Tuesday, 29 January 2013

February 2013 Selection Event Draw/Preview

EDIT Jan 30: 2 days before the tournament and changes to the draw. Hopefully this will be the last one! Francois Viens has pulled out of the tournament which doesn't change much other than some of the first round match ups but it is worth mentioning. The draw below is the amended version and I have also edited my reviews of first round match ups to reflect the new draw.

With the entry deadline past and the tournament approaching, I thought I'd take a bit of time to release the (unofficial) draw and give a brief preview of the tournament. Again, this is not the official draw, but it is based off of the current racquetball canada rankings and thus should be more or less what we see this upcoming weekend.

One of the most interesting aspects of this draw is the low attendance of top players (similar to the first selection event in Kelowna). With 4 of the top 8 players in Canada not attending (#2 Vincent Gagnon, #3 Kris Odegard, #6 James Landeryou and #7 Eric Desrochers), the draw again becomes very open and full of match ups we don't see that often. Unfortunately, the draw ends up looking very similar to what we saw in Kelowna so while these match ups aren't common, they are happening in back to back tournaments which may make things seem less interesting than they are. The contrast to Kelowna here is the size of the draw. With 23 entrants there is a full extra round (and in some cases 2 rounds) of play which not only ensures more racquetball for everyone, but additional opportunities for upsets. Speaking of upsets, let's take a look at the first round matches!

Top Half:
There will definitely be some hotly contested matches in this bracket. Samuel Murray and Francis Guillemette should both get by their first round opponents and set up what potentially thrilling second round matches with rising stars Kurtis Cullen and Coby Iwasaa. With the #8 and #9 seeds both receiving first round byes, the second round match between Hugo Laprise and aging veteran Troy Brooks also has barn burner possibilities and gives Laprise a chance to move into the quarter finals if he plays well. A great first round match up between youngsters Sami Harb and Sebastien Juteau rounds out the top half and will showcase not only the future of our sport but some exciting and energetic racquetball as well.While this writer believes the top seeds will still advance to the quarter finals, there are definitely some entertaining matches along the way, and several chances for upsets exist in the top half of the draw.

Bottom Half:
From the looks of things the bottom half of the draw will be somewhat more straightforward than the top, as most top seeds should advance without too much trouble. The first round matchup between Albertan junior Mitch Brayley and Quebec veteran Patrick Jauvin could be contentious though, and if nothing else, will provide an interesting contrast in game styles. In the second round, former national team member Corey Osbourne could give some trouble to 3rd seed Nathaniel Husulak if he can impose his style on Nate in that match, and youngsters Nicholas Bousquet and Tommy Murray could also prove to be a handful for their higher ranked (and more experienced opponents) Pedro Castro and Lee Connell.. I will watch the match between Patrick and Mitch with anticipation, looking forward to my match with whomever I face as I've never played Mitch, and it's been years since I've played Patrick. I believe I will be able to move onto the 3rd round though, barring any catastrophically poor play. So while there are less opportunities for upsets in the bottom half, there is still some entertaining racquetball to be had.

Disagree with any of my predictions? Who's your pick to win? Who will be the best match of the 1st/2nd round? Comment below!

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