Monday, June 18, 2018

Costa Rica to host 2018 IRF World Championships

The International Racquetball Federation (IRF) has announced the 2018 World Championships will be held in San José, Costa Rica, August 10-19. Originally, Worlds were to be held in China, but the local organizing committee encountered difficulties with government approval. That led the IRF to select Cali, Colombia, which hosted the last World Championships in 2016, to host the event again.

However, as the details were being finalized for that the venue unexpected was demolished. The eight courts there were razed to the ground. This was a shocking development, and resulted in the IRF scrambling for another venue with little more than two months until Worlds are to begin.

Thus, San José has become the host.

That solves the immediate issue for the IRF, but the demolition of the courts in Cali will have implications for the Colombian racquetball association, as most of their players were from Cali and we’re not sure there’s another facility in the city. Thus, losing those courts could cripple the racquetball in Cali, specifically, and Colombia, generally.

Colombia has produced world class players, including former Men’s Doubles World Champions Sebastian Franco and Alejandro Herrera, as well as Cristina Amaya, one of the top 10 women on the Ladies Professional Racquetball Tour (LPRT). But to produce more players and continue to train the current ones, they need to have courts.

So while The Racquetball Blog is happy the IRF has a venue for Worlds, we’re concerned about what’s going to happen in Colombia moving forward.

Follow the bouncing ball….

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Longoria wins twice at 2018 LPRT Classic

Paola Longoria, the #1 player on the Ladies Professional Racquetball Tour (LPRT), won twice Sunday at the Classic in Overland Park, Kansas, as she captured both the Women's Singles title and the Women's Doubles title with partner Samantha Salas. The wins will solidify Longoria as the #1 LPRT player in both singles and doubles for the 2017-18 LPRT season. Lambert won 7 tournaments this season, which concluded with the Sunday finals.

In the singles final, Longoria defeated LPRT #2 Frédérique Lambert, 11-6, 6-11, 11-4, 11-2, and she and Salas beat Natalia Mendez and Maria Jose Vargas, 15-13, 15-6, in the doubles final.

The singles final was unusual, as the first two games were mirror images of each other. In game one, Lambert got the good start with a 6-1 lead only to see Longoria score 10 unanswered points to win it, 11-6. The reverse happened in game two, when Longoria took a 6-1 lead with Lambert then scoring 10 points to win that game, 11-6, and level the match at 1-1.

In game three, they were close early with ties at 2-2 and 4-4. But then Longoria edged ahead with a point followed by an exchange of sideouts three times to make the score 7-4. Longoria scored four straight points from there, including a drive serve ace to the left side of the court, that got her to game point at 10-4. She won game three on the next rally with a forehand cross court winner.

Longoria got the first three points of game four, and really never looked back, as she went on to win, 11-2. Despite the lopsided score, there were several sideouts, so Lambert had many chances to get points. She simply didn't. Longoria won the game and match with a drive serve to the left side that caught Lambert unawares, as she had moved to the right thinking the serve was going that direction rather than where Longoria actually hit it.

In the doubles final, Mendez and Vargas led for much of game one, including at 12-9 and 13-12. However, they couldn't finish it off, as Longoria and Salas held them at 13 over four serves, as they went from 13-12 down to 14-13 up. Credit Mendez and Vargas for holding off two game points at that score, but after getting the sideout, they couldn't score themselves, as Salas hit two winners to get her side the serve back. Longoria then won it with a forehand to the left side.

After coming up short in game one, it seemed predictable that game two would not be close, and it wasn't. Longoria and Salas went up 6-0 and 11-1. Mendez and Vargas did claw a few points back before falling, 15-6. Mendez and Vargas tried a few different strategies, including switching sides (Vargas began the match on the left and Mendez on the right), and both serving to Salas, but nothing was ultimately successful against the three time World Champions.

If you missed any of the action from Kansas, go to the LPRT website and click "Live Streaming."

The 2018 LPRT Classic, June 8-10, 2018
Overland Park, Kansas

Final - Sunday

1) Paola Longoria d. 2) Frédérique Lambert, 11-6, 6-11, 11-4, 11-2

Doubles - Final - Sunday

1) Paola Longoria & Samantha Salas d. 3) Natalia Mendez & Maria Jose Vargas, 15-13, 15-6

Follow the bouncing ball….

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Longoria & Lambert in the 2018 LPRT final

It'll be #1 versus #2 Sunday in the final of the Ladies Professional Racquetball Tour (LPRT’s) Classic in Overland Park, Kansas, when LPRT #1 Paola Longoria takes on #2 Frédérique Lambert. They both won their respective semi-finals in three straight games. Longoria defeated her doubles partner, Samantha Salas, 11-5, 11-1, 11-8, and Lambert beat Nancy Enriquez, 11-8, 11-7, 11-4.

Salas had beaten Longoria the last time they played on the LPRT, but today Longoria seemed like she wanted to let Salas and everyone else know who the #1 player is. But wasn't an easy start to the match, or a quick one, as Salas had early leads at 2-0 and 4-3. After 27 rallies, they were tied 4-4.

Longoria broke that tie with a backhand winner, and Salas called timeout. She got the serve back when Longoria skipped a forehand pinch shot. But Salas couldn't score herself, so Longoria continued to add up the points, getting to 10-4 before Salas got her next point, which was her last of the game, as Longoria won it 11-5.

Game two was all Longoria, as she took a 6-0 lead, and won 11-1. All good right? Yes, but Salas's two wins over Longoria on tour came after she was down two games, and they were both within the last year: 12 months ago in Chihuahua, Mexico as well as 2 months ago in San Antonio.

There was a hint that Salas might do the same thing on Saturday, as she was up 5-1 in game three. However, Longoria caught up at 6-6, and then went ahead to 9-6. Salas took her turn in coming back, and got within one at 9-8 with a drive serve ace to the right side.

But she gave up the serve after skipping a backhand shot. They traded sideouts, and when Longoria next got the serve, she called timeout. That proved to be wise, as Longoria got her 10th point with a backhand pinch shot, and then won it with a forehand winner. That ended the game, 11-8, and match in three straight games.

Lambert and Enriquez displayed how crucial serving is to racquetball, especially in game one. They were close all the way, and Enriquez led early, 5-2, and late on at 8-6. She got that early lead with three aces and a service winner. For her part, Lambert came back with three aces. Her fourth was a drive Z serve to the right that put Lambert on game point at 10-8. A forehand winner ended the game, 11-8, for Lambert.

They were close again early in game two with Enriquez always leading until a 4-4 tie. From there, Lambert went ahead, and she stayed ahead, going to win 11-7, when Enriquez skipped a forehand return off another drive Z to the right side. But the point game came on the rally before that, when the ball came into the Lambert's body chest high, jamming her. Yet she managed to hit a backhand reverse pinch shot for a winner. Lambert really just directed the ball over to the front right corner.

Game three was over quickly, as Lambert went up 9-0. Enriquez did keep fighting, and was able to score a few points before Lambert closed it out, 11-4, with a drive serve ace to the left side.

So, it will be Longoria versus Lambert in the singles final Sunday, but Longoria got the better of Lambert in the doubles semi-finals, as Longoria and Salas beat Lambert and Jen Saunders, 15-3, 15-2. They'll play Natalia Mendez and Maria Jose Vargas in the final, as Mendez and Vargas won the other semi by defeating Masiel Rivera and Adriana Riveros, 15-5, 15-13.

The finals are Sunday morning at 11 AM and noon - singles and doubles, respectively, and you can see them live via the LPRT LiveStream channel.

2018 LPRT The Classic, June 8-10, 2018
Overland Park, Kansas


1) Paola Longoria d. 5) Samantha Salas, 11-5, 11-1, 11-8
2) Frédérique Lambert d. 6) Nancy Enriquez, 11-8, 11-7, 11-4

Final - Sunday

1) Paola Longoria v. 2) Frédérique Lambert - 11 AM

Doubles - Semi-finals

1) Paola Longoria & Samantha Salas d. 5) Frédérique Lambert & Jen Saunders, 15-3, 15-2
3) Natalia Mendez & Maria Jose Vargas d. 2) Masiel Rivera & Adriana Riveros, 15-5, 15-13

Doubles - Final - Sunday

1) Paola Longoria & Samantha Salas v. 3) Natalia Mendez & Maria Jose Vargas - Noon

Follow the bouncing ball….