2024 Apcon Beach Bash Recap

Sostre a double winner in Florida this weekend. Photo Steve Fitzsimons 3WB 2020

Congrats to your Pro winners on the weekend:

– Men’s Pro Doubles: Robert Sostre and Benny Goldenberg

– Women’s Pro Doubles: Michelle Key and Katie Neils

– Mixed Pro Doubles: Robert Sostre and Kelani Lawrence

– Men’s Pro Singles: DJ Mendoza

– Women’s Pro Singles: Veronica Sotomayor

Executive Summary: Sostre takes two titles and has a huge weekend. Goldenberg goes undefeated in Men’s and CPRT. Key wins her record extending 34th WOR major title. Lawrence and Neils return to the winner’s circle. Sotomayor repeats, and Mendoza is a first time winner in singles.

R2 Sports App home page for event: https://www.r2sports.com/website/event-website.asp?TID=41755

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Reports on ProRacquetballStats.com:

Match reports for 2024 Beach Bash:

– Men’s Pro Doubles: https://rball.pro/g69

– Women’s Pro Doubles: https://rball.pro/ego

– Mixed Pro Doubles: https://rball.pro/s1n

– Men’s Pro Singles: https://rball.pro/9xz

– Women’s Pro Singles: https://rball.pro/672

Triple Crown Reports for all past WOR major champions:

– Men’s Pro Doubles: https://rball.pro/3lj

– Women’s Pro Doubles: https://rball.pro/zoa

– Mixed Pro Doubles: https://rball.pro/obz

– Men’s Pro Singles: https://rball.pro/9ey

– Women’s Pro Singles: https://rball.pro/h27

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Lets run through the draws, recapping the action.

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Men’s Pro Doubles:

One-wall NYC legends Sostre & Goldenberg held serve as the #1 seeds and took the pro draw without dropping a game. With Sostre manning the left-side, he demonstrated his hall of fame hand-speed and one-wall defense all weekend to grind out the win. They toppled two Floridians in Yasmani Perez & Javier Trujillo in the final, who really raised some eyebrows this weekend as pro division debutants.

The tenor of the match was set at the end of the first game, when a line call at game point was over-turned by Perez, giving their opponents the game. Great sportsmanship all around, and great play for the neutrals to watch.

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Women’s Pro Doubles:

The Arizona pair of Michelle Key and Katie Neils took the pro doubles title over surprise finalists from Miami Chanis Leon and Yurisleidis Allue. Leon and Allue showed why you can’t just assume touring pros will win in outdoor (especially one-wall), topping two teams of LPRT veterans to make the final.

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Mixed Pro Doubles:

Sostre padded his HoFame resume, earning his 17th WOR Major doubles title by teaming with Lawrence to hold serve as the #1 seed and win out. They survived the toughest quarter (against IRT legend Sudsy Monchik and his wife, 2-time Beach Bash singles champ Sotomayor), cruised past fellow NYers Blatt & Silva in the semis, then downed two top outdoor pros in future WOR HOFamer Rocky Carson and Jessica Parrilla in a back and forth 13,(13),8 final.

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Men’s Pro Singles:

The wide-open draw came down to two gun slingers from San Antonio, who also happen to be doubles partners on the weekend. USA u21 Mendoza took out my pre-tournament favorite David Blatt and then the hard hitting Norcal Lefty @Walter Ramos to earn the final. Jennings took out Florida’s @Michael White and then #1 seed @Javier Trujillo to make the final. There, Mendoza ground out a win against his partner for the title.

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Women’s Pro Singles:

#1 @Veronica Sotomayor defended her Beach Bash singles title by topping two veteran outdoor players in Jessica Parrilla and Michelle Key in the final for the win. Key vanquished #2 @Kelani Lawrence in a 21-19 semis bruiser to earn her first singles final since 2016. Sotomayor repeats as champ and puts herself in an early lead for the outdoor cup.

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Other Notable draws:

– CPRT 40+ Doubles: 6th seeds @Benny Goldenberg and Marcos Gravier survived three straight tie-breakers to come out on top of the CPRT 40+ Pro draw, defeating the #2, #3, and #4 teams along the way. In the final they topped Robert Sostre and Mike Harmon in a great 11-8 tie-breaker.

– Men’s 75+: Carson and Barcelo (partners in both Pro and 75+) held serve as the #1 seeds and conquered the 75+ division. They topped surprise finalists Floridians @Michael Boyle & @Travis Burnell , who surprised the bottom half as the #11 seeds and beat #6, #3, and #2 seeded teams to reach the final.

– Men’s 100+: Outdoor legend Richie Miller and Marty Hogan survived a huge 100+ draw and topped Cheven Kimbrough & Guillemo Castellon in the final.

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Thanks for all the streaming on the weekend from the LPRT video crew.

Thanks to the Tourney Directors Peggine Tellez , Jen O’Meara , @Mike Coulter and the entire 3Wall Ball crew for putting this event on and ensuring the legacy of outdoor majors.

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Next up?

Per our handy master racquetball calendar https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1V6OTid6rZ356voXVkoV2sN7KMMbIP9SZd0MssH_nPGU/edit?usp=sharing

I’ll recap Intercollegiates tomorrow.

Next up is the International Racquetball Federation ‘s Pan American Racquetball Championships event (PARC). This will be the 35th annual PARC event, and will be heading Bolivia for the 6th time.

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tags

USA Racquetball

WOR – World Outdoor Racquetball

IRT 2024 Shamrock Shootout Wrap-Up

Kane takes the title and looks like he’s 100% “back.” Photo Md19 by Ken Fife

Congrats to your Pro winners on the weekend:

– Singles: Kane Waselenchuk

– Doubles: Andree Parrilla & Adam Manilla.

Kane wins his 126th tier1 event and looks like he’s 100% back. Adam and Andree win their 2nd doubles title of the new season together and solidify their spot as the #1 doubles team on tour.

R2 Sports App home page for event: https://www.r2sports.com/website/event-website.asp?TID=41791

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Let’s review the notable matches in the Singles draw.

Singles Match report in the PRS database: https://rball.pro/pyk

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In the 64, there weren’t any real upsets, but we did see a couple closer matches. Jaime Mansilla , the latest in the Chilean Mansilla playing family, took out Canadian @Christian Pocsai in a tie-breaker/tune up for PARC next week. Bolivian @luLuis Antonio Aguilar had a come-from-behind victory over Ohio-an Victor Migliore in a solid match. Most of the rest of the round was one-way traffic for the favorites.

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In the 32s: We got some surprise results.

– Alan Natera advanced in the expected dog-fight over veteran Mexican WRT champ Alejandro Cardona 13,8.

– John Goth upset a mid-teen touring pro for the second straight event, this time topping Bolivian @Kadim Carrasco in a breaker to get to the round of 16 for the second event running.

– Jordy Alonso became just the second man to even take a game off a top-8 seed in the round of 32, stretching #4 @Andree Parrilla to a breaker. Being honest, if Alonso toured regularly, he’d probably be ranked in the 10-12 range, so this wasn’t that surprising a result.

– @Robert Collins had to go 11-9 in the breaker to advance past young Mexican Neito Oscar .

– Jaime Martell put down his own young Mexican up-and-comer in @Diego Gastelum .

However, the result of the event, and of the last season and a half, was #30 @Jhonatan Flores upsetting #3 @jaJake Bredenbeck in two games, 15-5, 15-7. Flores is the reigning 18U world Junior champ from Bolivia, and there’s a pretty good history of World 18U champs going on to big and better things in the sport. Here’s a quick list of the last 10 junior world 18U champs: Flores, Sebastian Hernandez, Trujillo, Miranda, Portillo, Mauro Rojas, Christian Longoria, Montoya, Mercado, and Moscoso. That list includes your current #1, #2, #10, and #12 players, along with a guy in Mercado who was a mainstay in the top 10 before stepping back this year. These two played in Minnesota a couple weeks ago with Jake winning 5,10, so a reverse score-line of 5,7 is shocking. I didn’t see the match and can’t find a stream, so it’s hard to comment on the “why” of this loss for Jake (but I heard someone say he was injured). I thought in my preview this might be closer than the Minnesota result, but not a heavy loss. Flores as the #30 seed becomes the highest seed to get into the 16s since the World Singles& Doubles event, and frankly has a good shot of getting to the quarters.

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In the 16s, we got a couple of interesting results:

– The players expecting to see the back end of the draw cruised in two easy games, including Moscoso, Kane, Montoya.

– Natera got a great win, stopping the Trujillo train in its tracks 7,7. He earns his 3rd career QF.

– Flores, as expected advanced with relative ease over Collins 7,4 to secure a quarter final matchup with King Kane. If he could beat Jake 5,7 (even if Jake was hobbled), then he can beat a lot of the regulars on tour by similar score lines. He reaches the quarters as a #30 seed, and that’s the 6th highest seed on record to EVER reach a pro quarter (see https://rball.pro/swo for report).

– #10 @Thomas Carter really pushed #7 Andres Acuna for a couple of games, then the Costa Rican pulled away 11-2 in the breaker.

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In the Quarters

– #1 Conrrado Moscoso handled Natera 6,11 to move on. Being #1 on tour has its privileges; he has more or less cruised through the first three rounds.

– #4 Parrilla took out his doubles partner #5 Adam Manilla in a topsy turvy tiebreaker

– #6 Waselenchuk ended the Cinderella run of Flores, but not without him making it interesting. Final score: 3,(13),7. The first game seemed to be butterflies of an 18yr old kid playing the best player the sport has ever seen. Game 2 saw Flores calm down and really shock Kane to jump ahead 6-1, a score-line that included three straight aces that Kane barely moved for. Flores’ serving game was on, going to Kane’s forehand with success. I thought Kane was a little “off” this match, leaving balls up uncharacteristically, which contributed to the closeness of the match, but all credit due to Flores for his play. The tiebreaker was back and forth, and he got to about 7-8 when Kane blasted a backhand return of serve and ran the table to win 11-7. Great match, great showing from Flores for sure.

– #7 Andres Acuna shocked the #2 seed Rodrigo Montoya in a breaker to earn just his second ever career pro semi-final, 11-9 in the third.

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In the Semis, two anti climactic results as the two expected finalists each advanced without much fan fare. Moscoso over Parrilla 12,5, Kane over Acuna 4,11.

In the Finals, whatever rustiness that Kane showed earlier in the event seemed to have been fine-tuned out of existence on the hard courts of Lombard. Kane’s serve was crisp and his shot selection was spot on, and he dominated the final. Final scores, 9,6 though the actual match wasn’t nearly as close.

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Points Implications of results

(standard caveat: I don’t work for the IRT, so this is an educated guess. Sometimes they do weird things with the rankings, sometimes I’m not privy to the actual point values of events).

Assuming Lombard was a standard Tier 1 (which may not be right; they had $31k of prize money, so it could be a tier1 plus), we’re going to see some movement in the top 10 for sure. Nothing changes in the top5, but Kane should move to #6 in the rolling 365 rankings. With DLR’s likely absence in the next event, that means Kane could be in the top-half of the draw, pushing the inevitable Moscoso-Kane meeting earlier. Murray’s absence drops him to #9. This allows Acuna to move up to a career high #8 on tour. Portillo’s ranking continues to drop; he’ll fall to #13 as it seems he may be officially moving on from the tour unfortunately.

The “season to date” point race is much more interesting. Kane now has a 300 point lead on Conrrado in season to date (that’s the equivalent of a tier 1 final). Acuna is now #5 in the 2024 race and Trujillo #8. Meanwhile, Jake is #11, DLR is #23, and Lalo is #24 in the 2024 race, showing how much work there is for these guys to make up to stay relevant. With DLR and Lalo stepping back, Landa done, Beltran & Carson hanging it up last year, and Mercado seemingly done as well, that’s a huge chunk of your top 10 from just a few years ago now done. It’s definitely a generational year on tour.

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Doubles review

Match report in the PRS database: https://rball.pro/hud

The doubles draw came down to the two top seeds. Trujillo is serving as an able replacement for Javier Mar, but the #2 seeds Montoya/Trujillo fell to #1 Parrilla/Manilla. The lefty-righty pair wins its second title of the season, while Parrilla has now captured all three pro doubles titles this season.

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Open Singles, other notable draws

– A huge 30-man open draw was taken by Gastelum, who topped IRT darling Flores in the final. Flores got h2h wins over Ulliman, Alonso, and Ramirez in the open draw to cap his weekend.

– Team Ohio (Ulliman and Migliore) took the Men’s Open draw.

– @Victoria Rodriguez took the Women’s Open draw

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

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Next up?

Per our handy master racquetball calendar …

https://docs.google.com/…/1V6OTid6rZ356voXVkoV2sN7KMMb…/

We’ll recap Beach Bash and Intercollegiates later this week, then its IRF PARC time.

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tags

@International Racquetball Tour

2024 APCON 3WallBall Beach Bash Preview

Michelle Key in a solid position for some one-wall doubles titles. Photo 2022 Outdoor Nats via Fitzsimons

Welcome to the 17th annual Beach Bash one-wall outdoor event, the first of the three “majors” on the WOR – World Outdoor Racquetball annual calendar. This is the 17th iteration of this event, which started in 2004 as one of the first ever events run by the newly formed WOR organization. It was renamed to Beach Bash for Cash starting in 2007, and has run in mid-March every year (save for Covid) since. Eventually the “Cash” moniker was dropped, so now we just call it Beach Bash.

This year’s event is shaping up to be an outdoor-specialist’s paradise, as a schedule conflict has taken away the top IRT touring pros who have regularly been playing outdoor events over the past few years. This also means that titles are up for grabs that have been dominated by johnny come lately IRT guys for the past few years.

This is also the first event of the 2024 Outdoor Cup series, a year-long program awarding cash and prizes to the best performing outdoor players in the three majors. We’ll report on the standings after the event finishes.

Here’s a quick preview of the pro draws. We’ll do Singles, Doubles, Mixed in that order:

Men’s Pro Singles:

Nine players entered into one-wall singles, which is a tough test of racquetball skills and endurance. The last 8 titles here have been won by either DLR or Sostre, so we’ll have a new winner for the first time in a decade. Javier Trujillo is the 1-seed, but for me the two favorites might be in the lower half of the draw in @David Blatt and @Yasmani Perez . I’m looking for Blatt (aka “The Hulk” or “The Hulkster”) to take the title. I love outdoor nicknames.

Women’s Pro Singles:

There’s 6 players in women’s one-wall pro, all six of which who are well-known LPRT touring pros or outdoor champions. Veronica Sotomayor is the 1-seed and the defending champ, having blown through the draw last year and topped the 3-time defending champ Scott. From the bottom half, look for Florida outdoor specialist lefty @Chanis Leon to battle with future outdoor Hall of Famer Michelle Key early. I like Kelani Lawrence to make the final but for Vero to repeat.

Men’s Pro Doubles:

With defending champs DLR and Mar missing, last year’s finalists Robert Sostre and @Benny Goldenberg get the #1 seed. However, the draw makers did them zero favors, with a top-heavy bracket that features a slew of dangerous teams. #4 isEric Faro and Dave Blatt, two very accomplished one-wallers. The top-half also has future WOR HoFamer Rocky Carson and Alejandro Barcelo as the #5 seed, and honestly i’d take either the #8 (San Antonio one-wallers @Dj Mendoz and Brennen Jennings or #9 seeds @Dylan Pruitt and @Mark Harmon over half the teams in the bottom half of the draw head to head. Whoever comes out of the top will have earnover half the teams in the bottom half of the draw head to head. Whoever comes out of the top will have earned the final .

The bottom half features two solid Florida-based one-wallers in Trujillo & Perez as the #2 seed; they’ll have to contend with a couple of one-wall legends in their half of the draw in Bobby Morales & Richie Miller. Miller is an 8-time finalist in pro doubles here, and is playing with experienced outdoor vet Thomas Gerhardt . Lastly, the #3 seed features two bruisers with enough girth to completely fill the court in @JYoung Joe and @Rick Koll, who feature a combined bench press north of 800 lbs and enough power to go through a bucket of balls in their matches.

Prediction? I think Benny & Iceman prevail over Gerhardt & Miller.

Women’s Pro Doubles:

A wide-open division of 5 tough teams. Lawrence (last year’s winner with Scott) is teamed with Parrilla as the #1 seed but (if they can beat Florida’s Leon/Allue) will have to contend with Sotomayor and excellent doubles player @Maria Renee Rodriguez to repeat. In the bottom half it will be Arizona vs New York (well, NY/NJ) with Key teaming with @Katie Neil taking on last year’s finalist @Aimee Roehler teamed with the very tough Delia Silva .

I like Lawrence & Parrilla to take out Roehler/Silva in the final.

Mixed Pro Doubles:

This year’s Mixed competition will look completely different from last years, in that seven of the eight semi-finalists from 2023 are missing this year. The sole-returner is Sostre, and he’s teamed with Lawrence as the #1 seeds and favorites. They’re going to be tested early though, as husband-wife team of @Sudsy Monchik and Sotomayor are late entrants and seeded dead last, set to play into the #1 seeds for what will make for a juicy quarter final. The 4/5 match features two of the better one-wall NYC ladies in Silva and Kathy Guinan , teamed with Blatt and Mighty Joe Young respectively. The top half is loaded.

The bottom half features three-time Mixed pro Beach Bash champ Key along side multi-winner Koll to form a formidable #2 seed. They project to face a very solid #3 seeded team of Carson & Parrilla, two veteran pros who can certainly get results in one-wall.

Prediction? Whoever wins the 1/8 quarter will top Carson & Parrilla in the final.

In CPRT 40+, which counts towards the Outdoor Cup standings, 13 teams are battling it out in a division that includes a slew of famous names. @Marty Hogan is in this draw, teamed with Iggy @IIgnacio Espina as a very dangerous #6 seed. Semi finalsits last year Max Heymann and @Seran Ramkissoon are the #3 seeds. Last year’s finalist Joe Young is with his pro partner Koll as the #2 seeds. But The team to beat is #1 Richie Miller with last year’s finalist Gerhardt.

I like Miller/Gerhardt to take the draw over Young/Koll in a chalky 1-2 final.

there’s also big 75+ and 100+ divisions, and Paddle ball features a slew of top NYC teams. It should be a fun weekend.

Streaming will be handled by the LPRT team this weekend onsite. Please be patient with the streaming: the Garfield Street courts are in a notoriously bad wifi area, and sometimes streaming can be spotty. They can take certain precautions, but shared hotspots can get overwhelmed quickly.

Thanks as always to Tourney Directors and sponsors who make this event happen. Specifically, Peggine Tellez , Mike Coulter , @33Wall Ball, Abel Perez , Kwm Gutterman , @Dovetail and Mike Kinkin , @Age Solutions and Andy Gomer , LPL Financial , @Rick Koll and his Sodaman franchise, all the racquet companies that support the sport, and others who I may have missed.

39th Annual Papa Nicholas39th Annual Papa Nicholas IRT Shamrock Shootout Preview

Can Parrilla make some noise on tour? Photo 2019 US Open via Kevin Savory

The IRT returns to Chicagoland for its annual visit to the Glass Court facility in Lombard. This is the 39th annual iteration of this event, for years hosted by the legendary Goeff Peters, now hosted by Dan Jaskier and the regular Chicago crew. This is the 9th year in a row that this event holds an IRT component, but the IRT’s history in Chicago is rather rich.

Chicago has held more than 40 top-level Men’s Pro events since the mid 1970s, including the 1978 DP/Leach Nationals, where @Marty Hogan won his first ever pro title. It also hosted the DP Nationals in 1982 and Catalina Nationals in 83 when “Nationals” meant massive prize money, huge crowds, and TV broadcasts. Former IRT commissioner David Negrete was (is) a Chicago native, and for years the famous Halloween Classic was a staple on the IRT tour. Then, from 2005-2009 it was the host of the Motorola Pro Nationals, a massive money tournament that took over the moniker “Pro Nationals” from Mike Coulter and Las Vegas when the host club closed.

Since 2015 though, its been Shamrock, and the event has seen some great results. It is the site of @Andree Parrilla ‘s first ever tour win in 2018, and Parrilla always seems to play well here. Lastly, this event was the last event of the covid-ended 2019-20 season, with the tour just barely squeaking out the tournament before the country shut down for the virus.

This event looked for a while like it would be really badly impacted by the fixture congestion of this month, but a slew of players entered at the last minute, so there’s more than 40 IRT pros in the draws competing for more than $31k of prizemoney.

R2 Sports App link: https://www.r2sports.com/website/event-website.asp?TID=41791

The draws are up at r2sports; go to the above link to see them and read along.

Top-20 players missing: 3-time defending pro champ Daniel De la Rosa is not here; he has a competing PPA tour event in Austin. Also missing are #7 Murray, #10 Portillo, #18 Landa (retired), and #20 Sam Bredenbeck. The loss of DLR and Murray has a huge impact on the draw, as it elevates #8 ranked Waselenchuk to the #6 seed, meaning he’s on the opposite side of the draw from #1 Moscoso.

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Let’s preview the draw. Here’s some notable qualifying matches that i’m looking forward to:

In the Qualifying, we get a ton of internationals who rarely play the tour, but who had the opportunity to fly to the US a week before PARC starts to get some top-level matches. Look for the likes of Bolivians Luis Aguilar, Jhonatan Flores, and Hector Barrios to make some noise this weekend. Each of them may not be household names, but they’re all accomplished Junior worlds players.

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Projecting the 32s, here’s some fun matches to watch:

– Alejandro Cardona versus Alan Natera . Two solid Mexican veterans face off; its Juarez vs Chihuahua.

– Erick Trujillo versus @Mauricio Zelada : MoMo usually hangs with top 10 talent for at least a game or two, but expect the young Mexican to advance.

– #5 @Adam Manilla faces off against U21 Bolivian @Luis Antonio Aguilar . He’s the losing finalist of 2023 U21 and 2022 U18 and has some wins internationally. Adam should move on, but this is a tough round of 32.

– @JJohn gotti versus @Kadim Carrasco . Barn burner; Goth still gets wins, as we saw in Sioux Falls. Upset watch here.

– #4 @Andree Parrilla versus @Jordy Alonso . Brutal draw for Parrilla, who gets the very under-rated Alonso. Jordy can get wins: he beat Jake in Chicago two years ago, and beat Andree the last time they played. But, that was in 2017, and Andree shouldn’t slip up here.

– #3 @Jake Bredenbeck takes on, for the 2nd straight event, reigning 18U world junior champ Jhonatan Flores . Jake advanced 5,10 in Minnesota, so should be able to repeat the feat here.

– #22 Diego Gastelum versus #11 Jaime Martell . Oof, tough opener for Martell, drawing the reigning U21 world junior champ, a guy who’s got h2h wins over Trujillo and the whole crew of up-and-coming young Mexicans. Upset watch here.

I also think there will be several upsets by seed that aren’t really upsets by talent; look for the likes of Nieto and Sendrey to move on as well.

Remember: a top 8 seed on the IRT has yet to lose in the round of 32 since the format change, and only one has even gone tie-breaker. Will that trend continue this week? I count at least three top 8 seeds who I wouldn’t be shocked if they lose. In any case, a ton of really compelling 32 matchups.

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round of 16:

– #9 Trujillo over the winner of Natera/Cardona: another all-Mexican battle, and a great way for Trujillo to test where he is. I think he’s improved leaps and bounds this season, and this will be another solid test.

– Parrilla vs #20 Cole Sendrey: Cole isn’t favored in his opener but is the better player by talent levels. Can he do much with Parrilla?

– The winner of the Martell/Gastelum match feeds into #6 @Kane Waselenchuk for what should be a spirited blow-out loss.

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Projected Qtrs:

– #1 @Conrrado Moscoso over Trujillo. This should be a shooter’s paradise to watch.

– #4 Parrilla over #5 Manilla. If this meeting comes to pass, it’ll be a rematch of two weeks ago at this same juncture, a three game win for Parrilla that was one-way traffic after game one.

– #3 @Jake Bredenbeck versus Kane: I predicted Jake would come out on top in Minnesota over Kane. That was before seeing the current state of Kane’s game, which looks fantastic. It was still a 13,8 loss, close, but not really that close. Can Jake rebound and make it closer? Maybe. Still a kane win.

– #2 Rodrigo Montoya versus #7 Andres Acuna . Montoya’s first two rounds won’t trouble him much, and I don’t think Acuna will either.

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I’m projecting the exact same semis we got in Minnesota, and (spoiler) the same eventual outcome.

Semis:

– Moscoso over Parrilla; this is a rematch of Minnesota’s semis. Parrilla has a couple of career wins over Conrrado, so it can be done. For me, I don’t think Moscoso loses this match unless Kane wins ahead of time and he looks past the scrappy Andree.

– Also a rematch of MN semis, Kane takes on Montoya. Montoya can take games off kane; he’s got the serving prowess and the ability to extend rallies like few others, forcing that one extra shot that often makes the difference. Montoya’s loss in Minnesota was heaily due to a loss of focus in the breaker; if he can stay focused and stay on his game, he has a chance to win. Kane will have to be a bit “off” to do so, which doesn’t happen often. Still thinking Kane advances.

Finals; Kane vs Moscoso. Which Conrrado shows up? The one who beat Kane in Pleasanton/pushed him to 15-13 in Minnesota? Or the one who capitulates to a 15-2 game two loss in the final two weeks ago? It’s anyone’s guess. Moscoso may be #1 on tour, but international titles are more important to him, so is he looking ahead to PARC? One add’l wrinkle: Moscoso won’t be jet lagged all to hell here, since he stayed in the US after the Hall of Fame event, so he’ll be fresher in Chicago.

All that said, it’s Kanes to lose right now. He looked too good two weeks ago.

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Doubles review

Defending pro doubles champs Manilla & Parrilla get the #1 seed, since tour doubles #1 Montoya is missing his regular partner. Instead, Montoya picks up Trujillo to form a very formidable #2 team. The rest of the draw is filled with internationals getting a tune-up ahead of PARC. The likely Bolivian PARC team of Moscoso & Carrasco is the #3 seed, but I still like Montoya/Trujillo in the final against Parrilla/Manilla. From there, hard to root against the lefty-righty pair.

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

Associations

International Racquetball Tour

USAR 2024 High School Nationals Recap

Congratulations to the winners of 2024 USA Racquetball High School Nationals:

– Boys #1 Singles: Nathan Rykhus, Franklin HS (Stockton Area)

– Girls #2 Singles: Andrea Perez-Picon, Sierra HS (Mantcea, CA).

– Boys #1 Doubles: Eli McCulley / Jonathan Bell, Lindbergh HS (St Louis)

– Girls #1 Doubles: Margaret McPheeters / Mia Risch, Kirkwood HS (St Louis)

And, the Team competitions:

– Boys Team: Kirkwood HS, St Louis

– Girls Team: Kirkwood HS, St Louis

– Overall Team: Kirkwood HS, St Louis

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Click here for the r2 site for the event and all the brackets: https://www.r2sports.com/portfolio/r2-event.asp?TID=41500

I do not load High School nationals data to any database, but I do keep track of the Gold #1 singles winners and Team winners in a spreadsheet that i’ve put online here:

https://docs.google.com/…/17vIFomdx6JewlD5dgtRi2mLD1rC…/

Here’s some fun facts about HS Nationals from this year and years’ past:

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Both singles titles were taken by Stockton-area players, each of whom has some history at US Junior Nationals. Boys winner Rykhus is a 4-time Junior Nationals winner and is the 2-time defending 14U champ as we speak, which I imply to mean he’s a current HS freshman. He defeated Juan Herrera II from Illinois in the final. Rykhus seemingly has a chance to do something that no boy has ever done: be a 4-time High School Nationals champ. Taylor Knoth came the closest, winning 3 straight between 2007-09.

Meanwhile, the HS girls title was taken by Andrea Perez-Picon, also from the 209 Stockton area. She, like Nathan above, is also a 2-time defending 14U Junior National champ and thus seems to be a freshman, and has kicked off her HS nationals career on a winning note. She owns 7 junior national titles herself, with a chance for at least two more to finish off her 18U career and really place her name near the top of the record books. She has three more chances to join @Adrienne Haynes and Lexi York as four-time HS national champs (to be fair, Annie Roberts was poised to be a 4-time champ but her senior year was robbed by Covid, so she gets mentioned here). Perez-Picon topped California’s @Victoria Rodriguez in the final.

The doubles competitions where dominated by St Louis-area teams as one would expect, given the massive high school league there.

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Team competitions:

Kirkwood High School swept the three team competitions, which hasn’t happened since 2010. One of the big reasons it hasn’t happened in so long is the fact that St Louis University HS (aka “SLUH”) has dominated the boys competition for some time, having won the last 12 straight boys team titles. But this year, Kirkwood took the boy’s title, then crushed the girls title to easily win the overall title.

Kirkwood wins their 6th ever overall title and moves into 3rd place all time.

LPRT Boston Open Recap

Longoria with her first win in a while. Photo via Fran Davis Racquetball

Congrats to your Pro winners on the weekend:

– Singles: @Paola Longoria

– Doubles: @Maria Jose Vargas and Natalia Mendez

Longoria claims her 112th career LPRT tier 1 title after months of upsets. She also drastically tightens the points race at the top of the tour, even if we have a brand new #1 (see later on for more).

R2 Sports App home page for event: https://www.r2sports.com/website/event-website.asp?TID=41926

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Let’s review the notable matches in the Singles draw.

Singles Match report in the PRS database: https://rball.pro/b4m

—————-

In the 32s, all four matches were interesting

– US Junior national champ @naomi ros showed fellow junior @Kyathi Velpuri of the current gulf between them.

– Michelle Key got a very n ice win over Lexi York during a rare singles appearance.

– Former #2 @Frederique Lambert cruised past tour regular @Maria Paz Riquelme

– Current Canadian #2 Juliette Parent got a TB win over LPRT regular Stephanie Synhorst .

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In the 16s:

– In the always close 8/9 match, @Kelani Lawrence came from a game down to top Carla Munoz and regain the upper hand in their frequently-seen h2h competition.

– #5 Alexandra Herrera wasn’t too troubled by #12 Jessica Parrilla

– #4 @Brenda Laime crushed Lambert 1,1 … its amazing how far you fall off when you’re not playing top-level competition week in and week out.

– #11 Cris Amaya moved into the quarters for the 2nd event in a row, getting an inj fft after winning the first game against #6 @Samantha Salas Solis

– #7 Angelica Barrios got a nice win over #10 @Natalia Mendez in two closer games.

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In the Quarters

– #1 @Montse Mejia held on after a dominant first game to advance over Lawrence in two.

– #5 @Alexandra Herrera got a solid win over #4 Laime 14,6

– #3 @Paola Longoria was not troubled by Amaya and moved into the semis.

– #2 @Maria Jose Vargas topped a player in Barrios who has vexed her in the past, winning in two games 7.11.

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The Semis neatly featured basically the four best players in the sport, the four who have dominated the game over the past few years (with all apologies to #4 Laime). And we got some interesting results the rest of the way.

In the top semi, Mejia cruised past friend and doubles partner Herrera 7,7. As i’ve mentioned before, these types of games are hard to predict since the two players know each other’s game so well. From the bottom semi, a surprise. Longoria, who has lost the last few meetings to Vargas, turned the tide and topped her in a relatively dominant fashion all things considered 13,5.

In the Finals, Mejia controlled game one, but Longoria used the conditions and Mejia’s lack of put-away accuracy to grind out the three game win.

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Points Implications of results.

As you’ve probably seen on social media by the time you read this, Maria Jose Vargas has ascended to #1 in the world for the first time in her long career. Despite losing to Paola in the semis, she takes over the top spot in the rolling 365-day calendar. She also maintains the #1 spot in the season to date rankings, which come June will be the only rankings that matter, as more and more it looks like Mejia will not be defending her title.

Mejia drops to #3 in the current rankings, and remains a somewhat distant 3rd in season to date. She’s going to need to basically finish out the season by winning every event to have a chance at repeating. There’s not much movement otherwise in the top 8: Manilla drops to #7 and may be out for a while unfortunately due to her hip injury.

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Doubles review

Match report in the PRS database: https://rball.pro/2rl

The doubles draw saw a surprise finalist, breaking through the stranglehold that the two top Mexican teams have had at the top of the tour for some time. Argentinians Vargas & Mendez beat Longoria & Salas by the “can’t get any closer” score line of 14 & 14 to get to the final. There they played #1 Mejia & Herrera, who cruised past the Bolivian native team of Barrios & Laime to get there.

In the final, Vargas & Mendez put a shot across the international bow of reigning IRF doubles champs Mejia & Herrera, taking them out in the doubles final.

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Open Singles, other notable draws

– Parrilla defeated Munoz in the Women’s Open draw

– Sam Kelley beat Jose Flores Jr in a 1v2 Men’s Open final.

– Rhys Andersen and Michelle Key took the Mixed open

– Men’s Open Doubles: Carla Munoz teamed with Joe Kelley to take the Men’s Open doubles title.

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

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Next up?

Per our handy master racquetball calendar …

https://docs.google.com/…/1V6OTid6rZ356voXVkoV2sN7KMMb…/

We’ll recap HS Nationals and then have a week off before the big 3/17 weekend.

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tags LPRT

IRT Minnesota HoF Event Wrap-Up

Kane is back. Photo credit: unknown

Congrats to your Pro winners on the weekend:

– Singles: Kane Waselenchuk

– Doubles: Andree Parrilla and Adam Manilla

Kane returns to the winner’s circle, winning his 125th career title. It has been nearly two years since Kane stood in the winner’s circle of the IRT, as he’s gone through quite a journey of injury recovery. He also, at the age of 42 years and 114 days becomes the oldest player ever to win a tier 1, besting Ruben Gonzalez’ former record by a year and a half.

R2 Sports App home page for event: https://www.r2sports.com/website/event-website.asp?TID=41775

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Let’s review the notable matches in the Singles draw.

Singles Match report in the PRS database: https://rball.pro/8de

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In the 32s: we got a couple of compelling matches and one real upset.

– #21 John Goth got the biggest upset of the round, taking out #12 @Robert Collins in a breaker. I thought this result might be in play, but it’s been more than 10 years since Goth made his surprise run to the USA Nationals final. But clearly, he’s still got it. He makes the main draw of an event at age 42, not quite a record but still impressive (see here for list of “oldest players to…” do stuff, something that will come up again later in this event: https://rball.pro/cr4 )

– #13 Jaime Martell was taken to a breaker by veteran Guatemalan @Juan Salvatierra , though the scores seem to indicate that Martell “turned it up” after losing game one. Final score: (13),1,2.

– Reigning 18U world champ @jhonatan Flores held his own against #3 @Jake Bredenbeck , losing by the relatively respectable score-line of 5,10.

– #26 @Mauricio Zelada pressed #7 @Alan Natera in game one but then the Mexican cruised. Final score 11,3

– #10 @Erick Trujillo perhaps was looking past his first round opponent and was shocked in game one against Guatemalan Edwin Galicia 15-4. He rebounded to take the next two 13 and 2 to move on and avoid the upset.

In a recurring theme, the top 8 players all won in two straight games, and as a reminder there has been just one tiebreaker and zero upsets of a top 8 player since the tour went back to a full 32 draw. Scores of your top 8 seeds in order: 3&4, 6&5, 5&10, 10&3, 8&4, 7&4, 11&3, and wbf-ns. A little better than the last event for the lowest ranked players, but I attribute that to the unusually large presence of internationals in this draw who are a bit better than their seeds.

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In the 16s, two upsets by seed, though neither was surprising:

– #11 @Kane Waselenchuk topped #6 @Andres Acuna with ease 2,6. Kane enters this event looking like he’s lost a little weight and is moving around pretty darn well, especially for someone north of 42.

– #10 @Erick Trujillo beat #7 @Alan Natera 7,9 and makes a statement about the current pecking order of Mexican racquetball. Trujillo, who burst onto the scene a couple years ago and then kind of scuffled against his like-aged competitors, has really stepped it up this year on tour.

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In the Quarters

– #1 Conrrado Moscoso made fast work of #8 Thomas Carter.

– #4 @Andree Parrilla held on to east past his doubles partner this weekend #5 @Adam Manilla in a breaker. After losing the first game 13, Parrilla found another gear and won going away 3,2.

– #3 @Jake Bredenbeck was not able to find his mojo against Kane, and lost 13,8. The match was close at times, but there was no letup from the King this time around. I predicted that Jake would have a good shot to win here, based on his results against Kane earlier this season, but it wasn’t to be. After a great run all last season of making the back end of events, Jake’s 2024 so far is a Loss in the qtrs, a Loss in the 16s, and now another loss in the quarters. After being in the mix for the title all the way till the death last season, Jake’s chances are now mostly kaput of winning #1.

– #2 @Rodrigo Montoya was pressed by the young Trujillo but held on 4,14.

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In the Semis

– #1 Moscoso returned to the final and guaranteed that he’ll greatly extend his lead at the top of the tour by topping #4 Parrilla 10,11.

– #11 Waselenchuk played a fascinating match against #2 Montoya. The first game was back and forth, a great contest between two of the better power servers the game has seen. Kane’s method of operations is to use his pinpoint accuracy to end rallies on balls where he can set his feet, but Montoya time and again made fantastic anticipating or diving gets to extend rallies. Kane held on to win game one 15-14 but Montoya countered with a relatively dominant game two win 15-7 to push it to the breaker. Early in game 3, a call went against Montoya that he didn’t like and he seemed to drift focus-wise for a few points. Suddenly it was 7-2 down before he called time out and the damage was done. Kane put his foot on Rodrigo’s throat and closed it out 11-2. You can’t lose focus for one second against Waselenchuk and you have to play perfect ball to beat him. To this observer, Kane looks as good as he has in several years.

In the Finals, we got another fantastic matchup against the former King and the likely future King of the sport. Moscoso, who has returned to his foot-faulting ways, was forced to deal with a line judge in the final (at Kane’s request) and had multiple calls go against him. Kane went up huge early, but Moscoso fought back. A very entertaining and competitive game came down to just a few moments; I noted in the comments of the video during game one how similar the two players really were: both have huge serves and drive a ton of pressure from them, and both really penalize weak service returns to do 3-shot rallies. The real difference between them right now to me is this: Kane plays smart, while Moscoso plays risky. When Moscoso makes his low-percentage shots (on top of everything else in his game) you see him run to 15-4 game wins. But when he misses … it’s just enough to give the game to the steady Kane 15-13. Also as noted … Moscoso is a notorious front runner, and often capitulates in heavy game two losses after close game one wins … and that’s exactly what happened here. Game 2 was a waste, one way traffic that was just the two players playing out the string at the end. Kane wins 13,2

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Points Implications of results

I’ll caveat this points analysis as I probably always should: sometimes I’m not privy to oddities that go on in the IRT rankings system, since it runs through R2 and includes little offities that even the tour owners aren’t always aware of. What I believe will happen, if I have my xls right, is this: because there’s fewer than ten tier1s in the last 365 days, all satellite points are dropped and the tour is just adding together the results from the tier1s.

Moscoso has opened up a sizeable lead at the top of the tour; he now leads #2 Montoya by nearly 500 points. Meanwhile, Daniel remains in 4th but now trails the top by nearly 900 points … it happened just that fast. DLR missed Chicago last year so he won’t drop too much further for a while, but the writing is on the wall. By mid-summer he may be entirely out of the top 10. He won’t be in Chicago either.

Kane should move up to #8, a spot he secured once he made the final. Portillo is just barely hanging onto the top 10, Natera gets dumped down to #12, and Trujillo now pushes for the top 10. Landa loses a ton of points from this event last year and now is barely clinging to a top 20 spot. With the win, Kane is in the lead for “season to date” points, which by the end of the year will be the only thing that matters.

However curiously, as of this writing Kane is not entered into the next IRT event (Shamrock Shootout in Chicago in two week’s time). He’s also not entered into the competing Beach Bash, which he likely would have played if it wasn’t a competing event. My guess is that he’ll go to chicago and we may get another couple of showdowns like we saw this weekend. (update: he entered Chicago earlier today). Thanks to DLR’s absense, we won’t be forced with Moscoso-Kane in the quarters … so we have a good shot of getting another Kane-Moscoso final in two weeks.

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Doubles review

Match report in the PRS database: https://rball.pro/vti

The doubles draw saw top ranked Montoya carry Cullen into the final by beating #2 Moscoso/Carrasco, but they played just a handful of points before the final was called off due to injury. #1 Manilla & Parrilla cruise to the title.

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Open Singles, other notable draws

– Alan Natera, seeded 7th but ranked just outside the top 8 so by contract he can play Open, took the Open draw, topping Bolivian junior Flores in the final. Barth and Galicia semi finalists.

– Home town team of Jordan Barth / Mike Klocker took Open doubles, taking out Pando & Meinerz in the final.

– Ava_Kaiser & Barb Hoffner took women’s doubles.

– Sponsor extraordinaire Keith Minor and Rebecca Bowman took Mixed Open.

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Thanks for all the streaming on the weekend, especially from broadcasters Favio Soto, Pablo Fajre, guest commentators and the IRTLive crew.

——————

Next up?

Per our handy master racquetball calendar …

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1V6OTid6rZ356voXVkoV2sN7KMMbIP9SZd0MssH_nPGU/

We’ll recap the LPRT and USAR HS Nationals in the next couple of days. After that, we get a break until the next uber-busy 3/17 weekend.

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tags

International Racquetball Tour

IRT McNamara Minnesota Racquetball Hall of Fame Tournament Preview

Montoya is the defending champion Chicago: can he repeat? Photo Kevin Savory 2022 Portland IRT event

Welcome to the 35th annual (and 2nd time in a row that it’s had an IRT component) Minnesota Hall of Fame event. If you want to read why its called “McNamara,” go to the r2sports home page where the tourney organizers have a little history lesson that goes a long way to showing why Minnesota is one of the best supporting states for racquetball out there.

R2 Sports App link: https://www.r2sports.com/website/event-website.asp?TID=41775

There’s 32 men in this draw, including a slew of internationals that we don’t normally see in IRT draws. This generally happens just ahead of international competitions, and with PARC in a few weeks we see confederations like Canada, Chile, Bolivia, and Guatemala (still listed as “Zambia” in r2sports thanks to Guatemala’s non-recognition right now by IOC) sending their players here to get a tune-up.

There’s been a huge shake-up in the rankings since the end of the last event. The Feb2023 Atlanta grand slam expired off the books, and the results of the top four players from that event dropped off with major implications. When we last left off, the top 4 (and their points from Atlanta) were:

1. De la Rosa (600; won Atlanta)

2. Jake (450: finalist in Atlanta)

3. Moscoso: 0: missed Atlanta)

4. Montoya (135 – quarter final loss in Atlanta)

After Atlanta expired, your new top 4 (and the top 4 driving the seeding here) became:

1. Moscoso: rose up quickly w/o any points to defend.

2. Montoya: had relatively few points to lose

3. Jake

4. DLR

So Daniel sees his ranking plummet … and he’s missing from this event. It’s not due to a PPA conflict, so he must have another event or is making a conscious choice to not be here. After his 16s loss in the last event and missing this event, along with the distinct lack of IRT events on the books, his chances of repeating as #1 are basically over.

Also noteworthy: Kane has jumped up from 17 to 14, again having zero points expiring from Atlanta. And, thanks to three players in the top 13 missing (DLR, #6 Murray, and #8 Portillo), Kane gets an #11 seed here. #11 is a great seed to have if you’re in the mood for upsets (just ask George Mason, who raced to the final four as the #11 seed).

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Let’s preview the draw. Here’s some notable qualifying matches that i’m looking forward to:

In the 32s:

– #5 Adam Manilla gets up and coming Bolivian former junior world champ #28 Hector Barrios in what looks like the most competitive possible top 8 match in the 32s. The last time Barrios played an IRT event, he beat Sebastian Franco along with Wer and Cuevas, so he can get wins.

– #12 @Robert Collins gets the always-tough Minnesotan John Goth , who has more than a few tour scalps on his belt. Goth regularly plays with the Bredenbecks and stays sharp despite not touring regularly, but beating a tour vet is a little different than training with one.

– #3 Jake Bredenbeck faces off against Bolivian junior @Jhonatan Flores , who just won the world 18U junior title last November without dropping a single game. It’ll be interesting to see what Flores can do against a top pro like Jake.

– #15 Sam Bredenbeck gets a fun one against #18 Chilean national team member Rafael Gatica

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round of 16:

– The 8/9 match, which has seen Acuna vs Natera a bunch of times lately, gets us @TCarter Thomas and Kadim Carrasco . At #8 this is Carter’s highest ever pro seeding (he was #9 a few times in the past), and at #9 this is by far Carrasco’s highest ever seeding (previously best was #14). so we’re definitely seeing some impact to the departure of a slew of long-time players in the seeds. I like Carter here.

– 5-12 gives us a rare lefty-lefty between Manilla and Collins.

– #11 Waselenchuk gets #6 Andres Acuna in the 16s. These two played recently and Acuna got the first game before falling; can he repeat the task and set down Kane early? Not likely, but Acuna will have gained confidence from his game-plan success the last time they played.

– #10 Erick Trujillo will fancy his chances to upset #7 Alan Natera , who like many here this weekend has his highest ever IRT seed. Trujillo has the hot hand though and I like him to get to the quarters.

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Projected Qtrs:

– #1 Conrrado Moscoso , who has a very easy first two rounds, should cruise past #8 Carter to move to the semis.

– #4 @Andree Parrilla should advance past Adam Manilla . They’ve only played 3 times, Andree is 2-1, but is coming off a big-time win at Mexican Nationals.

– #3 Bredenbeck vs #11 Kane. Tough one to predict. They played in Boston last November and Jake beat a tiring Kane in the breaker, but had to save a match point against to even get past game 2. Since then, he’s taken a couple of uncharacteristic losses on tour (losing to Andree, Lalo, and Trujillo). Meanwhile, Kane has struggled since his return to make it through events: In Boston last Nov he tired in the semis losing to jake, then in Pleasanton after beating Conrrado game one he got blasted 4,4, then he retired in South Dakoda due to a leg issue. I think Jake can win here.

– #2 @Rodrigo Montoya over Trujillo: these two just played in the semis of Mexican Nats, a 6,6,9 relatively straight forward win for Montoya. Rodrigo will be looking to bounce back from his missing out on the Mexican team for this cycle. Montoya was the winner her last year (his first ever win), and has the most points to defend, but seems well positioned to at least get to the semis.

Semis:

– Conrrado over Parrilla: there’s a gulf between these two right now.

– Montoya over Jake: Amazingly, they havn’t played since Oct 2022 despite being seeded right next to each other for a while. Montoya leads 5-4 career and has won their last 2 meetings. Montoya likes these courts and is the defending champ. Last time they played it was 13,14 … so not much between them. Flip a coin and I’ll go Rodrigo.

Finals;

– I think 2024 is Moscoso’s year, and without having to face Kane until a possible final at the end of a long weekend (even if it was Kane in the final) is advantage Conrrado. He wins again and stretches his lead at the top.

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Doubles review

No Javier Mar, so no #1 Montoya/Mar pairing at the top. Montoya picks up Canadian Cullen and probably loses early, clearing the way for newly crowned Mexican champ (paired with Adam Manilla here) to cruise into the final. They’ll have to contend with likely the Bredenbeck brothers to get there. From the bottom, nothing should stop Bolivian national team Moscoso/Carrasco. The final will see Carrasco get isolated and Parrilla/Manilla taking the title.

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

Associations

International Racquetball Tou r

LPRT 2024 Boston Open Preview

Lambert makes a rare LPRT appearance in Boston this weekend. Photo unk

The LPRT helps kick off an incredibly busy month on the racquetball calendar with its return to Boston for the 2024 Boston Open. They’re back in Boston for the seventh time since 2016. Boston has seen 3 different winners the last three times the tour was there:

– Longoria in 2020 (in what turned out to be the last event before the tours shut down for mostly the rest of 2020 due to Covid)

– Herrera in 2022, the second straight event she won and had the rball world buzzing about a possible new #1

– Mejia in 2023, her fourth in a row that season and which nearly sealed her the title.

Will we get a fourth straight new champion here? I think we might. Vargas is on a hot streak, having won the last 3 events and is the favorite here.

R2 Sports App link: https://www.r2sports.com/website/event-website.asp?TID=41926

There’s 20 pros in Boston, including a rare appearance from the Canadian National team reps Frederique Lambert and Juliette Parent .

There’s some big names missing in the draw: #5 Erika Manilla (as she explained in a FB live session last week) is struggling with a back issue that cost her the US Nationals final. #6 @aAna Gabriela Martinez is also missing, slightly surprising in that its an east coast event and the upcoming IRF event is in her home country, so she doesn’t have to save travel pennies right now. Also missing are #15 Valeria Centellas, who has played in just one event since last June and may be officially stepping back from the tour. Lastly #16 @Hollie Scott, newly crowned US National champ, is absent here (her beau DLR is also missing from the IRT event this weekend, even though there’s no conflicting PPA event).

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Let’s preview the singles draw.

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In the 32s… a couple of fun ones right off the bat:

– Ros vs Velpuri: two US junior national team members face off.

– #13 @Maria Paz Riquelme is the unlucky early opponent of Lambert.

– #19 Michelle Key makes a rare singles appearance on tour; she’s got just two LPRT appearances since Nov 2021. She faces #14 Lexi York in a tough one for both.

– #15 @Stephanie Synhorst takes on Canada #2 Parent in a good test for both.

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round of 16:

– 8/9 Lawrence vs Munoz is always tough; they’re 3-3 lifetime against each other, and 5 of their 6 matches have gone tie-breaker.

– 5/12: Herrera vs Parrilla; Even though Parrilla has had some success in Mexican Nationals recently, on tour Alexandra hasn’t lost to her since 2016.

– #4 Brenda Laime will get a stiff test against Canadian #1 Lambert; Lambert was a former #2 ranked player; can she stress Laime?

– 7/10: Barrios vs Mendez, in a battle of Bolivian natives. They played in Arizona a month ago, an easy win for Barrios

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Projected Qtrs:

– #1 Mejia over Munoz/Lawrence winner, though either Carla or Kelani could press Montse a bit.

– #5 Herrera over the Laime/Lambert winner: I think Alexandra has the hot hand right now.

– #3 Longoria over Salas, as they renew the rivalry that’s been played the 2nd most times in pro history (they’ve met 60 times on LPRT, in addition to a slew of Mexican National meetings).

– #2 Vargas has been troubled by Barrios in the past, but is clearly on a roll this season.

Semis:

– Mejia over Herrera, though weird things happen when these two long-time doubles partners play.

– Vargas over Longoria: the tide has turned on this rivalry.

Finals; Vargas wins her 4th straight title and claims the #1 ranking on tour.

Side note on rankings: if Longoria wins this event, she’ll regain #1. If Montse beats Vargas in the final, she’ll retain #1 but by an incredibly slim margin.

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Doubles preview

The Canadian doubles team for PARC is here (Lambert & Parent) to get some on-the-court time before the event. With Scott’s absence, the newly crowned US champion team had to split up. Team Argentina and team Colombia are here … but at the end of the da y, it’ll be a rematch of the Mexican national champion ship from two weeks ago (Mejia/Herrera vs Longoria/Salas).

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Look for Streaming in the regular places; follow the LPRT on Facebook and sign up to get notifications when they go Live. JTRball posts excellent previews and broadcast schedules on Daily Racquetball: i highly suggest subscribing.

Look for Timothy Baghurst, Sandy Rios, Jerry J Josey Jr., and Tj Baumbaugh on the mike, calling the shots.

One last thing: fantasy racquetball is back! Surf here: https://officepoolstop.com/MyPool/JoinLeagueDetails.aspx?id=63999 and use password LPRT to enter.

Associations

LPRT

Campeonato Nacional FMR 2024 Recap

Mejia may have lost the singles title, but she triple-qualified this weekend. Photo via LPRT

Hot on the heels of the USA Racquetball nationals/Canadian qualifier events last weekend, this past weekend we had the FederaciĆ³n Mexicana de Raquetbol (or FMR)’s nationals, held in the Mexican hotbed of racquetball San Luis Potosi, SL, Mexico. It looks like mid-February is going to be “North American Nationals” period going forward, which is great for the pros planning out their schedules.

Congrats to your National title winners on the weekend:

– Men’s Singles: Andree Parrilla (2nd qualifier = Eduardo Portillo)

– Women’s Singles: Paola Longoria (2nd qualifier = Montse Mejia)

– Men’s Doubles: Andree Parrilla & Eduardo Portillo

– Women’s Doubles: Monserrat Mejia and Alexandra Herrera

– Mixed Doubles: Javier Mar and Monserrat Mejia

The winners of the three doubles competitions form the Mexican National team for those events. The winners of the two singles titles, along with the winner’s of the consolation bracket form the two-person Singles teams that represent Mexico. This is a distinction from the way that USA, Canada, and others qualify; they take the two finalists of the single-elimination singles bracket to form the team, but in Mexico the losing finalist has to play one more match, which often times leaves them out of the team. More on that in the recap.

These players all qualify to represent Mexico in the upcoming cycle of International events, starting (I believe) with PARC 2024 next month in Guatemala City but certainly for the 2024 Worlds to be held in San Antonio in August plus any regional events on the schedule for this summer.

R2 Sports App home page for event: https://www.r2sports.com/tourney/home.asp?TID=42046

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This post also signifies that the data has been loaded into the database. Here’s the direct links to the match reports for the 5 divisions:

– Men’s Singles: https://rball.pro/c7z

– Women’s Singles: https://rball.pro/q2e

– Men’s Doubles: https://rball.pro/ru4

– Women’s Doubles: https://rball.pro/8fq

– Mixed Doubles: https://rball.pro/khm

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Let’s review the notable matches in the draws.

Men’s Singles:

The Singles draw for Nationals was way down from prior years, with just 20 players. Last year they had 37 by way of comparison. It could be a one-off, or it could be acknowledgement of a passing of the guard so to speak. Missing out of the draw in 2024 were a couple of defections to the USA (DLR And Landa), and a slew of long-time veterans such as Beltran, Polo, and Cardona. Mar did not play singles as he continues to battle injury, and then there were curious absences like Natera, Martel, and Renteria. This also seems tacit admission that players like Garay, Gerardo Franco, Estrada, and Ochoa, none of whom we’ve seen at an IRT event in some time, may be through playing racquetball at a top level, which is a blow to the depth of the sport in Mexico for sure.

Luckily, there’s a slew of up-and-coming Mexican Junior players who are not terribly well known in the USA yet, but who can play, and many of them advanced into the quarters of nationals. Keep an eye out for players like @Sebastian Hernandez , @Jose Carlos Ramos, and of course for players who have already made impacts like @Erick Trujillo , @elElias Neto , and Diego Gastelum .

As for the draw, the top four seeds and the main IRT touring pro regulars all advanced into the semis as expected. Trujillo was stretched by the always dangerous @Jordy Alonso in the 4/5 quarter, but held on, further evidence of his continuing improvement that we saw recently with his win over #2 Bredenbeck on tour. Defending Mexican champ Rodrigo Montoya topped Trujillo in one semi, while #2 @Andree Parrilla held off @Eduardo Portillo in the other to advance to the final.

Parrilla has had tough luck in this event, having made the semis five times in the last decade but with only one final and zero titles to show for it, but he turned the tides on home soil at this event. But it was a nail biter final: Andree took the first two games and had multiple match points in the fourth, but Montoya forced a fifth game. After the letdown of letting the fourth game go, it would have been understandable if Parrilla lost the final to his long-time rival, but he dominated game 5 11-6 for his first Adult Mexican national title.

In the loser’s bracket, losing semi-finalist Portillo took out Sebastian Hernandez and Alonso to force a consolation final against Montoya for the second spot on the team. This is exactly what happened to Lalo last year and he took the consolation final to make the team. And this year, Lalo did it again, shocking Montoya in 3 games to claim the 2nd national team spot. Amazingly, Montoya is shut out of the Mexican National team despite being its most decorated male over the past 6 years, and despite being the #1 seed in all three draws. Pretty amazing.

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Women’s Singles:

It was a top-heavy draw, with four of the current top 10 ladies pros playing (Longoria, Mejia, Herrera, and Salas) along the #2 seeded Parrilla, who’s slipped to #14 on tour but retains a top seed here by virtue of her performance in 2023.

#5 Samantha Salas got things started with an upset of #4 Alexandra Herrera in the 4/5 match, turning back the clock to grind out a five game win. Salas then managed to take a game off her doubles partner Longoria, but fell in four in the semis. From the bottom half, #3 seed @Monserrat Mejia took care of business, taking out #2 Parrilla in four games in the semis to setup a rematch of last year’s final. In the winner’s bracket final, Longoria was not to be denied, topping Mejia in four to claim her 10th title in 11 years, and what I believe is either her 16th or 17th national title. Our records only go back to 2014, but I believe Longoria swept the ladies titles from 2008 onwards. Amazing feat.

There was still work to be done though; last year saw a huge upset in the consolation bracket final to send a surprise second singles player … could we see more fireworks. The Loser’s bracket now had Salas, Herrera, Parrilla, and Mejia all battling it out for one spot on the team. Herrera made a statement with a 3-game win over Parrilla, ending her chances at returning to the team early. Salas got a walkover against rising junior talent Angela Veronica Vera Ortega to face off against Herrera for a shot against Mejia, but could not top her lefty rival.

The second singles spot came down to two friends and doubles partners; Herrera vs Mejia. They know each other’s game so well, and often there’s “weird” results between the two as a result. On this day though, Mejia cruised to a 3 game win to claim the consolation bracket and the 2nd national team spot. Mejia, despite losing the singles final, triple-qualified on the weekend and will play a big part in returning Mexico to team glory over Bolivia at the next international competitions.

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Men’s Doubles

It seemed like a fait accomplis for the two top teams to make the final, and they did, giving us a final featuring four tour regulars and four of the best doubles players in the world. #1 Mar/Montoya, who are also #1 on tour and have claimed multiple major and international titles together, faced off against #2 Portillo & Parrilla, who have become somewhat of a regular doubles pair on the IRT and are gaining familiarity with each other.

In the final, we got a rematch of 2023’s final, and we got a fantastic back and forth match for the neutrals. After going down two games to one, the defending champs Montoya & Mar came out on the right side of a grueling 17-15 game four win, which may have been demoralizing for some teams, but Lalo/Andree fought back and took game 5 11-7 to claim their first ever Mexican National title. It capped off a amazing weekend for the SLP based pro Parrilla, who won both singles and doubles after having never won a Mexican adult title before. Same for Portillo, who also double qualified on the weekend by virtue of his big win over Montoya in the singles consolation final.

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Women’s Doubles

Only four teams competed in Women’s Doubles, and there was little doubt that the final would be between Mejia/Herrera and Longoria/Salas. They’re the top two seeds here, they’re the top two seeds regularly meeting in LPRT finals right now, and they have been trading back and forth both pro and National titles for the last few years. They both advanced as expected to compete in the Saturday final.

In the final, the two familiar teams played a barn burner. The match went five games, with Herrera/Mejia on the wrong side of two nail-biting 15-13 games before running away with the final 11-5 to claim the title. Herrera & Mejia repeat as Mexican national champions, and it’s hard not to look at this as the official passing of the baton in Mexican history.

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Mixed Doubles

After curiously not competing Mixed doubles at the 2023 FMR nationals, the event was back on the slate for 2024, and the draw was small but stacked. Five of the six teams were comprised of touring pros, and it was anyone’s tourney to win. The #5 seeds Mar & Mejia seemed like a dark horse, in that Mar is one of the most accomplished doubles players in the world and Mejia is the current LPRT #1, and they did not disappoint. Mar & Mejia topped #4 Portillo & Herrera (no doubles slouches themselves) in the opener, then upset the last team to win a Mixed title in #1 Montoya & Salas in the semis.

The bottom semi featured two brother/sister pairs competing, with the Parrillas outlasting the Longorias in five games to make the final. In the final though, it was three straight for Mar & Mejia to claim the title.

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Next up?

Per our handy master racquetball calendar …

https://docs.google.com/…/1V6OTid6rZ356voXVkoV2sN7KMMb…/

We have a break in the schedule next week, then I have four “big” events set for the first weekend in March:

– 2024 USA Racquetball High School Nationals, this year held at the Vetta clubs in St Louis

– the International Racquetball Tour heads north for the Minnesota Hall of Fame event, put on by the Bredenbeck family.

– the ladies head to Boston for the LPRT Boston Open, put on by USAR President Stuart Solomon

– The crew in Florida hosts their 55th Annual Florida State Championships, which is easily the longest running state tournament in the country.

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