Two LPRT Events with Two Different Champions Crowned
by Dr. Tim Baghurst & T. J. Baumbaugh
Alamo 2023 was a Battle! By Dr. Tim Baghurst
The Battle at the Alamo has been four years in the making and it was no surprise that the women’s pro draw was larger than any pro stop outside of the US Open. Jessica Parrilla (MEX) and Erika Manilla (USA) were both tested early on by juniors trying to make their mark but came through the early rounds. Upsets were prevalent in the round of 16. A win by Valeria Centellas (ARG) over Alexandra Herrera (MEX) in the round of 16 following an upset by Brenda Laime (BOL) over six seed Natalia Mendez to make the quarterfinals. Maria Jose Vargas (ARG) caused an upset, on paper anyway, over Jessica Parrilla, and Samantha Salas (MEX) shocked Angelica Barrios (BOL).
The quarter finals are often a tossup and Salas continued her fine form by topping two seed Monserrat Mejia (MEX). Laime overcame Centellas in a tiebreaker and world number one Paola Longoria (MEX) also needed a tiebreaker to advance over a tough Carla Muñoz (CHI). Vargas, meanwhile, had a more comfortable path to the semis defeating Manilla in two straight.The semifinals led to a Longoria vs Laime final, and it was all Longoria from the beginning. Longoria’s form has been questioned the last six months, but she was in peak form in the final, keeping unforced errors to almost none and hitting winners from all parts of the court. Laime bravely fought on, but Longoria triumphed 15-7, 15-3.
The Mixed Pro Doubles division provided some outstanding entertainment and matchups. The married couple of Carla Muñoz and Alan Natera (MEX) defeated Alex Landa (USA) and Maria Jose Vargas in two close games.
Thank you to everyone who made this event possible. Our sincere appreciation goes to: Alamo City Racquetball Association* Mike Cantu, Tournament Director* Sandy Rios of San Rios Billing* Joe Hall of Splathead (LPRT merchandise)* Lance Gilliam of Gilliam & Associates* Quality Fasteners* Thousand Oaks Family YMCA* Culebra Meat Market* El Jalisco Restaurant* Roswell Family Care
Guatemalan Gaby Martinez Earned Sweet Title - By T. J. Baumbaugh
Fans were packed in for the finals at Sportsclub Greenville in Greenville, South Carolina to watch Gaby Martinez (GUA) storm through an incredibly difficult pro draw to take the second pro title of her young career. Then fans stayed to witness the winningest doubles team in LPRT history, Samantha Salas (MEX) and Paola Longoria (MEX) add another belt to their titles.
The 7th Annual Sweet Caroline Open was full of exciting upsets, tiebreakers, and southern hospitality. This premier charity and athletic event, which showcased the LPRT, raised funds for two local charities this year: Carolina COPS https://carolinacops.org/ and Front Porch Housing https://frontporchhousing.org/.
Our sincere thanks to all of the sponsors and supporters who made the Sweet Caroline Open possible: Proactive MD • Southern First • PCPMG - Piedmont Comprehensive Pain Management Group • Mary and David Swain • Sportsclub Greenville
SCO Board Members: Josh Osborne • Matt Dersch • Amy Farmer • Geoff Goldberg • Holli Meindl • Kellie Deitz • Amber Ritacco • J Josey • Jacob Varughese • Brittany Bracket • Creighton Magoun • Kooper Buchanon • James Stone
Here is the full event recap thanks to Todd Boss of ProRacquetballStats.com:
LPRT Sweet Caroline Grand Slam Wrap-Up
Congrats to your winners on the weekend:- Singles: Gaby Martinez • Doubles: Longoria & Salas
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.
Let’s 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 and went breaker before Gaby took out Maria Renee Rodriguez.
- Kelani Lawrence (USA) handled upstart junior Naomi Ros (USA) more easily this week than Erika Manilla (USA) did at the Alamo, taking her out 5, 8.
In the 16s, a shock loss that throws the title race back into serious question.
- #1 Paola Longoria (MEX) was dominated in a 7,6 loss to Gaby 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
- #8 Carla Muñoz (CHI) got a very solid win over #9 Angelica Barrios (BOL) 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 (ARG) cruises past #5 Jessica Parrilla (MEX) , this time 7,3.
- #4 Erika Manilla held off the upset-minded Valeria Centellas (ARG) 2,12 to setup a rematch with Vargas from last week.
- #3 Alexandra Herrera (MEX) avoided a second major upset in a row and advanced past Hollie Scott (USA) in two.
- #6 Brenda Laime (BOL) held off an opponent she's struggled with lately in #11 Lawrence, guaranteeing that she remains in the top 8.
- #7 Natalia Mendez (ARG) becomes the latest victim of Samantha Salas (MEX) , who seems to be on a bit of a come-back. It was 11-10 in the end.
- #2 Montse Mejia (MEX) held serve once again against Cristina Amaya (COL) 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; let’s see if she can avoid the pitfalls of looking ahead of Salas.
In the Quarters:
- #17 Gaby continued her run, downing #8 Muñoz in two games. These two have only met a handful of times, and never since 2017.- #4 Erika 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.
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.
All photos by by Coach Maria Paz Riquelme