Monday, October 14, 2019

Weekend Round Up - Horn wins Bay Club Classic

David Horn won the Bay Club Classic - a Tier 4 International Racquetball Tour (IRT) event - on the weekend in Pleasanton, California. Horn defeated Charlie Pratt in the final, 15-13, 15-11. In the semi-finals, Horn beat Adam Manilla, 15-13, 15-11, and Pratt defeated Jose Diaz, 15-12, 15-6.

Couple of close results in the earlier rounds. In the quarterfinals, an all left hander battle between Manilla and Robert Collins needed a tie-breaker to decide it with Manilla coming out on top, 15-3, 14-15, 11-3. Also in the Round of 16, Mauro Rojas squeaked out a win over Sebastian Fernandez, 15-11, 9-15, 11-10, which set up the quarterfinal with Pratt.

2019 Bay Club Classic - IRT Tier 4
Pleasanton, California, October 11-13, 2019


Men’s Final (seeding)

(1) David Horn d. (6) Charlie Pratt, 15-13, 15-11

Semi-finals

(1) David Horn d. (5) Adam Manilla, 15-13, 15-11
(6) Charlie Pratt d. (2) Jose Diaz, 15-12, 15-6

Quarterfinals

(1) David Horn d. (9) Christian Longoria, 15-2, 15-8
(5) Adam Manilla d. (4) Robert Collins, 15-3, 14-15, 11-3

(6) Charlie Pratt d. (14) Mauro Rojas, 15-10, 15-6
(2) Jose Diaz d. (7) Diego Garcia, 15-12, 15-11

Round of 16

(1) David Horn d. (16) Tony Jammal, 15-1, 15-1
(9) Christian Longoria d. (8) Diego Gatica, 15-1, 15-3

(5) Adam Manilla d. (21) Mitch Forrest Jr., 15-5, 15-3
(4) Robert Collins d. (20) Vedant Chauhan, 15-7, 15-12

(14) Mauro Rojas d. (3) Sebastian Fernandez, 15-11, 9-15, 11-10
(6) Charlie Pratt d. (22) Nikhil Prasad, 15-7, 15-10

(7) Diego Garcia d. (10) Francisco Troncoso, 15-7, 15-11
(2) Jose Diaz d. (18) Rafael Gatica, 15-4, 15-4

Follow the bouncing ball….

Friday, October 11, 2019

When 100 ≠ 100

Paola Longoria won her 10th Ladies Professional Racquetball Tour (LPRT) US Open Racquetball Championship on Sunday, and in the aftermath she declared it was also her 100th pro victory. People make a big deal out of numbers divisible by 10 and sometimes even 5. We even have words signifying their significance, like decade, century and millennium. So, 100 wins seems like a big deal.

But is 100 really a bigger deal than 99 or 101? No, not really. Our use of a base 10 number system is arbitrary.

In sports, any wins are significant, not arbitrary. Dozens of women have played professional racquetball, but only 27 players have won a professional racquetball tournament, which is fewer players than have won a men’s pro racquetball tournament (40). Only 10 women have won more than 10 tournaments (see how easy it is to assign significance to 10?). No one has won more pro tournaments than Longoria. It’s not even close.

But those wins are Tier 1 or Grand Slam (i.e., main) events. And Longoria hasn’t won 100 of those. She’s won 93. We’re not sure what other events are being counted to get Longoria to 100, but they aren’t main events, so to group them with main events is inappropriate and misleading, in our opinion.

It seems like Longoria is saying she's got 100 apples, when in fact, 7 of those apples are actually oranges. That’s not right. Claiming that it's 100 pro victories is like saying it's 100 fruit, so they are all the same, but the field of players for minor events is significantly fewer than for main events (i.e., Tier 1 / Grand Slam events). That is especially true for women’s events, which generally have smaller fields than men’s events. (e.g., there were 41 women in the LPRT field last week & 94 men in the International Racquetball Tour - IRT - field). If there are fewer players, then there are generally fewer elite players, so the minor events are less competitive; that’s why they are minor events.

That the LPRT has simply gone along with what Longoria says is a total tail wagging the dog situation. The LPRT should have a complete record of its events, although racquetball has not been good at keeping these records. Thus, we’re not sure if the LPRT has a record past what the has been recorded on the Pro Racquetball Stats website, which lists Longoria as having 93 main event wins.

Pro Racquetball Stats has tried to address the discrepancy between the 100 wins Longoria says she has and the 93 main event wins they have on record. But still it seems like a grouping of apples and oranges to us, and we just want to know about them apples.

Best ever?

Longoria’s is a great player. Some will likely argue that she’s the best ever, although we’re not so sure. What makes us hesitate is that she came along at a time when the other elite players were significantly older. When Longoria first appeared in the top 10 (2007-08) the top 4 players were all more than a decade older than her (see what we did there?): Rhonda Rajsich was 11 years older, Cheryl Gudinas 22 years older, Kerri Wachtel 15, and Angela Grisar 16. The only players in the top 10 close to Longoria in age were Kristen Bellows, who was 7 years older, and Adrienne Haynes, 4 years older. Thus, Longoria’s career began with her main competition being players who were significantly older than her, and if anything is true in sport, it’s that Father Time doesn’t lose, and Father Time was on Longoria’s side.

Over the next five seasons (2008-09 to 2012-13), when Longoria finished #1 four times, only two players younger than Longoria were in the top 10: Veronica Sotomayor in 2008-09 and Maria Jose Vargas in 2012-13. It wasn’t until 2013-14 that more than one player younger than Longoria was in the top 10 (Vargas, Sotomayor, Frédérique Lambert & Aubrey Kirch). So Longoria’s main competition wasn’t from players around her age at the start of her career.

None of that is Longoria’s fault, of course. She can only play who’s in front of her. But when you compare players’ careers who they played against has to be taken into account. Trying to compare the eras players competed in makes career comparisons difficult, if not actually impossible, which is why trying to determine “the greatest player ever” is usually one of opinion rather than fact. But it’s fun to speculate about it.

Longoria’s a great racquetball player. She’s won a lot of racquetball tournaments, and she’s going to win many more. Each of her victories counts, but some are a bigger deal than others.

Follow the bouncing ball….

Sunday, October 6, 2019

Waselenchuk wins #15 at 2019 UnitedHealthcare US Open

Kane Waselenchuk won his 15th US Open International Racquetball Tour (IRT) title Sunday at the 24th UnitedHealthcare US Open Racquetball Championships in Minneapolis, where he ended 15th seed Conrrado Moscoso's Cinderella run with a straight game victory, 15-12, 15-5. Waselenchuk has won 11 consecutive US Open titles, and did the double this year for the fourth time as the lefthander won both singles and doubles with Ben Croft.

The first game of the final was great, and Moscoso had small leads early at 2-0 and 4-2. But Waselenchuk tied the match at 4-4 with an ace drive serve to the left side. They would tie again at 5 and 7, but Moscoso never led again.

From 7-7, Waselenchuk won three consecutive rallies to lead 10-7 with the 9th point a drive serve ace to the right side and the 10th point a service winner to the left side. Moscoso called time out.

Waselenchuk was charged with a penalty hinder when play resumed, as he hit a Z serve that came across the centre of the court, where Moscoso was ready to hit it with Waselenchuk standing between the ball and the front wall. The referee only called a hinder, but Moscoso appealed to the line judges for an avoidable and they overturned the referee's call.

But Moscoso couldn't capitalize on the opportunity. A messy rally ended when he tried to hit a ceiling ball to keep the rally going, but skipped it. From there Waselenchuk went up 12-7, and Moscoso cut it to 12-9.

Then the game stalled, as they went back and forth. Thirteen rallies resulted in just one point, which went to Waselenchuk, making the score 13-9.

Moscoso got within one at 13-12 with a three point run helped by two errors from Waselenchuk. But Waselenchuk forced Moscoso into a backhand skip to get the serve back.

He then hit a forehand over to the left side around Moscoso to reach 14-12. Waselenchuk won it with his first game point, 15-12.

Game one was great with both players playing at a high level. But when game two started it seemed like Waselenchuk had more left than Moscoso, as took a 5-0 lead. Moscoso did come back to 5-4 and kept it close at 7-5.

But he wouldn't score again, as Moscoso struggled to find a serve that was effective against the 14 time champion. Moscoso had opportunities, as he served six times after 7-5, but he scored no points.

So Waselenchuk slowly but surely worked his way to the end. Then the last three points came on consecutive rallies. Moscoso skipped a forehand shot (he appealed but the line judges agreed with the referee). A backhand skip by Moscoso put Waselenchuk on match point, and he ended it with a drive serve ace to the right side.

It was an appropriate finish to Waselenchuk's 15th US Open victory.

The next IRT event will be the Arizona State Pro Am, October 24-27 in Tempe, Arizona.

If you missed the final, look for it via the IRT media outlets: The IRT YouTube channel or the IRT Facebook page.

2019 UnitedHealthcare US Open Racquetball Championships
Minneapolis, Minnesota - October 2-6, 2019


IRT - Final - Sunday

1) Kane Waselenchuk d. 15) Conrrado Moscoso, 15-12, 15-5

Follow the bouncing ball….