Monday, August 6, 2012

Longoria & Saunders in women's final at the 16th IRF World Championships

Paola Longoria of Mexico will have a chance to win the only title that's eluded her in her young career as she's in the final of the 16th International Racquetball Federation (IRF) World Championships in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. She got there by beating rival and two time defending World Champion American Rhonda Rajsich, 15-2, 15-12.

It's Longoria's first Worlds final in women's singles, but her second overall as she was in the women's doubles final at the 2010 World Championships, which she won with partner Samantha Salas.

Longoria's opponent in the final has been there before, as Canadian Jennifer Saunders was in the 2002 final. In the semi-finals today, she defeated her finals opponent from 10 years ago, American Cheryl Gudinas, 6-15, 15-13, 11-5.

Longoria and Rajsich's first game went by in the blink of an eye, as Rajsich only managed to score two points. However, in game two Rajsich had the early lead at 7-2, and looked like she might force a tie-breaker.

However, Longoria came back and took the lead at 10-9. But Rajsich continued to battle and took the lead back at 12-10. But that was as many points as she could get, as Longoria scored the next five to take the game, 15-12, and match in two straight games.

Saunders, on the other hand, needed a tie-breaker after a poor first game to fend off the veteran Gudinas. Saunders called a timeout at 12-2 down in game one and managed to score more points the rest of that game than Gudinas, thereby getting a measure of momentum.

But in game two, Gudinas had the early lead at 6-3. However, Saunders having switched to using her usual kiss lob serve to the left side, which on today's court was all glass, held Gudinas at 6 while taking the lead 11-6.

She held the lead to 13-9, but Gudinas kept pecking away at it, eventual tying the game at 13-13. But Saunders stayed focussed and got the last two points she needed to force the tie-breaker.

In the breaker, Saunders scored first, but Gudinas got the serve and score two points to lead 2-1. That was the last time Gudinas led in the match, as Saunders scored the next three points to go up 4-2. Then she extended the lead to 7-3.

Gudinas closed the gap to 7-5, but that's as many as she got as Saunders finished it off 11-5.

Tuesday's final will be the second women's singles World Championship final without an American and the first since 2006, when Worlds was also in Santo Domingo. That year Canadian Christie Van Hees defeated Chilean Angela Grisar for the title. Saunders will be hoping history repeats itself tomorrow.

The women's final will be Tuesday at 10 AM EDT, and will be live streamed via the IRF website.

16th IRF World Championships
Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

Women's Singles - Semi-finals

Paola Longoria (Mexico) d. Rhonda Rajsich (USA), 15-2, 15-12
Jennifer Saunders (Canada) d. Cheryl Gudinas (USA), 6-15, 15-13, 11-5

Women's Singles - Final

Paola Longoria (Mexico) v. Jennifer Saunders (Canada)

Follow the bouncing ball....

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