33rd PARC Tourney and Group Stage previews

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


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

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

Now for some thoughts on each main draw:

Men’s Singles:

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

Men’s Doubles:

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

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

Women’s Doubles

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

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

Mixed Open

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

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

Weekend Event Wrap-up

Acuna got two solid wins against top 10 opponents to take the Minnesota Hall of Fame event. Photo US Open 2019 Kevin Savory

In addition to the LPRT Boston Open, there were a slew of other events this past weekend worthy of mention. Here’s a quick run through of what was a very busy weekend globally for racquetball.


US High School Nationals.


r2sports site: https://www.r2sports.com/tourney/home.asp?TID=38151
One of the biggest tournaments of the year (by pure attendance) was held last weekend: the 2022 @USA Racquetball High School Nationals event, held at the Vetta Sports clubs in St. Louis.


Nearly 350 High School players from around the country were in St. Louis to compete for singles, doubles, and team competitions. Here’s a recap of the #1/Gold competitions on the weekend…

  • Boys #1 Gold Singles: #1 @Josh Shea from New York topped #2 @AnAndrew Gleason from Iowa. In a likely precursor to the 18U Junior Nationals final later this year, Shea won the first HS title for a New Yorker since … @sSudsy Monchik won in 1991.
  • Girls #1 Gold Singles: #2 @Naomi Ros from San Antonio upset #1 seed @Heather Mahoney. Ros recently relocated from Mexico and topped Mahoney in the 2021 Junior Nationals, setting up a rivalry that is set to run for a couple more years on the US junior national scene. She becomes the first ever titlist from a Texas HS on the girl’s side.
  • Boys #1 Doubles: Jacob Schmidt / Gabe Collins from Christian Brothers College High School in St Louis cruised to the title as the #1 seed.
  • Girls #1 Doubles: Heather Mahoney / Ava Naworski from Casa Grande High School outside of Santa Rosa HS took the title as the #3 seeds.
  • Mixed #1 Doubles: Ros teamed with DJ Mendoza (the #4 seed in Boys #1 gold) to cruise to the Mixed doubles title.
    The team competition was dominated by Missouri/St Louis area high schools:
  • Boys’ Team: St. Louis University HS
  • Girl’s Team: Lafayette HS
  • Overall Team: Kirkwood HS

Congrats to everyone who played, organized and participated. Thanks to @LLeo Vasque ‘s tireless work on the stream all weekend.


LPRT Boston Open Draws
r2sports site: https://www.r2sports.com/website/event-website.asp?TID=38579


Connecticut’s top player @Jose Flores upset the #1 seeded @John Behm to take the 24-man Open draw from Boston this weekend.

Women’s Open: as noted in the LPRT wrap-up, Micaela Meneses had a great women’s Open tournament, topping LPRT regulars Lotts, Lawrence and Munoz to take the title.


PAC Pueblo Athletic Shootout IRT recap
r2sports: https://www.r2sports.com/website/event-website.asp?TID=38852
Several IRT touring regulars traveled to Colorado to compete in the PAC shootout.
The four IRT regulars all advanced to the singles semis as expected. From there, #1 Andree Parrilla topped #4 @NNick Riff while @David Horn took out his colleague @Adam Manilla in the other semi to setup an All-WRT alumni final.
In that final, Parrilla cruised to the title, topping Horn 2,5.

In doubles, Horn and Manilla were unstoppable, cruising to the pro doubles title over #2 seeds Riffel and @Mike O’Brien in the final.


Minnesota Hall of Fame IRT Tier 3
r2sports: https://www.r2sports.com/website/event-website.asp?TID=38807
A solid mid-western flair draw of top players descended to Fridley over the weekend for the Hall of Fame tournament. This included the IRT broadcast team of @DeDDean Baer and @PFPablo Fajre , who made friends with a local kangaroo and called some matches.
r2sports site: https://www.r2sports.com/website/event-website.asp?TID=38807
Congrats to local open amateurs @John Goth , Blake Hansen , and Lee Meinerz , who joined the 5 touring pros in the pro quarters.
From there, Canadian #1 @Samuel Murray topped #5 Jordy Alonso in one semi, while #3 @Andres Acuña upset home-town favorite @Jake Bredenbeck in the other semi.
In the singles final…Acuna played solid ball to top Murray 10,7 to take the singles title.

In the Doubles draw, the Bredenbeck brothers took out Murray playing with Canadian Ledu Michael in the final.


Lastly, several countries have been holding Nationals events or National team selection events ahead of next month’s Pan American Racquetball Championships. Results are a little hard to come by since no international countries use r2sports outside of the “big 3” … but here’s what we’ve been able to glean from various Facebook Posts:

  • Costa Rica held their men’s championships last weekend; in the men’s final: Andres Acuna d Gabriel Garcia 6,7,5. This is somewhat of a changing of the guard, as @FelipFelipe Camacho has represented the country for many, many years.
  • Colombia held a Men’s Selection event in Pereia, COL over the weekend.
  • Guatemala held their Men’s Selection event this past week and weekend (Women’s will be next weekend). The 4 semi finalists competed (presumably) in a RR draw; here was the results:
  1. @EdwEdwin Galicia
  2. @Juan Jose Salvatierra
  3. Christian Wer
  4. Geovani Mendoza

The top 3 will represent Guatemala, with Mendoza as the alternate.

IRF Junior Worlds Wrap-up

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


Congrats to all the newly crowned Junior Worlds singles champions:

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Canadian Junior Nationals recap


Here’s a recap of Canada Junior Nationals, held this past weekend in Burlington, Ontario Canada.
Trackie site for Canadian Jr Nationals: https://www.trackie.com/…/racquetball-canada…/471134/…
(In case you’re wondering why Racquetball Canada has gone to a different system than R2sports … it has to do with Canadian data privacy laws for its players. R2 is not housed within Canada, so they had to switch to a Canadian-housed solution).
Congrats to the following Boys singles finalists for team Canada
(click here: http://rball.pro/5B9265 for a Matrix of all Canada boy’s titlists loaded into the database currently, dating to 2014 or so. We will do the 2021 data entry later this week while on travel):

  • Boys 18U: Nathan Jauvin over Naman Gauri
  • Boys 16U: Christian Pocsai over Matthew Hudson
  • Boys 14U: Asher Pocsai over Raphael Guillemette
  • Boys 12U: not competed
  • Boys 10U: not competed
  • Boys 8U: not competed
    This is the 6th junior nationals title for Jauvin, who is in his age 17 season so he has one more shot to extend his collection of tities. This is the 4th title for Christian Pocsai and the 3rd for Asher Pocsai.

    For Doubles, we’re assuming the two singles finalists in 18U and 16U will be the doubles team. In Boys 14U, the two singles finalists Pocsai/Guillemette teamed up to win a small round robin to win the Doubles title.

Congrats to the following Girls Singles finalists for team Canada
(click here: http://rball.pro/8DDB63 for a Matrix of all Canada girls’s titlists loaded into the database currently, dating to 2014 or so)

  • Girls 18U; Juliette Parent over Zoe Chopnick
  • Girls 16U: Tamara Wilscam over Ofelia Wilscam
  • Girls 14U: Chloe Jauvan wins the RR, Alaya Buller 2nd.
  • Girls 12U: not competed
  • Girls 10U: not competed
  • Girls 8U: not competed

This is Parent’s 4th junior national title, Tamara’s 3rd, and Chloe’s 5th.


Congrats to tournament director Jennifer Saunders for another successful Canadian national tournament.
International Racquetball Tour
LPRT
Racquetball Canada
International Racquetball Federation – IRF

Mexican Junior Nationals recap

Erick Trujillo takes the 18U Mexican Junior National title. Photo US Open 2021 Kevin Savory


This past weekend featured both Mexico and Canada holding their Junior National tournaments. The results of these events determine the national team members that will represent their country at the upcoming World Juniors in Guatemala City the first weekend of December. We’ll recap the Mexican tourney today and the Canadian tournament tomorrow.


R2 site for Mexican Jr Nationals: https://www.r2sports.com/tourney/viewResults.asp?TID=37940

Congrats to the following Boys singles finalists for team Mexico:
(click here: http://rball.pro/27C371 for a Matrix of all Mexican boy’s titlists loaded into the database currently, dating to 2012. We’ll work on the 2021 data entry later this week while on travel).

  • Boys 18U: Erick Trujillo , Sebastián Longoria
  • Boys 16U Jorge Gutierrez Ortiz and Cristhian Sánchez Raquetbol
  • Boys 14U: Eder Renteria and Sebastian Alejandro Ruelas
  • Boys 12U: Luis Carlos Ochoa and Diego Chavez
  • Boys 10U: Rene Palomino and Jhontan Garcia Banuelos
  • Boys 8U: Herman Gracia Castro and Max Soto

Trujillo is a name that’s been in “the news” lately for his excellent showings in recent IRT events. He’s come out of nowhere on the Mexican scene; this is his first junior national title. Longoria was the 16U champ in 2019. This is the first junior title for Ortiz. Renteria is a familiar name to junior racquetball; this is his 6th junior national title, and he’s got a chance to come close to David Ortega’s record of 11 career Mexican junior national titles. This is Ochoa’s 3rd junior title; he previously won an 8U and 10U title.


Congrats to the following Girls Singles finalists for team Mexico:
(click here: http://rball.pro/271CB4 or a Matrix of all Mexican girls’s titlists loaded into the database currently, dating to 2012)

  • Girls 18U; Daniela Rico and Ximena Martinez
  • Girls 16U: Angela Veronica Ortega and Cynthia Gutierrez
  • Girls 14U: Mariafernanda Trujillo and Yanna Salazar
  • Girls 12U: Lilia Farias and Natalia Guillen
  • Girls 10U: Michelle Gomez and Maria Melo
  • Girls 8U: Maria Jose Juardo and Eva Chavez Enriquez

A second junior national title for Rico, who has already played in 8 LPRT events, the first of which was in her age 13 season in 2017. Keep an eye on Rico; the list of recent Mexican junior 18U titlists reads like a list of players you’ll be seeing playing weekend matches on the LPRT: Ana Laura Flores, Montse Mejia, Erin Nocam Rivera, Montse Perez, Lucia Gonzalez, Alexandra Herrera and Diana Aguilar are the 18u winners from the last decade.

A third title for Ortega (she previously won in 2015 and 2017) and for Trujillo (she won previously in 2017 and 2019). All our other winners are new

fyi; the format for the Mexican draw was as follows (as far as I can tell): a single-elimination draw to determine the champion, then a loser’s bracket draw, the winner of whom was crowned the 2nd place finisher. This will present somewhat of a challenge for my database; its the first time that the “finalist” wasn’t necessarily the “2nd place finisher.” I’m not sure how i’m going to address this in the code.

Also, unlike in other jurisdictions Mexico does not hold a separate doubles competition, generally just naming the doubles team from the two singles reps.

Congrats to Favio Soto for another successful Mexican national tournament.
International Racquetball Tour
LPRT
@federacion mexicana de raquetbol
International Racquetball Federation – IRF

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.

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

Next up?

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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International Racquetball Federation – IRF
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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.

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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.

——————–

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.

—————
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.

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