Friday, May 5, 2023

Laime & Martinez to face off at 2023 LPRT Sweet Caroline Open

Both of the semi-finals at the 2023 Ladies Professional Racquetball Tour (LPRT) Sweet Caroline Open in Greenville, South Carolina were upsets, and both were over in two games. Brenda Laime was again a giant killer, and this time the 6th seed defeated LPRT #2 Montserrat Mejia, 15-14, 15-12. Then 17th seed Gabriela Martinez beat LPRT #4 Erika Manilla, 15-3, 15-10.

Mejia’s loss in the semi-finals pretty much ensures that her quest to be #1 at the end of the season will depend on what happens next month at the LPRT at the Beach tournament, which will be the last event of the 2022-23 LPRT season.

Laime had an unusual path to victory, as she was down 6-1 in both game one and two against Mejia. In game one, Laime came back and tied it at 6-6, and then went ahead and stayed ahead, winning 15-14.

In game two, it took until 9-9 for Laime to catch up to Mejia. But again she never trailed after that, winning a close match in two games.

The win puts Laime in a second straight final, and the third of her career. She’ll be looking for her first win on Saturday.

Martinez, who is seeded 17th because she hasn’t played the tour full time this season but is hardly the 17th best player on tour, has been the “It Girl” in South Carolina, as she’s won her last three matches in two straight games, yielding just 7.33 points per game over those six games.

Martinez and Manilla were tied at 3-3 in game one, but Martinez then ran off 12 unanswered points to win it, 15-3. In game two, they were close early with neither leading by more than two up to a tie at 9-9.

Then Martinez stepped it up, and won six of the next seven points to close out game two, 15-10, and the match in two straight games.

Remarkably, Martinez will play just her 2nd LPRT final Saturday. But she won her first one - last season in Colorado, so we’ll see if she can win her 2nd final tomorrow.

Unfortunately for Martinez, she won’t have a chance to win both singles and doubles Saturday, as she and Marie Renee Rodriguez were beaten in the quarterfinals Friday by Kelani Lawrence and Hollie Scott, 1-15, 15-11, 11-6.

Lawrence and Scott will play top seeds Paola Longoria and Samantha Salas in the semi-finals Saturday, as Longoria and Salas beat Angelica Barrios and Brenda Laime, 15-7, 15-10, in the quarters.

The other semi-final will be 2nd seeds Alexandra Herrera and Montserrat Mejia against 6th seeds Natalia Mendez and Maria Jose Vargas. In the quarters, Herrera and Mejia beat Martina Katz and Jessica Parrilla, 15-5, 15-3, while Mendez and Vargas upset 3rd seeds Valeria Centellas and Manilla, 15-6, 15-10.

You can watch Saturday’s action live from Greenville via the LPRT YouTube channel. The singles final will be 5 PM Saturday with the doubles semi-finals at 11 AM and noon, and the doubles final Saturday night at 6 PM or after the singles final. All times Eastern.

2023 LPRT Sweet Caroline Open
Greenville, South Carolina - May 4-7, 2023

Semi-finals - Friday

17) Gabriela Martinez d. 4) Erika Manilla, 15-3, 15-10
6) Brenda Laime d. 2) Montserrat Mejia, 15-14, 15-12

Final - Saturday

6) Brenda Laime v. 17) Gabriela Martinez - 5 PM

Doubles - Quarterfinals - Friday

1) Paola Longoria & Samantha Salas d. 8) Angelica Barrios & Brenda Laime, 15-7, 15-10
5) Kelani Lawrence & Hollie Scott d. 4) Gabriela Martinez & Maria Renee Rodriguez, 1-15, 15-11, 11-6

6) Natalia Mendez & Maria Jose Vargas d. 3) Valeria Centellas & Erika Manilla, 15-6, 15-10
2) Alexandra Herrera & Montserrat Mejia d. 7) Martina Katz & Jessica Parrilla, 15-5, 15-3

Doubles - Semi-finals - Saturday

1) Paola Longoria & Samantha Salas v. 5) Kelani Lawrence & Hollie Scott - Noon
2) Alexandra Herrera & Montserrat Mejia v. 6) Natalia Mendez & Maria Jose Vargas - 11 AM

Follow the bouncing ball….

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