Friday, March 21, 2014

LPRT Great Balls of Fire Pro-Am Preview UPDATED

For the first time in a long time there's a full draw of 32 at a Ladies Professional Racquetball Tour (LPRT) event (outside of the US Open), as 32 players will vie for the title at the 2014 Great Balls of Fire Pro-Am.

(note: the draw has changed slightly with the withdrawal of Carolina Luque)

Paola Longoria is the top seed and will look to continue her winning streak that began in May 2011. But who will she face in the final? Five players have been runner up to Longoria this season: Rhonda Rajsich (four times), Maria Jose Vargas, Cristina Amaya, Veronica Sotomayor and Frédérique Lambert. Four of those could reach the final in Miami to face off with Longoria. Amaya cannot, as she's the 5th seed and would meet Longoria in the semi-finals.

In finals this season, Longoria has given up an average of 16.1 points. Vargas got 24 on Longoria, including winning one game. Amaya 11, Lambert 15 and Sotomayor 13 as they all lost in three straight games. Rajsich took a game off Longoria in one of their matches, scoring 24 points in that match, and she's averaged 16.5 points against Longoria this season.

With a winning streak like Longoria's, the speculation is not on whether it will continue but on who she'll beat this time and by how many points.

But there will be plenty of great matches outside of Longoria's, and they will start right off the hop in the Round of 32.

Three recent USA Racquetball Intercollegiate champions are in the draw, and two of them will play each other, as Sharon Jackson and Michelle Key will face off in the 32s. They played in two Intercollegiate Women's finals with Key winning in 2011 and Jackson in 2012.

Sheryl Lotts was Intercollegiate champion in 2009 and she'll play veteran T. J. Baumbaugh in the 16/17 seed game with the winner likely to face Longoria in the Round of 16.

In the 16s, there will be more interesting matches with Amaya likely playing Adrienne Haynes, Lambert against Aubrey Kirch, Sotomayor against Susana Acosta, and 8th seed Da'monique Davis likely facing off with 9th seed Cheryl Gudinas.

Look for live coverage of the 15th Annual Great Balls of Fire Pro-Am on the LPRT Network beginning tentatively on Friday at 3 PM EDT with the Round of 16.

LPRT Great Balls of Fire
Miami, Florida

1 Paola Longoria v. BYE
16 T.J. Baumbaugh v. 17 Sheryl Lotts

9 Cheryl Gudinas v. 24 Laura Brandt
8 Da'monique Davis v. 25 Claudia Andrade

5 Cristina Amaya v. 28 Marie Gomar
12 Adrienne Haynes v. 21 Marianna Tobon

13 Maria Paz Muñoz v. 20 Maria Renee Rodriguez
4 Samantha Salas v. 29 Sofia Soley

3 Maria Jose Vargas v. 30 Melania Sauma
14 Hailey Miller v. 19 Jessica Parilla

11 Aubrey Kirch v. 22 Cecilia Orozco
6 Frédérique Lambert v. 27 Jordan Cooperrider

7 Susana Acosta v. 26 Mariana Paredes
10 Veronica Sotomayor v. 23 Masiel Rivera

15 Sharon Jackson v. 18 Michelle Key
2 Rhonda Rajsich v. 31 Gabriela Martinez

Follow the bouncing ball....

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