Sunday, February 23, 2014

Longoria wins 9th Annual Winter Classic

Paola Longoria won again on the Ladies Professional Racquetball Tour (LPRT), as she defeated Maria Jose Vargas in the final of the 9th Annual Winter Classic, 8-11, 11-5, 11-4, 11-4. The win is the 40th in Longoria's career and keeps a streak going that began back in May 2011.

In the final, Vargas came out strong, going toe to toe with Longoria, as they went back and forth until Vargas opened a slight lead at 6-4. But Longoria won the next four points to lead 8-6.

But Vargas dug in and held Longoria at eight as she put together five unanswered points to take game one 11-8 on her second game point opportunity.

If anyone was thinking that this might be the day that Longoria's winning streak would end, she put a damper on such thoughts in game two, as she went out to a 5-1 lead. Vargas did respond by closing the gap to one point at 5-4, but Longoria kept the pressure on and reached game point with a drive serve ace to the right side. She drove serve to the right for the game, as Vargas skipped the serve return.

Longoria carried the momentum over to game three, as she stormed out to a 9-0 lead. Vargas got a few points back before Longoria finished it off at 11-4 on her first game point, as Vargas skipped a backhand shot.

Down two games to one against the LPRT's #1 player, Vargas didn't roll over in game four and took a 4-0 lead to start the game. She lost serve on a rally, where she successfully dove three times to keep the ball in play, but on her fourth dive, Vargas couldn't reach a Longoria forehand down the line shot on the right side.

Vargas took a timeout at that point, which probably wise having made such an effort on that rally. However, Vargas didn't get any more points, despite serving six more times and taking another timeout down 7-4.

Four of those serves occurred immediately following that timeout, as the players stayed at 7-4 for eight rallies. Then Longoria got three consecutive points by lob serving - something she rarely does - to Vargas's backhand. Two of those points were return skips by Vargas, the second of which gave Longoria her first match point.

But Longoria skipped a ball on that rally, which also began with a lob serve to the left. Longoria regained the serve with a forehand cross court serve return winner as Vargas drove serve to the right.

Longoria won the match with a backhand cross court kill shot, which was her eleventh unanswered point, as she won 11-4.

Longoria made some errors in the match, but not like she did in the semi-final against Samantha Salas Solis. Both players mostly drove serve in the match, and to both sides, as well as hitting some Z serves, including using that serve on first serve.

The next LPRT event is the New Jersey Open from March 7-9 in Warren, New Jersey.

LPRT 9th Annual Winter Classic
February 21-23, 2014 - Overland Park, Kansas


1 Paola Longoria d. 3 Maria Jose Vargas, 8-11, 11-5, 11-4, 11-4

Follow the bouncing ball....

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