Saturday, January 26, 2019

Longoria & Salas to face off in 2019 LPRT Sweet Caroline Open

For the 5th time this season on the Ladies Professional Racquetball Tour (LPRT) Paola Longoria, the #1 LPRT player, will play #2 Samantha Salas in a final, as they both won their respective semi-final matches at the Sweet Caroline Open in Greenville, South Carolina. Longoria had to come from a game down to defeat 4th seed Maria Jose Vargas, 6-11, 11-4, 11-5, 11-5, while Salas also had to come back from a game down to beat 6th seed Nancy Enriquez, pulling out the victory in a 5th game tie-breaker, 11-2, 7-11, 10-12, 11-0, 11-8. Both Longoria and Salas have reached the final in each of the LPRT events they’ve entered this season, but Longoria has won all four of those previous finals, as well as the last LPRT event, which Salas wasn’t at.

Vargas looked like she was going to stop that streak in game one versus Longoria, as she went up 6-0, and went on to win 11-6 by shooting lights out, and chasing down any shots Longoria left up. They were even early in game two, as well, but Vargas was doing a lot of work in the rallies: throwing herself all over the court. They were tied at 3-3, and when Longoria went up 4-3, Vargas called a timeout - probably due to fatigue. The timeout didn’t help, as Longoria cruised on to win game two, 11-4, and level the match at 1-1.

In game two, Vargas scored the first three points, but Longoria got the next seven to lead 7-3. They were back and forth for awhile then, as Vargas made it 7-5. But that’s as close as she could get, and Longoria finished the game at 11-5 with a wide angle forehand shot.

If the writing wasn’t on the wall after that, then it surely was when Longoria went up 9-0 in game four. But credit Vargas for not just rolling over, as she staged a mini-comeback after Longoria made the score 10-1 with a drive serve ace to the left side. Vargas fought off that first match point with a backhand serve return winner off a Longoria drive serve to the left. Vargas then scored four points to make the score 10-5.

There were a couple of hinder calls in that run that Longoria felt could have been penalty hinders, but when she appealed the calls they were upheld by the line judges. Thus, when Longoria took the serve back with a backhand return winner, she let out a yell. She did the same after the next rally hitting a forehand wide angle pass that proved to be the match winner.

After winning the first game of her match with Enriquez, Salas found herself down 2-1, as Enriquez won games two and three. But Salas was able to force a tie-breaker by blanking Enriquez in game four, 11-0. In the breaker, Salas had control early, leading 3-1 and 4-2, but then they were tied at 4-4.

Enriquez took the lead from there, 6-4 and 7-5, but Salas caught up at 7-7. When Salas took the lead at 8-7 on a forehand cross court shot, Enriquez called a timeout. She got the serve back when play resumed with backhand touch shot, but then made an unforced error on a backhand shot, so didn’t score. Another Enriquez error - on a forehand this time - put Salas on 9-7.

It was Salas’s turn to make an unforced error, as she put a forehand shot into the floor to give the serve back to her opponent. Enriquez took advantage, and made the score 9-8, when Salas skipped another forehand shot. Salas called a timeout, and hit a winner to get the serve back when play resumed.

Salas got to match point by scraping a ball off the right wall, and hitting it low on the front wall. An amazing shot, really. Enriquez called a timeout. During a timeout, a player makes a plan for what to do when play resumes. Things probably did not go according to Enriquez’s plan when play resumed, as she skipped a forehand serve return, as she was trying to cut off a lob Z serve that Salas hit to the right side. Indeed, it seemed that a lot of the breaker was determined more by what Enriquez did, rather than Salas, as Enriquez hit some great shots, especially some flat backhand pinch shots, but she also made too many unforced errors, while Salas was more consistent.

In doubles, Longoria and Salas will play Vargas and Natalia Mendez in the final. Longoria and Salas defeated Rhonda Rajsich and Sheryl Lotts in two close games, 15-14, 15-10, while Vargas and Mendez needed a tie-breaker to get by Alexandra Herrera and Marie Renee Rodriguez, 15-10, 9-15, 11-3. Rajsich and Lotts had two chances to win game one of their match with Longoria and Salas, but couldn’t get it done. They were also ahead in game two, 10-7, only to surrender eight unanswered points by the top seeds Longoria and Salas.

The singles final will be Sunday at 1 PM with the doubles final scheduled for 2 PM. You can watch the action live via the LPRT website, or the LPRT YouTube channel or its LiveStream channel.

2019 Sweet Caroline Open
Greenville, South Carolina - January 25-27, 2019

LPRT Singles - Semi-finals - Saturday

1 Paola Longoria d. 4 Maria Jose Vargas, 6-11, 11-4, 11-5, 11-5
2 Samantha Salas d. 6 Nancy Enriquez, 11-2, 7-11, 10-12, 11-0, 11-8

LPRT Singles - Final - Sunday

1 Paola Longoria v. 2 Samantha Salas - 1 PM

LPRT Doubles - Semi-finals - Saturday

1 Paola Longoria & Samantha Salas d. 5 Sheryl Lotts & Rhonda Rajsich, 15-14, 15-10
3 Natalia Mendez & Maria Jose Vargas d. 2 Alexandra Herrera & Maria Renee Rodriguez, 15-10, 9-15, 11-3

LPRT Doubles - Final - Sunday

1 Paola Longoria & Samantha Salas v. 3 Natalia Mendez & Maria Jose Vargas - 2 PM

Follow the bouncing ball….

No comments: