Friday, April 30, 2021

Longoria survives a scare at 2021 LPRT Sweet Caroline Open

Paola Longoria, the #1 player on the Ladies Professional Racquetball Tour (LPRT) survived a scare against 16th seed Kelani Lawrence in the Round of 16 at the Sweet Caroline Open in Greenville, South Carolina Friday night, as she won 15-5, 15-13, but was down big in game two. Longoria will play 8th seed Valeria Centellas in the quarterfinals Saturday, as Centellas beat Carla Muñoz, 15-10, 15-9, in the 16s Friday.

Longoria rarely finds herself behind in a game, but she was 10 points behind Lawrence in game two, when Lawrence led 12-2. Longoria took time outs at 5-2 and 9-2, but Lawrence kept piling up the points. She did so with a variety of serves and some solid winners. Longoria made some uncharacteristic errors also, but that wasn’t main story. Lawrence’s play was.

Longoria turned the match around by switching to a half lob serve to Lawrence’s backhand, and Lawrence’s returns were not good enough. Initially, she took some of those serves early, including short hopping the ball. But that wasn’t very effective, and then Lawrence hit some around the wall returns, which was a passive strategy that helped Longoria get back on track by providing her set ups for winners.

With momentum all on Longoria’s side, Lawrence did manage to get the serve back at 12-11, and scored a point with a backhand winner to make it 13-11. That suggested she might force a tie-breaker, but on the next rally Longoria hit a winner of her own, and then tied the game 13-13.

Lawrence called a timeout, but to no avail, as she didn’t serve again. Longoria closed it out on the next two rallies with the match winning point coming after a mishit by Lawrence that skipped.

Both upsets in the 16s came in the same bracket, as the 4th and 5th seeds went out. Montserrat Mejia, the 13th seed, defeated 4th seed Angelica Barrios, 15-12, 15-14, and 12th seed Nancy Enriquez beat 5th seed Rhonda Rajsich, 15-7, 15-6. Thus, Enriquez and Mejia will play each other in the quarters and one will be a semi-finalist.

It was chalk on the other side of the draw with the higher seeds winning all the matches. Second seed Alexandra Herrera beat 18th seed Sheryl Lotts, 15-11, 15-9, and will play 7th seed Jessica Parrilla in the quarters, as Parrilla was a winner over 10th seed Cristina Amaya, 9-15, 15-8, 11-8. Also, 3rd seed Samantha Salas wiil take on 6th seed Natalia Mendez, as Salas defeated 19th seed Brenda Laime, 15-14, 15-9, and Mendez was a winner over 11th seed Gabriela Martinez, 15-7, 15-10.

Mendez was using a backhand drive serve for much of the match against Martinez, and standing close to the left side drive serve line. It seemed like she was breaking the plane indicated by that line, which would be an automatic screen serve, but it was never called in the match, and Martinez didn’t contest it.

You can watch the LPRT Sweet Caroline Open live via the LPRT YouTube channel or the LPRT website (click “LPRT Live” at the top of the page). The singles quarterfinals will be at 11 AM and noon Saturday with the doubles quarters at 1 and 2 PM. The singles semi-finals are Saturday evening at 6 and 7 PM and the doubles semis at 8 and 9 PM. 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 

Round of 16 - Friday 

1) Paola Longoria d. 16) Kalani Lawrence, 15-5, 15-13
8) Valeria Centellas d. 9) Carla Muñoz, 15-10, 15-9

12) Nancy Enriquez d. 5) Rhonda Rajsich, 15-7, 15-6
13) Montserrat Mejia d. 4) Angelica Barrios, 15-12, 15-14

3) Samantha Salas d. 19) Brenda Laime, 15-14, 15-9
6) Natalia Mendez d. 11) Gabriela Martinez, 15-7, 15-10

7) Jessica Parrilla d. 10) Cristina Amaya, 9-15, 15-8, 11-8
2) Alexandra Herrera d. 18) Sheryl Lotts, 15-11, 15-9

Quarterfinals - Saturday 

1) Paola Longoria v. 8) Valeria Centellas - Noon
12) Nancy Enriquez v. 13) Montserrat Mejia - Noon

3) Samantha Salas v. 6) Natalia Mendez - 11 AM
2) Alexandra Herrera v. 7) Jessica Parrilla - 11 AM

Doubles - Quarterfinals - Saturday 

1) Paola Longoria & Samantha Salas v. 9) Sheryl Lotts & Rhonda Rajsich - 2 PM
4) Gabriela Martinez & Maria Renee Rodriguez v. 5) Nancy Enriquez & Carla Muñoz - 2 PM

3) Alexandra Herrera & Montserrat Mejia v. 6) Cristina Amaya & Adriana Riveros - 1 PM
2) Valeria Centellas & Natalia Mendez v. 10) Kelani Lawrence & Hollie Scott - 1 PM

 Follow the bouncing ball….

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