There were no real surprises to the Semis from the 10-man draw; we were robbed of the best quarter final match when 2-time defending USA national champ Rocky Carson announced he was skipping the event. I don’t blame him; flying halfway across the country on Memorial day weekend for a likely one-and-done against a top IRT player for someone who has played basically two tournaments all year wasn’t a strong strategy. Carson is off the national team for the first time since (I believe) 2002, an amazing stat.
In the semis, a shock upset by Adam Manilla , taking out the #1 seeded Jake Bredenbeck with relative ease in four games. A real surprise loss that has major US team ramifications for the Pan Am games (which we’ll summarize below). From the bottom, #2 Daniel De La Rosa cruised past his doubles partner Alejandro Landa to guarantee his singles qualification to the team and solidify his claim.
In the final, Manilla made a match of it, stretching the 2-time defending IRT champ to five games, but DLR persevered to claim his first ever USA singles title. Jake rebounded to take the 3rd place match over Landa, which I was initially shocked was even played given the circumstances (but read on for the likely real reason).
US Men’s National Team/Pan Am games roster ramifications.
Your 2023-24 team qualifiers are now:
– Men’s Doubles: De La Rosa & Landa
– Mixed Doubles: Manilla
– Men’s Singles: De La Rosa & Manilla
Three players for three Pan Am Games Slots. So, absent any externalities that impact the availability/eligibility of these three players, this is your Pan Am Games Men’s team. I’d imagine that we’d line up these players exactly like this in Chile in the fall.
Now, why did they play the 3rd place match? Probably for positioning in case one of these three players cannot go to Chile. And the “order” of finishing matters when selecting the next players to go. If the USA men need a 3rd player, here’s the next in line:
– Men’s Doubles finalists from Feb: Manilla & Antone
– Mixed Doubles finalist from Feb: De La Rosa
– Men’s Singles semi finalists from May: Bredenbeck & Landa
So, next in line to be asked probably would be Jake and then Wayne, then the team would start to dig deeper. Given the import of the Pan Am Games, its not likely we’d have to; this is the crown jewel event of the sport.
USA Women’s competition;
There were no real surprises in the 5-person Ladies draw. Lexi York did her best to upset @Rhonda Rajsich in the quarters but fell in five games. Kelani Lawrence broke her duck against Rhonda in the semis, winning in three to ensure her national team consideration. Erika Manilla had a battle against Hollie Scott that went 5 games, with Scott knowing only a win would put her into contention after early losses in doubles draws in February. In the final, Manilla took the title in an upset by seed but certainly not by LPRT current rankings. Manilla repeats as National singles champion.
US Women’s National Team/Pan Am games roster ramifications.
Your team qualifiers are now:
– Women’s Doubles: Manilla & Michelle Key , who did not travel to Chicago this weekend to compete
– Mixed Doubles: Manilla
– Women’s Singles: Manilla & Lawrence.
So, as we thought might happen, three ladies for two spots in Chile. Someone is going to be disappointed. We can speculate now as to what the US Team committee/future US coach may decide w/r/t putting the best team forward, but that wouldn’t be fair to any of these women, who have earned their US team titles on the court.
Canada Men’s Singles
For the 14th straight time. the final of a national Canadian tournament came down to its top two players, #1 @Samuel Murray and #2 Coby Iwaasa . There were a couple of notable down-bracket upsets, a rarity in Canadian racquetball; congrats to Kurtis Cullen for taking out #4 @Connell Lee and for #6 @Tanner Prentice to get the upset win over #3 @Trevor Webb to advance to the semis and eventually compete for 3rd place. Cullen took 3rd and capped a banner weekend for him (he also won the Doubles title; see below).
In the men’s final, Murray controlled Iwaasa to win in three 4,10,3 and claim his 4th straight National title.
Canada Women’s Singles:
#1 Frederique Lambert won her 3rd straight Women’s singles title, and 5th overall, by downing @Juliette Parent in the final. Lambert did not cruise through this draw though, she was stretched to five games in the semis by last year’s finalist @Michele Morissette and then taken to four by the upstart Parent. Bravo to Parent for breaking through with a marquee win over Christine Keay , who had more or less solidified herself as the #2 Canadian woman over the past few years with three straight singles finals appearances at Nationals.
Canadian Men’s Doubles:
A huge upset in the doubles final, as the Murray brothers were taken out by Iwaasa and Cullen in three. This was a rematch of last year’s final, and breaks the string of three straight Canadian doubles titles by the Murray brothers.
Canadian Women’s Doubles:
#1 seeds Lambert & Morissette defended their Canadian national doubles title by taking the 5-team round robin group without losing a match. A 3-way tie for second resulted in Keay and Prentice being the 2nd place finishers.
Canadian Mixed Doubles:
In a small round robin competition, @Christian Pocsai and @Ofelia Wilscam took the National mixed doubles draw title, a first for both. Unfortunately, this draw was purged of most of the top players by virtue of the workload it would have caused, something for the US to consider if/when we combine both singles and doubles qualifying into one event.
Canadian Pan Am Games team selection discussion;
So, the Canadian team selection process may now be a bit complicated by the above results, and thanks to their poor showing at the 2023 PARC. Canada finished 6th in Men’s and 10th in Women’s in Guatemala, meaning they were no where close to the threshold for getting three players in either gender. So just two men and two women will be selected to represent Canada in Chile. But who? Here’s your player pool:
– Men’s Singles: Murray, Iwaasa
– Men’s Doubles: Iwaasa, Cullen
– Mixed Doubles: Pocsai
Technically four players for 2 spots, though there’s a clear gap between Murray & Iwaasa and the others, so one would have to think that will be the team. It normally is Murray & Iwaasa at the major IRF events and i’d have to think it’d be the same in Chile.
Canadian Women’s team selection consideration.
Here’s the qualified female players under consideration:
– Women’s Singles: Lambert, Parent
– Women’s Doubles: Lambert, Morissette
– Mixed Doubles: Wilscam
A tough decision here; both Parent and Morissette have represented Canada internationally in each of the last three years, but Lambert is the double qualifier. However, as we know Lambert is a practicing medical doctor and may very well not be able to get away for a trip as long as the Pan Am games requires. I could see a repeat of the 2023 PARC team of Parent & Morissette in Chile, but we hope to see Lambert (the former #2 LPRT player) show up at the sport’s biggest stage.
Thanks for all the streaming on the weekend. Pablo Fajre and his IRT crew in Chicago, and @JJT R Ball and Timothy Baghurst in Winnipeg.
Per our handy master racquetball calendar …
We have a couple weeks off until the final LPRT stop of the season in Chesapeake, where the title is up for grabs for the first time since the late 2000s.
It has been a minute since we last published in this space. But we’re to the end of May, which every year means Nationals time.
This year, the USA Racquetball did something a little different with its qualification, having doubles in February on its normal course then having just a National team qualifier at the Glass court club in Chicago land. The reasons behind this were partly financial in nature: National singles has struggled in attendance and in revenue for the last few years, so a combined event going forward seems inevitable. This weekend in Chicago there’s a small shootout in conjunction with the 15 top US nationals competing in a win-or-go-home singles competition for the National team slots.
The Seedings for singles, in a change to some years’ past, is done by the USA Rankings as of the time of seeding. As a result, you may be somewhat surprised by the seeding. Jake Bredenbeck gets the #1 seed over two-time defending IRT pro champ @Daniel De La Rosa . The other slight surprise is probably Thomas Carter pipping Adam Manilla for the 4th seed despite their current IRT rankings being reversed. Otherwise the draw is probably as you’d expect. 2022’s champion Rocky Carson has fallen all the way to 6th as he’s essentially retired from IRT competition.
In the quarters:
– Jake advances past Indiana amateur James Black.
– Manilla should advance past Carter in a battle of lefties.
– In a rematch of the 2022 final, Carson takes on Alejandro Landa . It may look curious that the two finalists from last year are seeded 3rd and 6th, but that’s where the rankings fall and they’re probably a fair representation of the talent level right now. It is tough to know where Landa’s game is week in and week out, while Carson no longer tours and may be rusty against top competition. I’ll predict Carson in an upset.
– De la Rosa likely takes out @Sam Bredenbeck , who should advance past Texan amateur Limonciello in the play-in.
– Jake over Adam: amazingly these two have managed to avoid each other in all top competitions since 2017. Jake has never lost to Adam, and is playing better than ever, and should advance.
– DLR over Rocky; Rocky did get a h2h win over DLR back in march 2022 on these exact courts, but otherwise DLR has owned Rocky since mid 2019. DLR is qualified already for the team by virtue of his doubles win earlier in the year, but doesn’t want to leave anything to chance.
Finals: Playing for pride, as the two finalists are on the team, but I suspect Jake is more interested in owning a US national title than DLR. I think jake wins.
National team impact if these results hold. Right now the team is:
– Men’s Doubles: DLR and Landa
– Mixed Doubles: Manilla
– Men’s Singles projection: Jake and DLR.
(Note: post publishing i deleted in accurate claim that there’s Worlds in august. There’s World SENIORS in august, not regular worlds).
This would make for 4 players for 3 Pan Am Games slots, and would make for a difficult selection between Landa and Manilla for the third slot. Unless there’s other circumstances that arise, someone with a national title will be disappointed for the Pan Am games roster.
Just 5 players in Chicago, and like with Rocky above, we see the impact of the non-protected seeds on the essentially retired @Rhonda Rajsich , a finalist in 2022. Thanks to her inactivity playing, she’s dropped behind all the top USA women competitors and is seeded 4th here.
Kelani Lawrence gets the #1 seed despite being well behind Erika Manilla in the LPRT points standings right now, seemingly by virtue of a couple of h2h wins over Brenda Laime recently, who has now shot up to #2 overall.
in the quarters, Lexi York has a shot at topping Rajsich, but we’ll go with the legend to advance. She always comes to play in Nationals.
In the semis:
– Lawrence should advance past the winner of York/Rajsich, though Rhonda has had a lot of success beating Kelani in USA national events. They’ve met in this event every year since 2016 save one, and Rajsich has beaten Kelani in every year save one. So, Kelani has her work cut out for her; the winner here gets on the team, the loser is out.
– In the 2/3 seed semi, @Erika Manila faces a familiar foe in Hollie Scott , who she keeps running into on the pro side as well. Manilla has handled Hollie multiple times in the past year and has only lost to the Washington native once in 7 known meetings. Manilla moves on.
In the final, i’d expect Manilla to win over Lawrence if seeds hold; these two have very little history playing each other, kind of surprising given that the top of the US women’s pool has been the same four players for years.
National team impact if these results hold. Right now the team is:
– Women’s Doubles: Erika and Michelle Key
– Mixed: Erika
– Singles projection: Erika and Kelani
So, if these results hold, it’d be three women qualified for the team for the Pan Am Games … but we only get 2 spots thanks to our team’s poor finish at the 2023 PARC. See https://www.santiago2023.org/descargas/en/Racquetball.pdf for the team qualifications to Pan Am games: host nation plus top 3 countries at PARC get 3 players, the rest two.
Erika triple-qualifying would make one decision pretty easy, but how would you decide between Key and Kelani for the 2nd spot? And, what if we get a surprise singles finalist (Scott or Rhonda?) That’d throw a huge monkey wrench into the team selection procedures.
I don’t envy the US National team committee, who will have to make some tough decisiosn on who to send to the sport’s marquee event later this year.
Why does Canada use Trackie instead of R2sports? Because of new regulations in Canada that require personal information of Canadian citizens to be kept in Canada.
Canada is having their Nationals this week and weekend as well, but they’re stretching this into an all week affair and holding Singles, Doubles and Mixed all at once. Lots of playing for the top guns, with round robins all week feeding into single elimination draws this weekend.
On the Men’s singles side, 11 straight Canada national selection events/nationals tournaments have come down to the same two guys in the final: Samuel Murray and @Coby Iwaasa . With all due respect to the rest of the Canadian men right now, its hard not to think this weekend will be anything other than the 12th. Mostly its Murray taking the titles, but their last meeting went 12-10 in the fifth, and Iwaasa can play. I’m predicting Murray over Iwaasa in another barn burner.
Frederique Lambert is in the draw, which usually means everyone else is playing for 2nd place. Lambert has just ONE loss in Canadian nationals in the last decade, a finals loss to Jen Saunders (now the sporting director for Racquetball Canada) in May of 2014.
So, we’ll go out on a limb and say that Frederique will take this championship. The next four seeds in Christine Keay , Michele Morissette , and Parent Julienne will jocky for 2nd place.
Men’s Doubles: They’re already to the semis by the time you’re reading this, and the #1 seeded Murray brothers are still the favorites. With Canada only getting two Pan Am games spots, likely we’ll see Murray play with Iwaasa at the Pan Ams like he normally does internationally.
Women’s Doubles: Lambert is teamed up with Morissette to be the formidable #1 seed, and only Keay/Prentice seem like they have a shot to unseat them.
Mixed Doubles: none of the singles favorites are playing in Mixed, so the draw is wide open. Four teams are playing, which means we’re going to likely have a brand new international rep for Canada at the next PARC event in the spring of 2024.
It was quite the weekend for Moscoso, winning Mens singles and mixed and losing in the finals of Men’s Doubles, but it wasn’t quite enough to prevent Mexico from winning the overall combined team title. Mejia got the double Singles and doubles, and the Mexico mixed team making the final just put them over the top to win the Combined team.
Pro Racquetball Stats DB match results. Click on these links to see the match results in the DB:
Note: I do not yet have the full team results entered into the DB, but per blog posts we have gleaned the following standings:
Combined Team (Overall)
1st – Mexico
2nd – Bolivia
3rd – Argentina
4th — USA
1st – Bolivia
2nd – Mexico
3rd – USA
4th – Argentina
1st – Mexico
2nd – Argentina
3rd – Bolivia
4th – Guatemala
Mexico back on top in combined after finishing 2nd to Bolivia at last year’s PARC. 4th place overall is tied for the worst ever USA overall finish, and the Women finished5th. Definitely a disappointing result for team USA, and I believe these finishes cost the US some spots in the upcoming Pan Am Games.
Let’s run through the individual draws and talk about notable results.
There were no real surprises in the Round Robin stage of the Men’s singles; all the expected 1st place finishers finished first and I saw no real upsets. This led to a pretty true knockout stage draw.
In the knockouts, Canadian #1 Samuel Murray had to forfeit out, which thinned the bottom half of the draw a bit. The biggest “upset” in the quarters was Argentinian Diego García taking out USA #4 seed Thomas Carter, though Garcia’s results on tour lately made this a predictable result.
In the quarters, Garcia continued his run, taking out IRT top 4 player Portillo in a five game battle. It was chalk from the bottom, as #2 @Jake Bredenbeck and #3 Moscoso advanced to the semis without much trouble.
In the semis, #1 seed @Carlos Keller Vargas advanced to the finals over Bolivian-born but converted Argentine Garcia by the astounding score of 21-19 in the 5th. What an epic battle. From the bottom, Moscoso downed his familiar IRT pro rival Jake in 3 straight to get to the final.
The final was an all-Bolivian affair, a rematch of the Bolivian nationals that Keller surprisingly took earlier this year to ensure he was the top seeded Bolivian in this draw. Moscoso took three close games from his long-time teammate 8,9,9 to win the title. It is Moscoso’s 4th IRF title and third IRF major title (2023 PARC, 2022 Worlds, 2022 PARC), further solidifying his claim to being the best player in the world. See http://rb.gy/svvs1 for all Moscoso’s titles.
As with the men, no real surprises in the group stage, which featured a couple of all LPRT top 10 matchups that went basically along LPRT ranking lines.
The Knockout round featured a break out performance and a ton of upsets.
– #17 seed Costa Rican Maricruz Ortiz shocked the tournament by ousting #1 seed and defending PARC champion Angelica Barrios in the round of 16. A shocking upset by seed, but perhaps not so shocking for those who have watched Ortiz’ transformation lately as a player.
– #6 Mejia took a second win over #11 Erika Manilla after the two top 4 LPRT pros also met in the RR stage. This is one of the downsides of IRF’s seeding methodology, leading to a match that should have happened in the semis happening in the 16s and thus badly impacting team USA’s chances in the overall standings.
In the quarters, Ortiz continued her run with another win over a top LPRT pro, beating Colombian Cristina Amaya in a 5-gamer. Meanwhile, Maria José Vargas put another stake of doubt in the current status of world #1 @Paola Longoria , beating her in five games to give Longoria her earliest international loss since the 2006 Worlds (when Paola was a month past turning 17). See http://rb.gy/hzzal for a full list of Longoria’s IRF losses, which total just 11 over a nearly 20 year career.
Mejia topped her second top-4 talent player in a row, beating #3 @AAna Gabriela Martínez in four, while Argentina’s Natalia Mendez took out Sabja in a battle of Bolivian-born players.
The semis gave us some normalcy, as the two expected players Vargas and Mejia advanced, and then Mejia took a 3-game close final 8,6,9 to claim the title. This is Mejia’s first ever international title.
The Men’s doubles draw was almost entirely chalk, with no real surprises in the RR stage and a grand total of one upset by seed through the knockout stage. That upset was #5 team USA and the Bredenbeck brothers taking out #4 Team Ecuador in three quick games. Otherwise this was a coronation of team Mexico and team Bolivia blowing through the draw to meet in the final. In that final, Rodrigo Montoya won his 4th major international title with partner Portillo over the Bolivian national champions Moscoso and Kadim Carrasco .
The Women’s doubles RR gave a couple of surprises, especially team Guatemala (Gaby Martinez and Maria Renee Rodriguez ) taking out the pre-tournament #1 seeds from Argentina Mendez and Valeria Centellas to claim the #1 seed in the knockouts. They held serve all the way to the finals, taking out team Bolivia in the semis and team Chile in the quarters from the top-side.
From the bottom half, team Mexico (Alexandra Herrera and Mejia), which is largely now considered the best doubles team in the world, cruised through the draw without dropping a game en route to the title. This is Mejia’s first ever IRF title, and Herrera’s third.
This is just the third IRF event to host a Mixed doubles title, and Rodrigo Montoya has been in the final of all three. This time however, he came out on the losing end, as Moscoso earned the double for the weekend by combining with Mixed partner Barrios to win the title over #1 seed Team Mexico and its star-studded pairing of Montoya & Longoria.
It is a rare feat to beat Longoria in doubles internationally; she’s now a combined 104-6 in 15 years of competing internationally. But Moscoso and Barrios did it.
Congrats to the International Racquetball Federation for another successful event. Thanks to the IRT streaming crew and @Pablo Fajre for streaming, and thanks to @Gary Mazaroff and all his co-announcers for their hard work all week.
Next up on the IRF calendar is the Central American & Carribean games in July, then the big one: Pan Am Games in Chile in October.
Welcome to the first International Racquetball Federation (IRF) event of the 2023 season, the 34th installment of the Pan American Racquetball Championships (PARC). This year’s event is being held in Guatemala City and serves as a qualifier into the 2023 Pan Am Games later this year in Chile. The Pan Am games, lest I remind you, are the highest international level competition our sport has in the absence of being in the Olympics, and thus these games take on additional import.
We’re through the round robin stages and have the knockouts set, so its a great time to do a preview.
Seeding for these events is done on a sliding scale of the country’s past performances and is not specific to a player, which is why you’ll see some odd seeding in the singles especially (#1 LPRT pro Paola Longoria seeded 5th, for example), and will make for some good early round match ups.
Here’s a look at open-level knock outs for singles, doubles and mixed.
USA and Bolivia players own the top 4 seeds in the knockouts, which gives both advantages to get to the latter stages at the expense of the top Mexican and Canadian players.
The round of 16 may see some upsets:
– Both Costa Ricans are set to play each other in the 16s, a bummer for Andres Acuna and @Gabriel Garcia
– Looks like Canada on Canada crime as #6 Samuel Murray projects to face his #2 Trevor Webb .
– #1 @Carlos Keller Vargas , who gets the #1 seed by virtue of his topping Moscoso in Bolivian Nationals a couple of months ago, projects to face Costa Rica’s Acuna. This is a coin flip for me; Keller generally plays really well internationally so i’ll favor him, but Acuna is more battle tested lately.
– #5 Eduardo Portillo vs #13 Garcia: Portillo should move on here but Garcia is an unknown to tour players and could forge an upset.
– #3 Conrrado Moscoso versus #6 Murray: I’m unsure if this match will occur b/c reportedly Murray dinged his knee during group play. This may be a walkover, or this may be another Canadian, or this could be the winner of Webb/Espinosa in the earlier round. Either way, Moscoso is favored.
– #2 @Jake Bredenbeck vs #7 Andree Parrilla ; , a pro semis-quality match that we’ve already seen on tour a couple times this year. Jake has the upper hand over Andree right now.
– Portillo over Keller. Lalo is just a better player right now than either Keller or Acuna and should move into the final.
– Moscoso over Jake: Its a lopsided draw; the bottom half is just so much deeper than the top. I’d have liked to see this as a final (as we saw in the last IRT event), but we’ll get it here.
Final: Moscoso over Portillo. Moscoso is hyper focused on international titles and gets one here.
Women’s Open knockout preview:
Thanks to some really tough RR matchups, we’re going to have some bang-up round of 16 matches in the Women’s draw.
In the 16s:
– #1 @AnAngelica Barros taking on Costa Rican up and coming Junior @Maricruz Ortiz , who has been training in Florida with Sudsy Monchik and Veronica Sotomayor and has been improving rapidly. Not enough to beat Barrios, but enough to put a scare into her.
– Look for a close 8/9 between Cristina Amaya and Ecuadorian veteran Muñoz Pazita .
– A fitting 5/12 matchup between long-time veteran rivals Paola Longoria and @Rhonda Rajsich in what could be Rhonda’s final int’l appearance. Her American rivals may start to knock her off the US National team.
– 11 @Erika Manilla vs #6 Montse Mejia , who literally just played yesterday. This seems like a defect in the seeding. Too early an exit for Manilla and this will cost the US in the Pan Am Games seeding with two female round of 16 exists.
– #7 Carla Munoz versus Bolivian vet #10 @Yasmine Sabja could be close
– Longoria-Vargas. phew. Vargas took her out with no pressure in an LPRT event a few weeks ago, but Paola lives for IRF titles and moves on.
– Mejia-Gaby; another powerhouse meeting. They met frequently as juniors, but Montse owns their adult meetings. Mejia to advance.
– Mendez Munoz: Natalia has the advantage here.
– Longoria over Barrios. Yes, Angelica has a recent win, but this is PARC not the pros.
– Mejia over Mendez; Montse outclasses the Argentine.
Final … Mexico vs Mexico again, and Montse continues her dominance over the rest of her female compatriots with her first int’l title.
Men’s doubles preview:
The injury to Murray hampers Canada’s chances here and really opens up the bottom half of the draw for a Bolivian romp to the finals. From the top, expect Mexico vs USA to be action packed in the semis but for Montoya/Parrilla to advance.
In the final, i see Mexico topping Bolivia’s Moscoso/Carrasco.
Women’s Doubles preview:
Team Guatemala has been playing really well lately, but nobody’s stopping Herrera/Mejia from winning this title together. Can team USA Michelle Key and @Erika Manilla make some noise from the top half and get to the final? We’ll see.
Mixed Doubles preview
Two powerhouse teams of top pros are seeded 1st and 2nd, and its hard to predict anything other than Mexico vs Bolivia final. The ladies player in mixed always dictates the winner for me, and I see Longoria outhitting Barrios on the right hand side in that final to power Mexico to another international mixed win.
The IRT streaming team is in Guatemala doing the broadcasts, and lead IRF broadcaster @gary mazaroff is on the mike along with Alexis Iwaasa and others. Tune in all week for solid matches.
The Men’s pro doubles draw was incredibly deep this year. Most of the round of 16 matches were coin flips, and six of them went tie-breaker. Once we settled down though into the semis, it was mostly chalk. The top 3 seeded teams advanced with straight-game wins, to be joined by the upstart 12th seeds of @Marcos Gravier and @Roy Hernandez, who took out #5 and #4 to make the semis here.
From there, it had to come down to #1 vs #2 in the final; the hall of famer Ice Man Robert Sostre paired with former BB champ @Benny Goldenberg took on the current IRT #1 De La rosa, playing this tournament with the underrated @Javier Mar. The final was a shootout between DLR and Iceman on the left hand side, with Sostre showing fast hands and Daniel showing even faster put backs. In the end the two touring pros won a solid 8,11 final to cap the weekend.
With the win, Mar repeats as Beach Bash Champion. But with this win, Daniel becomes the first male to win the career “Grand Slam” of Men’s pro doubles events (Beach Bash, Outdoor Nationals, and Vegas). Several women’s pros have done it (Rhonda, Janel, Michelle, and Aimee) but never a Male until today. H/T to Vic for this observation.
Women’s Pro Doubles:
The 6th seeded former USA National champs Kelani Lawrence and @Hollie Scott took their first outdoor pro doubles title together by ousting the #3, #2 and #1 seeds in order. First they took out the NY pair of Ramos & Guinan, then they downed the pre-tourney favorites Munoz & Laime in the semis, before taking out the top-seeded team of Roehler and Sotomayor in the final in a breaker.
Mixed Pro Doubles:
De La Rosa repeated as Beach Bash mixed champion, albeit with a new partner for 2023, winning the final as the #2 seed with Hollie Scott in a tiebreaker. The met two relative newbies to outdoor racquetball in the final in Eduardo Portillo and Alexandra Herrera , who took out the #1 seeds Robert Sostre and @Caridad Morales in the semis.
This win represents Daniel’s 18th Mixed pro major outdoor title, his fourth in Florida.
Men’s Pro Singles:
Daniel De la Rosa blew through the singles draw, giving up a combined 19 points in three games to repeat as Beach Bash singles champion. He defeated #3 seed Maryland native @Pruit Dylan in the final. DLR’s adeptness at one-wall was apparent throughout the Thursday competition, mixing in soft slice lobs off of drive serves with pin-point accuracy of drive kills and angled passing shots.
Women’s Pro Singles:
Sotomayor, who had never played outdoor racquetball prior to this event and was thus seeded last, ground out victories against @Carla Munoz (who has won both 3-wall singles titles at the last two outdoor majors) in the quarters, @Kelani Lawrence in the semis, then upset the 3-time defending Beach Bash singles champion @Hollie Scott in the finals 21-14. Sotomayor crushed her backhand all day, hitting bottom-board from shoulder height overhead serves and demoralizing her opponents. A great performance.
Other Notable draws:
– CPRT 40+ Doubles: Well, they say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. Tell that to the 48-yr old five-time IRT champion Sudsy Monchik , who teamed with fellow 40-something Rocky Carson to take the loaded CPRT 40+ doubles draw. They topped two tough outdoor veterans in Joe Young and Thomas Gerhardt in the final 11-8.
Two IRT legends teamed up, one with decades of outdoor experience in Rocky Carson, the other with almost none (and a broken hand to go with it) in Sudsy Monchik . They beat teams that included best outdoor players Florida has to offer in Rob Mijares , Marcos J. Gravier , the #2 seeds Rolon & Sostre in the semis, then former BB champ Joe Young paired with #1 ranked 3-wall singles player Thomas Gerhardt in the finals.
– Men’s 75+: in what turned out to be the biggest draw of the event (20) teams, the final had some familiar names and was a nice warm=up for the weekend’s pro doubles. Two-time defending Outdoor Nationals champs @MMicah rich and @Jason Geis reached the final from the top-half, while Rocky (who wons 11 major outdoor pro doubles titles .. but none in one-wall) partnered with Barcelo to reach the final from the bottom.
In an excellent final, Rocky/Barcelo took out Rich/Geis 11-7 in the breaker.
Men’s 100+: Hall of Famer Marty Hogan teamed up with the venerable @Richard Miller to take the 100+ doubles draw. They were seeded 12th out of 12 teams, and beat the 11th seeded team of Jose Nivela / Martin Gonzalez in the final.
Paddleball Competition Review
It is worth noting that these courts were originally designed for Paddleball. So its only fitting that there were Wednesday Paddleball competitions.
– Men’s Pro Doubles Paddleball was taken by the Hulkster/Warrior combo of Rolon and Blatt, who defeated fellow NYers Ryan Lopez and @Paul Angel in the final.
– Women’s Pro doubles paddleball was taken by #1 seeds @Kathy Guina and @Jasmine Suarez , who crushed two LPRT pros in the semis and then took out Morales/Colon in the final.
– Mixed pro Doubles Paddleball: was taken by Rolon & Guinan, giving both the Paddleball double on the day, defeating Suarez/Angel in the final.
Thanks for all the streaming on the weekend from the LPRT video crew, with @JT R Ball leading the way and bringing in all sorts of characters into the booth (including the Warrior, Sudsy, Mikey D, Vic Leibofsky and the like).
Thanks to the Tourney Directors Peggine Tellez , Jen O’Meara , @Mike Coulter and the entire 3Wall Ball crew for putting this event on and ensuring the legacy of outdoor majors.
Reminder to Players! Please like and follow this page so that when I tag you, you see it. Facebook will only retain tags of people that like/follow a page, which means lots of you are not getting the notoriety of getting tagged and noticed on Facebook. If your name is here and it isn’t tagged … it probably means I attempted to tag you but Facebook stripped it.
Per our handy master racquetball calendar …
Next week the IRT is in Chicago, and USAR hosts Intercollegiates at Ohio State for the first time. Later this week we’ll recap the standings post Beach Bash for the 2023 Cup Series and post the results online.
Congrats to the 231 HS entrants who traveled to Portland to compete in this year’s USA Racquetball High School championships. This was the 35th iteration of the tournament, held every year (save for Covid) since 1988.
Here’s a quick run-through of your Gold division winners:
– Boys Singles Gold #1: Benjamin Horner from Iowa takes the crown; its the first time a player from Iowa has won a HS national. He defeat’s Texas’ DJ Mendoza in the final.
– Girls Singles Gold #1: @Naomi Ros repeats as Prep champion out of Douglas MacArthur HS in San Antonio. @George Bustos ‘s program continues to churn out top junior talent.
– Boys #1 Doubles: Luke Dannegger & Nicholas Heinlein out of St. Louis University HS in Missouri take the crown, going wire to wire as the #1 seeds.
– Girls #1 Doubles: Avery Oppermann & Gabbie Roseman out of Kirkwood High in Missouri also take the crown as the #1 seed, continuing St. Louis’ dominance.
– Mixed #1 Doubles was taken by Ros & Mendoza, giving Ros the weekend double.
In the team competition:
– Overall Team: Kirkwood HS in St. Louis, who repeat as overall Team Champions and win their 5th ever Combined National title.
– Boys Team: St. Louis University HS from St. Louis: this boys-only school wins for the 12th consecutive time and 16th overall. SLUH has now won 16 of the 30 Boys titles competed since High School Nationals started in 1988.
– Girls Team: Kirkwood also took the Girls title here, which powered them to the overall title. This is their first ever Girls title.
USAR had National doubles team qualifying (along with amateur singles), Mexico hosted National Singles and Doubles (though they didn’t play Mixed), and Canada had their Winter 2022-23 season Singles only qualifier.
Congrats to the Open/National team winners on the weekend:
– Women’s Doubles: Alexandra Herrera & Montse Mejia
– Men’s Singles: Samuel Murray
– Women’s Singles: Michele Morrissette
– Men’s Doubles: Moscoso/Carrasco
– Women’s Doubles: Barrios/Daza
For USA, Mexico and Bolivia, these winners (and singles finalists) now qualify to represent their country in the 2023 IRF events.
– PARC in April in Guatemala City
– Central American & Caribbean Games in July in the DR (Mexico Only)
– The big one: The 2023 Pan American Games in Chile in October (though qualifying for Pan Am games depends on performances in PARC, and not all national team members from each country are automatically qualified).
Note: different countries use different rules: the PARC representatives for the USA will be the existing 2022 team and these winners “terms” start July 1. I’m not sure what Mexico will do for its 2023 PARC team at this point, and Canada’s actual Nationals are in May to determine the Worlds/Pan Am games team.
Newly switched De La Rosa paired with another former Mexican national in Landa to capture the Men’s Doubles title. They were pushed to a 5th by the Bredenbeck brothers, but blew them away 11-2 in the breaker. From the top side, defending national champs Rocky Carson and @Charlie Pratt were taken out by the surprise pairing of Adam Manilla and amateur Wayne Antone . Manilla and Antone couldn’t do much against two top-5 IRT pros in the final, losing in three straight.
– USA Women’s Doubles:
@Erika Manilla and Michelle De La Rosa dethroned the defending champs Scott & Lawrence in four games to take the title. mDLR makes her 3rd National team while Erika makes her 4th straight.
– USA Mixed Doubles:
The Manilla siblings took down two-time IRT champ De La Rosa and Scott to claim the MIxed title. This is the first time Adam has qualified to represent the USA in an international competition.
– Men’s Singles:
In a massive draw, #1 seed Montoya held serve and ran a gauntlet of tough players to take the title. It is his 3rd National singles title since 2018 and his 4th time qualifying for Singles.
He certainly earned it: by virtue of FMR’s weird seeding, a slew of better-than-their-ranking players were drastically under-seeded and played into top players early. Montoya defeated, in order, Eduardo Garay in the 32s, 7-time Junior national champ Jose Carlos Ramos in the 16s, then rising star Trujillo in the quarters, his doubles partner Mar in the semis, and then current top-4 IRT player Portillo in the winner’s bracket final. Phew.
Portillo dropped to the loser’s bracket and topped Parrilla for the second time in two days to finish in 2nd place and secure his first ever Mexican National team spot.
– Women’s Singles
Even though she’s faltered a bit lately, Longoria crushed the competition this weekend, beating Parrilla 4,2,6 in the semis and Mejia 2,3,8 to win yet another Mexican National title. Our records only go back to 2014, but it is believed that Paola has won every singles title save for one since 2007.
– Men’s Doubles
Mar/Montoya won their 4th National title in 5 years by taking an 11-9 5th game thriller over Portillo/Parrilla. Fun fact: Montoya has been in every single Mexican National doubles final since 2016.
– Women’s Doubles
It finally happened: Longoria & Salas were beaten in a Mexican Nationals event. The 15-time defending champions (that’s every single tournament since 2007) were toppled by Mejia/Herrera in a 5-game showdown. It didn’t look like it would be close, with the two long-time veterans taking the first two games. however, the lefty/righty pair stormed back to take the next three games and cruise in the 5th 11-6 for their first Mexican National title.
– Men’s Singles
Samuel Murray shook off an injury that has vexed him for months and outlasted #2 Coby Iwaasa in five tight games. It couldn’t be any closer, with Sam winning in the 5th 12-10 to take yet another Canadian National event. The two players split the selection events and will remain the top 2 seeds at Canadian Nationals in May.
– Women’s Singles
Michele Morrisette took her 2nd career Canadian National event title, defeating the #4 seed Danielle Ramsay in the final. Ramsay had topped #1 seed Christine Keay in a big upset and was the first time she had advanced to a National level final.
Bolivian National Doubles:
From what we can glean from Facebook posts, Barrios & Daza took Bolivian Doubles over Sabja and an unknown partner.
For the men, it was four familiar names in the final, but they were teamed up in an unexpected manner. Moscoso teamed with Carrasco, while Moscoso’s regular partner @Roland Keller teamed with his brother @Carlos Keller Vargas. In a hard hitting final, Moscoso and Carrasco came out on top.
It is a big week for Amateur racquetball! All three original O.G. countries (USA, Mexico, and Canada) are having National level events to some extent or another this week. Let’s do a quick preview of all three, highlighting some storylines. I’ll abandon my typical round by round previews in the interest of time (my own time; i moved this week and i can’t find half my office in the stonehenge mound of boxes I have in our new home).
USAR is in Tempe AZ for the tournament titled “National Doubles and Singles Championships.” Due to financial factors (and the losses we took last year on these two events being held separately), USAR combined the two events for 2023, cancelling the typical May singles-only event. However, in the interests of not burning national team qualifiers out with too many matches, “National Team Singles Qualifying” will be held as a one-off event sometime in May (likely in Chicago during Memorial day). All Doubles National team qualifying (Men’s, Women’s and Mixed) will be t his weekend, along with all amateur doubles and all other amateur singles.
US Men’s Doubles: the big story line for the weekend is the switching of countries by the 2-time defending IRT pro tour champ Daniel De La Rosa . A dual passport holder by virtue of living in the USA for so long (and being married to an American), DLR made the switch thanks to the ongoing funding issues FMR is having, and he senses an opportunity to get onto the US national team and reap the benefits that it offers as a national player. This is the 2nd time in 3 years that a top Mexican dual citizen has switched, though the reasons behind @AAlejandro Lanús ‘s switch were a bit different.
Nonetheless, DLR’s presence certainly complicates the pathway onto the team for the rest of the players. DLR is teamed with Landa and are seeded third. They’ll project to play the Bredenbeck brothers in the semis if seeds hold, and they’d play the two-time defending champions @Rocky Carson and Charlie Pratt in the finals.
It is hard not to see DLR/Landa winning this; DLR is among the best doubles players in the world and Landa prefers the right side.
US Women’s Doubles: Scott/Lawrence are #1 seeds and defending champs, but have a possible semis upset watch playing two of the most decorated doubles players in history in @Aimee Roehler and Janel Tisinger-Ledkins . On the bottom side, Rhonda Rajsich is back, and is the #2 seed with @SSheryl Lott but seem likely to get beat by the powerful Manilla/De La Rosa pair.
Manilla made the final last year playing with Roehler, but now will play the backhand side with an excellent doubles player in mDLR on the forehand, and I think they’ll upset Scott/Lawrence for the title.
US Mixed Doubles: all eyes will be on the upper half semis, as long time doubles partners Daniel and Michelle De La Rosa have split ways and are set to face each other. Daniel has teamed up with Scott, while Michelle is playing with Alex, and fireworks are sure to fly. Advantage DLR here, and I see the #4 seeds advancing to the final.
Its hard to see anyone but the bro-sis Manilla team advancing to the final from the bottom half, but the question will be whether they can out-hit a DLR/Scott team.
My prediction: DLR doesn’t lose this weekend and is the double winner.
Ironically DLR is prominently featured on the Mexican home page, even though he entered the USA event weeks ago.
As usual, the draws are massive for Mexican Nationals, and by the time you read this they’ll have already played a couple of rounds. Here’s some predictions:
Men’s Singles: #1 @Rodrigo Montoya probably isn’t troubled until the semis, when he projects to face his doubles partner Javier Mar. The bottom half likely is a showdown in the semis between Portillo and Parrilla, assuming Lalo can get by the #3 seeded veteran Polo Gutierrez . There’s a ton of other players in this draw to watch for, guys who may become household names in the future, but it seems to be playing out as Montoya-Parrilla for the title. Advantage Montoya.
Women’s Singles: The back end of the Women’s open is projecting just like the LPRT is right now: Longoria from the top with little stopping her from a final, and the semis from the bottom likely coming down to another Mejia-Herrera battle.
Longoria covets these titles, so even though she’s stumbled against Mejia and Herrera lately, whoever makes the final will lose so that Paola can add another championship to her collection.
Men’s Doubles: The gulf between Montoya/Mar as #1 seeds and any other team in this draw is huge. Look for some fun matches in the bottom half (especially with the Garay cousins and Lalo/Andree teaming up again), but without the regular DLR/Beltran pairing the champion seems pre-ordained.
Women’s doubles: Well … here we are at Mexican Nationals and Longoria/Salas are back together after taking a 2-tournament break. Maybe its because Longoria’s camp realized they needed Salas. But only 4 teams here and expect a huge battle between Longoria/Salas and Mejia/Herrera. I like the lefty/righty pair to win.
Unlike Mexico and USA, Canada is having a national event, but not THE nationals (which still happen in May). This is the second of two qualifiers team Canada plays in order to seed for Nationals.
Here’s a quick overview of the competitions:
Men’s Singles: Samuel Murray is here, but he’s been hurt and has forfeited out of the last two IRT events. Is he healthy? Every single Canadian national men’s final in the last 10 events has come down to Murray and Iwaasa, so no reason for me to predict anything else. But if Sam isn’t 100%, is he at risk? I’m going to predict Iwaasa wins the event, either by forfeit in the final like last time or by defeating whoever tops Sam earlier on.
Women’s Singles: No Lambert this time, so @CChristine Keay (nee Richardson) gets the 1 seed. I favor #2 Michelle Morissette though to make the final, as she’s made the last 3 singles finals in Canadian national events.
Phew! Lots of racquetball going on this weekend, lots of streaming, and lots of excitement.
One of the biggest tournaments for us to enter each year just wrapped up; Junior Worlds 2022, held this year for the second year running at the fabulous brand new facility in Guatemala City.
Champions were crowned in Singles, Doubles, and Mixed Doubles in six age groups: 21U, 18U, 16U, 14U, 12U, and 10U, as well as a team competition, meaning that in essence this tournament actually held 30 separate competitions to enter into the database. Its the rough equivalent of doing 30 small pro tournaments all at once, with the added benefit of typing in brand new names never before seen for a good chunk of the participants. If you see any typos, or name corrections, please don’t hesitate to reach out.
Reminder: as a practice, Pro Racquetball Stats does not capture full draws for any groups younger than 14yr olds; for the 12s, 10s, and younger we just capture the champions for historical reporting.
– Mixed 10U: Hermann Gracia / Michelle Gomez, Mexico
Mexico takes 4 of the 6 Mixed doubles titles.
Grand total of Titles won by Country:
– Mexico: 17 of 30
– Bolivia: 10 of 30
– Argentina, USA, and Costa Rica: 1 each
Team Mexico really dominates the 2022 event, especially on the Boys side where they took 10 of the 12 divisions. Bolivia won 7 of their 10 titles in Girls divisions, supporting what we’ve seen on the pro tour, where Bolivian players (or Bolivian born) comprise 3 of the top 10 and 6 of the top 20 players.
Bravo to these players, who took hold Triple Crowns of Singles, Doubles, and Mixed Doubles:
– Angelica Barrios: 21U, Bolivia
– Sebastian Hernandez: 18U, Mexico
– Jorge Gutierrez, 16U, Mexico
– Hermann Gracia, 10U, Mexico
– Michelle Gomez, 10U, Mexico
These players earned double crowns:
– Yanna Salazar, 16U, Mexico
– Sebastian Ruelas, 14U, Mexico
– Pablo Ignacio Lagos, 12U, Bolivia
– Angelica Villaroel Garzon , 12U, Bolivia
Every draw has a match report in the database that you can run: instead of repeating dozens of links we’ll give some examples here. Surf to www.proracquetballstats.com, click on either Juniors or “Junior Doubles” database, then at the very top you can pull down a match report. You can also run a number of different reports for singles and doubles.
Now some quick commentary division by singles division, mostly to recognize winners who have earned multiple Junior World titles over the years, and to provide some commentary on the older divisions with players who have already competed on the pro tours…
I use these “Matrix Reports” constantly; they show all the Junior winners across every age group for all of time. These links are for the Junior Worlds and date to 1989, the first ever Junior Worlds event, but are also available for USA, Canada, and Mexico.
Clearly the two best players (Garcia and Erick Trujillo ) in this draw ended up in the same RR group, and then they fought their way to meet again in the final. Garcia (representing Argentina but who used to represent Bolivia) got two wins over his young Mexican to take Gold. The last time Garcia showed up on tour, he beat both Javier Mar and Rocky Carson; pretty heady company. We hope to see more of him. This is Garcia’s 7th Junior World title.
Notable here is Jose Carlos Ramos, aka “Pepe,” who beat Trujillo in the Mexican Junior nationals final and thus was the #1 seeded Mexican player here; he fell to Garcia in the semis. American #1 Micah Farmer got a great win over Bolivian @Adrian Jaldin but then fell to Garcia in the quarters.
Mexico’s Sebastian Hernandez came out of nowhere to win both his country 18U and World 18U titles, his first career Junior titles. He dominated in Guatemala, and the only player to even take a game off of him was an obviously hobbled @Timmy Hansen .
Hernandez joins a pretty illustrious list of 18U boys champs: here in reverse order are past winners: Trujillo, Miranda, Portillo, Marco Rojas, Christian Longoria, Montoya, Mercado, Moscoso, Marco Rojas, and Keller. That list includes 5 players currently ranked in the top 15, multiple IRT tournament winners, etc.
Mexico’s Jorge Gutierrez repeats as the 16U Junior worlds champ, the first time we’ve had a repeat 16U singles champ since Longoria in 2015. He’s another guy who has really blasted onto the scene, with no previous Mexican Junior titles prior to 2021. We went wire-to-wire as the #1 seed and defeated his countryman Eder Renteria in the final.
Hats off to Galindo for taking this title; he was inexplicably the #18 seed here, behind two other fellow Mexican players, despite being the 14U losing finalist in Mexican Junior Nationals and thus finishing ahead of multiple other Mexican entrants to this draw. I’ve complained about questionable IRF seedings before but this one is beyond me. He defeats Ruelas in the final after losing the Mexican final to him.
12U: An all-Bolivian Final which featured two Mexican semifinalists and a first time champion.
10U: Hermann Gracia (not Garcia as r2sports shows it) follows up his 10U Mexican title with a worlds title, taking out USA’s Alejandro Robles Picon in a huge come-from behind effort in the final.
Current LPRT regular Angelica Barrios skipped the pro stop in Maryland to compete and secured her third ever Junior Worlds title. She was pushed in the knockouts by Argentine lefty Martina Katz before topping tough Costa Rican Maricruz Ortiz in the semis (a match that many thought was the true final). Mexico’s @Maria Gutierrez (who went by Mafer in this event) upset USA’s Shane Diaz to make the final.
Bolivia’s LPRT touring pro Micaela Meneses repeated as 18U world champ and did not drop a game all event. She secures her 6th Career Junior World title. She topped both Mexican entrants en route to the title.
USA’s @Naomi Ros gave the US its sole gold medal at this event, beating both the Bolivian #1 and Mexican #1 to take the title. This is Ros’ second Junior world title; the first was in 12U when she was still competing for Mexico.
Girls 14U: Bolivia’s Adriana Noelia Blacutt wins her first junior world title.
Girls 12U: Another Bolivian first time girls winner in María Laura Villacreses took the title, defeating three of the top seeds along the way.
Girls 10U was taken by Mexico’s Michelle Gomez, who has now entered four junior events in her career and won four titles. She’s the two-time defending Mexico 10U champ, and now she’s the two-time defending World 10U champ.
Thanks to the International Racquetball Federation for hosting the event, thanks to the great hosts in Guatemala, thanks to all our the coaches and parents who sacrificed to get your kids down there, especially t his close to the holiday season, thanks to @Gary Mazaroff
for the streaming all tournament.
Tomorrow we’ll publish the LPRT summary, th en we’ll take a break until the end of the year when we’ll start posting some IRT season recap material.
Yours truly was at the event this year, and on the mike for a lot of the Men’s and Mixed pro events; check out the @inInternational Racquetball Tour feed on FB or on YouTube for rebroadcasts.
This is one of the longest recaps we do all year, with so many divisions and so many great matches to talk about. Get ready to dig in.
Men’s Pro 3-wall Doubles Recap
19 Teams entered the Men’s Pro doubles to compete for the biggest outdoor title of the event. And we got some fantastic teams and a great draw.
A few upsets in the round of 16:
– Floridian Chris McDonald , son of outdoor Hall of famers Greg and Martha, teamed up with another WOR Hall of famer in @Greg Solis to upset the #5 seeds Emmett Coe and @Thomas Gerhard to move into the quarters. McDonald is a force on the court, with incredible power and an intimidating playing style borne of short-court play in North Florida, where he stands almost with his toes on the short line to receive serve and then relies on some of the fastest hands in the sport to return drive serves.
– Colorado pair Adam Manilla and Nick Riffel upset the #3 seeded team of Soda Man and Brandon Davis in two closer games 10,13. Both players may not have a ton of access to outdoor courts in Colorado but have been making waves in the genre and got a great win against two very solid outdoor pros.
– IRT legend and outdoor newbie @Sudsy Monchik teamed up with a very talented outdoor player from Southern California in @Patrick Allin to upset the #6 seeded team of top Floridians Joe Young and Marcos J. Gravier in a tiebreaker 11-8. The two teams played back and forth racquetball, with all four players at various times taking over and attempting to impart their will on the match.
In the quarters:
– #1 Daniel de la Rosa and @Alvaro Beltran rose to the challenge and topped the #8 seeds, Beach Bash pro doubles champs @Javier Mar and @Mario Mercado 12,12. This was perhaps the best match I saw all weekend in terms of talent and shot-making on the court, with all four players at the top of their game. DLR was (as he always is) the dominant player on the court and came to Las Vegas looking in-shape and laser focused. The ball sizzles off his racquet, and he remains as always one of the best players in the world at ending rallies with pinch kills. Beltran remains the shot-making crafty veteran, routinely pulled off the court but making running over-the-shoulder shots to keep the ball in play. Mar has come into his own, with a recent IRT pro finals appearance and hit shot for shot with DLR along the left side. Lastly Mercado displayed getting ability on a par with anyone in the world, with some of the fastest hands around (its no wonder they’re one-wall kings). But in the end, the talent of DLR took over and was the difference maker in this shot-maker’s paradise.
– #4 @Rocky Carson and his young teammate @Eduardo Portillo (aka “Team Dovetail”) ground out a win over the dangerous McDonald/Solis pairing 9,9 to move on. Future WOR Hall of Famer Carson put on a clinic of outdoor racquetball, and Lalo continues to show his mastery of the classification improves at every outdoor event.
– #14 Riffel/Manilla continued their run, upsetting fellow upstarts #11 Monchik/Allin with ease 10,5 to move into the semis. Riffel’s mustache game is as strong as his racquetball game this weekend, but the story of the team is Manilla’s growing dominance of outdoor racquetball this weekend.
– #2 seeds and reigning Outdoor Nationals champs Jason Geis and @Micah Rich dominated NorCal’s @Tom Durham and HoFamer Robert Sostre 11,4 to move into the semis. Sostre and Durham had no answers for the great lefty-righty pairing of Rich and Geis, nor for the power and outdoor finesse that Rich displays on the left hand side.
In the semis on Saturday afternoon, we started out with hopes of a great set of matches but ended up with a jarring injury that silenced the crowd.
– The #1 vs #4 semi final pro doubles match was shaping up to be a fantastic contest, featuring the red-hot De La Rosa on one side and the legendary outdoor Goat in Carson on the other. Game one did not disappoint, as Carson/Portillo fell behind DLR/Beltran 10-5 early, ground their way back to tie it at 11, then saved a couple of game points before getting the serve back and getting to 14-14. At game point, Carson hit a high Z to Beltran, and when Portillo went for a reverse pinch kill both DLR and Beltran dove for the ball at the same time in the front court, colliding as they retrieved the ball. Beltran immediately began writhing in pain as Rocky hit the game winning shot. Soon it was clear that Alvaro was badly injured: DLR dove into Alvi’s outstretched left arm and he suffered a dislocated elbow on the court. Unfortunately this knocked the DLR/Beltran team out of the event; Carson/Lalo advance 15-14, inj fft.
– The second semi was played under a somber tone; the crowd and the players seemed in shock after watching the injury in the first game. Nonetheless, a spot was on the line in the final. #2 Rich/Geis seemed to be the prohibitive favorites over the upstart #14 Manilla/Riffel team and jumped out to a first game lead. The Colorado duo ground their way back into the game and shocked the Outdoor National reigning champs by taking game one 15-14. Game two was a back and forth affair, close all the way to the death, when Nick and Adam got to match point and then took it on a scuffled service return error. Riffel played fantastic on the day, and the SoCal team seemed a bit off, missing a number of offensive opportunities that ended up costing them the game.
The final turned out to be a blowout: Carson and Portillo dominated from start to the end, and Riffel/Manilla couldn’t find the magic that led them to get there, losing 6,3. Carson wins his 6th pro doubles title in Vegas, first since 2015, while Portillo gets his first outdoor title.
Women’s Pro 3-wall Doubles Recap:
Lots of new teams this year in the Ladies pro, guaranteeing a new winner and some great action.
Just one upset in the quarters, as two relatively newcomers to outdoor in @Brenda Laime and @Alexandra Herrera took out #3 seeds, reigning US National doubles champions @Kelani Lawrence and @Hollie Scott 6,10. Laime has made a heck of an impression here despite little prior outdoor tourney experience, but its worth noting she lives with and plays frequently with Mercado in the DC Area where a strong outdoor community exists.
In the semis…
– The #1 seeds De La Rosa and Tisinger-Ledkins went down a game to the upstart Manilla/Roehler team, but raced back to take the tiebreaker 11-7 to move on.
– The upstart team of Laime and Herrera dominated the #2 seeds Parrilla and Carla Munoz 6,12 to become the surprise finalists.
In the final … the #1 seeds crushed the #6 upstarts in game one 15-2, then held on 15-11 for the title. Each player wins their 5th Vegas doubles title, but their first one playing together.
Mixed Pro 3-wall Doubles:
14 teams entered into the stacked Mixed Pro doubles division looking to take down three-time defending champs in the De La Rosa husband/wife team. And the early rounds did not disappoint, with two teams running multiple upsets to make the semis:
– #12 seeded Brother/Sister Manilla pairing of @Adam Manilla and @Erika Manilla advanced past the husband/wife team of @Alan Natera and @Carla Munoz in the 16s before taking it right at #4 Rich/Lawrence in the quarters, dominating the action and doing a masterful job of neutralizing Rich’s power to win the Friday nightcap quarter 11,8 to move into the semis.
– Meanwhile on the bottom side, #7 Mercado/Laime took out the hard-hitting Mexican team of @Rodrigo Montoya and Herrera in the 16s before shocking the #2 seeds Janel Tisinger-Ledkins and Solis 8,7 in the quarters. The two outdoor legends just had no answers for the shot-making exploits of Mercado and the power of Laime, who worked drive serves at Solis with great effect all match. Look out for this team.
In the Semis…
– #1 DLRx2 cruised past Manillax2 10,8 to move into the final. The Cinderella Brother/Sister team just had no answers for the dominant husband/wife team.
– Team FormulaFlow Laime/Mercado came from a game down to upset the #3 seeds Scott/Portillo in a tough 11-8 breaker.
In the final, Laime continued to show why she will be a force to reckon with in the outdoor game for some time to come, leading her team to a game one victory. In game two, Mercado thought he had rolled out the match winner at 14-14 … but it was overturned on appeal. Daniel got the game 2 winner and pushed the match to a breaker. Perhaps deflated from having thought they won at the end of game two, Laime and Mercado fell behind big early in the breaker and were steamrolled 11-3 to give the title to the DLRs. Daniel and Michelle win their 8th Vegas Mixed pro title in the last 9 years, and complete the 2022 “triple crown” of mixed pro titles (they also won Pro mixed in Florida and in Huntington Beach).
Men’s Pro 1-wall Doubles recap:
#1 Seeds @Robert Sostre (aka the Iceman) and @William Rolon (aka the Warrior) cruised into the final from the top half of the draw looking to win together for the third time.
Meanwhile the bottom half of the draw featured the two teams that competed in the Beach Bash finals earlier this year. Javier Mar & Mario Mercado topped Acuna/Portillo again (just as the did in March), then upset the Sostre/Rolon one-wall specialists for the title.
Mercado & Mar win the one-wall pro doubles “double” on the year, having won both Beach Bash and Vegas.
Women’s Pro 1-wall Doubles:
Michelle De La Rosa did the Women’s pro doubles “double” on the weekend, and won her third title out of the four events she entered, by teaming with her regular partner Carla Munoz to take a tightly contested Women’s one-wall doubles draw. They topped two LPRT top 10 players in Parrilla and Herrera in the final.
Mixed Pro 1-wall Doubles:
The #9 seeded Montoya/Herrera pairing upset three teams to make the final, but then ran into outdoor juggernaut Daniel De La Rosa , paired in one wall with Hollie Scott. The final went breaker, but the #1 ranked IRT pro outslugged his Mexican counterparts and led his team to the title.
Men’s 3-wall Singles:
10 brave souls entered the most grueling division of the tournament: 3-wall singles. And we got some unexpected results in the early rounds.
In the top half, top seeds Andres Acuña and Mar advanced to the semis as expected, but the bottom half featured #2 and #3 getting upset in the quarters. IRT #2 Conrrado Moscoso took out #3 @Brandon Davis 7,14, while the shock result was relative unknown Mexican lefty Mario Hildago taking out first #7 @Jeremy McGlothin and then #2 Gerhardt 8,14 to advance to the semis against Conrrado. Hildago hasn’t had a top-level tournament result since the 2017 Mexican Nationals and plays out of Juarez, but impressed with his diving and shot making to take out two really solid outdoor players.
In the semis, Outdoor Nationals singles champ Acuna took out Beach Bash singles finalist Mar in two close games, while Outdoor newcomer Moscoso (the #2 ranked IRT player on tour) cruised to a victory over Hildago to make the final.
In the final, two IRT regulars took to battle in the sun. Acuna mounted a huge comeback to force a tiebreaker, when Conrrado finally started to go to more of an “outdoor” style serve that threw the Costa Rican off balance and drove him to victory. Moscoso adds an outdoor singles title to his growing collection of pro titles in 2022.
Women’s 3-wall Singles:
In the end it was #1 vs #2, but not before #1 Carla Munoz escaped the semis by the skin of her teeth, edging Virginia’s Kelani Lawrence 11-10 in the breaker.
Fittingly, Munoz faced @Janel Tisinger-Ledkins in the final. Tisinger owns no less than 12 outdoor major singles titles, while Munoz has won three of the last four competed. It was the current belt holder versus the former belt holder … and Munoz came out on top in a 11-8 bruiser on the show court Sunday Morning.
A quick run through some of the other main divisions played here, which included some Squash57, Paddleball, and some combined men’s divisions that feature nearly as strong of draws as the pros:
CPRT Pro Doubles:
Beltran and Soda Man ran to the finals in CPRT as the #3 seed, but then had to default after Alvi’s arm injury. #1 seeds and dual Hall of Famers Sostre & Solis win the title by injury walkover.
Combined 75+ Men’s Doubles: The last show court/broadcast final of the weekend featured one of the best 75+ teams from Florida versus one of the best from SoCal. The McDonald brothers Chris and Greg teamed up to face Patrick Allin and “Sweet” Lou Orosco in the 75+ final. The McDonalds are famous for their short-court positioning, standing just a few feet behind the service line, while Allin /Orosco feature strong forehands and sharp shooting. A back and forth affair went almost to the full distance, with the Huntington Beach lefty/righty pair topping the McDonalds 11-9 in the breaker.
Men’s Open Doubles: Paddleball specialist Emmett Coe teamed with SoCal car enthusiast Cesar Chavez to win the Open doubles. They topped strong Florida pairing of @Yasmani Perez and Javier Trujillo.
A new sport for Vegas 2022: Squash 57. For those not familiar, its basically racquetball on a racquetball court with a squash tin and a deadened racquetball (I believe they took a Gearbox black racquetball and punched a hole in it). The result is a fun variant of our sport, featuring long, tactical rallies and lots of endurance requirements. The sport plays rally scoring due to its long rallies (just as squash does) and its players relied less on power and more on control to win.
The “upper” division was won by Manilla/Riffel, who outlasted Sostre and Vegas legend Brian Pineda in the final 5,4,4.
Paddleball Men’s Doubles: The San Diego paddleball experts @Sebastian Fernandez and @Jeremy McGlothin won the title in a walkover as Beltran had to drop after injuring his arm.
Paddleball Mixed Doubles: Paddleball hall of famer @Aaron Embry teamed with his regular partner @Roxanne Rehling to win the 3-team mixed paddleball open round robin.
Thanks for all the streaming on the weekend, with both the IRT and LPRT crews in place. @Pablo Fajre and wife @Angelia Grisar worked tirelessly all weekend, as did @Alexis Iwaasa on the IRT side. I’d like to thank all my co-announcers on the weekend, which included the likes of Brian Pineda, Marcos Gravier, Joe Young, William Rolon, Mikey D, and Carla Munoz for the final match.
On the LPRT side, @JTRball was front and center all week, aided by @Leo Vazquez, Sudsy Monchik, Mikey-D, TJ Baumbaugh, and others on the LPRT feed from court 1.
Thanks to the Tourney Directors Mike Coulter, Peggine Tellez, and all the @3wallball staff for putting this event on!
Per our handy master racquetball calendar …
The IRT is back in action starting this Thursday, coming to you live from Sarasota in the Dovetail Open.
Thanks to all the sponsors who make this event possible. A full list is here on the R2 tournament page, but here’s a list of them.
– @KWM Gutterman Inc. and its owner Keith Minor , the title sponsor of this event. Keith is a great benefactor to multiple orgs in our sport, is an avid player and was here all weekend playing and watching.
– @AGE Solutions and proprietor Andy Gomer ; a frequent sponsor of DC-area and East coast programming.
– Ahern Rentals , who provided lots of the “stuff” that makes this tournament possible.
– Pro Kennex as the presenting sponsor, with Mike Martinez on the grounds all weekend supporting his many PK players.
– @Soda man and @Coffee Girl vending services, with proprietor @Rick Koll active in multiple pro draws in addition to his constant support of outdoor events on the west coast.
– @LPL Financial and proprietor @Rosco Halsey , who I got to meet at dinner one night and who loves the sport.
Also thanks to the many silver sponsors on the weekend, which include @Team dovetail ad Mike Kinkin , @Melissa’s Produce for providing fruit and snacks, The Root Team and @RaRandy R , who supports so much for our sport, APcom /@MZ cCompita Mz and their venerable owner @Abel Perez , a great guy from San Antonio who loves one wall. Sean Love racquetball, Philip’s Plastics and @Progressive Cabinet Corporation fill out hte rest of the silver sponsors.