The Peculiar Case of The Natural

Posted on Oct 19 2014 - 4:00am by DV

By Dave Fink, WPH

Moreno_Struggles_pictureLuis Moreno has held the #1 ranking on the WPH Race 4 Eight tour for the majority of the Race’s existence starting in 2011. Moreno has dominated the tour with nine wins in 21 events, far surpassing the win total of any other Race superstar. However, since the WPH R48 III Stop #4 at the New York Athletic Club in March of 2014, “The Natural” has been very unnatural by his lofty standards, winning just seven of 14 matches against ranked Race pros in seven combined Race and non-Race events.

Examining the numbers:

  1. New York R48 III Stop #4: Nahorniak (win), McCarthy (loss), Iglesias (loss):
  2. 1-Denver R48 III Stop #5: Iglesias (win), Alvarado (win), Brady (loss): 2-1
  3. Salt Lake R48 III Player’s Championship: Lenning (win), Alvarado (win), McCarthy (loss): 2-1
  4. 2014 Canadian Nationals: Carroll (loss): 0-1
  5. 2014 USHA 4-Wall Nationals: Nett (win), Peixoto (loss): 1-1
  6. Plummer R48 Pre-Race: Lenning (loss): 0-1
  7. FLF Salute to Kids: Lenning (win): 1-0

Overall: 7-7

Failing to convert big leads and win close matches:

The strength of Luis Moreno’s game has always been winning close matches. However, Moreno has struggled to convert big leads and win close matches during his 7-7 struggles, once holding match point and losing, and twice being just two point from victory and losing.

  1. Leading McCarthy 17-13 at the NYAC R48 III Stop #4, Moreno lost 25-17.
  1. Leading Brady 21-20, 16-13 at the Denver R48 III Stop #5, Moreno lost 20-21, 21-16, 11-8.
  1. Leading McCarthy 21-15, 19-19 in finals of the R48 III Player’s Championship in Salt Lake City, Moreno lost the second game and relinquished a 5-0 in the tiebreaker lead and lost 14-21, 21-19, 11-5.
  1. Leading Peixoto 16-21, 21-4, 9-0 at the 2014 USHA 4-Wall Nationals. Moreno lost 11 consecutive points to lose 16-21, 21-4, 9-11
  1. Leading Lenning 21-11, 20-17 at the Plummer Pre-Race Bash, Moreno failed to convert two match points dropping match points at lost 21-11, 20-21, 9-11

Moreno still appears to be in the form that has made him the most prolific winner in the history of the Race tour and was one or two shots from winning five of the seven matches he lost. Moreno’s 7-7 record against ranked pros in his last seven starts could have very well could have been 12-2.

Perhaps The Natural is dealing with nerves at the end of matches, having been the #1 pro for the better part of three years. Perhaps Moreno is struggling with his focus or motivation, as the best in the game have targeted the #1 star.

Moreno will enter the U.S. Open as the defending champion, and a motivated Moreno will be a very dangerous opponent for anyone in the draw.

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