2022 IRT Wintergreen Classic Wrap-Up

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

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

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


Lets review the notable matches in the Singles draw.

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

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

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

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

Men’s Open Singles review

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

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

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

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

Men’s Open Doubles review

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

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

Mixed Open Draw

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

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

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

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

Next up?

Per our handy master racquetball calendar …

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


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2022 Wintergreen Classic Preview

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

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

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

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

IRT Pro Singles

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

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

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

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

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

Men’s Open doubles

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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State of the IRT: things to look for in 2022

Can Portillo continue his climb in the rankings? Photo US Open 2019, Photographer Kevin Savory

We published the LPRT” version of this post earlier this week. Now here’s the same post for the MEn’s pros.

Lets take a look forward at what may come on the pro tour in 2022.

Top 10 players right now:

#1 Daniel De La Rosa had a 2022 to remember; he won his first US Open, and he secured his first pro year end title. He ends the season with a massive lead atop the rankings (more than 900 points), thanks to winning three of the year’s six events and making the final of another. He finishes the season 20-3; all 3 losses were in tiebreakers. In fact, the last time he lost in two was all the way back in January of 2020, a 9 & 10 loss to Kane in the final of the 2020 Longhorn Open. He’s playing consistent, thoughtful racquetball, controlling the power players he faces and out-playing the tacticians on tour. It seems like we’re entering a new era on tour, given that DLR is 28 and many of his long-time rivals are in their mid 30s or older. Unless a certain Texan returns to tour, I see no one in the immediate horizon who can challenge DLR for the top.

#2 Alex Landa somehow remains ranked #2 on tour despite an (for his standards) awful 2021 on tour. He failed to make a single final this season, and took uncharacteristic losses to players like Bredenbeck, Acuna, and Mercado. No offense to these players, but they’re not multi-time tournament winners. 2022 will see Landa’s ranking dip and quickly, but he just had a career win at the Worlds, where he looked like his old dominant self, so perhaps he can build on that victory and rebound. Working in his favor will be the points expiration battle; he’ll be defending lesser points and has a great opportunity to replace poor 2021 results with better 2022 results as the year moves on. His biggest issue is health; he’s been battling a back issue for months and needs to get healthy.

#3 Samuel Murray started 2021 with an unbelievable win in Atlanta, taking out four players who I believe ranked him in the world pecking order to win his first title. He’s been hit or miss since, with a couple of curious losses (twice to Keller, once to Franco), and then the even more curious decision not to play singles at Worlds. He sits at #3 now, but his points lead is perilous and he’ll lose a ton of points once his January 2021 grand slam expires. He may quickly slip in to the 5-8 range and will have to fight to get back to the top 4.

#4 Andree Parrilla has completely rebounded from his awful spell in early 2020, where he lost in the round of 16 in four straight tournaments before Covid shut things down. He has been a model of consistency on tour this year, with 3 semis and 3 quarters to his name. His big challenge will be to fend off the players right behind him on tour (specifically his former doubles partner Portillo) to maintain the status quo while trying to get big wins to make more finals.

#5 Lalo Portillo is the busiest player on the planet, somehow fitting in 18 tournaments in the last two years with some players struggled to do half that. It has led him to ascend to #5 on tour, and he seems set to move forward. He’s done a great job of holding serve against lower-ranked players (with the exception of a 16s loss to Manilla in Arizona), and has gotten a ton of wins over higher ranked players (he’s topped Landa, Parrilla and De La Rosa this year). By the end of next year he may be DLR’s main challenger to the title.

#6 Kane Waselenchuk is, of course, the biggest question mark on tour. He has played just one singles draw since March of 2020, and in that one tournament he inexplicably retired due to a “disagreement” with the tour that, frankly, should have been dealt with after the tournament was completed. In his long-winded interview to explain what happened, he stated he was taking some time off. How much time off? Will he play again? Will he only play the US Open, a title he most covets? Whatever happens, he’s set to plummet in the rankings, and by the end of March may be buried in the 20s unless he plays more events.

#7 Conrrado Moscoso remains an interesting player to predict. He entered four pro events this year; he made the final of three of them, winning in Sarasota to finish the season. But he’s lost his edge; DLR has topped him the last two times they’ve played and he took an inexplicable loss to Keller at the US Open (paving the way for Carlos’ run to the finals). He continues, amazingly, to foot fault about every third drive serve attempt, a maddening mechanics flaw that a world class player should have addressed two years ago. Where does he go from here? Well, he needs to play every event if he wants to be #1. But traveling from Bolivia for every event is a tall order. Does he (and his home country) covet international titles more than pro titles? Perhaps. Whenever he enters an event, he’s a favorite to make the final, and if he can keep his focus he’s got a great chance to win.

#8 and #11 Rocky Carson and Alvaro Beltran are now 42 and 43 respectively, and their rankings have shown that gradual slip for a couple years now. Carson made one semi final in six tries this year; two seasons ago he made the semis in all 9 of the events on tour. Beltran made the quarters or better in 9 of 10 events in the 2019-20 season; he lost in the 16s in every tournament he entered this year. Beltran readily admits he’s more interested in Doubles play right now, and we may see him cut back on touring to only play events where doubles is offered. Carson is a couple early round upsets from getting bumped from the top 8, which means one additional qualifier and an even longer road to profitability. 2022 may finally be the year these two stalwarts step back from touring.

#9 and #10 Jake Bredenbeck and Mario Mercado are worth talking about together, because they’ve played each other frequently as of late, trading wins at Worlds and at the LPRT Xmas event in Maryland. Both are players on the rise and are getting good wins lately. In 2021, Jake has topped Landa, Parrilla, Montoya, Mercado, Franco and Keller, all players he would have struggled with a couple years ago. Meanwhile, Mercado had an astounding Arizona Open for his first title, topping Beltran, Landa, Carson and DLR in order. Both players will look to stay consistent and push their way into the top 8 by mid-2022.

Notables in the Teens

#12 Carlos Keller Vargas toured for the entire season 2019-20, losing in the 16s seven times and the 32s twice. I figured, well that’s about as good of an indicator of talent level as any, and I figured that’d be the end of his full time touring. But I was wrong; in 2021 he made a quarter, a semi and a final (at the US Open), getting solid wins against players like Murray (twice), Mercado, and Moscoso.

#13 @Sebastian Franco just had a surgical procedure done in his home country of Colombia and is set to miss some time, further dropping him in the rankings. Can he get back to the top 10 or is his days of full time touring complete?

#14 Adam Manilla remains an enigma on tour, getting amazing wins but then following them up with curious losses. He has wins over the likes of Parrilla, Mercado, Mar, and Portillo. But he’s struggled to dominate against his fellow mid-teens ranked players, splitting recently with the likes of Acuna (whom he played three events in a row in the 16/17 round). He needs to consistently make more quarters to have a shot at the top 10.

#16 Andres Acuña, in this observer’s opinion, has added some serious velocity as of late. He looked like he was really hitting for power in Guatemala, and the results show it. He made the finals of Worlds, with wins over Montoya and Mercado along the way. In the last pro stop, he vanquished his long-time rival Landa to advance to the quarters. I feel he’s on the rise, and will push for the top 10 by the end of 2022. His biggest issue is his seeding: #16 means he’s playing into a top 2-3 seed at every event, and advancing means a huge upset is required.

#17 Rodrigo Montoya Solis and #20 Javier Mar are now, together, inarguably the best doubles team in the world. They’ve topped DLR/Beltran in the last two Mexican Nationals finals, they’re the reigning World and Pan Am Games champions, and they’re getting to the point where they may simply choose to focus on doubles moreso than singles. In the last pro event, Mar did not even bother to enter singles. Montoya, despite all his power and skill on the court, cannot seem to put it all together consistently enough to make a legitimate top 10 push. But, he’s also been nursing some injuries lately; he forfeited out of the US Open and didn’t play for two months until Worlds. So, maybe we’ll see what happens next. When healthy and focused, Montoya is one of the best 5-6 players in the world.

Notables in the 20s and beyond

– #21 and #22 Alan Natera Chavez and Javier Estrada, the Chihuahua pair of hard hitters, remain wild cards on tour. Estrada has shown he has what it takes to win, taking out a slew of top players to win the Black Gold cup on home soil two years ago. But he has not parlayed that into any success on tour for some reason.

– #28 MoMo Zelada is becoming more of a fixture on tour, thanks to his promotion of his new brand Formulaflow. Look for him to move up in the rankings since he’ll be a constant presence at events and he has the ability to make main draws.

#32 Erick Trujillo has blown onto the scene with an impressive tournament in Chicago (where he beat Martinez, Mar and Collins), and then played Landa tough in Minneapolis. He then cruised through the Worlds 18U draw, winning the gold medal. He can play on tour, right now, and if he plays a full 2022 i have no doubt he’d be in the mid teens by year’s end.

#52 Rodrigo Rodriguez is a recent Juniors grad who got some impressive wins in 2021. At the US Open he topped Pruitt and Zelada, then in Arizona he handled Diaz and Camacho . In his eventual losses to top8 pros, he pressed both Parrilla and Franco before losing. Like Trujillo above him, this is a player who could easily push his way into the high 20s or low teens with a full year on tour.

Predicted 2022 final top 10

1. DLR
2. Portillo
3. Parrilla
4. Landa
5. Murray
6. Moscoso
7. Jake
8. Mercado
9. Keller
10. Acuna


Looking forward to the new year and new season!
International Racquetball Tour

IRT Sarasota Open re-cap

Big win for Moscoso in pro singles this weekend. Photo unk from Bolivian IRIS

Congrats to your winners on the weekend:

  • Singles: Conrrado Moscoso
  • Doubles; Rocky Carson & Lalo Portillo

R2 Sports App home page for event: https://www.r2sports.com/website/event-website.asp?TID=37424

Lets review the notable matches in the Singles draw.

Singles Match report in the PRS database: http://rball.pro/14339C

In the 128s and 64s, here was some of the notable results for me:

  • 18U New Yorker Josh Shea took out Canadian-turned-Chilean Pedro Castro, but then couldn’t overcome #17 Sam Bredenbeck, falling 11-9 in the 64s.
  • Floridian Alex zamudio got a solid win over Bolivian Roland Keller in the first round before falling in a tiebreaker to another Bolivian in Kadim Carrasco.
  • Little known Bolivian Esteban Reque Zambrana took out two IRT regulars in Juan Pablo Rodriguez Castrillon and Scott McClellan to move into the round of 32.
  • Erick Trujillo had flight issues unfortunately, which gave Guatemalan Javier Martinez a walk-over into the 32s.
  • Top Florida player @Nolsen Jimenez took out two Guatemalan regulars in Edwin Galicia and Christian Wer to move into the 32s.

– Long-time Costa Rican touring pro Felipe Camacho took out Guatemalan Geovani Mendoza to earn a spot in the 32s.

In the 32s:

  • In the always close #16/#17 match, Sebastian Fernandez was stretched to a tiebreaker by the younger Bredenbeck brother before advancing.
  • Forced down into the round of 32, #9 Alvaro Beltran played a very tight match over Guatemala’s @Juan Jose Salvatierra, advancing 13,14.
  • #12 Sebastian Franco advanced past an improving Erick Cuevas 8,12.
  • #14 Eduardo Garay Rodriguez was really pushed to the limit by Carrasco, advancing 11-8 in the breaker.
  • #11 Carlos Keller Vargas really had to dig deep to advance past Guatemalan #1 Martinez, splitting the first two games close 14 and 13 before breaking away in the tie-breaker.

– Floridian Jimenez stayed close with last week’s winner Mario Mercado, losing 13,13 to the IRT touring pro

In the 16s:

  • #1 Daniel De La Rosa made quick work of #16 Fernandez, as compared to last week.
  • #8 Jake Bredenbeck made even quicker work of Beltran, crushing the veteran Mexican 6,3
  • #5 Lalo Portillo99 dominated #12 Franco 11,0 to move on.
  • #4 Andree Parrilla gave little room for the red-hot Adam Manilla to operate, advancing 11,3.
  • #3 Samuel Murray staved off a late game two challenge from Garay to move on 3,14.
  • #6 Rocky Carson made quite a statement in his win over Keller, absolutely dominating the vastly improving Keller 1,4 to move on. There might have been an injury issue here, as Keller;s doubles team forfeited later in the evening.
  • #7 Conrrado Moscoso reminded the tour of his presence, beating last weekend’s winner Mario Mercado in two very close games to move on.

– The sole upset of the round was one that’s been months in the making, as the oft-seen grudge match between #2 Alex Landa and #15 Andres Acuña finally turned in an upset. After a close game one, a seemingly disinterested Landa fell rather quickly in game two to lose 14,7. There might have been an injury involved; Landa has had a nagging back issue for months, but this party did not see any evidence of it on the court (though later in the evening the Landa/Murray doubles team forfeited due to “injury” so… maybe that was a factor). This is just he second ever quarter final for Acuna, the first being in Sept 2019.

In the Quarters

  • #8 Jake certainly made it closer than it was last week in Arizona, mounting a furious comeback in the breaker to have match point on his racquet before losing 11-10 to #1 DLR.
  • #5 Portillo got a rare win against his former doubles partner #4 Parrilla, cruising to an 11,6 win.
  • #3 Murray cruised past #6 Carson 13,8 to move into the semis.

– #7 Moscoso won an international tinged matchup against Costa Rican #1 Acuna in two to move closer to the finals.

In the Semis

  • #5 Portillo topped #1 DLR in an 11-10 thriller to advance to his 2nd ever finals. The two were locked in a tight tiebreaker when DLR jumped to a 10-7 lead, but Lalo got the serve back and then ran out the match. Great comeback and a career win.
  • #7 Moscoso took care of business in an 11-8 tiebreaker huge comeback over Murray to make the final.

In the Finals, we got the close match that was expected and hoped for, given two underdogs both fighting for something they rarely have a chance at. The two players played a great , entertaining match; the tiebreaker was awesome, featuring some really great rallies back and forth. Moscoso found a little strategic tweak on his serve towards the end of the breaker and it seemed to make the difference, as he broke away for an 11-9 tiebreaker win and the title. Portillo is thwarted in his attempt to get his first career win, while Moscoso adds title #2 to his resume.

Points Implications of results; i’m not entirely sure how the points are being calculated right now. But at some point the tour will have to expire points from the fall of 2019, and when they do Daniel is going to have a monstrous lead in the rankings. He has definitely sewn up the year end title, and when that becomes official nearer to Dec 31st we’ll be covering it of course.

Doubles review
Match report in the PRS database: http://rball.pro/36DE6B
There were no real surprises in the 16s, as seeds held. The real fun started in the quarter finals, where all four top seeds fell.

  • #8 Parrilla/Fernandez, a newer pairing after Parrilla had played most of the last two seasons with Portilo, took out #1 DLR/Beltran 14,8. After a close game one, game two was not nearly as close as the score indicated.
  • In a projected rematch of the Bolivian national doubles final, the reigning champs Keller/Carrasco forfeited with injury to the dangerous and multi-international champion Moscoso/Keller pairing. We’re not sure which party was injured, but wonder if it was a factor in Keller’s blowout pro singles loss.
  • #6 Carson/Portillo just crushed team Zurek Construction, LLC Franco/Garay 7,3. Carson played the forehand side (a rarity for him in indoor, though he’s well accustomed to playing forehand in doubles due to his decades of outdoor experience), and Lalo is becoming a formidable doubles team.
  • #7 Mercado/Manilla, two excellent doubles players and a great lefty/righty pairing, got a walkover against Landa/Murray.
    In the wide open Semis:
  • Moscoso/Keller saved match point against in game two and then took the breaker.
  • Carson and Portillo also saved match point against, winning an 11-10 breaker.

In the final, Carson reminded everyone why he’s a top doubles player and led his team to a dominant 12,3 win for the title.

Men’s Open, other draws

It was the top 4 seeds into the semis in Men’s Open. There, Acuna topped Cuevas, while Sam Bredenbeck got a solid win over Camacho to make the final. There, Acuna took out Bredenbeck for the title. Acuna is a frequent Men’s open finalist/champion in the last few IRT events.

Thanks for all the streaming on the weekend, especially from broadcasters Dean Baer, Favio Soto, Pablo Fajre and the IRTLive crew
Thanks to the Tourney Directors X and X for putting this event on!

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

Next up?
Per our handy master racquetball calendar …

Worlds! Is happening in Guatemala in two weekends. It will be great to have the international community back in action. We’ll take a break for Thanksgiving weekend, then kick into gear for both World Adults and World Juniors in Guatemala City.


IRT Sarasota Open Preview

Moscoso is back; can he get a win? Photo US Open 2019, Photographer Kevin Savory

A quick back to back from last week’s Arizona open is this coming weekend, as the tour moves from west coast to east coast and picks up a bunch of Florida players for the 2021 IRT Sarasota Open.
This is the last event of the 2021 season … and with the IRT going to a calendar year season, this is the last chance for anyone to catch DLR for the year end title (spoiler alert: it isn’t happening; he’s got nearly a 600 point lead on Landa and his expiring 2019 points are miniscule).
Anyway, 42 IRT players are entered into the singles draw, and there’s a full doubles draw here as well, so lets preview the matches to watch for. Furthermore, with Sarasota’s proximity to Worlds (just a couple weeks
away), this tourney has a ton of international players getting in last minute practice ahead of Guatemala. The full Guatemalan team is here (the Martinez brothers, Mendoza, Salvatierra, Wer, Galicia and Julian Cruz), the Chilean representatives are here (Castro, Gatica and Salgado), and the full Bolivian team is here (Moscoso, both Kellers, Carrasco and Reque). So we should see some great international matchups this weekend.
The seeds did not appreciably change from last weekend, so we’re set to see a lot of the same potential matchups that we saw last week.
In the 128s:

  • 18U up and comer Josh Shea comes down from NY and gets a shot at a long-time Canadian international vet Pedro Castro, recently repatrioted to represent Chile.
  • Marylander Dylan Pruitt gets a challenge against another Chilean, Rafa Gatica.
  • An intriguing matchup between two youngsters in Colombian Juan Pablo Rodriguez Castrillon and Bolivian Esteban Reque Zambrana.
  • The two Martinez’ from Guatemala have to play first round.
  • Floridian Matt Fontana takes on Guatemalan Geovani Mendoza for a shot at Costa Rican veteran IRT player Felipe Camacho.
    In the 64s:
  • Sam Bredenbeck v Josh Shea could be a fun match of Americans who might be evenly matched.
  • Bolivian vet Kadim Carrasco could face off against top Florida player Alex zamudio.
  • Mexican 18U champ Erick Trujillo returns to action and faces the winner of the Martinez clash, likely top Guatemalan Javier Martinez.
  • Reigning Florida state champ @Nolsen Jimenez, if he can take out Guatemalan veteran Edwin Galicia in the first round, projects to face another Guatemalan vet in Christian Wer.
    Projecting 32s:
  • Sebastian Fernandez is set to face the Bredenbeck/Shea winner
  • Eduardo Garay Rodriguez projects to face Carrasco yet again; they’ve met a couple times recently and always play a hard-hitting match.
  • The loser of the “who has to face Trujillo” lottery ticket is none other than Bolivian Carlos Keller Vargas. Really tough match-up for both players at this juncture; everyone is looking at Trujillo right now as the “next big thing” to come from Mexico, but in the meantime Keller is pushing to be “the next guy to win a tourney.”
  • The champion from last weekend Mario Mercado projects to face top Floridian Jimenez.
  • Fly all the way to Florida to play your doubles partner: Andres Acuña projects to face Camacho in the 32s.
    Looking ahead at the 16s:
  • #1 Daniel De La Rosa has to face #16 Fernandez again; he was pushed but advanced 11,13 last week.
  • #8 Jake Bredenbeck projects to face #9 Alvaro Beltran, who bowed out of last week’s singles event with an injury and more and more seems to want to transition to be mostly a doubles player.
  • #5 Lalo Portillo99 gets a winnable match against #12 Sebastian Franco, though Sebastian took out #3 Murray last week.
  • #4 Andree Parrilla gets the red-hot #13 Adam Manilla in the 16s; they met in the quarters last week and Andre needed a tiebreaker to mvoe on. Can Adam get a win?
  • #3 Samuel Murray will look to avoid another one-and-done, this time against Garay.
  • #6 Rocky Carson will not like his chances here; he is set to face the winner of Keller/Trujillo. Keller should move on from the 32s, and should represent a difficult challenge for Rocky here. Upset watch.
  • #7 Conrrado Moscoso, who bowed out of Arizona last minute, is back in action here and is set to face none other than last week’s winner in Mercado. Tough break for Mercado, who has not had success against Conrrado lately.
  • #2 Alex Landa , once again, faces Acuna in the 16s. These guys must be tired of playing each other. Landa needed a breaker last week to advance and may need another one here.
    Projecting the quarters:
  • #1 DLR blasted #8 Jake last weekend; can Jake make more of a match here?
  • #4/5 Parrilla/Portillo has been close lately; can Lalo push through and get a signature win?
  • The #3 v #6 quarter could just as easily be #10 v #11, but if its Murray/Carson I like the veteran over the Canadian.
    In reality i’m thinking it will be Murray vs Keller, and I like Keller.
  • #2 Landa vs #7 Moscoso; Landa has been struggling lately, while Moscoso is looking for a win. I see Moscoso dominating and moving on here.
  • #1 DLR over #4 Parrilla; like I said last week, these two play basically the same game… but Daniel is much better at it.
  • #7 Moscoso over #11 Keller; yes I know Keller shocked Moscoso in Minneapolis; he won’t get shocked again.

– #7 Moscoso finishes the season win a win over DLR, who might not entirely care about this title once he figures out he’s sewn up the year end #1.

A great doubles draw is set for Sarasota: 15 teams and a ton of talent.
The #1 seeds DLR/Beltran have their hands full; they project to face a tough all-mexican team of Parrilla/Fernandez in the quarters, then a top Bolivian team in the semis (whoever survives teh rematch of the Bolivian national
doubles final from earlier this year).
From the bottom half, some new teams are set to compete with top veteran doubles players Carson and Mercado playing with Portillo and Manilla respectively. But they’ll be facing against a very good #2 team of Landa/Murray.

In the end, i’m predicting a 1 v 2 final, with the top seeds winning.

Arizona Open IRT Re-cap

Mercado with his first ever IRT title! Photo from 3WB in 2020 courtesy of Steve Fitzsimmons

(see other re-cap for LPRT and Mixed Doubles review coming tomorrow).
Congrats to your Men’s winners on the weekend:

  • IRT Singles: Mario Mercado
  • Open Singles: Alan Natera
  • Open Doubles; Sebastian Fernandez/Rodrigo Rodriguez
    Mario Mercado earns his first ever IRT win, and becomes the 42nd player ever to win a tier 1 IRT event. He becomes the second player representing Colombia (after Sebastian Franco), and the second native Bolivian (Conrrado Moscoso) to take a title on tour. Bravo!
  • R2 Sports App home page for event: https://www.r2sports.com/website/event-website.asp?TID=37835

Lets review the notable matches in the Singles draw.

Singles Match report in the PRS database: http://rball.pro/EE9595

In the 128s and 64s:

  • Gerhardt and Brennen Jennings had the expected close match in the 128s, with the Arizonian advancing 11,13 before getting dominated in the 64s by regular touring pro Alan Natera Chavez.
  • Rodrigo Rodriguez got a great win over former IRT touring pro Jose Diaz 11-8 in the breaker.
  • Arizonian intercollegiate player Ben Baron got a solid win over Californian Majeed Shahin.
  • Roland Keller took out “the Ref” Scott McClellan in a breaker in one of his rare singles appearances.
  • Guatemalan Javier Martinez had to go breaker to top SoCal’s Joel Adler.
    In the 64s:
  • Edwin Galicia topped his fellow Guatemalan Juan Salvatierra to advance into the 32s.
  • Rodriguez got his second solid win in a row over veteran IRT competition, topping Costa Rican’ #2 Felipe Camacho in a tiebreaker. Excellent showing so far by the lefty Mexican.
  • Utah’s Anthony Martin squeaked by Bolivian Roland Keller in an 11-10 tiebreaker
  • #18 seed Sam Bredenbeck went the distance to get by Guatemala’s Martinez 11-8 in the breaker.

In the 32s, two upsets by seeds and some other interesting results:

  • #16/#17 featured two Mexican players who last met in 2020 in Sebastian Fernandez and Alan Natera. Fernandez played his typical athletic and smooth game and controlled the match throughout,
  • #20 Kadim Carrasco pulled off one of his better career wins, upsetting #13 Eduardo Garay Rodriguez in a breaker. Solid win to put Carrasco into the main draw for just the second time in his career.
  • #14 Sebastian Franco was played tough by #19 Rodriguez, but was able to move on 7,12.
  • Maryland’s MoMo Zelada got the upset by seed over #11 Thomas Carter, going breaker to move on.

In the 16s, several upsets and several strong performances.

  • #1 Daniel De La Rosa was really pressed by #16 Fernandez, who was hitting the ball with significant pace but didn’t quite make all the right decisions on the court, which DLR took advantage of to win a tight 13,11 match. Fernandez was in control in game one but DLR ran off 10 straight points to win it, then stuck ahead most of game 2 to move on.
  • In a battle between the two losing finalists in the last two IRT events, Minnesotan Jake Bredenbeck came to play and moved past #9 Carlos Keller Vargas 12,7 to get a repeat shot at DLR.
  • #12 Adam Manilla is on absolute fire this weekend, and hot on the heels of his upset win in mixed doubles he took an 11-9 win over #5 Lalo Portillo. Manilla is showing the same kind of form he had when he raced to the semis at the 2020 Longhorn Open as a #19 seed.
  • #4 Andree Parrilla handled #20 Carrasco to move on.
  • The round’s biggest upset was the #3 seed Samuel Murray falling at this juncture to long-time IRT vet Franco. An all-around disappointing event for Big Canada, losing in the 1st round as a top seed with high expectations.
  • #6 Rocky Carson blitzed the upset-minded Zelada 0,6 to have his easiest opener in some time on tour.
  • #10 Mario Mercado was the benefactor of a hobbled #7 Alvaro Beltran, who retired in the second set to save himself for doubles.
  • In the latest version of the leading IRT grudge match, #2 Alex Landa and #15 Andres Acuña faced off at this juncture yet again. Acuna cruised to a game one win, but Landa turned the tide to take the breaker. Acuna seems like he’s ready to make a big move, but just needs to get out of that #15-18 range where he constantly plays into one of the two top guys. If that happens, look out because he’s playing solid ball.

In the Quarters

  • #1 DLR dominated #8 Bredenbeck 9,2 to move into the semis. This is a stark contrast in performance from the last time the tour was in DLR’s home state, when he suffered a shock round of 16 loss in Oct 2019.
  • #4 Parrilla held off the upset-minded Manilla, but needed a breaker to do it. After getting dominated in the first game, Parrilla made adjustments and cruised to win the next two games.
  • #6 Carson stayed unbeaten for his career against Franco, moving past the Colombian with relative ease after a close game one 13,6.
  • In the shock of the singles tourney so far, #2 Landa was destroyed by #10 Mercado 5,9. Mercado has beaten Landa in the past; in fact the last time they played professionally was a Mercado win, and Mario has been playing really solid ball lately, but 5,9 loss by the #2 player in the world is a shock. Landa has not made the finals of an IRT event now in more than 2 years.

In the Semis

  • DLR continues to look like a man on a mission, blasting #4 Parrilla 7,2 to move into the final. DLR is playing with such amazing confidence that it seems hard to fathom him taking a loss right now.
  • Mercado made his third career pro final, and got his first ever win over Rocky, with an 11-10 thriller Saturday night.

  • In the Finals, It looked like DLR was going to take his 4th successive tourney and really put a dominant stamp on this season … but then after cruising to a first game win, Mercado figured something out. He took a tight game two then ran away with the tiebreaker, giving DLR a 11-0 donut to take the title.

Points Implications of results
It remains to be seen; if the IRT decides to “catch up” on points expiration, then three tourneys from Oct/Nov 2019 will come off the books. If that happens, then DLR will take an absolutely commanding lead atop the IRT rankings table.
Murray and Landa would flip spots, giving Sam his highest ever ranking at #3. Jake and Mario would rise to #7 and 8 respectively, while Moscoso would tumble out of the top 10.
But, this is all speculation until we see the updated rankings.

Men’s Open Singles review

As generally happens with big IRT draws … the open singles was also huge and well competed. 34 players entered. On the top, Sam Bredenbeck took advantage of Acuna’s withdrawal (he’s won the last few Open singles draws at IRT events) to cruise to the final with wins over Anthony Martin, Julius Ellis, and Felipe Camacho. On the bottom, Alan Natera took a walkover against Mercado (who forfeited the Open semis to focus on the IRT final), then beat Sam in the final 12,13 to win the Open title.

Men’s Open Doubles review
It wasn’t a sanctioned/ official IRT pro doubles draw, but 19 teams competed in it anyway, including a ton of pro players, Here’s a quick recap:

  • From the top-side of the draw, up and coming Mexican doubles pair Fernandez/Rodriguez advanced to the final by topping two top Arizona pairs of players (including Genhardt and @charlie stadler in the quarters) and the top Guatemalan pair of Salvatierra/Martinez in the semis.
  • From the bottom-side of the draw, top doubles player Diaz playing with NorCal’s Will Reynolds cruised to the final with little trouble.
  • In the final…Fernandez/Rodriguez took the title and took the next step in perhaps being the next big Mexican doubles team to watch out for.

Thanks for all the streaming on the weekend, especially from broadcasters Dean Baer, Favio Soto, Pablo Fajre and the IRTLive crew
Thanks to the Tourney Director Jim Winterton for putting this event on!

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

Next up?
Per our handy master racquetball calendar …

IRT is in Sarasota next weekend for a back to back. Meanwhile the LPRT heads to Chicago. So both tours in action; it will be a great weekend.


Arizona Open IRT Singles Preview

Carson has a chance to get back to the finals this weekend. Photo Portland 2019 via Kevin Savory

Here’s part 2 of the previews for this weekend: the IRT draw.
We have a a full Men’s pro draw (with 45 players), so get ready for some great racquetball this weekend. Instead of a men’s pro doubles draw, we have big money in mixed doubles but still a huge Men’s Open doubles draw (38 teams), so we’ll run through that as well.

R2 Sports App link: https://www.r2sports.com/website/event-website.asp?TID=37835

top-20 players missing on the men’s side: A last minute withdrawal from #6 Moscoso caused some last minute draw adjustments. He misses the event along with 3 other top 20 players: #2 Waselenchuk, #17 Montoya and #18 Mar.

Here’s a preview of qualifying, with matches to watch for:

In the round of 128:

  • #32/#33: A very interesting first rounder between Texan Brennen Jennings and Arizonian Thomas Gerhardt. Gerhardt plays a ton of outdoor, but he’s also got a ton of indoor experience. This should be an intriguing match to follow.
  • #44 @Julius Ellis, son of IRT legend John Ellis, makes his pro debut on the heels of making the US junior national 18U final earlier this year. He faces Colombian veteran Set Cubillos Ruiz in an fun first rounder.
  • Former touring pro and 209-veteran Jose Diaz returns to the IRT for the first time since Nov 2019. He faces off against a dangerous up-and-coming lefty from Mexico Rodrigo Rodríguez.
  • 18U player Cody Elkins makes his pro debut here as well, and he gets long-time IRT player from Maryland MoMo Zelada for his troubles.
  • #23 Scott McClellan faces off against an interesting competitor in Bolivian Roland Keller, who is a doubles specialist and normally doesn’t play singles

Projecting the round of 64: if my predictions go as I think they will, here’s some interesting possible round of 64:

  • we might see an all-Guatemala grudge match between @Juan Salvatierra and Edwin Galicia for a shot at the main draw.
  • #19 @Felipe Camacho faces the winner of Diaz/Rodriguez in what could be a fun match.
  • An all-south American possibility between Kadim Carrasco and team Zurek’s Juan Pablo Rodriguez Castrillon is in the offing.
  • #18 Sam Bredenbeck will be pushed by Guatemalan Javier Martinez.

Projecting the 32s: here’s some possible matchups for a shot at the main draw.

  • #16/#17; thanks to two top10 players missing, we finally get a different 16/17 match from the past couple of events. This time Sebastian Fernandez is back to being “stuck” at #16, and he projects to play #17 Alan Natera Chavez in a battle of Mexicans.
  • Adam Manilla has gotten bumped up to #12 and likely faces Colombian veteran Cubillos for a shot at the main draw.
  • Eduardo Garay Rodriguez projects to face off against Bolivian veteran Carrasco, if he can get by the young Rodriguez.
  • An old-school IRT veteran matchup between Sebastian Franco and Jose Diaz projects in the #14/#19 spot.
  • #11 Thomas Carter will have his hands full to hold off an upset by #22 Zelada.
  • Lastly, #15 Andres Acuña gets a new match up in the round of 32 and projects to face the younger Bredenbeck brother.

round of 16: The first round will have some fun ones

  • #1 Daniel De La Rosa gets just his second ever #1 overall seed in an IRT event (first one was in march of 2018) having ascended to the #1 spot on tour after the US Open. He projects to face the winner of Patata and Natera, not the easiest opener he could have hoped for.
  • #8/#9 features two guys who have both been trending up this year in Carlos Keller Vargas and Jake Bredenbeck. Both players made pro finals in the past two events, and now they face off in the 16s. They’ve played twice, with Jake topping Carlos at the 2015 PARC and Keller topping Jake at the 2019 Iris open. I’m favoring Keller here.
  • #5 Lalo Portillo should cruise by Manilla here.
  • #4 Andree Parrilla will handle Garay’s pace and advance.
  • #3 Samuel Murray projects to face Sebastian Franco in the 16s again; these two met at the US Open at this juncture and Murray dominated.
  • #6 Rocky Carson will be favored to move on against the winner of Zelada/Carter.
  • #7 Alvaro Beltran, who I know hates it when i pick against him in these writings, has his hands full with #10 Mario Mercado. These two met in Denver and Mercado blitzed Alvaro 12,6 to move on. I’m predicting the upset here as well.
  • #2 Alex Landa is set to face none other than Acuna. Again. They played at this juncture in both Denver and Chicago earlier this year and there’s famously history here. These two have set to play a money match later this year and promotional videos have laid out all the past conflicts. Will this match prove to add another chapter to their story?

Projected Qtrs:

  • #1 DLR over #8 Keller. A rematch of the final of the US open happens two rounds earlier in Arizona, with Keller getting another shot at Daniel. DLR knows the game plan and will stick to it at his “home” tournament.
  • #4 Parrilla over his doubles partner #5 Lalo. The last time they played was at Mexican Nationals, a tie-breaker win for Andree. The gap between these two is closing though; and the last time they played professionally was a Lalo win. I expect a close breaker here, but like the way Andree has been playing and favor him to move on.
  • #6 Carson over #3 Murray. Carson is 11-0 lifetime over Murray, is not playing any doubles this weekend, and should have a somewhat easier time of it to get to the quarters. I like his chances here.
  • #2 Landa over #10 Mercado. Mercado can beat Landa; in fact the last time they played was a Mercado tight 2-game win over Landa. So this is no gimme for Alejandro. The question will be; is Alex healthy? He’s struggled with some physical issues lately, and has struggled to live up to his seeding for more than a year now.

  • Semis:
  • DLR over Parrilla. I think Daniel still has Andree’s number. They both play a similar style … Daniel just does it better right now.
  • Carson over Landa. Landa has not made a pro final since March 2020, the last event before Covid19 shut down. And even though Landa has a number of wins over Rocky in his career, he’s lost the last two times they played (both times for a USA national title). Landa is doing double duty this weekend as the #1 seed in Mixed, and I suspect it might just be enough of a toll on him physically to cost him in singles.

  • Finals;
  • DLR over Carson. An old-school meeting: these two have played no less than 31 times (29 on the IRT). Carson leads professionally 17-12 (19-12 including two IRF wins). But DLR has won 5 out of the last 7 times, dating to january 2018, sometimes impressively so. This could be a statement win for DLR, vanquishing a long-time rival when the stakes are highest.

Open Doubles review
Not an official “IRT pro doubles” draw, but there’s a massive Open doubles draw with a number of top team. here’s a quick preview:
From the top half, I like #1 Franco/Garay to top the young mexican lefty-righty team of Fernandez/Rodriguez in one semi. From the bottom half I’ll go chalk, with the #2 brother/brother Keller team topping #3 Diaz and Will reynolds.In the final, its Colombia over Bolivia, as Garay/Franco overpower the Kellers.

Look for Streaming in the regular places; follow the IRT on facebook and sign up to get notifications when they go Live.
Look for Dean DeAngelo Baer, Favio Soto, Pablo Fajre and the IRTLive crew all weekend on the mike, calling the shots!
Thanks to the Tourney Director Jim Winterton and to Arizona State for putting this event on!
Reminder to Players! Please like and follow this page so that when I tag you, you see it. Facebook will only retain tags of people that like/follow a page, which means lots of you are not getting the notoriety of getting tagged and noticed on FB. If your name is here and it isn’t tagged … it probably means I attempted to tag you but FB stripped it.
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2021 Spooky Splatober Open IRT Tier 4 Recap

Carter wins the battle of the pro lefties in Louisiana. Photo 2018 US Open Kevin Savory

There was an IRT tier 4 event held this past weekend at the University of Louisiana – Monroe (school mascot: the Warhawks) with a couple of touring pros popping in. Here’s a quick recap of the two Pro draws.

r2sports link: https://www.r2sports.com/website/event-website.asp?TID=37833

The pro singles had a 12-man bracket, headlined by the top 2 seeds Thomas Carter and Robert Collins. The rest of the draw was players featuring from the southwest states of Texas, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Florida.

In the 16s:

Cole Sendry, Richard Eisemann, Paul Julbes, and Matthew Healey, advanced into the quarters.

In the Quarters

  • #1 and #2 seeds Carter and Collins cruised, but score one for the old guys as top age group players Eisemann and Julbes upset seeded competition to move into the semis. Eisemann topped #4 seed Patrick Quinlan 10,10 while Julbes beat #3 seed Kip Atwell in a breaker.
    In the Semis, the two top pros each cruised; Carter topped Texan Eisemann 5 and -1, while Collins cruised past Julbes 5,2. They setup the expected final Saturday morning.
  • In the Finals, the two lefties treated the Louisiana crowd to a great first game, taken by Collins 15-14, From there, Carter turned on the heat and blew the game wide open, giving up just 3 points the rest of the way. Final score: (14),3,0.

Doubles review
The #1 seeded team was comprised of the same two non-pro semi-finalists Eisemann/Julbes: they got a walkover in the semis to advance to the final.
On the bottom side, #2 seeded team of Carter and Raymond Flowers took two games to make the final.

In the final…Carter/Flowers won a close game one, then raced to the two game title.

Thanks for all the streaming on the weekend from those at the tournament.
Thanks to the Tourney Director Mark Thompson putting this event on!

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

Next up?
Per our handy master racquetball calendar …

Next up is the Long-Wall WOR championships in Davie Florida and the 2021 Long Island Open in NY.


25th US Open Wrap-Up

DLR wins the US Open! Photo US Open 2019, Photographer Kevin Savory

Congrats to all the winners on the weekend’s return to Minneapolis:

  • Men’s Singles: Daniel De La Rosa
  • Women’s Singles: Paola Longoria
  • Men’s Doubles: De La Rosa & Alvaro Beltran
  • Women’s Doubles: Paola Longoria and Samantha Salas Solis

    PRS Reports for the four draws:
  • Men’s Singles:http://rball.pro/E898FF
  • Men’s Doubles: http://rball.pro/DED94C
  • Women’s Singles: http://rball.pro/004952
  • Women’s Doubles:http://rball.pro/E22640

    DLR becomes just the 6th man to win one of the 25 US Open IRT titles. Longoria wins her 10th straight US Open title and 11th overall.

    DLR and Beltran win their 2nd US Open pro doubles title and their 9th pro doubles title together since Jan 2017. Longoria/Salas win their 4th US Open pro doubles title together, to go with their astounding pro doubles title total playing together of 34 since Aug 2014.

Lets do a quick recap of the main draws.

Men’s Singles: The round of 32 went relatively chalk, with just 3 upsets by seed. Adam Manilla finally got the better of Andres Acuña in their frequent 16/17 match-up, #18 Eduardo Garay Rodriguez got a walk-over against #15 seed Rodrigo Montoya Solis (who picked up a slight knock and decided to save himself for doubles), and #19 Sebastian Fernandez taking out #14 Thomas Carter in two.

Just one upset in the round of 16, but it was a huge one: #5 seed and defending finalist Conrrado Moscoso ousted by his countryman #12 Carlos Keller Vargas in two 13,5. Not even that close of a match. Keller, after touring for the entirety of the pre-covid season with little success, has suddenly become a force on tour, making a quarter, semi and (as we’ll soon see) a final in 2021.
In the quarters, two top seeds went down. Keller continued his run and took out #4 Samuel Murray in two tight games. On the bottom half, #6 Andree Parrilla took out the struggling #3 seed Alex Landa relatively easily 6,11. Landa has not lived up to his seeding basically since he ascended to #2 on tour, whether it be through injury or focus.
In the semis … well. A sh*t show for the sport. For reasons that remain unclear and unpublished as of this writing, #1 Kane Waselenchuk forfeited his singles semi final, stating in a facebook posting that he had a “disagreement” with the tour. This gives a walk-over into the final to Keller; his first pro final. On the bottom side, DLR had to battle to take out #6 Parrilla.

In the final, an excellent showing of shot-making by both players results pushed the match to a breaker, but DLR’s passion and energy won out going away with an 11-3 win.

Women’s Singles:
The LPRT draw was wide open, with upsets all up and down the bracket this weekend. Lets take a look back;

In the 32s, three upsets in one quarter, with the #5, #12 and #13 seeded players taken out early. Perhaps the biggest shock was the loss by #5 Montse Mejia, who won the Kansas City grand slam and seemed like a safe bet for the semis here, taken out by American Erika Manilla in a tie-breaker. Manilla, a 23-yr old part-time player over the past few years, had never advanced past the round of 32 in a pro draw (!!) but took out three higher-ranked players in Minneapolis, including two recent Tier-1 tourney winners, to make the semis. Just an amazing storyline.

Another great storyline that was cut short was the showing this weekend by Vero Sotomayor, who had not played the tour in years but who stretched the #8 seeded player Jessica Parrilla to an 11-10 tiebreaker.

In the 16s, a bunch more upsets. None bigger than the #2 seeded Alexandra Herrera getting upset by #15 Brenda Laime Jalil. But we also saw the #6 and #7 seeded players ousted at this juncture.

Heading into the quarters, half the top seeds were already done.
In the quarters, Manilla got her next big win, taking out Gaby Martinez, while former grand slam finalist Angelica Barrios took advantage of Laime’s upset to move into the semis herself.

In the semis, #1 Paola Longoria faced off against the Cinderella story Manilla, and was made to work for it, winning in two close games 13,10. On the bottom, #3 Maria Jose Vargas Parada went down big early to Barrios 14-1 in the first game, then completely flipped the script, getting the first game back to 15-10 then blitzing her young Bolivian rival in the next two games to move into the final.

In the final, it seemed fait accomplis for Longoria to win, and she cruised to her 11th US Open title 3,8.

The Men’s Doubles draw turned into a showcase for the state of doubles in the current game, with tough tiebreakers and close games throughout. The #1 seeds went breaker to win in both the quarters and semis over established and tough veteran teams, while on the bottom side the semis turned into a showcase for the doubles prowess of Sam Murray, who took over the match to lead his team to an upset over #2 Kane/ Sudsy Monchik. In the final, DLR/Beltran controlled the tempo and won perhaps their easiest match of the tournament 11,11 to take the crown.

The Women’s Doubles draw went mostly chalk, with the exception of the talented and under-seeded Vargas/Sotomayor team taking out the #4 seeded Guatemalans in the quarters. From there, the top two seeds cruised into the final, where we saw yet another major final battle between the two top teams from Mexico. This time around, the veterans triumped, with Longoria/Salas overcoming a game-one beat down to take the title.

Congrats to all winners, thanks to @doug ganim for 25 years of running this event.
International Racquetball Tour
UnitedHealthcare US OPEN Racquetball Championships

US Open Main Draw Previews

Sotomayor is the big upset winner from qualifying; how far can she go? photo credit; unknown.

Day one down, and all pro qualifying complete. We had some interesting results, but not a ton of super upsets on both sides, and we’re to the main draws.

Here’s a quick run through of matches to watch for today. We’re talking the 32s and 16s of IRT and LPRT singles, and the quarters of pro doubles on both sides.

IRT 32s and 16s: here’s what i’m looking for in terms of watchables:

  • #1 Kane Waselenchuk gets his first singles action since March of 2020 on the main court against noted trash talker Troy Warigon. A good warm-up for the King as he looks to retain his US Open title.
  • 16/17 seed we get, for the 3rd tourney running, Andres Acuña vs Adam Manilla. Can Acuna make it 3-for-3?
  • 8/25 Rocky Carson gets his tournament going against Bolivian vet Kadim Carrasco; can Carrasco make the USA veteran sweat?
  • 13/20 Sebastian Franco versus Mexican Alan Natera Chavez; Natera has shown upset power in the past; can he pull an upset here against the experienced Colombian?
  • 3/30 Alex Landa versus Erick Trujillo. A very intriguing opener for the #3 seed Landa, who has scuffled a bit over the last three events. He was seeded #1 at all three 2021 events, but got upset in each tournament (a Semi and two Quarters). In once case he was clearly hurt, in another he was clearly distracted. What is Landa this weekend? If he’s not on his game, Trujillo has been playing very well, with wins over solid players. If Landa isn’t 100%, this could be a huge upset.
  • 14/19 Thomas Carter has his work cut out for him against #19 Sebastian Fernandez; I sense an upset here. Patata’s seen his seeding slip a little bit as he’s stepped back a bit from playing, but he’s here and he’s a tough out.
  • #6 Andree Parrilla gets his start against a tough young mexican lefty Rodrigo Rodriguez. Expect Rodriguez to make Andree work for it here.
  • The 15/18 match will feature the most broken balls of the round, with two power players Rodrigo Montoya Solis and Eduardo Garay Rodriguez blasting off for a shot at DLR in the next round.
    Projecting round of 16s:
  • The big one here is 8/9: Carson vs Alvaro Beltran. These long-time IRT veterans have played each other no less than 50 times on tour, with Rocky leading 28-22. Who has the edge here?
  • 5/12 projects to two long-time Bolivian rivals in Conrrado Moscoso and Carlos Keller Vargas. They have met multiple times to determine the Bolivian national champion (including this year), they’ve met in IRF competitions … and they met earlier this year in Denver in the Semis, with Conrrado taking a close one. Keller can make this complicated for his talented rival.
  • 4/13 Samuel Murray vs Franco; every time these two meet, it goes the distance. Deep into tiebreakers, 5th game super tiebreaker, etc. Similar power games on display, both are one-time Tier1 winners. They havn’t met in years but they have split meetings in the past.
  • 7/10: Eduardo Portillo Rendon versus Jake Bredenbeck; a tough one to call. Jake played lights out in Chicago no doubt, but Lalo handled him in the 16s in Denver and has never lost to Jake. I know many are rooting for the home-town Minnesotan to advance, but Lalo is favored here.

LPRT 32s and 16s to look for:

  • 16/17 Kelani Lawrence versus Sheryl Lotts: Kelani has never lost to her sometimes-doubles partner, but its often pretty close.
  • #8 Jessica Parrilla is the unfortunate recipient of this year’s biggest draw wildcard in Vero Sotomayor. Sotomayor, who has not played an LPRT event since Dec 2016, blitzed through qualifying and has been training with other top LPRT players (not to mention her husband Sudsy Monchik), and looks to remind people of the player who finished #6 on tour in the 2008-09 season.
  • #13 Carla Muñoz Montesinos has a tough opponent in #20 Hollie Scott as her opener. They havn’t met on tour in years, but in the meantime Scott has proven herself to be among the elite the US has to offer.
  • 14/19 Amaya Cris versus Maria Renee Rodríguez; two long-time international rivals meet again. They’ve met 8 times in pro and IRF competitions, with Amaya holding a commanding 7-1 career lead.
  • #11 Rhonda Rajsich comes into the US Open with her lowest seeding since her debut (when she announced her presence to the world by racing to the final of the 2000 US Open as the #44 seed). Here she’ll be pressed by the tough mexican lefty Ana Laura Flores.
  • An all-Colombian 15/18 between Brenda Laime Jalil and Adriana Riveros should be close.
    projecting the 16s.
  • #8 Valeria Centellas set to take on the winner of Sotomayor/Parrilla; expect a battle here no matter who advances, with an eye out there for another upset in the Sotomayor run.
  • 5/12 Montse Mejia versus Nancy Enriquez; Mejia has shown signs of brilliance (winning in Kansas City) and then taken inexplicable losses (a round of 16 loss to Laime in Denver). Meanwhile, Enriquez has been playing well. upset watch here.
  • #7/10 Samantha Salas Solis vs #10 Angelica Barrios; an interesting matchup. Salas ended Barrios’ run at the 2019 Bolivian Iris open, but that was a different Salas. Meanwhile, Barrios has been ranked as high as 4th on tour but comes into this tourney 10th thanks to a dearth of events. Both of these players are better than their seeding, but only one can advance, and Barrios has shown some upset capabilities.

IRT doubles:

There’s still one qualifier to be played as of this writing and its between Mar/Montoya and Pratt/Natera; one would think the reigning gold medalists from the Pan Am Games would win, but its doubles. So you never know.
The Men’s doubles draw is stacked. All of these matches could go either way. Here’s a preview.

  • #1 Daniel De La Rosa/Beltran vs Roland Keller/Moscoso; the #1 seeds take on the very experienced Bolivian team, with a shot-maker in Moscoso and a doubles specialist in Keller. This is no cakewalk for the #1 seeds and could go breaker.
  • #4 Portillo/Parrilla take on the early morning final qualifier; it should be an all-Mexican affair, and I favor the Montoya/Mar pairing over their younger Mexican rivals in a slight upset by seed.
  • #3 Landa/Murray take on the upset kids of Manilla and David ” Bobby” Horn, who pulled off the upset last night to take out the 6th seeds in an 11-10 thrieller.
  • All eyes will be on the #2 seeds Monchik/Kane, who get their tournament started against the reigning Bolivian doubles champs in Keller/Carrasco. I’d expect this to be a straight forward two-game win for the #2 seeds.

LPRT Doubles
A couple of upsets in the qualifiers have led to some fun quarter final matches:

  • #1 Paola Longoria/Salas take on the all-american team of Scott/Kelani. Expect the top seeds to move on here.
  • #4 Ana Gabriela Martínez is paired with her long-time Guatemalan teammate MRR, but they face a tough quarter going up against Sotomayor and Maria Jose Vargas Parada. I sense they’ll “pick on” MRR here strategically and pull the upset.
  • #3 The current Argentinian national team pairing of Centellas and Natalia Mendez Erlwein takes on the reigning US champs Rajsich and Manilla. Fun match; can the US team pull the upset?
  • #2 Alexandra Herrera and Mejia take on the up-start all-Bolivian team of Barrios/Daza. While the Bolivian team are both top-notch doubles players, I’m not sure anyone is stopping Herrera/Mejia until the final.

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