Monday, May 3, 2021

Meneses wins Women's Open, LPRT Hall of Fame & USA Racquetball calls off National Festival

Miceala Meneses won Women’s Open at the Sweet Caroline Open in Greenville, South Carolina on Sunday. She defeated Erika Manilla in the final, 15-11, 15-7. It was a good tournament for both players. Meneses was seeded 10th, and beat 2nd seed Cristina Amaya in the quarterfinals, 15-14, 15-14, and 3rd seed Susana Acosta in the semi-finals, 14-15, 15-4, 11-7, before facing Manilla.

Manilla was seeded 4th, and beat 5th seed Jenny Daza in the quarters, 15-3, 15-8, before knocking off top seed Carla Muñoz, 15-12, 15-9, in the semis.

First LPRT Hall of Fame Inductees

The Ladies Professional Racquetball Tour (LPRT) has created a Hall of Fame, which will be hosted at the Sportsclub in Greenville, South Carolina. The Hall of Fame has been made possible through the sponsorship of Piedmont Comprehensive Pain Management Group.

The first three players inducted into the LPRT Hall of Fame on the weekend were: Lynn Adams, Michelle Gould and Heather McKay. All three were #1 on the pro tour multiple times.

The rivalry of Adams and McKay helped start the women’s pro tour. McKay was #1 three of the first four seasons from 1980 to 1984. Adams was #1 the other of those seasons, and then for five of six seasons from 1985 to 1990. After that, Gould took up the mantel, as she was #1 in seven of the next eight seasons during the 1990s.

Adams won 47 times on tour, 2nd all time, and was in the top 10 for 11 seasons. Gould won 43 times (3rd all time) in just 45 finals! She was in the top 10 for 9 seasons. McKay won 20 times, and may have won more, but she moved back to her native Australia in 1985, which ended her racquetball career.

These are the most deserving players to start a women’s pro racquetball Hall of Fame.

USAR cancels National Championships Festival

USA Racquetball was to hold the 2021 USA Racquetball National Championships Festival in St. Louis, Missouri, June 3-13, but Monday night they announced the festival has been cancelled due to the “ongoing COVID-19 restrictions in the St. Louis area” (from email release). That hours after USA Racquetball had sent a message on Twitter encouraging people to enter the event.

The email further states the cancellation is due to a failure to lift the mask restriction in St. Louis County, which is “over seven weeks behind on anticipated reopening measures.” Thus, USA Racquetball believes “players [would not get] the overall experience they deserve for their investment of time and money.”

Neither player health or safety is mentioned in the email.

When this Festival, which was to include the National Singles, National Doubles and National Junior Championships, was first announced in March, The Racquetball Blog felt that it was an ambitious plan. And perhaps a hasty one too, given it was done approximately three months prior to the event.

The COVID-19 pandemic is still going on in the world, and in some places it’s gotten worse. The USA seems to be doing a reasonable job at getting people vaccinated, but it will likely still be some time before being out in public places returns to anything like it was prior to March 2020.

USA Racquetball’s contingency plan for an event that will be used to qualify players for Team USA for the International Racquetball Federation (IRF) 2021 World Championships and 2021 World Junior Championships will now come into effect. Of course, whether those IRF events, which are scheduled for later this year, actually happen remains to be seen.

2021 LPRT Sweet Caroline Open, April 30-May 2, 2021 

Greenville, South Carolina 

Women’s Open - Final

10) Micaela Meneses d. 4) Erika Manilla, 15-11, 15-7

Semi-finals

4) Erika Manilla d. 1) Carla Muñoz, 15-12, 15-9
10) Micaela Meneses d. 3) Susana Acosta, 14-15, 15-4, 11-7

Quarterfinals - Saturday 

1) Carla Muñoz d. 9) Daniela Rico, 15-1, 15-10
4) Erika Manilla d. 5) Jenny Daza, 15-3, 15-8

3) Susana Acosta d. 11) Carlee Jansz, 15-5, 15-7
10) Micaela Meneses d. 2) Cristina Amaya, 15-14, 15-14

 Follow the bouncing ball….

Sunday, May 2, 2021

Longoria a double winner Sunday at 2021 LPRT Sweet Caroline Open

Paola Longoria, the #1 player on the Ladies Professional Racquetball Tour (LPRT), won the Sweet Caroline Open in Greenville, South Carolina on Sunday by defeating 2nd seed Alexandra Herrera, 15-12, 15-3. The win was Longoria’s 15th over Herrera on tour in as many matches.

Longoria and Herrera were also on opposite sides in the doubles final with the same result: Longoria and Samantha Salas beating Herrera and Montserrat Mejia, 15-6, 15-5.

In the singles final, Herrera had the early lead in game one, as she got the first five points to lead 5-0. A nice controlled overhand forehand reverse pinch shot got Longoria a side out at that point, so she called a timeout.

Longoria came back to tie Herrera at 5-5, when play resumed. She then went up 10-7, and it seemed like the game was going to slip away from Herrera. But she had a come back of her own to tie the game at 10-10. Again, Longoria called a timeout.

That led to a sideout and three points for Longoria to lead 13-10. Herrera called timeout, and after that got the serve back with a serve return winner off a drive Z serve to the right side, which is Herrera’ s backhand side.

Herrera hit two winners then, which got her within one at 13-12. A series of sideouts happened at that point. A Longoria forehand pinch ended the exchange, and made the score 14-12. Herrera stopped Longoria’s first game point, but Longoria got the serve right back with a backhand serve return winner off a lob down the left side.

She made good on her second game point, as Longoria forced Herrera into skipping a serve return by hitting a good Z serve to the right side: Herrera’s backhand.

After being close in game one, but not winning it, we feared for Herrera in game two. Those fears were confirmed when Longoria went out to an 8-0 lead. Herrera did get a side out at that point and scored three points.

But that was all she’d get, as Longoria ran off another string of unanswered points to take game two 15-3, and the match in two straight games. Herrera only served once after getting her three points, and that was at 14-3, far too late.

Longoria hit a variety of serves in the match, but generally they all went to Herrera’s backhand.

The doubles final had the same story line as the singles final, as Herrera and Mejia were up 4-0 in game one. Longoria and Salas tied the game at 6-6, and then didn’t give up another point, pressing on to take game one, 15-6.

In game two, they were close early, and tied 3-3. It seemed that Herrera and Meija got the serve back with Longoria and Salas leading 4-3 after Herrera hit a winner. But after that rally the ball was determined to be broken, so a replay was called. That led to 10 straight points by Longoria and Salas, and a 14-3 lead.

A soft forehand winner by Mejia got her side back in the service box, and they scored a couple of points before Longoria took the serve back with a backhand cross court winner. Salas ended the match with a powerful forehand over to the right side for a winner, making it 15-5.

The LPRT will be in action again in June, when they’ll travel to Kansas for the TeamRoot.com Supermax Slam, June 18-20. If you missed any of the Sweet Caroline Open, check out the LPRT YouTube channel.

2021 LPRT Sweet Caroline Open, April 30-May 2, 2021 Greenville, South Carolina 

Final - Sunday 

1) Paola Longoria d. 2) Alexandra Herrera, 15-12, 15-3

Doubles - Final - Sunday 

1) Paola Longoria & Samantha Salas d. 3) Alexandra Herrera & Montserrat Mejia, 15-6, 15-5

 Follow the bouncing ball….

Saturday, May 1, 2021

Longoria & Herrera to face off in both finals Sunday at the 2021 LPRT Sweet Caroline Open

Number 1 will play number 2 Sunday in the final of the Ladies Professional Racquetball Tour (LPRT) Sweet Caroline Open in Greenville, South Carolina, where Paola Longoria, the #1 LPRT player, will take on 2nd seed Alexandra Herrera. The two Mexican players won their respective semi-final matches on Saturday in two straight games. Longoria and Herrera will meet for the 15th time on the LPRT Sunday, and Longoria has won the previous 14 times.

Longoria defeated 13th seed Montserrat Mejia, 15-4, 15-7, in one semi, while Herrera beat 6th seed Natalia Mendez, 15-6, 15-8, in the other.

Mejia has beaten Longoria, although not on the LPRT. Thus, we expected more from their semi-final. However, Longoria rolled through game one, letting Mejia serve only three times as she went up 13-1.

Mejia called her second timeout at that point, and managed to get a few points before Longoria closed out game one, 15-4. That bit of momentum helped to set the scene for game two, which unfolded much slower.

How much slower? Consider that after 21 rallies in game two, the score was 3-3. After 21 rallies in game one, the score was 13-1.

Mejia did lead 3-0 early in game two, and even once Longoria tied it at 3-3 and went ahead 7-3, Mejia stayed relatively close until it was 10-7. After that Longoria held Mejia off the board through three service opportunities while getting the last five points to finish the game and match.

Longoria and Herrera will also face each other in the doubles final. Longoria and Samantha Salas are the top seeds, and they advanced to the final with a win over 4th seeds Gabriela Martinez and Marie Renee Rodriguez, 11-15, 15-7, 11-9, in the semi-finals. In the other semi, Herrera and Mejia beat Kelani Lawrence and Hollie Scott, 15-5, 15-11.

Longoria and Salas dropped the first game of a doubles match for the second straight time, and for the same reason: their opponents were on fire. Martinez and Rodriguez played very well in game one, taking leads of 5-1, 10-3 and 14-7, and held on to win 15-11.

They started well in game two also, taking a 4-0 lead. But then Longoria and Salas came back and tied it at 4-4 and 5-5 before pushing on to lead 10-5. Martinez and Rodriguez only got two more points before Longoria and Salas closed it out, 15-7, to force a tie-breaker.

In the breaker, they were back and forth early. Longoria and Salas ahead 2-0. Then Martinez and Rodriguez were up 3-2. It was 5-4 for Longoria and Salas, who then pressed on to 9-4. Martinez and Rodriguez then called their 2nd timeout.

A Martinez serve return winner got her side the serve back, and they scored five consecutive points to tie it 9-9. They lost serve with two unfortunate plays. Martinez was caught in center court and tried to keep the ball in play by hitting it to the back wall, but instead hit it out of play at 9-8. Then after Salas skipped a shot to make it 9-9, Longoria ended a scramble rally by putting the ball over to the right side, and where it hugged the wall so much Rodriguez couldn’t get her racquet on it.

With the serve back, Salas hit a drive serve that came off the right side wall, and in hitting it straight back to the front wall, Rodriguez hit Salas with the ball, leading the referee to call a penalty hinder (avoidable) against Salas. Salas appealed that it should only be a replay hinder, but the line judges agreed with the referee’s call.

That was only delaying the end, though, as Longoria and Salas got the final two points on the next two rallies. First, Longoria hit a solid forehand winner on the next rally, then Salas hit a front court winner, which ended another scramble rally with Martinez and Rodriguez putting in maximum effort to win the rally. However, it wasn’t enough on Saturday night.

Herrera and Mejia have defeated Longoria and Salas on tour, doing so three times, most notably in the final of the 2019 US Open. But they’ve lost more often, as Longoria and Salas have 13 wins over Herrera and Mejia, including their last three meetings. It should be a great final.

You can watch the LPRT Sweet Caroline Open finals live via the LPRT YouTube channel or the LPRT website (click “LPRT Live” at the top of the page). The singles final will be 1 PM Sunday with the doubles final to follow at 2 PM. All times eastern. 

2021 LPRT Sweet Caroline Open, April 30-May 2, 2021 

Greenville, South Carolina 

Semi-finals - Saturday 

1) Paola Longoria d. 13) Montserrat Mejia, 15-4, 15-7
2) Alexandra Herrera d. 6) Natalia Mendez. 15-6, 15-8

Final - Sunday 

1) Paola Longoria v. 2) Alexandra Herrera - 1 PM

Doubles - Semi-finals - Saturday 

1) Paola Longoria & Samantha Salas v. 4) Gabriela Martinez & Maria Renee Rodriguez, 11-15, 15-7, 11-9
3) Alexandra Herrera & Montserrat Mejia d. 10) Kelani Lawrence & Hollie Scott, 15-5, 15-11

Doubles - Final - Saturday 

1) Paola Longoria & Samantha Salas v. 3) Alexandra Herrera & Montserrat Mejia - 2 PM

 Follow the bouncing ball….