Sunday, January 31, 2016

Longoria wins twice in Cincinnati at Mercedes-Benz of Cincinnati Pro-Am

Paola Longoria, the #1 player on the Ladies Professional Racquetball Tour (LPRT) won both singles and doubles at the 2016 Mercedes-Benz of Cincinnati Pro-Am in Cincinnati, Ohio. Longoria defeated Rhonda Rajsich in the singles final, 11-3, 11-8, 11-4, and teamed up with Samantha Salas to win doubles by beating Michelle Key and Frédérique Lambert, 15-3, 15-3.

Rajsich was ahead in the second game against Longoria, with leads of 5-2 and 8-5. But Longoria came back and tied it at 8-8. She took the lead with an ace drive serve to the left side - Rajsich’s backhand, and then got to game point at 10-8 with a forehand reverse pinch shot.

Rajsich called a timeout, and got the serve back on the next rally, when Longoria uncharacteristically skipped a ceiling ball off of a ceiling ball by Rajsich. Most unusual for Longoria, who often begins warming up for matches by hitting ceiling balls.

However, Rajsich couldn’t get any points herself. She did fight off two game points, but on her second time at 8-10, Rajsich hit an overhead shot that seemed unnecessary, and was a big skip. On the next rally, Longoria drove the ball to the left, and it took a big bounce off the back wall, which should be a good opportunity for a winner, but Rajsich took the ball high and hit it downward resulting in a skip. That gave the game to Longoria at 11-8.

Longoria took a 6-0 lead in game three, and it looked like that was that. But Rajsich scored four straight points to cut the lead to two at 6-4. However, a Rajsich forehand skip gave the serve back to Longoria, who then served it out from there, winning it with a drive serve to the right side that Rajsich couldn’t return.

The win is Longoria’s 6th of the season. Rajsich has finished runner up three times, with Maria Jose Vargas runner up the other three times.

In the doubles final, game one was not close, but Key and Lambert started better in game two, and had a slight advantage at 3-2. At that point, Longoria hit a ball on the left side that Key tried to play, but was blocked by Longoria, who was trying to get out of the way. There wasn’t much contact, but Longoria, who is several inches shorter than Key, was clearly in discomfort as they separated.

Indeed, Longoria bent over, and then went down on the floor and seemed to be stretching out her right leg. She took a few minutes of injury time, but play did resume. When it resumed the previous rally was ruled a hinder, although it looked like it could have been an avoidable, which perhaps would have added insult to injury.

From there Key and Lambert failed to score another point. They gave away several as Key tried unsuccessfully to short hop Salas’s Z serves in the middle of the court. That’s not a formula for success against anybody, but especially not against the reigning three time World Champions. You can’t give Longoria and Salas free points.

The LPRT’s next event is the 2016 Winter Classic in Overland Park, Kansas, February 19-21. Reminder that you can watch LPRT matches on the LPRT Livestream channel.

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

Final - Singles

1) Paola Longoria d. 3) Rhonda Rajsich, 11-3, 11-8, 11-4

Final - Doubles

1) Paola Longoria & Samantha Salas d. 2) Michelle Key & Frédérique Lambert, 15-3, 15-3

Follow the bouncing ball….

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