2023 KWM Gutterman World Singles and Doubles Open Racquetball Championships
by T. J Baumbaugh & Todd Boss
Highlands Ranch Rec Center, Highlands Ranch, Colorado – Nearly 350 pro and amateur players made their way to Colorado for what was likely the biggest indoor event of the season. The Championships spotlighted both the LPRT and the IRT, with special attention to arguably the toughest Mixed Pro draw in racquetball history. Paola Longoria and Conrrado Moscoso were double winners, taking home some heavy hardware that included engraved glass event trophies.
Thank you to Todd Boss of ProRacquetballStats.com for the LPRT singles and Pro Mixed Doubles recap:
In the 32s
- Rarely seen Nancy Enriquez took a TB win over #17 Sheryl Lotts.
- #13 Cristina Amaya got a solid win over #20 Lexi York.
- #11 Gaby Martínez got a bummer of a walk-over win against Costa Rican Junior Maricruz Ortiz. I would have liked to have seen this one. Not knowing the answer, it seems like Ortiz got hurt in Mixed, because she forfeited out of both Pros and Open.
- #6 Maria Jose Vargas made fast work of her practice partner and dark-horse candidate Veronica Sotomayor 3,2 to extinguish any deep runs by 20+ seeds.
In the 16s
- #9 Natalia Mendez reversed the course of her last couple of matchups with #8 Carla Muñoz, winning a tight one 9,14 to move on.
- #5 Brenda Laime made fast work of #12 Kelani Lawrence 10,5.
- Gaby shocked this observer and cruised past Vargas 9, 12 to advance. Vargas has been on such a roll lately, I’m surprised she got upset early despite her seed. I feel like there's a set of five women in a class by themselves in the ladies’ game right now -- Mejia, Longoria, Herrera, Martinez, Vargas -- and when two of them meet in the 16s, it’s always a high-stakes match.
- #10 Samantha Salas Solis took out Jessica Parrilla in a slight upset in the 7-10 matchup.
- #1 Montse Mejia lost the first game against Mendez before buckling down and cruising to a win.
- Laime took out #4 Erika Manila 7,10 to move into the semis.
- #3 Alexandra Herrera got back on top, defeating Gaby 13, 7 to return to the semis. What a quartile; the #3 quartile in this event had Herrera, Vargas, Martinez, Sotomayor, and Ortiz. Phew.
- #2 Paola Longoria defeated Salas to move on. In three matches to this point in the tournament, Longoria had given up just 10 combined points in 6 games -- a sign of things to come?
- Mejia topped Laime by a more dominant score line than I was expecting 6, 12.
- Longoria ground out a tough win over Herrera 10, 14.
We got the match we wanted: 1 v 2. Last year's champ versus this year's champ. And we got a back-and-forth affair, Longoria grinding out a game one win 15-13 before Mejia caught fire in game two and blasted Paola 15-3. In the tiebreaker, Longoria found a weakness: a cut lob serve to Mejia's forehand that she just couldn't help but attack. With a lively ball and concrete and altitude, cross-court overheads come off the back wall for setups over and over. Before Mejia could alter her strategy, Longoria ran away with the tiebreaker 11-5 for the title.
Mixed Pro Doubles
The 28-team Mixed Pro doubles draw gave us some crazy results in the early rounds. Here are a few of the upsets by seed from the 32s and 16s:
-#1 seeds Rodrigo Montoya and Samantha Salas Solis, who won this event in 2021, were shocked by #16 Gaby Martinez & Edwin Galicia in a tiebreaker.
- #24 Kane Waselenchuk and Michelle Key advanced past two very good doubles players in Kadim Carrasco and Brenda Laime in the opener 10,10. Carrasco just couldn't put balls away at altitude, but Kane could, and that made the difference.
- #13 Jaime Martell and Cristina Amaya went 11-10 against Adriana Riveros and Diego Garcia to move on.
- #19 Ecuadorians Jose Daniel Ugalde and Veronica Sotomayor took out Costa Ricans #14 Andres Acuña and Maricruz Ortiz.
- #10 Kelani Lawrence and Thomas Carter took out Canada's top pairing of Samuel Murray and Frederique Lambert in two, not an upset by seed but by reputation.
- The run of #24 Kane/Key was ended by the husband-wife team of Alan Natera/Carla Muñoz in controversial fashion. After being destroyed 15-2 in the first, Kane and Key took game two and forced a breaker. A back-and-forth tiebreaker was ended on a no-call at match point when Natera hit a jam serve at Kane, who held up but was not given a hinder. An unsatisfying end to the match but one that was vindicated as Natera/Muñoz raced to the final.
Seven of the top eight seeds moved on to the quarters. Natera/Muñoz (#8) crushed #16 Martinez/Galicia, and then topped Mar/Mejia in the semis with relative ease 8, 9 to gain the final. From the bottom half, Moscoso and Longoria earned their finals appearance, topping the veteran Beltran/Mendez team, then advancing past the troublesome DLR/Scott team, before crushing Portillo/Herrera to get to the final.
In the final, Natera's excellent play finally met its match in Moscoso, and the dominant pair cruised to the pro title.
The LPRT would like to extend our sincere thanks to Jim Hiser and his event team for hosting a fun, action-packed, and successful event. Our appreciation goes to all the sponsors who made the event possible, with a special shout-out to Title Sponsor Keith Minor of KWM Gutterman.
KWM Gutterman (Title)
R&B Sales, Inc. (Presenting)
Pueblo Athletic Club
Leo & Susan Klimaitis
Caber Hill Advisors
Colorado Racquetball Assoc.
Photos By: Maria Paz Riquelme "Coach Maripa"