We’re through the RRS, and with no rest for the weary the knockouts start today at 9am Central.
Here’s a quick preview of the four draws:
There was just one major upset in the Men’s Singles RR, which led to the inevitable question: which top seed would get screwed by having Rodrigo Montoya Solis drop to a low seed? The answer is: USA’s Jake Bredenbeck, who gets Montoya as a #14 seed in the round of 16 later today (presuming Rodrigo advances out of the 32s of course). These two have not met since the last of their 6 WRT meetings and they’re 3-3 h2h …but I think i’m favoring Jake here this weekend. Montoya has been nursing a shoulder injury and I don’t think he can hang with Jake’s power right now.
Other 16s that could be interesting include a possible all Guatemala matchup at 8/9 between @Juan Jose Salvatierra and Javier Martinez, #5 Conrrado Moscoso versus his former country-man Diego Garcia Quispe (who now plays for Argentina), and an all-Costa Rica matchup between doubles partners #2 Andres Acuña and #15 Felipe Camacho.
Predictions: I’m going Chalk to the quarters; hard to see any of the top 8 players getting upset. In the quarters:
- Alex Landa over Martinez
- Moscoso over Andree Parrilla; a great quarter final of contrasting styles. Parrilla has a win over Moscoso on the IRT, so this is no cakewalk for the most recent IRT pro champ. Look for this to go tie-breaker.
- Mario Mercado over Jake: Mario really gets up for international competitions, and will be a dark-horse to advance.
- Acuna over @Luis Aguilar, if he gets here. Aguilar is the most vulnerable of the top 8 seeds to get upset early, but if he beats Jose Daniel Ugalde Albornoz in the 16s he’ll face an uphill challenge to top Acuna.
- Moscoso over Landa: Moscoso is hot, Landa is still not back to 100% form from his ailments of the summer.
- Acuna over Mercado: wow; last time I have these two guys playing is in 2014 Junior Worlds 18u, when Acuna topped Mercado in the group stage before Mario raced to the junior 18U world title over none other than Moscoso, his likely opponent in the final. This is a tough one to predict, but i’ll go with Mercado.
Final: Moscoso over Mercado. They met recently in Sarasota, a very close 14,13 win for Moscoso, so this is no gimme. Look for an entertaining match as the spirited Mercado pushes the more talented Moscoso the entire way.
Women’s Singles preview
The women’s RRs featured a couple of group seeds fall, but not unexpectedly, since (for example) Chile’s Carla Muñoz Montesinos was seeded 17th despite being nearly a top 10 LPRT player. So the knockout se eds look pretty straight forward.
In the 32s, USA’s Kelani Lawrence faces the improving Ireland #1 Aisling Hickey in what looks like the toughest play-in of the bracket.
In the 16s, a couple of fun matches await:
- Defending World champ Ana Gabriela Martínez projects to face tough Ecuadorian vet Maria Pazita Muñoz Albornoz.
- Both Bolivians are drawn into the same 16, with Angelica Barrios set for a Bolivian Nationals final rematch with Micaela Meneses Cuellar.
- #6 Munoz, for her troubles in winning her group likely gets fellow LPRT regular Lawrence … who beat the Chilean at the 2019 Pan Am games.
- two long-time LPRT touring pros in Maria Renee Rodriguez and Amaya Cris face off in the #7/#10. MRR beat her 11-10 at the US Open a few months back, but generally Amaya has held the upper hand in the head-to-head. We’ll give the nod to the home-town favorite here.
- Lastly, Rhonda Rajsich projects into the #2 seed Maria Jose Vargas Parada, a tough first rounder for the Argentine.
My projected quarters:
- Paola Longoria over her doubles partner Samantha Salas Solis
- Gaby over Natalia Mendez Erlwein
- Barrios over the winner of Munoz/Lawrence (who i sense will be Munoz)
- Vargas over MRR. She may be on home soil but beating the #2 player in the world is tough.
Semis; here’s where the rubber meets the road.
- Longoria over Gaby; so, Gaby topped Longoria to win the 2018 Worlds in a huge shock, and Gaby is on home soil. But these two have played 19 times, that one win in 2018 remains Gaby’s sole victory over Paola, and the last few times they’ve played it has been a beat down, with Paola winning by scores like 6,5 or 1,7 or 2,5. Paola is very sharp right now and is destined to win this tournament.
- Vargas over Barrios: another interesting matchup between two native Bolivians with really contrasting styles. In their last meeting, Barrios won the first game before Vargas figured something out and raced to the next two games. I’m guessing with hyper-involved coaching and national team members cheering her on, she won’t make that mistake twice.
Final: Longoria blitzes past Vargas like she generally does for the title.
I’m liking Team USA vs Team Mexico in one semi; that’ll be great theater. I’m favoring Mexico to the final; they’re a more experienced team and did not struggle with inferior competition in the RRs like USA did.
On the bottom side, Team Canada is going to get a rematch with team Bolivia just to get back to the semis, and Team Colombia has a chance at revenge against team Argentina for the same. The bottom half is wide open, but i’ll go out on a limb and put team Canada in the final.
Mexico over Canada in the final.
I’m liking team Mexico over team Guatemala in the top half. In the bottom half i’m liking team USA for the upset over Bolivia in the quarters but then to lose the rematch against team Argentina in the semis.
Mexico over Argentina in the final
So far we’ve depended a ton on individuals streaming, such as Malia Kamahoahoa Bailey on the Team USA coaching staff or the individual players (Meneses, Barrios, Moscoso are always good for live streaming their matches). But the IRT crew has just arrived in town so look for Pablo Fajre and Dean DeAngelo Baer to get setup and start broadcasting today.