Saturday, December 3, 2022

Bredenbeck wins 2022 IRT John Pelham Memorial Tournament of Champions

Jake Bredenbeck won his first International Racquetball Tour (IRT) title Saturday, when he defeated Eduardo Portillo, 15-14, 8-15, 11-7, in the final of the 2022 IRT John Pelham Memorial Tournament of Champions in Portland, Oregon. Bredenbeck, the 5th seed, upset the top seed Andree Parrilla in the semi-finals, and then took out the 2nd seed in Portillo in the final. He becomes the 44th player to win an IRT event, and the first new winner since Portillo claimed his first title in October.

Bredenbeck had a big lead early in game one at 7-2, and led 11-8 also. But the game seemed to slip through his fingers as Portillo came back and lead 13-11. Indeed, it even seemed that Portillo won it 15-12. But Bredenbeck made successful appeal at that point, and then managed to score three straight points to eke out the victory 15-14.

Portillo didn’t get angry. In fact, he rarely shows much emotion on the court. But Portillo did get going, and jumped out to a 12-2 lead in game two. Bredenbeck did make him work for the last three points - getting six of his own in the process - as it took 33 rallies before Portillo finished the game and forced a tie-breaker.

In game three, Portillo again started quickly, going up 6-1, and it looked like he would complete the comeback. However, Bredenbeck dug in, and tied the game at 6-6. Portillo broke that tie with a drive serve ace to the left side (Bredenbeck’s backhand), but that was the last point he’d get, as Bredenbeck won it with five unanswered points, including two drive serve aces of his own - the second of which was the match winner.

It “feels pretty good” and “like a long time coming,” Bredenbeck said afterwards. “This [winning an IRT event] is everyone who plays on tour’s dream,” he added, saying “I’m happy to get one.”

Portillo said “I don’t feel sad” about losing because it was “one of the toughest matches I have ever played.” He congratulated Bredenbeck on the win, and said that the usual strategy against him was to keep the ball away from Bredenbeck’s powerful forehand. But Bredenbeck “was rolling balls with his backhand,” which surprised Portillo and put him at a loss for what to do, and eventually put him on the losing end of the match.

The IRT’s next event will be in 2023, when they’ll convene in Austin, Texas for the Longhorn Open, January 6-8. That will be followed by the Lewis Drug Pro-Am in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, January 19-22.

If you missed any of the action from Portland, check out the IRT YouTube channel or the IRT Facebook page.

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

Final - Saturday

5) Jake Bredenbeck d. 2) Eduardo Portillo, 15-14, 8-15, 11-7

Follow the bouncing ball….

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