Congrats to Joe Kelley for winning on home turf and taking the first annual Average Joe’s Invitational at the Kelley house in Montague, NJ.
15 players representing 6 states (NY, NJ, MD, CT, NC and GA) came to the home of Joe and Sam Kelley, who recently completed construction on a court adjacent to their home. The facility is great, the play was great, and the streaming was constant all weekend.
Play kicked off Friday night with the round of 16, then played out the full draw by Saturday evening; here’s how things went
In the 16s: – #1 Seed Brent Walters got a bye in the 16s and did a lot of reffing and streaming as a result. – #9 Dylan Pruitt (who is NOT left handed, inside joke from my 3WallBall writeups last fall) topped Greg Caruso.8,8. – #5 Joe Kelley topped Tony Prater 6,4 – #13 David Austin provided the biggest shock result of the round, crushing #4 Jon Justice 1,8 to move on. – #3 Austin Cunningham topped #14 Josh Shea in a tight match 10,12. Shea is playing in his age 16 season and really hung well with the more experienced Cunningham. – #6 Sam Kelley topped Aaron Dardini in two quick games 1,8. – #7 Jose Dino Flores used his quick, compact swing and his agility to take out #10 lefty Jordan Walters in two games 9,6 – #2 Jason Sylvester beat Matt Mertz in two quick games 7,0.
In the Quarters: – #9 Pruitt, recently graduated out of Juniors, played really solid ball to upset the #1 seed Walters and shake up the draw. Walters took the first game, but Pruitt battled back and dominated in the tiebreaker. final score (11),8,4 – #5 Kelley went tiebreaker against his frequent Jersey rival Austin, winning out in the battle of lefties to advance (13),4,6 – #3 Cunningham topped Sam Kelley in a breaker, splitting the first two games before advancing in the breaker. Final score (8),8,4 – #2 Sylvester edged out Flores in a battle between two long-time New England state level rivals. The two went 14-15, 15-14 in the first two games, with Sylvester saving match point against, before running away in the breaker 11-2. Not much between these two tough players on the day.
In the Semis: – #5 Kelley dropped the first game 15-14 against the youngster from Maryland before rebounding to take game two 15-8. In the breaker, Pruitt ran off 5 quick points … and then hit a wall. Kelley ran off 11 unanswered points and took the breaker 11-5. – #3 Cunningham made quick work of Sylvester, perhaps winded from his Flores battle, winning in two games 6,8 and displaying great reflexes and a sneaky fast serve that netted him points. He took match point with a behind-the-back roll-out.
In the final, Kelley mounted a furious comeback to shock Cunningham in game one, then cruised to the title in game two. Final score 13,7 (or perhaps 13,6 as Cunningham believes he lost a point on a technical to a fussy ref in Brent Walters
Great event, great idea and it was awesome to watch from afar all day Saturday. Hope to see more live racquetball soon. Thanks to the participants and of course to the Kelley brothers for building this amazing court and hosting.
So, In case you weren’t aware, the Kelley brothers from New Jersey have built a racquetball court at their house, complete with viewing area, mini-clubhouse and had it christened by none other than the legend Cliff Swain.
This weekend they’ve invited 15 of the top open players from up and down the East Coast to their home for a single elimination tournament. The draw sheet is out (Austin Cunningham posted it on Keep Racquetball Great earlier today).
Here’s PRS’ predictions on how it will play out.
In the round of 16s. – #1 seed North Carolinian Brent Walters gets a bye, which is probably good since he’s the oldest player in the draw. He’ll need his energy come Saturday night. – In the #9/#8, I’ve got Maryland’s own Dylan Pruitt taking out New Jersey native #8 Greg Caruso in a slight upset. They played twice in mid 2019 and Pruitt beat him both times. – #5 and host Joe Kelley takes out #12 Connecticut-based Tony Prater in the opener. – #4 North Carolina’s Jon Justice takes out #13 Jersey native David Austin. – #3 Georgian Austin Cunningham takes out NY’s #14 Josh Shea. – #6 Fellow host @sam kelley handles New Yorker #11 Aaron Dardani. – #7 Connecticut native Jose Flores takes out #10 North Carolina native Jordan Walters in a tight match. – #2 New Yorker Jason Sylvester handles #15 Jersey native Matt Mertz.Just one upset by seeding in the 8/9, though the 7/10 could flip as well depending on how much Flores has been playing.
In the quarters we start to see some matches. – #1 Reigning NC state champ Walters handles the youngster Pruitt. – #4 2019 NC state runner up Justice takes out Joe Kelley. – #3 Cunningham drops a game, but advances over Sam Kelley, knocking both brothers/hosts out in the quarters. – #2 Sylvester goes tiebreaker but advances over long-time NE rival Flores.Chalk to the semis.
In the Semis: – Walters prevails over his NC rival Justice in the semis. – Cunningham takes out the veteran Sylvester.
In the final… – Walters takes out Cunningham.
Keep an eye out at KRG group and for Cunningham, Pruitt and Walters streaming the matches; they’re always good for it. They’ve already started streaming practice doubles matches this afternoon, and its great to see the guys back on the court.
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!
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