World Singles & Doubles Preview Pt 1

Moscoso is a player to watch this weekend. Photo US Open 2019, Photographer Kevin Savory

Hello all. We are back, and this week coming up we have a massive tournament that has been months in the making in the World Singles & Doubles championships in Denver. More than 300 players are here, and the tournament includes an absolutely massive Men’s IRT draw, and equally huge women’s LPRT pro singles draw, plus the namesake Doubles events that have quickly made this one of the biggest events on the annual racquetball calendar.
Tournament Director and primary sponsor Jim Hiser first put on this event in May of 2018. After a year hiatus, Covid forced the cancellation of the 2020 iteration and months of delays in the 2021 event. But we’re here now, and fans are going to be better for it.
Today we will preview the Men’s and Women’s Pro singles draws, with Doubles previews coming later this week.

R2 Sports App link:

First, lets preview the Men’s IRT Pro Singles draw.

There are no less than 53 players competing in this draw, the largest non US Open draw we’ve seen in more than a decade on the Men’s tour. 18 of the top 20 players are present, with #20 Gerardo Franco Gonzalez missing (he is rumored to be stepping away from the sport). The other glaring omission here is #1 Kane Waselenchuk, who also missed the Atlanta pro event earlier this year. His absence here will cause additional speculation as to his future in the sport; he continues to play and do clinics with Sudsy Monchik but has not played competitively in an IRT event since March of 2020. But the writing seems to be on the wall; we’ll have to see what happens when the US Open rolls around.

Lets preview the draw. Because of the size of the draw, there are several rounds of qualifying to get into the main round of 32. We even have a handful of round of 256 matches, mostly between players making their IRT debuts.
We’ll start in the round of 128: Here’s some interesting 128 matches to look for:

  • #25 Andres Acuña is the highest seeded player to miss out on a bye into the main draw and gets two extra matches for his troubles; he starts out with an international-flavored match between the winner of Ecuador’s Juan Francisco Cueva and Bolivia’s Hector Barrios.
  • Former Mexican National team member Abraham Peña faces off against Scott McClellan, a tough opener for the IRT’s primary referee and one that could end his tournament quite early.
  • #27 Carlos Keller Vargas, fresh off a double-qualifying Bolivian Nationals tournament, seems set to face Bolivian Junior Adrian Jaldin in his opener. Fly all the way to the USA, play the guy from down the street.
  • #30 Alan Natera Chavez faces a very tricky opener against Texan Ruben Baez, who beat Jake Bredenbeck and nearly topped Bobby Horn in the PAC shootout in Mar 2019. Upset watch here.
  • #34 MoMo Zelada faces a really tough opener in Guatemala’s #1 Javier Martinez.

In the round of 64, some great potential matches:

  • Acuna versus Colombia’s Andres Gomez could be full of fireworks. Gomez is no slouch and Acuna is going to have to work to get into the main draw.
  • Kadim Carrasco projects to face off against Pena, and I think Pena can advance into the main draw. Fatigue may work against the veteran Mexican, but he’s a workout-fiend and should have the fitness to advance.
  • Vargas potentially faces off against former IRT touring pro Nick Riffel in an interesting tactical battle.
  • An interesting all South American battle between Zelada and long-time Colombian national team member Set Cubillos Ruiz could be in play depending on earlier rounds.

Interestingly, I think by and large the 128s are all tougher for these players than their projected 64s to get into the main draw.

Projecting the 32s: here’s some possible matchups, though the depth of this draw could make for some upsets and make these predictions moot:

  • #17 Acuna vs #16 Adam Manilla; an interesting one; Manilla had some breakthrough wins just before the tours had to stop, but so did Acuna. I favor Acuna in my world talent rankings, and i’ll take him here in the upset.
  • #9 Jake Bredenbeck projects to face qualifier Pena in the 32s. Both players hit with a ton of pace, but I don’t believe Pena’s acrobatics will take him past the stronger and younger Jake here.
  • #13 Javier Mar, who always seems to run into tough players during qualifying, projects to take on fellow Mexican qualifier Javier Estrada at this juncture if results hold. And this spells bad news for Mar, because Estrada has beaten him multiple times in the past couple of years. Estrada doesn’t always travel well, but has wins over Mar on home soil plus in two RKT events in the latter part of 2019. I think Estrada wins again here.
  • #14 Thomas Carter projects to face off against Bolivian #2 Vargas at this juncture, and I think Vargas moves past the veteran lefty.
  • #11 Mario Mercado projects to face Natera coming out of the qualifiers, a potential barn burner of a match. Mercado has topped Natera twice in top-level meetings in the past, but I have Natera ranked higher personally. Natera can be hit or miss, with great wins and curious losses … but the same can be said for Mario. I’ll go with the seeded player here.
  • #10 Sebastian Franco set to face qualifier Zelada here … two players who are quite familiar with each other from years of both living near each other in the Baltimore suburbs. Franco is the better player and will be fresher and will move on.
  • #15 Eduardo Garay Rodriguez set to take on #18 Sebastian Fernandez, a potentially awesome match to watch. Fernandez has been stuck right in this 16-18 range for quite a while, and tournament after tournament it seems to bite him with tough match-ups. This time is no different, with Garay coming in hot. A contrast in styles here; Patata plays casual and tactical, while Garay plays balls-out 110% power. Look for Garay to move on here.

Round of 16: I project plenty of upsets in the play-in, so here’s my projected 16s.

  • #1 Alejandro Landa over #17 Acuna: While Acuna topped Landa at PARC a couple years back (a result that led to Landa’s removal from the Pan Am games team and his subsequent defection to the USA…) Landa dominates Acuna when “it counts” on tour. Landa moves on quickly here.
  • #8 Lalo Portillo over #9 Bredenbeck: Lalo has beaten Jake a couple times in the past relatively easily, and should again here.
  • #5 Andree Parrilla vs #12 Montoya: these two have played so many times in the past (they’re the exact same age and traded off Mexican Junior National and World titles for years). Montoya has had the slight upper hand lately at the Mexican Adult and Pro level, including a win over Andree in the Mexican Nationals final earlier this summer. Advantage Rodrigo.
  • #4 Daniel De La Rosa vs Estrada. DLR probably would rather face Estrada versus Mar, but Estrada’s amazing 2019 Black Gold cup win included a h2h win over Daniel. So the history is there, but DLR has turned around his pro career lately and should advance here.
  • #3 Samuel Murray, the champion of the most recent IRT event, should not be troubled by Keller and should move on.
  • #6 Alvaro Beltran projects to face Mercado, a player who he’s faced a number of times both internationally and professionally and should have no trouble advancing past here.
  • #7 Conrrado Moscoso, fresh off another Bolivian national title, set to face #10 Franco. Power versus … more power, and Moscoso should move on here.
  • #2 Rocky Carson, fresh off his 8th US national title, set to face the hard hitting Garay. This is not the match-up Carson would have wanted here; the last time these two played it was an 11-7 gutted out win for Carson, and that was in Mar 2020. Carson is a year older, Garay is a year more experienced. Upset watch here.

Projected Qtrs:

  • Landa over Portillo: Lalo has been playing well, but not well enough to top landa.
  • DLR over Montoya: this could be fantastic match. DLR has two successive pro wins over Rodrigo, but Montoya has some dominant wins over DLR in the past as well. Any given sunday, but for me DLR on the day.
  • Beltran over Murray: yes Murray won the last event and is the #3 seed, but Beltran has never lost to Murray professionally, and most of his wins have been lopsided. Plus, I always pick against Alvaro and its time he gets his due.
  • Moscoso over Carson. Moscoso has played a grand total of 10 IRT tournaments in his life .. and in three of those, he’s taken out Rocky. Well, he’ll make it 4-4 here, as he’ll be on a mission in a Kane-less field to win the title.
  • Landa over DLR: Landa has DLR’s number lately, beating him the last 7 times they’ve played in top level matches that I track. But these matches are often close. There’s little between these guys, but without Kane in the field Landa will be looking to pad his title count.
  • Moscoso over Beltran: Conrrado has topped Alvaro both times they’ve met professionally, but Alvaro the crafty veteran can hang with the hard-hitting Bolivian and make him earn it.

    Finals; Moscoso over Landa: they met in the Bolivian Grand Slam and a streaky Moscoso blanked Landa in the breaker for the win. I think that Conrrado, day in and day out, is the 2nd best talent on the planet and is always a favorite against anyone not named Kane, and i’ll take him here.

LPRT Pro Singles Review

As with the Men, there’s a robust draw of 34 ladies pros this weekend, right in line with the last handful of major events.
Thanks to her duties covering the Olympics for a sport channel in her home country, #1 Paola Longoria is not in Denver. This means a first-even #1 seed for Alexandra Herrera. Other top 20 pros missing include #15 Kelani Lawrence and #16 Adriana Riveros for a pretty solid 17 of top 20 present.
No qualifying here; a straight draw from the 64s onward. Here’s some early round matches to look for:
In the 64s…

  • top Ecuadorian vet Maria Paz Munoz is here (at least, I think that’s who is here), playing in the round of 64 because of having zero points. Its unfortunate she plays into the #1 seed Herrera, because she could have done some damage with the right seeding.
  • Also, welcome back to Ladies pro racquetball Aisling Hickey, who has represented Ireland on the international stage previously.
  • #16/#17 features two top Americans pitted against each other early in Sheryl Lotts and Hollie Scott. Look for Scott to move on.
  • #13 Amaya Cris takes on #20 Susy Acosta in an interesting battle between long-time LPRT touring veterans.
  • #19 Micaela Meneses Cuellar, fresh off her double qualification weekend at the Bolivian Nationals, faces #14 Maria Renee Rodríguez in a really tough opener for both. Meneses can win this match, thought MRR has been steadily improving.
  • #22 Lucia Gonzalez matches up with #11 Nancy Enriquez in a brutal first rounder for both. The last time they met, Gonzalez blasted Enriquez in the 2020 Mexican Nationals. But Enriquez has been playing very strongly since. I have Lucia as one of the top 7-8 players in the world … but she keeps running into top players early in pro draws; can she get a couple of signature wins here?
  • – #15 Brenda Laime Jalil taking on #18 Masiel Rivera Oporto; two players who play frequently and who match up pretty well meet, fittingly, in the 15/18 matchup. I have Rivera slightly ahead of Laime in my personal rankings, but to me this is a tossup.

Some great projected round of 16s here:

  • #1 Herrera should move past #17 Scott, but it might be close.
  • #8 Valeria Centellas should top veteran #9 Rhonda Rajsich, who is in danger of dropping out of the top 10 for the first time in 20 years.
  • #5 Natalia Mendez Erlwein should top #12 Carla Muñoz Montesinos; they’ve met 5 times previously in top-level events and Mendez is 5-0 over the Chilean.
  • #4 Samantha Salas Solis should dominate whoever comes out of the Amaya/Acosta match.
  • #3 Maria Jose Vargas Parada should move past the Bolivian junior Meneses, still playing 18U despite finishing runner-up at their Nationals.
  • #6 Jessica Parrilla ended Gonzalez’ 2020 Mexican Nationals run, and will do so again here. I think Parrilla has a bit too much power and game flexibility for Lucia to handle.
  • #10 Ana Gabriela Martínez over #7 Angelica Barrios – Raquetbolista; an upset by seed, but probably not by talent. last time these two met was at Junior worlds in 2017, a win for Martinez in the RR stage. It is good to see two young players making such inroads to the sport and these two project to be at the top of the sport for years.
  • #2 Montse Mejia should cruise past the winner of the Laime/Rivera match.
  • I think #8 Centellas can take out #1 Herrera. They’ve never met in a top level event, but i’ve got Valeria slightly ahead of Alexandra in my personal rankings. We’ll see; this is a great test for Herrera, who has managed to avoid frequent match-ups with the young starlets on tour such as Barrios, Centellas and Mejia.
  • #4 Salas just topped #5 Mendez in Kansas City and will do so again.
  • #3 Vargas versus #6 Parrilla; tough one. On paper normally this is Vargas all the way, but she’s still working back from time-off for childbirth. I think Parrilla can take this one.
  • #2 Mejia versus #10 Gaby; for me, the top two players in the world not named Paola, meeting in the quarters. That being said, Mejia has dominated their recent meetings and hasn’t lost to Gaby since 2016 16U worlds. They met in KC a few months back and Mejia dominated in winning 8.6. Mejia tops again.
  • #8 Centellas over #4 Salas; they’ve only met once, a Salas win a few years back, but that was before Salas hit her rough patch of form. Centellas has ascended since and is in a prime spot to make the final.
  • #2 Mejia over Parrilla; the two Mexican rivals have met several times in the past, with Leoni winning all of them, including a big upset at the 2020 Mexican Nationals, but that was before Mejia found her current gear. She topped four of the world’s best in order in straight games to win in KC, and she won’t be stopped here.

Finals: a rematch of the KC round of 16 that Mejia won handily 9,8 happens in the final, and Mejia takes her second straight LPRT title.

Who is Streaming this weekend? The IRT crew Dean DeAngelo Baer and Pablo Fajre are heading to Denver to stream this weekend, so stay tuned to the IRT feed for all your streaming options.

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USA Junior Nationals Wrap-Up

Annie Roberts finishes off her Junior career with an 18U singles title. Photo Kevin Savory at 2019Jr Nationals.

Congrats to your Junior National Champion winners on the weekend! After a year away, where we saw an entire class of juniors matriculate without being able to defend titles or compete one last time, it was great to see the nation’s top juniors playing this weekend in Des Moines.

R2 Sports App home page for event:

Lets review the draws and call out the finalists. Both Singles finalists qualify for Worlds. We’ll go singles then doubles, Boys then Girls, then Mixed. In each singles section, i’ll give the link to the Champions Matrix Report, which has all the champions of all junior divisions going back in history.

Boys Junior Singles Champions:
PRS Champions Matrix Report:

  • In 18U, #1 Timmy Hansen survived a strong push from the upset-minded #6 seed Julius Ellis, who had topped both the #2 and #3 seeds to get to the final. Hansen wins the battle of the sons of two former US National team members and captures his 2nd junior national title.
  • in 16U, #1 Nikhil Prasad captures his 6th junior national title over #3 Josh Shea in a tiebreaker.
  • in 14U, #2 Eshan Ali upset #1 seeded Joseph Marshall to win his 4th junior national title.
  • In 12U, #1 Nathan Rykhus dominated the field and took his 2nd junior national title over fellow NorCal #2 Vaishant Mangalampalli.
  • in 10U, #1 Alejandro Robles Picon won his 3rd junior national title in dominant fashion, winning all 5 RR matches and never giving up more than 5 points in a game. Nebraskan Lucas Frost-Biskup came in 2nd.
  • in 8U, Beckett Hansen took out his fellow 8U RR competitor Chris Nelson for the title, and beat several 10U players along the way.

10U Double bounce, 8U multi bounce and 6U multi bounce divisions were not competed this year.

Girls Junior Singles Champions:
PRS Champions Matrix Report:

  • In 18U, #1 Annie Roberts saved off match points to take the title over #2 Erin Slutzky. Roberts secures her 4th junior national title in her final year competing.
  • In 16U, a big upset as #5 Texan Naomi Ros took out 8-time junior national champ #1 seed Heather Mahoney with ease, then cruised to her first Junior national title in the final over Ava Kaiser. A dominant showing from Ros, who is a former Mexican and World Junior champ but has now moved to the US and is competing here.
  • in 14U, #1 Sonya Shetty wins her 3rd junior national title over #2 Andrea Perez-Picon, a 12U player playing up and who double qualified on the weekend.
  • in 12U, Perez-PIcon secured her 5th junior national title with ease, cruising to a win over #2 Aanshi Thakur in the final.
  • in 10U, Stockton’s Natalia Canchola was the sole entrant and wins the title by default; she competed against the 12U

10UDB, 8U, 8Umb and 6Umb divisions were not competed this year.

Boys Junior Doubles Champs
A reminder: just the doubles champs qualify to represent team USA.

  • 18U: Josh Shea repeats as champ (he also won 18U doubles in 2019 with Dylan Pruitt) with Vedant Chauhan; they topped the #1 seeded team of Gleason/Hansen. This is Shea’s 3rd junior double national title and Chauhan’s 2nd.
  • 16U: Gatlin Sutherland & Nikhil Prasad surprised the #1 seeded team of Shea & Chauhan and took the 16U title in the RR draw. This is Sutherland’s 3rd junior national title and Prasad’s 3rd as well.
  • 14U: Eshan Ali & Alexander Pappas took the RR title over 2nd place finishers Axel Lopez & Juan Herrera II. This is Ali’s 2nd junior national doubles title and Pappas’ first.
  • 12U: Vaishant Mangalampalli & Nathan_Rykhus took the small RR draw over fellow 12U competitors Alejandro Robles Picon & Aarush Sudamalla to take the title. This is Mangalampalli’s first title and Rykhus’ second.
  • 10U: The Texan brother team of Chris & Adrian Nelson were the sole 10U entrants; they competed against the 12U but take the title uncontested.

(we generally don’t compete younger than 10U doubles)

Girls Junior Doubles Champs

  • 18U #2 Heather Mahoney & Julia Stein topped #1 Estefania Perez & Erin Slutzky in an 11-9 thriller to take the title. This is Mahoney’s 9th junior national doubles title and Stein’s 9th as well (most of their titles have been together as they’ve grown up).
  • 16U: #1 Karina Mathew & Ava Kaiser cruised to a title over #2 sister team of Arya & Esha Cyril. This is their third junior national doubles title together.
  • 14U: The Shetty sisters Aarya & Sonya won the RR competition, with the Stockton duo of Jordan Ellis & Camila Canchola coming in 2nd. This is Sonya’s 5th doubles title and Aarya’s first.
  • 12U: Andrea Perez-Picon & Zara Ximena Barraza took the RR draw, with Aarya Shetty & Elizabeth Denler coming in 2nd place.

No 10U doubles competitors this year.

Mixed Junior Doubles Champs

  • 18U Mixed: Iain Dunn / Estefania Perez topped Hannah Werk / William Sherman in the final.
  • 16U: Esha Cyril & Nikhil Prasad were the top ranked 16U team in the combined 16/14 RR group.
  • 14U: Nathan Rykhus & Jordan Ellis were the top ranked 14U team in the combined group.

Thanks for all the streaming on the weekend, especially from broadcasters Leo Ray Vasquez and Dean DeAngelo Baer. And thanks to all the players and parents who hopped on the mike to help out, including the likes of Michelle De La Rosa, Tim Hansen and John Ellis. You all made the broadcasts fantastic.

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

Next up?

Your two singles finalists per division plus the doubles winners all qualify to represent the USA at the 2021 World Juniors championships, to be held the first weekend in December in San Jose, Costa Rica.

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US National Team Qualifying 2021 Wrap-Up

Carson had a great weekend at US Nationals. Photo Portland 2019 via Kevin Savory

(Note: we’ll wrap up the Juniors in a separate post tomorrow).

Congrats to your National Team Qualifiers on the weekend:

  • Men’s Singles: Rocky Carson over Alex Landa
  • Women’s Singles: Rhonda Rajsich over Kelani Lawrence
  • Men’s Doubles; Rocky Carson & Charlie Pratt
  • Women’s Doubles: Rhonda Rajsich & Erika Manilla

The US National team is comprised of the two singles finalists plus the doubles winners, so all the names above are now on the team for 2021 and into 2022. They will represent the USA at the Pan American Racquetball Championships in Santa Cruz, Bolivia in early September and at the World Championships in Guatemala City at the end of October. They may very well also represent the USA a third time at PARC in the spring of 2022, assuming the world goes back to normal post Covid.

R2 Sports App home page for event:

Lets review the draws.

Men’s Singles:

Match report in PRS:

12 men entered the draw. There was one consequential early match: Minnesotan John Goth faced off against #5 seed Charlie Pratt in a tough opener for both; Pratt advanced 8,8 to move into the quarters.

In the quarters

  • #1 Carson blitzed Blake Hansen 0,1 to move on.
  • #5 Pratt upset #4 Thomas Carter​ 11,9 in a sometimes choppy match, but the veteran Pratt did what he needed to move on.
  • #3 Jake Bredenbeck outlasted a fierce challenge from #6 Miller 2,(10),6
  • #2 Alex Landa ​had little trouble moving past Sam Bredenbeck 1,5.

In the semis, chalk:

  • #1 Carson downed his doubles partner Pratt in a close, tactical match 13,9
  • #2 Landa continued his career unbeaten streak against #3 Bredenbeck, winning 3,11 and guaranteeing his spot on the US National team for the 2nd year in a row since “defecting” from Mexico.

In the final, Carson reversed the course of their latest matchups and topped Landa 12,13 to take the title. This is his 8th national title; his first came in 2000, meaning he’s had titles 21 years apart. Amazing. See here: for a list of all Men’s US national amateur champions dating to 1968.

Women’s Singles

Match Report:

10 women entered the draw. In the play ins, two younger players advanced into the main draw, with 18U competitor Annie Roberts getting a nice win over Jessica Chen and Graci Wargo getting a walkover into the qtrs.

In the quarters, chalk:

  • #1 Erika Manilla cruised past the junior Roberts 7,2
  • #4 Kelani Lawrence got a walkover against Texan Linda Tyler
  • #3 Hollie Scott make quick work of Lexi York​ 1,7
  • #2 Rhonda Rajsich cruised past Wargo 5,1

In the semis, a couple of interesting results to me:

  • #4 Lawrence took out the #1 seed Manilla 13,6. Though an upset by seed, Lawrence is the defending US national champ and was a favorite to advance to the final again.
  • #2 Rajsich took out the winner of the most recently held US national qualifier in #3 Scott in a tie-breaker. This result surprised me, as Scott has been on fire lately in pro and outdoor events, while Rhonda has scuffled a bit.

In the final, another surprise to me as Rajsich avenged her 2019 loss to Lawrence at Nationals and claimed the title 7,14. This win is Rhonda’s 12th US National title, which is the most of any American women and breaks the record for most ever national titles held by Jen Saunders in Canada (thought I will say, our Mexican records are a little spotty and it is likely Paola Longoria​ has more for Mexico). See this link for all Women’s US National title holders, dating back to the first ever Women’s championship held in 1970.

Men’s Doubles

Match Report:

The Covid-forced withdrawal of Landa/ Sudsy Monchik forced a last minute re-drafting of the draw, and some pre-tournament complaints about seeding were resolved on the court. The #2 seeded brother team of Jake Bredenbeck and Sam Bredenbeck withstood a test from the #3 seeded team of Troy Warigon and Maurice Miller to advance to the final There, they met the 2019 champs and new #1 seeds of Rocky Carson and Charlie Pratt Racquetball​, who had advanced past John Goth​ and Blake Hansen​ in the semis.

In the final, Rocky/Pratt came back from a close game 1 defeat to cruise in game two, then outlast the Bredenbecks in the final to take the championship.

This win is Rocky’s 12th national doubles title and Pratt’s 2nd, and it returns Rocky to the National team for (I believe) the 16th time.

Women’s Doubles

Match Report:

An interesting draw and interesting results to this pundit.

1 seeds Rhonda Rajsich teamed up with a new partner in Erika Manilla for this event, and the partnership paid off. They advanced past #4 seed Lexi York and Linda Tyler in the top semi. The bottom semi featured a very tense match that featured what had to be dozens of appeals and the need for line judges before it was all over. The #3 seeded team of Michelle De La Rosa and Sheryl Lotts outlasted and upset the #2 seeded team of Kelani Lawrence​ and Hollie Scott​ 11-9 in the breaker. De La Rosa and Lotts made the interesting decision to travel to Des Moines and only play doubles, and it seemed like it paid off with their shot at the title.

However, it was not to be; the #1 seeds won the first game in the finals with comfort and then staved off an attempt to push through to the tiebreaker. Rajsich and Manilla win 8,14 to take the National doubles crown.

It is the 3rd National doubles title for Rajsich, and the 2nd in a row for Manilla. It returns Rajsich to the national team for (I believe) the 12th time.

Thanks for all the streaming on the weekend, especially from broadcasters Leo Ray Vasquez and Dean DeAngelo Baer and Pablo Fajre, who flew in the IRT crew to help with production.

Thanks to the Tourney Director Connor Shane 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. If your name is here and it isn’t tagged … it probably means I attempted to tag you but FB stripped it.

Next up?

The next major event on the schedule is Mid August’ World Singles & Doubles, put on by Jim Hiser in Denver, Colorado. There’s an IRT tier 5 scheduled in Atlanta the first weekend in august and MRF Nationals in the interim. We’re hearing rumors of Mexican national events being shoehorned in at some point this fall, but no word yet.

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2021 USAR National Team Qualifier Preview

Welcome to US Nationals! This weekend, the men and women will have US National team qualifiers to determine who represents the USA at the PARC and World tournaments later this year (in Bolivia and Guatemala respectively), and the Juniors will be competing to win Junior National titles and earn the honor to represent the USA at Junior Worlds in Guatemala later this year.

Lets preview the draws.

R2 Sports App link:

Men’s Singles.
12 players entered, highlighted by the top 2 seeds who made the finals of the last national qualifier we held, along with a number of IRT regulars.

In the play-in, look out for #12 John Goth, a solid player who made the US National final in 2012 and the round of 16 in the last pro event he played, who faces #5 Charlie Pratt Racquetball, he himself a frequent US National team member and the current US Junior national team coach. Whoever Goth faced in the opener would face a tough challenge.
In the Quarters, whoever survives Goth/Pratt has a good chance against #4 Thomas Carter to make the semis. The projected #3/#6 match between Jake Bredenbeck and Maurice Miller could be interesting as well.

In the end, I expect the top two seeds #1 Rocky Carson and #2 Alex Landa to advance to the final and battle it out for the US title. That match would be a coin flip for me; in the last qualifier Rocky came out on top, but the last time they faced off professionally Landa squeaked by with an 11-10 win in the final of the Los Compadres open in Fullerton in Nov 2019.

Women’s Singles:

The top 4 women in the US keep running into each other in the back end of these tournaments, and I expect the top 4 seeds to advance to the semis again this year.
In the semis, I look for two upsets by seeding; look for #4 Kelani Lawrence to top #1 Erika Manilla in the top half, and for Hollie Scott (who won the last National team qualifier and thus i’m not quite sure how she’s only ranked #3) to top #2 Rhonda Rajsich in the other semi.

In the final…i’ll go with Kelani, who just faced (and beat) Scott in the LPRT Sweet Caroline open in May rather easily to beat her again and claim her second national title.

Men’s Doubles
The big news here was the last minute positive Covid test that defending US doubles champion Sudsy Monchik suffered, which has taken him out of traveling and thus out of the tournament. He’s really bummed, but also has been dealing with the illness, and we’re glad he’s recovering. With the news, USAR reworked the draw and four teams remain to compete.

In one semi, look for the new #1 seed Carson/Pratt (the 2019 champs) to take out the local favorites of Goth/Blake Hansen, while the 2/3 match should feature some fireworks between two good teams of the Bredenbeck brothers (Jake and Sam Bredenbeck) playing Miller and Troy Warigon.

In the final look for Carson/Pratt to prevail over the Bredenbecks to take the title and send Rocky back to an international competition for the 14th year.

Women’s Doubles
The defending champ from the last national qualifier ( Aimee Roehler Ruiz) is out while battling Breast Cancer, so the teams are relatively jumbled from the last time we saw them. There’s 5 teams playing, and I expect the top two seeds to advance to the final.

In the final, look for the team of Scott/Lawrence to take out the team of Rajsich/Manilla to take the title.

It has been two years since we had Junior Nationals and we’ve lost an entire class to matriculation, so its the first time we’ve seen some of these kids in quite a while. I won’t spend a ton of time previewing the draw or making predictions since, well, we just have no idea what will happen.

In the Boys 18U; the top two seeds of Timmy Hansen and Andrew Gleason are seasoned junior international vets and will be hard to beat. Gleason is playing on home soil and could be an upset favorite, but he’ll have to get by a tough #3 seed in Krish Thakur, who has 3 junior titles to his credit. Nonetheless, I like Hansen, who has looked just dominant in local Florida events as of late, to take the title.

In the Girls 18U, #1 Annie Roberts is a favorite to make the final, but she has no simple pathway there. On the bottom side, the 2/3 semi should be great between Erin Slutzky and Shane Diaz. All three have been regularly popping up in LPRT events and moving their careers forward. Look for Roberts to take the title.

In the Boys 16U, a stacked draw at the top, featuring two top seeds in Vedant Chauhan and Nikil Prasad, two Norcal kids who face off a lot. But look out for New Yorker Josh Shea, who has been hanging out at the Kelley court competing against pretty significant competition and might make a run here. The last time these three faced off, Chauhan topped Shea in the 2019 14U, and Prasad topped Chauhan in the final … we’ll get rematches of both this weekend.

In the Girls 16U: it is the Heather Mahoney show; she’s won 8 junior titles and is the defending World 14U champ. It will be difficult to top her in Iowa this weekend.

For the 14U and younger draws … as fans we’ll have to wait and see how the draws play out. I find it hard to even make predictions on kids who were 12 the last time we saw them.

Look for Streaming on USA Racquetball’s page, with Leo Ray Vasquez on the mike as always! Plus, this year USAR has brought in none other than the IRT’s main streaming guy Dean DeAngelo Baer to help out.

Thanks to the Tourney Director and USAR national events coordinator Connor Shane or 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. If your name is here and it isn’t tagged … it probably means I attempted to tag you but FB stripped it.

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2021 47th Annual Outdoor Nationals Preview

DLR will look to defend both his 2019 titles. Photo 2019 outdoor Nationals by Mike Augustin

Welcome back Huntington Beach! After a year off thanks to Covid-19, outdoor National is back at Marina Park to host the 2021 Team Root Outdoor Nationals Racquetball Championships presented by Pro Kennex.

A solid draw of 140+ players is in Southern California to compete, and the draw includes a slew of the best outdoor players in the land.

R2 Sports App link:

Lets do some quick draw previews.

In the Men’s Pro Doubles… the big daddy draw, with Defending champs Alvaro Beltran and Daniel De La Rosa seeded 1st and favored to win again. But there’s a ton of talented teams here.

In the opening round, i’m looking at close matches in the 5/12 match-up (Emmitt Coe/Rick Koll versus NorCal top pairing of Walter Ramos and Israel Torres) and in the 6/11 match-up (New York one-wall specialists Freddy Ramirez and Benny Goldenberg versus Thomas Gerhardt and Daniel Lavely), but otherwise expect chalk.

In the quarters, I’m projecting a couple of really solid matches but for the top four seeds to advance. I like the #4 Micah Rich/ Jason Newberg team to top the Coe/Koll team in a close one, and i do think #3 Greg Solis and Josh Tucker will outlast the challenge from Ramirez/Goldenberg.

In the semis, i’m predicting Beltran/DLR to outlast Rich/Geis, while i’m predicting an upset in the bottom-half, with Solis/Tucker taking out #2 seeds Rocky Carson and Jesus Ustarroz.

In the final: Beltran/DLR defend their title over fellow so-cal outdoor top players Solis/Tucker.

In the Women’s Pro Doubles … Michelle De La Rosa and Carla Muñoz Montesinos are the #1 seeds and defending champs, and should defend their title on the weekend. there are 5 teams entered, and they’ll play round robin matchups all weekend to determine the winner. Their toughest competition will come from #2 seeds Amie LeBrun Brewer and Jessica Chen, two traveling players from Washington (DC) and Washington (State) respectively.

In the Mixed Pro Doubles, defending champs/husband wife De La Rosa team will face off against last year’s finalists once again in the Munoz/ Robert Sostre team, but a 5-team round-robin competition that features some NorCal flavor in Erica Williams, Walter Ramos, Israel Torres and Jazmin Trevino will spice the mixed draw up all weekend.

In the Men’s Singles … the search continues for the successor to the domination of Brian Hawkes and Rocky Carson on the big Huntington Beach courts. Four different players have won the last four Men’s pro singles title, and this year i’m predicting a 5th straight winner.
8 players are entered, and I think we get chalk to the semis. There, former IRT touring pro Jose Diaz will give Hall of Famer Greg Solis a run for his money, but I think Solis advances. On the bottom, #2 seed and 2018 singles champ Luis Avila projects to face “Sweet” Lou Orosco for a spot in the final.

I’m predicting Solis, who has never won a singles title, will finally add this title to his resume and take the Men’s pro singles title.

In the Women’s pro singles, after not having a top-level singles draw for several years there are 5 women entered into the Pro/Open singles draw. They are headlined by LPRT touring pro and heavy favorite here Carla Munoz, who will play RR competition against several competitors for the title. I’m predicting Munoz finishes the weekend unvanquished and adds an Outdoor Singles title to her collection of trophies.

Other Notable draws: the biggest draw on the weekend is the Men’s Centurion (100+) division, with 19 teams competing. A slew of hall of famers and former touring pros are entered into this event, and it should be fun. Look for HoFer Mike Peters to make some noise, get a chance to watch former IRT touring pro Todd O’Neil, and especially watch for the McDonald crew (@greg mcdonald and his son Jack), who are here (along with Martha McDonald) to support the tournament from Florida as they’ve done nearly every year since 1974.

Look for Streaming this weekend from JT R Ball and in the various outdoor racquetball groups. If you’re not a member, consider following pages/groups like the main WOR page or groups like Underground Racquetball, which covers SoCal outdoor.

Thanks to the Tourney Directors Geoff Osberg and Jesus Ustarroz for putting this event on! This is the culmination of months of hard work for Geoff and Jay and I wanted to commend them for making the return to HB a success.

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2021 TeamRoot SuperMax Wrap-Up

Mejia captures her first ever pro tournament, doing the double along with it. Photo Kevin Savory US Open 2019

Congrats to your winners on the weekend:

  • Pro Singles: Montse Mejia
  • Pro Doubles; Mejia & Alexandra Herrera​

Mejia gets just her second ever win over Longoria to take her first ever pro title. She becomes the 28th person ever to win a Tier 1 women’s pro event. She also breaks Longoria’s 39-match winning streak, the 7th longest in the history of the sport on the women’s side.

R2 Sports App home page for event:

Lets review the notable matches in the Singles draw.

Match report in PRS:

In the 64s, some surprises starting right at 8am Friday:

  • Solid win for Colombian María Paz Riquelme, taking out the junior upstart from Bolivia Natalia Mita. Fun fact about Riquelme; she got her start playing racquetball when she lived in Arlington Va, and she used to play in the leagues that I ran as a club pro there in the 2006-2007 time frame. I don’t think i can take all the credit for her success though 🙂
  • Annie Roberts had a great turn-around to notch her first LPRT win, storming back from a 15-8 first game loss to take the second game 15-0 and then hold on for the 11-10 tie-breaker win over Colombian junior Camila Rivero
  • Erika Manilla took a close one from fellow American Michelle De La Rosa3,11 to move on.

In the 32s, the notable results

  • #16 Adriana Riveros dominated #17 @Maria Maria Renee Rodríguez 4,11 to move on. I would have expected this to be closer; a solid win by Riveros.
  • #8 Angelica Barrios​ made quick work of #25 Daniela Rico​ 10,2; they had gone deep into a tie-breaker in the last event when they met.
  • #12 @Carla Carla Muñoz Montesinos and #21 Masiel Rivera Oporto (a former top10 player herself) played it as close as you could, with Munoz edging out the Bolivian-American 11-10 in a fantastic back and forth, tense match.
  • #11 Nancy Enriquez​ dominated the tough Ana Laura Flores​ 6,6 in the opener.
  • #20 Brenda Laime Jalil​ got the biggest upset of the round, topping Colombian veteran Amaya Cris in two.
  • #10 Montse Mejia​ cruised past Bolivian junior @Micaela Micaela Meneses Cuellar​ 8,4 to start off her tournament.
  • In the most talent-laden opening round match, #7 Valeria Centellas played very solid racquetball to move past the criminally under-seeded #26 Lucia Gonzalez 12,7.
  • #15 Kelani Lawrence​ and fellow American Sheryl Lotts played it as close as they could, with Kelani taking an 11-10 tie-breaker.
  • #2 Alexandra Herrera was given a stiff challenge, advancing by 10,14 in two close games against Manilla.

In the 16s:

  • #1 Paola Longoria​ cruised past #16 Riveros to move on.
  • #8 Barrios took care of business against the veteran #9 Rhonda Rajsich,9.
  • #5 Samantha Salas Solis​ left no room for an upset over #12 Munoz, who has challenged her (and beaten her) in the past. She moves on 7,7
  • #4 Natalia Mendez​ handled the upstart #20 Laime, controlling the match and moving on.
  • #14 Gabriela Martinez​ took out #3 @Maria Maria Jose Vargas Parada with relative ease 3,7. This was a tough round of 16 for Vargas, just coming back after a break, having to go against the under-seeded Gaby. This sets up some possibly very compelling matches later on in the bottom half.
  • #6 Jessica Parrilla​ turned the tides on the surging #11 Enriquez, and showed some serious mettle in coming back to win game two and the match. She moves on 7,14
  • #10 Mejia got a solid win over #7 Centellas 9,8, in a match of two of the better young players on tour.
  • #2 Herrera withstood a tough opening game, then cruised to the win 14,1 over Lawrence.

In the Quarters

  • Barrios got her points and definitely played better than the last time she met #1 Longoria, but Paola persevered and moved on 8,10.
  • #5 Salas got a great win over #4 Mendez, turning the tide from their last meeting in South Carolina and buldling on her solid showing at Mexican Nationals. Is Salas back? This win should put her back to #4 on tour going into the next event.
  • #14 Martinez continued her pathway through the draw, topping #6 Parrilla in two relatively in-control games. Is Martinez back? Clearly she’s one of the top 4-5 players in the world, and the tour would be better with her on it full time.
  • #10 Mejia held serve against her doubles partner and moved into the semis over #2 Herrera in two closer games. Its always tough to play your doubles partner, and the two know each other’s games intimately. Mejia moves on for a compelling semi final.

In the Semis

  • Longoria improved to an amazing 52-3 against her long-time rival Salas, topping her 7,6 to move into the finals of the 25th consecutive LPRT event.
  • Mejia topped Martinez 8,6 for the fourth successive time in major/pro competitions to move into just her second ever pro final.

In the Finals, which some pundits (ahem, me) predicted, Mejia took it to Longoria in a way she hadn’t done since her sole previous victory over the #1, and kept up the pressure all game for the two-game win.

Points Implications of results:

The big move, of course, is Mejia, who should move from #10 to #3 with this big win. That is assuming that there’s no rolling expiration of points going on and we’re just adding existing points to the current totals for each player. It will be the first time Mejia has been anywhere close to the top of the LPRT rankings, where she really belongs based on her talent level.

Other minor moves in the rankings that i’m projecting include:

  • Mendez dropping from 4 to 6
  • Centellas dropping out of the top 8.
  • Martinez moving up from 13 to 11.
  • Laime moving up 2 spots to 18.

Doubles review

Match report in the PRS database:

Round of 16: two minor upsets in the 8/9 and 7/10 matches, other wise seeds held.

In the quarters, all four top seeds held serve, but it wasn’t easy; three of the four matches went to tie-breaker and the top seeds were stretched 9,10 by the American duo of Lawrence & Scott.

In the semis; a shot across the bow of ladies pro doubles; the Guatemalan national team of Martinez & Rodriguez handled the #1 Longoria/Salas team to move into their first pro doubles final as a team. On the bottom-half, Mejia & Herrera moved into the final as well, easily handling the Argentine duo of Mendez/Centellas.

In the final: the Mexican duo made quick work of the Guatemalans in game one, then held on 15-14 in game two to give Mejia the shock double on the weekend. Final score 1,14.

Women’s Open draw

There was a very solid women’s open draw on the weekend as well, which featured 18 players and was headlined by #7 and #8 players Barrios and Centellas as well as several former top 10 pro players.

The semis nearly went chalk, with 4 of the top 5 seeds advancing, all regular LPRT touring pros. Erin Slutzky had the biggest upset of the early rounds, taking out #4 Amaya Cris 11-10 before falling to #5 Enriquez easily in the quarters.

In the semis, four countries represented: Bolivia, Mexico, Chile and Argentina. A very international semis.

  • Barrios got a solid tiebreaker win over Enriquez.
  • Munoz got one of the better wins of her career by topping Centellas in 2.

In the final, Munoz finished off Barrios in two to capture the crown and finish off a significant weekend of results. She finishes atop the open draw with a series of wins over top 8 players and wins a draw that included at least 4 current or very recent top 10 players. Great weekend for the Chilean.

Thanks for all the streaming on the weekend, especially from broadcasters Timothy Baghurst​, Jerry J Josey Jr.​., and Tj Baumbaugh​. Thanks to Leo Ray Vasquez​ for his weekend broadcast work as well. Lastly thanks to Sudsy Monchik​, who was in KC with his wife for the event and who did a great job broadcasting as always. I’d like to say that the streaming video quality looked really amazing this weekend, more “high def” than I’d seen it before, and the broadcast team did a great job of live action camera switching. Bravo and kudos to the entire tech team of LPRT.

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

Next up on the Racquetball Calendar?

  • Next weekend there’s an RKT event in Chihuahua.
  • The next big tournament is the Outdoor Nationals in Huntington Beach, CA the weekend of 7/11/21.
  • The weekend after that will be the US Team Qualifying plus Junior Nationals in Des Moines.
  • The next known LPRT event is the combo IRT/LPRT World Doubles event in mid-august in Denver.


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TeamRoot SuperMax Preview

The LPRT is back in action, and back in Kansas City for the fourth time in three years. Thanks to major LPRT benefactor Randy Root and for running his 4th grand slam and for his ongoing support of the sport (both pros and outdoor).

R2 Sports App link:

36 of the top women’s pros from around the world are here competing representing 7 different countries.

Top20 players missing: None. For the first time that I can think of writing these previews, there’s not a single top20 ranked player missing from a pro event. The highest ranked players missing are #22 Erin Nocam Rivera and #23 Susy Acosta, neither of whom are full time tour players at this point. So this should be a fantastic draw.

Big news: the return of #3 Maria Jose Vargas Parada, who took time off the tour for the birth of her second child. She’s back, and it should be interesting to see how rusty she is when it comes to competing in the back-end of this event.

Round of 64
36 players means a round of 32 in Overland park; here’s a quick look at the compelling play-in matches:

  • #32/33 Linda Tyler versus Montserrat Pérez; Tyler got a great win in the last LPRT event opener; this matchup projects to be a bit tougher.
  • A couple of international juniors have flown in to make their pro debuts. Bolivia’s Natalia Mita and Colombia’s Camila Rivero are both 16U players and will provide tough matchups for María Paz Riquelme and Annie Roberts respectively.

– The 31/34 match is a bruiser; 2020 US National team qualifier Erika Manilla is set to face former touring pro and current top outdoor specialist Michelle De La Rosa. One top American will bow out quite early here, and I suspect it will be Manilla.

Round of 32 matches to watch for: Here’s some of the openers that I think will be compelling:

  • 16/17 features two touring veterans in Adriana Riveros and @maria renee rodriguez, who have only managed to face off once before in a top-level event despite both competing on tour for years. Riveros topped MRR in 2016, but things are a lot closer between them now. I still slightly favor Riveros here, but MRR should push for the win.
  • #8 Angelica Barrios vs #25 Daniela Rico: these two managed to play in the first round just a few weeks ago, with Rico pushing Barrios to a breaker. No reason not to think it could happen again.
  • #13 Amaya Cris will have her hands full with #20 Brenda Laime Jalil; upset watch here.
  • #14 @ana gabriela martinez vs #19 Hollie Scott; these two played a barn burner in December, with Scott pushing the former World Champ to a breaker before falling. Lets see if the USA #1 can push the Guatemalan #1 here, in the kind of international matchup that Scott will be seeing later this year at Worlds.
  • #7 Valeria Centellas vs #26 Lucia Gonzalez; another repeat of a 1st rounder from early may, where Centellas topped the dangerous Lucia in two solid games. Gonzalez skipped Mexican Nationals last week, perhaps to rest up for the super max. Despite the seedings of both players, these are (in my estimation) 2 of the top 6-7 players in the world, and this is the best round of 32 in terms of talent.
  • #10 Montse Mejia vs #23 Micaela Meneses Cuellar; a tough draw for the young Bolivan, running into perhaps the 2nd or 3rd best player in the world right now in Mejia.
  • #15 Kelani Lawrence vs #18 @sheryl lotts; another USA vs USA match, with Lawrence favored to down her some-times doubles partner.

– #2 Alexandra Herrera vs mDLR: if Michelle advances, Herrera has a far more difficult round of 32 than she may like. These two played a 12-10 5th game at the US Open a couple years ago, and mDLR can push the lefty. Herrera should advance, but will have to work for it.

Round of 16 projections.
-#1 Paola Longoria should dominate the veteran Riveros.

  • I see #8 Barrios taking out #9 veteran Rhonda Rajsich.
  • After several years entrenched at #2 on tour, Samantha Salas Solis has fallen to #5, but had a great run at Mexican Nationals last week, getting wins over several tough compatriots, and will look to build on that here. She gets an opponent in #12 Carla Muñoz Montesinos who upset Salas in Dec 2019, so she has the playbook to win, but i like the way Salas is trending. Samantha to advance.
  • #4 Natalia Mendez over Laime.
  • #3 Vargas projects to play #14 Martinez in a really tough round of 16, especially given her time off. Based on talent levels, this should be a close one for Vargas, but she could be rusty from the layoff. I like the winner of this match to make a deep run.
  • #11 Nancy Enriquez just beat #6 Jessica Parrilla last week at Mexican Nationals handily, and I think she does it again here.
  • #10 Mejia over #7 Centellas; man this quarter is tough; Centellas, Lucia Gonzalez and Mejia are basically 3 of the top 6 players in my personal rankings, and they all play into one quadrant of one quarter in this draw. Mejia has not lost to Valeria before and should advance here.

– #2 Herrera over #15 Lawrence: Herrera takes out her second successive American.

Projected Qtrs:

  • #1 Longoria over #8 Barrios; a rematch of the shock final in the Dec 2020 supermax event, which rocketed Angelica to the top 8 on tour. Paola makes quick work of the young Bolivian player here.
  • #4 Mendez over #5 Salas: these two met in the quarters of the Sweet Caroline and Natalia dominated. Despite Salas’ excellent run in Mexico, Mendez is playing too tough right now and advances.
  • #11 Enriquez loses to Vargas, despite playing in top form.
  • #10 Mejia tops #2 Herrera to give Alexandra her earliest exit for a while. I think Mejia is either the 2nd or 3rd best player in the world, and she’ll get a chance to prove it here.
  • #1 Longoria over #4 Mendez; Paola is 5-0 lifetime over the Argentine.
  • #10 Mejia over #3 Vargas; at full strength i give Vargas the edge here, but with the layoff, Mejia gets the edge

– Longoria takes out Mejia once again in the final of a big event for the title.

Doubles review
16 teams competing in a full 16 draw. the #1 team of Longoria/Salas has won dozens of titles together now; they should advance to the final from the top bracket over the Guatemalan team of Martinez/MRR, who have been playing amazingly well together as of late. Don’t count out the US national doubles champ team of Lawrence/Scott, or the Colombian national team of Amaya/Riveros though.
From the bottom, somehow despite constantly making pro finals, Herrera/Mejia are still not seeded 2nd. No matter; the bottom half of this draw is not nearly as stacked as the top half, and the Mexicans should meet and beat the Argentine national doubles team of Mendez/Centellas in the semis to make for another all-Mexican final.

Look for Longoria/Salas to win and give Paola another double.

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!
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. If your name is here and it isn’t tagged … it probably means I attempted to tag you but FB stripped it.
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Capital City WOR Classic Recap

Hall of Famer Sostre dominates in DC. Photo 3WB 2020 by Steven Fitzsimons

Congrats to everyone who played in DC this past weekend!

It was a sunny and hot weekend, with the music blaring all day on the Stratton Woods courts. One-wall, 3-wall long wall and one-wall paddleball on display for the duration. Here’s a look at how the big draws played out.

R2 Sports App link:

Here’s a quick recap of the notable matches in the top-level draws.

Three-Wall Doubles Draws:

  • Three-Wall Men’s Pro: the stacked draw full of visiting pros from NY and Fla all were vanquished by two home-grown teams who met in the final. There, the #6 seeded team of Dylan Pruitt​ / Thomas Gerhardt topped MoMo Zelada​ and Sergio Rivera in the final.
  • Three-Wall Men’s 75+: #1 seeded Robert Sostre​ and Benny Goldenberg took out two experienced players in Greg Lewerenz​ and Rob Mijares​ in final.
  • Three-Wall Women’s Pro Doubles: Abril Prado​ and Masiel Rivera Oporto​ took the 3-team RR Pro doubles draw in a Bolivia-heavy final against @Veronica Veronica Nogales Tellez​ and Paola Nunez​.
  • Three-Wall Mixed Pro Doubles: Carrie Handfinger Hoeft​ and Roy Hernandez​ held serve as the top seeds and took out #7 seeds Joe Young​ and Kathy Guinan in the final.

One-Wall doubles divisions:

  • One-Wall Men’s Pro doubles: It was a very New York final, and there top seeds Sostre/ Benny Goldenberg​ made it a double on the weekend, topping #3 seeds Rolon/Young in the final.
  • One-Wall Women’s Pro doubles: The two group winners were Masiel Rivera / Aimee Roehler Ruiz​ in Group A, and Nogales/Nunez in Group B. The two teams met in the final with unknown results.
  • One-Wall Mixed Pro doubles: #2 seeds Goldenberg and Delia Silva took out the #4 team of Rolon/Guinan in an all New York final.

Singles Draws:

  • One-Wall Men’s Pro Singles: Pruitt earned his outdoor creds this weekend, taking the 3-wall pro title by defeating top Florida outdoor pro Alejandro Barcelo in the semis then his doubles partner Gerhardt in the final. Gerhardt had taken out NYC top one-wall player William Rolon​ in the semis to make the final as the #2 seed.

Paddleball Exhibition

With so many New Yorkers onsite, the TDs added an impromptu Mixed Pro Paddleball division. In the final Jasmine India Suarez and her partner took out the two pro tour commissioners (and two USAR board members) Mike Grisz​ and Tj Baumbaugh​ in the final.

Thanks for all those who streamed live on the weekend. This is probably not a canonical list but I saw streams from Thao Le, Joey Logan​ (who i didn’t even know was flying into town!), Amie LeBrun Brewer​, Maddie Melendez, Ruben Pagan​ & OneWallBall, and others.

Thanks to the Tourney Directors Amie Brewer, Carrie Handfinger Hoeft, Maddie Melendez and Thao Le 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. If your name is here and it isn’t tagged … it probably means I attempted to tag you but FB stripped it.

Next up?

Mexican Nationals is next weekend, in Monterrey. This is always one of my favorite events to cover, since the draws are so full of talent. The weekend after that is the LPRT Team Root supermax in Kansas City, a grand slam that should draw all the top women from around the globe.


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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:

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:

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.


  • #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.

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!

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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