The Race 4 Eight IV can be summed up in three words: Paul Brady Domination. Brady has decimated his competition through five R48 IV events, winning all five R48 IV events and losing just one game in 20 matches.
With a fortune in bonus money to be awarded to the top eight R48 IV finishers and Paul Brady already clinching #1, each player ranked between numbers 2-8 will be jockeying for their slice of pie.
The Irish have completely dominated the R48 since the Moreno won the R48 III Houston in January of 2014, winning eight consecutive R48 events (Brady x 7, McCarthy).
The Elite 8
Brady is aiming for the first perfect R48 season and needs four consecutive wins in Salt Lake City to make history. Brady has outscored his opponents 650-257 in 20 matches this season, winning 40 of 41 games and appearing to be completely invincible throughout the majority of the season. Brady lost in the opening round of the 2014 WPH Aces Player’s Championship and will be even motivated to recapture the crown he won in 2013.
Breaking news: * Brady suffered what appeared to be a leg (quadriceps) injury on Sunday, 4/12/15 in the All-Ireland Senior Doubles final, forcing “The Gunner” to forfeit the match at the start of the third game. Brady’s odds immediately dropped from 1:5 to 1:1 (even money vs. the field)
#2 Luis Moreno: R48 IV Match Record: 10-6
After appearing in the finals of the first two R48 IV events of the season, Moreno has not played at the level in which fans are accustomed to seeing in the last three events. Losses in the semifinals in Houston, semifinals in San Francisco and the round of 16 in New York (gasp) have put Moreno in danger of falling out of the top two in the R48 rankings for the first time since 2011. Moreno will need to finish ahead of Peixoto in Salt Lake City to finish the year at #2
Peixoto has firmly established himself as a top three R48 star over the past 14 months and has finished in the top five in each event on the R48 IV tour. Peixoto advanced to the finals at the Olympic Club in February, arguably providing Paul Brady will his most difficult test of the season. Peixoto also has two fifth-place and two third-place finishes on the R48 IV season, making him the most consistent player on the tour outside of Paul Brady. Peixoto would surpass Luis Moreno on the rankings for the first time in Race history if he finishes higher than “The Natural” in Salt Lake City
#4 Sean Lenning: R48 IV Match Record: 9-6
After a dismal R48 III season that saw Lenning drop to #9 on the R48 rankings, Lenning rededicated himself to the sport, climbing back to #4 this season with a finals appearance in Houston and a semifinals appearance in New York. Lenning has looked unstoppable at various points during the season, defeating several top 12 pros in under 20 minutes. Lenning has proven to have the game to compete with Brady, losing an 11-10 tiebreaker in the finals of the 2007 U.S. Open and an 11-9 tiebreaker in the semifinals of the U.S. Open in 2012 to “The Gunner.” Lenning has not been as competitive against Brady since, but when at his best, Lenning strikes fear into any top pro
Fink has been wildly inconsistent on the R48 IV tour, losing twice in the round of 16, once in the quarterfinals and twice advancing to the semifinals. Fink has shown signs of excellence, defeating Mando Ortiz and taking a second game lead on Brady, while also demonstrating monumental lapses in concentration, losing a 15-1, 4-1 lead in the round of 16 in New York and failing to convert a match point in the second game. Fink is one of four players (Moreno, Lenning, Alvarado) to have competed in all four WPH Player’s Championships and one of two players to be ranked inside the top eight on the R48 tour since the inception of the tour in 2011 (Moreno)
#6 Mando Ortiz: 6-8
After an 18-month hiatus from Race play from 2012-2013, Ortiz emerged as the most exciting player on the tour during the R48 III season, defeating Mulkerrins, Alvarado, Peixoto, Fink, Lenning and of course, Paul Brady at the 2014 WPH Aces Player’s Championship. Ortiz has struggled to find the magic this season, failing to advance to the semifinals through five events. Ortiz, however, has proven that he can catch fire at any moment, and every pro player knows that no one can shoot the bottom board from anywhere on the court with both hands like Ortiz. Ortiz is comfortable at Salt Lake’s 4,327 altitude and could experience his R48 IV coming out party at the WPH Aces Player’s Championship
Alvarado has started just two R48 IV events, advancing to the semifinals of both. Alvarado stunned Mando Ortiz in the 2014 U.S. Open quarterfinals, rallying from a 12-18 second game deficit after losing game one to win a tiebreaker, and reaching his second semifinal by dominating WPH #3 Emmett Peixoto in two quick games in New York’s quarterfinals. The five-month break from Race play seemed to inspire Alvarado, who appeared to be more fresh and more precise in New York than at any point since the R48 I season. Alvarado has struggled with the R48’s top four in recent years, but his performance in New York sent a message to everyone on tour that he is playing to win every event in which he enters
#8 Daniel Cordova: R48 IV Match Record: 6-6
Cordova qualified for the first time at the R48 IV Tucson and has skyrocketed up the R48 rankings since. A fifth place finish in Houston, seventh in San Francisco and ninth in New York earned him his first top eight invite to Salt Lake City. At 22, Cordova becomes the second youngest player invited to the Player’s Championship behind his brother Luis, who was just 21 at the Player’s Championship I in 2012. Cordova has quickly demonstrated that he is a force on the tour, possessing one of the game’s best serves and earning victories over Stephen Cooney, Abraham Montijo, Marcos Chavez, Jonathan Iglesias and Luis Moreno
To watch all of the action from Salt Lake City, tune into race4eight.com on Friday, April 17th and the Watch ESPN App (http://espn.go.com/watchespn/) on Saturday, April 18th and Sunday April 19th. The WPH Aces Player’s Championship is the culmination of a sensational Race season that has featured unparalleled dominance by Catriona Casey and Paul Brady and the emergence of new stars Daniel Cordova, Stephen Cooney, Danielle Daskalakis and Martina McMahon.
WPH Senior Writer