USA Racquetball Junior Nationals Preview

Timmy Hansen goes for a repeat in boys 18U. Photo unk source


We’re back on the US National tournament circuit, a month past May’s Singles and Doubles, and this time we’re in Des Moines, IA for the 48th annual @USA Racquetball Junior Nationals tournament. First held in 1974 in San Diego, the first Boys 18U winner was one Jerry Zuckerman, who went on to play in 39 pro events throughout the 1970s. The second ever junior nationals 18U division was won by none other than @Marty Hogan , who of course would go on to quickly start adding Pro titles to his resume and who changed the course of the sport. The Girls didn’t start having divisions until 1978, and the first Girls 18U champ was Lislie Lindskog.
101 participants are in Iowa this weekend, a nice improvement over last year’s junior turnout, and they’re in for a ton of racquetball.
R2sports link: https://www.r2sports.com/tourney/home.asp?TID=39341

Click here for Junior matrix Reports which show every winner for every year in one place:

  • Boys US Junior National champs: http://rb.gy/pju5me
  • Girls US junior national champs: http://rb.gy/lucca0
    Junior tournaments are like previewing 20 individual tournaments, since you’re talking about multiple age group draws, so here’s a few words about each of the singles draws:
    Boys 21U: The relatively new 21U division has 7 players playing it, headlined by #1 seed Micah Farmer. I suspect it will be an upset if Farmer doesn’t take it.
    Boys 18U features four names familiar to most pro rball fans; #1 seed Timmy Hansen (son of Hall of Famer Tim Hansen), #2 seed New Yorker Josh Shea , #3 seed lefty Iowa’n @AnAndrew Gleason , and #4 seed Texan @D.J. Mendoza. All four are periodic IRT players and the semis should be excellent. Hansen is the defending champ but I think Shea is the favorite to win this.
    Boys 16U is headlined by the defending champ @Nikhil Prasad , who already has 6 Junior National titles and is an overwhelming favorite here. But there’s a huge draw with a ton of challengers here. #2 @Gatlin Sunderland was a semi finalist in 16U last year, #6 Mendoza is competing in both 16U and 18U and could be a dark horse, and #5 @Benjamin Horne made the quarters of 18U last year as a 15yr old. Lots of fun here.
    Boys 14U: The #1 seed is last year’s champ Eshan Ali, but he’ll be challenged by last year’s 12U champ and fellow Northern California player #2 Nathan Ryhkus to repeat and claim his 5th junior national title.
    Boys12U’s will have a new champ, with Ryhkus moving up. Last year’s 10U champ Alejandro Robles-Pincon is the #2 seed and a favorite, projected to face #1 seed Vaishant Mangalampalli if seeds hold.

Boys 10U Double Bounce returns for the first time since 2019, with four new-comers set to compete. No other younger groups (8U, 8Umb, 6U) are being competed this year.

Girls 21U will be a fun one, with a few LPRT regulars entered along with a couple of newer names that could surprise. Graci Wargo , @Annie Roberts, @Shane Diaz, and @Estefania Perez-Picon have all featured on the pro tour this season, and watching these up and coming American’s compete here will be great experience. My money is Roberts 1, Diaz 2, Perez-Picon 3.
Girls 18U features a full 16 player draw, headlined by 8-time US Junior champ @Heather Mahoney as the #1 seed. #2 is @Julia Stein, a veteran junior player who won 10U in 2013. The rest of the draw is filled with veterans of High School nationals, with 10 players hailing from the St. Louis league.
Girls 16U’s draw is headlined by its defending champ @Naomi Ros, who also happens to have played in half the LPRT events this year. She took the 16U final last year over #2 seed @Ava Kaiser … so hard not to predict a rematch there. Ros won a couple of Mexican Junior national titles before moving here in 2020, and now is set to compete for the US for the forseeable future. Watch out though for the #3 and #4 seeds: Sonya Shetty has 3 junior national titles herself, and Andrea Perez-Picon is no stranger to the pro tour herself (and the 14U finalist to Shetty last year). Tough semis and finals here.

Girls 14U: #1 Andrea Perez-Picon is in the driver’s seat here, the finalist last year and also reigning 12U champ.

There’s also both gender doubles and Mixed doubles this weekend, with many players competing in all three. The 18U doubles tournaments in particular look great, and I hope we get to see some streaming.
Leo Vazquez is back on the USAR mike this weekend; follow USAR and sign up for live stream notifications all weekend.

LPRT TeamRoot.com SuperMax Wrap-Up

Longoria wraps up her 12th pro titile. Photo via US Open 2019, Kevin Savory


Congrats to your winners on the weekend:

  • Singles: Paola Longoria
  • Doubles: Alexandra Herrera/Erika Manilla
    Longoria secures her 107th career Tier1 title and sews up her 12th year end #1 title. Manilla wins her first ever pro doubles title, teaming with the hobbled Herrera.
  • R2 Sports App home page for event: https://www.r2sports.com/website/event-website.asp?TID=39192

Lets review the notable matches in the Singles draw.

Singles Match report in the PRS database: http://rball.pro/466E25

In the 32s, a couple of notable results:

  • In the 16/17, Lotts got a solid win over MRR in a breaker.
  • In the 15/18, Scott held serve and downed Centellas in a breaker.
  • Munoz absolutely destroyed Meneses 0,4 to move on. Meneses has gone from one promising result after another to getting blown away in the last two pro stops.

In the 16s, a slew of upsets and surprising results.

  • #1 Longoria was pushed to a breaker by Lotts before advancing. These two played in the South Carolina event a month ago and it was a 3,1 beat-down. Bravo to Lotts for playing really well here.
  • #8 Manilla got a really solid win over #9 Parrilla to continue her excellent run of form.
  • #5 Gaby was pushed to a breaker by #12 Laime (now representing Colombia)
  • #13 Salas got an upset win over #4 Mendez in a breaker.
  • #3 Vargas was upset by #14 Munoz in a breaker. (note: Vargas is roughly 4months pregnant, a likely factor in the upset loss, not taking away anything from Carla’s solid win of course).
  • #6 Mejia looked quite dominant over #11 Lawrence, and the bottom side of this draw has opened up widely for the defending champ (as we’ll see in a moment)
  • #10 Rajsich turned back the clock on #7 Barrios, a player half her age, to advance to the quarters.
  • In the biggest upset, #2 Herrera, who reportedly was in a walking boot last week, defaulted her match to American Hollie Scott after just a few points.

    So, that’s #2, #3, #4, #7, and #8 out at this juncture, a ton of upsets.

Also, 3 American’s into the quarter finals for the first time in a pro event since 2016.

In the Quarters:

  • #1 Longoria was pressed in game two by Manilla, but held on for a 4,13 win.
  • #13 Salas turned back the clock and got her second top -5 win in a row, dominating Gaby 5,12 to return to the semis for the first time since this event last year.
  • #6 Mejia made fast work of Munoz 1,7
  • – #18 Scott dominated her fellow team USA teammate Rajsich to make her first ever pro Semi final.

In the Semis, no real shocks. #1 Longoria trounced Salas to beat her for the 55th time in 58 pro meetings, while #6 Mejia handled Scott efficiently to setup a rematch of last year’s final in this same event.

In the Finals, Mejia bent Paola but did not break her, getting close but losing 14,10.

Points Implications of results
Not much changes in the top 10: Longoria already had #1 sewn up and the top 5 spots shouldn’t change. Manilla should jump to #6 on tour, her highest ever ranking. Despite making the final here, Mejia will take a tumble in the rankings due to expiring points but should remain in the top 10. Rajsich should keep her top 10 ranking to secure her 22nd straight season in the top 10.

However, this is all speculation until we see the final LPRT season-ending rankings, at which point we’ll do a recap and talk about movements in the rankings.


Doubles review
Match report in the PRS database: http://rball.pro/19DB35
The big storyline in the doubles draw was the upset of the #1 team Salas/Longoria in the semis; they were dethroned by the Guatemalan veteran doubles team of Martinez/MRR. They met the new Herrera/Manilla team in the final, who survived Alexandra basically playing on one leg to get a tiebreaker win over Parrilla/Mejia.

In the final…Herrera may have been hobbled but when the ball came to her she executed, and she/Manilla took the doubles title.


Women’s Open:

The only other draw here was the Women’s Open, which went mostly chalk and featured #1 Barrios taking out #2 Lawrence in the final.

Thanks for all the streaming on the weekend, especially from broadcasters Timothy Baghurst and special guests Sudsy Monchik and Leo Vazquez.
Once again, thanks to Randy Root for your generosity in sponsoring the biggest prize purse in the sport.

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 Facebook. If your name is here and it isn’t tagged … it probably means I attempted to tag you but Facebook stripped it.

Next up?
Per our handy master racquetball calendar …
https://docs.google.com/…/1V6OTid6rZ356voXVkoV2sN7KMMb…/

There’s a lower tier IRT event in Costa Rica next weekend, then the next big event is US Junior Nationals in Des Moines.

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LPRT Teamroot.com Super Max Preview

Herrera the big story here; is she hurt? Photo Denver 2021 KenFife


Welcome to the final event of the 2021-22 season for the Ladies Pros, and its the biggest purse in the sport. Thanks to @Randy Root, its time for the Teamroot.com Super Max tournament in Overland Park, outside of Kansas City, MO.
R2 Sports App link: https://www.r2sports.com/website/event-website.asp?TID=39192

28 players are here this weekend competing, including 18 of the top 20 (just #16 Enriquez and #18 Amaya are missing from the top 20).

Lets preview the Singles draw. Here’s some notable qualifying matches that i’m looking forward to:
In the round of 32:

  • #16/#17 Lotts vs MRR is compelling. Lotts is coming off a good showing at USA Nationals.
  • #14/#19 Munoz vs Meneses: Micaela is coming off a disappointing showing in South Carolina, while Munoz is coming off one of her better showings: can both players keep it going?
  • #6 Mejia vs #27 @Martina Katz: the Argentinian junior makes her LPRT debut. I don’t suspect she’ll trouble Mejia, but she’s had great international showings thus far.
  • – #15/#18 Centellas vs Scott; another compelling match between two players who both can win this match.

Projecting the round of 16s. Here’s some matches to watch for, assuming no major upsets in the 1st round.

  • #8 Parrilla vs #9 Manilla. Manilla coming off a run to the US nationals, but a win over a solid veteran pro like Parrilla will be important to Erika to maintain forward momentum into the next season.
  • #4 Mendez vs #13 Salas: this was a quarter final matchup last year at this event, now Salas has plunged in the rankings all the way to #13. They have not met in nearly a year, and Mendez has stayed the course in the top 4, but this has “upset by seed” potential.
  • – #6 Mejia vs #11 Lawrence; a first time meeting for these two, and an interesting test. Mejia won this event famously last year, beating four top 10 players in the process. On paper a win for the Mexican … but Kelani has been getting top10 wins all season.

Projected Qtrs:

  • #1 Longoria over #9 Manilla, a rematch of a couple of more “famous” matches from earlier in the season.
  • #5 Gaby over #4 Mendez: Martinez leads 6-3 career, and beat Mendez last fall at Worlds. Gaby plays a limited schedule and will make the most of it here.
  • #3 Vargas over #6 Mejia: these two both play “speed racquetball” but Vargas holds the slight edge.
  • #2 Herrera over #7 Barrios: Barrios is solid but won’t top Herrera right now on form, despite her 21 World’s shock win (which included a win over Herrera in the quarters). Herrera was reportedly in a walking cast last week with an unspecified injury; if she’s hobbled, this is the kind of player who will exploit it. We should watch Herrera’s mobility.
    Semis: Longoria over Gaby, Herrera over Vargas (assuming Herrera is healthy). There’s just such a gulf between the top 2 players and the rest of the field right now.

Finals; I think Longoria has righted the ship and will take this final over Herrera to end the season with a big check.


Doubles review
The reigning #1 team of Longoria/Salas is here and together, but there’s some interesting jumbling of regular partners elsewhere in the draw that should make for an interesting tourney.
Typically the #2 seeds, long-time partners Herrera and Mejia are split up this weekend, with Herrera playing with US singles champ Manilla and Mejia playing with fellow Mexican Parrilla. They’re the new #2 and #3 seeds and may face each other in the semis.
Other teams in the draw including the newly named US champs Lawrence/Scott as the #6 seeds, the long-time Guatemalan national team of Martinez/Rodriguez as the #5 seeds, and the new Argentine national team Mendez/Centellas as the #4 seeds.

In the end though, Look for Longoria/Salas to claim their 37th pro doubles title together.

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!
LPRT

Capital City WOR Championships Recap

Brenda Laime had a nice showing at the Stratton Woods event last weekened. Photo 2020Vegas by Stephen Fitzsimons


One of the biggest non-major outdoor events of the year was last weekend, the Capital City WOR championships held on the Stratton Woods courts in Herndon, VA (just outside of Washington DC).
r2 link: https://www.r2sports.com/portfolio/r2-event.asp?TID=39432
83 players from 11 states descended on the one-wall/three-wall complex to play both iterations of outdoor racquetball, plus some paddleball events, and celebrated the great weather with some great ball.

Here’s a recap of the Pro/Open divisions.
Singles 3-wall: IRT top pro Sebastian Franco won the small 3-man RR group to win the iron man competition that is 3-wall singles. All three matches between Franco, @Juan Pablo Rodriguez, and Nathan Tucker were close though. A few points either way and its a different winner.


Singles 1-wall: Maryland’s @Dylann Pruitt took out NYC’s 1-wall specialist William Rolon in the Singles 1-wall final.


Men’s 3-wall Open/Pro Doubles: #1 seeded local team Mauricio Zelada & Sergio Rivera held off the competition to take the title. In the semis they took out Maryland-based team of Pruitt/Bleyer. The vanquished finalists were top outdoor players Sebastian Franco & Thomas Gerhardt, who outlasted the NY pairing of Goldenberg/Sostre in the semis.


Men’s 1-wall Open/Pro Doubles: The biggest draw of the event featured 15 teams playing one-wall top-level doubles. In the top side of the draw, #1 NYers Sostre/Rolon took out team Formulaflow #5 Zelada/Mercado in one semi, while #2 Franco/Gerhard took out team onewallball.com #3 Pagan/Benny in the other semi. In the final, Sostre & Rolon prevailed in two.


Men’s 3-wall Combined 75+: the final came down to NY’s best versus Florida’s best, as Sostre/Goldenberg took out Hernandez/Mijares to take the title.


Women’s 3-wall Open/Pro doubles: tournament director @Aime Brewer took the “Queen of the Court” competition over three fellow outdoor ladies pros to take the “doubles title.”
Women’s 1-wall Open/Pro: USAR Hall of Famer @Aimee Roehler teamed up with LPRT touring pro @Brenda Laime to win the 3-team Women’s 1-wall RR title.


Mixed 3-wall Open: Pruitt & Laime teamed up to win a solid 3-team RR group for the title.

Mixed 1-wall Open: Laime got the Mixed doubles “double,” winning the 1-wall event with fellow FormulaFlow Pro Mercado. They took out the accomplished mixed doubles team of Pagan/Roehler in the final.

Thanks to Tourney directors Brewer and Carrie Hoeft for their tireless work on this event. Thanks to photographer Ken Fife for taking pictures all weekend and posting them for all to see. Thanks to lead sponsor @Andy Gomer and AGE Solutions, along with other sponsors who made this event possible.

USA Nationals Wrap-Up

Carson has a huge weekend, winning both his draws. Photo Portland 2019 via Kevin Savory


Congrats to your winners and US National team qualifiers on the weekend:

  • Men’s Singles: Rocky Carson over Alex Landa
  • Women’s Singles: Erika Manilla over Rhonda Rajsich
  • Men’s Doubles; Rocky Carson/Charlie Pratt
  • Women’s Doubles: Holly Scott/Kelani Lawrence
  • Mixed Doubles: Alex Landa/Michelle De La Rosa

    These players qualify to represent the USA at the upcoming 2022 World Games in August in San Luis Potosi, Mexico, and at the 2023 Pan American Racquetball Championships (PARC) to be held in April 2023 at a site yet to be announced. (Note: the 2022 World Games participants were determined from the finishes of last year’s Worlds).

R2 Sports App home page for event: https://www.r2sports.com/tourney/home.asp?TID=38797

Lets review the draws and give out the direct links into the database for the full draws of results.
Men’s Singles Recap:
PRS Match Report: http://rball.pro/F7A26D
Seeds held to the quarters (though #6 seed Thomas Carter was a no-show), with only one close match in the 16s, that being #7 Sam Bredenbeck going the distance to take out #10 Danny Lavely in five.
In the quarters, no real surprises as the top 3 seeds advanced. #5 Manilla got a mid-game injury retirement after #4 Horn pulled something in his leg.
In the semis; chalk. Manilla kept it close but #1 Carson won in three, while #2 Landa dominated #3 Bredenbeck to return to the US National team.

In the final, Carson secured his 9th ever US National title, most ever for American Men, by topping Landa in 4. Click here http://rball.pro/455001 for a list of all National title winners across all countries.

Women’s Singles:
PRS Match Report: http://rball.pro/173522
7 of the top 8 seeds advanced to the quarters without dropping a game; the sole upset by seed was #10 @Shane Diaz, who took out #7 seed @Graci Wargo in three.
In the quarters, chalk, as only one top four seed was extended by a game. Up and coming junior @Annie Roberts took a game off of Manilla, otherwise the top US women cruised into the semis as expected.
In the semis, Manilla was taken to 4 games but advanced past Scott, who continues to look for her first US title. On the bottom side, a big upset as #2 Lawrence (who had made the final of the last three nationals) was taken out by #3 Rajsich. These two had met as recently as the last LPRT stop, where Kelani dominated Rhonda, but the tables were turned today.
In the final, Manilla finished her official ascension to the top of US racquetball with her first National title, a dominant 7,8,1 win over Rhonda.
See here http://rball.pro/8C6DC2 for a list of all US national titles.

Rajsich made her 13th national singles final, and guaranteed making the team yet again.

Men’s Doubles:
PRS Match Report: http://rball.pro/92C865
The top 4 seeds advanced to the semis without dropping a game.
In the semis….chalk, but not without some excitement. #1 Carson/Pratt advanced in four over Manilla/Horn at the top, while #2 Bredenbecks’ staved off three match points in games 4 and 5 to shock the 2020 National titlists and tournament favorites Landa/Monchik 13-11 in the fifth.
In the final, the veterans dropped the first game but took the next three to repeat as champions, take their 3rd title together, and for Rocky secure his 13th US doubles title.

Click here for a list of all USA Men’s Doubles champs, dating to 1968: http://rball.pro/589110

Women’s Doubles:
PRS Match Report: http://rball.pro/B31897
Seeded teams 1,2,3, and 5 advanced into the semis; the sole upset in the opening round was #5 @Lexi York/@Michelle De la Rosa taking out the #4 seeded U21 team of @Annie Roberts/@Alondra Canchola in four games.
In the semis, the #3 seeds scored a mini upset when the 2020 champions @Aimee roehler and @Erika Manilla upset the #2 seeds @Rhonda Rajsich/@Sheryl Lotts. The #1 seeded team of Scott/Lawrence, who eneted the event ranked #1 and #2 in USA Women’s doubles, dropped a game but advanced over York and De La Rosa.
In the final, #1 took out #3 in four games, giving Scott her first ever National doubles title.

Click here http://rball.pro/8F8065 for a list of all USA Women’s Doubles champs dating to 1972.

Mixed Doubles:
PRS Match Report: http://rball.pro/04FD8B
Seeded teams 1,2 and 4 advanced to the semis with relative ease, but a big upset in the 3/6 quarter final, as my pre-tournament favorites #3 @Sudsy Monchik and @Kelani Lawrence were upset 11-9 in the fifth by #6 @Sam Bredenbeck and @Lexi York.

In the semis and finals, seeds held to form as #1 Landa/De La Rosa took out the Manilla siblings to claim the first ever Mixed doubles USA crown.

Thanks for all the streaming on the weekend, especially from broadcasters @Tony Prater and newly elected USAR Board President @Stuart Soloman , plus Team Dovetail’s @Kyle Artzman, who streamed the secondary court for us at home all weekend, plus a shoutout to everyone else who broadcast live off their phones.
Thanks to the Tourney Director and USAR National events coordinator Connor Shane 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 Facebook. If your name is here and it isn’t tagged … it probably means I attempted to tag you but Facebook stripped it.

Next up?
Per our handy master racquetball calendar …
https://docs.google.com/…/1V6OTid6rZ356voXVkoV2sN7KMMb…/
Next weekend is the big Capital City WOR championships in Stratton Woods outside of DC, and then the week after is the big Supermax LPRT Grand Slam in Kansas City, the final event of the 2021-22 LPRT season.

We’ll recap Canadian Nationals tomorrow!

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USA Nationals Preview

Can Sudsy double qualify at the age of 47? Photo 2020 USAR Doubles via Kevin Savory


Welcome to the 53rd Annual USA Racquetball National Singles championships!
2019 was the 52nd, then Covid knocked this event out for the last two years. Prior to that, it had been held every year since the first one in 1968 in Milwaukee.
But we’re back, and so are the players. 246 participants are entered in Texas, which is the highest National Singles turnout since 2016. That’s great news and a nice sign that perhaps tournament players are ready to come back.
The qualifying team draws are stacked, and the event should be a ton of fun with the inclusion of Mixed doubles and the return of some big names.
Reminders:

  • the national team qualifiers will play IRF rally scoring rules, including the “immediately stop on appeal” rule, as much as we may not like them. 3 out of 5 games to 11, win by 2.
  • the rest of the tournament still plays classical USAR rules.
  • Seedings were done in singles purely by rank, while Men’s/Women’s doubles gives priority to last year’s finalists if they have returned as a team. There’s no “last year” for Mixed, so its seeded entirely by rankings.

R2 Sports App link: https://www.r2sports.com/tourney/home.asp?TID=38797

Lets preview the draws. I talked through the draws with @Sudsy Monchik on Monday 5/23/22 (see here for that link:
https://www.facebook.com/RacquetballGuy/videos/1451019748650331 )

So, I’ll do some quick predictions here instead of re-hashing an hour long conversation.

Men’s Singles
19 entered, headlined by last year’s finalists #1 @Rocky Carson and #2 Alex Landa .
There’s some intriguing round of 16 matches to watch for: look for close matches in the 8/9 Robbie Collins / Nick Riffel match, and in the 7/10 match between Sam Bredenbeck and Danny Lavely , an accomplished player who hasn’t played US Nationals in more than a decade.
In the quarters, a potential 4/5 match between @Bobby Horn and @Adam Manilla looks really tough; the two are doubles partners here and are also business partners in their new online training/coaching venture. I think Manilla gets the upset.

Semis and Finals: I’m going chalk, with a repeat of last year’s final between Carson and Landa. I can’t quite see either Manilla or Horn topping Rocky, nor can I see @Jake Bredenbeck beating Landa. Rocky to repeat, since getting onto the team is seemingly more important than winning the title.

Women’s Singles:
The US Women’s game has four top competitors in Manilla, Scott, Lawrence, and Rajsich … then a gap to the rest of the field. While there’s some compelling early rounders (Ros vs Roberts and Diaz vs Wargo in matches of rising juniors), the semis were always going to be the “big four” here.
Matchups matter: in the 1/4 Scott and Manilla will battle it out in a match that could go either way; the two have split their only two adult meetings, and despite Manilla’s run into the LPRT top 10 she lost badly in the last pro event. Meanwhile in the 2/3 matchup Lawrence has the upper hand against long-time rival Rajsich. Rhonda beat Kelani in 8 of their first 9 meetings, but Kelani has won the last three, including an 0,9 beating at the SC pro stop a few weeks ago.

Look for Manilla vs Lawrence in the final and a first ever national title for Manilla.

Men’s Doubles review
Last year’s finalists (Carson/Pratt and the Bredenbeck brothers) are back as the #1 and #2 seeds, with 2020’s champions (Monchik/Landa) pushed to #3. The Bredenbecks may be pushed a bit in the quarters against Diaz/Hansen; Diaz and Jake were long-time playing partners and know each other’s game well, but the seeds should hold to the semis.
In one semi, Manilla/Horn have a great shot at upsetting Carson/Pratt; all four players are accomplished veterans, cerebral on the court. In the other semi, we should see a return to the final for Monchik/Landa.

Finals prediction; a repeat of the 2020 semis, with Monchik/Landa topping Carson/Pratt in a tight one.

Women’s Doubles Preview:
This draw is all about who’s coming in second, because the #1 seed are the top two female doubles players in the land right now in Scott & Lawrence, and they’re going to win this draw.

The 2/3 semi to determine who makes the final will be intriguing, with Manilla and hall-of-famer Roehler (she the owner of 13 national doubles titles) taking on the veteran Rajsich and Lotts. I like Manilla/Roehler here to make the final, but not to realistically push Scott/Lawrence once t hey get there.

Mixed Doubles Preview
Perhaps the most fun draw to preview in a while, since there’s almost no history of these players playing mixed doubles at a high level. We just do not know how the teams will gel, who is better at Mixed than their ranking may indicate, and who isn’t.
The quarters will be interesting from the top down, with #1 Landa/De La Rosa getting challenged by Jake and Roehler and #2 Manilla Siblings projected to face veterans Diaz/Rajsich. While we could see some breakers here, i’d expect the top four seeds to the semis.
From there, we could see some upsets. I can see #4 Horn/Scott taking out Landa/mDLR, and I can see #3 Monchik/Lawrence topping the Manillas. But I can also see the reverse; we could see 1 v 2 in the final, or 3 v 4 in the final.

I’m picking Monchik/Lawrence to take it over Horn/Scott in the final.

Look for Streaming on USA Racquetball’s page, with a rotating crew of broadcasters for this event to include current USAR board member @Stuart Solomon at the lead.

We’ll preview the other big National event in Canada later this week, once they get through their RRs and have a knockout bracket set.

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LPRT Sweet Caroline Open Recap

Jessica Parrilla returns to the pro semis for the first time in years. Photo US Open 2019 via Kevin Savory


Congrats to your winners on the weekend:

  • Singles: Paola Longoria
  • Doubles; Alexandra Herrera/Jessica Parrilla
    Longoria reverses the script from the last two finals against Herrera and wins her 106th career LPRT tier1 event.
    See http://rball.pro/6CB839 for a list of all LPRT singles tour winners
    Both Herrera and Parrilla get their second pro doubles title of the season, each done with different partners.
  • R2 Sports App home page for event: https://www.r2sports.com/portfolio/r2-event.asp?TID=38854

Lets review the notable matches in the Singles draw.

Singles Match report in the PRS database: http://rball.pro/9FD2AF

In the 32s:

  • I was shocked by Lotts’ 2,2 win over Meneses, considering that the Bolivian junior had bested Lotts handily the last two times they played. Lotts played lights out and took it to the up and coming Micha.
  • – Naomi Ros continues to look for a breakthrough win, playing Scott tough before losing 9,10

In the 16s:

  • Salas trounced Centellas in the 8/9 game 4,6. Centellas seems to be lost on the court lately.
  • Mendez forced to a breaker by Scott before advancing in a match that looked like an upset for a while.
  • MRR took Vargas to a breaker before falling.
  • Lawrence handed Rhonda a donut in the first before moving on.
  • – Biggest shock of the round: Munoz absolutely dominated Manilla 7,4 to move into the quarters. Manilla had been riding high all season but came out flat today.

In the Quarters

  • Longoria took out Salas in what is now the 2nd most frequent rivalry in tour history.
  • Mendez’ luck ran out as she was taken out by Parrilla, who amazingly returns to a Pro semifinal for the first time since the 2017-18 season.
  • Lawrence advanced to her first ever pro semi with a career win over Vargas in a close tie-breaker 11-9
  • – Herrera cruised past Munoz 7,2 to slide into the semis for the 7th time in her last 8 pro events.

In the Semis, the #1 and #2 players showed their dominance on tour, each winning their semi finals in dominant fashion; Longoria 2,6 over Parrilla, and Herrera 8,3 over Lawrence.

In the Finals, we got the third straight meeting of 1v2, and the fans got another compelling back and forth close match. This time though the GOAT Longoria prevailed in the breaker and ended Herrera’s 2-tourney win streak.


Points Implications of results
So, the 2022 SC event should expire off the 2020 KC and 2021 SC events (if they’re continuing to do a 12-month rolling calendar of points), which will mean a significant tightening at the top of the race for the top of the tour. But, with just one more LPRT event on the books, Longoria’s lead is insurmountable for the 2021-22 season, meaning irrespective of the KC events she will capture the year end title, which will be her 12th.
See this link for a list of all LPRT tour winners. https://www.proracquetballstats.com/…/lprt_year_end…
Herrera trails Longoria by a bit more than 500 points, which is a lot, but which represents her cutting that lead in half just since the last LPRT event thanks to the way the points work. A couple more good results for Alexandra and we’ll have a real good race for the 2022-23 title.

Elsewhere notable, Mendez should return to #4 by virtue of Gaby’s missing this event, and Barrios will drop a couple slots with her absence. Despite an early loss, Manilla will move up to #9 (her career best), and Lawrence’s big semis should propel her up to #11 (also her career best). It is good to have a couple of American’s returning to the top 10 just as the long-standing stalwart of American racquetball (Rajsich) begins her gradual falling out of the top 10.


Doubles review
Match report in the PRS database: http://rball.pro/EE4945
Herrera and Parrilla gave the Longoria/Salas team a rare pro doubles loss in the final, and game two wasn’t that close.
Four of the top US women’s doubles teams heading into US nationals all played with each other as practice for the event in Texas in two weeks:

  • Diaz/Ros took the veteran Roehler/Manilla team to a breaker
  • Roehler/Manilla lost to the #1 pro team Longoria/Salas 6,9
  • Scott/Lawrence took out the #4 seeds and took the #1 seeds to a breaker before losing
  • Rajsich/Lotts were unlucky to lose against the #2 seeds, going down 11-10.

Based on these results, Scott/Lawrence look like the team to beat.


Women’s Open, other draws
Centellas rebounded from a disappointing pro event to take the Women’s open title, downing Munoz and Amaya along the way. #1 Seed Meneses lost to Amaya 7,2, another shocking result that indicates to this observer that something was amiss with Micha this weekend.

Maurice Miller cruised to the Men’s Open title as the #1 seed, topping Alabama #1 Destry Everhart in the final. However Miller couldn’t convert the Men’s open double, losing the doubles final with his twin brother Marquis to Everhart playing with Shane Karmelin.

Thanks for all the streaming on the weekend, especially from broadcasters Timothy Baghurst, Jerry J Josey Jr., and @Tj Baumbaugh]

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 Facebook. If your name is here and it isn’t tagged … it probably means I attempted to tag you but Facebook stripped it.

Next up?
Per our handy master racquetball calendar …
https://docs.google.com/…/1V6OTid6rZ356voXVkoV2sN7KMMb…/
We have a rare break in the calendar next weekend… then the final weekend of the month is Nationals! US in Texas, Canada in Brossard.

IRT New York Open Recap

Kane was cruising towards another title before court conditions halted play. Photo US Open 2019, Photographer Kevin Savory


Congrats to your winner on the weekend … well, there was no Pro winner this weekend. For just the 2nd time in recorded pro tour history, an event was started but not completed. #1 Daniel de la Rosa and #7 Kane Waselenchuk had just finished game one of the singles final when the viewers saw them talking with the IRT commissioner @Pablo Fajre on the court … and then we saw nothing but commercials for what seemed like 10 minutes straight before the feed cut out. We eventually got the explanation; wet courts and safety concerns.


IRT statement on the situation: https://www.facebook.com/racquetballtour/posts/10159763607656737


It’s a bummer, because Kane was as dialed in as I’ve ever seen him this weekend and had just taken the first game 15-4. But, the court conditions (which by all accounts were already sketchy all tournament) turned unbearable after an HVAC issue overnight turned the courts into skating rinks. The players will split the points and money, and we’ll have a ? for the winner in the database for the rest of time.


What was the other IRT tournament that never finished? That would be the 2005 Summer Cooler traditional season opener that used to happen in New Orleans every season. But in August 2005 … Hurricane Katrina bore down on the town and the players had to get out of town after completing the quarters on Friday night. The tourney was never finished, Katrina decimated the area … and there’s never been another tournament in New Orleans since.

R2 Sports App home page for event: https://www.r2sports.com/website/event-website.asp?TID=38842

Lets review the notable matches in the Pro Singles draw.

Singles Match report in the PRS database: http://rball.pro/5BBBF2

In the 128s and 64s: Here were some of the eye-brow raising results for me in the first day of qualifying:

  • Bravo to the traveling Ecuadorian pros, who fared very well this weekend. Cueva won a round before losing to Horn, and Ugalde made the round of 32s before playing Fernandez tough and losing 13,10.
  • Bolivian junior Ezequiel Subieta got two solid qualifier wins over Warigon and Salvatierra before falling to Garay.
  • Flight issues took Cardona out of the event, giving Iwaasa a clearer path to the 32s.
  • – Mexican junior Guillermo Ortega Jr. got a couple of solid wins over established international pros Gomez and Cuevas to get into the 32s.

In the 32s:

  • Horn upset #9 Jake Bredenbeck with relative ease 7,10.
  • #12 Manilla was pushed to a 11-9 breaker by Guatemalan Galicia
  • Acuna and Iwaasa played a very close match, with Acuna advancing 10,14. Iwaasa could absolutely be a mid-teen ranked player on tour if he played regularly.
  • Bolivian junior qualifier Hector Barrios got the biggest win of the round, taking out #10 Franco 14,11.
  • Another top 16 seed upset was #15 Robbie Collins, taken out by the young Mexican Ortega.

Three qualifiers into the round of 16.

In the 16s:

  • #1 DLR calmed the upstart #16 Alonso
  • Underseeded Horn gave Mercado everything he could handle.
  • #12 Manilla took out another top 8 player, this time the #5 seeded Portillo in a breaker.
  • Fernandez was just a couple points away from an upset of #4 Landa … but couldn’t convert and Landa squeaks by 14,13.
  • Murray and Garay played a close game one, and a not-so close game 2 as the Canadian advances 13,0.
  • #6 Moscoso made fast work of his oft-difficult rival Acuna 6,4
  • #7 Waselenchuk put on a clinic against the young Bolivian Barrios, winning 3,5
  • – #2 Parrilla was made to work for it by his young Mexican rival Ortega, but advanced 9,12.

In the Quarters

  • DLR held off the mercurial Mercado in a breaker.
  • Landa cruised past Manilla in two.
  • Murray put another loss on Moscoso. This is the third time in five meetings that Murray has controlled Moscoso and put a loss on him, something that observers continually seem shocked by.
  • – Waselenchuk made a statement against Parrilla, donuting him in the first and ensuring that there would e no repeat of Atlanta.

In the Semis

  • DLR survived match point against his long-time rival Landa and moved into the final.
  • Waselenchuk crushed his Canadian rival Murray 1,1 in another statement win.

In the Finals … as mentioned above Kane was cruising. DLR’s points all came on aces or service winners, which is a difficult strategy to maintain when that’s the only way you can score.


Points Implications of results
Kane and DLR split the points, getting 350 each, which doesn’t make much of a change in the standings. The top 8 should stay the same after this event, which expires the 2020 Lou Bradley.
DLR (who didn’t play the Lou Bradley in 2020) only expands his lead at the top of the points; he now leads #2 Parrilla by 1400 points, a huge margin. The rest of the top 8 tightens: the difference between #2 and #8 is now less than 500 points, and we’ll see some major jostling in the 2-7 spots after every event going forward.

Acuna should rise to #11, his career best. Manilla should also see a big jump to #12. Beltran will drop, possibly to #15 by virtue of his absence here and expiring points. The other big mover will be Alonso, who will jump from in the 30s to in the 20s.


Men’s Open and other draws

  • Men’s Open Singles had 33 players, and the final featured two veteran international competitors in Canada’s Iwaasa and Ecuador’s Ugalde. They played the “perfect” match, with Iwaasa winning 14,(14),10.
  • Men’s Open Doubles featured more of the tour regulars with no pro doubles component, and the competition was fierce. The final was won by Acuna/Alonso topping Fernandez/Ortega Jr in two close games. Great event for Ortega jr.
  • – The U21 was a new event here, with players representing SEVEN different countries competing. In the end #1 seeded Bolivian Hector Barrios took out #2 Cuevas in the final, but lots of top young players competed and fared well.

Thanks for all the streaming on the weekend, especially from broadcasters Dean Baer, Favio Soto, Pablo Fajre and the IRTLive crew

Next up?
We’ll recap the LPRT event tomorrow, then talk about what’s next on the calendar

IRT NY Open Preview

Fernandez gets a #13 seed; can he get a first round upset? Photo US Open 2019 via Kevin Savory


After a couple year’s hiatus, the IRT returns to Long Island for the 2022 New York Open.
The tournament has a rich 47-man draw, including a ton of players we don’t normally see on tour, which I’ll call out in the “interesting matches to watch” section below.
Top20 players missing: #8 Carson misses a rare event; he went nearly 20 years without missing a tournament. Word is he’s avoiding the cross-country trip ahead of Nationals. #11 Beltran is not here; he was clearly hurt at the last tournament and has mentioned he won’t play in tournaments that don’t have doubles anymore. #13 Keller misses his second straight pro event. #16 Montoya is not here, nor is #17 Carter (a rare tourney missed as well). Interestingly #20 Trujillo, who was making a big move, is missing the event after a strong run. Maye he has finals.

All these missing top seeds have meant that Fernandez is finally out of the 16/17 seed range and can get a more winnable first rounder, and Mercado gets a top8 protected seed, among other players ranked in the teens moving up.

Lets preview the draw. Here’s some notable qualifying matches that i’m looking forward to:
In the round of 128:

  • Arteaga vs Ecuadorian national team member Cuevas should be interesting.
  • Sam Kelley versus Canadian national team member Leduc is a solid match.
  • Another Ecuadorian Ugalde takes on Cubillos in an intriguing all-South American match.
  • toughest first rounder: Canadian #2 Iwaasa versus the very good Joe Kelley.
  • Gomez vs Ortega Jr could be interesting too.
  • Bravo to all the NY local players who entered and will duke it out in this round of 128. Punjari, Puggioni, Galvez, Sullivan, Meguerditchian, and Behm all representing the tri-state area.

In the round of 64, we have some projected battles worth watching:

  • Floridian Zamudio versus Galicia could be great.
  • Ugalde versus Sam Kelley would be a good match.
  • Warigon versus the Guatemalan #1 Salvatierra would be great.
  • Iwaasa once again is in the toughest potential match of the round, projecting to face Cardona. Both these guys can make the 16s with the right draw, but one is going home in the 64s.
  • – Young Bolivian Barrios gets a test against veteran Wer.

Projecting the 32s:

  • #16/17 Alonso vs Zelada. Alonso has been on fire, but Zelada is no slouch. A nice test for the Mexican who has been hot lately.
  • #9 Bredenbeck vs Horn; all American matchup sends one team USA member home early. In their WRT peaks i’d favor Horn, but now i’m favoring Jake.
  • The best projected match of this round will be #11 Acuna versus the winner of Cardona/Iwaasa. Acuna should hold serve against both players, but both will press him as better than their seedings.
  • – #15 Robbie Collins is the most vulnerable of the 9-16 seeds, but the winner of Cuevas/Behm/Gomez/Ortega Jr quadrant may not have enough firepower to do so.

round of 16:

  • I Like DLR-Alonso for some fireworks. Alonso can score some points, but DLR will advance.
  • I think #9 Jake upsets #8 Mercado with better current form.
  • Can #13 Fernandez upset #4 Landa? Yeah, I think he can, especially if Landa gets off to a slow start. Fernandez has the explosive game to press Landa unless he’s 100%.
  • #14 Garay has the firepower to top Murray but will need to play a complete match. Murray is a model of consistency and rarely loses to upstarts.
  • #6 Moscoso vs #11 Acuna: these two always play close.
  • – If Kane shows up, he has a straightforward winnable first rounder against Franco.

Projected Qtrs:

  • #1 DLR over #9 Jake.
  • #5 Lalo over Landa/Patata winner; i think Lalo is poised to take the next step and Landa is beginning to show some wear and tear. If Sebastian gets the upset win, I still think Portillo can top him in a battle of 20-somethings.
  • #6 Moscoso over #3 Murray, even though Murray has a number of wins over the Bolivian in their career. It nearly always goes breaker.
  • #7 Kane over #2 Andree. Again, if he shows. This would be a rematch of the epic 11-10 Andree win from Atlanta in January.
    Semis:
  • #1 DLR over #5 Lalo; Lalo doesn’t have what it takes to beat DLR yet.
  • #7 Kane over #6 Conrrado. But, if Kane no-shows I like Andree over Conrrado in a rematch of two weeks ago.
  • Finals;
  • – If he shows, Kane takes out DLR in a highly anticipated matchup of the current #1 and the long-time #1. If its DLR vs Parrilla, its a rematch of last week, a easy DLR win. If its DLR- Moscoso? Tough one: DLR has the better game and Moscoso would need a game-plan/strategy to counter it.

Look for Streaming in the regular places; follow the IRT on Facebook and sign up to get notifications when they go Live.
Look for Dean Baer, Favio Soto, Pablo Fajre and the IRTLive crew all weekend on the mike, calling the shots!
Associations
@International Racquetball Tour

LPRT Sweet Caroline Grand Slam preview

Meneses gets a winnable round of 32; can she capitalize? Photo Severna park 2021 via Ken Fife

The LPRT is back in South Carolina, and at the club that houses their Hall of Fame. Legendary 70s player Shannon Wright is set to be inducted this weekend, and the ladies pros will compete for one of the largest purses of the season.
There’s a relatively small draw this weekend, but the absences will give us a compressed draw with new and exciting matchups.

Top20 players missing include #4 Gaby Martinez, #5 Angelica Barrios, #7 Montse Mejia, #11 Laime (weird b/c she can drive to SC). So the top 8 seeds all get bumped up a ton.

Lets preview the draw.

Round of 32: we have 5 play-in matches, with a couple of compelling ones:

  • #16/17 @Michaela Meneses vs @Sheryl Lotts: the Bolivian youngster gets a great test against a long-time touring USA pro.
  • #12/#21 @Nancy Enriquez vs @Naomi Ros. I like Ros to really push her veteran countrywoman in this one. Upset alert.

– #14/#19 MRR vs Riveros: an international flavor match between two long-time touring Vets. Riveros has not played a ton lately; can MRR get the win and hold serve?

Round of 16: notables i’m looking forward to:

  • #8/#9 Centellas vs Salas: two players who have both not gotten recent results they want. I suspect Salas’ power is the favorite here; what can Centellas do to reverse her recent slide?
  • #5/#12 Parrilla/Enriquez: they’ve traded blows and wins against each other over the last year. who wins here?
  • #4 Mendez vs #13 Scott: this is the perfect kind of match for Scott to try to make a statement; can she press the Argentinian?
  • #6/#11: Rajsich vs Lawrence; a rematch of multiple US nationals matches over the past few years; Lawrence is the favorite irrespective of seed.

– #7/#10 Manilla vs Munoz; they’ve never played in a top-level match. Manilla is the favorite based on form and recent results.

Projected Qtrs:

  • #1 Longoria over #8 Salas for the 57th time on tour.
  • #4 Mendez over #5 Parrilla
  • #3 Vargas over #10 Lawrence; they’ve played some close games but there’s still a bit of a gulf between them.
  • #2 Herrera over #7 Manilla; they met in the 32s twice last year … this time should be different. Upset watch.
    Semis: chalk: #1 Longoria over #4 Mendez, #2 Herrera over #3 Vargas.

Finals; Can Herrera make it three in a row? I think so.

Doubles review

All kinds of weird teams in the pro doubles this time around, as missing players change the regulars. #1 Longoria/Salas are still there, but I like #3 Herrera/Parrilla to make the final and push them.

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!
Associations
LPRT