Saturday, June 9, 2018

Longoria & Lambert in the 2018 LPRT final

It'll be #1 versus #2 Sunday in the final of the Ladies Professional Racquetball Tour (LPRT’s) Classic in Overland Park, Kansas, when LPRT #1 Paola Longoria takes on #2 Frédérique Lambert. They both won their respective semi-finals in three straight games. Longoria defeated her doubles partner, Samantha Salas, 11-5, 11-1, 11-8, and Lambert beat Nancy Enriquez, 11-8, 11-7, 11-4.

Salas had beaten Longoria the last time they played on the LPRT, but today Longoria seemed like she wanted to let Salas and everyone else know who the #1 player is. But wasn't an easy start to the match, or a quick one, as Salas had early leads at 2-0 and 4-3. After 27 rallies, they were tied 4-4.

Longoria broke that tie with a backhand winner, and Salas called timeout. She got the serve back when Longoria skipped a forehand pinch shot. But Salas couldn't score herself, so Longoria continued to add up the points, getting to 10-4 before Salas got her next point, which was her last of the game, as Longoria won it 11-5.

Game two was all Longoria, as she took a 6-0 lead, and won 11-1. All good right? Yes, but Salas's two wins over Longoria on tour came after she was down two games, and they were both within the last year: 12 months ago in Chihuahua, Mexico as well as 2 months ago in San Antonio.

There was a hint that Salas might do the same thing on Saturday, as she was up 5-1 in game three. However, Longoria caught up at 6-6, and then went ahead to 9-6. Salas took her turn in coming back, and got within one at 9-8 with a drive serve ace to the right side.

But she gave up the serve after skipping a backhand shot. They traded sideouts, and when Longoria next got the serve, she called timeout. That proved to be wise, as Longoria got her 10th point with a backhand pinch shot, and then won it with a forehand winner. That ended the game, 11-8, and match in three straight games.

Lambert and Enriquez displayed how crucial serving is to racquetball, especially in game one. They were close all the way, and Enriquez led early, 5-2, and late on at 8-6. She got that early lead with three aces and a service winner. For her part, Lambert came back with three aces. Her fourth was a drive Z serve to the right that put Lambert on game point at 10-8. A forehand winner ended the game, 11-8, for Lambert.

They were close again early in game two with Enriquez always leading until a 4-4 tie. From there, Lambert went ahead, and she stayed ahead, going to win 11-7, when Enriquez skipped a forehand return off another drive Z to the right side. But the point game came on the rally before that, when the ball came into the Lambert's body chest high, jamming her. Yet she managed to hit a backhand reverse pinch shot for a winner. Lambert really just directed the ball over to the front right corner.

Game three was over quickly, as Lambert went up 9-0. Enriquez did keep fighting, and was able to score a few points before Lambert closed it out, 11-4, with a drive serve ace to the left side.

So, it will be Longoria versus Lambert in the singles final Sunday, but Longoria got the better of Lambert in the doubles semi-finals, as Longoria and Salas beat Lambert and Jen Saunders, 15-3, 15-2. They'll play Natalia Mendez and Maria Jose Vargas in the final, as Mendez and Vargas won the other semi by defeating Masiel Rivera and Adriana Riveros, 15-5, 15-13.

The finals are Sunday morning at 11 AM and noon - singles and doubles, respectively, and you can see them live via the LPRT LiveStream channel.

2018 LPRT The Classic, June 8-10, 2018
Overland Park, Kansas


1) Paola Longoria d. 5) Samantha Salas, 11-5, 11-1, 11-8
2) Frédérique Lambert d. 6) Nancy Enriquez, 11-8, 11-7, 11-4

Final - Sunday

1) Paola Longoria v. 2) Frédérique Lambert - 11 AM

Doubles - Semi-finals

1) Paola Longoria & Samantha Salas d. 5) Frédérique Lambert & Jen Saunders, 15-3, 15-2
3) Natalia Mendez & Maria Jose Vargas d. 2) Masiel Rivera & Adriana Riveros, 15-5, 15-13

Doubles - Final - Sunday

1) Paola Longoria & Samantha Salas v. 3) Natalia Mendez & Maria Jose Vargas - Noon

Follow the bouncing ball….

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