Welcome to the first International Racquetball Federation (IRF) event of the 2023 season, the 34th installment of the Pan American Racquetball Championships (PARC). This year’s event is being held in Guatemala City and serves as a qualifier into the 2023 Pan Am Games later this year in Chile. The Pan Am games, lest I remind you, are the highest international level competition our sport has in the absence of being in the Olympics, and thus these games take on additional import.
r2sports home page for the brackets and match times: https://www.r2sports.com/website/event-website.asp?TID=40828
We’re through the round robin stages and have the knockouts set, so its a great time to do a preview.
Seeding for these events is done on a sliding scale of the country’s past performances and is not specific to a player, which is why you’ll see some odd seeding in the singles especially (#1 LPRT pro Paola Longoria seeded 5th, for example), and will make for some good early round match ups.
Here’s a look at open-level knock outs for singles, doubles and mixed.
USA and Bolivia players own the top 4 seeds in the knockouts, which gives both advantages to get to the latter stages at the expense of the top Mexican and Canadian players.
The round of 16 may see some upsets:
– Both Costa Ricans are set to play each other in the 16s, a bummer for Andres Acuna and @Gabriel Garcia
– Upset watch: #13 Argentine @Diego García has the firepower to take out #4 Thomas Carter .
– Looks like Canada on Canada crime as #6 Samuel Murray projects to face his #2 Trevor Webb .
– #1 @Carlos Keller Vargas , who gets the #1 seed by virtue of his topping Moscoso in Bolivian Nationals a couple of months ago, projects to face Costa Rica’s Acuna. This is a coin flip for me; Keller generally plays really well internationally so i’ll favor him, but Acuna is more battle tested lately.
– #5 Eduardo Portillo vs #13 Garcia: Portillo should move on here but Garcia is an unknown to tour players and could forge an upset.
– #3 Conrrado Moscoso versus #6 Murray: I’m unsure if this match will occur b/c reportedly Murray dinged his knee during group play. This may be a walkover, or this may be another Canadian, or this could be the winner of Webb/Espinosa in the earlier round. Either way, Moscoso is favored.
– #2 @Jake Bredenbeck vs #7 Andree Parrilla ; , a pro semis-quality match that we’ve already seen on tour a couple times this year. Jake has the upper hand over Andree right now.
– Portillo over Keller. Lalo is just a better player right now than either Keller or Acuna and should move into the final.
– Moscoso over Jake: Its a lopsided draw; the bottom half is just so much deeper than the top. I’d have liked to see this as a final (as we saw in the last IRT event), but we’ll get it here.
Final: Moscoso over Portillo. Moscoso is hyper focused on international titles and gets one here.
Women’s Open knockout preview:
Thanks to some really tough RR matchups, we’re going to have some bang-up round of 16 matches in the Women’s draw.
In the 16s:
– #1 @AnAngelica Barros taking on Costa Rican up and coming Junior @Maricruz Ortiz , who has been training in Florida with Sudsy Monchik and Veronica Sotomayor and has been improving rapidly. Not enough to beat Barrios, but enough to put a scare into her.
– Look for a close 8/9 between Cristina Amaya and Ecuadorian veteran Muñoz Pazita .
– A fitting 5/12 matchup between long-time veteran rivals Paola Longoria and @Rhonda Rajsich in what could be Rhonda’s final int’l appearance. Her American rivals may start to knock her off the US National team.
– #4 Maria José Vargas over Ecuador’s Munoz.
– #3 Gaby over fellow Guatemalan Aguilar
– 11 @Erika Manilla vs #6 Montse Mejia , who literally just played yesterday. This seems like a defect in the seeding. Too early an exit for Manilla and this will cost the US in the Pan Am Games seeding with two female round of 16 exists.
– #7 Carla Munoz versus Bolivian vet #10 @Yasmine Sabja could be close
– #2 Natalia Mendez should cruise over Dominican Delgado.
– Barrios advances by whoever comes out of 8/9
– Longoria-Vargas. phew. Vargas took her out with no pressure in an LPRT event a few weeks ago, but Paola lives for IRF titles and moves on.
– Mejia-Gaby; another powerhouse meeting. They met frequently as juniors, but Montse owns their adult meetings. Mejia to advance.
– Mendez Munoz: Natalia has the advantage here.
– Longoria over Barrios. Yes, Angelica has a recent win, but this is PARC not the pros.
– Mejia over Mendez; Montse outclasses the Argentine.
Final … Mexico vs Mexico again, and Montse continues her dominance over the rest of her female compatriots with her first int’l title.
Men’s doubles preview:
The injury to Murray hampers Canada’s chances here and really opens up the bottom half of the draw for a Bolivian romp to the finals. From the top, expect Mexico vs USA to be action packed in the semis but for Montoya/Parrilla to advance.
In the final, i see Mexico topping Bolivia’s Moscoso/Carrasco.
Women’s Doubles preview:
Team Guatemala has been playing really well lately, but nobody’s stopping Herrera/Mejia from winning this title together. Can team USA Michelle Key and @Erika Manilla make some noise from the top half and get to the final? We’ll see.
Mixed Doubles preview
Two powerhouse teams of top pros are seeded 1st and 2nd, and its hard to predict anything other than Mexico vs Bolivia final. The ladies player in mixed always dictates the winner for me, and I see Longoria outhitting Barrios on the right hand side in that final to power Mexico to another international mixed win.
The IRT streaming team is in Guatemala doing the broadcasts, and lead IRF broadcaster @gary mazaroff is on the mike along with Alexis Iwaasa and others. Tune in all week for solid matches.