Hello Outdoor fans! Now that Outdoor Nationals is in the books, here’s a look at the updated standings in the 2023 Outdoor Cup Series for both the women (sponsored by LPL Financial ) and the Men (sponsored by KWM Gutterman Inc. ).
As a reminder, the Cup series is a year long competition amongst outdoor professionals, awarding weighted points in Singles, Doubles, Mixed, and CPRT in all three Outdoor “Majors” (meaning, Beach Bash, Outdoor Nationals, and 3WallBall). The winners each year get cash awards and Vegas hotel perks.
Hollie retains the top spot by taking the Mixed Pro title in Huntington Beach, and she holds a sizeable lead by virtue of her three Beach Bash finals performance in March. Munoz jumps from #7 to 2nd place by virtue of her Pro Doubles title and her Singles finalist performance. Lawrence was a doubles finalist in California and slightly improved on her #4 standing post Beach bash. Tisinger-Ledkins and Mejia both had identical finishes in Huntington and are now tied for 4th in the standings. Mejia, playing outdoor for the first time, took the Singles title while future WOR Hall of Famer Janel took the doubles title.
Three players who were top 5 post Beach Bash (Sotomayor, Herrera, and Roehler) fall out of the top 5 by virtue of missing the event, but still have a chance this fall in Vegas to gain ground.
Scott will be difficult to catch in Vegas, especially given her prowess playing one-wall, and looks like a shoe-in for the top prize. Munoz is well positioned for 2nd place, but still can be caught with a strong Vegas showing by Lawrence.
De La Rosa stays on top thanks to his Mixed doubles win and finals appearance in Men’s Doubles. Tucker’s two titles (Pro Doubles and Mixed doubles) power him from unranked to a strong #2. Carson treads water at #3. Rich’s mixed finals appearance jumps him from outside the top 20 after Beach Bash to the top 5 now. Lastly, Solis’ CPRT title with Tucker gives him enough points to sneak into the top 5.
Mar, ranked #2 after Beach Bash, remains in the top 10 but just barely. Several other east-coast or one-wall specialists who skipped Huntington have gotten bumped outside the top 10, but many come to Vegas and will improve on their standings.
Daniel has a nearly insurmountable lead at the top of the Cup series, but the #2 finisher remains well in question. The odds of Tucker traveling to Vegas seem slim (he’s never played 3WB), so Carson, Rich, and Solis have a chance (if they attend in October) to make up ground and finish in the money.
Thanks to the Cup series sponsors, thanks to the tournament directors of these majors, thanks to the individual tournament sponsors of course, and thanks to team 3Wall Ball (Mike Coulter, Peggine Tellez, Jen O’Meara, et al) for all you do for outdoor racquetball.
– https://3wallball.org/…/3wb-world-outdoor-championships/ for the info page for 3WallBall Las Vegas, including logistics, Hotel discount codes and registration links. We’re already over 100 registrants and growing more every day. Do NOT miss out on getting your hotel reservations! Once the discount block is gone, the prices will skyrocket like they did last year as last minute events are announced in Vegas.
Tucker & Davis take the title back, having won it together in 2018. They played lights-out ball to upset the #1 seeds and 2-time defending champs Micah rich and @Jason Newberg in the semis to advance to the final. Rich & Gies might have been a bit fatigued from their epic comeback in their quarter final, where they scored 11 straight after going 0-8 down in the breaker against @Alvaro Beltran and Kane Waselenchuk . Alvi & Kane were fortunate to even get to the quarter, facing a match point against in their opener against SoCal veterans and long-time doubles partners @Michael Myers and Tim Herman before moving on 11-10.
From the bottom half, @Chris McDonald and Brian pineda shocked the #3 seeds and 2-time champs Rocky Carson and Jay Ustarroz by taking a “perfect” match 14,(14),10to advance to the semis. They couldn’t take out #2 Daniel de la Rosa and Alejandro Landa though, who advanced to the final.
The final couldn’t be closer; 14,(14),9 to Davis & Tucker, showing how little there was between these teams on the day.
Women’s Pro Doubles:
Both the top seeded teams cruised into the finals without really even being pressed in a game, and then faced off on Sunday. #2 Munoz and Tisinger got white-washed in game one, taking a 15-0 donut against the #1 seeds Kelani Lawrence and Hollie Rae Scott . Both the top seeded teams cruised into the finals without really even being pressed in a game, and then faced off on Sunday. #2 Munoz and Tisinger got white-washed in game one, taking a 15-0 donut against the #1 seeds Kelani Lawrence and Hollie Rae Scott . It didn’t look great for them in game 2 either, as they fell behind 14-8 and faced match point against. But a questionable hinder call gave a replay, then they saved a couple more match points against (with another questionable hinder that could have been called an avoidable), then suddenly they went on a run … and took game two 15-14. In one of the more incredible turnarounds i’ve seen, Munoz & Tisinger took the breaker 11-7 and pulled a win out of the jaws of defeat for the title.
Mixed Pro Doubles
#1 @Daniel De La Rosa showed why he’s the best outdoor player in the land, especially in mixed, by winning his 19th outdoor major mixed pro title. He hasn’t been beaten in pro mixed outdoor since 2018, and he’s picked right up with his new partner Hollie Scott where he left off with his old one. In the final they topped Rich playing with @Danielle Maddux , in a rare Outdoor Nationals appearance for the Arizona native.
@Danny Lavely put his name on an illustrious list of players who have won the Singles title at Outdoor Nationals by winning the final against Arizonian Alonzo Tavares 6,1.
Never played outdoor before? No big deal, said newly crowned LPRT #1 Montse Mejia , who took out multi-time champ Rhonda Rajsich in the quarters, 3-time beach bash singles champ Scott in the semis, and then in the final #1 @Carla Munoz , who had won the last four major 3-wall singles titles in a row. A fantastic showing for Mejia.
Other Major Draws in California:
– CPRT was won for the 2nd year in a row by Solis and Tucker, giving Tucker a nice “double” on the weekend. They topped 3-wall specialists Scott St Clair and @Tony Burg in the final.
– Men’s 75s was taken in a walk-over by tourney director Osberg and Luis Avila when the Arizona pair of Medina and Gerheart couldn’t show.
– Men’s 100 featured some controversy as detailed in social media, but was taken by the CPRT finalists St. Clair & Burg over the father-sun NoCal duo of @Jim Durham and Tom Durham
– Men’s Open was taken by the duo of Davis & Pineda; pro winners and semi-finalists. They topped the McDonald brothers Jack and Greg in the final.
– Beltran and Emmett Coe took the Men’s Paddleball “Upper” title
– James sales and @KKatie Neil took the Mixed Paddleball upper title.
Thanks for all the streaming on the weekend from the LPRT crew, with JT R Ball ‘s technical setup and primarily Craig Lane “Clubber” and Mike Peters on the mike, two WOR Hall of Famer’s really providing awesome and nuanced commentary .
Thanks to the Tourney Directors Geoff Osberg and Jesus Ustarroz for putting this event on! They’ve been running this event now since 2012 and they’re part of a core group of SoCal players who keep the heartbeat of Marina Park alive.
We’ve entered the official, real “off-season” of racquetball, and don’t have a major event for a month. But the next event coming is massive: its World Singles & Doubles in Denver, featuring both pro tours and the rarely seen Mixed Pro Doubles.
We’ll do all the accounting for the Outdoor Cup series and publish a status of updated standings post Outdoor Nats later this week.
Welcome to the Outdoor Nationals, being held at the Marina Park outdoor courts in Huntington Beach, where it has been since 2006. This year’s event is presented by PROKENNEX , one of the sport’s biggest outdoor sponsors, as well as 3Wall Ball . Additionally we have Keith Minor ‘s continual support via KWM Gutterman Inc. , frequent Vegas sponsor Melissa’s, Gearbox , Splathead Sportsgear , and my old friend Mark Bloom and his law firm Bloom Injury Law , taking a break from padel to support his first love; racquetball.
It has been a tumultuous year for Marina Park and its players, as a redevelopment effort threatened the courts altogether. Thanks to the nationwide community for its support, and for the players who represented our sport at the July 12th hearing (not the least of which being junior Victoria Rodriguez , who by all accounts gave a fantastic presentation that may have prevented even reconstruction).
By the time you read this, the matches have already begun. My apologies for the tardiness. The draws were still being worked on up until the beginning of the event and I had some pressing time issues this week both personally and professionally.
The overall draw for this event is down from last year, and down from past years, a continuing trend in our sport.
We’ll do quick observations on the major pro draws:
– Men’s Pro Doubles: 13 teams are signed up, including some fascinating names. 14-time indoor pro tour champ @Kane Waselenchuk is making his return to competitive racquetball nearly 10 months to the day after tearing his achiles heel in a pro stop in Maryland. He’s teamed with Alvaro Beltran , owner of 12 major outdoor pro doubles titles, but are seeded 8th and play into the #1 seeds and 2-time defending champions Micah rich and Jason Newberg . It will definitely be a must-watch stream saturday at 12:20pm PST, but I expect the #1 seeds to advance; Rich will dominate Alvaro on the left, and I’m not sure Kane can impose his will enough from the right to make a difference on the massive Marina courts. Rich/Geis project to face 2018 champs Brandon Davis and Josh Tucker in the semis.
From the bottom half, @Daniel de la Rosa has parted ways with Beltran obviously, breaking up a partnership that lasted 10 years and earned them six major outdoor titles together, on top of numerous indoor pro, national, and international titles. He’s teamed here with his now-USA racquetball doubles partner @Alejandro Landa , who is new-er to outdoor but is still a capable doubles player. I can see them out-lasting #3 Rocky Carson and Ustarroz in the semis by just wearing down Jay to force a 1v2 final.
Look for Rich/Geis to 3-peat.
Women’s Pro Doubles: Eight teams are here competing, but we’ll have a new champ for 2023 as the 4-time defending champion team of @Carla Munoz and Key Michelle have split up (at least for this event). Key is not present, so Munoz has picked up WOR legend and future Hall of Famer Janel Tisinger. They’re the #2 seeds, but they’ll be tough to beat. Speaking of future Hall of Famers, Rhonda Rajsich is back in action, having missed the last couple of outdoor majors. She’s teamed with @Danielle Maddux as the #3 seeds.
Look for Munoz/Tisinger to top #1 seeds and last year’s runner’s up @Kelani Lawrence and @Hollie Scott in the final.
Mixed Pro Doubles: The #2 team of Greg Solis and Tisinger has won this title 5 times together, the first being in 2011. But they’re #2 here behind the Mixed pro juggernaut that is De La Rosa. DLR has won 5 out of the last 6 mixed pro titles here, all with his former partner Key. Now he’s partnered with Scott, they’re the #1 seeds, and they’re the prohibitive favorites here. They won both Vegas 1-wall and Beach Bash together, and DLR is really tough to beat in mixed.
DLR/Scott will get an early test, as Landa is paired with first-time-playing-outdoor and newly crowned LPRT #1 Montse Mejia , and their semi possibly against #4 Munoz/Tucker will be awesome. From the bottom, Solis/Tisinger will have to deal with Rich early; he’s paired with Maddux for a juicy quarter, feeding into the multi-title holding pair of Rick “Soda Man” Koll and Rajsich. Lots of good matches here.
Look for DLR/Scott to win out.
Men’s Singles: 3wall singles in Marina Park is not for the faint of heart; only 3 signed up to try this year. Danny Lavely (last year’s finalist), Mike Orr , and Alonzo Tavares . Look for Lavely to make it 7 winners out of 7 years in this division that was once dominated for the better part of 4 decades by just two men: Carson and Brian Hawkes .
Women’s Singles: The women’s pros weren’t scared off by the big courts in HB: eight pros are in Women’s singles to try to knock off two-time defending champ and #1 seed Munoz. Included in that group is Mejia, former 5-time champ Tisinger, former 4-time champ Rajsich, and multiple outdoor singles champ Scott. It’s going to be a dog fight, but i’d expect Munoz over Scott in a rematch of last year’s final.
The CPRT draw is stacked, with Tucker/Solis as the #1 seed but who might have to fend off Tom Durham/Jason Geis to get back to the final. That is, if Durham/Geis can hold off Koll/Beltran. From the bottom, multi-pro titlists Carson/Ustarroz are always a threat here, but @Scott St Clair and Tony Berg are double tough as a team.
Lets go off-chalk; i’m going with Durham/Geis over St. Clair/Berg in the final.
The Men’s Open is basically a pro-lite draw, with a slew of top teams. Combined 75+ looks tough, 50+ has pros playing, Centurion too. Lots of solid ball this weekend.
Look for Streaming being provided by home-town JT R Ball . Follow the World Outdoor Racquetball page for live streaming updates, which are pretty well shared for this event in WOR and in KRG.
Thanks to the long-time Outdoor nationals Tourney Directors Geoff Osberg and Jesus Ustarroz for putting this event on!
Hello fans! We’ve finished another Ladies pro season, the 2022-23 season. This post is to give you some links to rankings data as it flows through the Pro Racquetball Stats system and to be the second of a 3-part wrap-up series.
Part 1: The top 10
Part 2: The 11-20th ranked players
Part 3: Notables ranked 21st or higher, plus a recap of news items from season (this post)
Part 3: Notables and News
If one looks at the depth of the tour (see https://rball.pro/s5s for the Tour Depth report), there’s about 15 players who i’d characterize as being “full time” tour players. That’s the number of players who played 75% of the events on the year. 23 distinct players played in at least half the events, so there’s definitely a difference between the top 20 and the rest of the tour. So, lets take a look at some of the notables who finished outside of the top 20, highlighting interesting names and juniors who we may see take on more prevalent roles in the future.
– #22 Stephanie Synhorst appeared out of nowhere in 2021, having never registered any previous junior or amateur national matches. She attended 6 pro events and competed all season, finishing 22nd.
– #25 Susy Acosta finished 25th on tour, making 3 appearances this season. This is the 25th season Acosta has appeared on tour; #25 for 25 seasons! She’s now played in more than 150 pro tournaments in her career.
– #26 Annie Roberts played in four events while balancing school and junior events; she’s the 2-time reigning USA u21 champion, is the reigning Intercollegiate champ, and has not lost a US Junior Nationals match since 2016.
– #27 Martina Katz , a lefty junior from Argentina, made it to four pro events this season, making the long flight up. She was the 18U Junior world finalist in 2021 (losing to Michaela Meneses), and lost in the quarters of 2022 21U worlds to Angelica Barrios . She could be an heir-apparent in Argentina racquetball to the long-standing Vargas/Mendez pairing.
– #28 Maricruz Ortiz from Costa Rica hasn’t had pro tour success yet (0-4 this year), but has been making statements in juniors and internationally for years. She took the 2019 16U world junior title with successive wins over Roberts, Katz, and Meneses. She lost in the semis of 2022 21U to Barrios. She’s now representing Costa Rica on the adult team, and advanced to the semis of 2023’s PARC event with wins over Barrios and Amaya. And she just made the semis of the CAC events in the DR. She’s regularly visiting south Florida to train with Sudsy Monchik and Veronica Sotomayor and is only heading up. https://rball.pro/mzz
– #29 Paula Mansilla hails from Chile and made the semis of 2022 18U junior worlds, and is now joining country-mate Carla Munoz in representing their home country in adult events.
– #33 @Naomi Ros is the reigning 16U world champ and just won the USA Junior Nationals 18U by giving up a combined 8 points in four MATCHES in Pleasanton. She’s had a ton of success since switching the USA from her native Mexico. She’s got limited LPRT experience but took Manilla to a tiebreaker in San Antonio this season. She’ll be one to watch for in the future for sure.
– #33 Yanna Salazar is the reigning Mexican 16U champ, just won the Conade 16U tournament as well, and lost in the finals of 16U worlds to Ros after topping her in the group stage. She’s definitely next in line from the Mexican junior female pipeline of developing talent. She took Parrilla to a tie-breaker in San Antonio in April.
– #35 Shane Diaz has lost in the finals of USA 21U two years in a row to Roberts, made the semis of 21U worlds last fall, and has a number of pro losses to top players where she acquitted herself well.
– #39 Micaela Meneses played just 1 event this season after playing most of the events over the past three years. She was starting to get some solid results on tour, then her performances plummeted out of the blue starting in May of 2022 as she reportedly went through a wholesale mechanical swing overhaul. She recovered by November, where she successfully defended her World Junior 18U title, but she has not been seen on the pro tour since. Per her FB she remains active playing, but perhaps Bolivian state of finances has made it impossible for her to regularly travel.
– #47 Rhonda Rajsich finishes the season ranked 47th, with just one appearance at her home town Arizona event. Pretty safe to say she’s retired, and we’ll be working on a career retrospective for her as one of the most decorated athletes in our sport’s history.
– #48 Lucia Gonzalez remains in that category of, “what would happen if…” she played the tour full time. She has a slew of Mexican and Junior worlds titles to her name, She has six (6!) career wins over Alexandra Herrera (they’re the same junior class), currently #3 on tour. She’s made National adult semis in Mexico. She just has never really made it happen on the pro tour. See https://rball.pro/k04 for her career.
– July 2022: Actor Dane Cook posts to his instagram page a video of him playing Longoria.
– Aug 2022: relations between FMR and Conade deteriorate, with accusations nearing theft of government funds for a number of Mexico’s leading racquetball players, who all post gofundme pages to get to Worlds. This leads to back and forth press releases and lawsuits between the players and the organization.
– Aug 2022: the Colombian racquetball federation disappears, leading their two touring players Amaya and Riquelme to fend for themselves to get to Worlds.
– Oct 2022: Team Dovetail announced a partnership with the LPRT to promote junior clinics.
– Jan 2023: Rajsich confirms her retirement in a podcast interview.
– Mar 2023: @Montse Mejia wins her fourth straight LPRT event, the first time someone not named Longoria has had that level of dominance in nearly 20 years on tour, and the realization that we may have a new tour champ starts to take place.
– May 2023: Mejia misses out on a chance to seal the title with an upset loss in the semis of the Sweet Caroline, meaning that the tour will come down to the final event.
– June 2023: Mejia becomes the first new champion on tour in a decade.
Did I miss any notable events worth capturing? let me know.
This closes the books on the 2022-23 season. We’ll see the LPRT back in action in Denver in August.
Hello fans! We’ve finished another Ladies pro season, the 2022-23 season. This post is to give you some links to rankings data as it flows through the Pro Racquetball Stats system and to be the first of a 3-part wrap-up series.
Part 1: The top 10
Part 2: The 11-20th ranked players (this post)
Part 3: Notables ranked 21st or higher, plus a recap of notable news items from the season.
In this post we’ll run through the ladies who finished in the 11-20 range, give some thoughts on their season, and then project where they’ll end up next year.
#11: Samantha Salas Solis : 11-8 on the season, 1 semi, 472 points.
Despite having a better looking seasonal record of 11-8 than the three players immediately ahead of her (including two players ranked ahead of her for the season who had losing records on the season), Salas finished behind them in the standings by a fair amount (more than 90 points). Why? Because she missed two events entirely on the season, and never really could get out of her ranking spot.
She started the year seeded 9th, she finished it seeded 10th, and spent a lot of time running into really tough round of 16 matches against players ranked 7th and 8th. She had to play Munoz in particular no fewer than four times this year; i’m sure those two are sick of seeing each other. She had solid round of 16 wins this season against Munoz, Parrilla, Lawrence, Barrios, and Mendez. (see https://rball.pro/bfs). Her one semi on the year was in San Antonio, where she got a shock win over Mejia to throw the title race back into question. Otherwise Salas’ season was “tough win in the 16s to then lose to a top player in the quarters.”
Projection for next season: #10-11: I think she can hold off the likes of Mendez and Lawrence for this spot, but the 36 old is not getting any younger and most of the tour’s top talent are in the age 23-24 range.
#12 Gaby Martinez 10-5 on the season, 1 win, 468.5 points.
What to make of Gaby Martinez’s season? She played six of the 10 events. In those 6 events she was generally seeded so low that she had to play a round of 32 match, and then had five round of 16 losses; Longoria twice in a 1 v 16 scenario, Herrera, Mendez, and Barrios in the season capper. But she also had a Grand Slam title, winning the Sweet Caroline and beating, in order, MRR, Longoria, Munoz, Manilla, and Laime in the final, only going to a breaker against her long-time doubles partner in the round of 32 and generally crushing people.
Is she a top 4 player in the world? I think she is, yes. But she’s never played the tour full time, generally good for about half the events historically. If she played full time, i’d expect her to get her fair share of wins and semis, but since she doesn’t, its hard to project her much higher than she already is.
At #12, when she does show up, she likely plays into Brenda or Barrios in the 16s, then into Manilla in the quarters before running into #1 Mejia. Those are generally players she’s shown she can beat to get to the semis…As long as she doesn’t slip down to like #15/16, she’ll avoid a top two player in the opener and can get some traction.
Projection for next season: #10. I’ll guess she plays half the events, gets some success, and keeps a top 10 ranking.
After a brief turn in the top 10 during the Covid year, Centellas has basically been stuck in the 13-15 seed range, and has not really had that big-time run deep into an event that she needs to move up. In fact, for her career she’s only ever made one semi final (in January of 2020), and continues to knock on the door.
This season, she had several really solid wins; she had an 11-10 win over Manilla in December, over Mendez in Boston in March, and then managed to beat #3 Herrera twice in April and again in June (see https://rball.pro/f5w ). Those are all solid wins, and when she lost generally it was to a top player; her “worst” loss on the season probably was to Kelani in Virginia in September … on Kelani’s home courts.
So, there’s room for improvement for sure, but she needs some big wins.
Projection for next year: #13-14 range again. If you had a little mini tournament
#14 Kelani Lawrence , 11-9 on the season, 5 quarters, 458.5 points
The draws did not treat Kelani kindly this year; she lost in the 16s four times; those losses were to Laime twice, Salas, and Munoz. She also had a slew of losses to Herrera, Longoria, and Vargas; no shame there.
She also had some superb wins on the year: she beat Laime twice, held serve against Centellas and Munoz, and crushed Manilla on her home court in the season’s final event.
Lawrence needs to get out of the #13-14 spot so she has a more winnable round of 16 match, then hold serve against the group of players ranked right around her more frequently (Salas, Munoz, Centellas, Mendez in particular), and she’ll find her self in the top 10.
Projection for next season: #13-14 range again.
A note before moving on: the 11th through 14th ranked players had separation of just 13.5 points from Salas to Lawrence; just one more result on the entire season for any of these four players puts them at #11, knocking on the door of the top 10. From 14 to 15 there’s a gap.
#15 @Cris Amaya , 9-10 on the season, 10-straight round of 16s, 333.5 points.
Amaya did the amazing; she entered 10 events and managed to lose in the same round of all 10. In a somewhat ridiculous happenchance, she had to play her life-partner Maria Paz Riquelme no fewer than four times in the round of 32 at pro stops, but she also managed to get solid wins over the likes of Enriquez at the US Open, and over US up and comer Annie Roberts in Boston.
Amaya’s challenge is that she was almost always the 14, 15, or 16 seed at these events, meaning she played into a top 3 seed in the round of 16. All 10 of her losses were to players ranked in the top 4 at the time, and she had to play Mejia in each of her last three events.
Projection for next season: #17-18 range; i think she’ll get pipped by a couple more players coming up.
#16 @Hollie scott, 8-7 on season, 2 quarters, 289 points
Scott made her way into a couple of quarter finals this season by virtue of solid wins over Parrilla and Munoz when the seeds worked out to give her a winnable round of 16 match. But most of the season Scott kept running into top 4 players at that juncture. She had losses to Laime, Barrios, Manilla twice, and Herrera in the season ending. She always plays tough; no real blow outs here. Scott needs to play a full slate so she doesn’t miss out on points (she missed three events), and she needs to get wins over the players ranked in the 10-15 range when they present themselves.
Projection for next season: #15-16 range. i think she can slightly improve on her ranking
#17 Maria Paz Riquelme , 3-9 on the season, 5 round of 16s, 203.75 points.
Riquelme got a handful of wins on the year and advanced into the 16s a few times. She was on the losing end of a couple of heavy losses against Longoria and Gaby, and (as noted above) had to play her partner Amaya 4 different times in 9 events. Riquelme continues to improve, and has gotten some wins internationally as she now represents Colombia.
Projection for next season: #19-20 range; she’ll get pushed down slightly by some rising players.
#18 Sheryl Lotts, 5-5 on the season, made one quarter final, 198.5 points.
Lotts entered the season’s first five events, got her career best win in Chicago in November, beating Mendez in a breaker to earn a quarter final and match her career best showing … then suddenly stopped playing major events. She missed the remainder of the spring tour schedule, missed US Nationals events, everything. Her results were still enough to keep her in the top 20, but she should have been ranked at least 4 spots higher based on early season results.
We see from social media Lotts has relocated to Florida (perhaps one of the reasons she was MIA) and has been playing with the Monchik/Sotomayor crew, which can only help her game. We hope to see her out on tour again soon.
Projection for next season: #14-15 range if she tours full time.
#19 Maria Renee Rodriguez , 3-7 for the season, 5 round of 16s, 198.25 points.
Rodriguez (or “MRR” as she’s frequently referred to) uncharacteristically missed some events this year on tour, which led to her slipping from the 16-17 range she’s normally been for the past few seasons to where she finished up this year at #19. She had a couple of unlucky round of 32 matchups against under-seeded players (Daza at the US Open and Gaby in the Sweet Caroline), and got a couple of solid wins (Roberts, Acosta), but otherwise has settled more into a doubles specialist/solid international representative for Guatemala. She’s now married to @JeJerry Josey and living in South Carolina, and she may continue to transition into the next phase of her life and career going forward.
Enriquez first played the pro tour in 2000, and remains a dangerous player when she shows up. She put a shock loss on Manilla in the season opener, and she took Mejia to a tiebreaker in Boston. She finished in the top 10 three straight seasons from 2018-2020, but has settled back to part time it seems. I’d expect her to make about half the events, maybe get a surprise win over an opponents who looks past her, and will remain around this range.
Projection for next season: #19-20 again
Next up we’ll take a look at notables who finished higher than #20, which include some up-and-coming juniors who might be names to remember in a few years.
Hello fans! We’ve finished another Ladies pro season, the 2022-23 season. This post is to give you some links to rankings data as it flows through the Pro Racquetball Stats system and to be the first of a 3-part wrap-up series.
Part 1 (this post): The top 10
Part 2: The 11-20th ranked players
Part 3: Notables ranked 21st or higher, plus a recap of news items from season
– Season Seed Report; this shows how players’ seeds changed over the course of the season: https://rball.pro/5mm
Some overall tour observations.
– Obviously the story of the season is Mejia dethroning Longoria, but overall the depth of top players on tour seems to have really jumped up this year. As you can see from the Season Summary Report (https://rball.pro/1bw ), the LPRT saw four distinct winners this year on tour (Longoria, Mejia, Herrera, and Martinez), another four players made finals (Laime, Vargas, Manilla, and Barrios), and another four distinct players made semi finals at some point this season (Parrilla, Mendez, Munoz, and Salas). That’s a lot of players who, week-in and week-out, are in the mix for titles.
– The total “depth” of players on the tour has stayed nearly identical to what we saw last year. See https://rball.pro/2vd for a Tour Depth report, but here’s the highlights: the LPRT saw 55 distinct players play an event this year, down slightly from last season’s 61 distinct players. However, the number of players who played 75% of the events was 15 (my general rule of thumb for determining the “depth” of the tour), exactly in line with last season.
– There were exactly 10 events this year (same as last season), and of those 10 events four were considered “Grand Slams.” But last season featured two grand slams that did not repeat this season: the 2021 Worlds skipped 2022, and the TeamRoot super-Max was not held this year. Instead, we got a return of the Paola Longoria Experience kick off event, and a new season-ending Grand Slam in Chesapeake.
Lets review the top 10.
#1 Montse Mejia ; 27-3 on the season, 5 titles, 1,637.5 points.
Mejia captured the #1 spot on tour for the season thanks to out-pointing #2 Longoria in the season’s final event. She becomes the 14th female pro to ever finish a season #1 or to win the year end title (pre 1980, there wasn’t a “tour” per se, so the winner of DP Nationals or the IRA Amateur nationals is declared the “winner” as we do with the Men). Mejia started the season ranked 10th, but went on a huge run starting in November, winning four straight tournaments and 18 straight matches to really put a stamp on the season. Despite missing the US Open and its valuable major points, Mejia led the “Season to Date” points race for much of the season, but the suspense was left to the final event to determine who would win. Mejia took 5 of the season’s 10 titles and finished the season 27-3,; her only 3 losses were to Longoria in the finals of the opener, to Salas in San Antonio, and to Laime in the semis of the Sweet Caroline. With her win in the Chesapeake event, she will head into next season starting with a 200 point lead at the top of the tour AND a huge hidden benefit; not having to defend US Open points.
Prediction for next season: I think she repeats as #1.
#2 Paola Longoria. 22-7 on the season, 3 titles. 1,424 points.
After 13 titles (including 11 in a row), Longoria was finally dethroned in 2023, though she fought until the end and nearly made it a “winner take all” pro final in the season’s final event. The story for Longoria though has to be her sudden vulnerability. She lost 7 times on tour this year; that’s more losses than she’d taken in the last seven SEASONS combined (see https://rball.pro/ovv). And it wasn’t just a case where she mostly had losses to the player who just vanquished her for the title: she had losses this year to Vargas (twice), Mejia (twice), Laime, Barrios, and Gaby (see https://rball.pro/pwr ). She lost twice in the round of 16 this season; that hadn’t happened since 2007. Heck, you had to go back to 2008 to even find a tourney where she lost prior to the semis. So, shockwaves across the bow of the tour.
Longoria ends the season at the tail end of her age 33 season (she turns 34 in mid July): is this a turning point for her? She’s been so dominant for so long, that when she does lose its a monumental event (much in the same way we covered Kane for so long). The big question has to be this: has Longoria lost a step at 33, or has the rest of the tour caught up? Likely its a combination of both, and neither situation is going to get any better for Paola. She’s only getting older, and her rivals are for the most part all quite young (each of Mejia, Gaby, Barrios, and Laime are aged 23).
On a personal note (which could also factor in here); Paola got engaged this year and will be entering a new chapter of her life, and the obvious question is out there; is she ready to transition to a different phase of her life, one where she isn’t training full time?
Projected finish next season: #3. I don’t think she can turn around the Mejia train, and I think she’s shown some serious vulnerabilities to one player in particular who I think can pip her for #2 if she plays a full season (ahem – Vargas).
Hey! Who remembers in March of 2022 when Herrera had won two straight events and beaten Longoria in two straight finals and everyone was wondering if Alexandra was the new heir apparent to the ladies throne? I do. Then she lost the next two pro finals to Paola (along with the 2022 Mexican Nationals singles final) and got hurt in the Kansas City season final. She won the first pro event she played last fall, but then started to leak losses left and right. She got knocked out of three straight pro events in the fall to Mejia, her long-time doubles partner and whom she normally had decent success against. Then she spent the entire spring losing to lower-ranked players early in tournaments. She managed to keep the #3 spot on tour, but not by much, and has some question marks heading into the new season. She’s only 28, still in her prime, but there’s several players that seemingly have passed her right now on tour.
Prediction for next season: #5: i think she’s going to lose ground against some of her closest competitors and slip a couple of spots.
#4 Erika Manilla , 15-10 on the season, 1 final, 838.5 points.
In her second full season of touring, Manilla made incremental improvements upon her first season; she made a tournament final (the US Open), she made the semis or better in half her events, and she improved from a year end ranking of #6 to #4. She’s within shouting distance of #3 on tour (see https://rball.pro/8tg).
Manilla played all 10 events this season, and did something that I find to be rather unique: she lost to a different player in each event. She had losses to 10 different players on the season; Enriquez, Laime, Longoria, Herrera, Centellas, Mendez, Mejia, Vargas, Gaby, and Kelani. See https://rball.pro/fqy . That’s hard to do. And interesting: normally a top player on tour would separate themselves from the rest of the tour and only have losses to a handful of players ranked above them. I’m not sure what this observation “means” for Manilla; perhaps indicating that there’s areas of improvement in terms of consistency against lesser opponents (she took three round of 16 losses this season). She also had a set of very solid wins this season: wins over Herrera, Vargas, and Barrios. She’s beaten Gaby and Montse before. So the capability and expectation is there that Erika will get a tourney win sooner or later, but she needs more consistency to push for higher than #4.
Projected finish next season: #4: i think she’s gonna get passed by Vargas, but will out-point Herrera.
#5 Brenda Laime . 15-9 on the season, Three finals. 808 points.
Laime had a very weird season. She very quietly made three finals, including two of the last three events, which rocketed her season ranking from #11 in April to its final resting spot of #5, easily her best ever finish. For years she hovered outside the top 10, finishing three different seasons ranked #13, but rocketed into the top 10 this season with some seriously good wins. She finished 5th but had h2h wins over each player ranked above her. She beat #1 Mejia and #3 Herrera at the Sweet Caroline en route to the final, and then #2 Longoria and #4 Manilla in Chesapeake in September en route to the final. https://rball.pro/ndu .
But she also managed to lose in the 16s no less than four times: twice to Kelani, once to Barrios in an 8-9 seed match-up, and to a vastly under-seeded Vargas in the season finale in Chesapeake. Imagine where Laime would be if those round of 16 losses were quarters or semis instead.
Projected finish Next Season: #5-6 range. Maybe she can go higher, but she has to stop the early losses. She has the game to beat anyone as we’ve seen.
#6 Angelica Barrios 14-8 on the season, 1 pro final. 663.5.
Barrios continues to be an enigma on tour, with enigmatic results to go with it. She made a final in Boston where she beat, in order, Laime, Longoria, and Vargas before losing to Mejia. She also had a win over Gaby in the season’s final event. But she lost in the round of 16 multiple times (to Laime, Salas, and Munoz). She crashed out of PARC in the knockout round of 16 to junior Maricruz Ortiz as the defending champ.
Barrios has always been a difficult player to play, one with unconventional mechanics and slow, plodding tactics. When they’re on, they’re on. She rarely goes down without a fight, with lots of game-losses 15-13 and 15-14.
She’s just 23, so presumably we’ll be seeing her for years. But I wonder if there’s another level in her game to take her above where she is now.
Prediction for next season: #6 – #7 range, same as this season.
#7 @Maria Jose Vargas , 16-5 on the season, made 2 finals, 634.5 points.
Vargas came back from maternity leave with a vengeance, making two finals, two semis and a quarter-final in her 5 events on the season. Despite missing half the season she still finished 7th, and just doubling her 634 points would have put her projected to finish 3rd. Her 5 losses? Mejia twice (both in finals), a semis loss to Barrios, a semis loss to Longoria, and a quarters loss to Manilla 11-10 the week after she trounced Erika. See https://rball.pro/l4e . All five of these losses? tiebreakers.
Vargas came back in February in Arizona after 8 months off, was seeded 16th to start, running her right into Longoria in her first event back, toppled Paola and then ran to the final. That’s a comeback. She also made the final of PARC in April representing Argentina, where she put another loss on Paola. Clearly, something has clicked with Vargas, who prior to this year had just a 2-41 lifetime against the long-time number one but has beaten her 3 of their last 4 meetings. She’s spent a ton of time in Southern Florida playing and training with Sudsy Monchik , who has worked with her on both the physical and mental side of the game, and it shows.
Projection for next season: #2. So, what happens now? Assuming Vargas plays a full slate of events, I think she’s going to continue pressing upwards and will settle at #2 on tour, ahead of Longoria. What will start to happen is this: Vargas will ascend to #3 on tour probably by mid-season due to having no fall points expiring, she’ll play into Longoria in the semis a lot, and will start to gain ground if she can continue to get h2h wins.
#8 Jessica Parrilla , 9-10 on the season, 2 semis, 3 quarters, 589.5 points.
So, whenever we see a player come back to touring after a long-layoff, its always a challenge to see the unlucky player who gets to face a former top-4 player in the round of 16 unfairly. This year, that was Parrilla, who spent a good chunk of the season ranked 5th or 6th after grinding her way up all last year … only to run into the #12 seeded Vargas no fewer than three times in the opening round of pro events. This conspired to give Parrilla 5 one-and-done round of 16 exits this season, which finally took their toll at season’s end, dropping her ranking to #8.
Parrilla got some solid wins this year, including three wins over Mendez (twice in the quarters, which gave her the two semis on the season), but was a victim of happenchance on seedings. Unfortunately, now she’s mired in the #8 spot on tour, meaning she’s likely playing a really tough round of 16 against a #9 or #10 seed to start, then playing into Mejia or Longoria. She’s going to need to hold serve and make a bunch of quarters, then look for a career win (she’s 0-19 career against Longoria, and hasn’t beaten Mejia since 2020: see https://rball.pro/lvm).
Projection for next season: #8 again.
#9 @Carla Munoz 10-10 on the season, one semi, 5 quarters, 571.5 points.
Munoz had a relatively consistent season, going 10-10 and mostly holding serve in terms of her seeding expectations. She made 5 quarter finals on the year, then lost in those 5 quarters to Herrera 2x, Longoria, Mejia, and Gaby. No shame there; a couple of those she took to breakers or 15-12 game losses. This is about what we’d expect from someone who spent most of the season in the 8-11 seed range; a solid, closely matched round of 16, then a quarter against a top 3 seed.
Munoz’s key is to keep the one-and-done round of 16 losses to a minimum; she had first round losses this season to Salas, Kelani, Barrios, and Scott. None of these are really “bad” losses, just indicative of the depth on tour right now. Munoz’s season includes highlight wins over Salas (three times), Mendez, Lawrence, and a great win over Barrios at the Sweet Caroline.
Projection Next season: #9 again; I see a bunch of really tough 8/9 or 7/10 matches for Munoz in the opening rounds then a really tough matchup against Paola or Mejia if she gets through; that makes it tough to move up.
After several seasons treading water in the 4-6 range on tour, where Natalia quietly ground out expected wins in early rounds before routinely losing to top3 players in the semis … the tour seemed to catch up to her this season, and her ranking plummeted from #3 at the season’s start to #10 by season’s end. (see https://rball.pro/uko). So, what happened?
In the early part of the season, Mendez in the quarters to Parrilla 2x and to Munoz, then took a surprise loss to Lotts in the round of 16 in Chicago. She rebounded a bit and made two straight semis … but then finished off her season with four straight one-and-dones. She lost in the 16s to Centellas, Laime, Salas, and then to Parrilla again to finish off the season. Most of these losses were not really close either, with Parrilla clearly providing some separation in their h2h and with other players getting opportunistic wins.
Mendez needs to spend the summer regrouping.
Projected finish next year: #11 or #12: I think she’ll continue to get pushed down.
An interesting note: the the separation between 8,9, and 10 on tour was quite slim: 589.5 points to 571.5 to 563.5. That’s just 26 points difference from 10 to 8, about the amount of points a LPRT player gets for making the round of 16 (aka “entering”) an LPRT tier 1. The three players ranked 8-10 each played all 10 events on the season and had records of 10-10, 9-10, and 9-10 on the season. There was almost nothing between them on the year, and their ranking delta came down to tiebreaker losses in the majors versus losing in two games. One more win by any of them on the year and they’re in 8th spot pushing for 7th.
that’s it for part 1. This is the biggest/longest post. Stay tuned next for Part 2; the 11-20 ranked players.