Welcome back Huntington Beach! After a year off thanks to Covid-19, outdoor National is back at Marina Park to host the 2021 Team Root Outdoor Nationals Racquetball Championships presented by Pro Kennex.
A solid draw of 140+ players is in Southern California to compete, and the draw includes a slew of the best outdoor players in the land.
In the Men’s Pro Doubles… the big daddy draw, with Defending champs Alvaro Beltran and Daniel De La Rosa seeded 1st and favored to win again. But there’s a ton of talented teams here.
In the opening round, i’m looking at close matches in the 5/12 match-up (Emmitt Coe/Rick Koll versus NorCal top pairing of Walter Ramos and Israel Torres) and in the 6/11 match-up (New York one-wall specialists Freddy Ramirez and Benny Goldenberg versus Thomas Gerhardt and Daniel Lavely), but otherwise expect chalk.
In the quarters, I’m projecting a couple of really solid matches but for the top four seeds to advance. I like the #4 Micah Rich/ Jason Newberg team to top the Coe/Koll team in a close one, and i do think #3 Greg Solis and Josh Tucker will outlast the challenge from Ramirez/Goldenberg.
In the semis, i’m predicting Beltran/DLR to outlast Rich/Geis, while i’m predicting an upset in the bottom-half, with Solis/Tucker taking out #2 seeds Rocky Carson and Jesus Ustarroz.
In the final: Beltran/DLR defend their title over fellow so-cal outdoor top players Solis/Tucker.
In the Women’s Pro Doubles … Michelle De La Rosa and Carla Muñoz Montesinos are the #1 seeds and defending champs, and should defend their title on the weekend. there are 5 teams entered, and they’ll play round robin matchups all weekend to determine the winner. Their toughest competition will come from #2 seeds Amie LeBrun Brewer and Jessica Chen, two traveling players from Washington (DC) and Washington (State) respectively.
In the Mixed Pro Doubles, defending champs/husband wife De La Rosa team will face off against last year’s finalists once again in the Munoz/ Robert Sostre team, but a 5-team round-robin competition that features some NorCal flavor in Erica Williams, Walter Ramos, Israel Torres and Jazmin Trevino will spice the mixed draw up all weekend.
In the Men’s Singles … the search continues for the successor to the domination of Brian Hawkes and Rocky Carson on the big Huntington Beach courts. Four different players have won the last four Men’s pro singles title, and this year i’m predicting a 5th straight winner. 8 players are entered, and I think we get chalk to the semis. There, former IRT touring pro Jose Diaz will give Hall of Famer Greg Solis a run for his money, but I think Solis advances. On the bottom, #2 seed and 2018 singles champ Luis Avila projects to face “Sweet” Lou Orosco for a spot in the final.
I’m predicting Solis, who has never won a singles title, will finally add this title to his resume and take the Men’s pro singles title.
In the Women’s pro singles, after not having a top-level singles draw for several years there are 5 women entered into the Pro/Open singles draw. They are headlined by LPRT touring pro and heavy favorite here Carla Munoz, who will play RR competition against several competitors for the title. I’m predicting Munoz finishes the weekend unvanquished and adds an Outdoor Singles title to her collection of trophies.
Other Notable draws: the biggest draw on the weekend is the Men’s Centurion (100+) division, with 19 teams competing. A slew of hall of famers and former touring pros are entered into this event, and it should be fun. Look for HoFer Mike Peters to make some noise, get a chance to watch former IRT touring pro Todd O’Neil, and especially watch for the McDonald crew (@greg mcdonald and his son Jack), who are here (along with Martha McDonald) to support the tournament from Florida as they’ve done nearly every year since 1974.
Look for Streaming this weekend from JT R Ball and in the various outdoor racquetball groups. If you’re not a member, consider following pages/groups like the main WOR page or groups like Underground Racquetball, which covers SoCal outdoor.
Thanks to the Tourney Directors Geoff Osberg and Jesus Ustarroz for putting this event on! This is the culmination of months of hard work for Geoff and Jay and I wanted to commend them for making the return to HB a success.
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This week and coming weekend features the Federación Mexicana de Raquetbol (FMR)’s Campeonato Nacional (National Championships), being played in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, Mexico.
This tournament was one of the few to get in before Covid shut down the sport in 2020; it is normally competed in February, and is one of my favorite tournaments to cover, usually filled with amazing upsets and names not well known to the global rball fanbase making big runs (though, more and more these players are becoming household names).
This year will be a bit different for FMR Nationals: they have comparable draw sizes in both the Men’s and Women’s draws to last year, but the men’s draw in particular is missing a TON of big-time names this year. The two finalists from last year are not present ( Alvaro Beltran and Daniel De La Rosa ). Also missing are top names like Alan Natera Chavez and @Gerardo Gerardo Franco Gonzalez and Alex Cardona. No @Eduardo Eduardo Garay Rodriguez, who is I hear is returning to the Mexican fold. No Javier Estrada to make a deep run. No Eduardo Ochoa or Jaime Martell Neri to get big time wins. Lastly, no Alejandro Landa, who is entered into USA’s nationals in a month’s time after leaving the Mexican federation over some rather short-sighted decisions related to the Pan Am Games roster selection.
So that’s too bad …. but it also illustrates just how deep the Mexican player pool is, because the top 8-10 players who are here are solid.
The 32s kick off the event on Tuesday; there shouldn’t be too many surprises in the 32s, and most of the top seeds are getting byes. However, some of the below predictions may already be obsolete if we see round of 32 upsets played before you read this…
Matches to look for in the round of 16:
I like 8/9s and I like Daniel Diaz to take out #8 Erick Cuevas in a slight upset. Diaz has been playing a ton of Texas tourneys and should have the chops to take out Cuevas.
#4 Christian Longoria may have his hands full with an under-seeded #20 Jordy Alonso, who I expect to advance here. Alonso beat Lalo Portillo in a local tournament in April, a pretty significant win, and i predict him to build on that victory here.
– #2 Javier Mar versus #15 Jose Ramos, recently graduated out of the juniors. Ramos made the semis of 2019 World Junior 18U, losing a heartbreaker 11-10 to close out his junior career; now he’s gotta compete with the pros.
Projected Qtrs: here’s where the rubber meets the road.
#1 Sebastian Fernandez, who gets the #1 seed by virtue of being the highest finisher actually present from the Feb 2020 event, projects to face #9 Diaz. Patata has stepped back from racquetball a bit, but still is a major player and should advance here.
#5 @Rodrigo Rodrigo Montoya Solis vs #20 Alonso: how is reigning World champ and reigning Pan Am games champ only seeded 5th? Well, he got beat early last year (by Portillo) and they re-seed every year based on last year’s finish. Agree or disagree, it always lends itself to some fun early matchups. Montoya moves on here.
#3 Lalo Portillo projecting against #6 Erick Trujillo; Portillo has been on a big-time roll lately, kickstarted at this event last year with his run to the semis. He moves on here.
#7 Andree Parrilla vs #2 Mar; two of the best seven or eight players in the world right now face off way too early in the quarters here. These two have generally split their matchups, but Mar took their most recent pro meeting at the 2020 Lewis Drug pro-am. I like Mar here.
I think #5 Montoya takes out Patata here; just too much firepower for Fernandez to handle.
#3 Portillo over #2 Mar: this is an upset by seeding, and an upset by my personal rankings, but Portillo is trending well right now. He just finished off an event where he topped multiple touring pros to win the IRT Tier 5 in Severna Park, and the last time these two played in a top-level event was in 2017. Lots has changed since. Lalo to move on.
– i’m going with Lalo over Montoya (just as he beat Rodrigo in last year’s Mexican Nationals) to climb to the top of Mexican racquetball. Mar beats Fernandez for 3rd.
Women’s Open preview:
15 women entered, headlined by the top 6-7 Mexican touring pros and then a slew of younger players. Most of the expected names are present, but we are missing a couple of names that usually shake the draw up ( Lucia Gonzalez in particular, but also Ana Laura Flores, Erin Nocamroves Rivera, etc.
Round of 16 matches to watch for: I see no jeopardy of any upsets in the opening round, with maybe the 8/9 being a toss-up.
#1 Paola Longoria vs the winner of Rico/Ortega: should be quick work for the GOAT.
#4 Montse Mejia should make quick work of #5 Susy Acosta, who continues to compete at a high level after more than 20 years of playing professionally.
#6 Alexandra Herrera should start to get her Mexican rankings back in line with where her pro rankings are by taking out #3 Samantha Salas Solis
#2 Jessica Parrilla has a suddenly harder-than-it-looks match against #7 Nancy Enriquez. I think Enriquez looked awesome at the last LPRT tournament and is favored to beat Parrilla.
Longoria over Mejia: once again, seedings betray the two best players in Mexico and force them to play one or two rounds early. This should be the final, and was the final a couple years ago when Mejia stunned Longoria to take the 2019 Mexican title. But that’s the only time Montse has really threatened Paola, who should win and advance here.
Herrera over Enriquez: there’s a reason Alexandra has moved to #2 on tour, and its because she’s been getting wins in situations like this; tough wins against fellow top players over and again. She’s been consistently in the semis or finals on tour, and will be here as well.
Finals: Longoria over Herrera.
There’s only singles this weekend; Mexican doubles either doesn’t happen this year (with a FMR-named team) or is yet to be announced. The Juniors are playing … but as far as I know this is NOT junior nationals for Mexico 2021.
Streaming: i’m sure we’ll have personal streaming; follow FMR, RKT and the players all week and weekend.
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International Racquetball Tour
International Racquetball Federation – IRF
Pan American Racquetball Confederation – PARC
@Federación Mexicana de Raquetbol
Hashtags #racquetball #proracquetball #outdoorracquetball #irt #lprt #wor
Also congrats to the winners of the massive
Open and 18U draws (which we’ll talk about later on):
– Men’s Open: Andres Acuna
– Men’s Open Doubles: Moscoso/Carrasco
– 18U Juniors: Erick Trujillo
Murray, who was in jeopardy of not even
traveling to the tournament thanks to Covid-related travel restrictions coming
out of Canada, becomes the 41st ever Tier 1 tournament winner in the history of
Men’s pro tours. Ironically, the previous person to fulfil that particular
bucket list item was also the player he vanquished in the final. Murray had a
fantastic event, getting his first ever wins over both Mar and De La Rosa, then
playing solid racquetball all weekend to win the title. Arguably Murray was the
underdog in every match from the round of 16 on, and proved all pundits and
On the Doubles side, the reigning US
national team champs topped a number of top teams en route to the final,
including two top international teams that they might face in the next IRF
championship. They seem to be growing as a team and looking more dangerous the
more they play together.
was stretched to a tiebreaker by home-town
favorite Austin Cunningham before advancing (13),13,7.
– #19 Sam Bredenbeck dropped the opener
against relative newcomer Texan Brennen Jennings before moving on (9),11,4.
– #23 MoMo Zelada was pressed by top amateur
player from Monterrey Daniel Diaz 13,9 before advancing. This is the first time
i’ve seen Diaz in any top-level competition tracked by PRS and he played well,
hope to see more of him on tour.
– In one of the best matches of the opening
round, 18U junior lefty Andrew Gleason came from a game down to beat tough
Bolivian Miguel A. Arteaga Guzman (5),5,7. Gleason showed some great mental
toughness for a junior, many of whom would have folded after a first game beat
In the 32s, we saw the top 16 pros enter
into the draw for the first time … and the draw went perfectly chalk. Every
one of the top 16 seeds advanced. There were a couple notable matches though.
– the #16/#17 seed match always seems to
provide a close call, and this was no exception. #16 Javier Estrada took out
his doubles partner and good friend
, who played him tough in game two but could
not force the breaker.
In the Quarters, we started to see the seeds
breaking down, in a slew of fantastic matches that put the show court behind
nearly 3 hours inside of 3 matches (the last quarter final was a 1pm scheduled
start and didn’t go on until nearly 4pm). Lets recap
– #1 Landa over #8 Jake: Landa made it 10
for 10 in top competitions versus Jake, but the big Minnesotan did not make it
easy, keeping it close throughout. Landa advances 11,13.
– #5 Canadian number one Murray got his
first career win over #4 DLR in an 11-9 thriller. Game one was back and forth,
with DLR coming back to eke it out 15-14, then Murray blitzed game two in about
10 minutes to force the tiebreaker. There, the players were neck and neck, playing
back and forth racquetball that was just great for the neutrals, with DLR
shooting constantly, Murray putting on a defensive and diving clinic, and then
Sam pulling out a great winner to break a 9-9 tie that had lasted several
service changes before DLR pressed on a forehand winner to skip out at match
– #6 Portillo showed some real veteran poise
throughout his match against #3 Parrilla, keeping to his game plan and grinding
out the 11-8 tiebreaker win. This isn’t necessarily Lalo’s best ever win (he
beat Carson in Arizona in 2019) or his best result (he made the final of the
2020 Lewis Drug) but it was the kind of match he won when he wasn’t necessarily
favored to win, and he did it by just out playing and out thinking his
– #7 Moscoso got another win over #2 Carson
in an IRT event (the third in as many pro meetings), but really had to dig deep
to do so. Carson controlled game one, but Moscoso ground back in game two
before racing to the 11-4 breaker win. Kane and Sudsy were on the mike for the
first part of this match and put on a broadcasting clinic, with some of the
best in-match analysis you’ll ever see. It is worth a re-listen to the
In the Semis
– #1 Landa seemed to show some of the
effects of the layoff and lots of play on Saturday, looking tired throughout
the match. He was pressed continually by the Canadian #1, who put on an
absolute clinic on defensive racquetball and athletic prowess diving around the
court and showing amazing agility for a big man. Murray saved match point
against and ran off a couple points for victory on the back of a couple of
pretty amazing kill shots from the back court. This was one of those matches
you wished was still win by two, because there was little separating these two
players on the day. Murray advances to just his second ever pro final, first
since Sept 2018 with the 11-10 thriller.
– #7 Moscoso advanced to the finals over #6
Portillo, but Lalo continued to show his maturation as a player, bouncing back
from an embarrassing first game 15-2 shellacking to take a game from one of the
world’s best players before falling quickly in the breaker. Moscoso advances to
his 3rd major final in just 10 career tournaments and is in a great spot to
take another title.
So, just to note the pathway for the two
– Murray has beaten Mar, DLR and Landa to
– Moscoso has beaten Mercado, Carson and
Murray in particular really having a great
In the Finals…
Murray controlled game one easily, playing
smart racquetball and exposing Moscoso’s go-for-broke style. Conrrado came back
in game two, getting on a hot streak to push to a breaker. In the tie-breaker,
Murray continued to grind out points, playing smart racquetball and
counter-punching against Moscoso’s shots. Momentum seemed to swing against
Murray as Moscoso ran off four straight towards the end … but Murray
stiffened up, played smart racquetball, mixed in a few highlight-reel 39 foot
roll outs of his own to match the flashier Moscoso, then ended the match with a
diving re-kill roll-out to take his first ever IRT title.
Murray played lights out all weekend, and
more than earned this title.
Points Implications of results
Well, we’re not entirely sure what the
points implication of this event will be, because we’re not sure what the tour
will do yet with the rankings points The points have been frozen since March,
but just turning the system back on and expiring 9 months of points will have a
pretty radical effect on the rankings.
There’s talk of changing the points system
as a result, to go away from a rolling 12-month calendar for the time being to
something based on the last 10 tourneys, or perhaps the last two years of
events. There’s also talk of moving to a calendar year system versus a rolling
IF (and this is a big if) we were to stick
with rolling 12-months and just expire the points dating to the end of 2019 …
then these are some of the big-time moves we’ll see in the rankings:
– DLR jumps to #2
– Finalists Murray and Moscoso jump to #3
and #4 respectively.
– Landa drops to #5
– Mercado jumps to #7
– Estrada, amazingly, jumps from #23 to #8
– Parrilla gets dropped to #9
– Manilla, also surprisingly , jumps from
#21 to #10.
– Beltran drops all the way to #11
– And lastly, most amazingly, Carson would
drop from #3 all the way to #15. That’s right; Rocky, a player who has not been
outside the top 3 in 20 years or so, had such a badly timed run of results and
missed early 2020 events due to injury that he’d nearly be out of the top 16.
Take all this with a grain of salt, because
I sense the ranking system needs to be modified to protect against such radical
moves. Stay tuned.
The 14-team doubles draw provided a ton of
interesting results on the first night of competition, with a ton of really
surprising results. Here’s a walk through.
In the 16s:
– #3 seeds DLR and tournament sponsor Donald
Williams were handled by the local team of Zachary Patterson and Austin
Cunningham 14,3. I thought the presence of top doubles player DLR would get
them at least a round further, but they fall at the opener.
– #6 seeded Colombian’s Garay and Franco dug
deep to hold off the tough pair of Mexicans from Chihuahua Natera & Estrada
in two tight games 14,10. They’re setup for a good shot at the final.
– #10 seeds and new pairing Carter & Mar
really surprised me and blew past the all-Colombian team of Mercado and Herrera
6,5. Mercado is such a good doubles player, I thought this would have gone the
other way based on the inexperience of Carter+Mar pairing … but as they say,
this is why they play the games.
In the Quarters
– #1 Murray/Jake had to go breaker to top
the experienced Costa Rican pair of Acuna/Camacho.
– #4 Sudsy Monchik and Landa had a tense,
tight match against the Bolivian team of Moscoso/Carrasco, pulling it out in a
heated breaker where the American reps came back from 5-8 down in the breaker
to run the match out. At the death, a highly contested two-bounce call, several
debatable replays and then match point awarded via an avoidable when Monchik
had a setup in the middle of the court that hit a jumping Moscoso. It was an animated
finish to say the least.
– #3 Garay/Franco destroyed the Cinderella
local team of Patterson/Cunningham to move into the semis.
– #2 Parrilla/Portillo took a close 2-game
win 11,13 over Carter/Mar.
In the semis…
– The US national team of Monchik/Landa
stiffened up after a first game blowout loss to #1 seeded Murray/Jake and
eventually cruised to the tiebreaker 11-3 to move into the finals.
– The Colombian national team of
Franco/Garay held off match point in game two, then blew it out in the breaker
to move into the final over the #2 seeded all-Mexico team of Parrilla/Portillo.
In the final…
– Monchik & Landa had match point on
their racquets … twice, but the new Colombian pairing of Franco/Garay fought
back and forced the breaker. There. the US champs controlled throghout and
ground out the win. The tail end of game two was some of the best doubles play
i’ve ever seen, with all four players hitting amazing shots, and both teams
showing tactical adjustments on the fly to try to strategize their way to a
Men’s Open review; a 35-man open draw went
down, with a ton of top pro players dipping down into the draw and making for
some great matches.
In the final, Acuna topped Natera in a
breaker. Floridian vet
and Costa Rican newcomer Gabriel Garcia were
the semi finalists.
18U Junior draw review
The IRT is embarking on a new program to
highlight juniors, and Atlanta was their first foray into the program. A large
scholarship purse was devoted to the draw and they got a fantastic
multi-national 18U junior draw as a result.
The top two 18U players from Mexico advanced
to the final, with
players are entered into this draw, making it the biggest men’s pro draw since
the 2019 US Open, and the first time we’ve breached 40 pro player entrants
since the May 2019 Syosset Open in Long Island.
news for this event; #1 Kane Waselenchuk has bowed out of the event. Kane’s
place of residence (Texas) has been quite restrictive with gym openings, and
reportedly he has not seen an indoor racquetball court in 8 months. He doesn’t
even have outdoor courts nearby to practice on. But, he’ll be in Atlanta and
helping with the broadcast to support the event.
#5 Alvaro Beltran underwent gall bladder surgery on Monday and had to miss the event as well (he’s doing well though; just bad timing for this event). This really opens up the top side of the draw, and will make for a potentially wide-open event.
Other top-30 players missing from Atlanta (and the reasons for missing the event if known): 12. Rodrigo Montoya: visa issues 16. Sebastian Fernandez: taking a step back from touring with a new job with the family business. Also lives in California where court access is highly restricted. 18. Gerardo Franco: unknown 19. Carlos Keller Vargas: unknown 22. David Horn; no court access; reported on FB that he would not play in a pro event if he could not train. 24. Robert Collins; unknown but based in California where courts are closed. 28. Charlie Pratt; unknown but in Oregon where courts are closed.
event is a Grand Slam, which means the top players play from the round of 32
on. With 48 players, that’s just one qualifying round before the action starts.
preview the draw. Here’s some notable qualifying matches that I’m looking
the round of 64, I see several matches to keep an eye on:
#17 Alan Natera Chavez faces #48 Jordan Deeney: Natera misses out on the last unprotected top seed and gets one extra match for his troubles, against the lowest-seeded entrant in Deeney. Natera is well traveled these past couple of weeks; he was just in Chile to celebrate his marriage to LPRT touring pro Carla Muñoz Montesinos. Congrats to both.
Scott McClellan takes on #44 Timmy Hansen, son of the USAR hall of famer Tim
Hansen and up-and-coming junior.
takes on #43 Pedro Castro in a battle of seasoned international vets. The
Bolivian is favored over the Canadian (who hails from Chile), but it is great
to see Castro traveling to and playing in a pro event again.
on #39 Matt Fontana in a battle of seasoned top Florida players. We haven’t
seen Fontana in a pro event in nearly 5 years.
the 32s: here’s notable matches from my projected round of 32s.
Javier Estrada vs #17 Natera: a brutal match between two good friends who are
familiar with each other from many regional tournaments in Mexico, and who
happen to be playing doubles with each other this event. This probably is the
match of the 32s. Natera beat Estrada en route to the San Antonio IRT Tier 4 title
in 2019, their last known meeting. Natera is perpetually underrated and
under-seeded and I like him here as an upset, unless he’s too jet-lagged from
his weekend wedding trip to Santiago.
these two familiar foes used to face off frequently when both lived in the
Washington DC area. They met in the 2019-20 season opener in Zelada’s home
Laurel courts and it went breaker. Mercado will have to play solid to avoid the
Natera/Estrada winner; for his troubles of being elevated to the #1 seed, Landa
faces a very dangerous opponent in either Natera or Estrada. Both are capable
of putting an early loss on the top seed, who can sometimes be a slow starter
in early round matches.
Murray gets the early match up against the dangerous Mar, and I see Mar
advancing into the quarters. Mar was a late addition to the event, and an
unwelcome one at that, since he makes waves nearly every time he enters a pro
Daniel De La Rosa vs #13 Eduardo Garay Rodriguez; I’m a Garay fan, but DLR has
controlled him on the court in the past and should move on here.
Acuna/Bredenbeck winner: This will be a great test to see where Parrilla’s game
is. Parrilla’s last few months before the shutdown were rough, with lots of
early losses. Acuna is a solid player who doesn’t make mistakes and makes you
Mercado: a tricky opener for Moscoso, who is a dark-horse favorite here but who
has struggled against the Bolivian turned Colombian Mercado in the past.
Rocky Carson vs Manilla/Camacho winner: a winnable opener for Carson, who has
struggled with court time in Southern California and may be a bit rusty this
event. He’ll have a chance to play himself into tournament shape here.
Landa over #8 Jake: Landa has dominated the head to head over his former WRT
rival, having never taken a loss in a top-level event.
DLR over #12 Mar; a really tough match-up that could go either way, and two
guys who play a really similar game. But, DLR plays the control game just a bit
better and should move on.
Parrilla over #6 Portillo; doubles partners are projected to face off against
each other; Parrilla gains confidence early on and beats his younger countryman
Moscoso over #2 Carson: Moscoso has two wins already over Rocky, and makes it a
third. Rocky’s rustiness shows on the court and Conrrado moves on.
Landa over #4 DLR: they’ve played quite often, and Landa has come to dominate
their H2Hs lately … DLR hasn’t topped Landa since the 2017 Lewis Drug in a
Tier 1 event, but beat him a few months ago on these same courts in a Tier 4
event. Their matches are always close. Another good test to see where DLR’s
game is these days; he ended the 2019-20 season on such a high note. I’ll go
with the historical trend of Landa’s dominance, as opposed to the recentcy bias
of DLR’s last on the court win.
Moscoso over #3 Parrilla, though Parrilla beat him easily in California in Nov
2019, Moscoso has the higher ceiling right now and will be looking to add
another Grand Slam win to his list of titles.
Moscoso over #1 Landa. He beat Landa the last time they played, and something
tells me Moscoso sees the grand slam and sees a pathway to the title without
Kane in the draw and will not be stopped.
IRT doubles event should be intriguing as we have some unexpected teams thanks
to last minute withdrawals.
Beltran’s absence has DLR playing with tournament sponsor Donald Williams as
the #3 seed.
both of whom skipped out of the pro singles draw here curiously.
match of the opening round will be Estrada/Natera vs Garay/Franco. In the
quarters, I look forward to a Landa/Monchik battle against the Bolivian pair of
the 14-team draw coming down to the US national team from the top Landa/Monchik
and the increasingly successful Parrilla/Portillo partnership from the bottom,
with the veterans coming out on top.
a solid Men’s Open draw, plus a new featured Junior 18U draw that will be
showcased on the live stream throughout the weekend.
After by the finish of WOR – World Outdoor Racquetball]’s 3Wall Ball] tournament, there was a great conversation in the Keep Racquetball Great forum (which was founded by outdoor enthusiast Norm McNutt and which has a heavy outdoor racquetball focus) about whether anyone has won the “Triple Crown” of the three major outdoor events. Florida outdoor player and big event sponsor Jeff Wright posted all the winners of all the events going back to start the discussions.
Well, I thought that was a great report idea. So I created it. I also put in placeholders for all the winners of the pro events to make the report work, leveraging Wright’s work and backfilling from R2 Sports App as needed.
Outdoor Nationals is the original “major,” having started in 1974. Vic Leibofsky‘s Beach Bash started in 2007, following on from a huge Scott Hirsch-run event on the same courts in 2004, and of course MC Vegas has spearheaded the 3WallBall event that has run in Las Vegas since 2010. So the triple crown report starts in 2007 to show the winners of all the events alongside each other to the best extent possible.
So here they are. The Outdoor “Triple Crown Reports.”
The grand-daddy event of them all has never seen a player take all three titles. Rocky Carson did five “doubles” winning both Outdoor Nats and Vegas, and missed out on a 6th in 2013 when the Vegas final was cancelled due to wind. The dominance of Robert Sostre on one-wall in Florida has made it hard for others to break through. Best chance of a triple-crown winner going forward probably is Nick Montalbano, who has made the Beach Bash finals and has a 3-wall singles win, but he is not known for traveling to the California event.
Future outdoor hall of famer Janel Tisinger-Ledkins is the only person to hold a singles “Triple Crown,” having won the singles titles in all three events in 2016. Rhonda Rajsich has a double, having won Beach Bash one-wall and outdoor nats 3-wall in the same 2015 season. The women’s singles event has been lagging at Marina Park the last few years, making it hard to see a pathway forward for any one to make a new run at the crown. Hollie Scott might be my choice to do this in the future, having shown her quals on the one-wall and being young enough to have years of competition in her future.
Doubles technically have four “majors” each year, since Vegas now offers both one-wall and three-wall. All four of these events are shown in the doubles reports below:
We’ve had some men win the “double,” meaning two of the majors in a year: – Rocky Carson in 2014 won Outdoor Nats and Vegas 3-wall. – Daniel De La Rosa and Alvaro Beltran did the same double in 2019 as a team. – Beltran also did the California/Vegas double in 2011 with two different partners. – Robert Sostre did an interesting double in 2016, winning both doubles competitions in Vegas in the same year. – Joe Young did the double in 2015, winning both Beach Bash and Outdoor Nationals, quite an achievement.
Again, Tisinger did the triple crown in 2016 (the same year she won all three singles titles). That’s a hell of a year. Six major outdoor titles in one season.
Meanwhile, Michelle De La Rosa has done the triple crown twice; in 2014 and 2015. Players who have done the double: – Carla Muñoz Montesinos took Outdoor Nats and Vegas 3-wall in 2019 – Anita Maldonado won both 1-wall majors in 2019 as well. – Rajsich did the double in 2014 along with mDLR – Jasmine Suarez took both 1-wall majors in 2013 – Aimee Roehler Ruiz did the double with Tisinger in 2016 – Michbo Herbert did a unique double in 2018; winning one-wall Beach bash as well as Vegas 3-wall.
The DLR husband/wife team pulled off the triple in 2019. The pair also pulled off double wins in 2014, 2016 and 2017. All told, they have won 11 mixed double major titles together since 2014 and are an amazingly dominant team.
Players who have done doubles: – Rajsich and Rick Koll did the double at Vegas in 2018, winning the mixed 1-wall and 3-wall titles. – Sostre in 2013 – Ruiz did a one-wall major double in 2016, winning both Beach Bash and 1-wall Vegas. – Greg Solis did the double with Tisinger in 2011
Hope you enjoyed this as much as I did putting it together!
The round of 32 had some “upsets” by seed, but probably not by talent, as this tournament featured a ton of non-outdoor regulars with little in the way of outdoor ranking points.
In the 16s, we saw a number of top seeds fall. – #1 Daniel De La Rosa & Alvaro Beltran handled the Alex Landa / Sudsy Monchik team 13,8 to avoid their biggest tripping point on the way to the final. – Relative unknowns Cesar Chavez & Jeremy Mcglothin upset two top-10 seeds to advance to the quarters, taking out teams with veteran outdoor players such as Ignacio Espinal and Thomas Gerhardt. – Jake Bredenbeck and Brian Pineda played outstanding racquetball to take out two-time Outdoor National doubles champions and #5 seeds Rocky Carson and Jesus Ustarroz in a tie-breaker. Jake proved quite adept at translating his power game into outdoor success, while Pineda on the right hand side gave off a shot-making clinic to drive the upset. – The #4 team of Paddleball legend Emmett Coe and tourney host Rick Koll held serve and advanced past the veteran California-based doubles team of Tim Herman and Mike Myers. – IRT veteran Mario Mercado teamed with relative unknown Bolivian Marcello Vargas Aguilar to take out last year’s semi finalists and outdoor veteran #3 seeds Floridians Roy Hernandez and Marcos Gravier. The two Bolivian natives played solid ball and had great court coverage and could be a dark horse for more upsets. – #6 seeded outdoor veterans Brandon Davis and Alejandro Barcelo cruised into the quarters with ease. – Two IRT veteran indoor players (and college buddies) in Adam Manilla and Nick Riffel teamed up to oust WOR Hall of Famer Mike Peters and fellow Huntington Beach outdoor veteran Patrick Allin 12,8 to be shock quarter finalists. – Lastly, the big one. IRT #1 Kane Waselenchuk and his frequent indoor doubles partner Ben Croft took on the #2 seeded team of WOR hall of famer Robert Sostre and experienced indoor and outdoor pro David Horn. Lots of build-up to Kane’s appearance here, with outdoor specialists questioning whether the duo could adjust to the outdoor game, while indoor fans questioning why anyone would predict that Kane would lose, anywhere.
Game one was a shock to the system: Sostre could not miss and Croft/Kane looked like the outdoor novices that they are, and the #2 seeds won 15-2. With Michelle De La Rosa and Sudsy on the mike for streaming, they watched as Kane literally learned how to play outdoor throughout game 2, suddenly working the angles and hitting the kinds of outdoor-only shots that would be anathema indoors. What looked like it was going to be a two game blowout suddenly went to the tie-breaker. There, the novices picked on Sostre while serving, forcing him to hit backhands and forcing the #2 seeds to change tactics, but to no avail. The newbies cruised to an 11-4 tiebreaker win and put a shot across the bows of the outdoor world.
In the Quarters, a couple of shock results: – #1 seeds DLR and Beltran made quick work of the upstart Chavez/McGlothin team 2,3. – Despite downing the #5 team in the 16s, one of the two of Bredenbeck/Pineda failed to report in time for their quarter final match and the #4 team of Coe/Koll was given a walkover into the semis. The reported reason? “Too much Las Vegas.” – The #6 team of Davis/Barcelo blitzed the all-Bolivian team of Vargas/Marcello in game one, then had to mount a furious comeback to take game two and advance 1,14. The second game featured great shot-making from both sides, with the prowess of Davis in particular proving the difference. – Croft & Kane made quick work of two fellow IRT touring pros relatively new to outdoor in Manilla & Riffel to move on.
The semis featured two fantastic matchups: – The top half featured two teams of outdoor veterans in the #1 vs #4 matchup. – The bottom semi featured two of the best outdoor specialists out there in Davis/Barcelo versus perhaps the best current doubles team in the world (indoor or outdoor) in Kane/Croft. One team had to budge; which would it be?
In the end, both matches were anti-climactic, with the #1 seeds winning 3,5 and the Kane/Croft team blitzing to a 3,7 win to setup the final that everyone wanted.
In the final, the sport and all the neutrals got the match they wanted, and they were not disappointed. Kane/Croft won a back and forth first game that could have gone either way, then DLR/Beltran pulled away with consistency and by working the left side of the court. In the breaker they continued their dominance, running out to a 10-5 lead before a fantastic shot from the champ extended the match. Kane & Ben pulled back a couple more points, but an error on a service return sealed the win for the #1 seeds. DLR/Beltran defeat Waselenchuk/Croft (12),9,8 to repeat as champions.
But nobody is walking away from this tournament without recognizing just how well Kane and Croft played to get to the final. Here’s hoping this is just the latest chapter in these two teams’ rivalry, indoor or out.
The time has come for the event we’ve been talking about for months now. The largest event of 2020; its the 11th annual 3WallBall event on the grounds of the STRAT hotel in Las Vegas.
600 players among three racquet sport disciplines are signed up, with play set to start Thursday Morning. More than 330 racquetball players are entered,
I’m bummed; I have been planning on attending for months but had to pull out of traveling last minute, so i’ll be listening in on the streams all weekend with the rest of you.
This is set to be quite the unique event; a number of top touring pros on both the Men’s and Women’s side are set to make their outdoor debuts, which will make for a highly entertaining draw and fantastic matches all weekend.
Not all of these teams are back together this year, and the talent depth in all the draws should make it tough for repeats this year.
—————————— Lets preview the draws. 3-Wall Doubles first.
First up, the Mens Pro 3-wall doubles draw, which has had the most “buzz” associated with it thanks to the influx of top players from the IRT playing outdoor competitively for the first time ever. And what a draw we have. 23 teams that include 8 of the top 10 indoor players and a large slate of the best outdoor players in the world.
The big pre-tournament buzz was where to seed, in particular, #1 player in the world Kane Waselenchuk and his regular doubles partner Ben Croft, neither of whom have a ton of outdoor experience. True to form, WOR has stayed true to their own ranking system and gave the two (along with the Alex Landa / Sudsy Monchik pairing) bottom seeds, which will make for some pretty interesting round of 16 matches.
here’s some matches to watch for in the 32s – #21 Jake Bredenbeck / Brian Pineda vs #12 Sergio Rivera/ Dylan Pruitt ; shoutout to some of my DC-area local players, who go up against the basher in Jake and a long-time outdoor aficionado in Pineda. – #13 Wayne Antone Racquetball / Andree Parrilla vs #20 Tim Hermann / Mike Myers: an interesting match-up between a long-time doubles partnership in Herman/Myers and the two up and coming players in Antone/Parrilla, who have little experience playing with each other. How much does outdoor experience and team chemistry play into a match-up? Look for the upset here. – Long-time buds and IRT touring regulars Adam Manilla and Nick Riffel team up to take on #10 MoMo Zelada and Danny Lavely in what could be a tight opener.
– And of course, the Kane/Croft and Sudsy/Landa openers, both of which are happening later in the afternoon Thursday.
Projected 16s; and we have some doozies. We’re highlighting three potential match-ups in particular:
– #1 Daniel De La Rosa / Alvaro Beltran versus #17 Landa/Monchik. Well, the defending champs get a test right out of the gate. I’d have rather seen this match-up in the quarters, but I think DLR/Beltran move on. – #5 Rocky Carson / Jesus Ustarroz, who have two Outdoor national titles playing together, return to action as a pairing and likely face off against the Jake/Pineda pairing. – #2 Robert Sostre and David ” Bobby” Horn projected to face the King Kane/Croft partnership. What a match, and what a bummer for the #2 seeds right out of the gate. The hall of famer Sostre is better known for his one-wall prowess, but he’s accomplished in all outdoor disciplines as well. Look for this to be tight, but for Kane/Croft to move on.
Projected Quarters: they could be awesome – #1 DLR/Beltran over #8 Gerhardt / Jordan Walters – #5 Carson/Jay over #4 Emmett Coe / Rick Koll ; this is a tough one, featuring four accomplished outdoor players and a player in Koll who is frequently in the semis and finals of pro draws in these major outdoor tournaments. – #3 Marcos Gravier / Roy Hernandez over #6 Brandon Davis / Alejandro Barcelo . This is a great match-up of outdoor specialists who may not be well known names to the “indoor racquetball” fan, but who are all among the best of their trade in the outdoor game. I like the top Florida pair to move on here, topping a team that includes one of the best up and coming outdoor singles players out there in Davis. – #15 Kane/Croft over #7 Mike Peters / Patrick Allin ; the hall of famer Peters will certainly make this an entertaining match to watch for the neutrals, but the firepower of Kane/Croft should persevere.
My semis: – #1 DLR/Beltran over #5 Carson/Ustarroz; this was the outdoor nationals final in both 2016 and 2017, but the #1 team has stepped up their game and has proved to be very difficult to beat, indoors or outdoors. I think the #1 team moves on to the final. – #15 Kane/Croft over #3 Gravier/Hernandez: if there’s a spot where the indoor specialists get tripped up, its here. It will not be a surprise to any outdoor player if the talented Florida duo shock the world here. That being said, I don’t think Kane is to be stopped and the pair will have worked out all the outdoor adjustments they need by this point.
Finals: DLR/Beltran over Kane/Croft; this is the match-up everyone wants to see, and I’m glad it doesn’t happen til the final. It would be a fitting final for this event, for the size of it and for the buzz. These two teams have faced off in multiple major events: this was the 2017 US Open final (what many call the best ever racquetball match), the 2018 World Doubles final, the 2018 US Open final, and the 2019 US Open final. DLR and Beltran took the 2018 final in dominant fashion but have otherwise fallen to Kane/Croft.
Not this time; their outdoor experience leads them to a win over Kane/Croft in a fantastic match.
—————————— Women’s 3-wall doubles preview
There’s 7 teams here, and a possible draw change for the #2 seeds, which list Rhonda Rajsich and Samantha Salas Solis playing together. Salas recently underwent shoulder surgery and is not attending, so its hard to predict out this draw. Is Rhonda replacing her partner? Or is there to be a forfeit?
All 7 teams are filled with top LPRT players and there should be great competition all around.
I like the #3 seeds Paola Longoria and Janel Tisinger-Ledkins, returning to competition after a forced layoff, to advance to the final irrespective of who Rhonda might pickup as a partner, set to face the #1 seeds and defending champs Carla Muñoz Montesinos and Michelle De La Rosa.
In what should be a fantastic final, the four players (two of whom are basically outdoor specialists) should put on a great display of talent. In the end, I like Longoria/Tisinger to take the crown.
—————————— Mixed 3-wall doubles preview
A robust 15-team Mixed draw should make for amazing watching, especially in the top half of the draw, which is stacked.
Here’s some round of 16 matches to watch for: – #13 Landa/ Kelani Lawrence take on #4 Gerhardt/ Aime Brewer in a match filled with players with Virginia connections. Its an interesting pairing for Landa and it should be interesting to see how this match goes, especially given that both Gerhardt and Brewer are huge outdoor specialists.
– #3 Sostre/Munoz take on #14 brother/sister combo Andree and jessica Parrilla: i cannot say that i’ve seen these two play before as a team; how well will they play together? They face off against an incredibly accomplished duo in Sostre/Munoz; a great match.
Projected qtrs: – #1 and defending champs DLR/DLR possibly take on Jake Bredenbeck and Hollie Scott – #12 Alvaro Beltran playing with Longoria likely set to take on Landa/Lawrence in a great matchup of regular pros. – #3 Sostre/Munoz vs #6 Tisinger/ Majeed Shahin; an excellent display of outdoor play, with one of the best females ever to play outdoor in Tisinger against the hall of famer Sostre. – #2 Rajsich and Soda Man taking on the winners of a fascinating play-in involving two all South American teams.
My semis: – DLRs over Beltran/Longoria; but expect it to go the distance. – Sostre/Munoz over Rajsich/Koll
Final: DLRs repeat.
—————————— Lets run through the one-wall doubles events.
Men’s One-wall doubles Pro has 9 teams, head lined by the Sostre/Rolon team that will be hard to beat. But look for an interesting dark horse team in Jose Diaz and David Horn in the upper bracket looking to make noise. On the bottom side of the draw look out for one-wall florida outdoor specialist Ignacio Espinal and his partner Servando Daniels to make the final. I like Sostre and Rolon to repeat.
There isn’t an official One-Wall “pro” division for Women, but there is a good 3-team RR to determine the title. Look for Virginia outdoor player Aime Brewer, teamed up with Kelly Gremley to take the title as the #1 seeds.
Mixed One-Wall doubles: 6 teams here; i like the #2 seeds of defending ch amp Munuz teamed with one-wall specialist Rolon to top the Rajsich/Koll team in the final.
——————————— Lets look at the 3-wall Singles draws:
On the Men’s side: a 13-man draw is set to play out that will guarantee a new champ, as both of last year’s finalists are missing. #1 seed William Rolon projects to have a tough quarter final match against IRT tour regular Adam Manilla, and #2 seed Thomas Gerhardt will be the unlucky quarter finals opponent of #4 ranked touring IRT pro Andree Parrilla.
There’s also a slew of solid outdoor-capable players in this draw from all over the country who could make noise. Derek Izzi, Nick Riffel, Dan Lavely and Majeed Shahin all are threats to make the semis. A last minute withdrawal of the unknown #3 seed gives the dark horse outdoor specialist Marco Antonio Mijares a bye into the quarters and a clean path to the semis.
I’m predicting Rolon advances to the final, Parrilla upsets Gerhardt and also advances to the final, but Rolon takes the title.
On the Women’s side, four top LPRT touring pros are entered and should all advance to make for some great semi final action. #1 seed and defending champ Rhonda Rajsich should advance over #4 munoz, while in the bottom half world #1 Longoria returns to outdoor for the first time in years and should advance past #2 seed Jessica Parrilla.
In the final, I’ll favor Longoria over the outdoor legend Rajsich, despite Rhonda’s experience. Longoria is no stranger to outdoor and will play away any sense of rust in the discipline by the time she reaches the final.
——————————— Phew! that might be the longest preview i’ve ever written.
——————————— Look for Streaming in the regular places; both the LPRT and the IRT are streaming. Follow both organizations on facebook and sign up to get notifications when they go Live.
Look for Dean DeAngelo Baer, Favio Soto, Pablo Fajre and the IRTLive crew all weekend on the mike streaming one court, and look for Timothy Baghurst, JP Edwards and Tj Baumbaugh on the mike, calling the shots!
International Racquetball Tour LPRT International Racquetball Federation – IRF Pan American Racquetball Confederation – PARC UnitedHealthcare US OPEN Racquetball Championships WOR – World Outdoor Racquetball USA Racquetball Racquetball Canada Federación Mexicana de Raquetbol RKT Federación Boliviana De Raquetbol – Febora Federación Boliviana de Racquetball Racquetball Colombia Federacion Colombiana de Racquetball Federación Costarricense de Racquetball Asociación Argentina de Racquetball Federación Chilena Racquetball Racquetball Rancagua, Chile Jugadores Racquetbol Guatemala Ferac Racquet Federación Ecuatoriana de Racquetball – FERAC India racquetball Reaching Your Dream Foundation FormulaFlow Beastmade Clothing Rollout Racquetball Warehouse Splatit
Congrats to your winners on the weekend: – Singles: Daniel De La Rosa – Doubles; Eduardo Garay/Juan Pablo Rodriguez
R2 Sports App home page for event: https://www.r2sports.com/website/event-website.asp?TID=31746
Lets review the notable matches in the Singles draw.(reminder: this was not a Tier1, therefore there’s no results in the PRS database).
In the 16s:- 7 of the top 8 seeds advanced, with the only “upset” being Austin Cunningham topping #8 Jim Douglas with a double donut. For the most part the traveling pros dominated local competition in their openers, with no tie-breakers and only a couple games that were competitive. This setup some great quarter final action.
In the Quarters- #1 Alex Landa cruised past #9 Cunningham 4,12. – #5 Eduardo Garay Rodriguez blitzed past his countryman #4 Mario Mercado 11,4 to advance. This seems like an important result, as Garay trails Mercado in the current IRT standings, but just supplanted him on the Colombian national team and seems set to make a rise up the standings when we get back into full time touring.- #3 Sebastian Franco was stretched to a breaker by the home-town favorite Maurice Miller before advancing 11-4.- #2 Daniel De La Rosa dropped the first game 14 before advancing in a breaker over the pesky #7 MoMo Zelada.
In the Semis- #1 Landa cruised past #5 Garay 4,11 to move to the final. Garay had to take the court immediately after a long doubles match and looked a bit winded in game one, then Landa held on as Garay settled in for game two.- #2 DLR dominated #3 Franco 7,7 to move into the finals.In the Finals, DLR dropped the first game 14 but rebounded to push it to a tiebreaker. In the breaker, he raced out to a commanding lead that Landa could not overcome and DLR gets the win over his long-time rival (14),11,4. Solid win for DLR, who stayed calm and stuck to his game plan to take out Landa. Both players played well, showing a bit of rust, but I liked DLR’s calm approach.
Doubles reviewThe 8-team Men’s doubles draw kicked off the festivities Friday night, and all four quarter final matches were close. The draw went chalk (with all four top seeds advancing), but three of the four top seeded teams needed a tie-breaker to advance. The #2 seeded team of DLR and tournament sponsor Donald Williams was pushed the hardest, dropping the first game 6 before rebounding to take the tiebreaker 11-9 over the all-Colombian team of Franco and their coach Francisco Fajardo.
In the semis:- the #4 team of Miller/Mercado surprised the #1 seeded team of Landa/Zelada. Mercado has always been a solid doubles player, and spurred on the run along side the home town favorite to push into the final. It was a surprising result, given Landa’s IRT pro doubles accomplishments as of late.- The #3 team of Colombians Garay and Juan Pablo Rodriguez eked past one of the top doubles player in the world in DLR, teamed with tournament sponsor Donald Williams 11-10 in the breaker. Rodriguez is an up and comer; he represented Colombia at the 2019 world Juniors in 14U, making the semis before losing to USA’s NIkhil Prasad. Rodriguez out-hit Williams on the forehand side, and the #2 seeded team’s tactics couldn’t push them past the Colombians in the end.
In the final, Rodriguez stepped up and helped his all-Colombian team outlast two seasoned IRT pros 13,8. Garay/Rodriguez take the title over Miller/Mercado.
Men’s Open, other drawsThe young Colombian Rodriguez had a heck of a tournament, winning Pro doubles, making the final of Pro Consolation/Men’s Open (where he lost to long-time top Floridian Andres Ramirez in a breaker), and also winning Elite Doubles with fellow top junior international Maricruz Ortiz.
Thanks for all the streaming on the weekend, especially from broadcasters Dean DeAngelo Baer and Pablo Fajre and the who streamed all weekend.——————
——– #21 Adam Manilla slipped slightly in the rankings from last season, but on a whole had a much better season this year than last. He made his first pro semi in Austin, where he played lights out all weekend, battling from the round of 64 and taking the first game from DLR in the semis before falling. He had several wins over top-10 players, and nearly took out Landa in Chicago (losing 11-10 in the 16s).
Off the court, Adam and his sister Erika Manilla have kicked off an online Racquetball training company Manilla Athletics . Give them a look-see and a follow.
—- #22 David ” Bobby” Horn took a significant step back from touring this year, and saw his ranking fall from #13 at the end of last season to #22 this season. He played in just four events and had decent results in all of them, generally playing top-8 players tough even in losses. We hope to see him back in action soon.
—- #23 Javier Estrada, one of Mexico’s best kept secrets, finally debuted on the IRT this season (his sole prior tier-1 appearance was as a teen-ager in 2010 when the tour visited his home town of Chihuahua). He played 5 events, made three main-draws and had a couple of solid wins over top-10 guys, but was not able to replicate the amazing tournament run he put up last summer at the Black Gold cup. He’s one to watch for, one who could really make a name for himself if he can play on tour like he plays at home.
— #24 Robert Collins took a slight step back on tour this year thanks to the influx of new players in the mid-teens. He made three main draws on the year but his season was marked by frequent difficult round of 32 matches.
—- #25 Alan Natera Chavez, like Estrada, was a relative unknown outside of Mexico until May, when he debuted in IRT Tier 1s for the first time. this season, he made one main draw in five events and had a solid win over #10 Bredenbeck in Austin. So far though on tour, he’s been unable to replicate his successes shown in past Mexican Nationals, where he had a string of upsets to make the semis in both 2018 and 2019.
——- #26 Felipe Camacho stepped back a bit from touring this year after four straight seasons of full time play. He still made 7 of the 10 events, advancing into the 16s in two of them. His best win of the season was probably at the Lewis Drug, where he downed Keller in the 32s and played Portillo tough in the 16s. The long-time Costa Rican international player continues to represent his country, losing in the 16s at the Pan American Games in August.
—– #27 Sam Bredenbeck, younger brother of #10 Jake, played seven of the ten events on the season and had some success. He qualified for the main draw in Portland by downing tour veteran Collins and had a number of other wins against tour regulars.
—- #28 Charles Pratt played just three events this year and wasn’t able to show the “part-time magic” that he’s shown in years past (when he made it to late stages of Tier 1s despite not being a regular touring player). This season he played the US Open, his home town event and the Lewis Drug, where he got his best result.
—— #29 Set Cubillos Ruiz played 7 of the 10 events despite being based in Colombia and facing a vigorous travel schedule. He got a solid win in Arizona to make the main draw; his best win of the season.
— #30 Scott McClellan improved his season-ending ranking despite his full time ref duties on tour. I hope he reads this snippet and reminds me that one of my takes on his reffing this past season was wrong 🙂
— #11 Sebastian Franco took a step back in the rankings after finishing the last four seasons in the top 10. He missed four of the events on the season, which makes it tough to maintain your seeding and ranking, prompting some observers to wonder if his days of full-time touring are over.
He started the season strong; making the semis of the first two events of the season, which got him as high as a #5 seed. But two round-of-32 losses (to Manilla and Estrada) conspired to knock him out of the top10 by seasons’ end.
Franco may be at a career cross roads; he’s just turned 27, he’s a family man now with kids and may not be in a position to tour full time going forward. Plus, he’ll take a big hit in the rankings right out of the gate in the fall as he defends two semi-final appearances. He could see his ranking crash into the mid teens quickly if he doesn’t start well next season
— #12 Rodrigo Montoya Solís took a step back in the rankings from last season, slipping to #12 at the end after being ranked inside the top 10 all year. Montoya remains an enigma on tour; clearly possessing the talent to be making the back end of tournaments week after week (he won the Pan American games in August with wins over three successive higher ranked top-10 players), but yet only made two quarter finals on the season.
He did have some match-up bad luck; losing in the 32s to his doubles partner Mar 11-9 at the US Open, and running into Kane and DLR twice to exit at early stages. No shame in that. He also had a relatively dominant win over Moscoso in Wisconsin. But Montoya needs more consistency against the players in his 10-14 range (Mercado, Franco, Portillo, etc) to claw back into the top 8 conversation.
He also crashed out of Mexican Nationals way early, just a few months after winning gold in Peru, though he and Mar did hold onto the Mexican doubles title (ensuring a return trip to the next IRF event).
—- #13 Mario Mercado slipped to 13th after four seasons in the top 10. Mercado opted to skip two west-coast tourneys (he’s based on the east coast), and suffered three round-of-32 upsets on the season (to Fernandez, Pratt and Martell, one of which was at the US Open), and the sum of these events conspired to drive his ranking down. He did have a great run to the final in Sun Prairie, just his second ever pro final.
Mercado’s well set to regain his ranking if he can get back on track making 16s and quarters again, replacing round of 32 losses with solid point gains.
—– #14 Thomas Carter improved his season ending ranking for the fourth straight season on the backs of solid play and navigating his way into the main draws of pro events frequently. He had his best ever pro finish, upsetting Beltran and making the quarters in Portland. He also had solid wins over Diaz at the US Open and over Estrada at the Lou Bradley.
—— #15 Javier Mar played nearly as many events this season (6) as he had in 5 combined previous seasons (7) and he finishes 15th for his trouble. Despite my believing he’s one of the top 6-7 players in the world, he struggled to put together solid runs into the later stages of events.
He had two round of 32 losses he’d probably like back (to Fernandez and Manilla), but also made a run to the quarters at the US Open as the #24 seed. Three of his season losses were to Kane and Moscoso, no shame there. Next season he’ll hope to avoid the royalty of racquetball until later rounds.
—– #16 Sebastian Fernandez managed to play 7 of the 10 events on the season while balancing the tour and college, and makes a big jump in the rankings from #25 last year.
Patata made a huge run to the US Open quarters as the #23 seed. But he also struggled with his seeding running him right into top players week after week; he had round of 16 exists to Kane, Landa and Rocky this season. He should continue to improve and is a dangerous up and coming player.
—– #17 Eduardo Garay Rodriguez squeaked into the #17 spot by season’s end, improving from #28 last season. He played a number of tough round of 32 matches all year and was generally successful in making the main draw (qualifying 5 of 7 events). Once there, he usually played the top-8 seeds tough, with many of his losses on the year coming by tie-breaker. His big win on the season was a win over Landa in Austin, resulting in his first ever pro quarter reached.
Garay has re-classified his nationality, now representing Colombia. Which means he has a greater chance of playing IRF events going forward with a talent pool competing for the spots a bit thinner than in Mexico.
—— #18 Gerardo Franco Gonzalez had a much better season in 2019-20 than the one before, making the main draw in 6 of the 8 events and pushing into the quarters once, but saw his season-ending ranking slip a couple of spots from last year. He had some really solid wins on the season, didn’t have any “bad” losses, and played to his seeding nearly every event. He needs some more break through wins in 2020-21.
—- #19 Carlos Keller Vargas, after playing just 5 previous pro events in his life, committed to traveling from Bolivia and playing the tour full time this season. He started the season ranked #29 and ground his way into the top 20 by season’s end. He qualified for the main draw in 7 of the 9 events he played and faced off against 6 of the top 8 players on tour in various round of 16 matches. His biggest win of the year was an upset of #7 Murray at the US Open.
—— #20 Andres Acuña had a very solid season, playing 8 of the 10 events and making his first pro quarter when he downed Parrilla in Laurel early in the season. By season’s end he found himself in the dreaded 16/17 seed range, which made for really tough round-of-32 match-ups and a couple of early exits. The Costa Rican #1 finishes one spot higher than he did last year, a testament to just how much talent is pouring into the tour right now.