Sweet Caroline Open 2021 and 1st LPRT Hall of Fame Inductions

Sweet Caroline Open 2021 and 1st LPRT Hall of Fame Inductions
Sweet Caroline Open 2021 and 1st LPRT Hall of Fame Inductions

Sweet Caroline Open 2021 and 1st LPRT Hall of Fame Inductions
Sweet Caroline Open 2021 and 1st LPRT Hall of Fame Inductions

Sweet Caroline Open 2021 and LPRT 1st Hall of Fame Inductions
Sweet Caroline Open 2021 and LPRT 1st Hall of Fame Inductions

Sweet Caroline Open 2021 and 1st LPRT Hall of Fame Inductions
Sweet Caroline Open 2021 and 1st LPRT Hall of Fame Inductions

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May 2, 2021

The Ladies Professional Racquetball Tour traveled to Greenville to compete in the Sweet Caroline Open’s 5th Annual Grand Slam. The event, hosted by Sportsclub Fitness & Wellness, South Carolina Racquetball Players’ Association, and title sponsor Ob Hospitalist Group, welcomed 36 pro players from seven different countries who battled in both singles and doubles. The three-day tournament also offered a variety of skill and age divisions to over 100 amateur players.

The singles and doubles finals pitted Mexico against Mexico. Paola Longoria, the LPRT #1 ranked player, won the title for the 5th year. She bested #3 ranked player Alexandra Herrera in 2 games. Longoria paired up with regular partner Samantha Salas Solis to take the 2021 doubles title. Singles finalist Herrera was also a double’s finalist with partner Montse Mejia.

In addition to an amazing event, the LPRT had the honor of inducting a group of legendary, record-setting players into the first ever Women’s Professional Racquetball Hall of Fame:

Heather McKay - Australia
In 1978, at the tender age of 36, and after playing on the professional squash tour for 20 years (losing only 2 matches), McKay decided to try the sport of racquetball. After less than a year and a half, she became the number 1 professional female. She actively played the professional circuit for 6 years, had a win loss record of 118-22, and earned 20 pro tour titles. In addition to being inducted into the LPRT HOF, McKay is a member of the USA Racquetball HOF, Racquetball Canada HOF, Australian Sports HOF, and International Women's Sports HOF.

Lynn Adams Clay – United States
Adams was the epitome of professionalism both on and off the racquetball court. She was a true promoter of the sport, introducing racquetball to everyone she met and always encouraging the development of other players’ games. Adams had a career win loss record of 235-30, winning 47 professional titles. She earned 6 professional season-end titles while also battling multiple sclerosis. In addition to being inducted into the LPRT HOF, Lynn is a member of the USA Racquetball HOF.

Michelle (Gilman) Gould – United Stats
Gould burst on to the adult racquetball scene as a junior player. In 1989, she won every possible championship; High School Nationals, Junior Nationals 18- singles, doubles, and mixed, Adult Nationals singles, doubles, and mixed, as well as her first professional event. Throughout her impressive career, Gould earned 39 national titles, 58 international titles and 43 professional titles. She had a professional career win loss record of 147-9. She is a 5-time World Champion and was the youngest athlete to make an adult national team at age 13. She was named USOC Athlete of the Year, 9 times. In addition to being inducted into the LPRT HOF, she is a member of the USA Racquetball HOF, USOC HOF, and International Racquetball HOF.

Sportsclub Fitness & Wellness houses the newly constructed, LPRT logo adorned HOF wall, which is nestled right beside three, showcase racquetball courts. A gold name plate for each inductee was placed on the wall just below a mounted tv monitor running a video history of Women’s Professional Racquetball.

Detailed information about the annual Sweet Caroline Open event and this year’s charitable focus, Serenity Place, can be found here: www.sweetcarolineopen.com

Here is the detailed event recap form our friend Todd Boss, of Pro Racquetball Stats (proracquetballstats.com):

2021 Sweet Caroline LPRT Grand Slam Pro-Am Wrap-up
Congrats to your winners on the weekend:
- Pro Singles: Paola Longoria
- Pro Doubles: Paola Longoria & Samantha Salas
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In the 64s: Just three matches in the early round, but an opening barn-burner as Texan Linda Tyler, who drove 13 hours the day before the match to get an 8am start time, downed Bolivian vet Jenny Daza Navia in an 11-10 back and forth match.
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In the 32s, here were the notable and upset matches:
- In the 16/17 match, Kelani Lawrence showed no signs of rust and came out blazing against her USA top rival Hollie Scott. Lawrence raced to a huge early lead in game one, held on to take that game, then chipped away at Scott in game two to advance 11,7.
- #8 Valeria Centellas made a statement in topping dark-horse favorite Lucia Gonzalez in strong fashion 11,9. Centellas has added a power component to her game that should let her really challenge the players ranked above her, and did not let the dangerous Gonzalez get the upset here.
- #5 Rhonda Rajsich made fast work of 19-yr old Shane Diaz, playing in just her 2nd pro tournament.
- #12 Nancy Enriquez put on a serving clinic and blasted #21 Ana Laura Flores 4,3. Enriquez mixed up her serves, using deadly jam serves and devastating drive serves to blow past a dangerous 1st round opponent in Flores and advance.
- #4 Angelica Barrios - Raquetbolista was pushed in her opener against Mexican junior Naomi Ros before advancing in a tie-breaker. 14,(12),3.
- #19 Brenda Laime Jalil got the upset over her country-woman Adriana Riveros 11,11 in what might portend to be a changing of the guard in Colombian racquetball. Amaya and Riveros have long been 1-2 in Colombian racquetball heirarchy; Laime is looking to break into that grouping to represent the country at the next Int'l event.
- In the 15/18 match, Sheryl Lotts saved match points against and came back from 0-6 in the breaker to beat Maria Renee Rodríguez in the best match of the round. Final score (12),14,8. Really very little between these two players on the day and a shame one had to lose.
- #2 Alexandra Herrera made fast work of #31 Erika Manilla, a match many thought would be closer.
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In the 16s:
- #1 Paola Longoria got a scare in game two, as Lawrence raced out to a huge early lead, but reeled her back in and advanced in two games over Kelani 5,13.
- #8 Centellas got her second solid win in a row, downing touring veteran Chilean Carla Muñoz Montesinos10,9.
- #12 Enriquez continues to look rejuvenated after easing past #5 Rajsich in two easy games 7,6.
- #13 Montse Mejia took out the Kansas City finalist Barrios in two close games 12,14. The last time these two met was the semis of 2018 World 18U Juniors, and these two (along with Martinez) represent a golden generation for women's racquetball.
- #3 Samantha Salas Solis eased past a tough #19 Laime 14,9.
- #6 Natalia Mendez continues to get statement wins, this time downing reigning World Champ Ana Gabriela Martínez 7,10. Mendez clearly has a new approach in the service box and has some added pace; her projected quarter will be telling.
- #7 Jessica Parrilla] played the round's only tiebreaker, advancing past veteran Colombian Amaya Cris 11-8.
- #2 Herrera downed her second American in a row, moving past #18 Lotts in two.
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In the Quarters
- Longoria dominated Centellas 2,6. Longoria played bottom board over and over and the young Argentine could do little to stop her.
- Mejia outlasted her countrywoman Enriquez, splitting the first two games then running away in the breaker. 14,(13),1. Enriquez has made a big statement in this event.
- Speaking of statements, Mendez ran past Salas 7,6 to advance to just her 5th career semi final. Whatever she's been doing during the pandemic, its working.
- Herrera dodged a bullet and took out her countrywoman Parrilla in a tiebreaker. Score 7,(14),3. Herrera continues her steady-eddie pace and advances to another semi.
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In the Semis, both promising match-ups turned out to be two game blowouts.
- Longoria downed her erstwhile rival Mejia for the Mexican #1 crown 4,7. It has now been more than two years since Mejia's famous win over Longoria in the 2019 Mexico National finals, and Longoria has been dominating their matchups of late. Mejia needs to regain her mojo from that final and figure out a pathway forward if she wants to break through.
- Herrera cruised past Mendez 6,8. Mendez' fantastic tourney run ends, and Herrera proves the doubters wrong by living up to her seed and advancing to her 5th career final.
In the Finals, Longoria and Herrera played a back and forth first game, but then Paola ran way in the second to take the title 12,3.
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Doubles review
Match report in the PRS database: http://rball.pro/C0E57E
A healthy doubles draw featured 15 teams and some great match-ups. The 16s had several tie-breakers, including an 11-10 win for the American duo of Rajsich/Lotts over Laime/Gonzalez.
The quarters featured the all-American team of Rajsich/Scott taking a game off the #1 team but losing. The Guatemalan national team cruised into the semis. The #2 Mexicans were dominant in games 1 and 3 but took game two off in advancing, and the USA #1 team of Scott/Lawrence took out the Argentine national team in an upset.
In the semis, it was Mexico over Guatemala in one side (though the improving Guatemalan team stretched the #1 seeds to 11-9 before falling) and Mexico over USA in the other to setup another all Mexican final.
In that final, a final seen more and more on tour, we saw Longoria/Salas taking out Mejia/Herrera in two quick games.
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Other Major Draws:
- Women's Open featured a 12-person draw with some interesting results between touring pros outside the top 10. In the final, we saw Micaela Meneses Cuellar take out Manilla in the final. Meneses turned 17 just a couple of months ago and took out three solid pros en route to the title.
- Men's Open was very entertaining; 25 players from everywhere from Mexico to Maryland duked it out. In the final IRT top8 player Lalo Portillo took out the #2 seed from Maryland MoMo Zelada in two games. Portillo blew through this draw, never giving up more than 8 points in a game all weekend.



Doubles review
Match report in the PRS database: http://rball.pro/C0E57E
A healthy doubles draw featured 15 teams and some great match-ups. The 16s had several tie-breakers, including an 11-10 win for the American duo of Rajsich/Lotts over Laime/Gonzalez.
The quarters featured the all-American team of Rajsich/Scott taking a game off the #1 team but losing. The Guatemalan national team cruised into the semis. The #2 Mexicans were dominant in games 1 and 3 but took game two off in advancing, and the USA #1 team of Scott/Lawrence took out the Argentine national team in an upset.
In the semis, it was Mexico over Guatemala in one side (though the improving Guatemalan team stretched the #1 seeds to 11-9 before falling) and Mexico over USA in the other to setup another all Mexican final.
In that final, a final seen more and more on tour, we saw Longoria/Salas taking out Mejia/Herrera in two quick games.
----------------
Other Major Draws:
- Women's Open featured a 12-person draw with some interesting results between touring pros outside the top 10. In the final, we saw Micaela Meneses Cuellar take out Manilla in the final. Meneses turned 17 just a couple of months ago and took out three solid pros en route to the title.
- Men's Open was very entertaining; 25 players from everywhere from Mexico to Maryland duked it out. In the final IRT top8 player Lalo Portillo took out the #2 seed from Maryland MoMo Zelada in two games. Portillo blew through this draw, never giving up more than 8 points in a game all weekend.