LPRT 2023-24 Season in Review Part 2: Players ranked 11-20.

Salas missed out on another top 10 finish. Photo US Open 2019 by Kevin Savory

This is Part 2 of my 2023-24 LPRT season in review. In part 1, we did a deep dive into the top 10 players with commentary on each of their seasons. In this part 2, we’ll cover the players who finished ranked 11th-20th, which will for the most part cover the “touring regulars” plus some interesting names.

Part 3 will cover other notable players plus do a news review for the season.

(note: there was a tie for 10th on tour this year, so we start with the 12th ranked player).

12. Samantha Salas Solis , age 37, 6-7 for the season, 3 quarter finals, 322.50 points.

This is as good of a time to mention this fact as any, but the gap between the 7th ranked player (Mendez, with 393.50 points), to Salas at #12 with 322.50 is just 71 points. 71 points across an entire season is about the amount of points one would get for reaching the quarterfinals of a grand slam event. In other words, there’s not a whole lot separating all the ladies ranked 7th-12th this year on tour.

Salas missed the Sweet Caroline grand slam this year; had she played that event and made the quarters, she’d have finished 7th instead of 12th. Had she entered and lost in the 16s, she would have finished the season ranked 8th. It was a bad event to miss, and ends up costing Salas her first top 10 finish since 2020-21. As it was this season, Salas had relatively the same performance she’s had for several seasons now, making a few quarters when she wins that 7/10 round of 16 match.

Prediction next year: probably around the same #12-14 range.

#13 Jessica Parrilla , age 33, 5-7 for the season, 1 quarterfinal. 256 points.

There is a gap from Salas to Parrilla in the ranking points, defining kind of a thin line between the 7-12 ranked players and the 13th ranked player. Parrilla made one quarter final this year (when she got a solid win over Laime in the Chesapeake opener last fall), but otherwise was out in the 16s. After three seasons hanging in the 7-8 range, Parrilla’s season represents a big step backwards, one that may be her new norm. It’s hard to identify players ranked in the set of 5-6 above her that you’d argue she can regularly beat now, especially now that she’s entering that magic age where so many pro pickleball players hang ’em up.

Prediction next season: Same 12-14 range.

#14 Hollie Scott , age 25, 3-7 on the season, six round of 16s, 214.25.

Hollie’s big success this season was her USA nationals triple crown in February. On tour, she consistently ran into top ranked players in the 16s and mostly hung with them, but had no break through wins. She had losses in the 16s this year to Herrera, Laime, Gaby, Vargas, and Mejia. She had a couple of winnable matches that would have jumped up her ranking not go her way, but still improved on her ranking the last couple of seasons.

prediction next season: #13-14 again.

#15: Lexi York , age 27, 2-8 on the season, three round of 16s, 199.25 points.

York and Scott had similar seasons, always running into top players in the 16s. Scott just had a couple more of them. York’s three round of 16s this season were her career first three, and #15 is a big step up from the last couple of seasons. Her training with Bredenbeck brothers is paying off.

Prediction next season: #13/14 range again.

#16: @Maria Paz Riquelme , age 36, 3-8 on the season, 4 round of 16s, 183.75 points

Riquelme, who used to play in the same club as I in Arlington Virginia back in the early 2000s, made it to all 8 events and made a handful of round of 16s. The Chilean turned Colombian frequently ran into the #1 or #2 seed in the 16s by virtue of her ranking most of the season, which makes it hard to move on.

Prediction next season: same general area, in the 16-18 range.

#17: Stephanie Synhorst , age 31, 1-8 on the season, 2 round of 16s, 165.50 points

Synhorst got her first career LPRT win this season, topping Riquelme in San Antonio in April. The 31yr old only started playing pro a few years ago, but made every event and got a ton of open draw experience on top of the LPRT experience.

Prediction next season: 18-20 range.

#18: @Naomi Ros , age 18, 4-6 on the season, 4 round of 16s. 162.25 points.

Ros, the Texan junior who converted from Mexico to USA in 2021, won Junior Worlds 16U two years ago and is the current reigning USA 18U national champ. As we speak she’s in Pleasanton defending her national 18U title. She had some success on tour this year, getting a couple of wins over York and playing to players tough (she took a game off of Mejia in Greenville). Assuming she plays the tour full time and doesn’t miss events, she’s primed to be ranked higher.

Prediction next season: #13-14 range

#19: Angela Barrios , age 24, 4-3 in three events this season, 151 points

Barrios, after three years in the top eight, missed most of this season and fell all the way to #19. Her talent level hasn’t changed: she just won the Bolivian National triple crown, but she had little impact this season one year after making 2 semis and a pro final. She remains a dangerous opponent when she does appear. We can only assume that the financial issues that many Bolivian players encounter are behind her sudden drop in touring appearances. There were practically no appearances from any of the Bolivians this year (Barrios, Meneses, Daza, etc).

It’s unclear if t his is just what we’re to expect from Barrios going forward: a source tells me that she’s not even training regularly anymore. So, unfortunately the pro tour looks like its losing one of its better players.

Prediction for next season: out of the sport.

#20 Michelle Key , age 35, 3-4 on the season, 3 round of 16s, 112.50 points.

After years of only sporadically entering tour events (it had been since 2015-16 since she toured regularly), Key played half the tour’s events this season and qualified for the US National team in February. She represented the US in an international event for the first time in nearly a decade. On the LPRT she got a couple of good wins (Mendez, York) and seems primed to move up the rankings now that it seems like she’s touring more regularly.

Prediction for next season: #16

That’s it for part 2; next episode we’ll talk about notables outside the top 20 and wrap it up with a review of the season’s news events.

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