The LPRT is back in action, and back in Kansas City for the fourth time in three years. Thanks to major LPRT benefactor Randy Root and Teamroot.com for running his 4th grand slam and for his ongoing support of the sport (both pros and outdoor).
R2 Sports App link: https://www.r2sports.com/website/event-website.asp?TID=37491
36 of the top women’s pros from around the world are here competing representing 7 different countries.
Top20 players missing: None. For the first time that I can think of writing these previews, there’s not a single top20 ranked player missing from a pro event. The highest ranked players missing are #22 Erin Nocam Rivera and #23 Susy Acosta, neither of whom are full time tour players at this point. So this should be a fantastic draw.
Big news: the return of #3 Maria Jose Vargas Parada, who took time off the tour for the birth of her second child. She’s back, and it should be interesting to see how rusty she is when it comes to competing in the back-end of this event.
Round of 64
36 players means a round of 32 in Overland park; here’s a quick look at the compelling play-in matches:
- #32/33 Linda Tyler versus Montserrat Pérez; Tyler got a great win in the last LPRT event opener; this matchup projects to be a bit tougher.
- A couple of international juniors have flown in to make their pro debuts. Bolivia’s Natalia Mita and Colombia’s Camila Rivero are both 16U players and will provide tough matchups for María Paz Riquelme and Annie Roberts respectively.
– The 31/34 match is a bruiser; 2020 US National team qualifier Erika Manilla is set to face former touring pro and current top outdoor specialist Michelle De La Rosa. One top American will bow out quite early here, and I suspect it will be Manilla.
Round of 32 matches to watch for: Here’s some of the openers that I think will be compelling:
- 16/17 features two touring veterans in Adriana Riveros and @maria renee rodriguez, who have only managed to face off once before in a top-level event despite both competing on tour for years. Riveros topped MRR in 2016, but things are a lot closer between them now. I still slightly favor Riveros here, but MRR should push for the win.
- #8 Angelica Barrios vs #25 Daniela Rico: these two managed to play in the first round just a few weeks ago, with Rico pushing Barrios to a breaker. No reason not to think it could happen again.
- #13 Amaya Cris will have her hands full with #20 Brenda Laime Jalil; upset watch here.
- #14 @ana gabriela martinez vs #19 Hollie Scott; these two played a barn burner in December, with Scott pushing the former World Champ to a breaker before falling. Lets see if the USA #1 can push the Guatemalan #1 here, in the kind of international matchup that Scott will be seeing later this year at Worlds.
- #7 Valeria Centellas vs #26 Lucia Gonzalez; another repeat of a 1st rounder from early may, where Centellas topped the dangerous Lucia in two solid games. Gonzalez skipped Mexican Nationals last week, perhaps to rest up for the super max. Despite the seedings of both players, these are (in my estimation) 2 of the top 6-7 players in the world, and this is the best round of 32 in terms of talent.
- #10 Montse Mejia vs #23 Micaela Meneses Cuellar; a tough draw for the young Bolivan, running into perhaps the 2nd or 3rd best player in the world right now in Mejia.
- #15 Kelani Lawrence vs #18 @sheryl lotts; another USA vs USA match, with Lawrence favored to down her some-times doubles partner.
– #2 Alexandra Herrera vs mDLR: if Michelle advances, Herrera has a far more difficult round of 32 than she may like. These two played a 12-10 5th game at the US Open a couple years ago, and mDLR can push the lefty. Herrera should advance, but will have to work for it.
Round of 16 projections.
-#1 Paola Longoria should dominate the veteran Riveros.
- I see #8 Barrios taking out #9 veteran Rhonda Rajsich.
- After several years entrenched at #2 on tour, Samantha Salas Solis has fallen to #5, but had a great run at Mexican Nationals last week, getting wins over several tough compatriots, and will look to build on that here. She gets an opponent in #12 Carla Muñoz Montesinos who upset Salas in Dec 2019, so she has the playbook to win, but i like the way Salas is trending. Samantha to advance.
- #4 Natalia Mendez over Laime.
- #3 Vargas projects to play #14 Martinez in a really tough round of 16, especially given her time off. Based on talent levels, this should be a close one for Vargas, but she could be rusty from the layoff. I like the winner of this match to make a deep run.
- #11 Nancy Enriquez just beat #6 Jessica Parrilla last week at Mexican Nationals handily, and I think she does it again here.
- #10 Mejia over #7 Centellas; man this quarter is tough; Centellas, Lucia Gonzalez and Mejia are basically 3 of the top 6 players in my personal rankings, and they all play into one quadrant of one quarter in this draw. Mejia has not lost to Valeria before and should advance here.
– #2 Herrera over #15 Lawrence: Herrera takes out her second successive American.
- #1 Longoria over #8 Barrios; a rematch of the shock final in the Dec 2020 supermax event, which rocketed Angelica to the top 8 on tour. Paola makes quick work of the young Bolivian player here.
- #4 Mendez over #5 Salas: these two met in the quarters of the Sweet Caroline and Natalia dominated. Despite Salas’ excellent run in Mexico, Mendez is playing too tough right now and advances.
- #11 Enriquez loses to Vargas, despite playing in top form.
- #10 Mejia tops #2 Herrera to give Alexandra her earliest exit for a while. I think Mejia is either the 2nd or 3rd best player in the world, and she’ll get a chance to prove it here.
- #1 Longoria over #4 Mendez; Paola is 5-0 lifetime over the Argentine.
- #10 Mejia over #3 Vargas; at full strength i give Vargas the edge here, but with the layoff, Mejia gets the edge
– Longoria takes out Mejia once again in the final of a big event for the title.
16 teams competing in a full 16 draw. the #1 team of Longoria/Salas has won dozens of titles together now; they should advance to the final from the top bracket over the Guatemalan team of Martinez/MRR, who have been playing amazingly well together as of late. Don’t count out the US national doubles champ team of Lawrence/Scott, or the Colombian national team of Amaya/Riveros though.
From the bottom, somehow despite constantly making pro finals, Herrera/Mejia are still not seeded 2nd. No matter; the bottom half of this draw is not nearly as stacked as the top half, and the Mexicans should meet and beat the Argentine national doubles team of Mendez/Centellas in the semis to make for another all-Mexican final.
Look for Longoria/Salas to win and give Paola another double.
Look for Streaming in the regular places; follow the LPRT on facebook and sign up to get notifications when they go Live. Look for Timothy Baghurst, Jerry J Josey Jr.., and Tj Baumbaugh on the mike, calling the shots!
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