World Games 2022 Wrap-Up

Acuna with the big win! Photo US Open 2019 Kevin Savory


Congrats to your winners on the weekend:

  • Men’s Singles: Andres Acuna
  • Women’s Singles: Paola Longoria


    A fantastic result for Acuna, who wins his first major title of any kind, and he beat a number of solid players to do so. Meanwhile, Longoria crushed the draw absent of her two closest rivals to take her third straight World Games title.
    Click here for the list of all World Games Quarters/Semis/Finals from 1981 to present, Men’s Open: https://rball.pro/9xe
    Same for Women’s Open: https://rball.pro/edc
    R2 Sports App home page for event: https://www.r2sports.com/tourney/home.asp?TID=39815
    Interesting tournament notes: for one of the few times that i can recall … we could not get live streaming for part of the tournament due to sport ownership/broadcast licensing issues. We’re so used to free streaming on FB that it was a shock to the system of most viewers when we found out that the broadcast rights were exclusive to … someone else for the Semis and finals. CBS Sports? Olympic Channel? It was not clear at the time of the match. Eventually we found that the semis were broadcasting live on the Olympic channel’s youtube feed … would have been nice to have the IRF actually tell us that.
    Then, in an apparent massive gaffe, the two semis ran so far over on time (gee, thought rally scoring was supposed to solve that!) that the professional broadcast team left, meaning no streaming or recording of the final? That seems inexplicable. Lets just hope we actually see these matches on a CBS sports network TV feed or somewhere in the future. Since that was kind of the whole point of standing up the portable court in the first place.

Lets review the notable matches in the Men’s Singles draw.

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

In the 16s, because of the nature of this format, there were mostly blowouts. Only a couple of the opening matches were legitimately competitive:

  • in the 8/9 match, Argentina’s @Diego Garcia got a game off of @RoRodrigo Montoya but couldn’t push it any further, losing in four.
  • In the 7/10 match, Guatemalan #1 @JuJuan Jose Salvatierra took a very, very close 3-game win from Costa Rican @Felipe Camacho 14,14,13.
  • – #13 Canadian @Lee Lee Connell , who got into this event just in the last week, pushed #4 Jake Bredenbeck in a couple of games but fell in three straight.

In the Quarters, some major upsets.

  • #9 Montoya took out a visibly fatigued #1 Landa in four. Landa reportedly was ill heading into the tournament, and looked fatigued on longer rallies throughout the match. Montoya’s power and retrieving was on full display, and he ground down Landa over the course of four games.
  • #5 Parrilla “upset” #4 Jake in three, though this was certainly not an upset by IRT rankings.
  • #3 Mercado handled the tough Ecuadorian #1 Ugalde in three straight.
  • – #2 Acuna took care of business against hte Guatemalan #1 Salvatierra in three.

In the Semis, we got two solid matches with predictable results:

  • Despite Parrilla being #2 in the world, his bugabu is Montoya. Rodrigo improves to 6-3 in post-Junior results against Parrilla, taking him out in four.
  • Acuna solidly advanced past the dangerous Mercado in four to secure his third straight IRF men’s singles final.
  • In the Finals, Acuna won three close games 12,13,14 to take the title. Not that anyone could see it.

Lets review the notable matches in the Women’s Singles draw.
Singles Match report in the PRS database: https://rball.pro/z7x
In the 16s, as with the Men, only a couple of matches were really close:

  • in the 8/9, two LPRT foes squared off with Chilean @Carla Munoz holding off Guatemalan Maria Renee Rodriguez in four games.
  • – In the 7/10, Two LPRT veterans faced off for the 20th time in their careers, with Mexico’s @Samanatha Salas taking out @AmaCris Amaya in three.

The quarters saw some solid action:

  • #1 Longoria handled #9 Munoz in three
  • #5 Barrios got a really solid win against #4 Mendez, winning in four games. This portends well for Angelica’s attempts to move up in the LPRT standings, if she can get a win against the current #4 ranked player.
  • #6 Gaby made fast work of #3 Rajsich 8,9,8, another “upset” by seed but certainly not by current LPRT ranks.
  • In the best match of the quarters, and the only match so far to go five games, #7 Salas upset #2 Lawrence in a great comeback. Lawrence was up 2 games to 1, but Salas dominated the 4th to force the tiebreaker, which she took 11-9.
    No Americans into the semis on home soil.
    In the Semis:
  • Longoria won a straightforward, if slightly closer than you may have expected, semi over Bolivia’s Barrios 12,12,9.
  • Gaby took down the red-hot Salas in four games to setup a rematch of the 2018 Worlds final against Paola.
  • In the final, Paola came out on fire to win the first game 15-2 before Gaby pulled back one for respectability. From there, Paola ground out the expected win to take her 3rd straight title.

Thanks for all the streaming on the weekend, especially from primary broadcasters Gary Mazaroff and Alexis Iwaasa, your lead broadcasters. Thanks to the IRT crew (@Pablo Fajre) for heading to Birmingham to setup the streaming equipment; it looked fantastic all weekend.
A comment on the streaming: once the Olympic channel people got in, with their million dollar equipment and high-bandwidth capabilities … man did the sport look good. From here on out, I’ll be using what we saw on youtube as my defacto response to people who ignorantly claim that hte sport is “too fast to broadcast.” No it isn’t; you just need the right equipment.

An additional observation: perhaps we should have re-thought the qualification for this event. The top 4 racquetball playing countries are USA, Mexico, Canada, and Bolivia. You know who was not here on the Men’s side competing? All four of the current reigning champions from these four countries. Carson, De La Rosa, Murray, and Moscoso. It was only half as bad on the female side, with Manilla (USA current champ) and Lambert (Canadian champ) not here. If this is the biggest showcase the sport has had in decades (when was the last time the IOC president showed up to watch Racquetball??), if it was worth the tens of thousands of dollars of expenditure for a MASSIVE IRF staff, a slew of referees, the portable court, etc … maybe we should have had our best players there? The round of 16 was an abomination as compared to what we see day in and day out on the pro tour, and less than half the current pro top 10 on either side competed. Opportunity Lost.

Thanks to @BoBob Frazer and all the staff who helped setup and breakdown the portable court; it looked amazing and the setup was awesome.

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

Next up?
Per our handy master racquetball calendar …
https://docs.google.com/…/1V6OTid6rZ356voXVkoV2sN7KMMb…/
Outdoor Nationals 2022 is this weekend! Its the second outdoor major of the year, the second leg of the Outdoor Cup series, and one of the longest running tournaments in our sport.

2022 World Games Preview

Kelani is the #2 seed in Birmingham. Photo USAR Singles 2019 via Kevin Savory


We have a rather unique tournament coming up this weekend; its the Racquetball Component of the World Games.
The World Games is a sporting event comprised of sporting disciplines that are NOT competed in the Olympics. Its meant to be the Olympics of non-Olympic sports. And that certainly includes our sport, which endeavored for decades to try to get into the Olympics and never succeeded.
The first World Games was held in 1981 in Santa Clara, CA. Racquetball as a sport used this platform as a way to initiate our own version of an international championship, therefore we also called the 1981 event the first ever IRF “Worlds” Six countries sent players (USA, Mexico, Japan, German, Ireland, and the Netherlands, but curiously not Canada, the 2nd biggest playing country at the time) and the tournament was not surprisingly dominated by American players. The top 3 Men’s and Women’s seeds at the event were all team USA, and the finals were both all USA affairs.
On the Men’s side in 1981, #1 seed @Ed Andrews defeated #3 @Mark Martino 15,18 to win the inaugural title. On the Women’s side in 1981, #1 seed @Cindy Baxter defeated #2 @Barbara Faulkenberry 6,(18),2 in the final (games back then were played to 21). Both Andrews and Baxter are now enshrined in the USAR Hall of Fame.

  • Click here for the Match Report from the 1981 World Games Men’s Open: https://rball.pro/4nn
  • And click here for the Women’s Open: https://rball.pro/bvd
    Since 1981, the World Games have been held every four years in spots rotating around the world … but the Racquetball component has not always been present. In 1985 future IRT star @AAndy Robert topped long-time Canadian #1 @Roger Harripersad in the final, while Baxter repeated as champion, topping Canadian Carol Dupuy in the final.
    However, the racquetball component was cancelled in multiple World Games events in the 80s and 90s due to the selection of sites with no racquetball courts. In Germany in 1989, in Finland in 1997, Japan 2001, and Germany 2005 all cancelled the racquetball components. In fact, the most recent World games from 2017 also cancelled racquetball when Poland couldn’t get the budget to build new courts. So, since 1981 there’s been just five events played …. and 2022 will be the sixth.
  • Click here for a full list of World Games Men’s Open finals: https://rball.pro/2ig
  • And click here for the full list of Women’s Games Women’s finals: https://rball.pro/tjb
    In 2022, @Paola Longoria has a chance to win her 3rd ever World Games title; she was the winner in 2009 over Rajsich and in 2013 over Amaya; all three of these players will be competing at the 2022 event.

Meanwhile on the Men’s side, the last winner of the World games in 2013 was @Polo Gutierrez, who defeated his countryman @Gilberto Mejia in the final 11-10 . Both these players retired from full-time play years ago, so we’ll definitely have a new champion this time around.

Here’s a preview of the 2022 event. We waited until the day of the event since the draws were just released. They’re also on R2 here:
https://www.r2sports.com/tourney/home.asp?TID=39815
The 16 Qualifiers on each side were determined by their exact finish at the 2021 IRF World games. The top 12 by all non-European/Asian countries, then the last 4 spots reserved for Europe and Asia’s top qualifiers.
However, on both the Men’s and Women’s side we did see some qualifiers decline the invites, and thus we had to go to the 13th and higher placing players to fill this event. They slotted into the seeding ahead of the European/Asian players in the draw. Here’s the replacement players:

  • #4 Moscoso was replaced by the 17th place finisher Cueva from 2021 Worlds, and Cueva slots into the #11 seed here.
  • #12 Manzuri was replaced by the #18 finisher from the DR Ramon De Leon; he becomes the #12 seed here.
  • Korea’s auto qualifier Mingyu declined to come, so the organizers went on down the line form Worlds and ended up with Canada’s Lee Connell, who slots into the #13 seed here.
  • Just one woman qualifier declined to come; that being the quite-pregnant Vargas; she is replaced by the 13th place finisher from Worlds, Bolivian junior @MMicaela Menese
    Unfortunately … they only have time for a single-elimination draw. So all these players are flying in for a one-and done draw. So tensions will be high. Here’s my preview:
    On the Men’s side, here’s how I see the competition going. round of 16:
  • #1 Alejandro Landa faces Ireland’s #2 @Eoin Tynan.
  • #2 @Andres Acuna faces South Korea’s #2 @LeeGunhee Lee
  • #3 Mario Mercado takes on Ireland #2 Ken Cottrell
  • #4 @Jake Bredenbeck , who gets the bump up with Moscoso’s absence (as well as everyone else here on down), now faces Canadian Connell in the opener.
  • #5 @Andree Parrilla will take on the DR’s De Leon in the opener.
  • #6 Ugalde will take on Cueva in a ridiculous situation where two players from the same country are flying thousands of miles to play a one-and-done tournament against each other.
  • #7 An interesting Latin American battle between Guatemala’s #1 Salvatierra and former IRT touring pro Costa Rican Camacho.
  • In the best match of the opener, Bolivian turned Argentinian Diego Garcia takes on the vastly under-seeded former Pan Am Games/World champion @Rodrigo Montoya. I like Garcia’s game, but Montoya should move on here.
    As you’re about to see, the seedings will end up giving us finals-quality matchups in the quarters. If I was re-seeding this event from scratch i’d probably go Landa, Parrilla, Montoya, Acuna, Mercado, Bredenbeck, Garcia, and then probably Camacho.
    Quarters preview:
  • #1 Landa vs #9 Montoya: Well, on paper this is a projected win for Landa. Landa is on “home” soil as the USA rep. However, Montoya always plays well internationally and has proven he can beat Landa time and again in their careers. I think this is going to be close, but Landa pulls it out in a 5th game thriller. Would not be surprised in the least if Montoya wins.
  • 4/5 Parrilla vs Bredenbeck: a tough draw for Jake, pulling the now-#2 ranked IRT player in Parrilla. Andree moves on.
  • 3/6 Mercado will take out the surviving Ecuadorian winner of Ugalde/Cueva.
  • #2 Acuna likely faces his countryman Camacho, who he’s played a thousand times before. Acuna should move on.
    Semis:
  • #5 Parrilla over #1 Landa: I think Parrilla has the confidence and the game to take out Landa at this juncture. However, if this is Montoya and not Landa … watch out for a very competitive coin-flip of a match.
  • #2 Acuna over #3 Mercado: these two faced off in the semis of 2021 Worlds, a fascinating 11-9 thriller taken by the up and coming Acuna. I think the result goes the same.

Final: Parrilla over Acuna. Acuna’s game has taken light year steps forward in the last two years, but Parrilla is the better player

Women’s preview:
The round of 16 for the women will give us a couple of fun matches.

  • #1 Longoria over Japan’s Hanashi
  • #9 Munoz over #8 MRR: these two LPRT regulars have met a few times over the years and Munoz has never lost.
  • #5 Barrios vs #12 Meneses: both the Bolivians meet in the first. A real bummer for the junior, who got in as a “lucky loser” but now will go down in the first to a player she plays a lot back home but cannot yet beat.
  • #4 Mendez over Korea’s Lee
  • #3 Rajsich vs #14 Hickey. This should be a win for Rhonda … but Hickey can play.
  • #6 Gaby Martinez should advance over #11 Canadian Morisette.
  • #7 Salas over long-time rival #10 Amaya
  • #2 Lawrence should advance over Ireland’s Haverty.
    In the quarters:
  • #1 Longoria is 18-0 over Munoz for their career and will make it 19-0. Carla will push for some points to make it close.
  • #5 Barrios over #4 Mendez: these two are 1-1 career, but Barrios took their last meeting on the pro tour. I like Barrios in rally scoring; she defends well and gets sneaky points.
  • #6 Gaby over #3 Rhonda: seedings aside, Gaby is one of the top women in the world right now and should advance past Rhonda, even though Rhonda always plays well internationally.
  • #2 Lawrence will have her hands full with #7 Salas; this could be an upset in the making here. They’ve only played twice, both dominant Salas wins, but they were both prior to 2020 when Samantha’s game took a downturn and Kelani stepped up. This will be a fascinating match. Salas got a ton of solid wins to make the semis in the KC Super max … can she continue that trend? Salas in 5.
    Semis:
  • #1 Longoria is unstoppable and will dominate Barrios to move to the final.
  • If Salas advances … she just beat Gaby in KC, and beat her handily 5,12. If Kelani ekes it out in the quarters, she’s never beaten Gaby. So its a hard one to predict. I’m going to go Salas in a continuation of her current form, making the finals.

Finals: Longoria tops her long-time doubles partner and rival Salas to win her 3rd straight World Games.

Follow IRF and IRT on Facebook for streaming: they’ll be doing early rounds. Its unclear what happens for the latter rounds; it may be on the IOC feed or somewhere else.
Looking forward to some international racquetball!

2022 PARC Team Standings

While the “team competition” is underway now, the PARC Team competition (as determined by the sum of all the finishes by all the participants) has finished.

Here’s how the standings shook out (these are unofficial numbers based on the worksheet seen here, but are consistent with past scoring methods and should be accurate unless the IRF has made a change without widely announcing it).

Men’s Team: Bolivia, Costa Rica, USA.

This is the 3rd time in the last 4 IRF events that the Bolivian men have taken 1st in this competition. Costa Rica eked out a 4-point win over USA to claim 2nd: this is by far Costa Rica’s best ever team finish; the only other time they placed was in 1990’s regional competition. Amazingly, Mexico did not place; they had won 5 of the 6 Men’s team competitions prior to 2019 (Bolivia’s first Men’s title).

Women’s Team: Argentina, Bolivia, Mexico.

Argentina gets 1st in doubles, 2nd in singles and easily wins the women’s competition, their first ever Team Women’s win in any IRF competition. Mexico falls to 3rd, their lowest team finish since 2010 worlds. No USA on the podium; team USA women have not won an IRF competition since 2010 (which is basically when Paola Longoria started regularly representing Mexico).

Combined/Overall Team: Bolivia, Argentina, USA.

Bolivia runs away with the combined title, with a singles win and a finals mixed appearance. This is the first ever combined/overall Team title for Bolivia. Argentina’s 2nd place is their best ever combined finish. After winning the combined title by a hair in the 2021 Worlds event (a result that had more than a few people questioning the scoring), USA fades to third here. Mexico finishes 4th despite taking the Mixed title and one has to wonder how these results would have gone had Mexico #1 Longoria played; Mexico won 7 straight Combined IRF titles, taking every IRF event held between 2015-2019 inclusive.

Click here for a worksheet of the 2022 PARC Team standings point totals:
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1rmqPcjrrgYkCMb8kcQDeM5kNdXYe_NliFlBLaElFN_Y/edit?usp=sharing

PARC Recap

Barrios with the surprise win at PARC. Photo via Barrios’ facebook page.


Congrats to your winners on the weekend:

  • Men’s Singles: Conrrado Moscoso, Bolivia
  • Women’s Singles: Angelica Barrios, Bolivia
  • Men’s Doubles; Samuel Murray & Coby Iwaasa, Canada
  • Women’s Doubles: Maria Jose Vargas & Natalia Mendez, Argentina
  • Mixed Doubles: Rodrigo Montoya & Samantha Salas, Mexico


    Links to “Category Reports,” which show a history of all current and past PARC finalists, so you can see all 33 such tournaments that have happened since inception in 1986.
  • Men’s Singles: http://rball.pro/F5F5D2
  • Women’s Singles: http://rball.pro/9BC953
  • Men’s Doubles: http://rball.pro/68D315
  • Women’s Doubles: http://rball.pro/6F9E9F
  • Mixed Doubles: http://rball.pro/BA46DA

R2 Sports App home page for event: https://www.r2sports.com/website/event-website.asp?TID=39092


Men’s Singles:
Singles Match report in the PRS database: http://rball.pro/486271
The quarters gave us some unexpected results for sure.

  • #1 @Conrrado Moscoso took out the upstart Argentinian Diego Garcia in 3.
  • #5 @Rodrigo Montoya got a very solid win over USA’s @Jake Bredenbeck in three straight. Montoya always seems to play well in these structured international competitions. This sets up a juicy Moscoso-Montoya match that has some interesting history.
  • Huge upset: #3 @Carlos Keller , 2-time defending champ and playing on home soil, was taken out by Costa Rican @Andres Acuna , and it wasn’t particularly close (11,6,12). I thought Keller was a great bet to three-peat.
  • – #2 Alejandro Landa held serve against his tough doubles partner, Canadian @SSamuel Murry to setup a rematch of the 2021 World’s final with Acuna.

In the Semis

  • #1 Moscoso outlasted fellow hard hitting IRT regular #5 Montoya in three close games.
  • #11 Acuna took the latest salvo in his rivalry against #2 Landa, beating him in four games to move into his second successive major international final.
    In the Finals… the two players traded 15-14 games to start, then Conrrado turned on the heat in game three, racing to a 15-6 win before finishing off another close game four to take the title. This is his first “major” IRF title in his career.

Fun side note: the two Men’s finalists both came from the group stage of the #1 pre-tournament seed.


Women’s Singles:
Match report in the PRS database: http://rball.pro/9C2A60
The knockout quarters featured some HUGE upsets, with both the #2 and #3 seeds going down early.

  • #1 Maria Jose Vargas cruised past the Bolivian junior @Micaela Meneses to move into the semis.
  • #4 @Carla Munoz took out the veteran #5 Rhonda Rajsich in four games. Great solid win by Munoz to take out a competitor in Rajsich who always plays tough in these IRF competitions.
  • #6 @Ana Gabriela Martinez upset #3 Natalia Mendez in a 5-game thriller. Even though these two are very close talent wise, this was a surprising result for me for Mendez to lose on home soil.
  • The biggest upset of the round on either side though was #2 @Alexandra Herrera , winner of the last two LPRT events and the odds-on favorite here, losing to Bolivian @Angelica Barrios in four. Never underestimate the Bolivian, who made a run to the semis of the Bolivian Iris event as an unknown and typically flies under the radar at these events.
    In the semis
  • #1 Vargas continued her quest to win the title in her home town, overcoming a game 1 loss to down Chilean #4 Carla Munoz .
  • #10 Barrios continued her upset ways, getting her third straight upset-by-seed win, this time against former World champion #6 Guatemalan Martinez. Barrios makes a major international final on home soil to setup an intriguing all-native Bolivian final.
    In the final…a fantastic back and forth affair that wasn’t settled until 12-10 in the fifth. Barrios gritted out a comeback win in game 4 to push it to a 5th, then kept the ball in play and took advantage of a slightly tight Vargas to win 12-10 and claim her first ever IRF title.

Fun side note: As with the Men, the two Women’s finalists both came from the group stage of the #1 pre-tournament seed.


Men’s Doubles review
Match report in the PRS database: http://rball.pro/E4307D
A shocking result in the quarters, with the home-town Bolivian team of @Carlos Keller and @Kadim Carrasco both top doubles players, both of whom are regular IRT touring pros, falling in 3 straight (albeit close) games to the Ecuadorian pair of @Juan Francisco and Jose Daniel Ugalde. Cuevas and Ugalde have been representing Ecuador for a long, long time; Ugalde first played in the 2006 Worlds, Cuevas in juniors since 2011 and this is a great win for them. Otherwise, the #1, #2 and #4 seeds advanced as expected.
In the semis …

  • Team Canada took out #1 USA in three games; despite their seeding they’re the pre-tourney favorites and make it to the ifnal.
  • Team Ecuador upset #2 Costa Rica to move into the finals. its the first Men’s doubles final in an IRF event since 2016 for Ecuador.
  • In the final … I thought for sure this was a cake-walk for Canada, but Ecuador won the first and pushed it to a 5th game before falling 11-5 to team Canada. Great showing by Ecuador, making a major IRF final for the first time in years, and congrats to team Canada for returning to the throne.

Women’s Doubles:
Match report in the PRS database: http://rball.pro/B73598
No surprises in the quarters, as the top 4 teams (Mex, USA, Bol, Arg) advanced as expected, each in three games.
In the semis, two very close matches between the four top Women’s doubles teams resulted in the top two seeds advancing to the final. #1 Mexico dropped the 2nd game but beat Bolivia in four, while the experienced Argentina team squeaked out a win against team USA with two games going 15-14 their way.

In the final … the four LPRT top 10 players, who are quite familiar with each other from years of touring together, battled it out to the very end. Team Argentina made the clutch shots in the 5th to win 11-9 and take the title.


Mixed Doubles:
Match report in the PRS database: http://rball.pro/78C637
No surprises in the 16s or quarters really, even though the #3 and #4 seeds lost to lower seeded competition. We knew going in that one of the groups was weaker than the other two, and no Group 3 mixed teams advanced into the semis here.
In the semis, some fireworks:

  • #1 Bolivia blasted #5 Argentina 5,4,5. Just a complete dominant win.
  • #6 Mexico took got revenge for a RR loss to #2 team USA and advanced to the final by virtue of a technical forfeit for accumulated technical fouls. The IRF referees are very pedantic, and team USA was penalized once too often. The final play that led to the disqualification was arguable, as most hinder calls end up being, and its a shame the match was decided on what I thought was a referee error, but passions must be held in check and referee arguing isn’t as tolerated on the IRF as it is on the pro tours. Landa (per the US Team handbook) may face a lengthy suspension after this incident.
  • In the final … team Mexico (my pre-tourney favorite) eked out a win over the hard hitting Bolivian team to take the first ever Mixed IRF title.

Despite my publishing this wrap-up … the event continues. After these brackets are done, the “Team Event” commences, returning to IRF competitions for the first time in years. This can be confusing for those who query the Pro Racquetball Stats site: we keep “Team stats” but that’s not the same as a “Team Competition.” Team stats are driven by the accumulated individual accomplishments. We do not track the team event results in the database.
Speaking of Team results, here’s the unofficial team winners (based on my working xls):

  • Men’s Team: Bolivia, Costa Rica, USA. This is by far Costa Rica’s best ever team finish; the only other time they placed was in 1990’s regional competition. Amazingly, Mexico did not place. Costa Rica eked out a 4-point win over USA to claim 2nd.
  • Women’s Team: Argentina, Bolivia, Mexico. Argentina gets 1st in doubles, 2nd in singles and easily wins. No USA on the podium.
  • Combined/Overall Team: Bolivia, Argentina, USA. Bolivia runs away with the combined title, with a singles win and a finals mixed appearance. Mexico finishes 4th despite taking the Mixed title and one has to wonder how these results would have gone had Mexico #1 Longoria played.

I’ll load up the full Team Results once they’re blessed by the IRF.

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

Next up?
After this weekends team competition in Bolivia …
Per our handy master racquetball calendar …
https://docs.google.com/…/1V6OTid6rZ356voXVkoV2sN7KMMb…/

IRT returns to action in two weeks time in Canoga park.

tags
International Racquetball Federation

PARC Knockout Stages Preview

Can Keller 3-peat? Photo US Open19 via Kevin Savory


We’re through the group stage at the 33rd annual Pan American Racquetball championships, being held in Santa Cruz, Bolivia and have whittled the field down to just the top finishers per group for the knockout stage.


Here’s a preview/prediction of each bracket plus some quick observations about the group stage results.

r2sports site: https://www.r2sports.com/website/event-website.asp?TID=39092

For streaming, follow the IRF on Facebook and sign up for live video notifications.

Men’s Singles
Group Stage thoughts: No surprises for me in the first four groups, as the top 4 seeds advance with relative ease, and the “expected” players finished in second place.
Group 5 and 6 though had some shockers. In group 5, #5 pre-tourney seed @Rodrigo Montoya topped the group, but in a shock IRT top 10 player and Nov 2021 IRT tourney winner Mario Mercado was taken out by Argentina’s recently matriculated junior @Diego Garcia and failed to advance to the knockouts. Garcia represented Bolivia until his age 17 season, then converted to Argentina and had to sit out a couple years. But he’s back, and he’s quite good. He could be a regular representative for Argentina for the next 15 years, and we hope to start seeing more of him on the IRT.
Group 6’s shock was at the top, when IRT top10 player @Samuel Murray was dominated by Mexico’s #2 Elias Nieto 13,3,(3),7 to fall to 2nd place in the group. Nieto tops the group and grabs the #6 seed in the knockouts.
Here’s how I see the knockouts going:

  • In the 16s, Nieto’s #6 seed gets him #11 @AndAAndres Acuna , a really tough draw and a likely upset.
    In the quarters:
  • #1 Conrrado Moscoso over #8 Garcia; they met in 2021 Worlds and Moscoso crushed him, but it will be a good all South American test.
  • #4 @Jake Bredenbeck over #5 @Rodrigo Montoya . This will be close, as both hard hitters can make deep runs in tournaments. Jake has topped Rodrigo the last three times they’ve played and I think he’ll do it again.
  • #3 @CarloCarlos Keller over #11 Acuna. They have not played in years (last meeting 2017), and both players have improved significantly over the past year. Keller made the finals at the 2021 US Open, Acuna made the finals at 2021 Worlds. Keller always seems to rise to the occasion at this event (and, lest we forget, is the 2-time defending PARC champ, having won in both 2018 and 2019), and is playing on home soil so we’ll go with the Bolivian here.
  • #2 @AlAlejandro Landa gets his pro doubles playing partner @Samuel Murray , who he has traded results back and forth with on the singles court recently. However, Landa is here to win. Landa in 3.
    Semis prediction:
  • #1 Moscoso over #4 Jake; I just think Conrrado is too good on these courts.
  • #3 Keller over Landa. They’ve only met 3 times, but its been years since they’ve played and they’ve never played internationally. I think Keller’s familiarity on these courts gets him the win over the mercurial Landa, who has a tendency to start slow in his matches and that might mean the difference in a rally scoring match where every point counts.
  • Final: Moscoso over Keller in an all-Bolivia final that will have the crowd pulsating.

Women’s Singles
Group stage review: No real surprises in the group stage for me; The top seed in group 4 should have been one of the top Mexican pros, but instead the seed went to Chile’s @CCarla Munoz , who topped USA’s @Kelani Lawrence in a 5-game thriller on the competition’s opening day to claim the 4th seed in the knockouts. The best player to not advance is Cris Amaya, who finished 3rd of 3 in the group of Death, falling to two top-10 LPRT pros.
Knockout predictions:
In the 16s, a really tough matchup between #7 @Kelani Lawrence and #10 Angelica Barrios looms; Advantage Barrios here.
Quarters prediction:

  • #1 @MariMaria Jose Vargas over #8 Micaela Meneses . Meneses is pulling triple duty here as a junior but doesn’t yet have the firepower to topple Vargas.
  • #5 @Rhonda Rajsich over #4 Munoz: on paper Munoz is the better player right now, but Rhonda always plays “up” at these competitions.
  • #3 Natalia Mendes over #6 @Ana Gabriela Martinez ; Gaby may have the world title, but Mendez is the one on her native soil (she grew up in Bolivia before converting to represent Argentina). Plus, Mendez has topped Gaby 2 out of their last 3 meetings.
  • #2 @Alexandra Herrera over the Barrios/Kelani winner. There’s no easy matches from the quarters on, so Herrera will get a top 10 touring pro from here on out despite being the #2 seed#1s
    Semis prediction:
  • #1 Vargas over #5 Rajsich
  • #2 Herrera over #3 Mendez
  • Final: Vargas tops Herrera on her native soil. She may represent Argentina, but Vargas was born in Santa Cruz and will take the title in her hometown.

Men’s Doubles
Group stage thoughts: Great win by the Bredenbeck’s to take the #1 seed in their group of death. Likewise, really solid win by the Costa Ricans to seize the #2 seed over the Mexicans.
Knockout round preview:

  • Unfortunately, 3 of the 4 best teams are in the upper bracket so we’re going to get what should be the final in the semis. Look for #4 Canada (Murray and @CoCoby Iwaasa ) to take out #1 Team USA to make the final.
  • From the bottom, I think the Bolivians (Keller and @Kadim Carrasco ) will bounce back on home soil to advance to the final as the #6 seed.
  • Final: Canada over Bolivia.

Women’s Doubles:
Pool play reaction: no surprises for this observer, despite the seeding not going as expected. The top LPRT pros in both groups rose to the top.
Knockout predictions:

  • Mexico over Bolivia in one semi. I like the Herrera/ @Samantha Salas Solis team to cruise past the @Yazmine Sabja Aliss and Meneses team, though the home town will cheer them to at least one game win.
  • Argentina over USA in the other semi. I just think the two native Bolivians (Mendez and Vargas) are too good on the court together, despite the international heroics of @RRhonda Rajsich and @ErikErika Manila .
  • Final: Mexico over Argentina: Herrera/Salas are just too good at Doubles to lose here.

Mixed Doubles
Pool play reactions: Chalk in Group A, but a huge win for Team USA (Landa and Manilla) to upset my pre-tourney favorite Team Mexico (Montoya/Salas) to claim the #2 seed. I was slightly surprised to see team Colombia (Mercado and Amaya) finish 3rd in their group, being the solid doubles players they both are.
Knockout predictions:

  • From the top half, Team Bolivia (Moscoso and Meneses) seem like they have the easier path to the final and may have a harder quarter vs Colombia than semis versus Argentina (Valeria Centellas and Diego Garcia).
  • From the Bottom half, we probably get a rematch of the group stage Mexico vs USA … and I like the passion of Landa/Manilla to advance. They beat them once, they can do it again.
  • In the final? I think the Bolivia – USA matchup favors the Americans. Landa can hang with Moscoso, while Manilla would out-perform Meneses on the right hand side. USA for the inaugural international Mixed title.

Should be great matches this week. Can’t wait.

Pan American Racquetball Confederation – PARC
International Racquetball Federation
International Racquetball Federation

33rd PARC Tourney and Group Stage previews

Landa is set to defend his 2021 World title in Bolviia. Photo US Open 2019, Photographer Kevin Savory


The 33rd annual Pan American Racquetball Championships kicks off this weekend with a slew of singles round robins, new rules, and new divisions.
It is back after two years of cancellations due to Covid.
We’ll hold off until the RRs are competed and the knockout brackets are determined to do predictions, but did want to highlight some interesting items at this juncture.

  • First off, the IRF has FINALLY FINALLY decided to use R2sports.com to coordinate the tournament. For years (decades?) they’ve depended on hand creating PDFs and uploading them to Dropbox, but could never seem to keep the results updated in a timely manner mid-tournament, and the Dropbox links constantly change so I can’t embed sources for tournaments … So everyone can be happy that this tournament will be in the same platform as every other racquetball tournament.
  • R2sports home page: https://www.r2sports.com/website/event-website.asp?TID=39092
  • Rally scoring is now in play. A reminder that the IRF went to rally scoring because they claimed it would shorten matches (it doesn’t), or that its because they want to be presentable to TV (a TV contract they don’t have), or so they can hold team events (which they’ve always been able to do). Other than that … yay! can’t wait for rally scoring so that we can not have any epic comebacks or fantastic back-and-forth tiebreakers or any semblance of a match that doesn’t look like its being competed in a rush because the participants are late for a dinner reservation….
  • Reminder on seeding: the seeding is done based on the COUNTRY, not the PLAYER. So, you might have someone like a top 10 touring pro (Mario Mercado) seeded below someone ranked outside the top 1000 in the world thanks to the prior success (or lack thereof) by their countrymen in previous IRF events.
  • New event here: Mixed Doubles. Should be fun. The Mexican Nationals mixed event was great, and i’m sure this one will be fun too.
  • They have junior divisions here, including an U21 division. They seem to be competed basically by Mexican players and South American players. This is not an official IRF junior international event, so only countries that can afford to send players are doing so.

Now for some thoughts on each main draw:

Men’s Singles:

  • there’s 22 players competing. A bit light as compared to past PARC events (in 2019 they had 30 men competing)
  • There is a definitely has a “Group of Death” so to speak, with defending Pan Am games gold medalist @Rodrigo Montoya , top IRT pro @Mario Mercado , and dangerous argentine young player @DDiego Garcia all joined by Canadian #2 @Trevor Webb in one RR group. Wow; i’m not sure i’ve seen such a strong international group stage collection in a while.
  • The draw overall is good: there’s some solid players here; the quarter finals will be epic here if they play out to seeds in that eight regular touring players are present, many of whom have won IRT events.
  • Mexico’s #2 player is a name maybe not as well known to fans in Elias Nieto. He earned this spot by making the semis in last June’s Mexican Nationals event, an event won by Montoya over Parrilla in the final, and with Portillo topping Nieto in the 3rd place game. With both Parrilla and Lalo begging out of the event, the slot went to Nieto.
    Women’s Singles:
  • 17 players entered, also a light draw. 25 entered the 2019 version of the PARC.
  • Shockingly … no Paola Longoria, who lives for these international competitions to add to her astounding count of titles (21 at current). I’ll have to get some insight as to why she’s not here.
  • Clearly Mexico had some issues filling the spot, because the Mexican #2 female is junior Angela Ortega, who is competing in her age 17 season and who has never appeared on the LPRT. Very odd, in that there’s probably 10 other Mexican touring pros who would have been a more competitive entrant here (just off the top of my head …. Mejia, Parrilla, Enriquez, Salas, Lucia Gonzalez, Flores, Groves, Acosta, Perez, Rico, or Aguilar). Interesting. Salas is here, but already competing in both doubles events, and adding a third event probably was a non-starter.
  • In fact, I might be wrong, but it doesn’t seem like any player is playing in all 3 events; maybe that was a purposeful limitation on the entrants.
  • The group of death seems to be Group A, with @Maria Jose Vargas, @AmAmaya C , and @Angelica Barrios. A top 3, top 10 and top 15 player.
  • Despite no #1 Longoria, 6 of the top 10 are in the singles draw plus another 3 from the top 20.
  • – Another notable absence; no @Maria Renee Rodriguez from Guatemala, who has been a mainstay at these events for the better part of a decade representing her country alongside Gaby Martinez.

Men’s Doubles:

  • There’s 10 teams/countries represented here.
  • Interestingly Moscoso is NOT playing with his typical doubles partner Roland Keller; instead its Carrasco and Carlos Keller representing Bolivia.
  • The Bredenbeck brothers are representing the USA, which should be fun.
  • Acuna is not playing with his regular partner Camacho from Costa Rica.

I think your two early favorites here are Canada (Murray and Iwaasa are tough) and USA (the Bredenbecks have played together a lot).

Women’s Doubles

  • 8 teams here, split into two RR groups to start.
  • Group A is stacked, with three teams I think could win this all together (Bolivia, Mexico and USA).
  • Group B is … well, significantly weaker than Group A, and its 4th seed is clearly the best team in Argentina. They’ll get a cakewalk into the #2 seed in knockouts.
  • I just don’t see how these groups/seedings make sense: you have clearly the top four racquetball playing countries (USA, Canada, Mexico, and Bolivia) in one group, then Columbia, Guatemala, Chile, and Argentina in the other. That just doesn’t seem balanced at all. Even if the past results support it.

I think your favorites are clearly Mexico (Herrera/Salas), but Argentina (Vargas/Mendez) have been playing together regularly for most of the last few LPRT seasons and should make it a compelling final if they get there.

Mixed Open

  • A first time through for Mixed and we have some intriguing teams for sure.
  • 10 teams here and it seems like players have prioritized Mixed over Gender doubles; the better players are here.
  • – My early favorites are Mexico (Montoya and Salas, who just won Mexican Mixed), USA (Landa and Manilla are both great doubles players), and Colombia (Mercado and Amaya are both highly experienced doubles teams). Don’t sleep on Bolivia, who has Moscoso hitting bombs on the right hand side, always a challenge in doubles.

Streaming apparently doesn’t start until next week. But maybe we’ll get some of the players streaming their matches in the interim.
More to come next week on this event when we get to the knockouts.

IRF Junior Worlds Wrap-up

Erick Trujillo finishes off his juniors career with a world title. Photo 2021 US Open via Kevin Savory


Congrats to all the newly crowned Junior Worlds singles champions:

  • Boys 18U: Erick Trujillo, Mexico
  • Boys 16U: Jorge Gutierrez, Mexico
  • Boys 14U Eder Renteria, Mexico
  • Boys 12U: Sebastian Terrazas, Bolivia
  • Boys 10U: Gustavo Cordova, Bolivia


    Click here; http://rball.pro/043BA8 for a matrix of all Junior Worlds Boys champions for all of time.

    Comments on the draws:
    Boys 18U:
    A first (and only) junior world championship for Trujillo, who graduates from Juniors with a win at the highest level. We look forward to his continuing to compete on the IRT, as he’s had a decent debut so far. He topped fellow Mexican Sebastián Longoria in the final.
    Boys 16U
    Mexican champion Jorge Gutierrez topped Bolivian’s #1 Ezequiel Subieta in a competitive final that featured all Bolivia/Mexican semis. This is Gutierrez’s first ever world title.
    Boys 14U:
    Renteria captures his third ever Junior World Title in his age 13 season, winning the final over countryman Sebastian Ruelas in a rematch of the Mexican 14U final earlier this year.
    Boys 12U
    Terrazas wins his first junior world title in a draw dominated by Bolivians: all three entered advanced to the semis.
    Boys 10U
  • Cordova won an all-Bolivian final over countryman Matias Garabito.

  • Girls 18U: Micaela Meneses Cuellar, Bolivia
  • Girls 16U: Krystin Salinas, Bolivia
  • Girls 14U: Natalia Mendez (no relation), Bolivia
  • Girls 12U: Jamileth Sipec, Guatemala
  • Girls 10U: Michelle Gomez, Mexico
    Click here: https://rball.pro/BCE571 for a matrix of all Junior Worlds winners for all of time.
    Comments on the victors:
    Girls 18U
    Bolivia’s Meneses finishes a grueling two weeks in Guatemala, having also represented her country in the Adult competition. She finished in 13th place, just outside of the guaranteed spots for World Games 2022, but would be first in line if one of the top 12 drops out. She wins junior worlds in her age 17 season in dominant fashion, winning the final 5,2 and still has a year to go. She’s already a regular on the LPRT and we look forward to more from the young Bolivian. She tops the promising lefty Argentine Martina Katz in the final, who impressed all weekend.
    Girls 16U
    After a nail-biting semi win over Mexico’s #2 player @Angela Ortega, Salinas crushed Mexican’s #1 @Cynthia Gutierrez 3,5 to win her first ever Junior World title.
    Girls 14U
    Bolivian Natalia Mendez (no relation to the LPRT touring player Natalia Mendez Erlwein) captured her first ever Junior World title, topping Mexican champ and #1 seed Maria Fernanda Trujillo in the final.
    Girls 12U:
    Sipec broke the Bolivian stronghold on girls titles by vanquishing both Mexican top seeded players en route to the title.
    Girls 10U
  • Gomez avenged a loss to Costa Rica’s Larissa Faeth in the group stage by topping her for the 10U title.

Doubles: We have captured the doubles champions into the database; see http://rball.pro/943497 for a complete list of all Junior worlds doubles champions from 2021 and going back in time.

We have not seen team results posted officially, but it seems that Mexico just beat out Bolivia for the team competition. No idea who might have come in third.

Thus ends a long two weeks of competition in Guatemala. Congrats to all players, to all who competed. Thanks to the IRT broadcasting crew who spent the better part of two weeks in Guatemala City broadcasting. Dean DeAngelo Baer and Pablo Fajre should get some well-deserved rest.


Next up for IRF? The Pan American Racquetball Championships next april in, hopefully , Bolivia!
International Racquetball Federation – IRF

IRF 20th World Championships Wrap up

Landa wins Worlds. Photo from 2020 USAR National doubles by Kevin Savory


Congrats to your winners on the weekend:

  • Men’s Singles: Alex Landa
  • Men’s Doubles; Rodrigo Montoya/Javier Mar
  • Women’s Singles: Paola Longoria
  • Women’s Doubles: Paola Longoria/Samantha Salas
  • Team: USA

All four draws have been loaded to the database (the official Team results are pending). Here’s those links:

Men’s Singles: http://rball.pro/5E56AA

Men’s Doubles; http://rball.pro/6A670B

Women’s Singles: http://rball.pro/F31645

Women’s Doubles: http://rball.pro/8F6654

Home page for the event: https://www.internationalracquetball.com/xx-world…/

Here’s some commentary and observations on the four draws.


Men’s Singles:
Alex Landa wins his second “major” IRF event (he previously won the 2017 PARC event in San Jose, Costa Rica) by cruising through the group stage as the #1 seed entering the event. In the knockouts, he overcame a first game 15-3 blow-out loss to my pre-tournament favorite Conrrado Moscoso to win that semi with relative ease the rest of the way (3),8,6. A great adjustment by Landa to get to the final form the top-half. Moscoso had taken a close quarter final against #4 seed Andree Parrilla to get to the semis.
From the bottom half, Andres Acuña entered the event as the #13 seed in the round robins before blowing out pre-tournament #2 seed Rodrigo Montoya Solis 5,4 to seize hold of the #2 seed in the knockout stages. But the bottom half was stacked with talent and the touring pros all beat each other up to make the final. USA’s Jake Bredenbeck got a great win over Montoya to vanquish him in the 16s, but then Jake fell to Colombia’s #6 Mario Mercado in the quarters. Mercado and Acuna played an absolutely fantastic match in the semis, a back and forth excellent display of shot making and cliff hangers before Acuna put Mario away to earn a spot in the final.

The final was anticlimactic, especially given all the “history” between Landa and Acuna. This is a frequent matchup as of late; the two have met in the 16s four times in the last five IRT pro events, with Acuna finally taking a match from Alex in Sarasota in the last event prior to Worlds. But the final turned into a route, as Landa played like the Landa we know from 2019-20, the one who took over the #1 spot in the world. Landa wins 6,6 to take the title and make his country switch all the more meaningful.

Women’s Singles

1 Paola Longoria blew through the draw, never dropping a game and only getting stretched to double digits twice, in winning the singles title. This title is her 21st international singles title overall; 4 Worlds, 3 Pan American Games, 8 PARCs, 2 World Games, and the rest regional titles.

The gulf between Paola and the rest of the professionals playing continues to be large. The current #2, #4, #5, #6, #8 and #10 ranked players on tour were all in Guatemala … and none of them even made the final to challenge Paola. That challenger was the surprising Kelani Lawrence, who got a couple of really solid wins over fellow touring pros Carla Muñoz Montesinos, Angelica Barrios and then against her fellow teammate Rhonda Rajsich in the semis to earn her spot in the finals. There, Paola cruised 6,1 to win the title.

Rajsich had a great tourney, rebounding from a 3rd place finish in the RRs and a #15 seeding in the group stage to oust #2 overall seed Maria Jose Vargas Parada in the 16s, then crush home-town favorite Maria Renee Rodríguez in the quarters to make the semis.

Men’s Doubles
The Mexican pairing of Montoya & Mar has now won three straight Mexican national doubles titles, twice beating the presumed #1 doubles team of Daniel De La Rosa and Alvaro Beltran in the final. And now they’ve won the last two IRF competitions together, both times vanquishing the top Bolivian pair of Moscoso and Roland Keller in the final. They’re a young pairing, but they clearly are making their mark on international racquetball.
Women’s Doubles

Longoria and Samantha Salas Solis continue to add to their amazing collection of titles by cruising through the draw and topping team USA in the final 14,6. This 2021 Worlds title is their 15th international title together as a team (4 worlds, 3 Pan Am games, 7 PARCs, and one regional title), to go along with 35 pro doubles titles since 2014 and somewhere in the range of 14-15 Mexican National doubles titles. Just amazing.

Team competition.
Despite taking 3 of the 4 titles, team Mexico was pipped at the top of the team rankings on the strength of Landa’s singles win, two finals appearances and the early round upsets by two Mexican men’s singles players. Bolivia was a distant third.

This is the first time team USA has taken a combined team win since the 2014 Worlds, breaking a streak of 7 straight team wins by Mexico.

Thanks for all the streaming on the weekend, especially from the IRTlive broadcasting team Dean DeAngelo Baer, !Gary Ga Mazaroff, and Pablo Fajre.

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

Next up?
Per our handy master racquetball calendar …
https://docs.google.com/…/1V6OTid6rZ356voXVkoV2sN7KMMb…/

  • IRF World Juniors has already started and overlapped with the end of Worlds in Guatemala City; that tournament will run through the weekend.
  • Next weekend, the LPRT heads to my old stomping grounds in Severna Park for the last pro event of the season.
  • There’s also a lower-tier IRT event in Atlanta the weekend of the 12th.
  • then, two fun events for the 12/19 weekend: one is the return of racquetball to the outdoor courts in Hollywood Florida, the other is Court Wars, hosted by the Manillas and featuring a number of compelling matches, including a rematch of the World men’s singles final.

IRF Worlds Knockout Draw Preview

Acuna with the big upset in the RRs. Photo US Open 2019 Kevin Savory


XX World Racquetball Championships Guatemala 2021


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:
Men’s Singles:
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.
    Semis:
  • 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.

Men’s doubles:
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.

Women’s Doubles:
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.

IRF Worlds Round Robin Preview

Landa is the #1 men’s seed at the IRF Worlds. Photo US Open 2019, Photographer Kevin Savory


Welcome to the 2021 IRF World Championships, the 20th iteration of this tournament, one year delayed and oft-moved, but now upon us.
Draws are available from https://www.internationalracquetball.com/ , as the IRF continues to not use R2sports to run its events.
The format features several days of round robins with preliminary seeding done by virtue of the Country, not the individual player, who then compete for the actual seeding that’s done for the knockout stages. So, while RR losses are not fatal, they are impactful.
There’s a number of curious decisions by players who are here not to play singles versus doubles, especially since this tournament is a qualifier directly into the World Games event next summer. There’s also some interesting absences that we’ll note along the way.
Singles RRs to look for. Here’s some matches that look compelling in the early stages:

  • #1 Alex Landa vs #15 Felipe Camacho; these long-time IRT buddies are drawn into the same RR group.
  • #2 Rodrigo Montoya Solis vs #13 Andres Acuña; these two IRT regulars are neck and neck in the IRT standings, and Acuna is coming off of a big upset of Landa at the last pro event. Montoya has missed a number of IRT events lately but is here and always flourishes at international events, where he has structure and coaching resources.
  • #4 Andree Parrilla vs #18 Diego Garcia Quispe; so, Garcia was a junior international champion for his home country of Bolivia before switching allegiances, now playing for Argentina. He briefly played on the IRT before switching and impressed those who saw him; he’s a dark horse here.
  • #8 Set Cubillos Ruiz vs #22 Javier Martinez: both these players have been frequent participants on the IRT lately, and they get an interesting group here that includes Luis Aguilar, who surprisingly represents Bolivian here instead of one of several other more accomplished players.

Interesting omissions here.

I generally don’t like to dwell on who is NOT at an event, instead wanting to focus on who is there, but it is definitely curious who is in Guatemala from an international perspective. Reigning US national champ Rocky Carson bowed out due to Covid quarantine concerns; we knew this earlier and it costs him a shot at next year’s World Games. Curiously, Canada’s reigning national champ and #3 player on tour Samuel Murray has chosen only to play doubles here. Bolivia’s #2 singles player is Luis Aguilar … and not the national finalist Carlos Keller Vargas or regular IRT touring player Kadim Carrasco or even someone like MoMo Zelada, who competed in Bolivian nationals this past summer. Odd. Lastly, the #2 Colombian is not someone like Sebastian Franco or Eduardo Garay Rodriguez or even someone like Alejandro Herrera Azcarate, who continues to play at a high level. Lastly we’re missing delegations from places like Venezuela, Honduras, and Cuba, who normally would be present and have players playing. Hopefully we get back to normal sooner than later.


Women’s Singles RR to watch for:

  • #12 Micaela Meneses Cuellar versus Maria Pazita Muñoz Albornoz; an interesting matchup between the up-and-coming Meneses and the veteran pro Munoz. Meneses is representing Bolivia in both adult and juniors here.
  • #2 Maria Jose Vargas Parada vs #11 Kelani Lawrence: Lawrence has played Vargas tough before in the pros and this will be a good early test.
  • #3 Samantha Salas Solis versus #10 Angelica Barrios; the drastically underseeded Barrios will look to top this group by taking out its top seed Salas.
  • All 6 matches in the women’s group D will be compelling, as it features three LPRT regulars in Natalia Mendez Erlwein, Rhonda Rajsich, Amaya Cris, as well as Ireland’s #1 Aisling Hickey, who has really impressed in the last couple of LPRT events. I sense some upsets in this group, especially since Rhonda relishes international competition.

On the women’s side, also some interesting choices. Reigning Canada national champ Frederique Lambert choses only to play singles. Chile’s Carla Muñoz Montesinos is ridiculously underseeded at #17 but has a great chance to win her group. Colombia is not represented by Adriana Riveros for the first time in years, but also could have had Brenda Laime Jalil in the mix. Bolivia is represented by Meneses instead of Yazmine Sabja Aliss, who bowed out last minute (though I believe Meneses earned her spot at National singles by making the final against Barrios). We’re missing the top female Costa Ricans like the dangerous Maricruz Ortiz and @melania sauma (who is in college and might not be able to miss this much time).


Doubles preview: Because of the compactness of the draw, the doubles on both sides should be amazing. I especially look forward to these Doubles RR matches:

  • Mar/Montoya versus Wer/Galicia; one of the top doubles teams in the world gets its first test against two battle-tested Guatemalans.
  • Mercado/Gomez versus Manzuri/Garcia: two Bolivian natives now playing for new countries face off.
  • Murray/Iwaasa versus Moscoso/Keller: wow, great first rounder for both teams.
  • Longoria/Salas versus Martinez/MRR: the #1 women’s doubles team faces off against the Guatemalans, who have played together forever and are a formidable veteran team.
  • Rajsich/Manilla vs Lambert/Iwaasa: two former top LPRT players anchoring USA vs Canada.
  • Rajsich/Manilla vs Mendez/Centellas: another great matchup of four top LPRT pros.
  • Mendez/Centellas vs Lambert/Iwaasa: the last of three great RRs from this group of death.
  • Barrios/Meneses vs Amaya/Riquelme; four LPRT regulars face off.

Looking forward to the matches! Streaming announcements to come.