Wednesday, November 30, 2022

2022 IRT John Pelham Memorial Tournament of Champions - Preview

The International Racquetball Tour (IRT) returns to Portland, Oregon for first time in three years for the 2022 John Pelham Memorial Tournament of Champions. However, it might be the smallest field of the season with just 24 players in action. The field has probably been impacted by the International Racquetball Federation (IRF) World Junior Championships, which begins this weekend in Guatemala City, where there will be a U21 division for the first time. Thus, some younger players, who have played IRT events this season, may have opted to go to Guatemala rather than Portland.

A small field is fine if the top players are there, but there are just 6 of the top 10 and 9 of the top 20 in Portland. Alan Natera is the 10th seed, although he’s currently ranked 24th. Andree Parrilla is top seed with Eduardo Portillo as the 2nd seed, and they have both won this season - Portillo for the first time. Also, Alejandro Landa and Samuel Murray, who are the 3rd and 4th seeds, have won IRT events in past seasons. Thus, it is a tournament of champions.

Speaking of IRT champions, Charlie Pratt is in the field. The Oregon native and US National Team member won this event back in 2017. Pratt is seeded 16th, so may face Parrilla in the Round of 16. Also, Mario Mercado, who won his first IRT event last season, is in Portland, where he was runner up to Pratt five years ago.

Rodrigo Montoya hasn’t won an IRT event, but he’s won three IRF World Championships: Men’s Singles in 2018, Men’s Doubles in 2021 and Mixed Doubles this year. We’re sure Montoya would like to add an IRT title to his resumé. He’s seeded 7th, so may face Portillo in the quarterfinals.

Season to date

Five players have won IRT events this season: Daniel De La Rosa and Conrrado Moscoso have both won twice with Kane Waselenchuk, Parrilla and Portillo all winning once. De La Rosa won the last IRT event in Florida and Moscoso won the two prior to that, but neither of them are in Portland. Moscoso bowed out of the Florida event due to injury, and may still be feeling the effects of that. Waselenchuk’s absence is due to an achilles injury suffered in September.

If someone other than Parrilla and Portillo win this weekend, it would be the first time since 2017-18 that six players have won events in an IRT season. That season both Pratt and Parrilla won for the first time. Parrilla’s win this season was just his second on tour.

The rankings are not likely to change much regardless of what happens in Portland. Here’s how they stand now.

1. Daniel De La Rosa (Mexico) - 3333.65
2. Andree Parrilla (Mexico) - 2696.25
3. Conrrado Moscoso (Bolivia) - 2652.51
4. Eduardo Portillo (Mexico) - 2273.16

5. Alejandro Landa (USA) - 2051.04
6. Samuel Murray (Canada) - 2021.05
7. Rocky Carson (USA) - 1891.01
8. Jake Bredenbeck (USA) - 1838

9. Kane Waselenchuk (Canada) - 1792.16
10. Mario Mercado (Colombia) - 1629.15
11. Rodrigo Montoya (Mexico) - 1487
12. Adam Manilla (USA) - 1356

De La Rosa should finish #1 for the second straight season. He’s the first Mexican to be #1 on the IRT at season’s end. Also, Parrilla will finish #2, which is a career best for him; he’s been 4th the last three seasons.

Moscoso should be #3, although if Portillo wins in Portland, that may change. Regardless, they’ll both be on career highs. Moscoso was 7th last season and Portillo 5th, which were personal bests.

Landa and Murray could flip positions based on what happens this weekend, and Bredenbeck could pass Carson, who’s not in Portland. Similarly, Mercado may pass Waselenchuk, but Montoya probably won’t, so he’ll likely not crack the top 10. But if Montoya wins this weekend, maybe he could squeak into the top 10.

It does look like Carson and Waselenchuk will add to their career top 10 totals. Carson has 22 top tens, and this year will make 23, which is the record, and three more than Cliff Swain’s 20. Waselenchuk will pass Alvaro Beltran for 3rd on the all time list, as they are currently tied for 3rd with 18 top 10s each.

Daniel De La Rosa will have his 10th top 10 finish, which ties him for 8th all time with John Ellis, Jack Huczek, Shane Vanderson and Mike Yellen.

Note that in 2021 the IRT switched from seasons that ran from September to May - bridging two years - to seasons that go by the calendar year - January to December. If you missed that change, you’re not alone, as it slipped past the attention of most of The Racquetball Blog staff.

We’re not sure why the IRT made this change. It’s a bit easier to talk about seasons and years when they are the same, which is what you get with seasons running from January to December. But many team seasons (e.g., NBA, NHL, and most European soccer leagues) run across across two calendar years, and the PGA switched their golf season from a calendar year to a season that went across two seasons a couple years ago. So, there isn’t consensus on which is better.

You can see some of the season ending IRT action from Portland via the usual IRT media outlets: The IRT YouTube channel or the IRT Facebook page. The Round of 32 goes Thursday afternoon from 3 PM. The Round of 16 begins Friday at 10 AM, and the quarterfinals will be Friday from 5 PM. The semi-finals are 11 AM and noon on Saturday, and the final Saturday night at 6 PM. All times Pacific.

2022 IRT John Pelham Memorial Tournament of Champions
December 1-4, 2022 - Portland, Oregon

Round of 32 - Thursday

1) Andree Parrilla - BYE
16) Charlie Pratt v. 17) Anthony Martin - 4 PM

9) Thomas Carter - BYE
8) Adam Manilla - BYE

5) Jake Bredenbeck - BYE
12) Erick Cuevas Fernandez v. 21) Sunji Spencer - 3 PM

13) Sam Bredenbeck v. 20) Connor Laffey - 4 PM
4) Samuel Murray - BYE

3) Alejandro Landa - BYE
14) Rodrigo Mendoza v. 19) Matthew Majxner - 6 PM

11) Robert Collins v. 22) Ty Hedalen - 6 PM
6) Mario Mercado - BYE

7) Rodrigo Montoya - BYE
10) Alan Natera v. 23) Jorge Carlos Thomas - 5 PM

15) Jim Douglas v. 18) Michael Leduc - 5 PM
2) Eduardo Portillo - BYE Follow the bouncing ball….

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