LPRT Season Wrap-up: News summary for the season.

This post highlights some of the noteworthy news items for the LPRT this year. I periodically publish these items to this link:

So, if you want a trip down memory lane for the LPRT you can read that page from the top down. It isn’t comprehensive to the beginning of the tour in the detail captured recently … but it is built out pretty decently.

Here’s a quick summary of items of interest that happened on tour this year, to the tour itself or to its players. If you think I’m missing something, by all means let me know. This was a subjectively collected list of “news” items and I may have missed something worth capturing.

  • 7/11/21: LPRT #1 Paola Longoria is heading to the Tokyo Olympics as a Sports Commentator for TUDN. She ends up doing sports broadcasting for the whole of the Olympics and misses the season opening tournament in Denver as a result.
  • 8/23/21: Mattel Latin America included LPRT’s #1 Paola Longoria as one of three Latin American athletes to create Barbie doll likenesses for, in order to recognize Latin American athletes. Paola’s place in the landscape of sports media in Mexico continues to be strong.
  • 10/2/21: Argentinian Natalia Mendez signs an agreement with Nike. It isn’t often we hear about our athletes signing with such a major brand.
  • 10/11/21: Longoria takes her 11th US Open title, but not before an upset-laden tournament results in multiple top-8 seeds taken out in the 32s and 16s. Erika Manilla is the biggest shock, advancing out of qualifiers and into the semis despite never making a round of 16 previously.
  • 1/17/22: Rhonda Rajsich is named the Mark Bingham Athlete of the Year for 2022.
  • 3/6/22: Alexandra Herrera tops Longoria for the second final in a row, the first time Longoria has lost two finals in a row since Sept 2010. Is this the start of a new rivalry on tour?
  • 4/10/22: PARC 2022 kicks off without a slew of major pro names, not the least of which was #1 Paola Longoria, who misses a “major” IRF event for the first time since 2014. Her absences are referred to vaguely as being due to a “lack of support” by the Mexican federation, and led to a significantly weaker Mexican team. The women’s singles is eventually won by Bolivian #5 Angelica Barrios over #3 Vargas in the final.
  • 4/22/22: In the latest incident of Bolivian-born players lamenting the lack of support from their Ministry of sport, newly crowned PARC champion Angelica Barrios heavily criticizes the Bolivian organizations for promising and then reneging on financial support for Barrios, yet continuing to use photographs of her accomplishments with their logo attached. This comes hot on the heels of the Men’s PARC 2022 champion Conrrado Moscoso also criticizing the lack of support and possibly considering a switch to another country.
  • 5/15/22: Longoria holds off Herrera in the final of the Sweet Caroline Grand Slam to reverse the trend of the last two events, and to seal the 2021-22 year end title, her 13th.
  • 6/1/22: Herrera posts on social media herself in a walking boot: turns out she had a grade 2 ankle strain a couple weeks back but still traveled to Kansas City to compete in the Super Max. She forfeited out of singles early, but still managed to win the Doubles draw with Erika Manilla serving as a roving player. Herrera misses an opportunity to move up in the rankings ahead of the beginning of next season, but is still well positioned to challenge Longoria at the top in 2022-23.
  • 6/10/22: Sunshine Arterburn makes history, becoming the first known transgender woman to compete on the LPRT. Arterburn previously competed as Michael Arterburn on the IRT as recently as Sept 2019, then began the transition process. She lost in the first round in both the pro and Open draws in Kansas City, both times ostensibly withdrawing with an injury.
  • 6/11/22: Maria Jose Vargas plays the final event of the season 4.5 months pregnant. She takes an uncharacteristic loss early in the singles, but the bigger news will be her likely missing a good chunk of the 2022-23 season due to her expecting her 3rd child in the fall. This will have significant ramifications to the top of the tour, opening up some pathways for the current #3 ranked player.
  • 6/11/22: Thanks to some major upsets at the SuperMax, three American women advance to the quarter finals for the first time since 2016.
  • 6/12/22: Longoria wins the Kansas City Super Max 14,10 over Mejia, a rematch of last year’s final/upset win for Montse. It was a close match, with Mejia looking comfortable against the GOAT, but Paola ground out a win. This closes the book on the 2021-22 season.

LPRT 2021-22 Season ending Standings and Season Wrap-up Part 3: Select players ranked 21 and higher

Meneses finished just outside the top 20; how will she fare next season? Photo Severna park 2021 via Ken Fife

We recapped the top 10 LPRT finishers first, then the players ranked 11th-20th, now here’s some commentary on the players who finished 21st or higher. This will be a selection of the players; I’m not going to write up every player from 21-60+. We’ll focus on the notables, regular tour players, and the like.

  • #21: Michaela Meneses the 18U reigning world junior champ from Bolivia, came in ranked #21 after showing some impressive results early in the season. She had wins over Lotts, MRR, and Enriquez. But then she collapsed at season’s end, losing multiple matches by donut scores (or close to it). Apparently she’s going through some swing mechanical changes, and should recover for the beginning of the next pro season and in time for her to defend her 18U title. She’s got promise, can hang with seasoned players, and looks like a future top10 Bolivian star like Barrios and Centellas before her.
    Projected Rank next season: 15-16 range.
  • #23 Jenny Daza only played 3 events, but upset C.Munoz and got a walkover against Parrilla to get to the Vero Beach quarters. A couple of years ago she beat Vargas at the US Open. She can get solid wins … but lives 4,000 miles away and cannot travel to every stop. So, she’ll remain a player to watch out for when she plays.
    Projected Rank next season: mid 20s.

24 Veronica Sotomayor recently relocated to the US, living in Vero Beach, and made it to three events. She’s a former top 10 ranked player who just turned 30 and who trains every day with one of the best players who ever lived in husband @Sudsy Monchik , and can still play. She’s a threat whenever she plays, but cannot commit to playing full time. She’ll remain the wildcard “player nobody wants to have feed into them” in draws she enters, and she’ll hope to pick off wins here and there.

Projected Rank next season: low-to-mid 20s unless she decides to commit to the tour full time, then we’re talking top 10.

  • #27 @Annie Roberts is in college now, matriculated from juniors, and keeps running into Laime in pro draws (her last three round of 32 matches were all against the Colombian). She continues to show power improvements, and she’s eventually going to play someone besides Brenda to get a shot at a round of 16 matchup against a top 8 seed. Her college commitments will keep her from touring full time presumably, meaning her rank will remain in the 20s.
    Projected Rank next season: mid 20s.
  • #27 Susy Acosta played the tour about half-time, which is what she’s basically done since turning 40, but continues to compete. This was her 24th season with pro results and her lefty-ness will continue to get her partners in the doubles side for some time to come.
    Projected Rank next season: upper 20s.
  • #29 Naomi Ros is one to keep an eye on; she’s the reigning US 16U junior national champ, meaning she’s still got two years of junior racquetball remaining, but is already making half the LPRT events now that she’s relocated from Mexico to south Texas. She’s still looking for a signature pro win, but has hung with veterans and it’s just a matter of time before she starts getting wins.
    Projected rank next season: low to mid 20s.

36 @Daniela Rico is another 18u junior who can put some good results on the board; she only played a couple of LPRT events this year (going one-and done in Vero Beach and Boston) but made the semis of 18U world juniors and put a loss on a very under-rated Lucia Gonzalez at Mexican Nationals earlier this year. Another in a long line of Mexican junior women to watch going forward.

Projected rank: still mid 30s.

37 Ireland’s @Aisling Hickey made some noise in a couple of events she entered and has relocated to California, which could open up a pathway for her to play more events. We’ll see; we didn’t see her in any of the spring events, so perhaps moving to the US wasn’t the springboard for her to play m ore LPRT events.

Projected rank next season: low-to-mid 30s.

43 @martina Katz made her pro debut at the season’s final event; she’s an Argentine 18U champ who could start to feature for the Argentinian national team soon.

Projected rank next season: 30s-40s.

Phew, that’s it for recapping the season! One more post after this to point out some milestones I tracked on the “tour history page” as a look back at the season that was.

LPRT 2021-22 Season ending Standings and Season Wrap-up Part 2: the 11-20 ranked players

We recapped the top 10 LPRT finishers first in a post from last Friday. Now here’s some commentary on the players who finished 11-20.

11 @Carla Munoz finished 11th on season, pipped for the top 10 by just 30 points (by way of comparison; LPRT players get 25 points for making the round of 16 in a regular tier 1 event. Munoz had some unlucky early round matchups (a round of 32 meeting with Scott at the US Open and a tough loss in the 32s to Jenny Daza in Vero Beach), but also had some really solid wins on the season (defeats of Salas, Centellas, Vargas, and Manilla). She’s definitely poised to rocket into the top 10 if she can replace a US Open round of 32 loss with a better finish later this year.

Predicted Rank next season’s end: #9/#10; i think she can gain a little ground on the players just ahead of her.

12: Kelani Lawrence comes in 12th, her career best. She’s incrementally improved her pro ranking each season she’s played the tour full time, moving from 22nd, to 15th, to 12th. She missed out on #11 by just 5 ranking points; just one more result puts her in the top 10. Lawrence made her first pro semi this season and had marquee wins over Mendez and Vargas.

Predicted Rank next season’s end: #9/#10: I can see her competing with Munoz for that last top 10 spot.

13: Brenda Laime Jalil came in 13th, right in line where she’s been ranked for the past few seasons. She made 4 quarters and missed 2 events; those two events cost her a top 10 spot this season. What’s interesting about Laime this season is her results: she had a number of big wins: Mejia, Herrera, and Parrilla. She definitely has the capability of moving into the top 10.

Predicted Rank next season’s end: Just outside top 10; perhaps increasing a couple of slots until she shows she can play 100% of events.

14: Samantha Salas Solis saw her ranking slip to the lowest point of her career in an non-injury season. She missed a few events but had a massive showing in Kansas City, making her sole semi of the season and topping both Mendez and Gaby. So the talent is still there; she just needs to focus it at the right times to get back to her lofty ranking of yesteryear.

Predicted Rank next season’s end: #10-#11: Her rank now has her running into top 4 players in the 16s, and that’s gonna make it tough for her to get back into the top 10.

15: Valeria Centellas has definitely taken a tumble from her top 10 ranking two seasons ago; she just cannot repeat her international success on the tour. Her best win on tour this year was over Rhonda … but Rhonda also beat her twice at the same tournament junctures (round of 16).

Predicted Rank next season’s end: #14-15: around the same as this year, unless she can make some major changes to her game.

16: @Hollie Scott improves her year end ranking for the 5th successive season and really her first playing the tour full time. She had some solid wins and didn’t take any “bad” losses, so I can see her moving up.

Predicted Rank next season’s end: Just outside the top 10, in the 10-12 range.

17: @MarMaria Renee Rodriguez finished in basically the same spot she has finished the last three years running. She’s consistently getting to the round of 16, but no further (which is in line with finishing 17th on tour). She needs some marquee wins over top10 players to get much further up the rankings.

Predicted Rank next season: same range, #16-#17.

18: @Sheryl Lotts’ season is a lot like MRRs: her results split between round of 16 and round of 32 losses. Perhaps her best win of the season was a h2h meeting with MRR in the most recent event (in the 16/17 round of 32 match), which inevitably led to a round of 16 loss to top-seeded Longoria. Lotts has been in this range for a bit now, and it is hard to get out of without a shock upset win.

Predicted Rank next season: #16-#17 range along with MRR.

19: @Nancy Enriquez has been seeing her ranking fall year after year for 5 years now. She seems to be stepping back a bit from touring, missing 3 events this season, which has contributed to her ranking fall. When she has played, she’s taking early round losses (3 round of 32 upsets). It looks like she may continue to step back.

Predicted Rank next season: Mid 20s.

20: Cristina Amaya Cris Amaya ‘s ranking has fallen to a career low 20th, thanks in part to her missing three events on the season. When she has played though, she has made the 16s (4 of her 6 tournaments saw her advance to the 16s), and she’s not terribly removed from a time when she was making the quarters on a regular basis. She needs to get healthy and commit to the tour full time to turn things around.

Predicted Rank next season: #13-15 range if she plays full time.

In part 3 we’ll cover the rest of the tour, those of note who finished ranked in the 20s or further down.

LPRT 2021-22 Season ending Standings and Season Wrap-up Part 1: the top 10

Longoria wraps up her 13th pro title. Photo via US Open 2019, Kevin Savory

The Kansas City SuperMax last week also marked the official end of the 2021-22 season. After a covid-ravaged season, the LPRT ended up this season with 9 events, including three majors.

The final season rankings have been updated to the website: see https://www.lprtour.com/lprt-singles-rankings for the year end standings.
We have captured the standings and uploaded them to the proracquetballstats.com website, where they will now be picked up in all year end rankings queries as appropriate. For example, click here http://rb.gy/x0t9jz for the year end singles standings in the database, and click here http://rb.gy/ysxyi8 to see how they flow into the Season Summary report.

Here’s some commentary on the LPRT finishers. We’ll break this post into four posts; in this post we’ll talk about the top 10, then talk about 11-20, then the rest, then list notable news items that happened this season to finish it off.

  1. Paola Longoria : finishes #1 for the 13th time (see here for a list of all LPRT year end title winners: https://www.proracquetballstats.com/…/lprt_year_end… . She now has nearly double the next closest player, that being Michelle Gould with 7 year end titles.
    Longoria won 6 of the 8 events she entered, but showed a chink in the armor with two successive tourney final losses to #2 Herrera. She ends the season with a 600 point lead at the top; by way of comparison she ended last season leading the tour by nearly 1,000 ranking points.
    Still, her dominance this season should not be overlooked; finishing a season 31-2 is no mean feat. We have a tendency to focus on the losses for our two GOATS of the sport, not the wins. She’s still the #1 until someone takes it from her.
    Predicted Rank next season: #1 again.

2 Alexandra Herrera ; she finishes #2 for the second year in a row, but this #2 finish seems meaningful. For me, she has clearly taken over the title of “Best player not named Paola,” a title owned by Vargas for the past couple of years, and then Salas for a few years prior to that. Herrera found a way to beat Paola, and will be thinking she can continue the trend.

The beginning of next season should be rather interesting, as Herrera has a good chance of really narrowing that points gap and putting Longoria’s reign at #1 in jeopardy.
Predicted Rank next season’s end: #2 again.

3 Maria Jose Vargas finishes #3, having made three finals and three semis, but took some earlier-than-expected losses this season. She is also 4 months pregnant, which puts her childbirth right in the middle of the fall section of the LPRT schedule, meaning she’s likely to miss significant time next season. She missed an entire season earlier in her career after having one child and she missed half a season in 2017-18 around the birth of her second kid. So we’ll see how much she can factor in next year. Suffice it to say, there likely will be a new #3 next year.

Predicted Rank next season’s end: outside the top 20

4 Natalia Mendez improved to a year end ranking of #4, her career best, by playing consistently and generally playing up to her seeds. She made three semis, three quarters, and had three first round upset losses on the year. She’s a good ways behind Vargas for #3, and the players who finished 4-5-6 are relatively tightly packed and could see some shuffling into next season.

Predicted Rank next season’s end: #5 or #6: i think she gets bumped down.

5 Gaby Martinez managed to finish ranked 5th on tour (and missed out on 4th by less than 30 points) this season despite missing 4 of the 9 events played, quite a feat. She did this by becoming the 31st player ever to win a LPRT tier 1 event back in August in Denver, when she took the World Singles & Doubles title as the #10 seed. This powered her to a huge jump in ranking (she finished last season ranked #11).

It wasn’t too long ago (March 2019) that Gaby announced she was “retiring.” Since then, she’s managed to play more than half the pro events. If she played 100%, one has to wonder if she’s be pushing Herrera for #2.
Predicted Rank next season’s end: #4/#5 if she plays enough events.

6 @Erika Manilla is the clear Player of the Year on tour. After playing just 9 pro events in her career, she played all 9 this season and vaulted herself from a ranking in the upper 30s to the #6 spot on tour. She had wins this year over Gaby, Mejia, Barrios, and Parrilla, and earned her first US National singles title. Quite the season. She’s within striking distance of #3 on tour (as are several players in this range), so the fall of 2022 could be super interesting.

Predicted Rank next season’s end: #3. I think Manilla will continue to rise up and take Vargas’ place at #3.

7 Angelica Barrios finishes the season ranked 7th, a one-spot improvement from last year. She made 3 semis and was upset in the 16s three times (by Manilla, Gaby, and Rhonda), so kind of an up and down pro season. Of course, Barrios’ major accomplishment this year was taking the PARC title on home soil, beating four top players in a row (Lawrence, Herrera, Gaby, and Vargas) to do so.

Predicted Rank next season’s end: #5 or #6; incremental update, but not enough to press the top 4.

8 Jessica Parrilla may have dropped back a spot from last season’s finish, but she accomplished something this season that she hadn’t since Jan 2018: she advanced to a Pro semi final. Since badly injuring her knee in June of 2018, Leoni has endeavored to get back to her rankings peak (she finished 2017-18 at #3 on tour), and this was a big first step. She needs to get out of the 8-9 spot though, which plays into #1 every quarter, in order to have a chance to really move up.

Predicted Rank next season’s end: #7 /#8: i think she’s right in the same range again next season.

9 @Rhonda Rajsich finishes #9 on the year, missing out on #8 by a scant 5.5 points, and finishes in the LPRT top 10 for an amazing 22nd consecutive season. She made four quarters out of nine events and got some really solid wins along the way. Additionally, Rhonda had solid results at both international events this year, and qualified for the US Team for the 20th time.

Predicted Rank next season’s end: just outside top 10: I think father time is catching up.

10: Montse Mejía finishes 10th despite going into the season’s final event as the #6 seed and reaching the final. Three missed tournaments and a couple of shaky early round losses conspired against Montse this season, and even a grand slam final couldn’t make up the difference. Mejia is one of the more talented players on tour, with a classical style and athleticism to beat any player she faces, and the new season setups better for her to make an impact.

Predicted Rank next season’s end: #4, assuming she continues to miss events and not play full time.

Players 7-10 were very tightly bunched; Less than 30 points separated them at season’s end. To put that in context, players get 25 ranking points for making just the round of 16 in a normal tour stop. So, suffice it to say, the 7-10th players will quickly switch places next season as play picks back up.

Check back in for Part 2, where we cover the players who finished 11-20.

2022 PARC Team Standings

While the “team competition” is underway now, the PARC Team competition (as determined by the sum of all the finishes by all the participants) has finished.

Here’s how the standings shook out (these are unofficial numbers based on the worksheet seen here, but are consistent with past scoring methods and should be accurate unless the IRF has made a change without widely announcing it).

Men’s Team: Bolivia, Costa Rica, USA.

This is the 3rd time in the last 4 IRF events that the Bolivian men have taken 1st in this competition. Costa Rica eked out a 4-point win over USA to claim 2nd: this is by far Costa Rica’s best ever team finish; the only other time they placed was in 1990’s regional competition. Amazingly, Mexico did not place; they had won 5 of the 6 Men’s team competitions prior to 2019 (Bolivia’s first Men’s title).

Women’s Team: Argentina, Bolivia, Mexico.

Argentina gets 1st in doubles, 2nd in singles and easily wins the women’s competition, their first ever Team Women’s win in any IRF competition. Mexico falls to 3rd, their lowest team finish since 2010 worlds. No USA on the podium; team USA women have not won an IRF competition since 2010 (which is basically when Paola Longoria started regularly representing Mexico).

Combined/Overall Team: Bolivia, Argentina, USA.

Bolivia runs away with the combined title, with a singles win and a finals mixed appearance. This is the first ever combined/overall Team title for Bolivia. Argentina’s 2nd place is their best ever combined finish. After winning the combined title by a hair in the 2021 Worlds event (a result that had more than a few people questioning the scoring), USA fades to third here. Mexico finishes 4th despite taking the Mixed title and one has to wonder how these results would have gone had Mexico #1 Longoria played; Mexico won 7 straight Combined IRF titles, taking every IRF event held between 2015-2019 inclusive.

Click here for a worksheet of the 2022 PARC Team standings point totals:

Outdoor Cup Series Standings

The first Outdoor “major” is in the books. Beach Bash was a hit, and was well attended by one-wall specialists from the east coast, outdoor specialists from all-over, and by touring pros on both sides.

This was also the first of the three tournaments that will determine the winner of the 2022 Outdoor Cups. The Ladies cup series is sponsored by LPL Financial and the Men’s is sponsored by Kwm Gutterman , both companies run by huge racquetball enthusiasts and we thank them for their patronage.

Here’s the Cup standings after Beach Bash.

Women’s LPL Financial Cup Standings:

  1. Michelle De La Rosa, 355 pts
  2. Masiel Rivera, 245 pts
    3t. @Katie Neils, 212.5 pts
    3t. @Erika Manilla , 212.5 pts
  3. @Hollie Scott , 205 pts.
    Michelle De La Rosa, who would have won this competition last year if it existed, rightfully takes over the lead on the back of her Mixed Doubles title and finals finish in Pro Doubles. Rivera’s two second place finishes (in Singles and in Mixed) push her to 2nd place. Doubles partners Neils/Manilla, who took the Pro doubles title in an upset, tie for third place. Hollie Scott, despite winning the Singles draw, comes in fifth based on the small draw size in her win.
    Also In the running after the first event in 6-10th place include @Kelani Lawrence , @AAnita Maldonado , @Susan Stephen , @KKathy Guinan , and Aimee Roehler .

LPRT full cup standings Worksheet: https://docs.google.com/…/1gUgDx40hqxGPJydLNyUR…/edit…

The Men’s competitions at Beach Bash included more than 50 potential players who competed in one of Singles, Doubles, Mixed, or CPRT. After the first set of competitions, here’s the top 5:

Men’s KWM Gutterman Cup Standings:

  1. Daniel de la Rosa , 550 pts
  2. @Javier Mar, 510 pts
  3. Mario Mercado , 375 pts
    4t. @Eric Faro , 325 pts
    4t. @IIgnacio Espino , 325 pts
    DLR, as expected, takes two titles and opens up a lead at the top. He’ll be tough to beat as long as he continues to dominate Mixed with his wife. But, a chink in the armor on the pro doubles side as he and @Alvaro Beltran took an early upset. Javier Mar had an astounding re-introduction to outdoor, winning pro doubles with 3rd place Mercado and racing to the singles final. Mercado continues to show why he’s one of the best doubles players in the land and may be kicking himself for not entering mixed (where he always does well). Faro and Iggy may not be long for this leader board once Outdoor Nationals rolls around as one-wall Florida-based specialists, but they had a solid weekend, taking the CPRT draw.
    Rounding out the top 10 include Eduardo Portillo , @Robert Sostre, @Andres Acuna , Sebastian Franco , and then a tie for 10th by the CPRT finalists @MaxMax Heyman and @Seran Ramkissoon. So, lots of players lurking who will definitely be at the next two majors.

    Men’s Full cup standings Worksheet: https://docs.google.com/…/1HBH6v9KhPIuUkwYjjWlI…/edit…

    Next stop, Outdoor Nationals for the second leg of the “Road to Vegas.” the R2site for Outdoor Nationals is live now and signups have begun!
    @World Outdoor Racquetball
    @3WallBall Outdoor World Championships
    @3Wall Ball
    @Mino Keith
    @MC Vegas

Weekend Event Wrap-up

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

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

US High School Nationals.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Longoria-Herrera Match Stat Breakdown

Herrera celebrating her first LPRT win. Photo screen capture from LPRT Facebook video of awards ceremony

I thought it would be illuminating to break down the LPRT final between Paola Longoria and Alexandra Herrera, looking for some trends and interesting data points.

Using my standard detailed Match Tracker, I filled in match stats for the first game of the final, a nail-biting 15-14 win for Herrera.

Here’s a link to the match tracker detailed data: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1t8GgzPppq4dZvZwkS3yITkZAlKGSRQAGROM6woq-0G4/edit?usp=sharing and here’s a link to the video on Facebook for the match: https://www.facebook.com/watch/live/?ref=watch_permalink&v=372683864314937

Here’s some breakdowns.

Duration Stats
Game start in Video6:45 in video
Game end43:23 in video
Game duration36mins 38 seconds
Avg time per rally36.6 secs

So, this was a long game. 36 minutes overall. Both players took both their time-outs, both players took a brief equipment time-out, and there were a couple of appeals. All told, including the time-outs the average time per rally was 36.6 seconds. This is slightly longer than the average rally time for the last match I did this for; the Parrilla-Waselenchuk Atlanta final tie-breaker.

Serving Breakdown:

Serving# of svc attempts# of AcesServes Good1st Serve %1st Drive Serves1st Drive serve %1st Lob Serves1st Lob Serve %
AH Serves30222 of 3073.33%30 of 30100%0 of 300%
PL Serves30325 of 3083.33%30 of 30100%0 of 300%

Both players served exactly 30 times. Both players drove serve on every first serve, and Paola actually ended up with a higher first serve percentage than Alexandra on the day.

Serve Selection% 1st to F% 1st to B% 2nd to F% 2nd to B

Paola basically split her drives between Alexandra’s forehand and backhand on the day, hitting 16 drives to the left side, 14 to the right. Meanwhile, as a lefty Herrera has grown up accustomed to primarily serving to right handers, and thus focused mostly on hitting drives to Paola’s backhand. Both hit mostly simple lobs to the backhand as 2nd serves; there was almost no variation on the lob serves used: no nick lob attempt, no wall paper; just half-height lobs meant to solicit a ceiling ball in return.

Serve Breakdown and Success rates

Serve Type SelectionServe selectionhow often usedPct UsedHow often point?Pct points
AH #1 1st Serve SelectionDrive to Backhand19 of 3063.33%10 of 1662.50%
AH #2 1st Serve SelectionDrive to Forehand10 of 3033.33%4 of 580.00%
AH #3 1st Serve selectionHard Z-Serve to Backhand1 of 303.33%0 of 10.00%
AH Most frequent 2nd serve selectionLob Serve to Backhand6 of 875.00%1 of 616.67%

Here’s where we get some interesting information. Alexandra hit 19 of her 30 serves as drives to the backhand, and got points on 10 of the 16 successful first serves she made. That’s a 62% rate, pretty good. Furthermore, she tried 10 drives to Paola’s forehand, missed half of them, but got points on 4 of the 5 successful serves. She only varied away from these two straightforward serves once; a z-ball to Paola’s backhand that did not work.

Serve Type SelectionServe selectionhow often usedPct UsedHow often point?Pct points
PL #1 1st Serve SelectionDrive to Forehand16 of 3053.33%9 of 1275.00%
PL #2 1st Serve SelectionHard Z-Serve to Backhand9 of 3030.00%3 of 933.33%
PL #3 1st Serve selectionDrive to Backhand5 of 3016.67%1 of 425.00%
PL Most frequent 2nd serve selectionLob Serve to Backhand5 of 5100.00%1 of 520.00%

Meanwhile, Paola had a ton of success when driving to Alexandra’s forehand, getting 9 of her 14 points that way and having a huge success rate when she got that serve in. It was clear during the match that she started with the hard-Z to the backhand with little success, then got some points on the forehand drive, and the stuck with it the rest of the way.

 Serves leading to pointspct
AH 1st Serve good14 points out of 2263.64%
AH 1st Serve bad1 point out of 812.50%
PL 1st Serve good13 points out of 2552.00%
PL 1st Serve bad1 point out of 520.00%

This chart basically shows why you need to get your first serves in. The two players combined to score exactly 2 points on their second serves all game.

RalliesRallies WonPct of Rallies
AH Rallies won31 of 6051.67%
PL Rallies won29 of 6048.33%
Replays0 of 600.00%

This shows just how even the match was: out of 60 rallies, they nearly split them 50/50. Alexandra won two more rallies than Paola b/c Paola served first and then Alexandra scored the last point. There was not a single replay in the entire first game.

 Rally Winner/Error Stats
(not including serves)TtlFHBHPassPinch
AH Rally Winners20137119
AH Rally ending Errors321  
PL Rally Winners221111184
PL Rally Ending Errors972  

So, this shows some interesting information. Alexandra hit 13 of her 20 winners on the forehand, and pretty evenly split all her winners between passes and pinches. Meanwhile, Paola really does not shoot for the corners, getting 18 of her 22 winners as passing/kill shots. Paola also shows

The story of this game though is right here: 9 errors for Longoria versus 3 for Herrera. And of those three errors, one was an “off the back wall’ attempt that fell short and a second was a ball that bounced weird off the back wall and jammed her. In other words, Alexandra had just one skip this entire game. Longoria had 9 skips, 7 on her forehand.

Ratio of Winners to ErrorsRatioRatio
AH20 to 36.6 winners for every error
PL22 to 92.44 winners for every error

Further illumination of the shotmaking in this game: 20 winners to 3 errors for Herrera.

(these figures not including serve)Rally Stats
Average # of shots per rally , entire game3.95
Average # shots in AH-won rallys4.25
Average # of shots in PL-won rallys:3.62
Average # of shots in replay ralliesn/a
longest Rally of game17 and 16: both ended with PL error

The average number of shots per rally (not including the serve) was 3.95 in this game, but much shorter in Paola won rallies. The 3.95 figure compares to the average rally length for the Parrilla-Kane match, which was just 2.24. Women’s rallies tend to be longer.

Short Rally Statstotal% of rallies
# of Aces58.33%
# of 2 shot rallies (serve, return)813.33%
# of 3 shot rallies (serve, return, end)46.67%

A decent percentage of the 60 rallies were “short” rallies: 1,2 or 3 shots including the serve.

 Game points Saved
by AH4
by PL3

The players managed to save seven game points between them; that’s a heck of an accomplishment by both.

Lastly, since Rally scoring has now been introduced by the IRF, I thought i’d show you what this game would have looked like if it was rally scoring:

(all these times include Tos)Rally Scoring Stats
Game end if rally21:46 in video
Game duration if rally15mins 1 sec
Game score at Rally finish8-4 for AH

If playing rally scoring, the game would have been over in 15mins with the score 8-4 for Alexandra. Instead, we got a 36 minute barn-burner that saw Longoria rally from an 11-4 deficit and nearly take the game. What problem exactly are we attempting to solve with rally scoring? Because every time I do this analysis we’d basically neuter an excellent game.

Match Tracking Statistical Deep-Dive Into Andree v Kane

Parrilla vs Kane stat breakdown was illuminating. Photo unk

I think we all found the tiebreaker of the International Racquetball Tour 2022 Suivant Consulting Grand Slam final between Kane Waselenchuk and Andree Parrilla pretty compelling racquetball. So, i spent a bit of time doing detailed match tracking to get some statistics of interest. The match itself is at this facebook video link:
https://www.facebook.com/24705156736/videos/247158204232394 and the tiebreaker starts at 51:51 in the video.

I’ve uploaded the match tracker data for just the Tiebreaker here for your perusal: https://docs.google.com/…/1CIWVYxCzCMWRRTtEZTwY1kRGMA…/edit…

Here’s some interesting statistics from the tiebreaker;

Game time: 28minutes, which included 1 tiebreaker and one appeal
Average clock time per rally: 34 seconds (We’ll comeback to this later when we talk about rally scoring what-if scenario)

Total Rallies: 49
– AP Rallies won: 23 of 49
– KW Rallies won: 22 of 49
– Replays: 4 of 49
– Points: 21 of 49
– Side-Outs: 24 of 49

So, no surprise here in an 11-10 game; the number of rallies won was one more for Andree than Kane.

Serving Details:
– AP service attempts: 23
– KW service attempts: 26. Kane had more service attempts b/c of replays more often occurring on his serve.

First Serve Percentage:
– AP: 14 of 23 60.87%
– KW: 13 of 26 50.00%

Neither player really served well, but a 50% first serve percentage by Kane is really bad at the pro level. By way of comparison, when I tracked this data in the one-serve era for Cliff, he made more than 90% of his first serves, all of which were drives.

First Serve direction (Forehand or Backhand)
– AP hit 19/23 first serves to Kane’s forehand, and 9/9 second serves.
– KW Evenly split his first serves; 13 drives to AP’s forehand, 13 to his backhand. All 13 of Kane’s 2nd serves were lobs to AP’s backhand.

Its pretty amazing how much AP picked on Kane’s forehand in this match.

First Serve selection:
– AP hit 10/23 first serves: Hard Z-Serve to Forehand
– AP hit 8/23 first serves: Drive to Forehand
– KW hit exactly 13 Drive to Backhand first serves and 13 Drive to Forehand first serves.

Second serve selection:
– AP hit the exact same 2nd serve the entire match: Nick-Lob to Forehand. 9/9 times
– KW hit the exact same 2nd serve 12 of 13 times: Nick-Lob to Backhand. The one time he didn’t, he tried a lob Z that Andree cut off and killed easily.

Winners and Errors: here’s some fun stuff:
– AP Rally Winners: 12. 6 on the forehand, 6 on the backhand. 5 were passes, 7 were pinches. Pretty even distribution.
– KW Rally Winners: 16. 13 on the forehand, 3 on the backhand. 10 were passes, 6 were pinches.

So, this may just tell us what we already knew from the serving stats, but Kane spent most of his match hitting forehands.

– AP Rally ending Errors: just 3 the entire breaker. all three on the backhand
– KW Rally Ending Errors; 10. 10 skips! 8 on the forehand, 2 on the backhand.

Now I do not have career stats on how many skips Kane averages per game. But i’m pretty sure it isn’t 10.

AP 12/3 ratio of Winners/Errors
KW 16/10 ratio of Winners/Errors

Pretty interesting ratios here. Given these stats, its kind of amazing the game was 11-10.

Average # of shots per rally data (none of these figures include the serve):

Average # of shots per rally , entire game 2.249
Average # shots in AP-won rallys 1.91
Average # of shots in KW-won rallys: 2.89
Average # of shots in replay rallies 3.25
longest Rally of game 7 shots (three times; all three AP serves and KW side-outs)

Miscellaneous Stats
# of Aces in game 4 total: 3 for KW, 1 for AP
# of Dives in game 6 total: 2 for KW, 4 for AP
# of Rollouts in game 12 total: 8 for KW, 4 for AP

Note: my “rollout” stat is an opinion based stat; was the shot a complete rollout/kill shot that would have been a point even if the opponent was standing right there? This is less important in singles than it is in doubles, where oftentimes yes there is an opponent standing there and you really have to roll balls out to get winners. This game featured a ton of “winners” and you could probably argue that many/most were “rollouts” … so maybe in the future I avoid this stat.

Game start in Video 51:51:00
Game end 1:19:00
Game duration 28 mins
Avg time per rally (including Tos) 34 secs

IRF Rally scoring scenario:
Game end if rally 1:03:44
Game duration if rally 12mins 45secs

Lastly, since the IRF is going to Rally scoring, I have a column that tracks the score as if we were using rally scoring. Kane wins this game 15-10 if using rally scoring at a point in the game where the actual score was 6-3. The game would have
been over in 12mins 45seconds.

I’m pretty clearly on record disagreeing with the rally scoring decision by the IRF, and this match is a great example. Why do we need to change the scoring method that’s been in place for more than 50 years so as to neuter a fantastic game and force it into a premature end at 12minutes? What value does that serve?

Anyway, hope you enjoy this analysis.

State of the IRT: things to look for in 2022

Can Portillo continue his climb in the rankings? Photo US Open 2019, Photographer Kevin Savory

We published the LPRT” version of this post earlier this week. Now here’s the same post for the MEn’s pros.

Lets take a look forward at what may come on the pro tour in 2022.

Top 10 players right now:

#1 Daniel De La Rosa had a 2022 to remember; he won his first US Open, and he secured his first pro year end title. He ends the season with a massive lead atop the rankings (more than 900 points), thanks to winning three of the year’s six events and making the final of another. He finishes the season 20-3; all 3 losses were in tiebreakers. In fact, the last time he lost in two was all the way back in January of 2020, a 9 & 10 loss to Kane in the final of the 2020 Longhorn Open. He’s playing consistent, thoughtful racquetball, controlling the power players he faces and out-playing the tacticians on tour. It seems like we’re entering a new era on tour, given that DLR is 28 and many of his long-time rivals are in their mid 30s or older. Unless a certain Texan returns to tour, I see no one in the immediate horizon who can challenge DLR for the top.

#2 Alex Landa somehow remains ranked #2 on tour despite an (for his standards) awful 2021 on tour. He failed to make a single final this season, and took uncharacteristic losses to players like Bredenbeck, Acuna, and Mercado. No offense to these players, but they’re not multi-time tournament winners. 2022 will see Landa’s ranking dip and quickly, but he just had a career win at the Worlds, where he looked like his old dominant self, so perhaps he can build on that victory and rebound. Working in his favor will be the points expiration battle; he’ll be defending lesser points and has a great opportunity to replace poor 2021 results with better 2022 results as the year moves on. His biggest issue is health; he’s been battling a back issue for months and needs to get healthy.

#3 Samuel Murray started 2021 with an unbelievable win in Atlanta, taking out four players who I believe ranked him in the world pecking order to win his first title. He’s been hit or miss since, with a couple of curious losses (twice to Keller, once to Franco), and then the even more curious decision not to play singles at Worlds. He sits at #3 now, but his points lead is perilous and he’ll lose a ton of points once his January 2021 grand slam expires. He may quickly slip in to the 5-8 range and will have to fight to get back to the top 4.

#4 Andree Parrilla has completely rebounded from his awful spell in early 2020, where he lost in the round of 16 in four straight tournaments before Covid shut things down. He has been a model of consistency on tour this year, with 3 semis and 3 quarters to his name. His big challenge will be to fend off the players right behind him on tour (specifically his former doubles partner Portillo) to maintain the status quo while trying to get big wins to make more finals.

#5 Lalo Portillo is the busiest player on the planet, somehow fitting in 18 tournaments in the last two years with some players struggled to do half that. It has led him to ascend to #5 on tour, and he seems set to move forward. He’s done a great job of holding serve against lower-ranked players (with the exception of a 16s loss to Manilla in Arizona), and has gotten a ton of wins over higher ranked players (he’s topped Landa, Parrilla and De La Rosa this year). By the end of next year he may be DLR’s main challenger to the title.

#6 Kane Waselenchuk is, of course, the biggest question mark on tour. He has played just one singles draw since March of 2020, and in that one tournament he inexplicably retired due to a “disagreement” with the tour that, frankly, should have been dealt with after the tournament was completed. In his long-winded interview to explain what happened, he stated he was taking some time off. How much time off? Will he play again? Will he only play the US Open, a title he most covets? Whatever happens, he’s set to plummet in the rankings, and by the end of March may be buried in the 20s unless he plays more events.

#7 Conrrado Moscoso remains an interesting player to predict. He entered four pro events this year; he made the final of three of them, winning in Sarasota to finish the season. But he’s lost his edge; DLR has topped him the last two times they’ve played and he took an inexplicable loss to Keller at the US Open (paving the way for Carlos’ run to the finals). He continues, amazingly, to foot fault about every third drive serve attempt, a maddening mechanics flaw that a world class player should have addressed two years ago. Where does he go from here? Well, he needs to play every event if he wants to be #1. But traveling from Bolivia for every event is a tall order. Does he (and his home country) covet international titles more than pro titles? Perhaps. Whenever he enters an event, he’s a favorite to make the final, and if he can keep his focus he’s got a great chance to win.

#8 and #11 Rocky Carson and Alvaro Beltran are now 42 and 43 respectively, and their rankings have shown that gradual slip for a couple years now. Carson made one semi final in six tries this year; two seasons ago he made the semis in all 9 of the events on tour. Beltran made the quarters or better in 9 of 10 events in the 2019-20 season; he lost in the 16s in every tournament he entered this year. Beltran readily admits he’s more interested in Doubles play right now, and we may see him cut back on touring to only play events where doubles is offered. Carson is a couple early round upsets from getting bumped from the top 8, which means one additional qualifier and an even longer road to profitability. 2022 may finally be the year these two stalwarts step back from touring.

#9 and #10 Jake Bredenbeck and Mario Mercado are worth talking about together, because they’ve played each other frequently as of late, trading wins at Worlds and at the LPRT Xmas event in Maryland. Both are players on the rise and are getting good wins lately. In 2021, Jake has topped Landa, Parrilla, Montoya, Mercado, Franco and Keller, all players he would have struggled with a couple years ago. Meanwhile, Mercado had an astounding Arizona Open for his first title, topping Beltran, Landa, Carson and DLR in order. Both players will look to stay consistent and push their way into the top 8 by mid-2022.

Notables in the Teens

#12 Carlos Keller Vargas toured for the entire season 2019-20, losing in the 16s seven times and the 32s twice. I figured, well that’s about as good of an indicator of talent level as any, and I figured that’d be the end of his full time touring. But I was wrong; in 2021 he made a quarter, a semi and a final (at the US Open), getting solid wins against players like Murray (twice), Mercado, and Moscoso.

#13 @Sebastian Franco just had a surgical procedure done in his home country of Colombia and is set to miss some time, further dropping him in the rankings. Can he get back to the top 10 or is his days of full time touring complete?

#14 Adam Manilla remains an enigma on tour, getting amazing wins but then following them up with curious losses. He has wins over the likes of Parrilla, Mercado, Mar, and Portillo. But he’s struggled to dominate against his fellow mid-teens ranked players, splitting recently with the likes of Acuna (whom he played three events in a row in the 16/17 round). He needs to consistently make more quarters to have a shot at the top 10.

#16 Andres Acuña, in this observer’s opinion, has added some serious velocity as of late. He looked like he was really hitting for power in Guatemala, and the results show it. He made the finals of Worlds, with wins over Montoya and Mercado along the way. In the last pro stop, he vanquished his long-time rival Landa to advance to the quarters. I feel he’s on the rise, and will push for the top 10 by the end of 2022. His biggest issue is his seeding: #16 means he’s playing into a top 2-3 seed at every event, and advancing means a huge upset is required.

#17 Rodrigo Montoya Solis and #20 Javier Mar are now, together, inarguably the best doubles team in the world. They’ve topped DLR/Beltran in the last two Mexican Nationals finals, they’re the reigning World and Pan Am Games champions, and they’re getting to the point where they may simply choose to focus on doubles moreso than singles. In the last pro event, Mar did not even bother to enter singles. Montoya, despite all his power and skill on the court, cannot seem to put it all together consistently enough to make a legitimate top 10 push. But, he’s also been nursing some injuries lately; he forfeited out of the US Open and didn’t play for two months until Worlds. So, maybe we’ll see what happens next. When healthy and focused, Montoya is one of the best 5-6 players in the world.

Notables in the 20s and beyond

– #21 and #22 Alan Natera Chavez and Javier Estrada, the Chihuahua pair of hard hitters, remain wild cards on tour. Estrada has shown he has what it takes to win, taking out a slew of top players to win the Black Gold cup on home soil two years ago. But he has not parlayed that into any success on tour for some reason.

– #28 MoMo Zelada is becoming more of a fixture on tour, thanks to his promotion of his new brand Formulaflow. Look for him to move up in the rankings since he’ll be a constant presence at events and he has the ability to make main draws.

#32 Erick Trujillo has blown onto the scene with an impressive tournament in Chicago (where he beat Martinez, Mar and Collins), and then played Landa tough in Minneapolis. He then cruised through the Worlds 18U draw, winning the gold medal. He can play on tour, right now, and if he plays a full 2022 i have no doubt he’d be in the mid teens by year’s end.

#52 Rodrigo Rodriguez is a recent Juniors grad who got some impressive wins in 2021. At the US Open he topped Pruitt and Zelada, then in Arizona he handled Diaz and Camacho . In his eventual losses to top8 pros, he pressed both Parrilla and Franco before losing. Like Trujillo above him, this is a player who could easily push his way into the high 20s or low teens with a full year on tour.

Predicted 2022 final top 10

1. DLR
2. Portillo
3. Parrilla
4. Landa
5. Murray
6. Moscoso
7. Jake
8. Mercado
9. Keller
10. Acuna


Looking forward to the new year and new season!
International Racquetball Tour