Longoria Clinches 12th US OPEN Title and Mendez/Manilla are the New Doubles Champs!
Oct 2, 2022
A new, multi-court location at the University of Minnesota; a convenient and very cool, eclectic host hotel; and unique logistical challenges may mark the 2022 USA Racquetball US OPEN, but we also witnessed a phenomenal showcase of amazing professional racquetball. Paola Longoria (Mexico) earned an astonishing 12th US OPEN title, a feat unbelievable for most sports. Coming off a quarterfinal loss just weeks earlier in Virginia Beach, Longoria was laser focused and prepared to win. She was pressed, mostly by first-time finalist Erika Manilla (USA), but she executed when needed and demonstrated why she has a record 109 Tier 1 or higher pro titles. Longoria lost game one of the final, 13-15, but adjusted her strategy to win the next two games, 15-5, 11-3.
Manilla, who is merely in the beginning of her second full season on tour, had a dominant run to her very first pro final. Only quarterfinalist Angelica Barrios (Bolivia) was able to score double digits against Manilla. Jessica Parrilla (Mexico) made her second career US OPEN semifinal after edging out Natalia Mendez (Argentina) in a tiebreaker, and Alexandra Herrera (Mexico) earned her first US OPEN semifinal by winning her previous matches in two games and keeping her opponents to singles digits.
In an exhilarating Saturday evening doubles final, and in front of an absolutely packed crowd, Mendez and Manilla were crowned the newest US OPEN Doubles Champions. It was a battle, but they defeated Longoria and Salas, the #1 ranked team and 2021 US OPEN Champions. The crowd was rowdy, standing as many as six deep to get a glimpse of the upset. The Mendez/Manilla duo, playing together for only the second time, performed almost flawlessly with plenty of intensity and power -- a big difference from just weeks earlier in Virginia Beach where they lost in the first round. Sensing a theme?
This year, a new division was added to the US OPEN by both the LPRT and the IRT -- a developmental pro division for young up-and-coming players who are 21 & Under. The LPRT “21U” had 11 athletes who were each guaranteed two matches, thanks to a consolation bracket. In the main final, Valeria Centellas (Argentina) won two hard-fought games over Micaela Meneses (Bolivia). In the consolation round, Angela Ortega Sabido (Mexico) won in a tiebreaker over Shane Diaz (USA). Congratulations to all who participated -- we hope to see you again soon! Thank you to Stewart Solomon of Solomon Racquet & Sports and Tony Prater of String Theory for sponsoring this division.
Thank you to USA Racquetball, Event Director Connor Shane, and the many sponsors and volunteers who made this event possible. It was an outstanding event, and we appreciate all of the hard work it took to host.
Special recognition and gratitude go to our LPRT staff who provided live streaming for 20+ matches throughout the event. The core crew is LPRT Deputy Commissioner Tim Baghurst (Head Commentator) with Sandy Rios and LPRT Commissioner T. J. Baumbaugh (Guest Commentators). Jerry J. Josey, Jr., Jeffrey Thompson (aka JTRball), Asher Baghurst, and Abraham Peña round out the Broadcast/Support Team.
Here is a full event recap by Todd Boss of proracquetballstats.com:
LPRT Pro Singles Review
Here's a recap of notable matches in the Ladies singles draw.
In the 32s, almost no surprises but a couple of good matches.
- Cristina Amaya got a solid win over Nancy Enriquez 4,12
- Jenny Daza won a very tight match over @Maria Renee Rodriguez (14),13,7.
- #15 Sheryl Lotts overcame a first game loss to blank #18 @Micaela Meneses in game 2 and survive the tiebreaker.
Nearly half the round of 32 matches were complete blow outs: 8 of the matches played featured score-lines where the losing player scored 6 or fewer points TOTAL in the match. There's definitely a line of delineation on tour right now.
In the 16s: 100% chalk. All top 8 seeds advanced, though there were a couple of surprising results for me, and several close matches
- In the 8/9, Brenda Laime setup a rematch with Longoria by taking out #9 @KelaLawal Kelani in a breaker.
- #5 Jessica Parrilla went breaker to down #12 Valeria Centellas
- The shocker of the round for me was #4 @Natalia Mendez holding serve and downing #13 Ana Gabriela Martinez in two close games. Based on form and talent, I thought for sure Gaby was making the semis here.
- Great win for #7 Carla Munoz , downing #10 and frequent rival Samantha Salas Solis to earn her first ever US Open quarter final.
In the quarters:
- #1 @Paola Longoria pasted the player who defeated her in Virginia two weeks ago in Laime 1,8 to make a statement and move on.
- #5 Parrilla got another solid win, this time over #4 Mendez, to move back into the US Open semis for the first time since 2016.
- #3 Erika Manilla turned the tables against @AANgelica Barrios (who defeated her at Worlds a few months ago) and moved into the semis by edging the Bolivian 13,14.
- #2 @Alexandra Herrera made fast work of the #7 Chilean @Carla Munoz 5,2.
So, nearly chalk into the semis, with 1,2,3 and 5 seeds.
- Longoria was not troubled by her long-time Mexican rival Parrilla, winning 4,5 to get back to the US Open final for the 14th straight time
- Manilla got her best ever professional win, crushing Herrera 6,6 to get to her first pro final.
In the Final, Manilla took a scintillating first game, then Longoria made some adjustments and cruised to the title, her 12th. Final score (13),5,3. Manilla has definitely put her name into the ring among the sport's elite players as someone who absolutely could take the crown from Paola, but has her work cut out for her to vanquish the GOAT.
Women's Pro Doubles review:
No real surprises in qualifying; the only qualifier upset was the solid Bolivian doubles team of Barrios/Daza taking out the relatively new partnership of Lotts/Enriquez to get into the main draw.
In the quarters, the Guatemalan national team of Gaby/MRR took out the reigning US National champs and the winners of the last pro stop Scott/Lawrence in the 4/5 seed matchup. Otherwise the top 3 seeds moved on with ease.
The big story was the play of Mendez/Manilla, who took out the top two seeds en route to the title.
Photographer: Dylan Shoemaker, thefittestphotographer.com