Friday, April 20, 2018

Round of 32 at 2018 LPRT Battle of the Alamo

There were a couple of upsets in the Round of 32 at the Ladies Professional Racquetball Tour (LPRT) Battle at the Alamo in San Antonio, Texas, and the largest one is Yasmine Sabja walkover win against LPRT #2 Frédérique Lambert, who it seems wasn’t able to make it to San Antonio. Lambert was to play doubles with Jessica Parrilla, but her name has been replaced by Ana Laura Flores.

Sabja will play Adrienne Haynes in the Round of 16, as Haynes beat Erin Rivera, 11-3, 11-4, 11-3.

Two other small upsets happened in the 32s. Nineteenth seed Montserrat Perez knocked off 14th seed Maria Renee Rodriguez, 11-2, 11-9, 12-10, and 17th seed Gabriela Martinez eked out win over 16th seed Sheryl Lotts in five games, 11-3, 11-0, 11-7, 11-3, 11-4 [sic].

Martinez will take on LPRT #1 Paola Longoria in the 16s this evening, and Perez will play Parrilla.

The tournament continues Friday afternoon with the singles Round of 16. The quarterfinals will be Saturday morning (10 AM & 11:05 AM) and semi-finals Saturday at 4:30 PM and 5:35 PM. The singles final will be Sunday at noon with the doubles final to follow. All times Central. Check out the LPRT YouTube channel for the action or the LPRT LiveStream channel.

2018 Battle at the Alamo
San Antonio, Texas - April 20-22, 2018


LPRT Singles - Round of 32 - Friday

1 Paola Longoria - BYE
17 Gabriela Martinez d. 16 Sheryl Lotts, 11-3, 11-0, 11-7, 11-3, 11-4 [sic]

9 Cristina Amaya d. 24 Carolina Rivera, 11-3, 11-3, 11-4
8 Nancy Enriquez d. 25 Daniela Molina, 11-0, 11-3, 11-0

5 Alexandra Herrera d. 28 Diana Aguilar, 11-4, 11-1, 11-6
12 Maria Vargas d. 21 Lucia Gonzalez, 11-5, 11-8, 11-1

13 Monserrat Mejia d. 20 Cassandra Lee, 11-6, 11-4, 11-1
4 Rhonda Rajsich d. 29 Arrisa Hanson, 11-0, 11-1, 11-2

3 Jessica Parrilla d. 30 Maria Paz Riquelme, 11-5, 11-3, 11-3
19 Montserrat Perez d. 14 Maria Renee Rodriguez, 11-2, 11-9, 12-10

11 Adriana Riveros d. 22 Brenda Laime, 11-1, 11-0, 3-11, 11-7
6 Samantha Salas d. 27 Michelle De La Rosa, 11-4, 11-4, 11-4

7 Natalia Mendez d. 26 Masiel Rivera, forfeit
10 Carla Muñoz d. 23 Ana Laura Flores, 11-4, 11-4, 11-5

15 Adrianne Haynes d. 18 Erin Rivera, 11-3, 11-4, 11-3
31 Yasmine Sabja d. 2 Frédérique Lambert, forfeit

LPRT Singles - Round of 16 - Friday

1 Paola Longoria v. 17 Gabriela Martinez - 7:45 PM
8 Nancy Enriquez v. 9 Cristina Amaya - 5:35 PM

5 Alexandra Herrera v. 12 Maria Vargas - 3:25 PM
4 Rhonda Rajsich v. 13 Monserrat Mejia - 3:25 PM

3 Jessica Parrilla v. 19 Montserrat Perez - 4:30 PM
6 Samantha Salas v. 11 Adriana Riveros - 4:30 PM

7 Natalia Mendez v. 10 Carla Muñoz - 5:35 PM
15 Adrianne Haynes v. 31 Yasmine Sabja - 6:40 PM

LPRT Doubles - Round of 16 - Friday

1 Paola Longoria & Samantha Salas - BYE
8 Montserrat Perez & Erin Rivera v. 9 Gabriela Martinez & Maria Renee Rodriguez - 2:20 PM

5 Sheryl Lotts & Rhonda Rajsich - BYE
4 Cristina Amaya & Adriana Riveros - BYE

3 Ana Laura Flores & Jessica Parrilla - BYE
6 Michelle De La Rosa & Carla Muñoz v. 11 Daniela Molina & Masiel Rivera - 2:20 PM

7 Natalia Mendez & Maria Vargas v. 10 Nancy Enriquez & Brenda Laime - 2:20 PM
2 Alexandra Herrera & Monserrat Mejia - BYE

Follow the bouncing ball….

Thursday, April 19, 2018

2018 LPRT Battle of the Alamo - Preview

The Ladies Professional Racquetball Tour (LPRT) resumes its 2017-18 season this weekend at the Battle at the Alamo in San Antonio, Texas with one of its largest fields of the season: 31 players, including the top 13 players and 18 of the top 20. Leading the field, of course, is LPRT #1 Paola Longoria, who is undefeated this season.

However, there are two people in the field who have beat Longoria last month, as both 4th seed Rhonda Rajsich and 12th seed Maria Vargas defeated Longoria during the 2018 Pan American Championships in Temuco, Chile in March. Vargas also won the last LPRT event, which Longoria wasn’t at. Vargas’s relatively low seeding in San Antonio is due to her only playing three events this season, but she’s been as high as #2 on the LPRT in the past.

The top of the draw is loaded with Longoria, Rajsich and Vargas all on top, as well as LPRT #5 Alexandra Herrera and two former International Racquetball Federation (IRF) World Champion silver medalists in Nancy Enriquez (2010) and Gabriela Martinez (2016).

Nonetheless, there are good players on the bottom of the draw too with LPRT #2 Frédérique Lambert, #3 Jessica Parrilla, and #6 Samantha Salas. But Salas will have a more difficult than usual first round match, as she’ll play Michelle De La Rosa - née Key - in the Round of 32 on Friday morning. De La Rosa is a former top 10 LPRT player, but who is only playing her second event this season.

They’ll also play doubles in San Antonio, and Longoria and Salas have reunited after not playing together at either the last LPRT event they both attended or at the Pan Am Championships last month in Temuco, where Longoria and Herrera teamed up and won gold in Women’s Doubles. It was a surprise when they weren’t playing together, so it’s a bit of surprise that they are back together.

Longoria and Salas could have their work cut out for each other, as they may play Gabriela Martinez and Maria Renee Rodriguez in their first match, and Martinez and Rodriguez beat Longoria and Herrera in Temuco during the preliminary round and then went tie-breaker with them in the final. But for that match to happen in San Antonio, Martinez and Rodriguez will have to first beat Montserrat Perez and Erin Rivera in the Round of 16 Friday.

The tournament starts Friday morning with the singles Round of 32 with the first round of doubles happening Friday afternoon followed by the singles Round of 16 Friday afternoon. The quarterfinals will be Saturday morning (10 AM & 11:05 AM) and semi-finals Saturday at 4:30 PM and 5:35 PM. The singles final will be Sunday at noon with the doubles final to follow. All times Central. Check out the LPRT YouTube channel for the action or the LPRT LiveStream channel.

2018 Battle at the Alamo
San Antonio, Texas - April 20-22, 2018


LPRT Singles - Round of 32 - Friday

1 Paola Longoria - BYE
16 Sheryl Lotts v. 17 Gabriela Martinez - 1:15 PM

9 Cristina Amaya v. 24 Carolina Rivera - 12:10 PM
8 Nancy Enriquez v. 25 Daniela Molina - 12:10 PM

5 Alexandra Herrera v. 28 Diana Aguilar - 10 AM
12 Maria Vargas v. 21 Lucia Gonzalez - 10 AM

13 Monserrat Mejia v. 20 Cassandra Lee - 10 AM
4 Rhonda Rajsich v. 29 Arrisa Hanson - 10 AM

3 Jessica Parrilla v. 30 Maria Paz Riquelme - 11:05 AM
14 Maria Renee Rodriguez v. 19 Montserrat Perez - 11:05 AM

11 Adriana Riveros v. 22 Brenda Laime - 11:05 AM
6 Samantha Salas v. 27 Michelle De La Rosa - 11:05 AM

7 Natalia Mendez v. 26 Masiel Rivera - 12:10 PM
10 Carla Muñoz v. 23 Ana Laura Flores - 12:10 PM

15 Adrianne Haynes v. 18 Erin Rivera - 1:15 PM
2 Frédérique Lambert v. Yasmine Sabja - 1:15 PM

LPRT Doubles - Round of 16 - Friday

1 Paola Longoria & Samantha Salas - BYE
8 Montserrat Perez & Erin Rivera v. 9 Gabriela Martinez & Maria Renee Rodriguez - 2:20 PM

5 Sheryl Lotts & Rhonda Rajsich - BYE
4 Cristina Amaya & Adriana Riveros - BYE

3 Frédérique Lambert & Jessica Parrilla - BYE
6 Michelle De La Rosa & Carla Muñoz v. 11 Daniela Molina & Masiel Rivera - 2:20 PM

7 Natalia Mendez & Maria Vargas v. 10 Nancy Enriquez & Brenda Laime - 2:20 PM
2 Alexandra Herrera & Monserrat Mejia - BYE

Follow the bouncing ball….

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Mexico defeats USA to win 2018 WRT Challenge Cup

Mexico defeated the USA, three matches to two, to win the World Racquetball Tour's (WRT's) first Challenge Cup on the weekend in Fremont, California. The Challenge Cup saw two Mexican players play two USA players in a team competition. Jake Bredenbeck and David Horn represented the USA with Rodrigo Montoya and Alejandro Cardona representing Mexico in a format like that used in Davis Cup (men) and Federation Cup (women) tennis competitions with each player playing singles twice as well as doubles. Mexico and USA split their first singles matches, and then the USA won the doubles to lead 2-1. But Mexico came back to win the event with two victories in the last two singles matches.

They split the matches in the first round of singles, as Bredenbeck defeated Cardona, 12-15, 15-1, 11-3, and Montoya beat Horn, 15-3, 15-7.

In tennis, it’s often said that doubles decides the winner in Davis Cup or Fed Cup battles, and in this Challenge Cup the doubles winner was going to be up 2-1 after they split the singles matches. The USA took the doubles match, but only narrowly, as Bredenbeck and Horn won 15-9, 4-15, 11-9, over Cardona and Montoya.

The Americans were ahead early at 5-1 and 8-3, but the Mexicans came back and took a lead at 9-8. But the USA got a sideout, and then won three straight points to end it, 11-9. Mexico took a timeout at 10-9, but to no avail. Thus, the USA held the advantage going into the second round of singles on Sunday.

In the second round of singles (or reverse singles), Cardona and Horn played first, and as in the doubles, they went breaker with Cardona squeaking out a one point victory, 15-13, 11-15, 11-10. In game three, Horn had the early lead at 5-2, but seemed to pick up a leg injury that limited him in the mid-game, as Cardona took the lead at 8-5, and then 9-7.

But Horn kept fighting, trying to do as much as he could given his condition, and got the serve back and tied the score 9-9. But Cardona took the serve back, and got to 10-9 with a solid forehand down the line shot. Horn fought off the first match point with a forehand shot from left to right, and then hit a crack serve on the right side that was just over the line for an ace.

He tried to do it again, but was short. Cardona won the rally after Horn’s second serve with a backhand cross court pass. The match winning point came as Cardona hit a second serve Z to the left side, and Horn put his backhand return into the floor.

Cardona’s win meant the Challenge Cup came down to the last match, and Montoya again came through for Mexico - just as he had in the first round of singles - as he beat Bredenbeck, 15-8, 15-12.

By the current WRT rankings, the USA should have been favoured, as Bredenbeck is #1 and Horn #2 with Montoya #4 and Cardona #5, although both the Mexicans have been ranked #1 in the past, as has Horn. Thus, the players were all close in skill level, which made for some great matches.

Thoughts on Team Competitions

The WRT Challenge Cup was an interesting competition, but it’s something we’ve seen before in racquetball. The Men’s and Women’s Team Competitions at the International Racquetball Federation (IRF) World Championships used to be a best of three matches: 2 singles and 1 doubles, although they have eliminated that at the last two World Championships and instead awarded points for player performances in singles and doubles to determine the team winners. But while Worlds doesn’t have a true team competition anymore, the 2015 Pan American Games did.

However team competitions are fun. Often in an individual sport like racquetball it can be awkward to cheer for one player over another, because that seems like a personal insult against one of them. But when the players are on teams, especially representing their countries, then it becomes clear who to cheer for - or against, which no longer feels like a personal insult to a player.

One twist on this Challenge Cup would be to expand it to more than four players, and maybe more than two countries. Perhaps the Intercollegiate model that uses a team of six players could be adopted, so that there were six singles matches in round one, then three doubles matches, then a reverse six singles matches to finish off.

And you could have a team of six USA-Canada players against a team of six Latin American players to make a broader field, which would make it more like golf's Ryder Cup or President's Cup, although both the USA and Mexico could likely come up with six quality players on their own.

Upcoming WRT events

The next two WRT events will be the Georgia Open in Atlanta, May 17-20, and then the Torneo Internacional in San Luis Potosi, Mexico, June 14-16. If you missed any of the action from Fremont, check out the WRT Facebook page or their YouTube channel.

2018 WRT Challenge Cup, April 14-15
Fremont, California


Singles - Round 1

Jake Bredenbeck (USA) d. Alejandro Cardona (Mexico), 12-15, 15-1, 11-3
Rodrigo Montoya (Mexico) d. David Horn (USA), 15-3, 15-7

Doubles - Round 2

USA d. Mexico, 15-9, 4-15, 11-9

Singles - Round 3

Alejandro Cardona (Mexico) d. David Horn (USA), 15-13, 11-15, 11-10
Rodrigo Montoya (Mexico) d. Jake Bredenbeck (USA), 15-8, 15-12

Follow the bouncing ball….