USA Junior Nationals Wrap-Up

Annie Roberts finishes off her Junior career with an 18U singles title. Photo Kevin Savory at 2019Jr Nationals.

Congrats to your Junior National Champion winners on the weekend! After a year away, where we saw an entire class of juniors matriculate without being able to defend titles or compete one last time, it was great to see the nation’s top juniors playing this weekend in Des Moines.


R2 Sports App home page for event:https://www.r2sports.com/tourney/home.asp?TID=37673

Lets review the draws and call out the finalists. Both Singles finalists qualify for Worlds. We’ll go singles then doubles, Boys then Girls, then Mixed. In each singles section, i’ll give the link to the Champions Matrix Report, which has all the champions of all junior divisions going back in history.


Boys Junior Singles Champions:
PRS Champions Matrix Report: http://rball.pro/68C60E

  • In 18U, #1 Timmy Hansen survived a strong push from the upset-minded #6 seed Julius Ellis, who had topped both the #2 and #3 seeds to get to the final. Hansen wins the battle of the sons of two former US National team members and captures his 2nd junior national title.
  • in 16U, #1 Nikhil Prasad captures his 6th junior national title over #3 Josh Shea in a tiebreaker.
  • in 14U, #2 Eshan Ali upset #1 seeded Joseph Marshall to win his 4th junior national title.
  • In 12U, #1 Nathan Rykhus dominated the field and took his 2nd junior national title over fellow NorCal #2 Vaishant Mangalampalli.
  • in 10U, #1 Alejandro Robles Picon won his 3rd junior national title in dominant fashion, winning all 5 RR matches and never giving up more than 5 points in a game. Nebraskan Lucas Frost-Biskup came in 2nd.
  • in 8U, Beckett Hansen took out his fellow 8U RR competitor Chris Nelson for the title, and beat several 10U players along the way.

10U Double bounce, 8U multi bounce and 6U multi bounce divisions were not competed this year.


Girls Junior Singles Champions:
PRS Champions Matrix Report: http://rball.pro/6D7917

  • In 18U, #1 Annie Roberts saved off match points to take the title over #2 Erin Slutzky. Roberts secures her 4th junior national title in her final year competing.
  • In 16U, a big upset as #5 Texan Naomi Ros took out 8-time junior national champ #1 seed Heather Mahoney with ease, then cruised to her first Junior national title in the final over Ava Kaiser. A dominant showing from Ros, who is a former Mexican and World Junior champ but has now moved to the US and is competing here.
  • in 14U, #1 Sonya Shetty wins her 3rd junior national title over #2 Andrea Perez-Picon, a 12U player playing up and who double qualified on the weekend.
  • in 12U, Perez-PIcon secured her 5th junior national title with ease, cruising to a win over #2 Aanshi Thakur in the final.
  • in 10U, Stockton’s Natalia Canchola was the sole entrant and wins the title by default; she competed against the 12U

10UDB, 8U, 8Umb and 6Umb divisions were not competed this year.


Boys Junior Doubles Champs
A reminder: just the doubles champs qualify to represent team USA.

  • 18U: Josh Shea repeats as champ (he also won 18U doubles in 2019 with Dylan Pruitt) with Vedant Chauhan; they topped the #1 seeded team of Gleason/Hansen. This is Shea’s 3rd junior double national title and Chauhan’s 2nd.
  • 16U: Gatlin Sutherland & Nikhil Prasad surprised the #1 seeded team of Shea & Chauhan and took the 16U title in the RR draw. This is Sutherland’s 3rd junior national title and Prasad’s 3rd as well.
  • 14U: Eshan Ali & Alexander Pappas took the RR title over 2nd place finishers Axel Lopez & Juan Herrera II. This is Ali’s 2nd junior national doubles title and Pappas’ first.
  • 12U: Vaishant Mangalampalli & Nathan_Rykhus took the small RR draw over fellow 12U competitors Alejandro Robles Picon & Aarush Sudamalla to take the title. This is Mangalampalli’s first title and Rykhus’ second.
  • 10U: The Texan brother team of Chris & Adrian Nelson were the sole 10U entrants; they competed against the 12U but take the title uncontested.

(we generally don’t compete younger than 10U doubles)


Girls Junior Doubles Champs

  • 18U #2 Heather Mahoney & Julia Stein topped #1 Estefania Perez & Erin Slutzky in an 11-9 thriller to take the title. This is Mahoney’s 9th junior national doubles title and Stein’s 9th as well (most of their titles have been together as they’ve grown up).
  • 16U: #1 Karina Mathew & Ava Kaiser cruised to a title over #2 sister team of Arya & Esha Cyril. This is their third junior national doubles title together.
  • 14U: The Shetty sisters Aarya & Sonya won the RR competition, with the Stockton duo of Jordan Ellis & Camila Canchola coming in 2nd. This is Sonya’s 5th doubles title and Aarya’s first.
  • 12U: Andrea Perez-Picon & Zara Ximena Barraza took the RR draw, with Aarya Shetty & Elizabeth Denler coming in 2nd place.

No 10U doubles competitors this year.


Mixed Junior Doubles Champs

  • 18U Mixed: Iain Dunn / Estefania Perez topped Hannah Werk / William Sherman in the final.
  • 16U: Esha Cyril & Nikhil Prasad were the top ranked 16U team in the combined 16/14 RR group.
  • 14U: Nathan Rykhus & Jordan Ellis were the top ranked 14U team in the combined group.

Thanks for all the streaming on the weekend, especially from broadcasters Leo Ray Vasquez and Dean DeAngelo Baer. And thanks to all the players and parents who hopped on the mike to help out, including the likes of Michelle De La Rosa, Tim Hansen and John Ellis. You all made the broadcasts fantastic.

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Next up?

Your two singles finalists per division plus the doubles winners all qualify to represent the USA at the 2021 World Juniors championships, to be held the first weekend in December in San Jose, Costa Rica.

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2021 USAR National Team Qualifier Preview

Welcome to US Nationals! This weekend, the men and women will have US National team qualifiers to determine who represents the USA at the PARC and World tournaments later this year (in Bolivia and Guatemala respectively), and the Juniors will be competing to win Junior National titles and earn the honor to represent the USA at Junior Worlds in Guatemala later this year.


Lets preview the draws.

R2 Sports App link:https://www.r2sports.com/tourney/home.asp?TID=37673


Men’s Singles.
12 players entered, highlighted by the top 2 seeds who made the finals of the last national qualifier we held, along with a number of IRT regulars.

In the play-in, look out for #12 John Goth, a solid player who made the US National final in 2012 and the round of 16 in the last pro event he played, who faces #5 Charlie Pratt Racquetball, he himself a frequent US National team member and the current US Junior national team coach. Whoever Goth faced in the opener would face a tough challenge.
In the Quarters, whoever survives Goth/Pratt has a good chance against #4 Thomas Carter to make the semis. The projected #3/#6 match between Jake Bredenbeck and Maurice Miller could be interesting as well.

In the end, I expect the top two seeds #1 Rocky Carson and #2 Alex Landa to advance to the final and battle it out for the US title. That match would be a coin flip for me; in the last qualifier Rocky came out on top, but the last time they faced off professionally Landa squeaked by with an 11-10 win in the final of the Los Compadres open in Fullerton in Nov 2019.


Women’s Singles:

The top 4 women in the US keep running into each other in the back end of these tournaments, and I expect the top 4 seeds to advance to the semis again this year.
In the semis, I look for two upsets by seeding; look for #4 Kelani Lawrence to top #1 Erika Manilla in the top half, and for Hollie Scott (who won the last National team qualifier and thus i’m not quite sure how she’s only ranked #3) to top #2 Rhonda Rajsich in the other semi.

In the final…i’ll go with Kelani, who just faced (and beat) Scott in the LPRT Sweet Caroline open in May rather easily to beat her again and claim her second national title.


Men’s Doubles
The big news here was the last minute positive Covid test that defending US doubles champion Sudsy Monchik suffered, which has taken him out of traveling and thus out of the tournament. He’s really bummed, but also has been dealing with the illness, and we’re glad he’s recovering. With the news, USAR reworked the draw and four teams remain to compete.

In one semi, look for the new #1 seed Carson/Pratt (the 2019 champs) to take out the local favorites of Goth/Blake Hansen, while the 2/3 match should feature some fireworks between two good teams of the Bredenbeck brothers (Jake and Sam Bredenbeck) playing Miller and Troy Warigon.

In the final look for Carson/Pratt to prevail over the Bredenbecks to take the title and send Rocky back to an international competition for the 14th year.


Women’s Doubles
The defending champ from the last national qualifier ( Aimee Roehler Ruiz) is out while battling Breast Cancer, so the teams are relatively jumbled from the last time we saw them. There’s 5 teams playing, and I expect the top two seeds to advance to the final.

In the final, look for the team of Scott/Lawrence to take out the team of Rajsich/Manilla to take the title.

Juniors
It has been two years since we had Junior Nationals and we’ve lost an entire class to matriculation, so its the first time we’ve seen some of these kids in quite a while. I won’t spend a ton of time previewing the draw or making predictions since, well, we just have no idea what will happen.

In the Boys 18U; the top two seeds of Timmy Hansen and Andrew Gleason are seasoned junior international vets and will be hard to beat. Gleason is playing on home soil and could be an upset favorite, but he’ll have to get by a tough #3 seed in Krish Thakur, who has 3 junior titles to his credit. Nonetheless, I like Hansen, who has looked just dominant in local Florida events as of late, to take the title.

In the Girls 18U, #1 Annie Roberts is a favorite to make the final, but she has no simple pathway there. On the bottom side, the 2/3 semi should be great between Erin Slutzky and Shane Diaz. All three have been regularly popping up in LPRT events and moving their careers forward. Look for Roberts to take the title.

In the Boys 16U, a stacked draw at the top, featuring two top seeds in Vedant Chauhan and Nikil Prasad, two Norcal kids who face off a lot. But look out for New Yorker Josh Shea, who has been hanging out at the Kelley court competing against pretty significant competition and might make a run here. The last time these three faced off, Chauhan topped Shea in the 2019 14U, and Prasad topped Chauhan in the final … we’ll get rematches of both this weekend.

In the Girls 16U: it is the Heather Mahoney show; she’s won 8 junior titles and is the defending World 14U champ. It will be difficult to top her in Iowa this weekend.

For the 14U and younger draws … as fans we’ll have to wait and see how the draws play out. I find it hard to even make predictions on kids who were 12 the last time we saw them.


Look for Streaming on USA Racquetball’s page, with Leo Ray Vasquez on the mike as always! Plus, this year USAR has brought in none other than the IRT’s main streaming guy Dean DeAngelo Baer to help out.

Thanks to the Tourney Director and USAR national events coordinator Connor Shane or putting this event on!

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IRT Suivant Consulting Pro-Am Grand Slam Wrap up

Murray becomes the 41st ever winner on the pro tour. Photo Kevin Savory 2018 US Open

Congrats to your winners on the weekend:

– Singles: Samuel Murray

– Doubles; Alex Landa/Sudsy Monchik

Also congrats to the winners of the massive Open and 18U draws (which we’ll talk about later on):

– Men’s Open: Andres Acuna

– Men’s Open Doubles: Moscoso/Carrasco

– 18U Juniors: Erick Trujillo

Murray, who was in jeopardy of not even traveling to the tournament thanks to Covid-related travel restrictions coming out of Canada, becomes the 41st ever Tier 1 tournament winner in the history of Men’s pro tours. Ironically, the previous person to fulfil that particular bucket list item was also the player he vanquished in the final. Murray had a fantastic event, getting his first ever wins over both Mar and De La Rosa, then playing solid racquetball all weekend to win the title. Arguably Murray was the underdog in every match from the round of 16 on, and proved all pundits and prognosticators wrong.

(see http://rball.pro/ABA6F8 for a list of all tour winners in history).

On the Doubles side, the reigning US national team champs topped a number of top teams en route to the final, including two top international teams that they might face in the next IRF championship. They seem to be growing as a team and looking more dangerous the more they play together.

R2 Sports App home page for event: https://www.r2sports.com/website/event-website.asp?TID=34826

——————

Lets review the notable matches in the Singles draw.

Singles Match report in the PRS database: http://rball.pro/A1D93C

—————-

In the 64s, the huge draw made for 16 round of 64 matches, and we saw a couple of surprising results and tough tiebreakers:

– Up and coming Costa Rican international Gabriel Garcia moved past solid Alabama-native Destry Everhart 9,9 in the always-tough #32/#33 matchup.

– Junior Timmy Hansen moved past the ref Scott McClellan 12,11 in a hard fought opener.

– Another member of the Costa Rican team

Sergio Acuña

was stretched to a tiebreaker by home-town favorite Austin Cunningham before advancing (13),13,7.

– #19 Sam Bredenbeck dropped the opener against relative newcomer Texan Brennen Jennings before moving on (9),11,4.

– #23 MoMo Zelada was pressed by top amateur player from Monterrey Daniel Diaz 13,9 before advancing. This is the first time i’ve seen Diaz in any top-level competition tracked by PRS and he played well, hope to see more of him on tour.

– In one of the best matches of the opening round, 18U junior lefty Andrew Gleason came from a game down to beat tough Bolivian Miguel A. Arteaga Guzman (5),5,7. Gleason showed some great mental toughness for a junior, many of whom would have folded after a first game beat down.

—————-

In the 32s, we saw the top 16 pros enter into the draw for the first time … and the draw went perfectly chalk. Every one of the top 16 seeds advanced. There were a couple notable matches though.

– the #16/#17 seed match always seems to provide a close call, and this was no exception. #16 Javier Estrada took out his doubles partner and good friend

Alan Natera Chavez

12,10.

– #9

Sebastian Franco

was stretched a little too close for comfort against improving youngster

Erick Cuevas

before advancing 8,14

– #14 Costa Rican number one Andres Acuña came back from a game down against the improved Sam Bredenbeck to advance in a breaker.

– #11

Thomas Carter

was also stretched to a tie-breaker by the Bolivian veteran

Kadim Carrasco

before moving on.

– #10 Mario Mercado blitzed by Zelada 6,8, making much faster work than the last time they played (season opener in Laurel in Sept 2019).

—————-

In the 16s, despite the size of the draw and all the upset potential …. the draw went chalk again. All top 8 seeds advanced.

– #1

Alex Landa

took a game off, but advanced over the big man from Chihuahua Estrada. Final score 11,(1),9

– #8 Jake Bredenbeck advanced past fellow big hitter #9 Franco] 6,10 in the 8/9 match which is typically a lot closer.

– #5

Samuel Murray

fought back from dropping game one to the dangerous #12 Javier Mar before advancing 11-7 in the breaker. I thought for sure this was an upset special.

– #4 Daniel De La Rosa made fast work of #13 Eduardo Garay Rodriguez 7,1 … a result that might give the rest of the tournament pause.

– #3

Andree Parrilla

crushed the Costa Rican #1 Acuna 1,4 . A great result for Parrilla, who was struggling for consistency when the tour paused.

– #6 Eduardo Portillo Rendon was stretched to a breaker by the suddenly dangerous Carter before advancing.

– #7

Conrrado Moscoso

beat fellow Bolivian native #10 Mercado in two straight, a solid win against an opponent that used to give him trouble.

– #2 Rocky Carson shook off the rust and advanced past

Adam Manilla

, who played him tough in game two but could not force the breaker.

—————-

In the Quarters, we started to see the seeds breaking down, in a slew of fantastic matches that put the show court behind nearly 3 hours inside of 3 matches (the last quarter final was a 1pm scheduled start and didn’t go on until nearly 4pm). Lets recap

– #1 Landa over #8 Jake: Landa made it 10 for 10 in top competitions versus Jake, but the big Minnesotan did not make it easy, keeping it close throughout. Landa advances 11,13.

– #5 Canadian number one Murray got his first career win over #4 DLR in an 11-9 thriller. Game one was back and forth, with DLR coming back to eke it out 15-14, then Murray blitzed game two in about 10 minutes to force the tiebreaker. There, the players were neck and neck, playing back and forth racquetball that was just great for the neutrals, with DLR shooting constantly, Murray putting on a defensive and diving clinic, and then Sam pulling out a great winner to break a 9-9 tie that had lasted several service changes before DLR pressed on a forehand winner to skip out at match point against.

– #6 Portillo showed some real veteran poise throughout his match against #3 Parrilla, keeping to his game plan and grinding out the 11-8 tiebreaker win. This isn’t necessarily Lalo’s best ever win (he beat Carson in Arizona in 2019) or his best result (he made the final of the 2020 Lewis Drug) but it was the kind of match he won when he wasn’t necessarily favored to win, and he did it by just out playing and out thinking his opponent.

– #7 Moscoso got another win over #2 Carson in an IRT event (the third in as many pro meetings), but really had to dig deep to do so. Carson controlled game one, but Moscoso ground back in game two before racing to the 11-4 breaker win. Kane and Sudsy were on the mike for the first part of this match and put on a broadcasting clinic, with some of the best in-match analysis you’ll ever see. It is worth a re-listen to the broadcast.

—————

In the Semis

– #1 Landa seemed to show some of the effects of the layoff and lots of play on Saturday, looking tired throughout the match. He was pressed continually by the Canadian #1, who put on an absolute clinic on defensive racquetball and athletic prowess diving around the court and showing amazing agility for a big man. Murray saved match point against and ran off a couple points for victory on the back of a couple of pretty amazing kill shots from the back court. This was one of those matches you wished was still win by two, because there was little separating these two players on the day. Murray advances to just his second ever pro final, first since Sept 2018 with the 11-10 thriller.

– #7 Moscoso advanced to the finals over #6 Portillo, but Lalo continued to show his maturation as a player, bouncing back from an embarrassing first game 15-2 shellacking to take a game from one of the world’s best players before falling quickly in the breaker. Moscoso advances to his 3rd major final in just 10 career tournaments and is in a great spot to take another title.

—————-

So, just to note the pathway for the two finalists:

– Murray has beaten Mar, DLR and Landa to get here.

– Moscoso has beaten Mercado, Carson and Portillo.

Murray in particular really having a great event.

In the Finals…

Murray controlled game one easily, playing smart racquetball and exposing Moscoso’s go-for-broke style. Conrrado came back in game two, getting on a hot streak to push to a breaker. In the tie-breaker, Murray continued to grind out points, playing smart racquetball and counter-punching against Moscoso’s shots. Momentum seemed to swing against Murray as Moscoso ran off four straight towards the end … but Murray stiffened up, played smart racquetball, mixed in a few highlight-reel 39 foot roll outs of his own to match the flashier Moscoso, then ended the match with a diving re-kill roll-out to take his first ever IRT title.

Murray played lights out all weekend, and more than earned this title.

—————-

Points Implications of results

Well, we’re not entirely sure what the points implication of this event will be, because we’re not sure what the tour will do yet with the rankings points The points have been frozen since March, but just turning the system back on and expiring 9 months of points will have a pretty radical effect on the rankings.

There’s talk of changing the points system as a result, to go away from a rolling 12-month calendar for the time being to something based on the last 10 tourneys, or perhaps the last two years of events. There’s also talk of moving to a calendar year system versus a rolling seasonal system.

IF (and this is a big if) we were to stick with rolling 12-months and just expire the points dating to the end of 2019 … then these are some of the big-time moves we’ll see in the rankings:

– DLR jumps to #2

– Finalists Murray and Moscoso jump to #3 and #4 respectively.

– Landa drops to #5

– Mercado jumps to #7

– Estrada, amazingly, jumps from #23 to #8

– Parrilla gets dropped to #9

– Manilla, also surprisingly , jumps from #21 to #10.

– Beltran drops all the way to #11

– And lastly, most amazingly, Carson would drop from #3 all the way to #15. That’s right; Rocky, a player who has not been outside the top 3 in 20 years or so, had such a badly timed run of results and missed early 2020 events due to injury that he’d nearly be out of the top 16.

Take all this with a grain of salt, because I sense the ranking system needs to be modified to protect against such radical moves. Stay tuned.

—————-

Pro Doubles review

Doubles Match report in the PRS database: http://rball.pro/6066EC

The 14-team doubles draw provided a ton of interesting results on the first night of competition, with a ton of really surprising results. Here’s a walk through.

In the 16s:

– #3 seeds DLR and tournament sponsor Donald Williams were handled by the local team of Zachary Patterson and Austin Cunningham 14,3. I thought the presence of top doubles player DLR would get them at least a round further, but they fall at the opener.

– #6 seeded Colombian’s Garay and Franco dug deep to hold off the tough pair of Mexicans from Chihuahua Natera & Estrada in two tight games 14,10. They’re setup for a good shot at the final.

– #10 seeds and new pairing Carter & Mar really surprised me and blew past the all-Colombian team of Mercado and Herrera 6,5. Mercado is such a good doubles player, I thought this would have gone the other way based on the inexperience of Carter+Mar pairing … but as they say, this is why they play the games.

In the Quarters

– #1 Murray/Jake had to go breaker to top the experienced Costa Rican pair of Acuna/Camacho.

– #4 Sudsy Monchik and Landa had a tense, tight match against the Bolivian team of Moscoso/Carrasco, pulling it out in a heated breaker where the American reps came back from 5-8 down in the breaker to run the match out. At the death, a highly contested two-bounce call, several debatable replays and then match point awarded via an avoidable when Monchik had a setup in the middle of the court that hit a jumping Moscoso. It was an animated finish to say the least.

– #3 Garay/Franco destroyed the Cinderella local team of Patterson/Cunningham to move into the semis.

– #2 Parrilla/Portillo took a close 2-game win 11,13 over Carter/Mar.

In the semis…

– The US national team of Monchik/Landa stiffened up after a first game blowout loss to #1 seeded Murray/Jake and eventually cruised to the tiebreaker 11-3 to move into the finals.

– The Colombian national team of Franco/Garay held off match point in game two, then blew it out in the breaker to move into the final over the #2 seeded all-Mexico team of Parrilla/Portillo.

In the final…

– Monchik & Landa had match point on their racquets … twice, but the new Colombian pairing of Franco/Garay fought back and forced the breaker. There. the US champs controlled throghout and ground out the win. The tail end of game two was some of the best doubles play i’ve ever seen, with all four players hitting amazing shots, and both teams showing tactical adjustments on the fly to try to strategize their way to a win.

—————-

Men’s Open review; a 35-man open draw went down, with a ton of top pro players dipping down into the draw and making for some great matches.

In the final, Acuna topped Natera in a breaker. Floridian vet

Alejandro Herrera Azcarate

and Costa Rican newcomer Gabriel Garcia were the semi finalists.

—————–

18U Junior draw review

The IRT is embarking on a new program to highlight juniors, and Atlanta was their first foray into the program. A large scholarship purse was devoted to the draw and they got a fantastic multi-national 18U junior draw as a result.

The top two 18U players from Mexico advanced to the final, with

Erick Trujillo

topping 2019 Mexican 16U champ Sebastian Longoria in a breaker. American juniors Gleason and

Benjamin Horner

were the semifinalists.

—————–

Thanks for all the streaming on the weekend, especially from broadcasters Dean DeAngelo Baer, Favio Soto, Pablo Fajre and the IRTLive crew . Also a special shoutout to

Sudsy Monchik

and Kane Waselenchuk, who provided amazing commentary for some of the Saturday afternoon matches.

——————

Next up? the next “known” event from any major organization is Mid March’s Shamrock shootout in Chicago-land. We hope to have something hit in February but the odds seem low.

——————-

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US High School Nationals Wrap-up

Roberts the double winner on the weekend. Photo 2019 Jr Nats, Photographer Kevin Savory

Congrats to your winners on the weekend:
– Boys #1 Gold Singles: Antonio Rojas
– Girls #1 Gold Singles: Annie Roberts

– Boys #1 Doubles:Darren Lee/Vedant Chauhan,
– Girls #1 Doubles: Annie Roberts/Kelsey Klinger

– Boys Team winner: St. Louis University HS, St. Louis MO
– Girls Team Winner: Barlow HS, Gresham OR
– Overall Team winner: Sprague HS, Salem OR

Special mention to Barlow’s coach Brian Ancheta, who was named HS Coach of the year.

Roberts wins her 3rd straight #1 title, Rojas wins his second straight. Roberts the double winner on the weekend. With these wins, both players qualify for the US Junior National team for 2020.

R2 Sports App home page for event: https://www.r2sports.com/portfolio/r2-event.asp?TID=31700

Reminder: no High School data in the database online. This is a recap as a fan of the game 🙂

——————

Lets review the Boys #1 Singles draw.

All top 8 seeds advanced to the quarters, mostly in two straight dominant games. #7 Rory Lampe was stretched to a breaker by #10 Nick Schulze in the round’s closest match.

In the Quarters
– The #1 and #3 seeds (and pre-tourney favorites) each advanced in two quick games.
– The #2 seed Vedant Chauhan took a closer two game win 9,8 over #7 Lampe.
– The sole upset of the round came in the 4/5; Stockton’s Julius Ellis took out #4 Cody Boucher 11-5 in the breaker to move into the semis.

—————
In the Semis
– #1 Rojas dominated his friend and frequent playing NorCal playing partner #5 Ellis 1,5 to move into the final.
– #3 Prasad took out his rival #2 Chauhan in a tie-breaker to move into the final.

In the Finals, the beginning of the match made it seem like it would be a blow-out win for Rojas, whose pace and shot selection is amazingly advanced for a 17yr old. But the 14-yr old Prasad made the adjustments needed to not only get back into game one but to make it a close match. So close that it went 11-10.

But the way it GOT to 11-10 was … well pretty amazing. Prasad came out swinging in the tiebreaker and was up 7-1 and then 10-2 … Rojas came all the way back, the two traded serves three times at 10-10, appeals, kill shots, everything. Leo Ray Vasquez called it “the best match he’s ever commentated.” Rojas on his 4th match point hit an ace serve to end it. Pretty amazing. I highly suggest watching the tie-breaker online (all video is available by going to USA Racquetball’s facebook home page).

——————

Lets review the Girls #1 Singles draw.

The top 8 seeds advanced to the quarter finals.

In the Quarters
– the top 2 seeds advanced in two games.
– The #3 and #4 seeds were both upset. #5 Erin Slutzky dominated #4 Arya Cyril 3,2 to move on, while Texas’ #6 Shane Diaz took an 11-9 win over #3 Stocktonian Alondra Canchola.

In the Semis
– #1 Roberts beat #5 Slutzky in two solid games 9,10
– #2 Mahoney cruised over #6 Diaz 6,9 to make her first final.

In the Finals, Roberts made it three titles in a row with a dominant win over her younger junior national teammate 3,11. Roberts dominated with great pace and accuracy on her drive serves and really controlled the tempo of the match.

——————
Next up?

LPRT in Boston this coming weekend, then IRT in Chicago the next.

International Racquetball Tour
LPRT
International Racquetball Federation – IRF
USA Racquetball

2020 High School Nationals Preview

Annie Roberts defends her 2019 HS title on her home courts in Portland. Photo 2019 Junior Nationals, photographer Kevin Savory

This coming weekend is the 33rd annual High School Nationals, being held in Portland, Oregon at the same Multnomah Athletic club that hosted last year’s Junior Nationals and the annual John Pelham Memorial IRT event.

Fun Facts about HS Nationals:

– this is the 33rd event: the first was held in 1988 and won by Jim Floyd (Michigan) and Holly Grey (Virginia). Holly would later marry hall of famer Ed Remen and now lives in North Carolina.
– There’s been two 4-time HS champions: Adrienne Fisher Haynes from 2000-2004 and Lexi York from 2012-2016.
– There’s never been a 4-time male champ; the closest we got was Taylor Knoth, who took it 2007-2009. Knoth lost in the quarters his freshman year to the 2006 winner Chris Coy.
– The tournament has been dominated by players from California and Oregon: 30 of the 66 singles titles awarded in its history have come from these two states.
– The list of past champs is littered with eventual pro tour champions. Sudsy Monchik won this title in 1991, Jack Huczek won it twice, in 2000 and 2001. Michelle Gould won it in 1989, Rhonda Rajsich twice in 96 and 97.
– Three different members of the Rojas clan have HS national titles: Marco Rojas in 2010, Mauro Daniel Rojas in 2014 and 2016 and current title holder Antonio Rojas.
– Interestingly, current IRT pro Sebastian ‘Patata’ Fernandez took the title in 2015 as a freshman, then again in 2018 as a senior, missing the two events in-between. He would presumably have had a great chance of a 4-peat.

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Here’s a quick preview of the Gold #1 Singles draw, looking at the top 8 seeds. They’re dominated at the top by players from Northern California.

In the Boys #1:
– Defending HS National champ and Stockton native Antonio Rojas is back and is the #1 seed. Rojas is the current reigning 16U and 18U US Junior national champ and is already one of the most decorated junior players in US history. He’s going to be tough to beat. See this link for a matrix of all US Junior National boys title holders: http://rball.pro/68C60E
– Last year’s finalist and East Bay resident Vedant Chauhan is the #2 seed. Chauhan has several junior national titles himself, was the runner-up in 14U in 2019 and lost in world 14U juniors in the quarters to the eventual winner Bolivian Jhonatan Flores. See this link for Chauhan’s match history in the PRS database: http://rball.pro/1EB9AD
– #3 is the player who vanquished Chauhan in last year’s 14U US final and who advanced to the final of 14U at Junior worlds, Fremont native Nikhil Prasad. Prasad himself owns 5 junior national titles and will be a favorite to make the final here. Prasad enters HS nationals for the first time.
– #4 Cody Boucher has competed at US Junior Nationals for the past few years, was the #3 seed here last year and was upset early.
– #5 is another Stocktonian, one with a great pedigree in Julius Ellis (son of long time IRT vet John Ellis. Ellis and Boucher met in the 2018 16U junior nationals event, and are slated to play into each other in the quarters here.
– #6 Cody Thomas made it to the quarters of the 2019 16U nationals event in 2019.
– #7 Rory Lampe was taken out of the 16U junior Nationals last year by #1 seed Rojas
– #8 Nathan Soltis made the 16s the last two years in the 16U draw at junior nationals.

Predictions: Its hard not to see Rojas repeating, and the #2/#3 re-match of last year’s 14U final between Prasad and Chauhan could be great.

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In the Girls #1,

– Defending champ Annie Roberts is the #1 seed and is playing in her home-town. Roberts is the two-time defending US 16U junior national champ and had a great run to the semis of Junior worlds last November.
– Roberts will not have last year’s finalist as a competitor, as Nikita Chauhan has graduated despite still having one year remaining in 18U. We look forward to seeing Chauhan at intercollegiates this year competing for UC Berkeley (my father’s alma mater).

Roberts and Chauhan, coincidentally, were both just named the USA Racquetball 2020 scholarship recipients: see https://www.facebook.com/…/pb.164703169…/10158179520804529/…

– the #2 seed this year is Heather Mahoney, the two-time defending USA junior 14U champ and an incoming freshman for 2020. She already holds 8 USA junior national titles and is the reigning 2019 World Junior 14U champ and will be a favorite here.
– #3 is Alondra Canchola, a semi-finalist last year here.
– #4 is Arya Cyril, also a semi-finalist at this event last year and who lost 11-10 to Chauhan in the semis.
– #5 is Erin Slutzky, the 3rd seed last year and who is coming off a quarter final appearance at 16U junior worlds last November.
– #6 is Shane Diaz, who made the semis of US 18U junior nationals last year.
– #7 is Megan Carver, who lost in the quarters of last year’s 18U junior nationals to Diaz.
– #8 is Karena Mathew, who holds 4 junior national titles but none since she was in grade school. She’s coming off a 3rd place showing at last year’s 14U nationals and is a rising freshman ready to make some waves.

click here for a full matrix of all US Junior girls title holders: http://rball.pro/6D7917

Predictions: I think Roberts makes the final but loses to Mahoney.

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Follow USA Racquetball on Facebook for streaming, and look for Leo Ray Vasquez on the mike as always for US National events.

World Juniors 2019 Doubles Wrap-Up

Congrats to all your Doubles team winners from the past week’s 2019 Junior Worlds competition in San Jose, Costa Rica.

Boys 18U: Tomas Sanchez / Pablo Freer, Costa Rica
Boys 16U: Adrian Jaldin / Hector Barrios , Bolivia
Boys 14U: Luis Renteria/Jorge Gutierrez, Mexico
Boys 12U: Eder Renteria/Sebastian Ruelas, Mexico
Boys 10U: Luis Medrano/Sebastian Ruiz, Bolivia

Girls 18U: Valeria Centellas/ Angelica Barrios, Bolivia
Girls 16U: Micaela Meneses/Camila Rivero, Bolivia
Girls 14U: Valeria Miranda/Krystin Salinas, Bolivia
Girls 12U: Yanna Salazar/Fernanda Trujillo, Mexico
Girls 10U: Nicol Mancilla/Suszel Pairo, Bolivia

—-
Total Doubles medals by country:
– Bolivia: 6
– Mexico: 3
– Costa Rica 1.

I think there was just one USA team that even made the final, and it was in one of the younger groups. Combined with the singles results, really another step towards Bolivian dominance.

—-
Quick narratives about each of the older age group draws:

In Boys 18U:
– The #1, #2 and #3 seeds all fell in the first round of the knockouts: the CRC team was the 9th seed and defeated the #8, #1, #4, and #6 teams to win the title on home soil. Great showing.

In the Boys 16U:
– Barrios is the double winner on the weekend, taking 16U singles and doubles. They defeat the American team of Prasad/Hansen in the final.

In Boys 14U:
– The story of the event was the Irish team of OGorman and Hanrahan, who topped the #1 seeded American team en route to the final. There though, the Mexicans won with ease to take the title.

In Girls 18U:
– the two dominant Bolivians Centellas and Barrios teamed up to dominate the doubles draw, making Barrios the double winner on the weekend in 18U. They defeat Mexico in the final.

In Girls 16U:
– As with the Girls 16U draw, the Bolivian top-seeded team met the Mexican team in the final and won in two.

in girls 14U:
– Once again it was Bolivia vs Mexico in the final, and another Bolivian two-game win.

—–
I think I may invest some time to at least capture the Junior Doubles winners. It seems like it comes up enough that I’d like to at least have a mechanism to highlight titles for various players. I’ll start with Junior Worlds and will post at a later date when the data is available.

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Next up on the schedule? LPRT in Chicago this coming weekend (also an IRT tier 5 so we’ll have some Men’s pros there too), and there’s an RKT event in Mexico that looks to have a solid draw worth watching.

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International Racquetball Federation
International Racquetball Federation
International Racquetball Federation – IRF
USA Racquetball
Racquetball Canada
Federación Mexicana de Raquetbol
Federación Boliviana De Raquetbol – Febora
Federación Costarricense de Racquetball

Junior Worlds 2019 Singles Wrap-Up

Congrats to all your Junior World singles winners from this past week’s competition in San Jose, Costa Rica:

Boys 18U: Gerson Miranda, Bolivia
Boys 16U: Hector Barrios, Bolivia
Boys 14U: Jhonatan Flores, Bolivia
Boys 12U: Eder Renteria, Mexico
Boys 10U: Alvaro Guillen, Costa Rica

Matrix of all Junior world Boys Winners through 2019: http://rball.pro/043BA8

Girls 18U: Angela Barrios, Bolivia
Girls 16U: Maricruz Ortiz, Costa Rica
Girls 14U: Heather Mahoney, USA
Girls 12U: Sonia Shetty, USA
Girls 10U: Nicol Mancilla, Bolivia

Matrix of all Junior World Girls Winners through 2019: http://rball.pro/BCE571

We’ll run through the Doubles winners in a post tomorrow.

All the match data for 14U, 16U and 18U competitions are loaded into the database, along with just the finals of the younger competitions. Listed below are Match Reports for each division as we review them.

—————-
Summary of Singles results: 5 of the 10 junior world singles titles to Bolivia.

– Bolivian wins in Boys 18U,16U,14U, Girls 18U, 10U
– Costa Rica wins Girls 16U, Boys 10U
– America wins Girls 14U, 12U
– Mexico wins Boys 12U

In 2018 by way of comparison, Bolivia won 5 of the 10 junior singles titles, Mexico took 4 and USA took one.


Lets run through the results from the 14s, 16s and 18s divisions, citing notable results and upsets.


In the Boys 18U:

PRS Match Report: http://rball.pro/539FFE

– Just one top-8 seed failed to advance to the quarters: #3 Chilean Johan Igor was taken out in two close games by home-country favorite Pablo Freer 14,10. Freer was the unlucky recipient of a group stage that included drastically under-seeded Garcia and is clearly better than a 14th knockout seed. He faces his countryman Tomas Sanchez in the quarters, ensuring a home-country representative into the semis.
– Mexican Jose Carlos Ramos was stretched to a breaker by Guatemalan Nathan Martinez and faces his Mexican teammate in the quarters.

In the Qtrs:
– #1 Bolivian Gerson Miranda Martinez cruised over American #8 Ben Baron winning in two.
– #4 Argentinian Diego Garcia topped Ecuadorian Juan Flores, setting up the highly anticipated match with Miranda (which most observers think are the two top players in this draw).
– #6 Costa Rican Tomas Sanchez topped his team-mate Freer to advance.
– #7 Ramos topped his teammate easily, beating #2 Emir Mtz 6,7 to move into the semis and put himself in a great spot to advance to the finals.

In the semis:
– #1 vs #4 turned out to be kind of a dud, as #1 Miranda really outclassed his younger former countryman Garcia 6,8.
– #6 Sanchez won over #7 Ramos by the curious scores of 10,(0),10. It took him three shots at match point, but he eventually took the win and proved that “it only takes 26 to win.”

In the final, Miranda dominated the home favorite Sanchez to take the 18U world title 6,7. He improves on his semis finish last year and graduates from the junior ranks as the top dog.

—-
In the Girls 18U:

PRS Match Report: http://rball.pro/F53055

– No surprises or upsets-by-seed to the quarters.

In the quarters, chalk; all four top seeds advance in two games.
– #1 Centellas and #3 Barrios each eliminate a Mexican player early; there will be no Mexican girls even to the semis of 18U after having a Mexican win both of the last two 18U titles.
– Surprising Argentinian #4 Katz dominated USA’s Wargo in a battle of lefties to move on.
– #2 Ecuadorian Sarmiento downed USA’s Chauhan to move on.

Its a changing of the guard; no Americans or Mexicans in the 18U girls semis.

In the semis:
– Both Bolivians advanced to the final in dominant fashion as #1 Centellas and #3 Barrios vanquished Katz and Sarmiento by the cores of 5,3 and 4,0 respectively.

Fun fact; to this point in the event, here’s the total number of points allowed by the two Bolivian 18U players:
– Centellas: 27 points in 4 matches; that’s an average of less than 4 points a game.
– Barrios: 20 points in 5 matches. That’s an average of 2 (two!) points per game.

In the final, Barrios turned the tide on her country-woman from their nationals event, taking the title over the #1 seeded Centellas 10,13. Barrios improves on her semis finish from last year and graduates the junior ranks as the champion.

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In the Boys 16U:

PRS Match Report: http://rball.pro/19F6CC

– Two upsets in the round of 16: Chilean #12 Jaime Mansilla took out #5 Ecuadorian Josue Bermeo Solano in a tie-breaker. He moves on to face the Bolivian #4 seed Adrian Jaldin, who himself was stretched to a breaker in the 16s.
– Home-town favorite #10 Costa Rican Felipe Guillen took out #7 Canadian Nathan Jauvin in the 16s to move on.
– the 16s were robbed of potentially its best match when American Andrew Gleason had to retire due to injury ahead of his rematch versus #3 seed Mexican Aldo Caraveo Carrasco. You hate to see any player head out of a major event like this with injury.

In the quarters:
– Three of the top 4 seeds advanced in two games: #1 Sebastian Longoria, #2 Hector Barrios and #4 Adrian Jaldin. #6 American Timmy Hansen was the sole upset winner, taking out the #3 seed Mexican Aldo Caraveo in two games. Hansen is on fire in Costa Rica, having won all five matches and having given up no more than 10 points in any game.

In the Semis:
– #1 Longoria came from a game down to squeak by the Bolivian #2 Jaldin 11-8 in the breaker.
– #2 Barrios came from a game down to top American Hansen in 11-5 in the breaker to setup 1 v 2 in the final, the top Mexican vs the top Bolivian.

In the Final, the Bolivian #2 dropped the middle game but won the tiebreaker over the Mexican #1 to give the Bolivians another world junior title.

—–
In the Girls 16U:

PRS Match Report: http://rball.pro/47CC7A

Two “upsets” in the 16s, though they’re both probably not really upsets in that they’re in the 8/9 and 7/10 matches where its rather hard to separate players.
– American #9 Annie Roberts blasted #8 Cuban Sunlaris Rodriguez 1,0; she moves on to face the top seed in the quarters.
– American #10 Erin Slutsky took out #7 seeded Costa Rican Sofia Freer in a tie-breaker to move on to face the #2 seed in the quarters.

In the Quarters, we got one big upset.
– #1 Mexican Lupita Griffin, who was a semi-finalist in World 16U last year, was taken out by American #9 Annie Roberts
– #5 @ [100003954106579:2048:Maricruz Ortiz] took out #4 Katz 12,4. Interestingly, Katz has now made it further in the 18U draw than she will in the 16U draw, and Ortiz looks like the next big thing in Women’s racquetball.
– #2 Meneses and #3 Martinez each advanced to setup the expected semi-final.

In the semis:
– #5 Ortiz crushed the upset-minded Roberts 1,2 to advance to the final. Despite her seed, I’ve felt Ortiz was the favorite in this field and it will be interesting to see how she fares in the final.
– #2 Meneses cruised past the Mexican #3 Martinez 0,9 to advance to the final and setup a great show-down with Ortiz.

In the final, Ortiz mounted a furious comeback in the tie-breaker after dropping the first and blitzing Meneses in the second to take a thriller 11-10 and give the home country a gold medal to cheer for.

————
In the Boys 14U:

PRS Match Report: http://rball.pro/11D127

The #3 and #4 seeds were both upset in the 16s of the knockouts, but the top two seeds both advanced to the final without breaking a sweat.

In the final, Bolivian #1 Jhonathan Flores came from a game down to top American #2 @ [507188469660347:274:Nikhil Prasad] in a tiebreaker to take the 14U crown.

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In the Girls 14U

PRS match Report: http://rball.pro/7A77EC

– The #1 seed was toppled in the quarters 11-10 by #8 seed Mexican Angela Ortega, who advanced to the final. #2 American Heather Mahoney won a tight semi then took the final to win her 3rd World Junior title.

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Another major IRF event in the books. Great job by Gary Mazaroff and his staff for their work on the broadcasts, and to Pablo Fajre for his streaming efforts.

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Org links

International Racquetball Tour
International Racquetball Federation
International Racquetball Federation – IRF
USA Racquetball
Racquetball Canada
Federación Mexicana de Raquetbol
Federación Boliviana de Racquetball
Federación Costarricense de Racquetball

Junior Worlds: RR review, Knockout Preview

We’re through the round robin phase of the event; lets do a quick re-cap of surprising results in the RRs and preview the knockouts.

Draws located at www.internationalracquetball.com website (click on the “Divisions and Results” button on the home page).

Live streaming is usually shared to the Facebook group “Live Streaming of Racquet Sports” when found, and the official streaming by the IRF is via their facebook page. I suggest you follow both.

We generally just focus on the oldest age groups at PRS (18U and 16U), but capture 14U and younger winners for the record books once the tourney is complete.

A reminder: The IRF seeds the draw for the RR stage, then re-seeds the draw for the knockouts based on the RR results. Sometimes the RR results don’t exactly match the knockout seeds (meaning, if you enter as #1 seed, win your group … you’re not guaranteed the #1 seed in knockouts). I don’t know what the criteria used is to flip around these seeds. But generally in the write-up below I attempt to distinguish between the RR seeds and the Knockout seeds; apologies if its confusing to read.

————
RR recap; here’s some notable results from the RRs:

In Boys 18U
– The top 2 seeds cruised through (Mexico’s Emir Mtz and Bolivia’s Gerson Miranda Martinez but for reasons unknown they’ll be flipped in the knockout draw.
– The 3rd and 4th seeds were beaten in the RRs and will drop; Argentina’s Diego Garcia Quispe won his group with the 3rd seeded Jose Carlos Ramos and will be the 4th seed in the knockouts while Chilean Johan Igor surprised everyone by taking his group as the 14th seed. He’ll slot into the 3rd seed in knockouts.

In Boys 16U:
– As with the 18u, the top two seeds cruised through the RR stage without incident. Mexico’s Sebastian Longoria and Bolivia’s Hector Barrios advanced without dropping a game.
– the 3rd seed, Mexican Aldo Caraveo Carrasco was stretched 11-9 by American Andrew Gleason, but took the group as expected. Gleason was upset later on and will be a dangerous 14th seed in the knockouts.
– The 4th seed, Bolivian Adrian Jaldin won the group, but was pushed by Canadian Nathan Jauvin
– American Timmy Hansen upset the 5th seed and dominated his group to advance as the group winner.

Girls 18U
– The #1 seed, Mexican Maria Fernanda Gutierrez Justiniano was upset by Ecuadorian Ana Lucía Sarmiento 11-10; she ascends to the 2nd seed in the knockouts.
– As expected, Bolivian Valeria Centellas dominated her group as the inexplicable 7th seed, dropping just 10 points in four games to win the group; she’ll be the top seed in the knockouts.
– Argentinian Martina Katz upended her group as the 11th seed, topping 3rd overall seed Mexican Anna Rivera and ensuring that neither Mexican would be a top 4 seed in the knockouts.
– Also as expected, Bolivian Angelica Barrios dominated her group even more thoroughly than Centellas, giving up just four points in six games (!) and handing out four donuts en route to winning her group going away.

I know I keep harping on the seeding here, but really. Centellas and Barrios advanced by winning their combined 5 matches/10 games while giving up a combined 14 points between them. Tell me again why they weren’t the two top seeds going into this draw?

Girls 16U
– the top 3 seed’s RR groups went completely chalk, with Mexicans Lupita Griffin and Ximena Martinez along side #2 seed Bolivian Micaela Meneses Cuellar advancing unscathed.
– Argentine Katz (who also won her 18U group in an upset) blitzed her way to a win in her 16U group too. What a great tournament she’s had so far.
– Unsurprisingly, Costa Rican Maricruz Ortiz won her group but will only improve her knockout seed slightly. What was surprising was to see Cuban Loraine Felipe finish in 2nd place as the 17th and lowest seeded player.

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Knockout Previews/Predictions

Boys 18U:

Top 4 seeds go: Miranda, Martinez, Igor, Garcia.

There’s some fun matches in the early rounds to watch for:
– Garcia has to play his former countryman Charlie Chavez the 16s
– the two Mexicans (Ramos, Martinez) likely have to face each other in the quarters
– #1 Bolivian Miranda likely eliminates both Americans; one in 16s, the other in the Quarters, as he seems set to face Micah Farmer in the 16s and Ben Baron in the quarters.

Otherwise I feel the draw goes chalk to the semis.

In the semis, I’m going with Garcia over Miranda in a dog-fight, Martinez over Igor, and whoever takes the Garcia/Miranda semi winning.

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Boys 16U

top 4 seeds go Longoria, Barrios, Caraveo, and Jaldin.

Early round Matches to watch for:
– Caraveo has to play American Gleason in a RR group rematch right out of the gate. They played close in the group stage; can the lefty Gleason learn from his loss and force the upset here?
– If Gleason can’t beat Caraveo, then his teammate Hansen could; they’re projected to meet in the quarters.

In the semis, i’m going Longoria over Jaldin, Barrios over Hansen, and Longoria over Barrios in the final. But to be honest, this is a deep draw and i’m not confident that the knockouts will go chalk at all. Look for upset runs.

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Girls 18U:

top 4 seeds: Centellas, Sarmiento, Barrios and Katz.

Early round Matches to watch for:
– #4/#5 Katz vs American Graci Wargo in the quarters could be a solid match
– #7/#2 Sarmiento vs American Nikita Chauhan could also be interesting. Both are upset potentials.

In the semis, i’m predicting that both Bolivians advance over whomever comes out of the other side, and i’m going with Barrios over Centellas in the final.

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Girls 16U

top 4 seeds: Griffen, Meneses, Martinez and Katz.

Early round matches to watch for:
– 8/9 Annie Roberts versus Cuban Suniaris Rodriguez: Rodriguez upset the pre-tourney 4th seed from Bolivia in the group stage: this could be a tight match.
– #3/#14: @ximena martinez will have her work cut out for her taking on the Bolivian @fernanda mendez in the 16s.
– 4/5 in the quarters: The surprise Argentine Katz set to take on last year’s finalist Ortiz, playing on home court. Tough match-up; i’ll go with Ortiz to ride the crowd to victory.

In the semis, I’m going with Ortiz to upset Griffen, Meneses to hold serve against Martinez, and for Ortiz to win the title on home soil in the final.

—-

Knockouts are starting today, going all day. Should be an exciting tournament.

International Racquetball Tour
International Racquetball Federation – IRF
International Racquetball Federation
USA Racquetball
Racquetball Canada
Federación Mexicana de Raquetbol
Federación Boliviana de Racquetball
Fecoracquet Fecoracquet
Federación Costarricense de Racquetball
Asociación Argentina de Racquetball

2019 World Juniors Preview

Welcome to the biggest stages for Juniors every year; its World Juniors. Every country in the IRF can send two representatives to compete for the title of Junior World champion.

Click here for a Matrix of all past World Junior Boys titlists: http://rball.pro/043BA8
Click here for the same for Girls: http://rball.pro/BCE571

Draws for the Round Robins are now available via www.internationalracquetball.com, with RRs having started Saturday morning 11/9/19.

The structure of the event is as follows: several days of round robin competition, with pre-tournament seeds dictated by last year’s results-by-country (in other words, if a Mexican 18U boy won last year, which is what happened with Lalo Portillo took out countryman Sebastian Fernandez in the Boys 18U final, then Mexico would be seeded #1 in this RR draw, which is the case this year as we’ll discuss).

Once the RRs are complete, then the draw is re-seeded based on the results of each RR group and a knockout competition is played to its completion a week from today, Saturday.

In this post, we’ll preview the big names to watch for, then we’ll do another “preview” predicting the knockout draw. Thanks to the late release of the draw, some of these key RR match-ups may have already happened.

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Boys 18U:

18 players in the 18U boys draw.

Top seeds: #1 Emir Martinez (Mex), #2 Gerson Miranda Martinez (Bolivia), #3 Jose Carlos Ramos (Mexico) and #4 Charlie Chavez (Bolivia). In 2019, the semis were both Mexican players and both Bolivian players, hence the top four seeds here.

Unfortunately, this draw is significantly weaker than it should be: presumptive top 18U player in the world Fernandez (last
year’s runner-up, the reigning 18U Mexican junior champ and currently ranked 16th on the IRT who just made the quarters at the US Open) is not present. Nor is US 18U champ Antonio Rojas, who announced his decision not to attend this event earlier this year.

Emir Martinez was the losing Mexican finalist and ascends to the #1 seed here, but you have to think Miranda (who made the semis last year as a 17yr old) is the favorite in this draw. USA’s two representatives are seeded 5th and 7th in Micah Farmer and Ben Baron respectively, and they’ll have their work cut out for them in the knockouts if seeds hold. Baron in particular has a nice chance of improving his seed in the RRs; he has a group with 4th overall seed Bolivian Chavez, who is newer to this stage and gets in by virtue of Garcia’s absence. #3 Ramos was last year’s losing 16U finalist and could be a sneaky force here to watch for.

One last post-publishing correction: I had thought mistakenly that Diego Garcia Quispe​ was missing from the draw; upon looking closer he’s there … he’s seeded dead last 18th out of 18 and is representing his new country. Garcia is the reigning 16U world junior champ and switched countries this year; he’s going to be a force in this event and I wouldn’t put it past him to make the final and face off against his former country-man Miranda.

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Girls 18U

There’s 13 players in the 18U Girls draw.

tops Seeds: #1 Maria Gutierrez (Mexico), #2 Nikita Chauhan (USA), #3 Ana Rivera (Mexico) and #4 Graci Wargo (USA). Both the Bolivian players are outside the top 4 ( Angelica Barrios and Valeria Centellas).

A big changing of the guard in 18U from last year, when two of the world’s best young players ( Montse Mejia and Ana Gabriela Martinez) met in a final that looked more like the back end of a pro event than a junior title.

Missing from this draw is the USA 18U champ from earlier this summer Briana Jacquet, who won the title w/o dropping a game. And also missing is the Mexican 18U champ Ana Laura Flores Saavedra, who beat Gutierrez 1,1 in the Mexican 18U final. So like with the Boys, we’re missing both the reigning Mexican and USA champ from this draw.

I have to question the seeds in this draw. I fail to understand why neither of the Bolivians are seeded in the top 4, based on Barrios’ 2018 performance (she was the #2 seed last year and made the semis). Both the Bolivian players entered here have made serious impressions in major pro events: Centellas lost 11-9 in the 5th to eventual Bolivian Grand Slam winner Maria Jose Vargas Parada and is the current reigning World Doubles champion, while Barrios made the semis in that same event, defeating two current LPRT top-8 pros in the process.

Going into this RR stage, I think both under-seeded Bolivians (seeded 5th and 7th respectively) will be forces to reckon with. Centellas is in #2 Chauhan’s group and could easily be #2 in the knockouts, while Barrios may very well upset Wargo in their group to improve her knockout seeding as well. The first couple of days of knockouts here will be telling. Gutierrez is last year’s losing 16U world junior finalist and has the chops to compete but I think she’ll fall before the final.

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Boys 16U

18 boys in this draw.

Top seeds: #1 Sebastian Longoria (Mex), #2 Hector Barrios (Bol), #3 Aldo Caraveo (Mex) and #4 Adrian Jaldin (Bol). As with the Boys 18U, all four top seeds from Mexico or Bolivia. But the next 4 seeded players all come from either Ecuador or USA, thanks to strong showings in last year’s 16U event.

Mexico’s 16U finalist Erick Trujillo and USA’s 16U champion Rojas (also the 18U winner) miss this event, weakening the draw. But Longoria and Jaldin (who made the semis last year) should be strong candidates to make the final. USA’s entries Andrew Gleason and Timmy Hansen should prove tough outs too: Gleason made the world 14U final last year, and Hansen won USA 14U last year.

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Girls 16U

17 girls in the draw.

Top seeds: #1 Guadalupe Griffin (Mex), #2 Michaela Meneses, #3 Ximena Martinez (Mex) and #4 Fernanda Mendez (Bol).

The two top Mexican seeds were the 16U finalists this year. #2 seed Meneses was last year’s 14U winner and is a strong candidate to take the title here. Also in this draw: #6 Maricruz Ortiz, who made the final last year in 16U yet somehow only rates a #6 seed; rough path for the seeds in her way. USA 16U champ Annie Roberts is seeded 9th, probably a bit low. Missing is USA’s Heather Mahoney, who was the work 14U runner up and 16U USA runner-up (she’s competing only in 14Us at worlds); she’s replaced in the 16U draw by Erin Slutzky, seeded 11th.

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Notables in the younger draws:

– In Boys 14U #1 Nikhil Prasad and his countrymate #3 Vedant Chauhan both just competed ably in the IRT Tier 4 Bay club open pro tournament; they run a good chance of meeting again in the final. Standing in the way though are a couple of solid Bolivian juniors (as always) and #5 seed Luis Renteria, who just made the semis of the IRT Tier 5 Bi-national event in El Paso.

– In Girls 14U, Heather Mahoney goes for her 3rd junior world title since 2015.

– In Boys 12U, both the 2017 and 2018 Boys 10U world champions are in the draw, both from Mexico in Eder Renteria and Sebastian Ruelas. Neither is the #1 seed; that goes to American Joseph Marshall.

– In Girls 12U: 2017 10U world champ American Sonia Shetty is the #2 seed behind Mexico’s Fernanda Trujillo.

– In Boys and Girls 10U, the draw is dominated by Bolivians and Mexicans, all new to the world Junior stage.

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Word on the street is that streaming won’t officially start til the knockouts; we’ll be on the lookout for parents and associations doing streaming on the side. As always, follow the Facebook group “live streaming of Racquet sports” for notifications.

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International Racquetball Federation – IRF
USA Racquetball
Federación Mexicana de Raquetbol
Racquetball Canada
Federación Boliviana de Racquetball
Fecoracquet Fecoracquet
Federación Costarricense de Racquetball

Mexican Junior Nationals Data Load

In the wake of the Mexican Junior Nationals event a few weeks ago, I took some time to do some data loading so that the “matrix” reports I have showing all winners for all age divisions for all of time looked a bit better.

This is a quick notification post to rball fans to inform you of some data loading for Mexican Junior data, if you were interested.

Here’s the “matrix” reports showing all winners of all divisions:
– All Mexico Junior Boys: http://rball.pro/E1C550
– All Mexico Junior Girls: http://rball.pro/A267D1

You can also pull down the full match results for any year from the Event list in the Juniors database. I generally only put in the “older” age groups of full results (14s sometimes, 16s and 18s) and just note the final for the younger groups. Furthermore, there’s no Double Elimination results in the database; most of these events are DE.

Mexican Junior events have been a bit tough to keep track of; in any given year the US and Canada have “one” Junior National event. Mexico meanwhile has a Junior Olympics event (which sometimes takes “liberties” with the age groups, or skips them altogether), a conventional Junior Nationals, and even “World Selection events” that supersede the results of nationals. So as it turned out … some of the results I had previously for “Mexican Junior Nationals” were actually from the Junior Olympics events. I’ve now cleaned all that up.

We have online data for Mexican Jr Nationals for at least all winners from 2012-present now, thanks to some archive.org work. The earliest years generally only have winners posted, even for the older divisions. Hopefully, I havn’t made any mistakes; if anyone sees data entry errors please let me know.

Thanks to Ryan Rodgers who hooked me up with 2013 data so I could finish the data entry.

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From here … in order to fully populate the Mexican Junior data, I need help from the Association. @Federación Federación Mexicana de Raquetbol if you’re reading this, do you have past records or past draw sheets I can leverage to do data entry? Do you have a list of at least the winners of past Junior championships?

Next up, i’ll do some similar work for Canadian juniors.

thanks.