With a new season of Canadian racquetball upon us, it seems only fitting that I keep with the tradition of last year in making some predictions as well as odds-setting for the upcoming event. The draws were posted earlier this week, but with Pedro Castro pulling out last minute due to concussion-like symptoms sustained in a recent car accident, it has changed the layout slightly. Because he had recently beaten fellow Quebec player Vincent Gagnon, he had jumped ahead of Nathaniel Husulak in the rankings and would have come into this tournament seeded 4th and sent strong contender and national bronze medalist Coby Iwaasa to the bottom half of the draw with 2nd seeded Gagnon and 3rd seeded me! The last-minute shake up though, keeps him on the top half with 4th seeded Nathaniel Husulak and 1st seed and National Champion Mike Green. Anything can happen at the first selection event of the season, as is evidenced by the early exits of the top seeds in years past, and this one definitely provides some interesting early round match ups to keep us entertained. Without further ado though, here are the odds on this year's Selection Event #1:
#1 Mike Green / 3:2 - with another national title in the bag to close of the 2012/13 season, Green showed once again that his rigorous training regimen and consistency on the court are unrivalled in Canada. He comes into this national tournament, once again, as the heavy favourite.
#3 Tim Landeryou / 2:1 - even with a second place finish at the National Championships, Landeryou is coming off an extremely successful season in 2012/13. Look for him to ride this confidence into a place in the finals, if not first place!
#2/5 Vincent Gagnon/Coby Iwaasa / 4:1 - out for most of last season and absent in all the national tournaments, Gagnon comes into the tournament as a bit of a wildcard even with his #2 national rank. Losing to provincial rival Pedro Castro earlier this month is either in indicator that the time off last season left him a little rusty, or will leave him with a desire to prove himself this weekend.
Perhaps the equal, but opposite side of the coin is Iwaasa, who comes into the event on the heels of an extremely successful season in 2012/13 nationally, but a bit of a mixed bag internationally in the last few months. Making the round of 16 at the US Open but then losing in the semi-finals at Junior Worlds perhaps illustrates best that the youngster has an extremely bright future ahead, but may still have work to do where consistency is concerned.
#4/6/7 Nathaniel Husulak/Samuel Murray/Eric Desrochers / 8:1
All talented players and all seeded to make it to the quarters, the difficulty these players face is stiff competition not only to make the semifinals, but the finals as well. With Desrochers the only one of the 3 to make a national tournament final, it will be an uphill battle for all these players but they all have the game to make it there if they can bring it at the right time.
#7/10 Kurtis Cullen/Lee Connell / 10:1 - my wildcard picks for this draw. Cullen has had Lee's number in their last couple of meetings but I believe the slow courts this week will even the playing field for Connell. With Kurtis now training in Green's camp and Lee having taken games off of Green in past matches, either of these players have the potential for an upset in that quarterfinal matchup if things go their way.
I'm extremely excited for this year's tournament and especially so with my change in sponsor to ProKennex for the next 2 seasons. I know I have a great team supporting me and can't wait to see where things go from here! Be sure to swing by the Duckworth Centre at the University of Winnipeg to check out the matches all weekend or if you can't be here in beautiful Manitoba, keep posted with the draws HERE, or keep checking the blog! I'll do my best to keep the updates coming :)