40th Annual Lewis Drug IRT Singles preview.
As always, visit www.proracquetballstats.com for the head-to-head records and past match results across tours referenced below.
Draws for this weekend are now available at the IRT home page … eventually at the r2sports site at this link: http://www.r2sports.com/portfolio/r2-event.asp?TID=22542
The IRT is back, and there’s a huge, deep draw playing this weekend in Sioux Falls (37 players, including 16 of the active top 20 on the IRT and all the top WRT players). There’s a ton of players who are entered into this draw who rarely play IRT events, and its going to make for some fantastic early round matches.
Furthermore, the draw is missing Kane Waselenchuk, who I can only surmise is not healed from the knee injury that knocked him out of the final of the LA tour stop event two weeks ago. That means … the draw is wide open. Other notable absences include: #9 Andree Parrilla, #15 Charlie Pratt and #20 Adam Manilla.
This event features a seeding “flip,” which scrambles the 5-8 seeds and ends up really penalizing a couple of guys; read on to the quarter finals projection to read more.
Here’s a look at some of the early matches I think are intriguing, with some projections and predictions all the way to the final.
round of 64:
– Javier Mar – Tim Landeryou; The 4-time Canadian Nationals finalist Landeryou takes on the reigning Mexican National Champ in the first round. Mar forfeited his quarter finals match last weekend due to injury but is still entered here: Hopefully he makes the trip. If he’s healthy, I give Mar an edge.
– Matthew Ivar Majxner – Sebastian Fernandez; Another veteran vs Youth matchup; Maxjner has been playing pro events since 1999. Fernandez wasn’t even born yet in 1999.
– Robert Collins – Taylor Knoth; a tough first rounder for tour regular Collins, having to face Knoth (who plays a pro event for the second successive weekend after taking 3+ years off). Knoth looked decent against Montoya in an early round loss last weekend; can he advance here?
– Gerardo Franco – Eduardo Lalo Portillo : a rematch of the 2017 Mexico 18U final, won by Franco 10,10. The last time we saw Portillo he was stretching Kane 6,9,9 at the US Open. Franco has focused on the WRT recently; playing every event last season, and has some good wins but has not been able to repeat his IRT season opening performance (a quarter finals appearance). Expect this one to be close, and who ever wins has an inside track to the 16s.
– Lee Connell – Francisco Troncoso: Canadian veteran Connell mostly seems to play only in IRT events close enough to his Saskatoon home to drive, but for years he played the tour fairly regularly (nearly 50 tier 1 stops to his name). Chilean Troncoso has a similar history; these two should play to a fun match-up early.
– Mauro Daniel Rojas – Alex Cardona; phew; rough first round for both guys; Cardona rarely plays IRT events but leads the WRT in career tourney wins. Rojas gets another tough early-rounder in his fledgling pro career.
Round of 32 matches to watch for:
– Dylan Reid – Felipe Camacho: this looks to be a close match; Reid can stretch many the IRT pro, but Camacho is having a fine season, now sitting at #11 on tour.
– Jose Diaz – Sebastian Fernandez; Diaz forfeited out of last weekend’s WRT event, robbing us of an anticipated good 1st round match. Both these players will have to win to get here, but this could be a great one as well. Diaz has the edge, but Fernandez (the reigning world 16U champ) can do some damage.
– Rodrigo Montoya Solis – Taylor Knoth; If Knoth can get past Collins … then a rematch of last weekend’s round of 32 awaits. Montoya beat Knoth in Austin 5,9 en route to making the final of the stacked event; Its too bad they project to play again back to back weeks.
– David Horn – Cardona: Two of the top WRT players are set to face off in the 32s; Cardona leads h2h 4-2, but Horn beat him in December in their most recent match-up and seems to be playing better right now (having taken the WRT 2017 title away from Cardona last season). I’ll give Horn the edge here.
Round of 16 projections:
– Rocky Carson – Mar: a repeat of the US Open quarters won easily by Carson, but Rocky’s still nursing his knee surgery. But Mar may be hurt as well. Nonetheless, if Mar is recovered, this might be closer than Rocky would like.
– Alejandro Alex Landa – Reid/Camacho winner: You’ll favor Landa either way, but I think Reid might give him a tougher match.
– Samuel Murray – Jose Diaz: If Diaz can get past the youngster Fernandez, he’ll face up with power-hitting Murray, who already has a quarter and a semi this season. A tough match for both players but a fun round of 16 for us.
– Montoya – Jansen Allen; Allen has played great this season, getting to two quarters and a semi. But I favor Montoya here in the “upset” over the 4th seeded Allen.
– Alvaro Beltran – Franco/Portillo: However the round of 64 match goes, two Mexicans will face off here with Beltran easily handling which ever youngster advances.
– Sebastian Franco – Jake Bredeneck: two of the hardest hitting guys on tour face off in the 6/11 matchup. They’ve played 5 times; Jake is 2-0 on the WRT, Franco is 2-0 on the IRT, and Jake got him once in an international event. Look for several broken balls, lots of loud rallies and a close match. I’ll give Jake the slight edge on the back of his great win last weekend.
– Horn – Mario Mercado; these two played in the 16s just two weeks ago in LA and Mercado got an easy win 13,5. But it was his first win over Horn in 4 tries; can Horn return the favor here?
– Daniel De La Rosa – Thomas Carter: they played for the first time in Sept 2017, with Daniel winning in 4. I think DLR senses a huge opening in this tournament with no Kane and a hobbled Rocky and will be especially focused.
– Carson-Landa: Landa should have been the 7 seed, which would have put him on the other side of the draw from Carson, who (frankly) I think is the only player in this draw who i’d routinely favor over Landa right now. So instead of this being the final, its the quarter. We’ll find out quickly if Carson isn’t 100%; I think this tourney is the best chance Landa might ever have of winning an IRT event. Landa played Kane tough two weeks ago, losing 11,9, but both games were neck-and-neck most of the way. He took off the Longhorn Open in his home state and comes into this tourney fresh. Whoever wins this match … I may favor winning the tournament.
– Montoya-Murray: they’ve never played but they both hit the heck out of the ball. I give Montoya the edge in court coverage and drive serving, but Murray the edge in consistency. Either way, I think this is Montoya’s to lose; he beat both Allen and Beltran en route to the semis in the season Opener, has only lost to Kane and Landa on the IRT, and can extend the rally in ways that few players can.
– Beltran-Bredenbeck: I’m not sure Jake can get here, but if he can, he has a great chance to take out #3 Beltran. Beltran beat Jake in their most recent match-up (a tiebreaker win in Oct 2017 on the WRT), but Jake has a couple of h2h wins over Alvaro in the last couple of seasons. Plus Jake is hot, having just won the stacked Austin draw, while Alvaro begged out of the last event with a back injury and has taken a number of upset losses in early rounds already this season. It has upset potential.
– De La Rosa-Mercado: I don’t see DLR being troubled by Mercado, or by Horn if he advances. DLR is a combined 7-0 against both players and moves on easily here.
Semis and Finals:
I’m going to go out on a limb here and predict a ton of upsets. Perhaps because its more fun to predict and root for upsets, but also perhaps because the combination of Kane’s absence and very recent injuries to both Carson and Beltran really open up this draw.
Semis prediction: Landa, Montoya, Bredenbeck and De La Rosa.
Final: Landa over De La Rosa.
If it plays out this way … Landa will have earned it, with wins over Carson, Montoya and DLR. He matches up favorably with the latter two, but perhaps not so much with Rocky. DLR has a clearer path to the final, and holds a 4-1 h2h record over Jake in his career if they meet in the semis.
Can’t wait to watch!
ps: I didn’t do a doubles review … but the IRT doubles draw is stacked too. Beltran/DLR, Jake/Diaz, last tourney’s champs Landa/Murray. Great matches there as well.