I wrote up a new report that I thought i’d tell you about. Last August, when long-time LPRT #1 Paola Longoria fell out of the #1 seeding, many asked “Hey, when was the last time Paola wasn’t the #1 seed at a LPRT event?”
Well, I thought that was a pretty good question. So I wrote a query to answer it.
In the per-player report section on www.proracquetballstats.com‘s report launch page, there’s now a report called ‘Player Tourney Results Summary with Seeding.” it’s 5-6 reports down. This query shows every tourney a player has entered, their seed, and their result.
Here’s a couple of interesting examples:
– Longoria: https://rball.pro/zlq . The answer to the above question is now answered: November 2011, Longoria fell behind in the then-called WPRO rankings and was a #2 seed to Rhonda Rajsich for a few events.
– Kane Waselenchuk : https://rball.pro/cyd . Despite nine straight titles between 2009 and 2017 Kane would go through stretches where he fell out of #1.
For older players, you’ll note that the seeds basically start in 2009. That’s when I began in earnest capturing them as each event happened. For some select events of interest in the past i’ve tried to figure out the seeds from context or from published brackets, but I have never tried to fully populate seeds for older events as too difficult an endeavor. Of course, if someone wants to give it a try, i’ll take your research for sure.
20+ ballers braved 12 inches of snow in Jersey and some electrical issues to finish off the 4th annual Average Joe’s event late last night on 1/7/24, and they were treated to a “passing of the baton” moment of sorts.
Congrats to USA Junior national team 18U member Cole Sendrey (Kim Shipp Sendrey ) for upsetting several veteran players to take the singles title. Also, congrats to the #1 seeded doubles team of Dylan Pruitt and Austin Cunningham for taking the doubles title.
Here’s a recap of both draws.
In singles, seeds mostly held into the quarters; the sole exception being Cunningham taking out Jersey-based David Austin in the 5/12 match. In the quarters, Sendrey shocked Ohio’s #3 seed Victor Migliore to move into the semis, while the other three top seeds held on to advance.
In one semi, defending champ Kyle Ulliman took out #1 seed Pruitt, while Sendrey continued his upset run by outlasting #2 seed and event hose @Sam Kelley. In the final, Sendrey finished off an excellent run by topping Ulliman. Cole as the #6 seed beat the #2, #3 and #4 seeds en route to a well-deserved win.
In doubles, team Ohio (Ulliman and Migliore) took out the Kelley brothers in the semi, but fell in two straight to the #1 seeds Pruitt/Cunningham for the title.
Congrats to all the Average Joes for competing, and hope you all made it home without too much trouble.
Here’s the last in my end of season series, taking a look at the seminal events of the season and then looking forward.
– 1/5/23: IRT and Gearbox officially announce what has been rumored for a few weeks: Gearbox has replaced Head/Penn as the official ball and official equipment manufacturer of the IRT. This ends a nearly 20-year agreement Penn had to provide the official IRT ball. Gearbox’s balls are known to be more “durable” and “more consistent” … but are also known to be noticeably slower than other balls in the sport. How does this end up changing the pro game? For this observer, on panel courts, the portable court, and places not at altitude, the game plays significantly slower, which highlights a need for accuracy and shot making. At altitude and/or on cement, the ball plays more “normally” and power players do not appear affected.
– 1/9/23: Despite losing the Longhorn Open final, #3 Conrrado Moscoso ascends to the #1 spot on tour. This is the first time a player from outside the Big-3 countries of the sport has achieved #1, and is a seminal career moment for the Bolivian.
– 1/20/23: For the 2nd time in three years, Rodrigo Montoya is given the
Teporaca de Oro by his home state of Chihuahua for his accomplishments in the sport. Unfortunately he has to miss the Lewis Drug Pro/Am to get the award, costing him valuable ranking points. By season’s end it doesn’t really impact where he ended up; he finished well behind Jake for #3.
– 1/26/23: #12 Mario Mercado is given the inaugural Mark Griffin Sportsman of the Year Award at the Lewis Drug Pro-Am. Griffin first started the Lewis Drug Pro/Am tournament in 1978, and it is the longest running pro event in the country. The award will be presented annually to the player who most exemplifies the spirit of fair play and outstanding athletic performance of Men’s IRT tour professionals. Ironically, Mercado doesn’t play an event the rest of the season.
– 2/19/2023: the IRT has pivoted away from its tiered qualifying system and is going to a straight draw; no more byes into the 16s for the top 8 pros. Everyone starts in the 32s or the 64s if the draw is large enough. I don’t have a dog in this fight, but this seems to me to be an anti-player move, especially for the top 8 guys. Remember, top 8 players sign an agreement that purposely limits their ability to enter non-IRT sanctioned events, and in return they (for nearly 20 years) got protected seeding in return. Without the protected seeding, why agree to limit your own earning potential? It is also an inarguable fact that tiered qualifying is better for lower ranked players as well, for reasons i’ve covered many times in this space. Uninformed observers are convinced that this is a good thing, but you can count on one hand the number of round of 32 matches top eight players have played this year that were even remotely competitive.
– 2/19/23: #1 Moscoso skips the Williams Accounting Open in Atlanta to be part of the festivities of the celebration of Carnival in his home country. Its the only event he misses all season, but it proves to be a massive absence. De La Rosa wins the event and its valuable 600 ranking points, while Moscoso eventually finishes 2nd by just 226 points at season’s end. A semi’s finish or better in Atlanta would have changed the season ending rankings.
– 3/5/23: Rodrigo Montoya becomes the 45th man to ever win an IRT event, topping his doubles partner Mar in the 16s, then topping the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd ranked players (Portillo, Moscoso, and De La Rosa) to win the title in Minnesota. This is finally enough to catapult Montoya, who has long been one of the best players in the world but was never ranked accordingly, into the top 4 where he belongs.
– 3/16/23: despite being in a nip and tuck battle for #1 on tour, DLR skips the Chicago Open to compete instead in a PPA pickleball event in Austin that happened the same weekend. By season’s end, it becomes clear that DLR’s move here is immaterial, but it was a gamble at the time.
– May 2023: Thanks to the large anticipated 2023 slate of events and the distance we’ve now put ourselves from Covid, the tour will be moving away from the rolling 11 tier 1s and back to a rolling 365-day calendar.
– May 2023: a couple of shots across the bow of the IRT player contract are made, as DLR & Landa play in an “Open” tournament in San Antonio while Portillo skips an IRT event (along with Acuna, who is outside the top to play in the Asian open. Both actions seem to be in violation of the IRT player contract, which stipulates that top 8 players may not play ANY non-IRT event and only a limited number of IRT satellite events per season. A bit later, Portillo takes to Facebook to complain that he had been fined $500 for the action, though the post is later taken down. It does beg a question as to the fairness of the IRT player contract, but the players can’t really do anything until the new year.
– Aug 2023: World singles & Doubles happens in Denver thanks to two years of planning from Jim Hiser, and with the loss of the US Open this is the defacto US Open of the season. It has the biggest draws of the season by far.
– Aug 2023: With the cancellation of the Portland Tourney of Champions as a Tier 1, the tour will have exactly 10 tier 1s/Grand slams by the end of 2023. Per the player
contract, the year end title will be determined by the sum of these 10 events. The 3 competitors for the title (Jake, DLR, Moscoso) each face different challenges in the race to #1: Moscoso missed the Grand Slam, DLR missed Chicago, and Jake has a ton of late 2022 points to defend.
– Sept 2023: Alex Landa announces in a Facebook post that he’ll be retiring as of the last event of the 2023 season from professional racquetball.
– 11/12/2023: Kane Waselenchuk, who had not played professional singles since his Achilles heel tear in September 2022, enters the Boston singles event with little fanfare and advances to the semis, beating #11 Robbie Collins, #6 Adam Manilla, and most notably #3 Conrrado Moscoso with relative ease. He nearly beats #2 Jake Bredenbeck in the semis, but seemed to pick up an injury that hampered his movement, losing in a tiebreaker. Still, its an amazing return to form for the 14-time pro tour champ, and his defeat of Moscoso had huge implications for the year end race.
– 11/13/23: Jake Bredenbeck ascends to #1 ranking on tour for the first time with his finals appearance in Boston.
– 11/20/23: the tour race for #1 is going to be closer than it has been for nearly a decade, so much attention is paid to the machinations of the two remaining events. Thanks to Moscoso’s upset loss in Boston, DLR’s semi final appearance, and Jake’s final’s showing … the end of year race becomes clear. Moscoso cannot win the title. Jake can win the title, but he needs to win Pleasanton and hope that Daniel loses relatively early. DLR can sew up the 2023 title with at least a semis appearance in Pleasanton, or a quarter’s appearance if Jake loses before the final.
– 12/9/23: A Jake Bredenbeck loss in the quarters of the Golden State Open sealed the 2023 title for De La Rosa before he even took the court for his critical quarterfinal against Acuna. Daniel won that match and his semi to resolve any question as to his #1 status, though he ended up losing the finals badly to #2 Moscoso.
– 12/10/23: In the post-game interview after the Golden State Open final, Daniel De La Rosa announced that he will not be “touring full time” in 2024, alluding to his
commitments to “another sport.” There’s little surprise here; he signed an 3-year contract with the Professional Pickleball Association in August which guarantees a salary, benefits, and expense reimbursement to play professional Pickleball. His main sponsor Pro Kennex and Mike Martinez tried to manage the situation on social media by noting that DLR is a “multi sport” sponsored player and has expectations of continuing to play and compete in racquetball, but as they say, we’ll see how it goes.
Now for some commentary on the state of the IRT at the end of 2023 and heading into 2024.
Despite having 10 tier 1s in 2023, the tour saw a pretty steep decline in overall participation. In 2022, there were 245 players who competed in one of the IRT’s events; that number dropped to just 133 in 2023. That’s more than 100 players who didn’t travel or didn’t enter an event who had a year prior. Draw sizes were way down; at the beginning of 2022 draws were routinely in the 40s; by the end of 2023 the tour was struggling to get 25 players. Denver and the portable court helped bump things up (those two events got 56 and 48 players respectively) but there’s a big gap of players missing.
We’ve definitely seen a changing of the guard as long-time touring pros step back (Carson, Beltran, Landa, Franco, Mercado). We’re also seeing younger players who were touring relatively full time in 2022 stop touring (Fernandez, Keller, Garay). But we’re also seemingly missing a lot of the international guys who frequently traveled to every event, and we’re not seeing the younger Mexican’s coming over the border as much as we have in year’s past. So, that’s a problem.
A bigger problem is the loss of events. Here’s a quick list of IRT tier 1 stops that we seem to have “lost” just in the last couple of years:
– Longhorn Open in Jan
– The Lou Bradley in Feb
– Williams Accounting/Suivant Consulting in Feb
– Where’s the SoCal Open, usually in April?
– The Syosset Open in NY in May
– World Singles/Denver won’t happen in August 2024
– The Capital Classic in Severna Park in Sept.
– The US Open is not likely to happen in 2024
– We used to have an Arizona Open in Oct
– The Sarasota Open/Dovetail in Nov?
– Pelham ToC went down to a satellite this year in Dec.
Not to mention events we used to have regularly in St. Louis or Cincinnati or San Antonio or in Canoga Park. The tour has picked up some new events (Tracktown, Pleasanton, Boston) but not enough to offset all these losses. And it makes me worry about the 2024 season. Will the IRT even get to 6 events this coming year?
I’m not sure what the answer is. But the tour may be in some existential trouble. Many of the tour’s investors were also its regular tourney directors, and they’ve stepped back from sponsoring events. The IRT depends on local tourney directors to raise funds and make these events happen, and the decline of tournaments in general has fed into t his issue. DLR said he’s stepping back from touring … but if there’s just a handful of events, and he manages to make them all while playing the PPA tour full time … he could end up having the best of both worlds.
Lots to sort out in 2024. But I think its fair to say we havn’t seen the men’s tour face this many question marks since the fall of 1988 when it completely collapsed.
Here’s a look at notables who finished outside the top 10 this year, with some thoughts on who could be making a move in 2024.
– #11 Alejandro Landa : Landa retires from full time touring with an impressive career resume. He’s 35, but really didn’t start touring full-time until 2017. From there he ripped off four seasons in the top 3, won four events, made another four finals, and steps away with a career W/L of 158-93. He’ll make for an interesting hall of fame case some day, but for now the tour loses one of its most passionate players. For me he’s always a “what if” he had played the tour full time for his entire 20s, not just the last couple of seasons. I suspect he’d have a career more like what DLR has now in terms of total wins. Could he have won a year end title? Maybe; he has a winning career h2h over DLR (10-8 across all competitions) but would have still been in the Kane era during his own peak. Bigger question; does he play US Nationals in Arizona in February? Or is he “done” done?
– #13 Javier Mar continues to play the tour part time, around his “real job” and periodically wreak havoc on draws. This season he got wins over top 10 players like Parrilla, Landa, and Acuna to shake up draws and played Moscoso tough in a 10,12 semis loss in Austin for his best result. #13 is his career best season ending ranking, but is this as good as we can expect from Mar? He dealt with a hernia injury for a big part of the year as well, meaning he probably could have been even better. If he played the tour full time, I have no doubt he’d be in the #6-7 range. But he never has, so mid-teens seems like what to expect.
– #15 Jaime Martell had his career best showing, finishing #15 on the back of several main draws and one quarter final result. He has a niche reffing the back end of the events and has connections to IRT commissioner @Pablo Fajre from their WRT days. I could see him making more events in 2024 and pushing up a few spots in the rankings.
– #16 Erick Trujillo missed just one event in 2023 but never advanced past the round of 16, which puts his #16 rank exactly where he should be. He’s still in the 21U division, but has losses to his fellow 21u countrymen Ramos, Gastelum, and Nieto lately and didn’t qualify for Junior Worlds this year. And none of those guys are as good as the current Mexican 18U champ Jorge Gutierrez Ortiz. What’s next for him? He seems likely to stay in this general range 15-16.
– #20 Rocky Carson played in just three events this year as he stopped touring full time; he played in the two California events plus Denver. He shook up the Pleasanton draw a bit, taking out Mar and Parrilla before being downed by Montoya. He’s a sure-fire hall of famer, just waiting a couple years to become eligible. I’m guessing he’ll continue to travel to WOR events (where he gets paid) and to California-based events (where his costs are limited) for a while. I could also see him back at Nationals since its in AZ and it’s not a total one and done for him.
– #22 @Kane Waselenchuk returned to the singles court more than a year after blowing out his Achilles heel tendon, and he made an impression for sure. In Boston he waxed #6 Manilla before shocking #3 Moscoso, then ran out of gas in the semis against Jake. Then in Pleasanton different court conditions and an opportunistic Moscoso led to a (10),4,4 defeat. Kane has to be happy though about his status: he’s shown that even at 42, his pinpoint serving accuracy and remaining power can take him past most players on tour without breaking a sweat. The bigger question will be, what happens when he runs into the top 4 regularly? We had too small of a sample size this season to really know (a win over Moscoso, a loss to Jake and a loss to Moscoso). If Kane plays all the events in 2024, I have no doubt he’s finishing in the top 4, but I doubt he can consistently get past Moscoso, DLR, or Jake. But i’ve been wrong about him before, so we’ll see. 2024 prediction: #3 or #4
– #24 @Diego García . Garcia has taken over the title of, “Best player who doesn’t tour full time.” Mar had the belt for a bit, Montoya before him, then Landa for a while, then before Landa it was probably someone like Polo or Mejia. They join a group that included guys like Sweeney and Muller back in the 1990s. As for Garcia now, he beat Portillo twice this year, had a couple other wins over tour regulars when he did show, and took Montoya to a breaker in the quarters of Denver. But Garcia’s problem is money; he doesn’t have enough to travel up here to play full time. If he did, I have no doubt he’d be top 6. But as it is, we’ll see how many events he can get to.
– #25 @Sebastian Franco only played 2 events this year, and after being a mainstay at the back of the top 10 for the better part of the last 10 years seems to have made the understandable decision to focus his efforts on earning a living for his wife and two kids.
– #27 @Mario Mercado , like his fellow Maryland-resident and Colombian teammate Franco, also has stepped way back from touring after 10 years of playing. Mercado’s knee deep in @Formulaflow.
– #33 Carlos Keller Vargas continues to be a force internationally, but after peaking at #12 two seasons ago has stepped back to his prior pattern of traveling up for just one or two events a year. Meanwhile, he continues to dominate internationally, making the finals of PARC and the semis of the Pan Am games, with wins over Garcia twice, Acuna, and Murray. Hope to see more of him.
– #39 @Elias Nieto only played two IRT events, but continues to impress internationally and could push for a mid-teen ranking with enough events given his h2h record against Trujillo. Same for #42 @Diego Gastelum ; both players have big time promise and hope to see them more.
– #40 @Cole Sendry continues to get reps on tour and internationally in the 18U space, and seems like one of the best bets for the next USA player to matriculate out of juniors.
– #45 @Alvaro Beltran has had father time catch up to him w/r/t singles; he’s still out there playing doubles when he can.
– #54 Gerson Miranda is a great 21U junior from Bolivia, the latest in a long -line of Bolivian junior national champs who could make noise. But, as with many of his countrymen, lack of funding makes it hard for him to tour regularly.
– #70 Sebastian Fernandez quietly stopped touring, which is a shame given the promise he showed while hanging around the top 16.
– #72 Jordan Barth certainly had vocal supporters upon his return from pro baseball; the former dominant junior national champ played one event this year.
– Two former touring pro regulars based in Oregon Charlie Pratt and @Tony Carson
played one event in their hometown and finished tied for #100.
– LPRT #4 Erika Manilla finished at #108 after entering a satellite and going a round or two.
– Bringing up the rear of the standings: Scott McClellan , former lead ref on tour, who entered the Longhorn Open in his home town and going one-and done.
That’s it for the player recaps. Next post will catch up the news from the year and then talk 2024.
Hello racquetball fans and Happy New Year! We’ve come to the end of the 2023 season, so here’s my regular end of season deep dive into the players and the tour in general.
I’ll do this analysis in three parts: first (today) will be the top 10. Next will be notables from the players ranked 11th and onward. Then I’ll finish up with a recap of the news events from the season along with some editorialization. Along the way I’ll offer predictions for 2024.
Without further ado.
#1: Daniel De la Rosa finished #1 for the third straight season, tying him with Charlie Brumfield on the all time list of pro title winners. DLR played in 9 of the 10 events on the season and showed some pretty good consistency: 3 wins, 4 finals, and 2 semis. Zero early round upset losses; basically he was a lock to make the semis the moment he showed up. He went 30-6 on the season. He now has 12 career tourney wins (12th all time) and his career W/L now sits at 221-98 (15th all time). However, the elephant in the room (like it is for a lot of racquetball fans) is PIckleball. DLR is committed to the PPA tour for 2024 and beyond, with guaranteed salary, stipends for health insurance, and travel expenses. Its too good of a deal to pass up, and if there’s a competing event to a 2024 IRT event, DLR likely misses it. There aren’t too many IRT events on the books yet for 2024, but we know for sure there’s a conflict for March’s Shamrock shootout. Because of this, DLR has already hedged his bets and let people know he’s not going to tour “full time” to manage expectations. I predict he’ll miss enough events to knock him out of the top spot but he stays in the top 4 by season’s end. 2024 prediction: #3 or #4, depending on how many events he makes.
#2: Conrrado Moscoso : Conrrado had an excellent season: 4 wins (1 more than DLR), 2 finals, 1 semi and 2 quarter final losses, but its the one event he missed that crushed him in the end; he skipped the one grand slam event the IRT had in 2023, costing him significant points. He finished 2nd by around 266 points, but a semis finish at a grand slam is worth 330 points. He also suffered two quarter-final losses, which are tough to overcome when your rival for the top spot is essentially unbeatable prior to the semis. Nonetheless, Moscoso is well positioned for 2024. He now sits 5th overall in career W/L percentage at 80-22 (behind only Kane, Marty, Sudsy, and Brumfield) and he now sits tied for 14th ever in Tier1 wins. Both of these figure to be improved upon in 2024, as Moscoso beat #1 DLR in three of their four meetings in 2023 (all finals). Most pundits believe Conrrado is the world’s best player, and I believe he’ll ascend to #1 in 2024 and stay there. 2024 Prediction: #1
– #3 @Jake Bredenbeck had a season for the ages. After grinding out the tour for years at the fringes of the top 10, Jake flipped a switch this year and vaulted himself into the top 4. For nearly the entire season, his only vanquishers were the two men ranked above him, and his consistent results pushed him to the #1 ranking by November. In fact, he still maintained a shot at the year end title going into the season’s final event, something that even Moscoso couldn’t say. Jake may have slipped to #3 on points with the upset loss in the Pleasanton quarters, but he’s now a force to be reckoned with for the time being. Jake’s biggest issue going forward will be his age: he’s now 32, and is entering a critical age for pro racquetball players, especially big guys. I think he’ll hang on for 2024, especially given his commitment to fitness. 2024 prediction: #2.
– #4 Rodrigo Montoya After years and years of being “the guy nobody wanted to run into early,” Montoya finally pushed his way into the tour’s top 4 and seems set to stay there as long as he can. In 2023 he became the 45th man ever to win a Tier 1 and had a consistent set of results: 1 win, 1 final, 4 semi-finals. He has kept his “bad losses” to a minimum, and seems set to stick as a top seed. Montoya is the rare player who’s had success against Moscoso in the past (he’s 5-8 against him across IRT and IRF events, though Moscoso has had the upper hand lately), meaning a weekend matchup between the pair guarantees fireworks. My 2024 prediction for Montoya kind of rests on his schedule: he’s has a full time career that has always made it tough for him to make 100% of the events. I’ll bet he misses one here or there and finishes #3 or #4 again.
– #5: Andree Parrilla took a distinct step back this season, starting it ranked #2 and ending it at #5. Parrilla did get a 3rd career win, but it was an anomaly for him this season. He lost in the 16s or quarters 7 out of 9 events this year, getting a couple of really unlucky round of 16 matches against Carson and Mar. But the real story for Andree was the bugaboo of his quarter final matchups; all season he found himself losing at the QF stage to players who he had previously better success. In this respect, #5 makes perfect sense for his year end ranking, and it seems like a pretty good guess for 2023; he’ll continue to run into top four players at this juncture and there’s now a talent gap between them and the rest of the tour. Parrilla will be “the best of the rest” again in 2024 and finish #5 again.
– #6 Adam Manilla : after years of sitting outside the top 10, Manilla rather quietly put together a really consistent season and launched himself to the #6 spot by year’s end. He did this on the back of 7 quarter final appearances in 10 events, overcoming a few round of 16 upsets and staying the course. Adam’s challenge is, those seven quarter final losses were all to the top 3 players on tour: he lost to Moscoso 3 times, DLR 3 times, and Jake once. In order to move up, Manilla needs to get wins over these top guys, and that doesn’t seem like its in the cards right now. I think #6 was as far as he can get and he may very well slip a bit depending on what the guys ranked 7-10 manage to do next year. 2024 prediction: #7.
– #7 Eduardo Portillo slipped from last season’s #4 ranking down to #7 as he missed several events as he continues to work on his commercial pilot training. He also took a step back this season in terms of his finishes: he’s made at least one tourney final in each of the previous three seasons, but never made it there this year. In this respect, he’s had better finishing than the rest of the guys in the 5-8 range, but his absences keep him back. I don’t know what his work situation will be in 2024, but I suspect a full-time airline pilot is not going to have the same kind of schedule flexibility as a pre-college kid. Without knowing anything else, i’m going to guess he continues to hang around in the 7-8 range due to missed events.
– #8: Andres Acuna just finished his best season ever, making six quarterfinals a season after getting past the quarters just once. However, like Manilla and Parrilla above him, he never got any further. To make matters worse he’s mired in the #8/#9 seed slot, routing him into the #1 seed tourney after tourney and making it tough to move up. However, he’s clearly taken a step up on tour, and seems set to make all the events and continue to compete. I’m going to predict he hangs around in the top 10 and finishes #8 again.
– #9 Alan Natera was basically an unknown on tour a year ago, finishing 25th. Not this year; he played every event, made every satellite, and got himself into two quarter finals to finish in the top 10 for the first time. He’s a hard worker and has been improving, but Its hard to see him getting past the Acuna/Manilla/Portillo bunch ahead of him. I predict he finishes 8 or 9 in 2024.
– #10: Samuel Murray took a distinct step back on tour this year, missing three events (the first he’d missed in years) and slipping from #6 last year to #10 this year. He’s still a threat to make the semis, when he’s on, but now that he’s on the wrong side of 30 one has to wonder if he’s destined to push for the top 10 regularly anymore. He continues to rule in Canada though, ensuring his national team spot for the 11th straight year, so he’ll continue to play. If he doesn’t miss events in 2024, I can see him getting back into the 6-7 range. 2024 prediction: #6.
We’ll review notables outside the top 10 in the next post.
Hello Racquetball fans. A quick note to inform the community that I’ve done the typical year-end data upload into ProRacquetballStats.com for the just ended IRT season. Here’s some links that now show the updated data, along with some of the artifacts I maintain for the sport.
With the completion of the 2023 3Wall Ball Outdoor Championships in Las Vegas two weekends ago, the year-long Outdoor Cup Series have completed. Here’s a recap of the winners and the narrative of how the results changed over the course of the season.
The LPL Financial Women’s Cup and the Kwm Gutterman Men’s Cup both awarded cash prizes and other benefits to the top 2 finishers across the three outdoor majors this year (Beach Bash, Outdoor Nationals, and 3WB).
Scott took the title wire to wire in 2023, winning two titles at Beach Bash (Women’s Doubles and Mixed) along with making the singles final. From there she took another title at Outdoor Nationals, plus two more in Vegas, and won the cup with a commanding lead. 2nd place finisher Mejia missed Beach Bash but took her LPRT #1 talents to outdoor starting in Huntington Beach, where she took the singles title in her first ever outdoor appearance. She followed that up with a singles/doubles double in Vegas to just squeak past 3rd place Munoz for the money position. Carla just missed out on 2nd place for the second year in a row, taking the one-wall Pro doubles in Vegas and the Women’s pro doubles title in California. The only other touring pro to compete in all three majors was 4th place finisher Lawrence, who took the Beach Bash doubles title with Scott and had several other finals in the three wall competitions the rest of the way.
Future Hall of Famer Tisinger-Ledkins missed Beach Bash but took a title in Outdoor Nationals and came in 5th. LPRT #5 Herrera came in 6th, despite missing Outdoor Nationals. She took the Women’s doubles title in Vegas with Mejia and had two other finals along the way. Last year’s winner Key struggled with injuries and missed the first two events, but played well in Vegas and made both Mixed finals with partner Kane Waselenchuk to finish in 7th place. LPRT #6 Manilla made a slew of semi finals but never advanced any deeper, finishing in 8th place. Current LPRT #3 Laime took the one-wall pro title in Vegas, but struggled in the doubles events other wise in Vegas as compared to last year to finish in 9th place. Rounding out the top 10 was USA Racquetball Hall of Famer Roehler, who was a finalist in Florida in March in doubles and had a slew of results in Vegas to finish in 10th place.
Other notable finishers include:
– Teen-ager Victoria Rodriguez , who finished 12th and who competed in all three competitions and took a Paddleball title in Vegas.
– new mom Erica Williams bowed out of pro events in Vegas but played all three majors this year to finish 14th.
– Veronica Sotomayor was in 2nd place after Beach Bash, where she took a title and a final. However she could not travel to either of the subsequent majors to compete for the crown.
Now lets talk about how the Men finished. Here’s the final top 10 standings:
1. Daniel De La Rosa
2. Rocky Carson
3. Rick “Soda Man” Koll
4. Eduardo Portillo
5. Benny Goldenberg
6. Robert Sostre “Ice Man”
7. Alejandro Landa
8. Greg Solis
9. Alvaro Beltran
10. Kane Waselenchuk
Like his partner Scott, De La Rosa (DLR) went wire-to-wire for this title, winning 7 of the 8 titles he competed in this year. The sole blemish on his outdoor major resume this year was in the Men’s Pro Doubles final in Huntington Beach, where he and Landa lost to @Josh Tucker and newlywed Brandon Davis in the final. Daniel now holds 29 major Outdoor titles to go along with his likely 3rd straight International Racquetball Tour pro title this year. He’s already on the short list for best outdoor player of all time; is he also on the short list for best indoor/outdoor combo player of all time? A player firmly in these same outdoor GOAT conversations is certainly Carson, who finished 2nd in this cup series competition on the back of his excellent CPRT results all year. He won CPRT in Florida with Sudsy Monchik , lost in the semis in California with regular partner @Jesus Ustarroz , and went to the final with Ustarroz in Vegas.
Long-time 3WB sponsor Soda Man came in 3rd in the cup competition this year, powered by a great CPRT win with Beltran over Carson/Ustarroz in Vegas. Portillo, who finished 2nd in last year’s cup, had to miss Outdoor Nationals this year but still took the 1-wall pro doubles final in Vegas to finish 4th. Portillo’s winning doubles partner in Vegas Goldenberg also made the final in Florida and finished 5th in the standings in the end despite focusing primarily on 1-wall competitions.
Benny’s beach bash finalist partner and WOR Hall of Famer Sostre finished right behind Benny in 6th; he and William Rolon were 1-wall pro doubles finalists in Vegas. Landa teamed up with DLR and was able to net enough points playing with the top player to finish 7th nearly on his pro doubles results in two events. Hall of Famer Greg Solis came in 8th; he took the Outdoor Nationals CPRT title with Josh Tucker and made the Vegas 3-wall singles final, losing to Alan Natera . The legendary Alvaro Beltran came in 9th in the Cup standings, taking CPRT in Vegas while missing Beach Bash while recovering from his dislocated elbow suffered last year. Finally, coming in 10th is none other than the 13-time IRT champ Waselenchuk, who has discovered one-wall and is loving it apparently, and powered his team to both Pro Mixed doubles finals in Vegas.
Other notable men:
– Brandon Davis’ wedding took out a ton of top Southern California talent from 3WB, and cost a number of the attendees (including Davis himself) at a higher spot in the standings.
– Josh Tucker stood in 2nd place after two Doubles titles in July; he finished 11th overall by only playing one of the Outdoor majors this year.
– Micah Rich and Jason Geis both sat in the top 10 after Outdoor Nationals, but fell to 16th and 20th overall by missing Vegas.
– Javier Mar was 2nd overall after a great Beach Bash, but fell to 22nd.
That’s it for the Outdoor Cup Series.
next up? The 2023 Pan Am Games! We’ll do a knockout round preview once the round robins are done.
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.