Sunday, January 28, 2024

Murray wins singles, Parrilla & Portillo doubles at 2024 IRT 44th Annual Lewis Drug Pro-Am

Samuel Murray completed a remarkable tournament performance by holding on to defeat Rodrigo Montoya, 15-12, 9-15, 11-10, in the final of the International Racquetball Tour (IRT) Lewis Drug Pro/Am in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. It’s Murray’s 2nd IRT title, and comes a little over three years since his first in January 2021. Murray won each of his last four matches - from the Round of 16 on - in a tie-breaker. Moreover, only in the final did he win the first game of the match.

Montoya was also in the doubles final, which went to a breaker as well. Andree Parrilla and Eduardo Portillo, the 3rd seeds, came back to defeat #1 seeds Montoya and Javier Mar, 12-15, 15-14, 11-8. It’s Parrilla’s 5th IRT doubles title with a 4th different partner, but just the second title for Portillo.

Murray certainly didn’t win the singles title the easy way, as he was down 5-0 and 7-2 in game one. But Murray showed great resilience during the tournament and again on Sunday. He came back in game one to level the game at 8-8.

Murray and Montoya were back and forth from there, including being tied at 12-12, but Murray never trailed after catching up to Montoya. They ended the game on a long rally that Murray finished by diving forward and hitting a forehand pinch shot.

Montoya seemed to injury his right knee during the last rally of game one, as he dove to keep the ball in play, and one feared that might do him in. But he came back out for game two, and took another early lead at 4-0.

Montoya stayed in front throughout game two. Murray made it close late, getting within two at 10-8, but Montoya closed it out from there to win 15-9, and force a tie-breaker.

In the breaker, Murray went out to a 6-0 lead, causing Montoya to call a timeout. Murray also won the ensuing rally to make it 7-0. After that rally Montoya took the ball and smashed it to the front wall in a clear sign of frustration.

Nonetheless, Montoya won the next rally with a backhand shot, and then scored his first point with another backhand winner. He slowly got back into the game, getting within three at 7-4 and 8-5.

But Murray got to match point with two good serves. The first was a drive serve ace to the right side that made it 9-5, and the second was a drive Z serve to the right side that Montoya tried to return with a side-side front shot that came shot making the score 10-5.

A Montoya forehand wide angle shot fended off Murray's first match point. He followed that up with points on the next two rallies to make it 10-7. They exchanged two side outs each, as Murray’s second and third match points went by. On the second, he double faulted with a short drive serve to the right side.

Montoya scored another point with a forehand winner making the score 10-8, and also making any Murray fans nervous. But Murray got the serve right back for his fourth match point. He hit a drive jam serve to the left that came off the back wall, so Montoya hit a great forehand pinch to the front right corner.

Two winning forehand shots made it 10-10, so Montoya was serving for the match. Not a problem for Murray, who hit a winning forehand cross court shot to get the serve right back.

The fifth time was the charm for Murray Sunday, as he made good when Montoya hit a loose backhand and then didn’t clear out of Murray’s way, leading to an avoidable hinder call by the referee. Montoya - who had questioned calls throughout the match - was clearly upset by the call, and despite having used his two timeouts was allowed to appeal the call, as it was match point. The line judges upheld the avoidable call, ending the game at 11-10 and match 2-1 for Murray.

Not only was this Murray's first title since he won in 2021, it's his first final since then and just his third final overall. Thus, at 2 wins in 3 finals, he has a winning record in finals.


The doubles final took awhile to really get going. After 28 rallies, the score was just 2-2. But then Mar and Montoya scored 7 points on as many rallies, making it 9-2.

Parrilla and Portillo then got the serve back, as Parrilla made a great backhand reverse pinch shot. They got five straight points to close the score to 9-7.

Mar and Montoya extended their lead to six at 13-7 on four straight rallies. That stopped as Montoya - playing the left side - skipped a backhand. Parrilla and Portillo responded with five points of their own to get within one at 13-12.

Parrilla, playing on the right side, made back to back errors, skipping a backhand cross court shot to give up the serve, and then a forehand shot that put Mar and Montoya on game point at 14-12. He held off that game point with a backhand winner in the front court, but then Mar also hit a backhand front court winner to close out the game 15-12.

Mar and Montoya went out to a 7-0 lead in game two on as many rallies, and then extended that lead to 10-1. But this has been the tournament where no lead was safe, and so it proved to be again in this game, as Parrilla and Portillo cut the lead in half at 10-5, and then got within one at 12-11.

However, Mar and Montoya got the serve back, as Portillo skipped a backhand shot. Montoya made it 13-11 with a backhand winner, and they got to match point at 14-11, as Parrilla skipped a backhand pinch shot. Portillo denied them that match point with a forehand reverse pinch shot that got his side back in the service box.

They tied the score at 14-14 as Parrilla hit two winning pinch shots, and Mar skipped a shot. But a Montoya pinch shot denied Parrilla and Portillo their first game point, and gave his side another match point opportunity.

However, he skipped a shot on that first opportunity, and on the second Parrilla hit another winner: a forehand down the right side that put his side back in the service box. Portillo closed out the game on the next rally, as he hit a forehand down the left side.

In a tournament of tie-breakers, why not have one more?

Parrilla and Portillo led early in the breaker, at 4-1 and 6-2. But Mar and Montoya caught up at 6-6 and went ahead 8-6, so Parrilla and Portillo called a timeout. When play resumed, Parrilla hit a pinch shot winner to get his side back in to serve.

Then Eduardo Portillo happened. He hit winners on the next five rallies to win the game for his side, 11-8, and the match, 2-1.

This was the tournament of tie-breakers, as from the quarterfinals on in singles and doubles, 10 of the 13 matches (not counting the injury forfeit) went breaker. You can check out the great action that you may have missed - or view it again - at the IRT YouTube channel.

The next IRT event will be the McNamara Hall of Fame event in Minneapolis, February 29-March 3.

2024 IRT 44th Lewis Drug Pro/Am
Sioux Falls, South Dakota - January 25-28, 2024

IRT Singles - Final - Sunday

7) Samuel Murray d. 4) Rodrigo Montoya, 15-12, 9-15, 11-10

IRT Doubles - Final - Sunday

3) Andree Parrilla & Eduardo Portillo d. 1) Javier Mar & Rodrigo Montoya, 12-15, 15-14, 11-8

Follow the bouncing ball….

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