Wednesday, April 24, 2019

2019 LPRT Battle at the Alamo - Preview

The Battle at the Alamo has become one of most reliable stops on the Ladies Professional Racquetball Tour (LPRT), and it begins Friday in San Antonio, Texas, where 22 players will compete for the title. Twenty one of those players will be trying to prevent LPRT #1 from continuing her undefeated season.

The field has the top 8 LPRT players, including LPRT #2 Samantha Salas, #3 Maria Jose Vargas, who is the most recent LPRT winner, as she won the Bolivia Open last month by defeating Salas in the final. If they meet in San Antonio, it will be in the semi-finals.

Longoria's path to the final will may have to go through LPRT #8 Frédérique Lambert in the quarterfinals, although Lambert will have to beat 9th seed Adriana Riveros to set that up. If Longoria get to the semi-finals, she'll likely have either LPRT #4 Alexandra Herrera or LPRT #5 Rhonda Rajsich awaiting her.

Play begins Friday morning with the Rounds of 32 and 16. The quarterfinals will be Saturday morning with the semi-finals Saturday night and final on Sunday at noon. You can watch some of the action via the LPRT website or the LPRT LiveStream channel.

2019 LPRT Battle at the Alamo
San Antonio, Texas - April 26-28

Round of 32

1) Paola Longoria - BYE
16) Susana Acosta v. 17) Maria Renee Rodriguez - 11:05 AM

9) Adriana Riveros - BYE
8) Frédérique Lambert - BYE

5) Rhonda Rajsich - BYE
12) Cassi Lee v. 21) Hanna Shnurman - 10 AM

13) Brenda Laime v. 20) Daniela Molina - 10 AM
4) Alexandra Herrera - BYE

3) Maria Jose Vargas - BYE
14) Ana Laura Flores v. 19) Carolina Luque

11) Adrienne Haynes v. 22) Daniela Rico - 11:05 AM
6) Natalia Mendez - BYE

7) Nancy Enriquez - BYE
10) Cristina Amaya - BYE

15) Monserrat Mejia v. 18) Laura Brandt - 11:05 AM
2) Samantha Salas - BYE

Follow the bouncing ball….

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Mexico & Bolivia win doubles at 2019 Pan American Championships

Mexicans Paola Longoria and Samantha Salas won their 6th Pan American Championship Women’s Doubles title together Saturday at the 2019 Pan American Championships in Barranquilla, Colombia, as they defeated Colombians Cristina Amaya and Adriana Riveros, 15-8, 15-6. Six titles is a record for the most by one team. Overall, Longoria has won 7 Pan Am Women’s Doubles titles, including the last five straight years, and Salas now has 8 titles, which is one fewer than Jackie Paraiso (USA).

In Men’s Doubles, 4th seeds Roland Keller and Conrrado Moscoso of Bolivia came back from a game down to defeat 7th seeds Coby Iwaasa and Samuel Murray of Canada in three games, 2-15, 15-9, 11-2. The win is the 2nd for Keller, who joins his brother Carlos in being the only two South American men with two gold medals at Pan Am Championships. Also, it’s the first year Bolivians have won both Men’s Singles and Men’s Doubles, and the first time a country other than the USA or Mexico has done that.

In the women’s final, Mexico jumped out to a 9-0 lead in game one. Colombia came back and got within three trailing 10-7, which led to Mexico calling a timeout. Longoria got her side the serve back with a backhand pinch winner, and they ran the score up to 14-7.

Colombia fought off the first game point with a great backhand serve return by Adriana Riveros, but they were only able to get one point of their own before giving up serve again. Salas hit a pinch shot winner to end the first game, 15-8.

In game two, Colombia got the first two points, and then Salas got hot and hit four winners that helped get Mexico to a 5-2 lead. They ran that lead up to 10-2 before Colombia scored again. As in game one, Colombia had a bit of a comeback, as they cut the deficit to four at 10-6. But a Riveros backhand skip derailed the comeback, and Colombia wouldn’t serve again.

With the serve back, Mexico won it by hitting five winners over the next six rallies: three by Longoria and two by Salas. Longoria got the match winner, which was a strange one, as she hit a backhand cross court overhead shot that seemed like it was off the frame of her racquet but ended up hitting low on the front wall, so it was unreturnable.

In the men’s final, Canada charged out to a 8-2 lead in game one, and just kept piling on the points as they won it 15-2. While Canada played well, the Bolivians were not sharp.

That changed in game two, as the Bolivians took a 9-2 lead. Canada came back and got to within three at 10-7. But Bolivia ended it when Moscoso hit a winning backhand pinch shot to make it 15-9, and force a tie-breaker.

In the breaker, Bolivia once again took the early lead at 5-0. Canada called a timeout, and that led to two errors by the Bolivians that gave the serve back to Canada. Canada scored a point off an avoidable hinder call. Then the Moscoso took over the game.

There were 14 rallies from 5-1 to the end of the game, and Moscoso ended 10 of those rallies, hitting 8 winners (including one ace serve) and 2 skips. He also forced the match winning point, as he drove serve to the left, and Murray tried to return it with a backhand pinch shot, only to skip his shot.

If you missed the finals, check out the matches via theIRF Facebook page or the IRF YouTube channel for matches.

XXXII Pan American Racquetball Championships
Barranquilla, Colombia - April 12-20, 2019

Women's Doubles - Final - Saturday

1) Paola Longoria & Samantha Salas (Mexico) d. 2) Cristina Amaya & Adriana Riveros (Colombia), 15-8, 15-6

Men's Doubles - Final - Saturday

4) Roland Keller & Conrrado Moscoso (Bolivia) d. 7) Coby Iwaasa & Samuel Murray (Canada), 2-15, 15-9, 11-2

Follow the bouncing ball….

Longoria & Keller Singles Champions at 2019 Pan American Championships

Paola Longoria of Mexico won her 8th Pan American Championship in Women’s Singles Saturday at the 2019 Pan American Championships in Barranquilla, Colombia, where she defeated Argentina’s Maria Jose Vargas in the final, 15-7, 15-2. Longoria last won this title in 2016, but was runner up the past two years to the USA’s Rhonda Rajsich. She was not going to finish 2nd a third time.

Carlos Keller of Bolivia successfully defended his Men’s Singles Pan American Championship by defeating the USA’s Charlie Pratt, 15-2, 8-15, 11-5. Keller is the first South American player to win multiple Men’s Singles titles and the first man to successfully defend the title since Mexican Alvaro Beltran did so in 2009 (that was the last year of three consecutive titles for Beltran).

In the women’s final, Longoria took leads of 8-1 and 11-2 in game one, and won by a comfortable margin. But Vargas did score some points late in the game, so seemed to build some momentum for game two. However, any momentum Vargas built was quickly snuffed out by Longoria in the second game, as she jumped out to a 6-0 lead. The Vargas got stuck in at the point, and there were nine rallies producing only one point, which was in Vargas’s favour. But she still trailed 6-1.

Longoria seemed to go into cruise control from there, and Vargas looked like she gave up the fight. Vargas only served three times from 6-1 to the end, and made a few bad errors. Also, she didn’t call a timeout in game two. The last rally was indicative of the match, as Longoria on a second serve hit a lob to the left side that kissed off the side wall. Vargas swung at the ball, but completely missed it. A sad ending.

But in the match Longoria took care of business, and she could be a double winner Saturday, as she’s in the Women’s Doubles final also with partner Samantha Salas. Her eight Women’s Singles Pan American Championships are a record, and twice as many as the women with the 2nd most. Americans Rajsich, Michelle Gould and Cheryl Gudinas all won Women’s Singles four times at Pan Am Championships.

In the men’s final, Keller cruised through game one only yielding two points to Pratt. But Pratt had dropped the first game of both his quarterfinal and semi-final matches, so he was in a familiar position.

Pratt took the early lead in game two at 3-0, but Keller came back and took over the lead at 7-3. Once again Pratt came back, and tied the game at 8-8. He scored seven unanswered points from there, while holding Keller at 8, to win game two, 15-8. Keller made some bad skips late in game two, which didn’t bode well for the tie-breaker.

Yet in the breaker, Keller took the early lead with three winners on the first three rallies to lead 3-0. They exchanged seven sideouts at that point, and there was the sense that the player who broke that stalemate would win the match. Pratt broke it, getting his first point of the breaker when Keller skipped a backhand serve return off a lob serve to the left that came off the side wall. Keller made that mistake a few times in the match, but Pratt never used that serve as his first serve.

However, after scoring his first point, Pratt was unable to follow it up, as Keller hit a good ceiling ball that went deep into the back left corner and flummoxed Pratt, who was unable to keep the rally going. That led to Keller going out to a 9-1 lead. Pratt called both his timeouts in that stretch, but to no avail.

Pratt did get a few points to make the score 9-4, and it seemed like a comeback could be on order. Then Keller got point 10 with a great backhand down the line shot. Still Pratt didn’t give up, and fought off Keller’s first match point with a backhand cross court winner.

Back in the service box, Pratt scored a point to make it 10-5. But Keller took the serve back with backhand cross court that cracked out on the right wall. However, match point number two went by as Pratt forced Keller to hit the ball into the back wall, and it didn’t make the front wall.

Keller regained the serve with a solid backhand shot, and then won it with another backhand winner.

If you missed the finals, check out the matches via theIRF Facebook page or the IRF YouTube channel for matches.

XXXII Pan American Racquetball Championships
Barranquilla, Colombia - April 12-20, 2019

Women's Singles - Final - Saturday

3) Paola Longoria (Mexico) d. 12) María José Vargas (Argentina), 15-7, 15-2

Men's Singles - Final - Saturday

7) Carlos Keller (Bolivia) d. 4) Charles Pratt (USA), 15-2, 8-15, 11-5

Follow the bouncing ball….