USA Racquetball News

John Pelham Memorial Tournament of Champions

by Karen Grisz & Todd Boss

The John Pelham Memorial Tournament of Champions returned to the Multnomah Athletic Club (MAC), Portland, Oregon, December 1-4, 2022. Nearly 170 racquetball players from all over the Northwest (and many of the top ranked IRT Professional racquetball players from around the world) created a special racquetball experience. The tournament also featured beginner and intermediate high school divisions.

Proceeds from the event benefited the Live Like John Foundation and its supporting charities. They also collected donations of gently used equipment to support junior/military racquetball programs through the Give Like John program.

Going into the tournament, the IRT had seen a number of champions emerge through the fall. Conrrado Moscoso won the US OPEN and followed that up with a win at the Golden State Open. In November, Daniel De La Rosa won the Dovetail Open in Florida, and Andree Parrilla won the satellite tournament in Monterrey. Rodrigo Montoya made several finals in that stretch as well. With #1 De La Rosa and #3 Moscoso absent from Portland, would this be #2 ranked Parrilla’s or #4 ranked Lalo Portillo’s chance for a second title of 2022? Or would someone else break through the pack for an upset win?

Nothing very surprising happened in the round of 32s, except that Alan Natera gave Jorge Carlos Thomas a double donut. In the round of 16s, most matches went according to the seedings, except #9 Thomas Carter logged a very impressive 11-9 tiebreaker win over the recently surging #8 Adam Manilla. Carter was serving well and making shots; Adam was leaving things up and not putting the ball away enough when he had the opportunity. With the win, Carter made his 3rd career pro quarterfinals. Charlie Pratt, in a rare sighting this year, gave Parrilla a run for his money but succumbed 15-10, 15-11. Rodrigo Montoya and Mario Mercado needed tiebreakers to win, but Portillo rolled through with the second double donut of the tournament.

In the Quarters, three of the top four seeds advanced:

– #1 Parrilla got pushed to 15-14 in game one by #9 Carter but then blew him out in game two, 15-2, to advance.

– #5 Bredenbeck improved to 3-2 lifetime against Big Canada Samuel Murray to move on, winning 9,4.

– #3 Alejandro Landa held off Mercado but needed a tiebreaker to do so.

– #2 Portillo blasted #7 Montoya 1,4 to move on. Montoya, who Todd tipped to win this event, did not drive serve early and never got anything going.

In the first semifinal, Bredenbeck won a fantastic match 11-9 in the tiebreaker that featured multiple come-from-behind actions to top his long-time rival Parrilla and move into the final.

Lalo Portillo was also facing a battle with Alejandro Landa. After winning the first game 15-13, Lalo won by default when Landa had to retire due to injury at 11-11 in the second game.

The final match-up was set. Portillo won the Capitol Classic in September. Could he make it two in 2022? Bredenbeck had other ideas. In a battle worthy of the last tournament of 2022, Bredenbeck won his first-ever Tier 1 IRT tour title with a 15-14, 8-15, 11-7 victory.

John Pelham Memorial Tournament of Champions Tier 1 Champion Jake Bredenbeck (Photo by USA Racquetball)
John Pelham Memorial Tournament of Champions Tier 1 Champion Jake Bredenbeck (Photo by USA Racquetball)
John Pelham Memorial Tournament of Champions Tier 1 Champion Jake Bredenbeck and Lalo Porillo with Tournament Director Wendall Pelham (Photo by USA Racquetball)

Bredenbeck becomes the 44th man to ever win a Tier 1 professional racquetball event, dating to the fall of 1974. Jake joins a club of “one-time winners” on tour which includes 10 players, several of whom are active currently (Murray, Portillo, Mercado, Franco, and Pratt). You can see these and any other statistics you’d like at

For a full look at the draws and results of the John Pelham Memorial Tournament of Champions, visit

Photos Courtesy of KSphotography Racquetball Media.

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