Hello Racquetball fans! There’s an IRT Tier-5 event happening this weekend; the 2021 Warhawk Open, so named because Warhawks are the mascot of the host facility, the University of Louisiana at Monroe (ULM). Nearly 70 players have entered this event, the lions share from Louisiana and Texas, and represent a good chunk of the top players from the South West. The Pro Singles draw includes no less than 24 players and play gets started first thing friday morning.
PRS note/reminder: we do not enter non-Tier1s into the database. This review is as a fan of the sport craving live racquetball action
Notable round of 32 and 16 matches: honestly I don’t know the local players well enough to make predictions. I do see some familiar names though in the play ins and look forward to seeing if they can advance. Good luck to frequent and vocal racquetball fans like Parker Ewing, Bryan Satawa, Steve Semones, Lance Hale, Ray Flowers, and the like.
The 8/9 and especially the 7/10 round of 16s look tough, with #7 Sam Hojat projected to take on #10 Kipp Atwell if seeds hold early.
If the top seeds hold, here’s what your quarters would look like: – #1 Robert Collins v #8 Daniel Diaz; Collins is a long-time touring vet from Hawaii/NorCal who has been touring full time since 2013. Diaz is a wildcard; he played the Atlanta Tier1 earlier this year and lost two close matches to a couple of touring vets. He was the 2019 Texas state singles champ and could give Collins some grief, but I think Collins advances. – #5 Bob Jackson has been playing top-level Racquetball for 25+ years: he was qualifying into main draws in the mid 1990s. He is projected to play Texan #4 Zach Williams, who ran to the final of this event last year and should be favored to move on here. – #3 Destry Everhart is Alabama’s #1 player and has a ton of solid wins on his resume; he might face a tough round of 16 against top veteran Texan Lance Hale. In the quarter’s he’s set to face #6 Brennen Jennings, who has won the last few Texas shootouts he’s entered. This could be an upset pick by seed. – #2 Maurice Miller, this event’s defending champ, projects to take on the Hojat/Atwell winner here for a spot in the semis.
Projected Semis: – #1 Collins v #4 Williams: I think i like the veteran lefty to move on here. – #2 Miller v #6 Jennings: I don’t think Miller is losing at this juncture.
Finals; #2 Miller defends his title over #1 Collins.
14 teams entered, including a ton of players who aren’t in the singles pro draw. I like the #1 seeded team of Diaz/Jennings to advance to the semis. There they are set to face #4 seeds but defending champs Miller & Miller for a barn burner.
At the bottom, #2 seed Magana/Williams made the final last year and are favorites to get there again, though doubles teams with tough players like Collins and Richard Eisemann are in their side of the draw.
Look for the Millers to repeat and give Maurice the double.
I’m sure there will be streaming this weekend; Plenty of the participants are regular/frequent participants of the Racquetball facebook groups.
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