Season of Upsets Continues at Frontline Boston Open
Dr. Timothy Baghurst, photos by Maria Paz Riquelme
Mar 6, 2023
The Boston Open continued the trend of 2022-2023 season: the season of upsets. Thirteen seeded Valeria Centellas (ARG) started the drama when she defeated her doubles partner and four seed Natalia Mendez (ARG) in the round of 16 for the first time on tour. Of the eight matches in the round of 16, four were upsets by seed. In the bottom half of the draw, second and third seeds Montserrat Mejia (MEX) and Erika Manilla (USA) both advanced to the semifinals. However, in the upper half, 12 seed Maria Jose Vargas (ARG) continued her fine form after time away for family and advanced to the semifinals.
Also in the upper half, world number one Paola Longoria (MEX) looked to be in cruise control early against Angelica Barrios (BOL) taking game one and leading in game two. But Barrios found some momentum and ensured that the most dominant female player over the last dozen years went home without a singles title again this season. This must be the hardest season Longoria has had on tour, and the invincibility that she once seemed to hold over others on tour has faded.
Barrios and Mejia came through their semifinals creating a final between two players of similar styles. Both have incredible hands, high racquetball IQ, and the ability to change pace. The final did not disappoint, Mejia saving game points in the second to win it 15-9, 15-14. The young Mexican has now won four consecutive titles and is narrowing the gap to Longoria’s title as the best player in the world.
Doubles is always an interesting division on tour, but the 2022 defending champions of Longoria and Salas won a contested and feisty final against Mejia and Manilla 11-7 in the tiebreaker. The U21 division featured a new name we expect to see more often in that of Maricruz Ortiz, who took the title with impressive wins over Valeria Centellas and Martina Katz (ARG).
Thank you to Frontline and Ark Behavioral Health supporting the 6th annual Boston Open as the title sponsors. Thank you to Stewart Solomon and Gillian Cobb for putting on a stellar event again this year. Thank you to all of the supporters, fans, and players who came out to play and cheer on the athletes of the LPRT.
Here is a full recap of the event thanks to Todd Boss of ProRacquetballStats.com:
Congrats to your winners on the weekend:
- Singles: Montse Mejia
- Doubles: Paola Longoria & Samantha Salas
Mejia wins her 4th straight event and extends her winning streak to 16 matches on tour, and she's now put herself in a clear position to capture the year end title with solid results the rest of the way out. She leads the "season to date" points race by more than 160 points.
R2 Sports App home page for event: https://www.r2sports.com/website/event-website.asp?TID=40583
Lets review the notable matches in the Singles draw.
Singles Match report in the PRS database: https://rball.pro/5gz
In the 32s, no surprises. Costa Rican junior @Maricruz Ortiz was the unlucky opponent of @MMaria José Vargas on her return from Maternity leave; she played the former #2 ranked player tough but lost 11,11. Ortiz followed this up with a solid win in the Women's Open doubles over Nancy Enriquez and her time playing with and training with Veronica Sotomayor and Sudsy Monchik is paying off.
In the 16s:
- Angelica Barrios got a solid win over a similarly talented competitor in Brenda Laime in the 8/9 game.
- Vargas primed herself for another deep run, topping #5 Jessica Parrilla in a breaker.
- Argentina shocker: Valeria Centellas cruised by #4 Natalia Mendez in two. These two doubles partners are frequent training partners, and these matchups when it counts are always unpredictable.
- In the 7/10 match, @Hollie Scott got a solid win over #7 @Carla Munoz .
- #2 Montse Mejía , winner of the last 3 tournaments, was pressed by Mexican veteran Nancy Enriquez but advanced in a breaker.
In the Quarters, another shock loss.
- Barrios took out #1 Paola Longoria in a tie-breaker 7,(13),7. All props to Barrios, who joins Laime, Mejia, and Vargas as "Players who have beaten Longoria this season."
With all due respect to Barrios' win, the story here has to be Longoria's continued losses on tour. She's now lost 5 times this season: she had just six losses in the previous seven seasons COMBINED. Something has definitely shifted for Longoria, who as i've pointed out before is nearing 34 years of age and who may be seeing her skills decline just enough to end her dominance on tour.
In the other 3 quarters, expected work from the tour's top players:
- Vargas made fast work of Centellas 0,9 to move into the semis.
- Manilla crushed her US national team doubles partner Scott in two
- Mejia dominated another Mexican veteran Salas 9,2. Not to pick on Salas here, but its worth noting (with respect to Longoria's slide this season) that Salas is basically two years older than Longoria, and went from making 9 finals in the 2018-19 season. Since that point, she's made exactly ONE final in 27 tournaments. Sometimes that age 33-34 tripping point can be a light switch of results on the court.
In the Semis
- Barrios continued her run with a win over Vargas. Barrios has always been a tough matchup for Vargas, and now improves to 4-2 against her former countrywoman in all competitions.
- Mejia takes out Manilla in two solid games 7,9
In the Finals, Mejia ground out game one against a challenging opponent in Barrios, then had a furious comeback to stave off a breaker and win the second game at 14.
Its her 4th straight tourney win (something that puts her in the top 20 of all time), her 16th straight tourney win (tied for 14th all time), and really makes a statement on her place on tour right now.
Match report in the PRS database: https://rball.pro/dga
Neutrals got the final they wanted, as #1 Longoria/Salas cruised past Scott/Lawrence in one semi 5,8. In the other semi, Mejia and Manilla are getting more comfortable playing together and dominated the Argentine pair of Centellas/Mendez to make the final as well.
The final was a tense, argumentative affair, as the vets from Mexico tried to hold off the young guns on tour. In the end, they staved off a furious comeback after splitting the first two games, and Longoria/Salas win their 37th career pro doubles title together 4,(14),7
Women's Open, other draws
- As noted above, Maricruz Ortiz took out Enriquez to win Women's Open.
- Ortiz also took the LPRT U21 draw, beating Centellas in the semis and Katz in the final.
- Jolene Sullivan & Jose Flores Jr. took the small Mixed Open RR group.
- Bolivian Miguel Arteaga topped Flores to win the 20-man Open singles draw.