WRT Longhorn Open Preview
The first WRT event of the new year is upon us, and it looks like it will be a fantastic tournament. The draw is stacked and there’s all sorts of intriguing matches right from the get go.
Here’s some matches to look for and some predictions for this weekend’s event in Austin, TX.
The Draws are up at the r2sports home page here: http://www.r2sports.com/portfolio/r2-event.asp?TID=22338
Round of 32:
– Justus Benson – Diana-Shai Manzuri; newly graduated junior Benson has been playing a bunch of pro tournaments lately. Manzuri has been entering pro tournaments literally since before Benson was born (Manzuri’s first event in the pro database was in Jan 1997 and Benson wasn’t even born til 1998). Nonetheless, Manzuri is still a dangerous player; he put a loss on WRT #1 Horn in Denver in August 2017. Its youth versus experience here, and I’d expect Manzuri to prevail.
– Andree Parrilla – Rodrigo Garay: Garay was the 2013 world 18U runner-up, losing an 11-10 tiebreaker to Bolivian phenom Conrrado Moscoso. He’s no slouch. Parrilla has his hands full with this first round match-up.
– Jose Diaz – Eduardo Garay: not the first round match-up that Diaz was looking for: Garay is a dangerous player with a bunch of notable wins on his resume. In fact, in his last pro tournament in June, he took out Sebastian Fernandez, Parrilla and Jaime Martell before falling in the semis. This could be a battle.
– Jaime Martell – Brent Walters: another tough first round match-up; Martell is seeded 7th but has taken some early round upsets in the past season. He also had a WRT title in 2016. Walters is a fellow east-coaster making the trip for this event and could push Martell more than he’d like in the 32s.
– Edson Martinez – Juan Loreto: Two relatively unknown Mexican players, both of whom you probably should know more about. Martinez plays pretty infrequently but can compete; he put a loss on Jose Rojas in a 2015 IRT event and has made a couple of WRT semis. Meanwhile Loreto was the runner-up at the 2015 16U world championship but failed to make much noise in 18U in 2016 and 2017. He’s young but has room for growth.
– Rodrigo Montoya – Taylor Knoth; another tough match-up in the early rounds thanks to a lack of seeding points for Knoth. #2 Montoya has to face off with Knoth, who’s been playing pro tournaments for a decade and has made an IRT quarterfinal in his day. Knoth hasn’t played a pro tournament in more than 3 years but shouldn’t be taken lightly and could press Montoya early. Last time we saw Montoya he lost the WRT title by falling early in the San Antonio event; he’ll be looking to start out the new season strong.
Round of 16 possible matches to look for:
– Christian Longoria – Francisco Troncoso; the 8/9 matchup is always tough. Longoria is 3-0 versus Troncoso on the WRT so there’s some history here.
– Alex Cardona – Ernesto Ochoa; the 5/12 matchup gives former WRT #1 Cardona a tough match against Ochoa, who blew through the San Antonio WRT event in Dec 2017, beating Gerardo Franco and Parrilla before falling in a tie-breaker to the eventual champion Horn. Can Ochoa stay hot? Is Cardona in trouble here?
– Parrilla – Sebastian Fernandez; Parrilla gets another tough opponent if he can get by Garay in the 32s: Fernandez is the reigning Mexican and World 16U champion and just won the Open draw last weekend in Los Angeles (beating three veteran IRT touring pros in Sebastian Franco, Robert Collins and Felipe Camacho along the way). Parrilla is 2-0 against Fernandez across tours … but is the gap closing?
– Diaz – Gerardo Franco; If Diaz can get by Eduardo Garay, he gets another dangerous opponent in Franco. Gerardo made the quarters of the season’s opening IRT event, beating some tough players along the way and stretching De La Rosa to four games before losing. But he’s struggled since and will be looking to get back on track.
– Jaime Martell – Javier Mar; Martell runs into the dangerous Mar, who we last saw at the US Open beating two top players in Mario Mercado and Samuel Murray before falling to Rocky Carson in the quarters. I think Mar is a top 10 player in the world, even if he rarely plays pro events, and I look for him to advance here.
– Montoya-Martinez: a much tougher than it needs to be round of 16 for the #2 seeded Montoya, but he should be able to handle Martinez here.
Look at this round of 16: five or six quality matches with upset potential. This is looking like a great tourney.
Possible Quarters Match-ups: take these with a grain of salt, because there could be a ton of upsets that make these projections moot:
– Horn-Longoria: they’ve never met, but Longoria has some good wins and could make this close. But Horn isn’t #1 for nothing; look for him to advance here.
– Bredenbeck-Cardona: they’ve met no less than 15 times on the WRT (the most in the tour history): Cardona leads h2h 9-6 and won their most recent matchup, but Jake got him twice before that. Expect a battle. I’ll give the edge to Jake, who has an easier 16 match and has been playing a lot lately.
– Parrilla-Diaz: they’re 1-1 h2h on the WRT: Diaz beat him in Oct 2016 and Parrilla returned the favor in Aug 2017. Diaz also has a win over him on the IRT. Parrilla may be the favorite by seed, but Diaz has been committed to playing full time since his college graduation and gets better each stop. Its a tough one to predict if it happens; both guys will have more than earned their spots in this quarter final thanks to brutal early round matches.
– Montoya-Mar: this was the FINAL of last year’s Longhorn Open (won by Montoya), but is just a possible quarter this year thanks to the deep draw. Montoya beat Mar in Jan of last year, but Mar returned the favor, beating Montoya in the final of San Luis Potosi in August 2017. This is a tough one to predict; I could make an argument for either player to advance. If Mar’s serve is on, he’s tough to beat, but the same can be said for Montoya.
Semis & Finals predictions: Horn over Bredenbeck, Mar over Diaz and Mar in the final.
However, this is one of the deepest WRT draws I’ve ever seen, and I could see any one of a number of players running to the title. Horn and Jake are neck and neck (8-7 h2h lifetime across multiple venues). Parrilla can beat anyone in this draw and has demonstrated as much. Montoya can too; he won 3x last season and has wins over every guy mentioned here. Mar plays so infrequently that its hard to predict what he’ll do. Diaz has been playing a ton lately and might make a run to the final himself. Fernandez just beat a bunch of quality IRT guys and might advance to the semis in Parrilla’s place. And there’s no reason not to think Cardona couldn’t beat everyone in his way and take another title.
Can’t wait to see how it all plays out!