Tuesday, June 6, 2023

Countries qualifying for 2023 Pan Am Games & 2023 Central American & Caribbean Games

The International Racquetball Federation (IRF) has officially released the list of qualifying countries for the 2023 Pan American Games and 2023 Central American and Caribbean Games. These games are both quadrennial events, so they happen every four years, and are part of the Olympic cycle of events that lead up to an Olympics.

The 2023 Pan Am Games will be held in Santiago, Chile, and the 2023 Central American Games will be in San Salvador, El Salvador. Countries qualified based on their performances at the 2023 Pan American Championships in Guatemala City, Guatemala in April.

Usually, the Central American and Caribbean Games are held the year before the Pan Am Games, as the former is supposed to be a building block to the latter, which is supposed to be a building block to the Olympics, but the COVID-19 pandemic led to Panama - the original host of the 2022 Central American and Caribbean Games - pulling out of hosting. That necessitated a search for a new host, and a one year delay in the games.

San Salvador, El Salvador was chosen as the new host for the 2023 Central American and Caribbean Games, but seven sports are being played in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, due to a lack of venues in El Salvador. Racquetball - along with tae kwon do, modern pentathlon, equestrian, canoeing, shooting and field hockey - will be played in the Dominican.

The countries that qualified for the 2023 Pan American Games are:

Men’s teams - 1) Chile (as host), 2) Bolivia, 3) Mexico, 4) United States, 5) Argentina, 6) Costa Rica, 7) Canada, 8) Ecuador, 9) Guatemala, 10) Cuba

Women’s teams - 1) Chile (as host), 2) Mexico, 3) Argentina, 4) Bolivia, 5) Guatemala, 6) United States, 7) Colombia, 8) Ecuador, 9) Costa Rica, 10) Canada

The first four qualifiers can send 3 athletes, and the next four countries can send 2 athletes to Chile. So, for example, the United States can send 3 men and 2 women, while Argentina can send 3 women and 2 men.

The countries that qualified for the 2023 Central American and Caribbean Games are:

Men’s teams - 1) Dominican Republic (as host), 2) Mexico, 3) Costa Rica, 4) Guatemala, 5) Cuba, 6) Honduras, 7) Colombia, 8) Puerto Rico

Women’s teams - 1) Dominican Republic (as host), 2) Mexico, 3) Guatemala, 4) Colombia, 5) Costa Rica, 6) Cuba, 7) Honduras, 8) Puerto Rico

Countries may be able to send more athletes than under the rules for the Pan Am Games. Again, under those rules, the first four qualifiers can send 3 athletes, and the next four countries can send 2 athletes to the Dominican. So, for example, Costa Rica can send 3 men and 2 women, while Colombia can send 3 women and 2 men. But as it’s a smaller games, perhaps more athletes can be selected to go.

The 2023 Central American and Caribbean Games will be held from June 23 to July 8, with the racquetball competition taking place from June 24 to July 1 in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. The 2023 Pan American Games will take place October 20 to November 5 with racquetball tentatively scheduled to take place at the start of the games: October 20-26.

Below is a summary of who made the podium at the 2023 Pan American Championships to refresh your memory. Also, if you want to see any of the finals from those championships (as well as some matches from earlier in the tournament), check out the IRF YouTube channel.

XXXIV Pan American Racquetball Championships
Guatemala City, Guatemala - April 1-8, 2023

Medalist Summary

Women’s Singles

Gold - Montserrat Mejia (Mexico)
Silver - María José Vargas (Argentina)
Bronze - Natalia Mendez (Argentina) and Maricruz Ortiz (Costa Rica)

Men's Singles

Gold - Conrrado Moscoso (Bolivia)
Silver - Carlos Keller (Bolivia)
Bronze - Jake Bredenbeck (USA) and Diego Garcia (Argentina)

Women's Doubles

Gold - Alexandra Herrera & Montserrat Mejia (Mexico)
Silver - Gabriela Martinez & Maria Renee Rodriguez (Guatemala)
Bronze - Valeria Centellas & Natalia Mendez (Argentina) and Angelica Barrios & Jenny Daza (Bolivia)

Men's Doubles

Gold - Rodrigo Montoya & Eduardo Portillo (Mexico)
Silver - Kadim Carrasco & Conrrado Moscoso (Bolivia)
Bronze - Jake Bredenbeck & Sam Bredenbeck (USA) and Andres Acuña & Gabriel Garcia (Costa Rica)

Mixed Doubles

Gold - Angelica Barrios & Conrrado Moscoso (Bolivia)
Silver - Paola Longoria & Rodrigo Montoya (Mexico)
Bronze - Sam Bredenbeck & Michelle Key (USA) and Maria Jose Vargas & Diego Garcia (Argentina)

Follow the bouncing ball….

Wednesday, May 31, 2023

2023 USA Singles Qualifying & Canadian Racquetball Championships

Last week USA Racquetball (USAR) held its National Team Singles Qualifying event, and Racquetball Canada held its National Championship. There were some new winners and some repeat winners in both.

The USAR’s event was the National Adult Team Singles Qualifying in Memory of Geoff Peters (or the NATSQMGP) at the Glass Court club in Lombard, Illinois, where Geoff Peters played an instrumental part in supporting and developing racquetball for decades until his death in 2022. As a stand alone event, there were not many participants. Only five women and ten men competed for spots to make the USA National Team, which will compete at the 2023 Pan American Games in Santiago, Chile this October. That’s significantly fewer players than competed at the 2022 National Championships, when there were 19 players in Men’s Singles and 14 in Women’s Singles.

Daniel De La Rosa and Erika Manilla won the Men’s and Women’s events, respectively, in Illinois. In the Men’s Final, De La Rosa defeated Adam Manilla, who as the 5th seed was a surprise finalist, 3-11, 11-9, 11-8, 9-11, 11-6, while Manilla, Adam’s sister, defeated Kelani Lawrence in the women’s final, 11-3, 8-11, 11-7, 11-6.

This is the second USAR event De La Rosa has played. He has previously competed for Mexico, where he was born. Indeed, De La Rosa is the current International Racquetball Federation (IRF) World Champion in Men’s Doubles, winning the title with Alvaro Beltran last year in De La Rosa’s hometown of San Luis Potosi, Mexico.

De La Rosa also won Men’s Doubles earlier this year with Alejandro Landa in Arizona, which was his first USAR National Team event. Thus, we believe that De La Rosa has double qualified to be on Team USA.

In the semi-finals, De La Rosa defeated Landa, 11-9, 11-9, 11-3, while Manilla upset top seed Jake Bredenbeck, 2-11, 11-8, 12-10, 11-2. According USAR rules the semi-finalists will all be appointed to Team USA from which a travelling team will be created.

Of note, veteran Rocky Carson was in the draw, but was a late withdrawal. Carson has competed at every Pan Am Games with racquetball since 2003, winning gold in Men’s Singles in 2011 and 2015. However, it seems he will not be going to Chile.

In the Women’s semis, Erika Manilla came back from two games down to defeat Holly Scott, 7-11, 9-11, 11-9, 11-8, 11-5, while Lawrence beat veteran Rhonda Rajsich, 11-8, 11-6, 11-6. Rajsich needed five games to get past Lexi York in the quarterfinals, and lost the 3rd Place match to Scott, 11-7, 11-5, 11-3. However, by making the semis Rajsich should qualify for Team USA.

The USA’s results at the 2023 Pan American Championships in April qualified them to send 3 men and 2 women to the Pan Am Games. On the women’s side, it seems like the players will be Manilla and Lawrence, as they were the singles finalists and also in the doubles final in February, when Manilla and Michelle De La Rosa defeated Lawrence and Scott.

The men’s side isn’t quite as clear. We understand that De La Rosa is clear to compete for the USA, so he should be going to Chile, as the winner of singles and doubles. Adam Manilla should also be going, as he was runner up in both singles and doubles. The third player could be Landa, as he won doubles with De La Rosa, and made the semis of singles.

But Landa lost the 3rd place match to Bredenbeck, 11-8, 11-6, 8-11, 11-8. However, Bredenbeck lost in the semi-finals of doubles, so maybe he’ll be on the outside looking in for Chile.

If you missed any of the matches from Lombard, check out the USA Racquetball YouTube channel.

2023 Racquetball Canada National Championships

Samuel Murray and Frédérique Lambert are the 2023 Racquetball Canada National Champions in Men's and Women's Singles, respectively, winning the titles last Saturday in Winnipeg, Manitoba. It’s Murray’s 5th consecutive title, and also Lambert’s 5th - and 3rd consecutive - title. In the Men’s Final, Murray beat 2nd seed Coby Iwaasa, 11-4, 12-10, 11-3, while Lambert defeated 4th seed Juliette Parent, 11-2, 11-7, 10-12, 11-4, in the Women’s Final.

Lambert also won Women’s Doubles with partner Michèle Morissette, as they defeated the other four teams competing. Indeed, they only lost two games across those four matches. They needed four games to beat Alexis Iwaasa and Danielle Ramsay, 11-5, 11-4, 13-15, 11-4, four games against sisters Juliette and Marjolaine Parent, winning 11-6, 8-11, 11-7, 11-8. The title is Lambert and Morissette’s 2nd consecutive, and overall it’s Lambert’s 3rd and Morissette’s 4th doubles titles.

Murray had a chance to win his 7th Men’s Doubles and 4th consecutive with his brother Tommy Murray, but they were upset in the final by 2nd seeds Iwaasa and Kurtis Cullen, 12-10, 11-9, 11-4. The win was Iwaasa’s 4th doubles title, and the 1st for Cullen.

Canada’s results at the 2023 Pan American Championships qualified them to send 2 men and 2 women to the 2023 Pan American Games in Santiago, Chile in October, and the likely candidates are Murray and Iwaasa on the men’s side and Lambert and Morissette on the women’s side.

If you missed any of the matches from Winnipeg, check out the Racquetball Canada YouTube channel.

2023 USA Racquetball Adult Team Singles Qualifying In Memory of Geoff Peters
Lombard, Illinois - May 25-28, 2023

Men's Singles - Quarterfinals

1) Jake Bredenbeck d. 8) James Black, 11-4, 11-3, 11-3
5) Adam Manilla d. 4) Thomas Carter, 9-11, 11-6, 14-12, 11-5

3) Alejandro Landa d. 6) Rocky Carson, forfeit
2) Daniel De La Rosa d. 7) Sam Bredenbeck, 11-4, 14-16, 12-10, 11-7


5) Adam Manilla d. 1) Jake Bredenbeck, 2-11, 11-8, 12-10, 11-2
2) Daniel De La Rosa d. 3) Alejandro Landa, 11-9, 11-9, 11-3


2) Daniel De La Rosa d. 5) Adam Manilla, 3-11, 11-9, 11-8, 9-11, 11-6

3rd place

1) Jake Bredenbeck d. 3) Alejandro Landa, 11-8, 11-6, 8-11, 11-8

Women's Singles - Quarterfinals

1) Kelani Lawrence - BYE
4) Rhonda Rajsich d. 5) Lexi York, 11-7, 11-6, 5-11, 9-11, 11-9

3) Hollie Scott - BYE
2) Erika Manilla - BYE


1) Kelani Lawrence d. 4) Rhonda Rajsich, 11-8, 11-6, 11-6
2) Erika Manilla d. 3) Hollie Scott, 7-11, 9-11, 11-9, 11-8, 11-5


2) Erika Manilla d. 1) Kelani Lawrence, 11-3, 8-11, 11-7, 11-6

3rd place

3) Hollie Scott d. 4) Rhonda Rajsich, 11-7, 11-5, 11-3

2023 Racquetball Canada National Championships
May 23-27, 2023 - Winnipeg, Manitoba

Men's Open - Singles


1) Samuel Murray d. 2) Coby Iwaasa, 11-4, 12-10, 11-3

3rd Place

5) Kurtis Cullen d. 6) Tanner Prentice, 11-5, 11-7, 11-9


1) Samuel Murray d. 5) Kurtis Cullen, 11-5, 11-4, 11-6
2) Coby Iwaasa d. 6) Tanner Prentice, 11-2, 11-7, 11-8


1) Samuel Murray d. 19) Jeff Buller, 11-5, 11-7, 11-4
5) Kurtis Cullen d. 4) Lee Connell, 12-10, 11-6, 10-12, 11-4

6) Tanner Prentice d. 3) Trevor Webb, 11-8, 11-8, 11-8
2) Coby Iwaasa d. 7) Nathan Jauvin, 11-4, 11-3, 11-1

Women's Open - Singles


1) Frédérique Lambert d. 4) Juliette Parent, 11-2, 11-7, 10-12, 11-4

3rd place

3) Michèle Morissette d. 2) Christine Keay, forfeit


1) Frédérique Lambert d. 3) Michèle Morissette, 11-4, 10-12, 9-11, 11-8, 11-5
4) Juliette Parent d. 2) Christine Keay, 11-9, 3-11, 11-8, 11-6


1) Frédérique Lambert - BYE
3) Michèle Morissette d. 5) Danielle Ramsay, 11-8, 7-11, 11-6, 8-11, 11-9

4) Juliette Parent d. 7) Marjolaine Parent, 11-7, 11-8, 12-10
2) Christine Keay - BYE

Men's Open - Doubles


2) Kurtis Cullen & Coby Iwaasa d. 1) Samuel Murray & Tommy Murray , 12-10, 11-9, 11-4

3rd Place

3) Lee Connell & Trevor Webb d. 4) Nathan Jauvin & Michael Leduc, 11-6, 10-12, 11-8, 8-11, 11-2


1) Samuel Murray & Tommy Murray d. 4) Nathan Jauvin & Michael Leduc, 11-6, 11-3, 11-5
2) Kurtis Cullen & Coby Iwaasa d. 3) Lee Connell & Trevor Webb, 13-11, 11-8, 11-8


1) Samuel Murray & Tommy Murray d. 9) Devin Halko & Paul Shanks, 11-3, 11-5, 11-5
4) Nathan Jauvin & Michael Leduc d. 5) Naman Gauri & Christian Pocsai, 6-11, 5-11, 11-7, 11-8, 11-8

3) Lee Connell & Trevor Webb d. 6) Conrad Cole & Tanner Prentice, 11-9, 11-3, 12-10
2) Kurtis Cullen & Coby Iwaasa d. 7) Jeff Buller & David Serra, 11-4, 11-6, 9-11, 11-5

Women's Open - Doubles - Round robin

1) Frédérique Lambert & Michèle Morissette - 4 wins & 0 losses (12 games won, 2 lost)
2) Christine Keay & Cassie Prentice - 2-2 (7-7)
3) Alexis Iwaasa & Danielle Ramsay - 2-2 (7-6)
4) Juliette Parent & Marjolaine Parent - 2-2 (7-7)
5) Disney Linares & Ofelia Wilscam - 0-4 (1-12)

Follow the bouncing ball….

Saturday, May 6, 2023

Martinez wins 2023 LPRT Sweet Caroline Open

Gabriela Martinez defeated Brenda Laime, 15-11, 15-7, to win the 2023 Ladies Professional Racquetball Tour (LPRT) Sweet Caroline Open in Greenville, South Carolina on Saturday. On paper, it was a big upset, as Martinez was seeded 17th and Laime 6th, but Martinez is a former International Racquetball Federation (IRF) Women’s Singles World Champion, so it’s not too surprising that she’s winning on the LPRT.

What is surprising is that Martinez has been in more IRF Women’s Singles finals at the World Championships than she has LPRT finals: 3 versus 2. But she’s won both of her LPRT final appearances, while only winning one of the three IRF finals. Her relatively low LPRT ranking is due to her only playing half of the events (4 of 8 prior to this weekend) this season, and not getting further than the Round of 16 in any event prior to this weekend.

In doubles, top seeds Paola Longoria and Samantha Salas beat #2 seeds Alexandra Herrera and Montserrat Mejia, 15-11, 15-6.

Martinez never trailed in game one of the singles final, and had leads of 7-2 and 11-4. Yet Laime kept working, and managed to tie the score at 11-11.

Martinez regained the serve, when a penalty hinder (or avoidable) was assessed against Laime, who hit a drive serve to the left that came off the side wall and into the middle preventing Martinez from a direct shot to the front wall.

Laime never served again, as Martinez hit winners on the next four rallies, including two directly off her serve. The second of those was a clean ace drive serve to the right side that ended the game, 15-11.

In game two, Martinez ran out to an 11-1 lead, despite Laime calling both her timeouts. Laime managed to put some points together and got within five at 11-6, so Martinez called a timeout.

That led to an exchange of sideouts, 6 in all, before Martinez broke the deadlock with two points, the second of which was another drive serve ace to the right side that made it 13-6.

Still, Laime kept at it, and Martinez needed nine rallies to get the last two points, and close out the game 15-7, and the match in two straight games.

Both games of the doubles final were close early. In game one, Herrera and Mejia came back from 8-3 down to tie Longoria and Salas at 9-9. But Longoria and Salas were better down the stretch, as they won it 15-11.

In game two, the shift came after they were tied 6-6, as Longoria and Salas got six points on as many rallies to lead 12-6. Herrera and Mejia got the serve back at 13-6, but Salas and then Longoria hit winning serve returns on back to back drive serves to put themselves back in the service box, where they closed out the game on the next two rallies.

Salas was player of the match, and you don’t have to look further than the last rally to see why, as she drove twice to keep the ball in play. The second dive led to Herrera skipping a shot, which gave her opponents the winning point.

The ultimate tournament

The 2022-23 LPRT season ends next month with the LPRT at the Beach tournament June 15-17 in Chesapeake, Virginia, where the season ending #1 ranking will be on the line. Longoria has been #1 for 11 straight seasons, but this year Mejia has won more tournaments - 4 to 3 - so Mejia has a chance to be unseat Longoria, and finish #1 for the first time in her career.

There are other ranking uncertainties also. Perhaps Erika Manilla could pass Alexandra Herrera for 3rd. Laime may crack the top 5; she’s 6th now and did much better this weekend than Jessica Parrilla, who currently is slightly ahead of her in 5th.

Martinez may have an outside chance to get into the top 10, as she was 19th prior to this weekend. Martinez’s didn’t play in South Carolina last year, so her points for winning will be all new. She did play at last year’s season ending event, where she finished in the quarters, so Martinez will have to defend those points next month and perhaps better them if she hopes to be in the top 10 for the second consecutive season.

Also, Maria Jose Vargas may be able to crack the top 10. She was 12th going into this weekend, and 80 points behind Salas in 10th. Helping Vargas's case is that Salas did better than her at last year’s season ending event (semi-final versus Round of 16, respectively), so it could be possible for Vargas to get into the top 10.

She’s been in the top 10 nine of the last ten seasons, including the last five consecutive. If Vargas makes the top 10, she’ll tie Cristina Amaya for 9th most career top 10 finishes.

While nine top 10 finishes is impressive, it's well off the record, which is 22, held by Rhonda Rajsich. Even more impressive is that she did it in 22 consecutive seasons. Indeed, Rajsich has been in the top 10 every season of this century, beginning in 2000-01. But Rajsich has only played one event this season, so there’s no way she could crack the top 10 even with a win next month in Virginia. Her streak will be broken.

That'll be the end of an era.

If you missed any of the action from South Carolina, check out the LPRT YouTube channel.

2023 LPRT Sweet Caroline Open
Greenville, South Carolina - May 4-7, 2023

Final - Saturday

17) Gabriela Martinez d. 6) Brenda Laime, 15-11, 15-7

Doubles - Semi-finals - Saturday

1) Paola Longoria & Samantha Salas d. 5) Kelani Lawrence & Hollie Scott, 15-10, 15-4
2) Alexandra Herrera & Montserrat Mejia d. 6) Natalia Mendez & Maria Jose Vargas, 15-8, 15-7

Doubles - Final - Saturday

1) Paola Longoria & Samantha Salas d. 2) Alexandra Herrera & Montserrat Mejia, 15-11, 15-6

Follow the bouncing ball….