State of the LPRT: things to look for in 2022

Mejia is an enigma for 2022. Photo Kevin Savory US Open 2019

Inspired by an idle question from Steve Castleberry on a post a few weeks ago, I’m writing up a couple of forward looking missives to talk about the movers and shakers on the LPRT, looking forward at 2022. I’ll post the IRT version tomorrow or Friday.

The LPRT uses a split-year schedule, so we’re basically at the halfway point of the 2021-22 season. So, looking at the standings now we’ll do some proclamations and talk about players to watch.

We start at the top: #1 Paola Longoria has a 1200 point lead at the top of the tour rankings as we speak. Players earn 200 points for a Tier 1 win, 300-320 for a Grand slam win. So, basically, Longoria already has this season’s title sewn up, unless we get an influx of tournaments and Longoria suddenly fails to enter any of them.

Have we seen chinks in the armor of the long-time #1? Not really; after a couple of less-than-sporting incidents at the US Open and Mexican Nationals, she was on her best behavior in a dominant run to the 2021 Worlds title and the subsequent pro event. It is hard to envision the sport without her at this point, nor envisioning someone pressing her at the top. #2 Vargas is a career 2-41 against Longoria, and the player who i thought would most press Longoria going forward (Mejia) is scuffling.

– #2 and #3 Maria Jose Vargas Parada and Alexandra Herrera might be starting to show something of a rivalry at the 2/3 spot, which is great for the sport. Vargas holds a dominant h2h lead over Herrera (9-1) for their careers, but that one loss was recent and their matches are getting closer. Can Herrera make a push for #2 the rest of the way? She’ll have to continue to hold serve in the quarters against challengers and continue to look for ways to beat Vargas in the Semis.

– #4 Ana Gabriela Martínez had a disappointing Worlds event on home soil, and suffered an upset loss to Manilla at the US Open. Her win against Longoria in the 2018 Worlds looks like a fluke win; in all competitions Gaby is now just 1-18 against the world #1. But, she’s playing the tour regularly and seems a lock to stay in the top 8.

– #5 Natalia Mendez Erlwein sits tight at #5 and has a couple of key wins against Martinez this year. But, she’s had little success against the top 3 players on tour (a combined 1-23 lifetime against the current 1-3rd ranked players) and seems like she’s plateaued a bit. She does a good job beating players who she “should” beat, but needs to get some success against her fellow top 4 players.

– #6 Angelica Barrios made the semis of the US Open, taking advantage of some upsets on her side of the bracket, but took an early loss at Worlds to Lawrence. She’s spent the last 2 years on tour generally only losing to players who she “should” be losing to, and has some notable wins. She’s a lock to stick in the top 8 and could move up to #4 with the right results.

#7 Montse Mejia continues to be an enigma on tour. She had an amazing run to win Kansas City, topping Centellas, Herrera, Gaby and then Paola to win the title, never dropping a game. But in her 3 tournaments since she has losses to Laime and two losses to Manilla. She went a number of tournaments basically winning until she ran into Paola (whether that was in the 16s, quarters, semis or the final), but has scuffled as of late. Can she right the ship?

#8 Samantha Salas Solis and #10 Rhonda Rajsich both have the same questions facing them: are they done being forces on the pro tour at this point? Salas went from making 9 finals in the 2018-19 season to her current struggle to get past the opening rounds. Same with Rhonda, who hasn’t made a pro semi since Jan 2020 and has nearly fallen out of the top 10. Both played well at worlds, with Salas losing to eventual champion Longoria at the quarterfinal stage and Rhonda putting a loss on Vargas before losing to her teammate Lawrence, so they can still play. But the realities of aging on tour face them both.

#9 Jessica Parrilla just cannot get back to where she once was on tour. She finished #3 in the 2017-18 season, then badly injured her knee … and she’s has not made even a pro semifinal since. Her tripwire is the quarterfinals; she’s made 9 of them in the past three seasons but has gone no further.


Thoughts on Players ranked 11-20 range of Note

– #11 Valeria Centellas is too young to be having a mid-life career crisis, but she’s seemingly at a cross roads right now. She made a pro semi in Jan 2020, but has struggled since then, taking a number of losses against players she should be beating if she wants to maintain a top 10 finish. She has lost in the 16s in 5 of the last 6 pro events, and seems to have lost her way on the court.

#12 Brenda Laime Jalil is now part of Team Zurek Construction, LLC, which is great news for her career and the supportability of her aspirations. And she’s had some really promising results in 2021, with wins over Mejia, Herrera, and Vargas. She seems like a lock to be in the top 10 if she can play full-time. She curiously missed the most recent LPRT event (basically held at her home court), an opportunity missed with the thin field.

#13 Carla Muñoz Montesinos has had a very busy year, lots of travel, lots of court time. She’s had some up and down results on tour, with solid wins against the likes of Centellas and Salas, but losses to Lawrence and Scott. She needs a couple more marquee wins in the 16s and to challenge in the quarters to eke her way back to the top 10.

#16 Kelani Lawrence had a dream run to the finals of Worlds, but is stuck in a very dangerous ranking position on tour that guarantees a very difficult opening round match. She’s got several round of 16 losses to players ranked in the top 4, which makes it hard for her to move up. She had a great win against Barrios at Worlds, and has played the likes of Vargas and Herrera tough, but needs a marquee win to get herself into the 12-14 range that makes for an easier first round matchup.

#18 Erika Manilla might be the biggest dark-horse on tour right now. She blew it up at the US Open, with wins over Mejia and Gaby before a controversial close loss to Longoria. She followed that up with another convincing win over Mejia at the Xmas classic before falling for the third time this year to Mendez. She she’s put herself on the map as a player who can beat some of the best on tour. I see no reason why she can’t get to the top 10 … perhaps not by the end of this season, but sometime in the fall of 2022.

Players to watch for in the 20s and beyond

– #22 Micaela Meneses Cuellar just won Junior Worlds, and if I have her birthday right still has another year of juniors to go. She’s getting plenty of LPRT experience, and already has some solid wins against regular touring pros like Enriquez and MRR. When she’s faced off against the tour elite she’s generally held her own, taking games off of Vargas and Barrios. Assuming she can get back to the US during the school year, she’s one to watch for.

– #23 Ana Laura Flores has some solid wins on her resume (Mendez, Hollie Scott), but has gone one-and-done in her last four tournaments, which can be pretty discouraging, especially for a traveling international player. Lets hope she gets some results going forward and continues to play.

– #29 Montserrat Pérez plays part time and presents as a tough lefty out; is she more of a doubles specialist going forward?

#31 Lucia Gonzalez remains the darkest of the dark horses on the LPRT. When she gets the right draw, she’s dangerous (in the last two Mexican nationals she’s beaten Herrera twice and Enriquez), but she’s lost in the 32s in the last four pro events she’s entered (to stiff competition, but still). Without results you can’t get seeding, and without seeding you’re playing into the top seeds, so she has kind of a chicken or egg thing going on, but she has the talent to compete. Will she going forward?

#38 Vero Sotomayor; who is now living in Florida and is back on the pro tour after a 4 year absence, is ready to make waves. She’s clearly the “player who nobody wants to face in qualifying” right now, and has shown she’s easily got top 8 talent. How far can she move up in the second half of the season? It remains to be seen, but the next scheduled stop is at her home club.

#43 Aisling Hickey, Ireland’s #1, has now relocated to California and should be playing more tour events. She raised some eyebrows at the US Open, defeating a couple of solid players in Pazita Munoz and Rivera, and though she went winless at Worlds she played four tough LPRT vets and will be in Birmingham for the 2022 World Games. I could see her moving into the 20s soon and pushing for a higher ranking.

Predicted 2021-22 Season ending Standings:

1. Longoria
2. Vargas
3. Herrera
4. Mendez
5. Barrios
6. Gaby
7. Parrilla
8. Salas
9. Mejia
10. Laime or Manilla

Looking forward to 2022!


LPRT 29th Xmas Classic Wrap-Up

Erika Manilla is really starting to make a name for herself on tour. Photo 2021 US Open via Kevin Savory

Congrats to Paola Longoria, who was the double pro winner on the weekend yet again. She adds to her already amazing pro title history; this is her 105th pro Tier 1 singles title and her 49th Pro Doubles title since we started tracking pro doubles on the women’s tour in Aug 2014.
Paola won the doubles title this weekend with Maria Jose Vargas Parada, and not her regular doubles partner Salas (who was absent this week).

Singles Match report:
Doubles match report:

Here’s a quick run-through the notable singles matches this weekend for me:

  • Great win for Erika Manilla in the 16s, controlling the powerful Mexican player Montse Mejia in two games. Mejia won a grand slam earlier this year, but has several head scratching losses since. Not to take anything away from Manilla, whose US Open performance and subsequent playing has her firmly in my world top 8 right now.
  • Also a great win for Carla Muñoz Montesinos in the 16s, taking out #9 Valeria Centellas in the round of 16 with ease. Munoz is close to breaking back into the top 10 and this was a solid win that will help cement her return.
  • Kelani Lawrence got another win over her American rival Rhonda Rajsich, and had to come back from a game down to do so.
  • Maria Renee Rodríguez took #6 Jessica Parrilla to a breaker after a somewhat disappointing Worlds showing.
    The seeds held from the quarters onward, with the draw going perfectly chalk. But there were some closer games and matches.
  • Lawrence nearly took game one in the quarters from #2 Vargas before losing 14,6
  • Herrera could not repeat the feat of downing Vargas twice in a row and fell in the semis in a breaker 7,(13),8. However, it does seem like we’re starting to see a real rivalry for the #2 spot on tour, which means great projected semi finals each week.
  • #4 Natalia Mendez Erlwein cooled the hot Manilla in the quarters to play to her seed once again.
  • In the final, Vargas really pushed Longoria in game one 15-13 before falling. Would like to see some consistent competition for the #1 player.

On the doubles draw, the #1 seeds of Alexandra Herrera and Mejia advanced to the final as expected, where they faced the tough Vargas/Longoria pairing. The two top teams split games before Longoria/Vargas blew away their young Mexican counter parts in the breaker to take the title.

In Mixed doubles, we had some excellent play. A number of the top LPRT pros teamed up with the pros and top amateurs playing to give the draw a really solid mixed feel.
The semis featured Lalo Portillo and Alexandra Herrera taking out two local players in Ben Bleyer and Masiel Rivera Oporto, while on the bottom Mario Mercado and Erika Manilla made for a formidable pairing and topped Lawrence, playing with lefty North Carolinian Jacob Matthews.

In the final though, Mercado/Manilla could not overtake the excellent doubles players in Lalo/Herrera and lost in two.

Men’s Open draw
A healthy 17 player draw featured four top pros who held to their seeds and advanced into the quarters.

Local amateurs Josh Shea (NY), Joe Kelley (PA), Austin Cunningham (GA) and Dylan Pruitt (MD) advanced into the quarters and put up good fights against the top touring pros; indeed, three of the four quarters went to breaker. However, the top seeds advanced to the semis for some quality late-round pro action. At the top, Portillo cruised past local favorite MoMo Zelada 11,0, while at the bottom Mario Mercado​ lost a Worlds quarterfinal rematch against USA’s Jake Bredenbeck, but then was given an inj fft into the final. Unfortunately, no final was held; Mercado got the walkover win despite losing the semi.

Great last tournament of the 2021 from all involved; thanks to the Grisz clan Karen Grisz and Mike Grisz for running the 29th version of this long-running tournament.

What’s next?
After an incredibly busy month, the ladies get a break. The next scheduled pro stop on the LPRT isn’t until mid February, when Sudsy Monchik is hosting the tour in Vero Beach, FL. We hope for a January event for the ladies pros.

LPRT 29th Annual Christmas Classic Preview

Can Kelani build on her run to the Worlds final? Photo USAR Singles 2019 via Kevin Savory

Hot on the heels of the finish of Worlds, the 29th annual Xmas classic tournament is upon us. This year it is being held in my old stomping grounds in Severna Park, Maryland, moving from its host from years past due to the long-standing Sportfit Laurel club closing during Covid.
R2 Sports App link:
Thanks to the busy racquetball calendar over the past month, participation is down greatly here versus a typical LPRT event. Most of the women’s pro draws over the past two seasons have been in the 30-35 range; this event has just 19 players entered.

top20 players missing; #4 Martinez (probably exhausted after finishing “hosting” duties in Guatemala), #6 Barrios (tough logistics between Bolivia, Guatemala and Baltimore), #8 Salas (hot off another doubles title), and #12 Laime (which is kind of weird because she lives about 20 minutes from the club).

Lets preview the draw.
The round of 16 features 3 play-in matches, all of which feature a regular touring player facing off against a younger rival. Perez-Chen, Ros-Scott, and Rivera-Diaz could all be interesting matches.
The Round of 16 features several really compelling matches that I can’t wait to see.

  • #8/#9 Carla Muñoz Montesinos versus Valeria Centellas should be interesting: both players were upset early at Worlds (relative to their seedings in the singles and doubles knockouts) and will be looking for the quarterfinal spot here. Munoz has been gradually working her way back into the top 10 for a few years now after finishing 8th in 2017, and a show-me win against a similarly ranked player like Centellas are important to get that top 10 ranking.
  • #5 Montse Mejia vs #12 Erika Manilla; wow, great match for the 16s. Mejia, when she’s in the game mentally, is among the four best players in the world and is on a short list of players who’ve beaten Longoria in the past few years. Manilla has been rocketing up the rankings on the back of her excellent US Open showing and will be riding high after playing a huge part of Team USA’s IRF Worlds win last weekend. Which Mejia shows up in Maryland?
  • #3 Alexandra Herrera versus #14 Hollie Rae Scott; a first-time match-up for these two players, and it could be interesting. Herrera had a career best showing in the last LPRT event, beating Vargas in the semis and then going toe-to-toe with Longoria before losing the pro final 11-9. Can she build on that performance and regain #2 on tour? Meanwhile, Scott has a knack for beating top LPRT pros when she enters events; upset watch here.
  • #7 Rhonda Rajsich vs #10 Kelani Lawrence; these two just faced off in the semis of Worlds in Guatemala, with Kelani taking a straight-forward 12,7 win. They turn around and play in the 16s less than a week later; how will the travel and emotions of last week affect each player? On paper Rajsich is slightly favored, but these two keep trading off wins and losses over the past few years.
    Projecting the Quarters:
  • #1 Paola Longoria, fresh off a dominant performance in Guatemala, should move past the winner of Centellas/Munoz here.
  • #4 Mendez could face a stiff foe against whoever advances between Mejia and Manilla. If Manilla wins, she’s got the momentum to get to the semis, but if Mejia wins, Mejia would be slightly favored.
  • #3 Herrera over #6 Jessica Parrilla; the lefty Herrera has not lost to Jessica since 2016, and it doesn’t seem like she’ll lose here either.
  • #2 Vargas versus the Lawrence/Rajsich winner. An interesting wrinkle here: Rajsich upset Vargas to knock her out of Worlds in a shock round of 16 upset; could we see a rematch? Or, if Lawrence advances, can she take out the powerful Argentine, who might be looking for some revenge after losing so early last week?
    My projected semis and finals:
  • Longoria over Mejia
  • Vargas over Herrera
  • and Longoria cruising to another pro title in the final.

Doubles review
Eight teams are entered here: Longoria is without her typical doubles partner Salas and instead has teamed up with Vargas … and are somehow only seeded third. The entire draw looks compelling and should be fun to watch.
From the top, I’ll predict #1 Herrera/Mejia advance to the final; these two have shown they’ve got the chops to take over #1 at some point if/when Longoria/Salas retire.
From the bottom, we get an immediate rematch of the semis from Worlds, with team USA (#7 seed) facing off against team Argentina (#2 seeds). I’m going with team USA again, who then lose to the powerful Longoria/Vargas team in the semis.

In the final, look for some fireworks but for the two top ranked ladies to vanquish the budding Mexican duo.

Men’s Draw: there’s a pretty good little Men’s Pro draw in Severna Park, with 17 players from up and down the east coast and beyond competing. We have not seen the draw yet, but it features top 10 quality IRT pros such as Lalo Portillo, Mario Mercado, Jake Bredenbeck, and MoMo Zelada to go along with top regional amateurs such as Ben Bleyer, Joe Kelley, Austin Cunningham, and NY junior phenom Josh Shea.
Kind of squinting to predict the seeds, i’d guess we’d see Portillo vs Zelada in one semi (barring any upsets), and Jake vs Mario in a tough Worlds rematch in the other. Great matches, especially Jake vs Mario, who just played in Worlds and where Mario took him out in a breaker.

Early prediction: Lalo beats Mario in the final.

Look for Streaming in the regular places; follow the LPRT on Facebook and sign up to get notifications when they go Live.
Look for Timothy Baghurst, Jerry J Josey Jr. and the one and only JT R Ball on the mike (JT has flown in all the way from California for this event).
Thanks to the Tourney Directors Karen Grisz and all your crew for putting this event on!
Reminder to Players! Please like and follow this page so that when I tag you, you see it. Facebook will only retain tags of people that like/follow a page, which means lots of you are not getting the notoriety of getting tagged and noticed on FB. If your name is here and it isn’t tagged … it probably means I attempted to tag you but FB stripped it.

LPRT Turkey Shoot Wrap-up

Herrera pushed Longoria to the limit in the pro final. Photo Denver 2021 KenFife

Congrats to your winners on the weekend:

  • Singles: Paola Longoria
  • Doubles; Longoria & Salas

R2 Sports App home page for event:

Lets review the notable matches in the Singles draw.

Singles Match report in the PRS database:

In the 16s:

  • #1 Paola Longoria gave Ecuadorian former top 8 pro Vero Sotomayor little room to operate and moved on 5,5.
  • #9 Rhonda Rajsich took out #8 Valeria Centellas at this juncture for the second straight weekend.
  • #5 Angelica Barrios held serve against American #12 Kelani Lawrence.
  • #4 Natalia Mendez Erlwein was pushed but held off an upset challenge from #13 Erika Manilla in a tiebreaker.
  • #3 Alexandra Herrera blew out her fellow lefty Mexican rival Ana Laura Flores 2,8.
  • #11 Carla Muñoz Montesinos got a well-earned upset over #6 Samantha Salas Solis 9,11
  • #10 Brenda Laime Jalil got yet another upset of a top-8 player, this time vanquishing #7 Jessica Parrilla by the always-fun margin of an 11-10 tiebreaker.

– #2 Maria Jose Vargas Parada crushed LPRT veteran Adrienne Fisher Haynes to move into the quarters.

In the Quarters

  • Longoria moved past her most frequent rival in Rajsich, 8,11.
  • Barrios got a solid win over #4 Mendez to move into the semis.
  • Herrera crushed Munoz 1,3 to get a statement win against the upstart Chilean
  • Vargas similarly crushed Laime 2,3 to put down the budding challenge of the up and coming Colombina.
    In the semis, a big upset.
  • Longoria moved into the final with a straightforward 4,12 win over Barrios.
  • Herrera got a career best win over Vargas, topping her for the first time in 9 tries on tour.

In the final, Herrera played some of her best ever racquetball, taking the first game off of the #1. Longoria blitzed the lefty in game two, and then the tie-breaker was a back and forth affair that looked like it could go either way. In the end, Paola got a quick lead and then ended the match on an avoidable, a bummer of an ending for a great match.

Doubles review
Match report in the PRS database:
Two upsets in the quarters; one expected and one not. The underseeded team of Vargas/Sotomayor took out the #2 seeds Herrera/Munoz in a tie-breaker, while the pairing of Flores/Lawrence shocked the regularly teamed up Parrilla/Perez in a tie-breaker to earn a semis spot.
In the semis….#1 Longoria/Salas were pushed by the upstart Flores/Lawrence team but advanced in a breaker. #3 Mendez/Centellas took out Vargas/Sotomayor in two straight.

In the final, the #1 team won again, claiming their 35th pro doubles title together.

Women’s Open, other draws
An odd Women’s Open draw was robbed of any drama on the top side, as both top seeds Barrios and Centellas forfeited. This gave Lawrence a free shot into the final, having only to play one match against a local player who she vanquished 0,0.
On the bottom side, it was a different story, as four top LPRT players duked it out. Munoz got a solid win over Flores, and Sotomayor got a solid win over Manilla, and then Munoz took out the tiring Sotomayor in the semis 11-8 to earn a shot against Kelani in the final.

In that final, Lawrence got a very solid win over Munoz in a breaker.

Men’s Pro draw

A 13-player IRT pro draw featured a couple of traveling pros in @Maurice Miller and Rodrigo Rodriguez, who met in the final. There, the young lefty downed the veteran IRT touring pro 9,12 for the title.

Thanks for all the streaming on the weekend, especially from broadcasters Timothy Baghurst, Jerry J Josey Jr., JP Edwards and @Tj Baumbaugh]
Thanks to the Tourney Director Geoff Peters for putting this event on and generally being one of the biggest racquetball benefactors out there.

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

Next up?
Per our handy master racquetball calendar ……/1V6OTid6rZ356voXVkoV2sN7KMMb…/

Worlds! we take a week off for Thanksgiving, then head to Guatemala for Worlds.


LPRT Turkey Shoot preview

Like the men, the women’s pros are back in action one week after a pro stop.
There was a huge draw in Arizona … but the second of two LPRT events back to back this close to the Worlds event in Guatemala in two weeks time has impacted the attendance in Chicago this weekend.

There’s 17 players entered into the singles draw, and 7 teams in the doubles draw. Here’s a preview.

Former top 10 player Vero Sotomayor is in the draw, but she is seeded dead last and plays into Paola if she advances past #16 Montserrat Pérez in the opener.
In the 16s, here’s some fun matches to watch for:

  • #1 Paola Longoria takes on the Perez/Sotomayor winner, who I assume will be Vero. Its a good test for Sotomayor’s comeback.
  • #8/#9 features a rematch of last week’s 16 matchup between Rhonda Rajsich and Valeria Centellas. Rajsich upset the young Argentinian last week; can she make it two in a row?
  • #5 Angelica Barrios takes on USA’s #12 Kelani Lawrence in an interesting matchup. Lawrence pressed Herrera last week; can she press Barrios this week?
  • #4 Natalia Mendez Erlwein takes on the red-hot #13 Erika Manilla; upset watch here.
  • In a rare battle of lefties, #3 Alexandra Herrera takes on #14 Ana Laura Flores
  • #11 Carla Muñoz Montesinos has upset #6 Samantha Salas Solis in the past; she gets another shot at Samantha this week.
  • #7 Jessica Parrilla meets another hot player in #10 Brenda Laime Jalil. Parrilla can’t seem to catch a break with matchups in her struggle to get back to the top 5, and Laime has a great upset chance here.
  • #2 Maria Jose Vargas Parada takes on long-time LPRT touring vet Adrienne Fisher Haynes.
    Projecting the quarters:
  • Longoria over Centellas
  • Barrios over Manilla
  • Herrera over Munoz
  • Vargas over Parrilla
  • Longoria over Barrios
  • Vargas over Herrera.

Finals: another Longoria over Vargas.

Doubles preview: Just 7 teams, but a slew of tough players here. Should be a fun little draw.

  • #4 Perez/Parrilla, who have started to form a more frequent partnership, take on the lefty/righty duo of Lawrence/Flores.
  • #3 Argentinian national team of Mendez/Centellas takes on Manilla/Laime. Manilla played really well in the mixed pro in Arizona, and Laime is a dangerous up and coming player.
  • #2 Herrera teams with Munoz, to form an experienced doubles team; they start off against a really fun team of Vargas/Sotomayor. Upset watch here.
    Projected semis:
  • #1 Longoria/Salas over Perez/Parrilla
  • #7 Vargas/Sotomayor upsetting #3 Mendez/Centellas .

final: #1 team takes the title.

No rest for the weary; look for the LPRT streaming team led by Timothy Baghurst to be back in action in Chicago this weekend.

Arizona Open LPRT and Mixed recap

Longoria wins again. Photo 2020 3WB by Steve Fitzsimons

Congrats to your winners on the weekend:

  • Women’s pro Singles: Paola Longoria
  • Mixed Doubles; Longoria and Alex Landa
  • Women’s Open: Angelica Barrios
  • Women’s Open/Elite Doubles: Diaz/Ros

R2 Sports App home page for event:

Lets review the notable matches in the Singles draw.

Singles Match report in the PRS database:

In the 32s: some fun matches and some upsets

  • #16/#17 went tie-breaker, because of course it did. #17 Erika Manilla took out her country-woman Sheryl Lotts in a breaker to setup an anticipated rematch with Longoria.
  • #8 Valeria Centellas took out #25 Naomi Ros, notable because Ros is playing in her age 15 season (!). Ros recently moved to San Antonio after winning a couple of junior titles for Mexico in the late 2010s.
  • #12 Carla Muñoz Montesinos was pushed by the young Mexican Daniela Rico but advanced. Rico is another young player to watch for going forward.
  • #6 Angelica Barrios was pushed in game one by Michelle De La Rosa but then cruised to a two game win 13,3
  • Ireland #1 Aisling Hickey continues to impress, taking a game off of #7 Jessica Parrilla before falling in a breaker. If I’m reading the r2sports profile correctly, Hickey is now living in California, so we should be seeing a lot more of her on the tour.
  • The #15/18 match was as close as the 16/17, with #15 Maria Renee Rodríguez advancing past Erin Slutzky in a breaker.

In the 16s:

  • Well, if you thought you’d see another close one between #1 Paola Longoria and Manilla … Paola had other plans. She put a statement out there with an utter domination, beating Erika 0,1. Manilla did not score until it was 0-9 in the second game. Between singles and her doubles performances so far, Longoria looks as locked in as I’ve seen her in a while.
  • #9 Rhonda Rajsich got an excellent win over #8 Centellas in the breaker to move on to the quarters.
  • #4 and #5 Natalia Mendez Erlwein and Gaby Martinez each cruised past LPRT regulars Carla Muñoz Montesinos and Amaya Cris to get to their expected quarter final matchup.
  • #3 Alexandra Herrera faced a common foe in Kelani Lawrence, and each time they play it seems to get closer. This time around, Kelani took a game from the top Mexican lefty before Alexandra fought back for the 11-9 breaker win.
  • #6 and #7 Angelica Barrios and Parrilla each cruised past LPRT veterans in Brenda Laime Jalil and Nancy Enriquez. Laime was not able to build on her US Open momentum … but also ran into a player in Barrios who has made multiple pro finals.
  • #2 Maria Jose Vargas Parada was pressed in game one by LPRT vet MRR, but advanced 10,2

In the Quarters

  • #1 Longoria downed her longest rival Rajsich, but was pressed to do so like no other player in this draw.
  • #4 Martinez took out #5 Mendez with a well played 10,12 win.
  • #3 Herrera held serve against the young Bolivian Barrios, who had topped her the last time they met.
  • #2 Vargas fought off a match point against against #7 Parrilla to move on. A tough break for Leoni, who has STILL yet to advance to a pro semi since her knee injury 3 years ago.

In the Semis

  • #1 Longoria blew out #4 Gaby 6,5 to move to the final. She continues to play lights out ball this weekend.
  • #2 Vargas held serve against #3 Herrera 10,6 to setup a 1-2 final

In the Finals, Longoria continued her complete dominance over the tour at present, topping the #2 player Vargas 7,3 to take her 103rd career LPRT Tier1 title. She now has more than a 1,000 point lead atop the LPRT rankings, a gulf that could take quite a while for even the #2 to overcome.

Mixed Pro Doubles review
Match report in the PRS database: none. I have the data captured locally but there’s so few mixed pro doubles matches that we have not build out a section off of
Here’s a recap of some of the fun Mixed pro matches:

  • #1 Longoria/Landa came out configured interestingly against #16 Patrick Allin/Katie Neils, with Longoria on her backhand side. It seemed to flummox Allin and Neils, who switched back and forth to try to stem the flow of points against. In the end, the two top pro players advanced with ease 4,2.
  • #8 Jake Bredenbeck/Lawrence went tiebreaker to advance past the husband/wife pair of Alan Natera Chavez and Munoz.
  • #12 Andres Acuña/Vargas, with Acuna stepping in for original partner Moscoso, helped power the team to an “upset” over Lalo Portillo and MRR in a breaker.
  • The #4 bro/sis Parrilla team destroyed team Formulaflow ( MoMo Zelada and Laime) 5,9.
  • The biggest upset and shock of the round was the utter domination by the Manilla brother/sister team over #1 Samuel Murray/Gaby Martinez. The Manillas completely outplayed both sides of the top doubles pair and cruised to an 11,5 win.
  • the underseeded #11 De La Rosa team upset #6 Carlos Keller Vargas and Centellas 10,11 to move into the quarters.
  • The also-underseeded #10 team of Sebastian Fernandez and Herrera (who made the mixed pro doubles final in Denver), cruised past the #7 seeded team of Mario Mercado and Amaya.
  • #2 Alvaro Beltran fought off an injury sustained earlier in the evening to move into the quarters with Mendez with a close win over Jake Bredenbeck and Lexi York.

Quarter final review:

#1 Landa/Longoria continued to dominate, winning 1,10 over Bredenbeck/Lawrence. They’re going to be tough to beat.

#12 Acuna/Vargas upset the Parrilla bro/sis team in two straight to move on.

The #11 DLRs cooled the red-hot Manilla team to move on.

#10 Fernandez/Herrera upset #2 Beltran/Mendez.
So your quarters are #!, #10, #11, and #12. Which goes to show you why its so hard to predict Mixed pro doubles, or to seed it based on player rankings.
In the semis:

#1 Longoria/Landa dominated the Acuna/Vargas team to move into the final. They’re going to be tough to beat.

The DLRs got a solid comeback win, topping the Denver Finalists Fernandez/Herrera to return to the final of a mixed pro doubles major.

In the final, Longoria/Landa blew out the DLRs in game one, then hung on to take the title 3,13.

Women’s Open Singles:
The top 4 seeds advanced to the semis as expected; all four are regular LPRT touring pros.
In the semis, #1 Barrios edged #4 Munoz 11-10, while Enriquez took out #2 Centellas in a breaker. In the final, Barrios took a tight two game win over the veteran Mexican.
Women’s Open/Elite Doubles:

The San Antonio based junior pair of Shane Diaz and Naomi Ros cruised through the 5-team RR to take the title.

Thanks for all the streaming on the weekend, especially from broadcasters Timothy Baghurst, Jerry J Josey Jr.., and Tj Baumbaugh.

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Next up?
Per our handy master racquetball calendar ……/1V6OTid6rZ356voXVkoV2sN7KMMb…/

IRT is in Sarasota, LPRT is in Chicago next Weekend!


Arizona Open LPRT & Mixed Previews

Welcome to the big Arizona Open, hosted by the one and only Jim Winterton on the grounds of Arizona State University in Tempe, AZ.
This weekend is a rarity in pro racquetball; a combined tour event with both Men and Women that features a major Mixed Pro doubles draw! Today we’ll preview the women and mixed doubles, tomorrow the IRT.
We don’t get to see mixed pro doubles much; the only tourneys i have tracked are from 2018 in Denver (won by the De La Rosas), 2019 in San Antonio (won by Natera/Mejia), 2019 in Syosset (won by DLR and Salas), and 2021 in Denver earlier this year (won by Montoya/Salas). But it is back, and we have a fantastic draw for the weekend.
We also have a full Women’s pro singles draw (31 players) and a full Men’s pro draw (with 46 players), so get ready for some great racquetball this weekend.
R2 Sports App link:
top20 players missing on the women’s side: just 3 of the top 20.

Women’s top 20 players missing: #5 Mejia, #19 Riveros, and #20 Scott.

Women’s LPRT Singles.
We have nearly a full 32 here; only #1 Paola Longoria gets a bye into the 16s. Here’s some round of 32s to watch for:

  • #16/#17 should be great: two top Americans in Erika Manilla and Sheryl Lotts battle it out for a shot at #1. Look for Manilla to move on; she’ll build on her US Open finish.
  • #9/#24 features two more Americans duking it out with Rhonda Rajsich facing Lexi York.
  • Amaya Cris and María Paz Riquelme have an intra-household battle, as they have to face off on the court for the first time.
  • Kelani Lawrence takes on veteran Susy Acosta, competing in her 24th pro season.
  • #6 Angelica Barrios has a tough 1st rounder against part time tour player Michelle De La Rosa.
  • #7 Jessica Parrilla has her hands full against Ireland’s Aisling Hickey, who turned some heads with her play in Minneapolis.
  • Like with the 16/17 match, the 15/18 between Maria Renee Rodríguez and Erin Slutzky could be tight.
    projecting the 16s:
  • As if karma was making the draw, we seem set to get a rematch between #1 Longoria and #16 Manilla. Lest anyone forget, these two met in a contentious semi in Minneapolis, marred by Longoria taking a reckless shot that hit Manilla in the side of the head. All eyes will be on this match to gauge the temperature early.
  • I like the possibility of a tiebreaker between #5 Natalia Mendez Erlwein and #12 Carla Muñoz Montesinos.
  • #3 Alexandra Herrera and #14 Kelani Lawrence always play tight matches, and this should not be any different.
  • #6 Angelica Barrios and #11 Brenda Laime Jalil will have a battle; they met in the quarters in Minnesota, with Barrios ending Laime’s run, but the Colombian will be looking for revenge.
  • #7 v #10 is a classic battle of Mexican veterans in Jessica Parrilla and Nancy Enriquez. They have traded off wins back and forth, but Jessica is in better form right now.
    Projecting the Quarters:
  • #1 Longoria over #8 Centellas; The Argentine took a game off the champ in 2019 PARC, but otherwise it has been smooth sailing for the #1.
  • #4 Martinez over #5 Mendez: Mendez has toppled Gaby the last two times they have played … but Martinez seems on a mission to live up to her seeding here.
  • #6 Barrios over #3 Herrera: Barrios is too tough to beat here, and beat the lefty the only other time they played.
  • #2 Vargas over #7 Parrilla: Parrilla can’t hang with Vargas game, which is all the way back to her pre-pregnancy state.
  • #1 Longoria outclasses #4 Martinez. Gaby still trying to get her second win over the top player in the world (she topped Paola for the 2018 world title).
  • #2 Vargas over #6 Barrios: This is a rematch of the US Open semi, where Barrios cruised to the first game then collapsed under the weight of Vargas’ power. Expect a similar result here.
  • Final: Longoria over Vargas

Mixed Pro doubles.
There are 17 teams here this weekend, and the seeding may leave some people grumbling. But the seeding exactly matches the pro doubles rankings for the teams, so there is a methodology. Unfortunately, this method underseeded several really strong teams, which could lead to a very wide-open draw. I feel there’s at least 5 or 6 teams here that can win it. It seems like it will come down to match-ups.
In the play in, I like the outdoor specialists Patrick Allin and Katie Neils to remember how to play with a back wall and advance to face the #1 seeds.
Projecting the 16s:

  • #1 Landa/Longoria present a formidable team and should move on initially.
  • #9 Moscoso/Vargas seem under-seeded, especially since she’s the #2 player in the world and Moscoso has major doubles titles to his credit (2019 PARC, 2019 Bolvian Grand slam). They move on.
  • Another underseeded team is the De La Rosa husband/wife pair, seeded 12th. They get the upset over #5 Portillo/MRR to move on.
  • The #4 Brother/Sister Parrilla team should topple team Formulaflow Zelada/Laime.
  • #3 Murray/Martinez are my team to beat here; they start out by handling the lefty-righty brother-sister Manillas.
  • #11 features the finalists from Denver in Sebastian Fernandez and Herrera; they should “upset” #6 Keller/Centellas, though it will be very close. Centellas has long been a doubles pro, winning the 2018 worlds as a 16yr old.
  • Husband/Wife pair #10 Natera/Munoz should handle Mercado & Amaya, even though Mercado has proven how good a doubles player he can be.
  • #2 Beltran/Mendez get their tourney started by topping the younger Bredenbeck brother playing with York.
  • The #1 vs #9 could be the final; it features the top two Women’s singles players and two of the top six men’s players in the world. I like the upset here; I think Moscoso will play with some passion, and I think Vargas can hang with Longoria on the forehand side. Landa regularly plays the forehand side when he plays Nationals with Sudsy Monchik or pros with Murray, and Moscoso can out shoot him on the backhand side.
  • I like the Parrillas to take out the De La Rosas in an upset. While DLR can take over a match (as we saw in Vegas), Jessica can outhit Michelle on the forehand side. It will be a close one, but look for the bro/sis to move on.
  • Murray/Martinez lost to Fernandez/Herrera in the semis in Denver 14,10. They get a rematch here, but I like the same result. If they both play forehands, the Patata/Alexandra team creates a serious strategic issue for opponents. Do they drive serve to her forehand and attempt to steal points with Gaby serving the powerful Patata on his forehand? Do they mix it up and force Gaby to play her backhand against Alexandra’s forehand?
  • #2 Beltran/Mendez are too experienced to lose to the newlyweds Natera/Munoz at this juncture; both the #2 seeds are incrementally better than their opponents and the result will show through in the score.
  • Moscoso/Vargas will over power the Parrillas on both sides of the ball.
  • Patata/Herrera’s matchup problems will take out Beltran/Mendez.
  • Final Herrera can’t hang with Vargas’ power, and Moscoso the shooter puts away pinch after pinch to win it for the South Americans.

Look for Men’s Streaming in the regular places; follow the IRT on facebook and sign up to get notifications when they go Live. Look for Dean DeAngelo Baer, @Favio Soto, Pablo Fajre and the IRTLive crew all weekend on the mike, calling the shots!
Look for Women’s Streaming in the regular places; follow the LPRT on facebook and sign up to get notifications when they go Live.
Look for @ [554433128:2048:Timothy Baghurst], Jerry J Josey Jr., JP Edwards and @ [1254655965:2048:Tj Baumbaugh] on the mike, calling the shots!
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25th US Open Wrap-Up

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

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

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

    PRS Reports for the four draws:
  • Men’s Singles:
  • Men’s Doubles:
  • Women’s Singles:
  • Women’s Doubles:

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

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

Lets do a quick recap of the main draws.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

US Open Main Draw Previews

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

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

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

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

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

LPRT 32s and 16s to look for:

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

IRT doubles:

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

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

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

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

both IRT and LPRT are streaming; make sure you follow both on Facebook for all your streaming needs.

US Open Qualifying Preview

Kane is back playing singles for the first time since Mar 2020. Photo US Open 2019, Photographer Kevin Savory

Welcome to the 25th annual US Open.

This is such a massive tournament that we’ll break down the preview into Wednesday’s qualifiers and then the rest of the tourney. 76 Men and 44 women pros entered into the respective singles draws; this is down a bit from 2019 for the Men, but is up a bit for the Women. Great to see players from all over the world in action on the sport’s biggest stage.
r2sports home page:
No real predictions here, just some thoughts on good matches in the four draws to look for as play starts on Wednesday.

IRT Men’s Pro qualifying features two rounds on Wednesday; the 128s and the 64s. Here’s some matches i’d be watching:

  • Solid east coast/west coast matchup between multi CT state champ Jose Flores and SoCal’s Majeed Shahin.
  • Bolivia’s Kadim Carrasco takes on Mexican legend Javier Moreno in a fun return for the former long-time International lefty. We havn’t seen Moreno in an IRT event since May 2016, not at a US Open since Nov 2015. Great to see him back.
  • Florida state champ Jonathan Burns takes on Mexican veteran Abraham Peña in an interesting opener.
  • The Kelley brothers are here; Sam takes on Colombian youngster and team Zurek player Juan Pablo Rodriguez Castrillon, while Joe takes on Idaho junior Alexxander Purcell . Both Kelley brothers have solid chances to move to the 64s.
  • Veteran lefty and multi-national amateur champ Jeff Stark takes on Bolivian Miguel A. Arteaga Guzman in a tough opener for both.
  • Maryland’s recently matriculated junior doubles national champ Dylan Pruitt faces off against a very tough Mexican lefty in @rodrigo rodriguez.
  • Arizona youngster Ben Baron takes on a player more than twice his age in veteran Floridian Alejandro Herrera Azcarate. Don’t be fooled by the age difference; Herrera brings the heat.
  • The legend Cliff Swain returns to the tour for the first time since oct 2016 and opens against “The Ref” Scott McClellan. Might be a short tourney for the IRT’s main ref; I have it on good authority that Cliff is playing lights out.
    Projecting to the 64s, here’s some possible great matches for spots in the main draw:
  • Troy Warigon versus Shaheen: another east coast vs west coast battle.
  • Carrasco vs Burns: I’m projecting a fun battle here of veteran players to make the main draw.
  • Georgia’s Maurice Miller likely takes on Guatemalan Juan Salvatierra for the main draw.
  • another Georgian Austin Cunningham has an excellent chance to get to the 32s, projecting against Mexican youngster Erick Cuevas
  • Alan Natera Chavez, one of the higest ranked players pushed to qualifying, has his work cut out for him against Colombian international vet @andres gomez.
  • If Pruitt can win his first match, he likely gets his long-awaited grudge match against Formulaflow’s Mauricio Zelada, who challenged his young Maryland-area rival last year in a money match that never materialized.
  • Sam Bredenbeck has a great chance to qualify against Colombian international veteran Set Cubillos Ruiz.
  • Two long-time international players project to play each other with Colombian Herrera projecting to Costa Rican vet Felipe Camacho.
  • Swain will have to earn his round of 32 against former IRT touring player Nick Riffel in the 64s.
  • Lastly, Eduardo Garay Rodriguez will be tested against the tricky Colombian player Francisco Gomez, who surprised with a couple of upsets in the 2019 US open.

LPRT qualifying preview

Like the Men, the women will play two rounds of qualifying to make the 32s. Here’s some interesting qualifiers to watch for.

  • We have not seen Verónica Sotomayor since Dec 2016 on tour; but she’s back and now living in Florida, training with her husband Sudsy Monchik and ready to play. I have it on good authority (ahem, Sudsy) that Vero is going to make noise this week. She starts in the 128s against Korean Sumin Lee.
  • Bolivian veteran Jenny Daza Navia gets started against American junior Minnesota native Ava Kaiser.
    Projecting the 64s
  • Sotomayor has a great chance to move into the 32s against Colombian María Paz Riquelme.
  • Two top American women are set to go head to head, with Michelle De La Rosa projecting to play Erika Manilla for a spot in the main draw. Tough match here for both.
  • USA Florida youngster Graci Wargo will be tested by Bolivian vet Daza.
  • Texan youngster Shane Diaz has an interesting match against Ecuadorian Maria Jose Munoz.
  • Lastly, there’s a second “Maria Munoz” in the draw who we think is actually Maria Paz Munoz ( Pazita Muñoz Albornoz ). We could be wrong, but if this is Pazita, she’s an excellent international veteran who will really push her round of 64 opponent Erin Nocam aka Erin (Rivera) Groves into a tougher match than either deserves here.

IRT Doubles preview

So, I’ll just say it. I hate the IRT doubles qualifying structure at the US Open. 4 teams get byes to the quarters, then another 17 compete for the other 4 spots. I just don’t like this, but i’m not sure what the right way to fix it is. If you gave top 8 teams byes into the 16s … then you have 13 teams competing for those 8 open spots, which means some of them don’t even have qualifiers and you’re giving another 3-4 teams byes as well. So there’s no good solution.

That being said, there’s some very good doubles teams in qualifying, and a lot of good teams are going home early.

  • Costa Rican national team of Andres Acuña and Camacho takes on the reigning us national doubles champ Charlie Pratt Racquetball, playing this weekend not with his title-winning partner Rocky Carson but with Natera. Carson opted not to play pro doubles … but is playing Centurian doubles with Jerry Hall.
  • The #9 seeded Bredenbeck brothers take on a very tough Mexican lefty/righty duo in Sebastian Fernandez and Rodrigo Rodriguez. Upset watch here.
  • Top Bolivian doubles team and multiple-IRF title wining duo of Conrrado Moscoso and Roland Keller take on the Guatemalan national team of Javier Martinez and @juan salvatierra. I don’t think the Bolivians are one and done here.
  • Meanwhile, the current reigning Bolivian National champs Carlos Keller Vargas and Carrasco take on two fellow Bolivians in Rodrigo Mendoza and Miguel Angel Arteaga Chavez. Tough draw; flying 4600 miles to play someone you could have driven to play in your home country.
  • Super interesting matchup between two all-American teams; Adam Manilla got David ” Bobby” Horn out of retirement to play, and they face off against Warigon & Miller, a veteran team who has played together for years. Should be a very interesting matchup with plenty of trash talk on the court.
    Assuming some first round results, here’s some very interesting possible round of 16 matches to determine who makes the money rounds:
  • #5 seeds Rodrigo Montoya Solis and Javier Mar probably feel hard-done by the seeding forcing them to play two extra matches, but they should be able to handle their opener and then a likely meeting with the Costa Ricans.
  • Kellern & Moscos project to play the Lefty/Righty mexican pair of Patata and Rodrigo; fun one.
  • In another all-Bolivian match-up, Keller/Carrasco project to play team Formulaflow in Zelada and Mario Mercado. Keller/Carrasco topped Zelada at Bolivian Nationals earlier this year, but Mercado is a different beast on the court.
  • the winner of the all-american trash talking match between Manilla/Horn and Warigon/Miller likely faces the #6 seeded Colombian/Zurek construction team of Eduardo Garay Rodriguez and Sebastian Franco. I don’t think Garay/Franco are losing here, irrespective of who they play.

LPRT doubles qualifying

Not a ton of doubles qualifying … but some very intriguing match-ups thanks to top players without a ton of doubles points.

  • Michelle De La Rosa and Sheryl Lotts take on Sotomayor and Maria Jose Vargas Parada. Wow. Brutal draw for both sides; It wasn’t too terribly long ago that Vargas was part of the 2nd best doubles team in the pro tour.
  • Another fun one: Angelica Barrios teams with veteran Bolivian and excellent doubles player Daza and face Micaela Meneses Cuellar playing with Ana Laura Flores. The Lefty/Righty pair will give Barrios/Daza some things to think about, but the two native Bolivians should move on.
  • Should Vero/Vargas move on, they face a winnable match against #5 seeds and longtime Colombian pairing of Adriana Riveros and Amaya Cris.
  • 2018 US national doubles champ Kelani Lawrence teams with Hollie Scott to take on two younger Colombians in Camila Rivero Torrez and Brenda Laime Jalil in a fun opener.
  • Should Barrios/Daza move on, they run into the tough lefty/righty Mexican pairing of Jessica Parrilla and Montserrat Perez, a darkhorse here.
  • the reigning US national doubles champions Manilla and Rhonda Rajsich should survive a first round against two young tough players in Naomi Ros and Shane Diaz, but will have their work cut out for them against #6 seeds Nancy Enriquez and Carla Muñoz Montesinos, two excellent doubles players.

Phew. Play starts bright and early Wednesday 10/6/21, 8am central. can’t wait to start seeing some match results.