Copa Mexicano 2020 Wrap-up

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

Congrats to your winners on the weekend:
– Mens Singles: Daniel De La Rosa
– Men’s Doubles: Rodrigo Montoya/Javier Mar
– Women’s Singles: Paola Longoria
– Women’s doubles: Paola Longoria/Samantha Salas

The two singles finalists on the Men and Women’s side qualify to represent Mexico at upcoming IRF events. The Doubles winners also qualifies to represent the country at upcoming IRF events. I’m assuming this is for the 2020 PARC games to be held in April in Bolivia and for the 2020 World Championships, but as with prior years there may be additional qualification parameters for the 2020 World Championships team that come to light later on.

R2 Sports App home page for event: https://www.r2sports.com/tourney/home.asp?TID=31821

——————

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

Men’s Singles Match report in the PRS database: http://rball.pro/279793

—————-
In the 32s: no upsets to this observer; all 10 round of 32 matches were two-game victories for the expected winner. The three closest games all involved the three highest ranked players playing in the play-in round, who were likely playing themselves into shape for the next round.

—————-
In the 16s, some notable results/upsets:
– #8 Christian Longoria topped #9 Andree Parrilla in a tie-breaker. This is a pretty significant upset, as Parrilla currently sits #5 in the world while Longoria (albeit in limited pro appearances) has yet to even qualify for a main draw. Parrilla continues his miserable tourney streak; he lost in the 16s of the last three pro events as well.
– #5 Gerardo Franco Gonzalez @got an excellent win over #12 Javier Estrada 6,(13),7 to move on. Franco continues to show he’s a tough out, and takes out the enigmatic Estrada.
– #11 Sebastian ‘Patata’ Fernandez dominated Alex Cardona 8,8 to move on. Solid win from Patata, who I thought had a chance to beat Cardona but certainly not in two dominant games.
– #10 Lalo Portillo took out reigning World and Pan Am games singles champ Rodrigo Montoya Solís with relative ease 9,11. Portillo frustrated Montoya with off-speed Z-serves that were quite effective, then matched Montoya’s athleticism to keep balls in play with diving gets and great retrievals.

By seeds, mostly chalk through the 16s with the seeds 1,8,5,4,3,11,10,2 advancing, but for me four of the eight matches were upsets or surprising results.

—————-
In the Quarters
– #8 Longoria gave #1 Alvaro Beltran a scare, taking the first game and giving Alvaro a run in the second before fading in the breaker. Final score (12),12,3.
– #4 Javier Mar took it to #5 Franco, controlling the match and advancing in two games 12,5.
– #11 Fernandez got his second statement win in a row, topping #3 Alan Natera Chavez 11,11 to move on. Natera’s streak of making the semis at Nationals ends after two straight years, while Fernandez moves into the semis of Adult nationals for the first time (he made the quarters twice before, in 2017 and 2018).
– #10 Portillo pushed #2 Daniel De La Rosa, saving match point against in the second game to force a breaker, but DLR ran away with it there, advancing to the semis. DLR keeps his streak of making the semis alive; he’s made the semis or better in every Mexican Nationals back to at least 2014 (he did miss 2017’s event).

—————
In the Semis
– #1 Beltran gave credence to the old statement, “It only takes 26 to win” in dropping the second game to #4 Mar 15-1 but moving on by the final score line of 8,(1),9.
– #2 DLR put an end to #11 Fernandez’s run, frustrating the young Mexican at the precipice of the National team by the score line of 10,11.

With these wins:
– Beltran secures his singles spot on the Mexican National team for the second year running after a 3 year gap from 2016-2018.
– DLR returns to the singles Mexican team after a year absence (he was beaten by Landa in the semis last year). DLR has now qualified for the team 4 of the past 7 seasons.

—————
In the Finals; a rematch of the 2015 Mexican National Finals, won by Beltran for his last National title. But on this day, DLR ended up on top of a close but casual match between friends and doubles partners 14,11 to take the title.

———————————
Lets review the notable matches in the Women’s Singles draw.

Women’s Singles Match report in the PRS database: http://rball.pro/3480BB

—————-
In the 16s, a couple of notable results
– #12 Lucia Gonzalez dominated LPRT top 10 player and #5 seed Nancy Enriquez 2,11 to move on. Gonzalez doesn’t have a top-level match in the database since Dec 2018, but makes noise every time she plays.
– #10 Erin Nocam “upset” #7 Maria Gutierrez in two to advance. Gutierrez was a finalist at 18U last summer in Mexican junior nationals and still has a year left in the junior ranks, while Erin continues her excellent season of results.

—————-
In the Quarters, two pretty big upsets.
– #8 Jessica Parrilla returned to the semis of Mexican Nationals after a two year absence, and she did it by dethroning the defending champ Montse Mejia in two straight. Parrilla was in control for large parts of the match, taking advantage of Mejia’s mistakes throughout.
– #12 Gonzalez got her second upset in a row, downing #4 Alexandra Herrera in a tiebreaker. These two are familiar foes, often competing for junior national titles as they grew up, and Lucia was able to get past her in a major event yet again.
– #3 Samantha Salas Solis cruised past veteran #7 Susy Acosta, improving to 12-0 in top-level/pro events over the lefty, to move into the semis.
– #2 Paola Longoria blitzed past #10 Erin Rivera 0,3, giving her younger countrywoman little chance to get some of the upsets she’s gotten lately on tour.

—————
In the Semis
– #8 Parrilla played solid ball and outlasted #12 Gonzalez to make the Mexican national finals 12,10.
– #2 Longoria survived an injury scare to move past doubles partner #3 Salas 14,9 to get to the final. Early in game on at 1-6 down, Longoria and Salas got tangled up and Longoria seemed to have landed on her ankle wrong; it did not look good, and a full injury time out was taken. She recovered though, Salas could not take advantage of the mobility issues, and Longoria seemed to gain strength and confidence as the match moved on. In the second game Salas had her own injury scare, tweaking her knee in a rally but persevering without an injury time out.

With these wins:
– Parrilla returns to the Mexican national team singles spot for the first time in years: she last represented Mexico internationally at the 2016 PARC event, and before that at the 2013 World Games.
– Longoria secures her spot on the National team, and extends her streak held since 2006 of representing Mexico in singles at IRF events.

—————
In the Finals, Parrilla really put up a fight but couldn’t convert in game one when it counted, dropping it 15-14, then collapsing in game two to lose 14,4. Longoria regains the title she lost last year and returns to the top of Mexican racquetball.

—————-
Mens Doubles review

Men’s Doubles Match report in the PRS database: http://rball.pro/1D2489

In the Men’s competition,

In the early rounds:
– Seeds 1,2,4 and 6 advanced to the semis.
– #5 team of Fernandez/Miguel Rodriguez Jr. took out Cardona/Franco early and pushed Estrada/Natera before falling.
– The #6 team of Portillo/Parrilla “upset” the #3 seeds Sebastian Longoria/Erick Trujillo to advance.
– The #7 team of Christian Longoria and Cesar Barragan really pushed the #2 team DLR/Beltran, falling 14,11

In the semis:
– #1 Montoya/Mar moved into the final over #4 Estrada/Natera, but had to save off game point against in the second game to do so 4,14.
– #2 DLR/Beltran kept their qualification hopes alive … by by the skin of their teeth, taking a scintillating match over #6 Portillo/Parrilla 11-10. The tiebreaker was a shot-makers paradise, with rallies generally only ending with splat rollout kill shots. Fantastic racquetball.

At 10-10, with both teams having saved match point against and with DLR/Beltran re-gaining the serve … something weird happened. DLR/Beltran were assessed a technical for … i’m not sure. At 10-10 against Parrilla called a time out, and Beltran playfully hit the ball towards him. I’m assuming the referee deducted a point for it (based on DLR’s reaction when getting back the 10th point). Nonetheless, when play resumed it was 9-10. They gutted out the 10th point, then on match point rally DLR absolutely buried a reverse forehand pinch from 39′ feet to take the match with quite a statement.

In the final, these two teams went tie-breaker as expected. In the breaker Montoya/Mar jumped out to a bit lead but couldn’t close out at match point. DLR/Beltran quickly ran off several points and it looked like maybe they could pull magic out of a hat again, but Montoya/Mar got the serve back and the ended the match with an amazing winner from Mar.

Montoya/Mar repeat as Mexican National champions and get a chance to build on their 2019 Pan American Games title. Perhaps more importantly, they get a rare win over the veteran Beltran/DLR team in their increasingly exciting rivalry.

—————–
Women’s Doubles review:

Women’s Doubles Match report in PRS database: http://rball.pro/D0916F

In the quarters
– #1, #2 and #4 teams advanced easily
– #6 Angela Veronica Ortega/Maria Gutierrez upset the #3 seeded team of Acosta/Sacristan in a tie breaker for the round’s only upset.

In the semis:
– #1 Longoria/Salas, both of whom picked up knocks in their singles semi final match against each other, gutted out a two game win over the #4 team of Parrilla/Rivera 9,10.
– #2 Mejia/Herrera cruised past the upset minded #6 team of Ortega/Gutierrez 3,4.

In the Final, we got the quite-frequently seen doubles final as of late: these two teams have now met in the finals of four LPRT doubles events just this season, three last season, last year’s World Doubles pro final, plus last year’s Mexican National final. While the Mejia/Herrera team has gotten a couple wins in this rivalry lately, on the day today the veterans held serve, winning in two games 7,13 to take the national title and the right to represent Mexico in the upcoming IRF events.

——————
Next up?

After a month’s break, the LPRT is back in action next weekend in Boston. The IRT has a couple of lower-tier events next week (in Minneapolis and in Pueblo, CO), and then returns to Chicago for the 35th annual KWM Gutterman classic the following weekend.

——————-
tags
International Racquetball Tour
LPRT
International Racquetball Federation – IRF
International Racquetball Federation
Federación Mexicana de Raquetbol
RKT

Copa Mexico 2020 Preview

Beltran is the #1 seed; can he make the team in 2020? Photo US Open 2019 via Photographer Kevin Savory

Its time for one of my favorite tournaments of the year; Its the 2020 Campeonato Nacional Selectivo de Raquetbol. This year the event is being held in Tijuana, not one of the hotbeds of racquetball in the country like San Luis Potosi and Chihuahua, which will be an interesting home-town advantage for some Tijuana based players and may also explain the dip in attendance from last year’s event.

There’s 26 in the Men’s open draw and 15 in the Women’s open: compare this to last year’s Nationals event in Chihuahua; 34 in Men’s Open, 19 in Women’s. Nonetheless, the draws are stacked and nearly every round of 16 match on the Men’s side (and all the quarters on the women’s side) are “back end of the tournament” pro-quality match-ups.

r2sports.com link:
https://www.r2sports.com/tourney/home.asp?TID=31821

————
Lets preview the Men’s Singles draw.

First, some interesting players missing, and some similarly interesting players entered. First off, the elephant in the room; as most of the rball world knows, former Mexican #1 Alex Landa is not here; he entered (and won) US National Doubles a few weeks ago after having asked for his release from the Mexican team mid last year in the wake of the Pan Am Games Team selection controversy. So in his place, last year’s finalist Álvaro Beltrán ascends to the #1 seed in this draw.

We also see that Sebastian ‘Patata’ Fernandez is entered here, and specifically did NOT enter US National doubles a few weeks back. Fernandez (like Landa) has dual citizenship and has represented both US and Mexico in years past. However in a 3-week span in 2019 he played in both US national doubles and in Mexico National doubles, prompting some eligibility and access questions. No such issues this year.

Other notables missing: Ernesto Ochoa misses the event; he was the #11 seed last year. No Jaime Martell Neri here this year; he lost in the 16s last year and had a great run at the 2019 US Open. The draw also misses frequently seen players such as Jordy Alonso, former junior phenom David Ortega, last year’s #7 seed Edson Martinez and two of the top juniors in the land Emir Martinez and Jose Ramos.

Here’s some matches to watch:

In the 32s, there’s 10 matches, many involving top touring IRT pros. I don’t see much in the way of upset potential, but here’s a couple of interesting play-ins:

– @Miguel Rodriguez Jr. will give #9 Andree Parrilla (current #5 ranked IRT pro) an early run for his money.
– Mexican 18U top player Manuel Moncada faces off against Daniel Rodriguez.
– Mexican 18U reigning champ Sebastian Fernandez will face last year’s 16U finalist Erick Trujillo
– Two of the top players in 16U last year face off for a shot at #3 Natera in Sebastian Longoria and Guillermo Ortega. I like Ortega in his home town here even if there’s little between these two players.

The fireworks start in the 16s.
– #1 Beltran likely gets his tourney started against #17 IRT regular Erick Cuevas.
– #9 Parrilla likely takes on #8 Christian Longoria in a battle of SLP tour regulars.
– #5 Gerardo Franco Gonzalez gets zero favors from the draw, likely having to face an underseeded #12 Javier Estrada. Estrada has been giving the IRT a go this season and has a couple of solid wins, but no breakthroughs past the round of 16 yet. But we know what he’s capable of given his win last summer at the Black Gold cup. Franco has proven to be a tough out at times, with a quarter final appearance in the most recent IRT stop.
– #4 Javier Mar likely takes on the junior Moncada in the 16s here.
– #3 Alan Natera Chavez will kick off his latest Nationals event likely against the young Ortega, who will be spirited in defeat.
– #6 Former WRT #1 Alex Cardona gets a brutal opener against #11 Fernandez. I still think the part-time tournament player Cardona is the better player, but Fernandez has been improving and looked tough earlier this year. This could be a statement win for either player, and could go down to the wire in the breaker.
– #7 Rodrigo Montoya Solís] takes on #10 Lalo Portillo in another fantastic round of 16 match. Montoya crushed Portillo in Portland in December, but it was Portillo making a final in Sioux Falls a couple months later. its odd to see Montoya seeded 7th here, considering the fact that he’s the defending Pan Am Games and World Singles champ. He’ll have his work cut out for him again to make the team here unless we see more chicanery from the federation (see Landa, Alex).
– #2 Daniel De La Rosa will face a relative unknown (to me) either way to get his nationals tourney started; it should serve as a great warm-up for his brutal projected quarter final match. Read on.

Projected Quarters:
– #1 Beltran over #8 Parrilla. I know Parrilla finished last year higher than the elder Beltran, but he’s going through a really tough stretch. Andree lost three straight IRT round of 16 matches while Beltran held serve and eventually jumped him in the rankings last month. Beltran is 6-4 over Andree in their career, and i like Alvaro to rise to the challenge in his home town to move on.
– #4 Mar over #12 Estrada; in a battle of Javiers, i give Mar the upper hand. Estrada beat Mar h2h twice in two RKT events in Dec, but Mar gets up for these national events and I think handles Estrada.
– #6 Cardona over #3 Natera; yes I know Natera has made the semis in this event two years running with a slew of upsets. I like Cardona here if he can get past the bulked up Fernandez.
– #2 DLR over #7 Montoya: this is a rematch of the 2018 Nationals final AND the 2018 Selection event final. But its DLR who has had the upper hand in this rivalry lately, winning their last 3 meetings and 4 of 5. Some of their matches have been close … but often DLR really dominates Montoya, including a 1,4 stomping in the semis of the 2019 Lewis Drug. I think DLR builds off of some great recent results on tour and moves on here.

Great projected quarter finals here: it includes potentially four of the current IRT top ten players and another 2-3 players who are top 10 quality.

My semis:
– Mar over Beltran; if Mar gets to this point, I like his chances of taking out Beltran. Mar faced Beltran in the semis of the 2016 Mexican Nationals event and topped him then, and I like him to move to the final here.
– DLR over Cardona: Cardona’s run ends at the hands of DLR, who can handle his power and will outlast him from a fitness perspective on the court at the end-game. These two faced off in last year’s nationals in the quarters, and DLR advanced in a tie-breaker. I see a similar result here.

Final: DLR over Mar, a rematch of the 2016 National final also won by Daniel. DLR returns to the title seat of Mexican racquetball.

————–
Women’s singles draw preview;

15 women in the draw. All the major LPRT touring pros are present, meaning the quarters on should be action packed.

Notables missing:no Ana Laura Flores here after she dominated the Mexican 18U event last year. Also missing are periodic LPRT players like Montserrat Pérez, Denisse Maldonado, Eleni Guzman Velgis, Diana Aguilar, and Sofia Rascon (who I don’t have any tourney results for in more than two years now).

Round of 16s to watch for:
– #5 Nancy Enriquez takes on #12 Lucia Gonzalez in an upset-special. Gonzalez made the semis of the 2018 Mexican Nationals (she also made the semis of 2015 version just after graduating juniors), but missed 2019 so she gets a bottom seed. Nonetheless, she’s proven her ability to beat top LPRT players and Nancy should be on the watch here. I’m going to go with the upset; there’s always a 12 seed beating a 5-seed, right NCAA fans?
– #4 Alexandra Herrera takes on the 14U phenom Angela Veronica Ortega. Ortega was the 14U finalist in 2019 in Mexico, then made the Junior worlds 14U final as well. She’ll be playing in her home town against the touring pro Herrera.
– #10 Erin Rivera takes on the 2018 Mexican 16U champ Maria Gutierrez in the opener.

Projected quarters:
– #1 and defending champ Montse Mejia likely takes on Jessica Parrilla in a pretty tough quarter for the #1 seed. Mejia has never beaten Parrilla … but they also havn’t played since 2017, which means they havn’t played post knee injury. Parrilla continues to struggle to get back to her former lofty ranking; the talent pool is deeper and she has had really rough luck running into top players early in these draws. I think Mejia moves on but it could be a nail-biter tie-breaker.
– #12 Gonzalez takes on #4 Herrera; These two are familiar foes; they’re the same age and played on the junior circuit frequently, often in junior national finals. The last time they played was 2018 Mexican Nationals, a straight-forward 2-game win for Gonzalez. I’ll predict another upset.
– #3 Samantha Salas Solis vs #6 Susy Acosta Racquetball; Salas has really struggled on tour this season, but I don’t see her losing to the veteran Acosta at this stage. These two veterans have played more than a few times so they’ll know each other’s game well.
– #2 Paola Longoria who must feel odd not being seeded #1 in an event for the first time in perhaps a decade or so, likely faces up and coming LPRT player Rivera at this stage. Longoria is on a mission and isn’t stopping till she gets to the final.

My semis:
– Mejia over Gonzalez to end the run
– Longoria over her doubles partner Salas

Final: Longoria re-takes the title and downs Mejia in two quick games in similar fashion to their past few pro meetings.

—————
Doubles preview:

In the Men’s doubles, 13 teams headlined by two of the best doubles teams out there in the top 2 seeds. DLR/Beltran were upset in the semis last year and slip to the #2 seed, while Montoya/Mar are the defending champs and #1 seed. Despite the seeding, DLR/Beltran have never lost as a team to the Montoya/Mar team, so if seeds hold expect DLR/Beltran to retain the title.

Standing in their way are a couple of intriguing teams: #6 Portillo/Parrilla are a frequent pairing on the IRT and could make for an edgy semi against the veterans. The #4 seeds of Estrada/Natera are a frequent pairing that could make noise … but they face a dark-horse in #12 Franco/Cardona, an intriguing pairng that includes the very talented doubles player in Cardona.

In the Women’s doubles draw there’s 8 teams entered but really only 2 teams to talk about: the #1 seeded Longoria/Salas team is one of the most decorated doubles teams of all time, but the #2 seeded team of Mejia/Herrera has been pushing into their territory, taking a couple of pro doubles titles already this season, including the US Open title. Expect #1 vs #2 and for the Longoria/Salas team to push for the win and the international representation spot.

—————-
Streaming options: there’s usually good streaming of these events, by following FMR or RKT on facebook and by following the specific players’ pages.

—————-
Federación Mexicana de Raquetbol
RKT
International Racquetball Tour
International Racquetball Federation – IRF
LPRT

Deportivo Xtreme 1st annual Racquetball Tournament results

Estrada with a nice win in Juarez. Photo US Open 2019, Photographer Kevin Savory

There was a small RKT sponsored event in Juarez over the weekend with an 18-man pro singles draw. No r2sports link, and it was a bit tough to get the results, but here’s a quick wrap.

If you follow Xtreme deportivo on Facebook you can find some video for the matches from the quarters onward.

In the qtrs:
– #1 Javier Estrada advanced to the semis.
, #4 Javier Mar advanced to the semis.
– #3 Ernesto Ochoa defeated #6 Rogelio Ramírez Castillo,
– #7 Rodolfo Esparza upset #2 Alan Natera Chavez 11-9 in the breaker for a surprise win.

In the semis:
– #1 Estrada d #4 Mar, a second successive win over Mar for Estrada in a local Mexican event and a good statement on his ability to consistently play with top players like Mar.

– #3 Ochoa d #7 Esparza to move on to the final.

Final: #1 Estrada d #3 Ochoa.

————-

there’s one more RKT event on the schedule for December; it’s two weeks from now again in Juarez and is a lower-tier IRT sanctioned event, so it should have a solid showing.

San Luis Open 2019 Wrap-up

Portillo gets a win on home soil. Photo US Open 2019, Photographer Kevin Savory

RKT hosted a solid event in San Luis Potosi over the weekend. The 2019 San Luis Potosi open. The draws weren’t online: thanks to Lalo Portillo for emailing me a picture of the draw so that I can do this recap.

Lets recap the Men’s singles event:

In the 16s, just two upsets by seeds both in the typical spots (8/9 and 7/10 matches):

– #1 Andree Parrilla took out #16 Rodrigo Nino
– #9 Jordy Alonso got a nice win over #8 Christian Longoria.
– #5 Javier Estrada took out #12 Andres Trejo
– #4 Javier Mar beat #13 Emir Mtz, fresh of an appearance at the junior worlds.
– #3 Rodrigo Montoya Solís took out Cristhian Sanchez Rico in two.
– #6 Alan Natera Chavez defeated Saul Rivera in two.
– #10 Alejandro Romo took out the youngster Elias NIeeto Zedalav in two closer games.
– #2 Lalo Portillo99 defeated Diego Gastelum in two.

These results setup some really solid quarter finals.
– #1 Parrilla took out #9 Alonso 9,6
– #4 Mar handled #5 Estrada in two games 5,6 to avenge a loss in an RKT event earlier this fall in Mexico City.
– #6 Natera got a solid win over Montoya 10,9. These two have split matches evenly against each other all year.
– #2 Portillo crushed the upset minded Romo in two.

In the semis, we got the 1-2 final we sought.
– #1 Parrilla took out #4 Mar (13),10,9. Despite the seeding (which was done with IRT points b/c this was an IRT sanctioned event), this is an upset in my book.
– #2 Portillo advanced with a solid two game win over Natera 12,12 (this may have been 2,12; the handwriting on the draw is pretty scratchy). Either way, this is not the first time in 2019 that Portillo has beaten Natera in SLP on home soil.

In the final:
– #2 Portillo got one of the best wins of his career, topping #1 Parrilla (13),12,5 to take the event.

—————-
This event was purportedly an IRT Tier 5 event, so the players will get a bit of a ratings bump ahead of next weekend’s IRT event in Oregon. It won’t be enough for Portillo to eclipse Samuel Murray for 8th place on the tour, but he’s well on his way to that goal.

——————–
Next up! IRT Tier 1 action in Oregon, with one of the better events of the year.

International Racquetball Tour
RKT
Federación Mexicana de Raquetbol

Abierto Monterrey 2019 Wrap-Up

Natera wins in Monterrey. Photo US Open 2019, Photographer Kevin Savory

There was a nice little RKT event in San Nicolas (Monterrey), NL, Mexico over the weekend that also was an IRT Tier 4 event. Lets do a quick run through the draw.

R2 Sports App link: https://www.r2sports.com/tourney/home.asp?TID=31726

13 in the Men’s pro draw. Lets review the notable matches. The draw went chalk to the quarters.

In the quarters:
– #1 Javier Estrada got a straight forward win over #8 Juan Loreto in two.
– #5 Alex Cardona was taken to the distance by #4 Gerardo Franco Gonzalez before winning 11-10. Despite being basically a part-time pro player Cardona continues to get wins.
– #3 Alan Natera Chavez advanced in two over #6 Erick Cuevas.
– #7 Jaime Martell Neri took out #2 Ernesto Ochoa in two games. This was an upset by seeds, but not by our personal rankings, which have Martell playing exceptionally well lately and really rising up the world ranks.

In the semis:
– #5 Cardona avenged a recent loss to Estrada in Mexico City, advancing in a tie-breaker after two close games.
– #3 Natera took out #7 Martell in an 11-9 breaker

In the final
– #3 Natera saved match point against in game two, then got it to the tie-breaker where he ran away with the win over #5 Cardona (13),14,4.

I have Natera slowly creeping up my personal world rankings; i’ve now got him just outside the top 10. He’s one of a slew of top Mexican players who I wish could compete on the IRT more frequently to see how they’d rate. Cardona is well known to racquetball enthusiasts, as a 2-time WRT winner and a constant for years in the back ends of Mexican regional events.

—————-
In doubles, Franco/Cardona met up with Estrada/Natera in the final. Both teams featured excellent doubles players, making for an exciting final. Franco & Cardona came out on top 12,12, preventing a double win on the weekend for Natera.

—————–
International Racquetball Tour
RKT
Federación Mexicana de Raquetbol

Abierto Nacional 2019 (Mexico City) Wrap-up

Estrada tops a solid field with a couple of good wins to take the title. Photo via US Open 2019, Photographer: Kevin Savory

Here’s a quick wrap up of the excellent RKT event held this past weekend in Mexico City, Mexico, which featured a solid set of top seeds of Mexican Nationals, a full 32-man Open draw, and a solid 15-team doubles draw.

R2 Sports App link:https://www.r2sports.com/tourney/home.asp?TID=31579

Even experienced fans may have had a tough time recognizing the bulk of the draw in this event; past the top 8 seeds there are not too many players who have appeared in pro events in the past, but the top seeds in this event made for a great saturday/sunday of action. Lets recap the action:

There were no real surprises in the round of 32.

In the 16s, just two close matches:
– #12 Jordy Alonso stretched #5 Ernesto Ochoa to a breaker before falling.
– #7 Oscar Nieto was taken to the limit by #10 Alejandro Romo Gonzalez advancing 11-10 to the quarters.

The quarters featured top-level racquetball by number of Mexico’s finest:
– #1 @Gerardo Gerardo Franco Gonzalez took out youngster Erick Cuevas 12,3. Franco had benefited from the rare double forfeit to basically get a bye into the quarters here.
– #5 Ochoa got a very solid win over #4 Alan Natera Chavez 11,4. Ochoa lost to Natera in a local Juarez event earlier this year, but turned the tides to take this solid win.
– #3 Javier Estrada had the most impressive win in the round, avenging a loss in the Juarez event earlier this year and topping the dangerous former WRT champ Alex Cardona 11,13 to move on. Since his Black Gold win, Estrada has struggled to maintain consistency in his results and could use a solid run of wins.
– #2 Javier Mar, the tourney favorite despite being seeded behind Franco, eased past NIeto 5,10 to setup an excellent semi against Estrada.

————-
In the semis, a couple of upsets and surprising results.

– #5 Ochoa continued his run of upsets, taking out #1 Franco in two solid games. Great tourney for Ochoa.

– #3 Estrada outlasted #2 Mar in an 11-8 tie-breaker. This is the best win Estrada has had since he took the Black Gold Cup.

————–
In the final, Estrada held off Ochoa’s attempts in game 2 to push the match to a tiebreaker and took the title 9,14.

—————
In the solid Doubles draw:

– Mar/Ochoa, as the 1 seeds, advanced to the final with a walkover win over Ruben Martinez/Romo in the semis.
– Franco/Cardona upset the #2 seeded team of Estrada/Natera 11-8 to make the final.

In the final, Cardona continued to show why he’s one of the best doubles players out there by helping his team to victory, winning 10,13.

——————-
Great event, I hope they continue it and coordinate with the IRT next year so there’s not a scheduling conflict.

——————-
RKT
Federación Mexicana de Raquetbol

Chihuahua YMCA Wrap-Up

Landa the double winner in Chihuahua this past weekend. Photo unk

A RKT-associated tourney was put on this past weekend with little fan fare…. but it featured most of the top Mexican pros and some excellent singles and doubles action.

Here’s a quick wrap-up. Follow RKT to get video streams of most of the good matches from the weekend.

Thanks to Jaime Martell Neri for the heads up and sending me the draws 🙂

—————–
Singles wrap-up

In the qtrs:
– #1 Alex Landa advanced over a local player.

– #5 Eduardo Garay Rodriguez upset Alan Natera Chavez to move on; Natera was upset early in the US Open and I probably would have favored him in this match too. Garay has been trying to get it going this season but has been unlucky in match-ups on the pro tour thus far (his losses this season have been to Carson, DLR and Keller; a tough slate).

– #3 Javier Mar took out Javier Estrada, who was not able to replicate his success from the Black Gold event in his home town.

– #7 Alex Cardona upset #2 Rodrigo Montoya Solís to move on. This was much better than a 2/7 match-up; the two-time WRT winner holds a 4-2 career h2h lead over Montoya on that tour … and beat him again here.

In the semis:
– #1 Landa topped hard-hitting #5 Garay
– #3 Mar beat #7 Cardona (11),4,4; I wonder if this score-line indicates a lack of match fitness for Cardona; after beating the very top-quality Mar in game one, he gets wiped out in games 2 and 3.

In the final: #1 Landa eked by #3 Mar 14,10, a scoreline I would have expected knowing the quality of these two players. Mar has more than demonstrated that he’s a top 8 player in the world through his periodic IRT results.

———————-
Doubles wrap-up:

The doubles draw was solid, and quality teams such as Ernesto Ochoa/Estrada, the Nateras and the Garays couldn’t even make the final.

The final ended up being #1 vs #2: Landa/Cardona d Montoya/Mar 11-7 to make Landa a double winner on the weekend. Its saying something when the defending Pan American champion team of Montoya/Mar is beaten by their countrymen on the depth of the doubles circuit right now.

———————–

Good little tourney
International Racquetball Tour
Federación Mexicana de Raquetbol
RKT

Paola Longoria Experience Wrap-up

Longoria wins her namesake tournament to kick off the new season.

Congrats to your winners on the weekend:

Singles: Paola Longoria
Doubles: Monserrat Mejia & Alexandra Herrera

R2 Sports App link: https://www.r2sports.com/website/event-website.asp?TID=31123

Here’s a wrap of the Singles matches of note by round:

Match report in the database: http://rball.pro/624927

In the 32s:
– #19 Denisse Maldonado took out #14 Sheryl Lotts in a tie-breaker for a career win.
– #11 Ana Laura Flores Saavedra was stretched to a tie-breaker by 15yr old Daniela Rico before advancing.

In the 16s:
– #8 Amaya Cris dominated #9 Masiel Rivera Oporto 3,9 to advance. This should be an interesting season for Amaya with her renewed training regiment.
– #12 Montse Mejia got a solid 2-game win over #5 Rhonda Rajsich, reversing the result from their meeting in Lima a few weeks ago.
– #4 Alexandra Herrera barely held off #13 Jessica Parrilla 11-9 in the breaker. Its the third straight defeat in the 16s for Parrilla at the hands of Herrera, but she keeps getting closer. 
– #19 Maldonado fared well against #3 Maria Jose Vargas Parada losing in two 9,10. A good showing for the 20-yr old.
– #11 Flores got the biggest (only) upset of the round, topping #6 Natalia Mendez Erlwein in two. Its the 2nd year in a row they’ve met in this event … and the 2nd year in a row Flores upset the Argentinian.
– #7 Nancy Enriquez was stretched to a tiebreaker by #10 Brenda Laime Jalil before advancing. Laime continues to make main events, solidifying her ranking in the 12-16 range, but she has yet to have a break through win.

In the quarters:
– #1 Paola Longoria took out #8 Amaya 8,9 to advance.
– #12 Mejia continued her upsetting ways, taking out #4 Herrera in two games and perhaps making a statement about the current heirarchy on the tour.
– #3 Vargas advanced in two straight over 18U champ Flores.
– #2 Samantha Salas Solis blitzed past #7 Enriquez 1,6.

In the semis; two heavyweight battles and two interesting matches:
– #1 Longoria and #12 Mejia were neck and neck in game one, with Longoria pulling out a close one, then she broke away in game two to advance 13,5. 
– #3 Vargas got just her 3rd pro win over Salas in a tense, back and forth 11-9 tiebreaker win.

In the final, Vargas mounted a furious comeback in Game 1 but fell slightly short, then Longoria took over in game 2 to win her namesake title 13,6.

—————————————
Doubles review:

Match report in the database: http://rball.pro/A430D7

The two top Mexican teams advanced to the final as #1 and #3 seeds. #3 Mejia/Herrera downed the #2 Argentinian national team of Vargas/Mendez 12,13 to advance.

The final was a rematch of several major events in the last couple of years (these are all Finals);
– 2016 US Open
– 2017 Chihuahua Pro stop
– 2018 Battle at the Alamo
– 2018 World Doubles
– 2018 Mexican Worlds selection
– 2018 Paola Longoria Experience
– 2018 US Open
– 2019 Mexican Nationals
– 2019 Kansas City pro stop.

The #1 team had won every one of these finals matchups save for the 2018 Worlds selection event.

On this day though, the younger team of Herrera/Mejia stuck with the hard-hitting veteran team, mounted a solid comeback in game 2 after letting game 1 slip away, then just out-shot the #1 team behind really solid serving from Herrera and took the title.

—————————————-
Next up: IRF 35th Annual World Seniors is next week in Albequerque, then there’s three major tourneys the following weekend: IRT kicks off in Atlanta, the LPRT visits my home state of Virginia for the LPRT By the Beach or LPRT Chesapeake event, and the 20th annual European championships kick off in Germany.
———————
LPRT
International Racquetball Tour
International Racquetball Federation – IRF
Federación Mexicana de Raquetbol

LPRT Paola Longoria Experience preview

After an incredibly busy summer of events, the pro racquetball season is back. Welcome to the 2019-20 season; first up; the LPRT kicks off with a Grand Slam event; the Paola Longoria Experience in her home town of San Luis Potosi, SL, Mexico1

R2 Sports App link for the event: https://www.r2sports.com/website/event-website.asp?TID=31123.

22 pros are in SLP for this event; lets take a look at the draws.

The top 8 players are here, setting up some frequently seen possible quarter finals from last season. We’re missing the 9th, 10th, and 11th ranked players ( Frederique Lambert Adriana Riveros and Gaby Martinez), which has elevated Masiel Rivera Oporto all the way to a 9th seed. Its an odd absence for Riveros, who only missed three events in the last two seasons.

Lets preview the draw;

Interesting play-in/round of 32 matches:
– #16/#17 Mexican lefty youngster Monserrat Perez Hellman takes on Guatemalan international Maria Renee Rodriguez, who is fresh off of a solid Pan Am Games showing (she and Martinez made the women’s doubles final). I like MRR here.
– #12 Montse Mejia gets a chance to avoid the #1 seed in a pro event for the first time in a while, and starts out playing country-woman Carolina Rivera in the opener.
– #14 Sheryl Lotts made the trip and gets an early test against another young Mexican player Denisse Maldonado.
– #11 Ana Laura Flores , the reigning Mexican 18U champ, takes on the 2018 Mexican 14U champ Daniela Rico in a generational junior battle.
– #15 Veteran Susy Acosta takes on a player nearly half her age in #18 Erin Rivera.

Possible Round of 16 matches of note:
– #8 Amaya Cris vs #9 Rivera: these two played at the final LPRT stop of last season, a 4-game win for Amaya, who has not stopped traveling or playing this summer. I like Amaya here to advance.
– #5 Rhonda Rajsich vs #12 Mejia: they just played each other in LIma, a beat-down by Rajsich. But this is a great opportunity for Mejia (who has the talent to challenge for the top) to make a run. Will she learn from her Pan Am Games early exit?
– #4 Alexandra Herrera vs #13 Jessica Parrilla: Herrera has knocked Parrilla out in the round of 16 in both her top-level tournaments back so far, and likely does it again here. Despite it being more than a year removed from her knee injury, Parrilla still is not back to top form.

Projecting the Quarters: i like the top 8 seeds to advance with a lot of chalk here on out.
– #1 Paola Longoria vs #8 Amaya: Longoria will be looking to win her namesake tournament as she did last year to kick off the season.
– #4 Herrera vs #5 Rajsich: Alexandra finally broke her losing streak to Rajsich at the end of last pro season, while Rajsich is coming off a long two week period in Lima (where, to be fair, Herrera also was … but was merely on the Mexican team and did not play). I like Herrera here.
– #3 Maria Jose Vargas Parada vs #6 Natalia Mendez; as I frequently noted last spring, these two long-time Argentinian team-mates and doubles partners had not never met, now cannot stop facing each other. Vargas has never lost to Mendez, and I don’t see that starting here.
– #2 Samantha Salas Solis vs #7 Nancy Enriquez: If Enriquez does not slip up against up-and-comer Brenda Laime Jalil, she’ll fall at this stage. Salas was shut out of the Mexican singles team at the Pan Ams, but raced to the doubles gold with Longoria.

Semis and Finals: Longoria over Herrera, Salas over Vargas, and Longoria over Salas, This was the semis and finals of the final LPRT event from last season, and I think they pick right back up where they left off.

———————-
Doubles preview:

10 teams here; I like the top two Mexican teams of Longoria/Salas and Mejia/Herrera to meet in the final, with the Pan Am Gold medalists to take another title.

———————–

Reminder: LPRT has a new scoring system, and i’ll put up a post this weekend with a look back at the scoring systems used by the ladies pro tour over the years.

Alex Landa Torneo Internacional Wrap-Up

Landa wins his namesake event is this weekend in Juarez.

Congrats to the winners on the weekend:
– Men’s Singles: Alex Landa
– Men’s Doubles: Javier Estrada/Ernesto Ochoa

R2sports link for the tourney here: https://www.r2sports.com/tourney/home.asp?TID=31049

Here’s a quick review of the tourney

In Men’s Singles, no upsets to the quarters. In the qtrs:
– #1 Alex Landa topped #8 Ruben Estrada in an injury fft after winning the first game.
– #5 Alan Natera Chavez topped #4 Ernesto Ochoa in a tie-breaker fitting of the 4/5 match-up.
– #6 Alex Cardona took out #3 Javier Estrada in two close games. Was his amazing performance in Chihuahua earlier this year an aberration?
– #2 Eduardo Garay Rodriguez topped the veteran Polo Gutiérrez 10,2.

In the Semis;
– Landa and Natera battled in a close game 1, then Landa pulled away to take game two 15-3 and advance to the final of his namesake tourney.
– Cardona took two close games from Garay 13,12 to “upset” his 2nd straight seeded player and advance to the final.

In the Final: 
– Cardona took the first game, then Landa took over, beating his frequent Juarez club playing partner (12),5,6 to win the singles title in his name sake event. Not a bad showing for Cardona, who has stepped back from competitive play but still remains a dangerous player in every draw he enters. For Landa, two solid wins over tough opponents and a good warmup for the new season coming.

————————

In Men’s Doubles:
– #1 seeds Landa/Cardona were upset in the semis by #4 Estrada/Ochoa in a tiebreaker.
– #2 Natera/Garay downed #6 seeds (who got a walkover over #3 seeded team in the qtrs) Jose Martinez / Manuel Villarreal: to advance to the final.

In a good final entirely consisting of solid Mexican players who rarely feature in USA domestic IRT events, Estrada and Ochoa blasted their way to a win over Natera/Garay.

————————-
Next up; the start of the 2019-20 pro season with the LPRT heading to San Luis Potosi.

Federación Mexicana de Raquetbol
RKT
International Racquetball Tour