LPRT 2022-23 Season ending Standings and Season Wrap-up Part 1: the top 10

Montse celebrates with silly string her first LPRT title. Photo via LPRT

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

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Year End standings links:

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

– Season Ending rankings captured to PRS: https://rball.pro/xlo

– Season Summary Report for 2022-23 season; https://rball.pro/1bw

– Season Seed Report; this shows how players’ seeds changed over the course of the season: https://rball.pro/5mm

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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.

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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.

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#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).

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#3 Alexandra Herrera 16-8 on the season, 1 title. 902.5 points.

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.

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#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.

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#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.

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#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.

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#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.

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#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.

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#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.

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#10 Natalia Mendez 9-10 on the season, 2 semis, 563.5 points

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.

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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.

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that’s it for part 1. This is the biggest/longest post. Stay tuned next for Part 2; the 11-20 ranked players.

LPRT Battle at the Beach Recap

the LPRT has a new champion. Photo via LPRT feed, via @CoachMaripa

Congrats to your winners on the weekend:

– Singles: Montse Mejia

– Doubles: Montse Mejia & Alexandra Herrera

For the first time since June of 2011, the LPRT has a new #1 as the LPRT wraps up its 2022-23 season. More on that later. Here’s the list of all LPRT #1s heading into this season, to which Mejia has now added her name:

https://www.proracquetballstats.com/…/lprt_year_end…

R2 Sports App home page for event: https://www.r2sports.com/website/event-website.asp?TID=31744

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Lets review the notable matches in the Singles draw.

Singles Match report in the PRS database: https://rball.pro/3ua

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In the 16s:

– Jessica Parrilla got a nice win over Natalia Mendez in the 8/9 game. Mendez sinks to her lowest ranking since her debut season in 2016-17.

– In one of the matches of the round, #12 Maria Jose Vargas comes back from a game down to topple Brenda Laime , who had made the finals of the two previous pro events. From finals to one-and done, that’s what the depth on tour is starting to look like.

– #13 Kelani Lawrence dominated #4 Erika Manilla 3,7 on her home courts to move on. Manilla has to be wondering what happened; the cement courts in Chesapeake should have worked to her favor, even if she was playing someone who grew up on those courts.

– #14 Valeria Centellas beat #3 Alexandra Herrera for the second time in three months, matching her career best win.

– #6 Angelica Barrios continues to show why she’s a player nobody wants to face, taking out the previous event’s champion Ana Gabriela Martínez in the 16s in a tie-breaker.

– #7 Carla Munoz ground out a solid win over #10 Samantha Salas Solis 11-9 in the breaker to put a cap on her best ever pro season.

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In the Quarters

– #1 @Paola Longoria , who knowingly went into this event knowing only a better showing than Mejia would retain her crown, dominated #8 Parrilla to move on.

– #12 Vargas made fast work of home-town favorite Kelani 7,1 to setup a crucial semi-final showdown with Paola.

– #6 Barrios shut down any chance of a deep run from Centellas, defeating her fellow Bolivian native 13,8 to move into the semis.

– #2 Montse Mejia , who is also perfectly aware of the stakes in Virginia, held serve 12,12 against a very solid Munoz to move into the semis and keep the possibility of a winner-take-all final alive.

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In the Semis, a heartbreak and a new champion is crowned:

– Vargas took out Longoria for the 2nd time this season in a close 14,12 match. Heartbreak for Longoria, as the loss costs her the title.

– Mejia dominated games one and three, losing focus in game two, and advances over Barrios 3,(13),1.

Mejia played her semi final before Longoria, so upon hearing of Paola’s loss, Mejia knew she had guaranteed herself the year end title. The LPRT has a new #1 player.

In the Finals, Mejia handled Vargas in game one, capitulated in game two, then dominated her in game three. Final score: 7,(3),3

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Points Implications of results

As noted, Mejia moves to #1 for the end of the season. Vargas’ result moves her well up from #12 for the year end results. There’s not a ton of movement in the last event among the rest of the tour regulars. We’ll save the analysis for our season-ending recap post.

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Doubles review

Match report in the PRS database: https://rball.pro/gvs

Mejia & Herrera finished the season the same place they started it; with a doubles title. They saved match point against in the final against team Argentina Vargas & Mendez, then blew them away in the breaker to give Mejia a double for the weekend.

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Open Singles, other notable draws

– Amaya got a nice win over Centellas to claim the women’s Open singles title.

– There was a 10-team Mixed pro exhibition that featured a ton of the ladies pros playing with local Men; Gaby Martinez and Natalia Mendez made the final with partners James Stone & Doug Innanen respectively, then shared the title.

– @Dylan Pruitt took out Rich Benderoth in the men’s open singles final.

– Abraham Pena & @Dj Mendoz took a solid Men’s open doubles draw.

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Thanks for all the streaming on the weekend, especially from broadcasters Timothy Baghurst , Jerry J Josey Jr. ., and Tj Baumbaugh

Thanks to the Tourney Director Malia Bailey for putting this event on!

Reminder to Players! Please like and follow this page so that when I tag you, you see it. Facebook will only retain tags of people that like/follow a page, which means lots of you are not getting the notoriety of getting tagged and noticed on Facebook. If your name is here and it isn’t tagged … it probably means I attempted to tag you but Facebook stripped it.

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Next up?

Per our handy master racquetball calendar …

https://docs.google.com/…/1V6OTid6rZ356voXVkoV2sN7KMMb…/

Next up is USA Junior Nationals, being held this year in Pleasanton, CA. Then, July features the Central America & Caribbean Games, WOR Outdoor Nationals, and the National Senior Games in Pittsburgh.

We will print up a recap of the 2022-23 LPRT season once the final season standings are published, as we do every year.

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tags

LPRT

LPRT Battle at the Beach Preview

All she has to do is win, and the title is hers. Photo Kevin Savory US Open 2019

(apologies for the late preview; i know that the matches have already started by the time you read this)

Welcome to the 2022-23 season-ending LPRT tournament, the 2023 LPRT Battle at the Beach in Chesapeake VA. This is Hall of Famer Malia Bailey ‘s long-time home club and where current US national team member Kelani Lawrence grew up playing, and has long been a great tournament host for Virginia and regional events.

The 2023 pro stop brings on significant additional weight: for the first time in more than a decade, the title race comes down to the final event of the season. Current #1 Paola Longoria still sits at the top spot, but she’s behind #2 Montse Mejia in “season to date” points, and thus the pressure is on for this event. There’s just a 26 point difference between the players heading into the event, which implies that Longoria must basically finish one round better than Mejia to take the title. In other words, if Mejia loses in the quarters, Longoria must make the semis at least to take the title. If both players lose in the same round, Mejia will take the crown.

The last time the LPRT title race was this close was 2010-11, when Rhonda edged Paola by 27 points … but the kicker was that Paola missed one event that season to receive the Athlete of the Year in Mexico. The last time the IRT was this close was in 2006, when the entire season came down to the last match of the last tournament (when Kane Waselenchuk topped Jack Huczek to claim the title).

Racquetball fans are hoping for a similar situation this weekend; 1 v 2 for the season title.

R2 Sports App link: https://www.r2sports.com/website/event-website.asp?TID=31744

There’s 22 players in the event, a bit small for a grand slam draw but in line with the 20-25% reduction in pro draws we’ve seen this year as our sport continues to transition to a new phase..

Of the top 20 in the world currently, the entire top 10 is here as expected. Several players in the 15-20 range are missing, including Hollie Scott (w/D with late injury), Lotts (who has not played in a pro or top amateur event since Dec 2022), MRR, and Enriquez.

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Lets preview the singles draw. ther’es 5 round of 32 matches, only one of which looks like it could be competitive (Lawrence vs @Maricruz Ortiz). We’ll pick up in the 16s.

We’re now to a point in the tour where there’s at least 5 players who I feel can win week in/week out (Longoria, Mejia, Herrera, Gaby, and Vargas). And then there’s 3 other women who have made finals this season (Laime, Manilla, Barrios). That’s a great depth on tour we havn’t really seen in a while.

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round of 16:

– In the 8/9 match we get Natalia Mendez versus Jessica Parrilla ; both players were top 4-5 players but have been pushed down this year thanks in part to unlucky matchups with players like Vargas returning to the fold, but also just getting pushed down slightly by the rise of players like Laime this year. Leoni has owned their h2h recently so I’ll go with the Mexican to advance.

– The match of the round will be #5 Brenda Laime vs #12 @Maria José Vargas . Both are finals-quality opponents, only one can advance. I’ll go with Vargas, despite Laime having the hot hand and making the finals two events in a row.

– #4 Erika Manilla takes on #13 Lawrence on her home courts: Manilla should advance but Kelani at home is tough. Expect a breaker here.

– #6 Angelica Barrios vs #11 Ana Gabriela Martínez ; another solid round of 16, very IRF-style match between two players who have both won major international singles titles. I’ll go with Gaby here.

– #7 Carla Munoz vs #10 Samantha Salas ; Munoz has beaten her twice in a row, but both were close breakers and I feel like Salas has caught her breath and is holding steady after a couple seasons of decline. Look for another 11-8 breaker.

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Projected Qtrs:

– Longoria over Parrilla; Paola is 18-0 over Parrilla in all competitions lifetime.

– Vargas v Manilla; they’ve met at this juncture in the last two LPRT events, a Vargas blowout and then a scintillating 11-10 Manilla win. What happens now? Chesapeak is cement courts, which favors the power players, but both are power players. Vargas has great history here; she won in 2019 on these courts. I’ll go with Vargas.

– Herrera vs Gaby: I sense a lost season for Herrera, who went from the heir apparent to an also ran inside of 9 months. Not sure where she goes from here.

– Mejia over Munoz: in limited history, Mejia is 3-1 lifetime.

Semis:

– Longoria over Vargas: I think Paola rises to the pressure and puts the onus on Mejia to beat her for the title.

– Mejia over Herrera: these two long-time doubles partners know each other well, but Mejia has come to rule their h2h recently.

Finals;

we get 1 v 2 for all the marbles, and I think Montse takes it.

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Doubles review

10 teams playing doubles in Chesapeake, including the two top teams Longoria/Salas and Mejia/Herrera. We don’t track doubles rankings as closely, but it seems like a long shot that Paola/Sam will be caught for the 2022-23 doubles title irrespective of what happens here. Despite pipping the two veterans for the Mexican national title earlier this year, Montse/Alexandra have just one pro doubles title this season.

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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!

Thanks to the Tourney Director Malia for putting this event on!

Associations

LPRT Sweet Caroline Grand Slam Wrap-Up

Ana Gabriela Martinez wins her second pro title. Photo via Gaby

Congrats to your winners on the weekend:

– Singles: Gaby Martinez

– Doubles: Longoria & Salas

PRS match reports:

– Singles https://rball.pro/mpv

– Doubles: https://rball.pro/9kw

Gaby gets her second career win (first was at the 2021 World Singles & Doubles event). Longoria & Salas win their 37th pro doubles title together since we started tracking it in Aug 2014.

R2 Sports App home page for event: https://www.r2sports.com/website/event-website.asp?TID=40764

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Lets review the notable matches in the Singles draw.

In the 32s, no surprises and no upsets. A couple of matches to comment on:

– Guatemalan teammates duked it out an went breaker before Gaby took out MRR.

– Kelani Lawrence handled upstart US junior Naomi Ros more easily this week than Manilla did last, taking her out 5,8.

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In the 16s, a shock loss that throws the title race back into serious question.

– #1 Paola Longoria was dominated in a 7,6 loss to Ana Gabriela Martínez . This is Longoria’s 6th loss this season; by way of comparison she had 6 total losses in the prior six seasons. To say that this season has been shocking is an understatement, and this loss is equally so. Yes, Gaby has beaten Paola before, but for their careers in all competitions Longoria led the h2h 22-1 before this match. We’ll talk about the points implications later on, but this is a dagger to Longoria’s chances of retaining her crown.

– #8 @Carla Munoz got a very solid win over #9 Angelica Barrios in two close games. Excellent win for Carla, and she gets a crack at Gaby next.

– For the 2nd week in a row, #12 Maria Jose Vargas cruises past #5 Jessica Parrilla , this time 7,3.

– #4 Erika Manilla held off the upset-minded @Valeria Centella 2,12 to setup a rematch with Vargas from last week.

– #3 @Alexandra Herrera avoided a second major upset in a row and advanced past USA national @Hollie Scott in two.

– #6 Brenda Laime held off an opponent she’s struggled with lately in #11 Lawrence, guaranteeing that she remains in the top 8.

– #7 Natalia Mendez becomes the latest victim of Samantha Salas , who seems to be on a bit of a come-back. It was 11-10 in the end.

– #2 Montse Mejia held serve once again against Colombian @Cristina Amaya to move into the quarters and setup a rematch with Salas, who upset her last week. Mejia has to be looking at the draw and realizing the opportunity she has this week; lets see if she can avoid the pitfalls of looking ahead of Salas.

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In the Quarters:

– #17 Gaby continued her run, downing #8 Munoz in two games. These two have only met a handful of times, and never since 2017.

– #4 @EErika Manila reversed the result from last week and got her first ever win over Vargas in a power-hitting, tight, tense match that went down to the wire 11-10.

– #6 @Brenda Laime continues to put her name into the conversation, topping #3 Herrera in a breaker to move into the semis.

– #2 Mejia reversed the result herself against Salas, to whom she lost at this juncture last week, by blanking the veteran in the breaker to move into the semis.

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In the Semis, a couple of interesting results:

– #4 Manilla had beaten Gaby the last two times they met … but Gaby took control of this semi early and won in two games to secure just her second ever career pro final.

– #6 Laime shocked #2 Mejia, who squanders a golden opportunity to essentially lock down the season ending #1 spot given her rival’s early loss, and the Colombian moves into the final for the second straight week with a really close 14,12 match. both ladies were powering the ball on the hard courts in Greenville, and Laime’s relentless pounding to Mejia’s forehand indicated an interested strategy that paid off.

Incredible how, a year ago, we were asking whether Herrera was the heir apparent to Longoria … and now we’ve had Mejia win four straight tournaments and we’ve had Laime make the finals of two straight. The top of the LPRT is tightening, and it makes for great week-in, week-out drama.

In the Finals, Gaby controlled the match and took the title, her 2nd ever career win.

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Points Implications of results;

As mentioned above, Mejia loses a golden opportunity to really put herself in the driver’s seat for the title by not taking advantage of Longoria’s loss. When the 2022 Sweet Caroline event expires in a week’s time, Longoria will still hold about a 70-point lead in the standings.

The last event of the season in Chesapeake is a grand slam, and will replace the 2022 KC grand slam in the rankings. Paola won KC, Mejia lost in the final, so Paola is “defending” about 100 more points than Montse. Which means effectively that Mejia has the points advantage going into the last event of roughly 30 points. So Paola has to beat Montse’s result by a 30 point margin in Virginia to retain the title. That will probably mean that Paola has to do a “round better” than Montse to win; if they both lose in the same round, Montse should get the title.

Other points machinations: Mejia, Laime, Barrios, and Gaby all missed this event last year, so all four will jump dramatically in the rankings.

– Mejia tightens the race but stays at #2

– Laime jumps from #6 to #5 (if she had won, she would have gone to #3)

– Barrios jumps from 9 to 6

– Gaby jumps from 19 to 11.

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Doubles review

Longoria & Salas held serve and took out their Mexican rivals Herrera/Mejia with relative ease to claim their 37th pro title. This goes along with their dozens of amateur and international titles together and continues by far the most successful doubles pairing in the sport’s history.

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Other draws

– Centellas took her 2nd straight U21 title with ease, beating Diaz and Katz easily.

– In Men’s Open, the top 4 seeds advance to the semis (Kelly brothers, Pruitt, Cunningham). Maryland native took out Cunningham and then Joe Kelley to claim the title.

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Thanks for all the streaming on the weekend from the LPRT crew.

Thanks to the Tourney Directors Jerry J Josey Jr. & Jacob Varughese for putting this event on!

Reminder to Players! Please like and follow this page so that when I tag you, you see it. Facebook will only retain tags of people that like/follow a page, which means lots of you are not getting the notoriety of getting tagged and noticed on Facebook. If your name is here and it isn’t tagged … it probably means I attempted to tag you but Facebook stripped it.

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Next up?

Per our handy master racquetball calendar …

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1V6OTid6rZ356voXVkoV2sN7KMMbIP9SZd0MssH_nPGU/

The next major event is over Memorial Day weekend, when US National team singles qualifying occurs in Chicago. That same weekend Canadian Nationals goes on as well. Then, the LPRT visits Chesapeake for its last event of the season in mid-June.

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tags

LPRT

LPRT Sweet Caroline Grand Slam Preview

Can Centellas get another bracket-busting win in Greenville? Photo via deportesbolivia

The LPRT is back in action just a few days after its last event, which was filled with upsets and surprising results. Now the tour is in Greenville, South Carolina, for one of its favorite stops; the Sweet Caroline Grand Slam.

The season-end race has tightened up considerably, and the results at this grand slam will play a huge part in determining whether the title will be Longoria’s 14th or Mejia’s first.

R2 Sports App link: https://www.r2sports.com/website/event-website.asp?TID=40764

24 ladies are here, including the top 15 players and 18 of the top 20 overall.

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Lets preview the draw.

Because there’s not a ton of movement down-rankings from event to event, we’re seeing some repeated matchups in both the 32s and the 16s from last week. And we’re seeing some intriguing meetings

– Its Guatemala vs Guatemala in the 16/17 match, as long-time doubles partners and National team members @Ana Gabriela Martínez takes on Maria Renee Rodriguez for a shot at #1 Longoria

– Two Argentinans Maria Katz and Maria Jose Vargas face off to play into Jessica Parrilla

– Impressive US Junior National team member and reigning16U world champ @Naomi Ros gets a shot at US Adult team member Kelani Lawrence , a week after taking a game off of another US team member Manilla. Can she get a breakthrough win here?

– Not for the first time this season, Colombian team mates Cristina Amaya and Maria Paz Riquelme have to face off.

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round of 16:

– #1 Paola Longoria projects to face Martinez again; last week was a tight 13,14 win. Can Gaby push it to a breaker this week?

– In the always-close #8/#9 matchup, a solid all South American match between Bolivian Angelica Barrios and Chilean @Carla Munoz . Barrios has owned this matchup as of late and is the favorite here, but Munoz is coming off a solid win last week and will try to keep it close.

– For the 2nd week in a row, Vargas plays into Parrilla, and likely gets the upset win. Bad luck for Parrilla.

– This week, USA national champ Erika Manilla gets another precocious opponent in Valeria Centellas . The U21 is coming off her career best win over Herrera last week, and has a h2h win over Manilla earlier this season. This is definitely danger zone for Manilla and this could be another major upset. Added wrinkle; these two are playing doubles together this week.

– #3 Alexandra Herrera projects to face US National Hollie Scott and should advance, but her shock loss last week has opened up questions about her game.

– #6 Brenda Laime may have made the final last week, but she projects to face #11 Kelani Lawrence , who’s beaten her twice since December. I’m going with the upset loss; from the finals to one-and-done for Laime.

– #7 Natalia Mendez is reeling in the rankings, and now projects to face #10 Samantha Salas , who beat her in their last meeting in June and has generally controlled their h2hs. Upset watch here.

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Projected Qtrs:

– #1 Longoria versus Barrios: Barrios shocked Longoria in Boston earlier this year, so we know she can get wins. But is Longoria too focused knowing what’s at stake? I think so, and I think she wins.

– #12 Vargas over #4 Manilla; a rematch of the San Antonio quarters, where Vargas crushed Erika 3,6. I see no reason not to think a similar result happens, unless the Manilla coaching brain-trust comes up with a new gameplan to counter the powerful Vargas.

– #3 Herrera over #11 Lawrence; these two have met a few times, and Kelani has made things close, but the lefty is still 10-0 lifetime versus Kelani, looking to make it 11-0.

– #2 @Montse Mejía set to lock horns with Salas again, and somehow avoid another upset quarter-final outster. Few would have predicted last week’s Salas win: will Mejia get re-focused for this week knowing that she likely needs two wins to secure the title? The pressure is on and I think she rises to the occasion.

Semis:

– Longoria over Vargas: when the chips are down and the pressure is on, I’ll take Longoria.

– Mejia over Herrera: Mejia’s quote familiar with Alexandra’s game by this point and has won their last few meetings (4 straight wins since August) and if she can get past Salas I like her chances for the final.

Final: if it can be #1 vs #2, the pressure will be immense. I like Longoria to handle the pressure, but Mejia to handle Longoria. Mejia for the title and takes back control of the title race.

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Doubles review

So much is at stake in singles, I wonder how contested the doubles will be. But after lots of partner shuffling, we have the two top doubles teams together and on opposite sides of the draw. #1 Longoria/Salas and #2 Herrera/Mejia are likely on a collision course for the Saturday night final. I’ll go with Longoria and Salas to retain the crown.

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LPRT U21

The U21 are in action again for the 2nd week running; this time 5 of the tour’s young pros will battle it out, with defending U21 Lprt champ Centellas the likely favorite. Look for a fun semis match between #2 Katz and #3 Ros, a great measuring stick for the Texan.

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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!

Thanks to the Tourney Directors X and X for putting this event on!

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!

Associations

LPRT

LPRT Battle at the Alamo Recap

Longoria back on top for the first time in months. Photo via US Open 2019, Kevin Savory

Congrats to your LPRT Pro winners on the weekend:

– Singles: Paola Longoria

– U21 Singles: Valeria Centellas

Paola returns to the winner’s circle for the first time in many months, a strange thing to say for someone who has 110 career tier 1 wins and, prior to this year, was a 95% favorite to win.

There was also a healthy Men’s Open Singles and a great Mixed Pro doubles event; read on for recaps.

R2 Sports App home page for event: https://www.r2sports.com/tourney/home.asp?TID=40580

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Lets review the notable matches in the Pro Singles draw.

Singles Match report in the PRS database: https://rball.pro/jb3

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In the 32s, no real upsets but a couple of notable results:

– @AAna Gabriela Martínez returned to the tour and downed LPRT vet Nancy Enriquez in two games 6,11.

– #5 Jessica Parrilla was taken to a breaker by the current Mexican 16U champ (and finalist at World Juniors last November) Yanna Salazar . Watch out for Salazar, the next in a long line of promising Mexican junior women.

– #4 @EErika Manila was really pressed by reigning US and World 16U champ @Naomi Ros, playing in her home town. Manilla took the first, 15-7, but Ros powered back to take the 2nd 15-9 and force a breaker. The reigning US champ took the breaker 11-6 but this match was closer than Erika probably wanted. Ros, like Salazar, is poised for a breakthrough.

– #7 @Angelica Barros got a walk-over when Maricruz Ortiz no-showed. That had to be a sigh of relief for the Bolivian; Ortiz took her out with relative ease at PARC in Guatemala earlier this month. I thought this draw opened up for Ortiz and predicted as much in my preview; she misses an opportunity to put some LPRT points on the board.

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In the 16s, we got some great matches and some upsets.

– #1 Paola Longoria held serve against a top rival in Gaby, grinding out a 13,14 win. Gaby made a furious come-back attempt in game 2, coming back from 8-14 down to tie it, but Paola held on for the 2-game win.

– #8 @Carla Munoz got a very solid win over a top rival in #9 @Kelani Lawrence in a breaker to move into the quarters for the 4th time in 8 tourneys this year.

– #12 Maria José Vargas “upset” #2 Parrilla to move on; this was an expected win for the come-back Vargas; question is, how far back up the rankings can Vargas get with the newly vulnerable Longoria on her heels?

– #4 Manilla took out her fellow team USA mate Hollie Scott in two, a match that will help solidify Manilla’s seeding ahead of US Nationals.

– #14 Valeria Centellas got her best career win in topping #3 Alexandra Herrera . After exploding onto the scene in 2019, Centellas has struggled to get out of the 16s, but this win ensures her 3rd quarterfinal of the season.

– #11 Brenda Laime trounced #6 Natalia Mendez 7,6 to move on. Laime continues to be a dark-horse whenever she enters an event, with recent wins this season over Longoria, Herrera, Manilla, and now Mendez.

– #10 Samantha Salas made fast work of #7 Barrios to move into the quarters for the 91st time in her illustrious career.

– #2 Montse Mejia , who is on a 21 match win streak as of this round, made fast work of Colombian @Cristina Amaya to reach the quarters.

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In the Quarters, some bracket busting.

– #1 Longoria dropped the first game to #8 Munoz (the first time in 21 meetings where Carla had taken a game off of Paola), then the champ ground out game 2 before turning the tie-breaker into a romp.

– #12 Vargas continued her comeback with a dominant 3,6 win over #4 Manilla. The two play a similar game … Vargas just plays it better right now.

– #11 Laime continued her run, ending Centellas’ weekend despite her big win.
– The big result; #2 Mejia goes down against the veteran #10 Salas.

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In the Semis:

– Longoria turned the tide against Vargas, to whom she had lost two in a row, by grinding out a tie-breaker win.

– Laime took out Salas 11,11 to make her second ever pro final.

In the Finals, despite having a h2h win over Longoria earlier this season, Laime just seemed overwhelmed by the opportunity and Longoria crushed her 7,3 to claim the title.

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Points Implications of results

For months i’ve been saying this title was Mejia’s to lose … and i’m still right, but this weekend’s results definitely closed the gap between the players. Longoria may hold a 400+ point advantage right now in the rolling 365-day standings, but Mejia’s ahead in season to date points. However, she squandered a huge chunk of her S-T-D points lead this weekend by losing in the quarters … and now the two players are nearly tied for the season. I have Montse with just an 11 point lead before the fractional points that the players get for winning an extra game here and there. Suddenly the last two events take on even more import. Simply put, Mejia cannot afford another early round loss to an opponent she should be beating if she wants the title.

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Other Draws. There was no LPRT doubles, but we did get several other interesting draws in San Antonio.

– LPRT U21: touring pro Centellas topped three fellow U21 players to take the LPRT U21 draw without losing a game. She beat USA National team member @Annie Robert in the final 9,4. A solid weekend for the Argentine.

– Men’s Open: the Men’s “Open” draw featured two top-8 IRT pros, seemingly in violation of their player contracts unless there was some sort of deal made with the tour, and the Texas fans got some fireworks on and off the court.

Two Texans both stretched the top two seeds @Daniel De La Rosa and Alejandro Landa to tiebreakers in the quarter finals; Brendan Jennings took the first game 11 before falling 5,5. Meanwhile US Junior National team member @Cole Sendry gave #2 Landa everything he could handle, taking game one, diving all over the court and pushing the tie-breaker to 11-7. There were both on- and off-the-court issues here that may have ramifications for the senior member of the US Team; we’ll leave the commentary at that for now.

After the fireworks in the quarters, the rest of the draw went chalk, with DLR downing Christina Longoria with ease and Landa cruising past #3 @Alan Natera in two fast games to setup the expected final. In the final…DLR dropped the first game 14 to his US National doubles team partner before turning on the jets to win games 2 and 3 for the title and the cash.

– Mixed Pro: a great Mixed Pro Doubles draw featured 8 of the top 10 LPRT pros playing with a slew of IRT and other top players battled it out for an upset-filled Mixed draw.

In the end, #3 seeds and Husband/Wife Duo Natera/Munoz took the title over #1 Landa/Vargas in two close games.

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Thanks for all the streaming on the weekend, especially from broadcasters Timothy Baghurst, Jerry J Josey Jr., and @Tj Baumbaugh] Also thanks to the excellent commentary from guest announcers like Richard Eisemann and Sandy Rios all weekend.

Thanks to the Tourney Director Mike Cantu for putting this event on!

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Next up?

Per our handy master racquetball calendar …

https://docs.google.com/…/1V6OTid6rZ356voXVkoV2sN7KMMb…/

The LPRT is right back in action, with the tour flying to South Carolina for their annual Sweet Caroline grand slam in Greenville, SC, home of the Ladies pro hall of fame.

That will be the last event that players have to secure seeds ahead of the 2023 US National Singles team qualifier in Chicago at the end of the month. The Men’s pros have a satellite in Costa Rica in June, but otherwise have nothing official until Denver’s event in August.

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tags

LPRT

LPRT Battle At the Alamo preview

Can Vargas do another run? Photo US Open 2019 Kevin Savory

The LPRT returns to San Antonio for the first time since 2019, having taken the requisite Covid break and then just missing 2022. Prior to that, the Battle at the Alamo was a staple for nearly a decade on tour and I’m sure the ladies are glad to be back. The draw size reflects that, with enough players to push to a ro und of 64, the first time we’ve seen an LPRT draw that large outside of the US Open since the last Denver major. So that’s great news, and there’s a great draw here.

Tournament Director Mike Cantu has also gotten significant prize money to fund big-time Mixed draws and Men’s open draws, so more than a few IRT regulars are here to play Open and Mixed.

R2 Sports App link: https://www.r2sports.com/tourney/home.asp?TID=40580

The entire top 10 is here, and only a couple non-retired players are missing out of the entire top 20 (Lotts and MRR), so get ready for solid matches from the get-go.

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Round of 32 notable match-ups: Here’s what to look for early thursday:

– In the 16/17 @GabGaby Martínez matches up with Nancy Enriquez in a good early test.

– Fresh off a win at the Asia Open, Argentine Martina Katz makes the long, long flight to Texas to face off against #9 Kelani Lawrence .

– #11 Brenda Laime takes on US intercollegiate champ Annie Roberts in the opener.

– Not for the first time, both members of the Colombian national team @Cristina Amaya and partner @Maria Paz Riquelme have to play in the opening round of a pro event.

– Lastly, the match of the round has to be Costa Rican rising star @Maricruz Ortiz against #7 seed Angelica Barrios . Ortiz just beat Barrios at the PARC event two weeks ago en-route to a semis appearance, but that was IRF and rally scoring. This is the pro tour and a different vibe; can she repeat the win? I think she’s a bad matchup for Steffany and can get another big win here.

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Round of 16:

– #1 Paola Longoria , the embattled long-time #1 who’s taken more losses this year than in the last decade combined, cannot be happy seeing Gaby in her round of 16 match. Longoria should move on, but Gaby has beaten her in the past and will look to take advantage of Longoria’s recent slide.

– The 8/9 Lawrence – Carla Munoz match is a rematch at this juncture from a pro event in November, a 3-game Kelani win. Can she repeat the task or can Munoz reverse the trend on her season so far?

– #5 Jessica Parrilla is the unlucky recipient of the @JMaria José Vargas comeback tour; Vargas is now up to #12 after taking maternity leave and has been dominating since her return. Look for Vargas to get the “upset” here and make more waves.

– #4 Erika Manilla projects to face her former doubles partner @Hollie Scott in the 16s for the second time this year; the first time was a dominant 6,6 win that portends well for Manilla in next month’s US Singles National team qualifiers. This is a possible semis or finals preview of Nationals and both will be looking for an advance scouting report on the other.

– #3 Alexandra Herrera projects into Valeria Centellas, who just can’t seem to capture the flash of brilliance she showed back in 2019-2020 and has been mired in the mid-teens ever since.

– Laime – @Natalia Mendez is a great round of 16 match between two players who both flash top-4 talent. They have not met since June of 2021, and Mendez owns all three h2h wins.

– If Ortiz can get past Barrios, she projects into an old guard vet in Samantha Salas who plays a similar power game, a match that could be close. But I’d favor Ortiz’ chances to move on.

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Projected Qtrs:

– #1 Longoria over #8 Lawrence. Paola is 7-0 lifetime over Kelani.

– #4 Manilla vs #12 Vargas: match of the round. These two heavyweights both play power ball (they were #1 and #3 at last year’s radar gun challenge). They have not met since 2014 in any format. Who’s hot and who will handle the pressure better? My money is on Vargas to win a close one and build on her great results since coming back.

– #3 @Alexandra Herrera over #6 Mendez: the lefty is 10-1 lifetime over Natalia.

– #2 @Montse Meja Lopez against Ortiz; Mejia should end the run of the Costa Rican junior here, but good things are on the horizon for Maricruz.

Semis:

– #12 Vargas over #1 Longoria. After starting her career just 2-41 against Longoria … Maria Jose has beaten her twice running, once at the Arizona stop in February and then at PARC earlier this month. Vargas seems to have moved past whatever mental block she had versus Paola, and I think she wins again.

– #3 Mejia over #2 Herrera; Mejia has one four tourneys on the trot, and has beaten her long-time doubles partner four times in the last calendar year across multiple competitions. Montse has her number and wins again.

Finals: I think Mejia has figured things out, has beaten Vargas twice this year already (finals in AZ, then finals in PARC), and is in the driver’s seat on tour right now. Mejia wins the title for her 5th straight and virtually guarantees she ascends to #1 by season’s end.

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Doubles Preview: no pro doubles this weekend, the first time in I can’t remember how long the LPRT hasn’t had a doubles component. Instead we’ll get big money in the Men’s Open singles and Mixed doubles, and should have some fun draws there.

There is a U21 singles draw accompanying the main pro draw though, and it features 10 up and coming players. I really like these U21 draws, which give a second chance at cash to younger players. I like Ortiz over Katz in this one, with Roberts and Centellas in the semis.

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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!

Reminder to Players! Please like and follow this page so that when I tag you, you see it. Facebook will only retain tags of people that like/follow a page, which means lots of you are not getting the notoriety of getting tagged and noticed on Facebook. If your name is here and it isn’t tagged … it probably means I attempted to tag you but Facebook stripped it.

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!

Associations

LPRT

LPRT Boston Wrap-Up

Four in a row for Mejia. Photo unk.

Congrats to your winners on the weekend:

– Singles: Montse Mejia

– Doubles: Paola Longoria & Samantha Salas

Mejia wins her 4th straight event and extends her winning streak to 16 matches on tour, and she’s now put herself in a clear position to capture the year end title with solid results the rest of the way out. She leads the “season to date” points race by more than 160 points.

R2 Sports App home page for event: https://www.r2sports.com/website/event-website.asp?TID=40583

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Lets review the notable matches in the Singles draw.

Singles Match report in the PRS database: https://rball.pro/5gz

In the 32s, no surprises. Costa Rican junior @Maricruz Ortiz was the unlucky opponent of @MMaria José Vargas on her return from Maternity leave; she played the former #2 ranked player tough but lost 11,11. Ortiz followed this up with a solid win in the Women’s Open doubles over Nancy Enriquez and her time playing with and training with Veronica Sotomayor and Sudsy Monchik is paying off.

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In the 16s:

– Angelica Barrios got a solid win over a similarly talented competitor in Brenda Laime in the 8/9 game.

– Vargas primed herself for another deep run, topping #5 Jessica Parrilla in a breaker.

– Argentina shocker: Valeria Centellas cruised by #4 Natalia Mendez in two. These two doubles partners are frequent training partners, and these matchups when it counts are always unpredictable.

– In the 7/10 match, @Hollie Scott got a solid win over #7 @Carla Munoz .

– #2 Montse Mejía , winner of the last 3 tournaments, was pressed by Mexican veteran Nancy Enriquez but advanced in a breaker.

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In the Quarters, another shock loss.

– Barrios took out #1 Paola Longoria in a tie-breaker 7,(13),7. All props to Barrios, who joins Laime, Mejia, and Vargas as “Players who have beaten Longoria this season.”

With all due respect to Barrios’ win, the story here has to be Longoria’s continued losses on tour. She’s now lost 5 times this season: she had just six losses in the previous seven seasons COMBINED. Something has definitely shifted for Longoria, who as i’ve pointed out before is nearing 34 years of age and who may be seeing her skills decline just enough to end her dominance on tour.

In the other 3 quarters, expected work from the tour’s top players:

– Vargas made fast work of Centellas 0,9 to move into the semis.

– Manilla crushed her US national team doubles partner Scott in two

– Mejia dominated another Mexican veteran Salas 9,2. Not to pick on Salas here, but its worth noting (with respect to Longoria’s slide this season) that Salas is basically two years older than Longoria, and went from making 9 finals in the 2018-19 season. Since that point, she’s made exactly ONE final in 27 tournaments. Sometimes that age 33-34 tripping point can be a light switch of results on the court.

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In the Semis

– Barrios continued her run with a win over Vargas. Barrios has always been a tough matchup for Vargas, and now improves to 4-2 against her former countrywoman in all competitions.

– Mejia takes out Manilla in two solid games 7,9

In the Finals, Mejia ground out game one against a challenging opponent in Barrios, then had a furious comeback to stave off a breaker and win the second game at 14.

Its her 4th straight tourney win (something that puts her in the top 20 of all time), her 16th straight tourney win (tied for 14th all time), and really makes a statement on her place on tour right now.

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Points Implications of results

Longoria’s early loss costs her dearly; there was already going to be a 90 point swing between Mejia and Longoria by virtue of the 2022 Boston Open expiring, and Mejia’s better results closes the gap significantly. Longoria’s lead at the top of the tour is now below 300 points. This is significant because the looming Sweet Caroline Grand Slam was missed last year by Mejia, meaning she has no points to defend and stands to make up a whopping 300 points just by entering the last event of the LPRT season. Unless Paola can turn it around, it is looking more and more like Montse will pip her for the title by season’s end.

Herrera missed this event to receive an award in her home town; she’s now essentially locked into 3rd place for the season, well behind Montse for 2nd, and well ahead of Manilla for 4th.

Other top 10 machinations: Parrilla and Mendez switch places even though both were upset in the quarters. Barrios’ big run moves her up to 7th above Munoz.

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Doubles review:

Match report in the PRS database: https://rball.pro/dga

Neutrals got the final they wanted, as #1 Longoria/Salas cruised past Scott/Lawrence in one semi 5,8. In the other semi, Mejia and Manilla are getting more comfortable playing together and dominated the Argentine pair of Centellas/Mendez to make the final as well.

The final was a tense, argumentative affair, as the vets from Mexico tried to hold off the young guns on tour. In the end, they staved off a furious comeback after splitting the first two games, and Longoria/Salas win their 37th career pro doubles title together 4,(14),7

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Women’s Open, other draws

– As noted above, Maricruz Ortiz took out Enriquez to win Women’s Open.

– Ortiz also took the LPRT U21 draw, beating Centellas in the semis and Katz in the final.

– Jolene Sullivan & Jose Flores Jr. took the small Mixed Open RR group.

– Bolivian Miguel Arteaga topped Flores to win the 20-man Open singles draw.

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Thanks for all the streaming on the weekend, especially from broadcasters Timothy Baghurst, Jerry J Josey Jr., and @Tj Baumbaugh]

Thanks to the Tourney Director @Stuart Solomon for putting this event on!

Reminder to Players! Please like and follow this page so that when I tag you, you see it. Facebook will only retain tags of people that like/follow a page, which means lots of you are not getting the notoriety of getting tagged and noticed on Facebook. If your name is here and it isn’t tagged … it probably means I attempted to tag you but Facebook stripped it.

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Next up?

Per our handy master racquetball calendar …

https://docs.google.com/…/1V6OTid6rZ356voXVkoV2sN7KMMb…/

Beach Bash next weekend, then IRT in Chicago. LPRT is back at the end of April in San Antonio.

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tags

LPRT

LPRT Boston Open Preview

Can Mejia make it 4 in a row? Photo Kevin Savory US Open 2019

The LPRT is back in Boston for the 2023 Frontline Boston Open Presented by ARK Behavioral Health.

R2 Sports App link: https://www.r2sports.com/website/event-website.asp?TID=40583

There’s 25 players in Boston, and the draw shakes out to give us a ton of really compelling matchups. The round of 16 here is going to be awesome.

Top20 players missing: #2 Herrera is not here, giving Mejia the #2 seed and a cleaner run to the finals to go after her fourth straight win. The next highest missing player is #15 Lotts. Ironman Maria Renee Rodriguez misses just her 3rd event in five years, as does her Guatemalan partner Gaby Martinez. Lastly #20 Rajsich remains on touring hiatus.

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

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In the 32s, there’s some good starters:

– Last week’s surprise finalist Vargas goes against Costa Rican’ top junior Maricruz Ortiz, a bummer of a draw for Ortiz, who has been training with Sudsy “Rocky Balboa” Monchik in Florida.

– In an all-Argentine youngster matchup, #13 Valeria Centellas goes up against lefty Martina Katz .

– USA U21 junior Annie Roberts gets a close match with veteran LPRT Colombian @Cris Amaya .

– Lastly , two Canadian juniors in Juliette and Marjolaine Parent make their LPRT debuts. Their mom, Monique Parent , is a former Canadian national singles champ and last appeared on the Ladies pro tour in 1985 at the DP event in …. Boston.

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round of 16: there are going to be some barn burners here.

– 8/9: Laime vs Barrios. Right now its advantage Barrios on the strength of her win over Herrera in AZ. But these two are neck and neck and couldn’t have a different gamestyle.

– Vargas plays into Parrilla, a bummer for Leoni to get an early round matchup against a top 4 player despite her lofty seed.

– The winner of the all-Argentina playin between Centellas & Katz plays … the #4 seed Argentine Mendez. I guess we really wanted to ensure all the players from La Albiceleste were gone early.

– Scott vs Munoz. these two are also neck and neck in terms of world talent rankings and this could go either way. Scott topped Munoz at the 2021 US Open, but that was just their 2nd ever meeting (first in 2016, which Munoz took). Edge to Scott.

– Lawrence vs Salas: another gut check for an up and coming player, to see if they can take out a veteran. Salas is 3-0 lifetime and took out Kelani at the World Games last fall and has the slight edge here.

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Projected Qtrs:

– Longoria over Barrios. If it was Laime, i’d give her a slight edge, but i just don’t think Barrios’ game style can ever beat Paola.

– Vargas over Mendez: the last of the all-Argentine meetings in this quarter, and two long-time doubles partners meet.

– Manilla over Scott: USA vs USA but Manilla has the advantage here.

– Mejia over Salas; Mejia is on a roll and isn’t losing to Samantha here.

Semis:

– Longoria over Vargas: Vargas was playing without pressure last week; now there’s expectations and I think Longoria has the better mindset.

– Mejia over Manilla; Erika beat Montse twice in a row in late 2019 they never met prior or since. Lots has changed since then, not the least of which is Mejia being on a 3-tournament winning streak. This is setup to be an awesome match but I think Montse is taking a step ahead of the rest of the tour right now.

Finals; Montse over Longoria to take her 4th straight event. Longoria looking in the mirror and wondering if this is the inevitable changing of the guard.

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Doubles review

No Herrera this weekend, so Mejia teams up with Manilla (who also is missing her newly minted championship partner from US Nationals. Regular teams Centellas/Mendez and Scott/Lawrence form the rest of the top 4 seeds.

In the end, I like Manilla/Mejia to get to the final, but to lose to Longoria & Salas.

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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!

Thanks to the Tourney Director and @USA Racquetball President Stuart Solomon for putting this event on!

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!

Associations

LPRT

LPRT Arizona Pro Stop Recap

Vargas had a fantastic tournament upon her return from maternity leave. Photo US Open 2019 Kevin Savory

Congrats to your winners on the weekend:

– Singles: Montse Mejia

– Doubles: Paola Longoria and Rhonda Rajsich

Mejia wins her 3rd straight LPRT event and has a 12-match winning streak on tour (see https://rball.pro/qx5 for longest LPRT winning streaks). In doubles, Longoria teams with Rajsich for the first time since 2016 and wins the title again, improving her pro doubles record to 6-0 with her long-time rival (see https://rball.pro/i0s for Longoria’s full LPRT doubles match history)

R2 Sports App home page for event: https://www.r2sports.com/tourney/home.asp?TID=39119

Interestingly, the entire LPRT stop was played out by early Saturday afternoon. I cannot recall seeing a pro event that ended before at the earliest Saturday Night. This took me by surprise when the ladies started on Thursday (normally they don’t kick into gear until Friday morning).

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Lets review the notable matches in the Singles draw.

Singles Match report in the PRS database: https://rball.pro/ovk

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In the 32s: a tale of two kinds of qualifiers. Several of the round of 32s were complete blowouts: three of the scores were of the “1 and 0” variety. But then there were several interesting matches:

– Both players were gone a while; but only one could advance. #16 Maria José Vargas took out @Rhonda Rajsich in a breaker to earn a shot at Longoria.

– #12 Valeria Centellas was definitely pressed by USA’s Lexi York , going 11-8 in the breaker before advancing.

– I was expecting a bit more from Lucia Gonzalez against #9 Kelani Lawrence ; after losing the first game 11, the American turned on the guns and raced to an 11,3 win.

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In the 16s, an absolute shock.

– Vargas upset #1 Longoria with a well earned tie-breaker win. Vargas came back big in both the first and third games and just played better than Longoria. This is the earliest exit for Longoria in an LPRT event since January of 2007, and she now has more losses so far this season (four) than she had in the prior four seasons combined, and we still have several stops to go (Longoria career W/L here: https://rball.pro/z2i, and see here for Longoria’s losses on tour https://rball.pro/v2p.). Bravo to Vargas for this win, but the storyline has to be this: are we looking at the potential fall of the long-time #1?

Other Round of 16 observations:

– #9 @Kelani Lawrence with a great win over #8 Brenda Laime .

– #6 Jessica Parrilla with a solid win over #11 Hollie Scott ; these two are very closely matched.

– #2 Alexandra Herrera held off Gaby Martinez in two tight games in a round of 16 that should have been a semi (not unlike Vargas-Longoria). Solid win for Herrera to avoid a possible upset here.

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In the Quarters, more crazy results.

– Vargas continues her run by taking out USA’s Lawrence in a breaker. This could have been a huge emotional letdown for a player to have to come back after toppling #1, but Vargas held serve in a match she should win, despite just coming back from months off.

– #5 Natalia Mendez continues her dominance over #4 Erika Manilla by winning in a breaker and donutting the American #1 11-0 along the way. Mendez has never lost to Manilla in a match tracked by PRS, dating back to their junior days.

– #3 Mejia reversed the result against Parrilla from Mexican Nationals last week, winning easily to move on.

– #2 Herrera was taken out in two closer games by #7 Angelica Barrios 12,11. The Bolivian champ improves to 3-2 lifetime over Herrera.

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In the Semis

– Vargas continues her run, downing her long-time doubles partner Mendez to make the final as a #16 seed. Its the 4th highest seed to ever make a final in the known seeding history of the tour.

– Mejia crushed Barrios 6,5 to return to the final for the 3rd straight event, and for the fourth time this season.

In the Finals, Vargas took game one 15-12 but (finally) ran out of gas and Mejia cruised the rest of the way, winning (12),2,4 to take her third straight title.

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Points Implications of results

– Around this time last year, we were asking if Herrera was the heir apparent after two straight wins over Longoria. Well, Mejia now has won three straight events and should overtake Herrera for #2 on tour if My math is correct.

– Longoria remains #1 still though by a sizeable margin (nearly 600 points) and it will take a number of additional early round upsets for Mejia to overtake her for the title, especially by season’s end.

– Barrios’ result jumps her up from #11 to #8

– Laime’s upset will drop her 3 spots from #8 to #11.

– Vargas’ return and run to the final will jump her from #15 to #12, and she’s in a good position to continue to rise.

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Doubles review

Match report in the PRS database: https://rball.pro/79b

Longoria and Rajsich race to the title, beating the reigning US champs Michelle Key and Erika Manilla in a breaker along the way. Not a good result for team USA, who could not focus on Rajsich enough to take a winnable match.

Team Argentina (Valeria CentellasValeria CentellasValeria Centellas and Mendez) had a great run to the final, in a solid tuneup for upcoming international events.

The story of the tourney though was the shock early round loss of the reigning Mexican champs and #1 seeds Herrera/Mejia, who were upset in the quarters by Barrios & Laime. Now, Barrios is no doubles slouch; she’s a world champ in fact and just won Bolivian doubles … nor is Laime, who has proven to be a heck of a doubles player in the last year, but this is still a shocking loss.

The ladies doubles competition at the upcoming PARC is going to be wide open.

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Thanks for all the streaming on the weekend, especially from broadcasters JT R Ball , @jJerry Josey , Timothy Baghurst and others who got on the mike and helped out (@Richard Eiseman )

Thanks to the Tourney Director Jim Winterton and to the RPAA for putting this event on!

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Next up?

We’ll recap the IRT event and publish tomorrow.

Per our handy master racquetball calendar …

https://docs.google.com/…/1V6OTid6rZ356voXVkoV2sN7KMMb…/

Next weekend is a IRT satellite event in Montana and the non-sanctioned Xelani open in Miami, which should be interesting to watch since its a non-pro event with big money and limits on the entrants.

LPRT is back in action the weekend following, returning to Boston.

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tags

LPRT