Saturday, January 30, 2016

Longoria a double finalist at LPRT Mercedes-Benz of Cincinnati Pro-Am

Paola Longoria, the #1 player on the Ladies Professional Racquetball Tour (LPRT) will have a chance to continue her undefeated streak Sunday, when she’ll play LPRT #3 Rhonda Rajsich in the final of the 2016 Mercedes-Benz of Cincinnati Pro-Am in Cincinnati, Ohio. But there was some doubt as to whether Longoria would reach the final, as LPRT #5 Frédérique Lambert put up a stiff challenge to Longoria in the semi-finals. But Longoria prevailed, 10-12, 11-1, 12-10, 11-2.

Rajsich also played four games in her semi-final in defeating Adriana Riveros, 12-10, 11-5, 10-12, 11-4. Riveros was a surprise semi-finalist, as she was the 18th seed. But she got a win over 2nd seed Maria Jose Vargas due to illness in the Round of 16, and then beat 10th seed Jessica Parrilla in the quarterfinals, 11-9, 1-11, 11-8, 11-7, to reach the semi-finals for the first time in her career.

Longoria and Lambert were toe to toe. Longoria got a game point first in game one at 10-9. But Lambert hit a winner down the line to get the serve back, and scored three straight points to take the first game. Lambert’s game winner was an overhead forehand pinch shot that rolled out.

The second was all Longoria, as Lambert’s only point in game two didn’t come until Longoria had seven. Thus, you might have thought Longoria was just going to cruise through the match after that.

But not so, as Lambert took and early lead in game three at 3-1. Longoria came back and tied it at 3-3 and 4-4, only to see Lambert go up again at 7-4. Longoria called a timeout, and just prior to that she kicked the ball in frustration.

When play resumed, Lambert got two points to lead by five at 9-4. But she couldn’t get off nine, until Longoria had tied it at 9-9. Five rallies and a second Longoria timeout happened before Lambert got her 10th point at 10-9.

It was Longoria’s turn to hit a down the line winner to stave off game point, and then score three unanswered points to win game three 12-10. Longoria won the game with another backhand down the line pass.

At that point, you may have thought the writing was on the wall, and early in game four Longoria chiseled it in stone, as she went up 10-0 before Lambert got on the board.

Of note, Longoria went away from her standard drive serves, especially late in game three when she hit Z serves to Lambert’s backhand for the last few rallies of the game.

Getting to 10 was not predictive of success in Lambert’s quarterfinal match against LPRT #4 Samantha Salas either, as in each of the first three games of that match the player who got to 10 first lost 12-10. Lambert won games one and three with Salas winning game two. But Lambert ended that streak of losing after getting to 10 first in game four, although that game was also a two point difference with Lambert winning 11-9.

Longoria and Lambert will face off again Cincinnati, as they will meet in the doubles final. Longoria and Salas beat Susana Acosta and Jessica Maldonado, 15-2, 15-6, in one semi-final, while Lambert and Michelle Key defeated Rajsich and Sheryl Lotts, 15-14, 15-3. The first game of that latter match was another where one team got to game point, but couldn’t finish for the longest time, as Lambert and Key were up 14-7 only to have Rajsich and Lotts come back and tie it at 14-14. Lambert, who skipped several shots leading up to the tie, then ended the game with a forehand kill shot.

The finals start at 11 AM eastern time Sunday - first singles and then doubles, and you can watch them live from Cincinnati via the LPRT Livestream channel.

2016 Mercedes-Benz of Cincinnati Pro-Am, January 29-31
Cincinnati, Ohio

Quarterfinals - Singles

1) Paola Longoria d. 8) Susana Acosta, 11-1, 11-4, 11-1
5) Frédérique Lambert d. 4) Samantha Salas, 12-10, 10-12, 12-10, 11-9

3) Rhonda Rajsich d. 6) Sofia Rascon, 11-4, 11-1, 11-5
18) Adriana Riveros d. 10) Jessica Parrilla, 11-9, 1-11, 11-8, 11-7

Semi-finals - Singles

1) Paola Longoria d. 5) Frédérique Lambert, 10-12, 11-1, 12-10, 11-2
3) Rhonda Rajsich d. 18) Adriana Riveros, 12-10, 11-5, 10-12, 11-4

Final - Singles

1) Paola Longoria v. 3) Rhonda Rajsich

Semi-finals - Doubles

1) Paola Longoria & Samantha Salas d. 4) Susana Acosta & Jessica Maldonado, 15-2, 15-6
2) Michelle Key & Frédérique Lambert d. 3) Sheryl Lotts & Rhonda Rajsich, 15-14, 15-3

Final - Doubles

1) Paola Longoria & Samantha Salas v. 2) Michelle Key & Frédérique Lambert

Follow the bouncing ball….

No comments: