2022 Suivant Consulting IRT Grand Slam Recap

Parrilla does the impossible, topping Kane in the final for his 2nd ever tier 1 win. Photo 2019 US Open via Kevin Savory

Congrats to your winners on the weekend:
– Pro Singles: Andree Parrilla
– Pro Doubles; Conrrado Moscoso & Roland Keller

Parrilla does the impossible and vanquishes the King, and gets a second career IRT win. Moscoso & Keller edge past a familiar rival team, one they’ve played 6 times in the last 2 years.

R2 Sports App home page for event: https://www.r2sports.com/tourney/home.asp?TID=38056

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Lets review the notable matches in the Singles draw.

Singles Match report in the PRS database: http://rball.pro/F1138C

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In the 64s:
– Mexican Jordy Alonso got a solid win against former IRT touring pro David Horn 14,7.
– Mexican 18U junior @Mauricio Delgadillo had a great pro debut, topping IRT regular Sam Bredenbeck 13,13 to move into the 32s.
– Mexican Rodrigo Rodriguez struggled with Guatemalan veteran @Christian Wer, going to a tiebreaker before moving on (11),10,4.
– Mexican @Jaime Martel had a slow start this week, dropping the first game to Guatemalan Geovani Mendoza before moving on in the breaker (11),6,0.
– Mexican veteran @Abraham Pena played a solid game and dispatched Maryland’s @DyDylan Pruitt 10,4 to move into the main draw.

In the 32s, we saw some interesting results and some upsets.
– In the always-competitive #16/#17, we got a barn burner. #16 @SeSebastian Fernandez was pushed to the very edge, advancing over #17 @AlaAAlan Natera in an 11-10 tiebreaker thriller.
– #8 Rocky Carson and #25 @CharCharlie Pratt Racquetball played a predictable match, each trying to out-think the other and stretching each other to a tie-breaker before Carson prevailed 11-5 to move on.
– #22 Erick Trujillo was the beneficiary of an injury to veteran @AlAlvaro Beltran , who lost the first game 15-1 then retired. Trujillo thus earned the magic ticket to face the King in the next round.
– #6 @Kane Waselenchuk started off his return to the tour with a straightforward 2,3 win over Mexican youngster @Elias Nieto . Kane shook off a bit of rust but was not really threatened by his round of 32 match.
– #7 @CoConrrado Mosco was the unlucky top 8 seed to get the dangerous Martell in this tournament; he advanced but it was pretty close 14,11. This is two IRT events in a row for Martell, who as a full time player on tour probably gets into the teens relatively quickly; we’ll see if he sticks to the tour full time in 2022.
– In the always-close #15/#18 slot, @ThThomas Carter got a solid win over Bolivian @Kadim Carrasco 11-8 in the breaker to force a meeting with Landa.

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In the 16s, we started to see some major developments in this tournament, as the challenges and part-timers were mostly vanquished and the veterans started to meet up.

– #1 Daniel de la Rosa was set for his expected stiff challenge from Patata, having faced him in the 16s in the last two events as well. But eight points in, Fernandez retired due to injury. Fernandez had tweaked his back in the round of 32 win, played about 5 minutes into his round of 16 and called it off. An unfortunate development for Sebastian, but DLR moves on with little fanfare.
– In the #8/#9, a battle of two team USA players turned into a close encounter, eventually won by the veteran Carson, who took out #9 Jake Bredenbeck 14,11 to setup a rematch against long-time rival DLR in the quarters.
– #5 Eduardo Portillo ‘s day came to a quick halt; at 1-4 in the first game he was also forced to retire due an unspecified injury against Sebastian Franco . Franco was definitely the underdog to Portillo here, who has been on a run and was a favorite to make the semis in this event. This definitely opens up the top half of the draw for all parties.
-#4 Andree Parrilla frustrated #13 @AAndres Acuña on the court and grinded his way to an 5,12 win Parrilla used an effective Z serve most of the match, which Acuna struggled to attack, often attempting to jump the Z-serve but then jamming himself and making for easy points for the Mexican. Parrilla moves on.
– #14 Rodrigo Montoya got his best win on tour in nearly two years by taking out #3 @Samuel Murray in a tiebreaker (12),9,6. Montoya may have World titles and Pan Am gold medals on his resume, but his pro results have been inconsistent. But this is a great win for the young Mexican, and one of his best ever wins on tour. Murray won this event last year but exits early. Murray eventually forfeited his doubles match later in the evening, with some implying he picked up an unspecified injury in this match that helped him to the door, so its an early exit all around. For the neutrals, we now get a Montoya-Kane match that could have some fireworks.
– Whatever rust there was on Kane’s game in the round of 32 was completely gone by his round of 16, as he obliterated Mexican junior phenom @Erick Trujillo 1,1. Kane’s serving was crisp, as was his shot making. There was the familiar booming sound of his kill shots, and the excellent shotmaking from the back court. Look out; he’s back and he doesn’t seem like he’s lost a step.
– #7 Moscoso advanced past a potentially tricky @Mario Mercado 8,13. Mercado has been playing really great ball lately, with a ton of “upsets” on his resume leading up to his first tier 1 win last November in Arizona. So far, the sometimes mercurial Moscoso has held serve and not taken the surprise loss; he now gets a shot at #2 Landa to move on.
– #2 Landa moved past #15 Carter with relative ease 8,12 to setup what projects to be a challenging quarter final for the Mexican.

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In the Quarters…

– #1 DLR cruised past his long-time rival Rocky 8,8 to move into the semis. This was the 30th time they’ve met professionally, with DLR having taken their last three meetings
– #4 Parrilla held serve against the surprise quarterfinalist Franco 10,11 to quietly move into the semis. Parrilla has two solid wins on his belt and has yet to really be troubled, and now gets a shot at #1 DLR in the semis.
– #6 Waselenchuk played a fireworks-filled match against fellow power-player Rodrigo Montoya , who hung with him for most of the first game and was ahead 9-6 before Kane characteristically “turned it on” and ran away with the game and the match. From 6-9 down Kane scored 24 of the next 28 points to win 15-9, 15-4. Early in game one, Montoya’s serve and power seemed to nettle Kane, who gave up points here and there, but he played himself into more consistent power form by the middle of game one and completely ran away with game two. Montoya could do little to stem the flow of points from Kane, and was in danger of taking a twinkie before netting a few points at the end. For any who think Kane’s lost a step or a tick off his fastball, this match showed he can still out power one of the best power players on tour.
– #2 Landa outclassed #7 Moscoso 9,6 in a match that wasn’t as close as the score suggests. Moscoso spent most of the match taking ill-advised shots and giving away points left and right on lob serves and defensive returns from Landa. He essentially gave up mid-way through game two and just went through the motions to even get it to 15-6. It was a real disappointment, in that I legitimately thought the Bolivian would be “up” for the challenge and the thought of a Kane matchup in the semis.

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– #6 Kane absolutely demolished #2 Landa 1,5 in a match that barely took 30 minutes end to end. Landa had zero answers for Kane early, as he ran out to an 8-0 lead with little effort in game one. I texted a colleague and literally said at that point, “double donut is in play.” Landa’s mobility looked lacking, perhaps another remnant of months-long issues with his back bothering him, combined with Kane’s lethal attacks made for a quick game one. Kane began lob serving at some point, easing off as it became apparent he was going to be able to win this contest without exerting max effort.
– #4 Parrilla came from a game down to shock the #1 player DLR 11-7 in the breaker. The game was played in spurts, as Parrilla ran out to a quick game one lead only to have DLR run off 10 straight points to take it. In game two, Parrilla ran out to an insurmountable 11-2 lead, but DLR pulled way back and for a short moment looked as if he could take the match in two. A couple of arguable points ended game two with some argument, and there was a tense feeling between the players (and with the referee) the rest of the way. The Tiebreaker was excellent, back and forth action up till around 9-7, when a very light hinder claim went uncalled for DLR and he literally stopped playing in the middle of the point. This immature action was more reminiscent of a C player, not the #1 player in the world, and he lost that point and eventually the match 11-7 in the breaker. Thus Parrilla advances to just his fourth career pro final (in 55 career Tier 1 events) and gets the top half’s shot at the King.

In the Finals, a pretty amazing match. Many thought we’d see a continuation of the steamrolling Kane has done through this draw. But Andree has a history of playing Kane tight and had something to say about the flow of the game. It was neck and neck for the entire first game, and Parrilla had first crack at a game point when he inexplicably held up on a very borderline avoidable claim, which seemed to get into his head and cost him game one 15-14. Instead of letting that call get to him and losing focus mentally, Andree hunkered down and gave Kane a beat-down like he hasn’t seen since the early 2000s, taking game two 15-2.

In the breaker, Kane took control and it looked like game two was just an aberration, jumping ahead 7-3. Parrilla fought back though, and lessened the gap. Parrilla was using a Z-serve with great effect, getting service winners and uncharacteristic weak returns. Meanwhile, Kane’s first serve percentage plummeted in the breaker, and Parrilla made a ton of shots. For me, this was all evidence of a gassed Waselenchuk just trying to get to the finish line. Despite his fatigue, Kane worked his way to match point at 10-7 for, but Parrilla calmly waited out a ball off the back wall and buried the return. From there, Andre never left the box again, serving out the match and scoring 4 straight in a flash to take the title 11-10. One of the best matches we’ve seen on tour in quite a while ended with a possibly transformative result for the tour.

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Points Implications of results

Assuming that the tour continues to expire points on the same cadence as before, this event should replace the two Jan 2020 events in Austin and Sioux Falls in the rolling calendar. Parrilla should thus move from #4 to #2 on tour, as he’s replacing two round of 16 losses in early 2020 with a massive 600-point grand slam win. The rest of the top 10 remains the same, just pushed down one slot (meaning Kane still sits at #6).

Other interesting moves:
– Beltran drops from #11 to #13 and he seemingly gets closer to possible singles retirement.
– Acuna rises from #16 to #14, which continues to put himself in place to face winnable round of 16s.
– Carrasco enters the top 20.
– Trujillo makes a big jump up to #23; he’ll be closing in on a 9-16 protected seed soon.
– Martell makes a big jump up as well with this and last week’s results: I’ve got him projected as #33 now; lets hope he continues to feature on tour.
– Rodrigo Rodriguez jumps from the 50s to the mid 30s.
– Jordy Alonso jumps from the mid 70s to the mid 40s.

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Doubles review

Match report in the PRS database: http://rball.pro/3C740A

In the 16s:
Injuries suffered by players playing singles earlier in the day Friday led to the withdrawing of two top teams and the hampering of two more, gutting the Pro doubles draw of some of its favorites but keeping in tact some stellar matchups. The #2 seeds Murray/Landa and #5 Portillo/Carson withdrew before playing, giving first round wins to Alonso/Rodriguez and @juaJuan Jose Salvatierra and @Javier Martinez respectively. Fernandez, who dropped out of his singles match with an injury, recovered enough to gut out a win with Parrilla in his opener. Beltran, who withdrew from singles after a heavy first round loss, came back to participate in an easy first round win as the #1 seed. The biggest upset went to the #9 team of Acuna/Natera, who took out the Bredenbeck brothers in a tiebreaker.

In the quarters:
– #1 DLR/Beltran held off the upstart Acuna/Natera team in the first, then cruised to a 14,6 win.
– #4 Moscoso and doubles specialist Roland Keller blasted the Guatemalan pair of Salvatierra & Martinez 5,8.
– #3 Montoya and @Javier Mar faced tough opposition from the Bolivian pairing of Mercado & Carrasco, advancing in two closely fought games 11,12.
– #7 Parrilla/Fernandez shook off ailments and took advantage of the #2 seeds withdrawal to advance to the semis over the young Mexicans Alonso & Rodriguez 12,6.

Doubles Semis:
– The reigning Bolivian national champs upset the #1 seeds DLR/Beltran 11-7 in a breaker to move into the final.
– Montoya & Mar cruised past #7 Parrilla/Patata to setup an excellent final.

In the final, we get a fun matchup. This is the sixth time these teams have met since mid 2019; they met at 2019 PARC, the finals of the 2019 Pan Am Games, the 2019 US Open, the 2021 World Doubles in Denver, and most recently in the finals of 2021 Worlds in Guatemala. Ahead of this match, they’re split 3-2 in favor of the Mexicans.

And on the court, we got a treat. The Bolivians evened the recent score of results by taking a two game match 14 and 14. In both games, the Mexican pair got to 14 first and served for the game, but in both cases the Bolivians saved game point against, got back in the box, and served it out. Great showing by both teams.

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Other Draws

In the 25-man Men’s Open Singles, the quarters went essentially chalk (with just small upsets at the 8/9 and 7/10). From there, the semis were nearly chalk as well, with #1 Mercado topping #9 Cuevas, #5 Trujillo upsetting #4 Natera, #3 Martell cruising past #6 @Sam Bredenbeck , and #2 Acuna defeating local Georgian Austin Cunningham
In the semis, it was #1 and #2 prevailing; Mercado took a 14,14 win over the up and coming Trujillo, while Acuna labored to get past the always-tough Martell. In the Open singles final, Mercado grinded his way to an 11-7 breaker win over Acuna.

The men’s Open Doubles also went chalk to the semis, where the reigning world champion team of Montoya/Mar (the #3 seeds in the pro doubles draw) destroyed the #4 seeds Cunningham/Pruitt to make the final. From the bottom side, double specialist @Roland Keller teamed with Carrasco to top the all-American Pratt/@Robbie Collins pairing. Mar/Montoya got a walkover win in the final.

In the 3-team Mixed Open draw, Carrasco teamed with @Kelani Bailey to defeat her fellow team-USA teammate @Hollie Scott (playing with Sebastian Fernandez) 11-8 in their RR group final to take the crown.

In the 6-player Women’s Open, the two LPRT touring players Lawrence and Scott each topped their small RR group to advance to a winner-take-all final. There, Lawrence continued her recent dominance over Scott, winning in two 9,9

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Thanks for all the streaming on the weekend, especially from broadcasters Dean Baer, Favio Soto, Pablo Fajre and the IRTLive crew

Thanks again to the Tourney Directors Rob Lyons and @Chad Bailey for putting this event on! Thanks for all the sponsors as well; without you we have no pro racquetball.

Reminder to Players! Please like and follow this page so that when I tag you, you see it. Facebook will only retain tags of people that like/follow a page, which means lots of you are not getting the notoriety of getting tagged and noticed on FB. If your name is here and it isn’t tagged … it probably means I attempted to tag you but FB stripped it.

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Next up?

Per our handy master racquetball calendar …
https://docs.google.com/…/1V6OTid6rZ356voXVkoV2sN7KMMbIP9S…/

There’s a Tier 5 in Nebraska that is drawing a bunch of top players from the mid-west. The 53rd annual Florida State Singles is being held in Sarasota, always a solid event featuring a bunch of top players. Kane & Sudsy are hosting another iteration of their Experience, this time in Vero Beach, Florida. The next pro event is in mid Feb when Sudsy also serves as a pro tour host, having the LPRT come visit his new home town in Vero Beach.

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tags

Associations
International Racquetball Tour

Countries
@USAUSA Racquetball
@RaRacquetball Canada
@FedeFederación Mexicana de Raquetbol
@Federación Boliviana De Raquetbol – Febora
@FedeFederación Boliviana de Racquetball
@RaRacquetball Colombia
@FedeFederacion Colombiana de Racquetball
Federación Costarricense de Racquetball
@ASOCIACION DE RAQUETBOL DE GUATEMALA

Major Sponsors
@Reaching Your Dream Foundation
@BeastmBeastmade
@Suivant CSuivant @WWilliams Accounting / @DonDonald Williams
@ZurZurek Construction, LLC / @Francisco Fajardo
Francisco Fajardo Francisco Fajardo

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IRT Suivant Consulting Grand Slam preview

Kane has re-appeared; will he make a run to the podium? Photo US Open 2019, Photographer Kevin Savory

The IRT returns to Atlanta for its first big tourney of the new season, and its a Grand Slam thanks to the continued patronage of Donald Williams and his firm @Suivant Consulting .

Its time for the 2022 Suivant Consulting Grand Slam.

In the early days of the sport, Atlanta was a frequent host on the men’s pro tour, hosting a Catalina event in 1980 and then hosting the DP/Leach Nationals in 1983 and 1984. The city returned to hosting in the mid 1990s, being the main host of the VCI named events. But then there was a hosting gap from 1997 to 2015, when pro racquetball returned to the city and has been an continued presence ever since. Recreation ATL is the host club in Lilburn, a north-east suburb of Atlanta proper, host to a very active racquetball community that hosts tournaments all year long.

This year’s tournament, as is now well known to the racquetball community, marks the return of 14-time Pro tour champion Kane Waselenchuk to the court. Kane’s been an infrequent presence on tour ever since Covid shut things down in March 2020; he’s played in just two of the six IRT tier 1 events hosted since, and only played singles in last year’s US Open. Despite not having taken an on the court loss since April 2019 (when he was hampered by a hand injury), he has slid to #6 on tour based on points and faces an interesting gauntlet of matches to get to a prospective final.

R2 Sports App link: https://www.r2sports.com/tourney/home.asp?TID=38056

There’s a big draw for this event: 46 pros are entered, making for an excellent and deep tournament. Despite it being a grand slam, we are missing a couple of the more regular IRT touring pros at this event: #12 Carlos Keller Vargas , #14 @Adam Manilla, #15 Eduardo Garay , and #20 @Javier Mar are missing out of the singles draw. Mar is at the event, but only playing doubles (he did the same at the US Open, an interesting trend for a player who I still rate as one of the top players in the world).

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Lets preview the draw. Here’s some notable qualifying matches that I’m looking forward to. Because this is a grand slam, the main draw starts in the 32s so there’s just one qualifying round on Thursday; the round of 64.

– #32/#33 NY up-and-coming junior @Josh Shea gets an interesting matchup against IRF veteran Guatemalan @Javier Martinez. Martinez has shown himself to be a tough opponent, taking top-20 IRT pros to breakers on tour recently. Shea had a great showing in his first IRT event last November, taking out Canadian team member @Pedro Castro before falling 11-9 to @Sam Bredenbeck . I like Shea to take the next step and make the main draw here.
– #21 @Erick Cuevas versus #44 @Alejandro Bear: two Mexicans facing off; Bear is relatively new to the scene while Cuevas has been a tour regular for some time. Can the newcomer force the issue against Cuevas?
– #28 @Bobby Horn vs #29 @Jordy Alonso: perhaps the best match of the round, you have a former top 10 player in Horn who has stepped back a bit in the past two years versus a player in Alonso who is not a frequent IRT player, but who has a number of big wins on the old WRT and took Keller to an 11-8 breaker loss in his last IRT appearance. I’m looking forward to this match.
– #29 Atlanta native @Austin Cunningham has an interesting match-up against Argentine veteran #36 @Shai Manzuri. I’d expect the younger player to outlast Shai, who has been playing for Argentina at IRF events since 1998, but there’s a reason Manzuri continues to be selected to represent his home country.
– Look for #35 @Rodrigo Rodriguez to upset #30 Guatemalan vet @Christian Wer in the opener; the lefty Rodriguez has splashed onto the scene lately with big wins.
– One more fun matchup for Thursday is #31 @Dylan Pruitt versus #34 @Abraham Pena. Pruitt is a frequent tour player, having just matriculated out of US Juniors, while Pena is a veteran Mexican player of the previous generation, representing Mexico at IRF events in the mid 2000s before the likes of De la Rosa and Beltran started taking all the Team Mexico slots. Pena plays an athletic, powerful game but Pruitt is excellent at playing controlled racquetball on the court, making for a great contrast in styles.

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Projecting the 32s: here’s some possible matchups, though the depth of this draw could make for some upsets and make these predictions moot:

– #16/#17: once again Patata gets stuck into the #16/#17 match. This time, @Sebastian Fernandez takes on @Alan Natera Chavez at this juncture. I like Fernandez here; he topped Natera at the same juncture last November in Arizona.
– #9 @Rocky Carson projects to play his USA teammate and frequent doubles partner @Charlie Pratt in the 32s. Pratt has shown he can take out Rocky in the past, but I sense Rocky is the favorite here.
– #5 @Lalo Portillo projects to play the winner of Horn/Alonso. That should be a great round of 32 irrespective of the 64-winner.
– #3 @Samuel Murray projects to play the lefty Rodriguez in his opener. Rodriguez will score points here; probably not enough to win, but enough to press Big Canada.
– #11 @Alvaro Beltran projects to play his young countrymate @Erick Trujillo in the 32s. Probably not the player Beltran wanted to see; Trujillo already has significant wins over solid IRT players and just finished blowing through world juniors. Upset watch here.
– #26 Jaime Martell faces a stiff challenge, going up against the winner of last November’s Sarasota IRT event in #7 @Conrrado Moscoso. Martell pushed DLR in last week’s Wintergreen and should hang with Moscoso but I sense the Bolivian has too much firepower here.
– #15/#18 @Thomas Carter versus @Kadim Carrasco; these two met at this exact juncture in this event one year ago, a slim 11-8 win for Carter. This match will come down to form; who is sharper? They’re evenly matched and i give Carter the slight edge.

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Round of 16 predictions
– #1 @Daniel De La Rosa is set to face Fernandez for the third straight tournament at this juncture. Look for a close match as Patata uses his athleticism to stay in the game, but for DLR to pull away in two games.
– #9 @Jake Bredenbeck is set to face Carson in another all-USA team matchup. Ironic that three of our team members are all in the same mini-quadrant here. I like Jake here in the mini upset.
– #5 Portillo over #12 @Sebastian Franco, who he’s topped a couple times lately and shouldn’t trouble him too much. Franco is recovered from surgery and didn’t show much in the way of wear last weekend at Wintergreen.
– #4 @Andree Parrilla versus #13 @Andres Acuna. After months of work getting out of the dreaded “16-seed hole,” Acuna looks to build on his win over Landa in the last IRT event and his run to the final of Worlds against Parrilla. These two players are similar in age and have been meeting in World Juniors for years, but their pro experiences against each other are limited. Andree crushed Acuna at this event last year, but Acuna topped Parrilla in Sept 2019 to advance to his first ever pro quarter. Acuna has improved mightily in the last year; upset watch here for me.
– #3 Murray vs #14 @Rodrigo Montoya : a very interesting matchup here; Montoya continues to be an enigma to predict; he has stellar wins but curious losses all throughout his resume. He absolutely has the ability to out-power Murray (he topped Sam in the 2019 Pan Am Games en route to the gold medal), but will he? Will the winner of this match be the one doing the least amount of bracket watching? On paper, the prediction is Murray, but upset watch here.
– #6 Kane Waselenchuk is set to face the winner of Beltran and Trujillo. If its Beltran, it makes for an interesting matchup between the top player in the world and a guy who is not afraid of him at all. Beltran has always shown the ability to hang with Kane with his excellent shot making abilities, but Kane might be a man on a mission this weekend.
– #7 Moscoso takes on #10 @Mario Mercado , a player who will play Conrrado tough. Last time they met it was a two game win for Moscoso, but he was made to work for it. Mercado has been playing great ball lately, got a win over Lalo in Maryland last weekend and really pushed the #1 player in the final, and could surprise Moscoso if he’s not focused.
– #2 Landa should outclass either of Carrasco or Carter advancing to move on.

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Projected Qtrs: There’s a lot of what-ifs in this draw, so take these projections with a grain of salt.

– #1 DLR over #9 Jake: it was 11-10 to DLR the last time they met in Sarasota last fall; it probably will be close again, but DLR wants a matchup with Kane.
– #5 Lalo over #4 Parrilla: another quarters rematch from Sarasota, where Portillo easily handled Parrilla and I predict it happens again.
– #6 Waselenchuk over #3 Murray: Canada on Canada crime; Kane moves on here.
– #7 Moscoso over #2 Landa: I’m not sure Landa is recovered enough from his back ailments from last fall to hang with the younger, more powerful Moscoso here.

Semis:
– #1 DLR over #5 Portillo; yes Lalo beat DLR 11-10 in Sarasota; i don’t think DLR is coasting through this event.
– #6 Kane over #7 Moscoso; well, if you asked me which matchups i’d most like to see on tour, this is a close #2 to the final we’re likely to see. They’ve only met four times, but neutrals were really treated to some fun top level shot making each time. This was the 2019 US Open final, and gave us a scintillating game one between these two players. Lets hope for another barn burner.

Finals; if all goes well, we will see the match everyone wants to see. The current #1 DLR versus the presumed #1 Kane, irrespective of his current ranking. The big questions for this match:
– we’ve watched DLR really mature over the past year, playing lots of controlled, smart racquetball on the court, beating all comers. Can he maintain his poise against the relentless power and pressure of Kane?
– how rusty is Kane? He’s played exactly three pro singles matches since March of 2020. In that time he’s gone from age 38 to 40 and has been contemplating his future in the sport. But, when he comes to a tournament, he comes to win.

Prediction: Kane over DLR 12,10

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Doubles review

The doubles draw looks awesome: #1 DLR/Beltran and their heirs-apparent in Mexico #3 Montoya/Mar are my favorites to advance to the final. however, the top half features two tough teams in #4 Keller/Moscoso and #5 Lalo/Carson that will make for a fun semi. From the bottom half, Fernandez and Parrilla make for an interesting pairing, and of course the #2 seeds Murray/Landa will have something to say about my prediction.

Finals prediction: Montoya/Mar over DLR/Beltran.

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Look for streaming in the regular places; follow the IRT on Facebook and sign up to get notifications when they go Live. Look for Dean Baer , @Favio Soto, @Pablo Fajre and the IRTLive crew all weekend on the mike, calling the shots!

Thanks to the Tourney Directors Chad Bailey and @Rob Lyons for putting this event on!

Reminder to Players! Please like and follow this page so that when I tag you, you see it. Facebook will only retain tags of people that like/follow a page, which means lots of you are not getting the notoriety of getting tagged and noticed on FB. If your name is here and it isn’t tagged … it probably means I attempted to tag you but FB stripped it.

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Major Sponsors
@Reaching Your Dream Foundation
@BeastmBeastmade
@suivant consulting and @Williams accounting

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2022 Holiday Park WOR Shootout Recap

Joe Young took the open double’s title on the weekend. Photo 2021 Beach Battle via Rick Bernstein

(recap by Todd Boss with help from Jeff Wright and Rob Mijares)

While huge swaths of the country were bracing for a debilitating snow storm (yours truly included; as I wrote this on Sunday there’s a blizzard of snow falling at my home in Virginia), it was 75 and sunny in Fort Lauderdale, Florida for yesterday’s 2022 Holiday Park Shootout. Why do we all not live in Florida again?

r2sports home page: https://www.r2sports.com/tourney/home.asp?TID=38174

Holiday Park is a cool facility. It is home to the Jimmy Evert Tennis center, a 21-court tennis facility named for its long-time teaching professional who happens to be the father of long-time #1 female tennis player Chris Evert (who grew up playing on the courts). The outdoor courts are tucked in-between a gym and a roller rink on the grounds; they’re three-wall mid-wall courts that are a bit wider than normal (23′ wide), and have side walls that run well past the short line, which makes for very unique play and strategy on the courts as compared to other 3-wall/mid-wall courts. Like many places in Florida, the regulars at the park have the advantage over traveling parties due to these unique factors, and welcome all covers to challenge the locals.

The park’s leading benefactor for decades has been the legendary George Daurio, who has worked with local officials for years for upgrades and is known as the “Godfather” of the courts. Tournament play has been present here for decades as well, and the park has been the home court for many top outdoor players over the years, including Ken Mooney, Billy Montana, Dave Smith, Ken Grandy, Dave Conway, and Rob Mijares.

Here’s a recap of the day’s action, which featured 37 of some of the best outdoor players in the state.

—-
Men’s Open Doubles recap

12 players/6 teams split into two RR groups of three to determine a group winner advancing to the knockouts. One group was taken by top seeds @Joe Young and @Garry Smith , while the other group was surprisingly taken by Max Heyman and Javier Trujillo, who played consistently all morning and made it to their first ever Open finals.

In the final, the powerful Young/Smith pairing vanquished the upstarts to take the title.

—-
Men’s Elite Doubles

The story of the day was longtime Holiday Park veteran Valeria Trabucco Clemmensen . The women’s draw was depleted due to some Covid exposures, so she entered into the Men’s Elite division with partner @Juston Cooklin and won the draw. She is a warrior and played amazing against some tough competition. Fittingly, Valeria hit a flat rollout to win it all in the tiebreaker. She has won many tournaments over the years, but this one was epic!
They topped the very tough @Eric Gomez and Luis Gonzalez in the Elite final.

———-
The winners of the rest of the events on the weekend:
– Men’s A/B Doubles: Giovanni Pezo / Luis Salinas
– Women’s Elite Doubles: Susan Suid / Carolina Pisana
– Mixed Elite Doubles: Miriam Benard / Max Heymann

———-

Thanks to Tournament director Jeff Wright for hosting the event and for all you do for Florida outdoor racquetball. Thanks to tournament staff @Rob Mijares and Hale Sakoff , who are ever-present figures at outdoor events in the state. Thanks to Vic Leibofsky for providing breakfast for the tournament; Vic is another behind the scenes supporter of programming who never asks for credit but who has been a great help to me over the years. And thanks to the city Parks and Rec staff, who gave the courts a fresh pressure wash ahead of the event.

2022 Holiday Park WOR Shootout Recap

(recap by Todd Boss with help from Jeff Wright and Rob Mijares)

While huge swaths of the country were bracing for a debilitating snow storm (yours truly included; as I wrote this on Sunday there’s a blizzard of snow falling at my home in Virginia), it was 75 and sunny in Fort Lauderdale, Florida for yesterday’s 2022 Holiday Park Shootout. Why do we all not live in Florida again?

r2sports home page: https://www.r2sports.com/tourney/home.asp?TID=38174

Holiday Park is a cool facility. It is home to the Jimmy Evert Tennis center, a 21-court tennis facility named for its long-time teaching professional who happens to be the father of long-time #1 female tennis player Chris Evert (who grew up playing on the courts). The outdoor courts are tucked in-between a gym and a roller rink on the grounds; they’re three-wall mid-wall courts that are a bit wider than normal (23′ wide), and have side walls that run well past the short line, which makes for very unique play and strategy on the courts as compared to other 3-wall/mid-wall courts. Like many places in Florida, the regulars at the park have the advantage over traveling parties due to these unique factors, and welcome all covers to challenge the locals.

The park’s leading benefactor for decades has been the legendary George Daurio, who has worked with local officials for years for upgrades and is known as the “Godfather” of the courts. Tournament play has been present here for decades as well, and the park has been the home court for many top outdoor players over the years, including Ken Mooney, Billy Montana, Dave Smith, Ken Grandy, Dave Conway, and Rob Mijares.

Here’s a recap of the day’s action, which featured 37 of some of the best outdoor players in the state.

—-
Men’s Open Doubles recap

12 players/6 teams split into two RR groups of three to determine a group winner advancing to the knockouts. One group was taken by top seeds @Joe Young and @Garry Smith , while the other group was surprisingly taken by Max Heyman and Javier Trujillo, who played consistently all morning and made it to their first ever Open finals.

In the final, the powerful Young/Smith pairing vanquished the upstarts to take the title.

—-
Men’s Elite Doubles

The story of the day was longtime Holiday Park veteran Valeria Trabucco Clemmensen . The women’s draw was depleted due to some Covid exposures, so she entered into the Men’s Elite division with partner @Juston Cooklin and won the draw. She is a warrior and played amazing against some tough competition. Fittingly, Valeria hit a flat rollout to win it all in the tiebreaker. She has won many tournaments over the years, but this one was epic!
They topped the very tough @Eric Gomez and Luis Gonzalez in the Elite final.

———-
The winners of the rest of the events on the weekend:
– Men’s A/B Doubles: Giovanni Pezo / Luis Salinas
– Women’s Elite Doubles: Susan Suid / Carolina Pisana
– Mixed Elite Doubles: Miriam Benard / Max Heymann

———-

Thanks to Tournament director Jeff Wright for hosting the event and for all you do for Florida outdoor racquetball. Thanks to tournament staff @Rob Mijares and Hale Sakoff , who are ever-present figures at outdoor events in the state. Thanks to Vic Leibofsky for providing breakfast for the tournament; Vic is another behind the scenes supporter of programming who never asks for credit but who has been a great help to me over the years. And thanks to the city Parks and Rec staff, who gave the courts a fresh pressure wash ahead of the event.

2022 IRT Wintergreen Classic Wrap-Up

DLR wins the 2022 Wintergreen classic as a tune up for Atlanta. Photo US Open 2019, Photographer Kevin Savory

Congrats to your major division winners on the weekend:
– Pro Singles: Daniel De La Rosa
– Open Men’s Singles; Alan Natera
– Open Doubles; Eduardo Portillo & Sebastian Franco
– Mixed Doubles: Erika Manilla & Mario Mercado

R2 Sports App home page for event: https://www.r2sports.com/website/event-website.asp?TID=38089

——————

Lets review the notable matches in the Singles draw.

The Men’s Pro draw basically went chalk in the round of 32 and 16. #9 @Jaime Martell upset #8 @Mauricio Zelada as the only upset by seed, but Martell might be the best player in the world who does not regularly feature on the IRT, so this is no surprise to regular followers of the sport. #4 @Sebastian Franco was pushed to a breaker in his round of 16 match by Ohio-based up and coming player @Victor Migliore but persevered 11-7 in the breaker to move into the quarters.

—————
In the Quarters
– It looked for a hot second like #1 @Daniel De La Rosa was going to get upset by Martell, losing the second game 15-14 and then going down early in the tie-breaker, but he flipped the script in an instant and cruised to the 11-4 breaker win.
– #5 @Andres Acuna got a solid win against #4 Franco in two games. This is another excellent example of why Acuna is a player to watch going forward; he’s beating the players he should beat, and is starting to get top-8 wins.
– #3 @Mario Mercado cruised past #6 @Alan Natera 11,7
– #2 @Lalo Portillo took out #7 Bolivian @Kadim Carrasco in two 9,8.

In the Semis, a couple of interesting results.
– #1 DLR labored to get past Acuna in a breaker 11-6. Perhaps its still just a bit of rust for the #1 player, or perhaps its another sign that Acuna is a player to be reckoned with. Or perhaps its a bit of both.
– #3 Mercado continued his hot streak of late, dispatching #2 Portillo with a streaky score line of 2,,(8),2. A really nice win for Mercado.

In the Finals, Mercado took the first game and was up big in the second game, and the broadcasters & viewers were wondering if DLR would even *score* in the second game. Well, not only did he score, he basically stopped Mario in his tracks and took game two 15-10 (going on a 15-2 run to do so), then took the tie-breaker to claim the title. Never count out the #1 player in the world. DLR takes the win here as a great tune-up for next week’s Grand Slam in Atlanta.

—————-
Men’s Open Singles review

The Open Singles had 20 players, including one touring LPRT pro in @Erika Manila . Here’s a recap of the action.

From the top side, #1 seed Martell cruised into the final without dropping a game. He topped Migliore in the semis. Victor had topped Thomas Gerhardt in the quarters, a solid win for him.

In the bottom Half, an under-seeded Manilla took out New Yorker @Anthony Armaneuse in the round of 32 opener, then upset #3 seed @Kyle Ulliman in the next round. She couldn’t move forward though, losing a nail-biting 11-10 breaker in the quarters to Maryland local open player @Dylan Pruitt. But it was #2 Natera who advanced to the final, beating NY junior @Josh Shea and then Pruitt in the semis.

In the final, Natera had a nice run to finish off a game 1 win that looked for a while like it was lost, then blew away Martell in game two to take the title 12,6. Natera wins the open draw without dropping a game.

—————-
Men’s Open Doubles review

The 13-team Men’s Open draw went completely chalk to the semis. From the top side of the draw, #1 Portillo/Franco took out #4 Natera/Acuna, while on the bottom #3 home-town favorites Mercado/Zelada took out the Bolivians Keller/Carrasco to move into the final.

In the final… Franco/Portillo drove the action and dominated play against the Maryland-based FormulaFlow brothers, and won going away 9,4 to take the title.

—————-
Mixed Open Draw

The Mixed open draw was mostly competed on Sunday, and featured a 5-team RR draw of top competitors mostly with DC-area ties. And, unfortunately, the looming snow storm took a toll on this draw, as the traveling NY-team forfeited to get a jump on the weather, and a couple hours later the Junkin/Weinberg team did the same.

In the end though, the top two seeds ended up going undefeated and met in the Sunday final, with the #1 seeded pairing of Erika Manilla & Mario Mercado squeaking out game one over #2 Brenda Laime & Zelada and advancing to the title 14,9.

—————–
Thanks for all the streaming on the weekend, especially from broadcasters Dean Baer and Pablo Fajre and the IRTLive crew, who braved the weather forecast to travel into the area this weekend.

Thanks to the Tourney Director @slemo Warigon for putting this event on and for your continued patronage of the sport.

——————
Next up?

Per our handy master racquetball calendar …
https://docs.google.com/…/1V6OTid6rZ356voXVkoV2sN7KMMbIP9S…/

Next weekend is a big one: the 2022 Suivant Consulting IRT Grand Slam in Atlanta. The draws look fantastic and it should be a barn burner. And, by the time you read this we may have a big-time announcement related to the IRT draw. How’s that for a teaser?

——————-
tags

Associations
@International Racquetball Tour

Countries
USA Racquetball
Federación Mexicana de Raquetbol
Federación Boliviana De Raquetbol – Febora
Federación Boliviana de Racquetball
Racquetball Colombia
Federacion Colombiana de Racquetball

Major Sponsors
Reaching Your Dream Foundation
FormulaFlow
Zurek Construction/Francisco Fajardo
AGE Solutions/Andy Gomer

Hashtags #racquetball #proracquetball #outdoorracquetball #irt #lprt #wor

2022 Wintergreen Classic Preview

Zelada competes on home soil this weekend at the Wintergreen. Photo from US Doubles 2020 via Kevin Savory

The first appearance of the top IRT pros of the new year is set to happen this coming weekend, at the annual Wintergreen classic held in Severna Park, located halfway between Baltimore and Washington in Maryland. This year’s event, run by long-time racquetball benefactor and IRT investor Slemo Warigon , has been upgraded to be a tier 3 event for the first time, which has attracted a slew of top IRT regulars for a solid draw.

R2 Sports App link: https://www.r2sports.com/website/event-website.asp?TID=38089

Lets review the major draws on the weekend, which will feature some solid women’s draws, fun doubles matchups, and even some pro-level mixed doubles.

———————————
IRT Pro Singles

There are 20 players entered, including three top-10 players, another 5-6 regular touring players ranked in the teens, and a slew of top east coast open players. It should be a fun draw.

Fun round of 32 and 16s to look for:
– #8/#9 is MoMo Zelada versus @Jaime Martel Neri , in what should be a very interesting match. Zelada has been playing regularly and has some good wins, while Jaime rarely travels outside his native Mexico but has been known to make noise when he does play. Look for Martel to upset Zelada here (they met in 2015 and Jaime won in 3 easy games).
– #6/#11 Alan Natera takes on NY junior @Josh Shea in what could be a closer match than Natera may want. Shea has been improving his results lately and has been facing better and better competition.
– #7/#10 Bolivian vet @Kadim Carrasco takes on Maryland’s own Dylan Pruitt in what should be a stiff test for the local player playing on courts he knows pretty well.

projected quarters.
– #1 Daniel de la Rosa faces the winner of the Martell/Zelada match, but should have no problems moving on.
– #4 Sebastian Franco projects to face #5 @Andres Acuña , an interesting matchup of mid-teens IRT regulars. Franco is 3-0 lifetime against Acuna, never really being pushed, but all their past meetings are in the 2016-18 range. Acuna is a different player right now, and I sense an upset here, even though these courts are well known to the long-time Maryland resident Franco.
– #3 @Mario Mercado versus #6 Natera. Mercado is fresh off a tier 1 win late last year and an excellent showing at Worlds. He beat Natera twice heads up on tour last year, but both times were really close. I expect Mercado, a long-time DC area native who is quite familiar with this club, to advance in a close match again.
– #2 @Lalo Portillo projects to face #7 Carrasco. They have played once; in 2017, when Lalo was a shell of the player he is now. Portillo moves on in two.

Projected Semis and Finals:
– DLR over Acuna
– Lalo over Mercado

Final: Lalo upsets DLR, but not without DLR putting up a fight. He didn’t fly here from Arizona to not get the top prize. Lalo took the IRT component at this tourney last summer, taking out Franco and Zelada along the way, so he is not unfamiliar with the courts. And Lalo upset DLR in Sarasota last November, so he’s got a playbook for winning. How motivated is DLR in his first tourney back? We’ll see.

———————————
Men’s Open doubles

13 teams are entered into Open doubles, and the top four seeded teams are all touring regulars, which should make for some great semi finals action.

From the top half, look for #1 seeds Portillo/Franco to advance to the final, vanquishing teams that include top Maryland amateur @Dylan Pruitt playing with top junior from New York @Josh Shea, the #4 seeds Acuna/Natera, and the voice of the IRT Dean Baer , playing with fellow New Yorker @Anthony Armanuse.

From the bottom half, I like the #3 seeded team of @FormulaFlow players Zelada & Mercado to upset the #2 seeds from Bolivia Keller/Carasco to make the final. They’ll advance out of a quadrant that includes top teams from Virginia (Peter Appel and Ross Weinberg), Texas (@Richard Eisemann and @Cole Sendry), and frequent east coast tourney players @Brent Walters and Thomas Gerhardt.

In the final, Lalo/Franco win to give Lalo a double on the weekend and some serious confidence heading into the 2022 season.

———————————
Mixed Open doubles features five teams and some top women’s players. @Erika Manila is in town; she’s teamed up with the excellent mixed doubles player Mercado as the #1 seed in the RR draw. They’ll be challenged by fellow LPRT touring pro Brenda Laime at the #2 spot (teamed with house-mate and fellow FormulaFlow player Zelada) for the title. Also competing are two top-level Virginia mixed pairings in Kristin Junkin & Weinberg and two outdoor regulars @Aime Brewer and Gerhardt.

I like the draw to play out chalk; with Manilla/Mercado taking the title.

———————————
Look for Streaming in the regular places; follow the IRT on Facebook and sign up to get notifications when they go Live. Look for Dean Baer and Pablo Fajre and the IRTLive crew all weekend on the mike, calling the shots!

Reminder to Players! Please like and follow this page so that when I tag you, you see it. Facebook will only retain tags of people that like/follow a page, which means lots of you are not getting the notoriety of getting tagged and noticed on FB. If your name is here and it isn’t tagged … it probably means I attempted to tag you but FB stripped it.

Tags/Sponsor links
International Racquetball Tour
USA Racquetball
@Federacion Mexicana de Raquetbol
@Federación Boliviana De Raquetbol – Febora
Racquetball Colombia
Federacion Colombiana de Racquetball
Formulaflow

@Zurek Construction, LLC / Francisco Fajardo
AGE SOLUTIONS Andy Gomer
@Reaching Your Dream Foundation

Hashtags #racquetball #proracquetball #outdoorracquetball #irt #lprt #wor

3WallBall SoCal Outdoor Season Kickoff Invitational Shootout Recap

Danny Lavely powered his team to victory in the season opening shootout. Photo via Outdoor Nats 2021/Steve Fitzsimons

To kick off the 2022 season, on January 8th 2022 3Wall Ball and MC Vegas hosted an invitational Outdoor shootout at the courts of West Newport Park, right on Highway 1 in Newport Beach, California. These 3-wall/mid-wall courts are Rocky Carson ‘s favorite, his “home courts” that he practices on most frequently, and he was part of one of nine top-level teams invited to play in this shootout. Some of the players were rusty; it had been several weeks of inaction for most of the competitors, but eight games of round robin cleared off the dust by day’s end for everyone. And the shootout featured a great collection of top talent from SoCal and beyond.

Here’s a recap of the action.

The nine teams played a pure round-robin, one-game to 11 against the other eight teams, making for a ton of racquetball on the day. The top 6 teams from the RR stage advanced to a knockout round. Two teams dominated in the RRs (Geis/Rich and Lavely/Solis) going 8-0 and 7-1 respectively, and looked to be the favorites for the cash.

Here’s how the knockouts went.

In the quarters:
– #5 @Tom Durham and @Matt Barserian upset #4 @Tony Berg and @Scott Sinclair 15-10. This is a great result for the relatively unknown Barserian, who (like Micah Rich) is a great player who plays recreationally and can put up results when he’s in practice.
– #3 Rick Koll (aka “Soda Man”) and Emmett Coe took out the home-court playing Carson and his regular partner @Jesus Ustarroz 15-11. Soda Man traveled to LA with Coulter from Vegas and teamed up with the ever-tough Paddleball champion Coe to take out the two-time Outdoor National champs Carson & Jay.

In the semis:
– #1 @Jason Geis and @Micah Rich, your 2021 Outdoor National champs and Vegas 3WB pro finalists, topped Durham/Barserian 15-5 to move into the final.
– #2 @Greg Solis, WOR Hall of Fame inductee in 2018, and partner @Danny Lavely crushed Koll & Coe 15-2 to move into the final.

In the final, Lavely got hot and made the best adjustments to the fast penn ball being used, took advantage of some tiring arms after a long day, and pushed his team to the upset win over #1 Geis/Rich 15-5.

Thanks to @Mike Martinez and @prokennex for stopping by, thanks to 3WB and other sponsors, thanks to Coulter as always for his support of the sport, and thanks to the players for putting on a show.

(Photos courtesy of Mike Coulter)

Court Wars Wrap up

Bredenbeck helped his team to victory at the Court Wars PPV. Photo Kevin Savory 2020 USAR national doubles

The first ever Court Wars PPV racquetball event, held a the Bay Club in Pleasanton, CA, is in the books; here’s a wrap-up of the action.

In the first match, two NorCal juniors (well, near juniors) Antonio Rojas and Nikhil Prasad battled it out.

Prasad looked to me like he’s grown 6 inches since we last saw him, and he came out firing. Rojas came out quite cold and got smoked in the first game 11-2. Tatoe rebounded, found his game, and took the second game 11-7. In the breaker, Rojas seemed to tire a bit, and tried to keep it close, but Nik pulled away to take the match. Final score: 2,(7),7.

In Match #2…Mercado came out on fire, and won a crisp first game 11-4. Parrilla rebounded and played smarter shorts in game two and reversed the score, winning 11-4. After flipping a coin for the serve in the breaker, Mario ran out to a 4-1 win and was looking good … then Parrilla turned it on, went on a 10-0 run and took the breaker. Final score: (4),4,4

In Match #3, the two ladies pros battled out a back and forth match. In game one, Parrilla cruised to an 11-6 win. Erika came roaring back and raced to an 11-1 game two win. In the breaker, Erika got rolling in the service box, won a fantastic rally at 9-5, got a service winner on an iffy-maybe-it-was-a-screen-serve, then got a clear winner to take the 11th point and the match. Final score: (6),1,5.

Match #4 was perhaps the most anticipated “fun” match of the evening, featuring a couple of players who we know would “talk” their way through the match. Rojas showed a bit more rust than was expected, and Diaz was clearly frustrated by the calls, and the Bredenbeck’s won in two.

Match #5 was an interesting one: a rematch of The World’s final from just a week ago. Acuna came out hot and just blasted Landa, who looked like he was nursing an injury. But whatever was bugging Alex loosened up, and he cruised to game 2 and 3 wins.

—-
An excellent job by all parties, pulling this off for the first time.

Thanks to all the sponsors who made this possible including @Donald Williams and Williams Accounting & Consulting, Suivant Consulting , Dovetail/Mike Kinkead , plus all the other sponsors. Congrats to Adam Manilla , Erika Manilla and @Manilla Athletics for the great idea and for putting it on. Thanks to Wayne Antone for reffing, @Bobby Horn and @Elli John and Brian Pineda for all their announcing work.

2021 AGE Solutions Hollywood Beach Battle Wrap-up

Sostre the double winner this weekend. Photo Steve Fitzsimons 3WB 2020

Congrats to your One-wall Doubles winners on the weekend:

  • Men’s Pro Doubles: Robert Sostre/William Rolon
  • Women’s Pro Doubles: Masiel Rivera/Aimee Roehler
  • Mixed Pro Doubles: Robert Sostre/Masiel Rivera
  • 75+: Sergio Rivera/Suresh Vemulapalli

R2 Sports App home page for event: https://www.r2sports.com/website/event-website.asp?TID=37870

The weather looked great and the competition was awesome all weekend. Here’s a recap of the four biggest draws.


Men’s Pro Doubles recap:

12 teams entered this draw, split into three RR groups. The format gave the winners of the RR groups byes into the knockout semis, and then the three second place teams played a winner-take all mini-RR group to determine the last semi finalists.

Group winners:

  • @Robert Sostre and William Rolon
  • @Yasmani Perez and Alejandro Barceló
  • @Ignacio Espinal and Eric Faro

The three 2nd place teams who duked it out for the last semi spot were:

  • @Thomas Gerhardt and @Mike Harmon
  • @Richie MIller and @David Blatt
  • @Freddie Ramirez and @Joe Young

Ramirez and Young claimed the last knockout spot by topping the wild card RR group.

In the semis, Sostre/Rolon took out Ramirez/Young in a matchup of long-time one-wall partners Iceman and Freddie. In the other semi, Espinal & Faro topped the surprise group winners Perez/Barcelo.

In the final, Sostre/Rolon were just too strong and took out Espinal & Faro in two close games.


Women’s Pro Doubles Recap:

The Women’s pro doubles played one big RR group to determine the top two teams, who then met again in a winner take all final.

In the group stage, LPRT touring pro @Masiel Rivera and Hall of Famer @Aimee Roehler cruised to a group win, with #1 seeds and NY one-wall legends @Maira Ramos and @Kathy Guinan taking second.

In the knockout final, Rivera/Roehler won the rematch against the New Yorkers to take the pro title.


Mixed Pro Recap;

An excellent mixed doubles draw was hit somewhat by injuries by Sunday morning, but still featured some top teams battling it out. The 10 teams split into RR groups of five each, with the top two teams advancing to the knockouts.

Group A winners: Sostre/Rivera
Group B winners: @Ruben Pagan / Roehler.

Second place finishers: @David Blatt and @Anita Maldonado from Group A, and @Richard Miller / @Maira Ramos from group B.

In the knockouts, Sostre/Rivera held serve in the top half, while Pagan/Roehler were upset by the NYC pairing of MIller/Ramos. In the final, Sostre/Rivera made it a double, winning the Mixed 21-16.


Combined 75+ Recap

The Combined 75+ was nearly as big of a draw as the Men’s Pro, and was hotly contested. Like with Mixed, the 11 teams split into two big RR groups, with the top two teams advancing to the semis.

From Group A, @Alejandro Barcelo and @Richie Miller took the group, with the traveling VA team of @Sergio Rivera and @Suresh Vemulapalli taking 2nd.

In Group B: the pro finalists Espinal and Faro took the top spot, while the Miami duo of @Daniel Talamo and @Gleiber Barrios Subires surprised some one-wall top pros to take second.

In the knockouts, some amazing upsets. Barcelo/Miller took out the underdog Miami pairing in the first semi, but the Virginians shocked the pro finalists to get to the finals. There, Rivera and Vemalapalli took out another favored pro outdoor pairing to surprise the tournament and win the final. Kudos to Rivera and Suresh for their big win!


Thanks to the Tourney Directors @thao le and @maddie melendez for putting this event on! Thanks to @vic leibofsky for his help on the draws and making sure all of us watching from afar knew what was going on.

Reminder to Players! Please like and follow this page so that when I tag you, you see it. Facebook will only retain tags of people that like/follow a page, which means lots of you are not getting the notoriety of getting tagged and noticed on FB. If your name is here and it isn’t tagged … it probably means I attempted to tag you but FB stripped it.


Next up?

Per our handy master racquetball calendar …
https://docs.google.com/…/1V6OTid6rZ356voXVkoV2sN7KMMbIP9S…/

… The next big tournament on the schedule is the IRT Suivant Consulting Grand Slam in Mid January 2022. We have a few lower tier events in the early part of January.


tags

2021 Hollywood Beach Battle Preview

Sostre is in Florida this weekend; can he take home multiple titles? Photo Steve Fitzsimons 3WB 2020

The AGE Solutions Hollywood Beach Battle

r2sports home page: https://www.r2sports.com/website/event-website.asp?TID=37870

Just when you thought the outdoor season was over … the venerable DC-based team of racquetball promotors Thao Le and Maddie Melendez are bringing racquetball back to the Historic Garfield Street one-wall courts in Hollywood, Florida this coming weekend, with a little help from regular Florida racquetball organizers like Vic Leibofsky, Rob Mijares and Jeff Wright.

Headline sponsored by DC-area player @Andy Gomer and his company AGE Solutions, this is the first time tournament racquetball has been played on these courts since the March 2019 Beach Bash. 2020’s event was one of the first major rball events to be cancelled thanks to the burgeoning Covid crisis, and 2021’s event never got off the organizational floor with the city from a permitting perspective. But here we are, and the draws look amazing.

Despite a space-limited capacity figure for the tournament, this tournament has drawn a who’s who of one-wall players from up and down the east coast, with a number of players flying in from New York/New Jersey and Washington DC. Other top outdoor players are coming in from Arizona and Texas and North Carolina. And of course, a ton of Florida’s finest are here, ready to fend off the challenges from one-wall out-of-towners and try to take home the titles on home soil.

Here’s a quick preview of the doubles-only pro draws to be competed this weekend. Note: some of these draws and partnerships may change by the time draws are released; some last minute withdrawals have forced some scrambling to find new partners… the Tournament Director’s lament.


Men’s Pro Doubles.

There’s 12 teams entered into the Pro one-wall doubles, and the competition will be fierce. They’re split into three RR groups of four teams each to start.

In Group 1, the favorites are the top seeded NYC team of Robert Sostre and William Rolon, who were the 2019 and 2020 One-Wall champions in Vegas together. Individually, these two hold a slew of Beach Bash titles; Rolon won in 2017 and 2018 with David Blatt, while Sostre holds four Beach Bash titles (and made another four finals) with long-time partner Freddy Ramirez. The “Iceman” and “The Warrior” will be tough to beat. However, Group 1’s #2 seed is the sneaky good team of Thomas Gerhardt and Mike Harmon, who very accomplished indoor players who also more than hold their own in the outdoor arena.

In Group 2, the #1 seeds are the tough team of Richard Miller and David Blatt, who themselves are one-wall royalty from NYC. Miller owns three Beach Bash titles (and made the pro finals another five times), while Blatt (known as “The Hulk” or “The Hulkster”) has both a Beach Bash and a Vegas one-wall title on his resume. They’ll be pushed in their group by top outdoor Florida players such as @Marcos Gravier, Alejandro Barcelo, and Yasmani Pérez. Also, shoutout here to Osman Alejandro Lazarte, a long-time DC area top player who’s entered in with a dark-horse New Englander in Sudheer Tata and could make waves.

In Group 3, the top seeded team is one-wall royalty in Freddy Ramirez paired up with perhaps the most powerful player in Hollywood this weekend in Joe Young. Freddy owns dozens of one-wall titles in his career and is perhaps the best right-sided one-wall player in history, while Young blasted his way to a Beach Bash title in 2015 and is a regular in outdoor majors. They’ll be challenged in the group stage by NYC ex-pat @Ignacio Espinal (Iggy) playing with @Eric Faro from New York and a dark horse team from Stratton Woods in @Sergio Rivera and @Suresh Vemulapalli.

Group Predictions: I hate to go chalk, but its hard to see any of the three top seeds getting upset in the group stage. Best chance for an upset goes to Gerhardt/Harmon in group 1.

The playoffs will be determined in a cool way: the three group winners advance to the semis, while the three runners-up will play a mini RR to determine the fourth semi finalist.

In the knockouts, I like Miller/Blatt over Ramirez/Young in the final, if the brackets work out that way.


Mixed Pro Doubles

The Mixed Pro draw is stacked. Some of the teams that stood out to me as immediate contenders include:

  • Sostre playing with LPRT touring pro Masiel Rivera Oporto
  • Gerhardt playing with Virginia top outdoor player @Aime brewer.
  • Ruben Pagan of onewallball.com playing with Hall of Famer Aimee Roehler.
  • Blatt playing with the legendary Anita Maldonado, who owns five major one-wall titles and is perhaps the best female paddleball player of all time.
  • Miller playing with @Maira Ramos, a pairing that won both the 2010 and the 2013 Mixed pro Beach Bash titles together.
  • Freddy playing with Kathy Guinan – Norwex Independent Consultant, who owns two Beach Bash doubles titles from 2010 and 2012.

Wow. These round robins are going to be amazing. Each RR group has three teams that you could make easy arguments for advancing.

Predictions: I’m going to go with Sostre/Rivera winning group one, Pagan/Roehler in group two, and Sostre/Rivera taking the playoff.


Women’s Pro Doubles

There’s eight women’s pro doubles teams entered, and the competition looks fierce.

In Group A, an old-school pairing of Guinan/Ramos will look to fend off what looks like a very powerful team of Roehler/Rivera.

In Group B, look for a battle between the Virginia-based pairing of Carrie Handfinger Hoeft and Brewer and the @Claudia Andrade/@Michelle Michbo Herbert team, which could be pretty tough.

In the final, I don’t think Roehler/Rivera can be stopped.


Other Draws

There’s huge Draws in Elite, in Men’s 75+, and others. Kudos to all the players who are flying in to support this event.


Look for streaming from the individual players throughout the weekend. I know that wifi is tough at the court, so we’ll hope for the best we can.

3WallBall Outdoor World Championships
Mid-Atlantic World Outdoor Racquetball
WOR – World Outdoor Racquetball

Court Wars 2021 Preview

Marco Rojas comes out of retirement for the Manilla Court Wars. Photo Kevin Savory

For the first time in years, perhaps dating to the old Hogan-Yellen winner-take-all matches in the late 1980s, a racquetball promoter has put together a pay-for-play exhibition and its happening this coming weekend.


The Manilla Athletics Court Wars 2021 is set to happen on 12/18/21, live on pay per view and available at this website:
https://manillaathletics.com/courtwars-info

Consider supporting this endeavor and buying your tickets. I’ve got mine. We need more of this kind of out-of-the-box thinking, not less, in our sport.


Title sponsors include the two owners of Manilla Athletics (that being pro players and team USA members Adam Manilla and Erika Manilla) as well as two of the leading sponsors of racquetball in the Atlanta area, Williams Consulting and Suivant Consulting.

There’s already a great preview at https://manillaathletics.com/courtwars-info of each of the 5 matches (which I highly recommend to go read) but here’s my preview and prediction for the five matches in the event.


Match #1: Antonio Rojas versus Nikhil Prasad.
First up is an all Junior (well, nearly junior) event, featuring two of the more decorated Junior competitors the USA has ever seen. Both players hail from northern California (Rojas from Stockton, and Prasad from Fremont). Rojas finished his junior career with 8 junior national titles and simultaneously held the 16U and 18U titles in 2019 (a rare feat: it has only been done by two other males, that being Jose Rojas and Jack Huczek). Prasad is still going, is the reigning 16U junior national champion as we speak and holds six junior national titles, with a chance to sweep the 18Us in the next two years to match Tatoe’s accomplishments.
Neither player has yet to debut on the pro tour (though Tatoe did play in a WRT event when he was quite young).

Prediction: I think age wins out here: Prasad is an excellent player and clearly the best 16U player in the land, but Rojas was winning 18U titles when he was Prasad’s age, and at this young age, a couple of years of experience and strength means a ton.


Match #2: Mario Mercado versus Andree Parrilla
Match #2 features two IRT touring pros, the currently ranked #4 and #10 players on tour. Both are experienced international players, and both represented their home countries at the recent World championships (Parrilla playing for Mexico, Mercado playing for Colombia).
They’ve met 5 times professionally, all on the IRT. Parrilla leads h2h 3-2. Their last meeting was at this year’s US Open, a two game 11,8 win for Andree. But, Mercado is coming off a strong run of form; he won the Arizona pro-am IRT event in November and made it to the semis of Worlds, where he dropped an 11-9 thriller to Acuna to miss out on the finals.
They play a somewhat contrasting style: Mercado is inarguably a shooter, going for bottom boards and pinch shot rollouts at every opportunity. Parrilla is more of a grinder, a defender who relies on accuracy more than power. This match could come down to who is sharper, and despite the run of form lately I give the edge to the higher ranked pro:

Prediction: Parrilla in a breaker.


Match #3: Erika Manilla versus Jessica Parrilla
I love this matchup, especially right now, because Manilla has had a great run of form and is looking like she merits a spot in the top 10 on tour. Meanwhile, Parrilla IS in the top 10 on tour right now, meaning this could be a very evenly matched contest.
They’ve only met once: way back in 2017 at the US Open, an easy 3-game win for Parrilla when Erika was barely out of juniors. But so much has happened since then: Parrilla suffered an awful knee injury and missed an entire year on tour, and really is still working her way back. Manilla finished college and has now been able to focus more fully on playing, and her results show. She had a great run at the US Open (making the pro semis and really pushing #1 Longoria), and she made the doubles final at Worlds with Rhonda Rajsich. She continues to get solid wins on tour.
The key to this match will be emotions. As in, who can manage theirs better. Both players play with their emotions plainly on their sleeves; a missed shot results in gesticulation, while a made shot results in exaltation. Sometimes playing with emotion can be good, other times it can be blinding to proper game management. Look for plenty of “Come on!” and “Vamos” from the competitors as they battle this one out.

Prediction: Parrilla in a close breaker.


Match #4: Doubles: Jose Diaz & Marco Rojas versus Jake Bredenbeck and Sam Bredenbeck
A fun doubles exhibition, featuring two of the best doubles players in America and long-time double partners Diaz and Jake. Diaz and Jake made the finals of the 2014 Pan American sports Festival, the Finals of the 2015 US Open, a bunch of Pro doubles finals, and the 2020 US national doubles finals.
But now times have changed: Jake played 2021 US nationals with his brother Sam and seems to have taken his brother on as a permanent doubles partner, likely due to Diaz stepping back from playing. How will these two fare on the court facing each other for the first time in years?
Meanwhile, some newer fans of the sport may not “remember” just how good Rojas was on tour. He was in the top 10 for four years in the mid 2010s, a constant presence in the back-ends of tournaments, and maintains to this day winning h2h records against a slew of top players (Landa, DLR, Pratt, Murray, Horn, and Diaz). A victim of the financial issues in our sport, Rojas quit the tour in May of 2017 to focus on getting a “real job,” which he’s been doing ever since.
But now he’s back, and he’s part of what promises to be a very vocal “209” pairing, going against the Minnesota farm hand brother-brother pairing. There is no lack of confidence coming from the Rojas/Diaz pairing, and they’ll be sure to let everyone know as the game moves on.
Generally when i predict doubles matches, I look at the strongest and weakest players on the court as the determining factors. I’m assuming Rojas will get some practice time in, but will his rustiness be a factor? Meanwhile, Jake projects to be the most dominant player on the court; can he carry the team? Of the four players, Sam is the least accomplished player; will that be the determining factor?

Prediction: Diaz/Rojas eke it out.


Match #5: Alex Landa versus Andres Acuña
Well, you couldn’t ask for a better match here. This is an immediate rematch of the 2021 World final, won in dominant fashion by Landa 6,6.
I won’t rehash the “history” between these two; it is well documented elsewhere. What I will point out is this: these guys have played each other, a lot, this year. This will be the fifth meeting between these two players since August. Landa won the first three (all round of 16 matches in pro events), before Acuna took out the mentally fatigued Landa in Sarasota, a huge upset and a marquee win for Acuna’s career. Then Acuna played fantastic ball all week in Guatemala to earn a well-merited spot in the gold medal game.
On paper, this is World #2 versus World #16, and you wouldn’t think it would be that close. But in reality, these are players moving in opposite directions. Acuna is up and coming, has added pace and is starting to get notable wins left and right. Landa is now 33, kind of a “witching hour” age for pro racquetball players where they generally lose a step or two, lose a few MPH on their fastballs, and suddenly go from top dogs to upset-fodder. Not to mention … at some point you have to “grow up” and realize you can’t play rball forever. Is this where Landa sits right now, career wise? His recent results (outside of winning Worlds) certainly show this; he has not made a final since March of 2020, and he’s taking first-time losses to a number of up and coming players.
The big question for this match will be; is Landa’s heart going to be into it? If he’s not getting up for pro tournaments, can he get up for an exhibition? Meanwhile, Acuna plays to win; he doesn’t take matches off; he can’t afford to right now. Every win for him is more important than the last and he’s hungry.

Prediction: Acuna wins.


Tune in 12/18/21 at 11am PST/2pm EST.