Pro Racquetball Stats (PRS), like the rest of the racquetball world, basically was put on hold for most of 2020 as event after event was cancelled. We did manage to crown the 2019-20 season ending pro champs once it became clear the latter quarter of the pro seasons wouldn’t be held.
The ladies were first to return to the court, thanks to racquetball benefactor Randy Root, and played a great event in Kansas City in December. The Men got to play a lower tier tournament in Atlanta a couple months back, and are scheduled for their long awaited tier 1 return to the court next week in the Suivant Consulting Grand Slam in Atlanta. Stay tuned as we are scheduled to join Dean DeAngelo Baer on the IRT Live stream to preview the event next week.
Here were the most popular/most engaging Facebook posts we made all year: 1. 5/5/20: Gregg Peck‘s passing retrospective. 2. 10/19/20: 3WallBall Wrap-up of Men’s 3wall event 3. 12/7/20: TeamRoot.com supermax wrapup 4. 2/10/20: US National Doubles wrap-up 5. 1/20/20: Longhorn Open Wrap-up
We had to cancel most National and international events for the year, which was a huge disappointment for an entire generation of Juniors (who aged out without playing their last event) and for Adults in turn (many of whom were set to play the PARCs or Worlds for the first time). We did get some fabulous news though recently, with confirmation that Racquetball will be included in the 2023 PanAm Games. Great news and congratulations to all who made that possible.
We look forward 2021, and look forward to getting back to a sense of normalcy in the world of racquetball.
In Singles, this is Longoria’s 100th career Tier 1 or higher pro win, and its the biggest pay day of her career (she has an additional 6 satellite tour wins, which is why last year’s US Open was advertised as her “100th pro win”). After her tough opener, she basically destroyed the field, allowing 32 points in four games from the 16s onwards, and has opened up a massive lead over #2 Vargas for second place in the rankings.
On the doubles side, This is Mendez’ third career pro title, with her third different partner. Centellas, who famously won the 2018 World Adult doubles title with Yazmine Sabja Ráquetbol] as a 16yr old, continues to show off her doubles chops playing for her new country, and the Mendez/Centellas partnership may be a pretty solid one going forward.
Lets review the notable matches in the Singles draw. Singles Match report in the PRS database: http://rball.pro/2A42D4
In the 32s, we had some solid matches but no surprises. – #1 Paola Longoria had perhaps the toughest round-of-32 match she’s ever had, getting pressed by her young country-woman Lucia Gonzalez 10,11 in the first round. Gonzalez played well and was not awed by the #1 player, but superior fitness and consistency of the world’s top player shown through in the end. – #16 Masiel Rivera Oporto held serve against #17 Erin Nocam Rivera Groves, advancing in two tough games 10,13. – #21 Guatemalan #1 Ana Gabriela Martínez] upset #12 Colombian #1 Adriana Riveros Racquetball 7,8 to advance. – #20 Hollie Rae Scott downed fellow American #13 Sheryl Lotts in two 3,9 to move on. Scott continues to show why she may be in line to race up the pro rankings with a full season of events, and why she’s currently the #1 ranked American woman. – #11 Nancy Enriquez advanced by the skin of her teeth, saving two match points against and squeaking out an 11-10 tiebreaker win against Bolivian junior #22 Micaela Meneses Cuellar. Enriquez cruised in game one to win 15-8, then Meneses just steamrolled to an 15-5 win in game two. In the breaker, Enriquez got up early, then Meneses crawled her way back. For a bit it looked like an upset in the making, but at the end-game both players made critical misses and Enriquez utilized a backhand drive to close it out. Great match. It was the sole match to go breaker in the opening round. – #23 Angelica Barrios played consistent and conservative racquetball to down #10 Amaya Cris 7,10 and move on. Amaya had the power, but Barrios kept calm and kept the ball in play over and again, and ground out a win.
In the 16s, we got 5 tiebreakers and a lot of close matches. – #1 Longoria made short work of #16 Rivera 3,1. – #8 Jessica Parrilla and #9 Carla Muñoz Montesinos were the last match of the night to finish, and gave the tournament perhaps its best match of the day. An 11-10 nail-biter that was back and forth in the tie-breaker, with both ladies having serves for match point saved against twice. Parrilla advances (10),13,10. – #21 Martinez got her second upset of the tournament’s opening day, downing #5 Rhonda Rajsich 6,10. Martinez did not look troubled in the match and could be a dark-horse for further upsets. Rajsich suffers some unlucky seeding to face Martinez in the 16s and exits. – #20 Scott got the biggest win of her career, downing #4 seed Samantha Salas Solis in a tiebreaker to move into the quarters. Scott was able to keep pace with the tour’s hardest hitter, and kept her composure as the match got tight at the end. Salas did not show much ill effect from her off-season shoulder surgery; she just ran into a hot player at the wrong time. Final score 11,(11),7 – #3 Alexandra Herrera came from a game down to top the resurgent #14 Maria Renee Rodríguez (11),11,2. MRR has stepped up her game, but Herrera (sitting at what I believe is her career best ranking #3) battled back to move on. – #6 Natalia Mendez Erlwein played a tight game one with #11 Enriquez, then turned on the jets and cruised to a two game win. Mendez looks like she’s been working on her drive serve technique and aced Nancy repeatedly in the 2nd game to race to a win. She looks like another upset special in the quarters. – #23 Barrios defeated #7 Valeria Centellas in a tiebreaker in a rematch of 2019’s junior world 18U title final to move on. An unlucky match-up here between two of the best young players in the world, both of whom look like they could be major factors in the sport moving forward. – #2 Maria Jose Vargas Parada and #15 Montse Mejia played the first two games as close as one might have expected, splitting the games 12 and 14, but in the tiebreaker Vargas blitzed to a 7-0 lead and made it stick, taking advantage of some tentative shots in the breaker from Mejia to advance.Seed report: your 8 quarterfinalists are 1,2,3,6 … and 20,21 and 23. Three seeds in the 20s advance to the quarters.
In the Quarters, we saw some more tiebreakers and more upsets, with two players seeded in the 20s advancing to the semis. – #1 Longoria faced off against #8 Parrilla, in a rematch of the finals of the 2020 Mexican Nationals. Paola left little doubt who the top player in the world is, blasting Parrilla 5,1 to move into the semis. – In a battle of 20-something seeds to get to the semis, former World Champ Martinez cruised to a game 1 win, then lost her drive serve accuracy and allowed top American Scott back into the match. In the breaker though, she re-found her weapon and raced to an 11-1 win to move into the semis. Final score: 4,(12),1 – #3 Herrera held serve and moved into the semis over the resurgent #6 Mendez 9,14. Herrera has been consistently making the semis as of late, advancing to this gate in the last four pro events in which she’s appeared. It is one of the reasons she’s elevated to #3 on tour. – In one of the more startling turnarounds i’ve seen on the pro tour lately. Bolivian junior Barrios came back from a game one drubbing 15-1 to dominate in game two, then hold on in a tight tiebreaker to beat the #2 seed Vargas and advance to the semis. Final score: (1),8,10. Barrios found a serve that vexed Vargas for most of game 2 and 3, and got a lot of 3-shot rally points off of it, enough to drive Vargas to frustrations. At the tail end of the breaker there were a couple of avoidable hinder calls, heightening the tension at the end. The 17-yr old advances to the semis.
Seeds in the semis: 1,3, 21 and 23. A tale of two populations of players right now in the world. The regulars and those talented players that are not playing full-time but which are equally as good as the top touring pros.
In the Semis; one blow out, one more upset. – #1 Longoria dominated her frequent international rival #21 Martinez 1,7 to move into the final. Martinez could not get anything going against the GOAT, and Longoria looks unstoppable. Martinez famously topped Longoria for the 2018 world title … but it remains her sole win in 14 tries against the world’s #1. – #23 Barrios pulled off yet another upset in a tournament filled with them, and moved to the finals with a hard-fought two game win over #3 Herrera. Barrios was fatigued from her efforts on the day; she walked straight out of a tie-breaker win in the Women’s Open and onto the court to play this semi, and it showed in her play. But, she held on in game one, saving game points against, then pulled out game two. Final score 14,10. A #23 seed into the final is the 2nd highest seed on record ever to advance that far (behind only Rajsich’s amazing run in the 2000 US Open, where she reached the final as the #44 seed).
In the Finals
Barrios was talked into bowing out of the Women’s open draw, where she would have had to play two singles matches before her noon sunday pro final. Thus, she played the biggest match of her life fresh. Barrios was able to hang with Longoria early in each game, standing up to the champ and putting balls away, but Longoria’s tenacity and aggressiveness on the court wore down the young Bolivian, and the final score showed: Longoria took the match 5,7.
Points Implications of results.
The re-start of the tour after so many months had drastic effects on the tour ranking, and, with a huge influx of points from the “super max” grand slam and surprising quarter and semi-finalists, we’re going to see huge shifts again. If i have my points projections right: – Barrios jumps from #32 to #8 thanks to the massive influx of points making a Grand Slam final. – Mendez jumps her two closest rivals to rise to #4, a career high ranking for the Argentina representative. – Martinez jumps from #26 to #13 and would be well positioned to make more deep pro tourney runs. – Scott jumps from #25 to #15 with her excellent showing.
The top 30 pros who missed the event all lost at least 4-5 ranking slots as a result of the big jumps above them. They’ll have to make up ground the next time we have an event.
15 teams battled it out for the huge doubles purse here. Seeds held in the first round.
In the quarters: – #1 Longoria/Salas cruised past #8 Laime/Rivera in two. – #4 Herrera/Mejia held serve against their Mexican counter parts #5 Parrilla/Rivera, but it took a tiebreaker to move on. – #6 Martinez/Rodriguez took out Munoz/Enriquez in two games. The Guatemalan national team looks tough. – #2 Mendez/Centellas ran past the Colombian national team of Riveros/Amaya. The newly-formed Argentinian team did not skip a beat and both players are excellent doubles specialists.
In the semis – #1 Longoria/Salas held on after dropping the first game against their frequent rivals, #4 Herrera/Mejia, and moved into the finals with an 11-8 win. – #2 Mendez/Centellas continued to dominate, crushing the Guatemalans in game two to advance 13,4
In the final…The Argentine doubles specialists split the first two games, but got really hot in the breaker and raced to the title win in an upset over the #1 Mexican team.
Women’s Open: The Women’s Open draw had a huge purse, and a large draw of players competing for it.
The quarters went to seeds, mostly top non-top 8 touring pros.
In the quarters, Barrios upset top seed Munoz, Parrilla ousted Riveros, Centellas crushed Scott, and Enriquez took a tiebreaker win over Amaya.
In the semis, Parrilla got a walkover when Barrios withdrew, while Centellas topped Enriquez in two. In the final, Centellas topped Parrilla in two close games to take the title and finish off an impressive event.
Thanks for all the streaming on the weekend, especially from broadcasters Timothy Baghurst, Jerry J Josey Jr.., and Tj Baumbaugh . Also shout out to Sandy Rios who did a great job on the mike all weekend, and to Leo Ray Vasquez who flew in to help with dual-court streaming.
Next up? The next known pro tournament on the books will be the IRT Suivant Consulting Grand Slam in Atlanta in early January.
The first Tier1 pro event since March is happening this weekend, and it looks set to be a fantastic event. Racquetball enthusiast and major sponsor Randy Root has sponsored a Grand Slam LPRT event for the weekend and its invitee list is a who’s who of women’s racquetball right now.
There’s 33 ladies in the Singles draw and a 15-team pro doubles draw.
top20 players missing; #12 Kelani Lawrence, still recovering from the eye injury she suffered in an assault in Las Vegas. #18 Cassandra Lee is the only other missing top 20 players, making for an astoundingly deep tournament.
Lets preview the singles draw.
Round of 32: here’s some notable matches to watch for.
– #1 Paola Longoria vs #32 Lucia Gonzalez: right out of the box, a compelling match-up. Longoria is of course the #1 player in the world, but Gonzalez is a 7-time junior world champion who beat two top-10 women’s pros at the 2020 Mexican Nationals and probably would be pushing into the top 4 if she played the tour full time. A tough draw for Lucia and a tough opener for Paola.
– #16/#17 matches are always close and this will be the same. #16 Masiel Rivera Oporto takes on #17 Erin Nocam Rivera Groves in the opening round. These two met at the 2019 US Open, a tiebreaker win for Masiel.
– #12 Adriana Riveros Racquetball vs #21 Ana Gabriela Martínez; They’ve never met professionally, but have faced off four times internationally (Martinez leads 3-1). Martinez’s seed is no indicator of her talent; she’s taken significant time off recently for schooling. Look for Gaby to move on here and is a dark-horse in this tourney.
– #13 Sheryl Lotts v #20 Hollie Scott ; a match up of two of the best American women out there. Scott has been playing well lately and dominated Lotts at the 2019 qualifying event in Tempe when they last played. Look for the upset-by-seed here.
– #14 Maria Renee Rodríguez vs #19 Adrienne Haynes; an intriguing match-up between two veteran pros.
– #11 Nancy Enriquez vs #22 Micaela Meneses Cuellar; The layoff has not been kind to Enriquez’s ranking; she finished last season ranked 8th and was seeded 6th in the last tourney she played. Now she’s bounced all the way out of the top 10. For her troubles she gets the precocious Bolivian Meneses, playing in her age 16 season and who owns several world junior titles. Enriquez should advance but Meneses should play strong.
– #10 Amaya Cris vs #23 Angelica Barrios; these two faced off in the 2019 Pan Am Games, with the youngster Barrios taking an 11-10 win. She finished her junior career in Nov 2019 by taking the 18U title but has had few opportunities to play the pro tour since. I think this will be close but look for the upset.
Projected round of 16 matches to watch for:
– #8/#9 Carla Muñoz Montesinos vs Jessica Parrilla; they played at this juncture in Jan 2020 in Florida, a closer 2-game win for Parrilla. They’re both back in the top 10 after big grinding efforts to get there, and expect a dogfight to get into the quarters.
– #5 Rhonda Rajsich vs #21 Martinez: Rajsich kicks off her 21st season of touring, still in the #5 slot, but runs into former world champ Martinez in a brutal round of 16 match. These two have met no less than 9 times over the years and always play close. I’ll guess this goes tie-breaker and watch for the second successive upset by the Guatemalan.
– #11 Enriquez vs #6 Natalia Mendez Erlwein; thanks to their general seeding over the past few years, there’s scant little history between these two perennial top 10 players; two split meetings in two months between Dec 2017 and Jan 2018. I’ll go with the Argentine in a breaker.
– #23 Barrios vs #7 Valeria Centellas; Centellas has rocketed up the rankings thanks to two big-time finishes last season, but runs into her former countrywoman in Barrios here. This is a rematch of the 2018 World 18U juniors championship just a year ago, a match Barrios won. I think Centellas is the better player, but Barrios has her number. Look for the upset.
– #2 Maria Jose Vargas Paradavs #15 Montse Mejia; what a round of 16 match; two of the four best women in the world face off two rounds too early. Mejia finished last season ranked #7 but tumbles all the way to #15 here thanks to ranking points machinations. Mejia played four events on tour last year; she lost to Paola all four times, beating everyone else in her path (including Vargas). But Mejia can be mercurial, losing early in internationals and at the 2020 Mexican nationals as the defending champion. I’ll go on a limb here and predict the upset because I like going with upsets. It may be a long trip for a one-and-done for Vargas, who isn’t playing doubles with her regular Argentine partners.
– #1 Longoria over #8 Parrilla, a rematch of the 2020 Mexican National final
– #4 Samantha Salas Solis over #21 Martinez: we have not mentioned Salas’ name yet; the Covid layoff has enabled her to have surgery on her non-throwing arm, but she seems to be in playing shape. This may be a tough draw though if Martinez has been playing regularly.
– #3 Alexandra Herrera vs #6 Mendez; the lefty ascends to her highest career ranking to start the season, and she’s well positioned to advance to the semis as she leads 6-1 h2h over Mendez.
– #15 Mejia vs #23 Barrios: Mejia handled Barrios en route to winning both the 2018 and 2018 Junior World 18U girls championships, and I think she’ll handle her here again.
Semis: I’m predicting an all-Mexico semis … and two matchups of doubles partners.
– #1 Longoria over #4 Salas. Amazingly, Longoria leads the pro h2h over Salas 51-3. Salas struggled through last season, dropping all the way to #4, and now faces playing into Longoria a round earlier than expected. Longoria steamrolls into the final.
– #15 Mejia over #3 Herrera; Mejia has beaten her the last three times they’ve played professionally and will beat her again here.
– #1 Longoria over #15 Mejia. Mejia has a win over Longoria, the 2019 Mexican Nationals final … but has lost the other 9 times they’ve played, including 4 times last season, often in dominant fashion. Longoria knows how to beat Montse, and beats here again here for the Grand Slam title.
There’s 15 teams in the draw, with some familiar teams and some new ones. Lets take a look at how the draw may play out.
upset watch in the 16s;
– I like Rajsich/Neils over the #8 seeds Laime/Rivera.
– I like the Scott/Gonzalez pairing to push the Guatemalan national team of Martinez/Rodriguez.
I like the Colombian team of Amaya/Riveros to upset the all-Argentinian team of Mendez/Centellas in the quarters, otherwise for the seeds to hold.
In the semis,
– we get what should be the final: Longora/Salas vs Mejia/Herrera. These two teams faced off four times in pro doubles finals last season, splitting their encounters. They’ve also met in the finals of the last two Mexican Nationals, with the world’s top team taking the honors each time. It should be tightly contested but #1 moves on in this big money event.
– I like #3 Munoz/Enriquez to take out the Colombians and advance to the final.
In the final, #1 cruises to a win over the #3 seeds.
Look for Streaming in the regular places; follow the LPRT on facebook and sign up to get notifications when they go Live.Look for Timothy Baghurst, Jerry J Josey Jr., JP Edwards and Tj Baumbaugh on the mike, calling the shots! Randy is also flying in Leo Ray Vasquez to help out, which is great.Can’t wait for the matches!
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 time has come for the event we’ve been talking about for months now. The largest event of 2020; its the 11th annual 3WallBall event on the grounds of the STRAT hotel in Las Vegas.
600 players among three racquet sport disciplines are signed up, with play set to start Thursday Morning. More than 330 racquetball players are entered,
I’m bummed; I have been planning on attending for months but had to pull out of traveling last minute, so i’ll be listening in on the streams all weekend with the rest of you.
This is set to be quite the unique event; a number of top touring pros on both the Men’s and Women’s side are set to make their outdoor debuts, which will make for a highly entertaining draw and fantastic matches all weekend.
Not all of these teams are back together this year, and the talent depth in all the draws should make it tough for repeats this year.
—————————— Lets preview the draws. 3-Wall Doubles first.
First up, the Mens Pro 3-wall doubles draw, which has had the most “buzz” associated with it thanks to the influx of top players from the IRT playing outdoor competitively for the first time ever. And what a draw we have. 23 teams that include 8 of the top 10 indoor players and a large slate of the best outdoor players in the world.
The big pre-tournament buzz was where to seed, in particular, #1 player in the world Kane Waselenchuk and his regular doubles partner Ben Croft, neither of whom have a ton of outdoor experience. True to form, WOR has stayed true to their own ranking system and gave the two (along with the Alex Landa / Sudsy Monchik pairing) bottom seeds, which will make for some pretty interesting round of 16 matches.
here’s some matches to watch for in the 32s – #21 Jake Bredenbeck / Brian Pineda vs #12 Sergio Rivera/ Dylan Pruitt ; shoutout to some of my DC-area local players, who go up against the basher in Jake and a long-time outdoor aficionado in Pineda. – #13 Wayne Antone Racquetball / Andree Parrilla vs #20 Tim Hermann / Mike Myers: an interesting match-up between a long-time doubles partnership in Herman/Myers and the two up and coming players in Antone/Parrilla, who have little experience playing with each other. How much does outdoor experience and team chemistry play into a match-up? Look for the upset here. – Long-time buds and IRT touring regulars Adam Manilla and Nick Riffel team up to take on #10 MoMo Zelada and Danny Lavely in what could be a tight opener.
– And of course, the Kane/Croft and Sudsy/Landa openers, both of which are happening later in the afternoon Thursday.
Projected 16s; and we have some doozies. We’re highlighting three potential match-ups in particular:
– #1 Daniel De La Rosa / Alvaro Beltran versus #17 Landa/Monchik. Well, the defending champs get a test right out of the gate. I’d have rather seen this match-up in the quarters, but I think DLR/Beltran move on. – #5 Rocky Carson / Jesus Ustarroz, who have two Outdoor national titles playing together, return to action as a pairing and likely face off against the Jake/Pineda pairing. – #2 Robert Sostre and David ” Bobby” Horn projected to face the King Kane/Croft partnership. What a match, and what a bummer for the #2 seeds right out of the gate. The hall of famer Sostre is better known for his one-wall prowess, but he’s accomplished in all outdoor disciplines as well. Look for this to be tight, but for Kane/Croft to move on.
Projected Quarters: they could be awesome – #1 DLR/Beltran over #8 Gerhardt / Jordan Walters – #5 Carson/Jay over #4 Emmett Coe / Rick Koll ; this is a tough one, featuring four accomplished outdoor players and a player in Koll who is frequently in the semis and finals of pro draws in these major outdoor tournaments. – #3 Marcos Gravier / Roy Hernandez over #6 Brandon Davis / Alejandro Barcelo . This is a great match-up of outdoor specialists who may not be well known names to the “indoor racquetball” fan, but who are all among the best of their trade in the outdoor game. I like the top Florida pair to move on here, topping a team that includes one of the best up and coming outdoor singles players out there in Davis. – #15 Kane/Croft over #7 Mike Peters / Patrick Allin ; the hall of famer Peters will certainly make this an entertaining match to watch for the neutrals, but the firepower of Kane/Croft should persevere.
My semis: – #1 DLR/Beltran over #5 Carson/Ustarroz; this was the outdoor nationals final in both 2016 and 2017, but the #1 team has stepped up their game and has proved to be very difficult to beat, indoors or outdoors. I think the #1 team moves on to the final. – #15 Kane/Croft over #3 Gravier/Hernandez: if there’s a spot where the indoor specialists get tripped up, its here. It will not be a surprise to any outdoor player if the talented Florida duo shock the world here. That being said, I don’t think Kane is to be stopped and the pair will have worked out all the outdoor adjustments they need by this point.
Finals: DLR/Beltran over Kane/Croft; this is the match-up everyone wants to see, and I’m glad it doesn’t happen til the final. It would be a fitting final for this event, for the size of it and for the buzz. These two teams have faced off in multiple major events: this was the 2017 US Open final (what many call the best ever racquetball match), the 2018 World Doubles final, the 2018 US Open final, and the 2019 US Open final. DLR and Beltran took the 2018 final in dominant fashion but have otherwise fallen to Kane/Croft.
Not this time; their outdoor experience leads them to a win over Kane/Croft in a fantastic match.
—————————— Women’s 3-wall doubles preview
There’s 7 teams here, and a possible draw change for the #2 seeds, which list Rhonda Rajsich and Samantha Salas Solis playing together. Salas recently underwent shoulder surgery and is not attending, so its hard to predict out this draw. Is Rhonda replacing her partner? Or is there to be a forfeit?
All 7 teams are filled with top LPRT players and there should be great competition all around.
I like the #3 seeds Paola Longoria and Janel Tisinger-Ledkins, returning to competition after a forced layoff, to advance to the final irrespective of who Rhonda might pickup as a partner, set to face the #1 seeds and defending champs Carla Muñoz Montesinos and Michelle De La Rosa.
In what should be a fantastic final, the four players (two of whom are basically outdoor specialists) should put on a great display of talent. In the end, I like Longoria/Tisinger to take the crown.
—————————— Mixed 3-wall doubles preview
A robust 15-team Mixed draw should make for amazing watching, especially in the top half of the draw, which is stacked.
Here’s some round of 16 matches to watch for: – #13 Landa/ Kelani Lawrence take on #4 Gerhardt/ Aime Brewer in a match filled with players with Virginia connections. Its an interesting pairing for Landa and it should be interesting to see how this match goes, especially given that both Gerhardt and Brewer are huge outdoor specialists.
– #3 Sostre/Munoz take on #14 brother/sister combo Andree and jessica Parrilla: i cannot say that i’ve seen these two play before as a team; how well will they play together? They face off against an incredibly accomplished duo in Sostre/Munoz; a great match.
Projected qtrs: – #1 and defending champs DLR/DLR possibly take on Jake Bredenbeck and Hollie Scott – #12 Alvaro Beltran playing with Longoria likely set to take on Landa/Lawrence in a great matchup of regular pros. – #3 Sostre/Munoz vs #6 Tisinger/ Majeed Shahin; an excellent display of outdoor play, with one of the best females ever to play outdoor in Tisinger against the hall of famer Sostre. – #2 Rajsich and Soda Man taking on the winners of a fascinating play-in involving two all South American teams.
My semis: – DLRs over Beltran/Longoria; but expect it to go the distance. – Sostre/Munoz over Rajsich/Koll
Final: DLRs repeat.
—————————— Lets run through the one-wall doubles events.
Men’s One-wall doubles Pro has 9 teams, head lined by the Sostre/Rolon team that will be hard to beat. But look for an interesting dark horse team in Jose Diaz and David Horn in the upper bracket looking to make noise. On the bottom side of the draw look out for one-wall florida outdoor specialist Ignacio Espinal and his partner Servando Daniels to make the final. I like Sostre and Rolon to repeat.
There isn’t an official One-Wall “pro” division for Women, but there is a good 3-team RR to determine the title. Look for Virginia outdoor player Aime Brewer, teamed up with Kelly Gremley to take the title as the #1 seeds.
Mixed One-Wall doubles: 6 teams here; i like the #2 seeds of defending ch amp Munuz teamed with one-wall specialist Rolon to top the Rajsich/Koll team in the final.
——————————— Lets look at the 3-wall Singles draws:
On the Men’s side: a 13-man draw is set to play out that will guarantee a new champ, as both of last year’s finalists are missing. #1 seed William Rolon projects to have a tough quarter final match against IRT tour regular Adam Manilla, and #2 seed Thomas Gerhardt will be the unlucky quarter finals opponent of #4 ranked touring IRT pro Andree Parrilla.
There’s also a slew of solid outdoor-capable players in this draw from all over the country who could make noise. Derek Izzi, Nick Riffel, Dan Lavely and Majeed Shahin all are threats to make the semis. A last minute withdrawal of the unknown #3 seed gives the dark horse outdoor specialist Marco Antonio Mijares a bye into the quarters and a clean path to the semis.
I’m predicting Rolon advances to the final, Parrilla upsets Gerhardt and also advances to the final, but Rolon takes the title.
On the Women’s side, four top LPRT touring pros are entered and should all advance to make for some great semi final action. #1 seed and defending champ Rhonda Rajsich should advance over #4 munoz, while in the bottom half world #1 Longoria returns to outdoor for the first time in years and should advance past #2 seed Jessica Parrilla.
In the final, I’ll favor Longoria over the outdoor legend Rajsich, despite Rhonda’s experience. Longoria is no stranger to outdoor and will play away any sense of rust in the discipline by the time she reaches the final.
——————————— Phew! that might be the longest preview i’ve ever written.
——————————— Look for Streaming in the regular places; both the LPRT and the IRT are streaming. Follow both organizations on facebook and sign up to get notifications when they go Live.
Look for Dean DeAngelo Baer, Favio Soto, Pablo Fajre and the IRTLive crew all weekend on the mike streaming one court, and look for Timothy Baghurst, JP Edwards and Tj Baumbaugh on the mike, calling the shots!
International Racquetball Tour LPRT International Racquetball Federation – IRF Pan American Racquetball Confederation – PARC UnitedHealthcare US OPEN Racquetball Championships WOR – World Outdoor Racquetball USA Racquetball Racquetball Canada Federación Mexicana de Raquetbol RKT Federación Boliviana De Raquetbol – Febora Federación Boliviana de Racquetball Racquetball Colombia Federacion Colombiana de Racquetball Federación Costarricense de Racquetball Asociación Argentina de Racquetball Federación Chilena Racquetball Racquetball Rancagua, Chile Jugadores Racquetbol Guatemala Ferac Racquet Federación Ecuatoriana de Racquetball – FERAC India racquetball Reaching Your Dream Foundation FormulaFlow Beastmade Clothing Rollout Racquetball Warehouse Splatit
—— A note about the points at season’s end: there’s a rolling 12-month period of points, and then a season-to-date points total. In some cases they do not show the players in the same order. Thanks to the sudden end of the season there likely will be a decent reshuffling of player seeds upon the restart of next season. Where it mattered, I’ll note it in the write-up below.
—— Congrats to Paola Longoria, who secures her 11th year end pro title. She went 32-1 on the season, winning 7 of the 8 events she entered and making the final in her sole loss (in Virginia in September of 2019). Her career W/L record on tour is now 472-31, an astounding 93.8 Winning percentage. She holds 99 tier 1 titles plus an additional six satellite titles for 105 pro titles for her career. She’s just turned 30 and seemingly has many more years of dominance ahead.
—— Here’s some analysis of the rest of the top 10 and beyond.
– #2 Maria Jose Vargas Parada dominated this season, making 6 of 8 pro finals and downing Paola Longoria in Virginia for her 5th career LPRT title. She holds a significant lead now over #3 Salas heading into next season.
– #3 Samantha Salas Solis had an inconsistent season, making just one pro final on the season after making the final 9 times in 9 tries last season. She still holds a significant points advantage over #4 though, but has to be facing some questions in this off-season as to why her season went off the rails and what she can do to get it back on track.
– Alexandra Herrera holds steady at #4 for the third straight season. She made 4 semis, 2 quarters and missed 2 events in the 8-event season.
– #5 Natalia Mendez improved her year end standing for the fourth straight season, just barely pipping #6 Rajsich for the 5th spot on tour. She made two semis on the season.
– #6 Rhonda Rajsich finishes off her 20th straight season on tour ranked in the top 6 or better. She had an up and down season, getting upset in the 16s four times, but also making two semis. She seemed to improve as the season went on.
– #7 Montse Mejia finishes 7th on tour despite only playing half the events, and she made statements whenever she did play. This is her first career pro top-10 finish. In each of her four appearances, she exited at the hands of #1 Longoria and has a slew of wins over top 8 players. She actually led #6 Rajsich in season-to-date points and will likely jump up quickly next season. It is relatively safe to say that if Mejia played the tour full time, she’d be pushing for #2 just behind Longoria.
– #8 Nancy Enriquez held onto the #7 seed for most of the season, getting knocked out of it thanks to two late-season round-of-16 upsets to finish ranked 8th.
– #9 Amaya Cris survives a mid-season injury without too much rankings damage thanks to the abrupt end of the season, but she loses her long-held foothold on the #8 spot for the time-being and would face a tough opponent in Enriquez in the 16s just to face Longoria. Its hard to get out of the 8/9 spot.
– #10 Masiel Rivera Oporto takes the 10th spot by the skin of her teeth, pipping #11 Parrilla by just four points. This is Rivera’s first career top 10 finish.
#11 Jessica Parrilla just missed out on a return to the top 10, but she had a great 2nd half of the season to build upon in her attempt to regain her former lofty ranking. She also made up some of the most ground on tour rankings wise, finishing last year ranked 37th after missing most of the season with a serious knee injury.
A side note here; the difference in points from #12 to #15 is just 33 points this season; that’s basically one additional quarter final appearance. One result can vault these players up the rankings significantly.
#12 Carla Muñoz Montesinos also made a great jump this season after finishing #20 last year. She had a couple of solid wins this year over top-8 players and should push for a top 10 spot next year.
#13 Brenda Laime Jalil repeats at #13 from last year’s season ending rankings. She made two quarters on the season and proved to be a tricky opponent all year.
#14 Ana Laura Flores also repeats at #14; she had a couple of solid wins on the year after blowing through Mexican 18U last summer.
#15 veteran Adriana Riveros takes a step back from touring and falls from #10 to #15 this season.
#16 Sheryl Lotts played top 10 pros tough all season, was seeded as high as #10 at one point but settles in at #16 on the season.
#17 Erin Nocam had a couple of solid wins and made a pro quarter this year, improving to #17 for the season.
#18 Maria Renee Rodríguez grinded (ground?) her way through the season to improve from last year’s #23 finish.
#19 Cassandra Lee played 6 of the 8 events on the season and played top-8 seeds tough all year. She falls slightly from last year’s #15 finish.
#20 Bolivian turned Argentine Valeria Centellas only played 4 events but made a quarter and a semi. She had wins over four of the current top 10 players on tour as well as the reigning US national champ. She’s also got one more year in juniors, which should send shudders down the spines of ladies pro players as she gains confidence and power.
——- Notables in the 20-30 range:
#21 Adrienne Fisher Haynes finishes ranked on tour for the 21st straight season. The tour veteran got a solid win at the US Open and played top 8 players tough all season.
#22 Kelani Lawrence played 6 of the 8 events on tour this season and made a quarter-final after a solid win over Enriquez in Florida. The reigning US National champ seems poised to make a run up the rankings.
#24 Frederique Lambert falls from 9th last season and 2nd the season before now that she’s a practicing medical doctor. The tour misses having such a talent involved on a regular basis.
#25 Hollie Scott continues to tour part time while in college and is a dangerous player when she does play.
#27 Ana Gabriela Martínez came out of “retirement” to play a few events, but falls precipitously from last year’s #11 spot. I’m hoping she returns to full time touring when her school commitments allow and competes for a top 10 spot.
————— Other Notables the rest of the way
#35 Cheryl Gudinas earns ranking points in her 27th straight season, every season since 1993-4.
#33 Graciana Wargo was a pro debutant this season, as was #37 Megan Shelton, #46 Kathy Nells, #54 Ayoko Hanashi and #54 Annie Roberts . Wargo and Roberts are US junior national team members who played pro events for the first time this season.
————— What’s next for the LPRT?
The team is working on rescheduling the TeamRoot.com classic to be the opener for the new season. No word yet on when that might happen. But the next time the ladies take the court it will be to start the 2020-21 season.
Here’s some more reports we’ve added lately. There will be a part 3 of this post: we’ve added a lotta a stuff in the last year or so.
– I added a couple of specific IRF queries around the time of the Pan Am games in Aug 2019 that i’ll cover in a separate post, probably revisiting the next time we actually have an IRF event (they have cancelled the Pan American Racquetball Confederation – PARC championships for 2020 thanks to Covid-19). But if you’re bored you can fire up the IRF section and run all sorts of new reports.
– Player Lefty-Righty W/L Splits: great suggestion from Brian Pineda (who still owes me $10 from a bet made during a match last fall), who surmised that some players are better than others against lefties. Well, now you can query that. Here’s Alex Landa ‘s splits L vs R: http://rball.pro/28335A
– Head to Head Summary report: interesting suggestion by Timothy Baghurst to emulate a graphic we saw posted on a Squash broadcast: if you fire up the “Tale of the Tape” report, you can now select this H2H Match Summary report, which breaks down the h2h wins/losses, plus gives details on 3-game wins, 4-game wins and 5-game wins in both the best-of-3 and best-of-5 format. Here’s an example of this data for matches between Kane Waselenchuk and Rocky Carson: http://rball.pro/49B9BA
– Slight improvement to the Player Summary report as suggested by Evan Pritchard (aka Kramer X, aka the guy who writes The Racquetball Blog) to add in # of tournaments played along side # missed and total per player, per year. This does make the report more readable definitely. Here’s an example of a player summary for Paola Longoria showing the new column: http://rball.pro/7F61BB
– Addition of Player Home pages as suggested by JT R Ball. We don’t know too many stand alone pages for players, so I’ve added in some known “Facebook home pages” that some players are using in lieu of an external page. This data is now seen on the Player Profile reports. I’ll continue to add home pages as I encounter them. JT also just sent me some youtube playlist links that I may use instead of home pages for some players.
– Added functionality to the “Oldest to…” and “Youngest to…” reports after a conversation where Keerti Kumar asked whether Lalo Portillo99 was the youngest player ever to break into the top 10. I’ve modified the “Youngest to..” and “Oldest to…” queries to also list the Youngest and Oldest players to ever finish a season ranked in the top 10 on tour.
The answer to the question, “was Lalo the youngest ever to break into the top 10?” requires a bit of a history lesson.
Short Answer: No.
Longer Answer: Prior to 1982 there wasn’t a points system on tour used to determine the year end winner; the year end Nationals tournament determined the winner. They did have a ranking system, but it was just used to seed events properly. In the early days of racquetball, the tour was dominated by very young players succeeding at an early age. Marty Hogan (racquetball) for example finished as runner up in the Nationals in 1976 and 1977 at the ages of 18 and 19 respectively. Brett Harnett amazingly played most of the 1980-1 season at the age of 16, then made the semis of Nationals just after turning 17. Newly elected Hall of Famer Gregg Peck was just a few months younger than Harnett and played alongside of him, making the quarters of the 1981 nationals also at the age of 17.
Harnett then finished ranked 4th on tour the first year there was a ranking system in 1982. Other teenagers to finish in the top 10 once there was a ranking system include Gregg Peck, Gerry Price in 1983, Cliff Swain in 1985, Jack Huczek in 2002 and most recently Daniel De La Rosa in 2013.
– Added a section to the “Oldest to..” report to have a “non Ruben Gonzalez version of the “Oldest players to make the round of 16” on the Men’s tour. Ruben held 19 of the top 20 spots; now you can see who else is getting close.
——————- We’ll do part 3 next week to spread out the rball content!
Congrats to your winners on the weekend: – Singles: Paola Longoria – Doubles: Paola Longoria/Samantha Salas
Longoria wins her 98th career Tier 1 or higher event (105th title overall). See http://rball.pro/65DCE3 for a list of all LPRT tourney winners. Longoria beats her doubles partner in the final, then they turn around and take their second tournament in as many weeks (they won Mexican Nationals last weekend). They improve to 96-5 as a team since we began tracking LPRT pro doubles data in Sept 2013. click here for Longoria’s pro doubles history W/L by partner report; http://rball.pro/F5E61D
—————- In the 32s, a bunch of surprises to me, which in and among itself is NOT surprising in that this draw was stacked from the get-go:
– #12 Ana Laura Flores got a solid win over #21 Hollie Rae Scott 11-5 in the breaker. I thought this was an upset special waiting to happen but the lefty Flores recovered from a game one loss 15-14 to take the match and on. – #14 Valeria Centellas flipped the script from a few weeks back in Laurel and topped #19 Kelani Lawrence in a tie-breaker. – #10 Brenda Laime Jalil trounced #23 Ana Gabriela Martínez 13,5 to move on in a pretty surprising result for me. I’d love to have seen this match to gauge whether Martinez is rusty, or if Laime played out of her mind. – #18 Maria Renee Rodriguez got a solid win over #15 Erin Nocam (i.e. Erin Rivera)11-8 in the breaker. Really solid win for MRR, who was stuck on several straight one and dones in the past few pro events.
—————- In the 16s, a lot of upsets. – In the 8/9 game, a tie-breaker. After losing the first game 15-1, Masiel Rivera Oporto rebounded to force a tiebreaker but eventually fell to #9 Jessica Parrilla. Parrilla closes the gap a bit on the #10 ranking on tour but probably cannot get there this season. – #5 Rhonda Rajsich overcame a strong upset bid from lefty youngster #12 Flores before advancing in a tie-breaker. – In the biggest upset of the round, veteran #13 Adriana Riveros took out #4 Natalia Mendez in two games 8,10. Mendez was all out of sorts on the match, really seemed off from the get-go and Riveros took full advantage. This loss may end up costing Mendez the #5 spot on tour as Rhonda’s result moves the two players basically even on ranking points. – #3 Samantha Salas Solis had a pretty amazing turnaround in her match against junior phenom #14 Centellas. She dropped the first game 15-3 and was essentially getting beat with 3-shot rallies over and over (serve, return, kill). Then mid-way through the second she found the light and dominated from there out, winning the second game and eventually the tie-breaker 11-4. A common refrain in these recaps is the sudden loss of form for Salas this season; can she build on this rebound and move forward? – #11 Carla Muñoz Montesinos gets her second win over a top-10 player on the season, coming from a game down to top the #6 seeded Mexican veteran Nancy Enriquez in a breaker. She advances to her second quarter of the season and faces a player she beat the last time they played. – #10 Laime gets a walk-over over #7 Amaya Cris; I thought her name in the draw indicated that she was going to attempt to play through her injury, but instead it just indicated that her hand injury occurred too late to change the draw. Reports indicate that she’ll be out of action for 6 weeks, which may put her participation in April’s PARC championships at risk. Amaya has represented Colombia at every PARC event (save one) since 2008.
—————- In the Quarters, the three top seeds plus a surprise advanced.
– #1 Paola Longoria dominated #9 Jessica Parrilla in a rematch of last week’s Mexican National singles final 6,3 to move on. – #2 Maria Jose Vargas blitzed past #10 Laime 1,9 to advance to the semis. – #3 Samantha Salas Solis turned the tables on #11 Munoz from their last meeting, advancing in two games 10,6 – The big surprise of the round was #13 Riveros beating her second top-8 player in a row, moving past #5 Rhonda Rajsich Fan Club in two solid games 13,10. Riveros makes just her second ever pro semi final; the only other time was more than four years ago (Jan 2016 in Cincinnati).
————— In the Semis – #1 Longoria trounced #13 Riveros 4,1 to advance to the final. Its been nearly 3 years since Longoria failed to make a LPRT final and this tournament was no different. – #3 Salas got a well-earned win over #2 Vargas to make her first final of the season. It was a streaky match, with Salas racing to a huge first game lead before Vargas took it, then Salas saving off match point against and gutting out a second game win. From there, Vargas’ spirit seemed broken and Salas cruised to a well earned win.
In the Finals, Salas hung with Longoria early, running out to a lead even, and had some wondering if it was an upset-special … then Longoria turned it on and cruised to an 8,3 win.
—————- Points Implications of results: There’s only two remaining LPRT stops on the schedule right now: a tier 1 in San Antonio.in April and a “super max” grand slam in Kansas in June. While there could be more events added last minute, based on the fact that there’s just 2 events left… – Irrespective of results at the remaining 2 events, Paola has a large enough lead over #2 Vargas (782 points) that she has guaranteed the #1 year end spot. It will be her 11th year end title. – Despite Salas’ win over Vargas here, she remains well behind Maria for #2. Far enough behind that the only way Salas could catch Vargas for #2 is if she wins both remaining events (worth 500+ points) and for Vargas to miss them. That seems pretty unlikely, so we’re ready to declare that Vargas has sewn up #2 on the season. – Salas seems pretty locked into #3 as well; she’s got a huge lead to #4 that would take some unlikely scenarios to overcome. – #5 and #6 on tour may flip b/c of this event: Rhonda and Natalia both have nearly identical points right now. – #7 and #8 might flip as well: based on my records Mejia and Enriquez also have identical number of points right now. – thanks to a relatively large points gulf between 10 and 11, it seems likely that the year end top 10 has been sewn up for all participants; its just a matter of the order in the latter half.
The only other significant moves in the rankings would be Riveros moving up one spot, and MRR moving up two spots thanks to their results on the weekend.
The top 2 seeds cruised to the final with little difficulty. There, the #1 seed continued their dominance over the doubles tour, beating the Argentines Vargas/Mendez in two. Longoria/Salas have never lost to Vargas/Mendez, and they continue the streak.
—————- Other Draws in Boston: – Munoz topped MRR in the Women’s Open final – Connecticut’s Jose Flores Jr. won a 20-man Open draw, topping Massachusetts’ Orlando Cabana in the final.
—————– Thanks for all the streaming on the weekend, especially from broadcasters Timothy Baghurst, great technical work and streaming graphics/replays by Jerry J Josey Jr., and mike work/tour leadership from Tj Baumbaugh.
—————— Next up on the schedule? we’ll publish wrap ups of the two IRT events that went on this past weekend tomorrow, then the IRT returns to Tier 1 action with the 35th annual Shamrock Shootout in Chicago next weekend.
Hot on the heels of Mexican Nationals last weekend (which involved a good percentage of the current LPRT regular touring squad), the LPRT returns after a five week break in the schedule.
We’re in Boston this week for the 2020 Boston Open. The Boston Open first popped up on the schedule in Oct 2016, was held three years running, missed 2019 but its great to see them back on the schedule for 2020.
24 Pros in the draw, a good sized draw and one of the bigger turnouts of the season so far. Notables playing this week include Amaya Cris, who just had hand surgery on her non-playing hand but will gut it out and play on the weekend. #12 Ana Laura Flores is here after curiously missing Mexican Nationals last week.
Notables missing this week: #4 Alexandra Herrera and #7 Montse Mejia. Herrera’s absence is odd; she has missed just two pro events in the last 5 seasons combined. Mejia continues to balance school and travel and probably could not miss two straight weeks of time.
From the 11-20 ranked players, only tour stalwart Adrienne Fisher Haynes is missing, meaning that the event is stacked, with 17 of the top 20 players present.
And, just to make this an even deeper draw, we have 2019 US champ Kelani Lawrence, the 2020 US qualifier champ Hollie Rae Scott, and 2018 World Champ Ana Gabriela Martínez making a rare appearance to make this one of the best LPRT draws in some time. All these top non-regular touring players will make the opening rounds brutal.
—————————— Lets preview the singles draw. Here’s some notable qualifying matches that i’m looking forward to:
——————————- In the 32s, here’s some matches to look for:
– #21 Scott versus #12 Flores: Great opener; Scott defeated Flores in the sole h2h match I have on record … in 2017. Flores started off the 2019-20 season with a bang, making the quarters, but has been one-and-done in 3 straight pro events since. Scott is hot (hey! I’m a poet and i didn’t even know it), is coming off a great showing in Tempe to take the qualifier title and essentially guarantee herself a spot on the US National team, and will be looking to make noise here. Look for Scott with the “upset” here. – #13 Adriana Riveros vs #20 Susy Acosta; interesting match here; they met earlier this season and Acosta got the upset win, but otherwise Riveros has a ton of really solid wins lately on her resume. She was fantastic at the Pan Am Games in Lima, downing Centellas and Rajsich to make the semis. I’d favor Riveros here but the match-up with the veteran lefty may make for an upset as it did earlier this season. – #14 Valeria Centellas vs #19 Kelani Lawrence; Centellas has raised some eyebrows on tour this year, with multiple wins over top 10players, but to get there in Boston she’ll have to go through a player who just topped her dominantly in a local event a month ago in Lawrence. This should be a really competitive match. – #11 Carla Muñoz Montesinos vs #22 Lexi York; Munoz keeps climbing up the rankings on tour, now on the brink of the top 10. She’ll have a tough younger opponent in York to start her tournament this weekend. – #10 Brenda Laime Jalil vs #23 Martinez: The presence of Martinez in the draw is the ultimate wild-card; when she’s playing regularly, she’s a top 4-5 player in the world and a threat to make the semis or better of any event she enters. But since “retiring” to go to school she’s played sporadically with mixed results. Here she runs into Laime, who has had a hit or miss season, missing more events than she’s played but making a quarter final in Virginia Beach in September. I think Martinez moves on here. – #15 Erin Nocam vs #18 Maria Renee Rodriguez; An intriguing match between Rivera, the righy with an unconventional swing path and a number of solid wins this season, versus MRR, who seems stuck in a rut right now with five straight one-and-dones. I think Rivera moves on.
——————————- Round of 16; here’s a look at the round as it may play out if my round of 32 predictions come to pass: – #1 Paola Longoria vs #16 Sheryl Lotts; 9 times they’ve played, mostly in the 2012-13 time frame, Longoria is 9-0 against the American. Paola is fresh of a double win in Tijuana and hopefully shows no ill-effect of the nasty-looking turned ankle. – #9 Jessica Parrilla vs #8 Masiel Rivera Oporto: Rivera unfortunately draws Parrilla, who took out defending Mexican champ Mejia en route to the final and qualified for the Mexican national team for the first time in years. Rivera beat Parrilla handily at the US Open earlier this season, but has suffered some early upsets since, while Jessica has been red-hot. Look for the upset here. – #5 Rhonda Rajsich vs #22 Scott; Hollie didn’t have to play Rhonda at the doubles qualifier but won it by defeating the player who downed Rhonda in the final. Is it a changing of the guard in US Racquetball? Every time Rhonda does NOT win a title we have the same talk. But Scott is candidate 1-A right now to take over the mantle of the “Best American” based on results. This will be a good test for both player, and I think Scott moves on. – #4 Natalia Mendez likely takes on #13 Riveros: a nice south american matchup; Mendez leads 4-1, Riveros beat her in jan 2019 but not since, and the matches are often close. – #3 Samantha Salas Solis vs the Lawrence/Centellas winner: Salas has never lost to either player, and crushed Lawrence when they played in Greenville in January. Look for Salas to move on here in a close match. – #6 Nancy Enriquez vs #11 Munoz: these two played three times in 2017, never since. Munoz has been creeping up the rankings, now sitting at #13 while Enriquez has been showing some vulnerabilities in earlier rounds this season. I think Munoz can get the upset here. – #7 Amaya vs likely #23 Martinez: On paper Martinez is the better player, but she’s not playing full time. Meanwhile Amaya just had surgery and isn’t 100%. Not knowing just how sharp Martinez is … i’ll go out on a limb and predict the upset here. – #2 Maria Jose Vargas Parada likely takes on #15 Rivera, in what I believe is a debut meeting for the two players. Vargas to move on.
—————————— Projected Qtrs: – #1 Longoria over #9 Parrilla: a rematch of last week’s Mexican National final, won by Longoria in two. – #4 Mendez vs #22 Scott: these two are nearly the same age and have prior junior worlds meetings. But that was a while ago. I see a tough match here that could go either way, but I’ll go with the higher ranked Mendez to move on. – #3 Salas vs #11 Munoz; if this meeting comes to pass, Munoz has a win already over Salas this season and should be able to repeat the feat. Salas took a slight knee knock last weekend; not sure if it was serious or not (it did not seem to affect her in the doubles final), but something to look out for. – #2 Vargas vs #23 Martinez. Great match-up. They met at 2018 worlds (a Martinez win) and 2019 PARC (a Vargas tiebreaker win). I like Vargas here over the non-touring Martinez.
Semis: – #1 Longoria over #4 Mendez; Natalia has never beaten the #1 player, and that won’t change here. – #2 Vargas over #11 Munoz: Argentina vs Chile, a battle of two of the best Syrah-growing countries in the world. Oh, and two solid players. I have Vargas 8-0 lifetime over Munoz in pro and IRF competitions; she makes it 9-0 here.
Finals: #1 over #2 Longoria over Vargas.
6 of the first 7 finals this season have been Longoria v Vargas, might as well make it 7 of 8.
——————————- Doubles review
13 teams entered. Some interesting teams this time around trying to dethrone Longoria/Salas. We have a number of internationally flavored teams: the #2 Argentinian national team pairing of Vargas/Mendez, a promising all-american team of #6 Lawrence/Lotts, the Guatemalan national team #9 Martinez/Rodriguez, and an interesting “all veteran” team of Rajsich/Acosta, with more than 40-years of pro experience between them. One last team of note: María Paz Riquelme steps in for Amaya to partner with Riveros this time around; Riquelme and I used to play at the same club in Arlington VA. If you’re reading this Maria … hello!
In the end, I’m going with the #1 team to prevail over the #2 Argentines in the final.
——————————— Look for Streaming in the regular places; follow the LPRT on facebook and sign up to get notifications when they go Live. Look for Timothy Baghurst], Jerry J Josey Jr., JP Edwards and Tj Baumbaugh on the mike, calling the shots!
Congrats to your winners on the weekend: – Mens Singles: Daniel De La Rosa – Men’s Doubles: Rodrigo Montoya/Javier Mar – Women’s Singles: Paola Longoria – Women’s doubles: Paola Longoria/Samantha Salas
The two singles finalists on the Men and Women’s side qualify to represent Mexico at upcoming IRF events. The Doubles winners also qualifies to represent the country at upcoming IRF events. I’m assuming this is for the 2020 PARC games to be held in April in Bolivia and for the 2020 World Championships, but as with prior years there may be additional qualification parameters for the 2020 World Championships team that come to light later on.
—————- In the 32s: no upsets to this observer; all 10 round of 32 matches were two-game victories for the expected winner. The three closest games all involved the three highest ranked players playing in the play-in round, who were likely playing themselves into shape for the next round.
—————- In the 16s, some notable results/upsets: – #8 Christian Longoria topped #9 Andree Parrilla in a tie-breaker. This is a pretty significant upset, as Parrilla currently sits #5 in the world while Longoria (albeit in limited pro appearances) has yet to even qualify for a main draw. Parrilla continues his miserable tourney streak; he lost in the 16s of the last three pro events as well. – #5 Gerardo Franco Gonzalez @got an excellent win over #12 Javier Estrada 6,(13),7 to move on. Franco continues to show he’s a tough out, and takes out the enigmatic Estrada. – #11 Sebastian ‘Patata’ Fernandez dominated Alex Cardona 8,8 to move on. Solid win from Patata, who I thought had a chance to beat Cardona but certainly not in two dominant games. – #10 Lalo Portillo took out reigning World and Pan Am games singles champ Rodrigo Montoya Solís with relative ease 9,11. Portillo frustrated Montoya with off-speed Z-serves that were quite effective, then matched Montoya’s athleticism to keep balls in play with diving gets and great retrievals.
By seeds, mostly chalk through the 16s with the seeds 1,8,5,4,3,11,10,2 advancing, but for me four of the eight matches were upsets or surprising results.
—————- In the Quarters – #8 Longoria gave #1 Alvaro Beltran a scare, taking the first game and giving Alvaro a run in the second before fading in the breaker. Final score (12),12,3. – #4 Javier Mar took it to #5 Franco, controlling the match and advancing in two games 12,5. – #11 Fernandez got his second statement win in a row, topping #3 Alan Natera Chavez 11,11 to move on. Natera’s streak of making the semis at Nationals ends after two straight years, while Fernandez moves into the semis of Adult nationals for the first time (he made the quarters twice before, in 2017 and 2018). – #10 Portillo pushed #2 Daniel De La Rosa, saving match point against in the second game to force a breaker, but DLR ran away with it there, advancing to the semis. DLR keeps his streak of making the semis alive; he’s made the semis or better in every Mexican Nationals back to at least 2014 (he did miss 2017’s event).
————— In the Semis – #1 Beltran gave credence to the old statement, “It only takes 26 to win” in dropping the second game to #4 Mar 15-1 but moving on by the final score line of 8,(1),9. – #2 DLR put an end to #11 Fernandez’s run, frustrating the young Mexican at the precipice of the National team by the score line of 10,11.
With these wins: – Beltran secures his singles spot on the Mexican National team for the second year running after a 3 year gap from 2016-2018. – DLR returns to the singles Mexican team after a year absence (he was beaten by Landa in the semis last year). DLR has now qualified for the team 4 of the past 7 seasons.
————— In the Finals; a rematch of the 2015 Mexican National Finals, won by Beltran for his last National title. But on this day, DLR ended up on top of a close but casual match between friends and doubles partners 14,11 to take the title.
——————————— Lets review the notable matches in the Women’s Singles draw.
—————- In the 16s, a couple of notable results – #12 Lucia Gonzalez dominated LPRT top 10 player and #5 seed Nancy Enriquez 2,11 to move on. Gonzalez doesn’t have a top-level match in the database since Dec 2018, but makes noise every time she plays. – #10 Erin Nocam “upset” #7 Maria Gutierrez in two to advance. Gutierrez was a finalist at 18U last summer in Mexican junior nationals and still has a year left in the junior ranks, while Erin continues her excellent season of results.
—————- In the Quarters, two pretty big upsets. – #8 Jessica Parrilla returned to the semis of Mexican Nationals after a two year absence, and she did it by dethroning the defending champ Montse Mejia in two straight. Parrilla was in control for large parts of the match, taking advantage of Mejia’s mistakes throughout. – #12 Gonzalez got her second upset in a row, downing #4 Alexandra Herrera in a tiebreaker. These two are familiar foes, often competing for junior national titles as they grew up, and Lucia was able to get past her in a major event yet again. – #3 Samantha Salas Solis cruised past veteran #7 Susy Acosta, improving to 12-0 in top-level/pro events over the lefty, to move into the semis. – #2 Paola Longoria blitzed past #10 Erin Rivera 0,3, giving her younger countrywoman little chance to get some of the upsets she’s gotten lately on tour.
————— In the Semis – #8 Parrilla played solid ball and outlasted #12 Gonzalez to make the Mexican national finals 12,10. – #2 Longoria survived an injury scare to move past doubles partner #3 Salas 14,9 to get to the final. Early in game on at 1-6 down, Longoria and Salas got tangled up and Longoria seemed to have landed on her ankle wrong; it did not look good, and a full injury time out was taken. She recovered though, Salas could not take advantage of the mobility issues, and Longoria seemed to gain strength and confidence as the match moved on. In the second game Salas had her own injury scare, tweaking her knee in a rally but persevering without an injury time out.
With these wins: – Parrilla returns to the Mexican national team singles spot for the first time in years: she last represented Mexico internationally at the 2016 PARC event, and before that at the 2013 World Games. – Longoria secures her spot on the National team, and extends her streak held since 2006 of representing Mexico in singles at IRF events.
————— In the Finals, Parrilla really put up a fight but couldn’t convert in game one when it counted, dropping it 15-14, then collapsing in game two to lose 14,4. Longoria regains the title she lost last year and returns to the top of Mexican racquetball.
In the early rounds: – Seeds 1,2,4 and 6 advanced to the semis. – #5 team of Fernandez/Miguel Rodriguez Jr. took out Cardona/Franco early and pushed Estrada/Natera before falling. – The #6 team of Portillo/Parrilla “upset” the #3 seeds Sebastian Longoria/Erick Trujillo to advance. – The #7 team of Christian Longoria and Cesar Barragan really pushed the #2 team DLR/Beltran, falling 14,11
In the semis: – #1 Montoya/Mar moved into the final over #4 Estrada/Natera, but had to save off game point against in the second game to do so 4,14. – #2 DLR/Beltran kept their qualification hopes alive … by by the skin of their teeth, taking a scintillating match over #6 Portillo/Parrilla 11-10. The tiebreaker was a shot-makers paradise, with rallies generally only ending with splat rollout kill shots. Fantastic racquetball.
At 10-10, with both teams having saved match point against and with DLR/Beltran re-gaining the serve … something weird happened. DLR/Beltran were assessed a technical for … i’m not sure. At 10-10 against Parrilla called a time out, and Beltran playfully hit the ball towards him. I’m assuming the referee deducted a point for it (based on DLR’s reaction when getting back the 10th point). Nonetheless, when play resumed it was 9-10. They gutted out the 10th point, then on match point rally DLR absolutely buried a reverse forehand pinch from 39′ feet to take the match with quite a statement.
In the final, these two teams went tie-breaker as expected. In the breaker Montoya/Mar jumped out to a bit lead but couldn’t close out at match point. DLR/Beltran quickly ran off several points and it looked like maybe they could pull magic out of a hat again, but Montoya/Mar got the serve back and the ended the match with an amazing winner from Mar.
Montoya/Mar repeat as Mexican National champions and get a chance to build on their 2019 Pan American Games title. Perhaps more importantly, they get a rare win over the veteran Beltran/DLR team in their increasingly exciting rivalry.
In the quarters – #1, #2 and #4 teams advanced easily – #6 Angela Veronica Ortega/Maria Gutierrez upset the #3 seeded team of Acosta/Sacristan in a tie breaker for the round’s only upset.
In the semis: – #1 Longoria/Salas, both of whom picked up knocks in their singles semi final match against each other, gutted out a two game win over the #4 team of Parrilla/Rivera 9,10. – #2 Mejia/Herrera cruised past the upset minded #6 team of Ortega/Gutierrez 3,4.
In the Final, we got the quite-frequently seen doubles final as of late: these two teams have now met in the finals of four LPRT doubles events just this season, three last season, last year’s World Doubles pro final, plus last year’s Mexican National final. While the Mejia/Herrera team has gotten a couple wins in this rivalry lately, on the day today the veterans held serve, winning in two games 7,13 to take the national title and the right to represent Mexico in the upcoming IRF events.
—————— Next up?
After a month’s break, the LPRT is back in action next weekend in Boston. The IRT has a couple of lower-tier events next week (in Minneapolis and in Pueblo, CO), and then returns to Chicago for the 35th annual KWM Gutterman classic the following weekend.