2020 IRT Atlanta Open Wrap-Up

DLR takes the singles title in Atlanta. Photo US Open 2019, Photographer Kevin Savory

Congrats to your winners on the weekend:
– Singles: Daniel De La Rosa
– Doubles; Eduardo Garay/Juan Pablo Rodriguez

R2 Sports App home page for event: https://www.r2sports.com/website/event-website.asp?TID=31746

Lets review the notable matches in the Singles draw.(reminder: this was not a Tier1, therefore there’s no results in the PRS database).

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In the 16s:- 7 of the top 8 seeds advanced, with the only “upset” being Austin Cunningham topping #8 Jim Douglas with a double donut. For the most part the traveling pros dominated local competition in their openers, with no tie-breakers and only a couple games that were competitive. This setup some great quarter final action.

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In the Quarters- #1 Alex Landa cruised past #9 Cunningham 4,12. – #5 Eduardo Garay Rodriguez blitzed past his countryman #4 Mario Mercado 11,4 to advance. This seems like an important result, as Garay trails Mercado in the current IRT standings, but just supplanted him on the Colombian national team and seems set to make a rise up the standings when we get back into full time touring.- #3 Sebastian Franco was stretched to a breaker by the home-town favorite Maurice Miller before advancing 11-4.- #2 Daniel De La Rosa dropped the first game 14 before advancing in a breaker over the pesky #7 MoMo Zelada.

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In the Semis- #1 Landa cruised past #5 Garay 4,11 to move to the final. Garay had to take the court immediately after a long doubles match and looked a bit winded in game one, then Landa held on as Garay settled in for game two.- #2 DLR dominated #3 Franco 7,7 to move into the finals.In the Finals, DLR dropped the first game 14 but rebounded to push it to a tiebreaker. In the breaker, he raced out to a commanding lead that Landa could not overcome and DLR gets the win over his long-time rival (14),11,4. Solid win for DLR, who stayed calm and stuck to his game plan to take out Landa. Both players played well, showing a bit of rust, but I liked DLR’s calm approach.

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Doubles reviewThe 8-team Men’s doubles draw kicked off the festivities Friday night, and all four quarter final matches were close. The draw went chalk (with all four top seeds advancing), but three of the four top seeded teams needed a tie-breaker to advance. The #2 seeded team of DLR and tournament sponsor Donald Williams was pushed the hardest, dropping the first game 6 before rebounding to take the tiebreaker 11-9 over the all-Colombian team of Franco and their coach Francisco Fajardo.

In the semis:- the #4 team of Miller/Mercado surprised the #1 seeded team of Landa/Zelada. Mercado has always been a solid doubles player, and spurred on the run along side the home town favorite to push into the final. It was a surprising result, given Landa’s IRT pro doubles accomplishments as of late.- The #3 team of Colombians Garay and Juan Pablo Rodriguez eked past one of the top doubles player in the world in DLR, teamed with tournament sponsor Donald Williams 11-10 in the breaker. Rodriguez is an up and comer; he represented Colombia at the 2019 world Juniors in 14U, making the semis before losing to USA’s NIkhil Prasad. Rodriguez out-hit Williams on the forehand side, and the #2 seeded team’s tactics couldn’t push them past the Colombians in the end.

In the final, Rodriguez stepped up and helped his all-Colombian team outlast two seasoned IRT pros 13,8. Garay/Rodriguez take the title over Miller/Mercado.

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Men’s Open, other drawsThe young Colombian Rodriguez had a heck of a tournament, winning Pro doubles, making the final of Pro Consolation/Men’s Open (where he lost to long-time top Floridian Andres Ramirez in a breaker), and also winning Elite Doubles with fellow top junior international Maricruz Ortiz.

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Thanks for all the streaming on the weekend, especially from broadcasters Dean DeAngelo Baer and Pablo Fajre and the who streamed all weekend.——————

Next up? 3WallBall Outdoor World Championships in Vegas! More to come on that in this space soon.——————

-tagsSuivant Consulting (Donald Williams’ firm and tournametn sponsor).Formulaflow (Zelada’s sports retail firm)International Racquetball TourInternational Racquetball Federation – IRFUSA RacquetballFederación Mexicana de RaquetbolRacquetball ColombiaFederacion Colombiana de RacquetballFederación Costarricense de RacquetballFederación Boliviana De Raquetbol – FeboraReaching Your Dream Foundation

Junior Worlds 2019 Singles Wrap-Up

Congrats to all your Junior World singles winners from this past week’s competition in San Jose, Costa Rica:

Boys 18U: Gerson Miranda, Bolivia
Boys 16U: Hector Barrios, Bolivia
Boys 14U: Jhonatan Flores, Bolivia
Boys 12U: Eder Renteria, Mexico
Boys 10U: Alvaro Guillen, Costa Rica

Matrix of all Junior world Boys Winners through 2019: http://rball.pro/043BA8

Girls 18U: Angela Barrios, Bolivia
Girls 16U: Maricruz Ortiz, Costa Rica
Girls 14U: Heather Mahoney, USA
Girls 12U: Sonia Shetty, USA
Girls 10U: Nicol Mancilla, Bolivia

Matrix of all Junior World Girls Winners through 2019: http://rball.pro/BCE571

We’ll run through the Doubles winners in a post tomorrow.

All the match data for 14U, 16U and 18U competitions are loaded into the database, along with just the finals of the younger competitions. Listed below are Match Reports for each division as we review them.

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Summary of Singles results: 5 of the 10 junior world singles titles to Bolivia.

– Bolivian wins in Boys 18U,16U,14U, Girls 18U, 10U
– Costa Rica wins Girls 16U, Boys 10U
– America wins Girls 14U, 12U
– Mexico wins Boys 12U

In 2018 by way of comparison, Bolivia won 5 of the 10 junior singles titles, Mexico took 4 and USA took one.


Lets run through the results from the 14s, 16s and 18s divisions, citing notable results and upsets.


In the Boys 18U:

PRS Match Report: http://rball.pro/539FFE

– Just one top-8 seed failed to advance to the quarters: #3 Chilean Johan Igor was taken out in two close games by home-country favorite Pablo Freer 14,10. Freer was the unlucky recipient of a group stage that included drastically under-seeded Garcia and is clearly better than a 14th knockout seed. He faces his countryman Tomas Sanchez in the quarters, ensuring a home-country representative into the semis.
– Mexican Jose Carlos Ramos was stretched to a breaker by Guatemalan Nathan Martinez and faces his Mexican teammate in the quarters.

In the Qtrs:
– #1 Bolivian Gerson Miranda Martinez cruised over American #8 Ben Baron winning in two.
– #4 Argentinian Diego Garcia topped Ecuadorian Juan Flores, setting up the highly anticipated match with Miranda (which most observers think are the two top players in this draw).
– #6 Costa Rican Tomas Sanchez topped his team-mate Freer to advance.
– #7 Ramos topped his teammate easily, beating #2 Emir Mtz 6,7 to move into the semis and put himself in a great spot to advance to the finals.

In the semis:
– #1 vs #4 turned out to be kind of a dud, as #1 Miranda really outclassed his younger former countryman Garcia 6,8.
– #6 Sanchez won over #7 Ramos by the curious scores of 10,(0),10. It took him three shots at match point, but he eventually took the win and proved that “it only takes 26 to win.”

In the final, Miranda dominated the home favorite Sanchez to take the 18U world title 6,7. He improves on his semis finish last year and graduates from the junior ranks as the top dog.

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In the Girls 18U:

PRS Match Report: http://rball.pro/F53055

– No surprises or upsets-by-seed to the quarters.

In the quarters, chalk; all four top seeds advance in two games.
– #1 Centellas and #3 Barrios each eliminate a Mexican player early; there will be no Mexican girls even to the semis of 18U after having a Mexican win both of the last two 18U titles.
– Surprising Argentinian #4 Katz dominated USA’s Wargo in a battle of lefties to move on.
– #2 Ecuadorian Sarmiento downed USA’s Chauhan to move on.

Its a changing of the guard; no Americans or Mexicans in the 18U girls semis.

In the semis:
– Both Bolivians advanced to the final in dominant fashion as #1 Centellas and #3 Barrios vanquished Katz and Sarmiento by the cores of 5,3 and 4,0 respectively.

Fun fact; to this point in the event, here’s the total number of points allowed by the two Bolivian 18U players:
– Centellas: 27 points in 4 matches; that’s an average of less than 4 points a game.
– Barrios: 20 points in 5 matches. That’s an average of 2 (two!) points per game.

In the final, Barrios turned the tide on her country-woman from their nationals event, taking the title over the #1 seeded Centellas 10,13. Barrios improves on her semis finish from last year and graduates the junior ranks as the champion.

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In the Boys 16U:

PRS Match Report: http://rball.pro/19F6CC

– Two upsets in the round of 16: Chilean #12 Jaime Mansilla took out #5 Ecuadorian Josue Bermeo Solano in a tie-breaker. He moves on to face the Bolivian #4 seed Adrian Jaldin, who himself was stretched to a breaker in the 16s.
– Home-town favorite #10 Costa Rican Felipe Guillen took out #7 Canadian Nathan Jauvin in the 16s to move on.
– the 16s were robbed of potentially its best match when American Andrew Gleason had to retire due to injury ahead of his rematch versus #3 seed Mexican Aldo Caraveo Carrasco. You hate to see any player head out of a major event like this with injury.

In the quarters:
– Three of the top 4 seeds advanced in two games: #1 Sebastian Longoria, #2 Hector Barrios and #4 Adrian Jaldin. #6 American Timmy Hansen was the sole upset winner, taking out the #3 seed Mexican Aldo Caraveo in two games. Hansen is on fire in Costa Rica, having won all five matches and having given up no more than 10 points in any game.

In the Semis:
– #1 Longoria came from a game down to squeak by the Bolivian #2 Jaldin 11-8 in the breaker.
– #2 Barrios came from a game down to top American Hansen in 11-5 in the breaker to setup 1 v 2 in the final, the top Mexican vs the top Bolivian.

In the Final, the Bolivian #2 dropped the middle game but won the tiebreaker over the Mexican #1 to give the Bolivians another world junior title.

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In the Girls 16U:

PRS Match Report: http://rball.pro/47CC7A

Two “upsets” in the 16s, though they’re both probably not really upsets in that they’re in the 8/9 and 7/10 matches where its rather hard to separate players.
– American #9 Annie Roberts blasted #8 Cuban Sunlaris Rodriguez 1,0; she moves on to face the top seed in the quarters.
– American #10 Erin Slutsky took out #7 seeded Costa Rican Sofia Freer in a tie-breaker to move on to face the #2 seed in the quarters.

In the Quarters, we got one big upset.
– #1 Mexican Lupita Griffin, who was a semi-finalist in World 16U last year, was taken out by American #9 Annie Roberts
– #5 @ [100003954106579:2048:Maricruz Ortiz] took out #4 Katz 12,4. Interestingly, Katz has now made it further in the 18U draw than she will in the 16U draw, and Ortiz looks like the next big thing in Women’s racquetball.
– #2 Meneses and #3 Martinez each advanced to setup the expected semi-final.

In the semis:
– #5 Ortiz crushed the upset-minded Roberts 1,2 to advance to the final. Despite her seed, I’ve felt Ortiz was the favorite in this field and it will be interesting to see how she fares in the final.
– #2 Meneses cruised past the Mexican #3 Martinez 0,9 to advance to the final and setup a great show-down with Ortiz.

In the final, Ortiz mounted a furious comeback in the tie-breaker after dropping the first and blitzing Meneses in the second to take a thriller 11-10 and give the home country a gold medal to cheer for.

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In the Boys 14U:

PRS Match Report: http://rball.pro/11D127

The #3 and #4 seeds were both upset in the 16s of the knockouts, but the top two seeds both advanced to the final without breaking a sweat.

In the final, Bolivian #1 Jhonathan Flores came from a game down to top American #2 @ [507188469660347:274:Nikhil Prasad] in a tiebreaker to take the 14U crown.

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In the Girls 14U

PRS match Report: http://rball.pro/7A77EC

– The #1 seed was toppled in the quarters 11-10 by #8 seed Mexican Angela Ortega, who advanced to the final. #2 American Heather Mahoney won a tight semi then took the final to win her 3rd World Junior title.

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Another major IRF event in the books. Great job by Gary Mazaroff and his staff for their work on the broadcasts, and to Pablo Fajre for his streaming efforts.

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Org links

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

Junior Worlds: RR review, Knockout Preview

We’re through the round robin phase of the event; lets do a quick re-cap of surprising results in the RRs and preview the knockouts.

Draws located at www.internationalracquetball.com website (click on the “Divisions and Results” button on the home page).

Live streaming is usually shared to the Facebook group “Live Streaming of Racquet Sports” when found, and the official streaming by the IRF is via their facebook page. I suggest you follow both.

We generally just focus on the oldest age groups at PRS (18U and 16U), but capture 14U and younger winners for the record books once the tourney is complete.

A reminder: The IRF seeds the draw for the RR stage, then re-seeds the draw for the knockouts based on the RR results. Sometimes the RR results don’t exactly match the knockout seeds (meaning, if you enter as #1 seed, win your group … you’re not guaranteed the #1 seed in knockouts). I don’t know what the criteria used is to flip around these seeds. But generally in the write-up below I attempt to distinguish between the RR seeds and the Knockout seeds; apologies if its confusing to read.

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RR recap; here’s some notable results from the RRs:

In Boys 18U
– The top 2 seeds cruised through (Mexico’s Emir Mtz and Bolivia’s Gerson Miranda Martinez but for reasons unknown they’ll be flipped in the knockout draw.
– The 3rd and 4th seeds were beaten in the RRs and will drop; Argentina’s Diego Garcia Quispe won his group with the 3rd seeded Jose Carlos Ramos and will be the 4th seed in the knockouts while Chilean Johan Igor surprised everyone by taking his group as the 14th seed. He’ll slot into the 3rd seed in knockouts.

In Boys 16U:
– As with the 18u, the top two seeds cruised through the RR stage without incident. Mexico’s Sebastian Longoria and Bolivia’s Hector Barrios advanced without dropping a game.
– the 3rd seed, Mexican Aldo Caraveo Carrasco was stretched 11-9 by American Andrew Gleason, but took the group as expected. Gleason was upset later on and will be a dangerous 14th seed in the knockouts.
– The 4th seed, Bolivian Adrian Jaldin won the group, but was pushed by Canadian Nathan Jauvin
– American Timmy Hansen upset the 5th seed and dominated his group to advance as the group winner.

Girls 18U
– The #1 seed, Mexican Maria Fernanda Gutierrez Justiniano was upset by Ecuadorian Ana Lucía Sarmiento 11-10; she ascends to the 2nd seed in the knockouts.
– As expected, Bolivian Valeria Centellas dominated her group as the inexplicable 7th seed, dropping just 10 points in four games to win the group; she’ll be the top seed in the knockouts.
– Argentinian Martina Katz upended her group as the 11th seed, topping 3rd overall seed Mexican Anna Rivera and ensuring that neither Mexican would be a top 4 seed in the knockouts.
– Also as expected, Bolivian Angelica Barrios dominated her group even more thoroughly than Centellas, giving up just four points in six games (!) and handing out four donuts en route to winning her group going away.

I know I keep harping on the seeding here, but really. Centellas and Barrios advanced by winning their combined 5 matches/10 games while giving up a combined 14 points between them. Tell me again why they weren’t the two top seeds going into this draw?

Girls 16U
– the top 3 seed’s RR groups went completely chalk, with Mexicans Lupita Griffin and Ximena Martinez along side #2 seed Bolivian Micaela Meneses Cuellar advancing unscathed.
– Argentine Katz (who also won her 18U group in an upset) blitzed her way to a win in her 16U group too. What a great tournament she’s had so far.
– Unsurprisingly, Costa Rican Maricruz Ortiz won her group but will only improve her knockout seed slightly. What was surprising was to see Cuban Loraine Felipe finish in 2nd place as the 17th and lowest seeded player.

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Knockout Previews/Predictions

Boys 18U:

Top 4 seeds go: Miranda, Martinez, Igor, Garcia.

There’s some fun matches in the early rounds to watch for:
– Garcia has to play his former countryman Charlie Chavez the 16s
– the two Mexicans (Ramos, Martinez) likely have to face each other in the quarters
– #1 Bolivian Miranda likely eliminates both Americans; one in 16s, the other in the Quarters, as he seems set to face Micah Farmer in the 16s and Ben Baron in the quarters.

Otherwise I feel the draw goes chalk to the semis.

In the semis, I’m going with Garcia over Miranda in a dog-fight, Martinez over Igor, and whoever takes the Garcia/Miranda semi winning.

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Boys 16U

top 4 seeds go Longoria, Barrios, Caraveo, and Jaldin.

Early round Matches to watch for:
– Caraveo has to play American Gleason in a RR group rematch right out of the gate. They played close in the group stage; can the lefty Gleason learn from his loss and force the upset here?
– If Gleason can’t beat Caraveo, then his teammate Hansen could; they’re projected to meet in the quarters.

In the semis, i’m going Longoria over Jaldin, Barrios over Hansen, and Longoria over Barrios in the final. But to be honest, this is a deep draw and i’m not confident that the knockouts will go chalk at all. Look for upset runs.

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Girls 18U:

top 4 seeds: Centellas, Sarmiento, Barrios and Katz.

Early round Matches to watch for:
– #4/#5 Katz vs American Graci Wargo in the quarters could be a solid match
– #7/#2 Sarmiento vs American Nikita Chauhan could also be interesting. Both are upset potentials.

In the semis, i’m predicting that both Bolivians advance over whomever comes out of the other side, and i’m going with Barrios over Centellas in the final.

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Girls 16U

top 4 seeds: Griffen, Meneses, Martinez and Katz.

Early round matches to watch for:
– 8/9 Annie Roberts versus Cuban Suniaris Rodriguez: Rodriguez upset the pre-tourney 4th seed from Bolivia in the group stage: this could be a tight match.
– #3/#14: @ximena martinez will have her work cut out for her taking on the Bolivian @fernanda mendez in the 16s.
– 4/5 in the quarters: The surprise Argentine Katz set to take on last year’s finalist Ortiz, playing on home court. Tough match-up; i’ll go with Ortiz to ride the crowd to victory.

In the semis, I’m going with Ortiz to upset Griffen, Meneses to hold serve against Martinez, and for Ortiz to win the title on home soil in the final.

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Knockouts are starting today, going all day. Should be an exciting tournament.

International Racquetball Tour
International Racquetball Federation – IRF
International Racquetball Federation
USA Racquetball
Racquetball Canada
Federación Mexicana de Raquetbol
Federación Boliviana de Racquetball
Fecoracquet Fecoracquet
Federación Costarricense de Racquetball
Asociación Argentina de Racquetball

2019 World Juniors Preview

Welcome to the biggest stages for Juniors every year; its World Juniors. Every country in the IRF can send two representatives to compete for the title of Junior World champion.

Click here for a Matrix of all past World Junior Boys titlists: http://rball.pro/043BA8
Click here for the same for Girls: http://rball.pro/BCE571

Draws for the Round Robins are now available via www.internationalracquetball.com, with RRs having started Saturday morning 11/9/19.

The structure of the event is as follows: several days of round robin competition, with pre-tournament seeds dictated by last year’s results-by-country (in other words, if a Mexican 18U boy won last year, which is what happened with Lalo Portillo took out countryman Sebastian Fernandez in the Boys 18U final, then Mexico would be seeded #1 in this RR draw, which is the case this year as we’ll discuss).

Once the RRs are complete, then the draw is re-seeded based on the results of each RR group and a knockout competition is played to its completion a week from today, Saturday.

In this post, we’ll preview the big names to watch for, then we’ll do another “preview” predicting the knockout draw. Thanks to the late release of the draw, some of these key RR match-ups may have already happened.

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Boys 18U:

18 players in the 18U boys draw.

Top seeds: #1 Emir Martinez (Mex), #2 Gerson Miranda Martinez (Bolivia), #3 Jose Carlos Ramos (Mexico) and #4 Charlie Chavez (Bolivia). In 2019, the semis were both Mexican players and both Bolivian players, hence the top four seeds here.

Unfortunately, this draw is significantly weaker than it should be: presumptive top 18U player in the world Fernandez (last
year’s runner-up, the reigning 18U Mexican junior champ and currently ranked 16th on the IRT who just made the quarters at the US Open) is not present. Nor is US 18U champ Antonio Rojas, who announced his decision not to attend this event earlier this year.

Emir Martinez was the losing Mexican finalist and ascends to the #1 seed here, but you have to think Miranda (who made the semis last year as a 17yr old) is the favorite in this draw. USA’s two representatives are seeded 5th and 7th in Micah Farmer and Ben Baron respectively, and they’ll have their work cut out for them in the knockouts if seeds hold. Baron in particular has a nice chance of improving his seed in the RRs; he has a group with 4th overall seed Bolivian Chavez, who is newer to this stage and gets in by virtue of Garcia’s absence. #3 Ramos was last year’s losing 16U finalist and could be a sneaky force here to watch for.

One last post-publishing correction: I had thought mistakenly that Diego Garcia Quispe​ was missing from the draw; upon looking closer he’s there … he’s seeded dead last 18th out of 18 and is representing his new country. Garcia is the reigning 16U world junior champ and switched countries this year; he’s going to be a force in this event and I wouldn’t put it past him to make the final and face off against his former country-man Miranda.

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Girls 18U

There’s 13 players in the 18U Girls draw.

tops Seeds: #1 Maria Gutierrez (Mexico), #2 Nikita Chauhan (USA), #3 Ana Rivera (Mexico) and #4 Graci Wargo (USA). Both the Bolivian players are outside the top 4 ( Angelica Barrios and Valeria Centellas).

A big changing of the guard in 18U from last year, when two of the world’s best young players ( Montse Mejia and Ana Gabriela Martinez) met in a final that looked more like the back end of a pro event than a junior title.

Missing from this draw is the USA 18U champ from earlier this summer Briana Jacquet, who won the title w/o dropping a game. And also missing is the Mexican 18U champ Ana Laura Flores Saavedra, who beat Gutierrez 1,1 in the Mexican 18U final. So like with the Boys, we’re missing both the reigning Mexican and USA champ from this draw.

I have to question the seeds in this draw. I fail to understand why neither of the Bolivians are seeded in the top 4, based on Barrios’ 2018 performance (she was the #2 seed last year and made the semis). Both the Bolivian players entered here have made serious impressions in major pro events: Centellas lost 11-9 in the 5th to eventual Bolivian Grand Slam winner Maria Jose Vargas Parada and is the current reigning World Doubles champion, while Barrios made the semis in that same event, defeating two current LPRT top-8 pros in the process.

Going into this RR stage, I think both under-seeded Bolivians (seeded 5th and 7th respectively) will be forces to reckon with. Centellas is in #2 Chauhan’s group and could easily be #2 in the knockouts, while Barrios may very well upset Wargo in their group to improve her knockout seeding as well. The first couple of days of knockouts here will be telling. Gutierrez is last year’s losing 16U world junior finalist and has the chops to compete but I think she’ll fall before the final.

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Boys 16U

18 boys in this draw.

Top seeds: #1 Sebastian Longoria (Mex), #2 Hector Barrios (Bol), #3 Aldo Caraveo (Mex) and #4 Adrian Jaldin (Bol). As with the Boys 18U, all four top seeds from Mexico or Bolivia. But the next 4 seeded players all come from either Ecuador or USA, thanks to strong showings in last year’s 16U event.

Mexico’s 16U finalist Erick Trujillo and USA’s 16U champion Rojas (also the 18U winner) miss this event, weakening the draw. But Longoria and Jaldin (who made the semis last year) should be strong candidates to make the final. USA’s entries Andrew Gleason and Timmy Hansen should prove tough outs too: Gleason made the world 14U final last year, and Hansen won USA 14U last year.

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Girls 16U

17 girls in the draw.

Top seeds: #1 Guadalupe Griffin (Mex), #2 Michaela Meneses, #3 Ximena Martinez (Mex) and #4 Fernanda Mendez (Bol).

The two top Mexican seeds were the 16U finalists this year. #2 seed Meneses was last year’s 14U winner and is a strong candidate to take the title here. Also in this draw: #6 Maricruz Ortiz, who made the final last year in 16U yet somehow only rates a #6 seed; rough path for the seeds in her way. USA 16U champ Annie Roberts is seeded 9th, probably a bit low. Missing is USA’s Heather Mahoney, who was the work 14U runner up and 16U USA runner-up (she’s competing only in 14Us at worlds); she’s replaced in the 16U draw by Erin Slutzky, seeded 11th.

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Notables in the younger draws:

– In Boys 14U #1 Nikhil Prasad and his countrymate #3 Vedant Chauhan both just competed ably in the IRT Tier 4 Bay club open pro tournament; they run a good chance of meeting again in the final. Standing in the way though are a couple of solid Bolivian juniors (as always) and #5 seed Luis Renteria, who just made the semis of the IRT Tier 5 Bi-national event in El Paso.

– In Girls 14U, Heather Mahoney goes for her 3rd junior world title since 2015.

– In Boys 12U, both the 2017 and 2018 Boys 10U world champions are in the draw, both from Mexico in Eder Renteria and Sebastian Ruelas. Neither is the #1 seed; that goes to American Joseph Marshall.

– In Girls 12U: 2017 10U world champ American Sonia Shetty is the #2 seed behind Mexico’s Fernanda Trujillo.

– In Boys and Girls 10U, the draw is dominated by Bolivians and Mexicans, all new to the world Junior stage.

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Word on the street is that streaming won’t officially start til the knockouts; we’ll be on the lookout for parents and associations doing streaming on the side. As always, follow the Facebook group “live streaming of Racquet sports” for notifications.

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International Racquetball Federation – IRF
USA Racquetball
Federación Mexicana de Raquetbol
Racquetball Canada
Federación Boliviana de Racquetball
Fecoracquet Fecoracquet
Federación Costarricense de Racquetball

LPRT Qualifying wrap-up and round of 32 preview

Gudinas qualifies for the main draw in her 21st US Open appearance. Photo via WPRO blog Mar 2012

Qualifying is done for the LPRT; lets highlight the notable matches and preview what looks to be a fantastic round of 32.

In the 64s:
– Linda Tyler took out Costa Rican junior Maricruz Ortiz in a tie-breaker to earn a shot at #1 Longoria.

– Jenny Daza Navia took out US junior Annie Roberts 8,5 in Robert’s debut. Daza feeds into the 6th seeded Mendez, a player she can beat.

– Legend Cheryl Gudinas qualifies for another US Open main draw, downing Mexican youngster Anna Rivera 13,9.

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Here’s some round of 32 matches to watch for:

– #9 Masiel Rivera Oporto vs #25 Jessica Parrilla; man, what a tough first rounder for Rivera, who has shot up the rankings in the last year and is on the cusp of a top8 ranking (Rivera was seeded 22nd in this event last year by way of comparison). Parrilla is of course on the come back trail from being a former top-4 pro. Expect a hard-hitting battle here and a possible upset by seed.

– #12 Montse Mejia vs #21 Maria Renee Rodriguez; they havn’t played in several years, and the draw is well positioned for Mejia to make a semis run this year. This is a first test. Rodriguez is trying to build on some solid wins in 2019 on the court.

– #14 Frederique Lambert vs #19 Angelica Barrios; Two years ago this would be a predicted blow out, as Lambert was ranked #2 on tour and Barrios was still in juniors. Now this is a dangerous match: Barrios dispatched two top-10 players in the Bolivian grand slam to make the semis and made the quarters of the Pan Am games before losing to Longoria. This one may come down to how rusty Lambert is.

– #6 Natalia Mendez Erlwein vs #27 Daza; The veteran Bolivian has been known to take out top ranked players; in this event last year she topped Vargas, for example. Mendez needs to be on her A-game for this South American match-up.

– #7 Nancy Enriquez takes on #26 Hollie Rae Scott; this should be an interesting one. Scott is the reigning intercollegiates champ and was the losing US national finalist in 2019. I’m not sure Scott has faced someone with the power of Enriquez before (this is their first meeting) so this should be an interesting match.

– #10 Brenda Laime Jalil vs #23 Michelle De La Rosa; people forget, but in 2015 mDLR (nee Key) finished 7th on tour in her sole full-time season of touring before stepping back for family reasons. She’s a player. Laime has climbed into the top 10 on tour with some solid results, but this is a different challenge for her.

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We’ll regroup for the round of 16s later today.

LPRT
UnitedHealthcare US OPEN Racquetball Championships
Federación Boliviana de Racquetball
Federación Mexicana de Raquetbol
Fecoracquet Fecoracquet
USA Racquetball
Racquetball Canada

US Open LPRT Qualifying Preview

Lets run through the qualifying rounds for the LPRT ahead of the main draw. Hopefully by the time you read this the matches havn’t already started 🙂

There’s 41 players in this draw, and the LPRT qualifies the top 24 into the main draw, so 17 players are competing for 8 main draw/round of 32 spots. This means one round of 128 and then a round of 32.

Here’s a quick run through notable round of 64 matches to look for.

– #32 Maricruz Ortiz vs #33 Linda Tyler; Costa Rican junior international Ortiz makes just her 3rd ever pro appearance and is set to play infrequent pro player Tyler. A good test for Ortiz, who started representing her country in her age-16 season and still has two full years left in 18U.

– #27 Jenny Daza Navia vs #34 Annie Roberts; another generational battle; Bolivian Daza has been playing for her country for more than a decade and, in 2018, took out Maria Jose Vargas Parada in the 32s of the Open. Roberts makes her LPRT debut here; she’s the two-time defending USA junior 16U champ and is playing in her 16U season.

– #31 Cheryl Gudinas, who has won this event twice, faces off against #34 Anna Rivera, who is just finishing up her age-18 year. Fun fact: Rivera was born in Feb 2000; Gudinas won four straight pro titles starting in 2001.

– #26 Hollie Rae Scott takes on Colombian veteran international #39 Carolina Gomez. Scott is the reigning intercollegiates champ and lost 11-10 in the US national final in May to Kelani Lawrence Meanwhile, we havn’t seen Gomez in a pro event since the 2010 US Open, though she’s been a regular fixture in the IRF circuit for Colombia for most of this decade.

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Once the qualifiers are set, we’ll circle back and review the round of 32.

LPRT
UnitedHealthcare US OPEN Racquetball Championships
USA Racquetball
Federación Costarricense de Racquetball
Federación Boliviana de Racquetball
Federación Mexicana de Raquetbol

Pan Am Games RR review, Knockout Preview

The Pan Am games round robin rounds for both singles and Doubles are done and the knockout draws have been published.

Lets do a quick run through of the notable/interesting RR results, then preview the knockout Draws.

An editorial: I think IRF needs to go back to having the two top seeds in the group play last, not first. I hate that the best match of the group stage happens on the opening day, when nobody knows the courts, everyone’s still jet lagged or perhaps rusty, and nobody has any tournament play under their belt yet.

Online brackets/results: http://www.internationalracquetball.com/lim-019/
or, on Pan Am Games official site here: https://www.lima2019.pe/en/results…

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Interesting Men’s Singles RR results:
– USA #1 Jake Bredenbeck got a solid win over IRT top-10 and Colombian #1 Sebastian Franco in their RR opener. Jake improved to 4-3 and broke a string of three straight losses to Franco. 
– Bolivian and #1 overall seed Luis Conrrado Moscoso Serrudo was stretched to a tie-breaker by the dangerous Costa Rican #1 Andres Acuña
– Cuban #2 Enier Chacon took out Argentinian #2 Fer Kurzbard 12,12, a solid win for the Cuban #2.
– Colombian #2 Mario Mercado got a great win, topping the 2-time reigning Pan American Racquetball Championships (PARC) champ Bolivian #2 Carlos Keller Vargas 14,11. Mercado gets the inside track to jump his pre-tourney seeding from 12 to a 3rd seed in the knockouts.
– Canadian #2 Coby Iwaasa got a career win, topping USA #2 Charlie Prattin a close tiebreaker. Iwaasa lost two close matches to Mercado in PARC19 and nearly won the last pro event held in Canada … but the last time we saw him on the IRT was in 2015. Would love to see him more.
– Ecuadorian #2 Jose Daniel Ugalde Albornoz in a huge upset, took out top overall seed Moscoso 11-10 in the final RR, throwing Group A into chaos with all three competitors finishing 1-1; by points differential Costa Rican Acuna is left out by just one cumulative point.
– DR #1 Ramon De Leon took out Cuban #1 Maikel Mollet in an 11-10 breaker as well, securing his passage to the knock outs.

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Interesting Women’s Singles RR results:
-Argentina’s Natalia Mendez​ got a solid win over Colombian Adriana Riveros10,13.
– USA’s Rhonda Rajsich destroyed Mexico’s Montse Mejia 4,7, a pretty surprising result. I thought Rajsich might win, but certainly not by these scores.
– Bolivia’s Valeria Centellas topped Colombia Amaya Cris​ by the incredibly close scores of (14),14,9. One point from the perfect match, and the youngster Centellas saved of match point against at 14-14 in the second to win. 
– Ecuador’s Pazita Muñoz Albornoz​ topped USA #1 Kelani Lawrence 5,6 in a match that still took nearly 50 minutes. (coincidentally: I love the timing provided in each match on the Pan Am website). Munoz later held on over improving Costa Rican Maricruz Ortiz 13,14 to secure the group.
– Argentina’s #1 overall seed Maria Jose Vargas​ met reigning world champ Gaby Martinez 11-9 in the tiebreaker. Tough opener for both; Martinez is clearly better than a double digit seed.
– Improving DR international player Merynanyelly Delgado took out LPRT touring vet Maria Renee Rodriguez in a tiebreaker.
– In the “Group of Death” Rajsich beat Canadian #1 Frederique Lambert 10,5 to top the group. Mejia salvaged 2nd place by topping Lambert herself 9,8. This knocked Lambert out of the knockout stages … a tough break for the former #2 player in the world.

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Men’s Singles Knockout round preview and predictions:

Unlike in other IRF competitions … the RR performance matters and qualified just 14 of the original 25 competitors to the knockouts. And, I have to be honest, I don’t entirely understand the knockout seedings. Beltran was elevated to #1 over Moscoso (who dropped from 1 to 2) despite Moscoso winning his group (albeit by the skin of his teeth). Mercado should have had the #3 seed but instead is 4th behind Montoya. Lastly, inexplicably, Pratt retains his 7th seed ahead of Iwaasa (who is seeded 8th) despite the fact that Iwaasa beat him head to head literally three days ago. I don’t get it.

Best players left out of the knockouts? Probably Acuna (the unlucky odd-man left out of the Group A logger-jam, who misses the knockout stages by two cumulative points over 3 matches). It was a bummer to see both Cubans knocked out; they have really improved lately. Otherwise the seeds mostly held and the top players are in the round of 16.

Here’s a preview of the Men’s singles knockout; Beltran and Moscoso get byes into the quarters.

– #9 Franco vs #8 Iwaasa: Iwaasa’s present for winning his group is to get a lesser seed than Pratt and to play into the current 7th ranked pro on the IRT. Tough match, but if Iwaasa keeps playing the way he has been, he could move on.
– #5 Bredenbeck gets a tricky opener against #12 De Leon but should advance.
– #4 Mercado gets a familiar opponent in #13 Felipe Camacho; they’ve played 4 times in the past three years and Mercado leads 3-1.
– #3 Rodrigo Montoya Solis who cruised through the group stage, gets the Moscoso-beating Ugalde; can the Ecuadorian keep it up?
– #6 Samuel Murray, for his troubles of winning the group, gets two-time defending PARC champ Keller as the 11th seed, a match Keller probably wins.
– #7 Pratt gets a heck of a lot easier opener than Iwaasa, going against DR’s Luis Perez.

Projecting the Quarters:
– #1 Álvaro Beltrán vs #8 Iwaasa: Beltran has his hands full here. Iwaasa can beat Franco, and Iwaasa can beat Beltran too.
– #4 Mercado vs #5 Bredenbeck: I like the way Jake is playing, I think his win over Franco in the RRs is proof enough of his focus and he should beat Mercado here.
– #3 Montoya vs Keller: Tough matchup for Montoya; last time they played was the semis of PARC18, and Keller got him in the breaker. I’m not entirely sure what to make of Keller’s loss to Mercado in the group stage; is he still hurt from earlier this summer? Montoya wasn’t really challenged in his RR group, making it tough to gauge how he’s playing. I think Keller advances here.
– #2 Moscoso vs #7 Pratt; great re-match of PARC19 quarters, when Pratt shocked the rball world and took out Moscoso 11-10 just weeks after Moscoso had won the Bolivian grand slam. Can he do it again? On the one hand, Moscoso has shown some chinks in the armor here (taken to tiebreaker by Acuna, beaten by Ugalde). On the other hand … so has Pratt shown he’s vulnerable with the Iwaasa loss. Pratt out-strategized Moscoso in Colombia and I think he can do it again.

Yes; i’m predicting that all four top seeds fall in the quarters. This is a testament to the depth of the international game these days.

Projected Semis:
– #8 Iwaasa over #5 Bredenbeck; I just like the way Iwaasa is playing.
– #11 Keller over #7 Pratt; a rematch of PARC19 final, won by Keller in a breaker. If Keller is healthy, he advances again.

Final: Keller over Iwaasa, cementing Keller’s international status by winning his third major title in the last two years.

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Women’s Singles Knockout round preview and predictions:

Unlike in the Men’s knockout draw … there seemed to be no discretion taken with the Women’s seeds; they are exactly driven from the group stage results, no deviations. (Again, why would the Men’s singles draw deviate from this formula?)

As with the Men’s draw; the top 2 seeds earn byes in the 16s and only 14 of the original 24 players advance to the knockout stages. Best player left out of the knockouts? Lambert obviously, then Rodriguez from Guatemala.

Here’s a preview of the knockout round:
In the 16s:
– #9 Lawrence over #8 Carla Muñoz Montesinos: despite the fact that they met in PARC19 and Munoz won, I like the way Lawrence is playing and think she can take this.
– #5 Centellas over #12 Riveros: the 17yr old continues to play well over her head; if she can bet Colombia’s #1 player (Amaya, as she did in the group stage), then she should be able to beat Colombia’s #2 player in Riveros
– #4 Rajsich should hold serve against #13 Delgado.
– #3 Natalia Mendez has her hands full with #14 Martinez. On paper this is a no brainer win for Martinez: she’s 4-0 lifetime over Mendez, including an 8,3 semis win at the 2018 Worlds en route to her currently held World title. But … Martinez hasn’t played competitive rball since January while Mendez has been showing solid results both internationally and professionally. I’ll go with Martinez here but it’s going to be close.
– #6 Maria Paz Munoz vs #11 Mejia; another brutal match-up for a top seed. Munoz’s award for winning her group is a match-up with a player who beat three of the top 5 players in the world en route to the Mexican national title earlier this year. I’m not sure what to make of Mejia’s loss in the RRs to Rajsich, but do think she can regroup and advance here.
– #7 Barrios vs #10 Amaya; a South American duel that, surprisingly, hasn’t happened before. Its the second Bolivia versus Colombia match-up in the round of 16 here; Amaya dropped a close one to Bolivia’s #1 player in the RRs, but Barrios may be just as good. I expect another close one here, as Amaya has really stepped up her game lately, but think Barrios still advances.

In the Qtrs:
– #1 Vargas makes quick work of #9 Lawrence
– #4 Rajsich gives a veteran lesson in tournament play to the youngster #5 Centellas
– #11 Mejia over #14 Martinez: these two have met over and over throughout the years; they’re the same age and met in the finals of Junior Worlds at least 7 times. Martinez owned their earlier match-ups … but Mejia has won three straight and should win here as well.
– #2 Paola Longoria cruises over the youngster #7 Barrios.

Semis projection:
– #1 Vargas over #4 Rajsich: these two have met no less than 30 times on the LPRT and internationally … and they’re 15-15 against each other. Vargas dominated Rajsich when they met in PARC19 and I think she’ll win again.
– #2 Longoria vs #11 Mejia: I don’t see Longoria losing to Mejia at this stage, not when it comes to winning titles.

Finals prediction: Longoria improves to 33-1 over Vargas in a rematch of the PARC19 final to win her 19th IRF tournament.

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Doubles Knockout round predictions:

On the Men’s side: no elimination at the RR stage, which is a sigh of relief for some of the teams who took surprising losses.

Also, more completely inexplicable seedings: Montoya/Mar destroyed Acuna & Camacho 2,0 in the RR stage, and won the group as the 3rd seed going in … then are seeded below them in the knockouts?? How does that happen?

I like Montoya/Mar over Carson/Pratt in one semi, Moscoso/Roland Kellerover Acuna/Camacho in the other semi, and for the Bolivians to win the final as they won the PARC final earlier this year.

On the Women’s side:

I like Longoria/Samantha Salas Solis over USA’s Rajsich/Lawrence in one semi, and for the Guatemalan team of Martinez and Rodriguez to upset the Argentinian team of Vargas/Mendez to make the final. however, in that final Longoria and Salas should capture their 14th international title together.

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Phew! Lots of matches in a short amount of time, but now we’re to the “business end” of this event. Lots of streaming available; individuals, country federations, etc. Check the regular places on Facebook for streaming notifications.

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

LPRT Syosset Open Singles Preview

In addition to the huge International Racquetball Tour draw in NY this weekend, there’s also a big LPRT draw AND a solid mixed doubles events combining both pro tours for just the 3rd time in the last few seasons (that i can see).

r2sports home page: https://www.r2sports.com/website/event-website.asp?TID=30716

Lets preview the ladies singles draw. 21 ladies present, including 14 of the top 15 ranked players (only missing the newly-retired Gaby Martinez, who still sits in the top 10 from results earlier this season) are here and the draw is solid.

Qualifying/round of 32 matches to watch:
– #16 Montse Mejia vs #17 Hollie Rae Scott; an interesting match between the reigning 18U junior world champ and the reigning USA RacquetballIntercollegiates champ. Mejia is favored here but Scott has wins over top 10 players in the past and won’t go easily.
– #20 Maricruz Ortiz, a finalist in the World 16U juniors in 2018 and who just represented Costa Rica at the 2019 PARCs, faces off against #13 LPRT touring regular Cassie Lee.
– In the 15/18 match, 18yr old Ana Laura Flores takes on Ceci Orozco Pratt, an infrequent but long-time LPRT player.

round of 16 matches to look for:
– #1 Paola Longoria vs Mejia: wow, what an opener. Paola Longoria beat Mejia at the 2018 UnitedHealthcare US OPEN Racquetball Championships, but then Mejia topped her in the final of the 2019 Federación Mexicana de Raquetbol Nationals to claim the #1 seed at the 2019 International Racquetball Federation – IRF PARC championships. This is a semis or finals quality match right out of the gate. While Longoria remains the undisputed #1 player in the world, Mejia has the talent to be there some day. But on the pro tour, in the best of 5 format, Longoria’s superior fitness will win out and she’ll win on the day.

– #8 Frederique Lambert vs #9 Adriana Riveros; newly minted MD Lambert returns to the pro tour fold having shedded a ton of points as she finished off medical school. Lest anyone forget, Lambert was the #2 player on tour in both of the last two seasons … so she’s a threat to win whenever she plays. But how rusty is she? I think she advances here.

– #3 Maria Jose Vargas Parada vs #14 Yazmine Sabja Aliss; they’ve only played twice, both in the back end of IRF tourneys in 2018. Vargas held serve to top Yazmine Sabja Ráquetbol to win the 2018 South American Games, then beat her again in the quarters of 2018 Worlds. Both native Bolivians, they meet in NY where Vargas has been playing really solid lately and advances.

– #6 Natalia Mendez vs #11 Masiel Rivera Oporto; Rivera has been playing well this season, making a quarter in her home country Bolivian Open. Natalia Mendez Erlwein has been pretty consistently advancing to pro tournament quarters and had a great run at the PARCs, making the semis.

Projected Quarters; this is almost identical to last weekend’s Quarters, with only Lambert replacing Amaya.

– #1 Longoria over #8 Lambert: well, if Longoria wants this event, she’ll be earning it, facing last year’s 2nd best player here in the quarters. That being said, Longoria is 26-1 career on the LPRT over Lambert, so she likely moves on here.
– #5 Rhonda Rajsich over #4 Alexandra Herrera ; despite their seeds, Rajsich has never lost to Herrera (9-0 lifetime) and held on for a 5-game marathon win last weekend. I think she makes it 10-0 here.
– #3 Vargas over #6 Mendez: Argentina’s #1 and #2, long-time doubles partners, and now facing each other for the fourth time in the last six weeks. Vargas should triumph again.
– #2 Samantha Salas Solis over #7 Nancy Enriquez; they met in the quarters last week, a 3-game win for Solis who improved to 7-1 career on LPRT over Enriquez and should advance here again.

Semis and Finals: I’m predicting the exact same results as San Antonio; Longoria over Rajsich, Salas over Vargas, and for the 7th time this season a final featuring Longoria and Salas.

32nd Annual PARC RR review, Knockout Previews

Mejia is the #1 women’s seed heading into the knockouts.

International Racquetball Federation

We’re through the round robin/group stages of the 32nd annual Pan American Racquetball Championships; lets review the interesting and upset results from the singles RRs and then preview the knockouts. A reminder; the results are re-seeded after the group stages for the knockouts.

Men’s singles RR matches of note:
– #4 seed Charlie Pratt took out #13 Mario Mercado in his home country in an 11-7 tiebreaker. 
– #3 seed Alvaro Beltran saved match point against versus Chilean journeyman Francisco Troncoso before finishing off a tie-breaker win.
– #8 seed Canadian Coby Iwaasa was upset in the RR stage by Costa Rican #1 Andres Andres Acuña 8,7. Acuna took out Horn in the 2018 US Open and has made the quarters or better of the last three PARCs, so this is no fluke. 
– Dominican #1 Luiz Perez lost 11-10 to unknown Venezuelan Roberto Leyes … but then took out two IRT veterans in Felipe Camacho and top-8 player Samuel Murray to win his group. This is not the first time Perez has made noise in IRF events: he’s got wins over Acuna and Montoya in 2018 and now gets a seed in the knockouts.

Women’s Singles RR matches of note: 
– #1 Montse Mejia was stretched to a tie-breaker by long-time IRF Ecuadorian vet Maria Paz Munoz.
– #13 Amaya Cris scored the biggest RR upset, taking out #2 Rhonda Rajsich in a close tie-breaker 14,(14),8. Amaya is the home-court favorite here and has now put herself in a great position to advance deep.
– #3 Paola Longoria outlasted Maria Jose Vargas Parada 12,13. Vargas’ sole career win over Longoria was at this event in 2018 but could not repeat the feat.
– #5  Maria Renee Rodríguez played a solid game to beat Natalia Mendez Erlwein and remain the favorite to advance as the seeded player out of the group. Mendez then lost to long-time Venezuelan player Mariana Tobon before defaulting the last match of the group.

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Singles Knockout Predictions:

In the Men’s singles draw, just two of the top 8 seeds were upset in RRs: Murray and Iwaasa. So here’s some projections of the Men’s singles draw here on out:

Matches to watch for in the 32s:
– The 16/17 match between Cuban #1 Maikel Mollet and Chilean #1 Francisco Troncoso should be close.
– Ecuadorian #1 and #9 seed Fernando Rios gets a tough test against Costa Rican veteran Felipe Camacho. Could go either way.
– #10 Coby Iwaasa gets an interesting match against long time Argentinian veteran Diana-Shai Manzuri, who has been representing Argentina in international events for more than 20 years now.

Matches to look for in the 16s:
– If Camacho can take out Rios, he likely faces his country-man Andres Acuna, who beat Camacho on the IRT twice in 2018.
– #5 Luis Conrrado Moscoso Serrudo vs #12 Samuel Murray: a brutal round of 16 here; these two met at the 2018 US Open and Murray topped Moscoso in a tie-breaker. So Murray can beat the newly crowned Bolivian champ. What to make of Murray’s upset in the RRs? This is a hard one to predict but the winner could go pretty far. I think i’ll go with the hot-hand Moscoso here.
– #14 Mario Mercado vs #3 Alvaro Beltran; another tough draw for a seeded player; Beltran has to face Mercado on his home soil. Beltran beat Mercado handily in Chicago in March … but Mercado played lights out at the Bolivian Open in making the semis. I think this is close and Beltran ekes it out.
– #7 Carlos Keller Vargas, your defending champ, faces a tough out in Canadian Coby Iwaasa in the 16s. I think Keller advances, but Iwaasa makes it hard on him.

Projecting the Quarters:
– #1 Alejandro Landa over #8 Acuna: this is a rematch of the 2017 PARC semis, a 2 game close win for Landa. They also met at the 2018 Florida IRT championship. Landa prevails.
– #5 Moscoso over #4 Pratt: Moscoso’s firepower overcomes Pratt’s tactical game.
– #3 Beltran takes out the upstart Dominican #6 Perez.
– #7 Keller over #2 David Horn; this is a rematch of the final of last year’s event, a tie-breaker win for Keller. I’m going to predict it happens again.

Semis:
– #5 Moscoso over #1 Landa; they met in Bolivia, in the semis of that Grand Slam … and Moscoso won in an epic donut tie-breaker. I think we see a similarly close game this time around with the same result.
– #7 Keller over #3 Beltran: they met in the quarters of the 2015 PARC and Keller got him then. I think Keller can do it again.

Final: an all-Bolivian final, with #1 over #2 as Moscoso downs his countryman for the title. If it happens this way, Moscoso will have more than earned t his win.

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In the women’s singles draw … 3 of the 7 group top seeds were upset, leading to some interesting looking seedings in the knockout and some tough matches out of the get go:

Matches to look for in the 32s:
– #9 Cuban Maria Regla Viera gets to play the 24th seeded Natalia Mendez; is Mendez hurt? Why did she default her final RR match? Either way, the LPRT top 10 player has a tough one against a tough Cuban.
– #12 Vargas gets the precocious Costa Rican Maricruz Ortiz. Ortiz was the losing finalist to Centellas at world 16U juniors in 2018 but is already representing her country at the Adult level.
– #15 Maria Paz Munoz gets a tough match against the other Cuban in the draw, Yurisleidis Alluie. Munoz should advance but as we’ve seen, the unknown Cuban competitors can make waves.

Matches in the 16s to look for:
– #8 Angelica Barrios faces off against the Mendez/Regla Viera winner, in what could be a pretty good match. Either way, I like the Bolivian junior to advance.
– Vargas vs #5 Maria Renee Rodriguez; a tough draw for Rodriguez, who wins her group and earns the bye but gets current top 4 LPRT player Vargas for her troubles.
– #4 Carla Carla Muñoz Montesinos vs Rajsich; tough break for Munoz, who wins her group and then gets the two-time defending PARC champion. 
– #6 Valeria Centellas vs #11 Kelani Lawrence; this could be a good match-up. I think Lawrence could pull the upset-by-seed here over the reigning 16U world junior champ.

Projecting the Quarters:
– #1 Montse Mejia vs #8 Barrios: they met in the 18U world juniors semis in both 2017 and 2018; both Mejia wins. I think Mejia continues her run.
– #12 Vargas vs #13 Rajsich: they’ve met 29 times across all competitions and are just about dead even; Rajsich currently leads h2h 15-14, and has won their last two meetings. But Rajsich was struggling in Bolivia with a knee issue; is she recovered? I’m going with Vargas here to ensure a new PARC champion.
– #3 Longoria over #11 Lawrence: Longoria has something to prove here, having lost to Mejia at Mexican Nats and having been the losing finalist the last two tournaments. She outclasses Lawrence here, looking for more.
– #2 Amaya takes out #7 Delgado on home soil.

Possible Semis:
– Vargas over Mejia: they’ve only met once; in April 2018 on the LPRT, a 3 game dominant Vargas win, and even thought Mejia has really stepped up on the world stage lately, Vargas has been on fire.
– Longoria over Amaya: they’ve met 12 times across LPRT and IRF and Amaya has never won. I don’t think she breaks that duck here.

Final: Longoria over Vargas. Longoria has owned Vargas in their careers (30-1 in 31 matches in LPRT and IRF). If Mejia takes out Vargas… then this is a whole new ball game. Mejia’s solid win over Longoria on home soil was a big step up in the world and a Longoria/Mejia final would be pretty compelling to watch. Longoria is basically unbeatable in the pro format, but has taken losses here and there over the past few years in the amateur format; can it happen again here?

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Men’s doubles thoughts: no real surprises in the RR sections, as the pre-tourney 1,2,4 and 6 seeds won their group. I think the knockout draw is top-heavy, with the semis featuring the two best teams (that being the Mexican team of Rodrigo Montoya Solís & Javier Mar and the Bolivian team of Moscoso and Roland Keller). The Bolivians fell to the Mexican teams at both the 2018 PARCs and Worlds, albeit with different players. I think the same happens here, despite Moscoso & Keller coming off of the Bolivian slam win.

I think the Canadians (Murray & Iwaasa) take out the American team of Jake Bredenbeck and Mauro Mauro Daniel Rojas in the quarters, on the bottom half, then get past the Costa Rican team of Acuna/Camacho before losing to the Mexican pair in the final.

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Women’s doubles thoughts: As with the Men’s side … the top half of this draw is packed, and the projected semis is the best match of the event, featuring the dominant Mexican pair of Longoria & Samantha Salas Solis vs the current World champion Bolivian side of Yazmine Sabja Aliss and Centellas. But to get there, the Mexicans have to take out the talented Argentian team of Vargas & Mendez (they who just took the Bolivian Grand slam title) while the Bolivians have to take out the American team of Lawrence & Sheryl Lotts

I think the Mexicans down the Bolivians in one semi, then take out the home-town Colombian pair of Riveros and Amaya for the title.

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Follow @IRF on Facebook to get Tim Timothy Baghurst calling all the streaming matches.

2018 World Juniors Wrap-Up

Eduardo “Lalo” Portillo finishes off his junior career with an 18U world title.

… as does Montserrat “Montse” Mejia.

The final International Racquetball Federation – IRF event of the season has finished up and new World Junior titlists have been crowned. Congrats to all the winners.

Here’s a review of the four eldest-most age categories (the ones that www.proracquetballstats.com currently tracks) and how the tournaments played out.

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In the Boys 18U (PRS Match report: https://bit.ly/2DyPnRc)…

The two Americans both fought hard but fell at the quarter-final stage. Los Angeles native Dane Elkins took #1 overall seed Fernando Ruiz Michel to a tiebreaker, and Stocktonian Ricardo Ricky Diaz (brother of IRT pro Jose Diaz) played #3 seed Bolivian Gerson Miranda tough, eventually falling 13,12. The two Mexican top seeds both advanced tot he semis with ease.

In the semis, it was Bolivia vs Mexico on both sides of the draw … and it was both Mexican’s advancing to the final to force a rematch of the Mexican Nationals final in May. #4 Eduardo Portillo Rendon took out #1 seeded Fernando Ruiz Michel in two hard fought games, while #2 Sebastian Fernandez cruised past #3 seeded Gerson Miranda.

In the Final, we got a rematch of the Mexican 18U Junior National final from past May (won by Fernandez), the 18U selection event final in Mexico (again won by Fernandez) and a rematch of the 2016 16U World Juniors final (won by Portillo). On this day though, Portillo was the better player, dropping the first game 14 then cruising to the title (14),4,7.

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In the Girls 18U (match report here: https://bit.ly/2AYIYMx)…

The knock-out rounds featured all four top seeds advancing with relative ease into the semis; only #4 Gaby Martinez had more than 3 points scored against her in any quarter-final game, downing Canadian Alexis Iwaasa 9,5.

In the semis, Martinez took out the #1 seeded Mexican Ana Laura Flores with ease 5,3, while #3 Montse Mejia took a close match against #2 Angelica Barrios 14,8.

The Final thus was a rematch of 2017’s 18U world championship (won by Mejia), and of the 2016 16U World championship (won by Martinez), and represents a fitting end to both players’ junior careers. A fantastic match ensued, with Mejia taking the first game 14, dropping the second game 8, then controlling the tiebreaker to down the reigning World Champ and defend her 18U world championship. Final score: 14,(8),6. Martinez is denied a chance at becoming just the second player ever to hold both a Junior and World Adult singles title simultaneously.

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In the Boys 16U (match report here: https://bit.ly/2AYIYMx)…

The two top seeds advanced to the semis with little fan fare, with #1 Jose Carlos Ramos topping Texan Cayden Aikens in two, and #2 Bolivian Diego Garcia Quispe getting an injury fft win. #12 seed Mexican Guillermo Ortega “upset” the #4 seeded Bolivian Adrian Jaldin (though Ortega was the #3 seed entering the round robins) to make the semis. Lastly American #6 seed Sahil Thakur could not capitalize on a one-game lead and fell in a tiebreaker to #3 seed Ecuadorian Juan Sebastian Flores.

In the semis, Ramos topped fellow Mexican Ortega a rematch of the 16U National selection event in August (also won by Ramos), while pre-tourney favorite Garcia pasted Flores 3,2 to advance to the World final.

In the final, Garcia took a dominant win 4,10 over the #1 seed to take the title. Garcia did not drop a game in this tournament, and the 15-10 second game in the finals was the most any player scored on him in this tournament. He’s set to be a force to be reckoned with going forward.

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In the Girls 16U (match report here: https://bit.ly/2qESWg9)…

The top four seeds advanced to the semis, taking out both Canadians (Juliette Parent and Cassie Prentice) as well as the lone remaining American (Annie Roberts).

In the semis, #1 seed Valeria Centellas advanced over the Mexican Guadalupe Griffin 5,10 while #3 Costa Rican Maricruz Ortiz topped the Mexican #1 Maria Fernanda Gutierrez, making for the only of these four finals to feature no Mexican juniors.

In the final, Centellas dropped the first game 9, then dominated the rest of the way, taking the final (9),4,3 to take the world 16U title for Bolivia.

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Quick wrap of Doubles action:
– Boys 18U final featured four of the best singles players in the tourney, as Mexico and Bolivia went at it in a rematch of the scintillating RR match. In the final, the Mexican team of Fernandez and Rodrigo Rodriguez came out on top, getting revenge for their RR loss to the Bolivian team of Fernando Ruiz and Gerson Miranda for the title.

– Girls 18U final featured the top Mexican team versus Ecuador. The Mexican team of Ana Laura Flores and Abril Sacristan cruised to a world title.

– Boys 16U also featured Mexico vs Bolivia in the final (like the 16U). The Mexican team had to play just one match to get to the final (getting a bye and an inj-fft), but could not overcome the Bolivian team powered by the singles champ Garcia.

– Girls 16U was Bolivia vs Canada, who ousted the higher seeded Mexican team in the semis. On this day the Bolivians cruised to the title 8,7 over team Canada.

The Girls 16U final was notable for this fact; Bolivian Valeria Centellas won the Adult World doubles championships earlier this year with Yazmine Sabja Aliss and now holds the 16U junior worlds doubles championship … as far as we can tell, this is a first in the international game (having a player hold both the Adult and the junior world title in doubles).

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A quick note: as we’ve clearly been seeing for a while, the balance of power both in Juniors and on the pro tours is clearly no longer with the originating countries of the sport. USA and Canadian players failed to advance to even the semis in either 16U or 18U. Team USA did experience some success; the Americans swept the 14U doubles titles, made the finals of both 14U singles events and American Nikil Prasad won the boys 12U in dominant fashion. But the older levels were completely dominated by Mexico and Bolivia.