IRT 2019-20 Season Complete: Year End Rankings Analysis Part 2

Eduardo Garay makes a huge jump up the rankings this season. Photo US Open 2019 via Kevin Savory

In the first part of this season-end post we went through the players who finished ranked in the top 10.

In this part 2, we’ll go through players 11-20.

Here’s helpful links that I use for year-end analysis.

– 2019-20 year-end points in the system: http://rball.pro/B8C116

– Season Summary Report: http://rball.pro/8F437B
– Season Seed Report: http://rball.pro/553125
– Year End Ranking Matrix: http://rball.pro/E441EB


#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

See here http://rball.pro/00C54F for Franco’s season summary report.


#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).

see here http://rball.pro/3BCDBA for Montoya’s season summary report

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#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.

click here http://rball.pro/1291FB for Mario’s season summary report.

—–
#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.

click here http://rball.pro/602C12 for Carter’s season summary report

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#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.

Click here http://rball.pro/F3B934 for Mar’s season summary report.

—–
#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.

click here http://rball.pro/99839C for Fernandez’s season summary report.

—–
#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.

click here http://rball.pro/CB95CF for Garay season summary repot

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#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.

click here http://rball.pro/713B6F for GFranco’s season summary report.

—-
#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.

click here http://rball.pro/16387F for Keller’s season summary report.

——
#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.

click here http://rball.pro/224964 for Andres’ career summary report.

——
tags

International Racquetball Tour
International Racquetball Federation – IRF
Pan American Racquetball Confederation – PARC
UnitedHealthcare US OPEN Racquetball Championships
USA Racquetball
Racquetball Canada
Federación Mexicana de Raquetbol
Federación Boliviana De Raquetbol – Febora
Federación Boliviana de Racquetball
Racquetball Colombia
Federacion Colombiana de Racquetball
Federación Costarricense de Racquetball
Reaching Your Dream FoundationPRORACQUETBALLSTATS.COM

IRT 2019-20 Season Complete: Year End Rankings Analysis Part 1

Kane secures his 14th career pro title. Photo US Open 2019, Photographer Kevin Savory

The realities of the Covid-19 pandemic have come home for both pro tours at this point; the IRT, which held out hope that its last scheduled Tier 1 could be held in June has made the decision to officially end the season.

The rolling 12-month points for the players were frozen on 4/1/20 and remain frozen now; they’re now the season ending points. The tour made the decision not to penalize players with expiring points where there were no tournaments to play in which to make them up from Mid-March til now. Once the tour starts up again, we’ll see all the last few month’s of older points expire, making for an interesting start to next season. More on that in Aug/Sept.

With this post, the 2019-20 season ending rankings have been officially updated to the database. All relevant data has been loaded and all relevant links have been updated.

– 2019-20 year-end points in the system: http://rball.pro/B8C116
– Year End Pro titles list: https://www.proracquetballstats.com/irt/year_end_titles.html
– Running Tour Summary document updated (kind of an ongoing oral history document in bullet point format): https://www.proracquetballstats.com/…/year_end_summaries.ht…
– Number of overall titles: https://www.proracquetballstats.com/i…/number_of_titles.html

Meanwhile, here’s some of my favorite seasonal reports to run, and which i’ll draw heavily to write the rest of this post:

– Season Summary Report: http://rball.pro/8F437B
– Season Seed Report: http://rball.pro/553125
– Year End Ranking Matrix: http://rball.pro/E441EB

(the last one is a relatively new report; it shows all the current players and shows all their season ending rankings in one matrix; its pretty cool if you have not yet seen it).

—–

Congratulations to Kane Waselenchuk , who secures his 14th pro title in dominant fashion. He went 29-1 on the season (that one loss being a last-minute withdrawal in the season’s first event). Furthermore, he lost only one GAME on the season, that being a dropped game to Rocky in the Laurel final in September. Just eight times all season did his opponent even score double digits in a singular game against him. I’ve seen some speculation on FB about whether the tour is “catching up” to Kane Waselenchuk … i think its safe to say the answer is “No.”

He now holds a career .920 winning percentage and has won 123 of the 177 Tier 1 events he’s ever entered. In his age 38 season, he is as dominant as ever and shows no signs of slowing down.

See http://rball.pro/88FC92 for Kane’s match W/L record
See http://rball.pro/0AD532 for Kane’s Game W/L record
See http://rball.pro/67990A for Kane’s Career summary rpt
See http://rball.pro/9237E3 for Kane’s Player Profile page

—–

#2 Alex Landa ended a tumultuous season with a dominant lead over #3 Rocky in the standings, finishing #2 for his highest ever pro ranking. He secured his 4th career tourney win, made 3 other finals and 3 semis. It’s still kind of hard to believe he didn’t really tour full time until his age 29 season, when he suddenly rocketed up the rankings to hold his currently lofty status. Landa also switched country allegiances, won US National Doubles with partner Sudsy Monchik, and essentially guaranteed himself a spot on the US National singles team as well with his finals appearance in the national team singles qualifier in Tempe. Not a bad season.

See http://rball.pro/8B6B3D for Landa’s Career Summary report.

—-

#3 Rocky Carson was knocked from the #2 spot on tour for the first time in a decade, enduring a tough season where he underwent another knee operation. The rehab ended up costing him at least one missed event, and then he took another off in the midst of the 3-tourney midwest swing (a rarity for racquetball’s ironman). Two seasons ago, he made the semis or better in 8 of the 9 events; this year he got upset in the 16s or quarters five times as the tour has gained depth and he’s faced tough opposition earlier. He also got unlucky with early round match-ups: his round of 16 loss was to Moscoso at the US Open, and two of his quarters losses were to DLR, whose early season slide forced him into a lower seed than he is merited by his quality. That being said, Rocky’s in a great position to make a big run back up the board this coming fall and winter, as he won’t have many points to defend. Just making the semis or final at the US Open will be a huge points swing when it happens (or if it happens, as the US Open scheduling might be in flux). The #2 slot next season is shaping up to be a big dogfight.

see http://rball.pro/FCB94D for Rocky’s Career Summary report

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#4 Andree Parrilla edged #5 Beltran for the #4 spot by just a few points thanks to his performance at the season’s final event. Parrilla had lost the #4 ranking after holding it for much of the season, but made the semis in Chicago (perennially one of his favorite events) and ends the season #4 for the second year running.

How Parrilla got to #4 is pretty amazing; he endured a stretch in Jan/Feb where he was defeated in the 16s in three successive Tier 1 events and looked lost on the court. This is no disrespect to the players he lost to (in order Manilla, Mar and GFranco), each of whom are solid players and earned their wins. Parrilla also suffered a very early out in Mexican Nationals right afterwards, but rebounded to play strong in Chicago. He takes the #4 spot by just 40 ranking points (by way of comparison; you get 40 points for making the round of 32 in a tier 1) and trails Carson by less than 200 points for #3.

Here’s where things will get interesting next season: Parrilla has a chance to rocket up the rankings in the season’s second half, thanks to all these early round losses. If he turns three round of 16 losses into three semi final appearances? That’s a 400 point swing and may be enough to vault him to #3 or higher.

click here http://rball.pro/3C78A0 for Andree’s Career summary rpt.

—–
#5 Álvaro Beltrán as noted above gets edged for #4 and thus finishes ranked 5th for the third year running. More impressively, Beltran finishes his 21st straight year touring and he’s finished ranked 6th or better in 18 of those seasons (the other three being his debut season, and then two seasons impacted by a knee injury).

Beltran was able to navigate the landmines of up and coming players on tour all year, making the quarters or better in 9 of the 10 events he entered. He did not break into the semis once this year, the first time that’s happened since his injury season of 2009-10, But, he ends up edging his doubles partner DLR for #5 by the skin of his teeth, currently sitting just 15 points ahead of Daniel for #5.

In fact, just 212 points right now separate #3 Rocky from #6 DLR, meaning we will see some major jumbling when the tour kicks back up next season.

Beltran also qualified for the Mexican national team with DLR, losing a close singles final in February for the National title.

See here http://rball.pro/5D443D for Alvaro’s career summary rpt.

—–
#6 Daniel De La Rosa had a very interesting season, finishing 6th for the second successive season. To the outside observer, DLR may look like he’s fading; after all he was in the top 4 for five successive seasons leading into the 2018-19 season. But DLR’s season ended a heck of a lot stronger than it started.

He missed an event early, then was upset in the 16s in his “home” event in Arizona in October. He was knocked out in the quarters in both events in December and some thought he may be reconsidering touring altogether. But, he came back in January energized, making the final of the stacked Longhorn Open, winning the Lewis Drug, then winning Mexican Nationals. He lost a tough tiebreaker to Landa in the season’s last event, but the statement has been made. DLR will race up the standings with a strong start to the 2020-21 season, with fewer points to defend in the fall, and then will have to hold on next spring.

DLR continues to be a force on the outdoor scene too, winning the Men’s and Mixed Pro Doubles titles at both the 2019 Outdoor Nationals and the 2019 3WallBall Vegas event. DLR and Beltran continue to be arguably the top doubles team in the world, and DLR with wife Michelle De La Rosa are arguably the top mixed doubles team.

see http://rball.pro/A8C548 for DLR’s career summary report.

——
#7 Samuel Murray finished ranked 7th for the second consecutive season, having a very consistent season. He played to his seeding 6 times out of 10 events, losing in the quarters to higher-ranked opposition. He made two semis to offset two early-round upsets.

The Canadian #1 took both of his country’s qualifier events, securing his place on the national team once again. He also continues to be one of the top pro doubles players, playing most of the season with Landa.

see http://rball.pro/48CA0B for Murray’s career summary report.

——-
#8 Lalo Portillo rocketed up the rankings this season, finishing 8th on the season after being ranked 17th at season’s end last season. Touring full time for the first time, he qualified for the main draw 10 times out of 10, and got upset wins throughout the season to add a quarter, a semi and, at the Lewis Drug, making his first pro final. He lost that final to DLR 14,9, but his performance rewarded him with a 5th seed the next event.

Portillo has room to grow; once he got into the top 8, he suffered three straight one-and-dones at the hands of his immediate competition for the back end of the top 10 spots (SFranco, Montoya, Mercado), but held on to #8 in the end.

One last note; Portillo is easily winning the IRT’s unofficial off-season social media contest, frequently posting both serious and funny videos nearly daily. He’s a good follow if you havn’t already done so.

see http://rball.pro/24862F for Lalo’s career summary report.

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#9 Conrrado Moscoso committed to playing the tour in a significant fashion in the 2019-20 season, traveling up for long stretches of time from Bolivia to compete. He ended up playing in 6 of the 10 events and fared well.

He made the final of the sport’s biggest event, the US Open, playing a scintillating first game against Kane before losing in two He stayed in the country to compete the two following events, making a semi in Arizona and then losing to Parrilla in the quarters of Fullerton before returning to Bolivia. He came back for the 3-events-in-3-weeks stretch and got a lesson in the rigors of pro touring; he limped out of a quarter final against Kane, played well but lost to DLR in the semis in Sioux Falls, then got dominated in a one-and-done loss to long-time nemesis Montoya in Sun Prairie. He was ranked as high as 7th until he missed the final event, dropping him two slots to #9 where he ends the season.

The #9 seeding slot might be the worst one to have on tour; If everyone shows at an event he’ll have to play a qualifier, then beat a top 8 player in order to then match-up with Kane in a quarter. Its hard to earn points when you’re playing a major final quality match in the quarters. He’ll have his work cut out for him to move up next season; lets hope he can get the resources to play as much as we’d like to see him.

click here http://rball.pro/5E7B89 for Moscoso’s career summary report.

—–
#10 Jake Bredenbeck improves his year end ranking for the fourth successive season, and at season’s end just held onto his first ever top 10 finish over Franco.

Jake made his second ever career pro semi in Portland with wins over two top-10 pros, and nearly took out DLR in an 11-10 heart-breaker loss in Chicago. His season has a number of just misses that might easily turn into wins next season.

Off the field, Jake is leading the charge on a new clothing line called Beastmade Apparel, with t-shirts, hats and now long sleeve pullovers. Support a fellow rballer and buy some gear.

click here http://rball.pro/F31CDD for Jake’s career summary report

==================
Since I tend to be a bit verbose, i’m breaking up this season ending rankings analysis into multiple posts. That way we’re not reading 5,000 words in one clip. Stay tuned for the next set of players in the rankings and my thoughts on their season.

——
tags

International Racquetball Tour
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
Federación Boliviana De Raquetbol – Febora
Federación Boliviana de Racquetball
Racquetball Colombia
Federacion Colombiana de Racquetball
Reaching Your Dream Foundation

New reports at ProRacquetballStats.com! (Part 2)

Here’s some more reports we’ve added lately. There will be a part 3 of this post: we’ve added a lotta a stuff in the last year or so.

—————–

– I added a couple of specific IRF queries around the time of the Pan Am games in Aug 2019 that i’ll cover in a separate post, probably revisiting the next time we actually have an IRF event (they have cancelled the Pan American Racquetball Confederation – PARC championships for 2020 thanks to Covid-19). But if you’re bored you can fire up the IRF section and run all sorts of new reports.

– In support of the UnitedHealthcare US OPEN Racquetball Championships last October, we created two new US Open specific reports:
o Player W/L Record just at US Opens: this was suggested by Dean DeAngelo Baer to help highlight just US Open performance and it has shown some amazing stats. Here’s Kane Waselenchuk’s US Open W/L record report: http://rball.pro/ABF04B (he’s 90-3 lifetime at the sport’s biggest event)
o Player Match History just at US Opens: a full list of all US Open matches per player. Here’s Conrrado kevin Moscoso Ortiz Racquetball‘s match history: http://rball.pro/2F8B8C

– Player Lefty-Righty W/L Splits: great suggestion from Brian Pineda (who still owes me $10 from a bet made during a match last fall), who surmised that some players are better than others against lefties. Well, now you can query that. Here’s Alex Landa ‘s splits L vs R: http://rball.pro/28335A

– Head to Head Summary report: interesting suggestion by Timothy Baghurst to emulate a graphic we saw posted on a Squash broadcast: if you fire up the “Tale of the Tape” report, you can now select this H2H Match Summary report, which breaks down the h2h wins/losses, plus gives details on 3-game wins, 4-game wins and 5-game wins in both the best-of-3 and best-of-5 format. Here’s an example of this data for matches between Kane Waselenchuk and Rocky Carson: http://rball.pro/49B9BA

– Slight improvement to the Player Summary report as suggested by Evan Pritchard (aka Kramer X, aka the guy who writes The Racquetball Blog) to add in # of tournaments played along side # missed and total per player, per year. This does make the report more readable definitely. Here’s an example of a player summary for Paola Longoria showing the new column: http://rball.pro/7F61BB

– Addition of Player Home pages as suggested by JT R Ball. We don’t know too many stand alone pages for players, so I’ve added in some known “Facebook home pages” that some players are using in lieu of an external page. This data is now seen on the Player Profile reports. I’ll continue to add home pages as I encounter them. JT also just sent me some youtube playlist links that I may use instead of home pages for some players.

– Added functionality to the “Oldest to…” and “Youngest to…” reports after a conversation where Keerti Kumar asked whether Lalo Portillo99 was the youngest player ever to break into the top 10. I’ve modified the “Youngest to..” and “Oldest to…” queries to also list the Youngest and Oldest players to ever finish a season ranked in the top 10 on tour.

Here’s the report
http://rball.pro/1DE1E5

The answer to the question, “was Lalo the youngest ever to break into the top 10?” requires a bit of a history lesson.

Short Answer: No.

Longer Answer: Prior to 1982 there wasn’t a points system on tour used to determine the year end winner; the year end Nationals tournament determined the winner. They did have a ranking system, but it was just used to seed events properly. In the early days of racquetball, the tour was dominated by very young players succeeding at an early age. Marty Hogan (racquetball) for example finished as runner up in the Nationals in 1976 and 1977 at the ages of 18 and 19 respectively. Brett Harnett amazingly played most of the 1980-1 season at the age of 16, then made the semis of Nationals just after turning 17. Newly elected Hall of Famer Gregg Peck was just a few months younger than Harnett and played alongside of him, making the quarters of the 1981 nationals also at the age of 17.

Harnett then finished ranked 4th on tour the first year there was a ranking system in 1982. Other teenagers to finish in the top 10 once there was a ranking system include Gregg Peck, Gerry Price in 1983, Cliff Swain in 1985, Jack Huczek in 2002 and most recently Daniel De La Rosa in 2013.

– Added a section to the “Oldest to..” report to have a “non Ruben Gonzalez version of the “Oldest players to make the round of 16” on the Men’s tour. Ruben held 19 of the top 20 spots; now you can see who else is getting close.

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We’ll do part 3 next week to spread out the rball content!

———————
tags:

International Racquetball Tour
LPRT
International Racquetball Federation – IRF
USA Racquetball
Racquetball Canada
Federación Mexicana de Raquetbol

IRT Shamrock Shootout Wrap-Up

Kane wins again. Photo US Open 2019, Photographer Kevin Savory

Congrats to your winners on the weekend:
– Singles: Kane Waselenchuk
– Doubles; Daniel De La Rosa/Alvaro Beltran

R2 Sports App home page for event: https://www.r2sports.com/portfolio/r2-event.asp?TID=31369

——————

Lets review the notable matches in the Singles draw.

Singles Match report in the PRS database: http://rball.pro/2D58FF

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In the 128s: no surprises. Local @Victor Migliore took Guatemalan veteran Christian Wer to a tie-breaker but fell 11-9. The other three traveling members of the Guatemala national team all won their openers and moved on. Oregon’s Jim Douglas, an active member of the online rball community, went down in a tie-breaker to local player Nadeem Sharifudden.

In the 64s, a couple of notable matches:
– Guatemalan Juan Salvatierra downed IRT touring regular Justus Benson in two close games 12,13. Solid win by Salvatierra to move on.
– Semi-regular IRT regular Kyle Ulliman was stretched by another traveling Guatemalan in Edwin Galicia before advancing in a breaker.

—————-
In the 32s, we got some upsets and close matches.
– In the 16/17 match, a tiebreaker as expected. #16 Sebastian ‘Patata’ Fernandez held off the Costa Rican number one Andres Acuña 11-7 in the breaker.
– Jaime Martell Racquetball showed he came to play, crushing the #9 seed Mario Mercado 7,2 to make the main draw as a #24 seed.
– #13 Thomas Carter crushed the upstart #20 Sam Bredenbeck 1,9 to make the main draw.
– #19 Robert Collins pushed #14 Eduardo Garay Rodriguez to a breaker before falling.
– In the 15/18 match, a surprise. #18 Adam Manilla outplayed and outhustled #15 Javier Mar to advance 9,9. Mar was off, but Manilla was definitely on. can he make another run (he made the Semis in Austin in January?

—————-
In the 16s:
– #1 Kane Waselenchuk got his tourney started off against the upstart youngster #16 Sebastian Fernandez, who lost 6,9. Good showing here against the king.
– #8 Lalo Portillo99 got a very solid win against #24 Martell 13,13 to move on. Martell pushed but couldn’t break through here, though there wasn’t much between these players on the day.
– #5 Andree Parrilla reversed his recent one-and-done trend with am emphatic win over #12 Gerardo Franco Gonzalez 0,11.
– #4 Alvaro Beltran held serve against #13 Carter 8,8 to move on.
– #3 Rocky Carson was stretched to a tiebreaker by #14 Garay before advancing 11-7.
– #6 Daniel De La Rosa went to the limit against #11 Jake Bredenbeck, saving match point against to win 11-10.
– #7 Samuel Murray dominated #10 Rodrigo Montoya Solís 11,3 to get another quarter final appearance and put some distance between him and Rodrigo in the race for the top 10. Montoya, who had been as high as #8 this season, will dip down to #12 with these results, and he has to be thinking about what he can do to turn things around.
– #2 Alex Landa advanced by the skin of his teeth, beating upstart lefty #18 Manilla 11-10.

So, the quarters are chalk, with the top 8 seeds advancing, but it could have gone either way with a number of these matches.

—————-
In the Quarters

– #1 Kane held serve against #8 Portillo, advancing to the semis 6,7.
– #5 Parrilla continued his best pro showing in months, coming from a game down to take out veteran Beltran in a breaker.
– #6 DLR crushed #3 Carson 5,5. This is Rocky’s 5th exit this season at the quarters or earlier … last season he made the semis or better in every event. Meanwhile DLR continues his resugence; these results will be enough for him to supplant Moscoso for #6 on tour, and within shouting distance of #5 and #4.
– #2 Landa cruised by his doubles partner #7 Murray in two shorter games.

—————
In the Semis
– #1 Kane showed how formidable he can be, coming down from a large game two deficit to cruise into the final 6,11 past #5 Parrilla. With this semis appearance, Parrilla nearly catches back up with Beltran for 4th on tour; its going to be a great battle for that 4/5 spot the rest of the way.
– #2 Landa ended the DLR freight train but needed a tiebreaker to do so. Landa extends his recent dominance over DLR (he’s won their last 7 meetings).

In the Finals, it was one-way traffic like it often is with Kane, who took about 10 minutes to take the first game 15-3 and eventually the match 3,5.

—————-
Points Implications of results; This tourney replaces the same event last season, so there’s some players defending higher than average points. In Chicago last season, Kane d Rocky in the final and Andree/Montoya made the semis. Also notably, DLR got upset in the 16s, so he had great gains here this weekend.

Notable ranking moves:
– DLR overtakes Moscoso for #6
– Bredenbeck should jump to #10; he was #13 entering the event. Jake and Mercado are now separated by just 2 points in my worksheet for the #10 spot, which would be the first time Jake finishes in the top 10 if he can retain the spot.
– Horn’s injury-driven absence costs him 3 spots in the rankings; he falls to #18 from #15 last week.
– Sam Bredenbeck jumps back into the top 30; he is now #28.
– Jaime Martell makes a huge jump from #42 to #35

—————-
Doubles review

Match report in the PRS database: http://rball.pro/B01855

Chalk to the quarters, though both the #1 and #2 seeds went tiebreaker to get there.

In the semis, the top to Mexican teams advanced yet again to the final to face off. #1 DLR/Beltran dropped a game to the quickly improving Portillo/Parrilla pairing before moving, while Montoya/Mar dominated the #2 seeds Landa/Murray 11,3 to force a rematch of the Mexican Nationals event that happened just a few weeks ago.

In the final, DLR/Beltran got back the upper hand in their burgeoning rivalry with their younger Mexican teammates, taking a closely fought 10,13 match for the title. Its their 7th pro doubles title together since Jan 2017.

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Other Draws:

Men’s Open went nearly chalk into the quarters, and chalk to the semis with the top 4 seeds (all IRT regulars) advancing.

In one semi Fernandez topped Franco in two, while in the other Acuna spanked Mercado to make the final. There, both guyts played like they had a plane to catch (both are very fast workers), and Acuna took out his Mexican rival 11,13.

Women’s Open; a decent 8-woman draw was taken by Erika Manilla, who beat top junior Erin Slutzky in the semis and then Costa Rican international Melania Sauma in the final.

Men’s Open Doubles was taken by Cuevas/Franco over top seed Illinois locals Keith Minor and Fernando Javier Rivera.

Mixed Open Doubles was taken by Slutzky and India international Alok Mehta.

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

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Next up?

Well. I have no idea what is next.

Its pretty amazing what has transpired in this country in just the last 7 days. A week ago we were finishing up the Boston Open on the Ladies side without any real national movement on this Covid-19 Corona Virus. Then in the last week, from a rball perspective we’ve seen every major tournament planned for the next month cancelled. WOR Beach Bash, a number of state singles competitions, an IRT tier 5 in Monroe, LA, USAR intercollegiates, and most notably the annual PARC event to be held in Bolivia.

That clears out the racquetball schedule through at least mid April. But who knows what will transpire between now and then. We’re already seeing travel bans; it seems unlikely that a “tour” based sport like pro racquetball could function if none of the traveling players could travel to the events.

So who knows. Is it possible we’ve seen the last pro events until well into the summer? Maybe. Depends on how dangerous this virus turns out to be, how exponentially it expands, and how much more of an impact it makes on society. Crazy times.

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tags

International Racquetball Tour
LPRT
International Racquetball Federation – IRF
USA Racquetball
Racquetball Canada
Federación Mexicana de Raquetbol
Federación Boliviana de Futbol
Racquetball Colombia
Federacion Colombiana de Racquetball
Federación Costarricense de Racquetball
Jugadores Racquetbol Guatemala

IRT Shamrock Shootout Preview

Rare appearance on tour from Mexican Jaime Martell. Photo via US Open 2019, Photographer Kevin Savory

The full Mens tour is back in action for the 35th Annual KWM Gutterman, Inc. Shamrock Shootout Tier 1 Pro Stop Presented by MyPillow, being held in Lombard, just outside of Chicago IL.

The 35th annual running event, which makes it one of the longer running events in the land. It has been a full tier 1 stop for the past 5 years. Chicago itself has been a regular home to IRT stops in general, for years hosting Pro Nationals, and then for years before that the famous Halloween Open. A lot of this was due to former tour commissioner and long time rball organizer Dave Negrete being Chicago-based.

R2 Sports App link: https://www.r2sports.com/website/event-website.asp?TID=31369

This year, we’ve got a large draw: 39 players entered.

top20 players missing: Bolivians #6 Conrrado kevin Moscoso Ortiz Racquetball and #14 Carlos Keller Vargas are both absent, probably saving travel dollars for next month’s Pan American Racquetball Confederation – PARC event. Moscoso’s absence elevates #9 Portillo into a top 8 seed here. #12 Sebastian Franco is missing; the 4th event this season he’s missed. #15 David Horn picked up what he described as a “bad injury” last weekend in Pueblo and is out. The rest of the top 20 is present plus a good chunk of the guys ranked 21-30 so this is a great draw.

is it a flip draw? Nope, this is a straight draw 1-8.

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

In the round of 128:
– Thanks to the proximity of the upcoming Pan American Racquetball Championships, we’ve got the full Guatemalan team here (Edwin Galicia, Javier Martinez, Juan Salvatierra and Christian Wer). Each of these four is playing a local IRT debutant in the opening round of 128, so welcome all first time pro players.

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In the round of 64: things start to heat up.
– #17 Andres Acuña manages to be the highest player not getting a bye into the 32s; for his trouble he likely gets a juicy central american match-up against Guatemalan Martinez.
– #24 Jaime Martell Racquetball vs #25 Anthony Martin; great opener, as we would expect from a 24/25 match-up. Martel makes a rare appearance on tour, while Martin plays his 6th event of the season.
– #19 Robert Collins likely takes on Guatemalan veteran Christian Wer.
– #26 Guatemalan Edwin Galicia likely takes on #23 Kyle Ulliman in what could be a close match.

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Projecting the 32s: here’s some possible match-ups, though the depth of this draw could make for some upsets and make these predictions moot:
– #16/#17 looks like a potential doozy: #16 Sebastian ‘Patata’ Fernandez, who has been stuck at the #17 seed the last couple of tournaments, jumps a spot and thus gets the bye into the 32s. He’ll likely face #17 Acuna, who has been getting solid wins all season. Tough one to predict: I like Patata to build on his Mexican Nationals showing and move on.
– #9 Mario Mercado versus likely #24 Martell: Rough possible draw for Mercado, who has faced Martell a few times before and never beaten him. I like a run for the Mexican here.
– #13 Thomas Carter versus likely #20 Sam Bredenbeck; fun match here between two of the younger guys on tour. Sam beat Carter in 2019 Sioux Falls but it was tight.
– #11 Jake Bredenbeck vs likely #22 Justus Benson: lots of broken balls in this one; two hard hitters.
– #15 Javier Mar versus likely #18 Adam Manilla: this is the highest i can recall seeing Mar seeded in an event; he’ll fancy his chances to move on and face a familiar opponent in the 16s.

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round of 16:
– #1 Kane Waselenchuk versus the Fernandez/Acuna winner; neither will be favored to beat the King of course, but I like what i’ve seen lately out of Fernandez and i’d like to see what his confident game style brings against Kane.
– #24 Martell vs #9 Lalo Portillo: this is a stretch, but if Martell pulls off the upset of Mercado he could very well also upset Portillo. They faced off in 2019’s Mexican Nationals, a straight forward 2-game win for Jaime. Portillo won the Minnesota event last weekend and had a very solid Mexican nationals in 2020 (topped Montoya, took DLR to a breaker). This could be a fascinating match.
– #5 Andree Parrilla vs #12 Gerardo Franco Gonzalez: Parrilla is in a rut; he’s gone one and done the last three pro events, he lost in the 16s at Mexican Nationals to a player he should have beat, and one of those pro round of 16 losses was to Franco. I sense another upset here until Andree can right the ship.
– #4 Alvaro Beltran faces the Carter/Bredenbeck winner: either way i like Beltran, though Carter did put a Loss on Alvaro in Portland in December.
– #3 Rocky Carson returns to action after a rare missed pro event in January and likely faces the tough Eduardo Garay Rodriguez in the 16s. Garay has been playing increasingly well against top opponents, while Carson topped Landa in his last on-the-court match, seemingly having fully recovered at this point from his knee issue in December.
– #6 Daniel De La Rosa vs #11 Bredenbeck: Jake has a couple of wins over DLR … but DLR has been playing some great ball lately. He advances.
– #7 Samuel Murray vs #10 Rodrigo Montoya Solís; just a couple of meetings between these two on the books; they’re 1-1 h2h. This is the kind of match Montoya needs to win in order to establish his spot in the rball elite. Both players have had kind of up and down seasons; this could be a win to build on.
– #2 Alex Landa vs #15 Mar: Neither guy here can be happy with this draw; they’re pretty evenly matched, they have split a couple of meetings at Mexican Nats over the years but have not played professionally. I think it could be tight but will favor Landa to move on.

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Projected Qtrs:
– #1 Kane over #24 Martel
– #4 Beltran over #12 Franco: they’ve played 4 times, Beltran has never dropped a game to him.
– #3 Carson vs #6 DLR: they’ve been trading wins back and forth for a few years now. DLR topped him earlier this year in Sioux Falls and has been playing really consistent ball; i’ll go with the upset here.
– #2 Landa vs #10 Montoya; when they do play, its often close: last meeting was an 11-10 win for Rodrigo in Sioux Falls in 2019. I’ll go with Landa here.

Semis:
– Kane over Beltran in what would be their 54th pro meeting.
– Landa over DLR; Landa has beaten DLR the last 6 times they’ve played and seems to have his number. But, its always close.

Finals: Kane over Landa.

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Doubles review

We’re playing pro doubles this weekend too; 10 teams with three of the best teams in the world present, plus the Bredenbeck brothers and the two national Guatemalan teams playing.

I like a rematch of the Mexican national finals to happen between #1 Beltran/DLR and #3 Montoya/Mar, but both teams will have to earn it to get t here against tough semi-finalists.

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

Tags

International Racquetball Tour
International Racquetball Federation – IRF
USA Racquetball
Racquetball Canada
Federación Mexicana de Raquetbol
Federación Boliviana De Raquetbol – Febora
Racquetball Colombia
Federacion Colombiana de Racquetball
Federación Costarricense de Racquetball
Jugadores Racquetbol Guatemala

IRT Minnesota HoF and Pueblo Shootout Wrap-up

Portillo takes the Mn HoF event. Photo US Open 2019, Photographer Kevin Savory

Congrats to your winners on the weekend:

In Minnesota:
– Singles: Eduardo Portillo
– Doubles; Blake Hansen/John Goth

In Pueblo:
– Singles; Kane Waselenchuk
– Doubles; Adam Manilla/Nick Riffel

R2 Sports App home page for events:
– Minnesota: https://www.r2sports.com/website/event-website.asp?TID=31350
– Pueblo: https://www.r2sports.com/website/event-website.asp?TID=32062

A note; lower tier IRT events are not stored in the PRS database, so no PRS reporting here.

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Here’s a recap of the Minnesota event:

In the Quarters, the top 4 seeds (all IRT regulars) all advanced as expected. Minnesota amateur Lee Meinerz pushed #4 Justus Benson 12,13, and Iowa amateur Blake Hansen pushed #3 Sam Bredenbeck 11,9.

In the Semis, the top two seeds both advanced with relative ease. #1 Lalo Portillo99 cruised past #4 Benson 2,3 while #2 Jake Bredenbeck advanced past his brother Sam 5,8.

In the Finals, Jake took game one, but then Lalo found another gear to take the second game 15-8 and then dominated the tie-breaker to take the title (12),8,0.

In the doubles, Blake Hansen and John Goth took out two teams featuring IRT touring players to take the title, beating the Bredenbeck brothers to take a well-earned title.

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Here’s a recap of the Pueblo Event:

The 31-man draw went mostly to form to the quarters, with two minor upsets in the 8/9 and 7/10 matches by seeds. #9 Matt Melster took out #8 A.J. Fernandez to earn a shot at the King, while #10 Andrew Clarke upset #7 seeded Kerry McLain (no relation to John McLain of “Die Hard” fame apparently) to earn a shot at the #2 seeded Montoya.

In the quarters:
– #1 Kane Waselenchuk cruised past Melster 1,4
– #4 Adam Manilla cruised past his good friend and frequent doubles partner Nick Riffel 13,3.
– #6 Erik Garcia was leading in the breaker of a close match against #3 David ” Bobby” Horn] when he had to retire with an injury.
– #2 Rodrigo Montoya Solís cruised past New Mexico’s Andrew Clarke 3,6 to move on.

In the semis:
– Kane took out Manilla in a rare meeting with a fellow Lefty 7,6. Its been nearly a year since he faced a lefty on the court (April 2019 against Thomas Carter).
– Rodrigo handled Garcia 7,6 to move into the final. Both players hit with a ton of pace, but Montoya was able to manage the match to move into the final.

In the final, Kane took a friendly, entertaining shot-maker’s paradise 9,6 for the delighted crowd.

In the doubles: Manilla/Riffel took out #1 Horn/Garcia in the final after topping the Montoya-led team in the semis.

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Thanks to all who did amateur broadcasting on the weekend so we could watch along. Too many to mention, but lots of fans streamed, plus the IRT setup a rudimentary streaming station in Minnesota to help out.

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Next up? KWM Gutterman in Chicago! Preview coming out tomorrow or the next day, as soon as the brackets are released.

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tags

International Racquetball Tour
USA Racquetball
Federación Mexicana de Raquetbol

IRT Pueblo Shootout and Minnesota HoF tourney Previews

Kane returns to Pueblo to defend his PAC shootout title. Photo US Open 2019, Photographer Kevin Savory

There’s not one but two lower Tier IRT events going on this coming weekend, and both have solid and intriguing draws.

We’ll do a quick preview of the top-named pros playing in each event.

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First, the Pueblo Athletic club Shootout, a Tier 3 in Pueblo , CO

r2sports lnk: https://www.r2sports.com/portfolio/r2-event.asp?TID=32062

This year’s iteration features the return of #1 Kane Waselenchuk, who played this last year (and won it) and he’s back to defend his title. Its one of the few (if only?) non-Tier 1 events I think he’s ever played.

There’s 31 in the pro draw at this event, a great draw, led by by Kane Waselenchuk. He’s joined by a slew of locals along with some familiar names. Top seeds will include
– intercollegiate champ Erik Garcia
– top 20 IRT touring player David ” Bobby” Horn
– top 20 IRT touring player and Colorado native Adam Manilla
.
– Adam’s sister Erika Manilla, who is entered into the pro draw for the rare female IRT entrant
– Current #11 ranked Rodrigo Montoya Solís, fresh off his Mexican National doubles title
– Colorado native and IRT touring semi-regular Nick Riffel

I’d imagine the top four seeds would go Kane, Montoya, Horn and Manilla, and its likely to go chalk to the finals, where the locals look to have a great Kane-Rodrigo power v power shootout.

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The Minnesota Hall of Fame tournament becomes IRT sanctioned for the first time, and is rewarded with a pretty solid draw. There’s more than 150 entrants in total and a solid 12-man pro singles draw.

r2sports link: https://www.r2sports.com/portfolio/r2-event.asp?TID=31350

The top IRT touring pros present include Mexican youngster Lalo Portillo, who made a tourney final earlier this year. He’s likely the #1 seed here and is joined by IRT veterans and Minnesota natives Jake Bredenbeck and his brother Sam Bredenbeck, as well as IRT regular Texan Justus Benson.

They’ll face off against a slew of tough mid-western racquetball stars, including the likes of the Hansen brothers Blake Hansen and Brad Hansen, tough Minnesota amateur Lee Meinerz, a blast from the past in Brad McCunniff – State Farm Agent (last pro appearance: 2002 US Open!), and Iowa junior Andrew Gleason.

I’d imagine the seeds will go Lalo, Jake, Sam and Justus, meaning we may have Bredenbeck-on-Bredeneck crime in the semis unless there’s an upset along the way. I’d expect Lalo to top Jake in a final here, in that Eduardo has never lost to Jake and topped him 3,2 earlier this season.

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We’ll have to see how streaming goes for these events; I recall watching some local streams from the Pueblo event last year. I’m hoping for some locals with iphones streaming all weekend.

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Tags

International Racquetball Tour
USA Racquetball
Federación Mexicana de RaquetbolR

IRT Lou Bradley Memorial Wrap-Up

Kane dominates in Wisconsin for the win. Photo US Open 2019, Photographer Kevin Savory

Congrats to Kane Waselenchuk on his 122th career IRT Tier 1 title on the weekend. He triumphed over a trio of top Mexican players then blasted Mercado in the final to take the title.

R2 Sports App home page for event: https://www.r2sports.com/website/event-website.asp?TID=31897

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Lets review the notable matches in the Singles draw.

Singles Match report in the PRS database: http://rball.pro/EB643C

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In the 64s:
– #25 Sam Bredenbeck eked out a tie-breaker win over #24 Scott McClellan
– Both Kelley brothers (Sam and Joe), travelling from the NJ/PA area, fell in two to traveling pros. Great job supporting the event though, along with all the traveling players.
– #23 Kadim Carrasco] took a close match from #26 Justus Benson.

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In the 32s, we started to see some interesting results.
– As suspected, the 16/17 match was close, with #16 Javier Mar taking out younger countryman #17 Sebastian ‘Patata’ Fernandez] in a tie-breaker.
– #12 Carlos Keller Vargas was stretched by Costa Rican veteran #21 Felipe Camacho, winning two closer games.
– #13 Thomas Carter got revenge from last week, topping #20 Javier Estrada in a breaker to move on. Sold win for Carter to reverse his two-tourney one-and-done streak.
– #11 Mario Mercado Valenzuela held serve against #22 Alan Natera Chavez, winning in two closer games.
– #10 Sebastian Franco was stretched by South American neighbor Carrasco, advancing 14,13.
– #15 Eduardo Garay played a complete match and dominated #18 Adam Manilla 8,8 to move on.

So, the 32s went perfectly chalk; all the seeds from 9-16 advanced into the next round. I think I predicted at least 2-3 upsets here but the seeds prevailed this time around.

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In the 16s:
– #1 Kane Waselenchuk got his tourney started against a tough foe in #16 Mar, but advanced 7,8. We saw a similar pattern in game 2 to a lot of Kane’s games against solid opponents; it was even for a while … then it was 8-8 … then you blink your eye and its 15-8 as Kane turns up the pressure and moves on.
– In a fascinating result, #9 Rodrigo Montoya Solís] dominated #8 Conrrado kevin Moscoso Ortiz Racquetball 12,4 to remain unbeaten against the Bolivian Iris Grand Slam winner and move on.
– #5 Samuel Murray held serve against Keller, moving on after taking a close game one.
– #4 Álvaro Beltrán stifled any chance of another upset at the hands of the lefty Carter (as had happened in December in Portland), cruising to a 4,12 win.
– #3 Andree Parrilla is ready to put this month behind him; the player I thought could make a run to the final here instead was upset in the round of 16 for the third successive week, this time at the hands of Gerardo Franco Gonzalez 11-7 in the breaker. Franco advances to his 4th pro quarter final.
– #6 Lalo Portillo‘s dreams of back to back finals ended early; he was dropped by #11 Mercado in the round of 16s for the 2nd time in three weeks, this time by the overwhelming scoreline of 4,7.
– #10 S.Franco evened up his career h2h line with #7 Jake Bredenbeck, taking him out in two to advance.
– #2 Alex Landa showed little ill-effects from his arm injury of last weekend, advancing over a tough foe in #15 Garay 6,(7),5.

So, three upsets at this stage; the top is nearly chalk 1,9,5,4 in the quarters, while the bottom is 14,11,10,2. I had predicted some upsets here … but none of them came to pass.

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In the Quarters
– #1 Kane topped #9 Montoya to move on, but not with out a bit of controversy. Early in the second game a long rally had the players come together and Kane seemed to almost shove Montoya to get out of the way of a shot. It was kind of reminiscent of the early physical days of the sport. No penalty was given and nothing seemed to come of it … but at the end of the tourney Montoya scored the most points of any player against Kane in a game on the weekend, and seems to be getting incrementally better against the King each time they face each other.
– #4 Alvaro Beltran came from a game down to top Canadian #1 Murray and keep his perfect h2h record alive over him.
– #11 Mercado advanced to his first pro semi since the Bolivian Grand Slam by topping upstart GFranco 13,2. Franco looked frisky in game one … but collapsed once he lost the close opening game.
– #2 Landa made short work of #10 S.Franco 5,5.

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In the Semis; two interesting matches.
– #4 Beltran dominated #1 Kane …. for a quarter of their match. Beltran led 5-0 and 7-3 in the first …. and then didn’t score again. Kane ran off 27 unanswered points from 3-7 down in the first game to win the match 7,0. Just a complete white washing where Kane played textbook ball for most of the match.
– #11 Mercado saved game point in the first and then took a close one from #2 Landa to advance to just his second ever pro final 14,11. He becomes the rare double-digit seed to make a pro final.

In the Finals…. it was one way traffic. Kane crushed Mercado 2,3 to take the title. 5 total points against represents the 2nd most dominant final scoreline in the history of the tour (see http://rball.pro/C1E703 for the full list … not surprisingly Kane owns most of the top scorelines on this report).

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Points Implications of results;

There’s no expiring tier 1 from last season to drop off, but there’s still a lot of movement in the top 20 on tour after this event:
– Parrilla’s 3-tourney swoon finally costs him in the rankings: he’ll drop to #5 behind Beltran.
– DLR’s absence costs him too; despite Moscoso’s early upset exit, he’ll pip Daniel for #6 on tour.
– Montoya and Mercado will both jump over Jake in the tightly bunched set of players in the 10-13 range. Around 30 ranking points separate 10th from 13th and these three players along with Sebastian Franco continue to juggle spots based on tournament results.
– Gerardo Franco jumps to #16, Mar continues to rise up (now #19), and the missing Acuna gets dumped three spots to #21.

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Other Draws:

In the Men’s Open, a solid bracket included several former top-8 IRT players plus a ton of locals. As it turned out, two of the pro quarter-finalists were the 1 and 3 seeds in the Open (and both forfeited out, thinning the draw) and the 8 quarter-finalists ended up being 6 touring internationals plus mid-western top amateurs Lee Meinerz and Anthony Martin.

In the qtrs:
– SFranco topped Meinerz 8,11
– Fernandez crushed Garay 4,1 to advance.
– Camacho got a walkover when Mercado withdrew.
– Portillo topped Martin 8,4

In the semis:
– Fernandez walks over Franco
– Portillo crushes Camacho 2,3

In the final, a familiar battle. Mexican nationals Fernandez and Portillo are a year apart and often met in the back end of junior nationals and junior worlds events. Some of their recent match history includes these notable finals:
– Portillo d Fernandez in the 16U World junior finals in 2016
– Fernandez d Portillo in the Mexican 18U natioanls final in 2018
– then, 3 months later the two met in the 18U junior worlds final, Portillo’s last junior event, and Portillo won.

So how about on this day? They played a back and forth match eventually won by Patata Fernandez (4),7,8.

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In the Men’s Open Doubles, in the absence of an official IRT pro doubles draw we saw a 15-team bracket headlined by the reigning Pan Am Games gold medalists Mar/Montoya. Also in the doubles draws were a couple of old friends from the East Coast, Brent Walters and Russ Bruns, both of whom have strong ties to the Virginia Racquetball scene.

In the end though, the top two seeds, both all-Mexican traveling teams, advanced to the final. #1 Montoya/Mar, one of the best teams in the world and the reigning Pan American Games gold medalists, ended up topping Natera/Estrada in two tight games for the title.

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Next up?

The IRT takes a break until mid-march when they return to Chicago. Meanwhile, USA National Doubles is next weekend, featuring a juicy pairing of 5-time pro champ Sudsy Monchik teaming up with IRT #2 Landa, who has to represent the USA.

In fact, there’s almost nothing going on that we’d normally track in February; I may have to come up with some fun ideas to discuss during the break.

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International Racquetball Tour
International Racquetball Federation – IRF
International Racquetball Federation
USA Racquetball
Racquetball Canada
Federación Mexicana de Raquetbol
Federación Boliviana De Raquetbol – Febora
Federación Boliviana de Racquetball
Racquetball Colombia
Federacion Colombiana de Racquetball
Federación Costarricense de Racquetball

IRT 2020 22nd Annual Lou Bradley Memorial Preview

Portillo shocked the tour with his run last week; can he repeat it? Photo US Open 2019, Photographer Kevin Savory

Welcome to the last event of the 2020 IRT mid-west swing, and its a special one. “The Lou,” a long-running IRT satellite in Sun Prairie, WI (outside of Madison), has stepped up this year for the first time to become a Tier 1 event.

This represents the first time the IRT has had a full tier 1 in the state of Wisconsin since 2004, and this is the first time ever going anywhere except Milwaukee within the state for a major event.

Fun fact: the very first US Amateur Nationals event was held in Milwaukee in 1968. The first major racquetball tournament ever held, won by Bill Schultz over Hall of Famer Bill Schmidtke in the final.

R2 Sports App link: https://www.r2sports.com/portfolio/r2-event.asp?TID=31897

There’s 34 players in this singles draw. There’s not a pro doubles draw but there is a healthy Men’s Open draw filled with top players that will be fun to watch.

The draw is missing two major names: #3 Rocky Carson picked up an injury (or perhaps came back a bit too soon from his Dec 2019 surgery) and misses the event. This is pretty notable; in 20 years on tour full time this is just the third event he’s missed. Also missing the draw is last week’s champ #6 Daniel De La Rosa (also reportedly out with a knock), which has to be a bummer b/c he’s been playing some of the best ball of his career this month.

Other top 20 players missing: #14 David ” Bobby” Horn (who has stated he’s stepping back from touring for financial reasons), and #18 Andres Acuña, who may be heading back to his home country to help with a big tourney starting up next week.

is it a flip draw? Yes. The 5th-8th seeds are:
– Moscoso: ranked 7th, 5th highest seed in draw, seeded 8th
– Murray: ranked 8th, 6th highest seed in draw, seeded 5th
– Portillo: ranked 9th, 7th highest seed in draw, seeded 6th
– Bredenbeck: ranked 10th, 8th highest seed in draw, seeded 7th.

Obviously, Moscoso is hardest done by, flipped into the #8 spot meaning a meeting with Kane in the quarters. Jake would have been in the same quarter he got flipped into anyway without the missing top seeds. Portillo gets a big break and is in line to face #3 seed Parrilla, who he beat recently. Biggest benefactor has to be Murray, who gets out of a Kane quarter and instead feeds into #4 Beltran (who he’s never beaten, but has been playing close).

A comment about the impact of 3 straight events; it seems to have taken a toll on some the tour’s older full-time players:
– Kane (age 38): missed the middle event
– Rocky (age 40): missed 2 of the 3 events
– Landa (age 31) fft’d out of Lewis, wonder if he’s still showing any ill effects of the injury this weekend.

Of course that being said the tour’s oldest regular (Beltran, age 41) has made all three and shown no ill effects, so maybe its more coincidence and less causation.

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

In the round of 64:
– #28 Minnesota native Lee Meinerz takes on former top-10 touring vet Costa Rican #21 Felipe Camacho. I like what I saw from Meinerz last week; he can give Camacho a match here for sure. He puts pressure on the ball on every shot and could push for an upset.
– #22 Mexican Alan Natera Chavez takes on #27 Anthony Martin in a solid first rounder. Natera lost out to Pratt in the 64s last weekend but will shoot for a better result this weekend.
– #23 Bolivian Kadim Carrasco takes on #26 American Justus Benson in the opener; 21-yr old Texan Benson has gone one-and-done in four straight tourneys and will be looking to break that streak here.

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Projecting the 32s:
– #16 Javier Mar likely takes on #17 Sebastian ‘Patata’ Fernandez in a very tasty match between two solid players. Somehow Fernandez gets exactly the 17th seed for the second straight event, meaning he has to play that extra match before facing a top opponent. Last week he qualified into the #1 seed; this time around he won’t be favored to repeat the feat. Mar slots into the brutal #16 seed, meaning that with a win he faces Kane in the first round of the main draw instead of the quarters (as he did in last year’s US Open) or later. A great match either way to see where Fernandez’ game is these days.
– #13 Thomas Carter likely takes on #20 Javier Estrada for the second week running. Estrada took him out in a breaker last week; will we see a different result here?
– #11 Mario Mercado Valenzuela likely vs #22 Natera; Both these players were taken out last week by the same guy (Charlie Pratt Racquetball): now they slate to face off for a spot in the main draw. Mercado’s season has been hit and miss: he’s got solid wins and surprising losses. its anyone’s guess here.
– #15 Eduardo Garay likely takes on #18 Adam Manilla. Manilla surprised everyone with his run in Austin and has committed to the tour full time; he has his hands full though with Colombian Garay, who beat Landa in Austin two weeks ago and is moving up in the world.

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Projecting the round of 16:
– #1 Kane Waselenchuk takes on the Mar/Fernandez winner; Kane took last week off and should be refreshed as compared to either player here, who are doing play-ins and working on two-three straight weeks of play.
– #8 Luis Conrrado Moscoso Serrudo vs #9 Rodrigo Montoya Solís]; Great match for the 16s. Montoya beat Moscoso in both 2018 Worlds (en route to the gold medal) and in the 2019 Pan Am games (en route to the gold medal). Both matches were close. Both are hard hitters, with great diving abilities. Moscoso has a slight knock sustained in Austin that still seemed to be bothering his mobility on the court in Sioux Falls. I’ll favor Montoya here.
– #5 Samuel Murray likely vs #12 Carlos Keller Vargas: another intriguing match; Murray knocked Keller out of the 2019 Pan Am games in the quarters, but Keller upset Murray in the 32s of the US Open (a big loss in the season’s biggest event for a top 8 seed). I like Murray here.
– #4 Alvaro Beltran likely vs #20 Estrada: These two met just last week at this same gate, an 8,9 win for Beltran. Can Estrada flip the script in a week’s time? Is three straight weeks and a ton of court time too much for the 41-yr old Beltran?
– #3 Andree Parrilla likely vs #14 Gerardo Franco Gonzalez; Parrilla has not been enjoying the mid-west swing so far: two one-and dones in a row in Austin and Sioux Falls. He’s now been beaten in the 16s three times this season: he had just one upset prior to the quarters the entirety of last season. If he wants to keep his top 4 seed, he needs to be making semis regularly. First up: an old WRT adversary in Franco. Parrilla is 4-0 against him in the old tour; they havn’t met professionally since 2017. I suspect Andree advances.
– #6 Lalo Portillo vs the Natera/Mercado winner. Match-ups matter: Portillo has a couple of wins over Natera in RKT local events in the last year, but lost to Mercado two weeks ago in Austin. Which Portillo shows up this week? The guy who looked absolutely dominant in a run to the finals last week? Or the guy who lost three straight round of 16 openers in Nov, Dec and Jan? I’m going to go with the former and project another run here for the youngster.
– #7 Jake Bredenbeck vs #10 Sebastian Franco; they’ve met 7 times in pro/IRF events over the years: Jake leads 4-3 and won their most recent skirmish; a RR affair at the 2019 Pan Am Games in Peru. I like Jake here; he’s been playing more consistent all season, while Franco has been missing events and taking upset losses.
– #2 Alex Landa vs #15 Garay. How hurt is Landa? He was really struggling against Murray last week before retiring. Next week is US Nationals, where he’s playing with Sudsy Monchik in an attempt to qualify for the US team … which I have to think is pretty darn important to him given all that transpired with the Mexican federation last year. Meanwhile, Garay is tough and just beat an un-injured Landa in Austin two weeks ago. I sense another upset here, whether its Garay beating him on the level or Landa protecting his arm.

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Projected Qtrs:
– #1 Kane over #9 Montoya: Kane’s 3-0 against the young world champ … but their most recent meeting in Portland in Dec was closer than it had been before. I sense a pattern in kane’s “close” matches; when a top player is playing well, they’ll hang with Kane for most of each game .. you’ll see scores like 8-8 or 10-9 … then poof, Kane hits another gear and suddenly its 15-10 game over. Its tough to play flawless racquetball for two straight hours against the GOAT; how close can Montoya come this time?
– Beltran/Estrada winner vs Murray; Which ever Mexican advances, i’ll favor over the big Canadian. It’ll be either Beltran (who’s never lost to Murray), or Estrada (who, if he beats Beltran it means he’s “on” this week and will be tough to stop).
– Parrilla over Portillo: I don’t think Parrilla is going to get upset three tourneys in a row; he’s never lost to Portillo in an IRT or WRT event (but did lost to him last year in SLP local event). But it’d be quite a statement if Lalo made another run.
– Garay over Jake/SFranco; if Garay tops Landa, no reason not to think he’d also get a win here.

I know I keep predicting wins for Estrada and Garay in particular; something about their games really strikes me as solid. Maybe i’m crazy, but both players have power, athleticism, good wins on their resumes and are growing tourney by tourney. What can I say, i’m a sucker for upsets.

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Semis:
– Kane over Estrada
– Parrilla over Garay

Finals: Kane over Parrilla.

Andree has come an awful long way from the 0,0,0 beating he took in the US Open 2016 at the hands of the king. Parrilla took a game from Kane in Syosset last season (though, to be fair Kane was nursing a hand injury), and was dominated in their most recent meeting (Portland semis). Look for Andree to find unique ways to keep this close but for Kane to pull away.

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Look for Dean DeAngelo Baer, Favio Soto, Pablo Fajre and the IRTLive crew all weekend on the mike, calling the shots!

Tags

International Racquetball Tour
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International Racquetball Federation
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42nd Annual Lewis Drug Pro-Am Preview

Could Javier Mar make a big run this weekend? Photo US Open 2019, Photographer Kevin Savory

Hot on the heels of the Longhorn Open, we have one of the longest running tournaments in the nation being held in Sioux Falls, SD. its the 42nd annual Lewis Drug Pro-Am.

Renowned for its hospitality for the touring pros, this event has become one of the favorite stops each season, and continues to draw players from far and wide.

The Lewis drug pro-am is also known for delivering fans of the sport upsets and surprises. To wit, here’s some of the surprising results from past years:

– in 2019, #1 Alex Landa was upset in the first round by fellow Mexican and eventual World Rodrigo Montoya Solís. Montoya made a run to the semis before falling.
– in 2018 Landa got his first ever IRT Tier 1 win as the #8 seed, topping #1 Rocky Carson in the quarters and then winning a thrilling 11-10 tiebreaker over countryman #2 Daniel De La Rosa to win the title.
– in 2017 Landa made a run to the semis as a 14 seed, and DLR got just his second ever pro win in the final.
– in 2016 Jose Rojas topped both the #2 and #3 seeds to make the final before falling to #1 Waselenchuk
– 2015 featured a mostly chalk draw, with Kane at #2 topping Rocky at #1 but not before both the 3 and 4th seeds fell in upsets in the qtrs.
– 2014 was the final pro appearance of long time touring vet Mike Guidry, who hadn’t entered a pro event in years after retiring in Jan 2006. He fell in the 16s to eventual tourney finalist Alvaro Beltran.

So that’s some fun history.

The 2020 instance is also setup to perhaps provide some surprises … because we have late breaking news that #1 Kane Waselenchuk is ill and is not attending. So now we get a wide-open draw and possibly some surprises. And, let me tell you, projecting out the tourney here I see the possibility for some fascinating, rarely seen match-ups between top players.

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R2 Sports App link:https://www.r2sports.com/tourney/home.asp?TID=31789

36 players entered, and its a solid draw. As we saw in Austin, we have a number of non-regular top players in this draw waiting to make some noise. The biggest question mark for me is the health of Moscoso; he hobbled out of the Austin event and looked like he may have badly hurt his knee.

We are using a slight flip seeding this time, but thanks to the absence of #1 Kane just one top 8 seed got flipped away from where they should have been: 9th ranked Portillo got a top 8 seed, then got flipped 5th seed in the event. Seeds 6,7,8 mirror where the players are currently ranked.

Top-20 players missing; past Kane, we’re missing #10 Sebastian Franco (who misses his 3rd event of the season), #14 David Horn (who misses his 4th event of the season), and #17 Eduardo Garay, who misses out on a chance to build on his big wins last weekend in Austin.

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

In the round of 128:
– The tour welcomes back #32 seed Tony Carson Racquetball, who tore his Achilles heel nearly a year ago. He plays Minnesota-native Lee Meinerz, who hasn’t played an IRT event in several years but could be a good first-back-match for former top -10 player Carson.
– there’s three other play-ins in the round of 128, all involving non-tour regulars from the mid-west or Canada. Its great to see the tour in areas where these guys can travel and play.

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In the round of 64:
– #17 Sebastian Fernandez, who has struggled to make it to events this year and has seen his ranking fall, likely faces Carson to move on. A solid match here that could go either way, depending on how recovered Carson is from his injury. Its worth noting that in the last three IRT events that T.Carson has played … he’s got wins over De La Rosa, Parrilla and Mercado.
– In the #24/#25 seed, Kadim Carrasco takes on former touring regular Jansen Allen in an interesting match. Allen has taken a significant step back from touring and missed an event close to home last week in Texas but travels to South Dakota for this one. this could be a close match.
– #21 Felipe Camacho vs #28 Sam Bredenbeck: Camacho is another former top-10 touring pro who has stepped back from touring, now seeing his ranking fall into the 20s. He faces off against the younger Bredenbeck, who got two solid wins over tour regulars at this event last year to make the main draw.
– #22 Alan Natera Chavez vs #27 Charlie Pratt Racquetball; wow, what a tough match in the 64s; I think both of these guys are pushing for top 10 spots if they were still touring full time, and now they meet here. As I often observe, Natera can be hit or miss; one day he’s beating Montoya and Mar (as he has done in the last two Mexican Nats), then the next day he’s losing to relative unknowns in local events. Meanwhile, Pratt has a history of getting solid wins even as he curtails his touring.
– #18 Robert Collins vs #34 Tim Landeryou; Assuming Landeryou gets past Andres Gomez in the play in, he faces an opponent that he can hang with in the 64s. Could be an upset in the making here.

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Projecting the 32s: here’s some possible match-ups to watch for and some upset warnings:

– #16/#17 Adam Manilla vs the Fernandez/Carson winner: Was last week’s version of Manilla a one-off fluke, or has he turned the tide under the tutelage of a new coach Jim Winterton? This will be a good first test; which ever player advances will be a tough opponent that, up until last week, I’d have favored over Manilla. Now? I’m not so sure who to predict.
– #14 Andres Acuña vs #19 Javier Mar: Acuna has to be frustrated with this draw; the under-seeded Mar can beat practically anyone at this tourney and he travels through Acuna to get into the main draw.
– #11 Mario Mercado vs the Natera/Pratt winner: Pratt has never lost to Mercado in an event PRS tracks, and hasn’t played Natera in nearly 5 years. This is an upset warning for a 20-seed to advance here.

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round of 16:

– #1 Alex Landa vs #16 Manilla: so, assuming that Manilla gets here … is this a possible 16 over 1 situation? I mean, Landa as a #2 seed was upset by the 18th seed Garay last week, and Manilla had the best event of his career with wins over Parilla and Mercado and going one game up on DLR. It wouldn’t surprise me to see this be a 5,6 blow out for Landa or a monumental upset by Manilla.
– #8/#9: Samuel Murray vs Jake Bredenbeck; its a coin-flip between these two hard hitters; they’ve split their 2 prior match-ups and play a similar game style.
– #5 Lalo Portillo vs #12 Carlos Keller Vargas; Portillo has now been beaten in the round of 16 four straight times … and I think Keller makes it 5 for 5. These two play a very similar game style, which makes sense since they both are tall, lanky and have great court coverage. Can Keller finally break through and make a pro quarter? Or can Lalo reverse his trend of getting upset early?
– #4 Alvaro Beltran vs #20 Javier Estrada: well, last week I thought Beltran might get upset by a younger countryman who’s been making waves in Mar … and I think the same could happen here. I also think back to back tourneys and flights add up for a 40-yr old; i’m predicting the upset here.
– #3 Andree Parrilla vs #19 Mar: a brutal round of 16 for Parrilla, who’s coming off an upset loss in Austin in the same round. Not a lot of past history to go on; they met a few times on the WRT back in 2016-2017 range, and they met in a local RKT event in SLP late last year. They’re about even on the court head to head through these matches; who will prevail here? I expect a dog-fight and for Mar to prevail in the upset.
– #6 Conrrado kevin Moscoso Ortiz Racquetball vs … someone. Is this Natera, Pratt, Mercado? It could be any of these guys. Bigger question is; how healthy is Moscoso here? Is he 100%? How much of a run can he make? If Moscoso is not at full strength, he can easily lose to whichever of these plays advances out of this section to meet him. Lets hope he’s healthy, since he’s traveled an awfully long way to play these events.
– #7 Daniel De La Rosa vs #10 Rodrigo Montoya Solis; Another gang-busters round of 16; this is the final of 2018 Mexican Nationals and the semis of this event last year. I think DLR has Montoya’s number; the only win Montoya has over DLR h2h was in a match that had already guaranteed both guys spots on the Mexican international team. DLR looked like a new guy last week in Austin and despite being the 7th seed has a draw he must like to get back to the finals again.
– #2 Rocky Carson vs Gerardo Franco: both guys missed Austin; Carson still recovering from a knee op in December; is he 100%? I don’t think Franco can beat him, but I wonder if Carson is ready to take on this deep field.

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Projected Qtrs:
– Landa over Murray; Landa takes out his frequent doubles partner.
– Estrada over Keller: I like Estrada’s big serve over Keller’s tactical game.
– Mar over Moscoso: I sense Moscoso still isn’t 100% and may fall at this juncture to a veteran pro
– DLR over Carson: DLR is hot, Carson is recovering, and when they do play its often close. I like DLR with the upset here.

Semis:
– Landa over Estrada: I’m not sure they’ve met …its hard to keep track of all the RKT draws that feature all these players. But by game style I think I like Landa to outlast Estrada.
– DLR over Mar; flip a coin between these two on the court, if it comes to this. I’ll go with DLR just based on experience and recent form, even if I have Mar slightly ahead of him on my personal world rankings.

Finals; Landa over DLR, a rematch of the 2018 Lewis Drug final.

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Doubles review

Great doubles draw. I’d expect the #1 team of DLR/Beltran to make the final from the top, and for Mar/Montoya to make it from the bottom for a solid all-Mexican final. It’d be a rematch of the 2018 Mexican Nationals and I’d favor the #1 seeds.

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International Racquetball Tour
International Racquetball Federation – IRF
USA Racquetball
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Federación Mexicana de Raquetbol
Federación Boliviana De Raquetbol – Febora
Federación Boliviana de Racquetball
Racquetball Colombia
Federacion Colombiana de Racquetball
Federación Costarricense de Racquetball