Hello Outdoor fans! Now that Outdoor Nationals is in the books, here’s a look at the updated standings in the 2023 Outdoor Cup Series for both the women (sponsored by LPL Financial ) and the Men (sponsored by KWM Gutterman Inc. ).
As a reminder, the Cup series is a year long competition amongst outdoor professionals, awarding weighted points in Singles, Doubles, Mixed, and CPRT in all three Outdoor “Majors” (meaning, Beach Bash, Outdoor Nationals, and 3WallBall). The winners each year get cash awards and Vegas hotel perks.
Hollie retains the top spot by taking the Mixed Pro title in Huntington Beach, and she holds a sizeable lead by virtue of her three Beach Bash finals performance in March. Munoz jumps from #7 to 2nd place by virtue of her Pro Doubles title and her Singles finalist performance. Lawrence was a doubles finalist in California and slightly improved on her #4 standing post Beach bash. Tisinger-Ledkins and Mejia both had identical finishes in Huntington and are now tied for 4th in the standings. Mejia, playing outdoor for the first time, took the Singles title while future WOR Hall of Famer Janel took the doubles title.
Three players who were top 5 post Beach Bash (Sotomayor, Herrera, and Roehler) fall out of the top 5 by virtue of missing the event, but still have a chance this fall in Vegas to gain ground.
Scott will be difficult to catch in Vegas, especially given her prowess playing one-wall, and looks like a shoe-in for the top prize. Munoz is well positioned for 2nd place, but still can be caught with a strong Vegas showing by Lawrence.
De La Rosa stays on top thanks to his Mixed doubles win and finals appearance in Men’s Doubles. Tucker’s two titles (Pro Doubles and Mixed doubles) power him from unranked to a strong #2. Carson treads water at #3. Rich’s mixed finals appearance jumps him from outside the top 20 after Beach Bash to the top 5 now. Lastly, Solis’ CPRT title with Tucker gives him enough points to sneak into the top 5.
Mar, ranked #2 after Beach Bash, remains in the top 10 but just barely. Several other east-coast or one-wall specialists who skipped Huntington have gotten bumped outside the top 10, but many come to Vegas and will improve on their standings.
Daniel has a nearly insurmountable lead at the top of the Cup series, but the #2 finisher remains well in question. The odds of Tucker traveling to Vegas seem slim (he’s never played 3WB), so Carson, Rich, and Solis have a chance (if they attend in October) to make up ground and finish in the money.
Thanks to the Cup series sponsors, thanks to the tournament directors of these majors, thanks to the individual tournament sponsors of course, and thanks to team 3Wall Ball (Mike Coulter, Peggine Tellez, Jen O’Meara, et al) for all you do for outdoor racquetball.
– https://3wallball.org/…/3wb-world-outdoor-championships/ for the info page for 3WallBall Las Vegas, including logistics, Hotel discount codes and registration links. We’re already over 100 registrants and growing more every day. Do NOT miss out on getting your hotel reservations! Once the discount block is gone, the prices will skyrocket like they did last year as last minute events are announced in Vegas.
Hello fans! We’ve finished another Ladies pro season, the 2022-23 season. This post is to give you some links to rankings data as it flows through the Pro Racquetball Stats system and to be the second of a 3-part wrap-up series.
Part 1: The top 10
Part 2: The 11-20th ranked players
Part 3: Notables ranked 21st or higher, plus a recap of news items from season (this post)
Part 3: Notables and News
If one looks at the depth of the tour (see https://rball.pro/s5s for the Tour Depth report), there’s about 15 players who i’d characterize as being “full time” tour players. That’s the number of players who played 75% of the events on the year. 23 distinct players played in at least half the events, so there’s definitely a difference between the top 20 and the rest of the tour. So, lets take a look at some of the notables who finished outside of the top 20, highlighting interesting names and juniors who we may see take on more prevalent roles in the future.
– #22 Stephanie Synhorst appeared out of nowhere in 2021, having never registered any previous junior or amateur national matches. She attended 6 pro events and competed all season, finishing 22nd.
– #25 Susy Acosta finished 25th on tour, making 3 appearances this season. This is the 25th season Acosta has appeared on tour; #25 for 25 seasons! She’s now played in more than 150 pro tournaments in her career.
– #26 Annie Roberts played in four events while balancing school and junior events; she’s the 2-time reigning USA u21 champion, is the reigning Intercollegiate champ, and has not lost a US Junior Nationals match since 2016.
– #27 Martina Katz , a lefty junior from Argentina, made it to four pro events this season, making the long flight up. She was the 18U Junior world finalist in 2021 (losing to Michaela Meneses), and lost in the quarters of 2022 21U worlds to Angelica Barrios . She could be an heir-apparent in Argentina racquetball to the long-standing Vargas/Mendez pairing.
– #28 Maricruz Ortiz from Costa Rica hasn’t had pro tour success yet (0-4 this year), but has been making statements in juniors and internationally for years. She took the 2019 16U world junior title with successive wins over Roberts, Katz, and Meneses. She lost in the semis of 2022 21U to Barrios. She’s now representing Costa Rica on the adult team, and advanced to the semis of 2023’s PARC event with wins over Barrios and Amaya. And she just made the semis of the CAC events in the DR. She’s regularly visiting south Florida to train with Sudsy Monchik and Veronica Sotomayor and is only heading up. https://rball.pro/mzz
– #29 Paula Mansilla hails from Chile and made the semis of 2022 18U junior worlds, and is now joining country-mate Carla Munoz in representing their home country in adult events.
– #33 @Naomi Ros is the reigning 16U world champ and just won the USA Junior Nationals 18U by giving up a combined 8 points in four MATCHES in Pleasanton. She’s had a ton of success since switching the USA from her native Mexico. She’s got limited LPRT experience but took Manilla to a tiebreaker in San Antonio this season. She’ll be one to watch for in the future for sure.
– #33 Yanna Salazar is the reigning Mexican 16U champ, just won the Conade 16U tournament as well, and lost in the finals of 16U worlds to Ros after topping her in the group stage. She’s definitely next in line from the Mexican junior female pipeline of developing talent. She took Parrilla to a tie-breaker in San Antonio in April.
– #35 Shane Diaz has lost in the finals of USA 21U two years in a row to Roberts, made the semis of 21U worlds last fall, and has a number of pro losses to top players where she acquitted herself well.
– #39 Micaela Meneses played just 1 event this season after playing most of the events over the past three years. She was starting to get some solid results on tour, then her performances plummeted out of the blue starting in May of 2022 as she reportedly went through a wholesale mechanical swing overhaul. She recovered by November, where she successfully defended her World Junior 18U title, but she has not been seen on the pro tour since. Per her FB she remains active playing, but perhaps Bolivian state of finances has made it impossible for her to regularly travel.
– #47 Rhonda Rajsich finishes the season ranked 47th, with just one appearance at her home town Arizona event. Pretty safe to say she’s retired, and we’ll be working on a career retrospective for her as one of the most decorated athletes in our sport’s history.
– #48 Lucia Gonzalez remains in that category of, “what would happen if…” she played the tour full time. She has a slew of Mexican and Junior worlds titles to her name, She has six (6!) career wins over Alexandra Herrera (they’re the same junior class), currently #3 on tour. She’s made National adult semis in Mexico. She just has never really made it happen on the pro tour. See https://rball.pro/k04 for her career.
– July 2022: Actor Dane Cook posts to his instagram page a video of him playing Longoria.
– Aug 2022: relations between FMR and Conade deteriorate, with accusations nearing theft of government funds for a number of Mexico’s leading racquetball players, who all post gofundme pages to get to Worlds. This leads to back and forth press releases and lawsuits between the players and the organization.
– Aug 2022: the Colombian racquetball federation disappears, leading their two touring players Amaya and Riquelme to fend for themselves to get to Worlds.
– Oct 2022: Team Dovetail announced a partnership with the LPRT to promote junior clinics.
– Jan 2023: Rajsich confirms her retirement in a podcast interview.
– Mar 2023: @Montse Mejia wins her fourth straight LPRT event, the first time someone not named Longoria has had that level of dominance in nearly 20 years on tour, and the realization that we may have a new tour champ starts to take place.
– May 2023: Mejia misses out on a chance to seal the title with an upset loss in the semis of the Sweet Caroline, meaning that the tour will come down to the final event.
– June 2023: Mejia becomes the first new champion on tour in a decade.
Did I miss any notable events worth capturing? let me know.
This closes the books on the 2022-23 season. We’ll see the LPRT back in action in Denver in August.
Hello fans! We’ve finished another Ladies pro season, the 2022-23 season. This post is to give you some links to rankings data as it flows through the Pro Racquetball Stats system and to be the first of a 3-part wrap-up series.
Part 1: The top 10
Part 2: The 11-20th ranked players (this post)
Part 3: Notables ranked 21st or higher, plus a recap of notable news items from the season.
In this post we’ll run through the ladies who finished in the 11-20 range, give some thoughts on their season, and then project where they’ll end up next year.
#11: Samantha Salas Solis : 11-8 on the season, 1 semi, 472 points.
Despite having a better looking seasonal record of 11-8 than the three players immediately ahead of her (including two players ranked ahead of her for the season who had losing records on the season), Salas finished behind them in the standings by a fair amount (more than 90 points). Why? Because she missed two events entirely on the season, and never really could get out of her ranking spot.
She started the year seeded 9th, she finished it seeded 10th, and spent a lot of time running into really tough round of 16 matches against players ranked 7th and 8th. She had to play Munoz in particular no fewer than four times this year; i’m sure those two are sick of seeing each other. She had solid round of 16 wins this season against Munoz, Parrilla, Lawrence, Barrios, and Mendez. (see https://rball.pro/bfs). Her one semi on the year was in San Antonio, where she got a shock win over Mejia to throw the title race back into question. Otherwise Salas’ season was “tough win in the 16s to then lose to a top player in the quarters.”
Projection for next season: #10-11: I think she can hold off the likes of Mendez and Lawrence for this spot, but the 36 old is not getting any younger and most of the tour’s top talent are in the age 23-24 range.
#12 Gaby Martinez 10-5 on the season, 1 win, 468.5 points.
What to make of Gaby Martinez’s season? She played six of the 10 events. In those 6 events she was generally seeded so low that she had to play a round of 32 match, and then had five round of 16 losses; Longoria twice in a 1 v 16 scenario, Herrera, Mendez, and Barrios in the season capper. But she also had a Grand Slam title, winning the Sweet Caroline and beating, in order, MRR, Longoria, Munoz, Manilla, and Laime in the final, only going to a breaker against her long-time doubles partner in the round of 32 and generally crushing people.
Is she a top 4 player in the world? I think she is, yes. But she’s never played the tour full time, generally good for about half the events historically. If she played full time, i’d expect her to get her fair share of wins and semis, but since she doesn’t, its hard to project her much higher than she already is.
At #12, when she does show up, she likely plays into Brenda or Barrios in the 16s, then into Manilla in the quarters before running into #1 Mejia. Those are generally players she’s shown she can beat to get to the semis…As long as she doesn’t slip down to like #15/16, she’ll avoid a top two player in the opener and can get some traction.
Projection for next season: #10. I’ll guess she plays half the events, gets some success, and keeps a top 10 ranking.
After a brief turn in the top 10 during the Covid year, Centellas has basically been stuck in the 13-15 seed range, and has not really had that big-time run deep into an event that she needs to move up. In fact, for her career she’s only ever made one semi final (in January of 2020), and continues to knock on the door.
This season, she had several really solid wins; she had an 11-10 win over Manilla in December, over Mendez in Boston in March, and then managed to beat #3 Herrera twice in April and again in June (see https://rball.pro/f5w ). Those are all solid wins, and when she lost generally it was to a top player; her “worst” loss on the season probably was to Kelani in Virginia in September … on Kelani’s home courts.
So, there’s room for improvement for sure, but she needs some big wins.
Projection for next year: #13-14 range again. If you had a little mini tournament
#14 Kelani Lawrence , 11-9 on the season, 5 quarters, 458.5 points
The draws did not treat Kelani kindly this year; she lost in the 16s four times; those losses were to Laime twice, Salas, and Munoz. She also had a slew of losses to Herrera, Longoria, and Vargas; no shame there.
She also had some superb wins on the year: she beat Laime twice, held serve against Centellas and Munoz, and crushed Manilla on her home court in the season’s final event.
Lawrence needs to get out of the #13-14 spot so she has a more winnable round of 16 match, then hold serve against the group of players ranked right around her more frequently (Salas, Munoz, Centellas, Mendez in particular), and she’ll find her self in the top 10.
Projection for next season: #13-14 range again.
A note before moving on: the 11th through 14th ranked players had separation of just 13.5 points from Salas to Lawrence; just one more result on the entire season for any of these four players puts them at #11, knocking on the door of the top 10. From 14 to 15 there’s a gap.
#15 @Cris Amaya , 9-10 on the season, 10-straight round of 16s, 333.5 points.
Amaya did the amazing; she entered 10 events and managed to lose in the same round of all 10. In a somewhat ridiculous happenchance, she had to play her life-partner Maria Paz Riquelme no fewer than four times in the round of 32 at pro stops, but she also managed to get solid wins over the likes of Enriquez at the US Open, and over US up and comer Annie Roberts in Boston.
Amaya’s challenge is that she was almost always the 14, 15, or 16 seed at these events, meaning she played into a top 3 seed in the round of 16. All 10 of her losses were to players ranked in the top 4 at the time, and she had to play Mejia in each of her last three events.
Projection for next season: #17-18 range; i think she’ll get pipped by a couple more players coming up.
#16 @Hollie scott, 8-7 on season, 2 quarters, 289 points
Scott made her way into a couple of quarter finals this season by virtue of solid wins over Parrilla and Munoz when the seeds worked out to give her a winnable round of 16 match. But most of the season Scott kept running into top 4 players at that juncture. She had losses to Laime, Barrios, Manilla twice, and Herrera in the season ending. She always plays tough; no real blow outs here. Scott needs to play a full slate so she doesn’t miss out on points (she missed three events), and she needs to get wins over the players ranked in the 10-15 range when they present themselves.
Projection for next season: #15-16 range. i think she can slightly improve on her ranking
#17 Maria Paz Riquelme , 3-9 on the season, 5 round of 16s, 203.75 points.
Riquelme got a handful of wins on the year and advanced into the 16s a few times. She was on the losing end of a couple of heavy losses against Longoria and Gaby, and (as noted above) had to play her partner Amaya 4 different times in 9 events. Riquelme continues to improve, and has gotten some wins internationally as she now represents Colombia.
Projection for next season: #19-20 range; she’ll get pushed down slightly by some rising players.
#18 Sheryl Lotts, 5-5 on the season, made one quarter final, 198.5 points.
Lotts entered the season’s first five events, got her career best win in Chicago in November, beating Mendez in a breaker to earn a quarter final and match her career best showing … then suddenly stopped playing major events. She missed the remainder of the spring tour schedule, missed US Nationals events, everything. Her results were still enough to keep her in the top 20, but she should have been ranked at least 4 spots higher based on early season results.
We see from social media Lotts has relocated to Florida (perhaps one of the reasons she was MIA) and has been playing with the Monchik/Sotomayor crew, which can only help her game. We hope to see her out on tour again soon.
Projection for next season: #14-15 range if she tours full time.
#19 Maria Renee Rodriguez , 3-7 for the season, 5 round of 16s, 198.25 points.
Rodriguez (or “MRR” as she’s frequently referred to) uncharacteristically missed some events this year on tour, which led to her slipping from the 16-17 range she’s normally been for the past few seasons to where she finished up this year at #19. She had a couple of unlucky round of 32 matchups against under-seeded players (Daza at the US Open and Gaby in the Sweet Caroline), and got a couple of solid wins (Roberts, Acosta), but otherwise has settled more into a doubles specialist/solid international representative for Guatemala. She’s now married to @JeJerry Josey and living in South Carolina, and she may continue to transition into the next phase of her life and career going forward.
Enriquez first played the pro tour in 2000, and remains a dangerous player when she shows up. She put a shock loss on Manilla in the season opener, and she took Mejia to a tiebreaker in Boston. She finished in the top 10 three straight seasons from 2018-2020, but has settled back to part time it seems. I’d expect her to make about half the events, maybe get a surprise win over an opponents who looks past her, and will remain around this range.
Projection for next season: #19-20 again
Next up we’ll take a look at notables who finished higher than #20, which include some up-and-coming juniors who might be names to remember in a few years.
Hello fans! We’ve finished another Ladies pro season, the 2022-23 season. This post is to give you some links to rankings data as it flows through the Pro Racquetball Stats system and to be the first of a 3-part wrap-up series.
Part 1 (this post): The top 10
Part 2: The 11-20th ranked players
Part 3: Notables ranked 21st or higher, plus a recap of news items from season
– Season Seed Report; this shows how players’ seeds changed over the course of the season: https://rball.pro/5mm
Some overall tour observations.
– Obviously the story of the season is Mejia dethroning Longoria, but overall the depth of top players on tour seems to have really jumped up this year. As you can see from the Season Summary Report (https://rball.pro/1bw ), the LPRT saw four distinct winners this year on tour (Longoria, Mejia, Herrera, and Martinez), another four players made finals (Laime, Vargas, Manilla, and Barrios), and another four distinct players made semi finals at some point this season (Parrilla, Mendez, Munoz, and Salas). That’s a lot of players who, week-in and week-out, are in the mix for titles.
– The total “depth” of players on the tour has stayed nearly identical to what we saw last year. See https://rball.pro/2vd for a Tour Depth report, but here’s the highlights: the LPRT saw 55 distinct players play an event this year, down slightly from last season’s 61 distinct players. However, the number of players who played 75% of the events was 15 (my general rule of thumb for determining the “depth” of the tour), exactly in line with last season.
– There were exactly 10 events this year (same as last season), and of those 10 events four were considered “Grand Slams.” But last season featured two grand slams that did not repeat this season: the 2021 Worlds skipped 2022, and the TeamRoot super-Max was not held this year. Instead, we got a return of the Paola Longoria Experience kick off event, and a new season-ending Grand Slam in Chesapeake.
Lets review the top 10.
#1 Montse Mejia ; 27-3 on the season, 5 titles, 1,637.5 points.
Mejia captured the #1 spot on tour for the season thanks to out-pointing #2 Longoria in the season’s final event. She becomes the 14th female pro to ever finish a season #1 or to win the year end title (pre 1980, there wasn’t a “tour” per se, so the winner of DP Nationals or the IRA Amateur nationals is declared the “winner” as we do with the Men). Mejia started the season ranked 10th, but went on a huge run starting in November, winning four straight tournaments and 18 straight matches to really put a stamp on the season. Despite missing the US Open and its valuable major points, Mejia led the “Season to Date” points race for much of the season, but the suspense was left to the final event to determine who would win. Mejia took 5 of the season’s 10 titles and finished the season 27-3,; her only 3 losses were to Longoria in the finals of the opener, to Salas in San Antonio, and to Laime in the semis of the Sweet Caroline. With her win in the Chesapeake event, she will head into next season starting with a 200 point lead at the top of the tour AND a huge hidden benefit; not having to defend US Open points.
Prediction for next season: I think she repeats as #1.
#2 Paola Longoria. 22-7 on the season, 3 titles. 1,424 points.
After 13 titles (including 11 in a row), Longoria was finally dethroned in 2023, though she fought until the end and nearly made it a “winner take all” pro final in the season’s final event. The story for Longoria though has to be her sudden vulnerability. She lost 7 times on tour this year; that’s more losses than she’d taken in the last seven SEASONS combined (see https://rball.pro/ovv). And it wasn’t just a case where she mostly had losses to the player who just vanquished her for the title: she had losses this year to Vargas (twice), Mejia (twice), Laime, Barrios, and Gaby (see https://rball.pro/pwr ). She lost twice in the round of 16 this season; that hadn’t happened since 2007. Heck, you had to go back to 2008 to even find a tourney where she lost prior to the semis. So, shockwaves across the bow of the tour.
Longoria ends the season at the tail end of her age 33 season (she turns 34 in mid July): is this a turning point for her? She’s been so dominant for so long, that when she does lose its a monumental event (much in the same way we covered Kane for so long). The big question has to be this: has Longoria lost a step at 33, or has the rest of the tour caught up? Likely its a combination of both, and neither situation is going to get any better for Paola. She’s only getting older, and her rivals are for the most part all quite young (each of Mejia, Gaby, Barrios, and Laime are aged 23).
On a personal note (which could also factor in here); Paola got engaged this year and will be entering a new chapter of her life, and the obvious question is out there; is she ready to transition to a different phase of her life, one where she isn’t training full time?
Projected finish next season: #3. I don’t think she can turn around the Mejia train, and I think she’s shown some serious vulnerabilities to one player in particular who I think can pip her for #2 if she plays a full season (ahem – Vargas).
Hey! Who remembers in March of 2022 when Herrera had won two straight events and beaten Longoria in two straight finals and everyone was wondering if Alexandra was the new heir apparent to the ladies throne? I do. Then she lost the next two pro finals to Paola (along with the 2022 Mexican Nationals singles final) and got hurt in the Kansas City season final. She won the first pro event she played last fall, but then started to leak losses left and right. She got knocked out of three straight pro events in the fall to Mejia, her long-time doubles partner and whom she normally had decent success against. Then she spent the entire spring losing to lower-ranked players early in tournaments. She managed to keep the #3 spot on tour, but not by much, and has some question marks heading into the new season. She’s only 28, still in her prime, but there’s several players that seemingly have passed her right now on tour.
Prediction for next season: #5: i think she’s going to lose ground against some of her closest competitors and slip a couple of spots.
#4 Erika Manilla , 15-10 on the season, 1 final, 838.5 points.
In her second full season of touring, Manilla made incremental improvements upon her first season; she made a tournament final (the US Open), she made the semis or better in half her events, and she improved from a year end ranking of #6 to #4. She’s within shouting distance of #3 on tour (see https://rball.pro/8tg).
Manilla played all 10 events this season, and did something that I find to be rather unique: she lost to a different player in each event. She had losses to 10 different players on the season; Enriquez, Laime, Longoria, Herrera, Centellas, Mendez, Mejia, Vargas, Gaby, and Kelani. See https://rball.pro/fqy . That’s hard to do. And interesting: normally a top player on tour would separate themselves from the rest of the tour and only have losses to a handful of players ranked above them. I’m not sure what this observation “means” for Manilla; perhaps indicating that there’s areas of improvement in terms of consistency against lesser opponents (she took three round of 16 losses this season). She also had a set of very solid wins this season: wins over Herrera, Vargas, and Barrios. She’s beaten Gaby and Montse before. So the capability and expectation is there that Erika will get a tourney win sooner or later, but she needs more consistency to push for higher than #4.
Projected finish next season: #4: i think she’s gonna get passed by Vargas, but will out-point Herrera.
#5 Brenda Laime . 15-9 on the season, Three finals. 808 points.
Laime had a very weird season. She very quietly made three finals, including two of the last three events, which rocketed her season ranking from #11 in April to its final resting spot of #5, easily her best ever finish. For years she hovered outside the top 10, finishing three different seasons ranked #13, but rocketed into the top 10 this season with some seriously good wins. She finished 5th but had h2h wins over each player ranked above her. She beat #1 Mejia and #3 Herrera at the Sweet Caroline en route to the final, and then #2 Longoria and #4 Manilla in Chesapeake in September en route to the final. https://rball.pro/ndu .
But she also managed to lose in the 16s no less than four times: twice to Kelani, once to Barrios in an 8-9 seed match-up, and to a vastly under-seeded Vargas in the season finale in Chesapeake. Imagine where Laime would be if those round of 16 losses were quarters or semis instead.
Projected finish Next Season: #5-6 range. Maybe she can go higher, but she has to stop the early losses. She has the game to beat anyone as we’ve seen.
#6 Angelica Barrios 14-8 on the season, 1 pro final. 663.5.
Barrios continues to be an enigma on tour, with enigmatic results to go with it. She made a final in Boston where she beat, in order, Laime, Longoria, and Vargas before losing to Mejia. She also had a win over Gaby in the season’s final event. But she lost in the round of 16 multiple times (to Laime, Salas, and Munoz). She crashed out of PARC in the knockout round of 16 to junior Maricruz Ortiz as the defending champ.
Barrios has always been a difficult player to play, one with unconventional mechanics and slow, plodding tactics. When they’re on, they’re on. She rarely goes down without a fight, with lots of game-losses 15-13 and 15-14.
She’s just 23, so presumably we’ll be seeing her for years. But I wonder if there’s another level in her game to take her above where she is now.
Prediction for next season: #6 – #7 range, same as this season.
#7 @Maria Jose Vargas , 16-5 on the season, made 2 finals, 634.5 points.
Vargas came back from maternity leave with a vengeance, making two finals, two semis and a quarter-final in her 5 events on the season. Despite missing half the season she still finished 7th, and just doubling her 634 points would have put her projected to finish 3rd. Her 5 losses? Mejia twice (both in finals), a semis loss to Barrios, a semis loss to Longoria, and a quarters loss to Manilla 11-10 the week after she trounced Erika. See https://rball.pro/l4e . All five of these losses? tiebreakers.
Vargas came back in February in Arizona after 8 months off, was seeded 16th to start, running her right into Longoria in her first event back, toppled Paola and then ran to the final. That’s a comeback. She also made the final of PARC in April representing Argentina, where she put another loss on Paola. Clearly, something has clicked with Vargas, who prior to this year had just a 2-41 lifetime against the long-time number one but has beaten her 3 of their last 4 meetings. She’s spent a ton of time in Southern Florida playing and training with Sudsy Monchik , who has worked with her on both the physical and mental side of the game, and it shows.
Projection for next season: #2. So, what happens now? Assuming Vargas plays a full slate of events, I think she’s going to continue pressing upwards and will settle at #2 on tour, ahead of Longoria. What will start to happen is this: Vargas will ascend to #3 on tour probably by mid-season due to having no fall points expiring, she’ll play into Longoria in the semis a lot, and will start to gain ground if she can continue to get h2h wins.
#8 Jessica Parrilla , 9-10 on the season, 2 semis, 3 quarters, 589.5 points.
So, whenever we see a player come back to touring after a long-layoff, its always a challenge to see the unlucky player who gets to face a former top-4 player in the round of 16 unfairly. This year, that was Parrilla, who spent a good chunk of the season ranked 5th or 6th after grinding her way up all last year … only to run into the #12 seeded Vargas no fewer than three times in the opening round of pro events. This conspired to give Parrilla 5 one-and-done round of 16 exits this season, which finally took their toll at season’s end, dropping her ranking to #8.
Parrilla got some solid wins this year, including three wins over Mendez (twice in the quarters, which gave her the two semis on the season), but was a victim of happenchance on seedings. Unfortunately, now she’s mired in the #8 spot on tour, meaning she’s likely playing a really tough round of 16 against a #9 or #10 seed to start, then playing into Mejia or Longoria. She’s going to need to hold serve and make a bunch of quarters, then look for a career win (she’s 0-19 career against Longoria, and hasn’t beaten Mejia since 2020: see https://rball.pro/lvm).
Projection for next season: #8 again.
#9 @Carla Munoz 10-10 on the season, one semi, 5 quarters, 571.5 points.
Munoz had a relatively consistent season, going 10-10 and mostly holding serve in terms of her seeding expectations. She made 5 quarter finals on the year, then lost in those 5 quarters to Herrera 2x, Longoria, Mejia, and Gaby. No shame there; a couple of those she took to breakers or 15-12 game losses. This is about what we’d expect from someone who spent most of the season in the 8-11 seed range; a solid, closely matched round of 16, then a quarter against a top 3 seed.
Munoz’s key is to keep the one-and-done round of 16 losses to a minimum; she had first round losses this season to Salas, Kelani, Barrios, and Scott. None of these are really “bad” losses, just indicative of the depth on tour right now. Munoz’s season includes highlight wins over Salas (three times), Mendez, Lawrence, and a great win over Barrios at the Sweet Caroline.
Projection Next season: #9 again; I see a bunch of really tough 8/9 or 7/10 matches for Munoz in the opening rounds then a really tough matchup against Paola or Mejia if she gets through; that makes it tough to move up.
After several seasons treading water in the 4-6 range on tour, where Natalia quietly ground out expected wins in early rounds before routinely losing to top3 players in the semis … the tour seemed to catch up to her this season, and her ranking plummeted from #3 at the season’s start to #10 by season’s end. (see https://rball.pro/uko). So, what happened?
In the early part of the season, Mendez in the quarters to Parrilla 2x and to Munoz, then took a surprise loss to Lotts in the round of 16 in Chicago. She rebounded a bit and made two straight semis … but then finished off her season with four straight one-and-dones. She lost in the 16s to Centellas, Laime, Salas, and then to Parrilla again to finish off the season. Most of these losses were not really close either, with Parrilla clearly providing some separation in their h2h and with other players getting opportunistic wins.
Mendez needs to spend the summer regrouping.
Projected finish next year: #11 or #12: I think she’ll continue to get pushed down.
An interesting note: the the separation between 8,9, and 10 on tour was quite slim: 589.5 points to 571.5 to 563.5. That’s just 26 points difference from 10 to 8, about the amount of points a LPRT player gets for making the round of 16 (aka “entering”) an LPRT tier 1. The three players ranked 8-10 each played all 10 events on the season and had records of 10-10, 9-10, and 9-10 on the season. There was almost nothing between them on the year, and their ranking delta came down to tiebreaker losses in the majors versus losing in two games. One more win by any of them on the year and they’re in 8th spot pushing for 7th.
that’s it for part 1. This is the biggest/longest post. Stay tuned next for Part 2; the 11-20 ranked players.
The Cup Series is back for 2023; this is a year-long competition that captures the best performances in the three Outdoor Majors (Beach Bash in March, Outdoor Nationals in July, and 3WallBall in Vegas in September) and gives out prizes at the end of the season. This year’s prize pool features cash prizes to the top two finishers along with a complementary suite stay at The STRAT hotel in Las Vegas.
The cup series for the Women is sponsored for the second year in a row by LPL Financial ’ Rosco Halsey and Jason Hupp . The cup series for the Men is sponsored for the second year in a row by Kwm Gutterman and Keith Minor . Thanks to both parties for your continued support of outdoor Racquetball.
The first major is in the books, so let’s take a look at who’s in the lead.
Women’s LPL Financial Cup Series Standings, Post Beach Bash
Here’s the current top 5 after Beach Bash:
1 Scott, Hollie
2 Sotomayor, Veronica
3 Herrera, Alexandra
4 Lawrence, Kelani
5 Roehler, Aimee
Hollie Scott takes a commanding lead of the Cup Series after a dominant performance in Florida, where she took home both Women’s and Mixed doubles titles and finished second in the Pro Singles. Thanks to the size of the Mixed draw, her title there was weighted more heavily and propelled her to the top. Veronica Sotomayor , who had never played outdoor before, had a fantastic debut in Florida, taking the singles title over Scott and finishing runner-up in Women’s doubles. She sits in the second spot. Top ranked LPRT pro Alexandra Herrera made the Mixed final and the pro women’s doubles semi final to secure third place. Rounding out the top five are Women’s pro doubles champ Kelani Lawrence and Hall of Famer Aimee Roehler (pro doubles finalist with Sotomayor).
Expect to see some changes in this top five though, as the second leg in California features spacious three wall courts and has not generally seen east coasters like Roehler and Sotomayor make the trip.
Men’s KWM Gutterman Cup Series Standings, Post Beach Bash
Here’s the current top 5 after Beach Bash:
1 De La Rosa, Daniel
2 Mar, Javier
3 Carson, Rocky
4 Sostre, Robert
5 Monchik, Sudsy
@Daniel De La Rosa takes a commanding lead and is the favorite to repeat as Cup champion. He entered three and won divisions in Florida, and takes maximum points. Javier Mar sits in second on the back of being DLR’s doubles partner for the win. Rocky Carson surprisingly sits in third place; he did not enter Singles or Mixed in Florida and was upset early doubles, but got the win in the large CPRT division. Hall of FamerRobert Sostre sits in fourth with a final’s appearance in pro doubles and semis in two other divisions. And surprisingly in 5th place is a relative newcomer to Outdoor @Sudsy Monchik , who entered just one division (CPRT) but won it, and now has an outside chance at moving up were he to compete in the next two outdoor events.
Thanks as always to the team at 3Wall Ball and @Mike Coulter for your commitment to outdoor and your continued support of the pros.
Next leg will be in July at the big daddy of them all, Outdoor Nationals. We’ll have coverage of that event and we’ll follow it up with another recap of the cup series rankings after the Marnia Park event.
A post in KRG came up recently that featured the venerable former pro @Egan Inoue , along with the familiar claim that he owns the title of ‘fastest ever recorded racquetball hit” at 191mph.
Except … the “proof” of that claim is basically word-of-mouth lore that has persisted over the years, without anyone providing a place where said MPH was measured or who actually measured it.
Over the years, as I’ve done thousands of hours of research in our sport, reviewed old magazines for results. As i’ve done this, I’ve kept a collection of MPH claims and competitions, and I figured this was as good of a time as any to put these down in a post for reaction in one place.
I’m going to order these claims in order of “highest MPH claimed” down to lowest, and for each claim I’ll list the source and the validity.
– 210MPH Backhand by Sudsy Monchik :
Source of claim: hyperbole in a Head advertisement.
likelihood of truth: doutbful.
Notes: Sudsy has some verified readings further down, which are 25% lower than a 210mph backhand claim. He had a great backhand, no doubt. 210? no.
– 200mph serve by Scott Reiff at a pro stop in Atlanta in the early 1990s.
Source of claim: unknown
likelihood of truth: doubtful.
Notes: Reiff is known as a power hitter from back in the day, but is not really in the same class as the other players listed here.
Notes: Cliff appears several times here, with lower verified readings; read on.
– Egan Inoue: 191mph
Source of claim: this is oft-repeated claim of fastest ever recorded speed is essentially internet lore
Likelihood of truth: doubtful
Notes: Even though this is the number that most people repeat, I have my doubts. We all just saw the link to the Inoue-Doyle 1990 final, where the two players were playing with probably 20″ racquets and, well, anyone who’s seen modern racquetball could see that their serves were nowhere near as fast as what we see today.
– @Brian Baker; claims 190-192.
Source of claim: Baker himself in a discussion in 2013 on the old 40×20 forum.
– Likelihood of truth: maybe? still no verification.
Notes: Baker was pinged on the discussion and chimed in with what seemed like credible details. He seemed quite confident and exact in his MPH capabilities. He also claimed to have played with Fredenberg and thinks he’s a tick ahead of the big Texan. However, this 190 figure is 20 mph higher than Fredenberg recorded when on a gun in a public setting … which doesn’t seem credible.
A copy of the discussion is here. Still isn’t really “proof” in as much as we have eyewitnesses or an official event, but this is more believable than the records above it to me right now.
Notes: this is significantly higher than a verified, published reading noted further below. seems unreliable.
– Egan Inoue: during exhibition 170-175 range, 179 in Houston at Nationals in late 1980s
Reliability: we’re closer to what I think is reasonable for Inoue.
– Fredenberg: 171
Source: 2002 US Open had a gun on players for $1000 (Eddie Meredith running it). Each got 5 hits and here’s how it went:
– Reliability: solid
– Notes: this is the first set of readings I really trust. This is from a published competition run by a trusted source. Fredenberg came in on top, followed by two known big-hitters in Walters and Mitch. Kane a tick below, which, if you’ve seen both Mitch and Kane on the court at the same time isn’t out of the realm of possible.
Notes: this seems more in line with what he could do, as opposed to claims of 180+ made above.
– Mitch Williams: 160-162 at Arlington regionals event
Source: personally verified; hardest ever seen on a radar gun. I measured him myself. (I hit it 133 in the same competition as a point of comparison, a decent figure for a low-open player, but well below the 140-range we generally see pros hit today at a minimum, or the 150 range we generally see harder hitters.
– Reliability: 100%
– notes: Mitch was by far and away the crispest, hardest hitter on the east coast during the 2000s. I measured plenty of other hard hitters who were in the low 150s and he was a clear step ahead.
Spalding Power-Serve contest
source: Nov/Dec 1995 Racquetball magazine
1. Sudsy Monchik: 164mph
2. John Ellis: 161mph
3. Tim Doyle: 157mph
4. Andy Roberts: 156mph
5. Cliff Swain: 153mph
6. Luis Vogel: 145mph
6. Woody Clouse: 145mph
8. Tony Jelso: 142mph
Notes: perhaps the best source of comparison for players in the mid 1990s. This was a verified sponsored competition with published results in Racquetball Magazine. 22″ racquets were available by 1995 (the current 22″ max length rule was adopted officially by USAR in 1996 and remains the rule today).
Honestly, I have a really hard time believing any number above Fredenberg’s 171 figure.
With the exception of Baker, there’s not a player on this list i have not personally witnessed hit. And nobody comes close to what I saw Fredenberg do on the court in Houston one year in the early 2000s at Nationals.
With all due respect to everyone else, these claims of 190mph with a 21 inch racquet and substandard string, as compared to 22″ racquets a decade later with better string and more reliable rubber seems ridiculous.
Also there’s this: to believe that no one has approached Inoue’s 190 claim in the last 30 years, given the fact that Athletes evolve and equipment improves is laughable. Odds are today’s big hitters (Jake, Moscoso, Montoya, Garay, and Kane) are right where yesteryear’s big hitters (Inoue, Conine, Doyle, Swain, and Monchik) were. Right in the 160 range, maybe a tick higher one day to the next.
So, anybody got what they think is irrefutable evidence of a different n umber for a different player? I’d love to hear it.
(Dig in; this is a long post. Located within includes commentary on the new ball, critiques of serve selection, and the “reason” CM lost the game).
Every once in a while there’s a compelling enough match that I dig out my patented “Match Tracker” spreadsheet and spend a bit of time analyzing a game to find some hidden insights as to the result.
Given that we just witnessed a scintillating match between the then #1 Daniel De La Rosa and the now newly ascended to #1 Conrrado Moscoso for the Longhorn Open Final, one with a back and forth 15-14 first game, I thought i’d take a dive and see what information we could glean.
The first tab is a detailed accounting of all 54 rallies, while the second tab has the aggregated data that will be the basis of most of this analysis. The other tabs explain the serve and rally codes in use.
Lets dive in and get some interesting info:
– Game 1 Length: 32mins, 36 seconds
This works out to around 36 seconds per rally. That’s about what I’ve seen with most of these other match tracking i’ve done, especially in tense, strategic games. Moscoso is a bit of a slower player, with a pedantic, deliberate serving motion, which adds some time. DLR isn’t exactly speedy himself, and had a ton of missed first serves in this game, which extended the time.
There were also two time-outs taken and two rather lengthy towel time-outs, so taking those delays out, you’re closer to a 29minute game and about 32 seconds per rally. Not bad.
– Rallies: there were 54 rallies exactly here: There were 29 points scored, 24 side-outs, and only one replay.
It was a rather clean game; just one replay, no avoidables, and that replay was a pretty soft one in this viewer’s opinion, coming on a play where Moscoso claimed a swing hinder but DLR looked exasperated that it was given.
– DLR won 27 of the rallies, Moscoso 26, and there was one replay. Not much between them in this game, as @Favio Soto repeatedly said while doing the finals broadcast with Tourney Director Soly Kor .
– Number of 1 shot rallies (aka Aces): 1.
– Number of 2 shot rallies: 16.
– Number of 3-shot rallies: 13
So more than 50% of the rallies were of the bang-bang-bang variety. This is what you’d expect with two skilled shot-makers.
– Average Number of Shots per rally: 2.74 not including the serve.
So, this is one of the points I wanted to get into. The Longhorn Open was the first event to use the new Gearbox ball, which we know is thicker and slower. Many have speculated about what impact this would have on the pro game. Would it slow down power players, would it drastically increase rallies? Would it lead to fewer aces? Would it lead to more aces?
First off, the court type and altitude makes a huge difference in the game, irrespective of the ball. Austin is just a few hundred feet above sea level, but featured concrete walls, which minimize the impact a bit of a slower ball. So that de-emphasizes a slower ball a bit for this event.
That being noted, here’s what we found in this data: an average of 2.74 shots per rally after the serve is roughly half a shot more per rally than the last time I did this analysis (the Kane-Andree Atlanta 11-10 game, which came in at 2.2 shots per rally), and a bit more than another, older game between two power players (the 2002 Kane-Cliff Halloween classic game that’s all over youtube): that one came in at 2.59 shots per rally.
What we really need to do is go back to the last time DLR-CM played (the Denver final in 2021) and do similar analysis. But even then, that match was at altitude and may not give us a neutral accounting either.
It is possible that the Gearbox ball resulted in about half an extra shot per rally, or one extra ball every other rally. It is also possible that we’re seeing the impact of a skilled defender like DLR who liberally used ceiling balls off of drive serves and rarely made an error during rallies, as compared to the playing style of Kane, which was basically to go for shots at every opportunity and resulted in a a ton of 2- and 3-shot rallies in that game.
At the end of the day, the Longhorn semis featured #1, #3, #4, and a #15 player who’s far better than #15 in the semis, so the players who were “supposed” to get to the semis basically got there. If the Gearbox ball supposedly favors the control player, then why didn’t we see the tour’s best control players (guys like Parrilla and Landa) do better? Landa was upset by Carter in the 16s and th en spent the rest of the weekend complaining about the ball on social media, while Parrilla ended up losing to another excellent control player in Mar. Perhaps the pre-eminent power player on tour right now is Moscoso; he made the final with relative ease.
More to come on this topic as we see how the tour goes forward with this ball, but that’s my thoughts for now.
Coincidentally, the longest rally of the game was just 9 shots; it occurred relatively early in the game and ended with a Moscoso forehand error.
Number of dives: only 6. Given how much these two players dive, they really did not spend much time on the floor. that’s probably because they were both making too many un-gettable shots.
Number of rollouts: 13. This was the number of times I saw a shot that was irretrievable, no matter where the opponent was standing. 13 rollout winners out of 39 total winners. That’s actually somewhat low; we definitely saw a ton more passing shots and use of lines/angles in this game versus going-for-broke kill shots.
Lets dive into some Serving stats. DLR first:
– 28 serves, just one 1 ace
– Only a 67% first serve in rate: he missed 9 of 28 first serves. That’s not very good.
– DLR drove serve 100% of the time; not one first serve lob.
– DLR hit 64% (18 of 28) drive serves to backhand, 35% (10 of 28) to the forehand. A decent 2-1 ratio, clearly meaning to try to keep CM on his toes and not do too much guessing backhand.
– When DLR drove to the backhand, he scored 10 of his 15 points. When DLR drove to the forehand … he scored just one point. 1 point out of 9 drives to the forehand. If I was DLR’s coach … i’d probably say, “stop drive serving his forehand: it isn’t working.”
– When DLR got his first serve in; 12 out of 19 points for 63% rate. When DLR missed his first serve, he scored on just 3 of 9 second serves for a 33% rate. Two lessons here: get your first serve in … and drive serve instead of lob.
Conclusions: DLR did not serve especially well in this game, but showed decent effectiveness when he did get the serve in. He got 4 points either from Aces or from service return errors and two more via classic 3-shot rallies (serve, return, kill). He should abandon the drive to the forehand against Conrrado, perhaps splitting his time 66% drive backhand and 33% hard Z to forehand. He did not try any other hard serves; no jams, no wrap-arounds, no real change of pace drives.
Serve Analysis for Moscoso: Here’s Conrrado’s serving analysis:
– 26 serves, zero Aces.
A pause here. Zero aces from one of the biggest hitters in the game? Is this because of the ball, or is it because DLR is the most skilled player in the game at returning? A combination of both? Also notably, Moscoso did not foot fault one time in this game; this has long been a bugaboo for him, and he used to liberally FF over and over. Has he modified his serving mechanics to sacrifice power for a shorter stride and more control? Unknown.
– CM had a great 1st serve percentage: 23 of 26 serves in for an 88% success rate. That’s super impressive for a guy who hits as hard as he does; its reminiscent of the old one-serve power players like Cliff, Sudsy, Ellis.
– As did DLR, CM drove serve 100% of the time.
– CM hit 92% of his drives to DLR’s backhand (24 of 26). He hit just two drives down the line to DLR’s forehand. Both those forehand serves were over fast: one was a service return error for a point, one was a crushed pass kill for a side-out.
CM had very little variation in his first serves: he didn’t really hit anything resembling a jam the entire game. He hit one serve that looked like it was an attempt at a wrap around, but it more likely was a flown drive serve that hit the back wall a few feet up and probably was a mis-hit. No Z-serves. Perhaps this is why he got no aces: DLR never had to really guess where the serve was going. To me, the times CM did go to the forehand, he so badly telegraphed it that DLR could jump the serve.
– CM did so little serving to the forehand that there’s no value in breaking down FH vs BH drive serve stats.
– When CM got his first serve in, he got points about half the time. 12 of his points came on his 23 first serves in. Probably needs to be higher, and indicates that despite his high 1st serve percentage the serves were not as effective as he needed them to be.
– Interestingly he got points on 2 of his 3 lobs/second serves. And all three of these 2nd serve/lob attempts were 3-shot rallies: twice DLR left up a return and CM buried it, the third time CM went for the kill and missed.
Conclusions: CM needs to get more from his powerful service game. I’d suggest more variation, more jam serves and more z-balls as change of pace/alternative serves. Also, he had such good success with his lobs in small sample sizes, i wonder if its worth trying to lob DLR an entire game to see what happens.
Rally stats. This is where the real reason the game was won/lost becomes evident.
DLR Rally ending breakdown: DLR had 17 rally winners:
– 9 forehands, 7 backhands. Very even spread
– 12 passing winners, 4 pinch/splat winners.
This is amazing to me, b/c DLR’s game is normally to pinch everything he can. Perhaps against this player, who is one of the better divers in the sport, he chose to work the lines more than to go for broke with lower percentage shots. This breakdown does NOT seem to support the slower ball; a slower ball is easier to pinch.
– Just 4 errors the entire game. Three of the errors were on the service return, meaning DLR made just one error during the run of play for the entire game.
– DLR had a 17/4 Winner/Error ratio for the game, that’s 6.25 winners per error. Awesome.
CM Rally ending breakdown: CM had 22 winners, more than DLR.
– 9 forehands, 13 backhands. CM really has an amazing backhand.
– 9 passing winners, 13 pinch/splat winners. This is the Moscoso we know, the most opportunistic shooter in the game right now.
– 10 errors. Moscoso made 10 rally ending errors in the game. Despite all his winners, this was the reason he lost. He had game point on his forehand and missed. Most of his winners were on the backhand, and most of his errors were on the backhand too (7 of the 10).
– CM had a 22/10 Winner/Error ratio. So just 2.2 winners per error as compared to DLR’s ratio, which was 3 times as high.
Conclusions based on the rally stats: DLR was more in control and played a very error-free game, which made the difference in the end. CM plays kind of like Serena Williams: he makes a ton of errors, but he also makes a ton of winners. He drives play and dictates the action. Turn more of those errors into winners and suddenly he’s Kane Waselenchuk.
That’s my deep dive. Honestly, i’m surprised after seeing these stats that it was 15-14. I would have thought it would have been more in DLR’s favor. But the shot-making ability of CM made the difference.
With his finals result at the 2023 Longhorn Open, @Conrrado Moscoso has officially ascended to the #1 spot on tour. This is obviously the first time Moscoso has ascended to #1 ranking on tour, and it represents the first time a player from outside the “Big 3” countries USA/Canada/Mexico has risen this far. Moscoso achieved a #1 tournament seed in October 2022 (when DLR skipped the Pleasanton event and Moscoso had risen to #2 temporarily), but now is the top dog.
I’ve seen more than a few comments from KRG and elsewhere online questioning how he could be #1 over Daniel De La Rosa when they met in the Longhorn final and Daniel beat Conrrado heads-up. These comments are misguided and don’t seem to exhibit an understanding of a rolling ranking system.
Why did Conrrado leapfrog Daniel for #1 despite losing the final to him on Sunday?
The answer is simple: the IRT rankings are not based on a “who beat who yesterday” concept, Its based on a rolling calendar of results. Just like Squash, or Tennis, and most any other individual pro sport with a “tour,” the reigning #1 is determined based on the totality of their results over a longer period of time than one specific match.
Right now, the IRT’s ranking system includes every player’s past 11 Tier1/Grand Slam tournaments. In the wake of Covid, the IRT pivoted from a conventional rolling 365-day calendar (which had been in place since the 1981-82 season) to include tournaments that may fall outside that range. The choice of exactly 11 tournaments was specific; that was roughly the average number of events that the tour was hosting before Covid struck, so it made sense to not penalize players who chose to not play events and expand the ranking calendar to include older events.
I maintain a “Rolling 2-year IRT Worksheet” that helps illustrate the points. I use this spreadsheet to write up my “predicted impacts to rankings” in all my recap posts.
I’ve uploaded the latest copy of it here:
When the Longhorn Open finished, the rankings recalculation would take the Longhorn Results and “expire” the 12th oldest tournament. That expiring tournament turned out to be the 2021 US Open, won by Daniel. So, Daniel was set to “lose” 600 points for winning that grand slam, and to replace those points with whatever points he earned in Austin. That turned out to be 400 points for winning. So Take Daniel’s pre-Austin ranking points total (2933), subtract 600, add 400, and you get 2733.
Now lets do the same arithmetic for Connrado: heading into Austin he had 2652 points. His 2021 US Open was disappointing: he lost to Carlos Keller in the 16s, meaning he only earned 135 points there. So take 2652, subtract 135, add in his points for making the Austin final (300), and you get 2817.
2817 is more than 2733 … so that’s why Moscoso is now #1.
(Note: i’m excluding fractions of points earned for specific game wins/losses for simplicity of the post; in reality DLR has exactly 2,733.44 points, and Moscoso has exactly 2817.51 points).
Here’s the next interesting point: NO MATTER WHAT HAPPENS in the next IRT event (the Lewis Drug Pro-Am on Jan 22nd), Conrrado will stay #1. Why? Because he did not play the 2021 Arizona event (which will expire next), and thus has no points to “defend.” He can do nothing but improve and increase his lead at the top of the tour. It won’t be until the Suivant Consulting GS in mid February where we might see some changes … that tournament will expire Sarasota from Nov 2021, won by Conrrado, so he’ll have 400 points to defend. But he’ll also have a Grand Slam to replace those points, and if he gets anywhere close to the back end of the tournament he’ll maintain the lead again.
At some point, the IRT probably will pivot back to a conventional 365-year calendar. We’re out of Covid, we’re back to a regular cadence of events (there’s going to be 7 events by the end of April, a very healthy slate, and then we’ll have Denver in the summer and the regular events in the fall, meaning we will have plenty of events in the calendar year on which to base events). DLR may very well trail Conrrado for months … but he will “catch up” greatly come this fall. He missed three IRT events between September and December 2022, meaning he’ll drastically catch-up later this year. It should make for an exciting finish to the 2023 season.
But in the meantime, I hope this explains the reasoning and provides insight to the machinations of the rankings.
Welcome to Part 4 of our season recap: a discussion of some notable players ranked 21 and above this year.
Part 1: reference links to various year-end resources of note.
Part 2: the top 10
Part 3: 11-20
Part 4: notables ranked 21st and above (this post)
Thanks to the lack of funds available in our sport, more and more we’re seeing quite talented players who, if everyone was touring full time, might very well be ranked higher. These are the players nobody wants to see in the qualifiers when they do show up, and they’re the kind of “weekend warriors” who inspire the rest of us … we’re all “weekend warriors” at heart.
Here’s a run through some notable players ranked outside the top 20, with some comments and in some cases predictions on 2023.
– #21 Erick Trujillo ; might as well start with the elephant in the room. Trujillo has exploded onto the IRT scene, making a couple of rounds of 16 and even one quarter final. He made the finals of both Mexico u21 and World u21 (losing to Jose Ramos and Diego Garcia respectively). He’s already got solid wins on his resume (Mar, Franco, Garay) and will continue to improve. I see him moving into the teens with ease, and possibly higher, as he improves.
– #24: Jaime Martel played more events in 2022 than he had in the last three seasons combined, and it showed. He made the main draw three times, got to a quarter final, got some really solid wins. He topped Patata, Murray, and Franco in the last two events before a quarters loss to Jake in Pleasanton (one where he beat the big man 15-2 in the first game).
If he continues to play full time, look for him to push for the top 20.
– #27 Jordy Alonso has gotten some really impressive wins this past season, and if he can string together more of a full time tour schedule I can see him (along with Martell) pushing for the top 20 on tour.
– #28 Sam Bredenbeck was really, really zinging it at Worlds, playing the left side in doubles. He’s stepped up his game in terms of power, is training with some great players in Minnesota, and it’d be great to see him playing week in-week out to get his ranking up.
#31 Diego Garcia could be the best player not playing the tour full time. Here’s a quick list of players he beat in 2022 (internationally or professionally): Mercado, Collins, Franco, Mar, Carson, Trujillo twice, and Ramos to win World 21U. That’s quite a slate of wins. We hadn’t seen him domestically since Oct 2019 as he switched countries from Bolivia to Argentina.
I wonder if he can start getting support to travel and tour, because if so watch out, he could be pushing for the top 10.
#36 Bobby Horn is still heavily involved in the sport, working with the Manillas on their online training/coaching initiative and working hard to host programming at his home club in Pleasanton. When he does play, he’s still dangerous.
#46 @Cole Sendry , USA 16U competitor, played his first few IRT events this year and got some experience.
#53 Maurice Miller took a big step back from touring but still is a dangerous opponent when he shows.
#83 @Jordan Barth is the highest ranked player (by USAR rankings) who doesn’t tour regularly. he’s #28 at USAR and would be an interesting addition to the tour.
#98 Cliff Swain ; his 35th year in the rankings.
#99 Coby Iwaasa , long-time #2 in Canada and who regularly gets strong international wins. Rarely appears on the IRT. Another guy who would be interesting to see play.
A shout-out to the Guatemalans, who seem to play nearly every IRT event. Bravo, its always awesome to see the likes of @JuJuan Salvatiera , Christian Wer, @Javier martinez , Edwin Galicia , and @Geovani Mendoza at these events.
That’s it for our 2022 season retrospective. We have the Longhorn Open this coming weekend, so look for our preview soon.
Welcome to Part 3 of our season recap: a discussion of the guys who finished 11-20th this year.
Part 1: reference links to various year-end resources of note.
Part 2: the top 10
Part 3: 11-20 (This post)
Part 4: notables ranked 21st and above
“Finishing in the top 10” is a metric I use a lot, but i’m not sure it means a ton to players. I get the sense that pro players care first and foremost about season-ending #1s, then tourney wins, then just want to earn as much money as possible (which normally means they want to get to at least the semis of an event to make “decent” money for the weekend. Top 8 is the place where you really want to be; that guarantees you a round of 16 spot and prize money each weekend; if you’re in 9th or 10th then you’re playing one extra match just to get there each weekend. But, its easy to divide analysis by the “top10” so that’s what we do.
Fyi: Rocky Carson is the Men’s all-time leader in “top 10s” for a season with 23.
Second place is Cliff Swain , who had 20 top-10 seasons plus another 15 seasons with results; see my top 10 matrix report here for more fun info: https://rball.pro/tbz).
That all being said, the guys who are just outside the top 10 are always interesting to me. Generally are guys who fall into one of three distinct categories:
– Former top 10 guys on their way down
– Up and coming full-time players who are trying to grind their way into the top 10
– Part time players who are better than their ranking but who can’t commit full time to the tour.
Looking at the guys who finished 11-20th this season (https://rball.pro/t8a ), i’d probably classify them as follows:
– On the way out: Franco, Beltran
– Grinders: Manilla, Acuna, Carter
– Wish they could play more: Montoya, Keller, Fernandez, Garay, Mar
We’ll use these story-lines throughout this writeup.
Lets talk about the guys who finished 11th-20th this year and give some projections on where they may end up next season.
– #11: Rodrigo Montoya played 7 of the 9 events this year, made two finals and saw his ranking jump from #17 last year to just outside of the top 10 this year. I’ve already kind of buried the lede with my last post in where I think Montoya ends up next year.
For me, Montoya’s talent has always been evident. He has two major IRF titles (2018 Worlds and then 2019 Pan Am Games Gold). He won 4 titles and made another 4 finals on the old WRT before it went defunct. But he’s never been able to give the IRT a full-time go, and has been balancing school and touring for years (he’s an Aerospace Engineer and holds an MBA and has spent most of the past few years in grad school).
This year in 2022, in addition to his pro successes, he made the back ends of multiple international events (finals of Mexican Nationals, finals of the World Games, semis of PARC, and semis of Worlds). This workload seemed to take its toll; he lost his final 2022 match 1,4 and put up very little resistance.
Prediction for 2023? Well, if he plays a full slate of events, he’s a top-4 talent in the world and should finish top 4. But if he’s hurt or continues to miss events here and there, he’ll be stuck in that 10-16 range where he’s been for years.
#12: Adam Manilla improved from #14 last year to #12 this year. In 8 events played, he made 4 quarters and lost in the 16s four times. To get to his four quarters, he had wins over top players Landa, Portillo, Mercado, and Keller; not a bad slate of wins. His 16s losses were to Landa, Rocky, Rocky, and Carter (only the last one really being a “bad” loss). He’s clearly improving as a player, made the semis of Nationals (again losing to Rocky), and when he did lose he played tough, often losing games 15-11/15-12 against top4 guys.
He’s on a roll and I see him continuing to incrementally improve on his ranking. I can see him right on the cusp of the top 10 at the end of this coming season, maybe even higher if we see some possible machinations at the back half of the top 10 (like if Kane retires and opens up a top 10 spot).
#13 Andres Acuña improved on his 2021 ranking of #16 mostly on the back of a strong run in Sarasota, where he had a career best showing of making the semis (beating Landa and getting a walkover against Lalo to get there). Otherwise he remains stuck at the round of 16 gate, losing in the 16s in 6 of the 8 tournaments he entered.
He has managed to get out of the always-dangerous 16/17 seed range, which gives a very tough round of 32 match only to head into the #1 seed (almost always a loss), and now can feed into players he has a better chance of beating to advance into the quarters, but the time is now. He cannot continue to lose in the 16s and have a shot at the top10.
Interestingly, he showed more internationally than he did on the pro circuit, making the final of PARC (losing to Moscoso), winning the World Games (topping Montoya in the final), and making the semis of Worlds (losing to Rocky). On the pro tour his best win all season was probably Mar in Chicago or Landa in Sarasota, and he took a “bad” loss against Zelada in Maryland.
For 2023, I see him doing more of the same; mostly round of 16 losses, an occasional quarter, an occasional upset with a bad round of 32 matchup. But he’s absolutely committed to the tour full time and won’t miss a tourney. That says 12-13 range for me.
#14 Carlos Keller sees his ranking drop slightly from its #12 spot in 2021, but this lofty ranking is built on a house of cards. He missed 6 of the 9 events in 2022 after essentially touring full time the previous two seasons, and his #14 ranking is buttressed by the fact that it still includes the Grand Slam points of his finals run in the 2021 US Open.
When those points expire, his ranking will plummet out of the top 20 and unless he plans on re-committing to touring full time he’ll stay in the 20s. In the 17 events he has played in the last 3 seasons now, he’s lost in the 16s or earlier in 14 of them. This is not a winning financial strategy and is likely why he’s stepped back.
Expect his ranking to be in the mid 20s going forward as he plays just a couple events a year.
#15: @Sebastian Franco has seen his former top 10 ranking slip to #13 last year and #15 this year. In 7 events played this year, he lost in the 32s 5 times.
Life seems to have caught up to Franco, as family commitments and work requirements seem to be conspiring against him as a touring pro. Losing in the 32s is not a winning financial strategy, and I’d guess we’ll be seeing less and less of him going forward. He’s good enough to keep making a quarterfinal here and there, so I’ll predict he hangs around the top 20.
#16: Thomas Carter improved from #18 last season and played well this year. He got solid wins in the 32s all year and capped the season with a great win over fellow lefty Manilla in Portland. Eight tourneys played, five times he made the 16s. That’s definitely a recipe for sticking in the top 16.
For 2023 I expect more of the same, with him getting an occasional upset win or upset loss, and hanging right at this same range 15-16.
#17: Sebastian Fernandez marginally improved on his 2021 finish of #19. For the better part of two seasons he’s been absolutely “stuck” at the 16/17 seed in events, and has not advanced past the 16s in that time.
In his last 10 Pro events, here’s who took him out: Martell, Montoya, Landa, DLR, Montoya, DLR, DLR, DLR, Landa. That takes you all the way back to the 2021 US Open. Thats … well that’s a tough slate of round of 16 or round of 32 opponents. Patata is challenged just to get a decent shot at advancing. And you can kind of see it in his play; after playing most of the first half of the tour, he played just the US Open and Pleasanton to end it, perhaps going back into partial touring as he said he would a couple of years ago.
2023 prediction: he hangs around at this same gate, maybe gets a couple of wins, and marginally improves on his ranking.
#18: Eduardo Garay dropped from #15 last year to #18 this year and seems to be struggling for consistency on tour. In 6 events he was beaten in the 32s three times, the rest in the 16s.
His international career remains in limbo; after seemingly converting to Colombia that federation has collapsed and he hasn’t played internationally in years. He’s working for Francisco Fajardo and Team Zurek, which is great, but (like Franco) it seems to be having a negative effect on his playing career.
For 2023, I predict he continues to be part time and hangs around the 19-20 range.
#19 @Javier Mar got some statement wins this year, but continues to play the tour essentially part time. It is hard to predict that he makes a huge push when he seems to play just half the events (a situation that guarantees he’s always qualifying and guarantees he gets random round of 32 matches that are coin flips).
For 2023 I’m guessing he improves on his ranking slightly, but won’t get much about the 16-17 range unless he commits to playing full time.
#20 @Alvaro Beltran saw his ranking plummet from #11 to #20, partly because he frankly was just done playing singles and partly because of the elbow injury he suffered in Las Vegas that took him out of the last couple of events. I would be surprised to see him playing serious singles going forward, and may be either retiring, just pivoting to doubles, or pivoting to select events that are drive-able as he transitions into a Gearbox ambassador role.
Expect his singles ranking to slowly disappear as he moves towards retirement in 2023.
Predicted 11-20 rankings for 2023 (and other rankings for players mentioned here):