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The IRT Wraps up the 2023 Season

by Todd Boss and Karen Grisz

The IRT finished the 2023 season in grand style with two tournaments back to back in December. First up, the long-running John Pelham Memorial Tournament of Champions in Portland, Oregon, followed by the first ever Golden State Open Presented by JMB in Pleasanton, CA.

Thank you so much to the hosts of the tournaments: Wendell Pelham, Tim Locke, Hank Marcus (Portland) and Adam Manilla and Bobby Horn (Pleasanton), as well as all of the sponsors, volunteers and other supporters who make these events happen.

Pelham Memorial

Congratulations to Rodrigo Montoya for his Pro singles win in at the Pelham Memorial in Oregon.

The Pelham Memorial was an IRT Satellite event this year, but still featured four of the top five players (J. Bredenbeck, Moscoso, Montoya, and Parrilla) as they were vying for the end-of-the-year top spot. Let’s review the notable matches in the draw:

In the round of 16s, the top eight seeds advanced, and a few former tour regulars (Charlie Pratt and Tony Carson) had good showings against Rodrigo Montoya and Jaime Martell, respectively. Sam Bredenbeck had a solid match against Kadim Carrasco, pushing him to a tiebreaker.

In the Quarters, again all top four seeds advanced but a couple of the matches were closer than expected. Alan Natera, who has had a great year on tour, pushed #3 Andree Parrilla in the first game before Parrilla advanced in two. Martell took a game off of #2 Conrrado Moscoso before the Bolivian took control and moved into the semis.

#1 Jake Bredenbeck, who was trying to win this satellite to put as much additional pressure on Daniel De la Rosa heading into Pleasanton, was upset in two thrilling 15-14 games against Parrilla. Jake had game points on his racquet in both games, but could not convert as Andree moved to the final.

#2 Moscoso, who is still technically capable of winning the year-end event, lost easily to a familiar nemesis Montoya. Rodrigo has a number of career wins over Conrrado and topped him 15-7, 15-11 to get to the Portland final.

In the Finals, Montoya took out Parrilla in a tiebreaker that was cut short by an injury that forced Parrilla to retire.

Jake added to his points total, but Daniel De La Rosa was in a good position to be the year-end #1 player…depending on how everyone did at the….

Rodrigo Montoya Pro Singles Champion
Photo by: International Racquetball Tour

Golden State Open

Congratulations to the pro winners: Conrrado Moscoso in singles; Rodrigo Montoya and Javier Mar in Doubles.

IRT Golden State Open Singles & Doubles Champions, Mosoco, Mar, and Montoya
Photo by: International Racquetball Tour
IRT Golden State Open Singles & Doubles Champions, Mosoco, Mar, and Montoya
Photo by: International Racquetball Tour

Moscoso secures the last event of the 2023 season, his 8th career title. This moves him into a tie for 14th in total career titles, tied with none other than John Ellis , who was recognized this weekend for his induction into the USA Racquetball Hall of Fame.

The tournament, with one of the biggest IRT draws of the year, also marked the return of the portable court to the pro sport. Thanks to tournament organizers Adam Manilla and Bobby Horn for securing the funding and expending the effort to make this happen. Thanks as always to Keith Minor and KWM Gutterman for your ongoing support of the sport, and for housing the court. The pros put it to good use!

Here’s a recap of the notable matches in the draw.

In the 32s:

The GOAT, Kane Waselenchuk, seeded 19th in this event, cruised past Mexican 21 and under Erick Trujillo 15-7, 15-7 to get into the 16s and setup a rematch of Boston’s showdown with Moscoso. In a repeat match from Portland the week before, Sam Bredenbeck faced Bolivian Kadim Carrasco, but this time reversed the outcome and made it to the 16s. Two-time IRT champion Rocky Carson reminded current tour players that he can still play ball, topping #12 Javier Mar in a tiebreaker. Guatemalan #1 Juan Salvatierra surprised #13 Robert Collins to advance to the 16s.

In the 16s:

Andres Acuna dominated Alan Natera in the 8th/9th seeded match 15-6, 15-10, setting up the quarterfinal battle with DLR.

Rocky shocked #5 Andree Parrilla, who was slightly injured the week before in Portland, 15-11, 15-9 to move into the quarters.

In a very highly anticipated match, #3 Moscoso faced off against Waselenchuk. On the glass show court, Kane controlled game one for long stretches, but Moscoso kept it close and ended up losing 15-10. Conrrado came out firing in game two and took the game 15-4, forcing a tiebreaker. Conrrado won 11-4 with his typical “shoot with abandon” style.

Eduardo Portillo topped Alejandro Landa 15-10, 15-3 in what was Landa’s final pro singles match as a full time touring pro. Landa’s explosive style and fierce competitiveness will be missed.

In the Quarters, we got some match results with historical implications. #1 Daniel De La Rosa , who went into this event knowing that a semifinals appearance would seal the 2023 title, dropped a game to #8 Acuna but ground back to take a nail-biting tiebreaker 11-8.

#4 Rodrigo Montoya trounced Carson 15-1 in the first and then held on 15-13 for the two game win to advance to another semifinal.

#3 Moscoso beat the host of the weekend Adam Manilla 15-6, 15-11. Many of you know how hard it is to play and run a tournament at the same time!

#2 Jake Bredenbeck , who went into this event knowing that he needed a tourney win plus some help, was shocked by #7 Lalo Portillo 15-10, 15-13 to end his season. This result ended up officially sealing the 2023 title for DLR. We look forward to a strong 2024 season from Jake.

In the semifinals, DLR made fast work of Montoya 15-8, 15-7, and Moscoso easily beat Portillo 15-6, 15-2 to set up an entertaining final between two long-time rivals.

In the Finals, Moscoso played a comprehensive lights-out match, crushing the new #1 DLR 15-4, 15-3 to take the title. Daniel had little response to Moscoso’s dominance, and the Bolivian made a bit of a statement with the win. Despite finishing #2, Moscoso actually out-titled Daniel this year 4-3 (though Daniel made four other finals to Moscoso’s two, demonstrating a bit more consistency throughout the year). It was an amazing finish to an exciting IRT season!

Congratulations to Daniel De la Rosa, winner of his 3rd year-end title in a row. In the post-game interview, DLR announced that he will not be “touring full time” in 2024, alluding to his commitments to “another sport.” There’s little surprise here; he signed an exclusive 3-year contract with the Professional Pickleball Association in August which guarantees a salary, benefits, and expense reimbursement. His main sponsor Pro Kennex and Mike Martinez tried to manage the situation on social media by noting that DLR is a “multi-sport” sponsored player and has expectations of continuing to play and compete in racquetball. We hope to see him on the racquetball courts but wish him well with his other endeavors.

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