Friday, May 5, 2023

Mejia, Manilla, Laime & Martinez into semi-finals at 2023 LPRT Sweet Caroline Open

Brenda Laime, the 6th seed, knocked off 3rd seed Alexandra Herrera, 15-8, 13-15, 11-6, in the quarterfinals of the Ladies Professional Racquetball Tour (LPRT) Sweet Caroline Open in Greenville, South Carolina. The win puts Laime into the semi-finals, where she’ll face LPRT #2 Montserrat Mejia. Mejia also needed a tie-breaker to win her quarterfinal match, as she defeated 10th seed Samantha Salas, 15-12, 7-15, 11-0.

On the top side of the draw, it will be 4th seed Erika Manilla against 17th seed Gabriela Martinez in the semis. Manilla came back from a game down to eke out a victory over 12th seed Maria Jose Vargas, 10-15, 15-11, 11-10, while Martinez had a straight game win over 8th seed Carla Muñoz, 15-5, 15-13.

The Mejia-Salas match was a bit odd. Salas led for all of game one, including at 7-2 and 12-8, so she seemed in total control. Yet Mejia came back and took the game with seven consecutive points to win 15-12. It was a win that seemed against the run of play, as it were.

In game two, Mejia led early, but Salas tied it at 4-4, and then took the lead and didn’t look back, winning 15-7. So, despite the scores, the two games didn’t feel close, and if anything, it seemed that Salas should have won them both.

In the tie-breaker, Mejia seemed to raise her level of play, while Salas got frustrated - perhaps because she felt it shouldn't have got to a third game, which contributed to a few errors. As a result, Mejia won it comfortably, 11-0, to move on to the semi-finals.

In the Manilla-Vargas match, Vargas led for all of game one, and Manilla all of game two. The third game was back and forth early leading to a 5-5 tie.

Manilla called a timeout at that point, but it was Vargas who scored points immediately after that, taking a 9-5 lead. However, Manilla dug in, and came back to within one at 9-8. So, Vargas called a timeout.

She hit a forehand cross court winner when play resumed, and got her 10th point when a penalty hinder (or avoidable) was called on the next rally. It was a play where the players came together, as Manilla couldn’t quite get out of Vargas’s way as she was setting up to take the ball off the back wall. So, there wasn’t a set up yet, but it looked like there was going to be. Thus, the avoidable call was not wrong, but perhaps harsh.

Manilla didn’t like the call, but was out of appeals, so she couldn’t appeal it.

For those who believe that “the ball knows” - which it doesn’t really, but we often like to say it does - you should know that on the next rally - Vargas's first match point, the ball hit Vargas as she was turning to let it come off the back wall for a set up.

That would prove to be Vargas’s only match point, as Manilla hit three winners on the next three rallies: a backhand cross court shot, a backhand drop shot right at the front wall, which made it tricky, and a forehand down the line shot to win it. Vargas appealed for a court hinder on the last one, as she did hit the ball into the back wall but failed to get it to the front wall. Part of the back wall can cause court hinders, so Vargas appealed that the ball hit that part of the back wall. The line judges agreed with the referee that there was no court hinder.

You can watch the semi-final action live from Greenville via the LPRT YouTube channel. The singles semi-finals will be at 4 and 5 PM Friday and the final at 5 PM Saturday. The doubles quarters will be Friday night at 6 and 7 PM with the semi-finals at 11 AM and noon on Saturday, and the final Saturday night at 6 PM. All times Eastern.

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

Quarterfinals - Friday

17) Gabriela Martinez d. 8) Carla Muñoz, 15-5, 15-13
4) Erika Manilla v. 12) Maria Jose Vargas, 10-15, 15-11, 11-10

6) Brenda Laime d. 3) Alexandra Herrera, 15-8, 13-15, 11-6
2) Montserrat Mejia d. 10) Samantha Salas, 15-12, 7-15, 11-0

Semi-finals - Friday

4) Erika Manilla v. 17) Gabriela Martinez v. - 5 PM
2) Montserrat Mejia v. 6) Brenda Laime - 4 PM

Doubles - Quarterfinals - Friday

1) Paola Longoria & Samantha Salas v. 8) Angelica Barrios & Brenda Laime - 7 PM
4) Gabriela Martinez & Maria Renee Rodriguez v. 5) Kelani Lawrence & Hollie Scott - 7 PM

3) Valeria Centellas & Erika Manilla v. 6) Natalia Mendez & Maria Jose Vargas - 6 PM
2) Alexandra Herrera & Montserrat Mejia v. 7) Martina Katz & Jessica Parrilla - 6 PM

Follow the bouncing ball….

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