2024 Warhawk Open Preview

There’s a nice pro draw at the Warhawk open this weekend, a great local tournament held on the campus of the University of Louisiana – Monroe (hence the Warhawk moniker; that’s their mascot).

Quick tangent on the mascot name “Warhawk.” My high school’s mascot was also the Warhawks, which seemed initially like an odd choice for a high school in the leafy suburbs of Washington DC named after a President who served in the early 1800s (James Madison High School in Vienna, Virginia), until one does a little bit of research into the War of 1812. The war, fought against the British, occurred during Madison’s term and was spurred on thanks to a faction of congress called, yes you guessed it, the “War Hawks.” They were convinced that the British were “violating the honor” of the young country and pushed for war, to which eventually Madison agreed. A “hawk” in political parlance continues to be used today to describe someone who forcefully advocates for something usually related to the military (i.e., someone is a “Military Hawk” if they push for more military spending).

See https://sharetngov.tnsosfiles.com/…/exhi…/1812/index.htm or https://sharetngov.tnsosfiles.com/…/exh…/1812/intro3.htm

So, how does a university in Monroe, Louisiana end up with Warhawk as a mascot? Ironically, Louisiana (which was purchased by Madison’s predecessor in the White House, Mr. Jefferson) became a state in April of 1812, about 2 months before the declaration of war was made, but there’s no evidence politicians from the former French territory were part of the War Hawk movement that led to war. Instead, It turns out that UL-Monroe, like many universities in the US, had a Native American-themed mascot that the NCAA forced them to change. And in 2006 the school conducted a poll of its students, and War hawk was a suggestion.

So where’d they get that name from? Well, it turns out a famous general from WWII named Claire Lee Chennault grew up in Franklin parish, just outside of Monroe, commanded a squadron of planes nicknamed “War hawks” in the war, and there’s now a Chennault Aviation and Military Museum near the Monroe airport. So its a fitting tribute to a famous local military hero.

see https://ulmhawkeyeonline.com/…/warhawk-is-more-than…/ for more.

2022 IRT Capital Classic Recap

Congrats to your winners on the weekend:

– Singles: Eduardo Portillo

– Doubles; Adam Manilla and Jake Bredenbeck

Portillo becomes the 43rd man to ever win a Tier 1 pro tournament, following on recent first time winners Mario Mercado (Nov 2021), and Samuel Murray (Jan 2021). See http://rb.gy/krq4sh for a full list of the 43 players to win Tier 1s.

Meanwhile, Manilla/Jake win an upset-laden pro doubles event, giving the lefty American his first ever pro doubles title and Jake his second.

R2 Sports App home page for event: https://www.r2sports.com/website/event-website.asp?TID=39163


Lets review the notable matches in the Singles draw.

Singles Match report in the PRS database: http://rb.gy/gd4moc


In the 128s and 64s:

– No major surprises for me; #18 seed @JoJordy Alon had visa issues that prevented him from traveling, robbing the draw of a potential darkhorse.

– This gave #21 Kyle Ulliman a bye into the round of 32, after escaping Maryland local player @BeBen Bleyer by the skin of his teeth, 11-10.

– All the other 7 top seeds escaped the early rounds unscathed.


In the 32s the two notable results for me were:

– Local fan favorite @MMauricio Zela getting a huge upset win over #11 @Andres Acuña 13,12. Acuna has been putting himself into the conversation for months with his excellent play, but was taken out by Maryland-based Zelada.

– #15 @Adam Manilla got a very solid win over #23 @Jaime Marte , dominating action 9,6 to move on.

– all your other top seeds advanced at this juncture, mostly in two fast games. We’re definitely starting to see some separation in the 9-16 players as compared to the 17-onwards players on tour.


In the 16s, some fireworks.

#17Javier Mar got a very rare 17-over-1 seed upset of #1 @Andree Parrilla , 10,11. How Rare? Since 2008 (when we started capturing seeds on tour), only three other times a 17 seed has topped a #1 seed … and they were all forfeit wins. We’ve had some 16-over-1 wins here and there, but never a 17-over-1.

see http://rb.gy/gd4moc for the “Highest Seed to…” report for some fun data.

– #5 Conrrado Moscoso took out his countryman @Carlos Keller Vargas 10,14, a frequent tipping point for these two players, who know each other’s game so well.

– #3 @Alex Landa survived 11-10 against @Rodrigo Montoya Solis , a match I thought might go the other way in my prediction piece.

– #10 Adam Manilla crushed #7 Mario Mercado 9,6 on essentially Mario’s home courts. Manilla really looked solid this weekend.

– #2 Kane Waselenchuk took some time to get going against #15 @Thomas Carter , giving up 10 in the first before dominating for the 10,2 win.


In the Quarters, I was on-site broadcasting for the IRT, and did parts of all four quarter finals. So I definitely have some more detailed observations than I normally have.

– #17 Mar continued his run, handling #8 @Jake Bredenbeck in two 7,8. My take on this match was simple: Mar’s shot making ability outclassed Jake’s power. Despite his pedigree on the world racquetball stage, this represents the first time Mar has ever advanced to a pro semi final.

– #4 Murray downed #5 Moscoso 11,4. I saw Sam before the match and he discussed his game plan with me, and played it to perfection. He continually forced Moscoso into the back court, where the impatient Bolivian often took an ill advised shot instead of hitting a defensive ceiling ball, and over-and-over we saw Murray capitalize and score points. By midway through the second game, Moscoso was just going through the motions until he loss was sealed.

– #6 Lalo Portillo out Landa’d Landa and won 11,8 in a match that perhaps wasn’t as close as the scores suggested. Portillo played impeccable strategic racquetball on the day, kept Landa the shooter at bay, made the right shots, waited for his opportunities and executed.

– #2 @Kane Waselenchuk downed his second straight lefty in Manilla 11,7, a score-line that really showed how well Adam was playing on the day. Kane looked rusty from the layoff, wasn’t as sharp as you normally expect, and the fit-and-inform Manilla scored points. Just not enough to win.

Some have asked when Kane has ever played two lefties in a row … a quick glance at his match history (http://rb.gy/6slu5z ) shows a couple of times:

– in Dec 2000, he played THREE lefties in a row: @Javier Moreno , @Clous Woody , then @Cliff Swai . Hard to do.

– In 2004 he played @Mike Guidry and Swain back to back.

– In New Orleans 2005 he played Mitch Williams and Guidry back to back before Hurricane Katrina washed out the event.

– At the 2002 US Open he played Mitch, Moreno AND Cliff in one event.

– There’s probably a few more in there, especially if he played a non-regular on tour who was lefty.


In the Semis,

– #17 Mar continued into the final with an excellent 13,13 tactical win over Murray.

Its his first pro final, on the back of his first pro semi.

– On the other side of the draw, perhaps a seminal moment in the tour’s history occurred. Two points into his semi final against an in-form Portillo, Kane suffered a non-contact injury when he pushed off his right foot to go after a passing shot. As of this writing we’re not sure what the injury is, but it looked like either an achilles or a calf issue. If t his is the worst-case, its a 6-month rehab for a player already at the twighlight, and one may wonder if this is the last time we see Kane on tour.

In the Finals, Portillo crushed Mar 7,3 in a comprehensive win, just on auto pilot of put aways and winning shots. Lalo was unstoppable on the weekend, and while some say he got a break by not having to beat Kane on the court, this is a deserved win.


Points Implications of results

This tournament expires the Jan 2021 Grand Slam in Atlanta, which featured double points and Murray/Moscoso in the final. So those players lost a ton of points … but ironically didn’t lose a ton of ground in the standings.

After this event, here’s what we’ll see in the rankings:

– Kane overtakes Parrilla for #2, not that it will matter, since it seems highly unlikely he will be in Minnesota right now.

– Portillo’s win vaults him to #5 on tour, pushing down Murray and Moscoso.

– Keller and Beltran both missed Atlanta, so they only gained points on the weekend and both moved up 3 spots.

– Acuna took a dive down, now ranked #16.

– Despite the final, Mar only improved slightly to #20 on tour now.

Assuming Kane is out of the Open and no other absences, your top 8 seeds will go DLR, Parrilla, Landa, Portillo, Murray, Moscoso, Carson, Mercado. I point this out because matchups matter (as we saw with Moscoso/Murray), and DLR would be ecstatic to see that he’s avoiding Landa, Moscoso, and Carson in his side of the bracket (all of whom give him trouble).


Doubles review

Missing partners made for all sorts of new and weird doubles teams t his weekend, and it played out in the results. The #1, #2, and #4 seeded teams all lost in the quarters, while the event was eventually won by #7 seeded Manilla, and Jake, playing together for the first time. they denied Portillo (playing with Acuna) from getting a rare men’s double on the weekend, topping them in the final.

Match report in the PRS database: http://rb.gy/q4pmak


Men’s Open, other draws

– Martell took the Men’s Open draw by default over #1 seed @AlaNate Alan . Ohio’s @ViVictor Miglio and New Jersey’s @Joe Joe K were your semi finalists.

– Open Doubles was taken by the Bolivian team of Keller/Carrasco, topping home-town favorite @Troy Warigon playing with @Maurice Miller in the final.


Thanks for all the streaming on the weekend, especially from broadcasters @DeDean Baer , Gary Mazaroff ,Pablo Fajre and the IRTLive crew

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


Next up?

Per our handy master racquetball calendar …


The next event is the big one. US Open. We have a break in the schedule this coming weekend, then we’re in action in Minneapolis.



LPRT 2022 Vero Beach Open Preview

Sotomayor hosts the LPRT at her home club; how far can she go in the tourney? Photo unk source

The first LPRT event of the new year comes in a brand new location with a brand-new host: the one and only Sudsy Monchik. Sudsy and his family recently relocated to Vero Beach from Ecuador, took over programming at their club, and committed to bringing the ladies pros to South Florida.

This event is unique: no amateur draws, no full-service weekend long tournament. Just a pro draw, being held at a facility with two courts. This could be an interesting pathway forward for the pro tours, one that’s more in line with what we see in other professional racquet sports like Squash and Tennis. Thanks to this setup, every single pro match will be streamed live on the weekend, starting at 10am today 2/17/22! Log in and follow @LPRT to get live streaming notifications.

R2 Sports App link: https://www.r2sports.com/website/event-website.asp?TID=38227

24 Ladies are committed to Florida for the weekend.

top-20 players missing; We have 17 of the top 20 ladies pros here; No #4 Gaby Martínez, no #11 Valeria Centellas, And #9 Samantha Salas Solis was a last-minute drop, which definitely changes the pathway for several key players and radically alters the doubles draw. Read on for more.

Lets preview the draw.
In the round of 32, the top 8 pros neatly get a bye. We have some pretty compelling play-in matches. Here’s

  • #16/#17 Amaya Cris versus Hollie Rae Scott is a solid match, as the 16/17 always is. They’ve met once: a 12-10 fifth game barn burner back in 2019. Since then, Scott has been improving and Amaya has been slipping, so I expect a straight forward Scott win here.
  • #9 Brenda Laime Jalil gets jumped three spots thanks to absences and matches her career best seeding. She faces Costa Rican junior Maricruz Ortiz in her opener. While Cruz is tough, Laime has been spending time practicing with two top IRT touring pros and gets better every tournament.
  • #14/#19 features an intriguing matchup between the lefty Mexican Montserrat Pérez and the LPRT veteran @Maria Renee Rodriguez. I can see this going breaker with a possible upset.
  • #11 Nancy Enriquez is the unlucky loser of the “who gets to play Verónica Sotomayor in the opening round” sweepstakes. Sotomayor is the #22 seed and is on her home court. Enriquez has been playing well … but nobody out there has a better training partner than Vero. Look for the upset here; Sotomayor was a top-8 player before starting a family and is still in her prime years of playing.
  • In the #15/#18 match-up, we have an interesting one as well. Veteran @Sheryl Lotts faces off against the junior Bolivian phenom Micaela Meneses Cuellar. Meneses has a couple of decent wins on tour, and has played some top players tough. Lotts faces a tough opponent who gets better every tournament. Upset watch here, in as much as an 18 over 15 seed is an upset.

Projecting the round of 16:

  • #1 Paola Longoria should cruise past Scott, who can hang for some points but isn’t as consistent in her shot making as the champ (who is?)
  • In the #8/#9 we get Laime versus the veteran Rhonda Rajsich. They played a couple times back in April 2019, both times Rhonda wins but both times five game barn-burners. The shorter format (and the early round) favors the older player here, but Laime has also markedly improved since. I still like Brenda for the upset.
  • #5 Angelica Barrios vs #12 Manilla. This is an excellent opportunity for Manilla to get back to the pro quarters; of all the top 8 seeds she probably matches up best with the Bolivian. Angelica plays an ultra control game with her abbreviated swing mechanics, while Manilla plays more of a classical power game with athleticism and shot-making. This match will come down to whether or not Manilla grows frustrated with Barrios’ ability to hit little dink winners from all over the court and sticks with a gameplan of overpowering her younger opponent. A winnable match for Erika.
  • #4 Natalia Mendez faces USA’s @Kelani Lawrence. Amazingly, they’ve never met in any competition that PRS tracks, so this is all speculation. Mendez is #4 for a reason, Lawrence has played top-4 players tough tournament after tournament but has yet to get a breakthrough win. It may be tough for her this weekend.
  • #3 Maria Jose Vargas Parada, pushed out of #2 for the first time in months, should cruise past the winner of Perez/MRR to advance to the quarters.
  • #6 Montse Mejia projects to face Sotomayor, which should be interesting because these two have been training together in advance of this event. So they’ll be quite familiar with each other’s game. It will be a too-early departure for one of these top players; both are quarter final or better players on tour right now. This game comes down to Mejia’s mental state; she’s the most gifted natural player on tour (and yes I’m including the #1 player), and has shown the ability to cruise through draws and beat everyone in the world (including Longoria). But she takes weird losses early all the time. I’m going with Sotomayor in the upset again; Vero plays with such steely, controlled emotions on the court; she doesn’t get rattled, she calmly goes through point to point. That can unnerve a more passionate player.
  • #7 @Jessica Parrilla versus #10 Carla Muñoz Montesinos. Tough match here: the last time they played it was 11-10 in the breaker. I’m thinking this goes breaker again, and the Mexican pulls it out, but would not be surprised to see Munoz advance either.
  • – #2 Alexandra Herrera is set to face the junior Meneses, who will get some points here and there, but the solid Herrera will move on.

Projected Qtrs:

  • #1 Longoria over Laime with little trouble. Laime’s game will be neutralized by the methodical Paola, who will run off points in streaks to advance.
  • #4 Mendez stops Manilla’s run in the quarters. It should be spirited, but Mendez is tough to beat before the semis on tour right now. Manilla will need to scheme long and hard with brother Adam Manilla to find a winning game plan.
  • #3 Vargas versus Sotomayor; two more ladies who regularly train with each other. Both play the same game; classical power racquetball. Who can do it better? I like Sotomayor’s mental game here a bit more than Vargas, but if Maria Jose has her game going she’s tough to top. Vargas in a breaker.
  • #2 Herrera over her countrywoman Parrilla. It has been more than 6 years since Jessica was able to top Alexandra, and I don’t see that changing here.
    Semis: I’m predicting chalk to the semis. From there …
  • #1 Longoria over Mendez; Mendez has lost all 7 meetings to Longoria, but has taken games here and there.
  • #3 Vargas tops Herrera. Alexandra got a first win over Vargas in Chicago in November 2021, enough to propel her to #2 on tour, but Vargas is the better player and should advance.

Finals; Longoria over Vargas.

Doubles review
Salas’ last minute withdrawal has made for a new doubles team; Longoria has picked up MRR as her partner and get the #2 seed. It should be interesting to see whether Longoria can carry a new partner along to the title.
From the top of the doubles draw, its hard to see anyone other than the top pairing of Herrera/Mejia advancing. They’ve been regularly playing together for a while now, have a couple of Mexican national titles over the Longoria/Salas team, and are tough to beat.
From the bottom of the draw, can MRR hold her own against these top teams if they double-serve her? We’ll see. The Vargas/Mendez team is tough to beat and I like them for the final.

In the final, Look for Mexico over Argentina.

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 Tj Baumbaugh on the mike, calling the shots!
Also, the venerable JT R Ball is heading to Florida and has been doing promotion of the event for weeks.
Look for Streaming on USA Racquetball’s page, with Leo Vasquez on the mike as always!
Thanks to the Tourney Director @Sudsy Monchik again for putting this event on!
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