Saturday, August 24, 2019

Longoria to play Vargas in LPRT San Luis Potosi final

Paola Longoria is into the final of the tournament bearing her name, as she defeated Montserrat Mejia, 15-13, 15-5, in the semi-finals of the 2019 Ladies Professional Racquetball Tour (LPRT) Paola Longoria Experience in San Luis Potosi, Mexico. Longoria will play 3rd seed Maria Jose Vargas in the final on Sunday after Vargas upset 2nd seed Samantha Salas in three games, 15-6, 13-15, 11-9. Sunday’s final will be a re-match of the Women’s Singles gold medal match at the 2019 Pan American Games held earlier this month in Lima, Peru, where Longoria won gold for the 3rd consecutive Pan Am Games.

While Longoria and Mejia were close early, it was Mejia who took the lead into the mid-game at 7-4. However, Longoria got the serve back, and scored the next six points on as many rallies. But Mejia was able to get the serve back trailing 10-7, and she scored a couple of points to close within one at 10-9. Longoria went up 12-9, but lost serve when she skipped a forehand shot from the left side of the court. She hit another skip on Mejia’s serve, making the score 12-10.

Mejia then scored three points on consecutive rallies to take the lead, 13-12. Her 13th point came off a great forehand reverse pinch in the front court. But Longoria regained serve with a forehand pinch of her own. She was able to close out the game with three winners, two forehands and a backhand down the line shot that ended it on her first game point that made it 15-13.

The second game wasn’t close. Longoria led 3-0, and the closest Mejia got after that was at 4-2. Longoria then led 12-2, and ended it at 15-5 on her 2nd match point with a drive serve ace to the right side.

In the other semi-final, Vargas held on to defeat Salas in three games. After being down 3-1 in game one, Vargas scored seven unanswered points to take control of the game at 8-3. Salas closed the gap to three at 8-5, but that was all she could do as Vargas went on to win it, 15-6. In game two, it was Salas who took control early on, as she was up 6-4, and then extended that lead to 13-4.

But Vargas kept working, and came all the way back to tie Salas at 13-13. Salas used both her timeouts to try to halt Vargas’s momentum, but to no avail. At 13-13, Vargas seemed to have hit a drive serve short, but Salas appealed that the serve actually skipped. The line judges agreed, so the short call was overturned, and Salas got the serve back. The next two rallies ended in hinders, the second of which Salas thought was an avoidable against Vargas, but she lost that appeal.

However, Salas got her 14th point on the next rally, as Vargas skipped a backhand return of Salas’s drive serve to the left side. The first game point was a long rally that ended with the ball cracking out at the back wall, when it looked like Vargas was going to have a set up. Thus, Salas won game two, 15-13, to force a tie-breaker.

In the breaker, they were close the entire game with neither player leading by more than two points. They went back and forth with the lead. Vargas was up 3-1. Then Salas up 5-3. Vargas 6-5. Salas 8-6 and 9-7. Then they tied at 9-9, as Vargas hit a drive serve to the left for an ace. Salas called a timeout, and got the serve back on the next rally with a forehand winner. But she skipped a forehand set up, so didn’t score any points. Again they exchanged sideouts.

Vargas broke the tie with a backhand winner to make it 10-9. But a Salas forehand cross court shot fended off the first match point. Vargas got the serve right back though, as she hit a forehand to the right side, although she had to appeal to win the rally. On her 2nd match point, Vargas drove serve to the left, and the ball cracked out just over the short line for an ace. Salas appealed, but the line judges upheld the referee’s call, sending Vargas into the first final of the 2019-20 LPRT season. Winning the match on an ace was appropriate, as several aces were hit in the match by both players.

Salas was in 9 of the 10 LPRT finals last season, making it in each of the tournaments she played, but she misses out on the first final this season.


Salas is in the doubles final, as she and Longoria defeated Brenda Laime and Masiel Rivera, 15-3, 15-13. After getting blown out in game one, Laime and Rivera played very well in game two, and were close to pushing it to a breaker. They tied it at 10-10, and then went ahead 12-10, so the Longoria and Salas, Pan Am Games champions, called a timeout. When play resumed, Longoria hit a backhand pinch winner off Rivera’s drive Z serve. But they only scored one point, so Laime and Rivera got the serve back with the lead at 12-11. A Salas skip made it 13-11, but she hit a winning cross court shot on the next rally. Then another serve return winner by Longoria put her side back in the service box.

An avoidable hinder call against Rivera made the score 13-12 with Salas serving, so Laime and Rivera called a timeout. Longoria hit another winner to tie the game 13-13. Salas got them to match point with a forehand cross court from the front court, but a Laime winner denied Longoria and Salas their first match point opportunity. But Longoria was still to serve, and she hit a drive serve that cracked off the left wall for an ace to end the game, 15-13, and win the match in two straight.

Mejia and Alexandra Herrera will face Longoria and Salas in the doubles final on Sunday, as they took out the 2nd seeds Vargas and Natalia Mendez in two close games, 15-12, 15-13. Both games were tight throughout, and tied late. In game one, they were tied 12-12. Mendez and Vargas had four chances to score, but couldn’t, as Herrera and Mejia closed it out. The game winner came when Herrera hit a down the line shot from the front court that we thought was going to be a pinch, as the pinch shot is the left-hander’s favorite, but she surprised us and perhaps Mendez too, who was playing on the left side.

They were tied 13-13 in game two, and again Mendez and Vargas had chances to score, but didn’t. They had two chances after stopping Herrera and Mejia’s first match point, when Mendez hit a backhand winner. But Herrera hit a forehand winner, and Mejia followed that up with a great touch backhand reverse shot that gave her side the serve back.

On their second match point, Mejia hit herself with the ball, putting her side half down. A hinder call, Mejia served again, and the rallied ended when Mendez put a forehand into the floor, as she was covering the right side for her partner. Vargas had moved up into the center to hit a forehand shot down the right side that Mejia just bumped back to the front wall. That gave Mendez an opportunity, and a bit of time, so she may have been indecisive about what shot to hit, and that led to the skip.

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

2019 Paola Longoria Experience
San Luis Potosi, Mexico, August 23-25, 2019

LPRT Singles - Semi-finals - Saturday

1 Paola Longoria d. 12 Montserrat Mejia, 15-13, 15-5
3 Maria Jose Vargas d. 2 Samantha Salas, 15-6, 13-15, 11-9

LPRT Singles - Final - Sunday

1 Paola Longoria v. 3 Maria Jose Vargas - Noon

LPRT Doubles - Semi-finals - Saturday

1 Paola Longoria & Samantha Salas d. 4 Brenda Laime & Masiel Rivera, 15-3, 15-13
3 Alexandra Herrera & Montserrat Mejia d. 2 Natalia Mendez & Maria Jose Vargas, 15-12, 15-13

LPRT Doubles - Final - Sunday

1 Paola Longoria & Samantha Salas v. 3 Alexandra Herrera & Montserrat Mejia - 1 PM

Follow the bouncing ball….

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