Wednesday, May 1, 2019

2019 IRT Syosset Open - Preview

The 2018-19 International Racquetball Tour (IRT) season wraps up in Syosset, New York this weekend with the Syosset Open. The IRT is going out with a bang, as there are 49 players in the draw. Moreover, the Syosset Open is also a Tier 1 Ladies Professional Racquetball Tour (LPRT) event, and they are playing Mixed Pro Doubles in Syosset. Thus, it will be a special weekend in Syosset.

IRT #1 Kane Waselenchuk will try to cement his standing atop the IRT rankings. He needs to finish better than #2 Rocky Carson, who broke Waselenchuk’s 9 season streak of #1 season ending rankings last season. Yet for the first time since May 2016, Waselenchuk is playing a tournament without coming off a win in the previous tournament. Last week in Florida, Waselenchuk lost in the quarterfinals to Alvaro Beltran.

It’s the first time he’d lost a match that he played in (rather than defaulted) since Waselenchuk retired during the fifth game of a match in 2016 against Jake Bredenbeck, which perhaps ironically was also in Florida. Last week was only Waselenchuk’s 3rd loss since he returned to the tour in the fall of 2008. He couldn’t lose a 2nd week in a row, could he?

We wouldn’t advise on betting on a second consecutive loss for Waselenchuk, but If you were looking for a reason for it to happen, you needn’t look past the fact that Syosset is where he has the worst record: 6 wins against 5 losses. But two of those are defaults in the Round of 16, and two others are defaults after playing. In 2012, he retired in the final versus Carson, while in 2011 Waselenchuk won his way into the semi-finals, but then defaulted to Jack Huczek. Only Mike Guidry has beaten Waselenchuk in a completed match in Syosset, but that was way back in 2003.

So, even though it’s Syosset, we fully expect Waselenchuk to bounce back from his loss last weekend to win once again.

Match scheduling

As mentioned above, this weekend’s Syosset Open has one of the largest draws on tour. Thus, there’s going to be three rounds of qualifying matches before 8 players earn the passage into the Round of 16 and play one of the top 8 players, who have byes into the Round of 16. Thus, Alan Natera - for example - needs to play three matches to get to the 16s, where as a reward he’ll get to play Waselenchuk. Congratulations!

If that doesn’t seem crazy enough, Natera’s three matches are scheduled two (2!) hours apart, and the Round of 16 match will be barely 12 hours after the start time of the 3rd match. That’s craziness, and that’s without considering Natera’s opponents. First he’ll face Christian Longoria, a good young Mexican player, and if he beats him, then Natera will go up against Rodrigo Montoya, who’s only the International Racquetball Federation (IRF) Men’s Singles World Champion. If Natera beats Montoya, he’ll need to win again against either Javier Mar or Eduardo Garay to reach the 16s.

Natera is coming off a good weekend last week, when he won both singles and mixed pro doubles at the Battle of the Alamo in San Antonio. You’d like to think that he could use that momentum to get a good result in Syosset, but Natera will be hard pressed to get to the Round of 16. If he does manage to get there, which might require a minor miracle, he’ll need a major miracle to beat Waselenchuk, especially as Natera will likely be playing his 4th match in less than 18 hours.

Is that a reasonable way to set up a tournament?

Look for all the action via the usual IRT media outlets: The IRT Network, the IRT YouTube channel or the IRT Facebook page. There will be three round of qualifying on Thursday. The Round of 16 will be Friday morning at 10 and 11 AM with the quarterfinals Friday starting at 3 PM. The semi-finals will be 1 and 2 PM Saturday with the final at 1 PM Sunday. All times Eastern.

2019 IRT Syosset Open, May 2-5, 2019
Syosset, New York

Qualifying Round 1 - Thursday

Rodrigo Montoya - BYE
Christian Longoria v. Alan Natera - 4 PM

Eduardo Garay - BYE
Javier Mar - BYE

Eduardo Portillo - BYE
Nicholas Riffel v. Sean Sauvé - 4 PM

Nick Montalbano v. Michael Leduc - 4 PM
Adam Manilla - BYE

David Horn - BYE
Mauricio Zelada v. Rocco Forgione - 3 PM

Troy Warigon - BYE
Felipe Camacho - BYE

Charlie Pratt - BYE
Kadim Carrasco - BYE

Sergio Acuña v. Joe Kelley - 3 PM
Jake Bredenbeck - BYE

Jose Diaz - BYE
Oscar Nieto v. Robert Arellano - 3 PM

Maurice Miller - BYE
Andres Acuña - BYE

Thomas Carter - BYE
Scott McClellan - BYE

Set Cubillos v. Carlos Jose Galvez - 3 PM
Gerardo Franco - BYE

Jansen Allen - BYE
Michael Arterburn v. Pedro Castro 4 PM

Justus Benson - BYE
Robert Collins - BYE

Mauro Rojas - BYE
Sebastian Fernandez - BYE

David Austin v. Andrés Gómez - 4 PM
Mario Mercado - BYE

Qualifying Round 2 - Thursday

Rodrigo Montoya v. Christian Longoria or Alan Natera - 6 PM
Javier Mar v. Eduardo Garay - 6 PM

Eduardo Portillo v. Nicholas Riffel or Sean Sauvé - 6 PM
Adam Manilla v. Nick Montalbano or Michael Leduc - 6 PM

David Horn v. Mauricio Zelada or Rocco Forgione - 5 PM
Felipe Camacho v. Troy Warigon - 5 PM

Charlie Pratt v. Kadim Carrasco - 5 PM
Jake Bredenbeck v. Sergio Acuña or Joe Kelley - 5 PM

Jose Diaz v. Oscar Nieto v. Robert Arellano - 5 PM
Andres Acuña v. Maurice Miller - 5 PM

Thomas Carter v. Scott McClellan - 5 PM
Gerardo Franco v. Set Cubillos or Carlos Jose Galvez - 5 PM

Jansen Allen v. Michael Arterburn or Pedro Castro 6 PM
Robert Collins v. Justus Benson - 6 PM

Mauro Rojas v. Sebastian Fernandez - 6 PM
Mario Mercado v. David Austin or Andrés Gómez - 6 PM

Qualifying Round 3 - Thursday

Q8 - Rodrigo Montoya or Christian Longoria or Alan Natera v. Javier Mar or Eduardo Garay - 8 PM
Q1 - Eduardo Portillo or Nicholas Riffel or Sean Sauvé v. Adam Manilla or Nick Montalbano or Michael Leduc - 8 PM

Q4 - David Horn or Mauricio Zelada or Rocco Forgione v. Felipe Camacho or Troy Warigon - 7 PM
Q5 - Charlie Pratt or Kadim Carrasco v. Jake Bredenbeck or Sergio Acuña or Joe Kelley - 7 PM

Q6 - Jose Diaz or Oscar Nieto or Robert Arellano v. Andres Acuña or Maurice Miller - 7 PM
Q3 - Thomas Carter or Scott McClellan v. Gerardo Franco or Set Cubillos or Carlos Jose Galvez - 7 PM

Q2 - Jansen Allen or Michael Arterburn or Pedro Castro v. Robert Collins or Justus Benson - 8 PM
Q7 - Mauro Rojas or Sebastian Fernandez v. Mario Mercado or David Austin or Andrés Gómez - 8 PM

Round of 16 - Friday

Kane Waselenchuk v. Q8 - 10 AM
Sebastian Franco v. Q1 - 10 AM

Daniel De La Rosa v. Q4 - 10 AM
Andree Parrilla v. Q5 - 10 AM

Alejandro Landa v. Q6 - 11 AM
Alvaro Beltran v.. Q3 - 11 AM

Samuel Murray v. Q2 - 11 AM
Rocky Carson v. Q7 - 11 AM

Pro Mixed Doubles - Round of 32 - Friday

1) Alejandro Landa & Maria Jose Vargas - BYE
16) Sebastian Franco & Samantha Simmons v. 17) Maurice Miller & Daniela Molina - 1 PM

9) Adam Manilla & Masiel Rivera - BYE
8) Alvaro Beltran & Monserrat Mejia - BYE

5) Frédérique Lambert & Samuel Murray - BYE
12) Sebastian Fernandez & Ana Laura Flores - BYE

13) Set Cubillos & Brenda Laime v. 20) Carlos Jose Galvez & Cassi Lee - 1 PM
4) Paola Longoria & Rodrigo Montoya - BYE

3) Alexandra Herrera & Andree Parrilla - BYE
14) Cecilia Pratt & Charlie Pratt v. 19) Nancy Enriquez & Rocco Forgione - 1 PM

11) Eduardo Portillo & Hollie Scott - BYE
6) Cristina Amaya & Mario Mercado - BYE

7) Jake Bredenbeck & Yazmine Sabja - BYE
10) Eduardo Garay & Adriana Riveros - BYE

15) Natalia Mendez & Alan Natura v. 18) Felipe Camacho & Maricruz Ortiz - 1 PM
2) Daniel De La Rosa & Samantha Salas - BYE

Follow the bouncing ball….


Todd Boss said...

I see criticism of the IRT's protected seeding constantly. And assume your comments about Natera's possible gauntlet is the same.

But let me ask you a question, playing devil's advocate. Why should the top players, who have more than earned their spots in the top 8, be asked to play additional matches just to make it "more fair" for a guy who is seeded 41st here? Every individual sport, from tennis to Nascar to frigging golf Long Drive competitions, has qualifying and gives byes to its top players. The US Open of tennis has three full rounds of qualifying lasting 4 days before the main draw, whittling down 128 players (who themselves have to "qualify" just to play in the qualifiers) to 16 qualifiers who then start at the main round of 64. Would you make the same argument that Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal should be playing two more rounds to make it "more fair" to the guys ranked nearly #200 in the world?

Lets say they played a full 32 and the players 33 and up qualified in. Then we'd be looking at these matches:
- #1 Kane vs #32 Riffel: blowout
- #2 Carson vs #31 Benson: blowout
- #3 Landa vs #30 McClellan: blowout
- #4 Parrilla vs #29 Warigon: blowout
- #5 DLR vs #28 Carrasco: slightly better than a blowout; Carrasco lost to Carson 2,4 in Bolivia
- #6 Beltran vs #27 Maurice Miller: blowout
- #7 Murray vs #26 Fernandez: compelling match, Murray still favored.
- #8 Franco vs #25 Garay: also compelling, Franco still favored.

So the point is, and still remains from when they initially did this structure 20 years ago, that the top 8 players generally speaking waste their time playing round of 32s and are better served doing pro-am doubles and sponsor hit and giggle stuff, instead of having basically fly in a day ahead of time to prepare for playing.

If there was more money in the sport, and you could guarantee better money to traveling pros for one-and-done 1st round losses, maybe i'd be more onboard or more understanding of the full draw/no qualifers. Maybe you make the argument that more than 40 players (which under the current system forces a round of 128, meaning the lowest ranked players would be forced to play 3 qualfiers into the main draw) means everyone plays from the 32s on ward.

The Racquetball Blog said...

Well put response, and a good argument with examples from this weekend: nice. The LPRT uses a 32 player format, so there's a model for that. Tennis has qualifying, because there are more players, and for some of the non-majors they will have 1st round byes for the higher seeded players, so there's a model for that too. But seeing people playing three matches in six hours, regardless of the opposition, seems ridiculous, but in the tournament's defense, it's difficult to anticipate how many players will enter the event.