Saturday, May 4, 2019

Longoria & Salas to face off in final at 2019 LPRT Syosset Open

Paola Longoria, the #1 player on the Ladies Professional Racquetball Tour (LPRT), needed five games to defeat long time rival Rhonda Rajsich in the semi-finals of the 2019 Syosset Open in Syosset, New York, as Rajsich won the first two games and then Longoria took the next three, winning 4-15, 13-15, 11-2, 11-3, 11-1. Longoria will play Samantha Salas in the final Sunday, as Salas, the LPRT’s #2 player, beat LPRT #3 Maria Jose Vargas in the other semi, 11-5, 11-4, 11-8.

After losing the first game to Rajsich, Longoria looked like she was going to level their match at 1-1, as she was up 10-4 in game two. However, Rajsich - characteristically - didn’t quit, and came all the way back to tie Longoria at 10-10, and then went up 11-10. But a Longoria forehand winner got her the serve back.

Rajsich gifted Longoria a point that tied the game at 11-11, and then Longoria got her 4th game point at 12-11. But it was Rajsich’s turn to hit a forehand winner to prevent game point. She tied the game with a backhand cross court shot from the front court. Longoria took the serve back with a backhand pinch shot, and then she took the lead 13-12. But Longoria’s 5th game point went by, as she couldn’t pick a Rajsich ceiling ball off the left wall. It was a difficult chance.

Then there was a moment of controversy, as Rajsich hit a serve that the referee called good and a point for Rajsich. However, Longoria appealed that the serve was short, and she won the appeal, so it was 2nd serve for Rajsich. Yet Rajsich didn’t seem to be aware of Longoria’s appeal and its result, as she lined up to drive serve again, and served it short.

Rajsich went to hit her 2nd serve, but she was then informed that she had just hit her 2nd serve, which was news to her. This was a crucial call, as Longoria was ahead 13-12, so getting the serve back meant she was again on game point - for the 6th time. In our opinion, the referee was at fault for not clearly informing Rajsich that she was on 2nd serve. In the referee’s defense, there doesn’t seem to be a microphone into the court, so communication with the players is not ideal.

Nonetheless, it seemed harsh to take the serve away from Rajsich for what seemed to be a miscommunication error by the referee. But perhaps justice was served, as Longoria skipped a forehand shot on the ensuing rally. With the serve back, Rajsich won three consecutive rallies to take game two, 15-13. She ended it with an ace serve that Longoria unsuccessfully appealed.

Rajsich carried that momentum over into game three, as she scored the first two points to lead 2-0. But that was as much as she got, as Longoria ran off 11 unanswered points to win 11-2. It was more of the same in game four, as Longoria took a 7-0 lead. Rajsich then broke Longoria’s streak of 18 straight points, but was only able to score three points before Longoria ended the game, 11-3.

In the tie-breaker, Longoria also went out to a 7-0 lead. Rajsich served six times while Longoria was piling up those points, but she couldn’t score. At that point, it was a long way back, and Longoria was in a groove. She kept the pressure on Rajsich, and won the match on her first match point opportunity with a backhand pinch shot that made it 11-1.

In contrast, Salas led almost the entire match against Vargas, who really only made it close near the end of the third game, when she got within one at 9-8. But Salas didn’t let Vargas get any closer.

The final will be Sunday at noon. You can watch the action live via the LPRT website, or the LPRT YouTube channel or the LPRT LiveStream channel.

2019 Syosset Open
Syosset, New York - May 2-5, 2019

LPRT Singles - Semi-finals - Saturday

1 Paola Longoria d. 5 Rhonda Rajsich, 4-11, 13-15, 11-2, 11-3, 11-1
2 Samantha Salas d. 3 Maria Jose Vargas, 11-5, 11-4, 11-8

LPRT Singles - Final - Sunday

1 Paola Longoria v. 2 Samantha Salas - Noon

Follow the bouncing ball….

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