Friday, April 20, 2018

Round of 16 at 2018 LPRT Battle at the Alamo

More upsets at the Ladies Professional Racquetball Tour (LPRT) Battle at the Alamo in San Antonio, Texas with 13th seed Monserrat Mejia making the biggest one by defeating 4th seed Rhonda Rajsich, 9-11, 11-6, 11-7, 11-3, in the Round of 16. She’ll play another upset winner in the quarterfinals in 12th seed Maria Vargas, who beat 5th seed Alexandra Herrera, 7-11, 11-1, 11-1, 13-11.

Thirty-first seed Yasmine Sabja continued her run in the tournament, as she knocked off 15th seed Adrienne Haynes in the Round of 16, 11-8, 11-6, 11-4. Next up for Sabja will be 7th seed Natalia Mendez, who beat 10th seed Carla Muñoz, 11-6, 12-10, 11-8.

The upset that almost happened but didn’t would have been the biggest of all, as 17th seed Gabriela Martinez took LPRT #1 Paola Longoria to a fifth game with the top seed making a narrow escape, winning 11-5, 9-11, 12-10, 8-11, 11-1. After three really good games by the Guatemalan teenager, Martinez, the tie-breaker was anti-climatic, as Longoria shot better and Martinez gave her opportunities to do so.

There were some close doubles matches, but no upsets in the quarterfinals. But on the bottom of the draw there were two tie-breakers. In one, 2nd seeds Alexandra Herrera and Monserrat Mejia held off 7th seeds Natalia Mendez and Maria Vargas, 15-7, 13-15, 11-4, and in the other 3rd seeds Ana Laura Flores and Jessica Parrilla narrowly defeated 6th seeds Michelle De La Rosa and Carla Muñoz, 15-14, 9-15, 11-9.

On the top of the draw, 4th seeds Cristina Amaya and Adriana Riveros won in two games over 5th seeds Sheryl Lotts and Rhonda Rajsich, but it could hardly have been closer with the final score line reading 15-13, 15-14.

In the final match of the night, top seeds Paola Longoria and Samantha Salas beat 9th seeds Gabriela Martinez and Maria Renee Rodriguez in two straight games, 15-9, 15-2.

The quarterfinals will be Saturday morning (10 AM & 11:05 AM) and semi-finals Saturday at 4:30 PM and 5:35 PM. The singles final will be Sunday at noon with the doubles final to follow. All times Central. Check out the LPRT Facebook page for the action or the LPRT LiveStream channel.

2018 Battle at the Alamo
San Antonio, Texas - April 20-22, 2018


LPRT Singles - Round of 16 - Friday

1 Paola Longoria d. 17 Gabriela Martinez, 11-5, 9-11, 12-10, 11-8, 11-1
8 Nancy Enriquez d. 9 Cristina Amaya, 11-2, 11-6, 11-9

12 Maria Vargas d. 5 Alexandra Herrera, 7-11, 11-1, 11-1, 13-11
13 Monserrat Mejia d. 4 Rhonda Rajsich, 9-11, 11-6, 11-7, 11-3

3 Jessica Parrilla d. 19 Montserrat Perez, 9-11, 11-7, 11-8, 11-9
6 Samantha Salas d. 11 Adriana Riveros, 12-10, 11-5, 11-6

7 Natalia Mendez d. 10 Carla Muñoz, 11-6, 12-10, 11-8
31 Yasmine Sabja d. 15 Adrianne Haynes, 11-8, 11-6, 11-4

LPRT Singles - Quarterfinals - Saturday

1 Paola Longoria v. 8 Nancy Enriquez - 11:05 AM
12 Maria Vargas v. 13 Monserrat Mejia - 11:05 PM

3 Jessica Parrilla v. 6 Samantha Salas - 10 AM
7 Natalia Mendez v. 15 Adrianne Haynes - 10 AM

LPRT Doubles - Round of 16 - Friday

1 Paola Longoria & Samantha Salas - BYE
9 Gabriela Martinez & Maria Renee Rodriguez d. 8 Montserrat Perez & Erin Rivera, 15-2, 15-0

5 Sheryl Lotts & Rhonda Rajsich - BYE
4 Cristina Amaya & Adriana Riveros - BYE

3 Ana Laura Flores & Jessica Parrilla - BYE
6 Michelle De La Rosa & Carla Muñoz d. 11 Daniela Molina & Masiel Rivera, 15-9, 15-2

7 Natalia Mendez & Maria Vargas v. 10 Nancy Enriquez & Brenda Laime, 14-15, 15-13, 11-6
2 Alexandra Herrera & Monserrat Mejia - BYE

LPRT Doubles - Round of 16 - Friday

1 Paola Longoria & Samantha Salas d. 9 Gabriela Martinez & Maria Renee Rodriguez, 15-9, 15-2
4 Cristina Amaya & Adriana Riveros d. 5 Sheryl Lotts & Rhonda Rajsich, 15-13, 15-14

3 Ana Laura Flores & Jessica Parrilla d. 6 Michelle De La Rosa & Carla Muñoz, 15-14, 9-15, 11-9
2 Alexandra Herrera & Monserrat Mejia d. 7 Natalia Mendez & Maria Vargas, 15-7, 13-15, 11-4

LPRT Doubles - Quarterfinals - Saturday

1 Paola Longoria & Samantha Salas v. 4 Cristina Amaya & Adriana Riveros - 7:45 PM
2 Alexandra Herrera & Monserrat Mejia v. 3 Ana Laura Flores & Jessica Parrilla - 6:40 PM

Follow the bouncing ball….

Round of 32 at 2018 LPRT Battle of the Alamo

There were a couple of upsets in the Round of 32 at the Ladies Professional Racquetball Tour (LPRT) Battle at the Alamo in San Antonio, Texas, and the largest one is Yasmine Sabja walkover win against LPRT #2 Frédérique Lambert, who it seems wasn’t able to make it to San Antonio. Lambert was to play doubles with Jessica Parrilla, but her name has been replaced by Ana Laura Flores.

Sabja will play Adrienne Haynes in the Round of 16, as Haynes beat Erin Rivera, 11-3, 11-4, 11-3.

Two other small upsets happened in the 32s. Nineteenth seed Montserrat Perez knocked off 14th seed Maria Renee Rodriguez, 11-2, 11-9, 12-10, and 17th seed Gabriela Martinez eked out win over 16th seed Sheryl Lotts in five games, 11-3, 11-0, 11-7, 11-3, 11-4 [sic].

Martinez will take on LPRT #1 Paola Longoria in the 16s this evening, and Perez will play Parrilla.

The tournament continues Friday afternoon with the singles Round of 16. The quarterfinals will be Saturday morning (10 AM & 11:05 AM) and semi-finals Saturday at 4:30 PM and 5:35 PM. The singles final will be Sunday at noon with the doubles final to follow. All times Central. Check out the LPRT YouTube channel for the action or the LPRT LiveStream channel.

2018 Battle at the Alamo
San Antonio, Texas - April 20-22, 2018


LPRT Singles - Round of 32 - Friday

1 Paola Longoria - BYE
17 Gabriela Martinez d. 16 Sheryl Lotts, 11-3, 11-0, 11-7, 11-3, 11-4 [sic]

9 Cristina Amaya d. 24 Carolina Rivera, 11-3, 11-3, 11-4
8 Nancy Enriquez d. 25 Daniela Molina, 11-0, 11-3, 11-0

5 Alexandra Herrera d. 28 Diana Aguilar, 11-4, 11-1, 11-6
12 Maria Vargas d. 21 Lucia Gonzalez, 11-5, 11-8, 11-1

13 Monserrat Mejia d. 20 Cassandra Lee, 11-6, 11-4, 11-1
4 Rhonda Rajsich d. 29 Arrisa Hanson, 11-0, 11-1, 11-2

3 Jessica Parrilla d. 30 Maria Paz Riquelme, 11-5, 11-3, 11-3
19 Montserrat Perez d. 14 Maria Renee Rodriguez, 11-2, 11-9, 12-10

11 Adriana Riveros d. 22 Brenda Laime, 11-1, 11-0, 3-11, 11-7
6 Samantha Salas d. 27 Michelle De La Rosa, 11-4, 11-4, 11-4

7 Natalia Mendez d. 26 Masiel Rivera, forfeit
10 Carla Muñoz d. 23 Ana Laura Flores, 11-4, 11-4, 11-5

15 Adrianne Haynes d. 18 Erin Rivera, 11-3, 11-4, 11-3
31 Yasmine Sabja d. 2 Frédérique Lambert, forfeit

LPRT Singles - Round of 16 - Friday

1 Paola Longoria v. 17 Gabriela Martinez - 7:45 PM
8 Nancy Enriquez v. 9 Cristina Amaya - 5:35 PM

5 Alexandra Herrera v. 12 Maria Vargas - 3:25 PM
4 Rhonda Rajsich v. 13 Monserrat Mejia - 3:25 PM

3 Jessica Parrilla v. 19 Montserrat Perez - 4:30 PM
6 Samantha Salas v. 11 Adriana Riveros - 4:30 PM

7 Natalia Mendez v. 10 Carla Muñoz - 5:35 PM
15 Adrianne Haynes v. 31 Yasmine Sabja - 6:40 PM

LPRT Doubles - Round of 16 - Friday

1 Paola Longoria & Samantha Salas - BYE
8 Montserrat Perez & Erin Rivera v. 9 Gabriela Martinez & Maria Renee Rodriguez - 2:20 PM

5 Sheryl Lotts & Rhonda Rajsich - BYE
4 Cristina Amaya & Adriana Riveros - BYE

3 Ana Laura Flores & Jessica Parrilla - BYE
6 Michelle De La Rosa & Carla Muñoz v. 11 Daniela Molina & Masiel Rivera - 2:20 PM

7 Natalia Mendez & Maria Vargas v. 10 Nancy Enriquez & Brenda Laime - 2:20 PM
2 Alexandra Herrera & Monserrat Mejia - BYE

Follow the bouncing ball….

Thursday, April 19, 2018

2018 LPRT Battle of the Alamo - Preview

The Ladies Professional Racquetball Tour (LPRT) resumes its 2017-18 season this weekend at the Battle at the Alamo in San Antonio, Texas with one of its largest fields of the season: 31 players, including the top 13 players and 18 of the top 20. Leading the field, of course, is LPRT #1 Paola Longoria, who is undefeated this season.

However, there are two people in the field who have beat Longoria last month, as both 4th seed Rhonda Rajsich and 12th seed Maria Vargas defeated Longoria during the 2018 Pan American Championships in Temuco, Chile in March. Vargas also won the last LPRT event, which Longoria wasn’t at. Vargas’s relatively low seeding in San Antonio is due to her only playing three events this season, but she’s been as high as #2 on the LPRT in the past.

The top of the draw is loaded with Longoria, Rajsich and Vargas all on top, as well as LPRT #5 Alexandra Herrera and two former International Racquetball Federation (IRF) World Champion silver medalists in Nancy Enriquez (2010) and Gabriela Martinez (2016).

Nonetheless, there are good players on the bottom of the draw too with LPRT #2 Frédérique Lambert, #3 Jessica Parrilla, and #6 Samantha Salas. But Salas will have a more difficult than usual first round match, as she’ll play Michelle De La Rosa - née Key - in the Round of 32 on Friday morning. De La Rosa is a former top 10 LPRT player, but who is only playing her second event this season.

They’ll also play doubles in San Antonio, and Longoria and Salas have reunited after not playing together at either the last LPRT event they both attended or at the Pan Am Championships last month in Temuco, where Longoria and Herrera teamed up and won gold in Women’s Doubles. It was a surprise when they weren’t playing together, so it’s a bit of surprise that they are back together.

Longoria and Salas could have their work cut out for each other, as they may play Gabriela Martinez and Maria Renee Rodriguez in their first match, and Martinez and Rodriguez beat Longoria and Herrera in Temuco during the preliminary round and then went tie-breaker with them in the final. But for that match to happen in San Antonio, Martinez and Rodriguez will have to first beat Montserrat Perez and Erin Rivera in the Round of 16 Friday.

The tournament starts Friday morning with the singles Round of 32 with the first round of doubles happening Friday afternoon followed by the singles Round of 16 Friday afternoon. The quarterfinals will be Saturday morning (10 AM & 11:05 AM) and semi-finals Saturday at 4:30 PM and 5:35 PM. The singles final will be Sunday at noon with the doubles final to follow. All times Central. Check out the LPRT YouTube channel for the action or the LPRT LiveStream channel.

2018 Battle at the Alamo
San Antonio, Texas - April 20-22, 2018


LPRT Singles - Round of 32 - Friday

1 Paola Longoria - BYE
16 Sheryl Lotts v. 17 Gabriela Martinez - 1:15 PM

9 Cristina Amaya v. 24 Carolina Rivera - 12:10 PM
8 Nancy Enriquez v. 25 Daniela Molina - 12:10 PM

5 Alexandra Herrera v. 28 Diana Aguilar - 10 AM
12 Maria Vargas v. 21 Lucia Gonzalez - 10 AM

13 Monserrat Mejia v. 20 Cassandra Lee - 10 AM
4 Rhonda Rajsich v. 29 Arrisa Hanson - 10 AM

3 Jessica Parrilla v. 30 Maria Paz Riquelme - 11:05 AM
14 Maria Renee Rodriguez v. 19 Montserrat Perez - 11:05 AM

11 Adriana Riveros v. 22 Brenda Laime - 11:05 AM
6 Samantha Salas v. 27 Michelle De La Rosa - 11:05 AM

7 Natalia Mendez v. 26 Masiel Rivera - 12:10 PM
10 Carla Muñoz v. 23 Ana Laura Flores - 12:10 PM

15 Adrianne Haynes v. 18 Erin Rivera - 1:15 PM
2 Frédérique Lambert v. Yasmine Sabja - 1:15 PM

LPRT Doubles - Round of 16 - Friday

1 Paola Longoria & Samantha Salas - BYE
8 Montserrat Perez & Erin Rivera v. 9 Gabriela Martinez & Maria Renee Rodriguez - 2:20 PM

5 Sheryl Lotts & Rhonda Rajsich - BYE
4 Cristina Amaya & Adriana Riveros - BYE

3 Frédérique Lambert & Jessica Parrilla - BYE
6 Michelle De La Rosa & Carla Muñoz v. 11 Daniela Molina & Masiel Rivera - 2:20 PM

7 Natalia Mendez & Maria Vargas v. 10 Nancy Enriquez & Brenda Laime - 2:20 PM
2 Alexandra Herrera & Monserrat Mejia - BYE

Follow the bouncing ball….

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Mexico defeats USA to win 2018 WRT Challenge Cup

Mexico defeated the USA, three matches to two, to win the World Racquetball Tour's (WRT's) first Challenge Cup on the weekend in Fremont, California. The Challenge Cup saw two Mexican players play two USA players in a team competition. Jake Bredenbeck and David Horn represented the USA with Rodrigo Montoya and Alejandro Cardona representing Mexico in a format like that used in Davis Cup (men) and Federation Cup (women) tennis competitions with each player playing singles twice as well as doubles. Mexico and USA split their first singles matches, and then the USA won the doubles to lead 2-1. But Mexico came back to win the event with two victories in the last two singles matches.

They split the matches in the first round of singles, as Bredenbeck defeated Cardona, 12-15, 15-1, 11-3, and Montoya beat Horn, 15-3, 15-7.

In tennis, it’s often said that doubles decides the winner in Davis Cup or Fed Cup battles, and in this Challenge Cup the doubles winner was going to be up 2-1 after they split the singles matches. The USA took the doubles match, but only narrowly, as Bredenbeck and Horn won 15-9, 4-15, 11-9, over Cardona and Montoya.

The Americans were ahead early at 5-1 and 8-3, but the Mexicans came back and took a lead at 9-8. But the USA got a sideout, and then won three straight points to end it, 11-9. Mexico took a timeout at 10-9, but to no avail. Thus, the USA held the advantage going into the second round of singles on Sunday.

In the second round of singles (or reverse singles), Cardona and Horn played first, and as in the doubles, they went breaker with Cardona squeaking out a one point victory, 15-13, 11-15, 11-10. In game three, Horn had the early lead at 5-2, but seemed to pick up a leg injury that limited him in the mid-game, as Cardona took the lead at 8-5, and then 9-7.

But Horn kept fighting, trying to do as much as he could given his condition, and got the serve back and tied the score 9-9. But Cardona took the serve back, and got to 10-9 with a solid forehand down the line shot. Horn fought off the first match point with a forehand shot from left to right, and then hit a crack serve on the right side that was just over the line for an ace.

He tried to do it again, but was short. Cardona won the rally after Horn’s second serve with a backhand cross court pass. The match winning point came as Cardona hit a second serve Z to the left side, and Horn put his backhand return into the floor.

Cardona’s win meant the Challenge Cup came down to the last match, and Montoya again came through for Mexico - just as he had in the first round of singles - as he beat Bredenbeck, 15-8, 15-12.

By the current WRT rankings, the USA should have been favoured, as Bredenbeck is #1 and Horn #2 with Montoya #4 and Cardona #5, although both the Mexicans have been ranked #1 in the past, as has Horn. Thus, the players were all close in skill level, which made for some great matches.

Thoughts on Team Competitions

The WRT Challenge Cup was an interesting competition, but it’s something we’ve seen before in racquetball. The Men’s and Women’s Team Competitions at the International Racquetball Federation (IRF) World Championships used to be a best of three matches: 2 singles and 1 doubles, although they have eliminated that at the last two World Championships and instead awarded points for player performances in singles and doubles to determine the team winners. But while Worlds doesn’t have a true team competition anymore, the 2015 Pan American Games did.

However team competitions are fun. Often in an individual sport like racquetball it can be awkward to cheer for one player over another, because that seems like a personal insult against one of them. But when the players are on teams, especially representing their countries, then it becomes clear who to cheer for - or against, which no longer feels like a personal insult to a player.

One twist on this Challenge Cup would be to expand it to more than four players, and maybe more than two countries. Perhaps the Intercollegiate model that uses a team of six players could be adopted, so that there were six singles matches in round one, then three doubles matches, then a reverse six singles matches to finish off.

And you could have a team of six USA-Canada players against a team of six Latin American players to make a broader field, which would make it more like golf's Ryder Cup or President's Cup, although both the USA and Mexico could likely come up with six quality players on their own.

Upcoming WRT events

The next two WRT events will be the Georgia Open in Atlanta, May 17-20, and then the Torneo Internacional in San Luis Potosi, Mexico, June 14-16. If you missed any of the action from Fremont, check out the WRT Facebook page or their YouTube channel.

2018 WRT Challenge Cup, April 14-15
Fremont, California


Singles - Round 1

Jake Bredenbeck (USA) d. Alejandro Cardona (Mexico), 12-15, 15-1, 11-3
Rodrigo Montoya (Mexico) d. David Horn (USA), 15-3, 15-7

Doubles - Round 2

USA d. Mexico, 15-9, 4-15, 11-9

Singles - Round 3

Alejandro Cardona (Mexico) d. David Horn (USA), 15-13, 11-15, 11-10
Rodrigo Montoya (Mexico) d. Jake Bredenbeck (USA), 15-8, 15-12

Follow the bouncing ball….

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Landa wins 2018 IRT Cincinnati tournament, joins exclusive club

Alejandro Landa won his 2nd International Racquetball Tour (IRT) tournament Sunday, when he defeated Alvaro Beltran, 11-15, 11-7, 11-8, in the final of the IRT Mercedes Benz of Ft. Mitchell Raising Some Racquet for Kids tournament in Cincinnati, Ohio. Landa won his first career IRT event earlier this season at the Lewis Drug Pro-Am in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

The win lifts Landa into elite company, as he now has a winning record in IRT finals (2-1). According to the Pro Racquetball Stats database only eight other players (who have been in multiple finals) have winning records in finals.

Unsurprisingly, Kane Waselenchuk has the best record in final matches, winning an astounding 109 times against 10 losses (91.6%). But the player with the second best final winning percentage may be a surprise, as it’s Brett Harnett, who won 16 times against 5 losses over 21 finals (76.2%). That’s ahead of Marty Hogan (60-22, 73.2%), Sudsy Monchik (43-24, 64.2%), Cliff Swain (71-42, 62.8%), Charlie Brumfield (16-11, 59.3%), Gregg Peck (4-3, 57.1%) and Jason Mannino (22-18, 55%).

(note: Sebastian Franco and Charlie Pratt have 100% records in finals, but have only played once).

Early in the final, it did not look like Landa was going to join that company, as Beltran played very well in game one, and controlled it most of the way. But it was a long game. For example with Beltran up 9-6, the game stalled, as they played twelve rallies at that score, and after eleven of them, Beltran took a timeout.

Landa broke the deadlock, but he was only able to score once, making it 9-7, before Beltran took the serve back with a forehand pinch return off a Landa drive serve to the right side. That led to four unanswered points, as Beltran made it 13-7.

However, Landa responded with a run of three points to cut the deficit to 13-10. But another winning serve return by Beltran - this time a backhand pinch off a drive Z to the left - stopped Landa’s run.

They traded a few sideouts, and then Beltran made it 14-10 with a great backhand splat shot. Beltran’s backhand pinch shots were very good in game one. Landa did prevent Beltran’s first game point with a forehand return down the line off one of Beltran’s signature lob serves to the right side.

Landa put one more point on the board to make it 14-11, but then a backhand cross court shot got Beltran the serve back. He ended the game with a backhand shot that hit Landa, and the referee judged it to be a straight in shot, so Landa was given a penalty hinder, and Beltran got his 15th point, winning game one 15-11.

Game two started out like game one, as Beltran took the early lead at 5-1. But Landa came back and tied it at 6-6. They were back and forth in the mid-part of game two with 17 rallies taking place to score 4 points in going from 6-6 to 9-7 in favour of Landa.

But from there, Landa rolled, scoring six unanswered points with Beltran serving only once during that period. After being down early in game two, Landa outscored Beltran 14-2, and he definitely had momentum going into the tie-breaker.

In the breaker, Landa’s momentum continued, as he went up 6-1, although that took 27 rallies, so it didn’t happen quickly. Beltran kept fighting, but he didn’t get within two until Landa was already on game point at 10-8.

After being unsuccessful on his first two match points, Landa called a timeout before his third. When play resumed a long rally ensued, which included a great diving get by Landa, but it was ended by Beltran with a flat forehand pinch shot.

But Beltran couldn’t capitalize on that opportunity, as Landa drove a serve return into the middle that forced Beltran to try to hit it between his legs, which resulted in a skip.

On match point #4, Landa won it with a backhand down the line that was just out of Beltran’s reach. He had lob served to the left side, and Beltran returned it straight in, but the return was in the middle of the court, which allowed Landa to drive it down the left side close to the wall, and out of Beltran’s reach.

If you missed the action from Cincinnati, you can see some of it via the IRT YouTube channel, although the latest videos are currently mislabelled as “2018 Shamrock Shootout.”

The 2017-18 IRT season concludes later this month at the Florida IRT Regional Championships in Sarasota, Florida, April 26-29. But the IRT players are also participating in the World Doubles Open Championship in Denver, May 2-6.

2018 IRT Mercedes Benz of Ft. Mitchell Raising Some Racquet for Kids, April 5-8, 2018
Cincinnati, Ohio


Final

4) Alejandro Landa d. 3) Alvaro Beltran, 11-15, 15-7, 11-8

Follow the bouncing ball….

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Beltran & Landa to square off for 2018 IRT Cincinnati crown

Alejandro Landa will have a chance to win his 2nd tournament of the season and 2nd of his career Sunday at the International Racquetball Tour (IRT) Mercedes Benz of Ft. Mitchell Raising Some Racquet for Kids tournament in Cincinnati, Ohio, as he upset top seed Rocky Carson in the semi-finals, 8-15, 15-6, 11-5. Landa won his first career IRT event in January at the Lewis Drug Pro-Am in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

Alvaro Beltran will face Landa in the final, as Beltran defeated Mario Mercado, 15-13, 15-10, in the other semi-final.

The final will be noon Sunday (eastern time), and can be seen on the IRT Network.

2018 IRT Mercedes Benz of Ft. Mitchell Raising Some Racquet for Kids, April 5-8, 2018
Cincinnati, Ohio


Semi-finals - Saturday

4) Alejandro Landa d. 1) Rocky Carson, 8-15 15-6, 11-5
3) Alvaro Beltran d. 7) Mario Mercado, 15-13, 15-10

Final - Sunday

3) Alvaro Beltran v. 4) Alejandro Landa - Noon

Follow the bouncing ball….

No upsets in quarterfinals at 2018 IRT Cincinnati tournament

There was some good play in the quarterfinals of the International Racquetball Tour (IRT) Mercedes Benz of Ft. Mitchell Raising Some Racquet for Kids tournament in Cincinnati, Ohio, but nothing dramatic and no upsets, as the higher seeded players all moved on to the semi-finals in two straight games, including top seed Rocky Carson, who beat 8th seed Sebastian Franco, 15-12, 15-7.

Carson will play 4th seed Alejandro Landa in the semis, as Landa defeated Jose Diaz, 15-9, 15-3.

The other semi-final will see 3rd seed Alvaro Beltran take on 7th seed Mario Mercado. In the quarters, Beltran beat Samuel Murray, 15-5, 15-9, and Mercado took out Gerardo Franco (no relation to Sebastian), 15-11, 15-9.

The semi-finals will be 5 PM and 6 PM Saturday, and can be seen on IRT Network. The final will be noon Sunday. All times eastern.

2018 IRT Mercedes Benz of Ft. Mitchell Raising Some Racquet for Kids, April 5-8, 2018
Cincinnati, Ohio


Quarterfinals - Saturday

1) Rocky Carson d. 8) Sebastian Franco, 15-12, 15-7
4) Alejandro Landa d. Jose Diaz, 15-9, 15-3

3) Alvaro Beltran d. 6) Samuel Murray, 15-5, 15-9
7) Mario Mercado d. Gerardo Franco, 15-11, 15-9

Semi-finals - Saturday

1) Rocky Carson v. 4) Alejandro Landa - 6 PM
3) Alvaro Beltran v. 7) Mario Mercado - 5 PM

Follow the bouncing ball….

Friday, April 6, 2018

Franco defeats De La Rosa to reach quarterfinals at 2018 IRT Cincinnati

Another round, another young Mexican making some noise at the International Racquetball Tour (IRT) Mercedes Benz of Ft. Mitchell Raising Some Racquet for Kids tournament in Cincinnati, Ohio, as Gerardo Franco upset the 2nd seed Daniel De La Rosa, 14-15, 15-10, 11-10, to reach the quarterfinals for the second time in his young career.

Franco will play Mario Mercado in the quarters, as Mercado defeated Felipe Camacho, 15-13, 15-10.

Jose Diaz caused the other upset of the Round of 16 Friday, as he beat 5th seed Jansen Allen, 15-9, 15-8. Diaz will face 4th seed Alejandro Landa in the quarters, as Landa won a tie-breaker against another young Mexican, Sebastian Fernandez, 14-15, 15-3, 11-4.

In their match, Franco led De La Rosa for the second half of game one, and had game point at 14-10. But Franco couldn’t close it out, as the veteran De La Rosa came back to steal the game, 15-14. Franco again led early in game two, and reached 14-10, but this time there was no comeback from De La Rosa.

In the breaker, Franco once again took the early lead at 5-1. But this time De La Rosa responded sooner, and he tied the game at 6-6, and then led 7-6. Franco’s turn to respond, and he did by regaining the lead with three straight points to make it 9-7.

De La Rosa managed to tie it again, getting to 9-9 by diving to hit a forehand cross court pass shot. Franco called a timeout, and when play resumed he took the serve back with a great backhand pinch shot. Franco was hitting his backhand pinch very well in this match, and hit another to make it 10-9.

Franco drove serve to the left on his first match point, and De La Rosa hit a great backhand splat return winner to get the serve back. On the next rally, De La Rosa held up believing Franco was in the way of his shot, and the referee agreed, assessing a penalty hinder against Franco and putting De La Rosa on match point at 10-10.

But Franco fought off that point with a reaction backhand rekill that was flat, which gave Franco his second match point. He again drove serve to the left, which was short. On second serve, he hit a lob to the left, and a rally ensued. De La Rosa drove the ball down the right side, and Franco dove to keep it in play, hitting the ball to the ceiling. That led to a set up off the back wall in the back right corner, and De La Rosa skipped his forehand shot down the line.

It was a crucial error that gave the game to Franco, 11-10, and match, 2-1.

The quarterfinals will be 10 and 11 AM Saturday morning, and can be seen on IRT Network as well as the IRT Facebook page and YouTube, according to a tweet from the IRT. The semi-finals will be 5 PM and 6 PM Saturday with the final at noon Sunday. All times eastern.

2018 IRT Mercedes Benz of Ft. Mitchell Raising Some Racquet for Kids, April 5-8, 2018
Cincinnati, Ohio


Round of 16 - Friday

1) Rocky Carson d. Thomas Carter, 15-5, 15-6
8) Sebastian Franco d. David Horn, 15-14, 15-12

Jose Diaz d. 5) Jansen Allen, 15-9, 15-8
4) Alejandro Landa d. Sebastian Fernandez, 14-15, 15-3, 11-4

3) Alvaro Beltran d. Adam Manilla, 15-6, 15-13
6) Samuel Murray d. Hiroshi Shimizu, 15-8, 15-2

7) Mario Mercado d. Felipe Camacho, 15-13, 15-10
2) Gerardo Franco d. Daniel De La Rosa, 14-15, 15-10, 11-10

Quarterfinals - Saturday

1) Rocky Carson v. 8) Sebastian Franco - 11 AM
4) Alejandro Landa v. Jose Diaz - 11 AM

3) Alvaro Beltran v. 6) Samuel Murray - 10 AM
7) Mario Mercado v. Gerardo Franco - 10 AM

Follow the bouncing ball….

Fernandez upsets Bredenbeck in 32s at IRT Cincinnati

There have been a few surprises at the International Racquetball Tour (IRT) Mercedes Benz of Ft. Mitchell Raising Some Racquet for Kids tournament in Cincinnati, Ohio, but perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised that it’s young Mexican players who have creating those surprises. The greatest of which is Sebastian Fernandez’s upset win over Jake Bredenbeck, 15-13, 8-15, 11-10. The win puts the Mexican teenager into the Round of 16 for the third time in his fifth career IRT event.

Joining Fernandez in the 16s is his compatriot Gerardo Franco, who beat Robert Collins, 15-8, 15-3. Franco will play Daniel De La Rosa in the Round of 16.

There was one other upset in the last round of qualifying, but Japanese veteran Hiroshi Shimizu got the win over Charles Pratt by default. Nonetheless, Shimizu is through to the 16s, where he’ll face Canadian Samuel Murray.

The Round of 16 begins 6 PM Friday evening, and can be seen on IRT Network as well as the IRT Facebook page and YouTube, according to a tweet from the IRT. The quarterfinals will be 10 and 11 AM Saturday morning. The semi-finals will be 5 PM and 6 PM Saturday with the final at noon Sunday. All times eastern.

2018 IRT Mercedes Benz of Ft. Mitchell Raising Some Racquet for Kids, April 5-8, 2018
Cincinnati, Ohio


Qualifying Round 2 / Round of 32 - Friday morning

Q8) Thomas Carter d. Nicholas Riffel, 15-6, 14-15, 11-2
Q1) David Horn d. Mauricio Zelada, 15-13, 15-11

Q4) Jose Diaz d. Troy Warigon, 15-12, 15-9
Q5) Sebastian Fernandez d. Jake Bredenbeck, 15-13, 8-15, 11-10

Q6) Adam Manilla d. Scott McClellan, 15-2, 15-6
Q3) Hiroshi Shimizu d. Charles Pratt, forfeit

Q2) Felipe Camacho v. Miguel Rodriguez Jr., 15-6, 15-13
Q7) Gerardo Franco d. Robert Collins, 15-8, 15-3

Round of 16 - Friday evening

1) Rocky Carson v. Thomas Carter - 7 PM
8) Sebastian Franco v. David Horn - 7 PM

5) Jansen Allen v. Jose Diaz - 7 PM
4) Alejandro Landa v. Sebastian Fernandez - 7 PM

3) Alvaro Beltran v. Adam Manilla - 6 PM
6) Samuel Murray v. Hiroshi Shimizu - 6 PM

7) Mario Mercado v. Felipe Camacho - 6 PM
2) Daniel De La Rosa v. Gerardo Franco - 6 PM

Follow the bouncing ball….

Round of 64 at the 2018 IRT Raising Some Racquet for Kids tournament

Japanese veteran Hiroshi Shimizu defeated Fabrizio Mora, 11-15, 15-8, 11-7, in the Round of 64 at the International Racquetball Tour (IRT) Mercedes Benz of Ft. Mitchell Raising Some Racquet for Kids tournament in Cincinnati, Ohio. The win pits Shimizu against Charles Pratt in the Round of 32 Friday morning.

Look for the action on the IRT Network from the 2nd Round of Qualifying on Friday morning at 11 AM with the Round of 16 from 6 PM Friday afternoon. The quarterfinals will be 10 and 11 AM Saturday morning. The semi-finals will be at 5 PM and 6 PM Saturday with the final at noon Sunday. All times eastern. For action on Thursday, check out the IRT Facebook page.

2018 IRT Mercedes Benz of Ft. Mitchell Raising Some Racquet for Kids, April 5-8, 2018
Cincinnati, Ohio


Qualifying Round 1 - Thursday evening

Mauricio Zelada d. Juan Martinez III, 15-6, 15-7
Troy Warigon d. Rom Dresbach, 15-10, 15-2
Sebastian Fernandez d. Erick Cuevas Fernandez, 15-5, 15-9

Hiroshi Shimizu d. Fabrizio Mora, 11-15, 15-8, 11-7
Miguel Rodriguez Jr. d. Ferd Samson, 15-5, 15-6

Qualifying Round 2 - Friday morning

Q8) Thomas Carter v. Nicholas Riffel - Noon
Q1) David Horn v. Mauricio Zelada - Noon

Q4) Jose Diaz v. Troy Warigon - Noon
Q5) Jake Bredenbeck v. Sebastian Fernandez - Noon

Q6) Adam Manilla v. Scott McClellan - 11 AM
Q3) Charles Pratt v. Hiroshi Shimizu - 11 AM

Q2) Felipe Camacho v. Miguel Rodriguez Jr. - 11 AM
Q7) Robert Collins v. Gerardo Franco - 11 AM

Round of 16 - Friday

1) Rocky Carson v. Q8 - 7 PM
8) Sebastian Franco v. Q1 - 7 PM

5) Jansen Allen v. Q4 - 7 PM
4) Alejandro Landa v. Q5 - 7 PM

3) Alvaro Beltran v. Q6 - 6 PM
6) Samuel Murray v. Q3 - 6 PM

7) Mario Mercado v. Q2 - 6 PM
2) Daniel De La Rosa v. Q7 - 6 PM

Follow the bouncing ball….

Thursday, April 5, 2018

2018 IRT Cincinnati - Preview

The penultimate event of the International Racquetball Tour (IRT) 2017-18 season begins today in Cincinnati, Ohio, where the Mercedes Benz of Ft. Mitchell Raising Some Racquet for Kids event takes place. Rocky Carson is the top seed in Cincinnati, as Kane Waselenchuk is yet to return to the IRT since injuring his knee in January.

The IRT did come out with a release on March 22 indicating Waselenchuk was cleared to play after having a grade 2 MCL sprain. But results from an MRI on his knee indicate he has a cyst on his meniscus that “will require surgery in the future,” although playing on it now won’t cause more damage. So hopefully Waselenchuk will be back in action soon, but it seems this weekend was too soon.

The IRT is on a streak. Six (6!) different players have won the last six IRT events. Will that streak continue? That streak is even more incredible considering that Rocky Carson and Alvaro Beltran - the IRT’s #2 and #4 players - are not included in it. The streak started in November with Waselenchuk, then Charles Pratt won in December, Daniel De La Rosa and Alejandro Landa in January, and Sebastian Franco and Andree Parrilla in March.

One thing that won’t happen this weekend is there won’t be back to back winners on tour, as Parrilla is not in Cincinnati, although David Horn, who was runner up to Parrilla in Lombard, Illinois, is there.

Cincinnati is the second last event of the season with the Florida IRT Regional Championships April 26-29 set to be the last one. Carson may be able to finish as the #1 player this season, given that Waselenchuk has missed five events. But Carson has a lot of points to defend, because he won the Ohio event last season and finished second in Florida. Waselenchuk missed Ohio last season and won Florida, so he doesn’t have as many points to defend.

All in all it should be an exciting weekend of IRT racquetball, and we’re looking forward to it.

Look for the action on the IRT Network from the 2nd Round of Qualifying on Friday morning at 11 AM with the Round of 16 from 6 PM Friday afternoon. The quarterfinals will be 10 and 11 AM Saturday morning. The semi-finals will be at 5 PM and 6 PM Saturday with the final at noon Sunday. All times eastern. For action on Thursday, check out the IRT Facebook page.

2018 IRT Mercedes Benz of Ft. Mitchell Raising Some Racquet for Kids, April 5-8, 2018
Cincinnati, Ohio


Qualifying Round 1 - Thursday evening

Mauricio Zelada v. Juan Martinez III - 6 PM
Troy Warigon v. Rom Dresbach - 6 PM
Sebastian Fernandez v. Erick Cuevas Fernandez - 6 PM

Fabrizio Mora v. Hiroshi Shimizu - 6 PM
Miguel Rodriguez Jr. v. Ferd Samson - 8 PM

Qualifying Round 2 - Friday morning

Q8) Thomas Carter v. Nicholas Riffel - Noon
Q1) David Horn v. Mauricio Zelada or Juan Martinez III - Noon

Q4) Jose Diaz v. Troy Warigon or Rom Desbach - Noon
Q5) Jake Bredenbeck v. Sebastian Fernandez or Erick Cuevas Fernandez - Noon

Q6) Adam Manilla v. Scott McClellan - 11 AM
Q3) Charles Pratt v. Fabrizio Mora or Hiroshi Shimizu - 11 AM

Q2) Felipe Camacho v. Miguel Rodriguez Jr. v. Ferd Samson - 11 AM
Q7) Robert Collins v. Gerardo Franco - 11 AM

Round of 16 - Friday

1) Rocky Carson v. Q8 - 7 PM
8) Sebastian Franco v. Q1 - 7 PM

5) Jansen Allen v. Q4 - 7 PM
4) Alejandro Landa v. Q5 - 7 PM

3) Alvaro Beltran v. Q6 - 6 PM
6) Samuel Murray v. Q3 - 6 PM

7) Mario Mercado v. Q2 - 6 PM
2) Daniel De La Rosa v. Q7 - 6 PM

Follow the bouncing ball….

Sunday, April 1, 2018

2018 Pan American Championships - Results Summary

The 2018 Pan American Racquetball Championships concluded Saturday in Temuco, Chile, and we have a summary of the medalists below, as well as the team points standings. It’s no surprise that Mexico topped the standings for both men’s and women’s competitions (and thus overall), and few would have been surprised by the strong showings by Bolivia and the USA, who were 2nd and 3rd in both the men’s and overall team standings. In the women’s standings, USA was also 3rd with Bolivia 5th.

However, few would likely have predicted Guatemala to come 2nd in the women’s standings. But a silver medal showing in Women’s Doubles by Gabriela Martinez and Maria Renee Rodriguez and a bronze medal in Women’s Singles for Martinez helped put them there, as well as put them 4th in the overall standings.

Future International Events

The International Racquetball Federation (IRF) announced that the 2018 World Championships, which were to be in Haining, China, have been moved to Cali, Colombia, August, 10-18. Apparently, the local Chinese organizing committee had some trouble securing government permits, so they were unable to host the event.

But before that the South American Games begin late next month in Cochabamba, Bolivia, May 26-June 6. Then the Central American and Caribbean Games will be in Barranquilla, Colombia, July 19-August 3. Racquetball is scheduled to be held at the beginning of those games, so players who compete in Barranquilla and at Worlds in Cali will have about two weeks between the competitions.

The 2018 World Junior Championships are to be in San Luis Potosi, Mexico, November 10-17, with the 2019 Pan American Championships in Chihuahua, Mexico, which should run April 13-20, 2019.

XXXI Pan American Racquetball Championships
Temuco, Chile - March 24-31, 2018


Women's Singles

GOLD - Rhonda Rajsich (USA)
SILVER - Paola Longoria (Mexico)
BRONZE - Gabriela Martinez (Guatemala) and Samantha Salas (Mexico)

Men's Singles

GOLD - Carlos Keller (Bolivia)
SILVER - David Horn (USA)
BRONZE - Rodrigo Montoya (Mexico) and Andree Parrilla (Mexico)

Women's Doubles

GOLD - Alexandra Herrera & Paola Longoria (Mexico)
SILVER - Gabriela Martinez & Maria Renee Rodriguez (Guatemala)
BRONZE - Stefanny Barrios & Jenny Daza (Bolivia) and Carla Muñoz & Josefa Parada (Chile)

Men’s Doubles

GOLD - Alvaro Beltran & Rodrigo Montoya (Mexico)
SILVER - Roland Keller & Conrrado Moscoso (Bolivia)
BRONZE - Nicolas Bousquet & Samuel Murray (Canada) and Juan Francisco Cueva & Jose Daniel Ugalde (Ecuador)

Women's Team

1) Mexico - 416
2) Guatemala - 276
3) USA - 268
4) Argentina - 184
5) Bolivia - 180
6) Chile - 150
7) Colombia - 122
8) Canada - 100
9) Ecuador - 82
10) Cuba - 76
11) Costa Rica - 28

Men's Team

1) Mexico - 392
2) Bolivia - 348
3) USA - 218
4) Canada - 188
5) Ecuador - 168
6) Costa Rica - 156
7) Guatemala - 94
7) Chile - 94
7) Cuba - 94
10) Argentina - 76
10) Colombia - 76
12) Honduras - 48

Overall Team

1) Mexico - 808
2) Bolivia - 528
3) USA - 486
4) Guatemala - 370
5) Canada - 288
6) Argentina - 260
7) Ecuador - 250
8) Chile - 244
9) Colombia - 198
10) Costa Rica - 184
11) Cuba - 170
12) Honduras - 48

Follow the bouncing ball....