Monday, January 27, 2020

Montoya & Muñoz win on the weekend & Landa switches countries

Rodrigo Montoya and Carla Muñoz had Open Division wins on the weekend. Montoya won Men’s Open at the 42nd Lewis Drug Pro-Am in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and Muñoz won Women’s Open at the Sweet Caroline Pro-Am in Greenville, South Carolina.

In Sioux Falls, Montoya defeated Gerardo Franco, 15-10, 15-11, in the final. He reached the final with a win over Mario Mercado, 15-5, 15-9, in one semi-final, while Franco beat Andres Acuña in the other semi, 15-11, 15-6.

In Greenville, Muñoz needed three games to take the title, as she lost the first game to Kelani Bailey Lawrence, but came back to win, 8-15, 15-4, 11-2. In the semi-finals, Muñoz beat Cristina Amaya, 15-9, 15-5, while Bailey Lawrence defeated Valeria Centellas, 15-9, 15-4.

Landa switches countries

The big off court news from the weekend was Alejandro Landa switching country affiliation from Mexico to the USA. He’s registered to play in next month’s USA Racquetball National Doubles Championships in Tempe, Arizona, where he’ll play doubles with Sudsy Monchik. Landa’s also registered to play US Team Qualifying Singles.

That’s a huge change. Landa was the 2017 Pan American Champion in both Men’s Singles and Men’s Doubles (with Polo Gutierrez), as well as 2016 Pan Am Champion in Men’s Doubles with Javier Moreno. He’s also won four titles on the International Racquetball Tour (IRT), and is the IRT’s #2 ranked player.

Someone who is a proven winner changing countries is a major deal.

Landa has lived in the USA since he was a teenager, so he must be a dual citizen to make this change. The change probably stems from Mexico not selecting Landa to play in last year’s Pan American Games in Lima, Peru.

He had won their National Team Selection Event last spring, defeating Alvaro Beltran in the final. However, at the 2019 Pan American Championships, Landa lost in the quarterfinals to Andres Acuña, while Beltran made the semi-finals. That led Mexico to choose Beltran and Rodrigo Montoya - who was only a quarterfinalist in the Mexican selection event, but was part of their Pan Am Games Men’s Doubles team (with Javier Mar) - to play Men’s Singles in Lima.

Montoya and Beltran were the finalists in Lima with Montoya defeating Beltran for the gold medal, so it’s difficult to say that Mexico didn’t select two good players. Yet the process seems to have treated Landa unfairly, and he was understandably upset about being passed over.

Thus, we understand that Landa petitioned the Mexican racquetball federation to release him so he could play for another country: the USA. From a competitive perspective, the depth of talent currently in the USA is shallower than in Mexico, where it only seems to be getting deeper, especially with a young player like Eduardo Portillo getting to his first IRT final on the weekend.

So Landa’s switch could benefit both his chances and the USA’s chances to medal at future international events, including the International Racquetball Federation (IRF) World Championships this summer. Those who might be unhappy about this change are the players who were US Team hopefuls, which might include players who have been on the team once or were hoping to get on the team for the first time in the near future.

The addendum to Landa’s switch is that he picked up an injury to his right arm - his racquet arm - in Sioux Falls on the weekend that led him to default his quarterfinal match against Samuel Murray in the middle of game two. Landa and Murray were scheduled to play a semi-final doubles match after their singles match, but they chose not to play that match at all due to Landa’s injury.

Landa is registered for this weekend’s IRT event in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin, and the USAR National Doubles are the following weekend. But his injury jeopardizes his participation in both tournaments.

Coming up

As mentioned above, the IRT will play the 3rd of back to back to back events this weekend, when they gather in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin for the Lou Bradley Memorial tournament. The Lou - as it’s affectionately called - is a long running event, and has been an IRT event for several years. But this is the first year the Lou is a Tier 1 event. A field of 35 players are registered to compete, including the top 13 ranked players, so it should be a great event.

Next weekend the USA Racquetball National Doubles Championships happens in Tempe, Arizona, and the 2nd Racquetball Canada National Team Selection Event will take place as part of the 46th Annual Keystone Classic in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

2020 Lewis Drug Pro-Am, January 23-26, 2020
Sioux Falls, South Dakota


3) Rodrigo Montoya d. 4) Gerardo Franco, 15-10, 15-11


4) Gerardo Franco d. 1) Andres Acuña, 15-11, 15-6
3) Rodrigo Montoya d. 2) Mario Mercado, 15-5, 15-9

Men’s Open - Quarterfinals

1) Andres Acuña d. 9) Anthony Martin, 15-11, 15-3
4) Gerardo Franco d. 5) Tim Landeryou, 4-15, 15-3, 11-4

3) Rodrigo Montoya d. 11) Lee Connell, 15-10, 15-9
2) Mario Mercado d. 10) Andrés Gómez, 15-9, 15-3

2020 Sweet Caroline Pro-Am, January 24-26, 2020
Greenville, South Carolina


4) Carla Muñoz d. 2) Kelani Bailey Lawrence, 8-15, 15-4, 11-2


4) Carla Muñoz d. 1) Cristina Amaya, 15-9, 15-5
2) Kelani Bailey Lawrence d. 3) Valeria Centellas, 15-9, 15-4

Women’s Open - Quarterfinals

1) Cristina Amaya d. 8) Angelica Barrios, 15-3, 15-9
4) Carla Muñoz d. 5) Sheryl Lotts, 15-13, 15-7

3) Valeria Centellas d. 6) Susana Acosta, 15-9, 15-7
2) Kelani Bailey Lawrence d. 7) Maria Renee Rodriguez, 15-1, 15-6

Follow the bouncing ball….

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