IRT Boston Preview

DLR can lock up the 2023 title in Boston. Maybe. Photo US Open 2019, Photographer Kevin Savory

After months away, the IRT is back in action, heading to Boston for the 2023 Rally for our Warriors. The LPRT was at the same club (Wayside Athletic in Marlborough) back in March, but it has been some time since the Men’s pros were in the Boston area. You have to go all the way back to March of 2007, for the Red Swain Memorial for the last time the IRT was in Massachusetts, so congrats to Stuart Solomon for putting this together.

R2 Sports App link: https://www.r2sports.com/website/event-website.asp?TID=41684

The draw is a bit diminished for this event (22 pros are in town, probably a side effect of the expense of the Pan Am games and other travel this summer), but the stakes couldn’t be higher. With just this event, the satellite in Portland, and then the season finisher in Pleasanton, there’s very little time to settle the 2023 year end title. Assuming that this event and Pleasanton are regular Tier1 tour stops, #1 seed @Daniel De La Rosa can secure the year end title with a win here in Boston. however, #2 Jake Bredenbeck and #3 Conrrado Moscoso can both really put a monkey wrench into those plans with winning performances here.

Also interesting: none other than Kane Waselenchuk is in this draw. He turns 42 today. We havn’t seen Kane in singles since his Achilles injury in Sept 2022. Will he compete? He entered singles in Denver but withdrew, so it remains to be seen. If he competes, he’s seeded 22nd out of 22 by virtue of having expired all his previous rankings points, and is scheduled to play #11 Robert collins at 4pm EST. If he wins, he plays into #6 Adam Manilla and then to #3 Moscoso, so that’d be a heck of a test for him.

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Lets preview the draw. Only the singles draw has been released as of this writing.

Two top 10 players are absent: Portillo and Landa. this slightly changes the projected round of 16 matches for the top 3 players, which could play into the year end standings heavily.

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In the 32s, some notable matches:

– Should be fun to see what Mexican Axel Barojas can do against the Chilean national Rafael Gatica

– Kane should have a decent shot against Collins in a battle of veteran pro lefties.

– top New England player @JoJose Flores should move on against IRT regular @Jim Douglas

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round of 16:

– The 8/9 matchup between Alan Natera and Andres Acuña could be great. Natera has been on fire lately and could push the Costa Rican here.

– #4 Rodrigo Montoya will get an early test against Erick Trujillo , who has seen his progress stall a bit after some eye opening early results.

– If he plays, and if he advances, all eyes would be on #22 Kane versus #6 Adam Manilla in this round. It’d be another matchup of lefties, but a different battle for Kane. Manilla is fresh off a gold medal in Chile in Mixed, and has been getting some pretty solid results lately. He beat Diego Garcia in Chile, he’s got pro wins over Murray and Acuna this season, and he took out Jake at USA Nationals. This would be a great litmus test for Kane’s comeback, but I suspect Adam would be too much for him.

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Projected Qtrs:

– #1 DLR over the Natera/Acuna winner. I don’t think either player has what it takes to take out Daniel right now.

– #4 Montoya over #5 @Andree Parrilla ; these long-time adversaries are now settling into the realization that Montoya has the upper hand in their rivalry.

– #3 Moscoso versus the Kane/Manilla winner. Well, I’m certain that neutrals (myself included) would love to see Kane versus Conrrado. It would certainly put and end to the social media campaign that believes that Kane still would beat anyone who he plays. Many believe that, even if he got by Manilla, Kane would be overpowered at this juncture against a player who is probably the most talented in the world.

– #2 @Jake Bredenbeck over Big Canada #7 Samuel Murray

Semis:

– DLR over Montoya. Montoya does have a handful of wins against DLR in their careers. I also think DLR knows precisely what he needs to do to secure the title and will be rather motivated here.

– Moscoso over Jake; Jake may be seeded #2, and Jake may have beaten Conrrado in their last meeting in Chicago, but Conrrado’s the better player.

Finals;

– Moscoso over DLR. Moscoso is on a run, fresh off Pan Am gold, and looks unstoppable. He wins Boston to force Pleasanton to count.

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Doubles review: no draws as of this publishing.

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

International Racquetball Tour

#irt #lprt #wor

IRT Tracktown Pro-Am Recap

DLR inches closer to his 3rd straight pro title. Photo US Open 2019, Photographer Kevin Savory

Congrats to your pro winners on the weekend:

– Singles: Daniel De La Rosa

– Doubles: De la Rosa & Alex Landa

A double on the weekend for DLR, which couldn’t come at a better time as the 2023 season nears its close and he tries to go for a 3rd straight pro title.

R2 Sports App home page for event: https://www.r2sports.com/website/event-website.asp?TID=41552

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Lets review the notable matches in the Singles draw.

Singles Match report in the PRS database: https://rball.pro/4gk

In the 32s, the only real notable match was the strong return to the singles court of @Alvaro Beltran , who took out #13 Robert collins with ease 2,11. While we’ve seen Alvi play some doubles since his shock elbow injury last October, this is the first time he’s taken the singles court on the IRT since last October.

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In the 16s:

– In the always close 8/9 match, @Samuel Murray took out Alex Landa in a battle of former top 4 players who have both slipped down the rankings as of late.

– #5 Eduardo Portillo had to dig deep to top the red-hot #12 @Alan Natera in a breaker.

– #3 DLR was surprisingly taken to a breaker by his young Mexican rival Erick Cuevas before moving on.

– #11 Thomas Carter shocked #6 Andree Parrilla 15-2 in the first game, but Parrilla rebounded to advance.

– #7 Adam Manilla got a tie-breaker win over #10 Andres Acuña to move on and solidify his ranking on tour.

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In the Quarters

– #9 Murray continued his years-long mastery of #1 Conrrado Moscoso ‘s game, topping him 12,13 to move on and put a serious dent in Moscoso’s chance of winning the year end title. Murray is now 5-4 lifetime against Moscoso across competitions dating to 2018.

– #4 Rodrigo Montoya and Portillo played a close one, with Montoya taking the breaker 11-9 to move on.

– #3 DLR advanced past Parrilla by the closest of margins, winning 13,14.

– #2 Jake Bredenbeck avenged a US National team qualifying loss to Manilla, winning in a tie-breaker.

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In the Semis

– Montoya improved to 4-2 lifetime over Murray with a straightforward 12,9 win.

– DLR made it two in a row over Jake, winning in a tie-breaker to move into the final.

In the Finals, DLR made relatively fast work of Montoya, improving to 9-4 lifetime across competitions with the 2,11 win.

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Points Implications of results

During the tournament, I confirmed that the IRT remains on an 11-tournament rolling schedule for its rankings, having flirted with the idea of pivoting to a 365-day calendar earlier this year but ultimately staying with the same system that was put in place in mid 2020 during Covid. By the end of 2023, it won’t matter, because there will be exactly 11 events in the calendar year (assuming no more cancellations of the 3 remaining events on the books).

What i’m not sure about is the mechanism for counting these last 11 events; is it cumulative last 11 or is it “last 11, dropping the lowest.” Because in the short term, that’ll make a huge difference as to what happens at the very top of the tour rankings as soon as this event is put in. By my records, if all 11 tournaments are counted w/o dropping the lowest score, Jake Bredenbeck will ascend to #1 by the slimmest of margins over #2 DLR, with Conrrado falling to #3. However, if its “top 11 drop the lowest” then DLR will drop a zero-point score and ascend back to #1, with Moscoso #2 and Jake #3.

Either way, The Tracktown dropped the 2022 US Open, which costs Moscoso 600 points, but two of the next three events to drop were events towards the end of 2022 that DLR missed, meaning everyone else likely is playing for 2nd place unless DLR takes some shock early losses in the last couple of events.

Does DLR’s Pickleball commitments play a role here? Maybe. The 3 remaining events on the IRT schedule are:

– 11/12 in Boston

– 12/3 in Portland

– 12/10 in Pleasanton.

Pickleball events on the schedule for those weekends?

– 11/12: USAP Nationals, a huge event underwritten by the PPA

– 12/3: San Clemente PPA season finals.

– 12/10: MLP Season 3, event 3; the last event of the 2023 MLP season.

Wow. So DLR has a MLP event the same weekend as the IRT event in Pleasanton that could decide the tour. Phew. Something’s gotta give there.

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Doubles review

Match report in the PRS database: https://rball.pro/3l5

Former #1 Kane Waselenchuk was in Eugene this weekend, but only playing doubles. He and fellow 40-something Beltran teamed up and won a round, but fell in the quarters to the #1 seeds Manilla/Parrilla.

In a testament to how close these doubles teams are, every match in the quarters and semis went to tie-breaker as the top two seeds advanced to the final.

#2 DLR/Landa, the US National team for Chile’s Pan Am games, topped the likely Bolivian doubles team Moscoso/Kadim Carrasco in one semi, then took out Manilla/Parrilla for the title.

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Open Singles, other notable draws

– Victor Camacho took out Texas junior @Cole Sendrey for the Men’s Open title.

– SoCal players @Iain Dunn and Paul Saraceno took out @Israel Torres and @Steve Lewis in the Men’s Open Doubles final.

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

Thanks to the Tourney Director Wayne Antone for putting this event on with such short notice. It was great to see a new event on the schedule and I hope you can make it an annual one.

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Next up?

Per our handy master racquetball calendar …

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

Unless we get another event on the books last minute, the next big thing is 3WallBall in Las Vegas the first week of October! I’ll be there, on the mike and covering the event. Maybe even playing (hah, probably not).

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tags

International Racquetball Tour

IRT Tracktown Pro-Am Preview

Can Moscoso make it 2 in a row and keep the pressure on for the 2023 title? Photo US Open 2019, Photographer Kevin Savory

Welcome to the business end of the 2023 IRT season. After a fun event in Denver (thanks again Jim Hiser !) the IRT is back in action at an event just recently added to the schedule. The IRT has this event, a Boston stop in November, a satellite event in Portland, and then Bobby Horn/Adam Manilla’s Pleasanton stop in early December and that’s it for the season. Every points counts.

Thanks to the hard work of Oregonian Wayne Antone , US National doubles finalist earlier this year, along with Portland native and resident Charlie Pratt , longtime US National team member, touring pro, USA Racquetball board member and former US Junior National team coach, we have the IRT visiting Eugene for the very first time.

Eugene, of course, is the home-town of Nike, hence the name of the event “Track town.” Racquetball has an interesting tie-in to Nike and the running world; Linda Prefontaine, sister of the famous runner Steve, was a top racquetball player in the late 70s/early 80s and competed in multiple pro events. See https://rball.pro/yku for her career record.

R2 Sports App link: https://www.r2sports.com/website/event-website.asp?TID=41552

I’m a little late to the preview, so the draw has already started. So i’ll do a quicker summary than normal.

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Lets preview the singles Draw

– Murray-Landa in the 8/9 spot used to be in the 4/5 spot; both players are slipping down the rankings tourney by tourney. Landa was sick and missed Colorado, and has had one thing or another bug him for a while.

– Natera looked great in Denver; can he turn that into performance in Eugene?

– Manilla-Acuna in the 16s is tough.

– Beltran is back and topped Collins in the 32s with ease. Great to see.

– DLR-Parrilla quarter will be a test, as will Jake-Manilla. Adam took out jake at US National singles, basically eliminating Jake from the team for Pan Am games, so we know he can win, but Jake’s #2 for a reason.

– Its hard to see anything other than a repeat of the semis from Denver, as we now have a real separation between the top 4 guys (Moscoso, Jake, DLR, Montoya) and the rest of the tour.

– I think we see another DLR-Moscoso final, and this time a non-injured DLR may very well take it.

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Doubles review

– Waselenchuk is here, but only playing doubles. He and Alvi won their opener and have a good shot at #1 Manilla/Parrilla based on Beltran’s form and the fact that neither 40-something pro has to cover the whole court

– The 2/3 semi on the bottom could be great: Jake/Murray vs DLR/Landa. Two power hitters versus two control players who also happen to be your US National doubles team at the Pan Am Games.

– I like Montoya and Natera to get to the final, but to then lose to DLR/Landa.

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

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

Associations

International Racquetball Tour

World Singles and Doubles 2023 Wrap-Up

Longoria the double winner on the weekend. Photo US Open 2019, Photographer Kevin Savory

Congrats to your Pro winners on the weekend:

– Men’s IRT Singles: Conrrado Moscoso

– Women’s LPRT Singles: @Paola Longoria

– Mixed Pro Doubles: Moscoso & Longoria

A nice bounce-back weekend for long-time #1 Longoria, who along with the current IRT #1 Moscoso both earned doubles on the weekend.

R2 Sports App home page for event: https://www.r2sports.com/tourney/home.asp?TID=39922

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

Singles Match report in the PRS database: https://rball.pro/i4u

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In the Qualifiers:

– All the hype about former #1 Kane Waselenchuk returning to the court turned out to be worthless, as he withdrew before even playing his first qualifier against Texan DJ Mendoza . As he did after withdrawing from the 2021 US Open, he went on Sudsy Monchik ‘s podcast and went on a 25 minute diatribe about the IRT without really giving a reason why he withdrew. For neutrals who really just want to see him play, to see if he’s still “got it” it was definitely a let-down, as i’m sure it was for those on site.

– @Elias Nieto had two solid wins to get into the round of 32, topping Canada/Chile’s @Pedro Castro and then USA’s @Sam Bredenbeck .

– Hometown favorite @Jacob Kingsford had a nice win over @Rodrigo Mendoza to get into the main draw.

– @Erick Cuevas Fernandez got a nice win over east coaster @Dylan Pruitt to move on.

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In the 32s:

– #21 Diego García topped #12 Thomas Carter in game one 15-5, then got an injury forfeit to move into the 16s as a 20+ seed.

– Career pro win for Neito Elias , taking out #13 Alan Natera in a breaker. Nieto is really coming into his own; he got a win over Murray at PARC earlier this year and now reverses the result with Natera since their last meeting.

– #19 Erick Trujillo made fast work of #14 Jaime Martell 5,9, a solid win for Trujillo, who had had some sputtering results lately.

– #7 Alejandro Landa no shows, giving @juan Francisco Cueva a walk-over into the 16s. We now know that the IRT preemptively put a slew of players into the draw, then when it was released well ahead of the event those who had no intentions of coming were given forfeits. I think we all appreciate the attempt to get the draws out early to build buzz (especially since the amateur entries were capped), but there’s a reason draws for pro events are not released until the day before; players drop out last minute all the time. Int’l players can’t get visas, or flights get cancelled, or players get injuries and withdraw. The LPRT changed its draws last minute, since that’s what the players want, and it made our prediction piece useless … but the IRT stuck with its release and ended up giving multiple walk-overs in the event.

– #23 Carlos Keller Vargas came from a game down to topple #10 @Andres Acuña. A tough break for Acuna, to draw Keller here.

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In the 16s

– #1 @Conrrado Moscoso made fast work of former #1 Rocky Carson 4,5.

– #8 Adam Manilla got a very solid win over #9 Samuel Murray 7,7. These kinds of 8/9 wins are crucial for players at the edge of the top 10 to stay there.

– Garcia with a very good win over Eduardo Portillo, coming from behind after dropping game one. Garcia has now beaten Lalo twice this year, to go along wins over Mar and Carson last October, a U21 junior worlds win last December, and a semi-finals showing at PARC in April where he lost 21-19 in the 5th game to Keller. Is Garcia legitimately a top 5 player in the world?

– Nieto extended #4 @Rodrigo Montoya to a third game before falling, really making a statement this weekend.

– #6 @Andree Parrilla got a solid win over @Javier Mar, a regular troublespot, to advance to the quarters.

– Little known Diego Gastelum really hung with #2 @Jake Bredenbeck , losing game one 15-14 before getting ran off the court in game two.

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In the Quarters, the top four seeds advanced as expected.

– Moscoso trounced Manilla 11,3

– Montoya lost game one to Garcia before advancing.

– @Daniel De La Rosa finally got pressed, losing game one to Andree 8 before moving on.

– Bredenbeck ground out a very close 13,12 win over the always-tough Keller.

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In the Semis

– Moscoso took care of business 11,6 over Montoya; the last few times these guys played its been super close, a bunch of 15-14 games. Not today: Conrrado really played Rodrigo off the court.

– In a rematch of the US nationals final, DLR worked through some sort of ankle or calf injury to top Jake and move into the final. It was a pretty impressive performance from someone who was clearly hurt.

In the final, DLR blasted Moscoso 15-3 in game one, then seemed to basically give up in game two to preserve his game cycles for a tiebreaker. In the breaker, DLR went for glory shots again and again as it was clear his movement was hampered, and towards the end of the breaker Moscoso got to just a few more shots than DLR anticipated, leading to an 11-7 loss and the title for Conrrado.

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Points Implications of results

This event didn’t expire anything from 2022, so there won’t be a single change until you get to about the #18-20 range. The next event will feature the same top 4 seeds in the same order. I’m not sure if the IRT flips seeds 5-8 anymore (I don’t believe so). We’re not going to see appreciable movement in the rankings until about the middle of October, by which time DLR should be in a pretty good position. The next three events to expire are:

– 2022’s Capital Classic (DLR: did not play)

– 2022’s US Open (DLR lost in 16s)

– 2022’s Golden State Open (DLR: did not play)

So, DLR is defending just 135 points from these next three events. By way of comparison, Moscoso will be defending 1150 points and Jake will be defending 675 points from those same three events. If DLR shows up and makes the semis or finals of the next handful of events, he’ll rocket back to #1 and will be hard to catch.

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LPRT Singles Review

Match report in the PRS database: https://rball.pro/j09

A last minute pair of withdrawals of mid-20s international players resulted in a shifting of the draw last minute, which drastically changed a couple of key first round matchups that really could have re-shaped the way this draw went. As discussed by LPRT Deputy commissioner Timothy Baghurst on social media, this is what they players want; they want withdrawals that result in no-show walkovers into the money rounds eliminated, no matter what the impact on the draws.

Lets review the notable matches resultant of the re-shaped draw:

In the 32s:

– Rarely seen @Nancy Enrique took a solid TB win over #17 Sheryl Lotts.

– #13 Criss Amaya got a solid win over #20 @Lexi York .

– #11 @Gaby Martínez got a bummer of a walk-over win against Costa Rican junior Maricruz Ortiz . I would have liked to see this one. Not knowing the answer, it seems like Ortiz got hurt in Mixed, because she forfeited out of both Pros and Open.

– #6 @maMaria Jose Vargas made fast work of her practice partner and dark-horse candidate Veronica Sotomayor 3,2 to extinguish any deep runs by 20+ seeds.

In the 16s:

– #9 Natalia Mendez reversed the course of her last couple of matchups with #8 Carla Munoz , winning a tight one 9,14 to move on.

– #5 Brenda Laime Jalil made fast work of #12 Kelani Lawrence 10,5 to move on.

– Gaby shocked this observer and cruised past Vargas 9,12 to move on. Vargas has been on such a roll lately, i’m surprised she got upset early despite her seed. I feel like there’s a set of 5 women in a class of their selves in the ladies game right now (Mejia, Longoria, Herrera, Gaby, Vargas), and when two of them meet in the 16s, its always a high-stakes match.

– #10 @Samantha Salas Solis took out Jessica Parrilla in a slight upset in the 7-10 matchup.

Quarters:

– #1 Montse Mejia lost the first game against Mendez before buckling down and cruising to a win.

– Laime took out #4 @EErika Manila 7,10 to move into the semis.

– #3 Alexandra Herrera got back on top, defeating Gaby 13,7 to return to the semis. What a quartile; The #3 quartile in this event had Herrera, Vargas, Gaby, Sotomayor, and Ortiz. Phew.

– #2 Paola Longoria made fast work of Salas to move on. In three matches to this point in the tournament, Longoria had given up just 10 combined points in 6 games … a sign of things to come?

Semis:

– Mejia topped Laime by the more dominant score line than I was expecting 6,12.

– Longoria ground out a tough win over Herrera 10,14.

Finals: we got the match we wanted: 1 v 2. Last year’s champ versus this year’s champ. And we got a back and forth affair, Longoria grinding out a game one win 15-13 before Mejia caught fire in game two and blasted Paola 15-3. In the tiebreaker, Longoria found a weakness: a cut lob serve to Mejia’s forehand that she just couldn’t help but attack … and with a lively ball and concrete and altitude, cross court overheads come off the back wall for setups over and over, and before Mejia could alter her strategy Longoria ran away with the tiebreaker 11-5 for the title.

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Points Impact of the event.

If you see the rankings today … 8/14, they look weird, because the Paola Longoria Experience from 8/14/22 is still in there. However, tomorrow on 8/15/23, the impact of those points expiration will be more clear.

The top 3 will not change despite Paola’s win. Laime will switch places with Manilla and move to #4. Vargas and Munuz will move up one spot each, to #6 and #7 respectively as Barrios drops down by virtue of missing the Denver event and its grand slam points. Gaby moves into the top 10, while Leoni drops out of it.

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Mixed Pro Doubles recap

The 28-team Mixed Pro doubles draw gave us some crazy results in the early rounds, Here’s a couple of the crazy upsets by seed from the 32s and 16s:

– #1 seeds Montoya & Salas, who won this event in 2021, were shocked by #16 Gaby & Edwin Galicia in a tie-breaker.

– #24 Waselenchuk & Michelle Key advanced past two very good doubles players in @Kadim Carrasco and Laime in the opener 10,10. Carrasco just couldn’t put balls away in the altitude, but Kane could and that made the difference.

– #13 Martell & Amaya went 11-10 against Adriana Riveros and Diego Garcia to move on.

– #19 Ecuadorians Jose Daniel Ugalde and Sotomayor took out Costa Ricans #14 Acuna & Ortiz.

– #10 Lawrence & Carter took out Canada’s top pairing of Samuel Murray and Frederique Lambert in two, not an upset by seed by definitely by reputation.

– The run of Kane/Key was ended by the husband-wife team of Natera/Munoz in controversial fashion. After destroying the #24 seeds 15-2 in the first, Kane and Key took game two and forced a breaker. A back and forth tie-breaker was ended on a no-call at match point when Natera hit a jam serve at Kane, who held up but was not given a hinder. An unsatisfying end to the match, but one which was vindicated as Natera/Munoz raced to the final together.

7 of the top 8 seeds moved on to the quarters. #8 Natera/Munoz crushed #16 Gaby/Galicia, and then topped Mar/Mejia in the semis with relative ease 8,9 to gain the final together. From the bottom half, Moscoso and Longoria earned their finals appearance, topping the veteran Beltran/Mendez team, then advancing past the troublesome DLR/Scott team, before crushing Portillo/Herrera to get to the final.

In the final, Natera’s excellent play finally met its match in Moscoso, and the dominant pair cruised to the pro title.

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Open Singles and Doubles, other notable draws

There was no “Pro” Gender Doubles in Denver, with TD Hiser opting to put money into the Pro Mixed instead, but the doubles draws were still solid.

– In Men’s Open Doubles, Beltran/Carson turned back the clock and took the title over the hard-hitting pair of @Sam Bredenbeck and Sam Murray 11-9.

– In Women’s Open Doubles, Salas teamed with Mendez to take out the all_USA doubles pair of Lawrence & Scott

– In Men’s Open singles, Trujillo topped Gastelum in an all Mexico U21 final.

– In Women’s Open Singles: @Martina Katz took the final against @Shane Diaz.

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Thanks for all the streaming on the weekend from both pro tour’s teams. That means Favio Soto , Samuel Schulze ,Pablo Fajre and the IRTLive crew, plus Timothy Baghurst , Sandy Rios , Jerry J Josey Jr., and Tj Baumbaugh , plus all the guest commentators.

Thanks to the Tourney Director Jim Hiser for putting on this event. It was 2 years in the making, and I hope you do it again.

Thanks to title sponsor Keith Minor and Kwm Gutterman ; without your continued support we wouldn’t have a pro sport.

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.

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Next up?

Per our handy master racquetball calendar …

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

Labor Day weekend thanks to Wayne Antone we have the 2023 Tracktown Open in Eugene Oregon, the first time the pro tours have ever been there.

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tags

2023 World Singles & Doubles Preview

Kane is Back. Photo US Open 2019, Photographer Kevin Savory

NOTE: just after publishing this, the LPRT changed the pro draw, changing someof the matchups. Unfortunately the Ladies pro section of this now is out of date.

Hello Racquetball Fans! Welcome to 2023 World Singles and Doubles, being held in and around Highland Ranch, Colorado. It will be the biggest indoor tournament of the year, an event two years in the making which boasts a huge prize purse and one of the most rare events in the sport: Pro Mixed Doubles. This event is the first event of the new LPRT 2023-24 season, and it marks the beginning of the second half of the IRT’s 2023 season, and holds intrigue across the board for both tours.

R2 Sports App link: https://www.r2sports.com/tourney/home.asp?TID=39922

Both pro tours have healthy attendance. There’s 56 men and 35 women in Denver, numbers not approached on either side since the last US Open. Most of the top 20 on both sides is present, and the Men’s side features the triumphant return to the court of 14-time #1 Kane Waselenchuk after a 10 month absence due to an injury sustained last September.

The big question mark, of course, is Kane’s fitness and match prep. He played in Outdoor Nationals a few weeks ago, but outdoor doubles is a vastly different experience than indoor pro singles. He’s now nearing 42 years of age, coming off a full-blown Achilles heel injury, and nobody (besides him) really knows how he’ll be prepared for a pro singles event. Especially one at altitude. It isn’t as if he forgot how to play the sport, and if he makes a deep run in Denver I’ll simultaneously be surprised and not surprised. I honestly don’t know what to predict; an early exit or a title, or something in-between. I do know this: Kane generally has played with a chip on his shoulder after long absences, looking to make a statement, so opponents beware.

We’re previewing the IRT, LPRT, and Mixed Pro draws here. There are also “Open” Doubles on both sides with strong draws, but which won’t “count” as pro events since they’re not full pro purses, as well as the regular Open singles draws for the non-top 10 players.

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IRT Men’s Singles preview

There’s two rounds of qualifiers into the main draw of 32; the top 16 players got byes into the 32s, and everyone else had to play at least one qualifier.

Qualifiers that look interesting:

– Nick Riffel vs @Juan Jose Salvatierra could be a tough match, assuming former touring pro Riffel gets past his round of 128 match.

– Cole Sendry vs @Edwin Galicia is a nice test for the USA U18 up and coming player.

– Erick Trujillo should have the advantage over Bolivian doubles specialist Roland Keller , but this is no cakewalk for either player.

– Former IRT top 10 player @Carlos Keller Vargas projects to face former Intercollegiates champ @Erik Garcia for a spot in the main draw.

– Maryland’s own @Dylan Pruitt , if he can get past Canadian national team member @Naman Gaur , projects into @Erick Cuevas Fernandez in a match that could go either way.

Round of 32 matches to watch for:

– #9 @Adam Manilla vs Waselenchuk; Manilla is the unlucky top 10 player who gets Kane in the first round. These two played in the tournament where Kane got injured last fall, with Manilla losing 11,7. Since then, Adam has played well and is on home courts. But I’ll pick Kane to advance here.

– #12 Thomas Carter projects to get qualifier @Diego García in the round of 32, another non-full time playing pro who can do some damage. These two played at PARC in April in Guatemala and Garcia came out on top, one of several impressive wins for the young Bolivian-turned-Argentine in that event. I’ll go with Garcia with the upset here.

– #13 Alan Natera versus #20 Sam Bredenbeck could be tight; how far has Sam’s singles game come in the past few months? Natera is climbing up the ranks quietly, and will be favored to advance.

– #14 Jaime Martell projects to play countryman Trujillo, if Erick can advance past Roland. I think Martell can handle him, but this is potentially a tight match.

– #10 newlywed Andres Acuña is the unlucky player to get the last of the big names coming out of qualifying; Keller. These two also played in Guatemala at PARC, a 4-game win for Keller, and I think Carlos will upset the Costa Rican again here.

Projecting the 16s; here’s some possible great matches:

– #8 Samuel Murray plays the winner of Manilla/Waselenchuk. If Kane gets by Adam, he runs into fellow Canadian Murray, who he has utterly dominated during their careers. Kane won their last meeting in NY in 2022 1,1. A bad potential matchup for Sam, and I’ll favor Kane to continue his mental and physical dominance here.

– If Garcia gets by Carter, he runs into #5 @Eduardo Portillo , another player he beat at PARC. Look for Garcia to make a deep run in Denver.

– #6 Andree Parrilla projects to face always-the-dark horse #11 @Javier Mar . Mar owns the career h2h 5-3 and has won the last two meetings, and I always like Mar to get the upset win.

– The winner of Keller/Acuna he plays into #7 @Alejandro Landa , and both opponents offer intrigue here. Landa-Acuna bad blood history is well documented, while Keller-Landa have met just three times in 10 years. The question for Landa is always health; he’s been bedeviled by injuries for a while. Upset watch here.

Quarters prediction:

– #1 Conrrado Moscoso over Waselenchuk. Here’s where I think the Kane train derails in Denver. Moscoso is #1, he’s battle tested, he’s used to playing at altitude, and he’s game ready. If Kane wins this … he wins the event and gives us all pause as to the current state of the game.

– #4 @Rodrigo Montoya over Garcia: the upset-laden run ends at the hands of the top Mexican.

– #3 Daniel De La Rosa over Mar. We havn’t mentioned DLR yet; he has a pretty straightforward draw to the quarters, then projects to meet one of two top Mexican players (Mar or Parrilla) that he knows well and should move on.

– #2 @Jake Bredenbeck over Keller (or Acuna, or Landa). We also havn’t mentioned Jake yet; his two openers look very straightforward, and he’ll get his first test here. whoever moves on from the #7/#10 section should be the underdog against Jake.

Semis and Final:

– Moscoso over Montoya: they always play tight, but Moscoso has figured out early-career troubles playing Rodrigo and now has won 6 of their last 8 meetings (and one of those losses was his head-banging forfeit in Florida in 2022).

– DLR over Jake: unpopular opinion, since Jake won their last meeting … but DLR is still 13-3 lifetime over Jake. That being said, Jake’s 2023 has been spectacular, and his ascension to #2 is well earned. But DLR should be on a mission here; he is behind on points, and needs to start winning events to give himself a shot at a third pro title at year’s end. I think he starts here.

Final: A rematch of the 2021 World Singles & Doubles final; Moscoso vs DLR. In 2021, DLR won 7,13 for the title, but things are a bit different since then. They’ve only met twice since, in two successive finals earlier this year. DLR topped Conrrado in Austin in January, then the result flipped at the Lewis Drug two weeks later. Who has the advantage with fast concrete courts and altitude negating the effects of the slower ball? I sense Moscoso wins here.

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Ladies Singles Preview

NOTE: just after publishing this, the LPRT changed the pro draw, changing someof the matchups. Unfortunately the Ladies pro section of this now is out of date.

Just as Kane is returning to the men’s tour after a long absence, so does the Ladies tour have a former top player returning after some time away. Veronica Sotomayor is in the draw for the first time since Feb 2022 and will be looking to shake things up. She’s the player everyone wants to avoid in the draw.

Round of 32 matches of intrigue:

– @Sheryl Lotts vs Nancy Enriquez in the 16/17 matchup should be solid. Former top 10 player Nancy gets surprise wins often, and Lotts returns to the tour after months away, but with a ton of playing under her belt in her new Florida digs.

– Lexi York takes on Cris Amaya in a tough opener for both. York gets a ton of playing time with the Bredenbeck brothers and could surprise the tour regular Amaya.

– #4 Erika Manila vs Sotomayor: a semis-quality matchup in the round of 32 isn’t fair to either player, but Sotomayor had to play someone to start. Manilla’s last match on tour was a 3,7 loss in the round of 16 in the season’s final event, one which didn’t affect her season ending ranking but which had to leave a bad taste. Meanwhile, Vero basically trains all week with the likes of Ortiz, Vargas, Lotts, and Sudsy Monchik and is game ready. Upset watch here; I would not be surprised if Sotomayor handles Manilla’s power and sends her packing early.

– #11 Gaby Martinez faces Maricruz Ortiz in a match she should win, but which gives Ortiz another chance to show how far she’s progressed.

– Two top US juniors in @Naomi ros and @Shane Diaz take on top 10 pros in Natalia Mendez and Carla Munoz respectively, but I don’t expect them to get upsets on tour just yet.

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Round of 16 matches to watch for

– In the 8/9, Mendez and Munoz are set to battle. Mendez is trending down while Carla is trending up, and I favor the Chilean here.

– Brenda Laime takes on east-coast rival @Kelani Lawrence in a new budding rivalry. They’ve played 4 times in 10 months, splitting them 2 and 2. Laime has gotten wins at the majors, and has very quietly ascended to her current #5 ranking, and could continue making noise on tour. Laime to advance.

– #6 Maria Jose Vargas takes on #11 Gaby in a semis-quality meeting between two of the top four ladies in the world right now. Vargas has just been on fire since her return to the tour, and I favor her for another deep run.

– 7/10 is Jessica Parrilla vs Samantha Salas Solis , who have played each other for years. Salas holds the upper hand though, and should move on here.

Quarters prediction:

– #1 @Montse Mejia over Munoz. This is no walkover; Carla played Montse tough in Virginia at this juncture, the match going 12,12, and has some career wins. But Montse is #1 now for a reason, and moves on.

– #5 Laime over Sotomayor: I think Vero’s run ends at the hands of the classical power/pinch game of Laime.

– #6 Vargas over #3 Alexandra Herrera ; amazing how tides shift; Herrera was 0-for-career against Vargas until early 2022, when she put it all together and couldn’t lose to anyone. But now, Herrera is slipping, with several round of 16 losses and is in jeopardy of getting pushed out of the top 3 for the first time in years.

– #2 Paola Longoria over Salas: Longoria has looked vulnerable of course, but not against her long-time doubles partner, over whom she holds a commanding h2h career lead (68-3). She’ll move on, then the real tournament starts.

Semis and Finals picks:

– #1 Mejia over #5 Laime. It wouldn’t shock me if Laime gets a win here, but I expect Mejia to hold serve and return to the finals. These two play similarly, but Mejia’s got a better overall pinch/pass game plus can handle Laime’s power.

– #6 Vargas over #2 Longoria. I think Vargas has the confidence to win, and will build on the last few meetings against her long-time antagonist.

Finals: Mejia over Vargas. I think Montse is relishing the chance to get a title as #1 for the first time.

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Mixed Pro Doubles Preview.

No fewer than 28 mixed pro doubles teams are set to compete, and racquetball fans are looking forward to this rarity. The defending champions from the 2021 event are back together and are the #1 seeds: Salas & Montoya. The similarities to prior Mixed Pro events pretty much ends there, as teams are jumbled and seedings done using a combination of USAR ranking points and past experiences.

Here’s the opening round matches I’m liking:

– #16 Sam Bredenbeck & Lexi York vs #17 Galicia and Gaby: an interesting contrast in styles here; Gaby should win the right sided battle with Lexi, but Sam can overpower Galicia. Look for this one to be close.

– #24 Kane & Michelle Key versus #9 @Kadim Carrasco and Laime: Carrasco and Laime are both solid doubles players, but so is Key as the reigning US National doubles champ. Kane is Kane, and in doubles can be pretty brutal to line up against on the backhand as a right-handed player. Don’t let #24 fool you (Kane has literally never played mixed before, knocking down their seeding): this is a tourney favorite.

– #14 Acuna/Ortiz versus #19 Sotomayor & @Jose Daniel Ugalde . Ugalde has some solid doubles experience (he made the finals of 2022 PARC men’s doubles) and can hang with Acuna. Sotomayor should win the right-side battle with the younger Ortiz. That kind of split usually means close tiebreaker.

– #23 Samuel Murray & @Frederique Lambert versus #10 Carter & Lawrence: a tough matchup for both teams, as the under-seeded Canadians feed into the all-USA Carter/Lawrence team. The big question here is how game-ready is Lambert right now? She’s now down to seemingly only playing a couple times a year during her medical residency. The former #2 LPRT player still is tough to beat, so expect a tiebreaker here.

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Round of 16 matches I like:

– #24 Kane/Key over #8 Natera/Munoz: I like the Kane & Key matchup over the husband-wife team of Natera and Munoz, even though Munoz is every bit as good a doubles player as Key.

– #12 Garcia/Vargas over #5 Manilla/Manilla. This will be an unpopular opinion, but I think the matchup for the reigning US Mixed doubles titlists and home-town favorites here is a tough one. Garcia is every bit as good as Adam on one side, and Vargas is better than Erika on the other. Power matches power here, so the match will come down to shot making and mental fortitude.

– #3 Portillo/Herrera over #19 Ugalde/Sotomayor. The inclusion of the lefty Herrera, who will match up against Ugalde, counter balances Portillo blasting away against Sotomayor on both players’ forehand. Herrera is tough to beat in doubles, as is Lalo, and they have the edge.

– #7 DLR/Scott over Murray/Lambert. DLR and Scott are probably under-seeded here given their combined exploits on the court. DLR is inarguably the best doubles player in the world indoor or out, and will take over this match. Murray’s no slouch though, so it’ll come down again to how match-ready Lambert is.

—-

Quarters Prediction:

– #1 Montoya/Salas over Waselenchuk/Key. A great quarter final that I look forward to watching. Salas is probably the 2nd best right-sided ladies doubles player out there (behind Mejia), and she’ll trump Key in that battle. Montoya has just as much power as Kane on the left side, so this match should be close.

– #4 Mar/Mejia over #12 Garcia/Vargas. This is a great match, but I can’t get over two of the best individual doubles players in Mar/Mejia getting beat here.

– #3 Portillo/Herrera over the #6 Parrilla brother/sister combo: I think this all Mexican battle goes according to seeds.

– #2 Moscoso/Longoria over #7 DLR/Scott. Longoria makes the difference here, winning the right-sided battle with Scott as DLR does all he can to counter the shot-making of Conrrado

Semis and Finals:

– #4 Mar/Mejia over #1 Montoya/Salas. Just a hunch, but the two doubles partners Mar & Montoya cancel themselves out, leaving the newly crowned #1 player to take over against her veteran Mexican rival.

– #2 Moscoso/Longoria over Portillo/Herrera; Longoria is just too tough to lose at this juncture, as is Moscoso.

Final: Moscoso/Longoria over Mar/Mejia. I think Paola and Montse cancel themselves out, but Moscoso has the edge over Mar and that makes the difference.

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Look for Streaming in the regular places for both pro tours. Follow IRT and LPRT on Facebook and sign up for live notifications.

Thanks to the Tourney Director Jim Hiser for putting this event on! Also for attendees there’s a great History of Racquetball/Museum exhibit done with the help of Jim Easterling and @Randy Stafford’s efforts.

Thanks to the main sponsors Keith Minor and Kwm Gutterman . It goes without saying that without you and your support, we don’t have a sport.

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.

Coincidentally, if you’re interested in playing Fantasy Racquetball for this event, the links to the brackets are advertised on LPRT’s main page. The winner each week gets free swag!

Associations

International Racquetball Tour

LPRT

IRT 12th Annual Costa Rica Open Recap

Montoya a double winner in Costa Rica. Photo Kevin Savory 2022 Portland IRT event

There was an IRT Tier 3 (aka an IRT-400 in the new parlance) in Costa Rica that had a really solid draw, a slew of touring pros, and a ton of international players from central and south America. This was as big of a draw as I can recall seeing in CR, and the competition was solid.

Here’s a recap.

Congrats to your winners on the weekend:

– Singles: Rodrigo Montoya

– Doubles: Rodrigo Montoya & Javier Mar

R2 Sports App home page for event: https://www.r2sports.com/tourney/home.asp?TID=41192

We don’t track non-tier1s in the database, but we do like to cover events that feature top talent.

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Lets review the notable matches in the Singles draw.

The draw went perfectly chalk to the quarters (actually, all the way through). None of the top 8 seeds were even pushed to a breaker until the quarter finals.

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In the Quarters

– #1 @Rodrigo Montoya made fast work of his younger Mexican teammate Erick Trujillo 5,3. After Trujillo’s loss at Conade a few weeks ago, he has some work to do if he wants to become the heir apparent of Mexican Racquetball.

– #4 Andres Acuna got a very solid win over #5 @Javier Mar 3,11.

– #3 Alejandro Landa , who toppled former IRT touring pro and long-time Costa Rican international Felipe Camacho in the 16s, went breaker to beat USA international Thomas Carter and move on. Carter had beaten the veteran Alvaro Beltran in the 16s, in Alvi’s return to competitive singles racquetball after his elbow injury in Las Vegas last fall.

– #2 @Andree Parrilla took out country-man Alan Natera in two.

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In the Semis

– #1 Montoya beat home-town favorite #4 Acuna 10,9.

– #2 Parrilla held serve against #3 Landa, grinding out game one 15-10 before running away with game two 15-1.

In the Finals, two long-time adversaries went at it again, and Montoya came out on top 14,5. Montoya has started to dominate this head to head rivalry, which has led to his passing Parrilla on the IRT rankings board.

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Doubles review

The top touring pros all played pro doubles, with the consensus #1 team in the world Montoya/Mar ending up on top. The beat Parrilla & Natera in the final.

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Men’s Open, other draws

– Carter took out Natera to win the Men’s Open singles draw,

– Guatemalans José Cáceres / Alexander Sierra took the Men’s Open Doubles RR but fell to Costa Rica’s Oscar Montejo / Antonio Sanchez in the playoff final.

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tags International Racquetball Tour

IRT SoCal Open Recap

Jake wins his 2nd ever IRT title. Photo unknown circa 2018

Congrats to your winners on the weekend:

– Singles: Jake Bredenbeck

– Doubles: @Daniel De La Rosa and @Alejandro Landa

Bredenbeck beats #1 and #2 to claim his second career IRT title. Landa and DLR win their first title together since claiming the US National crown in February.

R2 Sports App home page for event: https://www.r2sports.com/website/event-website.asp?TID=41100

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Lets review the notable matches in the Singles draw.

Singles Match report in the PRS database: https://rball.pro/fz9

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In the 32s: the move to a non-qualifying draw continues to show its impact. Of the nine round of 32 matches competed, four of them could only be described as complete blow outs, finishing with score-lines of 2&0, 2&1, 5&1, and 0&1. Even those which didn’t finish in 15 minutes were generally not competitive, featuring single game scores in the low single digits. Only one tiebreaker in the entire play-in round, when #11 Jaime Martell was pushed to a breaker by #22 @Oscar Elias Nieto.

Lower-ranked players: are you still sure you want a non-protected draw?

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In the 16s, just one upset by seed and really only a couple of competitive matches as the IRT starts to get really chalky.

– #11 Martell upset #6 @Alejandro Landa 14,12. Landa was recovering from a couple of simultaneous injuries suffered in an IRT match earlier this season and the Opportunistic Martell took advantage.

– The only other close match in the 16s was #2 Daniel De La Rosa grinding past #15 Sam Bredenbeck 7,12.

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In the Quarters, we saw some solid ball.

– #1 @Conrrado Moscoso , who could not lose #1 unless he lost in the first round, cruised past the #8 seed Alan Natera .

– #5 Rodrigo Montoya continues his recent dominance over #4 Andree Parrilla , beats him for the 5th straight time in all competitions to move into the semis. With this win, Montoya should ascend into the top 4 on the IRT for the first time.

– #3 Jake Bredenbeck raced past the upset-minded Martell 11,2 to move into the semis for the 5th time in six tournaments this season, after having made a grand total of 5 pro semis in his entire career prior.

– #2 De La Rosa moved past the lefty Adam Manilla 12,6 to setup a critical meeting against Jake that has significant ramifications both for the pro tour and for USA national rankings as we approach National singles.

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In the Semis

– Moscoso and Montoya had their customary “nothing between them” first two games, splitting it 14 one way and 13 the other, before Conrrado ran away with the tiebreaker to move into the final.

– In the bottom half, pundits (ahem, me) thought DLR would advance into the final like he normally does over Jake (he’s 13-2 lifetime against Bredenbeck and has owned him this whole season). Jake had other plans, taking game 1, getting a huge lead in the breaker and holding off a comeback attempt to take the semi and advance into the final.

In the Finals, another upset as Jake took out Moscoso in two straightforward games to get his first ever win over the Bolivian and claim his second title after taking Portland in December. Jake played solid, calm, tactical power racquetball to take out the world #1. A well earned win.

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Points Implications of results:

We’ve alluded to the expected changes above, but we’re seeing some major movement with these results:

– Thanks to Jake’s replacing last year’s round of 16 loss in SoCal with a win here, he will supplant De La Rosa easily for #2 on tour. What a great achievement for Jake, who many thought would be mired in the 7-10 range as a peak for his career.

– Montoya will jump over both Parrilla and the missing Eduardo Portillo and moves into the coveted #4 spot. He’ll continue to project into Moscoso in the semis, and may very well continue to face his long-time nemesis Parrilla in the 4/5 spot in the quarters, but he’s now in position to put some points on the board.

– Manilla should move up to #8 spot.

– Murray drops to #9 and with his latest injury is in serious jeopardy of dropping out of the top 10 for the first time since 2016.

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Doubles review

Match report in the PRS database: https://rball.pro/zc9

This tournament marked the triumphant return of Alvaro Beltran to the tour after months away, and also marks a new pathway forward for Beltran. For a while, he has been hinting at retiring from playing singles but still wanted to play doubles. However, his long-time doubles partner De La Rosa has been forced to find new partnerships in his absence.

Since Alvaro’s injury, DLR has played with @Kadim Carrasco (semis loss in Florida), Sebastian Fernandez (semis loss in Austin), @javier Mar (a win in the Lewis Drug), Landa ( a win at US nationals, then a Finals loss in Atlanta before this weekend), and then with Moscoso (a loss in Minnesota). Suffice it to say, DLR needs a regular partner. Has he found one in Landa? Maybe so; he and Landa eased into the final by topping Chicago’s champs Parrilla and Manilla in the semis.

There, they met … DLR’s old partner Beltran, who teamed with Montoya this week in Mar’s absence and got a very solid win over the PARC finalists from Bolivia Moscoso & Carrasco to get t here.

In the final, the former partners showed little good will towards each other in a tight, testy match that belied the existence of some tension between the long-time partners. In the end, DLR and Landa took the title, their first since taking US Nationals in February, though Beltran made his normal array of fantastic shots.

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Other notable draws.

In the Men’s Open, Trujillo (who curiously forfeited his pro match) took out for fellow Mexicans in a row (Sanchez, Nieto, Ortega, and Longoria) to take the Men’s Singles Open title.

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Thanks for all the streaming on the weekend, especially from broadcasters Favio Soto, Pablo Fajre and the IRTLive crew . thanks to Brian pineda for coming out of broadcasting retirement to make it happen this weekend.

Thanks to the Tourney Director @Favio Soto and for Keith Minor as always for your continued support of the sport. I’m not sure we have pro racquetball right now without KWM Gutterman and Minor.

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Next up?

Per our handy master racquetball calendar …

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

Next weekend the LPRT is back in action for the first of two back to backs, in San Antonio and then their Grand Slam in Greenvile, SC. The IRT has had several events fall through and now doesn’t have a tier 1 again until the big event in Denver, which may very well feature the return of Kane Waselenchuk .

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tags

@kwKwm Gutterman

International Racquetball Tour

IRT SoCal Open Preview

Carso returns to the tour. how far can he go? Photo Portland 2019 via Kevin Savory

Welcome back! It’s been a month since the last IRT event, but it seems like forever since the Men’s pro’s were in action. But they’re back, in Southern California.

r2sports home page: https://www.r2sports.com/website/event-website.asp?TID=41100

Perhaps its a hangover effect from the PARC, but this event is missing a ton of regulars. #4 Lalo, #8 Murray (who got injured in Guatemala), #10 Acuna are not here; these guys rarely miss an event. Plus a big chunk of the 11-14 ranked guys conspires to give Natera a #8 seed here, by far his highest ever pro seed. (note: post publishing JTRBall tells us that both Lalo and Acuna are at the Asia championhships).

A total of 28 players here, down from 42 players at this same event this same weekend last year. This continues a troubling trend on the IRT, which seems to have lost a third of its players in the last year.

Daniel De La Rosa won this event last year, so he’s defending full winner’s points. Meanwhile Moscoso lost in the quarters and will likely gain ground on his top rival DLR for the #1 spot after the weekend.

Lets go through the draw, see what may happen with so many top players out.

round of 32:

– @Rocky Carson is back, playing on tour for the first time in months in his home town. He faces local junior Cody Elkins in a round of 32.

– Jaime Martell takes on fellow Mexican Neito Oscar.

– #6 Alejandro Landa , fresh off not going to PARC, gets to play a name we havn’t heard in a while, former Japanese international Hiroshi Shimizu . Shimizu has pro results dating back to 2001-2, nearly as long as Rocky.

– in the 15/18 match, Sam Bredenbeck takes on Mexican youngster Jesus Guillermo Ortega in a match that could be closer than expected.

In the 16s, the top 4 seeds join the action. Matches of note for me:

– Rodrigo Montoya projects to face Carson and probably ends his return to the tour early.

– Landa projects to face his old WRT rival Martell.

– #7 Adam Manilla versus #10 Erick Trujillo is probably the most interesting match of the round. A good test for Trujillo to see if he can get by the crafty lefty.

Projected qtrs:

– #1 Conrrado Moscoso takes out Natera

– #4 Andree Parrilla faces his nemesis #5 Montoya, who has taken over their h2h lately. Montoya wins again and moves on.

– #3 Jake Bredenbeck projects to face #6 Landa in an intriguing match. Last time they played, Landa cruised past Jake at the 2022 USA National singles event to take the qualifier spot. But, since then Jake has really turned things around. What happens here? This is likely a preview of a match that happens in May with a spot on the US team on the line.

– #2 DLR projects to face Manilla, another possible May USA nationals match. DLR moves on.

Semis:

– Moscoso may be #1, but he has the harder semi against Montoya, a player who has proven time and again he can beat the Bolivian. These two met at this juncture in Chicago and it was a 14,14 win for Conrrado. What happens here? Coin flip, but i think Moscoso is on a roll after dominating the PARC event.

– DLR vs Jake. they keep running into each other at this juncture … and Jake keeps pressing the action but falling short. I see an other DLR TB win.

Final: DLR tops Moscoso. I think the jet setting catches up to Moscoso and DLR defends his title.

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Doubles preview:

The big news, as announced on Sudsy Monchik ‘s show last Sunday, is the return of Alvaro Beltran to the court. He has not played professionally since injuring his elbow in the Vegas 3WB tournament last October.

He’s paired with Montoya, whose regular partner @javier Mar is not here. They’re the #1 seeds; can they run the table?

They’ll face stiff competition from the top half of the draw, which features PARC champs Moscoso & Carrasco, who will have to get by the Bredenbeck brothers before taking on the Mexicans for a spot in the final. We’ll see how Beltran is doing quickly, as their opponents will be testing Alvi’s stamina.

From the bottom half, the #2 seeds Parrilla and Manilla have had some fast success together, but will have to get by the newly crowned USA national team pairing of DLR/Landa.

I’m looking at Team Bolivia versus team USA in the final, with DLR/Landa getting the win

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Look for Streaming starting at 7pmEST/4pmPST on the regular channels

IRT Shamrock Shootout Recap

Manilla wins the pro doubles in Chicago. Photographer Kevin Savory

Congrats to your winners on the weekend:

– Singles: @Conrrado Moscoso

– Doubles: @Andree Parrilla and Adam Manilla

Moscoso secures his 6th career win, tying him for 16th all time. He now has as many tier 1 victories as @Jerry Hilecher , Ruben Gonzalez and Drew Kachtik each had in their careers.

On the doubles side, Parrilla wins his 4th career pro title and Manilla his 2nd.

see https://rball.pro/vhp for a list of all Tourney winners.

R2 Sports App home page for event: https://www.r2sports.com/website/event-website.asp?TID=40557

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Lets review the notable matches in the Singles draw.

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

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In the 64s and 32s, absolutely no surprises.

The only upset by seed was in the 16/17 game between Carrasco and Cuevas, and no one was surprised by the 6,8 victory by the 17th seed. All sixteen round of 32 matches were two-game wins, zero tiebreakers, zero upsets. Lots of blow outs, and even those games that appeared like they were closer probably weren’t; if a player wins the first game 15-1 and then wins the second game 15-11 …. it’s not like the losing player suddenly “figured things out” as much as its likely “the winning player coasted.”

I mention these facts because this is a side-effect of going to a straight draw, which some lower level players have clamored for. Well, congratulations, you’ve gotten what you want. People are convinced that from a competitive level giving top players byes into either the 16s or the 32s was unfair to the rest of the tour; well, what you fail to realize is that these top players are there for a reason. Now instead of getting a more competitive match in the 32s against a player seeded closer to your ability, mid-20s seeds are forced to play IRT top 8 players and get crushed.

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In the 16s, we got nearly chalk, with 7 of the top 8 seeds advancing. Only in the 8/9 match did we get an upset, with Acuna taking out Manilla a week on from a reverse outcome in the same matchup.

– Montoya held serve against an improving Natera in a closer than expected game 9,14

– Moscoso was taken to breaker by his countryman Carrasco.

– Landa dropped the first game and held on for an 11-9 tiebreaker win against Carter

– Murray made a statement against Mar, winning 2,13 to move on in a match I thought would go the other way.

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In the Quarters

– Moscoso crushed Acuna 3,7

– Montoya topped Parrilla yet again, going breaker yet again. These two have been playing each other for so long, dating to Juniors and WRT, and now it looks like they’ll continue to do so on the pro tour.

– Portillo made fast work of Landa 2,9

– Jake crushed Murray 3,7 to continue to prove that he belongs near the top of the IRT.

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In the Semis

– Moscoso won a captivating match 14,14 over Montoya, the player who just topped him at the last event. Great racquetball.

– Jake ground out a come-back win over Portillo to move into another final.

In the Finals…. Jake will be kicking himself for this one. After taking a close first game, Jake had leads of 8-0, 10-5, and 14-10 and could not close out the match, as Moscoso hung around and avoided the mental checkout of game 2. The tiebreaker was neck and neck before Moscoso ran off points at the end to win 11-7, but for me the story was Jake letting a winnable one slip away.

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Points Implications of results

With no DLR, obviously this win puts Moscoso back on top of the tour. He should be about 150 points clear. The next event to expire was a DLR win, so he’ll have 400 points to defend when the tour returns.

No other changes in the top 10.

In the 11-20 range:

– Mar and Carter flip spots at 11 & 12

– Natera up to 14th

– Collins up to 15th

– Martel now in the top 16, which may be a tough spot for him because he’ll continue to run into #1 or #2 in the round of 16.

– Rocky and Kane are now 17 and 18 respectively.

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Doubles review

Match report in the PRS database: https://rball.pro/vy2

Parrilla & Manilla topped Montoya and Mar 10,10 to win the doubles title here.

@Andree Parrilla wins his 4th career pro title and Adam Manilla his second with an impressive win over the #1 Montoya/Mar team.

Parrilla has bounced around partners for a while on tour: he played most of last season with Portillo, but Lalo seems to have gone with a Team Dovetail connection with Acuna. It was looking like he had paired up with Murray for a bit (as Murray was dropped by Landa for DLR upon Beltran’s injury), but Murray picked up with Jake when Sam took the last few events off. This left Andree needing a partner again.

Manilla has been bouncing around too; he used to play mostly with Riffel, them being college buddies, but when Riffel stopped touring Manilla has needed a partner. In the past few Pro events Adam has played with Murray, Franco, Mercado, Fernandez, Jake, and even Horn going back to 2021. But none of these players are a reliable partner for him, either because of absences/stepping back from touring, or because they’re playing more regularly with someone else.

Maybe Manilla and Parrilla are the new solid pairing, given that they just beat the clear #1 team in the world.

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Men’s Open, other draws

– Natera took out Longoria in the final. Semis Martell and Migliore, who had an excellent win over Trujillo to get there.

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

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Next up?

Per our handy master racquetball calendar …

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

We will recap Intercollegiates tomorrow. The Warhawk IRT satellite is next weekend in Louisiana, then the next week starts the 2023 Pan American Racquetball Championships (PARC). This annual event takes on special importance this year, as it will be a qualifier for the Pan Am Games later this year in Chile.

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tags

International Racquetball Tour

IRT Shamrock Shootout Preview

Jake is the #2 seed; can he get an other tour win? Photo Kevin Savory 2020 USAR national doubles

Welcome to Chicago, and the famed “fishbowl” court at the Glass Court Swim & Fitness club in Lombard, IL. Its the 2023 38th Annual Papa Nicholas Coffee Shamrock Shootout Presented by Glass Court Swim & Fitness.

R2 Sports App link: https://www.r2sports.com/website/event-website.asp?TID=40557

Two big news items from Chicago:

– #1 De La Rosa is not here. Instead, he’s in Austin playing in the PPA pickleball event. I just got done going on @Sudsy Monchik ‘s show talking about how DLR had a smooth ride to #1 based on his Fall 2022 results expiring … but not if he’s missing events in March. Look, this is probably a calculated decision on Daniel’s part, knowing that the pay at PPA events is better, knowing that he’s now representing Pro Kennex in both sports, and probably knowing full well of his game-plan schedule wise to ensure a year end #1. Just saying.

– This event has no qualifying; its a straight draw. This is the 3rd event in a row where the tiered qualifying has been abandoned, and this is being done at the request of a player suggestion. @Pablo Fajre and I have talked about this in the past; when he ran the WRT, he used straight draws, and there’s decent arguments to go back to a straight draw in the IRT now based on the size of the draws (small) and the concentration of talent at the top.

Top 20 players missing: after DLR, we still don’t have Mercado. Rocky hasn’t played a pro event since November, kane still hurt, and Franco misses another.

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

In the 32s, I don’t see anywhere where i expect an upset by seed, with the exception of the 16/17 match between Cuevas and Carrasco. But even that could go chalk. Longoria may give Montoya a push, or maybe you see Mendoza get points off of Collins, but there’s little chance otherwise for upsets in this round. In fact, I see a ton of absolute blowouts. #1 Moscoso versus a high school kid in the 32s? #2 Bredenbeck against a local amateur?

Not for nothing, this is one of the reasons given for going to protected qualifying to begin with. Lets take the #29 seed in this event: Victor Migliore. Assuming he wins his round of 64 match against Blase Zera, he sets to face #4 Parrilla in the 32s, almost certainly a loss. However, under protected top 8 qualifying we’ve had in place since 1999, Migliore would have played #20 Edwin Galicia in the “round of 64” (a winnable match?), to then play into #13 Trujillo in the “round of 32.” He would have more opportunities to get upset wins, which then lead to improved ran king and more prize money. Instead, with a straight draw? He loses in the 32s and probably gets zero prize money.

I know there’s lots of proponents for straight draws, but realize that straight draws are almost guaranteed to eliminate the kinds of close early round matches that we’ve come to enjoy.

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round of 16:

I don’t see a ton of upsets here: maybe 8/9 Manilla-Acuna will be close. Can Trujillo trouble Parrilla right now in the 4/13? i don’t think so. Unless Landa is still hurt, he should cruise past Carter.

The two best matches in the 16s are at the bottom: Murray-Mar and Jake-Martell. Mar took out Murray at the US Open and is my pick to move on here. Martell can get wins, but probably not against Jake based on the way Jake is playing.

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Projected Qtrs:

– Moscoso over Manilla

– Montoya over Parrilla: Rodrigo has Andree’s number right now.

– Portillo over Landa: Even at 100% this is close, and I’m guessing Landa is still not 100% so i’ll Pick Lalo here.

– Mar over Jake: this is the tough one. Jake has been playing so well, but Mar handled him easily the last time they played (last Sept). This could go either way.

Semis:

– Moscoso over Montoya: Rodrigo got him in Minnesota, i think Conrrado flips the script with the faster courts in Chicago. This is the real “final” for me with DLR in the draw.

– Mar over Portillo; similar game styles, Mar the classier player.

Finals;

– Moscoso over Mar.

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Doubles review

I like chalk to the semis. The “final” again comes early, with Montoya/Mar taking out Moscoso/Landa in the semis. On the bottom, Murray/Bredenbeck power their way over Manilla/Parrilla. In the final #1 team continues to win.

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

International Racquetball Tour