2023 3WallBall Event Preview/Predictions
by Todd Boss
The next big event on the Racquetball calendar is the 14th Annual KWM Gutterman 2023 3WallBall World Championships, September 27-October 1, 2023, at THE STRAT HOTEL in Las Vegas, Nevada. This is the biggest outdoor racquetball tournament of the year, offering three sports, dozens of divisions, and a ton of social fun.
This article offers a preview of what may transpire in the Pro Racquetball divisions on the powder blue courts that have become 3WB’s distinguishing feature. Note that the preview may not include those who are last-minute entries or who change partners after this is published, so apologies in advance if we miss some key participants.
Men’s 3-Wall Pro Doubles
The 2023 Men’s Pro Doubles event will definitely have a different look than in years past and will feature a new team champion. Several top SoCal players are missing the event due to Brandon Davis’s wedding, taking out the two-time champions Jason Geis/Micah Rich along with the 2023 Outdoor Nationals Champions Brandon Davis/Josh Tucker. Meanwhile, 2023’s Champions Rocky Carson/Eduardo Portillo have split up for the 2023 event. Carson is going back to his long-time partner Jesus Ustarroz with whom he’s won three major pro outdoor doubles titles. Lalo is teamed up with Alan Natera, who has been red-hot all year and could spell trouble for opponents looking to pass them.
Also split up for 2023 is the long-time, multi-championship winning team of Daniel De La Rosa/Alvaro Beltran. De La Rosa is paired up in Las Vegas with his U.S. National Championship winning partner Alejandro Landau while Beltran is continuing to play with the 13-time indoor #1 IRT Champ Kane Waselenchuk. Kane’s prior Vegas appearance resulted in a scintillating finals run.
Other teams to watch include Hall of Famer Robert Sostre, teamed up with fellow New Yorker Benny Goldenberg, and Adam Manilla, who made a shock run to the final last year with his old college roommate Nick Riffel.
Women’s 3-Wall Pro Doubles
Last year’s 3-wall pro champs Michelle Key/Janel Tisinger-Ledkins are not entering together, guaranteeing a new champ for 2023. Janel is partnered with Carla Muñoz, with whom she won Outdoor Nationals this year, and they’re an early favorite. Meanwhile, Michelle has paired up with Erika Manilla for an intriguing team that could make some noise. Beach Bash’s doubles champs Kelani Lawrence/Hollie Scott will be looking to find some 3-wall success to go along with their one-wall title.
Two additional teams to watch: LPRT #1 Montse Mejia has teamed up with her regular indoor doubles partner, LPRT #3 Alexandra Herrera, for a fun lefty-righty pairing that will be tough to beat. And, dark-horse doubles player Brenda Laime, who was a breakout star of last year’s Vegas event, is playing with experienced outdoor player Jessica Parrilla.
This Women’s Pro Doubles draw will be fascinating.
Mixed 3-Wall Pro Doubles
Dating to 2018, Daniel De La Rosa has been on the winning team of 12 of the last 15 Mixed Pro titles competed in the three majors. Will he continue the streak? He’s teamed up with Hollie Scott for the big Mixed 3-Wall Pro competition, with whom he took both the Beach Bash and the Outdoor Nationals titles earlier this year. There’s a slew of competitive teams entered who are looking to dethrone them. DLR’s former partner Michelle Key is entered into Mixed with King Kane, and they could be a formidable team. Erika Manilla/Adam Manilla are back; they made the semis last year. Portillo pairs with Alexandra Herrera to form a team that may surprise. Future Hall of Famer Rhonda Rajsich is out of retirement, playing with the Rick “Soda Man” Koll (champions in 2018). Lastly, watch out for LPRT #1 Montse Mejia teamed up with veteran Beltran.
Men’s One-Wall Pro Doubles
One-Wall has typically been the milieu of New Yorkers, but gradually we’re seeing more and more acceptance from DC, Florida, and beyond. And that is seen in the champions in Vegas lately, taking over for the NY originalists. However, two-time 3WB champs Robert Sostre/William Rolon are back and are favorites here since last year’s champs are absent and the prior year’s champs are not entered. Also look out for Joe Young/Rick Koll who will dominate the court and will be a real physical presence to work around for their opponents.
Two additional teams to watch: Portillo will be paired up with Benny Goldenberg; Lalo has great hands and Benny is incredibly solid in one-wall. I like Ryan Lopez and onewallball’s Ruben Pagan’s chances as a dark horse team. These guys play one-wall all the time and won’t be afraid of the favorites.
Women’s One-Wall Pro Doubles
All the top female outdoor pros are in the One-Wall division, mostly with jumbled partners from the 3-Wall Pro division. Your favorites might be Beach Bash champions Kelani Lawrence/Hollie Scott, but keep an eye on Carla Muñoz/Brenda Laime as favorites. Muñoz took last year’s one wall doubles title with Michelle Key, and Laime gets a ton of work on one-wall courts in the Washington, D.C., area. Michelle Key is paired up with Erika Manilla, whose power/down-the-line passing game is perfectly suited for one-wall.
However, when all is said and done, it wouldn’t surprise me if any one of six different teams took this title. Virginia’s Amie Brewer is entered; she was the 2020 champ. LPRT #1 Montse Mejia is entered with Alexandra Herrera; it’s hard to look past Montse in any format. Janel Tisinger-Ledkins is entered with Katie Neils; Neils has both a Beach Bash and a Vegas title. And then there’s USAR Hall of Famer Aimee Roehler, who’s won 6 career pro outdoor titles. It’s anyone’s ball game.
Mixed One-Wall Pro Doubles
As with the 3-Wall Mixed division, the odds-on favorite team here is the defending Vegas 2022 team and Beach Bash One-Wall Mixed Pro champs Daniel De La Rosa/Hollie Scott. But this massive division has some really fun teams to watch for. Kane Waselenchuk’s power game and ability to hit flat forehands with pinpoint accuracy will be brutal for opponents in one-wall, and he’s entered with Michelle Key, owner of 17 mixed doubles titles in her career. Rhonda Rajsich/Rick Koll are together; they’ve won three of these one-wall titles in Vegas in their careers. Ruben Pagan is playing with his on-court (and off-court) partner Aimee Roehler; they’re a tough team. And then there’s the surprise name: Cliff Swain is back in Vegas after years away, playing One-Wall pro with Carla Muñoz. Man, this division will be fun.
Men’s 3-Wall Pro Singles
It looks like we’ll have a new 3WB Men’s Pro Singles Champion for the fifth year running. The draws for Singles generally come together last-minute, but it does not look like 2022’s champ and current IRT #1 Conrrado Moscoso will be in Vegas to defend his title. We do know that the 2023 Outdoor Nationals Singles Champ Danny Lavely will be in Vegas to attempt to win his 2nd pro singles title of the year, and he will have to contend with Walter Ramos, the big lefty from NorCal, as well as the one-wall specialist from NYC, William “The Warrior” Rolon, to win the title.
Women’s 3-Wall Pro Singles
Two-time defending Vegas Pro Singles Champ Carla Muñoz is stepping aside from singles competition to focus her efforts on doubles this year. This opens the door for a new champion, and the early favorite is going to be LPRT #1 and Outdoor Nationals Singles Champ Montse Mejia. She’ll have to contend with a number of fellow touring pros and outdoor experts, not the least of which will be countrywoman Jessica Parrilla.
Men’s CPRT 40+ Pro Doubles
Robert Sostre/Greg Solis are the defending champs in the CPRT, but there are some fun teams to watch that will push them for the 2023 title. Alvaro Beltran/Rick Koll were the 2022 losing finalists and are back together for this year’s competition. Rocky Carson/Jesus Ustarroz are playing both Pro and CPRT together and will be tough to beat as always. Keep an eye out for two Florida residents Marcos Gravier/Joe Young; they can go deep in Vegas.
Men’s King of the Court
This year brings us a new fun event. Legends of the game will be competing in singles for a King of the Court title. Look for former IRT tour champs like Cliff Swain, Ruben Gonzalez, Bret Harnett, and Mike Ray to mix it up with fellow former IRT touring pros like Scott Oliver and Gerry Price. Throw in some outdoor legends like Craig “Clubber” Lane, Jesus Ustarroz, and Aaron Embry, then top it off with two of the leading sponsors of the sport in Rosco Halsey (LPL Financial) and Keith Minor (KWM Gutterman) and you have a heck of a competition. My money is going to be on Minor, but Clubber was a force in outdoor singles in his day, and you can never count out the ageless Swain.
As in years past, 3WB show courts will be streamed this year by both the IRT and the LPRT. This allows both show courts to be live simultaneously and to bring more excitement to the fans watching from home. Make sure to follow both tours on Facebook or YouTube and subscribe for live notifications.