Saturday, December 12, 2015

LPRT 24th Annual NES Associates Christmas Classic - Sotomayor into semi-finals

The quarterfinals of the Ladies Professional Racquetball Tour (LPRT) 24th Annual NES Associates Christmas Classic in Arlington, Virginia were marked by some close games, and one upset victory, as Veronica Sotomayor defeated 3rd seed Rhonda Rajsich, 11-4, 11-7, 4-11, 13-11.

Only top seed Paola Longoria didn't need to play a game that went past 11, as she defeated Sofia Rascon in three straight games, 11-6, 11-6, 11-2.

Second seed Maria Jose Vargas needed four games to fend off Alexandra Herrera, 12-10, 11-5, 3-11, 12-10. Finally, Samantha Salas won in three games over Frédérique Lambert but needed extra points in the third game, winning 11-3, 11-8, 13-11.

Sotomayor won the first game against Rajsich comfortably, but found herself down early in game two, 4-0. But Sotomayor came back to tie it 4-4, and then went ahead 6-5, and kept the lead as she went on to win game two 11-7, finishing it with a backhand pinch.

But again Rajsich took the lead early in game three at 6-0, including three drive serve aces to the right side. Rajsich extended the lead to 10-1, but Rajsich skipped a backhand shot on her first game point. Sotomayor took a timeout, and then scored three points before Rajsich got the serve back with a backhand cross court shot.

On her second game point, Rajsich hit a loose ceiling ball that came off the right wall, which was a set up for Sotomayor. However, Sotomayor skipped her forehand shot to end the game at 11-4.

Game four started slowly. After 27 rallies, the score was only 4-3 in Rasjich's favour. She extended the lead to 6-3, but Sotomayor came back to make it 6-6, and kept scoring to reach to reach 10-6, and put Rajsich on the brink of elimination.

Rajsich got the serve back with a great backhand reverse pinch return of a second serve. Rajsich scored three points with three winning shots, making it 10-9 and Sotomayor called timeout. Rajsich skipped a backhand shot, when play resumed, but held off Sotomayor's second match point with a backhand cross court return.

Rajsich scored two points with a backhand down the line shot and a forehand down the line shot on the left side to have a game point of her own at 11-10. But a Sotomayor cross court serve return got her the serve back, and she scored three unanswered points - including a drive serve ace to the left side - to win the game and match.

A similar story unfolded in the Salas-Lambert match, as Salas won the first game comfortably, but in game two they were close the entire way. Lambert had the lead at 8-6, but she only got one point after that. Credit to her though, as she fought off five game points for Salas before Salas got the winner with a drive Z serve to the right side that Lambert tried unsuccessfully to play to the ball into the back wall to keep it in play.

In game three, Salas took the early lead at 4-1, and maintained that at 8-3. However, Lambert fought back to level it at 8-8. As in game two, it took a long time to reach the finish, as 19 rallies went by before Salas ended it at 13-11 with a forehand cross court from a foreword court position.

The singles semi-finals are set for 4 PM Saturday with the final on Sunday at 11 AM. You can watch matches live from Arlington via the LPRT Livestream channel. The doubles semis are at 6 PM Saturday and final at noon on Sunday. All times eastern.

2015 24th Annual NES Associates Christmas Classic, December 11-13
Arlington, Virginia

Quarterfinals - Singles

1) Paola Longoria d. 8) Sofia Rascon, 11-6, 11-6, 11-2
4) Samantha Salas d. 5) Frédérique Lambert, 11-3, 11-9, 13-11

11) Veronica Sotomayor d. 3) Rhonda Rajsich, 11-4, 11-7, 4-11, 13-11
2) Maria Jose Vargas d. 10) Alexandra Herrera, 12-10, 11-5, 3-11, 12-10

Semi-finals - Singles

1) Paola Longoria v. 4) Samantha Salas - 5 PM
2) Maria Jose Vargas v. 11) Veronica Sotomayor - 4 PM

Semi-finals - Doubles

1) Susana Acosta & Samantha Salas v. 5) Cristina Amaya & Sofia Rascon - 6 PM
2) Alexandra Herrera & Paola Longoria v. 6) Veronica Sotomayor & Maria Jose Vargas - 7 PM

Follow the bouncing ball….

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