Landmark Women's Tour Event History
A note before you read: this is very skeletal right now; we'll include more details as we get them.
Jun 2019: Paola Longoria completes another undefeated season, with Samantha Salas making the finals of 9 of the 10 events on the year, clearly
establishing themselves as the two top players on tour. Last season's #2 Lambert has fallen all the way to #9 on the season, having finished
medical school in May.
Mar 2019: The Bolivian Grand Slam event happens, the first time an LPRT event has been held in the country. Unfortunately, Paola Longoria suffered
a slight injury and missed the event. Despite Longoria's absensce, the Ladies had a strong showing, with 8 of the top 10 players traveling (Lambert also
missed the event). The local Bolivian players had a great showing, with Angelica Barrios making the semis and upsetting several top LPRT pros, and
naturalized Bolivian Maria Jose Vargas taking the title in a hard fought 5-game tiebreaker over Samatha Salas.
Mar 2019: Ana Gabriela Martinez suddenly announces her retirement from the sport at age 19, to focus on her studies and other
interests. She made the announcement on her
Facebook fan page on 3/19/19. She retires ranked #9 on the tour despite only playing part time. In 2018 she defeated Longoria to take the IRF
World Championship as an 18yr old, then later in the year missed out on a rare chance at the Adult/Junior double by losing to Mejia in the 18U world Junior final.
Mar 2019: Jessica Parrilla returns to the court for the first time since her June 2018 injury, competing in the Mexican Nationals. She played both
singles and doubles in the event but did not travel to the subsequent LPRT event in Bolivia. She ends up playing just one LPRT event on the year,
the season's last tourney in Kansas in June.
Dec 2018: at the half-way point of the new year, #1 Longoria and #2 Salas have separated themselves from the rest of the pack; five of the six tournaments
have been #1 vs #2 in the finals, and they've opened up a significant gap to the next tier of players. Frederique Lambert has fallen nearly out of the top 10
thanks to school committments: she's finishing Medical school.
June 2018: Jessica Parrilla, just finishing up the 2017-18 season ranked 3rd on tour, suffers a knee ligament injury while competing in the 2018 Mexican Worlds
Selection event. This injury costs Parrilla most of the 2018-19 season; she does not return to the court until the 2019 Mexican Nationals event in Feb 2019.
June 2018: Word comes out that World #1 Paola Longoria has
failed to notify WADA of her whereabouts three times in a 12-month period, triggering an automatic suspension. However, a few weeks later Longoria joined the Mexican team
traveling to the Central American & Caribbean games, indicating that her appeal was successful and no suspension was given.
June 2018: Longoria wraps up a dominant 2017-18 season, winning her 9th pro title by a significant margin (
season wrap-up FB post here).
Dec 2017: Paola Longoria is named Univison Deportes's Female Athlete of the Year for 2017.
June 2017: Samantha Solis takes a 5-game match from Longoria in her namesake season-ending event, breaking a 14-tournament and 99 match winning streak for the Paola.
Longoria still easily wins the year end title, having won 10 of the 12 events on the year. Nonetheless, Longoria's 8th pro title now makes her the most decorated
ladies pro champ of all time, breaking a tie she held with Michelle (Gilman) Gould.
Dec 2016: Four-time tour Champion Rhonda Rajsich fails to reach the semis of any of the first five tournaments of the season, and subsequently misses the next three LPRT events after the death of her father. She hasn't missed three tournaments in a row since the 1999-00 season, nor has she had such a long string of futility since she started playing.
Dec 2016, also pointed out in the Restrung magazine review of 2016; the complete collapse of American female
touring pros. In the first half of the 2016-17 season, just two Americans advanced even to a semi final of a pro
tournament, and at the halfway point there's just one American (Rajsich, who may be retiring) in the top 10. There's just
3 americans in the 11-20 range, meaning 16 of the top 20 players are from outside of the USA. 9 of the top 20
are from Mexico.
Sept 2016: per Restrung Magazine's 2016 top 10 Racquetball stories,
LPRT deputy Commissioner Andy Kulback "abruptly dropped the tour." This leaves the tour with no commissioner and with President TJ Baumbaugh acting as commissioner.
Aug 2016: Maria Vargas suddenly retires from the tour; she had finished #2 on tour in 2014-15 with two tourney wins
and having reached the final of the 2014 US Open. Per her confidants, she has gotten engaged back in her home country of
Argentina and has business interests there, and has decided to focus her time away from racquetball.
May 2014: Another long time tour player Kristen (Walsh) Bellows retires after having played the tour for 14 years. She retires with 9 seasons in the top 10 and one tournament win.
May 2013: Kerri (Stoffregen) Wachtel retires from active touring after a 12 year career that featured 9 top-4 finishes and several tournament wins.
Mid 2013: Paola Longoria is recognized as one of the 50 most influential women in Mexico by Forbes Magazine (mexico edition), and a tournament in her name is broadcast live within the country. Longoria's success is transcending the sport in the country of Mexico.
Mid 2012: the Ladies Professional Racquetball Tour (LPRT) was formed and new president and current tour player T.J. Baumbaugh installed as President. She is joined at the helm by Andy Kulbeck as deputy commissioner. New website is www.lprtour.com.
2011-2012: Tour reorganized and power is grabbed from those in charge; WPRO goes to LPRT.
Fall 2011: #3 ranked Samantha Salas suffers a shoulder injury that costs her the entire 2011-12 season.
Nov 2010: Paola Longoria is named the Mexican Sportswoman of the year for 2010. See this link for the story of her receiving the "Premio Nacional de Deporte" from the Mexican president (link in spanish). In an ironic twist, Longoria has to skip the Olympia LPRT event in Nov 2010 to accept the award, and skipping that event essentially cost her the 2010-11 LPRT title (she lost by around 25 points to Rajsich, which is about the number of points you get for losing in the round of 16 at a normal tier 1 event). One has to think the tour should have made an exception for this situation.
May 2009: Paola Longoria becomes the first Mexican player (man or woman) to finish #1 on the pro tour.
Nov 2008: Paola Longoria becomes the first Mexican player (man or woman) to take Racquetball's biggest prize; the US Open.
Early 2008: Top player Rhonda Rajsich is assaulted outside her home and left hospitalized. At first her career was in doubt, but she recovered well and was back on the court competing within two months.
March 2007: #4 Angela Grisar from Chile becomes the first Latin American player to win a women's pro tour, Winning the Miami tour stop. It was her only career tour win and she retired from the tour after the 2011-12 season.
Mid 2007: www.ladiesproracquetball.com is retired and migrated to www.wpro-tour.com
2006: tour player Lori-Jane Powell is forced to retire due to a knee injury.
Nov 2005: Christie Van Hees wins the first three events of the 2005-06 season, including the US Open, and then doesn't play
on tour for a year. She still finishes the year ranked 3rd.
2005: LPRA goes to WPRO: Womens Professional Racquetball Organization as the players take back responsibilty for the tour. Shannon Feaster takes over as Commissioner.
Fall 2003: Van Hees unretires and comes back full-force, eventually winning the 2004-05 tour championship and staying in the top 5 for several more seasons.
2003: 3-time tour champ Jackie Paraiso retires from full-time touring, but continues to play events and stay active in the amateur realm.
2002: Claude Crocker is named as the Commissioner, in a "leasing" agreement to take over the tour.
Aug 2001: up and coming player Christie Van Hees retires from tour at the age of 24. The press release in Racquetball Magazine's July/August 2001 issue cites a sickness and a change of priorities for Van Hees. She eventually marries former IRT pro champ Jack Huczek and settles in Dallas, TX.
2000: When Marcus is outsted from the IRT, the WIRT effectively ended as well. In its place was the LPRA: Ladies Professional Racquetball Association. Stephanie Munger is listed as the President and a council of current players is installed as the LPRA Board of Directors. The LPRA is owned and administered by the USRA (United States Racquetball Association), the amateur governing body at the time, in a move considered "odd" but necessary to continue women's pro racquetball. Jim Hiser is the Executive Director of USRA. New website to support the new tour eventually is www.ladiesproracquetball.com. A link to the online article "Dr. H and the Women" is located here at archive.org.
June 1998: Michelle Gilman Gould abruptly retires from tour due to injuries; She had a period of dominance heretofore unseen in the sport. She went undefeated on tour for multiple seasons during the 1990s and was so dominant that the sport changed its scoring rules in an attempt to mitigate her unreturnable serve. She went 106-2 over a period of four seasons (1994-1998), winning 18 consecutive tournaments and 30 of 33 during the timeframe.
June 1998: Marci Drexler wins the final event of the 97-98 season in Las Vegas and promptly retires from playing, having been a top player on tour for
more than a decade. She retires with 6 career wins, multiple in the top 3 of the world, and perhaps the title of "Best player never to finish #1."
1995: Hank Marcus of the International Racquetball Tour (IRT) came forward with a proposal to consolidate the top level of the sport and the Women's International Racquetball Tour (WIRT) was formed. This guaranteed the presence of the women's events at
the marquee Men's events (events such as the US Open, Pro Nationals and other "major" tournaments). Tour name officially started with
fall 1995 beginning of 95-96 season.
1991: 5-time champ Lynn Adams is forced to retire from the tour due to complications from Multiple Sclerosis.
1989: Michelle Gilman (eventually to become Michelle Gilman Gould) bursts onto the scene, finishing 2nd on tour in her first full pro season.
1987: Lynn Adams is diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, but continues to play at a top level, including the 1989-90 championship and two #2s on tour.
1985: Marci Greer (seemingly?) retires from the tour
1985: 4-time champ Heather McKay returns to her native Australia, leaving the tour and her rivalry with Adams. Adams immediately follows up McKay's departure by going undefeated during the 1984-85 season.
1980: Legendary Squash player Heather McKay (who was unbeaten in Professional Squash from 1962-1981) retires from professional Squash and begins playing competitive Racquetball at the age of 40. She immediately begins dominating the sport, winning four titles in five years. Her biggest rival is Lynn Adams.
late 1979: The Women's Professional Racquetball Association (WPRA) is formed by a small breakaway group of players to focus on the Women's game. They form their own tour for 1980. Rumors of the women being "thrown out" of the NRC.
1976: the NRC begins including Women's events and formalizes a real women's tour.
1973: National Racquetball Club (NRC) formed when Kendler breaks away from IRA (resigns 4/73, forms NRC 6/73)
1970-1975: IRA Champ considered World Champ in the absence of an organized Women's pro tour.
1968: International Racquetball Association (IRA) founded by Robert Kendler.
IRA is (over the years) eventually renamed American Amateur Racquetball Association (AARA) and then
United States Racquetball Association (USRA). For several years the IRA holds