Sunday, October 7, 2018

Longoria wins 9th US Open at 2018 UnitedHealthcare US Open

Paola Longoria won her 9th US Open Ladies Professional Racquetball Tour (LPRT) title Sunday at the 2018 UnitedHeathcare US Open Racquetball Championships in Minneapolis by defeating Samantha Salas, 11-9, 11-2, 11-5. Longoria has been in the last 11 US Open women's pro finals and won 9 of them, including two against Salas. They also played in the 2016 final.

It looked like a different outcome would happen in game one, although Longoria did get off to a good start by going up 6-2 on Salas. But Salas kept fighting, and slowly caught up and then passed Longoria, getting a 9-6 lead on the defending champion. So Longoria called a timeout.

When play resumed, Longoria hit a backhand pinch return winner off Salas's drive Z serve to the left side. That led to two Longoria points, and then Salas called a timeout still leading 9-8.

But Salas's timeout was not as successful as Longoria's, as Longoria tied the game on the next rally with a forehand winner. A forehand pinch shot got Longoria to game point at 10-9, and she won it on the next rally by hitting a forehand from the back left corner down the left side.

Game two was all Longoria, as she went up 7-0, and won 11-2. They did go back and forth after that 7-0 lead, which produced Salas's two points, but after a Longoria timeout she came back in and won four consecutive rallies to win the game with the last two points coming off Salas backhand skip shots.

Being down 0-2 to the #1 player may seem like a bad place to be, and generally it is, but Salas's two wins over Longoria in the last 18 months on tour were both after being down 0-2. Strange but true.

However, in game three Longoria took a 5-1 lead. Although Salas got to within one at 6-5, she never led in the game. Salas made two unforced errors at 6-5 that could have made a difference, but you can't afford to make unforced errors against Longoria. Three Salas skips took Longoria from a 6-5 lead to 9-5.

Salas did stop Longoria there with a forehand winner, but Longoria got the serve back with a backhand winner. A long rally ensued including back and forth ceiling balls. It ended when Salas skipped a backhand shot, and she bent over after that seemingly acknowledging that was effectively the end, although the score was 10-5.

The end did come on the next rally when Longoria hit a backhand back from the middle back to the left side for a winner, making her US Open champion once again.

In winning her 9 titles, Longoria has defeated 5 opponents: Salas twice, Rhonda Rajsich four times, and Cheryl Gudinas, Maria Jose Vargas and Frédérique Lambert once each. Gudinas, who Longoria beat for her first US Open title, was the referee of today's final.

The LPRT final can be viewed again via the LPRT YouTube channel.

2018 UnitedHealthcare US Open
Minneapolis, Minnesota - October 3-7, 2018

LPRT Singles - Final - Sunday

1) Paola Longoria d. 3) Samantha Salas, 11-9, 11-2, 11-5

Follow the bouncing ball….

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