LPRT 2023-24 Season in Review Part 1: The top 10

Vargas is the 2023-24 champ. Photo US Open 2019 Kevin Savory

Hello fans! We’ve finished another Ladies pro season, the 2023-24 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): Year end links at the site and the The top 10

– Part 2: The 11-20th ranked players

– Part 3: 20+ ranked players plus notables, plus a recap of news items from season

For each of the individual players reviewed, we’ll talk about their season and then give a prediction as to where they end up next year.


Year End standings links:

– LPRT official rankings: https://www.lprtour.com/lprt-singles-rankings

– Season Ending rankings for 2023-24 captured to PRS: http://rb.gy/cqvct2

– Season Summary Report for 2023-24 season (this is one of my favorite reports, bringing a bunch of data together: rank, season W/L, number of wins/finals/semis, etc). http://rb.gy/7ywv9m

– Season Seed Report; this shows how players’ seeds changed over the course of the season: http://rb.gy/apd1jz


Some overall LPRT tour observations.

– Obviously the story of the season is Vargas’ first title. However, we certainly saw a “consolidation” of the top players on tour this year. All 8 events were won by either Vargas or Longoria; last year’s champ Mejia was shut out. Just 5 distinct players even made a final this year. There was a massive gap between the top 4 players to even the 5th ranked player, and just 70 points separated the 7th ranked player from the 12th ranked player.

– The total “depth” of players on the tour has dropped for the third season in a row. the LPRT has gone from 61 to 54 to 47 distinct players for the season over the past three years. The tour continues to have about the same number of “regulars,” defined as players who played in 75% of the events (16 this year). 12 players made every event.

See https://rball.pro/2vd for a Tour Depth report.

– The tour had 8 events this year, down from 10 last year. The tour lost the season opening Paola Longoria championship, the US Open, and the Sept Chesapeake event from the previous season, picking up the every other year World Singles & Doubles. This trend likely will continue, as the IRT is struggling to find pro events as well. It’s an indication of the state of our sport.


Lets review the top 10.

#1 Maria Jose Vargas ; Age 31, 25-3 on the season, 5 titles, 1,502 points.

Vargas captures her first career pro title in her 11th season of playing professionally. And she did it one season after having a kid, one year after missing half of the 2022-23 season, which meant she had to claw her way back as an under seeded player getting crummy draws for months. Most importantly, she completely got over her mental block against her primary rival this season in Longoria. Prior to the 2022-23 season, Vargas was a career 1-31 against Longoria, often losing by heavy score lines. Since February 2023 (when she returned to the maternity leave): Vargas is 5-2 against Paola. Vargas essentially had the title sewn up before the final event, capping off a dominant season.

Prediction for next season: Well positioned to repeat as #1, based on what we’re about to talk about with the next two ladies


#2 @Paola Longoria, age 34. 24-5 on the season, 3 titles, 1,409.50 points.

Longoria finishes 2nd for the 2nd season in a row after dominating the LPRT for the better part of the last two decades. She eliminated the shocking early round losses she exhibited last season and made the semis or better in all eight of her events this year. Unfortunately, she suffered four semi-final defeats, which ended up costing her the ability to out-point Vargas in the season’s final grand slam in Chesapeake. Her 3 event wins this year bring her career Tier1/Grand Slam total to 113 titles, which when added to her 7 satellite wins give her 120 total pro titles for her career.

Prediction for Next year: either #2 again or retired. Longoria ran for the Mexican Chamber of Deputies and didn’t win outright but could still be selected, which would make it awfully difficult to tour. She also got married last year, and could be thinking of starting a family. Lots up in the air for Longoria going forward. I’ve heard rumors of a possible retirement, but nothing official yet.

#3 Monserrat Mejia , Age 24. 20-8 on the season, 4 finals and 3 semis. 1,093 points.

One year after completely dominating the tour (she won 5 of the 10 events last season), Mejia took a major step back and failed to even get a tourney win this year. It’s not like she took bad losses: her 8 losses were: 4 to Longoria, 3 to Vargas, and one to Herrera in the quarters in Arizona. She just didn’t have it this year. Perhaps it was a loss of focus after getting to the top, or perhaps it was more about Longoria re-focusing after 2022-23 and Vargas’ big step forward. Either way, Mejia needs to reset and get back her mojo from last season.

Prediction for next season: #3 again

#4 @Alexandra Herrera , age 29. 18-8 on the season, 2 finals, 4 semis. 896 points.

Herrera has definitely taken a back seat to the top three players on tour since finishing 2nd on tour with her first two tournament wins back in 2021-22. We’re a long ways from February of 2022, when she won two straight events (beating Longoria in the finals of both) and had the racquetball world wondering if we were about to see a changing of the guard. She struggled so much this season that she fell in the rankings all the way to #8 at one point (as the #8 seed she beat Mejia in Arizona), but finished strong to return to the top 4. She’s still clearly in a small group of players separated from the rest of the tour by talent, but has she lost out on her chance to win a title given Vargas’ dominance?

Prediction for next season: #4

#5 Brenda Laime , age 24. 7-8 for the season, one semi. 467.50 points.

The gulf between #4 and #5 is astounding: Herrera had nearly 440 points more than Laime. 440 points is the equivalent of two full tier1 wins and then some. It will be months before Laime or anyone else lower than the top 4 could even think about moving up that far. Laime’s season was up and down, as evidenced by her 7-8 record. She started out strong, with a win over Manilla to make the semis of World Singles. But from there it was inconsistency; she had three round of 16 losses (to Amaya, Parrilla and Mendez) and never got back to the semis. That’s a far cry from her season last year, where she also finished #5 but made three finals and kind of planted her flag as a top player. For next season she has to get back that fighting spirit that gave her big time wins over the top 4 players.

Prediction for next season: #5 or #6

#6 @Kelani Lawrence : age 30, 9-8 on the season, 6 quarters. 460.00 points.

Lawrence gets a career high finish at #6, and finished the season with a career high seeding of #5 in her home-town Chesapeake event. She missed out on #5 by just 7 points. She showed pretty good consistency all season, making the quarters in 6 of the 8 events, but never further. This has turned into somewhat of a career tripping point for Kelani; in 43 career pro events she’s made the semis just once. However, 2023-24 is a massive step forward for her; her previous career high was #12 and she finished ranked 14th last year. She’s clearly put herself into top 8 territory and should stay here going forward.

Prediction next season: anywhere in the 6-8 range.

#7 Natalia Mendez , age 27. 7-8 for the season, four quarters. 393.50 points.

After finishing 4th in 2021-22, Mendez slipped badly in 2023-24, falling to 10th as she had a slew of round of 16 one-and-done losses. It looked like perhaps the tour had passed her by, but she rebounded in the latter half of the season, got a couple of solid wins over fellow top-10 pros Laime and Salas, and finished back in the top 8. Mendez’s challenge is that the top tier of players are now her regular quarter final opponents, and she’s a step behind them. I think she’ll struggle to stay in the top 10.

Prediction next season: #10

#8: Cristina Amaya , age 35. Season record 6-8, 1 semi and 1 qtr. 353.50 points.

Amaya had a fantastic run in the 2nd half of the season to rise from the mid teens back into the top 8 for the first time in five seasons. She never once advanced past the round of 16 last year, but got a quarter and a semi this year with great wins over the likes of Laime, Gaby, Salas, and Lambert. Is this sustainable? She’s seemingly going to continue touring and is one of the tour’s regular refs.

Prediction next season: #14-15

#9 Carla Munoz , age 32. 5-8 on the season, 2 quarters. 342.50 points.

Munoz spent almost the entire season in the dreaded #8/#9 seed slot. This is a frequent spot of trouble for pro players, who are faced with a very tough round of 16 match against a player ranked right next to you in the rankings and thus presumably someone who’s quite equally matched with you talent wise, and then if you get past that opponent you’re playing the #1 seed, who you have little chance of beating. Munoz ended up having 6 round of 16 losses this season in that tough 8/9 or 7/10 spot (Mendez twice, Salas, Manilla, and Lawrence twice), none of which are “bad” losses.

Prediction for next season: Probably in the same #8-10 range.

#10-T: @Erika Manilla, age 26, 7-3 on the season. One final and one semi. 333 points.

Manilla, of course, missed almost the entire 2024 slate of events with a torn hip labrum suffered just ahead of US Nationals in February, which required surgery and is set to sideline her for almost the entirety of 2024. It was a tough blow for the team USA representative, who had to forfeit out of US Nationals early and who was on a solid run of form on tour before getting hurt. She was ranked in the 4-5 range prior to the injury and had gotten to a final in Lombard with her first career win over Longoria. She has career h2h wins over all the elite on tour (Vargas, Mejia, Longoria, Herrera), and one has to think a healthy Erika is pushing for a top 4 spot at least. She should have no lingering effects from the soft tissue injury, but may miss events at the beginning of the 2024-25 season, which will make it tough for her to get back into the top 4.

Prediction next season: #10 due to missing events.

#10T: Gaby Martinez , age 24, 7-5 this season, 5 quarters, 333 points.

Gaby made it to 5 of the 8 events this season, and lost in the quarters all five times. this is a bit of a step back from her last two seasons, both of which she had Tier 1 wins. Her five QF losses were to Herrera, Amaya, Longoria, Mejia, and Herrera again, so really just one “bad” loss. Most of those losses were with Gaby in the #5 seed spot, so she’s playing #4 in the quarters, always a tough match. Martinez continues to tour part-time, regularly missing big chunks of the season, which will always make it challenging for her to push for the top spot.

Prediction next season: Same #9-#10 spot


That’s it for the top 10. Next post we’ll cover the 11-20 ranked players.

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