This coming weekend is the 33rd annual High School Nationals, being held in Portland, Oregon at the same Multnomah Athletic club that hosted last year’s Junior Nationals and the annual John Pelham Memorial IRT event.
Fun Facts about HS Nationals:
– this is the 33rd event: the first was held in 1988 and won by Jim Floyd (Michigan) and Holly Grey (Virginia). Holly would later marry hall of famer Ed Remen and now lives in North Carolina. – There’s been two 4-time HS champions: Adrienne Fisher Haynes from 2000-2004 and Lexi York from 2012-2016. – There’s never been a 4-time male champ; the closest we got was Taylor Knoth, who took it 2007-2009. Knoth lost in the quarters his freshman year to the 2006 winner Chris Coy. – The tournament has been dominated by players from California and Oregon: 30 of the 66 singles titles awarded in its history have come from these two states. – The list of past champs is littered with eventual pro tour champions. Sudsy Monchik won this title in 1991, Jack Huczek won it twice, in 2000 and 2001. Michelle Gould won it in 1989, Rhonda Rajsich twice in 96 and 97. – Three different members of the Rojas clan have HS national titles: Marco Rojas in 2010, Mauro Daniel Rojas in 2014 and 2016 and current title holder Antonio Rojas. – Interestingly, current IRT pro Sebastian ‘Patata’ Fernandez took the title in 2015 as a freshman, then again in 2018 as a senior, missing the two events in-between. He would presumably have had a great chance of a 4-peat.
Here’s a quick preview of the Gold #1 Singles draw, looking at the top 8 seeds. They’re dominated at the top by players from Northern California.
In the Boys #1: – Defending HS National champ and Stockton native Antonio Rojas is back and is the #1 seed. Rojas is the current reigning 16U and 18U US Junior national champ and is already one of the most decorated junior players in US history. He’s going to be tough to beat. See this link for a matrix of all US Junior National boys title holders: http://rball.pro/68C60E – Last year’s finalist and East Bay resident Vedant Chauhan is the #2 seed. Chauhan has several junior national titles himself, was the runner-up in 14U in 2019 and lost in world 14U juniors in the quarters to the eventual winner Bolivian Jhonatan Flores. See this link for Chauhan’s match history in the PRS database: http://rball.pro/1EB9AD – #3 is the player who vanquished Chauhan in last year’s 14U US final and who advanced to the final of 14U at Junior worlds, Fremont native Nikhil Prasad. Prasad himself owns 5 junior national titles and will be a favorite to make the final here. Prasad enters HS nationals for the first time. – #4 Cody Boucher has competed at US Junior Nationals for the past few years, was the #3 seed here last year and was upset early. – #5 is another Stocktonian, one with a great pedigree in Julius Ellis (son of long time IRT vet John Ellis. Ellis and Boucher met in the 2018 16U junior nationals event, and are slated to play into each other in the quarters here. – #6 Cody Thomas made it to the quarters of the 2019 16U nationals event in 2019. – #7 Rory Lampe was taken out of the 16U junior Nationals last year by #1 seed Rojas – #8 Nathan Soltis made the 16s the last two years in the 16U draw at junior nationals.
Predictions: Its hard not to see Rojas repeating, and the #2/#3 re-match of last year’s 14U final between Prasad and Chauhan could be great.
————— In the Girls #1,
– Defending champ Annie Roberts is the #1 seed and is playing in her home-town. Roberts is the two-time defending US 16U junior national champ and had a great run to the semis of Junior worlds last November. – Roberts will not have last year’s finalist as a competitor, as Nikita Chauhan has graduated despite still having one year remaining in 18U. We look forward to seeing Chauhan at intercollegiates this year competing for UC Berkeley (my father’s alma mater).
– the #2 seed this year is Heather Mahoney, the two-time defending USA junior 14U champ and an incoming freshman for 2020. She already holds 8 USA junior national titles and is the reigning 2019 World Junior 14U champ and will be a favorite here. – #3 is Alondra Canchola, a semi-finalist last year here. – #4 is Arya Cyril, also a semi-finalist at this event last year and who lost 11-10 to Chauhan in the semis. – #5 is Erin Slutzky, the 3rd seed last year and who is coming off a quarter final appearance at 16U junior worlds last November. – #6 is Shane Diaz, who made the semis of US 18U junior nationals last year. – #7 is Megan Carver, who lost in the quarters of last year’s 18U junior nationals to Diaz. – #8 is Karena Mathew, who holds 4 junior national titles but none since she was in grade school. She’s coming off a 3rd place showing at last year’s 14U nationals and is a rising freshman ready to make some waves.
Congrats to your winners on the weekend: – Men’s Doubles: Sudsy Monchik & Alejandro Landa – Women’s Doubles; Aimee Ruiz & Erika Manilla
And the winners of the Singles qualifiers: – Men’s Singles: Rocky Carson – Women’s Singles: Hollie Scott
Sudsy/Landa win three straight 11-9 breakers over former USA National doubles championship teams to take the title. Ruiz secures her 12th title (13th won on the court) and brings along Manilla for her first ever National Doubles title.
All three round of 16 matches were two game wins that weren’t necessarily that close: #9 MoMo Zelada/ Robert Collins “upset” the #8 seeded team of Brent Walters and Thomas Gerhardt 13,3 as the round’s closest match.
– The #5 team of Alex Landa and Sudsy Monchik barely got by a very good #4 seeded team of Tony Carson and Jansen Allen (13),12,9. Carson/Allen jumped out to a huge lead in game one and it looked for a time like the match would be a blow-out, but Landa/Monchik battled back and lost game one on a disputed call. Game two was more in Landa/Monchik control towards the end, leading to the inevitable tiebreaker.
In the breaker, a very tense match reached its crescendo. There was almost nothing between these teams and throughout the 3rd game rallies often ended with spectacular pinch winners or debatable hinders. Carson’s backhand was lethal throughout the match, and his backhand hard Z gave Sudsy fits all night. At the end, Landa was able to find a serve that Allen couldn’t (or didn’t) attack, which led to scoring opportunities that they didn’t miss to pull away and get the last two points to win 11-9.
– #2 Jake Bredenbeck and Jose DIAZ were pushed to a breaker, but eventually advanced over #7 Maurice Miller and Troy Warigon.
————— In the Semis – #5 Landa/Monchik dethroned defending champs Carson/Pratt in a fascinating match that went down to the wire. After dropping the first game rather easily, the #5 seeds regrouped and forced a tie-breaker. There, it went down to the a couple of critical rallies, just as their match in the quarters. Carson & Pratt looked like they had the match in hand, up 8-4 with the serve … they missed two opportunities to push it further, giving the serve back. There, a skip, a funny bounce a mis-communication and a crack-ace quickly got the match to 8-8. From there, Landa crushed a service return for a half out, then Rocky buried a pinch kill from 39 feet for 9-8. Sudsy then crushed a pinch kill to get a side out … called a skip for 10-8 but overturned by both line judges for a critical side-out at 8-9 for Landa/Monchik. From there … destiny took over; Pratt got hit by a call heading for a setup for 9-9, Landa buried a kill shot for 10-9 and then Pratt skipped a service return for an anti-climactic end to a great match.
– #2 Jake/Diaz overcame a first game defeat to cruise to the win, advancing to the final for the third time in five years, defeating #6 Horn/Garcia (11),5,3.
In the Finals, Sudsy/Landa looked for a time to be cruising to the title, jumping out to a big game one lead before Jake/Jose fought back to make it a game. Game two was one-way traffic, setting up yet another nail biting tiebreaker. There, the veterans jumped out to a big lead, only to have Jake/Jose grind back to 9-9. Then, as with the two previous matches, Landa/Monchik faced 9-9 down without the serve, got it back and served it out for the match.
The cardiac kid veterans beat three former champs, each time 11-9 in the breaker, to secure the title and claim National team spots.
In the quarters, two matches: – The young #4 seeds Jazmin Trevino and Erin Slutzky prevailed in a breaker over #5 Cassie Lee and Fran Transfiguracion 11-8. – the #3 seeds of collegiate stars Hollie Scott and Lexi York dominated the team of Graciana Wargo and Jessica Chen 4.3.
In the Semis: – #1 seeds Aimee Roehler Ruiz and Erika Manilla cruised to the final over the #4 team of Trevino/Slutzky 7,7 – #3 Hollie Scott and Lexi York] outplayed the #2 seeded team of Kelani Lawrence and Sheryl Lotts, winning in two games 8,13 to move into the final.
In the Finals: the #1 seeds dominated, led by Ruiz’ experience and cruised to the title 6,9.
—————- Men’s Singles Qualification:
(No match report in PRS database b/c we’re not loading this data right now).
Here’s a review of the singles qualifier:
round of 16 notable matches: – #8 Maurice Miller got a solid win over #9 Erik Garcia 12,(6),5. – #12 MoMo Zelada got the biggest upset of the night, playing a solid match to down #5 Charlie Pratt 12,11. Pratt made the semis of the last two US Nationals event, and Zelada has really been playing well lately. – #6 Thomas Carter came back from a 15-0 first game defeat to down #11 Robert Collins (0),7,9 in a battle of lefty IRT tour veterans. Collins really couldn’t do anything wrong in the first, but Carter made some adjustments to advance. – #7 Manilla took two solid games over the improving #10 Sam Bredenbeck 8,12 to move on.
In the Quarters: all four top seeds advanced in two games in the near-chalk draw: – #1 Carson over #8 Miller – #4 Horn over #12 Zelada – #3 Bredenbeck over #6 Carter – #2 Landa over #7 Manilla
In the Semis: – #1 Carson remained undefeated against #4 Horn, but was pressed to a tie-breaker to advance. – #2 Landa also remained undefeated against #3 Bredenbeck, winning in two straight.
In the final, a fatigued Landa fell to Carson in two games; it looked for a bit like Landa could rally for a breaker in the second game, but a couple of curious calls went against him at the tail end of game two, he lost focus and the match was over; Carson wins 6,14.
—————— Women’s Singles
Round of 16 notables: – #8 Jessica Chen took out her doubles partner #9 Wargo in two. – #6 York dropped the first game against junior Slutzky before advancing.
In the quarters: all four top seeds advanced. – #1 Rhonda Rajsich over #8 Chen – #4 Erika Manilla went tiebreaker to advance over #5 Lotts, dropping the first game 6 then winning (6),7,3. – #3 Scott downed her doubles partner York 8,9 – #2 Lawrence took out fellow LPRT touring regular Cassie Lee 6,1.
In the semis: – #4 Manilla got a career win, topping #1 Rajsich in a tie-breaker. – #3 Scott upset #2 Lawrence in a rematch of last year’s US National singles final.
I said my peace on the seeding issues here in the preview; this event was mis-seeded, and these semis match-ups demonstrate why it was mis-seeded and why Lawrence in particular probably feels hard done by here.
In the final…Scott prevailed over Manilla in the breaker to put herself in the driver’s seat for a National team spot.
—————— National Team Standing Implications of these results.
On the Men’s side, if my calculations are correct, then the top for candidates in the race for the two National team singles spots are: 1. Landa: 36 2. Carson: 32 3. Jake: 20 4. Horn.20
Despite losing the final here, Landa is in the lead for a national team spot thanks to the vast difference in US OPen results. Landa and Carson have a pretty sizeable lead over Jake and Horn; the only way Jake or Bobby could surpass Landa or Carson is to win US Nationals this coming May and have one of Landa/Carson upset prior to the semis.
On the Women’s side, here’s the current standings: 1. Scott: 31 2. Manilla: 24 3. Rhonda: 20 4. Kelani: 19
Hollie pretty much has a spot sewn up at this point: The second spot will come down to how 2 thru 4 play at Natioanls in May.
—————— Other notable draws from National Doubles:
– Miller and Warigon took the Men’s Open Doubles title. – Trevino and Slutzky took the Women’s Open Doubles title.
—————— Next up?
There’s no major tournaments anywhere in the world (pro or amateur) until the first week of March. So we have a bit of a break.
Congrats to your winners on the weekend: – Singles: Paola Longoria – Doubles: Paola Longoria/Samantha Salas
Longoria dominates the competition, never giving up more than 8 points in a game on the weekend to cruise to her 97th career tier-1 title. And, the #1 doubles pairing holds serve against the upstart Mejia/Herrera duo to take the title.
—————- In the Quarters: – #1 Paola Longoria dominated her young Mexican rival #9 Montse Mejia 3,8 to move into the semis. More and more Mejia’s win over Longoria at the 2019 Mexican Nationals is looking like a fluke; Longoria has beaten Montse the last three times they’ve played on tour by the score lines 5,6 then 2,6 and today 3,8. – #4 Alexandra Herrera needed a tie-breaker to get past #5 Natalia Mendez Erlwein in what could be an interesting budding rivalry. – #6 Rhonda Rajsich became the latest player to get an upset win over #3 Samantha Salas Solis this season, taking out her long-time rival in a breaker by the slimmest of margins 11-10. Salas has now been beaten prior to the finals in all six of this season’s events she’s entered; last season she played 9 events and made 9 finals. – #2 Maria Jose Vargas Parada was pressed in game one by the junior phenom Centellas (now officially her country-woman having made the switch to represent Argentina), but pulled away to win in two.
————— In the Semis – Longoria continued to dominate in Greenville, beating #4 Herrera in two games 3,7 to return to the final. – Rajsich pushed Vargas to the breaker and looked for a moment like she could get to a final for the first time since June 2017 … but ran out of gas in the breaker.
————— In the Finals, we get the 5th final between Longoria and Vargas on the season. The first four were Longoria wins … and we got another Longoria win here too. Paola dominated the #2 player on tour to win 5,6 for the singles title.
—————- Points Implications of results: there’s definitely some interesting movement in the rankings as a result of this event.
– The top 1-6 stay the same, and in the same order. Longoria treads water in that she’s the defending champ, while Vargas gains on her and Salas loses more ground. Vargas now has a large enough lead on Salas that it likely is impossible for Samantha to regain #2 this season. – Despite her run to the semis, Rhonda actually loses ground to Mendez for #5 thanks to Rajsich having to defend semis points from last year. – The big news is that Enriquez has been knocked from the #7 perch that she’s held for quite a while. Mejia has moved up to #7, which means that she avoids Longoria in the quarters and could have deeper implications for draws going forward. This also bumps Amaya to #9, which is less impactful to her in that 8-9 still plays into #1. – Parrilla has now ascended to #11; its been a long grind for her attempting to get back her top 4 ranking, due partly to unlucky play-in matches and partly to increased depth on tour. But every tick up in rankings means a slightly “easier” round of 16 for her, and more opportunities for her to get deeper into events. – Munoz makes a big jump from 18 to 13, and will continue to rise since she played no events in the 2nd half of last season, meaning every point earned is a net point gained on the rest of the field. I could see her getting up as high as #11 by the end of the season, but it’d be tough to get much higher thanks to a points gulf from 11 to 10 on tour. – Centellas continues her meteoric rise; last week she was ranked 25th, now she’s 16th. She started the season outside the top 30. And she’s proving that her results are no mistake, taking down multiple top 10 players along the way.
The LPRT is back in action, with its annual Sweet Caroline event in Greenville, SC. Once again this event is a Grand Slam event, which means more points, more money and a deeper draw. This event also features a banquet (held last night) where the players fly in early to support a great local cause in Safe Harbor (see LPRT’s page for more, or visit https://safeharborsc.org/).
There’s 26 ladies in this draw, making it the 3rd largest draw of the season. More importantly is the depth of the draw; just one player in the top 20 is missing (Colombian #12 Brenda Laime Jalil). We also have some tough players in the 20-30 range making the trip from abroad and making the opening round one full of top match-ups.
—————————— Lets preview the draw. Play kicks off bright and early 9am Friday, so by the time you read this it probably is already underway!.
Here’s some notable qualifying matches that i’m looking forward to:
——————————- In the 32s:
– #13 Ana Laura Flores vs #20 Erin Rivera: great first rounder; Groves already has two top-10 upsets on her resume this season, and these two met in Chicago in November with Rivera getting an 11-8 upset win. Expect a close match here again and another upset.
– #12 Jessica Parrilla vs #21 Angelica Barrios – Raquetbolista; tough match for the traveling Bolivian, the reigning 18U world champion. I see this as an interesting clash of styles; Parrilla plays fast and powerful, Barrios plays tactically and deliberate. Parrilla has had some recent success in rebuilding her former top-4 ranking, but will be made to work for it here.
– #15 Sheryl Lotts] vs #18 Maria Renee Rodriguez; these two have played a few times professionally and internationally over the years, always going to tiebreakers. MRR got a win at 2018 Worlds, their most recent known meeting. But Lotts has been improving all season, losing an 11-10 heart-breaker to Enriquez at the last pro stop. Expect Lotts win a breaker here.
– #10 Masiel Rivera Oporto vs #23 Valeria Centellas: Centellas is on an extended tour of the US, and played in the Wintergreen event last on Rivera’s home courts, where they met and Centellas got the win. Now they meet less than a week later in a grand slam. The 18yr old Centellas is a dangerous player with growing power and accuracy, and I like her for the upset here.
——————————- Projecting the round of 16: I see a few notable matches to watch for in the 16s.
– #1 Paola Longoria over #17 Carla Muñoz Montesinos; Munoz runs into the world #1 too early despite her improving play as of late. – 8/9 is always a tough match: this time it likely features Montse Mejia versus Cristina Amaya Cassino]. I like Mejia to advance but for Amaya to keep it close. – Expect a tight match between the winner of the Parrilla/Barrios match and #5 Natalia Mendez. I like Parrilla to get the better of Mendez here, after losing a tight match to the Argentine earlier this season. But Mendez has shown she can beat both players, so anything goes. – #4 Alexandra Herrera could face a tricky opponent if Rivera advances, or face a rare lefty if Flores advances. She’s never lost to either and should advance. – #3 Samantha Salas Solis returns after missing an event and likely gets a dangerous opponent in reigning US National champion Kelani Lawrence], who just topped both Rivera and Centellas in a local event in Maryland and reached the quarters of the Florida event. – #6 Rhonda Rajsich faces off against #11 Adriana Riveros Racquetball, a battle of two international vets who have played each other in IRF events frequently. Riveros won their last meeting, her first in this h2h series; can she get an upset here? – #7 Nancy Enriquez is the likely unlucky opponent of #23 Centellas; this will be a hard-hitting battle that I think the young Bolivian, increasingly gaining confidence against top pros, can win. – #2 Maria Jose Vargas Parada gets her tourney started against the Lotts/MRR winner; she’ll be favored but Lotts in particular has been playing top players tough all season.
—————————— Projected Qtrs:
– #1 Longoria over Mejia: despite seeds two of the top four women in the world, but Longoria has the upper hand on the pro ranks. – #4 Herrera over #12 Parrilla; I don’t think Parrila is ready to take this step yet. – #3 Salas handles #6 Rajsich – #2 Vargas ends the run of the youngster #23 Centellas.
Semis: – Longoria over Herrera – Vargas over Salas
Finals – Longoria over Vargas for the 5th time this season in a final.
——————————- Doubles review
There’s 12 teams in the doubles draw, and with Salas’ return the regular #1 pairing is back intact. In fact, the top 4 seeded teams are now the regular top 4 teams we frequently see advancing in these tournament and the semis and finals of LPRT doubles are becoming increasingly more compelling.
Interesting entries include the all-junior Bolivian team of Centellas/Barrios and the Colombian national doubles team of Riveros/Amaya getting back together.
I like the Bolivians to upset Parrilla/Enriquez in the quarters, and for Herrera/Mejia to upset the #2 Argentine national team in the semis to get a frequent repeated all-Mexican finals match-up.
Prediction: Herrera/Mejia take out Longoria/Salas in the final.
——————————— Look for Streaming in the regular places; can’t wait for this event! Look for Timothy Baghurst], Jerry J Josey Jr., JP Edwards (with ties to my home town!) and Tj Baumbaugh on the mike, calling the shots!
In the 16s, a couple of upsets: -#12 seeded junior Valeria Centellas took out veteran #5 Rhonda Rajsich in a tie-breaker. Centellas won a topsy turvy match where she dropped the middle game 15-2 but held on in the breaker, keeping the pressure on Rhonda with a lot of pace and great getting ability.
– #11 Kelani Lawrence finally got a pro win over a top 8 touring player, downing #6 seeded Nancy Enriquez in a tight 13,14 match. She achieves her first pro quarterfinal appearance with a great showing.
– #7 Amaya Cris held on to down #10 @Maria Maria Renee Rodríguez 11-8 in the breaker.
—————- In the Quarters, the top 3 players advanced and we got another big upset. – #1 Paola Longoria handled #8 Jessica Parrilla 6,9 to move into the semis. – #2 Maria Jose Vargas took two closer games against #7 Amaya to move on. – #3 Alexandra Herrera held off upset-minded #11 Lawrence 6,13. – But the big result of the round was another upset at the hands of the Bolivian junior Centellas. #12 Centellas took out #4 Natalia Mendez Erlwein in two games 5,12 to move on to the semis. This is just her 5th pro tournament and she’s got a match-up with #1 Longoria.
————— In the Semis and finals, the draw went chalk. – #1 Longoria showed Centellas what it means to be #1 in the world, advancing 5,8. A great showing for Centellas on the weekend, as she also won the Women’s open RR draw.
– #2 Vargas advanced over #3 Herrera in two, but it almost went tiebreaker 5.14.
In the final Longoria raced to a game 1 win, then held on for the title 6,12 over Vargas.
In the final it was #1 versus #2, but it was as close a final as fans could ask for. Longoria and Herrera, who are now 13-0 together as a pro doubles team, took out the #2 Argentinians Vargas/Mendez by the razor thin scoreline of 14,14.
—————— Next up? The Men are back in action next weekend in Austin, then the subsequent weekend is the Sweet Caroline Grand Slam event in Greenville, SC.
The LPRT returns to the Miami area for the first time since 2014, and what a great place to have an event in the dead of winter (as I scrape ice off my windshield this morning)…
Perhaps because of the proximity to the new year, the pro draw is a bit small; just 16 players in the event. Missing are top 10 players #3 Samantha Salas Solis, #7 Montse Mejia and #10 Masiel Rivera Oporto. Its pretty rare for Salis to miss and event; the only one she missed last season was due to travel problems; perhaps she’s taking a mental break after getting some upset losses early this season. Traveling to his event is a trio of top Bolivian players, which should make for some great round of 16 match-ups; read on.
Thanks to missing players in the 11-14 range, Jessica Parrilla gets elevated all the way from her #14 ranking to the 8th seed here.
Lets preview the draw.
Matches to watch for in the 16s: – 8/9 Carla Muñoz Montesinos vs Jessica Parrilla; 8th vs 9th always seem tough, and this one is no exception. Both players have notched wins over Salas this season, and both seem to be on the upswing. I’ve only got two career meetings in the database, one in 2013 and on in 2017 (they’re 1-1). Expect this to go tie-breaker, and I’m leaning towards the former top 4 pro Parrilla to end up on top.
– #5 Rhonda Rajsich vs #12 Valeria Centellas; If ever there was a “youth versus experience” match, this is it. Centellas was born in 2001; in the year 2001 Rhonda was busy finishing 3rd on the pro tour. Centellas is perhaps the most promising junior in the world today; as a 17yr old she finished runner-up to her country-woman at World Juniors and is already a regular representative of Bolivia in international events. So what may happen here? Based on her results against LPRT pros, i’m guessing Centellas takes this to the breaker but Rhonda prevails.
– #4 Natalia Mendez vs #13 Micaela Meneses Cuellar; well if you thought Centellas was precocious … Meneses just lost in the 16U world junior final 11-10, playing in her age 15 year season. She has just one LPRT appearance; last year’s Bolivian grand slam, where she took a game off of #1 seeded Salas in the 16s. She could trouble Mendez but I expect the Argentinia veteran to move on.
– #6 Nancy Enriquez vs #11 Kelani Lawrence; no prior meetings between these two players, but I suspect that Lawrence might keep this pretty close. Kelani has a couple of closer losses to Vargas this year, one of the few players on tour with power that rival’s Enriquez.
– #7 Cristina Amaya Cassino vs #10 Maria Renee Rodríguez; these two are frequent international competitors, given that they’re both frequent representatives of their home countries of Colombia and Guatemala respectively. Amaya holds a 6-1 career h2h, but the games are often close.
————– Projecting the quarters:
– #1 Paola Longoria over #8 Parrilla: Jessica is 0-9 versus Paola in the database, but they havn’t met in more than two years.
– #5 Rajsich vs #4 Mendez: last meeting was an interesting game; Rhonda won 14,1. In 2018 worlds, Natalia beat Rhonda by the scores of 1,13. What may happen here? I like Rhonda in this one.
– #3 Alexandra Herrera over #6 Enriquez. Herrera is 5-2 over Enriquez, but Nancy beat her in last year’s SC event in a 5-game marathon after losing the first two games. I think the shorter match format favors Herrera, and I expect a two game win.
– #2 Maria Jose Vargas vs #7 Amaya: Another international tinged matchup; they’ve met 9 times with a lot of IRF meetings; Vargas is 7-2, but those two losses were years ago. Expect a Vargas win.
————— Possible semis:
– Longoria over Rajsich: this would extend the most populous head to head matchup in the tour’s history: these two have met 66 times on the pro tour and quite a few other times internationally. After a shock upset at the 2018 Pan Ams, Longoria has regained control of their rivalry.
– Vargas over Herrera: Vargas is 6-0 lifetime over Herrera, but none of them really have been blowouts.
Projected Final: Longoria over Vargas.
—————- Doubles preview:
A 6-team doubles draw is scheduled; Salas’ absence robs the top team of one of its partners, and Mejia’s absence robs the 2nd best team of one of its partners … so it only made sense for Longoria to team with Herrera here. They’ll likely run into either the Enriquez/Parrilla team (which has been playing well together), or the #2 seeded Argentinian national team of Vargas/Mendez).
Congrats to your winners on the weekend: – LPRT singles: Paola Longoria – LPRT Doubles: Paola Longoria and Samantha Salas
Longoria the double winner on the weekend, but she definitely had to work for it (both finals went breaker). With the win, Longoria takes her 95th Tier1 or higher pro title and continues her dominance over the rest of the tour.
In the 32s: – #16 @ [1537006408:2048:Kelani Lawrence] stretched the reigning world champ #17 seed @ [967286746619683:274:Ana Gabriela Martínez] to a tie-breaker but fell. – #18 reigning intercollegiate champ Hollie Scott dropped the first game but rallied to advance past #15 Maria Renee Rodríguez.
In the 16s: – #1 Paola Longoria blasted #17 Martinez 2,5. More and more, the upset at 2018 worlds seems like a one off as Longoria improves to 16-1 lifetime against the Guatemalan across all competitions. – #8 Amaya Cris took out home-town favorite Masiel Rivera Oporto 7,9 to move on. This match-up continues to be one sided, and this match wasn’t nearly as close as their last one. – Continuing to prove me to be an awful prognosticator, #4 @ [775189319225691:274:Alexandra Herrera] recovered from a 15-14 game one loss to take out #13 @ [459203580867542:274:Jessica Parrilla] in a tie-breaker to move on. – #14 Carla Muñoz Montesinos got perhaps the best win of her career, topping #3 @ [189216717815799:274:Samantha Salas Solis] in a tiebreaker. After a come-back win in game one and a closer game two Salas win, Munoz ran away in the tiebreaker by forcing the action with lob Zs to Salas’ backhand and a patient approach waiting for a mistake. Salas continues her frustrating season; she’s now failed to reach the finals in the season’s first 6 events, often getting bounced well before them … after reaching all 9 of the finals she played in last year. – #10 @ [500057236758842:274:Sheryl Lotts] nearly pulled off a career win over a top8 player, but ended up losing by the slimmest of margins 11-10 in the breaker to #7 Nancy Enriquez.
—————– In the Qtrs: – #1 Longoria advanced over #8 Amaya in two straight. – #4 Herrera got a rare win over #5 Rhonda Rajsich. – #6 Mendez took advantage of #14 Munoz and advanced to just her 3rd ever pro semi. Munoz misses a great opportunity after her career win over Salas to make her first semi in several years. – #2 Vargas dominated #7 Enriquez to make the semis.
————— In the semis: #1 and #2 Longoria and Vargas demonstrated the gulf in class by each advancing in two quick games.
In the final, Longoria and Vargas met for the fourth time in five tourneys this season … and it was a barn burner. Longoria won the first game 3, then Vargas found some new approach midway through the second to push to a tie-breaker. There, she raced to a dominant lead and it looked like she’d get the upset … but Longoria found another gear and took the match 11-8.
PRS doubles match report:
It was a lot of chalk in the women’s pro doubles, but the final is where the fireworks were. In the end, Longoria and Salas won their 32nd pro doubles title since we began tracking pro doubles data, but needed a come-back win over the Argentines Vargas/Mendez to do it.
—————- Next up on the schedule: a @ [447961672301858:274:RKT] event in Juarez next weekend, then we get a holiday break until the LPRT returns to action 1/12/20 weekend in Ft. Lauderdale.
Congrats to your pro winners on the weekend: – Singles: Paola Longoria – Doubles Paola Longoria/Samantha Salas
With this singles win, Longoria extends some of her own records: – 94th career Tier 1/Grand Slam LPRT title (101st overall pro title) – Improves to 455-31 career on tour – Improves to 16-1 on the season. – Extends her current lead at the top of the LPRT rankings to more than 800 points, which is the equivalent of four tier1 pro stops.
In the 32s: – Erin Rivera got the upset over her doubles partner for the weekend, #12 Ana Laura Flores11-8 in the breaker. Rivera avenges a loss to Flores in 2019 Mexican Nationals, and gets a second solid pro win in as many events (she topped Amaya Cris at the US Open). – Masiel Rivera Oporto topped former tour champ and home-town favorite Cheryl Gudinas in two straight. – In the round’s most anticipated match, reigning US Intercollegiates champ Hollie Rae Scott, who was a point from taking the US National title this past May, faced off against #11 seed Colombian Adriana Riveros. Scott ran away with game one 15-3, but Riveros held out to take a close game two 15-13 before running away with the tie-breaker to advance. I think a full-time tour playing Scott is nearly a top 10 player, making this a really solid test for both players. – 18U world junior finalist Valeria Centellas pressed former 18U junior champ Montse Mejia before falling in two 12,11.
in the 16s, a couple of significant upsets and close matches: – #8 Amaya and #9 Masiel Rivera played about as close a match as you can for an 8/9 match-up, with Rivera staving off match-points against in game two, and Amaya doing the same in game three before winning 11-10. – Erin Rivera got her second upset win in as many rounds, this time taking out #5 Rhonda Rajsich in a close tie-breaker. Its her second win over a top-8 pro in as many events and this is easily the best win of her career. – #19 Jessica Parrilla got the first significant win in her come-back attempt, taking out #3 Samantha Salas Solis in two 3,14. This game was not really even as close as the scores; Parrilla could not miss game one, and ran out to a similarly huge lead in game 2 before Salas went on a run to make a push for a tie-breaker. Its notable that Parrilla finished the 2017-18 ranked 3rd, made a final and four semis; its just a matter of time before she’s regularly making the quarters again. – #10 Mejia dominated #7 Nancy Enriquez 5,7 to move on to a juicy quarters match-up with the new #2 seed Vargas.
Salas continues her difficult season: she made 9 finals in 9 tournaments played last season. This season she’s been upset in the 16s and the quarters, and has been beaten twice at the semis stage by Vargas, which has resulted in the two ladies switching rankings spots. On the one hand she’s run into a number of hot hands … but on the other, she’s losing to players she normally dominates.
In the quarters… – #1 Paola Longoria made quick work of #8 Amaya 2,5 – #4 Alexandra Herrera also made quick work of #21 Erin Rivera 6,3, ending her great run. With this run, Rivera should improve her ranking on tour a few spots and get into the top 20. – #6 Natalia Mendez Erlwein took out ##19 Parrilla in a tie-breaker. This surely was disappointing to Parrilla, who got just her 2nd pro win over Salas to get here, then lost to a player in Mendez that she previously had a career winning h2h record (3-1 before this loss). Mendez advances to just her third pro semi final in her career. Parrilla’s big win will jump her up four spots in the rankings, to #18 overall. – But the biggest result of the round was #10 Mejia taking out #2 Maria Jose Vargas Parada in a tie-breaker to move on to the semis for the third time in as many tries this season. Mejia’s season has been a significant departure from last season, when she was eliminated in the 16s five straight times.
In the semis: – #4 Herrera’s shot-making ability got her points against the world’s top player, but it wasn’t enough as Longoria advanced to the final 8,9. Longoria now has reached the finals of the last 21 pro events she’s entered, winning 18 of them with this weekend’s event pending. – #10 Mejia continued her run to make her first pro final, defeating #6 Mendez in a tiebreaker. The winner of this match was set to advance to her first pro final and it was Mejia who made it happen.
In the final… – #1 Longoria completely dominated #10 Mejia, displaying the gulf that exists on tour between herself and the next set of competitors, going on nearly unstoppable runs in both games to take the final 2,6.
With this result, Mejia should jump Masiel Rivera for #9 on tour, which (unfortunately for Montse) will have her routed right into Longoria in a possible quarter-final next event.
As we have come to expect in ladies pro doubles lately, the top two Mexican teams both advanced to the final with relative ease. Fans were treated to a commonly seen final between what seems to clearly now be the two top doubles teams in the world.
In the final, #1 Longoria/Salas took on #3 Mejia/Herrera. It looked like we’d see another upset by the younger pairing, who took the first game 15-4, but the veteran #1 pairing rebounded to take the next two games to make Longoria a double winner on the weekend.
This represents the 41st pro doubles title for Longoria and the 29th for Salas since we started tracking pro doubles in the fall of 2013.
—————– we’ll do a quick wrap up of the Men’s IRT Tier 5 event in a separate post.
After a month and a half hiatus, the Ladies pros are back in action this coming weekend, in Chicago for the 28th Annual Turkey Shootout. This is the 2nd year in a row that this event has had an LPRT component to it, and there’s a solid draw of 28 players in Lombard for the event.
18 of the top 20 players are present. Missing are #11 Brenda Laime Jalil and #17 Angelica Barrios (fresh of her win at 18U World Juniors). And a good chunk of the players ranked 20th-30th are present, for a very solid pro draw.
With 28 players, the top 4 seeds get byes into the 16s while the rest play a round of 32 match Friday morning.
One interesting seeding note: for the first time in more than a year, Salas has been pushed out of the #2 spot on tour. Vargas has eclipsed Salas for now; Vargas has opened a 79 point lead based on results so far this season. Salas will need an early-round upset of Vargas to have a chance of reclaiming the #2 spot this weekend.
Here’s some intriguing round of 32 matches to watch for: – #16/#17: Carla Muñoz Montesinos vs Maria Renee Rodríguez: 16/17 matches are always tight and this should be no different. Munoz is 4-0 in pro/internatonal events over MRR, but they havn’t played in a top-level event in 2 years. – #9 Masiel Rivera Oporto vs #24 Cheryl Gudinas; great to see the four-time title winner playing in her home-town. – #11 Adriana Riveros vs #22 Hollie Rae Scott; despite her lower seed, Scott is a tough player and this could be a pretty close match. – #10 Montse Mejia vs #23 Valeria Centellas: Mejia (last year’s world 18U champion) takes on this year’s 18U finalist and 2018’s 16U champion in a battle of two of the better young players in the world. Mejia has taken some serious steps forward professionally and is now in the top 10 on tour, and it seems like she’s poised to keep moving up. – #15 Sheryl Lotts vs #18 Susy Acosta; Lotts has a 1-3 career record against Acosta, but they last played more than 3 years ago. Since then Acosta has stepped back from full time touring while Lotts is stepping up. Still could be close.
— Projecting the round of 16. Assuming some earlier results here’s some round of 16 matches to watch for:
– #8 Amaya Cris vs #9 Rivera: Amaya is 3-0 career in top-level events against Rivera, including a 2-game win earlier this season. I see Amaya advancing here again. #4 Alexandra Herrera vs #20 Kelani Lawrence; i’m really curious to see how Lawrence, who doesn’t play the tour part time but is the reigning US National champ, plays against other top pros. She played Vargas really tough in Virginia earlier this season, but doesn’t often get chances at players in the top 8. I think Herrera advances but Lawrence keeps it close. – #3 Samantha Salas Solis vs #19 Jessica Parrilla: Parrilla keeps running into top players in her attempts to regain points on tour; this time running into Salas, who she also ran into at this juncture in Chesapeake earlier this season. – #6 Natalia Mendez Erlwein vs #11 Riveros; if Riveros gets by Scott, we get a classic South American match between these two. Mendez knocked Riveros out of the US Open last month in a tie-breaker and leads h2h 3-1 across all tours. – #7 Nancy Enriquez vs #10 Mejia: These two Mexican Nationals have never played in an event our databases track, an interesting side note to the seedings and Mejia’s quick rise. I like Mejia’s chances here, but Enriquez’ power will be a factor.
— My projected Quarters: – #1 Paola Longoria over #8 Amaya – #5 Rhonda Rajsich over #4 Herrera: she’s 10-1 lifetime on LPRT, but Herrera won their last meeting. Is it the changing of the tide or a one-off? – #3 Salas over #6 Mendez: Mendez gets a break from running into Vargas in every pro quarterfinal … and instead gets the long-time #2 Salas on a mission. – #2 Maria Jose Vargas over #10 Mejia: they’ve only met twice on tour, most recently a 5-game marathon in San Antonio in april. While I think the 3-game format benefits a player like Mejia … Vargas has been on fire this season and I think advances here.
— Semis: – Longoria over Rajsich – Vargas over Salas
Final: Longoria over Vargas.
—– They’re also playing doubles in Chicago: 12 teams headlined by the #1 Longoria/Salas team, the #2 Argentinian team of Vargas/Mendez and the US Open champs Herrera/Mejia. Should be another great event.
Some fun players entered into doubles include 11-time USA National doubles champ and new member of the IRT team Aimee Roehler Ruiz, who is teaming up with Rivera to attempt to make some noise.
—- Streaming schedule already out: follow LPRT on facebook. Jerry J Josey Jr. and Timothy Baghurst should be onsite to broadcast all weekend.
The IRT has released the draws for this coming weekend’s Arizona IRT Pro-Am, so its time to do a preview!
(to see the released draws before they’re available on R2, follow the IRT on facebook where they’ve been posted as of Noon Tuesday 10/22/19).
The IRT returns to Arizona for the first time in many years; the tournament is being held on the campus of Arizona State University, which has become a popular spot to host major tournaments. ASU’s campus in Tempe has held USAR National doubles every year since 2005, has hosted a slew of USAR intercollegiates championships in that same time (including 2019’s tournament), and hosted the USAR National singles event in 2017.
But, its been a while since we’ve seen either pro tour head to Arizona at all. The last time a tier 1 Men’s event was in Arizona was in May 2003, when the school hosted the season ending Pro Nationals event. For some historical context of that event and season: Huczek beat Alvaro Beltran in the final, it was the last event in Mannino sole year end title, and the top 4 seeded players in the event were all were upset in the quarters (Mannino, Swain, Waselenchuk and Ellis). Waselenchuk lost to Carson … one of the three career wins Rocky has on his long-time nemesis. Before 2003, you have to go all the way back to the mid 1990s, when a regular tour stop was held in Phoenix for several seasons, and before that the mid 1980s when the Arizona Pro-Am featured winners like Hogan and Brett Harnett.
The Ladies tour hasn’t been to Arizona in more than decade itself; in Feb 2008 the WPRO Fireball Pro-Am featured a final between the 1 and 2 seeds, as Rhonda downed Cheryl on her way to the 2008 year end title (Longoria was just starting on tour and finished 6th that season).
So, great to have pro racquetball back in Arizona. Thanks to tournament director Jim Winterton for his efforts and sponsorship.
The Men’s draw has 37 players, a good mix of southwest-locals and traveling regulars. Who is missing this weekend? The top 8 players are here, including Bolivian Conrrado kevin Moscoso Ortiz Racquetball, who moved up to being ranked 8th on the back of his US Open final appearance. However both the 9th and 10th ranked players (Rodrigo Montoya Solís and Sebastian Franco) are missing. Other top 20 players missing include #13 Mario Mercado, #15 Gerardo Franco Gonzalez, and #16 Jose Diaz. Diaz missed the first two events on the year, both east-coast based, perhaps for travel related issues. But now he misses a west-coast event; are we seeing him stepping back officially from touring? Perhaps so. Along the same note, former top 8 player Mercado has now slipped to 13, and former top 8 player Jansen Allen is now outside the top 20.
Also missing from this draw are a slew of players from Mexican hot-beds like Juarez and Chihuahua; both of which are easy drives to Tempe. I would have initially expected, like we used to see with WRT events in the south western part of the country, a junket of carpooling of Mexican players heading to the event. But, unfortunately, there are a couple competing events this weekend (an IRT Tier 4 in El Paso,Texas State Singles & Doubles, but most notably, a big RKT tournament in Mexico City). The Mexican event’s top 8 seeds (GFranco, Mar, Estrada, Natera, Ochoa, Cardona, Nieto, and Cuevas) are all IRT regulars these days and players who would be pushing for the 16s or the quarters if they were here. Furthermore the El Paso event pulled two other top Mexican players (Eduardo Garay Rodriguez and Jaime Martell Neri) away from the Arizona event. We’ll do quick previews/wrap-ups of those events later this week, but if you’re wondering where these guys are … well there’s your answer.
The Arizona draw does the “flip” seeding, so the 5-8 seeds are jumbled. 5th ranked Parrilla is seeded 6th, 6th ranked DLR is seeded 7th, 7th ranked Murray is seeded 8th, and 8th ranked Moscoso is seeded 5th. Probably goes without saying that this flip most benefits Moscoso, who achieves a top 8 rank and seed for the first time in his career and avoids Kane until a possible semi-final meeting, and most penalizes Murray, who is forced into Kane’s quarter.
One last thing worth noting: the IRT has listened to fan requests with the streaming schedule and will be streaming significantly more matches this weekend. Check out the match times on the bracket; the streaming schedule allows for double the matches to be shown at each round throughout the weekend. The plan is to stream no less than 8 qualifying matches on Friday, then have staggered start times Saturday to show more of the 16s before streaming all the qtrs/semis/finals as normal.
Broadcast schedule; 8 friday, 5 sat, 1 sun. That’s a lot of matches for us fans, and a lot for Mr. Dean DeAngelo Baer to call … but is awesome for those of us remote.
Lets preview the draw highlighting matches that I think are compelling.
In the 128s: five play-in matches to get to the 32s, mostly with Texas/Arizona locals battling it out, but also including traveling players like Jim Douglas (Oregon) and Thomas Gerhardt (from VA).
In the 64s: – Ruben Baez takes on Chilean veteran Francisco Troncoso. So, in case you don’t know who Baez is … he played in the Pueblo lower tier IRT event in March, entered as the 27th seed, beat Jake Bredenbeck in the quarters and lost to Horn in the semis 13,14. He’s a very solid player who can make waves in this event if he plays the way he did in Pueblo and gets the right match-ups.
– Set Cubillos Ruiz continues his challenging travel schedule by returning to the states just a few days after competing in (and winning) the Barranquilla Open in his home country of Colombia, right on the back of competing in the US Open, to take on a play-in winner between Douglas and Arizona’s Preston Tribble.
– Gerhardt vs Justus Benson: Gerhardt is a tough player from Virginia who frequently competes in both indoor and outdoor venues: if he gets past Arizona’s Coy Jay Rogers, he can make life difficult for Benson. Justus is coming off of two straight one-and-dones in IRT events, including a loss in Laurel to Pennsylvania amateur Geoff Heskett, and needs to get his season going.
– Nick Riffel vs Anthony Martin: Martin is a Utah local with just a couple of results on his resume; he played the Atlanta IRT event earlier this season and took Gerardo Franco to a breaker. This might be a closer match than IRT touring regular Riffel wants at this juncture.
– The younger Bredenbeck brother Sam Bredenbeck gets a solid opener against infrequent IRT participant Daniel Neri; Bredenbeck has some really solid results lately, with wins over IRT regulars like Carter and Riffel at the 2019 Lewis Drug.
In the 32s: – #16 Adam Manilla takes on #17 Andrés Acuña; great match between two solid up and coming young players. I like Acuna here; he’s on a roll and has been improving at every stop.
– #9 David ” Bobby” Horn takes on Baez in a re-match of the CSU-Pueblo shootout semis that was so close. Can Baez turn the table here? Horn missed the first two events of the season with injury, played solidly at the US Open and then took a dominant win on his home court two weekends ago to win the Bay Club Open over a solid draw that included a win over Charlie Pratt in the final. I expect a close match here.
– #14 Thomas Carter takes on the winner beween Gerhardt and Benson; Carter’s been playing solid lately, with a win over Diaz at the US Open and taking two very good players to breakers in losses (Keller and Carson). I like Carter to move on here.
– #10 Lalo Portillo takes on the younger Bredenbeck; Eduardo is now in the top 10 and he’s earned it. He’ll move on here despite the challenge from the improving Bredenbeck.
——————————- Projecting the 16s: Assuming qualifying goes as I expect, here’s some interesting 16s to look for
– #8 Samuel Murray vs #9 Horn: 8/9 is always tough, and these players have split their 3 meetings somewhat evenly. Horn won their most recent meeting, in Florida in April, in two close games. I’ll go with Horn backing up his excellent win in Pleasanton with the upset here to move into the qtrs.
– #5 Conra Moscoso Ortiz vs #12 Sebastian Fernandez: another brutal draw for the teenager Fernandez, who had to play former top 5 touring pro Marco Rojas in the first round of the Bay Open and lost in a breaker, and now funnels into the red-hot Moscoso, fresh off of a solid run to the US Open finals. This is the hard part about being a player ranked in the teens: you have to start getting wins over top 8 players to move into the top 8, and every draw is an uphill battle.
– #6 Andree Parrilla vs #11 Jake Bredenbeck: a great throw-back match-up between two long time WRT players. They’ve met 6 times in top level events: Jake won their first 3 meetings (all in the 2015 time-frame), while Andree has won the last three meetings (all in the 2019 calendar year). The matches are always close, so I’ll predict another Parrilla tie-breaker win. After a solid opening to the season, Parrilla has lost two winnable matches in Laurel and the US Open to see his ranking (which had peaked at #3) slip a bit, and he needs to be making semis regularly to take the next step.
– #7 Daniel De La Rosa vs #10 Portillo: These two met in Atlanta in Sept, and DLR advanced in a tie-breaker. Portillo has been rapidly moving up the rankings, but has also now exited at this juncture (the round of 16) in seven straight IRT events. He needs a high-profile win over a top 8 player. But, is DLR the right guy? This event is essentially a home event for him, hailing from Mexico but now living in Arizona the next town over from Tempe. He’ll have family cheering him on and could be primed for a solid run.
– #2 Rocky Carson vs #15 Carlos Keller Vargas: wow, two straight brutal round of 16 draws for Carson, who gets no benefit from the #2 seed in having to play a solid international player in Keller who has more than a few titles to his credit. They’ve played twice: at the 2011 Pan Am games and at the 2019 Bolivian grand slam, both two-game quarter final wins for Carson. So advantage Rocky … but Keller ran through this list of names to take the 2019 Pan American Racquetball Championships title: Coby Iwaasa, Horn, Beltran and Pratt. So if he gets hot, he can get wins.
Possible Qtrs: – #1 Kane Waselenchuk over #9 Horn; they’ve only played a handful of times, All Kane wins. Their last meeting was in Florida in April 2018, Kane’s first event back after his knee injury, and Horn played a solid game against the hobbling and distracted Kane before losing in two. Kane’s got his focus back now, and will try not to look past this match at his possible semis opponent.
– #5 Moscoso over #4 Beltran: they’ve met twice; once a dominant Beltran win at the 2015 Pan Am games, the other a dominant Moscoso win at the Bolivian grand slam earlier this year. I think we’re more likely to see the latter result than the former here; Moscoso has the same shooter mentality as Beltran, but can drive serve with the best of them, keeping Beltran from setting his feet and likely leading to a lot of 3-point rallies on his serve.
– #3 Alex Landa vs #6 Parrilla: Landa has had a nice start to his season; two semis and a quarter, to maintain his #3 ranking for now. But Parrilla matches up well here: he’s beaten Landa 5 of the last 6 times they’ve faced each other going back several years. Parrilla’s playing style matches up well with Landa, he can hang with his shots and can retrieve well. I look for Landa to hold serve, but barely. And an upset here would not surprise me.
– #2 Carson vs #7 DLR: Carson waxed a possible disinterested DLR in their last meeting (the season finale in Sarasota in April), but DLR had three straight defeats of Rocky before that and could be looking at this as a way to get his season back on track. Meanwhile, Rocky needs to rebound from his round of 16 loss on the sport’s biggest stage; he’s still safely in the #2 spot, but needs to continue to make finals to stay there. I like DLR here in the upset.
—————— Projected Semis:
– #1 Waselenchuk vs #5 Moscoso; well, this is what the people want. I think it may happen. A rematch of the US Open final, which featured a tight back and forth game 1 before Kane ran away with it in game 2. What did Moscoso take from that match? Hopefully he took away the need to work on his serving motion so that foot faults don’t dominate the conversation surrounding his game. A more consistent serving game with first/drive serves pacing his game will do wonders to help him drive the conversation against Kane. I still think Kane has the upper hand, but cannot wait to see this possible match-up if it happens.
– #7 DLR vs #3 Landa: two old adversaries meet again; i’ve got them meeting 13 times across pro and Mexican Nationals events over the years, with Landa holding a 6-5 advantage overall. Landa’s won their last 5 meetings … but those include two 11-10 wins (including the quarters in Atlanta in September). Point is this: these guys play close every time, they know each other’s game, and there’s just a knife’s edge between them. I will go with DLR getting the slightest of home court advantages and moving to the final.
My predicted final: Kane over DLR. DLR’s sole win over Kane was in the ill-fated 2018 California Open, when Kane hurt his knee the round prior to DLR’s meeting and withdrew with the injury that ended up costing him 4 months and the 2017-18 title. They havn’t played since the final of the Lewis Drug in January, a 4,2 shellacking by Kane to take the high profile Sioux falls event. I like DLR showing some spunk in this match, perhaps with flashes of brilliance at times, but Kane winning in the end.
——————– As always, follow IRT for streaming options throughout the weekend, say high to Dean Baer online, and support pro racquetball 🙂