Former Rhonda Rajsich, a former #1 player on the Ladies Professional Racquetball Tour (LPRT), made a successful return to competition Friday, although she had to fight off match point against Gabriella Martinez before coming back to win, 8-11, 11-4, 3-11, 12-10, 11-2, in what was her first LPRT match since the death of her father late last year.
The win was a measure of revenge for Rajsich, as Martinez, the current U16 IRF World Junior Champion, upset Rajsich in the Round of 16 at last year's IRF World Championships. That was Rajsich's earliest exit from Worlds, an event she's won twice. Martinez almost got the better of Rajsich again Friday, as the young Guatemalan was up two games to one on the veteran American, and 10-6 in game four. But Rajsich hit a winning backhand pinch shot to get the serve back, and then ran six straight rallies - briefly interrupted by a Martinez timeout at 8-10 - to win the game and extend the match to a tie-breaker, which Rajsich won easily.
Rajsich, the 4th seed, will face 5th seed Alexandra Herrera in the quarterfinals on Saturday, as Herrera beat 12th seed Natalia Mendez, 11-9, 11-9, 11-5.
Rajsich's doubles partner Sheryl Lotts was an upset winner in the Round of 16, as it appears 3rd Jessica Parrilla was a late withdrawal from the event. Thus, Lotts will play in quarters against 6th seed Cristina Amaya, who defeated 11th seed Maria Renee Rodriguez, 11-7, 11-4, 11-3, in the 16s.
Some upsets in the doubles draw, as the #2, #3 and #4 seeds all went out. The biggest giant slayers were 7th seeds Susana Acosta and Kelani Bailey, who won the lefty-righty battle with 2nd seeds Frédérique Lambert and Aimee Ruiz, 10-15, 15-10, 11-9. Acosta and Ruiz are both left-handed, while Bailey and Lambert are right handed.
Acosta and Bailey will play 6th seeds Sheryl Lotts and Rhonda Rajsich in the semis, as Lotts and Rajsich beat 3rd seeds Alexandra Herrera and Carla Muñoz, 15-9, 15-14.
On the other side of the draw, top seeds Paola Longoria and Gabriela Martinez defeated 8th seeds Andrea Martinez and Maria Renee Rodriguez, 15-7, 15-2, and will play 5th seeds Cristina Amaya and Adriana Riveros, who had a forfeit win over 4th seeds Adrienne Haynes and Jessica Parrilla, forfeit.
The singles Round of 16 concludes Friday with the doubles quarterfinals Friday evening. The singles quarterfinals are Saturday morning with the semi-finals Saturday afternoon. The singles final will be Sunday at 11 and doubles final at noon. All times are EST. Matches can be viewed via the LPRT Network LiveSteam channel.
LPRT New Jersey Open
March 3-5, 2017, Warren, New Jersey
Round of 32 (seedings)
1) Paola Longoria - BYE
16) Kelani Bailey d. 17) Jean Halahan, 11-1, 11-4, 11-0
9) Adrienne Haynes - BYE
8) Carla Muñoz - BYE
5) Alexandra Herrera - BYE
12) Natalia Mendez d. 21) Christina Vandling, 11-6, 11-3, 11-2
13) Gabriela Martinez d. 20) Veronique Guillemette, 12-10, 11-2, 11-3
4) Rhonda Rajsich - BYE
3) Jessica Parrilla - BYE
14) Sheryl Lotts d. 19) Andrea Martinez, 11-3, 11-3, 11-6
11) Maria Renee Rodriguez d. 22) Angeles Sarria, 11-0, 11-1, 11-2
6) Cristina Amaya - BYE
7) Susana Acosta - BYE
10) Adriana Riveros d. 23) Daniela Herrera, 11-0, 11-1, 11-0
15) Laura Brandt d. 18) Jennifer Dering, 11-6, 11-3, 11-0
2) Frédérique Lambert - BYE
Round of 16 (seedings)
1) Paola Longoria v. 16) Kelani Bailey
8) Carla Muñoz v. 9) Adrienne Haynes
5) Alexandra Herrera d. 12) Natalia Mendez, 11-9, 11-9, 11-5
4) Rhonda Rajsich d. 13) Gabriela Martinez, 8-11, 11-4, 3-11, 12-10, 11-2
14) Sheryl Lotts d. 3) Jessica Parrilla, forfeit
6) Cristina Amaya d. 11) Maria Renee Rodriguez, 11-7, 11-4, 11-3
10) Adriana Riveros d. 7) Susana Acosta, 8-11, 12-10, 11-7, 11-7
2) Frédérique Lambert d. 15) Laura Brandt, 11-1, 11-5, 11-1
Quarterfinals (seedings) - Saturday
1) Paola Longoria or 16) Kelani Bailey v. 8) Carla Muñoz or 9) Adrienne Haynes - 10 AM
4) Rhonda Rajsich v. 5) Alexandra Herrera - 10 AM
6) Cristina Amaya v. 14) Sheryl Lotts - 9 AM
2) Frédérique Lambert v. 10) Adriana Riveros - 9 AM
LPRT Doubles - Round of 16
1) Paola Longoria & Gabriela Martinez - BYE
8) Andrea Martinez & Maria Renee Rodriguez d. 9) Veronique Guillemette & Natalia Mendez, 15-14, 15-12
5) Cristina Amaya & Adriana Riveros - BYE
4) Adrienne Haynes & Jessica Parrilla - BYE
3) Alexandra Herrera & Carla Muñoz - BYE
6) Sheryl Lotts & Rhonda Rajsich - BYE
7) Susana Acosta & Kelani Bailey - BYE
2) Frédérique Lambert & Aimee Ruiz - BYE
LPRT Doubles - Quarterfinals Friday
1) Paola Longoria & Gabriela Martinez d. 8) Andrea Martinez & Maria Renee Rodriguez, 15-7, 15-2
5) Cristina Amaya & Adriana Riveros d. 4) Adrienne Haynes & Jessica Parrilla, forfeit
6) Sheryl Lotts & Rhonda Rajsich d. 3) Alexandra Herrera & Carla Muñoz, 15-9, 15-14
7) Susana Acosta & Kelani Bailey d. 2) Frédérique Lambert & Aimee Ruiz, 10-15, 15-10, 11-9
LPRT Doubles - Semi-finals Saturday
1) Paola Longoria & Gabriela Martinez v. 5) Cristina Amaya & Adriana Riveros - 6 PM
6) Sheryl Lotts & Rhonda Rajsich v. 7) Susana Acosta & Kelani Bailey - 5 PM
Follow the bouncing ball....