IRT 2019-20 Player Outlook
This article reviews the top 30 ranked players (plus a handful of guys ranked below that) for the 2018-19 season, then provides an outlook for how they may fare in the upcoming season. Please note all predictions are by Todd Boss and not those of the IRT.
By Todd Boss
2019-20 IRT Season Ending Rankings Prediction
6. De La Rosa
2018-19 Top 10
#1 Kane Waselenchukreturns to the #1 ranking, but it wasn’t without some interesting ranking machinations throughout the year. Kane started the year seeded and ranked 3rdand fell as low as 8th thanks to a huge gap of missing points from the 2017-18 season. By year’s end though, even missing the Bolivian Grand Slam, he was well ahead in the rankings and won by a relatively comfortable margin in the end.
Outlook for 2019-20: I see no reason to predict anything other than another pro title for Waselenchuk; if he stays healthy, he’ll finish #1. Last summer’s “retirement” talk is long in the window, and I suspect Kane will be playing at this level for several more years to come, barring injury.
#2 Rocky Carson has opened up a significant gap between himself and #3 Landa … he and Kane had sewn up the top two spots with a couple tourneys left to go. But Carson has shown some chinks in the armor; he was beaten in the semis 5 times in 9 events. However, his consistency otherwise (he never failed to at least advance to the semis) powered him to a clear #2 ranking on the season. It constantly amazes me that Rocky continues to be this dominant as he passes the age of 40. He played in every event (he’s missed just one tour event in 20 years, and that was due to scheduling not injury) and I see no reason he can’t continue to be a top pro for years to come.
Outlook for 2019-20: Despite some semi-final’s losses, Carson should continue to hold off the next grouping of players next season to hold onto #2. On any given day Carson may take losses to the grouping of players just below him, but he has demonstrated yet again that his consistency will keep him near the top.
#3 Alex Landa held the #1 spot on tour throughout all of December and January, but fell to #3 by season’s end. He won the Florida stop after Kane lost to Beltran in the quarterfinals, his 3rd pro win, but all in all, he took a step back this season from last. His Florida win was his sole appearance in a final this year, and he got upset in the 16s or quarters 5 times in 9 events.
Outlook for 2019-20: I think Landa will have a hard time holding off players ranked just behind him and will slip in the rankings slightly next season.
#4 Andree Parrilla started the season ranked outside the top 8, and finishes ranked 4th and within one or two unlucky bounces of being #3. He lost twice 11-10 on the year and had an unlucky round of 32 match-up loss in Portland to a motivated former touring pro in Tony Carson. Parrilla’s consistency throughout the year (4 semis, 4 quarters) probably improves now that he’s got a top 4 seed and avoids the flip seeding starting next season.
Outlook for 2019-20: Parrilla should jump Landa for #3 early in the season thanks to the way the points defending works out, and then avoids Kane in the semis, giving him a good shot at chipping away at Rocky for #2. I think he stays in the #3 spot at the end.
#5 Alvaro Beltran finishes ranked 5th, same ranking he had last season, but took a pretty circuitous route to get there. Despite turning 40, he remains one of the top players in the land and still makes deep runs against the world’s best. He finishes his 17th season ranked in the top 10, most of them ranked in the top 5.
Outlook for 2019-20: Beltran can get a quick start with good results in the first few events (he has little to no points to defend early on), but the rising tide of players behind him will conspire to push him down the rankings by season ends.
– #6 Daniel De La Rosa struggled comparatively speaking this season, dropping to 6th after five straight seasons ranked 3rd or 4th. A couple of early upset losses in the 16s as well as missing the Bolivian Grand Slam conspired to give DLR his worst finish since 2013. He continues to be a force on the outdoor circuit, winning the one-wall singles title in Florida earlier this year and taking the finals of both Men’s and Mixed doubles in Huntington Beach. There was a time when he was the obvious heir apparent after the current upper 30’s guard retired; has he been passed by the rising tide of early 20s Mexican players?
Outlook for 2019-20: DLR faces a make-or-break season in some ways; he made the finals of 3 of the first 5 tourneys last year but faces an uphill battle to repeat that feat, meaning his ranking will sink as the season goes on. He may struggle to tread water at #6.
– #7 Samuel Murray improved his ranking one slot from last season, and was more consistent with his results (no round of 32 losses this year), but also struggled to get past the quarter final stage (making just one semifinal or better this year, in the season’s first event).
Outlook for 2019-20: Murray should be able to fight off the next group to keep his top 8 seeding, but it’ll be a dogfight.
– #8 Sebastian Franco maintained the last top 8 seed by the skin of his teeth; he finished just 30 ranking points ahead of #9 Montoya for that last spot. But we’re also setup for some intriguing 8/9 matchups starting next season; Franco is going to have his hands full to avoid round of 16 losses right out of the gate. Franco worked through some injury issues this season that contributed to some early round losses.
Outlook for 2019-20: Franco’s two best results were in the first two events last season; he may quickly fall out of the top 8 if he can’t replicate that success. After that, he’ll face a significant push from the likes of Portillo, Fernandez for the last top 10 spot.
– #9 Rodrigo Montoya Solis started the season ranked in the 20s and exploded up to finish ranked 9th. He took a bad upset loss 11-10 in Bolivia round of 16 that ended up costing him in the end. However, I look for him to get quickly into the top 8 next season and then to use the “flip seedings” to get away from Kane in the 1-8 match-up long enough to get some wins and start really climbing the ranks.
Outlook for 2019-20: I think Montoya is one of the best players in the world and with a full season dedicated to the tour will shoot up in the rankings. I’m predicting he finishes the year in the top 4. He’ll look to build on his excellent showing at the Pan Am Games.
– #10 Mario Mercado really struggled on the year, getting upset prior to the main draw several times and losing out on his top-8 seed. He was seeded as high as 5th this season, but starts next year outside the top 10 and having to face dangerous players in the 23-25 range as a round of 32 going forward.
Outlook for 2019-20: Mercado may be stepping back from the tour this upcoming season, having moved back to Bolivia. That may make it difficult for him to travel. If he were to play every event, I think he could hang right in the 10-12 range. We’ll have to see how much he plays. For the time being I’m predicting he falls into the 20s until we get a sense for how much he plays the tour.
Players ranked 11-20.
– #11 Jose Diaz improved year over year by one spot in the rankings, but it felt like he had a significantly better season. He made three quarters on the year and had two really solid wins over top-8 players. He was ranked as high as #8 at one point this season but couldn’t hold on and fell out of the top 10 by season’s end.
Outlook for 2019-20: I think Diaz treads water this upcoming season, finishing right around where he finished this past season (just outside the top 10).
– #12 Jake Bredenbeck had an up and down season, improving upon his year-end ranking from #14 last year, but having somewhat of a roller coaster season to get there. He fell to as low as #16, but then had his best showing of the season in NY, running to the quarters. He followed that up with a dominant showing at US Nationals, winning the title 1,1 over fellow pro Horn. Was this a turning point for Jake? He couldn’t have looked better at Nationals.
Outlook for 2019-20: Bredenbeck followed-up his great US Nationals performance with a solid tourney in Peru, beating Sebastian Franco before falling 11-8 to Mercado in the quarters. Whatever changes he’s made, they’re working, and I think he can break into the top 10.
– #13 David “Bobby” Horn couldn’t repeat his excellent 2017-18 performance and dropped a few slots in the standings. He made two quarterfinals this year, but also got upset in the 32s twice after starting the year with a top-8 seed. He had some bad luck with early match ups (he had to face, for example, Moscoso in the 32s in Bolivia), but did have a couple solid top-8 wins to make the two quarter final appearances. He made the final of US Nationals, but missed out on the US team unfortunately.
Outlook for 2019-20: Horn struggled with injury for part of last season, hampering his efforts. A summer of training should have him back in top shape. I like Horn to improve a bit on #13 and challenge for the top 10 again next season depending on how much players like Portillo and Fernandez play the tour.
– #14 Conrrado Moscoso earned 600 of his 724 ranking points by virtue of winning the Bolivian Grand slam. That was enough to get him into the top 16 on its own. He had just one other tier 1 appearance, a round of 32 loss to Murray at the US Open. There’s no doubting Moscoso’s talent … but he needs some more appearances, and some more match time against the top players on tour. And he needs to beat the players he should be beating, based on demonstrated abilities.
Outlook for 2019-20: Moscoso is a threat to win any tourney he enters … but the hard part is getting to the events. If the Bolivian Grand Slam doesn’t happen again, he loses nearly all his ranking points without stepping on the court. Geography and finances work against him; I see him entering a couple of events and making some noise, but plummeting back to the mid-20s in terms of rankings as a part time tour player.
– #15 Jansen Allen has seen a precipitous fall in the rankings, going from 6th two seasons ago to 9th last season to (now) 15th this year. Last season, he made 3 quarters and 2 semis …. this year he made just one quarter final, and that was in the season’s first event when he topped Diaz in the round of 16. I attribute this situation to some unfortunate matchups in early rounds (for example, he ran into a drastically under-seeded Montoya in the 32s at the US Open), but the tour is also deeper now, pushing Allen down the ranks a bit.
Outlook for 2019-20: I think this is the new reality for Allen; he’s going to have to face a tough player in the 32s each tourney just to qualify into a top seed, which is going to make it really tough for him to advance past the 16s in any event. I think he loses a bit more ground next season in the rankings.
– #16 Gerardo Franco has improved his ranking for the 4th successive season, playing the tour essentially full time this year. He made one quarter final, in Bolivia, thanks to one of the best wins of his career over Montoya. Franco also had an excellent showing at Mexican Nationals, taking out tough players Ochoa and Estrada before falling in the quarters to Beltran. Not a bad showing for a player in his first year graduated from Juniors.
Outlook for 2019-20: Franco can play, and can beat good players. I like him to keep pushing upwards in the rankings and finish in the 12-14 range.
– #17 Eduardo Portillo: Playing the tour essentially half time, newly graduated junior Portillo made the main draw in every event he entered, and beat two quality pros in California in January (Horn and Murray) to make the quarters for the first time. His bigger accomplishment on the year was winning Junior worlds 18U over nemesis Fernandez, putting a nice bow on his junior career. He and Gerardo Franco are a year apart and have played numerous times in the last few years, so it only makes sense that they’re neck and neck in the standings.
Outlook for 2019-20: Portillo playing the tour full time would mean trouble for the players just ahead of him, because he’s demonstrated he can beat nearly all of them. If he does play full time, look for him to finish just outside the top 10.
– #18 Thomas Carter finished essentially the same spot he did last year (17th) in his 2nd year of full-time touring. He made his first pro tour quarterfinal this year (in the season’s first event) and made 3 main draws in 8 events. This is slightly worse Season Summary performance versus last year, when he made the main draw in 6 of the 9 events he entered. Carter really came on towards the end of the season, getting 2 of his best career wins in the last two events (Camacho, Franco).
Outlook for 2019-20: Carter should stay right around the 18-20 range next season as the tour starts to see more talent play more frequently.
– #19 Adam Manilla saw his ranking drop a few spots from last year (15th to 19th), but did make a quarter final (in the season opener in Laurel) and had some solid wins on the year. He also made the semis of US Nationals, losing in a tiebreaker to eventual champ Bredenbeck.
Outlook for 2019-20: Manilla, like Carter above him, should stay right in the 18-20 range next season.
– #20 Robert Collins was one of just 6 players who made every event this year, but fell in the season ending rankings to his lowest point in 5 years. He was beaten in the 32s in 6 of the 9 events; three seasons ago he qualified for 12 of the 14 main draws.
Outlook for 2019-20: As with several players in the 15-25 range … the tour is seeing a big influx in talent right now and some guys are getting pushed downwards. Look for Collins to lose ground next season.
Players ranked 21-30
– #21 Andrés Acuña played 4 events and consistently made the round of 16 in all 4 he entered, no better and no worse. He remains right in the 20-25 range for the third successive pro season, likely due to being based out of Costa Rica and thus having significantly more costs to travel than domestic players. He had some really solid wins on the year, beating Camacho, Horn, Allen and Diaz in IRT events. he also had a PARC for the ages, topping #1 seed Landa before falling to Pratt in the semis. I think Acuna is a top 15 guy if he regularly plays, with period shots at making quarter finals.
Outlook for 2019-20: Acuna played Moscoso tough in the Pan Am Games, but as noted I don’t suspect he’ll play but about half of the events next year. Look for him to remain right in the 20 range unless he plays more consistently.
– #22 Felipe Camacho fittingly is ranked just behind his countryman and frequent international doubles partner. Camacho is the last of the 6 men to play in all 9 events this year; he made two main events on the year. Three seasons ago Camacho was a top 8 player; he continues his slide down the rankings as the tour adds talent.
Outlook for 2019-20: Being that he played every event last season, I’m going to assume Camacho is a FT tour regular again, and should end up right in the 20-22 range again next year.
– #23 Javier Mar might be the answer to the question, “what non-regular player has the best shot at breaking into the top 4 if they played regularly.” Mar played two events, lost both times when he ran into Kane (in the 16s of US Open and the quarters of the Syosset event), but routinely wins Mexican regional and WRT events when he enters (he took the 2019 Longhorn open in a staked draw, beating Estrada, Cardona and Garay in successive rounds for example), and I think he’s one of the top 5-6 players in the world.
Outlook for 2019-20: I’m going to assume that Javier plays more than 2 events next season … and as a result, he moves up in the rankings, but not enough to push for top 10. As noted above though, if Mar played full time, he’d be a force on tour.
– #24 Charlie Pratt fell to his lowest ranking in a decade thanks to having to defend winner’s points from last season, only playing in four events, and getting upset early in a couple of them when he did play (he had round of 32 losses to Fernandez and to Jake). He did make a solid run to the semis in his home-town Portland tourney, made the finals for the 2nd year running in a major IRF event (losing to Keller in the PARC finals), and did enough at US Nationals (making the semis in singles) to get onto the team for Pan Am Games, so that’s a successful season as you can ask for from a part time pro. I think he remains one of the best 10-12 players out there, even in part time play.
Outlook for 2019-20: Assuming Pratt again plays just part time, its hard to predict him moving much further away from the mid-20s.
– #25 Sebastian Fernandez got some solid wins on tour this year despite playing just four events. He had wins over Manilla, Pratt, and Mauro Rojas. Not too bad for someone who still has a year of junior eligibility remaining. He’s the defending Mexican 18U champ, made the finals of 18U world juniors last year as a 17yr old, is the overwhelming favorite to take the 18U world title later this fall, and continues to fare well in Mexican regional events. He’s one to watch for going forward for sure.
Outlook for 2019-20: Fernandez seems to be ready to tour full time, and ready to make a big jump in the rankings. I like him to end up right next to his junior nemesis Portillo at the end of the season, in the 11-13 range.
– #26 Mauro Daniel Rojas toured part time, made a main draw in Canoga Park in January, and curiously announced on FB that he’d no longer be playing US National singles. After missing months of events, he traveled to Syosset to play the final event of the season and got upset in the first round. I’m not sure what to expect out of Rojas going forward; is he going to play the tour full time? Is he going to take a step back and perhaps just play the events on the west coast? He’s got a ton of talent, didn’t really have any “bad” losses this past season, and with some luck can start getting some main draws.
Outlook for 2019-20: Unless he makes a big push to play FT, I see Rojas hanging around in this same general area for next season.
– #27 Javier Estrada: Estrada finishes ranked 27th on the season, an interesting feat considering that he appeared in zero tier 1s. He accumulated all his ranking points playing in and winning lower tier events, mostly held in Mexico. The biggest such win though happened in the last event of the season, where Estrada took out a slew of top IRT pros (DLR, Fernandez, Mercado, Moscoso and lastly Montoya) to win the title and vault his name into competition for the sports elite. This wasn’t the first time we’ve seen him beat top competition (he has wins in the last two years over the likes of Landa, Beltran and Cardona), and we hope he finds his way up to regular tour stops for next season.
Outlook for 2019-20: Word on the street is that Estrada is going to play more Tier 1s this season, which should be an interesting test. I envision him playing a few events and having similar success to Javier Mar (making a couple of deep runs, beating talented guys) and finishing in the teens. If he played FT, he’s a top 10 player next year.
– #28 Eduardo Garay played IRT tier 1s for the first time in several years this season, making a couple of main draws and putting losses on a couple of IRT regulars along the way. He hails from Mexico, but switched allegiances this year to represent Colombia, and he may be putting his name into the Colombian National team mix quickly.
Outlook for 2019-20: It does not seem like we’ll see Garay full time, so the 28-30 range seems like what we’ll see for him next season.
– #29 Carlos Keller had points from just two IRT events (where he made the quarters of the Bolivian grand slam and forfeited out of the 16s of the Black gold cup with injury), enough to get him ranked in the top 30. In reality, he’s significantly better than his ranking, being the two-time defending PARC champion and holding h2h wins over multiple IRT top-10 players in the last couple of years. As with Moscoso, travel issues prevent him from playing a full slate, which is a shame b/c he’d be pushing for a top 8 ranking with regular play.
Outlook for 2019-20: I have Keller right next to his fellow Bolivian residents Moscoso and Mercado in the mid-20s; he’ll play in a couple of events, make some noise and beat top players, enough to get him points to tread water in this range again.
– #30 Diego Garcia snuck into the top 30 by virtue of playing four events, making the main draw in the Bolivian Grand slam before losing to Landa. He’s the reigning 16U world Junior’s champ and should be a favorite to contend with Sebastian Fernandez for the 18U title this coming fall. RYDF has helped him with travel costs, giving him a chance at multiple events, and hopefully he continues to play the pro tour as he can.
Outlook for 2019-20: It remains to be seen how much Garcia travels this year, but he could improve slightly on his 30 ranking this year especially if the Bolivian grand slam returns and he makes a run there.
Players ranked 30th and up; notables to watch for next season.
I like these players to push to make moves into the 20-30 range, displacing some of the players above.
– #31 Maurice Miller made it to 5 of the 9 events, playing top pros tough along the way.
– #34 Anthony Carson entered 2 events, upset a top-8 guy in each event (Parrilla one time, then Mercado) … and then unfortunately tore his Achilles heel, side-lining him for months. The former top-8 touring pro is always a danger when he enters events and we hope he gets well soon.
– #38 Ernesto Ochoa finished 38th without (like Estrada before him) playing in any tier 1s this season. In fact, Ochoa has never played in a tier 1 in his career, earning all his points playing in 5 different lower tier IRT events this season. But make no mistake; he’s a player to watch for. In the last two seasons he holds h2h wins over Beltran, Mar, Parrilla and Mercado, and has a penchant for causing havoc in draws. Like many Mexican-based players, the apparent demise of the WRT has really diminished his playing time; let’s hope a revamped IRT tour with (hopefully) more reach south of the border gets guys like Ochoa (and Garay, and Mar, and Estrada, and Natera to name a few) more playing time and more exposure.
– #39 Nick Montalbano won the Vegas 3-wall singles event dominantly, and played in 5 different IRT events on the season, making one main draw.
– Coby Iwaasa just finished off a solid run of play at the Pan Am games (beating Pratt and Sebastian Franco before losing a tight one to finalist Beltran), and if he played the IRT full time would push for a top 10 spot based on his recent results. But he hasn’t played the IRT at all in 4+ years.
– Alan Naterais a mercurial player from Mexico who played his first ever IRT event in Syosset last season, but who has made the semis of Mexican Amateur Nationals two years running with wins over a slew of top names. Like with fellow up and coming Mexican players like Ochoa and Estrada, I feel like Natera playing the tour full time could be a force.
– Alejandro Cardona has made just a couple of IRT events in the last two years as he focuses on his business, but when he does play events, he gets results.
– Jordy Alonso played a few events last year without much success, but has played top players tough in local Mexican events as of late.
– Erik Garcia is the two-time defending Inter-collegiates champ and has been playing top players tough in local events lately; he’s a danger when he enters events to seeded players forced to qualify.