LPRT 2024 Battle at the Alamo preview

Gaby makes a rare LPRT appearance. Photo via Gaby

It’s been a minute since we posted, thanks to an incredibly busy March on the world racquetball calendar and a subsequently light April. But here we are, back in San Antonio for the 2024 Battle at the Alamo event. This tournament has been going on for years, with tournament director @Mike Cantu at the helm, and has been hosting an LPRT component since 2012. After a covid-break for a few years, the event returned last year and it’s great to see it back for 2024.

R2 Sports App link: https://www.r2sports.com/tourney/home.asp?TID=42123

There’s a healthy draw of 27 players in Texas this weekend. The only top 10 player missing is Erika Manilla , who’s likely to be out until October recovering from hip labrum surgery. The only other top 20 player missing is Valeria Centellas, who has played just one LPRT event since last June and who may be stepping back, either for personal or financial reasons.

The only curious situation here is that, normally with a Texas-based pro event we’d get an influx of Mexican players who can drive to the tournament … and we didn’t really get that here. I was hoping to see some of the up-and-coming Mexican junior females, like Maria Gutierrez (2-time reigning Mexican U21 champ), or Cynthia Gutierrez (reigning Mexican 18U champ) or Leonela Osorio (who made the semis at Worlds U21) or Angela Ortega (2022 Mexican 18U champ and world semifinalist last fall), etc.


Let’s preview the draw. Here’s some notable qualifying matches that i’m looking forward to:


Round of 32: Thanks to some surprise entrants, there’s a couple of first round match-ups that should be juicy:

– Texan @naomi ros faces off against Lexi York in the 16/17 seed match (they’re also playing doubles together, it’s always kind of a bummer to play your doubles partner in singles). These two played last December at the Xmas classic, a TB win for the junior, so expect another close match here.

– #11 @Natalia Mendez is the unlucky draw of #22 Michelle Key , who is coming off a qtr final loss in PARC and who is playing singles regularly for the first time in years. Mendez’s results have been spotty lately, with her ranking continuing to slip, and this could be a one-and-done.

– #23 @Frederique Lambert makes a surprise appearance, and the unlucky 1st round opponent is #10 Amaya Cris . Amaya’s had some great results lately, making the quarters and even a semi this season, something she hadn’t done since the 2013-14 season. But she gets a tough 1st rounder in Lambert, a Tier 1 winner and former top 2 player who now just plays sporadically.


round of 16: Here’s some projected fun matchups in the 16s

– 8/9 is always tough, and here’s no different. #8 @Kelani Lawrence is set to battle #9 @Munoz Carla yet again. They just played in Boston (Kelani win), they played at this event last year (Carla win), and they’ve now played 8 times in their careers in top-level matches. They’re tied 4-4 head to head. This is a coin flip.

– #5 @Alexandra Herrera gets the always-tricky to play #12 Angelica Barrios in the 16s here. Barrios leads career h2h 3-2 and won their last matchup in Feb 2023. But Barrios hasn’t been making all the tour stops, so she may be dealing with a bit of rust in her game.

– Mendez/Key winner versus #6 @Gaby Martinez. Martinez and Mendez both used to be top 4 ranked players simultaneously, but despite not really touring full-time it’s Gaby who has kept her ranking up. She’ll be favored to go through here.

– Salas vs Lambert/Amaya winner: whoever advances, it’ll be a matchup of two of the longest-touring players in the world. Salas has been touring full time since 2004, Amaya since 2009, and Lambert toured regularly from 2008 until 2018 when she headed off to her medical residency.


Projected Qtrs:

– #1 Maria Jose Vargas over the Lawrence/Munoz winner. There’s only a couple of names who i think can top Vargas right now, even in the best conditions.

– #5 Herrera over #4 Brenda Laime : these two just met in the qtrs of Boston, a 14,6 Herrera win. Will we see the same thing here? Alexandra seems to be steadying the ship after slipping a bit from her streak of nearly ascending to #1 on tour.

– #6 Martinez over #3 Montse Mejia . These two know each other’s game pretty well. They’re in the same “class” and played at junior worlds year after year for the better part of a decade between 2010 and 2018. In the Adult/Pro world though, they’ve rarely played; Montse beat Gaby in the 2021 SuperMax semis on the way to winning her first ever pro title, Montse beat her again in 2023’s PARC on Gaby’s home soil, and Gaby beat Montse in the 2023 Central American/Carribean regional games before losing to Paola in the final. So, what to make of this match here? Mejia has struggled since winning the title last June, with a ton of early-exits and upsets, and I think that can happen again here.

– #2 Erika Delgado will cruise past whoever comes out of the Salas section of the draw. If it is indeed Salas, it’ll be yet another in a series of the most prolific head to head rivalry in the sport’s history. Longoria & Salas have played 60 times professionally and probably a dozen more times in National competitions over the years.



– #1 Vargas over #5 Herrera; they’ve already played 3 times this season, each a two game dominant performance from Vargas with game scores like 15-3 and 15-5. No reason to expect anything different this weekend.

– #2 Longoria over #6 Martinez: Gaby had the famous Worlds win in 2018, but for their careers Paola is dominant: 24-2 in all competitions (the other loss was at last year’s 2023 Sweet Caroline, during the tail end of Paola’s season-long slip). Paola has righted the ship and will be looking for a final’s rematch.

Finals; Vargas over Longoria.

This rivalry is interesting. The two have played more than 50 times now in top-level pro and international competitions. Longoria won the first 26 times they played, with Vargas finally breaking the duck in 2018’s group stage of the PARC event. However, since the beginning of 2023 it’s an even rivalry: Vargas has won 5 of the 8 meetings since then. These two met in the semis in Boston though, and Longoria won rather handily. In San Antonio, i’ll expect a rebound from the Argentinian as she looks to seal off the season title.

The season points race cannot be won or lost in San Antonio, not with two more stops remaining, but it is highly unlikely Mejia can stay in the race unless she wins out. So, every match counts for Longoria and Vargas.


Doubles review

The LPRT has definitely settled into very regular doubles teams, and the seeds and matchups often look the same. Mejia & Herrera are solidly #1 on tour now, and Longoria & Salas are solidly #2. Vargas & Mendez are the relatively clear-cut #3 team. From there the rankings scatter. Lawrence & Scott have formed a longer-term partnership. Gaby’s regular partner for years MRR has stepped back from touring, so she just picks up randoms. the rest of the teams are cobbled together with players who don’t have regular partners anymore.

These regular partnerships are all top seeds for a reason; they play together often, and it’ll be an upset if this draw doesn’t go chalk. #1 over #2 in the final.


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, Sandy Rios, Jerry J Josey Jr., and Tj Baumbaugh on the mike as normal, along with special guests.

Coincidentally, if you’re interested in playing Fantasy Racquetball for this event, the links to the brackets are advertised on LPRT’s main page. The winner each week gets free swag!



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