Guatemalan Gaby Martinez Earns Sweet Title
T. J. Baumbaugh, photos by CoachMaripa
May 7, 2023
Exciting upsets, tiebreakers, and southern hospitality were all included in the 7th Annual Sweet Caroline Open. This premier charity and athletic event, which showcased the LPRT, raised funds for two local charities this year: Carolina COPS https://carolinacops.org/ and Front Porch Housing https://frontporchhousing.org/.
Fans were packed in for the finals at the Sportsclub Greenville to watch Gaby Martinez (GUA) storm through a difficult pro draw to take her second pro title of her young career. Then they stayed to witness the winningest doubles team in LPRT history, Samantha Salas (MEX) and Paola Longoria (MEX) add another belt to their titles.
Thank you to Todd Boss of ProRacquetballStats.com for the event recap:
LPRT Sweet Caroline Grand Slam Wrap-Up
Congrats to your winners on the weekend:
- Singles: Gaby Martinez
- Doubles: Longoria & Salas
PRS match reports:
- Singles https://rball.pro/mpv
- Doubles: https://rball.pro/9kw
Gaby gets her second career win (first was at the 2021 World Singles & Doubles event). Longoria & Salas win their 37th pro doubles title together since we started tracking it in Aug 2014.
R2 Sports App home page for event: https://www.r2sports.com/website/event-website.asp?TID=40764
Lets review the notable matches in the Singles draw.
In the 32s, no surprises and no upsets. A couple of matches to comment on:
- Guatemalan teammates duked it out an went breaker before Gaby took out MRR.
- Kelani Lawrence handled upstart US junior Naomi Ros more easily this week than Manilla did last, taking her out 5,8.
In the 16s, a shock loss that throws the title race back into serious question.
- #1 Paola Longoria was dominated in a 7,6 loss to Ana Gabriela Martínez . This is Longoria's 6th loss this season; by way of comparison she had 6 total losses in the prior six seasons. To say that this season has been shocking is an understatement, and this loss is equally so. Yes, Gaby has beaten Paola before, but for their careers in all competitions Longoria led the h2h 22-1 before this match. We'll talk about the points implications later on, but this is a dagger to Longoria's chances of retaining her crown.
- #8 @Carla Munoz got a very solid win over #9 Angelica Barrios in two close games. Excellent win for Carla, and she gets a crack at Gaby next.
- For the 2nd week in a row, #12 Maria Jose Vargas cruises past #5 Jessica Parrilla , this time 7,3.
- #4 Erika Manilla held off the upset-minded @Valeria Centella 2,12 to setup a rematch with Vargas from last week.
- #3 @Alexandra Herrera avoided a second major upset in a row and advanced past USA national @Hollie Scott in two.
- #6 Brenda Laime held off an opponent she's struggled with lately in #11 Lawrence, guaranteeing that she remains in the top 8.
- #7 Natalia Mendez becomes the latest victim of Samantha Salas , who seems to be on a bit of a come-back. It was 11-10 in the end.
- #2 Montse Mejia held serve once again against Colombian @Cristina Amaya to move into the quarters and setup a rematch with Salas, who upset her last week. Mejia has to be looking at the draw and realizing the opportunity she has this week; lets see if she can avoid the pitfalls of looking ahead of Salas.
In the Quarters:
- #17 Gaby continued her run, downing #8 Munoz in two games. These two have only met a handful of times, and never since 2017.
- #4 @EErika Manila reversed the result from last week and got her first ever win over Vargas in a power-hitting, tight, tense match that went down to the wire 11-10.
- #6 @Brenda Laime continues to put her name into the conversation, topping #3 Herrera in a breaker to move into the semis.
- #2 Mejia reversed the result herself against Salas, to whom she lost at this juncture last week, by blanking the veteran in the breaker to move into the semis.
In the Semis, a couple of interesting results:
- #4 Manilla had beaten Gaby the last two times they met ... but Gaby took control of this semi early and won in two games to secure just her second ever career pro final.
- #6 Laime shocked #2 Mejia, who squanders a golden opportunity to essentially lock down the season ending #1 spot given her rival's early loss, and the Colombian moves into the final for the second straight week with a really close 14,12 match. both ladies were powering the ball on the hard courts in Greenville, and Laime's relentless pounding to Mejia's forehand indicated an interested strategy that paid off.
Incredible how, a year ago, we were asking whether Herrera was the heir apparent to Longoria ... and now we've had Mejia win four straight tournaments and we've had Laime make the finals of two straight. The top of the LPRT is tightening, and it makes for great week-in, week-out drama.
In the Finals, Gaby controlled the match and took the title, her 2nd ever career win.
Points Implications of results;
As mentioned above, Mejia loses a golden opportunity to really put herself in the driver's seat for the title by not taking advantage of Longoria's loss. When the 2022 Sweet Caroline event expires in a week's time, Longoria will still hold about a 70-point lead in the standings.
The last event of the season in Chesapeake is a grand slam, and will replace the 2022 KC grand slam in the rankings. Paola won KC, Mejia lost in the final, so Paola is "defending" about 100 more points than Montse. Which means effectively that Mejia has the points advantage going into the last event of roughly 30 points. So Paola has to beat Montse's result by a 30 point margin in Virginia to retain the title. That will probably mean that Paola has to do a "round better" than Montse to win; if they both lose in the same round, Montse should get the title.
Other points machinations: Mejia, Laime, Barrios, and Gaby all missed this event last year, so all four will jump dramatically in the rankings.
- Mejia tightens the race but stays at #2
- Laime jumps from #6 to #5 (if she had won, she would have gone to #3)
- Barrios jumps from 9 to 6
- Gaby jumps from 19 to 11.
Longoria & Salas held serve and took out their Mexican rivals Herrera/Mejia with relative ease to claim their 37th pro title. This goes along with their dozens of amateur and international titles together and continues by far the most successful doubles pairing in the sport's history.
- Centellas took her 2nd straight U21 title with ease, beating Diaz and Katz easily.
- In Men's Open, the top 4 seeds advance to the semis (Kelly brothers, Pruitt, Cunningham). Maryland native took out Cunningham and then Joe Kelley to claim the title.
Our sincere thanks to all of the sponsors and supporters who made the Sweet Caroline Open possible:
* Proactive MD
* Southern First
* PCPMG - Piedmont Comprehensive Pain Management Group
* Mary and David Swain
* Sportsclub Greenville
SCO Board Members:
* Josh Osborne
* Matt Dersch
* Amy Farmer
* Geoff Goldberg
* Holli Meindl
* Kellie Deitz
* Amber Ritacco
* J Josey
* Jacob Varughese
* Brittany Bracket
* Creighton Magoun
* Kooper Buchanon
* James Stone