2024 APCON 3WallBall Beach Bash Preview

Michelle Key in a solid position for some one-wall doubles titles. Photo 2022 Outdoor Nats via Fitzsimons

Welcome to the 17th annual Beach Bash one-wall outdoor event, the first of the three “majors” on the WOR – World Outdoor Racquetball annual calendar. This is the 17th iteration of this event, which started in 2004 as one of the first ever events run by the newly formed WOR organization. It was renamed to Beach Bash for Cash starting in 2007, and has run in mid-March every year (save for Covid) since. Eventually the “Cash” moniker was dropped, so now we just call it Beach Bash.

This year’s event is shaping up to be an outdoor-specialist’s paradise, as a schedule conflict has taken away the top IRT touring pros who have regularly been playing outdoor events over the past few years. This also means that titles are up for grabs that have been dominated by johnny come lately IRT guys for the past few years.

This is also the first event of the 2024 Outdoor Cup series, a year-long program awarding cash and prizes to the best performing outdoor players in the three majors. We’ll report on the standings after the event finishes.

Here’s a quick preview of the pro draws. We’ll do Singles, Doubles, Mixed in that order:

Men’s Pro Singles:

Nine players entered into one-wall singles, which is a tough test of racquetball skills and endurance. The last 8 titles here have been won by either DLR or Sostre, so we’ll have a new winner for the first time in a decade. Javier Trujillo is the 1-seed, but for me the two favorites might be in the lower half of the draw in @David Blatt and @Yasmani Perez . I’m looking for Blatt (aka “The Hulk” or “The Hulkster”) to take the title. I love outdoor nicknames.

Women’s Pro Singles:

There’s 6 players in women’s one-wall pro, all six of which who are well-known LPRT touring pros or outdoor champions. Veronica Sotomayor is the 1-seed and the defending champ, having blown through the draw last year and topped the 3-time defending champ Scott. From the bottom half, look for Florida outdoor specialist lefty @Chanis Leon to battle with future outdoor Hall of Famer Michelle Key early. I like Kelani Lawrence to make the final but for Vero to repeat.

Men’s Pro Doubles:

With defending champs DLR and Mar missing, last year’s finalists Robert Sostre and @Benny Goldenberg get the #1 seed. However, the draw makers did them zero favors, with a top-heavy bracket that features a slew of dangerous teams. #4 isEric Faro and Dave Blatt, two very accomplished one-wallers. The top-half also has future WOR HoFamer Rocky Carson and Alejandro Barcelo as the #5 seed, and honestly i’d take either the #8 (San Antonio one-wallers @Dj Mendoz and Brennen Jennings or #9 seeds @Dylan Pruitt and @Mark Harmon over half the teams in the bottom half of the draw head to head. Whoever comes out of the top will have earnover half the teams in the bottom half of the draw head to head. Whoever comes out of the top will have earned the final .

The bottom half features two solid Florida-based one-wallers in Trujillo & Perez as the #2 seed; they’ll have to contend with a couple of one-wall legends in their half of the draw in Bobby Morales & Richie Miller. Miller is an 8-time finalist in pro doubles here, and is playing with experienced outdoor vet Thomas Gerhardt . Lastly, the #3 seed features two bruisers with enough girth to completely fill the court in @JYoung Joe and @Rick Koll, who feature a combined bench press north of 800 lbs and enough power to go through a bucket of balls in their matches.

Prediction? I think Benny & Iceman prevail over Gerhardt & Miller.

Women’s Pro Doubles:

A wide-open division of 5 tough teams. Lawrence (last year’s winner with Scott) is teamed with Parrilla as the #1 seed but (if they can beat Florida’s Leon/Allue) will have to contend with Sotomayor and excellent doubles player @Maria Renee Rodriguez to repeat. In the bottom half it will be Arizona vs New York (well, NY/NJ) with Key teaming with @Katie Neil taking on last year’s finalist @Aimee Roehler teamed with the very tough Delia Silva .

I like Lawrence & Parrilla to take out Roehler/Silva in the final.

Mixed Pro Doubles:

This year’s Mixed competition will look completely different from last years, in that seven of the eight semi-finalists from 2023 are missing this year. The sole-returner is Sostre, and he’s teamed with Lawrence as the #1 seeds and favorites. They’re going to be tested early though, as husband-wife team of @Sudsy Monchik and Sotomayor are late entrants and seeded dead last, set to play into the #1 seeds for what will make for a juicy quarter final. The 4/5 match features two of the better one-wall NYC ladies in Silva and Kathy Guinan , teamed with Blatt and Mighty Joe Young respectively. The top half is loaded.

The bottom half features three-time Mixed pro Beach Bash champ Key along side multi-winner Koll to form a formidable #2 seed. They project to face a very solid #3 seeded team of Carson & Parrilla, two veteran pros who can certainly get results in one-wall.

Prediction? Whoever wins the 1/8 quarter will top Carson & Parrilla in the final.

In CPRT 40+, which counts towards the Outdoor Cup standings, 13 teams are battling it out in a division that includes a slew of famous names. @Marty Hogan is in this draw, teamed with Iggy @IIgnacio Espina as a very dangerous #6 seed. Semi finalsits last year Max Heymann and @Seran Ramkissoon are the #3 seeds. Last year’s finalist Joe Young is with his pro partner Koll as the #2 seeds. But The team to beat is #1 Richie Miller with last year’s finalist Gerhardt.

I like Miller/Gerhardt to take the draw over Young/Koll in a chalky 1-2 final.

there’s also big 75+ and 100+ divisions, and Paddle ball features a slew of top NYC teams. It should be a fun weekend.

Streaming will be handled by the LPRT team this weekend onsite. Please be patient with the streaming: the Garfield Street courts are in a notoriously bad wifi area, and sometimes streaming can be spotty. They can take certain precautions, but shared hotspots can get overwhelmed quickly.

Thanks as always to Tourney Directors and sponsors who make this event happen. Specifically, Peggine Tellez , Mike Coulter , @33Wall Ball, Abel Perez , Kwm Gutterman , @Dovetail and Mike Kinkin , @Age Solutions and Andy Gomer , LPL Financial , @Rick Koll and his Sodaman franchise, all the racquet companies that support the sport, and others who I may have missed.

39th Annual Papa Nicholas39th Annual Papa Nicholas IRT Shamrock Shootout Preview

Can Parrilla make some noise on tour? Photo 2019 US Open via Kevin Savory

The IRT returns to Chicagoland for its annual visit to the Glass Court facility in Lombard. This is the 39th annual iteration of this event, for years hosted by the legendary Goeff Peters, now hosted by Dan Jaskier and the regular Chicago crew. This is the 9th year in a row that this event holds an IRT component, but the IRT’s history in Chicago is rather rich.

Chicago has held more than 40 top-level Men’s Pro events since the mid 1970s, including the 1978 DP/Leach Nationals, where @Marty Hogan won his first ever pro title. It also hosted the DP Nationals in 1982 and Catalina Nationals in 83 when “Nationals” meant massive prize money, huge crowds, and TV broadcasts. Former IRT commissioner David Negrete was (is) a Chicago native, and for years the famous Halloween Classic was a staple on the IRT tour. Then, from 2005-2009 it was the host of the Motorola Pro Nationals, a massive money tournament that took over the moniker “Pro Nationals” from Mike Coulter and Las Vegas when the host club closed.

Since 2015 though, its been Shamrock, and the event has seen some great results. It is the site of @Andree Parrilla ‘s first ever tour win in 2018, and Parrilla always seems to play well here. Lastly, this event was the last event of the covid-ended 2019-20 season, with the tour just barely squeaking out the tournament before the country shut down for the virus.

This event looked for a while like it would be really badly impacted by the fixture congestion of this month, but a slew of players entered at the last minute, so there’s more than 40 IRT pros in the draws competing for more than $31k of prizemoney.

R2 Sports App link: https://www.r2sports.com/website/event-website.asp?TID=41791

The draws are up at r2sports; go to the above link to see them and read along.

Top-20 players missing: 3-time defending pro champ Daniel De la Rosa is not here; he has a competing PPA tour event in Austin. Also missing are #7 Murray, #10 Portillo, #18 Landa (retired), and #20 Sam Bredenbeck. The loss of DLR and Murray has a huge impact on the draw, as it elevates #8 ranked Waselenchuk to the #6 seed, meaning he’s on the opposite side of the draw from #1 Moscoso.

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Let’s preview the draw. Here’s some notable qualifying matches that i’m looking forward to:

In the Qualifying, we get a ton of internationals who rarely play the tour, but who had the opportunity to fly to the US a week before PARC starts to get some top-level matches. Look for the likes of Bolivians Luis Aguilar, Jhonatan Flores, and Hector Barrios to make some noise this weekend. Each of them may not be household names, but they’re all accomplished Junior worlds players.

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Projecting the 32s, here’s some fun matches to watch:

– Alejandro Cardona versus Alan Natera . Two solid Mexican veterans face off; its Juarez vs Chihuahua.

– Erick Trujillo versus @Mauricio Zelada : MoMo usually hangs with top 10 talent for at least a game or two, but expect the young Mexican to advance.

– #5 @Adam Manilla faces off against U21 Bolivian @Luis Antonio Aguilar . He’s the losing finalist of 2023 U21 and 2022 U18 and has some wins internationally. Adam should move on, but this is a tough round of 32.

– @JJohn gotti versus @Kadim Carrasco . Barn burner; Goth still gets wins, as we saw in Sioux Falls. Upset watch here.

– #4 @Andree Parrilla versus @Jordy Alonso . Brutal draw for Parrilla, who gets the very under-rated Alonso. Jordy can get wins: he beat Jake in Chicago two years ago, and beat Andree the last time they played. But, that was in 2017, and Andree shouldn’t slip up here.

– #3 @Jake Bredenbeck takes on, for the 2nd straight event, reigning 18U world junior champ Jhonatan Flores . Jake advanced 5,10 in Minnesota, so should be able to repeat the feat here.

– #22 Diego Gastelum versus #11 Jaime Martell . Oof, tough opener for Martell, drawing the reigning U21 world junior champ, a guy who’s got h2h wins over Trujillo and the whole crew of up-and-coming young Mexicans. Upset watch here.

I also think there will be several upsets by seed that aren’t really upsets by talent; look for the likes of Nieto and Sendrey to move on as well.

Remember: a top 8 seed on the IRT has yet to lose in the round of 32 since the format change, and only one has even gone tie-breaker. Will that trend continue this week? I count at least three top 8 seeds who I wouldn’t be shocked if they lose. In any case, a ton of really compelling 32 matchups.

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round of 16:

– #9 Trujillo over the winner of Natera/Cardona: another all-Mexican battle, and a great way for Trujillo to test where he is. I think he’s improved leaps and bounds this season, and this will be another solid test.

– Parrilla vs #20 Cole Sendrey: Cole isn’t favored in his opener but is the better player by talent levels. Can he do much with Parrilla?

– The winner of the Martell/Gastelum match feeds into #6 @Kane Waselenchuk for what should be a spirited blow-out loss.

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Projected Qtrs:

– #1 @Conrrado Moscoso over Trujillo. This should be a shooter’s paradise to watch.

– #4 Parrilla over #5 Manilla. If this meeting comes to pass, it’ll be a rematch of two weeks ago at this same juncture, a three game win for Parrilla that was one-way traffic after game one.

– #3 @Jake Bredenbeck versus Kane: I predicted Jake would come out on top in Minnesota over Kane. That was before seeing the current state of Kane’s game, which looks fantastic. It was still a 13,8 loss, close, but not really that close. Can Jake rebound and make it closer? Maybe. Still a kane win.

– #2 Rodrigo Montoya versus #7 Andres Acuna . Montoya’s first two rounds won’t trouble him much, and I don’t think Acuna will either.

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I’m projecting the exact same semis we got in Minnesota, and (spoiler) the same eventual outcome.

Semis:

– Moscoso over Parrilla; this is a rematch of Minnesota’s semis. Parrilla has a couple of career wins over Conrrado, so it can be done. For me, I don’t think Moscoso loses this match unless Kane wins ahead of time and he looks past the scrappy Andree.

– Also a rematch of MN semis, Kane takes on Montoya. Montoya can take games off kane; he’s got the serving prowess and the ability to extend rallies like few others, forcing that one extra shot that often makes the difference. Montoya’s loss in Minnesota was heaily due to a loss of focus in the breaker; if he can stay focused and stay on his game, he has a chance to win. Kane will have to be a bit “off” to do so, which doesn’t happen often. Still thinking Kane advances.

Finals; Kane vs Moscoso. Which Conrrado shows up? The one who beat Kane in Pleasanton/pushed him to 15-13 in Minnesota? Or the one who capitulates to a 15-2 game two loss in the final two weeks ago? It’s anyone’s guess. Moscoso may be #1 on tour, but international titles are more important to him, so is he looking ahead to PARC? One add’l wrinkle: Moscoso won’t be jet lagged all to hell here, since he stayed in the US after the Hall of Fame event, so he’ll be fresher in Chicago.

All that said, it’s Kanes to lose right now. He looked too good two weeks ago.

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Doubles review

Defending pro doubles champs Manilla & Parrilla get the #1 seed, since tour doubles #1 Montoya is missing his regular partner. Instead, Montoya picks up Trujillo to form a very formidable #2 team. The rest of the draw is filled with internationals getting a tune-up ahead of PARC. The likely Bolivian PARC team of Moscoso & Carrasco is the #3 seed, but I still like Montoya/Trujillo in the final against Parrilla/Manilla. From there, hard to root against the lefty-righty pair.

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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 Favio Soto, Pablo Fajre and the IRTLive crew all weekend on the mike, calling the shots!

Associations

International Racquetball Tour

LPRT Boston Open Recap

Longoria with her first win in a while. Photo via Fran Davis Racquetball

Congrats to your Pro winners on the weekend:

– Singles: @Paola Longoria

– Doubles: @Maria Jose Vargas and Natalia Mendez

Longoria claims her 112th career LPRT tier 1 title after months of upsets. She also drastically tightens the points race at the top of the tour, even if we have a brand new #1 (see later on for more).

R2 Sports App home page for event: https://www.r2sports.com/website/event-website.asp?TID=41926

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Let’s review the notable matches in the Singles draw.

Singles Match report in the PRS database: https://rball.pro/b4m

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In the 32s, all four matches were interesting

– US Junior national champ @naomi ros showed fellow junior @Kyathi Velpuri of the current gulf between them.

– Michelle Key got a very n ice win over Lexi York during a rare singles appearance.

– Former #2 @Frederique Lambert cruised past tour regular @Maria Paz Riquelme

– Current Canadian #2 Juliette Parent got a TB win over LPRT regular Stephanie Synhorst .

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In the 16s:

– In the always close 8/9 match, @Kelani Lawrence came from a game down to top Carla Munoz and regain the upper hand in their frequently-seen h2h competition.

– #5 Alexandra Herrera wasn’t too troubled by #12 Jessica Parrilla

– #4 @Brenda Laime crushed Lambert 1,1 … its amazing how far you fall off when you’re not playing top-level competition week in and week out.

– #11 Cris Amaya moved into the quarters for the 2nd event in a row, getting an inj fft after winning the first game against #6 @Samantha Salas Solis

– #7 Angelica Barrios got a nice win over #10 @Natalia Mendez in two closer games.

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In the Quarters

– #1 @Montse Mejia held on after a dominant first game to advance over Lawrence in two.

– #5 @Alexandra Herrera got a solid win over #4 Laime 14,6

– #3 @Paola Longoria was not troubled by Amaya and moved into the semis.

– #2 @Maria Jose Vargas topped a player in Barrios who has vexed her in the past, winning in two games 7.11.

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The Semis neatly featured basically the four best players in the sport, the four who have dominated the game over the past few years (with all apologies to #4 Laime). And we got some interesting results the rest of the way.

In the top semi, Mejia cruised past friend and doubles partner Herrera 7,7. As i’ve mentioned before, these types of games are hard to predict since the two players know each other’s game so well. From the bottom semi, a surprise. Longoria, who has lost the last few meetings to Vargas, turned the tide and topped her in a relatively dominant fashion all things considered 13,5.

In the Finals, Mejia controlled game one, but Longoria used the conditions and Mejia’s lack of put-away accuracy to grind out the three game win.

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Points Implications of results.

As you’ve probably seen on social media by the time you read this, Maria Jose Vargas has ascended to #1 in the world for the first time in her long career. Despite losing to Paola in the semis, she takes over the top spot in the rolling 365-day calendar. She also maintains the #1 spot in the season to date rankings, which come June will be the only rankings that matter, as more and more it looks like Mejia will not be defending her title.

Mejia drops to #3 in the current rankings, and remains a somewhat distant 3rd in season to date. She’s going to need to basically finish out the season by winning every event to have a chance at repeating. There’s not much movement otherwise in the top 8: Manilla drops to #7 and may be out for a while unfortunately due to her hip injury.

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Doubles review

Match report in the PRS database: https://rball.pro/2rl

The doubles draw saw a surprise finalist, breaking through the stranglehold that the two top Mexican teams have had at the top of the tour for some time. Argentinians Vargas & Mendez beat Longoria & Salas by the “can’t get any closer” score line of 14 & 14 to get to the final. There they played #1 Mejia & Herrera, who cruised past the Bolivian native team of Barrios & Laime to get there.

In the final, Vargas & Mendez put a shot across the international bow of reigning IRF doubles champs Mejia & Herrera, taking them out in the doubles final.

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Open Singles, other notable draws

– Parrilla defeated Munoz in the Women’s Open draw

– Sam Kelley beat Jose Flores Jr in a 1v2 Men’s Open final.

– Rhys Andersen and Michelle Key took the Mixed open

– Men’s Open Doubles: Carla Munoz teamed with Joe Kelley to take the Men’s Open doubles title.

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Thanks for all the streaming on the weekend, especially from broadcasters Timothy Baghurst, Jerry J Josey Jr., and Tj Baumbaugh and guest stars.

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Next up?

Per our handy master racquetball calendar …

https://docs.google.com/…/1V6OTid6rZ356voXVkoV2sN7KMMb…/

We’ll recap HS Nationals and then have a week off before the big 3/17 weekend.

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tags LPRT

IRT Minnesota HoF Event Wrap-Up

Kane is back. Photo credit: unknown

Congrats to your Pro winners on the weekend:

– Singles: Kane Waselenchuk

– Doubles: Andree Parrilla and Adam Manilla

Kane returns to the winner’s circle, winning his 125th career title. It has been nearly two years since Kane stood in the winner’s circle of the IRT, as he’s gone through quite a journey of injury recovery. He also, at the age of 42 years and 114 days becomes the oldest player ever to win a tier 1, besting Ruben Gonzalez’ former record by a year and a half.

R2 Sports App home page for event: https://www.r2sports.com/website/event-website.asp?TID=41775

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Let’s review the notable matches in the Singles draw.

Singles Match report in the PRS database: https://rball.pro/8de

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In the 32s: we got a couple of compelling matches and one real upset.

– #21 John Goth got the biggest upset of the round, taking out #12 @Robert Collins in a breaker. I thought this result might be in play, but it’s been more than 10 years since Goth made his surprise run to the USA Nationals final. But clearly, he’s still got it. He makes the main draw of an event at age 42, not quite a record but still impressive (see here for list of “oldest players to…” do stuff, something that will come up again later in this event: https://rball.pro/cr4 )

– #13 Jaime Martell was taken to a breaker by veteran Guatemalan @Juan Salvatierra , though the scores seem to indicate that Martell “turned it up” after losing game one. Final score: (13),1,2.

– Reigning 18U world champ @jhonatan Flores held his own against #3 @Jake Bredenbeck , losing by the relatively respectable score-line of 5,10.

– #26 @Mauricio Zelada pressed #7 @Alan Natera in game one but then the Mexican cruised. Final score 11,3

– #10 @Erick Trujillo perhaps was looking past his first round opponent and was shocked in game one against Guatemalan Edwin Galicia 15-4. He rebounded to take the next two 13 and 2 to move on and avoid the upset.

In a recurring theme, the top 8 players all won in two straight games, and as a reminder there has been just one tiebreaker and zero upsets of a top 8 player since the tour went back to a full 32 draw. Scores of your top 8 seeds in order: 3&4, 6&5, 5&10, 10&3, 8&4, 7&4, 11&3, and wbf-ns. A little better than the last event for the lowest ranked players, but I attribute that to the unusually large presence of internationals in this draw who are a bit better than their seeds.

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In the 16s, two upsets by seed, though neither was surprising:

– #11 @Kane Waselenchuk topped #6 @Andres Acuna with ease 2,6. Kane enters this event looking like he’s lost a little weight and is moving around pretty darn well, especially for someone north of 42.

– #10 @Erick Trujillo beat #7 @Alan Natera 7,9 and makes a statement about the current pecking order of Mexican racquetball. Trujillo, who burst onto the scene a couple years ago and then kind of scuffled against his like-aged competitors, has really stepped it up this year on tour.

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In the Quarters

– #1 Conrrado Moscoso made fast work of #8 Thomas Carter.

– #4 @Andree Parrilla held on to east past his doubles partner this weekend #5 @Adam Manilla in a breaker. After losing the first game 13, Parrilla found another gear and won going away 3,2.

– #3 @Jake Bredenbeck was not able to find his mojo against Kane, and lost 13,8. The match was close at times, but there was no letup from the King this time around. I predicted that Jake would have a good shot to win here, based on his results against Kane earlier this season, but it wasn’t to be. After a great run all last season of making the back end of events, Jake’s 2024 so far is a Loss in the qtrs, a Loss in the 16s, and now another loss in the quarters. After being in the mix for the title all the way till the death last season, Jake’s chances are now mostly kaput of winning #1.

– #2 @Rodrigo Montoya was pressed by the young Trujillo but held on 4,14.

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In the Semis

– #1 Moscoso returned to the final and guaranteed that he’ll greatly extend his lead at the top of the tour by topping #4 Parrilla 10,11.

– #11 Waselenchuk played a fascinating match against #2 Montoya. The first game was back and forth, a great contest between two of the better power servers the game has seen. Kane’s method of operations is to use his pinpoint accuracy to end rallies on balls where he can set his feet, but Montoya time and again made fantastic anticipating or diving gets to extend rallies. Kane held on to win game one 15-14 but Montoya countered with a relatively dominant game two win 15-7 to push it to the breaker. Early in game 3, a call went against Montoya that he didn’t like and he seemed to drift focus-wise for a few points. Suddenly it was 7-2 down before he called time out and the damage was done. Kane put his foot on Rodrigo’s throat and closed it out 11-2. You can’t lose focus for one second against Waselenchuk and you have to play perfect ball to beat him. To this observer, Kane looks as good as he has in several years.

In the Finals, we got another fantastic matchup against the former King and the likely future King of the sport. Moscoso, who has returned to his foot-faulting ways, was forced to deal with a line judge in the final (at Kane’s request) and had multiple calls go against him. Kane went up huge early, but Moscoso fought back. A very entertaining and competitive game came down to just a few moments; I noted in the comments of the video during game one how similar the two players really were: both have huge serves and drive a ton of pressure from them, and both really penalize weak service returns to do 3-shot rallies. The real difference between them right now to me is this: Kane plays smart, while Moscoso plays risky. When Moscoso makes his low-percentage shots (on top of everything else in his game) you see him run to 15-4 game wins. But when he misses … it’s just enough to give the game to the steady Kane 15-13. Also as noted … Moscoso is a notorious front runner, and often capitulates in heavy game two losses after close game one wins … and that’s exactly what happened here. Game 2 was a waste, one way traffic that was just the two players playing out the string at the end. Kane wins 13,2

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Points Implications of results

I’ll caveat this points analysis as I probably always should: sometimes I’m not privy to oddities that go on in the IRT rankings system, since it runs through R2 and includes little offities that even the tour owners aren’t always aware of. What I believe will happen, if I have my xls right, is this: because there’s fewer than ten tier1s in the last 365 days, all satellite points are dropped and the tour is just adding together the results from the tier1s.

Moscoso has opened up a sizeable lead at the top of the tour; he now leads #2 Montoya by nearly 500 points. Meanwhile, Daniel remains in 4th but now trails the top by nearly 900 points … it happened just that fast. DLR missed Chicago last year so he won’t drop too much further for a while, but the writing is on the wall. By mid-summer he may be entirely out of the top 10. He won’t be in Chicago either.

Kane should move up to #8, a spot he secured once he made the final. Portillo is just barely hanging onto the top 10, Natera gets dumped down to #12, and Trujillo now pushes for the top 10. Landa loses a ton of points from this event last year and now is barely clinging to a top 20 spot. With the win, Kane is in the lead for “season to date” points, which by the end of the year will be the only thing that matters.

However curiously, as of this writing Kane is not entered into the next IRT event (Shamrock Shootout in Chicago in two week’s time). He’s also not entered into the competing Beach Bash, which he likely would have played if it wasn’t a competing event. My guess is that he’ll go to chicago and we may get another couple of showdowns like we saw this weekend. (update: he entered Chicago earlier today). Thanks to DLR’s absense, we won’t be forced with Moscoso-Kane in the quarters … so we have a good shot of getting another Kane-Moscoso final in two weeks.

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Doubles review

Match report in the PRS database: https://rball.pro/vti

The doubles draw saw top ranked Montoya carry Cullen into the final by beating #2 Moscoso/Carrasco, but they played just a handful of points before the final was called off due to injury. #1 Manilla & Parrilla cruise to the title.

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Open Singles, other notable draws

– Alan Natera, seeded 7th but ranked just outside the top 8 so by contract he can play Open, took the Open draw, topping Bolivian junior Flores in the final. Barth and Galicia semi finalists.

– Home town team of Jordan Barth / Mike Klocker took Open doubles, taking out Pando & Meinerz in the final.

– Ava_Kaiser & Barb Hoffner took women’s doubles.

– Sponsor extraordinaire Keith Minor and Rebecca Bowman took Mixed Open.

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Thanks for all the streaming on the weekend, especially from broadcasters Favio Soto, Pablo Fajre, guest commentators and the IRTLive crew.

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Next up?

Per our handy master racquetball calendar …

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1V6OTid6rZ356voXVkoV2sN7KMMbIP9SZd0MssH_nPGU/

We’ll recap the LPRT and USAR HS Nationals in the next couple of days. After that, we get a break until the next uber-busy 3/17 weekend.

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tags

International Racquetball Tour

IRT McNamara Minnesota Racquetball Hall of Fame Tournament Preview

Montoya is the defending champion Chicago: can he repeat? Photo Kevin Savory 2022 Portland IRT event

Welcome to the 35th annual (and 2nd time in a row that it’s had an IRT component) Minnesota Hall of Fame event. If you want to read why its called “McNamara,” go to the r2sports home page where the tourney organizers have a little history lesson that goes a long way to showing why Minnesota is one of the best supporting states for racquetball out there.

R2 Sports App link: https://www.r2sports.com/website/event-website.asp?TID=41775

There’s 32 men in this draw, including a slew of internationals that we don’t normally see in IRT draws. This generally happens just ahead of international competitions, and with PARC in a few weeks we see confederations like Canada, Chile, Bolivia, and Guatemala (still listed as “Zambia” in r2sports thanks to Guatemala’s non-recognition right now by IOC) sending their players here to get a tune-up.

There’s been a huge shake-up in the rankings since the end of the last event. The Feb2023 Atlanta grand slam expired off the books, and the results of the top four players from that event dropped off with major implications. When we last left off, the top 4 (and their points from Atlanta) were:

1. De la Rosa (600; won Atlanta)

2. Jake (450: finalist in Atlanta)

3. Moscoso: 0: missed Atlanta)

4. Montoya (135 – quarter final loss in Atlanta)

After Atlanta expired, your new top 4 (and the top 4 driving the seeding here) became:

1. Moscoso: rose up quickly w/o any points to defend.

2. Montoya: had relatively few points to lose

3. Jake

4. DLR

So Daniel sees his ranking plummet … and he’s missing from this event. It’s not due to a PPA conflict, so he must have another event or is making a conscious choice to not be here. After his 16s loss in the last event and missing this event, along with the distinct lack of IRT events on the books, his chances of repeating as #1 are basically over.

Also noteworthy: Kane has jumped up from 17 to 14, again having zero points expiring from Atlanta. And, thanks to three players in the top 13 missing (DLR, #6 Murray, and #8 Portillo), Kane gets an #11 seed here. #11 is a great seed to have if you’re in the mood for upsets (just ask George Mason, who raced to the final four as the #11 seed).

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Let’s preview the draw. Here’s some notable qualifying matches that i’m looking forward to:

In the 32s:

– #5 Adam Manilla gets up and coming Bolivian former junior world champ #28 Hector Barrios in what looks like the most competitive possible top 8 match in the 32s. The last time Barrios played an IRT event, he beat Sebastian Franco along with Wer and Cuevas, so he can get wins.

– #12 @Robert Collins gets the always-tough Minnesotan John Goth , who has more than a few tour scalps on his belt. Goth regularly plays with the Bredenbecks and stays sharp despite not touring regularly, but beating a tour vet is a little different than training with one.

– #3 Jake Bredenbeck faces off against Bolivian junior @Jhonatan Flores , who just won the world 18U junior title last November without dropping a single game. It’ll be interesting to see what Flores can do against a top pro like Jake.

– #15 Sam Bredenbeck gets a fun one against #18 Chilean national team member Rafael Gatica

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round of 16:

– The 8/9 match, which has seen Acuna vs Natera a bunch of times lately, gets us @TCarter Thomas and Kadim Carrasco . At #8 this is Carter’s highest ever pro seeding (he was #9 a few times in the past), and at #9 this is by far Carrasco’s highest ever seeding (previously best was #14). so we’re definitely seeing some impact to the departure of a slew of long-time players in the seeds. I like Carter here.

– 5-12 gives us a rare lefty-lefty between Manilla and Collins.

– #11 Waselenchuk gets #6 Andres Acuna in the 16s. These two played recently and Acuna got the first game before falling; can he repeat the task and set down Kane early? Not likely, but Acuna will have gained confidence from his game-plan success the last time they played.

– #10 Erick Trujillo will fancy his chances to upset #7 Alan Natera , who like many here this weekend has his highest ever IRT seed. Trujillo has the hot hand though and I like him to get to the quarters.

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Projected Qtrs:

– #1 Conrrado Moscoso , who has a very easy first two rounds, should cruise past #8 Carter to move to the semis.

– #4 @Andree Parrilla should advance past Adam Manilla . They’ve only played 3 times, Andree is 2-1, but is coming off a big-time win at Mexican Nationals.

– #3 Bredenbeck vs #11 Kane. Tough one to predict. They played in Boston last November and Jake beat a tiring Kane in the breaker, but had to save a match point against to even get past game 2. Since then, he’s taken a couple of uncharacteristic losses on tour (losing to Andree, Lalo, and Trujillo). Meanwhile, Kane has struggled since his return to make it through events: In Boston last Nov he tired in the semis losing to jake, then in Pleasanton after beating Conrrado game one he got blasted 4,4, then he retired in South Dakoda due to a leg issue. I think Jake can win here.

– #2 @Rodrigo Montoya over Trujillo: these two just played in the semis of Mexican Nats, a 6,6,9 relatively straight forward win for Montoya. Rodrigo will be looking to bounce back from his missing out on the Mexican team for this cycle. Montoya was the winner her last year (his first ever win), and has the most points to defend, but seems well positioned to at least get to the semis.

Semis:

– Conrrado over Parrilla: there’s a gulf between these two right now.

– Montoya over Jake: Amazingly, they havn’t played since Oct 2022 despite being seeded right next to each other for a while. Montoya leads 5-4 career and has won their last 2 meetings. Montoya likes these courts and is the defending champ. Last time they played it was 13,14 … so not much between them. Flip a coin and I’ll go Rodrigo.

Finals;

– I think 2024 is Moscoso’s year, and without having to face Kane until a possible final at the end of a long weekend (even if it was Kane in the final) is advantage Conrrado. He wins again and stretches his lead at the top.

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Doubles review

No Javier Mar, so no #1 Montoya/Mar pairing at the top. Montoya picks up Canadian Cullen and probably loses early, clearing the way for newly crowned Mexican champ (paired with Adam Manilla here) to cruise into the final. They’ll have to contend with likely the Bredenbeck brothers to get there. From the bottom, nothing should stop Bolivian national team Moscoso/Carrasco. The final will see Carrasco get isolated and Parrilla/Manilla taking the title.

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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 Favio Soto and Pablo Fajre and the IRTLive crew all weekend on the mike, calling the shots!

Associations

International Racquetball Tou r

LPRT 2024 Boston Open Preview

Lambert makes a rare LPRT appearance in Boston this weekend. Photo unk

The LPRT helps kick off an incredibly busy month on the racquetball calendar with its return to Boston for the 2024 Boston Open. They’re back in Boston for the seventh time since 2016. Boston has seen 3 different winners the last three times the tour was there:

– Longoria in 2020 (in what turned out to be the last event before the tours shut down for mostly the rest of 2020 due to Covid)

– Herrera in 2022, the second straight event she won and had the rball world buzzing about a possible new #1

– Mejia in 2023, her fourth in a row that season and which nearly sealed her the title.

Will we get a fourth straight new champion here? I think we might. Vargas is on a hot streak, having won the last 3 events and is the favorite here.

R2 Sports App link: https://www.r2sports.com/website/event-website.asp?TID=41926

There’s 20 pros in Boston, including a rare appearance from the Canadian National team reps Frederique Lambert and Juliette Parent .

There’s some big names missing in the draw: #5 Erika Manilla (as she explained in a FB live session last week) is struggling with a back issue that cost her the US Nationals final. #6 @aAna Gabriela Martinez is also missing, slightly surprising in that its an east coast event and the upcoming IRF event is in her home country, so she doesn’t have to save travel pennies right now. Also missing are #15 Valeria Centellas, who has played in just one event since last June and may be officially stepping back from the tour. Lastly #16 @Hollie Scott, newly crowned US National champ, is absent here (her beau DLR is also missing from the IRT event this weekend, even though there’s no conflicting PPA event).

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Let’s preview the singles draw.

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In the 32s… a couple of fun ones right off the bat:

– Ros vs Velpuri: two US junior national team members face off.

– #13 @Maria Paz Riquelme is the unlucky early opponent of Lambert.

– #19 Michelle Key makes a rare singles appearance on tour; she’s got just two LPRT appearances since Nov 2021. She faces #14 Lexi York in a tough one for both.

– #15 @Stephanie Synhorst takes on Canada #2 Parent in a good test for both.

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round of 16:

– 8/9 Lawrence vs Munoz is always tough; they’re 3-3 lifetime against each other, and 5 of their 6 matches have gone tie-breaker.

– 5/12: Herrera vs Parrilla; Even though Parrilla has had some success in Mexican Nationals recently, on tour Alexandra hasn’t lost to her since 2016.

– #4 Brenda Laime will get a stiff test against Canadian #1 Lambert; Lambert was a former #2 ranked player; can she stress Laime?

– 7/10: Barrios vs Mendez, in a battle of Bolivian natives. They played in Arizona a month ago, an easy win for Barrios

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Projected Qtrs:

– #1 Mejia over Munoz/Lawrence winner, though either Carla or Kelani could press Montse a bit.

– #5 Herrera over the Laime/Lambert winner: I think Alexandra has the hot hand right now.

– #3 Longoria over Salas, as they renew the rivalry that’s been played the 2nd most times in pro history (they’ve met 60 times on LPRT, in addition to a slew of Mexican National meetings).

– #2 Vargas has been troubled by Barrios in the past, but is clearly on a roll this season.

Semis:

– Mejia over Herrera, though weird things happen when these two long-time doubles partners play.

– Vargas over Longoria: the tide has turned on this rivalry.

Finals; Vargas wins her 4th straight title and claims the #1 ranking on tour.

Side note on rankings: if Longoria wins this event, she’ll regain #1. If Montse beats Vargas in the final, she’ll retain #1 but by an incredibly slim margin.

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Doubles preview

The Canadian doubles team for PARC is here (Lambert & Parent) to get some on-the-court time before the event. With Scott’s absence, the newly crowned US champion team had to split up. Team Argentina and team Colombia are here … but at the end of the da y, it’ll be a rematch of the Mexican national champion ship from two weeks ago (Mejia/Herrera vs Longoria/Salas).

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Look for Streaming in the regular places; follow the LPRT on Facebook and sign up to get notifications when they go Live. JTRball posts excellent previews and broadcast schedules on Daily Racquetball: i highly suggest subscribing.

Look for Timothy Baghurst, Sandy Rios, Jerry J Josey Jr., and Tj Baumbaugh on the mike, calling the shots.

One last thing: fantasy racquetball is back! Surf here: https://officepoolstop.com/MyPool/JoinLeagueDetails.aspx?id=63999 and use password LPRT to enter.

Associations

LPRT

Campeonato Nacional FMR 2024 Recap

Mejia may have lost the singles title, but she triple-qualified this weekend. Photo via LPRT

Hot on the heels of the USA Racquetball nationals/Canadian qualifier events last weekend, this past weekend we had the FederaciĆ³n Mexicana de Raquetbol (or FMR)’s nationals, held in the Mexican hotbed of racquetball San Luis Potosi, SL, Mexico. It looks like mid-February is going to be “North American Nationals” period going forward, which is great for the pros planning out their schedules.

Congrats to your National title winners on the weekend:

– Men’s Singles: Andree Parrilla (2nd qualifier = Eduardo Portillo)

– Women’s Singles: Paola Longoria (2nd qualifier = Montse Mejia)

– Men’s Doubles: Andree Parrilla & Eduardo Portillo

– Women’s Doubles: Monserrat Mejia and Alexandra Herrera

– Mixed Doubles: Javier Mar and Monserrat Mejia

The winners of the three doubles competitions form the Mexican National team for those events. The winners of the two singles titles, along with the winner’s of the consolation bracket form the two-person Singles teams that represent Mexico. This is a distinction from the way that USA, Canada, and others qualify; they take the two finalists of the single-elimination singles bracket to form the team, but in Mexico the losing finalist has to play one more match, which often times leaves them out of the team. More on that in the recap.

These players all qualify to represent Mexico in the upcoming cycle of International events, starting (I believe) with PARC 2024 next month in Guatemala City but certainly for the 2024 Worlds to be held in San Antonio in August plus any regional events on the schedule for this summer.

R2 Sports App home page for event: https://www.r2sports.com/tourney/home.asp?TID=42046

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This post also signifies that the data has been loaded into the database. Here’s the direct links to the match reports for the 5 divisions:

– Men’s Singles: https://rball.pro/c7z

– Women’s Singles: https://rball.pro/q2e

– Men’s Doubles: https://rball.pro/ru4

– Women’s Doubles: https://rball.pro/8fq

– Mixed Doubles: https://rball.pro/khm

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Let’s review the notable matches in the draws.

Men’s Singles:

The Singles draw for Nationals was way down from prior years, with just 20 players. Last year they had 37 by way of comparison. It could be a one-off, or it could be acknowledgement of a passing of the guard so to speak. Missing out of the draw in 2024 were a couple of defections to the USA (DLR And Landa), and a slew of long-time veterans such as Beltran, Polo, and Cardona. Mar did not play singles as he continues to battle injury, and then there were curious absences like Natera, Martel, and Renteria. This also seems tacit admission that players like Garay, Gerardo Franco, Estrada, and Ochoa, none of whom we’ve seen at an IRT event in some time, may be through playing racquetball at a top level, which is a blow to the depth of the sport in Mexico for sure.

Luckily, there’s a slew of up-and-coming Mexican Junior players who are not terribly well known in the USA yet, but who can play, and many of them advanced into the quarters of nationals. Keep an eye out for players like @Sebastian Hernandez , @Jose Carlos Ramos, and of course for players who have already made impacts like @Erick Trujillo , @elElias Neto , and Diego Gastelum .

As for the draw, the top four seeds and the main IRT touring pro regulars all advanced into the semis as expected. Trujillo was stretched by the always dangerous @Jordy Alonso in the 4/5 quarter, but held on, further evidence of his continuing improvement that we saw recently with his win over #2 Bredenbeck on tour. Defending Mexican champ Rodrigo Montoya topped Trujillo in one semi, while #2 @Andree Parrilla held off @Eduardo Portillo in the other to advance to the final.

Parrilla has had tough luck in this event, having made the semis five times in the last decade but with only one final and zero titles to show for it, but he turned the tides on home soil at this event. But it was a nail biter final: Andree took the first two games and had multiple match points in the fourth, but Montoya forced a fifth game. After the letdown of letting the fourth game go, it would have been understandable if Parrilla lost the final to his long-time rival, but he dominated game 5 11-6 for his first Adult Mexican national title.

In the loser’s bracket, losing semi-finalist Portillo took out Sebastian Hernandez and Alonso to force a consolation final against Montoya for the second spot on the team. This is exactly what happened to Lalo last year and he took the consolation final to make the team. And this year, Lalo did it again, shocking Montoya in 3 games to claim the 2nd national team spot. Amazingly, Montoya is shut out of the Mexican National team despite being its most decorated male over the past 6 years, and despite being the #1 seed in all three draws. Pretty amazing.

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Women’s Singles:

It was a top-heavy draw, with four of the current top 10 ladies pros playing (Longoria, Mejia, Herrera, and Salas) along the #2 seeded Parrilla, who’s slipped to #14 on tour but retains a top seed here by virtue of her performance in 2023.

#5 Samantha Salas got things started with an upset of #4 Alexandra Herrera in the 4/5 match, turning back the clock to grind out a five game win. Salas then managed to take a game off her doubles partner Longoria, but fell in four in the semis. From the bottom half, #3 seed @Monserrat Mejia took care of business, taking out #2 Parrilla in four games in the semis to setup a rematch of last year’s final. In the winner’s bracket final, Longoria was not to be denied, topping Mejia in four to claim her 10th title in 11 years, and what I believe is either her 16th or 17th national title. Our records only go back to 2014, but I believe Longoria swept the ladies titles from 2008 onwards. Amazing feat.

There was still work to be done though; last year saw a huge upset in the consolation bracket final to send a surprise second singles player … could we see more fireworks. The Loser’s bracket now had Salas, Herrera, Parrilla, and Mejia all battling it out for one spot on the team. Herrera made a statement with a 3-game win over Parrilla, ending her chances at returning to the team early. Salas got a walkover against rising junior talent Angela Veronica Vera Ortega to face off against Herrera for a shot against Mejia, but could not top her lefty rival.

The second singles spot came down to two friends and doubles partners; Herrera vs Mejia. They know each other’s game so well, and often there’s “weird” results between the two as a result. On this day though, Mejia cruised to a 3 game win to claim the consolation bracket and the 2nd national team spot. Mejia, despite losing the singles final, triple-qualified on the weekend and will play a big part in returning Mexico to team glory over Bolivia at the next international competitions.

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Men’s Doubles

It seemed like a fait accomplis for the two top teams to make the final, and they did, giving us a final featuring four tour regulars and four of the best doubles players in the world. #1 Mar/Montoya, who are also #1 on tour and have claimed multiple major and international titles together, faced off against #2 Portillo & Parrilla, who have become somewhat of a regular doubles pair on the IRT and are gaining familiarity with each other.

In the final, we got a rematch of 2023’s final, and we got a fantastic back and forth match for the neutrals. After going down two games to one, the defending champs Montoya & Mar came out on the right side of a grueling 17-15 game four win, which may have been demoralizing for some teams, but Lalo/Andree fought back and took game 5 11-7 to claim their first ever Mexican National title. It capped off a amazing weekend for the SLP based pro Parrilla, who won both singles and doubles after having never won a Mexican adult title before. Same for Portillo, who also double qualified on the weekend by virtue of his big win over Montoya in the singles consolation final.

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Women’s Doubles

Only four teams competed in Women’s Doubles, and there was little doubt that the final would be between Mejia/Herrera and Longoria/Salas. They’re the top two seeds here, they’re the top two seeds regularly meeting in LPRT finals right now, and they have been trading back and forth both pro and National titles for the last few years. They both advanced as expected to compete in the Saturday final.

In the final, the two familiar teams played a barn burner. The match went five games, with Herrera/Mejia on the wrong side of two nail-biting 15-13 games before running away with the final 11-5 to claim the title. Herrera & Mejia repeat as Mexican national champions, and it’s hard not to look at this as the official passing of the baton in Mexican history.

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Mixed Doubles

After curiously not competing Mixed doubles at the 2023 FMR nationals, the event was back on the slate for 2024, and the draw was small but stacked. Five of the six teams were comprised of touring pros, and it was anyone’s tourney to win. The #5 seeds Mar & Mejia seemed like a dark horse, in that Mar is one of the most accomplished doubles players in the world and Mejia is the current LPRT #1, and they did not disappoint. Mar & Mejia topped #4 Portillo & Herrera (no doubles slouches themselves) in the opener, then upset the last team to win a Mixed title in #1 Montoya & Salas in the semis.

The bottom semi featured two brother/sister pairs competing, with the Parrillas outlasting the Longorias in five games to make the final. In the final though, it was three straight for Mar & Mejia to claim the title.

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Next up?

Per our handy master racquetball calendar …

https://docs.google.com/…/1V6OTid6rZ356voXVkoV2sN7KMMb…/

We have a break in the schedule next week, then I have four “big” events set for the first weekend in March:

– 2024 USA Racquetball High School Nationals, this year held at the Vetta clubs in St Louis

– the International Racquetball Tour heads north for the Minnesota Hall of Fame event, put on by the Bredenbeck family.

– the ladies head to Boston for the LPRT Boston Open, put on by USAR President Stuart Solomon

– The crew in Florida hosts their 55th Annual Florida State Championships, which is easily the longest running state tournament in the country.

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USAR National Indoors 2024 National Championships Wrap-up

Hollie Scott is the story of the weekend, getting a triple crown. Photo Unknown source.

Congrats to your National Team winners on the weekend:

– Men’s Singles: Daniel De La Rosa over Jake Bredenbeck

– Women’s Singles: Hollie Scott over Erika Manilla

– Men’s Doubles: Daniel De La Rosa & Sebastian Fernandez

– Women’s Doubles:Kelani Lawrence and Hollie Rae Scott

– Mixed Doubles: Daniel De La Rosa & Hollie Rae Scott

Congrats to both DLR and Scott, who take triple crowns and secure their right to play all three divisions on next year’s US National team.

The 2024-25 US National team is now set. The winners above along with the singles finalists have first right of refusal for the next set of international events: Worlds in August in San Antonio and then PARC in March or April of 2025 in a city TBD (the upcoming PARC event in two months will still be manned by the previous team, as their national team contracts run from July 1 to June 30th),

R2 Sports App home page for event: https://www.r2sports.com/tourney/home.asp?TID=41469

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Let’s review the notable matches in the draws.

Men’s Singles

Match report in the PRS database: https://rball.pro/dwf

The Men’s singles draw went mostly chalk, with the top 8 seeds (all of them current or former IRT touring pros) advanced into the quarters with relative ease. The only top 8 seed to even be stretched to a fourth game was in (of course) the 8/9 seed game, as US Junior national team member Cole Sendrey took a game off of veteran lefty Robert Collins but fell in four.

Charlie Pratt got a slight upset in the 4/5 seed quarter, topping Thomas Carter in an upset by seed but probably not on talent. Former top 10 player Anthony Carson took a game off of Manilla, but otherwise the top seeds advanced smoothly. After that, the top wo seeds advanced into the final as expected, with Adam taking a game off of DLR but no real surprises. The only big surprise was in the final, where Daniel really took it to Jake, dominating the final and winning 8,5,5 to claim his second straight USA National title (and his 6th such title after winning Mexican Nationals four times).

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Women’s Singles:

Match report in the PRS database: https://rball.pro/kwc

The women’s team qualifying was always going to come down to the top four players, as there’s been a bit of a gulf between the echelons comprised of the touring pros to the rising juniors in our sport. And that played out for sure in Arizona, with several top juniors advancing to the quarters but no further.

In the semis, defending champ Manilla was stretched to five games against #4 Michelle Key , who doesn’t always play singles but who certainly pushed Erika on this day, losing 11-8 in the fifth. In the other semi, #3 Hollie Scott upset her doubles partner @Kelani Lawrence in four to secure a return to the national team. In the final, Scott looked dominant in a game one win 11-5, but then a tweaked back forced Manilla to retire. It’s Scotts first ever national title and part of a triple crown weekend for her after being shut out of last year’s national team.

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Men’s Doubles:

Match report in the PRS database: https://rball.pro/89q

The Men’s doubles draw went pretty much as expected, without any real surprises. #4 Pratt & Carson won a close three games over #5 Carter & Sendrey, while the dual-lefty team of Manilla & Carter dropped a game to the San Antonio pair of DJ Mendoza and Brennan Jennings before moving on. The two top seeds #1 Jake & Sam Bredenbeck and #2 DLR & Fernandez each dropped a game in the semis but weren’t seriously challenged.

In the final, the #2 seeded DLR & Fernandez team (which should have been #1 if the seeding had been done on pure points) dominated the Bredenbeck brothers 7,3,5 to take the title with relative ease. DLR dominated for huge stretches, Fernandez manned the right side and out-hit Sam Bredenbeck on the forehand, and Jake couldn’t do enough to impact the outcome. DLR wins his second straight Men’s doubles title, while Sebastian qualifies for an Adult national team for the first time in his career, Mexico or USA. Jake finishes as national doubles runner up for the 5th time in the last 6 years.

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Women’s Doubles:

Match report in the PRS database: https://rball.pro/xmg

The Women’s doubles draw was always set up to be a rematch of last year’s title match between defending champs Manilla & Key and the 2022 champs Lawrence & Scott. In a back and forth final that featured a ton of shot making and athleticism. Scott & Lawrence outlasted Manilla & Key to win in four, with the last game going 15-13 before a winning return of serve kill shot sealed the title. Scott returns to the national team after a year’s absence, while Key is shut out of the national team for this cycle.

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Mixed Doubles:

Match report in the PRS database: https://rball.pro/3wa

The Mixed Team qualifier was the first to get kicked off, and was done by Thursday night. It also featured some of the biggest upsets all weekend. Here’s a quick run-through.

In the quarters, only the 4/5 match featured any drama, and it went the distance. #4 Thomas Carter and @Kelani Lawrence took a back and forth match 11-8 in the fifth over #5 Sam Bredenbeck and Lexi York to move on. This setup what appeared to be a mismatch in the semis against the defending champs and #1 seeds Adam Manilla and @EErika Manila … but, as they say, “that’s why they play the games.” Carter and Lawrence, frankly, thumped the Manillas 6,6,(9),4 to move into the final.

From the bottom side, the expected grudge match between #2 @Daniel De La Rosa and @Hollie Rae Scott and #3 @Jake Bredenbeck & Michelle Key also went the distance, with DLR/Scott surviving 11-8 in the fifth amidst some questionable calls.

In the final … DLR & Scott (who lost last year’s Mixed finals in a close one) made fast work of Carter & Lawrence 4,11,5 to claim the title. Scott returns to the National team after a year away, and we have our third straight different set of Mixed US National winners in as many years.

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Other notable draws:

– Men’s Open: Texan Brennan Jennings took out defending National open champ @Ty Hedalen in the semis and then US Junior national team member and fellow Texan @Dj Mendoz to take the title.

– Women’s Open: @Carlee Jansz took the title in an injury walkover against #1 seed Cheyenne Hayes .

– Men’s Open Doubles: Utah-based @Kyle Taylor & Scott Burr shocked the field by taking out the #1, #2 and #4 seeds en route to winning the title. In the final they topped a very tough Jeff Stark and @Timmy Hansen team.

– Women’s Open Doubles: Jazmin Trevino &Jessica Chen topped Arizona-based Neils and Jansz for the Open doubles title.

– Mixed Open Doubles: Will Reynolds & Shane Diaz took the title over #2 seeded Rebecca Bowman & Lee Meinerz.

– Congrats to all the legends to came to play in the various doubles divisions; the tournament was blessed by a slew of past pro champs like @Kane Waselenchuk , Cliff Swain , Sudsy Monchik , Rocky Carson and Ruben Gonzalez . These players all took various titles along the way in age group divisions. However, most of them came together to compete in the Centurion+ Open division, and the bragging rights goes to Kane, who paired with Arizona’s Daniel Parker to top Rocky and his partner @Charles George in the final.

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Thanks to the Tourney Directors @Jonathan Greenberg , Mike Grisz and @Karen Grisz for organizing and running this event.

Thanks to the Tourney Sponsor @Keith Minor and @Kwm Gutterman . Without you, we do not have a sport.

Thanks for all the streaming from the @International Racquetball Tour crew, with Pablo Fajre doing the setup and the behind-the-scenes, with a great crew of commentators that included Rocky Carson , Mike Kinkin , Richard Eisemann , Sandy Rios , Carrie Wegener Reitmeier , DJ Mendoza, Cole Sendrey, and others that I missed.

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Next up?

Per our handy master racquetball calendar …

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1V6OTid6rZ356voXVkoV2sN7KMMbIP9SZd0MssH_nPGU/

We get a couple weeks off from any major racquetball event, then we kick into March, which is as busy a month as i can remember.

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tags

@USA Racquetball

USA Racquetball 2024 National Indoor Preview

Erika in town to defend her 2023 triple crown of national titles. Photo 2021 US Open via Kevin Savory

Welcome to the 54th annual USA Racquetball National Championships. National Singles has been held every year (save Covid) since 1968, from the predecessor organizations to the current iteration of USAR starting with the IRA, then AARA, then USRA. It’s actually the 55th annual National team qualifier; in 2021 there was just a US Team Qualifier held in Chicago due to facility issues that were dropped on the NGB last minute.

The event this year is in Tempe, on the campus of Arizona State University, possibly for the last time, as the university is reportedly taking out some courts that may make it too small to host national events going forward. There’s a huge draw of players in AZ this weekend: 340, great to see, and the festivities this weekend will include two hall of fame class inductions to enshrine @Jack Huczek , Jim Easterling, and Jeff Stark , all three very deserving of their recognition.

R2 Sports App link: https://www.r2sports.com/portfolio/r2-event.asp?TID=41469

All the national team qualifiers are being held this weekend for both singles and doubles, and the results will drive the selection of the US National team for the 2024-25 season, with terms starting July 1st. The winners this year therefore will be representing USA at the 2024 Worlds, which we recently announced will be held in the US, in San Antonio. This is big news; Worlds hasn’t been in the USA since 1996, and its presence in the US should mean a massive turnout.

Notable US team absences: Rocky Carson is in Arizona, but is not playing any national team qualifier events. Alejandro Landa was a last minute withdrawal that I’ll discuss later on.

Reminder: the National team qualifiers will be playing by IRF rules, which means rally scoring, best 3 out of 5 to 11, win by 2. Which, I’ll be honest, I hate. I can’t stand rally scoring in our sport, its implementation by the IRF made no sense when it was proposed, it “solved” a problem that didn’t exist, it takes the “comeback” and defensive standing your ground completely out of the game, it fundamentally changes the strategy of a sport that’s been in existence for 50+ years, and it allows matches to end without the winning team in the service box. Furthermore, It’s pointless to play by rally scoring in our own national championships, since the argument is, “you have to get them ready for int’l scoring.” Really? The next time Erika Manilla takes the court, she’s not playing rally scoring, and won’t until the end of March when she heads to PARC and has to deal with it. Get ready for a bunch of short matches: fly all the way to Phoenix to play a 15 minute national team qualifier.

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Let’s preview the National Team qualifier draws, and then we’ll throw in some previews of other major draws that have some “interesting” names.

Men’s Singles:

19 players entered into National singles qualifying, a big jump from the last couple of years, which is great to see. Seedings in Singles at Nationals ignore last year’s results (a change from years past, when the finalists were automatically given #1 and #2 seeds in the subsequent year), and instead go directly by the current USAR Rankings as of the eve of the event. Those rankings can be found here: https://www.r2sports.com/system/rankings/ITArankings.asp…

It means that Jake Bredenbeck is seeded #1, because he’s #1 for all USA men on the rankings right now irrespective of last year’s results or the current IRT rankings, which have #2 @DDaniel De la Rosa ahead of him. The rest of the top 8 is more or less as expected; former IRT touring pros Charlie Pratt and @Tony Carson come in ranked slightly higher than tour regulars Sam Bredenbeck and Robbie Collins , which will make for some fun quarters.

Matches to watch for in the 32s and 16s:

– 18U Junior national team member Cole Sendrey has a tough test against US veteran Collins in the 8/9 seed game.

– Last year’s Open champion Ty Hedalen gets Pratt in the opener; how much has Charlie been playing? This could be close.

– In another 18U Junior versus grizzled lefty veteran, DJ Mendoza takes on Thomas Carter in the 4/13 game. Carter should handle the Texas-based junior but Mendoza could stretch him a bit.

– Tony Carson takes on indoor/outdoor specialist Thomas Gerhardt in an interesting test for Carson.

Quarters:

– I don’t see any significant upsets in the quarters, and would expect the top four seeds to move on. If Sendrey gets by Collins, he’ll give Jake a spirited match but the #1 seed should move on.

– Carter-Pratt in the 4/5; if this was 5 years ago i’d say Pratt, today I say Carter.

– @Adam Manilla likely gets Carson, another match that would be closer if it were 5 years ago, but Manilla’s too consistent now to get tripped up.

– #2 Daniel DE LA Rosa takes on big-hitting Sam Bredenbeck but should handle him to move on.

Semis:

– Jake vs Carter/Pratt winner should be a straight forward win for jake.

– Adam vs DLR is like a regular IRT quarter final, and DLR shouldn’t be bothered.

Final: I’ll go Jake over DLR, if only because both know they’ll be qualified at that point and it’ll come down to who wants the titles more …and for me that’s Jake.

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Women’s Singles Preview:

For the first time since the mid 1990s, @Rhonda Rajsich is not in this draw, nor is she entered into the tourney despite living in AZ. A mainstay on the US team is no longer.

The Women’s National team qualifying draw is now filled with current or recently graduated juniors, and fans can see the future of the sport. @Naomi Ros, Shane Diaz , @aAnnie Robert , and Khyathi Velpuri will push for spots in the quarter finals, but I’d expect the top four seeds to advance to the semis after all is said and done.

Look for @Yor Lexi to challenge #2 @Kelani Lawrence a bit in the 2/7 quarter, and for Michelle Key to face down a challenge in the 4/5 quarter from Roberts. Can Naomi give #3 Hollie a shock? Maybe; this might be the best quarter.

In the semis:

– #1 @Erika Manilla should move past Key into the final; she took the triple crown last year and is in good position to do the same again in 2024.

– In the 2/3 semi, two long-time doubles partners Lawrence and @hollie Scott will face off; Kelani owns career h2h 4-1 and should move on to claim the US team spot.

In the final, look for Manilla to steamroll to her 3rd straight US title.

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Men’s Doubles:

Word began to spread earlier this week of a change in the Men’s doubles draw with the withdrawal of Landa from the event and his partner DLR picking up a new partner last minute. This was due to Landa’s suspension from the US National team for accumulated behavioral issues that came to a head at the Lewis Drug pro am a couple of weeks ago. Landa could have played, but wouldn’t be guaranteed a spot on the 2024-25 national team unless an appeal of his suspension was upheld, so instead the retired touring pro opted to back out of the event. After some hurried phone calls, De la Rosa found a pretty able partner: fellow dual-citizen Sebastian Fernandez , who’s based in SoCal and who could get to Arizona for the event. Fernandez is a pretty solid doubles player (especially in Mixed) and played with DLR as recently as the 2023 Longhorn Open, so they’re familiar with each other and form a pretty formidable team (spoiler alert; I think they’ll win).

Here’s a preview of the 7-team draw. The seeds are not quite according to USA rankings, a discretion apparently available to the seeding committee to make adjustments for competitive purposes.

In the qtrs:

– #4 Pratt/Carson versus #5 Carter/Sendrey should be fun; it’ll likely be one-way traffic to the kid on the court, as both Pratt and Carson are grizzled veterans who are no easy outs.

– #3 Manilla/Collins represents the rarely seen “all lefty doubles team,” which at least will be interesting to watch. I suppose we’ll see Manilla on the right hitting backhands, but who knows. They face the two Texans Mendoza and Jennings in the opener.

Semis:

– Pratt and Carson will absolutely give #1 Jake & Sam Bredenbeck fits. This is no easy match for the #1 seeds, who (if given their druthers) may have opted for the semi match that #2 DLR & Patata have. I can’t quite see the Bredenbecks losing .. but it wouldn’t shock me.

– DLR and Fernandez should advance with relative ease past Manilla/Collins; Sebastian is just way too athletic on the court and will crush balls at whichever lefty is standing on his side, a massive advantage for their team.

Finals: DLR and Fernandez should outlast whoever advances from the other semi. DLR on the right side is too good of a player, can’t be overpowered, and has the ability to kill balls that even a doubles team opponent playing in front of the short line can’t get, while Fernandez is a former top 15 pro who can hang with the best of them on the right.

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Women’s Doubles Preview:

With all due respect to the other 5 teams entered, this draw is going to come down to the two top teams of pro-level players entered. It’s great to see non pros entered, including the likes of NorCal’s Erica Williams, outdoor specialist @Katie Neil , and DC-area native @Grace Ratley entered in, but they’re unfortunately early round fodder for the two pro teams.

In the final, look for defending champs Manilla & Key to top Lawrence & Scott again for the title.

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Mixed Team Qualifying Preview

Nine teams entered here. I’m not sure Landa was entered with a Mixed partner, in that I don’t see any last minute weird-looking partner switches, but we do have some new teams looking to dethrone the Manillas.

In the quarters, look for two interesting matchups that feature teams with lefty males going against conventional Righty-Righty teams; this generally means the male will be drive serving the forehand of the female along the right and vice versa. In the 4/5 quarter, this means Sam Bredenbeck’s power goes against Kelani along the left while Carter gets to blast at Lexi York along the right. Advantage Sam/Lexi here. In the 3/6 matchup, Jake matches up with Annie Roberts along the left hand side, while Collins matches up against Key on the right: this could be a big mismatch, especially with Jake able to blast power serves at Roberts. Advantage #3 seeds.

In the semis:

– #1 Manilla’s are too good for York/Sam and will move to the final.

– #2 DLR/Scott will absolutely have their hands full against Jake & Key, in another matchup with off-the-court emotions coming into play. This is a tough one to predict; I think Key’s better along the right hand side against Scott, and is a better doubles player. But I think DLR is a superior doubles player along the left, and has shown he can absolutely take over mixed doubles matches and can impose his will. I’ll go with the seeds, but I think it’ll be closer than they want.

In the final, a rematch of 2023, and I think the result will go the same. Erika can handle DLR’s pace to her side as the hardest-hitting female on tour, and Key can handle Adam’s pace on the right hand side as a long-time top mixed player in the world. Another close match, but Manillas’s repeat.

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Other Singles Draws worth mentioning:

– Men’s Open Singles: a healthy 22 man draw with a big Texas feel to it. From the top I like 1 v 4 Meinerz vs Mendoza in one semi, and defending champ Hedalen vs Jennings in the other. I think its Hedalen vs Meinerz in the final with Hedalen repeating.

– Women’s Open Singles: Utah’s Cheyenne Hayes is the #1 seed in this wide open draw that features some juniors and some 60+ competitors who could make noise. I have no idea who takes it.

– Men’s 50+ is headlined by Hall of Fame inductee Jeff Stark, a favorite to win yet another national title. Texan Arturo Burruel (who I believe beat me at the US Open once), Alok Mehta, and Tom Fuhrmann linger.

– Men’s 55+ features some fun names: Minor as the #1 seed, Eugene Coyle in the draw along with former touring pro @Doug Cohen.

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Other Doubles draws worth mentioning;

– Men’s Open doubles features 20-time us national team member Rocky Carson as the #1 seed in a paying gig; they likely face Stark and the son of another hall of famer Timmy Hansen in the final. Could be fun.

– The Centurian Open doubles might be the most “famous” of them all. It features teams that include @Kane Waselenchuk, Cliff Swain , Sudsy Monchik and @Rocky Carson . Gee, that’s just 28 year end Pro titles of the 52 that have ever been awarded. Quite the draw. And none of these teams are the #1 seeds and favorites; that’d be dual HOFmers Stark and Tim Hansen . What a draw. I don’t know enough about the partners of all these legends to even venture a guess as to how this draw turns out, but i’m sure it’ll be the most watched of the event.

– The Women’s Open doubles draw, like the singles, is wide open. Eight teams entered and it wouldn’t surprise me to see any of the eight win.

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Look for Streaming in the regular places; you’d expect; the tourney and matches start this afternoon on 2/7/24. Follow USA Racquetball on Facebook for announcements: they’ve already posted the streaming schedule for day one.

Thanks to the Tourney Directors Jonathan Greenberg of the USAR Staff, along with executive Director Mike Grisz and his tireless wife Karen Grisz and all the rest of the USAR board for helping out. Thanks as always to @Keith Minor and Kwm Gutterman for being the title sponsor of this event. Keith’s generosity for our sport continues, and i shudder to think where we’d be nationally without his support.

Associations; USA Racquetball

IRT Sioux Falls Lewis Drug Pro-Am 2024 Wrap-Up

Murray claims his 2nd ever tier1 title. Photo 2019 US Open Kevin Savory

Congrats to your Pro winners on the weekend:

– Singles: Samuel Murray

– Doubles: Eduardo Portillo and @Andree Parrilla

Murray runs a pretty amazing gauntlet of matches to claim his second ever Tier 1 title. Lalo and Andree save match points against to claim the doubles title.

R2 Sports App home page for event: https://www.r2sports.com/website/event-website.asp?TID=41883

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Let’s review the notable matches in the Singles draw.

Singles Match report in the PRS database: https://rball.pro/kju

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There were three trivial round of 64 play-ins that had no real shocks.

In the 32s…

– #1 @Daniel De la Rosa was pushed to the limit by #32 Coby Iwaasa, winning in three 10,(14),8. Of course, Iwaasa is not your typical 30-something pro seed, the clear-cut #2 player in Canada and a past winner on the WRT who just doesn’t tour regularly.

I harp on this point often, when it comes to having the top 8 seeds play the 32s, but here’s a fun fact; Pablo and the IRT changed the competition structure in February 2023. just ahead of Minnesota, to abolish “top 8 seeds get byes into the 32s,” a structure that had been in place for regular Tier1s since August 1991. Since the return to full 32s, not only have the top 8 seeds won every round of 32 match played so far… DLR’s was the first time a top 8 seed was even stretched to a tiebreaker. Most of these 1v32, 2v31, etc matches are complete blow outs in the 15-4, 15-2 variety where the top pro is just going through the motions.

I continue to maintain that lower seeded players are far better served by the prior structure. Instead of Iwaasa playing DLR in the 32s, under the old structure, he would have played #33 in the 64s (Roman Haller), to then play #16 seed in the 32s (Sam Bredenbeck) to play into DLR in the round of 16s/aka the money round. Instead, Iwaasa goes home with no prize money. You have to think Iwaasa would have liked his chances under the old structure, a match against Sam versus straight to DLR. Anyway, it is what it is, and unless the lower level players figure this out instead of maintaining the illogical belief that its somehow more “fair” to get blasted by a top seed in the 32s on Thursday afternoon to eliminate any chance of prize money, we’ll continue to see this situation on tour.

– #17 Kane Waselenchuk took out #16 @Sam Bredenbeck 10,10 in a streaky match that looked like it was going a different way in each game. Both players ran off long streaks of points at times, but neither player stayed consistent long enough to put the game away fast. Kane is #20 ranked but #17 seeded by virtue of three players ranked above him pulling out last minute (Cuevas, Carson, and Landa), so he plays right into #1 DLR.

– #3 Conrrado Moscoso got pushed a bit by fellow Bolivian Mauricio Zelada before advancing 5,11

– #14 Kadim Carrasco got taken to a breaker by #19 @Carlos Ramirez before advancing.

– #11 Thomas Carter held on against Junior national team member Cole Sendrey 12,9. Sendrey had an impressive win in the Kelley tournament earlier this month, but playing a top 15 IRT pro is a little different than playing a top east coast amateur.

– #15 @Erick Trujillo got a very solid win over Mexican veteran Javier Mar 12,13 in the 15-18 seed matchup. I routinely believe Mar is one of the top 8 players in the world … but he’s struggled for two years now to maintain that lofty status. This is the turning point for me.

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In the 16s, we got a slew of upsets.

– #17 Kane took out #1 DLR 8,9 in a match that probably was not as close as the score line indicated. I watched the match closely and my analysis is pretty simple: DLR could not get his drive serve working. I’ve never seen him serve so badly. I did a quick count of drive serve effectiveness in game 1 to illustrate this point: Kane drove 26 times, making 19 of them (73%) while DLR drove 17 times and only made 9 of them (52%). The ineffectiveness of a solid first serve cannot be understated: When I’ve done detailed match tracking in the past, a first serve in led directly to points 66% of the time, whereas that point ratio dropped to just 33% when hitting a second serve. It isn’t a coincidence that DLR got 9 drives in and scored 9 points in the game, while Kane got 17 drives in and scored 15.

The key to beating Kane right now is to limit how often he can shoot while setting his feet. And the definition of a second serve lob is allowing Kane to stand there and shoot with his feet set. Meanwhile, Kane served his typical 70%+ effective drive serves where he wanted them, getting aces and 3-shot rallies as expected, and that was that. By the end of the second game DLR had completely abandoned the drive serve and was lobbing on first serve … amazing to think about when playing the best player of all time. I also think DLR was rather devoid of ideas; when his drives failed, he didn’t think about hard Zs or any variation; he just nicked lob serves to Kane’s forehand, which he buried over and over. DLR remains winless for his career against Kane, takes a round of 16 loss (which probably buries his chances at the 2024 title already)

Now, all this being said, Kane played lights out. He executed his typical game plan, wasn’t making errors, kept the pressure on, and generally got the rallies he wanted here. It was vintage Kane, reminiscent of a match from 10 years ago. All credit to him. Kane improves to 19-1 all-time against DLR … and that 1 loss was a forfeit.

– #6 and #11 @Adam Manilla and Thomas Carter had an all lefty battle, which went to the death 11-9 for Adam.

– #7 Samuel Murray took out #10 Eduardo Portillo in a breaker in a match that was not an upset by seed, but probably and upset by talent. Lalo’s time away from the court continues to take its toll and I wonder how long he’ll remain a factor on tour.

– Lastly, the other big news of the round: #15 Erick Trujillo , who already got one career win in this event, got easily the best result of his career with an 11-10 win over #2 Jake Bredenbeck . The end of this game featured multiple turns by each player at 10-10, a questionable/argued hinder call, and a no-doubt buried winner for Trujillo to take it. As with DLR, this round of 16 loss is a dagger for Jake’s chances to take the year end title, given the headwinds that the competitors to the throne are starting to show (more on that later).

– The other top 8 seeds each advanced without really breaking a sweat; Acuna over Natera, Parrilla over Collins, Montoya over Martell, Moscoso over Carrasco. Each in two games, each game of the single digit variety.

So, both #1 and #2 out in the 16s. How often does that happen? Uh, not very often. Since seeds started being hyper tracked in 2009, I can’t find a single instance where both #1 and #2 lost in the 16s. I feel like it’s happened recently but I can’t find it. Perhaps someone’s memory is better than mine.

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In the Quarters, more interesting machinations.

– Done with the #1 seed, one would have expected Kane to blow past #8 Acuna, but that’s not what happened. Acuna (unlike DLR) made a high percentage of his drive first serves and ground out a game one win 15-13. Kane rebounded and was more or less controlling game 2 when he took an awkward step to his right to retrieve a serve and crumpled to the ground. It did not look good on the stream but he rebounded to take the game and the tiebreaker hobbling around to advance to the semis.

– #4 Montoya renewed his frequent rivalry with #5 Parrilla, winning this round 11-9 breaker.

– #3 Moscoso destroyed #6 Manilla 1,5 and seems like he’s on a freight train towards another matchup with Kane in the final now that both #1 and #2 are out.

– #7 Murray came from a game down to top the upset-minded Trujillo in three. Erick’s career tournament was cut short when he seemed to run out of gas in the breaker.

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In the Semis

– Kane’s injury proved too much for him to test, so he gave #4 Montoya a walk-over into the final. Kane did hang around to do commentary on the other semi, which was fortuitous because it turned out to be an amazing match.

– #7 Murray improved to 6-4 lifetime against Moscoso, stunning the Bolivian in a match that will be remembered for a while. After Conrrado ground out a game one victory 15-13, he raced to a massive lead in game two and had match point on his racquet at 14-3. Murray saved that match point against, then ran off 12 unanswered points to stun the Bolivian 15-14 in game two. In the breaker, Conrrado scored a couple of quick points … but then Big Canada ran off 11 straight unanswered points to win 11-2. Just an amazing match from Murray.

In the Finals … I thought “Advantage Montoya” for sure. Montoya was fresher and had the career H2H advantage. Well, that’s why you play the matches. Murray stuck to his game plan, played smart, patient shots, waiting out Montoya’s go-for-broke game style, and took game one. Montoya bounced back in game two, but Murray bided his time and took a massive lead in the tiebreaker. Sitting at 10-6 with match point, Montoya saved multiple match points-against with fantastic diving gets and great shots. Multiple rallies at the end featured questionable calls, hinders, arguments for avoidables that went for naught, arguments about down balls, etc … so it was only fitting that a chaotic rally ended with an avoidable hinder against Rodrigo to give Murray the match 11-10.

This unexpected tourney win for Murray reminds me of his first win, an out-of-nowhere Jan 2021 win in Atlanta, the first coming back from Covid, where Murray reportedly wasn’t even going to attend b/c he has so little playing time. I thought Murray would struggle to beat Portillo in the 16s, let along run off four straight tiebreaker wins over Portillo, Trujillo, Moscoso, and Montoya. Bravo to Big Sam for your second career tier 1 title.

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Points Implications of results on the Singles rankings

There will be some interesting point machinations that will happen in the short term on the IRT. Despite losing in the 16s, Jake will return to #1. That’s because there was no Longhorn Open in 2024 (which DLR won in 2023) and DLR had more points to defend from last year’s Lewis Drug. Montoya meanwhile will rise to #2, a career high … and if he had won that last point he’d be the new #1. DLR will drop to #3 and Moscoso will drop all the way to #4. Murray bumps up from 9 to 6. Kane will improve slightly, from #20 to #17 with his semi finals appearance, and will continue to be a thorn in the side of a top 4 opponent heading into the 16s until he can get himself into the upper teens.

So, when the points were published, the lack of 10 tier 1s in the last 365 days led to some different machinations to the IRT points than my private worksheet supports. The latest rankings “seem” to follow the formula of, “all Tier1s in the last 365 days without satellites and without dropping events,” except that this formula doesn’t support the totals of Moscoso, Parrilla, or Natera in particular. So i dunno. It’s early in the season so it doesn’t really matter, but later on we’ll reconcile our working document so we don’t report the wrong information.

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Doubles review

Match report in the PRS database: https://rball.pro/a40

Well, lets just say my prognosticating on the doubles draw was … a little off. I thought for sure that the presence of the Canadian National team (Murray & Iwaasa), who won 2022 PARC and made the final of 2023 Pan Am Games would make a difference here. Nope: they got beat in the 16s by Collins and Trujillo, not exactly household names on the international doubles scene. This cleared the way for the presumptive #1 doubles team in the world Montoya & Mar to cruise into the final.

From the bottom half, the surprise team of Beltran & Manilla had themselves quite a barn burner against #2 DLR and Landa, in a match filled with undertones. DLR and Beltran of course were long-time partners and friends who had a falling out in late 2022, while Beltran and Landa are good buddies. Landa is notoriously passionate on the court, while Beltran is notoriously a cut-up. These two immoveable forces ran right into each other towards the end of the tiebreaker of their quarter, when Beltran got an avoidable call at 6-10 down against Landa that Alex disagreed with. To me, it was a pretty easy avoidable call; Landa hit a ball right back at himself that Beltran didn’t really even have to move towards to take a shot. He held up and the point was given. Landa went ballistic, surprisingly not getting a technical for his antics … but when Beltran lampooned Landa’s reaction the two got face to face, and not for a short while. IRT Commissioner Pablo Fajre had to separate them on the court, and they went right back towards each other again, having to be separated again. Both teams were assessed a technical, so now the score was 6-9 … and wouldn’t you know it, Beltran and Manilla ran off 5 more points to take the match 11-9. DLR was knocked out of both draws by Friday mid-afternoon. The last time i saw Beltran and Landa … they were eating dinner together in Vegas, and Beltran basically said this was just boys being boys on social media the next day, so much ado about nothing.

Despite their solid win, Beltran & Manilla couldn’t get past the strong partnership of Portillo & Parrilla though, so we got an all-Mexican final. Montoya took the court for the doubles final about 10 minutes after a completely demoralizing 11-10 singles loss and for a big chunk of the match seemed to just be going through the motions … but still led his team to a game one win and a match point in game two. Lalo and Andree saved it, took the second game, then took the tiebreaker for the doubles win.

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Open Singles, other notable draws

– Cardona shows he’s still got it, beating Gastelum, then Iwaasa and Martell for the Men’s Open title.

– Natera and Mark frank took the Men’s Open Doubles.

– Meadow Barth and Vallana Perrault took the Women’s Open doubles RR.

– Meadow and brother Jordan Barth took the Mixed Open doubles (bummer not to see Jordan playing singles this weekend).

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

Thanks to the Tourney Director Mark Gibbs for putting this event on!

Thanks to the Tourney Sponsor Lewis Drug . Without you, we do not have a pro sport.

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Next up?

Per our handy master racquetball calendar …

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1V6OTid6rZ356voXVkoV2sN7KMMbIP9SZd0MssH_nPGU/

After a weekend off, the first weekend of February features USA Nationals and the Canadian Winter selection event.

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tags

International Racquetball Tour

@Racquetball Canada

USA Racquetball