Congrats to everyone who played in DC this past weekend!
It was a sunny and hot weekend, with the music blaring all day on the Stratton Woods courts. One-wall, 3-wall long wall and one-wall paddleball on display for the duration. Here’s a look at how the big draws played out.
Here’s a quick recap of the notable matches in the top-level draws.
Three-Wall Doubles Draws:
Three-Wall Men’s Pro: the stacked draw full of visiting pros from NY and Fla all were vanquished by two home-grown teams who met in the final. There, the #6 seeded team of Dylan Pruitt / Thomas Gerhardt topped MoMo Zelada and Sergio Rivera in the final.
Three-Wall Men’s 75+: #1 seeded Robert Sostre and Benny Goldenberg took out two experienced players in Greg Lewerenz and Rob Mijares in final.
Three-Wall Women’s Pro Doubles: Abril Prado and Masiel Rivera Oporto took the 3-team RR Pro doubles draw in a Bolivia-heavy final against @Veronica Veronica Nogales Tellez and Paola Nunez.
Three-Wall Mixed Pro Doubles: Carrie Handfinger Hoeft and Roy Hernandez held serve as the top seeds and took out #7 seeds Joe Young and Kathy Guinan in the final.
One-Wall doubles divisions:
One-Wall Men’s Pro doubles: It was a very New York final, and there top seeds Sostre/ Benny Goldenberg made it a double on the weekend, topping #3 seeds Rolon/Young in the final.
One-Wall Women’s Pro doubles: The two group winners were Masiel Rivera / Aimee Roehler Ruiz in Group A, and Nogales/Nunez in Group B. The two teams met in the final with unknown results.
One-Wall Mixed Pro doubles: #2 seeds Goldenberg and Delia Silva took out the #4 team of Rolon/Guinan in an all New York final.
One-Wall Men’s Pro Singles: Pruitt earned his outdoor creds this weekend, taking the 3-wall pro title by defeating top Florida outdoor pro Alejandro Barcelo in the semis then his doubles partner Gerhardt in the final. Gerhardt had taken out NYC top one-wall player William Rolon in the semis to make the final as the #2 seed.
With so many New Yorkers onsite, the TDs added an impromptu Mixed Pro Paddleball division. In the final Jasmine India Suarez and her partner took out the two pro tour commissioners (and two USAR board members) Mike Grisz and Tj Baumbaugh in the final.
Thanks for all those who streamed live on the weekend. This is probably not a canonical list but I saw streams from Thao Le, Joey Logan (who i didn’t even know was flying into town!), Amie LeBrun Brewer, Maddie Melendez, Ruben Pagan & OneWallBall, and others.
Thanks to the Tourney Directors Amie Brewer, Carrie Handfinger Hoeft, Maddie Melendez and Thao Le for putting this event on!
Reminder to Players! Please like and follow this page so that when I tag you, you see it. Facebook will only retain tags of people that like/follow a page, which means lots of you are not getting the notoriety of getting tagged and noticed on FB. If your name is here and it isn’t tagged … it probably means I attempted to tag you but FB stripped it.
Mexican Nationals is next weekend, in Monterrey. This is always one of my favorite events to cover, since the draws are so full of talent. The weekend after that is the LPRT Team Root supermax in Kansas City, a grand slam that should draw all the top women from around the globe.
International Racquetball Tour
3WallBall Outdoor World Championships
Mid-Atlantic World Outdoor Racquetball
Federación Boliviana de Racquetball
Reaching Your Dream Foundation
In Part II we’ll cover the rest of the pro divisions.
Congrats to your Pro winners on the weekend: – Men’s 3-wall Doubles: Daniel De La Rosa & Alvaro Beltran – Women’s 3-wall Doubles: Paola Longoria & Janel Tisinger-Ledkins – Mixed 3-wall Doubles: Daniel De La Rosa & Michelle De La Rosa
– Men’s 1-wall Doubles: Robert Sostre & William Rolon – Women’s 1-wall Doubles: Kelly Gremley & Aime Brewer – Mixed 1-wall Doubles: Rick “Soda Man” & Rhonda Rajsich
Great weekend for the #1 female player in the world Longoria, who gets a double win in Singles and Doubles.
Before we get started, please keep Kelani Lawrence in your thoughts. She was assaulted over the weekend at the Wynn and suffered potentially permanent eye damage. There’s more information on her page and on LPRT’s page. I hope justice can be served and that the touring pro and former National champion can recover fully.
3-Wall Women’s Pro doubles Review PRS Match report: http://rball.pro/8CFCB3 This 7-team draw picks up in the quarters: – Adriana Riveros / Jessica Parrilla won a close one against two fellow LPRT touring pros in Kelani Lawrence / Hollie Scott. – Paola Longoria & Janel Tisinger-Ledkins were pressed but held on against fellow LPRT touring pros Brenda Laime Jalil and Masiel Rivera Oporto 12,12. – #2 seed Rhonda Rajsich picked up a last minute doubles replacement in Erica Williams and didn’t miss a beat on the court, cruising past Jessica Chen and Katie Neils 3,8.
In the semis: – The #1 seeds and defending champs Michelle De La Rosa and Carla Muñoz Montesinos got into action and faced one of the surprise revelations of this event Riveros, teamed with outdoor veteran Jessica Parrilla. The top pair was pushed in game one 15-12 then took over in game two to advance to the final 12,6. – The #1 player in the world teamed with one of the best ever to play the outdoor game were not to be stopped, as Longoria/Tisinger dominated the #2 seeds Rajsich/Williams to move to the final and setup a stellar title match.
In the finals, the defending champs took the first game, but Longoria and the legendary outdoor player Tisinger-Ledkins took the second and third games to claim the title (12),9,5
A great 15-team draw here. Lets get started in the round of 16, which featured several big-time names fall: – Nick Riffel and Katie Neils shocked two of the best players in the world in Paola Longoria and Alvaro Beltran, downing them in two games to move into the quarters. With all due respect to Riffel and Neils, I’m just not sure how two of the best doubles players in the world (both with excellent outdoor creds) conspired to lose. – Alex Landa and Lawrence blitzed past the #4 seeded team of Thomas Gerhardt and Aime Brewer 3,7 in a match that featured three Virginia residents. – The #3 seeded team of Robert Sostreand Carla Muñoz Montesinos was stretched to a breaker by the brother/sister Parrilla pair of Jessica and Andree Parrilla, but held on to advance.
In the quarters…
– #1 seeds and defending champion De La Rosa team cruised past Adam Manilla / Erica Williams in what reportedly was the first time Michelle De La Rosa picked up a racquetball racquet since last year’s Vegas event. – #5 Riffel & Niels continued their upset ways, shocking the #2 men’s player in the world Landa, playing with 2019 US national amateur champ Lawrence, to move into the semis. – Sostre & Munoz were pushed but won in two closer games over Californian outdoor vets Majeed Shahin and Tisinger. – In the shock result of the round, Mario Mercado & Riveros showed just how much outdoor they’ve picked up this week by stunning outdoor legends Rajsich and Rick Koll in a tiebreaker.
In the Semis… – #1 seeds DLRs moved into the final with another dominant performance, this time topping Riffel/Neils 7,7 – Mercado & Riveros got another upset win over two seasoned outdoor pros, dominating the Sostre/Munoz team 5,7 to move to the final. Mercado has really stepped up this tournament with a number of impressive wins, and Riveros really has shown affinity for the outdoor game.
In the finals, the Husband/Wife DLR team blasted the upstart South Americans 8,0 to repeat as titlists and make Daniel the double winner on the weekend for the second year running.
1-Wall Men’s Pro doubles. PRS Match Report: http://rball.pro/B11B77 9 teams in action here. Picking up action in the qtrs:
– #1 Sostre/ William Rolon were pushed hard by #8 Jake Bredenbeck and Jeremy Mcglothin before advancing 12,14. Jake really showed his outdoor prowess this weekend and I hope he continues to play in outdoor events going forward. – #4 Stockton buddies Jose Diaz & David Horn advanced over two Northern Virginia players Saul Rivera & Raul Berrios. – Outdoor specialists Ignacio Espinal and Servando Daniels held serve against the impressive Bolivian team that had caused so much havoc in the 3-wall division Marcelo Vargas & Mercado to advance. – An all east-coast battle resulted in two guys with DC-area ties Gerhart and Dylan Pruitt advancing as the #2 seeds over Richard Miller/Joe Kelley.
In the semis: – It took an 11-9 breaker but the one-wall experts Sostre/Rolon advanced over the 209-pair Diaz/Horn. – #2 seeds Gerhardt and Pruitt held serve over Iggy/Servando to setup a 1-2 final.
In the final, the New York one-wall legends were pushed to a breaker but overcame the #2 seeds to repeat as champions.
The most brutal test in outdoor is 3-wall singles being played on the extra long and wide courts of Vegas, and spectators were treated to amazing shows of athleticism all weekend on both the Men’s and Women’s side.
In the 16s of the Men’s draw, a couple of notable matches: – Bolivian Vargas took out IRT vet Manilla in a breaker. – Riffel blitzed the #5 seed Texan Abel Perez 3,4 to move on to the quarters.
In the quarters… we got some big time upsets as the two top seeds fall. – #1 seed Rolon was crushed by Bolivian newcomer Vargas 7,3. Vargas has been a revelation this tournament, playing with abandon on the outdoor courts and really showing what a force he can be on the court. – #4 Dan Lavely held serve against the upset-minded Riffel to advance. – #3 Diaz made quick work of fellow Californian Shahin to advance. – It took a tiebreaker, but top IRT pro Parrilla took out #2 seeded Thomas Gerhardt to move on.
In the semis: – Vargas continued his winning ways, topping Lavely to make the final. – Parrilla outlasted Diaz, with both players demonstrating their dominant 3-wall serves.
In the final, Parrilla made short work of the Cinderella Bolivian, downing him 5,8 to take the title.
The four LPRT pros in the draw held serve in the quarters to advance to a star-studded semi finals.
In the semis… – #1 Rajsich held on to advance over Munoz 13,6. – #3 Longoria downed her country-woman #2 seed Parrilla in a breaker to move on.
In the final, Rhonda put on a clinic in game one to win 15-4, but then Longoria woke up and demolished her long-time LPRT rival in games 2 and 3 to win the title. Final score (4),4,4.
A huge shoutout to the whole 3Wall Ball crew for putting this event on under difficult circumstances. MC Vegas, Peggine Tellez,, Soda Man and the whole Las Vegas crew; our hats are off to you and the community thanks you.
Thanks for all the streaming on the weekend, especially from broadcasters Dean DeAngelo Baer, Pablo Fajre and the IRTLive crew . Thanks also to the LPRT regular broadcast crew including Timothy Baghurst, Jerry J Josey Jr., and Tj Baumbaugh
Next up? Well, next up is … up in the air. Both pro tours have some upcoming events on the schedule; will they happen? Everything is tbd.
The round of 32 had some “upsets” by seed, but probably not by talent, as this tournament featured a ton of non-outdoor regulars with little in the way of outdoor ranking points.
In the 16s, we saw a number of top seeds fall. – #1 Daniel De La Rosa & Alvaro Beltran handled the Alex Landa / Sudsy Monchik team 13,8 to avoid their biggest tripping point on the way to the final. – Relative unknowns Cesar Chavez & Jeremy Mcglothin upset two top-10 seeds to advance to the quarters, taking out teams with veteran outdoor players such as Ignacio Espinal and Thomas Gerhardt. – Jake Bredenbeck and Brian Pineda played outstanding racquetball to take out two-time Outdoor National doubles champions and #5 seeds Rocky Carson and Jesus Ustarroz in a tie-breaker. Jake proved quite adept at translating his power game into outdoor success, while Pineda on the right hand side gave off a shot-making clinic to drive the upset. – The #4 team of Paddleball legend Emmett Coe and tourney host Rick Koll held serve and advanced past the veteran California-based doubles team of Tim Herman and Mike Myers. – IRT veteran Mario Mercado teamed with relative unknown Bolivian Marcello Vargas Aguilar to take out last year’s semi finalists and outdoor veteran #3 seeds Floridians Roy Hernandez and Marcos Gravier. The two Bolivian natives played solid ball and had great court coverage and could be a dark horse for more upsets. – #6 seeded outdoor veterans Brandon Davis and Alejandro Barcelo cruised into the quarters with ease. – Two IRT veteran indoor players (and college buddies) in Adam Manilla and Nick Riffel teamed up to oust WOR Hall of Famer Mike Peters and fellow Huntington Beach outdoor veteran Patrick Allin 12,8 to be shock quarter finalists. – Lastly, the big one. IRT #1 Kane Waselenchuk and his frequent indoor doubles partner Ben Croft took on the #2 seeded team of WOR hall of famer Robert Sostre and experienced indoor and outdoor pro David Horn. Lots of build-up to Kane’s appearance here, with outdoor specialists questioning whether the duo could adjust to the outdoor game, while indoor fans questioning why anyone would predict that Kane would lose, anywhere.
Game one was a shock to the system: Sostre could not miss and Croft/Kane looked like the outdoor novices that they are, and the #2 seeds won 15-2. With Michelle De La Rosa and Sudsy on the mike for streaming, they watched as Kane literally learned how to play outdoor throughout game 2, suddenly working the angles and hitting the kinds of outdoor-only shots that would be anathema indoors. What looked like it was going to be a two game blowout suddenly went to the tie-breaker. There, the novices picked on Sostre while serving, forcing him to hit backhands and forcing the #2 seeds to change tactics, but to no avail. The newbies cruised to an 11-4 tiebreaker win and put a shot across the bows of the outdoor world.
In the Quarters, a couple of shock results: – #1 seeds DLR and Beltran made quick work of the upstart Chavez/McGlothin team 2,3. – Despite downing the #5 team in the 16s, one of the two of Bredenbeck/Pineda failed to report in time for their quarter final match and the #4 team of Coe/Koll was given a walkover into the semis. The reported reason? “Too much Las Vegas.” – The #6 team of Davis/Barcelo blitzed the all-Bolivian team of Vargas/Marcello in game one, then had to mount a furious comeback to take game two and advance 1,14. The second game featured great shot-making from both sides, with the prowess of Davis in particular proving the difference. – Croft & Kane made quick work of two fellow IRT touring pros relatively new to outdoor in Manilla & Riffel to move on.
The semis featured two fantastic matchups: – The top half featured two teams of outdoor veterans in the #1 vs #4 matchup. – The bottom semi featured two of the best outdoor specialists out there in Davis/Barcelo versus perhaps the best current doubles team in the world (indoor or outdoor) in Kane/Croft. One team had to budge; which would it be?
In the end, both matches were anti-climactic, with the #1 seeds winning 3,5 and the Kane/Croft team blitzing to a 3,7 win to setup the final that everyone wanted.
In the final, the sport and all the neutrals got the match they wanted, and they were not disappointed. Kane/Croft won a back and forth first game that could have gone either way, then DLR/Beltran pulled away with consistency and by working the left side of the court. In the breaker they continued their dominance, running out to a 10-5 lead before a fantastic shot from the champ extended the match. Kane & Ben pulled back a couple more points, but an error on a service return sealed the win for the #1 seeds. DLR/Beltran defeat Waselenchuk/Croft (12),9,8 to repeat as champions.
But nobody is walking away from this tournament without recognizing just how well Kane and Croft played to get to the final. Here’s hoping this is just the latest chapter in these two teams’ rivalry, indoor or out.
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
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.
Welcome to the first major Amateur Nationals event of Fy2020. Its the US National doubles event, being held in Tempe, AZ on the campus of Arizona State University.
This is the 53rd iteration of US National doubles: The first was held in 1968 in Madison, Wisconsin and the first Men’s US national title was won by the team of Simie Fein and Jim White. The Women’s event doesn’t seem to have started until 1972; the first winners I have on record were Jan Pasternak and Kimberly Hill, who won the title in Memphis in 1972.
Rocky Carson holds the Men’s record for most National Doubles titles; he has 11 titles in 13 appearances. Jacqueline Paraiso-Larsson holds the record on the Women’s side with 14 titles in 15 appearances.
The Men’s draw has 11 teams, highlighted by both of last year’s finalist teams as the #1 and #2 seeds. The big news of course this year is the entry of one team in particular: Alex Landa , the current #2 player on the IRT has entered with 5-time pro tour champ and Hall of Famer Sudsy Monchik.
Landa, who has represented Mexico his entire career, famously was left off the Mexican delegation to the Pan American Games last year despite winning the 2019 Mexican Nationals event. The Mexican federation made this decision based on rather “debatable” guidelines to say the least, and in the aftermath Landa asked for (and was granted) his release from the Mexican team. He’s a dual citizen and has resided in Texas for many years, and quickly was able to obtain clearance to enter in US national events. He’s an accomplished doubles player, currently ranked #3 on the IRT doubles ranking, and is a right-side (forehand) player. He’s teamed a legend and a great left-side (backhand) doubles player in Sudsy to make a pretty formidable team. They’re handed the #5 seed, meaning they’ll have to play through both top seeds to win it.
——————————- Lets preview the Men’s doubles draw:
Round of 16: there’s three play-in round of 16 matches, with some interesting match-ups
– In the 8/9 matchup; an east coast flair: North Carolina native Brent Walters teams with top Virginia player Thomas Gerhardt to take on Maryland native MoMo Zelada and his partner, Hawaiian-turned-NorCal guy Robert Collins: Collins as a lefty gives that team an advantage here over the two east coast veterans. – The solid #6 team of David ” Bobby” Horn and reigning intercollegiate champ Erik Garcia takes on #11 team of Arizona youngsters Ben Baron and Preston Tribble. – #7 team of good friends from the east coast Maurice Miller and Troy Warigon take on #10 team Justus Benson and Sam Bredenbeck. Four semi-regular IRT players here battle it out and a ton of hard hitters.
—————————— Projected Qtrs: – #1 Defending champs Carson and Charlie Pratt Racquetball likely take on Zelada/Collins and should control the floor. – #5 Monchik/Landa get started against the #4 team of Jansen Allen and Tony Carson, the 2013 champions. Both former top-10 IRT pros, Carson is just coming back from a year-long injury to his achilles heel and had to forfeit out of the last pro event he entered, while Allen has taken a step back from touring full time. This will be a good first test for Monchik/Landa and a tough draw for the former champs. – #3 Adam Manilla and his college buddy Nick Riffel likely play Horn/Garcia. Manilla as a lefty gives this team a big advantage, but Garcia can be the x-factor here. Look for the upset. – #2 Jake Bredenbeck and Jose DIAZ likely face the #7 seeds Warigon/Miller and should advance.
Semis: – I like Monchik/Landa to upset the #1 seeds Carson/Pratt here. My simple theory in predicting doubles matches is to look at the match-up on the right-hand side to predict matches; If there’s a weak link on the court, it often presents on the forehand side of the weaker team. Pratt is by no means a “weak” player, but Landa isn’t #2 in the world by accident. I think Sudsy hangs with Rocky on the backhand and Landa makes the difference on the forehand. – I like #2 Jake/Diaz to make the final again; they’re just too experienced playing together and too good of a team.
Finals: – Landa didn’t switch to the USA to not make the team; he’s on a mission in Arizona, and I like them for the upset win.
——————————- Lets preview the Women’s Doubles draw:
Just 6 teams entered here. #1 seed includes one member of last year’s on-the-court champion team in Aimee Roehler Ruiz, who is second all-time to Paraiso-Larseen in career US National doubles titles with 11. She was part of the winning team last year before having the title vacated, but now she’s back with a new partner as the top seed. The #2 seeds from last year (the Key sisters Michelle De La Rosa and Danielle Maddox) are not entered, thus we’ve got a wide-open field.
In the Quarters i’m predicting chalk: – #4 Jazmín Treviño and Erin Slutzky over #5 Cassie Lee and Fran Transfiguracion – #3 Hollie Scott and Lexi York over #6 Graci Wargo & Jessica Chen.
In the semis: – i like the #1 team of Ruiz and Erika Manilla to advance to the final. – I think the #2 seeds of Kelani Lawrence] and Sheryl Lotts, two LPRT regulars who are impressing this season, will have their hands full with Scott and York but will prevail.
Predicted final: I like Lawrence/Lotts over Ruiz/Manilla. Ruiz’ leftiness helps, but I suspect that the overall talent level of the #2 seeded team will overcome the #1 seeds in the final.
——————————— Singles qualifier Review:
The USA added the singles event to National Doubles in 2016 as part of a revamping of the way the National team is decided. US players now compete in three events to gain “points” towards team qualification; the US Open in October, National doubles in February and National singles in May. One may argue that using US Open pro results is unfair (it is; you’re often playing non-US players while competing towards a US team spot), but it is the only other “major” event we have at the moment.
A reminder: I have captured these non-Nationals events in my staging area, but they are NOT loaded into the database and are not currently queryable. I’ve had requests to add this data for a better head to head representation (especially for Canadians, who have been holding these types of events for years), or to get winners of these past events … but it would take significant retrofitting of the reports to do so, so its back burnered for now.
That being said, its a great draw in Tempe and I look forward to it as a fan.
——————————— Men’s singles draw review:
Some questions have arisen related to the seedings here: if Landa just converted to USA … how is he seeded 2nd? Well that’s because USAR uses their internal rankings and Carson is ahead of Landa. See https://www.usaracquetballevents.com/rankings.asp . The USAR rankings do include basically all pro players, and is driven mostly by head to head match-ups. But, just because playerA beats playerB doesn’t automatically move them ahead; the last time Landa played Carson was in the final of the Nov 2019 Fullerton event, a Landa win … yet he remains behind Rocky until he beats him again.
Here’s some notable matches from the 16s I look forward to: – 8/9 Erik Garcia vs Maurice Miller should be a great match; I think the collegiate champ moves on. – 5/12 Zelada vs Pratt is interesting: Zelada doesn’t play every pro event but can hang with the players regularly in the 9-16 range. Pratt used to make noise in nearly every event he entered, but as he winds down from full time touring he’s been taking more and more earlier early round losses; in his last 7 pro stops over the last two years he’s made just 3 main draws. – 6/11: Collins vs Thomas Carter: love the lefty on lefty matches. – 7/10: Adam Manilla vs Sam Bredenbeck: could be an interesting match here; can Sam get the upset?
Projected Quarters: – #1 Carson over #9 Garcia – #4 Horn over #5 Pratt: Bobby beat Charlie in last year’s US Nationals and recently in a local event on his home court and I think he prevails again. – #3 Jake Bredenbeck over #6 Carter – #2 Landa over the Manilla
Semis: – #1 Carson moves on over Horn; he’s 4-0 lifetime over Bobby. – #2 Landa tops Jake Bredenbeck; he’s 8-0 lifetime over Jake.
Final: tough one to call; I think Landa is super motivated to win and get a big leg up on qualifying for the team. If this was actually Nationals i’d go with Landa, but here Rocky takes the title since by Sunday I perceive Rocky will be out of doubles while Landa will be shooting for two titles.
——————————— Women’s singles draw review:
First, can someone explain the seeding in this event to me? Right now, on USAR’s ranking page Kelani Lawrence is ahead of Rhonda Rajsich. Kelani BEAT Rhonda in Nationals last year en route to the title and is the defending champ. How is Kelani not seeded #1? I don’t get it. You may say “oh seeding doesn’t matter you have to beat everyone to win” … but as you’ll see, Kelani now has a significantly harder semis match than the #1 seed has.
Nonetheless, here’s a preview of this draw. Notable early matches to watch: – 8/9 Wargo vs Chen: young doubles partners square off early. – 6/11: York vs Slutzky: can the junior Slutzky (just finishing her 16U year and making her adult debut) challenge York?
quarters projection: – #1 Rajsich over Wargo – #5 Lotts over #4 Manilla; this should be a great match. – #3 Scott over #6 York, again doubles partners squaring off. – #2 Lawrence over #7 Lee.
The rubber meats the road in the semis.
– #1 Rajsich vs #5 Lotts: Rhonda has had a tough pro season so far: four times she’s lost in the 16s, but she’s also made two semis. Lotts has competed well against top-8 players but has yet to break through with a round of 16 win. Rhonda has never lost to Lotts, and this may go deep but Rhonda prevails. – #2 Lawrence vs #3 Scott: this is a rematch of last year’s final (which is why seeding accuracy is so important); Kelani prevailed there 11-10 but it could have gone either way. Since then, Lawrence has made a concerted effort to play the LPRT more, and has a slew of solid results. I think Lawrence has grown more in the last year as a player than Scott, and prevails here.
Lawrence and Rajsich again. These two met in US Nationals events in 2016, 2018 and 2019. They’ve also met in this qualifier event every year since it started: 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019. So its only fitting that they meet in the 2020 iteration.
In all of these 7 matches, Rhonda is 6-1. But that one win was in last year’s Nationals event. Lawrence got that break through win and hasn’t looked back. Lawrence for the win here too.
——————————— Look for Streaming in the regular places; follow USA Racquetball on Facebook and register for live video notifications. Leo Ray Vasquez on the mike all weekend as usual.
There was a 14-man IRT Tier 5 event at the LPRT Xmas classic; here’s a recap of that and some of the other amateur events that went on.
A ton of the LPRT pros played Mixed Open, there was a solid Women’s Open draw, and a few Men’s Open teams as well.
In the IRT Singles draw: – #1 Maurice Miller took out top VA amateur #4 Thomas Gerhardt in one semi, and then #3 Troy Warigon defeated #2 Mauricio Zelada in the other. The 2/3 match was pretty special; the two home-court players played the perfect match: 14,(14),10. – In the final, MIller overcame a game-1 loss to defeat Warigon for the title.
In Men’s Open, the two singles finalists teamed up to take the Open Doubles title over #3 seeds Dylan Pruitt and Jersey native David Austin.
In Women’s Open: Carla Muñoz Montesinos made up for her quarters loss in pros to take the singles Open title over Lexi York.
In Mixed Open, the two Mens singles finalists advanced again to the finals, and there Miller teamed up with Natalia Mendez Erlwein to take the title over #2 Warigon, who played with Virginia native Kelani Lawrence.
This made Miller the rare triple-winner on the weekend.
Congrats to Kane Waselenchuk on his win in Tempe this past weekend. Notable facts and stats on the win:
– 119th title – W/L now 552-53 for his career, 13-1 for the current season – He increases his lead at the top of the rankings to more than 800 points over #2 Carson (that’s two Tier 1 wins worth of points, btw).
In the 64s, some upsets: – Texan Ruben Baez took out Chilean veteran international Francisco Troncoso 11-9 in the breaker. – IRT regular Justus Benson fell to top Virginia amateur Thomas Gerhardt 9,8. Solid night of qualifying for Gerhardt, who wins both Thursday matches to move into the 32s in (and I had to check this twice) his first ever IRT Tier 1 appearance. Local players to the east coast know him well as one of the top players in Virginia and a frequent local area tournament participant; can he keep the run going in the next round? – Similarly to Gerhardt, Utah amateur Anthony Martin also took out a regular IRT touring pro in Nick Riffel 9,8 to move on. Solid win for Martin, who earns a spot against #11 Jake (and a spot on the live streaming) on Friday morning.
In the 32s, a couple of surprises: – Colombian Set Cubillos Ruiz got perhaps his best ever career win, playing solid ball to oust #12 Sebastian Fernandez in a breaker. After taking a close first game, Fernandez came out on fire in game two to win it 15-3 … but then couldn’t keep up the pressure as Cubillos really earned it.
– #14 Thomas Carter played two solid games to oust #30 Gerhardt in two 12,9. Great showing by Gerhardt in his tour debut.
– The final round of 32 to complete featured a close match that may have surprised some observers: relative unknown player Ruben Baez, making his IRT Tier 1 debut, took it to the #9 seed David ” Bobby” Horn, beating him in game one before running out of gas in the tiebreaker to fall (14),10,3. Baez’s USAR ranking, per the comment box, is #626. He certainly doesn’t play like the 626th ranked player in the land.
—— Round of 16 observations: just one upset by seed, but some solid matches.
– #17 Andres Acuña really pushed #1 Kane Waselenchuk , nearly taking game two from him before falling 8,14. As I’ve mentioned in this space a lot over the past few months, Acuna’s game has improved by leaps and bounds in the past year, he made his first pro quarter in Laurel in Sept, and I think he can continue to rise.
– #9 Horn could not follow-up on his solid Bay Club win, falling to #8 Samuel Murray in two.
– #5 Conra Moscoso Ortiz‘s first match since the US Open was up against the surprising Colombian Cubillos, a nice all-South American match-up. Moscoso made short work of Cubillos though, winning 4,6 to move on.
– #14 Carter played pretty well to push #3 Alex Landa, falling in two 11,11.
– In the round’s sole upset by seed, #10 Eduardo Portillo Rendon took out home-town favorite #6 Daniel De La Rosa in two close games 13,12. They met in Atlanta earlier in the season, but Portillo was able to turn the tide here. He advances to just his second ever pro quarter final, while DLR surprisingly is one-and-done in his home-town tournament (one that I thought he’d leverage the crowd support to make a finals run). This win is nearly enough to put Portillo into the top 10 for the first time, while DLR continues his uneven start to the new season.
———— In the Qtrs: – Kane committed canuck-on-canuck crime, defeating his country-man Murray comprehensively 5,4
– #5 seed Moscoso was stretched to a tiebreaker by #4 Álvaro Beltrán before advancing.
– #3 Landa turned the tide on a recent trend of losing to #6 Parrilla head to head, completely dominating their quarter final and advancing 3,7.
– But the story of this event happened in the final quarter; #10 Portillo, playing in just his 2nd pro qtr … took out #2 Rocky Carson in two games 10,8 to reach his first ever pro semi. Portillo finished last season ranked 17th while playing the tour part time, but has consistently made the main draws of the last seven pro events he’s entered to push his ranking to the cusp of the top 10.
—————- In the semis; – We got our highly anticipated re-match of the US Open final in the top half, with Kane and Moscoso going at it. Far fewer FFs this time from Moscoso, who introduced a new motion and clearly has worked on his footwork. It did not help; Kane does what he typically does against good opponents who hang with him for portions of game 1; he hung in there til about 10-10, then ran off 5 straight to take the first game. Demoralized about missing out on chances, Mosocos got wiped out in game two to lose 10,2. Kane is still the master, even if you watch Conrrado’s game plan and see a possible pathway forward for him at some point in the future. With this result, Moscoso will move up to 7th in the tour rankings despite only having points from four events.
– #3 Landa made fast work of the youngster Lalo, ending his run 5,9 to advance to his 5th ever IRT pro final. With this result, Portillo should move up to 9th on tour, putting himself in position to get a top8 seed if one of the existing top 8 misses an event.
—————– In the final, Kane demoralized Landa, put away mistakes on the service return with clinical precision, and dominated the match to win 4,7. He improves to 15-1 against Landa head to head (the sole loss was a fft/no-show).
—————— Points ramifications: based on my points projections, here’s the ramifications of this weekend on the tour rankings: – Moscoso and Murray swap places at 7,8 – Portillo improves from 12 to 9 – By virtue of Portillo’s move, he pushes Montoya, Franco and Horn each down one slot. – Collin’s moves up 2 spots from 18 to 16 – Acuna jumps up 4 spots to #22. – Cubillos improves 10 spots from 39 to 29.
———————- Next up; the IRT moves to Fullerton for the Los Compadres Auto Sales Open, which should get a pretty solid draw. There’s also a big Costa Rican tourney, which may pull away the likes of Acuna and Camacho to compete on home soil
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 🙂
———————— As you can see from the winner’s list, a fantastic weekend for, in particular, Daniel De La Rosa, who takes home three pro titles (plus a fourth Combined 75+ title with Mike Peters). Its always a good weekend when you don’t lose. Also congrats to Nick Montalbano, Michelle De La Rosa and Carla Munoz, each of whom took home two pro titles.
———————— Quick review of the 8 draws (the Match report for the event out of the PRS database is the rball.pro URL listed in each case)
Relative Outdoor newcomer Andres Acuña proved himself to be a quick study, defeating 2018 outdoor national champ Luis R Avila in the quarters then dominating outdoor legend William Rolon in the semis to make the final from the bottom half. Defending champ and #1 seed Nick Montalbano took out Virginia-based Thomas Gerhardt in the semis of the top half to return to the one-wall final.
In the final, Montalbano split the first two games against Acuna, who was playing just his second outdoor tournament ever and acquitted himself pretty well. In the tiebreaker though, the experience of Montalbano wore down Acuna and he defended his Vegas title from 2018.
Ceci Orozco upset two higher seeds in tiebreakers to make the singles final from the bottom half, defeating outdoor specialist Michelle Herbert in the quarters then LPRT vet Adriana Riveros in the semis. Rhonda Rajsich was taken deep into a tiebreaker to oust former LPRT top-4 player Jessica Parrillain the top half.
In the final, Rajsich dominated Pratt to take the singles Vegas title 1,2. This is Rhonda’s first ever Vegas singles title, and her first WOR singles title in any major since 2015.
Huge upset right out of the gate in the bottom half, as the #2 seed of Rick Koll and Emmett Coe was upset 11-10 by the team of IRT veteran Charlie Prattand Vegas resident Thomas Moore. Pratt/Moore then went out 11-10 themselves to outdoor legend Greg Solis and Joe Young. This opened the door for the #3 seeded team of Robert Sostre and Chris McDonald to get to the final. There, they met the #1 seeded Daniel De La Rosa and Alvaro Beltran, who cruised past two talented teams to get to the final.
In the final, Sostre/McDonald saved match point in the 2nd to force a tie-breaker, but DLR/Beltran ran away with it to win the title 11-3 in the breaker. The Mexican duo repeat as champs here and take their 3rd major WOR doubles title in the last two years.
The draw was completely chalk to the final, with #1 seeds/defending champs Koll and Rajsich ousting #4 seeded Jacqueline Paraiso-Larsson and Coe in the top half semi, while #2 seeded husband/wife De La Rosa pairing took out #3 Sostre/Munoz pairing in the bottom semi.
In the final, the DLRs turned the tide from last year’s final and swept to a 4,12 win over Koll and Rajsich.
The #1 seeds and one-wall specialists Sostre/Rolon cruised into the final by virtue of a walk-over and a dominant semis win. There, they met the #6 seeded team of Floridians Jeffrey Palmer and Garry Smith who upset the 3rd seeds in the quarters then took out the 7th seeds in the semi.
In the final, the New York duo won a solid match over the upset minded Florida pairing, taking the title 11,13.
Seeds held to the final, but not without some drama. #1 Seeds Koll/Rajsich got dominated in game one of their semi and had to save match point against before advancing in a tiebreaker over Coe and Katharine Neils. In the bottom half, #2 Montalbano & Munoz got stretched to a tiebreaker by Young/Stephen but blanked the #6 seeds 11-0 to move onto the final.
In the final, Montalbano & Munoz blitzed to the title, beating the #1 seeds 7,2 to take the title.
—————————- Congrats to all who competed; it looked like a great event and great weather from all the streaming.
Next up! The big one. The UnitedHealthcare US OPEN Racquetball Championships. I cannot be in attendance this year, but hope to do more than just a preview and wrap-up of this huge event. I hope to do daily posts to review the qualifying and the rounds as they happen. The draws look amazing; more than 90 men and 40 women entered into the pro draws. Awesome!