Welcome to perhaps the grandest international event in our sport; the quadriennial Pan American Games.
This is as close as our sport gets to the Olympic games right now. And they’re starting up this weekend, held in Lima,Peru.
This will be the 6th time Racquetball has participated in these games: they debuted in 1995, then have been in every iteration since (with the exception of 2007, when host country Brazil dropped the sport).
The first Pan Am games Men’s singles champion was John Ellis in his final amateur match; he avenged a loss in the previous year’s Tournament of the Americas event to long time US international player Michael Bronfeld. The first Pan Am games Women’s champion was the legendary Michelle Gouldwho won a slew of international events along with nearly every Pro match she played in the 1990s.
The Women’s singles competition this year will feature two-time defending champ Paola Longoria who won in 2011 and 2015. She’ll be challenged by her country-woman Montse Mejia, who beat her earlier this year in the Mexican Nationals. She’ll also have to fend with top LPRT pros and international veterans like Maria Jose Vargas, Frederique Lambert, Rhonda Rajsich and the like. And, just to add some intrigue, Guatemala’s Gaby Martinez has come out of “retirement” to compete … the same Martinez who beat Longoria in the 2018 Worlds final.
The two-time defending Men’s single’s champ Rocky Carson will only be playing doubles this event, so we’ll have a new champ. The 2015 finalist Alvaro Beltran will be playing singles, and one of 2015’s semi-finalists Luis Conrrado Moscoso Serrudo may be the favorite in the event. But, don’t count out Moscoso’s Bolivian teammate Carlos Keller Vargas, who is the 2-time defending PARC champ, nor the USA #1 Jake Bredenbeck, who destroyed the competition in May to earn his spot, nor Canada’s Samuel Murray, who finished another solid IRT season and is a tough out.
Round Robins start this weekend, and then we’ll preview the knockout draw once it is announced.
Facebook news has been sparse on the event; unlike an IRF event, the host country more or less controls things and by all accounts it was difficult event to secure streaming rights on facebook. Which is a shame … since this should be the biggest event in our sport. Nonetheless, keep an eye out for enthusiasts posting live streaming links in the usual spots.
Pro Racquetball Stats fans may not know it, but at the bottom of the Report selection page for each tour I have some static pages of information that I maintain. One of those is kind of a running diary of the season of “events” as they occur.
Here’s a list of notable “events” from this past season, which has seen some significant change in the structure of the tour. This is a subset of what’s on the above link, with text abbreviated for brevity.
– August 2018: the IRT season opens with questions as to whether Kane Waselenchuk is actually “retired” after events stemming from the last event in Florida in April and comments made on social media and in interviews over the summer.
– Oct 2018: Kane enters and wins the US Open, his 14th title. Kane is now simultaneously the oldest and youngest ever winner of the US Open.
– Nov 2018: Commissioner Andy Kulback takes a “leave of absence” from the IRT, and IRT CEO John Scott announces new managerial structure for the tour, which installs Mike Grisz as the Chairman of the board.
– Nov 2018: thanks to Kane’s Jan 2018 injury, he drops in the 12-month rolling rankings to #6 while Alex Landaascends to #1. This leads to a series of discussions and criticisms of the tour ranking system in racquetball forums, with calls for protected seeding or changes to the ranking system.
– Feb 2019: Scott resigns as CEO of the tour after experiencing some medical and personal issues. Current Chairman of the Board Mike Grisz takes over as interim CEO.
– Mar 2019: IRT announces a partnership with Pablo Fajre to broadcast events, a departure from the existing IRT Network infrastructure and presumably an end to the competing WRT tour.
– Mar 2019: the first ever IRT event occurs in Bolivia, the Open Iris Bolivia Grand Slam. #1 Waselenchuk, along with 4 other top 10 players do not make the trip. Bolivian #1 Luis Conrrado Moscoso Serrudo wins the event, defeating IRT #2 Rocky Carson in the final.
– April 2019: Former CEO Scott divests himself fully from the IRT by selling his ownership shares to Maryland-based racquetball enthusiast Slemo Warigonand his wife Charity. This ends Scott’s not-quite two year ownership of the tour, and a much longer involvement in the sport. Coinciding with this move, Grisz takes over officially as both CEO and Chairman of the IRT Board. The IRT is now a fully volunteer-driven organization.
– April 2019: Former Commissioner Kulbeck returns to the tour with some limited/as-of-yet to be determined involvement going forward.
– April 2019: Waselenchuk loses a quarter-final match in Sarasota to Alvaro Beltran breaking an 83-match winning streak on tour and becoming the first on-the-court, non injury related match loss since Sept 2013.
– May 2019: Kane wins the final Tier 1 of the season in Syosset to secure his 13th pro title.
– May 2019: US Open director Doug Ganim announces that he’s retiring after its 25th iteration in 2020, leaving some time to coordinate a replacement plan but also throwing the biggest racquetball event’s future into doubt.
– June 2019: After several non-Tier 1s wrap up, the final 2018-19 season finishes. The final event is won in surprising fashion by Javier Estrada, who takes out a slew of top IRT pros to win the title.
Next Up: Pan Am Games. I’ll wait until the knockout draws are produced to do “previews.”
Over the past week or so, we found out through various forums that the Mexican National teams for the Pan Am Games were named in the past few days … and to say that the selection on the men’s side is “curious” would be an understatement.
As with the USA, the Mexican delegation’s team size was lowered to be just 3 players on the Men’s side due to results at the Pan American Racquetball Championships (PARC) earlier this year. Which means that, like with the USA leaving off National singles finalist David Horn , that it was likely that a significant Mexican singles player would be left out.
The obvious and (frankly) ridiculous omission is Alex Landa. Landa WON Mexican National singles earlier this year. So your reigning National singles champ, an event that exists to decide who represents your country in international events … is being ignored when determining the team playing in an international event.
Apparently, the Mexican federation used the results of its singles players at the PARC event to chose its singles representative. In a response to the uproar, the FMR president claims to have informed the players ahead of PARCs that their results would matter, this despite the entry form for Mexican National Singles in 2019 specifically stating that the winner and finalist of singles would represent Mexico at both PARCs and the Pan Am Games.
The team of Mar/Montoya won Mexican National doubles, so they’re a natural doubles pairing. Montoya likely plays the second singles spot, given that he was the 2018 Mexican national singles champ and then subsequently won 2018 Worlds. Of course, Mar himself is no singles slouch; he was the 2017 National singles champ and has represented Mexico well in international events in limited experience. So we’ll have to wait and see who takes the #2 singles spot for Mexico (note: it seems it will be Montoya playing #2 singles based on press releases).
But to this outside observer, it seems like the Mexican Federation went out of its way to find the one plausible scenario where they could make an argument to exclude Landa at the benefit of Beltran. Not surprisingly, Landa took to social media, and the story was picked up by numerous media outlets, and (if i’m reading the posts correctly), Landa may be summarily quitting the Mexican national team altogether and exercising his dual citizenship option to begin playing for the USA. More to follow.
——————– On the Women’s side, there’s also some drama, but not nearly as bad as omitting the sitting singles national champ. The Mexican women’s team won both singles and doubles at PARC, giving them 4 team members in Lima. I’m inferring the team based on press releases/official posts on facebook pages. We know … – Paola Longoria – Samantha Salas Solis – Montse Mejia – Alexandra Herrera
Are named for Lima. But … by insider accounts, Longoria & Mejia will play singles, while Longoria/Salas together will play doubles, which leaves Herrera … named to the team and traveling to Peru only to sit and watch? Its unclear.
The “drama” on the women’s side? Despite the fact that Mejia beat Longoria to win Mexican National singles final earlier this year, Longoria will play #1 seed in Lima … by virtue of finishing higher at PARCs than Mejia. The FMR is using the same logic exercised to omit Landa in order to seed Longoria higher than the player who topped her at Nationals. Furthermore, Salas has lodged criticism in various forums that she was passed over, given her dominant position on the pro tour this season (and she’s not wrong … but lost to Mejia at Nationals at an inopportune time).
Longoria & Salas are the natural doubles representatives; they won Mexican National doubles and have a slew of international titles together, and this will apparently be the sole event Salas enters.
——————– However it turns out, and who ever plays, you have to think the Mexican contingent is favorites to take home a slew of medals across the board. ——————–
The Pan Am games starts 7/26/19 and runs through 8/11/19. Follow along at http://www.internationalracquetball.com/ , and follow @international racquetball federation on Facebook for live streaming throughout.
Congrats to your winners on the weekend: – Men’s Singles: Josh Tucker – Men’s Doubles: Daniel de la Rosa/Alvaro Beltran – Women’s Doubles: Michelle de la Rosa/Carla Munoz – Mixed Doubles: Daniel de la Rosa/Michelle de la Rosa
It was quite a weekend for the De la Rosa household; two double winners.
Former IRT touring pro #5 seed Josh Tucker took his first outdoor National title, defeating #7 seed Greg Solis in a walk-over final. Tucker breaks through after having come close to this title in the past (he was a losing finalist in 2014). Tucker ousted defending champ Luis R Avila in the semis in dominant fashion 12,3. Solis topped the #2 and #3 seeds to make the finals.
Tucker is the 13th ever winner of these outdoor nationals. Rocky Carson and Brian Hawkes have won 33 of the 49 titles ever contested since 1974.
The world’s top indoor doubles team of Alvaro Beltran and Daniel De La Rosaadded another title to their trophy case, beating the #1 seeded team of Josh Tucker and Brandon Davis twice en route to the title. Tucker/Davis topped #2 seeded Carson and Jesus Ustarozz in the loser’s bracket final but could not do much with the rested Beltran/DLR team in the final.
The top seeded team of Michelle De La Rosa and Carla Muñoz Montesinoscruised to a title, topping the team of Adriana Moncada/Hugette Keohen in the final. Moncada/Keohen upset the top seeded team of Trevino/Mahoney in their RR group to make the final.
The #2 seeded husband-wife team of Daniel & Michelle de La Rosa continued their recent dominance over outdoor racquetball by cruising to a title without dropping a game. They topped #1 seeds Emmett Coeand Jacqueline Paraiso-Larsson in the winner’s bracket final, then topped #3 seed Robert Sostre and Carla Munoz for the second time in the winner’s bracket final.
——————— A note about the brackets: Men’s and Mixed used double elimination. I currently do not load loser’s bracket matches. Instead, I call the winner’s bracket-loser’s bracket match the “final.” This leads to some oddity in the match reports; there’s going to be two losses listed for the losing finalist in the report, and the brackets will be short a couple of quarter-final matches. I have a to-do item to consider modifying the code to allow for double elimination entry, if it becomes more frequently seen in major tournaments.
——————- Congrats to all the WOR winners.
Next up on the Rball tourney slate is Mexican Junior Nationals this coming weekend. I have two IRT-specific season wrap up posts, which include a huge walk-through the top 30 players, so be on the lookout for that.
This year is the 46th annual version of this event, which crowns the “Outdoor Champion” for the year. For nearly all of those 46 years, it has been held at Marina Park in Huntington Beach, CA.
——————— Men’s Singles overview:
It is on these courts that Brian Hawkes became a legend, winning the first of his unbelievable 20 Outdoor titles in 1981. Towards the end of his career, he passed the mantle to Rocky Carson , who won the first of his 12 outdoor titles in 2002. This event has also seen other racquetball legends win titles, including the first pro champion Charlie Brumfield winning the first two iterations, Davey Bledsoe in 1978 and Marty Hogan in 1979. CalifornianLuis R Avila is the defending Men’s Singles champ.
Previewing this year’s event: there’s 9 men entered into the draw. I like #1 seed Avila from the top half, outdoor legend #7 seed Greg Solis to advance from the bottom, and for Avila to defend his title.
———————– On the Women’s Singles side, this event has been dominated by two players over the last decade; Rhonda Rajsich and Janel Tisinger-Ledkins. These two players have won 9 of the last 12 outdoor titles, and more often than not meet in the finals. But, don’t count out the dominant indoor players; #1 Paola Longoria won this event in 2009, and Jacqueline Paraiso-Larssonwon it in 2010. Neither Longoria or Rajsich is playing this weekend … surprising that Rhonda (a frequent outdoor competitor) didn’t make the event. She was nursing an injury towards the end of the pro season, so perhaps she’s saving up energy for Pan Ams later this summer.
There wasn’t a Women’s singles event in 2018, and there won’t be a Women’s Pro Singles division this year either, so the defending 2017 champ (Tisinger) still holds the title.
That’s a great collection of some of the legends of the outdoor game. Davis & Tucker won last year as the #6 seed, beating the #3, #2 and #1 seeded teams along the way, including Rocky Carson and Jesus Ustarroz in the final. Michelle De la Rosa & Munoz came out of a stacked round robin group last year as the #4 seed, topping the top two seeded teams along the way. In the 2018 Mixed event, Solis and Janel held serve as the #1 seed, holding off Emmett Coe and Jackie Paraiso-Larsson in the final.
This year, who is back to defend their title? Here’s some previews of the Doubles events:
————- Men’s Pro Doubles Preview:
10 teams entered this year, led by defending champs Davis/Tucker as the #1 seed. They’re going to have their hands full, as the world’s top indoor doubles team of Alvaro Beltranand Daniel De La Rosa are seeded 8th, making for one heck of a potential quarter final. If they can advance, they possibly face a doubles team in the semis that includes the #1 seed here Avila teamed with perhaps the finest outdoor singles player in the land, Robert Sostre.
On the bottom half, #2 seed Carson is teamed with Ustarroz, but will have to fight through teams that include Solis, Coe, Rick Kolland other top players teamed up in the bottom half.
I’m going to go with Beltran/DLR facing off against Coe/Koll in the final, with the indoor champs prevailing in outdoor as well.
———– Women’s Pro Doubles Preview:
There’s just two pro Women’s doubles teams entered; your defending champs mDLR/Munoz and the younger team of Jazmín Treviño and Heather Mahoney (you current 14U junior national champ). These two teams are the top seeds in separate round robin groups containing a slew of Elite, A and B/C teams. I’d expect the two pro teams to come out of each RR bracket and meet in the final, where i’d expect the defending champions to repeat.
—————– Mixed Doubles Preview:
There’s 6 teams entered this year; last year’s defending champion team is ineligible due to Tisinger’s suspension. But the draw features last year’s losing finalists (Coe and Paraiso-Larsson as the #1 seed and the two-time champ before that in 2016-2017 husband-wife team of DLR/mDLR as the #2 seed. It should be a solid event.
I like the two top seeds to advance to the final, and I like the husband/wife De la Rosa pairing (who also took the Beach Bash one-wall mixed title earlier this year) to come out on top.
—————— BTW, In case you’re wondering why most of the historical links only show champs to 2006-2008 range (for all categories besides Men’s singles). that was the beginning of the use of r2sports.com for tourney tracking. If anyone has a source for 2005 and earlier results i’m all ears; DM me or email me.
And lastly, in a new wrinkle, both the Men’s and Mixed doubles entry are double elimination. This is a new one for Pro Racquetball Stats: I do not have a double elimination event in the database right now and frankly have no idea how i’m going to do the data entry. I very well may just put in the winner’s bracket matches and hope for a clean winners’ bracket-loser’s bracket final at the end so as not to complicate our logic. We’ll see how it goes; the only DE tourney I can think of was the Mexican Women’s nationals event in 2018 … which they basically abandoned once they realized that the loser’s bracket winner (Alexandra Herrera) would have had to play like 4 straight matches potentially on the final day of the event. I’ll capture the results, but may only show winner’s bracket data. We’ll see.
Thanks to their performance at the 2019 Pan American Racquetball Championships earlier this year, Team Canada qualified two men and two women to the event, so these players will be pulling double duty singles and doubles in Peru.
On the Men’s side … the choices were pretty obvious. Murray and Iwaasa were the two finalists in all three qualifying events (the 1st National team Qualifier in Nov 2018, the 2nd Qualifier in February 2019, and Canadian Nationals In May 2019). Murray topped Iwaasa in all three events, and these two players have clearly established themselves as the top Canadian Men.
Murray plays the IRT tour full time and finished 7th on tour this year. He should be a favorite to advance deep into the knockout stages, given his tour accomplishments and his international experience. Murray has represented Canada 8 times before internationally; his best IRF result is making the 2016 world semis, losing toDaniel De La Rosa.
Iwaasa played just one pro event this season, the WRT event that occurred in Calgary in October. In that event (PRS match report here: http://rball.pro/E7785F) he topped a number of IRT semi-regulars before falling toAndree Parrilla in the final. This will be Iwaasa’s 6th international appearance; his best results previously were a quarter final apperance at the 2014 Pan American Sports Festival (where he lost to David ” Bobby” Hornand the 2015 Pan American Games (where he lost to Alvaro Beltran).
On the Women’s side, the two players selected are in-arguably the top two players in Canada, but some questions may arise from the qualification process. Lambert and Saunders were the finalists in the 1st qualifier, with Lambert winning. But, Lambert did not play in the 2nd qualifier nor Canada Nationals; there Saunders beat Christine Richardson in the finals both times. As it turns out, Canada’s team qualification guidelines specify exceptions for top-ranked IRT and LPRT pros, automatically qualifying them if they’re in the top 8 at the time of the team selection. See http://www.racquetball.ca/download/2019Racquetball_INP_PAGs.pdf for the guidelines (h/t to Frederique Lambert for the link).
Lambert obviously gives the team a better chance at medaling in Peru, but it comes at the expense of Richardson, who made a semis and two finals during qualifying and thus has a claim to the team based on the overall qualifying results.
Lambert finished the pro season ranked 9th on tour despite missing 5 of the 10 events (dropping out of the top 8 only at the last event). This after finishing the prior year ranked 2nd and making 5 pro tournament finals. She finished off Medical school, which limited her travel schedule. This will be the 10th time Lambert represents Canada; she has made two international finals, losing the 2012 and 2016 PARC finals to Longoria.
The limits of players on both teams also means that the selected players will be forced doubles partners. But luckily, the players do have some experience playing with each other.
– Murray/Iwaasa teamed up to win the 2018 Canadian National title – they also played together at PARC earlier this year, losing in the final.
– Lambert/Saunders first played together at the 2014 Worlds, losing in the qtrs. – They teamed up at the 2016 PARC event, losing in the semis to eventual champs Mexico – They made the semis at 2016 Worlds together, losing to the USA team. – They won 2018 Canada Nationals together – they last played at 2018 Worlds, struggling in the RRs and losing in the 16s.
In the 32s: – Carlos Keller Vargas took out IRT touring regular Justus Benson 1,14. Good come-back by Benson to make game 2 competitive. – #5 Rodrigo Montoya Solis got a walk-over win over Roland Keller, who had to take injury time-out time in his earlier victory and may have been preserving himself for doubles. – #12 Javier Mar got stretched by American youngster Garcia to a tie-breaker before advancing. – Giant killer Alan Natera Chavez took out #13 Charlie Pratt in a tiebreaker. I thought Pratt had a solid run to the qtrs or semis here; will that now be Natera? – #19 Javier Estrada trounced #14 Sebastian Fernandez 2,6. In my personal world rankings I have these two literally one after the other but this was a pretty dominant win. – #7 Luis Conrrado Moscoso Serrudo took out long-time Ecuadorian veteran Jose Daniel Ugalde 5,10 to get his tourney started with a solid win. – #15 Eduardo Garay Rodriguez got revenge for last week’s loss by topping #18 Ernesto Ochoa in two close games. – #2 Alvaro Beltran was taken to the limit by long time Ecuadorian vet Fernando Rios, saving match point against and advancing 11-10.
In the 16s, we started to see some serious upsets – #1 Andree Parrilla lost game one 15-8, then got an injury walkover to advance over two-time defending PARC champ Keller. Carlos looked like he was in discomfort from the latter portions of game one and didn’t event take the court for game 2. A shame, because I’d have liked to see if Keller could make a run to the semis or finals here. – #9 Gerardo Franco Gonzalez took an 11-9 close win over Lalo Portillo in the latest iteration of their rivalry (they were one year apart in Juniors and faced each other often growing up). – #5 Montoya downed doubles partner Mar 13,6, in a reverse of their match-up in Syosset. – Natera kept up his upsetting ways, this time topping IRT top8 player Sebastian Franco 11-9. – #19 Estrada continued to dominate, this time taking out top IRT pro Daniel De La Rosa 11-9 in the breaker. Estrada is another example of a dominant Mexican player who rarely plays the IRT: his sole IRT appearance was in 2010, as a 14yr old, when the tour made a stop in Chihuahua (his home town) – #6 Mario Mercado beat Costa Rican #1 Andres Acuña for the 2nd time in as many weeks to advance. – #7 Moscoso wiped out Costa Rican #2 Felipe Camacho to advance. – #2 Beltran recovered from his earlier match to take out the upset-minded Garay 11,1.
So your quarter final seeds are: 1,9,5,20,19,7,2. – #1 Parrilla advanced eily over #9 Franco 9,6 – #5 Montoya dropped the first game but came back to beat Natera in a breaker. – Hard hitting #19 Estrada came from 7-10 down in the breaker to score four unanswered and top IRT top 10 player and #6 seed Mercado 11-10. – #7 Moscoso took a close first game in controversial fashion over #2 Beltran, who then hobbled off the court midway through the second in an injury fft.
Semis: 1,5,19 and 7 seeds.
In the semis: – #5 Montoya trounced #1 Parrilla 6,3. This was technically their first IRT meeting; they’d met 8 times previously that I could track in the database (and likely more, since they’re the exact same age and were frequent competitors on the junior circuit). – #19 Estrada, if he hadn’t already made a statement in this tournament, made an even larger one in taking out #7 Moscoso in a streaky tiebreaker win. He raced to a 6-0 lead, then fell behind 12-6, then raced to a 15-12 first game win. In the second, Moscoso cruised to a 15-3 win. in the breaker, Estrada really bore down and broke away with solid play to dominate and take teh breaker 11-5. I had Moscoso winning this event, now I wonder if Estrada can beat the winner of Parrilla/Montoya.
In the final, Estrada indeed got the breakthrough win, beating Montoya (14),9,3.
Quite a weekend for the home-town 24-yr old. He beat 3 of the top 10 players in the world to win this event and, for me combined with past results is now clearly himself in that same category.
———————————- Doubles event:
The draw went mostly chalk to the quarters as expected, though the #10 seeded Pratt/Garcia team easily advanced over Guatemalans Christian Wer and Javier Martinez.
In the quarters: Beltran/DLR got a walkover, the CRC team of Acuna/Camacho took a scintillating 11-10 win over Parrilla/Portillo, Montoya/Mar beat a hobbled Bolivian team of Moscoso/Keller handily, and Pratt/Garcia took out #2 Colombian team 11-10.
In the semis, the two top Mexican teams both advanced to force a rematch of the 2018 Mexican National finals; Beltran/DLR over the Costa Ricans Acuna/Camacho, and Montoya/Mar over Pratt/Garcia.
In the final, Montoya/Mar got the better of Beltran/DLR 7,12 to take the title.
———————————– That’s a wrap for the 2018-19 IRT season! When the points post to the website, i’ll scrape it and update the PRS sites with end-of-year season rankings and what not, and will do a notification post to that end with all the yearly artifacts updated. We look forward to the initial publishing of the 2019-20 IRT calendar.
Next up on the rball calendar is US Junior Nationals next weekend in Portland. After that, we have more solid Mexican non-sanctioned events, WOR outdoor nationals in July, Mexican Junior natioanls in July, and then the Pan American games in august.
There is a massive, fabulous Men’s pro draw this weekend, with 46 players entered into Singles and no less than 22 pro doubles teams. The draw features 4 of the top 8 IRT pros, nearly the full contingent of Mexican pro players, all the top Ecuadorians, Guatemalans and Costa Ricans, and the top three Bolivian players who have made the flight up to make what should be a fantastic draw.
What’s at stake: from an IRT rankings perspective there shouldn’t be any change to the top 8-10 rankings on the IRT tour based on where things stood at the finish of the last tier 1 in Syosset. More likely is that we’ll see some movement (with solid results) with the players ranked in the 11-30 range.
Play runs from Tues to Saturday, starting this afternoon 6/11/19.
—————————— Here’s a preview of the draw;
In the round of 64, there’s some good play-in matches to watch, especially: – Bolivian Roland Keller takes on top Mexican pro Jaime Martell Neri in a tough first rounder for both. Keller is more known for his doubles play (he is currently the reigning 2019 Pan American Racquetball Championships double champ with Moscoso), while Martell is one of the top WRT players. – #30 Jordy Alonso takes on #35 Ruben Estrada, a long time player who has a couple of quarter final Nationals appearances in the last few years. – Long-time IRT touring pro Javier Moreno, whose first pro tour appearance was in Dec 1995, takes on youngster Erick Cuevas, who was born in 1997. – Erik Garcia plays David Ortega, one of the most decorated Junior players ever but who stopped playing pro matches more than a decade ago. Ortega won 11 junior world titles, including one in every age group from 8 to 18, during his junior career. – Top Ecuadorians Esteban de Janon, Juan Flores, Juan Francisco Cueva and Jose Daniel Ugalde all have made the flight and have entered. Ugalde in particular faces Alex Cardona in what could be a great first rounder. – Guatemalans entered include long-time player Edwin Galicia, Javier Martinez, Juan Salvatierra and Christian Wer. Its great to see such a solid international draw.
In the 32s, matches to watch out for: – Bolivan Carlos Keller Vargas, the two-time reigning PARC singles champion, takes on IRT regular Justus Benson for a shot at the #1 in the 16s. – #5 Rodrigo Montoya Solis takes on the Roland Keller/Martell winner in a tough opener for the top seed. – #12 seeded Javier Mar likely takes on NCAA intercollegiate reigning champ Erik Garcia. Mar as a 12 seed is a tough one; he’s more than capable of running to the finals from the top of this draw. – #13 Charlie Pratt likely takes on giant-killer Alan Natera Chavez. Natera has made the semis of the last two Mexican Nationals events and played his first ever IRT event in Syosset last month. – #14 Sebastian Fernandez likely takes on Javier Estrada, fresh off a finals appearance last week at the Copa RKT event. I’ve got them neck and neck in my personal power rankings and i’m not sure who i favor here. I like Fernandez’s game lately, but Estrada is a serious player. – #7 Luis Conrrado Moscoso Serrudo, a player who most everyone is looking forward to seeing, gets a fun opener against the criminally -and hard-hitting Alex Cardona. Cardona is the 2-time WRT tour champ who has gone to part-time pro playing lately, but is still a tough out. – In the 15/18 match, Eduardo Garay Rodriguez takes on Ernesto Ochoa … which we know is close b/c they just played last week in Monterrey, with Ochoa advancing in an 11-10 win.
Projecting the 16s: – #1 Andree Parrilla vs Keller Vargas. Great round of 16 match-up; the #4 player on the IRT, who’s knocking on the door to move higher, versus one of the best international players out there. I like Parrilla, but just barely and wouldn’t be surprised at all to see Keller Vargas win here. – In the 8/9 match, two old adversaries go at it; #8 Lalo Portillo versus #9 Gerardo Franco Gonzalez. Franco was upset last weekend early while Portillo lost a tough one to Cardona. These two have played a number of times in the past few years, and mostly Franco has had Portillo’s number. But, Lalo beat him the last time they played in Mar19 and is trending higher. I’m going with Lalo here. – #5 Montoya vs #12 Mar. A rematch of the brutal round of 32 in Syosset. They have faced each other more than a few times in WRT and Mexican local events. Its a back and forth affair, with the frequent doubles partners trading wins when they face each other. Mar won last weekend, beat Montoya in Syosset, and i’ll favor him to advance here. – #4 Sebastian Franco vs #13 Pratt; assuming Pratt gets by Natera, he stands a good chance of upsetting Franco here. They’ve played 4 times in the past three years and Pratt has never lost. – #3 Daniel De La Rosa vs Fernandez/Estrada winner. I like DLR in the opener here, even though it’ll be a tough match. – #6 Mario Mercado likely faces #11 Andres Acuña. An interesting potential match-up; Mercado has struggled this season on tour while Acuna has gotten some solid wins. They met once in juniors in 2014 (an Acuna win). I’ll give Acuna the win here. – #7 Moscoso vs #10 Felipe Camacho; assuming Moscoso powers his way past Cardona, he has a much easier path into the quarters facing Camacho. – #2 Alvaro Beltran vs the Garay/Ochoa winner: Either way, Beltran faces some trouble here. Ochoa beat Beltran in the 2018 Mexican nationals event. Don’t be surprised if there’s an upset here.
Interestingly, it wouldn’t be too shocking to see a majority of the top 8 seeds lose in the round of 16 here. That’s how deep this draw is, and how many good non-regular IRT pros there are out there.
Possible Qtrs: – Parrilla vs Portillo; advantage Parrilla over the increasingly tough Portillo. – Mar vs Pratt: Pratt beat him in the 2017 PARC semis, but I feel like Mar is in a better spot right now. These two play a very similar game style, so expect a close tiebreaker nonetheless. – DLR vs Acuna: DLR advances easily, even if Mercado holds serve to advance here. – Moscoso vs Beltran: Moscoso beat Beltran pretty handily in the Bolivian Open earlier this year and has the kind of game that gives Beltran fits. Advantage to the hard-hitting Bolivian no matter who advances here.
Semis: – Parrilla vs Mar: advantage Mar; he’s won their last two meetings, though its usually a tiebreaker. – Moscoso vs DLR; they played twice internationally in 2015, splitting wins but with Moscoso getting the better of DLR in a knockout setting en route to his run to the PARC semis. Which DLR shows up? The one who can handle the kind of power that Conrrado brings and offset it with his touch shots? Or will Moscoso bring his A-game, which is good enough to beat nearly anyone in the world? I like Moscoso here.
Final: Moscoso over Mar, as Moscoso overpowers the touch game of Mar.
Doubles preview: 20 teams, a massive doubles draw, that features some of the top teams in the world. The seeded teams include the (IMHO) top doubles team in the world in Beltran/DLR, the Colombian na’tl team of Mercado/Franco, the 2nd best Mexican pairing (who’s been nipping on the heels of #1) in Montoya/Mar, and the Costa Rican nat’l team of Acuna/Camacho.
Also present are the likely favorites; the reigning PARC champs Bolvian pairing of Moscoso/Keller and the likely Pan Am Games representative teams from Ecuador and Guatemala.
Fun Quarter final matches to watch for: Montoya/Mar and Moscoso/Keller in a rematch of the PARc semis. And, Pratt/Garcia taking on Franco/Mercado; could be an upset.
Semis prediction: Beltran/DLR and Portillo/Parrilla on the top, Moscoso/Keller and Franco/Mercado from the bottom.
Finals prediction: Beltran/DLR beat the bolivians for the 3rd time in a year.
——————————- Follow along on facebook; the irt’s broadcast team including Dean DeAngelo Baer is heading down to watch and broadcast.
It may have only been a tier 2, but there were a slew of great matches in San Jose this past weekend.
————— Lets recap the Pro Singles draw, highlight key match-ups.
In the play-ins: – Cuban #1 Maikel Mollet beat #12 Alan Natera Chavez 11-8 in the breaker, a signature win for the Cuban.
In the 16s: – #9 Andres Acuña crushed doubles partner and country-man #8 Felipe Camacho 3,3. He’s had a great season and will get a great test going against #1 seed and #2 ranked Carson next. – #11 Ernesto Ochoa got a great win over #6 Mario Mercado 11-9. Ochoa has multiple wins over IRT top 10 players in the last year and probably has moved into the world top 20 at this point. – #10 Javier Mar beat #7 David Horn 13,7 to advance to face Landa in a juicy quarter final.
In the Qtrs: – #1 seed Rocky Carson made fast work over Acuna 6,4 in his opener. – #4 Alvaro Beltran got his first win over #5 Rodrigo Montoya Solís since Mexicali 2017 … and just like in 2017 he won 11-10. Montoya still has a career winning h2h record over Alvaro but missed an opportunity here. – #3 Andree Parrilla was stretched to a tiebreaker but took out #11 Ochoa 11-7. Hope to see more of Ochoa on tour going forward. – #2 Alex Landatook out #10 Mar in two close games 14,13. Definitely an indication of just how close these two guys are despite their seeds.
So, we’re chalk into the semis, top four seeds competing, despite some really close matches in the quarters.
In the Semis … we had two upsets. – #4 Beltran topped #1 Carson in a tie-breaker, continuing their current back-and-forth rivalry. The two veterans have played more than 50 times and have split their last 6 meetings. – #3 Parrilla beat #2 Landa in two game 8,11 to advance to the final, where he’s likely favored, having beaten Beltran their last three times on the court.
In the final, Parrilla came from a game down to trounce Beltran 11-2 in the tie-breaker for the win.
—————- There was an even larger Men’s Open draw, with essentially the full Pro draw of participants but with completely different seeding, resulting in semis-quality early round match-ups. Here’s a review of the notable matches in Men’s Open singles.
In the 16s: – Parrilla took out Montoya in two close games 14,12. These two have been playing forever; they’re the same year in juniors and traded back and forth junior Mexico and World titles. This is the first time they’ve met since Mexico Nationals in 2018, and it had been more than 2 years since Andree got a win over Rodrigo. – Camacho got wiped out by Ochoa 5,4. – Mollet got a rematch against Natera and lost in two 12,8. – Mercado beat Landa 11-8 in a match that I wonder how seriously Landa was playing (given that he’s into the pro semis, the doubles semis and was coming off a draining match over Mar).
In the Quarters: – #1 Parrilla advanced easily over #25 Felipe Alonso – #4 Horn beat #21 Ochoa by the slimmest of margins 14,14. – #6 Mercado took out upset-minded #19 Natera in a tie-breaker – #2 Acuna got a walkover from #7 Costa Rican Gabriel Garcia.
In the semis: – Parrilla beat Horn handily to make the final … putting him in both singles finals Pro and Open. – Mercado had a come-back tiebreaker win over Acuna to advance to the final.
In the final, Parrilla cruised past Mercado 8,7 for the double win.
—————- Lastly, they did play doubles, with some good pro teams playing. The draw went chalk to the semis, with 4 good teams of tour regulars playing. – Mar/Montoya topped #1 seeds Beltran/Landa in the top semi. – the CRC national doubles team of Camacho/Acuna beat two IRT vets Horn/Mercado in the other.
In what looked like an awesome final, the home-town team came from a game down and saved match points against to win 11-10 over the Mexican team of Mar/Montoya for the win.
—————- Points Implications of the Event: very little.
Here’s a quick points impact summary of these results: – top 14 remain unchanged. – Parrilla and Beltran each replaced missed results/0 point weekends with 120 and 90 points respectively, moving them up slightly but not enough to overtake Landa. – Carson and Landa did not earn enough points to replace any lower result weekends, so their seasonal point totals remain the same. – There was some slight movement up/down in the 15-20 range, as some players lost and gained points thanks to expiring/gained points on the weekend, but nothing major.
—————- If you missed any of the matches, they streamed on youtube all weekend. Go to Youtube.com and search for “10a edición Costa Rica Open Racquetball” to find the streams.
Next up: All the major countries are holding National events this coming weekend: USA Adult National singles, Canada national singles and doubles, and Mexican Junior Nationals. I believe Ecuador has some nationals next weekend as well. We’ll do previews of all events in what should be a busy weekend.
Next up for IRT: another lower tier event in Garden City, KS in two weeks time.
The IRT Tier 1 slate may be done for the 2018-19 season, but a bunch of lower tier events are on the schedule still, including the 2019 Costa Rica Open, being held at the Costa Rica Country Club in San Jose, CRC.
There’s a solid Pro draw of 22 players, including 5 of the current top 10 players on the IRT, another 6-7 regular IRT touring pros, plus a number of internationals we normally only see at IRF events. We also get the #1 and #2 players from Cuba playing this event, which is a treat.
Lets preview the draw and predict the singles competition:
In the Round of 32/Play-ins, some interesting match-ups; – In the 16/17 two Guatemalan Internationals face off: Hanzel Martinez Perez versus Edwin Galicia – #12 Alan Natera Chavez faces off against Cuban #1 Maykel Mollet; Natera should advance, but Mollet is a tough player. – #11 Ernesto Ochoa takes on Cubvan #2 Enier Chacon, another relative unknown but who plays well in International events.
Projecting the 16s; here’s some fun round of 16 matches: – #8 Felipe Camacho vs #9 Andres Andres Acuña; doubles partners in this event, they met in the IRT season opener, an Acuna 2-game win. Since then Acuna has had a magical run to the semis of PARC. They’re both on home ground; both players hailing from Costa Rica, so this could be a spirited match. – #5 Rodrigo Montoya Solís vs #12 Natera: they just met in Syosset; a 2,2 Montoya crushing … which was kind of the reverse of 2019 Mexican Nationals, when Natera beat him in the quarters. I’m guessing Montoya advances here. – #6 Mario Mercado vs #11 Ochoa: Here’s an interesting point: Ochoa has never entered a Tier 1 IRT event. But he’s got a ton of solid wins in Mexican Nationals (including a win over Beltran in 2018) and on WRT events close enough to his home in Chihuahua. Now he’s flown to Costa Rica and ends up facing an IRT top 10 player. Should be an interesting match. I suspect Ochoa can win this. – #7 David Horn vs #10 Javier Mar; tough opener for Horn, having to face Mar, fresh off a Qtr final appearance in Syosset. Mar beat Garay, Montoya and Sebastian Franco in NY before falling to Kane; Horn has his work cut out for him here.
Possible Quarters: – #1 Rocky Carson vs #9 Acuna; they last played at the 2017 US Open; Rocky is 3-0 lifetime over Acuna on tour. Somehow these frequent international players have avoided each other in IRF events. Carson cruises here despite Acuna having the home crowd rooting for him. – #4 Alvaro Beltran vs #5 Montoya: they’ve already met twice on tour this year; both two game easy wins for Montoya. I think Montoya’s game is a bad match-up for Beltran right now, who can shoot and put balls away but not under pressure like he gets when Montoya’s power serve is on. – #3 Andree Parrilla vs #6 Mercado; Assuming Mercado gets past Ochoa, he runs into Parrilla, who drastically improved his ranking this year to finish 4th on tour. But, the last time they played it was Mercado dumping Parrilla out of the Bolivian Grand Slam on home soil. Look for Parrilla to junkball his way to a win here. – #2 Alex Landavs #10 Mar: wow, great match. Mar beat Landa in the 2017 FMR finals … and then Landa returned the favor beating Mar in the quarters of the 2019 event en route to the title. These are two very good players, very close in talent, and if Mar is on Landa will not be able to beat him. Any given sunday; this is a coinflip.
Projecting the Semis: – Carson over Montoya; a rematch of Chicago semis, where Rocky won 11,2 and gave Montoya a lesson in the second game on match control. – Landa over Parrilla: another tough match for Landa; if he gets to the finals here he’ll have more than earned it. If Landa gets by Mar though, I think he’s in jeopardy of losing here. Parrilla’s beaten him twice on tour this year and could do it again.
Final prediction: Carson over Parrilla. The last two times they’ve played, it was a Parrilla 11-8 win in Chicago 2018 … and a Laurel Carson 11-10 win where Parrilla blew a simple cross court pass on match-point to lose. I expect another close one but Rocky’s hard to beat.
———————- They’re also playing doubles in San Jose. The Mar/Montoya team is only seeded 4th somehow; they’ll likely face Beltran/Landa in one semi, while the Costa Rican national doubles team of Camacho/Acuna likely faces two IRT regulars paired together in Mercado/Horn.
I like Mar/Montoya over Camacho/Acuna in a loud final.