Sunday, March 31, 2019

Vargas wins 2019 LPRT Bolivia Open

Maria Jose Vargas, the 3rd seed, won the 2019 Ladies Professional Racquetball Tour (LPRT) American Iris Bolivia Open in Cochabamba, Bolivia by defeating the top seed Samantha Salas in a hard fought five game final, 11-8, 10-12, 11-13, 11-3, 11-9. The victory is Vargas’s 4th LPRT title, and first since March 2018, when she won the Peachtree Open.

Vargas won the first game, 11-8, but Salas stormed out to a 7-0 lead in game two helped by four ace drive serves: 3 to the right and 1 to the left. Yet Vargas slowly worked her way back into that game and tied it at 8-8. Salas called a timeout at that point, and got the serve back with a backhand winner. Salas went ahead 9-8 with a forehand to the right side, but Vargas got the serve back and tied the game 9-9 with an ace drive serve to the left side. A great forehand shot made it 10-9.

On the next rally, Vargas went to the floor beside the right wall to play a ball, and her shot came back to the right side, coming off the back wall for a set up for Salas, who held up. An avoidable was called, but it looked like Vargas may have been out of the way the time the ball came off the back wall, so she appealed the call. However, the referee’s call was upheld, and Salas got the serve back. She promptly tied the game at 10-10 with a forehand winner.

But the next rally was long, and Salas ended it with a forehand skip. Vargas called a timeout, and hit a drive serve to the right side when play resumed. Salas had the answer for that, as she hit a forehand wide angle pass return for a winner. A Salas backhand winner got her to game point, 11-10, and then she won it with a drive serve - appropriately - to the right that led to another winner, as Vargas skipped the return, ending it at 12-10.

In game three, Salas again had the early lead at 3-0. But that was the largest difference between the players in that game, as Vargas came back to tie it 3-3, and then they were never more than two points apart. They were tied at 4, 6, 8, 10 and 11, as they exchanged the lead four times.

Vargas had game point at 10-8. But Salas forced her into skipping a forehand shot. Salas then hit a drive serve to the right that came off the side wall, and Vargas crushed it cross court, except Salas was in the way, so it hit Salas hard, and it was called an avoidable hinder. She needed a couple of moments to compose herself, and didn’t protest the avoidable call.

How did Salas react to being hit? She hit a forehand winner to get the serve back - denying Vargas a second game point. Then she used a lob Z serve to the right to score to two points and tie the game 10-10.

It took 15 more rallies to reach the end of the game, as the players continued to battle back and forth. Vargas held off three game points by Salas: one at 11-10 and two at 12-11. But on her 4th game point, Salas won it, as she hit a backhand cross court that got caught in the back right corner, so Vargas was only able to try unsuccessfully to return it between her legs facing backwards.

Nonetheless, Vargas was undaunted in game four. They were back and forth early in the game, as they tied it at 3-3. But then Vargas scored seven points on 8 rallies (one hinder) to make it 10-3. Salas had called a time out at 3-3 and again at 8-3 but to no avail. There was an exchange of sideouts, as Salas stopped Vargas’s first game point, but couldn’t score herself. Vargas ended game four, 11-3, with a drive serve to the left side that Salas could get her racquet on, but couldn’t return.

Game five was like game three, as Salas went out to a lead early, 4-0, but Vargas tied it at 4-4. Salas called a timeout. Ten rallies later, and they were still tied but at 5-5. Vargas broke the tie to lead 6-5, but Salas responded with three points of her own to lead 8-6. Vargas called timeout.

When play resumed, Vargas got the serve back when Salas skipped a backhand pinch shot. She took advantage and scored three straight points to lead 9-8. But Salas tied it 9-9. Vargas regained the serve with a forehand cross court shot. She got her first match point when she ended a long rally with a backhand pinch shot to make it 10-9.

Salas hit a backhand winner to stop Vargas’s first match point. But she couldn’t tie the game, as Vargas hit a great forehand pinch shot to get the serve back. Vargas won it on her second match point, as Salas skipped a backhand shot. It was a sad end to a great match, and Salas seemed disappointed in herself as it looked like she wanted to get off the court as soon as possible, and almost left it without shaking hands with Vargas.

The next LPRT event will be the Battle at the Alamo in San Antonio, Texas, April 26-28. If missed the Bolivia final live, you can watch it - and believe us, you DO want to watch it - via the LPRT website, or the LPRT YouTube channel or its LiveStream channel.

2019 LPRT Open Bolivia American Iris
Cochabamba, Bolivia - March 27-31, 2019

LPRT Singles - Final - Sunday

3 Maria Jose Vargas d. 1 Samantha Salas, 11-8, 10-12, 11-13, 11-3, 11-9

Follow the bouncing ball….

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