Magic City Fronton in Miami debuts its 6th Season of professional Jai-Alai in 10-days starting with Battle Court matches on Friday, February 3rd at 7-pm followed by the traditional Pelota games (aka pari-mutuel games) which begin on Monday, February 13th at 1:30-pm. Battle Court matches are the relatively new sports-betting style of head-to-head matches formatted like a tennis match where there are 3-sets to a match and the first team/player to win 2-sets wins the match. There are only two players or doubles team in a match and sets are single points to 6-points, so they are essentially a series of (3) mini-partidos to 6-points. Friday night Battle Court matches will again allow Live attendance with doors opening at 6:30-pm. Friday night the Chula Chargers take on the Rebote Renegades! Don’t miss out! If you can’t see it in person, CLICK HERE for the ways to watch.
The 2023 season comes with roster changes; two players have left the roster and there are six new additions, five from Dania plus a new player. Players Diaz and RonRon have left the roster. Diaz, who had suffered a back injury, has moved with his long-time girlfriend to Colorado and RonRon has moved with his family back to California. Note that Diaz has since recovered from his back injury. Diaz exited Magic City in winning-style when he won his last game played at Magic City on the 9/19/2022 H2H match 6 where he and partner Douglas won a hotly-contested match against the favored Flores-Manu team in 3-sets with scores of 6-5, 1-6, 6-5. RonRon leaves a legacy of having the 3rd best Win % for Pelota singles games in 2023. RonRon was also a member of the Rebote Renegades who won the Battle Court II Championship finals in November of 2022. Adios Diaz & RonRon and we wish you the best in your future endeavors!
Five new players to the Magic City Fronton are from Dania Jai-Alai. They are all currently playing at the 2-month Dania Beach Invitational Tournament which concludes on Sunday, January 29th. The new players from Dania are front-court players Goenaga, Iturbide and Zulaika and back-court players Arta and Urbieta. All of the players transitioning from Dania will be playing only in the Battle Court matches, however Arta and Urbieta will also be judging for the Pelota games. Note that Iturbide is in the final Championship partido match at Dania this Friday night after game 9. Iturbide-Oyhenard (4th seed) take on Urrutia-Mandiola (7th seed) in a 21-point partido where the winners each take home $2,500 and second place is $1,500 each. Zulaika is competing in a 15-point partido match for 3rd place on Thursday night where the winning doubles team members each take home $1,000. See the complete brackets for this tourney on the SayHiLi home page. Good luck to both Iturbide and Zulaika! Don’t forget there is WIN betting on these partido matches.
The remaining new addition to the roster is Iriondo from Spain, who is a US citizen born in New Haven, CT. Iriondo has never played professional Jai-Alai, but his father played pro-Jai-Alai in Connecticut and at the Miami fronton until 1988 under the name Retrolaza (note – see end of article for some Retrolaza history). Magic City had been contacted by Iriondo who had expressed interest in playing at the Magic City Fronton. He had enjoyed watching the short-court Magic City Jai-Alai games on the YouTube channel. Magic City Fronton player’s manager, Juan Arrasate (known as JR), scouted him out on his recent trip to Spain where Iriondo impressed him when they took to the court. Iriondo trained on a big court and he also studied engineering at a university in Spain. Stu Neiman said “he is a really really nice young man and has nice form on both sides.” SayHiLi’s Steve M and stat chart-man Joel A (Mo Crank in the chat rooms) welcome all of the new additions to the Magic City 2023 roster and wish them the best!
Previous Battle Court player and cesta-maker Manny along with Jairo will be competing in both Pelota and Battle Court matches this year. Jairo, another former Dania professional, joined the Magic City Battle Court roster in 2022. This should make for even more challenging late singles games 6 & 8 for Magic City Pelota matches, the likes of which haven’t been seen in this century at any US Jai-Alai fronton.
The 2022 Magic City Singles Championship was won by Goixerri with 58 wins (26%) and Douglas was second with 44-wins (19.6%). RonRon had the 3rd best percentage wins with 18.5 followed by Carballo with 17.6. Both Goixerri and Douglas played exclusively in the late singles games 6 & 8, featuring the top singles players. The roster additions of Manny and Jairo to these games should make for some added spectacular action in the Spec-7 format. Stu Neiman is pushing for the addition of a separate Early Games Singles Championship for the 2023 Pelota season. Sounds like a great idea Stu!
Robin who was injured last season will still be out through May of this year. Robin has been undergoing some intensive rehab on his left knee in place of surgery. Robin last played on 10/4/2022. Bradley who had been out due to injury last year restarted Battle Court matches on 10/25/2022. He will be competing only in Battle Court matches for the first part of this year.
Stu Neiman said there will be no changes to the Pelota format for 2023. Practice sessions have been on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, however since this is the 6th year for Magic City, practice sessions have been reduced however some Battle Court squads have taken to the short-court to practice for the upcoming Battle Court matches. Battle Court has expanded from (4) squads to (5) for 2023. The new squad is named the Dejada Devils. Be sure to check out the SayHiLi home page for the Battle Court squad team members and the doubles teams for each squad for Spring Battle Court in 2023. Squad members were finalized at the recent January 9 Battle Court Draft at the Magic City Fronton.
SayHiLi’s Steve M did some research on Iriondo’s father with his limited collection of Jai-Alai programs. He didn’t have any with history on Retrolaza at Connecticut frontons, but did find a Miami Jai-Alai program from 3/12/1987. SayHiLi is sure that pelotapress.com site owner Jeff “Laca” Conway can find some more history on Retrolaza competing in Connecticut. Here is program info Steve M found in the Miami program:
Retrolaza #33, Back-court, 6’ tall, 195 lbs, born 8/11/1964, Spanish Basque
Retrolaza showed a playing history of games 1,2,4,5 with an overall record (GP-W-P-S) of 149-25-21-30. The % ITM of 0.510 and % Win of 0.168 are well above average.
Don’t miss out on the hot Pelota and Battle Court action in 2023. Be sure to open and/or fund that BetRivers sports betting account for Battle Court and explore the pari-mutuel wagering account options offered by watchandwager.com and mywinners.com. If your state doesn’t allow Jai-Alai wagers at this time, be sure to partner with a good friend or family member who resides in a state where it’s allowed. Be sure to check with customer service to see if they allow wagers from your state as the lists change periodically. If we want to see continued pari-mutuel Jai-Alai then be sure to help the cause by wagering on this product. Here are the contact numbers:
Watch & Wager: (888) 204-9150, on-line wagers only
MyWinners: (800) 468-2260, on-line and phone wager options, Connecticut only option is MyWinners.
We have also found out from Andrew Blechman there won’t be any more weekly fantasy Jai-Alai contests for Battle Court. SayHiLi is working on some contest options/ideas for Battle Court and maybe even for Pelota games too with non-monetary prizes of Jai-Alai items including some really nice memorabilia items. Stay tuned for more on this and be sure to support both short-court and big court Jai-Alai to help with “Keepin’ the Jai-Alive!”