and the official streaming by the IRF is via their facebook page. I suggest you follow both.

We generally just focus on the oldest age groups at PRS (18U and 16U), but capture 14U and younger winners for the record books once the tourney is complete.

A reminder: The IRF seeds the draw for the RR stage, then re-seeds the draw for the knockouts based on the RR results. Sometimes the RR results don’t exactly match the knockout seeds (meaning, if you enter as #1 seed, win your group … you’re not guaranteed the #1 seed in knockouts). I don’t know what the criteria used is to flip around these seeds. But generally in the write-up below I attempt to distinguish between the RR seeds and the Knockout seeds; apologies if its confusing to read.

————
RR recap; here’s some notable results from the RRs:

In Boys 18U
– The top 2 seeds cruised through (Mexico’s Emir Mtz and Bolivia’s Gerson Miranda Martinez but for reasons unknown they’ll be flipped in the knockout draw.
– The 3rd and 4th seeds were beaten in the RRs and will drop; Argentina’s Diego Garcia Quispe won his group with the 3rd seeded Jose Carlos Ramos and will be the 4th seed in the knockouts while Chilean Johan Igor surprised everyone by taking his group as the 14th seed. He’ll slot into the 3rd seed in knockouts.

In Boys 16U:
– As with the 18u, the top two seeds cruised through the RR stage without incident. Mexico’s Sebastian Longoria and Bolivia’s Hector Barrios advanced without dropping a game.
– the 3rd seed, Mexican Aldo Caraveo Carrasco was stretched 11-9 by American Andrew Gleason, but took the group as expected. Gleason was upset later on and will be a dangerous 14th seed in the knockouts.
– The 4th seed, Bolivian Adrian Jaldin won the group, but was pushed by Canadian Nathan Jauvin
– American Timmy Hansen upset the 5th seed and dominated his group to advance as the group winner.

Girls 18U
– The #1 seed, Mexican Maria Fernanda Gutierrez Justiniano was upset by Ecuadorian Ana Lucía Sarmiento 11-10; she ascends to the 2nd seed in the knockouts.
– As expected, Bolivian Valeria Centellas dominated her group as the inexplicable 7th seed, dropping just 10 points in four games to win the group; she’ll be the top seed in the knockouts.
– Argentinian Martina Katz upended her group as the 11th seed, topping 3rd overall seed Mexican Anna Rivera and ensuring that neither Mexican would be a top 4 seed in the knockouts.
– Also as expected, Bolivian Angelica Barrios dominated her group even more thoroughly than Centellas, giving up just four points in six games (!) and handing out four donuts en route to winning her group going away.

I know I keep harping on the seeding here, but really. Centellas and Barrios advanced by winning their combined 5 matches/10 games while giving up a combined 14 points between them. Tell me again why they weren’t the two top seeds going into this draw?

Girls 16U
– the top 3 seed’s RR groups went completely chalk, with Mexicans Lupita Griffin and Ximena Martinez along side #2 seed Bolivian Micaela Meneses Cuellar advancing unscathed.
– Argentine Katz (who also won her 18U group in an upset) blitzed her way to a win in her 16U group too. What a great tournament she’s had so far.
– Unsurprisingly, Costa Rican Maricruz Ortiz won her group but will only improve her knockout seed slightly. What was surprising was to see Cuban Loraine Felipe finish in 2nd place as the 17th and lowest seeded player.

——————
Knockout Previews/Predictions

Boys 18U:

Top 4 seeds go: Miranda, Martinez, Igor, Garcia.

There’s some fun matches in the early rounds to watch for:
– Garcia has to play his former countryman Charlie Chavez the 16s
– the two Mexicans (Ramos, Martinez) likely have to face each other in the quarters
– #1 Bolivian Miranda likely eliminates both Americans; one in 16s, the other in the Quarters, as he seems set to face Micah Farmer in the 16s and Ben Baron in the quarters.

Otherwise I feel the draw goes chalk to the semis.

In the semis, I’m going with Garcia over Miranda in a dog-fight, Martinez over Igor, and whoever takes the Garcia/Miranda semi winning.

—–
Boys 16U

top 4 seeds go Longoria, Barrios, Caraveo, and Jaldin.

Early round Matches to watch for:
– Caraveo has to play American Gleason in a RR group rematch right out of the gate. They played close in the group stage; can the lefty Gleason learn from his loss and force the upset here?
– If Gleason can’t beat Caraveo, then his teammate Hansen could; they’re projected to meet in the quarters.

In the semis, i’m going Longoria over Jaldin, Barrios over Hansen, and Longoria over Barrios in the final. But to be honest, this is a deep draw and i’m not confident that the knockouts will go chalk at all. Look for upset runs.

——
Girls 18U:

top 4 seeds: Centellas, Sarmiento, Barrios and Katz.

Early round Matches to watch for:
– #4/#5 Katz vs American Graci Wargo in the quarters could be a solid match
– #7/#2 Sarmiento vs American Nikita Chauhan could also be interesting. Both are upset potentials.

In the semis, i’m predicting that both Bolivians advance over whomever comes out of the other side, and i’m going with Barrios over Centellas in the final.

—-
Girls 16U

top 4 seeds: Griffen, Meneses, Martinez and Katz.

Early round matches to watch for:
– 8/9 Annie Roberts versus Cuban Suniaris Rodriguez: Rodriguez upset the pre-tourney 4th seed from Bolivia in the group stage: this could be a tight match.
– #3/#14: @ximena martinez will have her work cut out for her taking on the Bolivian @fernanda mendez in the 16s.
– 4/5 in the quarters: The surprise Argentine Katz set to take on last year’s finalist Ortiz, playing on home court. Tough match-up; i’ll go with Ortiz to ride the crowd to victory.

In the semis, I’m going with Ortiz to upset Griffen, Meneses to hold serve against Martinez, and for Ortiz to win the title on home soil in the final.

—-

Knockouts are starting today, going all day. Should be an exciting tournament.

International Racquetball Tour
International Racquetball Federation – IRF
International Racquetball Federation
USA Racquetball
Racquetball Canada
Federación Mexicana de Raquetbol
Federación Boliviana de Racquetball
Fecoracquet Fecoracquet
Federación Costarricense de Racquetball
Asociación Argentina de Racquetball

2019 World Juniors Preview

Welcome to the biggest stages for Juniors every year; its World Juniors. Every country in the IRF can send two representatives to compete for the title of Junior World champion.

Click here for a Matrix of all past World Junior Boys titlists: http://rball.pro/043BA8
Click here for the same for Girls: http://rball.pro/BCE571

Draws for the Round Robins are now available via www.internationalracquetball.com, with RRs having started Saturday morning 11/9/19.

The structure of the event is as follows: several days of round robin competition, with pre-tournament seeds dictated by last year’s results-by-country (in other words, if a Mexican 18U boy won last year, which is what happened with Lalo Portillo took out countryman Sebastian Fernandez in the Boys 18U final, then Mexico would be seeded #1 in this RR draw, which is the case this year as we’ll discuss).

Once the RRs are complete, then the draw is re-seeded based on the results of each RR group and a knockout competition is played to its completion a week from today, Saturday.

In this post, we’ll preview the big names to watch for, then we’ll do another “preview” predicting the knockout draw. Thanks to the late release of the draw, some of these key RR match-ups may have already happened.

——————
Boys 18U:

18 players in the 18U boys draw.

Top seeds: #1 Emir Martinez (Mex), #2 Gerson Miranda Martinez (Bolivia), #3 Jose Carlos Ramos (Mexico) and #4 Charlie Chavez (Bolivia). In 2019, the semis were both Mexican players and both Bolivian players, hence the top four seeds here.

Unfortunately, this draw is significantly weaker than it should be: presumptive top 18U player in the world Fernandez (last
year’s runner-up, the reigning 18U Mexican junior champ and currently ranked 16th on the IRT who just made the quarters at the US Open) is not present. Nor is US 18U champ Antonio Rojas, who announced his decision not to attend this event earlier this year.

Emir Martinez was the losing Mexican finalist and ascends to the #1 seed here, but you have to think Miranda (who made the semis last year as a 17yr old) is the favorite in this draw. USA’s two representatives are seeded 5th and 7th in Micah Farmer and Ben Baron respectively, and they’ll have their work cut out for them in the knockouts if seeds hold. Baron in particular has a nice chance of improving his seed in the RRs; he has a group with 4th overall seed Bolivian Chavez, who is newer to this stage and gets in by virtue of Garcia’s absence. #3 Ramos was last year’s losing 16U finalist and could be a sneaky force here to watch for.

One last post-publishing correction: I had thought mistakenly that Diego Garcia Quispe​ was missing from the draw; upon looking closer he’s there … he’s seeded dead last 18th out of 18 and is representing his new country. Garcia is the reigning 16U world junior champ and switched countries this year; he’s going to be a force in this event and I wouldn’t put it past him to make the final and face off against his former country-man Miranda.

——————–
Girls 18U

There’s 13 players in the 18U Girls draw.

tops Seeds: #1 Maria Gutierrez (Mexico), #2 Nikita Chauhan (USA), #3 Ana Rivera (Mexico) and #4 Graci Wargo (USA). Both the Bolivian players are outside the top 4 ( Angelica Barrios and Valeria Centellas).

A big changing of the guard in 18U from last year, when two of the world’s best young players ( Montse Mejia and Ana Gabriela Martinez) met in a final that looked more like the back end of a pro event than a junior title.

Missing from this draw is the USA 18U champ from earlier this summer Briana Jacquet, who won the title w/o dropping a game. And also missing is the Mexican 18U champ Ana Laura Flores Saavedra, who beat Gutierrez 1,1 in the Mexican 18U final. So like with the Boys, we’re missing both the reigning Mexican and USA champ from this draw.

I have to question the seeds in this draw. I fail to understand why neither of the Bolivians are seeded in the top 4, based on Barrios’ 2018 performance (she was the #2 seed last year and made the semis). Both the Bolivian players entered here have made serious impressions in major pro events: Centellas lost 11-9 in the 5th to eventual Bolivian Grand Slam winner Maria Jose Vargas Parada and is the current reigning World Doubles champion, while Barrios made the semis in that same event, defeating two current LPRT top-8 pros in the process.

Going into this RR stage, I think both under-seeded Bolivians (seeded 5th and 7th respectively) will be forces to reckon with. Centellas is in #2 Chauhan’s group and could easily be #2 in the knockouts, while Barrios may very well upset Wargo in their group to improve her knockout seeding as well. The first couple of days of knockouts here will be telling. Gutierrez is last year’s losing 16U world junior finalist and has the chops to compete but I think she’ll fall before the final.

———————
Boys 16U

18 boys in this draw.

Top seeds: #1 Sebastian Longoria (Mex), #2 Hector Barrios (Bol), #3 Aldo Caraveo (Mex) and #4 Adrian Jaldin (Bol). As with the Boys 18U, all four top seeds from Mexico or Bolivia. But the next 4 seeded players all come from either Ecuador or USA, thanks to strong showings in last year’s 16U event.

Mexico’s 16U finalist Erick Trujillo and USA’s 16U champion Rojas (also the 18U winner) miss this event, weakening the draw. But Longoria and Jaldin (who made the semis last year) should be strong candidates to make the final. USA’s entries Andrew Gleason and Timmy Hansen should prove tough outs too: Gleason made the world 14U final last year, and Hansen won USA 14U last year.

——————
Girls 16U

17 girls in the draw.

Top seeds: #1 Guadalupe Griffin (Mex), #2 Michaela Meneses, #3 Ximena Martinez (Mex) and #4 Fernanda Mendez (Bol).

The two top Mexican seeds were the 16U finalists this year. #2 seed Meneses was last year’s 14U winner and is a strong candidate to take the title here. Also in this draw: #6 Maricruz Ortiz, who made the final last year in 16U yet somehow only rates a #6 seed; rough path for the seeds in her way. USA 16U champ Annie Roberts is seeded 9th, probably a bit low. Missing is USA’s Heather Mahoney, who was the work 14U runner up and 16U USA runner-up (she’s competing only in 14Us at worlds); she’s replaced in the 16U draw by Erin Slutzky, seeded 11th.

——————–
Notables in the younger draws:

– In Boys 14U #1 Nikhil Prasad and his countrymate #3 Vedant Chauhan both just competed ably in the IRT Tier 4 Bay club open pro tournament; they run a good chance of meeting again in the final. Standing in the way though are a couple of solid Bolivian juniors (as always) and #5 seed Luis Renteria, who just made the semis of the IRT Tier 5 Bi-national event in El Paso.

– In Girls 14U, Heather Mahoney goes for her 3rd junior world title since 2015.

– In Boys 12U, both the 2017 and 2018 Boys 10U world champions are in the draw, both from Mexico in Eder Renteria and Sebastian Ruelas. Neither is the #1 seed; that goes to American Joseph Marshall.

– In Girls 12U: 2017 10U world champ American Sonia Shetty is the #2 seed behind Mexico’s Fernanda Trujillo.

– In Boys and Girls 10U, the draw is dominated by Bolivians and Mexicans, all new to the world Junior stage.

————————
Word on the street is that streaming won’t officially start til the knockouts; we’ll be on the lookout for parents and associations doing streaming on the side. As always, follow the Facebook group “live streaming of Racquet sports” for notifications.

————————
International Racquetball Federation – IRF
USA Racquetball
Federación Mexicana de Raquetbol
Racquetball Canada
Federación Boliviana de Racquetball
Fecoracquet Fecoracquet
Federación Costarricense de Racquetball

2019 Costa Rica IRT Tier 2 Wrap-up

Parrilla a double winner in Costa Rica.

Congrats to Andree Parrilla, who wins the Costa Rica Open on the weekend. He took both the Pro and the Open draw, defeating a slew of touring players along the way.

r2sports link:https://www.r2sports.com/tourney/home.asp?TID=30427

It may have only been a tier 2, but there were a slew of great matches in San Jose this past weekend.

—————
Lets recap the Pro Singles draw, highlight key match-ups.

In the play-ins:
– Cuban #1 Maikel Mollet beat #12 Alan Natera Chavez 11-8 in the breaker, a signature win for the Cuban.

In the 16s:
– #9 Andres Acuña crushed doubles partner and country-man #8 Felipe Camacho 3,3. He’s had a great season and will get a great test going against #1 seed and #2 ranked Carson next.
– #11 Ernesto Ochoa got a great win over #6 Mario Mercado 11-9. Ochoa has multiple wins over IRT top 10 players in the last year and probably has moved into the world top 20 at this point.
– #10 Javier Mar beat #7 David Horn 13,7 to advance to face Landa in a juicy quarter final.

In the Qtrs:
– #1 seed Rocky Carson made fast work over Acuna 6,4 in his opener.
– #4 Alvaro Beltran got his first win over #5 Rodrigo Montoya Solís since Mexicali 2017 … and just like in 2017 he won 11-10. Montoya still has a career winning h2h record over Alvaro but missed an opportunity here.
– #3 Andree Parrilla was stretched to a tiebreaker but took out #11 Ochoa 11-7. Hope to see more of Ochoa on tour going forward.
– #2 Alex Landa took out #10 Mar in two close games 14,13. Definitely an indication of just how close these two guys are despite their seeds.

So, we’re chalk into the semis, top four seeds competing, despite some really close matches in the quarters.

In the Semis … we had two upsets.
– #4 Beltran topped #1 Carson in a tie-breaker, continuing their current back-and-forth rivalry. The two veterans have played more than 50 times and have split their last 6 meetings.
– #3 Parrilla beat #2 Landa in two game 8,11 to advance to the final, where he’s likely favored, having beaten Beltran their last three times on the court.

In the final, Parrilla came from a game down to trounce Beltran 11-2 in the tie-breaker for the win.

—————-
There was an even larger Men’s Open draw, with essentially the full Pro draw of participants but with completely different seeding, resulting in semis-quality early round match-ups. Here’s a review of the notable matches in Men’s Open singles.

In the 16s:
– Parrilla took out Montoya in two close games 14,12. These two have been playing forever; they’re the same year in juniors and traded back and forth junior Mexico and World titles. This is the first time they’ve met since Mexico Nationals in 2018, and it had been more than 2 years since Andree got a win over Rodrigo.
– Camacho got wiped out by Ochoa 5,4.
– Mollet got a rematch against Natera and lost in two 12,8. 
– Mercado beat Landa 11-8 in a match that I wonder how seriously Landa was playing (given that he’s into the pro semis, the doubles semis and was coming off a draining match over Mar).

In the Quarters:
– #1 Parrilla advanced easily over #25 Felipe Alonso
– #4 Horn beat #21 Ochoa by the slimmest of margins 14,14.
– #6 Mercado took out upset-minded #19 Natera in a tie-breaker
– #2 Acuna got a walkover from #7 Costa Rican Gabriel Garcia.

In the semis:
– Parrilla beat Horn handily to make the final … putting him in both singles finals Pro and Open.
– Mercado had a come-back tiebreaker win over Acuna to advance to the final.

In the final, Parrilla cruised past Mercado 8,7 for the double win.

—————-
Lastly, they did play doubles, with some good pro teams playing. The draw went chalk to the semis, with 4 good teams of tour regulars playing.
– Mar/Montoya topped #1 seeds Beltran/Landa in the top semi.
– the CRC national doubles team of Camacho/Acuna beat two IRT vets Horn/Mercado in the other.

In what looked like an awesome final, the home-town team came from a game down and saved match points against to win 11-10 over the Mexican team of Mar/Montoya for the win.

—————-
Points Implications of the Event: very little.

Here’s a quick points impact summary of these results:
– top 14 remain unchanged.
– Parrilla and Beltran each replaced missed results/0 point weekends with 120 and 90 points respectively, moving them up slightly but not enough to overtake Landa.
– Carson and Landa did not earn enough points to replace any lower result weekends, so their seasonal point totals remain the same.
– There was some slight movement up/down in the 15-20 range, as some players lost and gained points thanks to expiring/gained points on the weekend, but nothing major.

—————-
If you missed any of the matches, they streamed on youtube all weekend. Go to Youtube.com and search for “10a edición Costa Rica Open Racquetball” to find the streams.

Next up: All the major countries are holding National events this coming weekend: USA Adult National singles, Canada national singles and doubles, and Mexican Junior Nationals. I believe Ecuador has some nationals next weekend as well. We’ll do previews of all events in what should be a busy weekend.

Next up for IRT: another lower tier event in Garden City, KS in two weeks time.

International Racquetball Tour USA Racquetball Racquetball CanadaFederación Mexicana de Raquetbol

2019 Costa Rica Open IRT Tier 2 Preview

Acuna welcomes a solid pro draw to his home country.

The IRT Tier 1 slate may be done for the 2018-19 season, but a bunch of lower tier events are on the schedule still, including the 2019 Costa Rica Open, being held at the Costa Rica Country Club in San Jose, CRC.

R2sports link here: https://www.r2sports.com/tourney/home.asp?TID=30427

There’s a solid Pro draw of 22 players, including 5 of the current top 10 players on the IRT, another 6-7 regular IRT touring pros, plus a number of internationals we normally only see at IRF events. We also get the #1 and #2 players from Cuba playing this event, which is a treat.

Lets preview the draw and predict the singles competition:

———————-

In the Round of 32/Play-ins, some interesting match-ups;
– In the 16/17 two Guatemalan Internationals face off: Hanzel Martinez Perez versus Edwin Galicia
– #12 Alan Natera Chavez faces off against Cuban #1 Maykel Mollet; Natera should advance, but Mollet is a tough player.
– #11 Ernesto Ochoa takes on Cubvan #2 Enier Chacon, another relative unknown but who plays well in International events.

Projecting the 16s; here’s some fun round of 16 matches:
– #8 Felipe Camacho vs #9 Andres Andres Acuña; doubles partners in this event, they met in the IRT season opener, an Acuna 2-game win. Since then Acuna has had a magical run to the semis of PARC. They’re both on home ground; both players hailing from Costa Rica, so this could be a spirited match.
– #5 Rodrigo Montoya Solís vs #12 Natera: they just met in Syosset; a 2,2 Montoya crushing … which was kind of the reverse of 2019 Mexican Nationals, when Natera beat him in the quarters. I’m guessing Montoya advances here.
– #6 Mario Mercado vs #11 Ochoa: Here’s an interesting point: Ochoa has never entered a Tier 1 IRT event. But he’s got a ton of solid wins in Mexican Nationals (including a win over Beltran in 2018) and on WRT events close enough to his home in Chihuahua. Now he’s flown to Costa Rica and ends up facing an IRT top 10 player. Should be an interesting match. I suspect Ochoa can win this.
– #7 David Horn vs #10 Javier Mar; tough opener for Horn, having to face Mar, fresh off a Qtr final appearance in Syosset. Mar beat Garay, Montoya and Sebastian Franco in NY before falling to Kane; Horn has his work cut out for him here.

Possible Quarters:
– #1 Rocky Carson vs #9 Acuna; they last played at the 2017 US Open; Rocky is 3-0 lifetime over Acuna on tour. Somehow these frequent international players have avoided each other in IRF events. Carson cruises here despite Acuna having the home crowd rooting for him.
– #4 Alvaro Beltran vs #5 Montoya: they’ve already met twice on tour this year; both two game easy wins for Montoya. I think Montoya’s game is a bad match-up for Beltran right now, who can shoot and put balls away but not under pressure like he gets when Montoya’s power serve is on. 
– #3 Andree Parrilla vs #6 Mercado; Assuming Mercado gets past Ochoa, he runs into Parrilla, who drastically improved his ranking this year to finish 4th on tour. But, the last time they played it was Mercado dumping Parrilla out of the Bolivian Grand Slam on home soil. Look for Parrilla to junkball his way to a win here.
– #2 Alex Landa vs #10 Mar: wow, great match. Mar beat Landa in the 2017 FMR finals … and then Landa returned the favor beating Mar in the quarters of the 2019 event en route to the title. These are two very good players, very close in talent, and if Mar is on Landa will not be able to beat him. Any given sunday; this is a coinflip.

Projecting the Semis:
– Carson over Montoya; a rematch of Chicago semis, where Rocky won 11,2 and gave Montoya a lesson in the second game on match control.
– Landa over Parrilla: another tough match for Landa; if he gets to the finals here he’ll have more than earned it. If Landa gets by Mar though, I think he’s in jeopardy of losing here. Parrilla’s beaten him twice on tour this year and could do it again.

Final prediction: Carson over Parrilla. The last two times they’ve played, it was a Parrilla 11-8 win in Chicago 2018 … and a Laurel Carson 11-10 win where Parrilla blew a simple cross court pass on match-point to lose. I expect another close one but Rocky’s hard to beat.

———————-
They’re also playing doubles in San Jose. The Mar/Montoya team is only seeded 4th somehow; they’ll likely face Beltran/Landa in one semi, while the Costa Rican national doubles team of Camacho/Acuna likely faces two IRT regulars paired together in Mercado/Horn.

I like Mar/Montoya over Camacho/Acuna in a loud final.

———————

International Racquetball Tour International Racquetball Federation – IRFFederación Mexicana de Raquetbol

IRF Worlds 2018 Review

Montoya

The International Racquetball Federation‘s 19th annual Worlds are over; congrats to winners:
Men’s Singles: Rodrigo Montoya, Mexico
Women’s Singles: Ana Gabriel Martinez, Guatemala
Men’s Doubles: Daniel De La Rosa/Alvaro Beltran, Mexico
Women’s Doubles: Yazmine Sabja/Valeria Centellas, Bolivia

Historical Note: this is the first time in history that at the end of Worlds, not one of the four champions hailed from the USA. Its also the first World title for both Guatemala and Bolivia, joining Colombia’s 2014 Men’s double triumph as the only non-North American world titles in existence.

Lets do a quick review of the notable matches and how the tourney played out:

—————–
Men’s Singles:

No major upsets in the 64s or 32s; the only upset by seed was #18 Andres Acuna (the Costa Rican home town favorite) ousting the Dominican Luis Perez in two games.

In the 16s,
– The match of the 16s was a re-match of the game of the RRs, with Colombian Mario Mercado again outlasting Canadian Coby Iwaasa, this time by an 11-9 tiebeaker win. They went 11-10 in the group stage. Tough way for Iwaasa to exit the tourney.
– #1 Bobby Horn survived a 15-14 first game to take out Guatemalan veteran Edwin Galicia in 2 games.
– Sebastian Franco got a very solid win and took out defending Pan American champ Bolivian Carlos Keller Vargas 14,13. A testament to the depth of this draw; Franco-Keller was a worthy semi or final, featuring two guys who both had the capability to win this draw.
– #2 Daniel De La Rosa eased past home-town favorite Andres Acuña, who wasn’t able to pull off an upset run like he did the last time a major tourney was in Costa Rica.

In the Quarters…
– The #5/#4 Rodrigo MontoyaConrrado Moscoso Ortiz match lived up to the hype; these two guys played a finals-quality match that lasted more than 2 hours and ended up with the Mexican champion pulling away in a tiebreaker win.
– #1 Horn continued his career dominance over Mercado with a 2 game win.
– #3 Charlie Pratt got a surprise win over #6 Samuel Murray; Pratt definitely came to play this tourney
– But the biggest upset of the Men’s draw so far was #10 seeded Franco pulling out a 11-10 win over #2 seed and tourney favorite De la Rosa. Franco has the talent to beat anyone in this draw, but De la Rosa has consistently been the better player for years on the IRT. He’ll face off against Pratt, whom he’s never beaten.

In the semis, Rodrigo Montoya Solís outslugged #1 seed Bobby David Horn 9,8 in a 2 hour match that featured more than its fair share of questioned calls to advance to his first senior international final. In the other, crafty american veteran Pratt controlled his match against Franco and advanced 8,13.

In the finals, the crowd was given fantastic racquetball, with an amazing end to game one (a 15-14 game with two potential game winning points for either player over turned on appeal) before Montoya dove his way to a 14,9 win and a World Championship.

Champion: Rodrigo Montoya, Mexico.

————
Women’s Singles:

The upset of the 32s had to be Canadian veteran Jen Saunders pounding American Sheryl Lotts 10,1. Saunders had lost all three group matches and suffered an injury, but came out firing to take down the American.

In the 16s:
– two LPRT pros duked it out and a surprising result came; Argentinian Natalia Mendez controlled the match over an emotional Frederique Lambert and advanced 8,8. This is Mendez’ first win in four tries against the 2nd ranked LPRT player and a rather large upset to this observer (who thought Lambert was good for the Semis if not further).
– Colombian doubles partners Adriana Riveros and Cris Amaya had a heck of a #8/#9 match, with Riveros pulling the slight upset and coming out on top 11-9.
– Bolivian darkhorse Yazmine Sabja Aliss outlasted LPRT regular Chilean Carla Muñoz Montesinos in a tough breaker as well.
Maria Jose Vargas shook off her group struggles and upset 4th seeded Maria Renee Rodriguez in a tiebreaker.

In the quarters, upsets abounded.
– Huge upset when Guatemalan Ana Gabriel Martinez took out the #3 seeded Samantha Salas Solis 4,12. Martinez has been putting up statement wins over and over; a win over Vargas in the group stage, now this knock out win. She made the finals of the 2016 Worlds with a similar win over Salas, and will be looking to do so again.
– Possibly even bigger upset when #7 seeded Argentinian Natalia Mendez wiped out American Rhonda Rajsich in game one before winning the second game 13.
– Vargas continued to advance, downing Bolivian #4 seed Sabja with ease to setup a meeting with #1 Paola Longoria.

This meant that the semis were comprised of the 1,20, 6 and 7 seeds.

In the Semis…Longoria rebounded from a 15-6 first game loss to dominate game 2 and outlast Vargas in the tiebreker to advance. In the other semi, Martinez trounced Argentine Mendez 8,3 to continue her excellent tournament.

The final was a rematch of the 2016 Worlds final, the 2017 Pan Am semis, and the 2018 Caribbean & Central American games final between Longoria and Martinez. They had played 8 times in the IRF and Paola owned all 8 wins …. but after cruising to a first game win, Martinez fought back and shocked the racquetball world by taking the title over the world #1 (8),6,6.

What’s amazing about this result is this: Martinez is still a junior! She becomes easily the youngest ever world Champion in the history of the Worlds competitions. She is playing in her age-18 season and will compete in Junior Worlds later this year to attempt to complete an unheard of double-world championship Junior and Seniors.  Martinez lost the 2017 world 18U final to Montserrat Mejia as the #1 seed but should make a strong case this fall in her final junior’s event.

Champion: Ana Gabriel Martinez, Guatemala

—————–
Men’s Doubles.

No real upsets in the 16s. In the quarters, USA team of Sudsy Monchik and Rocky Carson got an early test, beating the talented Colombian team of IRT vets Franco and Mercado 11 and 13. The Canadian team of Samuel Murray and Tim Landeryou “upset” the #2 seeded Argentine team of Fernando Kurzbard and Shai Manzuri to move on.

In the semis, the Mexican #1 team of De La Rosa and Alvaro Beltran had the much tougher match-up, going up against the talented Bolivian team of Moscoso and Roland Keller. They squeaked out the first game 14 then closed it out 14,8. On the other side, the star-studded American team rolled easily over the Canadian team 12 and 2 to setup a classic final of IRT veterans.

In the final…the Mexican team seemed to play a deliberate, tactical strategy attempting to slow down the power of Monchik, and eventually they broke through, splitting the first two games then dominating the tie-breaker to take the title (10),9,2. This gives Beltran a 4th World doubles title, tying him with his long-time partner Javier Moreno for most ever Men’s World doubles titles. It also represents Beltran’s 10th international doubles title, 2nd only to Moreno.

——————
Women’s Doubles Review

In the 16s, the veteran Ecuadorian team of Vero Sotomayor and Maria Paz Munoz upset the Canadian team of Frederique Lambert and Jen Saunders in the 8/9 match up.

In the quarters, the most notable surprise was the elimination of the US team of Rhonda Rajsich and Sheryl Lotts by the Bolivian team of Yazmine Sabja Aliss and Valeria Centellas 12,10. Sabja has had great results as of late and continued her great Worlds tourney. We don’t get to see Sabja on the LPRT very often, but she’s got a ton of solid results in IRF events.

In the semis, the Mexican #1 seeded team of Alexandra Herrera and Montse Mejia cruised to a win over the Colombian team of Amaya and Riveros, while in the other semi the surprising Bolivian team were perhaps already on their way to victory over the excellent Guatemalan team of Martinez/Rodriguez when an injury forfeit gave the Bolivians the win into the final.

In the final, Mexico was running away with the match early; Bolivia won a tight second game 15-14 then blew away the Mexican pair in the tiebreaker to become the first world champion from outside North America. Final: (8),14,2.

A quick comment on the champion Bolivian team; I did not know this until weeks after the event, but Centellas is just *16* years old.  She’s still playing 16U in worlds.  That’s an amazing accomplishment to see a team with a 16-yr old win a world title.

———————-

Thanks for reading, congrats to all the participants, it was a fantastic event. All the draws are now loaded online to www.proracquetballstats.com.

Next up …we head *right* into the LPRT season, with the first ladies pro event happening next weekend in San Luis Potosi, Mexico. Maybe we’ll get another Longoria-Martinez final as i’m sure both players (and a huge chunk of the draw here) will be there.