After a couple year’s hiatus, the IRT returns to Long Island for the 2022 New York Open. The tournament has a rich 47-man draw, including a ton of players we don’t normally see on tour, which I’ll call out in the “interesting matches to watch” section below. Top20 players missing: #8 Carson misses a rare event; he went nearly 20 years without missing a tournament. Word is he’s avoiding the cross-country trip ahead of Nationals. #11 Beltran is not here; he was clearly hurt at the last tournament and has mentioned he won’t play in tournaments that don’t have doubles anymore. #13 Keller misses his second straight pro event. #16 Montoya is not here, nor is #17 Carter (a rare tourney missed as well). Interestingly #20 Trujillo, who was making a big move, is missing the event after a strong run. Maye he has finals.
All these missing top seeds have meant that Fernandez is finally out of the 16/17 seed range and can get a more winnable first rounder, and Mercado gets a top8 protected seed, among other players ranked in the teens moving up.
Lets preview the draw. Here’s some notable qualifying matches that i’m looking forward to: In the round of 128:
Arteaga vs Ecuadorian national team member Cuevas should be interesting.
Sam Kelley versus Canadian national team member Leduc is a solid match.
Another Ecuadorian Ugalde takes on Cubillos in an intriguing all-South American match.
toughest first rounder: Canadian #2 Iwaasa versus the very good Joe Kelley.
Gomez vs Ortega Jr could be interesting too.
Bravo to all the NY local players who entered and will duke it out in this round of 128. Punjari, Puggioni, Galvez, Sullivan, Meguerditchian, and Behm all representing the tri-state area.
In the round of 64, we have some projected battles worth watching:
Floridian Zamudio versus Galicia could be great.
Ugalde versus Sam Kelley would be a good match.
Warigon versus the Guatemalan #1 Salvatierra would be great.
Iwaasa once again is in the toughest potential match of the round, projecting to face Cardona. Both these guys can make the 16s with the right draw, but one is going home in the 64s.
– Young Bolivian Barrios gets a test against veteran Wer.
Projecting the 32s:
#16/17 Alonso vs Zelada. Alonso has been on fire, but Zelada is no slouch. A nice test for the Mexican who has been hot lately.
#9 Bredenbeck vs Horn; all American matchup sends one team USA member home early. In their WRT peaks i’d favor Horn, but now i’m favoring Jake.
The best projected match of this round will be #11 Acuna versus the winner of Cardona/Iwaasa. Acuna should hold serve against both players, but both will press him as better than their seedings.
– #15 Robbie Collins is the most vulnerable of the 9-16 seeds, but the winner of Cuevas/Behm/Gomez/Ortega Jr quadrant may not have enough firepower to do so.
round of 16:
I Like DLR-Alonso for some fireworks. Alonso can score some points, but DLR will advance.
I think #9 Jake upsets #8 Mercado with better current form.
Can #13 Fernandez upset #4 Landa? Yeah, I think he can, especially if Landa gets off to a slow start. Fernandez has the explosive game to press Landa unless he’s 100%.
#14 Garay has the firepower to top Murray but will need to play a complete match. Murray is a model of consistency and rarely loses to upstarts.
#6 Moscoso vs #11 Acuna: these two always play close.
– If Kane shows up, he has a straightforward winnable first rounder against Franco.
#1 DLR over #9 Jake.
#5 Lalo over Landa/Patata winner; i think Lalo is poised to take the next step and Landa is beginning to show some wear and tear. If Sebastian gets the upset win, I still think Portillo can top him in a battle of 20-somethings.
#6 Moscoso over #3 Murray, even though Murray has a number of wins over the Bolivian in their career. It nearly always goes breaker.
#7 Kane over #2 Andree. Again, if he shows. This would be a rematch of the epic 11-10 Andree win from Atlanta in January. Semis:
#1 DLR over #5 Lalo; Lalo doesn’t have what it takes to beat DLR yet.
#7 Kane over #6 Conrrado. But, if Kane no-shows I like Andree over Conrrado in a rematch of two weeks ago.
– If he shows, Kane takes out DLR in a highly anticipated matchup of the current #1 and the long-time #1. If its DLR vs Parrilla, its a rematch of last week, a easy DLR win. If its DLR- Moscoso? Tough one: DLR has the better game and Moscoso would need a game-plan/strategy to counter it.
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 Baer, Favio Soto, Pablo Fajre and the IRTLive crew all weekend on the mike, calling the shots! Associations @International Racquetball Tour
Also congrats to the winners of the massive
Open and 18U draws (which we’ll talk about later on):
– Men’s Open: Andres Acuna
– Men’s Open Doubles: Moscoso/Carrasco
– 18U Juniors: Erick Trujillo
Murray, who was in jeopardy of not even
traveling to the tournament thanks to Covid-related travel restrictions coming
out of Canada, becomes the 41st ever Tier 1 tournament winner in the history of
Men’s pro tours. Ironically, the previous person to fulfil that particular
bucket list item was also the player he vanquished in the final. Murray had a
fantastic event, getting his first ever wins over both Mar and De La Rosa, then
playing solid racquetball all weekend to win the title. Arguably Murray was the
underdog in every match from the round of 16 on, and proved all pundits and
On the Doubles side, the reigning US
national team champs topped a number of top teams en route to the final,
including two top international teams that they might face in the next IRF
championship. They seem to be growing as a team and looking more dangerous the
more they play together.
was stretched to a tiebreaker by home-town
favorite Austin Cunningham before advancing (13),13,7.
– #19 Sam Bredenbeck dropped the opener
against relative newcomer Texan Brennen Jennings before moving on (9),11,4.
– #23 MoMo Zelada was pressed by top amateur
player from Monterrey Daniel Diaz 13,9 before advancing. This is the first time
i’ve seen Diaz in any top-level competition tracked by PRS and he played well,
hope to see more of him on tour.
– In one of the best matches of the opening
round, 18U junior lefty Andrew Gleason came from a game down to beat tough
Bolivian Miguel A. Arteaga Guzman (5),5,7. Gleason showed some great mental
toughness for a junior, many of whom would have folded after a first game beat
In the 32s, we saw the top 16 pros enter
into the draw for the first time … and the draw went perfectly chalk. Every
one of the top 16 seeds advanced. There were a couple notable matches though.
– the #16/#17 seed match always seems to
provide a close call, and this was no exception. #16 Javier Estrada took out
his doubles partner and good friend
, who played him tough in game two but could
not force the breaker.
In the Quarters, we started to see the seeds
breaking down, in a slew of fantastic matches that put the show court behind
nearly 3 hours inside of 3 matches (the last quarter final was a 1pm scheduled
start and didn’t go on until nearly 4pm). Lets recap
– #1 Landa over #8 Jake: Landa made it 10
for 10 in top competitions versus Jake, but the big Minnesotan did not make it
easy, keeping it close throughout. Landa advances 11,13.
– #5 Canadian number one Murray got his
first career win over #4 DLR in an 11-9 thriller. Game one was back and forth,
with DLR coming back to eke it out 15-14, then Murray blitzed game two in about
10 minutes to force the tiebreaker. There, the players were neck and neck, playing
back and forth racquetball that was just great for the neutrals, with DLR
shooting constantly, Murray putting on a defensive and diving clinic, and then
Sam pulling out a great winner to break a 9-9 tie that had lasted several
service changes before DLR pressed on a forehand winner to skip out at match
– #6 Portillo showed some real veteran poise
throughout his match against #3 Parrilla, keeping to his game plan and grinding
out the 11-8 tiebreaker win. This isn’t necessarily Lalo’s best ever win (he
beat Carson in Arizona in 2019) or his best result (he made the final of the
2020 Lewis Drug) but it was the kind of match he won when he wasn’t necessarily
favored to win, and he did it by just out playing and out thinking his
– #7 Moscoso got another win over #2 Carson
in an IRT event (the third in as many pro meetings), but really had to dig deep
to do so. Carson controlled game one, but Moscoso ground back in game two
before racing to the 11-4 breaker win. Kane and Sudsy were on the mike for the
first part of this match and put on a broadcasting clinic, with some of the
best in-match analysis you’ll ever see. It is worth a re-listen to the
In the Semis
– #1 Landa seemed to show some of the
effects of the layoff and lots of play on Saturday, looking tired throughout
the match. He was pressed continually by the Canadian #1, who put on an
absolute clinic on defensive racquetball and athletic prowess diving around the
court and showing amazing agility for a big man. Murray saved match point
against and ran off a couple points for victory on the back of a couple of
pretty amazing kill shots from the back court. This was one of those matches
you wished was still win by two, because there was little separating these two
players on the day. Murray advances to just his second ever pro final, first
since Sept 2018 with the 11-10 thriller.
– #7 Moscoso advanced to the finals over #6
Portillo, but Lalo continued to show his maturation as a player, bouncing back
from an embarrassing first game 15-2 shellacking to take a game from one of the
world’s best players before falling quickly in the breaker. Moscoso advances to
his 3rd major final in just 10 career tournaments and is in a great spot to
take another title.
So, just to note the pathway for the two
– Murray has beaten Mar, DLR and Landa to
– Moscoso has beaten Mercado, Carson and
Murray in particular really having a great
In the Finals…
Murray controlled game one easily, playing
smart racquetball and exposing Moscoso’s go-for-broke style. Conrrado came back
in game two, getting on a hot streak to push to a breaker. In the tie-breaker,
Murray continued to grind out points, playing smart racquetball and
counter-punching against Moscoso’s shots. Momentum seemed to swing against
Murray as Moscoso ran off four straight towards the end … but Murray
stiffened up, played smart racquetball, mixed in a few highlight-reel 39 foot
roll outs of his own to match the flashier Moscoso, then ended the match with a
diving re-kill roll-out to take his first ever IRT title.
Murray played lights out all weekend, and
more than earned this title.
Points Implications of results
Well, we’re not entirely sure what the
points implication of this event will be, because we’re not sure what the tour
will do yet with the rankings points The points have been frozen since March,
but just turning the system back on and expiring 9 months of points will have a
pretty radical effect on the rankings.
There’s talk of changing the points system
as a result, to go away from a rolling 12-month calendar for the time being to
something based on the last 10 tourneys, or perhaps the last two years of
events. There’s also talk of moving to a calendar year system versus a rolling
IF (and this is a big if) we were to stick
with rolling 12-months and just expire the points dating to the end of 2019 …
then these are some of the big-time moves we’ll see in the rankings:
– DLR jumps to #2
– Finalists Murray and Moscoso jump to #3
and #4 respectively.
– Landa drops to #5
– Mercado jumps to #7
– Estrada, amazingly, jumps from #23 to #8
– Parrilla gets dropped to #9
– Manilla, also surprisingly , jumps from
#21 to #10.
– Beltran drops all the way to #11
– And lastly, most amazingly, Carson would
drop from #3 all the way to #15. That’s right; Rocky, a player who has not been
outside the top 3 in 20 years or so, had such a badly timed run of results and
missed early 2020 events due to injury that he’d nearly be out of the top 16.
Take all this with a grain of salt, because
I sense the ranking system needs to be modified to protect against such radical
moves. Stay tuned.
The 14-team doubles draw provided a ton of
interesting results on the first night of competition, with a ton of really
surprising results. Here’s a walk through.
In the 16s:
– #3 seeds DLR and tournament sponsor Donald
Williams were handled by the local team of Zachary Patterson and Austin
Cunningham 14,3. I thought the presence of top doubles player DLR would get
them at least a round further, but they fall at the opener.
– #6 seeded Colombian’s Garay and Franco dug
deep to hold off the tough pair of Mexicans from Chihuahua Natera & Estrada
in two tight games 14,10. They’re setup for a good shot at the final.
– #10 seeds and new pairing Carter & Mar
really surprised me and blew past the all-Colombian team of Mercado and Herrera
6,5. Mercado is such a good doubles player, I thought this would have gone the
other way based on the inexperience of Carter+Mar pairing … but as they say,
this is why they play the games.
In the Quarters
– #1 Murray/Jake had to go breaker to top
the experienced Costa Rican pair of Acuna/Camacho.
– #4 Sudsy Monchik and Landa had a tense,
tight match against the Bolivian team of Moscoso/Carrasco, pulling it out in a
heated breaker where the American reps came back from 5-8 down in the breaker
to run the match out. At the death, a highly contested two-bounce call, several
debatable replays and then match point awarded via an avoidable when Monchik
had a setup in the middle of the court that hit a jumping Moscoso. It was an animated
finish to say the least.
– #3 Garay/Franco destroyed the Cinderella
local team of Patterson/Cunningham to move into the semis.
– #2 Parrilla/Portillo took a close 2-game
win 11,13 over Carter/Mar.
In the semis…
– The US national team of Monchik/Landa
stiffened up after a first game blowout loss to #1 seeded Murray/Jake and
eventually cruised to the tiebreaker 11-3 to move into the finals.
– The Colombian national team of
Franco/Garay held off match point in game two, then blew it out in the breaker
to move into the final over the #2 seeded all-Mexico team of Parrilla/Portillo.
In the final…
– Monchik & Landa had match point on
their racquets … twice, but the new Colombian pairing of Franco/Garay fought
back and forced the breaker. There. the US champs controlled throghout and
ground out the win. The tail end of game two was some of the best doubles play
i’ve ever seen, with all four players hitting amazing shots, and both teams
showing tactical adjustments on the fly to try to strategize their way to a
Men’s Open review; a 35-man open draw went
down, with a ton of top pro players dipping down into the draw and making for
some great matches.
In the final, Acuna topped Natera in a
breaker. Floridian vet
and Costa Rican newcomer Gabriel Garcia were
the semi finalists.
18U Junior draw review
The IRT is embarking on a new program to
highlight juniors, and Atlanta was their first foray into the program. A large
scholarship purse was devoted to the draw and they got a fantastic
multi-national 18U junior draw as a result.
The top two 18U players from Mexico advanced
to the final, with
players are entered into this draw, making it the biggest men’s pro draw since
the 2019 US Open, and the first time we’ve breached 40 pro player entrants
since the May 2019 Syosset Open in Long Island.
news for this event; #1 Kane Waselenchuk has bowed out of the event. Kane’s
place of residence (Texas) has been quite restrictive with gym openings, and
reportedly he has not seen an indoor racquetball court in 8 months. He doesn’t
even have outdoor courts nearby to practice on. But, he’ll be in Atlanta and
helping with the broadcast to support the event.
#5 Alvaro Beltran underwent gall bladder surgery on Monday and had to miss the event as well (he’s doing well though; just bad timing for this event). This really opens up the top side of the draw, and will make for a potentially wide-open event.
Other top-30 players missing from Atlanta (and the reasons for missing the event if known): 12. Rodrigo Montoya: visa issues 16. Sebastian Fernandez: taking a step back from touring with a new job with the family business. Also lives in California where court access is highly restricted. 18. Gerardo Franco: unknown 19. Carlos Keller Vargas: unknown 22. David Horn; no court access; reported on FB that he would not play in a pro event if he could not train. 24. Robert Collins; unknown but based in California where courts are closed. 28. Charlie Pratt; unknown but in Oregon where courts are closed.
event is a Grand Slam, which means the top players play from the round of 32
on. With 48 players, that’s just one qualifying round before the action starts.
preview the draw. Here’s some notable qualifying matches that I’m looking
the round of 64, I see several matches to keep an eye on:
#17 Alan Natera Chavez faces #48 Jordan Deeney: Natera misses out on the last unprotected top seed and gets one extra match for his troubles, against the lowest-seeded entrant in Deeney. Natera is well traveled these past couple of weeks; he was just in Chile to celebrate his marriage to LPRT touring pro Carla Muñoz Montesinos. Congrats to both.
Scott McClellan takes on #44 Timmy Hansen, son of the USAR hall of famer Tim
Hansen and up-and-coming junior.
takes on #43 Pedro Castro in a battle of seasoned international vets. The
Bolivian is favored over the Canadian (who hails from Chile), but it is great
to see Castro traveling to and playing in a pro event again.
on #39 Matt Fontana in a battle of seasoned top Florida players. We haven’t
seen Fontana in a pro event in nearly 5 years.
the 32s: here’s notable matches from my projected round of 32s.
Javier Estrada vs #17 Natera: a brutal match between two good friends who are
familiar with each other from many regional tournaments in Mexico, and who
happen to be playing doubles with each other this event. This probably is the
match of the 32s. Natera beat Estrada en route to the San Antonio IRT Tier 4 title
in 2019, their last known meeting. Natera is perpetually underrated and
under-seeded and I like him here as an upset, unless he’s too jet-lagged from
his weekend wedding trip to Santiago.
these two familiar foes used to face off frequently when both lived in the
Washington DC area. They met in the 2019-20 season opener in Zelada’s home
Laurel courts and it went breaker. Mercado will have to play solid to avoid the
Natera/Estrada winner; for his troubles of being elevated to the #1 seed, Landa
faces a very dangerous opponent in either Natera or Estrada. Both are capable
of putting an early loss on the top seed, who can sometimes be a slow starter
in early round matches.
Murray gets the early match up against the dangerous Mar, and I see Mar
advancing into the quarters. Mar was a late addition to the event, and an
unwelcome one at that, since he makes waves nearly every time he enters a pro
Daniel De La Rosa vs #13 Eduardo Garay Rodriguez; I’m a Garay fan, but DLR has
controlled him on the court in the past and should move on here.
Acuna/Bredenbeck winner: This will be a great test to see where Parrilla’s game
is. Parrilla’s last few months before the shutdown were rough, with lots of
early losses. Acuna is a solid player who doesn’t make mistakes and makes you
Mercado: a tricky opener for Moscoso, who is a dark-horse favorite here but who
has struggled against the Bolivian turned Colombian Mercado in the past.
Rocky Carson vs Manilla/Camacho winner: a winnable opener for Carson, who has
struggled with court time in Southern California and may be a bit rusty this
event. He’ll have a chance to play himself into tournament shape here.
Landa over #8 Jake: Landa has dominated the head to head over his former WRT
rival, having never taken a loss in a top-level event.
DLR over #12 Mar; a really tough match-up that could go either way, and two
guys who play a really similar game. But, DLR plays the control game just a bit
better and should move on.
Parrilla over #6 Portillo; doubles partners are projected to face off against
each other; Parrilla gains confidence early on and beats his younger countryman
Moscoso over #2 Carson: Moscoso has two wins already over Rocky, and makes it a
third. Rocky’s rustiness shows on the court and Conrrado moves on.
Landa over #4 DLR: they’ve played quite often, and Landa has come to dominate
their H2Hs lately … DLR hasn’t topped Landa since the 2017 Lewis Drug in a
Tier 1 event, but beat him a few months ago on these same courts in a Tier 4
event. Their matches are always close. Another good test to see where DLR’s
game is these days; he ended the 2019-20 season on such a high note. I’ll go
with the historical trend of Landa’s dominance, as opposed to the recentcy bias
of DLR’s last on the court win.
Moscoso over #3 Parrilla, though Parrilla beat him easily in California in Nov
2019, Moscoso has the higher ceiling right now and will be looking to add
another Grand Slam win to his list of titles.
Moscoso over #1 Landa. He beat Landa the last time they played, and something
tells me Moscoso sees the grand slam and sees a pathway to the title without
Kane in the draw and will not be stopped.
IRT doubles event should be intriguing as we have some unexpected teams thanks
to last minute withdrawals.
Beltran’s absence has DLR playing with tournament sponsor Donald Williams as
the #3 seed.
both of whom skipped out of the pro singles draw here curiously.
match of the opening round will be Estrada/Natera vs Garay/Franco. In the
quarters, I look forward to a Landa/Monchik battle against the Bolivian pair of
the 14-team draw coming down to the US national team from the top Landa/Monchik
and the increasingly successful Parrilla/Portillo partnership from the bottom,
with the veterans coming out on top.
a solid Men’s Open draw, plus a new featured Junior 18U draw that will be
showcased on the live stream throughout the weekend.
In Part II we’ll cover the rest of the pro divisions.
Congrats to your Pro winners on the weekend: – Men’s 3-wall Doubles: Daniel De La Rosa & Alvaro Beltran – Women’s 3-wall Doubles: Paola Longoria & Janel Tisinger-Ledkins – Mixed 3-wall Doubles: Daniel De La Rosa & Michelle De La Rosa
– Men’s 1-wall Doubles: Robert Sostre & William Rolon – Women’s 1-wall Doubles: Kelly Gremley & Aime Brewer – Mixed 1-wall Doubles: Rick “Soda Man” & Rhonda Rajsich
Great weekend for the #1 female player in the world Longoria, who gets a double win in Singles and Doubles.
Before we get started, please keep Kelani Lawrence in your thoughts. She was assaulted over the weekend at the Wynn and suffered potentially permanent eye damage. There’s more information on her page and on LPRT’s page. I hope justice can be served and that the touring pro and former National champion can recover fully.
3-Wall Women’s Pro doubles Review PRS Match report: http://rball.pro/8CFCB3 This 7-team draw picks up in the quarters: – Adriana Riveros / Jessica Parrilla won a close one against two fellow LPRT touring pros in Kelani Lawrence / Hollie Scott. – Paola Longoria & Janel Tisinger-Ledkins were pressed but held on against fellow LPRT touring pros Brenda Laime Jalil and Masiel Rivera Oporto 12,12. – #2 seed Rhonda Rajsich picked up a last minute doubles replacement in Erica Williams and didn’t miss a beat on the court, cruising past Jessica Chen and Katie Neils 3,8.
In the semis: – The #1 seeds and defending champs Michelle De La Rosa and Carla Muñoz Montesinos got into action and faced one of the surprise revelations of this event Riveros, teamed with outdoor veteran Jessica Parrilla. The top pair was pushed in game one 15-12 then took over in game two to advance to the final 12,6. – The #1 player in the world teamed with one of the best ever to play the outdoor game were not to be stopped, as Longoria/Tisinger dominated the #2 seeds Rajsich/Williams to move to the final and setup a stellar title match.
In the finals, the defending champs took the first game, but Longoria and the legendary outdoor player Tisinger-Ledkins took the second and third games to claim the title (12),9,5
A great 15-team draw here. Lets get started in the round of 16, which featured several big-time names fall: – Nick Riffel and Katie Neils shocked two of the best players in the world in Paola Longoria and Alvaro Beltran, downing them in two games to move into the quarters. With all due respect to Riffel and Neils, I’m just not sure how two of the best doubles players in the world (both with excellent outdoor creds) conspired to lose. – Alex Landa and Lawrence blitzed past the #4 seeded team of Thomas Gerhardt and Aime Brewer 3,7 in a match that featured three Virginia residents. – The #3 seeded team of Robert Sostreand Carla Muñoz Montesinos was stretched to a breaker by the brother/sister Parrilla pair of Jessica and Andree Parrilla, but held on to advance.
In the quarters…
– #1 seeds and defending champion De La Rosa team cruised past Adam Manilla / Erica Williams in what reportedly was the first time Michelle De La Rosa picked up a racquetball racquet since last year’s Vegas event. – #5 Riffel & Niels continued their upset ways, shocking the #2 men’s player in the world Landa, playing with 2019 US national amateur champ Lawrence, to move into the semis. – Sostre & Munoz were pushed but won in two closer games over Californian outdoor vets Majeed Shahin and Tisinger. – In the shock result of the round, Mario Mercado & Riveros showed just how much outdoor they’ve picked up this week by stunning outdoor legends Rajsich and Rick Koll in a tiebreaker.
In the Semis… – #1 seeds DLRs moved into the final with another dominant performance, this time topping Riffel/Neils 7,7 – Mercado & Riveros got another upset win over two seasoned outdoor pros, dominating the Sostre/Munoz team 5,7 to move to the final. Mercado has really stepped up this tournament with a number of impressive wins, and Riveros really has shown affinity for the outdoor game.
In the finals, the Husband/Wife DLR team blasted the upstart South Americans 8,0 to repeat as titlists and make Daniel the double winner on the weekend for the second year running.
1-Wall Men’s Pro doubles. PRS Match Report: http://rball.pro/B11B77 9 teams in action here. Picking up action in the qtrs:
– #1 Sostre/ William Rolon were pushed hard by #8 Jake Bredenbeck and Jeremy Mcglothin before advancing 12,14. Jake really showed his outdoor prowess this weekend and I hope he continues to play in outdoor events going forward. – #4 Stockton buddies Jose Diaz & David Horn advanced over two Northern Virginia players Saul Rivera & Raul Berrios. – Outdoor specialists Ignacio Espinal and Servando Daniels held serve against the impressive Bolivian team that had caused so much havoc in the 3-wall division Marcelo Vargas & Mercado to advance. – An all east-coast battle resulted in two guys with DC-area ties Gerhart and Dylan Pruitt advancing as the #2 seeds over Richard Miller/Joe Kelley.
In the semis: – It took an 11-9 breaker but the one-wall experts Sostre/Rolon advanced over the 209-pair Diaz/Horn. – #2 seeds Gerhardt and Pruitt held serve over Iggy/Servando to setup a 1-2 final.
In the final, the New York one-wall legends were pushed to a breaker but overcame the #2 seeds to repeat as champions.
The most brutal test in outdoor is 3-wall singles being played on the extra long and wide courts of Vegas, and spectators were treated to amazing shows of athleticism all weekend on both the Men’s and Women’s side.
In the 16s of the Men’s draw, a couple of notable matches: – Bolivian Vargas took out IRT vet Manilla in a breaker. – Riffel blitzed the #5 seed Texan Abel Perez 3,4 to move on to the quarters.
In the quarters… we got some big time upsets as the two top seeds fall. – #1 seed Rolon was crushed by Bolivian newcomer Vargas 7,3. Vargas has been a revelation this tournament, playing with abandon on the outdoor courts and really showing what a force he can be on the court. – #4 Dan Lavely held serve against the upset-minded Riffel to advance. – #3 Diaz made quick work of fellow Californian Shahin to advance. – It took a tiebreaker, but top IRT pro Parrilla took out #2 seeded Thomas Gerhardt to move on.
In the semis: – Vargas continued his winning ways, topping Lavely to make the final. – Parrilla outlasted Diaz, with both players demonstrating their dominant 3-wall serves.
In the final, Parrilla made short work of the Cinderella Bolivian, downing him 5,8 to take the title.
The four LPRT pros in the draw held serve in the quarters to advance to a star-studded semi finals.
In the semis… – #1 Rajsich held on to advance over Munoz 13,6. – #3 Longoria downed her country-woman #2 seed Parrilla in a breaker to move on.
In the final, Rhonda put on a clinic in game one to win 15-4, but then Longoria woke up and demolished her long-time LPRT rival in games 2 and 3 to win the title. Final score (4),4,4.
A huge shoutout to the whole 3Wall Ball crew for putting this event on under difficult circumstances. MC Vegas, Peggine Tellez,, Soda Man and the whole Las Vegas crew; our hats are off to you and the community thanks you.
Thanks for all the streaming on the weekend, especially from broadcasters Dean DeAngelo Baer, Pablo Fajre and the IRTLive crew . Thanks also to the LPRT regular broadcast crew including Timothy Baghurst, Jerry J Josey Jr., and Tj Baumbaugh
Next up? Well, next up is … up in the air. Both pro tours have some upcoming events on the schedule; will they happen? Everything is tbd.
The round of 32 had some “upsets” by seed, but probably not by talent, as this tournament featured a ton of non-outdoor regulars with little in the way of outdoor ranking points.
In the 16s, we saw a number of top seeds fall. – #1 Daniel De La Rosa & Alvaro Beltran handled the Alex Landa / Sudsy Monchik team 13,8 to avoid their biggest tripping point on the way to the final. – Relative unknowns Cesar Chavez & Jeremy Mcglothin upset two top-10 seeds to advance to the quarters, taking out teams with veteran outdoor players such as Ignacio Espinal and Thomas Gerhardt. – Jake Bredenbeck and Brian Pineda played outstanding racquetball to take out two-time Outdoor National doubles champions and #5 seeds Rocky Carson and Jesus Ustarroz in a tie-breaker. Jake proved quite adept at translating his power game into outdoor success, while Pineda on the right hand side gave off a shot-making clinic to drive the upset. – The #4 team of Paddleball legend Emmett Coe and tourney host Rick Koll held serve and advanced past the veteran California-based doubles team of Tim Herman and Mike Myers. – IRT veteran Mario Mercado teamed with relative unknown Bolivian Marcello Vargas Aguilar to take out last year’s semi finalists and outdoor veteran #3 seeds Floridians Roy Hernandez and Marcos Gravier. The two Bolivian natives played solid ball and had great court coverage and could be a dark horse for more upsets. – #6 seeded outdoor veterans Brandon Davis and Alejandro Barcelo cruised into the quarters with ease. – Two IRT veteran indoor players (and college buddies) in Adam Manilla and Nick Riffel teamed up to oust WOR Hall of Famer Mike Peters and fellow Huntington Beach outdoor veteran Patrick Allin 12,8 to be shock quarter finalists. – Lastly, the big one. IRT #1 Kane Waselenchuk and his frequent indoor doubles partner Ben Croft took on the #2 seeded team of WOR hall of famer Robert Sostre and experienced indoor and outdoor pro David Horn. Lots of build-up to Kane’s appearance here, with outdoor specialists questioning whether the duo could adjust to the outdoor game, while indoor fans questioning why anyone would predict that Kane would lose, anywhere.
Game one was a shock to the system: Sostre could not miss and Croft/Kane looked like the outdoor novices that they are, and the #2 seeds won 15-2. With Michelle De La Rosa and Sudsy on the mike for streaming, they watched as Kane literally learned how to play outdoor throughout game 2, suddenly working the angles and hitting the kinds of outdoor-only shots that would be anathema indoors. What looked like it was going to be a two game blowout suddenly went to the tie-breaker. There, the novices picked on Sostre while serving, forcing him to hit backhands and forcing the #2 seeds to change tactics, but to no avail. The newbies cruised to an 11-4 tiebreaker win and put a shot across the bows of the outdoor world.
In the Quarters, a couple of shock results: – #1 seeds DLR and Beltran made quick work of the upstart Chavez/McGlothin team 2,3. – Despite downing the #5 team in the 16s, one of the two of Bredenbeck/Pineda failed to report in time for their quarter final match and the #4 team of Coe/Koll was given a walkover into the semis. The reported reason? “Too much Las Vegas.” – The #6 team of Davis/Barcelo blitzed the all-Bolivian team of Vargas/Marcello in game one, then had to mount a furious comeback to take game two and advance 1,14. The second game featured great shot-making from both sides, with the prowess of Davis in particular proving the difference. – Croft & Kane made quick work of two fellow IRT touring pros relatively new to outdoor in Manilla & Riffel to move on.
The semis featured two fantastic matchups: – The top half featured two teams of outdoor veterans in the #1 vs #4 matchup. – The bottom semi featured two of the best outdoor specialists out there in Davis/Barcelo versus perhaps the best current doubles team in the world (indoor or outdoor) in Kane/Croft. One team had to budge; which would it be?
In the end, both matches were anti-climactic, with the #1 seeds winning 3,5 and the Kane/Croft team blitzing to a 3,7 win to setup the final that everyone wanted.
In the final, the sport and all the neutrals got the match they wanted, and they were not disappointed. Kane/Croft won a back and forth first game that could have gone either way, then DLR/Beltran pulled away with consistency and by working the left side of the court. In the breaker they continued their dominance, running out to a 10-5 lead before a fantastic shot from the champ extended the match. Kane & Ben pulled back a couple more points, but an error on a service return sealed the win for the #1 seeds. DLR/Beltran defeat Waselenchuk/Croft (12),9,8 to repeat as champions.
But nobody is walking away from this tournament without recognizing just how well Kane and Croft played to get to the final. Here’s hoping this is just the latest chapter in these two teams’ rivalry, indoor or out.
Congrats to your winners on the weekend: – Singles: Daniel De La Rosa – Doubles; Eduardo Garay/Juan Pablo Rodriguez
R2 Sports App home page for event: https://www.r2sports.com/website/event-website.asp?TID=31746
Lets review the notable matches in the Singles draw.(reminder: this was not a Tier1, therefore there’s no results in the PRS database).
In the 16s:- 7 of the top 8 seeds advanced, with the only “upset” being Austin Cunningham topping #8 Jim Douglas with a double donut. For the most part the traveling pros dominated local competition in their openers, with no tie-breakers and only a couple games that were competitive. This setup some great quarter final action.
In the Quarters- #1 Alex Landa cruised past #9 Cunningham 4,12. – #5 Eduardo Garay Rodriguez blitzed past his countryman #4 Mario Mercado 11,4 to advance. This seems like an important result, as Garay trails Mercado in the current IRT standings, but just supplanted him on the Colombian national team and seems set to make a rise up the standings when we get back into full time touring.- #3 Sebastian Franco was stretched to a breaker by the home-town favorite Maurice Miller before advancing 11-4.- #2 Daniel De La Rosa dropped the first game 14 before advancing in a breaker over the pesky #7 MoMo Zelada.
In the Semis- #1 Landa cruised past #5 Garay 4,11 to move to the final. Garay had to take the court immediately after a long doubles match and looked a bit winded in game one, then Landa held on as Garay settled in for game two.- #2 DLR dominated #3 Franco 7,7 to move into the finals.In the Finals, DLR dropped the first game 14 but rebounded to push it to a tiebreaker. In the breaker, he raced out to a commanding lead that Landa could not overcome and DLR gets the win over his long-time rival (14),11,4. Solid win for DLR, who stayed calm and stuck to his game plan to take out Landa. Both players played well, showing a bit of rust, but I liked DLR’s calm approach.
Doubles reviewThe 8-team Men’s doubles draw kicked off the festivities Friday night, and all four quarter final matches were close. The draw went chalk (with all four top seeds advancing), but three of the four top seeded teams needed a tie-breaker to advance. The #2 seeded team of DLR and tournament sponsor Donald Williams was pushed the hardest, dropping the first game 6 before rebounding to take the tiebreaker 11-9 over the all-Colombian team of Franco and their coach Francisco Fajardo.
In the semis:- the #4 team of Miller/Mercado surprised the #1 seeded team of Landa/Zelada. Mercado has always been a solid doubles player, and spurred on the run along side the home town favorite to push into the final. It was a surprising result, given Landa’s IRT pro doubles accomplishments as of late.- The #3 team of Colombians Garay and Juan Pablo Rodriguez eked past one of the top doubles player in the world in DLR, teamed with tournament sponsor Donald Williams 11-10 in the breaker. Rodriguez is an up and comer; he represented Colombia at the 2019 world Juniors in 14U, making the semis before losing to USA’s NIkhil Prasad. Rodriguez out-hit Williams on the forehand side, and the #2 seeded team’s tactics couldn’t push them past the Colombians in the end.
In the final, Rodriguez stepped up and helped his all-Colombian team outlast two seasoned IRT pros 13,8. Garay/Rodriguez take the title over Miller/Mercado.
Men’s Open, other drawsThe young Colombian Rodriguez had a heck of a tournament, winning Pro doubles, making the final of Pro Consolation/Men’s Open (where he lost to long-time top Floridian Andres Ramirez in a breaker), and also winning Elite Doubles with fellow top junior international Maricruz Ortiz.
Thanks for all the streaming on the weekend, especially from broadcasters Dean DeAngelo Baer and Pablo Fajre and the who streamed all weekend.——————
— #11 Sebastian Franco took a step back in the rankings after finishing the last four seasons in the top 10. He missed four of the events on the season, which makes it tough to maintain your seeding and ranking, prompting some observers to wonder if his days of full-time touring are over.
He started the season strong; making the semis of the first two events of the season, which got him as high as a #5 seed. But two round-of-32 losses (to Manilla and Estrada) conspired to knock him out of the top10 by seasons’ end.
Franco may be at a career cross roads; he’s just turned 27, he’s a family man now with kids and may not be in a position to tour full time going forward. Plus, he’ll take a big hit in the rankings right out of the gate in the fall as he defends two semi-final appearances. He could see his ranking crash into the mid teens quickly if he doesn’t start well next season
— #12 Rodrigo Montoya Solís took a step back in the rankings from last season, slipping to #12 at the end after being ranked inside the top 10 all year. Montoya remains an enigma on tour; clearly possessing the talent to be making the back end of tournaments week after week (he won the Pan American games in August with wins over three successive higher ranked top-10 players), but yet only made two quarter finals on the season.
He did have some match-up bad luck; losing in the 32s to his doubles partner Mar 11-9 at the US Open, and running into Kane and DLR twice to exit at early stages. No shame in that. He also had a relatively dominant win over Moscoso in Wisconsin. But Montoya needs more consistency against the players in his 10-14 range (Mercado, Franco, Portillo, etc) to claw back into the top 8 conversation.
He also crashed out of Mexican Nationals way early, just a few months after winning gold in Peru, though he and Mar did hold onto the Mexican doubles title (ensuring a return trip to the next IRF event).
—- #13 Mario Mercado slipped to 13th after four seasons in the top 10. Mercado opted to skip two west-coast tourneys (he’s based on the east coast), and suffered three round-of-32 upsets on the season (to Fernandez, Pratt and Martell, one of which was at the US Open), and the sum of these events conspired to drive his ranking down. He did have a great run to the final in Sun Prairie, just his second ever pro final.
Mercado’s well set to regain his ranking if he can get back on track making 16s and quarters again, replacing round of 32 losses with solid point gains.
—– #14 Thomas Carter improved his season ending ranking for the fourth straight season on the backs of solid play and navigating his way into the main draws of pro events frequently. He had his best ever pro finish, upsetting Beltran and making the quarters in Portland. He also had solid wins over Diaz at the US Open and over Estrada at the Lou Bradley.
—— #15 Javier Mar played nearly as many events this season (6) as he had in 5 combined previous seasons (7) and he finishes 15th for his trouble. Despite my believing he’s one of the top 6-7 players in the world, he struggled to put together solid runs into the later stages of events.
He had two round of 32 losses he’d probably like back (to Fernandez and Manilla), but also made a run to the quarters at the US Open as the #24 seed. Three of his season losses were to Kane and Moscoso, no shame there. Next season he’ll hope to avoid the royalty of racquetball until later rounds.
—– #16 Sebastian Fernandez managed to play 7 of the 10 events on the season while balancing the tour and college, and makes a big jump in the rankings from #25 last year.
Patata made a huge run to the US Open quarters as the #23 seed. But he also struggled with his seeding running him right into top players week after week; he had round of 16 exists to Kane, Landa and Rocky this season. He should continue to improve and is a dangerous up and coming player.
—– #17 Eduardo Garay Rodriguez squeaked into the #17 spot by season’s end, improving from #28 last season. He played a number of tough round of 32 matches all year and was generally successful in making the main draw (qualifying 5 of 7 events). Once there, he usually played the top-8 seeds tough, with many of his losses on the year coming by tie-breaker. His big win on the season was a win over Landa in Austin, resulting in his first ever pro quarter reached.
Garay has re-classified his nationality, now representing Colombia. Which means he has a greater chance of playing IRF events going forward with a talent pool competing for the spots a bit thinner than in Mexico.
—— #18 Gerardo Franco Gonzalez had a much better season in 2019-20 than the one before, making the main draw in 6 of the 8 events and pushing into the quarters once, but saw his season-ending ranking slip a couple of spots from last year. He had some really solid wins on the season, didn’t have any “bad” losses, and played to his seeding nearly every event. He needs some more break through wins in 2020-21.
—- #19 Carlos Keller Vargas, after playing just 5 previous pro events in his life, committed to traveling from Bolivia and playing the tour full time this season. He started the season ranked #29 and ground his way into the top 20 by season’s end. He qualified for the main draw in 7 of the 9 events he played and faced off against 6 of the top 8 players on tour in various round of 16 matches. His biggest win of the year was an upset of #7 Murray at the US Open.
—— #20 Andres Acuña had a very solid season, playing 8 of the 10 events and making his first pro quarter when he downed Parrilla in Laurel early in the season. By season’s end he found himself in the dreaded 16/17 seed range, which made for really tough round-of-32 match-ups and a couple of early exits. The Costa Rican #1 finishes one spot higher than he did last year, a testament to just how much talent is pouring into the tour right now.
—————- 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
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.
—————- 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.
—————– Thanks for all the streaming on the weekend, especially from broadcasters Dean Baer, Favio Soto, Pablo Fajre and the IRTLive crew
—————— 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.
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.
is it a flip draw? Nope, this is a straight draw 1-8.
—————————— 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.
———————————- 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.
——————————- 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.
——————————- 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.
—————————— 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.
——————————- 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.
——————————— 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!
—————- 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.
—————- 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.
—————- 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.
—————- 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.
————— 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).
—————- 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.
—————- 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.
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.
—————— 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.