Mejia Wins Again in Arizona
by Dr. Tim Baghurst
The Sun Devil Fitness Complex at Arizona State University always produces some surprising results. The February LPRT event presented by HD Solutions, LLC, was no exception, with tiebreakers and upsets busting fantasy brackets early. Perhaps it was a few months’ respite in the middle of the season, or perhaps it was the dry air and altitude, but high seeds fell early and often on the 12 courts at ASU.
Maria José Vargas, returning from an extended period away with the birth of her third child, was expected to be a little rusty. As the #16 seed, no one expected too much, but she stormed through the field to the final, taking out World #1 Paola Longoria in the process. Alexandra Herrera, the #2 seed, fell in the quarterfinals to #10 seed Angelica Barrios, but neither Barrios nor Vargas had any answer for the consistency of #3 seed Montse Mejia, who cruised to another title, her second consecutive. Mejia has proven that her early talent as a junior has matured into one of the best, if not the best, in the world.
Finalist Maria Jose Vargas, Winner Montse Mejia, and presenting sponsor Dan Parker (HD Solutions, LLC)
Longoria’s aura of invincibility over the past 12 months has waned a bit. Yet, she still remains firmly entrenched at the top of the rankings, and she demonstrated that she still wants to win with a fine display of doubles at this event, taking the title with veteran Rhonda Rajsich. Longoria and Rajsich were tested throughout the draw, overcoming Argentine pair Natalia Mendez and Valeria Centellas in the final. Speaking of Centellas, the young pro claimed the LPRT U21 title at this event, overcoming Erin Slutsky in two games.
Erika Manilla, Paola Longoria, Rhonda Rajsich, Michelle Key
Natalia Mendez, Valeria Centellas, Rhonda Rajsich, Paola Longoria
With the LPRT athletes having not competed on tour since the beginning of December, this event was a litmus test for what will be a busy several months for them, many trying to peak for the Pan American Games in October. For some, their results suggest their path is clear. For others, it’s a chance to regroup and refocus. Only time will tell.
Thank you to Coach Jim Winterton for hosting a stellar event for the LPRT. The players had a fantastic time, and we hope the fans enjoyed the incredible matches and upsets in what turned out to be one of the most interesting draws of the season.
Thanks also to presenting sponsor Dan Parker of HD Solutions LLC for his support. Also a big shout out goes to all of the volunteers and local sponsors. Events can’t happen without the support of a great local team.
Thanks to the supporters of Arizona Racquetball: Winterton Racquetball, the Mattfeldt Family, Susan Boulanger, Lori Beavers, Lamar Hughes, John Ortiz, Jeff Boyer, Eisemann Realty Group, KWM Gutterman, Paradise Windows, Terry Kisling, Ken Osario, Marti McCurdy (Spirit Electronics), RPAA, Bobby Ferreira, Arizona State University Racquetball Club, Tempe Tourism, Richard Aal, Kevin Hayes, and the Northern Arizona State University Racquetball Club.
For a complete look at the results, go to https://www.r2sports.com/tourney/viewResults.asp?TID=39119
Montse Mejia, Alexandra Herrera, Carla Muñoz
Photos by María Paz Riquelme