Capital City WOR Championships Preview

One of the bigger non-major outdoor events on the schedule is happening this weekend, more than 90 players descending on the Nation’s capital from all over the eastern seaboard and states far and wide to compete in the annual Capital City WOR championships at the Stratton Woods park in Herndon, VA.

Stratton Woods is great example of the opportunity out there for outdoor racquetball, an example of new construction (it was built and dedicated in May 2015) that has created a community of players where there was really none before. It features four 3-wall/long-wall courts on one side of the structure and then three 1-wall courts on the other, thus attracting two unique sets of players to its tournaments from far and wide (in addition to the great local interest from the DC area community). The plans and effort was spearheaded by long-time dc area player Bill Bouie, and the plans (if you’re thinking of building your own outdoor courts) are available from USA Racquetball.

As a result of the unique facility construction, we have a ton of top one-wall players from both New York and from Florida who have made the trip to compete, plus we have a set of long-wall specialists from Michigan who have traveled in. The one-wall brackets in particular are stacked with some of the best talent out there, and the 3-wall brackets feature a great combination of local players, traveling pros and IRT touring pros who will hold their own.
It should be a great event all weekend.

R2 Sports App link: https://www.r2sports.com/website/event-website.asp?TID=37467

Here’s a quick preview of all the top-level pro draws, with some observations and predictions.


Three-Wall Doubles Draws:

  • Three-Wall Men’s Pro: 9 teams, and all nine of them have deep tournament quals. Even the 8/9 play-in will be tough, with an IRT touring pro in each team. I like the top seeds to hold to the semis, with #1 Gravier/Hernandez versus #4 Greg Lewerenz/ Nathan Tucker and #2 Sostre/Goldberg vs #3 Tommy Medina /Young. From there, i’m going with two upsets and for the Medina/Young team to take the final over the Michigan long-wall specialists.
  • Three-Wall Men’s 75+: nearly as stacked as the 3-wall pros draw, I’m projecting Sostre/Goldenberg versus Lewerenz/Mijares in the final, with the long-wall specialist Lewerenz’s team winning.
  • Three-Wall Women’s Pro Doubles: three teams of locals to battle it out; I’m liking the two tourney directors Brewer/Hoeft to take the title.
  • Three-Wall Mixed Pro Doubles: Hernandez teams with Carrie Handfinger Hoeft as the #1 seed, but they’ll have their hands full to make the final. From the bottom half I like the #2 seeds Aime Brewer and Gerhardt to make a finals run and take the draw.

One-Wall doubles divisions:

  • One-Wall Men’s Pro doubles: 13 teams entered, headlined by the all-world one-wall team at #1 from NYC, Hall of Famer Robert Sostre teamed with one of the best one-wall players out there in Benny Goldberg. If seeds hold and they can get past a tough possible quarter that could include Sebastian Franco, they project to face top Florida team Marcos Gravier/ Roy Hernandez in the top semis.
    The bottom half is stacked. #2 seeds Dylan Pruitt/ Thomas Gerhardt likely face a very tough quarter final against MoMo Zelada playing with Sergio Rivera . Meanwhile, the #3/#6 projected quarter features two of the best one-wall teams in William Rolon / Joe Young taking on Alejandro Barcelo teamed with Mario Mercado . I have no idea who’s coming out of this group, but I like the Barcelo/Mercado team.
    In the final i’ll go with Sostre/Goldberg over Barcelo/Mercado.
  • One-Wall Men’s Elite Doubles: the top two seeds are out-of-towners, the Michigan-based duo of Cyrus Chinoy/Luis Romero are top seeds and seem like a good bet to make the final. In the bottom half, #2 seeded Floridians Seran Ramkissoon/ Michael Medina may ahve t heir hands full with a pair of New Yorkers in the opener and possibly the sneaky solid #3 seeded team of Angel Rosa / Craig Powell . I like the Michigan duo over Rosa/Powell in the final, but upsets could abound here.
  • One-Wall Women’s Pro doubles: Eight teams competing with a great collection of NYC and DC area talent. It’s hard not to like the two top seeded teams ( Masiel Rivera Oporto and Ruiz from one bracket, and NYC’s Jasmine India Suarez and Delia Silva in the other) to advance out of the RR stage and meet in the final. I like Suarez/Silva as one-wall specialists to prevail.

– One-Wall Mixed Pro doubles: Eight teams here, with some fun teams that don’t normally play outdoor. The #1 team of Ruben Pagan and HoFamer Aimee Roehler Ruiz seems like a good bet, but they likely face two tough NYC one-wall specialists in Rolon and @kathy Guinan in the semis. In the bottom half i like Goldberg and Delia Silva to advance to the final and take the title.

Singles Draws:

– One-Wall Men’s Pro Singles: local Pruitt is the #1 seed, but this draw features multiple players who have taken one-wall majors in the past. I like Pruitt vs Barcelo in one semi, Rolon vs Gerhardt in the other, and Gerhardt taking out Barcelo in the final.

Streaming: no official streaming that I know of, but follow the Mid-Atlantic Outdoor racquetball group and i’m sure all individual streamers will share their feeds there.

Thanks to the Tourney Directors Amie LeBrun Brewer, Carrie Handfinger Hoeft, Maddie Melendez and Thao Le for putting this event on!


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2021 Wintergreen Classic Preview

Wintergreen is an annual tradition, an east-coast classic tournament, dating back to at least 1988 and up until Covid always held at the Sportfit Laurel club in Laurel MD. The famous Laurel club was forced to close due to the pandemic, so the Peak Racquetball guys and @slemo warigon just moved it a bit east to the Severna Park racquet club, located in Millersville on I-97 about halfway between Baltimore and Annapolis. It’s being held a bit later than it normally is in 2021, but should return to its normal MLK weekend date in 2022.

The 2021 Wintergreen event is the 33rd annual instance of the tournament, and this year features a tier-5 IRT draw of 17 pros that has attracted a decent amount of east-coast talent and should be pretty entertaining. Additionally, the full Colombian national team is on site with coach @francisco Fajardo to get some work in ahead of international dates later this year, which should make for an excellent draw.

R2 Sports App link: https://www.r2sports.com/website/event-website.asp?TID=37546
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Lets preview the IRT pro draw first. There’s one play-in match, so lets start with the round of 16:

  • #1 @eduardo Portillo, currently ranked 9th on tour, is your headliner. He’ll start off friday night against the play-in winner between @roger subieta and @josh pearl.
  • The #8/#9 will match-up two long-time friends from the upper PA/lower NJ area in @david austin and @joe kelley. I favor the lefty here to advance.
  • #5 @maurice miller gets an intriguing match against junior Colombian phenom #12 @juan pablo rodriguez. Rodriguez has been playing out of Bradenton, FL and has made some noise in local tournaments, taking out some talented players despite playing in his age 17 season. Miller is an experienced touring pro at this point and should advance, but this is no cakewalk.
  • #4 @eduardo garay takes on former Mexican national team member @abraham pena in what should be a fun match to watch. Pena can still bring it, but Garay should advance. Garay is making his claim to the Colombian national team right now, having switched from Mexico, and the more success he has in front of the coach the better.
  • #3 @mario mercado, back in the DC area after living there for many years, gets his start against WashDC’s @brian acuna.
  • #6 @mauricio zelada, also playing on basically home turf, gets his start against Virginia amateur @leland rupp.
  • #7 @troy warigon versus #10 @dylan pruitt; well, the long-promised “grudge match” finally occurs. Are we cynical and believe the tournament staff made this match-up happen, or was it just happen chance that these two players get to play and compete after months of dancing around each other for a “money match” on facebook earlier this year? Either way, Friday night 7pm should be interesting. I’m sure there will be some streaming by someone. I’m going with Warigon to advance.
  • #2 @sebastian franco, playing out of his home club. starts off with a solid NC player in lefty #15 @jordan walters.

I think i’m predicting chalk to advance, which I never do. But, there definitely seems to be a top tier of players here and I don’t see much room for upsets. Lets move to the quarters

—————————–

Projected Qtrs: Here’s how I see the quarters playing out:

  • #1 Portillo over #8 Kelly: Portillo has been really dominant on the court lately, and it’ll take a solid performance to beat him.
  • #4 Garay over #5 Miller: I’ve always been a Garay fan, and I expect him to advance over Miller here. Both players cover the court well, but Garay has more power and should wear down Miller in the end.
  • #3 Mercado over #6 Zelada; these two know each other quite well from their time in the DC area, so I’d expect a closer match. Mercado is 4-0 lifetime over MoMo in Tier1 events, and they played in January’s Tier 1 in Atlanta. I’d expect a two-game win for Mario.
  • #2 Franco over #7 Warigon; another matchup between two guys who know each other’s game quite well. I show just two tier1 meetings between the two, both occurring several years ago and resulting in straight-game wins for Franco. I expect the same here. Franco has slipped to #11 on tour after 5 straight season in the top 10 (mostly due to scheduling, not losses) and will look to build back this weekend.

Again, i’m predicting chalk to the semis.

Semis:

  • #1 Portillo over #4 Garay; I show zero meetings in tier1 events between these two, which means this should be an interesting one to watch. Portillo plays a methodical; in fact if you were uninitiated you might almost think he wasn’t trying on the court at times. But when he has an offensive opportunity he can accelerate his mechanics and really generate unexpected power. Garay is a power player, with the pace to get easy points on his serve if he can stay in control. Portillo has plenty of experience handling significant power at this point and should move on.
  • #2 Franco over #3 Mercado: amazingly, despite these two both being top10 players together for years, both representing the same country internationally and both living in the DC area … i have zero meetings between these players in tier1 events. On my global power rankings I have Franco well ahead of Mercado, but we’ve seen Mercado get surprise wins over and over on tour over the past decade. Mercado beat both Portillo and Landa en route to the Lou Bradley final in 2020, for example. So nothing is out of the realm of expected here. I’ll go with gut and give Franco the win

——————–

In the finals though, irrespective of who advances I favor Portillo for the win. I think Mercado has more recent success against Lalo, but both Franco and Mercado are trending the wrong way in terms of power rankings, while Portillo seems like he’s at the precipice of breaking into the very top tier of the sport.
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Doubles review

Eight solid teams are competing in the Men’s open doubles draw, headlined by the #1 Colombian doubles team of Franco/Garay. They should advance to the final over Mercado/Zelada from the top.

In the bottom half, I like the Pena/Portillo team, but i’m not sure they can get past the Warigon/Miller team. I’ll go with #2 seeds to advance to the final, but for the #1 seeds to win.


There’s a small but fun Women’s open draw, with four solid women’s players competing in Micaela Meneses, Masiel Rivera, Graci Wargo, and Megan Shelton. An interesting combination of international and domestic, junior and veteran competing together.


The IRT streaming crew is coming into town to broadcast all weekend, so ; follow the IRT on facebook and sign up to get notifications when they go Live.Look for Dean Baer, Pablo Fajre and the IRTLive crew all weekend on the mike, calling the shots! I also hear LPRT’s Jerry Josey is coming into town to help out as well.

Thanks to the Tourney Director Slemo Warigon for putting this event on!


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2021 Sweet Caroline LPRT Grand Slam Pro-Am Wrap-up

Longoria keeps on winning. Photo via US Open 2019, Kevin Savory

Congrats to your winners on the weekend:

  • Pro Singles: Paola Longoria
  • Pro Doubles: Paola Longoria & Samantha Salas
    The 101st career tier-1 or higher singles win for Longoria (107 overall including satellites). And this is the 33rd pro doubles title for the Salas/Longoria pairing since we started tracking ladies pro doubles data in 2014. Amazing.

R2 Sports App home page for event: https://www.r2sports.com/website/event-website.asp?TID=37154

Lets review the notable matches in the Singles draw.

Singles Match report in the PRS database: http://rball.pro/C41F20

In thee 64s: Just three matches in the early days, but an opening barn-burner as Texan Linda Tyler, who drove 13 hours the day before the match to get an 8am start time, downed Bolivian vet Jenny Daza Navia in an 11-10 back and forth match.

In the 32s, here were the notable and upset matches:

  • In the 16/17 match, Kelani Lawrence showed no signs of rust and came out blazing against her USA top rival Hollie Scott. Lawrence raced to a huge early lead in game one, held on to take that game, then chipped away at Scott in game two to advance 11,7.
  • #8 Valeria Centellas made a statement in topping dark-horse favorite Lucia Gonzalez in strong fashion 11,9. Centellas has added a power component to her game that should let her really challenge the players ranked above her, and did not let the dangerous Gonzalez get the upset here.
  • #5 Rhonda Rajsich made fast work of 19-yr old Shane Diaz, playing in just her 2nd pro tournament.
  • #12 Nancy Enriquez put on a serving clinic and blasted #21 Ana Laura Flores 4,3. Enriquez mixed up her serves, using deadly jam serves and devastating drive serves to blow past a dangerous 1st round opponent in Flores and advance.
  • #4 Angelica Barrios – Raquetbolista was pushed in her opener against Daniela Rico before advancing in a tie-breaker. 14,(12),3.
  • #19 Brenda Laime Jalil got the upset over her country-woman Adriana Riveros 11,11 in what might portend to be a changing of the guard in Colombian racquetball. Amaya and Riveros have long been 1-2 in Colombian racquetball heirarchy; Laime is looking to break into that grouping to represent the country at the next Int’l event.
  • In the 15/18 match, Sheryl Lotts saved match points against and came back from 0-6 in the breaker to beat Maria Renee Rodríguez in the best match of the round. Final score (12),14,8. Really very little between these two players on the day and a shame one had to lose.
  • – #2 Alexandra Herrera made fast work of #31 Erika Manilla, a match many thought would be closer.

In the 16s:

  • #1 Paola Longoria got a scare in game two, as Lawrence raced out to a huge early lead, but reeled her back in and advanced in two games over Kelani 5,13.
  • #8 Centellas got her second solid win in a row, downing touring veteran Chilean Carla Muñoz Montesinos10,9.
  • #12 Enriquez continues to look rejuvenated after easing past #5 Rajsich in two easy games 7,6.
  • #13 Montse Mejia took out the Kansas City finalist Barrios in two close games 12,14. The last time these two met was the semis of 2018 World 18U Juniors, and these two (along with Martinez) represent a golden generation for women’s racquetball.
  • #3 Samantha Salas Solis eased past a tough #19 Laime 14,9.
  • #6 Natalia Mendez continues to get statement wins, this time downing reigning World Champ Ana Gabriela Martínez 7,10. Mendez clearly has a new approach in the service box and has some added pace; her projected quarter will be telling.
  • #7 Jessica Parrilla] played the round’s only tiebreaker, advancing past veteran Colombian Amaya Cris 11-8.
  • – #2 Herrera downed her second American in a row, moving past #18 Lotts in two.

In the Quarters

  • Longoria dominated Centellas 2,6. Longoria played bottom board over and over and the young Argentine could do little to stop her.
  • Mejia outlasted her countrywoman Enriquez, splitting the first two games then running away in the breaker. 14,(13),1. Enriquez has made a big statement in this event.
  • Speaking of statements, Mendez ran past Salas 7,6 to advance to just her 5th career semi final. Whatever she’s been doing during the pandemic, its working.
  • Herrera dodged a bullet and took out her countrywoman Parrilla in a tiebreaker. Score 7,(14),3. Herrera continues her steady-eddie pace and advances to another semi.

In the Semis, both promising match-ups turned out to be two game blowouts.

  • Longoria downed her erstwhile rival Mejia for the Mexican #1 crown 4,7. It has now been more than two years since Mejia’s famous win over Longoria in the 2019 Mexico National finals, and Longoria has been dominating their matchups of late. Mejia needs to regain her mojo from that final and figure out a pathway forward if she wants to break through.
  • Herrera cruised past Mendez 6,8. Mendez’ fantastic tourney run ends, and Herrera proves the doubters wrong by living up to her seed and advancing to her 5th career final.

In the Finals, Longoria and Herrera played a back and forth first game, but then Paola ran way in the second to take the title 12,3.

Points Implications of results
Thanks to the lack of pro events, when this tournament posts we’re set to have some pretty wholesale changes at the top unless the LPRT decides to persist some tournament points or go to a longer term before retiring points. But, assuming we’re staying with a 12-month rolling calendar, here’s what the rankings will look like after these results:

  • Herrera moves to #2
  • Barrios will move up to #3
  • Mendez will jump to #4, all three career highs
  • Mejia jumps from 14 to 6, much more in line with her true talent level.
  • Gaby Martinez jumps from 11 to 7.
  • Salas drops from 4 to 8, which may not be in line with her true talent level but is indicative of her performance lately in pro events.
  • Rhonda drops from 6 to 12, which would be the lowest she’s been ranked professionally since 1999.
  • Vargas drops from 2 all the way to 13 thanks to missing this event.

Which would make the top 8 seeds in the next event go like this: Longoria, Herrera, Barrios, Mendez, Parrilla, Mejia, Martinez, Salas. Which puts Mejia and Longoria on opposite sides of the draw.

Doubles review
Match report in the PRS database: http://rball.pro/C0E57E
A healthy doubles draw featured 15 teams and some great match-ups. The 16s had several tie-breakers, including an 11-10 win for the American duo of Rajsich/Lotts over Laime/Gonzalez.
The quarters featured the all-American team of Rajsich/Scott taking a game off the #1 team but losing. The Guatemalan national team cruised into the semis. The #2 Mexicans were dominant in games 1 and 3 but took game two off in advancing, and the USA #1 team of Scott/Lawrence took out the Argentine national team in an upset.
In the semis, it was Mexico over Guatemala in one side (though the improving Guatemalan team stretched the #1 seeds to 11-9 before falling) and Mexico over USA in the other to setup another all Mexican final.

In that final, a final seen more and more on tour, we saw Longoria/Salas taking out Mejia/Herrera in two quick games.

Other Major Draws:

  • Women’s Open featured a 12-person draw with some interesting results between touring pros outside the top 10. In the final, we saw Micaela Meneses Cuellar take out Manilla in the final. Meneses turned 17 just a couple of months ago and took out three solid pros en route to the title.

– Men’s Open was very entertaining; 25 players from everywhere from Mexico to Maryland duked it out. In the final IRT top8 player Lalo Portillo took out the #2 seed from Maryland MoMo Zelada in two games. Portillo blew through this draw, never giving up more than 8 points in a game all weekend.

Thanks for all the streaming on the weekend, especially from broadcasters Timothy Baghurst, Jerry J Josey Jr., and Tj Baumbaugh, along with JT R Ball who flew in from California to help out with streaming and broadcasting. Great job all; it was a grueling broadcast schedule.
Thanks to the Tourney Directors Josey and Jacob Vargueuse for putting this event on!

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Next up?

This coming weekend is an RKT event in Chihuahua that should be interesting. The NMRA has its Nationals in St Louis. The next LPRT event is Teamroot super max is June 20th.

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2021 Sweet Caroline LPRT Grand Slam Pro-Am Preview

Welcome back pro racquetball fans! We have not had a full tier pro event since early January, and the ladies have not had a full pro event since early December 2020, so we’re more than due.

r2sports link for event: https://www.r2sports.com/website/event-website.asp?TID=37154

There’s a huge draw of pro ladies in South Carolina this weekend; 35 players signed up, the largest ladies pro draw since the 2019 US Open. #1 Paola Longoria is the defending champ here, having won the Jan 2020 event over #2 Maria Jose Vargas Parada. We won’t have a rematch this year, since Vargas recently gave birth to her second child and is on a playing hiatus.

The top 8 features one relatively new name: Angelica Barrios is currently ranked 5th, seeded 4th, thanks to her break-through performance in December’s Kansas City grand slam. The pandemic has really wreaked havoc on the tour rankings, making single event results even more magnified in importance.

The rest of the draw is stacked, missing just 2 players out of the world’s top 20 (Vargas and #19 Masiel Rivera Oporto).

Lets preview the draw, which was released late Wednesday night in an online reaction event, a great idea from the LPRT and commissioner Tj Baumbaugh.

Play starts with a few round of 64 matches.

  • Bolivian veteran #32 Jenny Daza Navia makes a rare pro appearance, and faces Texas amateur #33 Linda Tyler.
  • Former Mexican junior national champ #35 Montserrat Pérez takes on another former Mexican Jr National champ in #30 Naomi Ros. Ros was the 2018 Junior world champ in 12U, putting her in her age 15 season, while Perez won the Mexican 18Us in 2015.
  • #34 Costa Rican Maricruz Ortiz, the reigning world 16U world junior champ, takes on a drastically under-seeded #31 Erika Manilla, who made the US Team qualifying event final in Feb 2020 in her last competitive event.

Projecting the 32s: Here’s some of the round of 32 matches that I think may be interesting and/or competitive:

  • #16/#17: I frequently note that these 16/17 and 15/18 matches are always tough, and this one will be the same. #16 Hollie Scott takes on #17 Kelani Lawrence, who have met in the last three major US Team qualifying/Nationals events. Kelani took out Scott in the 2018 Nationals en route to a finals loss, then they played an amazing 2019 final with Lawrence edging Scott 11-10 to take the title, then met up in the 2020 qualifier in the semis, where Scott took out Kelani on the way to the title her self. Lawrence is now seemingly recovered from the eye injury she suffered in Las Vegas in September, but I’m predicting Scott to take this one.
  • #9 Carla Muñoz Montesinos vs #24 Graci Wargo; the newly matriculated Junior Floridian Wargo faces a tough early test from the newlywed Munoz, who now has a pretty solid regular training partner in husband Alan Natera Chavez.
  • #25 Lucia Gonzalez v #8 Valeria Centellas; Wow, what a first round match up this is. Centellas raced into prominence partly thanks to her results at this event last January and has maintained her top10 presence since. But Gonzalez might be the best player in the world outside of Frederique Lambert who does not tour regularly and routinely takes out LPRT top 10 players when she does compete. I like picking upsets and I’ll go with Lucia here.
  • #12 Nancy Enriquez vs #21 Ana Laura Flores; long-time top10 player Enriquez faces a tricky opener against the youngster Flores, who beat Scott and barely lost to Rajsich in her last pro appearance in March 2020.
  • #20 Susy Acosta makes an appearance in her 23rd straight season, but likely falls to her countrywoman #13 Montse Mejia.
  • Its Colombia v Colombia in #14 Adriana Riveros vs #19 Brenda Laime Jalil. Last time they played, it was Sept 2019 and Laime advanced, and I’ll go with the upset again here.
  • #11 Ana Gabriela Martínez takes on 17yr old Bolivian Micaela Meneses Cuellar in what could be a close opener.
  • The always competitive 15/18 match should be interesting; #15 Maria Renee Rodríguez takes on #18 Sheryl Lotts. These two met in this same tourney last year, a come-from behind win for Lotts. In fact, they’ve met 5 times at pro or international events and it has always gone tiebreaker. Lotts owns the career 4-1 advantage and i’ll predict she advances.
  • #2 Alexandra Herrera, who gets a career high seeding here, likely faces one heck of a challenge in #31 Manilla. These two have never met, but Manilla has proven herself to be able to hang with top players. Herrera is normally a model of consistency, rarely taking early round upsets and playing to her seeding … but she’s going to have to work for this win.

round of 16: Lots of tough openers, but if my predictions hold here’s your projected 16s:

  • #1 Paola Longoria v #16 Scott: Mexico’s #1 versus USA’s #1; Longoria advances but Scott gets some more experience against the best.
  • #25 Gonzalez over #8 Munoz: if Lucia can beat Centellas, she can beat Munoz.
  • #12 Enriquez over #5 Rhonda Rajsich; last time they met was a 3-game win for Nancy and I’m guessing it’ll be the same here.
  • #13 Mejia over #4 Barrios: despite the rankings, I think Mejia is perhaps the 3rd or 4th best player in the world. These two met in the finals of World 18U two years running in 2017 and 2018, both times a two-game win for the Mexican. Barrios had a heck of a run in Kansas City but falls here.
  • #3 Samantha Salas Solis overpowers #19 Laime
  • #6 Natalia Mendez over #11 Martinez: last time these two met was in the 2019 PARC, a Mendez career win. Mendez seems to have added some depth to her game and may be playing more than Martinez. When both are training full time the edge goes to Gaby, but right now i give the Argentinian the edge.
  • #7 Jessica Parrilla takes out #10 Cristina Amaya Cassino in a battle of two long-time pros.
  • #2 Herrera takes out her second straight top American player by advancing past #18 Lotts.

Projected Qtrs:

  • #1 Longoria over #25 Gonzalez: the run of Lucia ends here.
  • #13 Mejia over #12 Enriquez; Mejia has won their last few meetings.
  • #3 Salas over #6 Mendez: Salas has never lost to Mendez, but they also have not played in years. This could be close based on recent form of both players.
  • #7 Parrilla over #2 Herrera: they have not played since Dec 2019, when Jessica was still coming back from her knee injury, but they were always close. I think this could be the big breakthrough for Parrilla.
    Interestingly, I’ve predicted 7 of the 8 quarterfinalists to be Mexican. A great depiction of just how dominant that country has become on the ladies circuit.
    Semis:
  • Longoria over Mejia; One day Montse will break through with another win over Paola, but for now Paola rules.
  • Parrilla over Salas: if Jessica can beat Herrera, she can beat Salas in a power-for-power match

Finals: Longoria over Parrilla.


Doubles Preview:

15 teams in the doubles (odd since there’s 35 singles players entered), but it definitely features several international flavor teams as IRF countries start to think about the Worlds and PARC event coming up later this year.

The world’s best ladies pro doubles team is back together in Longoria/Salas; they’re the #1 seeds. They seem likely to face the Guatemalan #1 team of Gonzalez/Rodriguez in the top semis.

On the bottom, the #2 seeds are the new Argentine national team of Mendez/Centellas. They’ll face a tough quarter against the USA #1 team of Lawrence/Scott but look like underdogs against the strong Mexican team of Meija/Herrera.

I’ll predict a frequently seen final between the two top Mexican teams of Longoria/Salas v Mejia/Herrera. The veterans have taken the last 4 meetings against their countrymates, and i’ll go with Longoria getting the double here.


Look for Streaming in the regular places; follow the LPRT on Facebook and sign up to get notifications when they go Live. Look for Timothy Baghurst, Jerry J Josey Jr., and Baumbaugh on the mike, calling the shots!

Thanks to the Tourney Directors Jerry J Josey Jr. & Jacob.k.varughese for putting this event on!

Reminder to Players! Please like and follow this page so that when I tag you, you see it. Facebook will only retain tags of people that like/follow a page, which means lots of you are not getting the notoriety of getting tagged and noticed on FB.

Tags
LPRT
International Racquetball Federation – IRF
USA Racquetball
Racquetball Canada
Federación Mexicana de Raquetbol
Federación Boliviana De Raquetbol – Febora- Febora
Federación Boliviana de Racquetball
Racquetball Colombia
Federacion Colombiana de Racquetball
Federación Costarricense de Racquetball
Asociación Argentina de Racquetball
Federación Chilena Racquetball
Racquetball Rancagua, Chile Chile
ASOCIACION DE RAQUETBOL DE GUATEMALA
Hashtags #racquetball #proracquetball #outdoorracquetball #irt #lprt #wor

Warhawk Open Wrap-up

Collins takes the IRT Singles title in Monroe on the weekend. Photo from US Open by Kevin SAvory

Congrats to your Pro winners on the weekend:
– Singles: Robert Collins
– Doubles; David Diaz & Brennen Jennings

Both #1 seeds hold on and take the titles over strong fields. A great tournament for a non-resident of the Texas/Louisiana corridor to see some of these players play for the first time live.

R2 Sports App home page for event: https://www.r2sports.com/website/event-website.asp?TID=37104

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Lets review the notable matches in the Singles draw.

In the 32s, there were a few upsets by seeds and some notable winners advancing on.
– #9 seed Michael Magana / Realtor advanced over Bryan Satawa to setup a great 8/9 matchup in the 16s.
– #12 Cole Sendrey, playing in (I think) his age 16 season, topped Steve Semones to move on.
– #22 Paul Julbes upset #11 Ray Flowers.
– #20 Ted Alvendia upset #13 Kenneth Fletcher.
– Long-time top Texas amateur Lance Hale, the 2019 Texas Male Player of the Year, advanced in two tight games over Bradnado Turnquest 13,12.
– #23 Michael Perez upset #10 Kipp Atwell in two.

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In the 16s, we got the top 8 seeds starting up and immediately some upsets.
– #1 Robert Collins got his tourney started with a two-game win over #16 David Anastasio 2,2
– #8/#9 matches are always fun and this was too, one of just a couple of round of 16 match to go tiebreaker. #8 Daniel Diaz, a commercial airline pilot based in Monterrey, flew into town and advanced past #9 Magana but not without getting stretched. Magana came from way down in game two to take it 15-14 and force a breaker. Diaz cruised in the 3rd to win 3,(14),3.
– #5 Long-time tourney player Bob Jackson] was upset in the first match of the 16s by junior Texan Sendrey 11,2.
– #4 Zach Williams advanced in two over #20 Alvendia.
– #3 Destry Everhart ran into a frequent southwestern local rival in Hale and advanced in two games 2,5.
– #6 Brennen Jennings survived a strong push from #22 Julbes, who saved match point against in game two to force the breaker. Jennings got hot and ran off 6 unanswered points to take the 3rd 11-6. Final score 12,(14),6
– #23 Perez provided the biggest upset of the round, recovering from a 15-3 first game defeat to take out #7 Sam Hojat in the breaker. Two wins in an IRT pro event for Perez, who seems like he just moved up to open.
-#2 Maurice Miller got his title defense started with a straightforward win over #15 Craig Clement Jr. 4,1.

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In the Quarters:
– #1 Collins overcame some really spirited play and some amazing diving gets to advance past #8 Diaz 9,14. The pandemic has been great for Collins’ facial hair game; he’s rocking a look that can only be described as, “extra in a saloon shootout scene.”
– #4 Williams topped the junior Cinderella Sendrey 5,8 to make the semis.
– #6 Jennings and #3 Everhart played about as close as you can play, going toe-to-toe with shot after shot. The Texan came out on top of the Alabama #1 in the end, with Brennen advancing (14),14,7.
– #2 Miller stopped the upset run of #23 Perez in the quarters, advancing in two straight 9.6. Great showing by Perez on the weekend.

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In the Semis
– #1 Collins cruised past #4 Williams 6,8 to make the final. Collins pushed the tempo all game and kept the pressure on Williams.
– #2 Miller had his hands full with #6 Jennings, who seemed to improve round after round in this event and nearly took out the semi-regular touring pro. Miller won a back and forth tiebreaker match 12,(12),7.

In the Finals, Collins took two close games from Miller and surprised this pundit, winning the draw 13,13. Good solid win for Collins, who really was hitting the ball well all weekend.

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Doubles review

Three of the four top seeds held to the semis, but three of the four quarters went breaker. Quarter final results:
– #1 Diaz/Jennings took out the all-Texas Perez/Hale team
– the #4 Miller Father/son team took out the #5 Sendrey Father/Son team
– #3 Richard Eisemann/Jubles went 11-9 to take out IRT touring pro Collins playing with Tom Provan.
– #2 Magana/Williams lost to the the travelling North Carolina pair of Chris Thomas and Eric New for the round’s only upset.

In the semis:
– #1 Diaz/Jennings played two solid games to advance over the Atlanta-based Miller team, a match that was delayed for quite a bit due to participants playing their singles semis.
– #3 Eisemann/Jubles continued to show why they’re a heck of an age-group team, advancing to the final with lethal power and a great lefty/righty combo. Eisemann is a long-time top age-group player and certainly did not play like a man turning 60 in a few weeks.

In the final, the two younger players outlasted their rivals 7,9 to take the title. Diaz/Jennings d Eisemann/Jubles for the title.

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Men’s Open, other draws
– Men’s Open was a pro consolation drop down, won by Sam Hojat, who took four straight 2-game victories and topped Parker Ewing in the final.
– The 19-person Men’s A draw was taken by DAVID Anastasia].

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Thanks for all who streamed on the weekend: Steve Semones, David Anastasio, Brennan Jennings, Destry Everhart, Lance Hale, Sean Duffy, Tom Provan and others who I may have missed. It’s great to see live racquetbal!Thanks to the Tourney Directors Mark Thompson and Raj Bajari for putting this event on!

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Next up? The next scheduled Pro event will be the Sweet Caroline LPRT event the first weekend of May in South Carolina. World Singles & Doubles just got pushed back to perhaps August, which puts the next IRT event perhaps not happening until then. USAR National festival is the first two weekends of June, and in the interim we’ll cover some major WOR events as they happen.

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Reminder to Players! Please like and follow this page so that when I tag you, you see it. Facebook will only retain tags of people that like/follow a page, which means lots of you are not getting the notoriety of getting tagged and noticed on FB.

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Sponsor linksInternational Racquetball TourUSA RacquetballHashtags #racquetball#proracquetball#outdoorracquetball#irt#lprt#wor

2021 Warhawk Open Preview

Maurice Miller is the defending champ and #2 seed; can he repeat? Photo USOpen 2019, Photographer Kevin Savory

Hello Racquetball fans! There’s an IRT Tier-5 event happening this weekend; the 2021 Warhawk Open, so named because Warhawks are the mascot of the host facility, the University of Louisiana at Monroe (ULM). Nearly 70 players have entered this event, the lions share from Louisiana and Texas, and represent a good chunk of the top players from the South West. The Pro Singles draw includes no less than 24 players and play gets started first thing friday morning.

R2 Sports App link: https://www.r2sports.com/website/event-website.asp?TID=37104

Draws are up and online now.

PRS note/reminder: we do not enter non-Tier1s into the database. This review is as a fan of the sport craving live racquetball action

🙂

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Notable round of 32 and 16 matches: honestly I don’t know the local players well enough to make predictions. I do see some familiar names though in the play ins and look forward to seeing if they can advance. Good luck to frequent and vocal racquetball fans like Parker Ewing, Bryan Satawa, Steve Semones, Lance Hale, Ray Flowers, and the like.

The 8/9 and especially the 7/10 round of 16s look tough, with #7 Sam Hojat projected to take on #10 Kipp Atwell if seeds hold early.

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Projected Qtrs:

If the top seeds hold, here’s what your quarters would look like:
– #1 Robert Collins v #8 Daniel Diaz; Collins is a long-time touring vet from Hawaii/NorCal who has been touring full time since 2013. Diaz is a wildcard; he played the Atlanta Tier1 earlier this year and lost two close matches to a couple of touring vets. He was the 2019 Texas state singles champ and could give Collins some grief, but I think Collins advances.
– #5 Bob Jackson has been playing top-level Racquetball for 25+ years: he was qualifying into main draws in the mid 1990s. He is projected to play Texan #4 Zach Williams, who ran to the final of this event last year and should be favored to move on here.
– #3 Destry Everhart is Alabama’s #1 player and has a ton of solid wins on his resume; he might face a tough round of 16 against top veteran Texan Lance Hale. In the quarter’s he’s set to face #6 Brennen Jennings, who has won the last few Texas shootouts he’s entered. This could be an upset pick by seed.
– #2 Maurice Miller, this event’s defending champ, projects to take on the Hojat/Atwell winner here for a spot in the semis.

Projected Semis:
– #1 Collins v #4 Williams: I think i like the veteran lefty to move on here.
– #2 Miller v #6 Jennings: I don’t think Miller is losing at this juncture.

Finals; #2 Miller defends his title over #1 Collins.

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Doubles review

14 teams entered, including a ton of players who aren’t in the singles pro draw. I like the #1 seeded team of Diaz/Jennings to advance to the semis. There they are set to face #4 seeds but defending champs Miller & Miller for a barn burner.

At the bottom, #2 seed Magana/Williams made the final last year and are favorites to get there again, though doubles teams with tough players like Collins and Richard Eisemann are in their side of the draw.

Look for the Millers to repeat and give Maurice the double.

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I’m sure there will be streaming this weekend; Plenty of the participants are regular/frequent participants of the Racquetball facebook groups.

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agsSponsor linksInternational Racquetball TourUSA RacquetballHashtags #racquetball#proracquetball#irt

WOR Historical Singles Data updated

Hawkes had 20 career Outdoor Nationals singles titles. Photo IRB cover shot

In Jan 2019, after years of research, WOR Hall of Fame chair Brett Elkins revealed a the initial results of his attempts to find all the past winners and semi-finalists of the Outdoor national championships singles events. PRS helped a little bit, finding old WOR nationals review articles in the magazines … but there’s not a ton of coverage even in the publications of the time, so kudos to Elkins for reaching out to the players from each era to test their memories on each event.

This note is to tell you that we’ve updated the PRS database to put in all the results of Elkin’s singles research so that All Finals and All Quarter/Semis/Finals reports work and display as much data as we have available. Furthermore I’ve added in some category queries so you can quickly run just the finals for Outdoor 3-wall and isolate that long-running event from the other major outdoor championships in Vegas and Florida.

Here’s some example queries for you, now live with “better” data than we had before:

All Men’s Outdoor Nats singles finals: http://rball.pro/946EC1
Current Record Holders for Outdoor Nats singles titles:
– Brian Hawkes with 20
– Rocky Carson with 12
– Several players with 2: Alvaro Beltran, Dan Southern, and Charlie Brumfield
– 8 players with 1 title each.

All Men’s Outdoor Nats Quarters/Semis/Finals: http://rball.pro/A8AE3F

Once you run the Quarters/Semis/Finals report, you can see the dilemma we face; prior to the R2 era starting in 2006, there’s almost no documented history of the event other than the stellar memory of the likes of Greg Solis, Mike Peters and others.

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The Women’s singles data isn’t as well populated: that’s one of Elkins’ todo items. We have the winners going back to 2006, nothing for most of the 1990s and 2000s, then some early history documenting the great rivalry between Lynn Adams and Martha McDonald.

All Women’s Outdoor Nats singles finals: http://rball.pro/54B622

Of course, there’s also a separate WOR Doubles database, with Men’s, Women’s and Mixed pro doubles reports for all three major WOR events; we published a major update for the Doubles Outdoor Nationals data last week.

Lastly a quick note that i’ve changed the “seasons” in WOR to be just the year in which the tourneys occurred, instead of assigning a “season” that crossed the Dec/Jan time-frame (which is what the pro tours do). This was an anachronism that I just never fixed, until now.

Enjoy!USA Racquetball

Annual Joes Tourney Wrap-up

Joe Kelley takes his own tourney on home soil. Photo credit: Stephen Fitzsimons, 2020 3WallBall

Congrats to Joe Kelley for winning on home turf and taking the first annual Average Joe’s Invitational at the Kelley house in Montague, NJ.

15 players representing 6 states (NY, NJ, MD, CT, NC and GA) came to the home of Joe and Sam Kelley, who recently completed construction on a court adjacent to their home. The facility is great, the play was great, and the streaming was constant all weekend.

Play kicked off Friday night with the round of 16, then played out the full draw by Saturday evening; here’s how things went

In the 16s:
– #1 Seed Brent Walters got a bye in the 16s and did a lot of reffing and streaming as a result.
– #9 Dylan Pruitt (who is NOT left handed, inside joke from my 3WallBall writeups last fall) topped Greg Caruso.8,8.
– #5 Joe Kelley topped Tony Prater 6,4
– #13 David Austin provided the biggest shock result of the round, crushing #4 Jon Justice 1,8 to move on.
– #3 Austin Cunningham topped #14 Josh Shea in a tight match 10,12. Shea is playing in his age 16 season and really hung well with the more experienced Cunningham.
– #6 Sam Kelley topped Aaron Dardini in two quick games 1,8.
– #7 Jose Dino Flores used his quick, compact swing and his agility to take out #10 lefty Jordan Walters in two games 9,6
– #2 Jason Sylvester beat Matt Mertz in two quick games 7,0.

In the Quarters:
– #9 Pruitt, recently graduated out of Juniors, played really solid ball to upset the #1 seed Walters and shake up the draw. Walters took the first game, but Pruitt battled back and dominated in the tiebreaker. final score (11),8,4
– #5 Kelley went tiebreaker against his frequent Jersey rival Austin, winning out in the battle of lefties to advance (13),4,6
– #3 Cunningham topped Sam Kelley in a breaker, splitting the first two games before advancing in the breaker. Final score (8),8,4
– #2 Sylvester edged out Flores in a battle between two long-time New England state level rivals. The two went 14-15, 15-14 in the first two games, with Sylvester saving match point against, before running away in the breaker 11-2. Not much between these two tough players on the day.

In the Semis:
– #5 Kelley dropped the first game 15-14 against the youngster from Maryland before rebounding to take game two 15-8. In the breaker, Pruitt ran off 5 quick points … and then hit a wall. Kelley ran off 11 unanswered points and took the breaker 11-5.
– #3 Cunningham made quick work of Sylvester, perhaps winded from his Flores battle, winning in two games 6,8 and displaying great reflexes and a sneaky fast serve that netted him points. He took match point with a behind-the-back roll-out.

In the final, Kelley mounted a furious comeback to shock Cunningham in game one, then cruised to the title in game two. Final score 13,7 (or perhaps 13,6 as Cunningham believes he lost a point on a technical to a fussy ref in Brent Walters

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Great event, great idea and it was awesome to watch from afar all day Saturday. Hope to see more live racquetball soon. Thanks to the participants and of course to the Kelley brothers for building this amazing court and hosting.

1st Annual Average Joes Invitational

So, In case you weren’t aware, the Kelley brothers from New Jersey have built a racquetball court at their house, complete with viewing area, mini-clubhouse and had it christened by none other than the legend Cliff Swain.

This weekend they’ve invited 15 of the top open players from up and down the East Coast to their home for a single elimination tournament. The draw sheet is out (Austin Cunningham posted it on Keep Racquetball Great earlier today).

Here’s PRS’ predictions on how it will play out.

In the round of 16s.
– #1 seed North Carolinian Brent Walters gets a bye, which is probably good since he’s the oldest player in the draw. He’ll need his energy come Saturday night.
– In the #9/#8, I’ve got Maryland’s own Dylan Pruitt taking out New Jersey native #8 Greg Caruso in a slight upset. They played twice in mid 2019 and Pruitt beat him both times.
– #5 and host Joe Kelley takes out #12 Connecticut-based Tony Prater in the opener.
– #4 North Carolina’s Jon Justice takes out #13 Jersey native David Austin.
– #3 Georgian Austin Cunningham takes out NY’s #14 Josh Shea.
– #6 Fellow host @sam kelley handles New Yorker #11 Aaron Dardani.
– #7 Connecticut native Jose Flores takes out #10 North Carolina native Jordan Walters in a tight match.
– #2 New Yorker Jason Sylvester handles #15 Jersey native Matt Mertz.Just one upset by seeding in the 8/9, though the 7/10 could flip as well depending on how much Flores has been playing.

In the quarters we start to see some matches.
– #1 Reigning NC state champ Walters handles the youngster Pruitt.
– #4 2019 NC state runner up Justice takes out Joe Kelley.
– #3 Cunningham drops a game, but advances over Sam Kelley, knocking both brothers/hosts out in the quarters.
– #2 Sylvester goes tiebreaker but advances over long-time NE rival Flores.Chalk to the semis.

In the Semis:
– Walters prevails over his NC rival Justice in the semis.
– Cunningham takes out the veteran Sylvester.

In the final…
– Walters takes out Cunningham.

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Keep an eye out at KRG group and for Cunningham, Pruitt and Walters streaming the matches; they’re always good for it. They’ve already started streaming practice doubles matches this afternoon, and its great to see the guys back on the court.

IRT Suivant Consulting Pro-Am Grand Slam Wrap up

Murray becomes the 41st ever winner on the pro tour. Photo Kevin Savory 2018 US Open

Congrats to your winners on the weekend:

– Singles: Samuel Murray

– Doubles; Alex Landa/Sudsy Monchik

Also congrats to the winners of the massive Open and 18U draws (which we’ll talk about later on):

– Men’s Open: Andres Acuna

– Men’s Open Doubles: Moscoso/Carrasco

– 18U Juniors: Erick Trujillo

Murray, who was in jeopardy of not even traveling to the tournament thanks to Covid-related travel restrictions coming out of Canada, becomes the 41st ever Tier 1 tournament winner in the history of Men’s pro tours. Ironically, the previous person to fulfil that particular bucket list item was also the player he vanquished in the final. Murray had a fantastic event, getting his first ever wins over both Mar and De La Rosa, then playing solid racquetball all weekend to win the title. Arguably Murray was the underdog in every match from the round of 16 on, and proved all pundits and prognosticators wrong.

(see http://rball.pro/ABA6F8 for a list of all tour winners in history).

On the Doubles side, the reigning US national team champs topped a number of top teams en route to the final, including two top international teams that they might face in the next IRF championship. They seem to be growing as a team and looking more dangerous the more they play together.

R2 Sports App home page for event: https://www.r2sports.com/website/event-website.asp?TID=34826

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Lets review the notable matches in the Singles draw.

Singles Match report in the PRS database: http://rball.pro/A1D93C

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In the 64s, the huge draw made for 16 round of 64 matches, and we saw a couple of surprising results and tough tiebreakers:

– Up and coming Costa Rican international Gabriel Garcia moved past solid Alabama-native Destry Everhart 9,9 in the always-tough #32/#33 matchup.

– Junior Timmy Hansen moved past the ref Scott McClellan 12,11 in a hard fought opener.

– Another member of the Costa Rican team

Sergio Acuña

was stretched to a tiebreaker by home-town favorite Austin Cunningham before advancing (13),13,7.

– #19 Sam Bredenbeck dropped the opener against relative newcomer Texan Brennen Jennings before moving on (9),11,4.

– #23 MoMo Zelada was pressed by top amateur player from Monterrey Daniel Diaz 13,9 before advancing. This is the first time i’ve seen Diaz in any top-level competition tracked by PRS and he played well, hope to see more of him on tour.

– In one of the best matches of the opening round, 18U junior lefty Andrew Gleason came from a game down to beat tough Bolivian Miguel A. Arteaga Guzman (5),5,7. Gleason showed some great mental toughness for a junior, many of whom would have folded after a first game beat down.

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In the 32s, we saw the top 16 pros enter into the draw for the first time … and the draw went perfectly chalk. Every one of the top 16 seeds advanced. There were a couple notable matches though.

– the #16/#17 seed match always seems to provide a close call, and this was no exception. #16 Javier Estrada took out his doubles partner and good friend

Alan Natera Chavez

12,10.

– #9

Sebastian Franco

was stretched a little too close for comfort against improving youngster

Erick Cuevas

before advancing 8,14

– #14 Costa Rican number one Andres Acuña came back from a game down against the improved Sam Bredenbeck to advance in a breaker.

– #11

Thomas Carter

was also stretched to a tie-breaker by the Bolivian veteran

Kadim Carrasco

before moving on.

– #10 Mario Mercado blitzed by Zelada 6,8, making much faster work than the last time they played (season opener in Laurel in Sept 2019).

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In the 16s, despite the size of the draw and all the upset potential …. the draw went chalk again. All top 8 seeds advanced.

– #1

Alex Landa

took a game off, but advanced over the big man from Chihuahua Estrada. Final score 11,(1),9

– #8 Jake Bredenbeck advanced past fellow big hitter #9 Franco] 6,10 in the 8/9 match which is typically a lot closer.

– #5

Samuel Murray

fought back from dropping game one to the dangerous #12 Javier Mar before advancing 11-7 in the breaker. I thought for sure this was an upset special.

– #4 Daniel De La Rosa made fast work of #13 Eduardo Garay Rodriguez 7,1 … a result that might give the rest of the tournament pause.

– #3

Andree Parrilla

crushed the Costa Rican #1 Acuna 1,4 . A great result for Parrilla, who was struggling for consistency when the tour paused.

– #6 Eduardo Portillo Rendon was stretched to a breaker by the suddenly dangerous Carter before advancing.

– #7

Conrrado Moscoso

beat fellow Bolivian native #10 Mercado in two straight, a solid win against an opponent that used to give him trouble.

– #2 Rocky Carson shook off the rust and advanced past

Adam Manilla

, who played him tough in game two but could not force the breaker.

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In the Quarters, we started to see the seeds breaking down, in a slew of fantastic matches that put the show court behind nearly 3 hours inside of 3 matches (the last quarter final was a 1pm scheduled start and didn’t go on until nearly 4pm). Lets recap

– #1 Landa over #8 Jake: Landa made it 10 for 10 in top competitions versus Jake, but the big Minnesotan did not make it easy, keeping it close throughout. Landa advances 11,13.

– #5 Canadian number one Murray got his first career win over #4 DLR in an 11-9 thriller. Game one was back and forth, with DLR coming back to eke it out 15-14, then Murray blitzed game two in about 10 minutes to force the tiebreaker. There, the players were neck and neck, playing back and forth racquetball that was just great for the neutrals, with DLR shooting constantly, Murray putting on a defensive and diving clinic, and then Sam pulling out a great winner to break a 9-9 tie that had lasted several service changes before DLR pressed on a forehand winner to skip out at match point against.

– #6 Portillo showed some real veteran poise throughout his match against #3 Parrilla, keeping to his game plan and grinding out the 11-8 tiebreaker win. This isn’t necessarily Lalo’s best ever win (he beat Carson in Arizona in 2019) or his best result (he made the final of the 2020 Lewis Drug) but it was the kind of match he won when he wasn’t necessarily favored to win, and he did it by just out playing and out thinking his opponent.

– #7 Moscoso got another win over #2 Carson in an IRT event (the third in as many pro meetings), but really had to dig deep to do so. Carson controlled game one, but Moscoso ground back in game two before racing to the 11-4 breaker win. Kane and Sudsy were on the mike for the first part of this match and put on a broadcasting clinic, with some of the best in-match analysis you’ll ever see. It is worth a re-listen to the broadcast.

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In the Semis

– #1 Landa seemed to show some of the effects of the layoff and lots of play on Saturday, looking tired throughout the match. He was pressed continually by the Canadian #1, who put on an absolute clinic on defensive racquetball and athletic prowess diving around the court and showing amazing agility for a big man. Murray saved match point against and ran off a couple points for victory on the back of a couple of pretty amazing kill shots from the back court. This was one of those matches you wished was still win by two, because there was little separating these two players on the day. Murray advances to just his second ever pro final, first since Sept 2018 with the 11-10 thriller.

– #7 Moscoso advanced to the finals over #6 Portillo, but Lalo continued to show his maturation as a player, bouncing back from an embarrassing first game 15-2 shellacking to take a game from one of the world’s best players before falling quickly in the breaker. Moscoso advances to his 3rd major final in just 10 career tournaments and is in a great spot to take another title.

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So, just to note the pathway for the two finalists:

– Murray has beaten Mar, DLR and Landa to get here.

– Moscoso has beaten Mercado, Carson and Portillo.

Murray in particular really having a great event.

In the Finals…

Murray controlled game one easily, playing smart racquetball and exposing Moscoso’s go-for-broke style. Conrrado came back in game two, getting on a hot streak to push to a breaker. In the tie-breaker, Murray continued to grind out points, playing smart racquetball and counter-punching against Moscoso’s shots. Momentum seemed to swing against Murray as Moscoso ran off four straight towards the end … but Murray stiffened up, played smart racquetball, mixed in a few highlight-reel 39 foot roll outs of his own to match the flashier Moscoso, then ended the match with a diving re-kill roll-out to take his first ever IRT title.

Murray played lights out all weekend, and more than earned this title.

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Points Implications of results

Well, we’re not entirely sure what the points implication of this event will be, because we’re not sure what the tour will do yet with the rankings points The points have been frozen since March, but just turning the system back on and expiring 9 months of points will have a pretty radical effect on the rankings.

There’s talk of changing the points system as a result, to go away from a rolling 12-month calendar for the time being to something based on the last 10 tourneys, or perhaps the last two years of events. There’s also talk of moving to a calendar year system versus a rolling seasonal system.

IF (and this is a big if) we were to stick with rolling 12-months and just expire the points dating to the end of 2019 … then these are some of the big-time moves we’ll see in the rankings:

– DLR jumps to #2

– Finalists Murray and Moscoso jump to #3 and #4 respectively.

– Landa drops to #5

– Mercado jumps to #7

– Estrada, amazingly, jumps from #23 to #8

– Parrilla gets dropped to #9

– Manilla, also surprisingly , jumps from #21 to #10.

– Beltran drops all the way to #11

– And lastly, most amazingly, Carson would drop from #3 all the way to #15. That’s right; Rocky, a player who has not been outside the top 3 in 20 years or so, had such a badly timed run of results and missed early 2020 events due to injury that he’d nearly be out of the top 16.

Take all this with a grain of salt, because I sense the ranking system needs to be modified to protect against such radical moves. Stay tuned.

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Pro Doubles review

Doubles Match report in the PRS database: http://rball.pro/6066EC

The 14-team doubles draw provided a ton of interesting results on the first night of competition, with a ton of really surprising results. Here’s a walk through.

In the 16s:

– #3 seeds DLR and tournament sponsor Donald Williams were handled by the local team of Zachary Patterson and Austin Cunningham 14,3. I thought the presence of top doubles player DLR would get them at least a round further, but they fall at the opener.

– #6 seeded Colombian’s Garay and Franco dug deep to hold off the tough pair of Mexicans from Chihuahua Natera & Estrada in two tight games 14,10. They’re setup for a good shot at the final.

– #10 seeds and new pairing Carter & Mar really surprised me and blew past the all-Colombian team of Mercado and Herrera 6,5. Mercado is such a good doubles player, I thought this would have gone the other way based on the inexperience of Carter+Mar pairing … but as they say, this is why they play the games.

In the Quarters

– #1 Murray/Jake had to go breaker to top the experienced Costa Rican pair of Acuna/Camacho.

– #4 Sudsy Monchik and Landa had a tense, tight match against the Bolivian team of Moscoso/Carrasco, pulling it out in a heated breaker where the American reps came back from 5-8 down in the breaker to run the match out. At the death, a highly contested two-bounce call, several debatable replays and then match point awarded via an avoidable when Monchik had a setup in the middle of the court that hit a jumping Moscoso. It was an animated finish to say the least.

– #3 Garay/Franco destroyed the Cinderella local team of Patterson/Cunningham to move into the semis.

– #2 Parrilla/Portillo took a close 2-game win 11,13 over Carter/Mar.

In the semis…

– The US national team of Monchik/Landa stiffened up after a first game blowout loss to #1 seeded Murray/Jake and eventually cruised to the tiebreaker 11-3 to move into the finals.

– The Colombian national team of Franco/Garay held off match point in game two, then blew it out in the breaker to move into the final over the #2 seeded all-Mexico team of Parrilla/Portillo.

In the final…

– Monchik & Landa had match point on their racquets … twice, but the new Colombian pairing of Franco/Garay fought back and forced the breaker. There. the US champs controlled throghout and ground out the win. The tail end of game two was some of the best doubles play i’ve ever seen, with all four players hitting amazing shots, and both teams showing tactical adjustments on the fly to try to strategize their way to a win.

—————-

Men’s Open review; a 35-man open draw went down, with a ton of top pro players dipping down into the draw and making for some great matches.

In the final, Acuna topped Natera in a breaker. Floridian vet

Alejandro Herrera Azcarate

and Costa Rican newcomer Gabriel Garcia were the semi finalists.

—————–

18U Junior draw review

The IRT is embarking on a new program to highlight juniors, and Atlanta was their first foray into the program. A large scholarship purse was devoted to the draw and they got a fantastic multi-national 18U junior draw as a result.

The top two 18U players from Mexico advanced to the final, with

Erick Trujillo

topping 2019 Mexican 16U champ Sebastian Longoria in a breaker. American juniors Gleason and

Benjamin Horner

were the semifinalists.

—————–

Thanks for all the streaming on the weekend, especially from broadcasters Dean DeAngelo Baer, Favio Soto, Pablo Fajre and the IRTLive crew . Also a special shoutout to

Sudsy Monchik

and Kane Waselenchuk, who provided amazing commentary for some of the Saturday afternoon matches.

——————

Next up? the next “known” event from any major organization is Mid March’s Shamrock shootout in Chicago-land. We hope to have something hit in February but the odds seem low.

——————-

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