Okay, it’s 5:30AM PST and I’m up early from a great night’s rest here in Stockton, CA and wishing I was in Minneapolis at the US Open today. It’s tough to stay home from the biggest tourney in racquetball when you love the sport as much as I do, but I’m getting kind of used to it now. The alternative here in the Nor Cal is good too. I get to taxi Julius around to various activities and spend a lot of time with my two ladies of the house. So I’m good with missing a few US Opens and other national events for a few years. I’m 38, so providing the CPRT can stay in business for a few more years, I plan on cleaning up on that tour in the very near future!!……. But enough about my sorry situation, let’s get into today’s great match ups on the IRT and WPRO. The CPRT draw isn’t quite worth discussing yet…….
IRT Quarter Finals
First off let me say that I find it interesting how the times are set up for the IRT Division. The first two quarters are at 1PM and 2PM then there is a break for the division until the 5PM hour. The WPRO does not play at the same time so I’m wondering if they’re going to play CPRT matches on the show court during this down time, which could affect the crowd or are they just anticipating longer matches since it’s the #4/5 and #3/6 seeds? It’s not a major topic and I don’t think the extra rest that the first two winners receive will affect the semis matches, but it’s also worth noting that the schedule could have just read by the hour in order, knowing that they were all going to be played one after another.
Quarter Final #1 (1PM): #12 Charlie Pratt vs #4 Jack Huczek
Great win for Charlie over Chris Crowther, especially in three straight. Chris is a massive man with equally talent to his stature and to take him down at the US Open is Charlie’s biggest win to date…… Jack has looked solid so far, especially with his Round of 32 result in dismantling future star Carlos Keller of Santa Cruz, Bolivia. No surprise with Jack’s level, he’s always playing at least above average……. I actually expect this match to be fairly entertaining in a low expectations kind of way. Charlie has a good head for big matches, he’s proven that with decent results on the outdoor courts in front of a lot of spectators and his game style is calm and composed. Not sure he has the stamina for the win but he won’t just beat himself. I actually like watching Jack even though he and I no longer have conversations due to his asshole treatment of my buddy Shawn Royster, but I certainly do like watching him play and respect his racquetball game immensely. The reason I like watching Jack is because he doesn’t BS around too much, taking all kinds of time. He gets in the court and plays hard and fast. I think Jack will win this match in four games and it will be a struggle for Charlie to even win the one game, but he’ll tough one out. Jack will control the three games he wins and will advance to a match up with Kane….. Oh wait, did I just give that away??
Quarter Final #2 (2PM): #6 Mitch Williams vs #3 Ben Croft
This quarter will have the most on court fire of them all. What I mean is the intensity in this match will surpass all others for the day. Ben is obviously very intense on the court, to a fault at times, but always ready. If Mitch brings that same intensity it will be on!! Honestly, I really hope the referee affects this match. I know that’s wrong to say but I’m being honest here and I love to see the reactions of Ben when he’s pissed at the world, especially when he’s playing a buddy. At least I think they’re buddies, I know they hung out in Pueblo together. Mitch has been battling injuries for the past year and because of that, I’m not sure how ready he is to advance in such a big event. Good wins for both players in the Round of 16, so no advantage there…….I’ll take Ben in four because I’m certain he wants it bad and I can’t wait to see my boy Rojas take him down in the semis……. There I go again, giving it up too early!!!
DID ANYONE REALIZE THAT SUDSY MONCHIK IS DOING COLOR COMMENTATING TODAY AT THE OPEN????
Quarter Final #3 (5PM): #18 Alvaro Beltran vs #7 Jose Rojas
I’m super biased with this match up so I’ll tell you right off the bat, expect the obvious with this pick!! But what a win for Alvaro!! From behind the computer it seemed as if the bad call early in game one woke Alvi up and then from that point on he played as calm as I’ve ever seen him play. When Alvi is calm and feeling it, he’s the second best player in the game. Even when he’s slightly chubby and definitely not fit enough to win this tourney, he’s still a threat to beat anyone, evident in his win over Rocky. Alvi’s splatting ability on this court is serious and Jose will have to defend against that by not allowing a lot of splatting opportunities for Alvi. Easier said then done but Jose is not your ordinary player. Jose toughed out a win vs Alejandro Landa, who’s probably the best player nobody really knows about……. I’m taking Jose Rojas in five games tonight. Alvi will be awesome for parts of the match and extremely average for other parts, mixed in with a lot tired at the end. Jose will wear Alvi out in the end and win game five convincingly. This will end up being the best match of the night. It’s already the most intriguing of the night and second to Croft/Williams in most anticipated. 209 will represent!!
Quarter Final #4 (6PM): #8 Andy Hawthorne vs #1 Kane Waselenchuk
This match will last 27 minutes!!!! But really, does anyone have anything for Kane? I don’t think so this tourney. He’s just on another level, which is stating the obvious, but it’s in all phases. He plays better shots than everyone. He plays at a faster pace than everyone. He has better stamina than everyone, including Rocky. AND, he’s WAY MORE CONFIDENT than everyone!!! You all have no chance and I find that kind of funny. It’s a bit depressing as well since the outcome is already nearly 100% known. Oh, this won’t last forever, he’s 28 and others will get stronger, but for now, it’s reality. Much respect to Kane, he’s great and would probably be just as awesome in a few other sports as well…… Blah, blah, blah. Kane wins in three, total points of 9 for Hawthorne. Good tourney Andy!! I’m sure you’re playing 25+ too and maybe a doubles or two of some sort.
SUDSY MONCHIK ON THE MIC……. DON’T MISS IT!!
WPRO Round of 16’s & Quarters
This is a great day of racquetball for the WPRO as they have the spotlight or a good portion of the morning and maybe a piece of the afternoon. There are a few quality match ups in the Round of 16, beginning right at the top and ending at the bottom. Both top seeds will be tested early today and both could actually lose in the 16’s. Sounds crazy I know, but it’s true and just may happen in a few hours!! Here’s my take on the day’s action through both rounds.
Round of 16’s (9AM): #13 Susy Acosta vs #4 Kerri Wachtel & #12 Cristina Amaya vs #5 Samantha Solis
Susy vs Kerri will take quite awhile as they are so closely matched. If Susy’s drive serve is on, she’ll win but if it’s coming off the back wall then advantage Kerri. I’ll take Kerri in this one in five close games. Both were tested in the 32’s and this is really a pick em match for me…… Samantha vs Cristina will have plenty of exciting rallies but Sam will win the majority of them and advance with a four game win. I’m giving Cristina one game because she’s obviously playing good to take out Maiko Sato of Japan in four games. But in the end, Samantha is one of the top 3 players in the world right now even though her ranking is not quite that high. She’ll get it done………. This gives us a Wachtel vs Solis quarter final at 5PM. A solid quarter final match up and I expect the play to be entertaining. I’m picking Samantha in four games as she’s just too powerful for Kerri at this stage of their careers. Samantha has her emotions more under control these days and that factor allows her to get past all the close matches she used to give away.
Round of 16’s (10AM): #14 Aubrey O’Brien vs #3 Cheryl Gudinas & #11 Christie Huczek vs #6 Adrienne Fisher
The word I’m hearing is that Cheryl is not 100% with her health. I think it’s her knee but I’m not sure either so this is all hearsay. The past match ups between these two have basically not been close. Maybe there was one decent match in the lot of them, but Cheryl owns Aubrey. Hate to say it because Aubrey is a fellow Nor Californian, but I’m taking Cheryl in three. I hope I’m wrong about this, but Aubrey has to prove it first…….. Christie vs Adrienne is kind of interesting because Adrienne can match Christie with power but ultimately Christie can wear her down. I’ll take Christie in four games, conditioning being the key factor. Christie knows how to win and is a major threat to win this tournament…………. So, Gudinas vs Huczek for the semi final berth is a nice, nice match. Although it won’t be, Christie will hammer Cheryl. Always does and with Cheryl not being healthy, it’s a wrap for Christie. I can’t even see Cheryl winning a game so I’m taking Christie in three. Again, I hope I’m wrong with this pick and for the crowd’s sake, Cheryl is up for the challenge.
Round of 16’s (11AM): #15 Angela Grisar vs #2 Rhonda Rajsich & #26 Jessica Parrilla vs #23 Sharon Jackson
Angela vs Rhonda used to be the highlight match up anytime they played. Now it’s a tough, tough Round of 16 match for Rhonda. I’ll take Rhonda in this match and it will be three straight. Angela must be playing okay to beat Janel but Rhonda is ready and understands the importance of not underestimating Angela’s abilities. Angela is kind of like Alvaro on the women’s side with her talent being second to none, but I don’t think she’s as dedicated as Alvi is to the profession of racquetball. That will keep her from performing at her peak today and Rhonda won’t let up……… Okay, this is the match all the dudes are waiting for today!! It’s definitely two very attractive young ladies getting it on in a very passionate and aggressive game style. Please put this on the show court so the world can watch!!! Honestly though, DO IT, DO IT. I have no idea who to take, nor do I care. Both are tough and will compete well against Rhonda in the next round, but I’m quite certain that everyone just wants to see it go five!! For what it’s worth, I’ll take Jessica in a close five. She’s a crazy animal on the court and that passion will be the deciding factor……… I’m spent with this section already, so I’ll keep it short, Rhonda in four. She’ll have a tough time focusing against either opponent and will simply get caught up watching for at least one game. She’ll recover to win three easy ones but I guarantee Rhonda will enjoy this match up more than all others all season long!!
Round of 16’s (12PM): #17 Jacqueline Paraiso vs #1 Paola Longoria & #25 Aimee Ruiz vs #24 Nancy Enriquez
Great matches, save the best for last. Very nice scheduling, especially since at least one of these matches should be on the show court. Jackie can beat Paola, no doubt about it. But, she won’t. Paola in four games in this very tough Round of 16 battle. I don’t think the two gals are that friendly either so hopefully you all get some fireworks going during this match. Jackie will not back down and Paola is the best right now so the rallies will be tough and this is a great showcase match for the event……. Ruiz vs Enriquez is a very solid match too. It’s a pick em as Nancy is just now getting fully back into playing a lot of pro racquetball and Aimee is a very talented player who is beginning to play more herself. I’ll take Aimee in a tough five game battle that will be the match of the day in the WPRO Division. Aimee’s serving abilities will be what wins it for her in game five. She won’t have much left for Paola later tonight but so what, a quarter final result at the Open earns her some much needed ranking points………… So you guessed it for the Quarter Final match, Paola in three. She’ll be too much for either gal at this stage of the tourney. Aimee will play well at times but Paola will win without a lot of struggle an advance to another match up with her girl Samantha.
*Enjoy today’s matches!! Let this blog stand as my word on my pics so that when I go 100% today, I can boast it up. If not, so what, it’s fun to write and I hope you all enjoy. Feel free to shout out to me on the RW Message Board if you want to comment about my picks. I’ll be back tomorrow morning with my Semi Final picks. Until then, keep em rollin…………….