Saturday, October 5, 2019

Vargas into UnitedHealthcare US Open LPRT final for 2nd time

Maria Jose Vargas is into the Ladies Professional Racquetball Tour (LPRT) final at the UnitedHealthcare US Open Racquetball Championships in Minneapolis for the 2nd time in her career after defeating Samantha Salas, 15-12, 7-15, 11-1. She'll face 8 time defending champion and LPRT #1 Paola Longoria in the final Sunday, as Longoria beat Montserrat Mejia in the other semi-final, 15-5, 15-6.

Vargas started strong against Salas, as she went out to a 9-2 lead in game one. Salas called timeouts at 5-0 and 11-3, but it was only after the score was 12-3 that she was able to make her way back into the game. Salas cut the lead to 12-6, but a Vargas forehand serve return winner off a Salas drive to the right put Vargas back in the service box.

Vargas got two points via forehand winners to reach game point at 14-6. But a great forehand pinch by Salas denied Vargas's first game point, and led to six straight points, making the score 14-12.

Just when it looked like Salas was going to come all the way back and steal the game, Vargas hit a nice controlled backhand down the line serve return off a Salas drive to the left side. Vargas closed out the game on the next rally with a forehand winner.

Despite losing game one, Salas had the momentum, and carried that over into game two, as she went out to a 7-0 lead. She held the lead and extended it to 13-4. Vargas clawed a few points back before Salas got the last two points with back to back winners - a forehand and a backhand.

In the breaker, Salas served first and scored, 1-0. But she wouldn't score again, and only served once more, when they were tied at 1-1. Vargas hit a forehand winner off that second service - a drive Z to the right side - and then proceeded to run the table.

Salas must have sensed something early, as she did take a timeout at 3-1. Often the player taking a timeout will win the 1st rally after it, but not this time, as Vargas hit back to back drive serve aces to the left side to go up 5-1.

Salas skipped a forehand shot to make it 6-1. Then Vargas hit three winners to make it 9-1. Another Salas skip gave Vargas match point at 10-1, and she ended it with a backhand winner, 11-1.

Coming into Minneapolis, Salas was the #2 LPRT player and Vargas #3. That may change, as Salas was a US Open finalist last year and Vargas lost in the Round of 32, so Salas will drop some points and Vargas should get a big boost. Yet there's about a 277 point difference between them, so we're not sure if Vargas will make up all that difference.

In the other semi-final, Longoria went out to a big lead in game one at 8-1, and then 12-2 and 14-2. But Longoria skipped the first game point, and then the second one and the third one.

Mejia finally scored some points after fighting off the third game point. She won three rallies in row with winning shots: two backhands and an overhead forehand, which made the score 14-5. Longoria called timeout.

When play resumed, Longoria took the serve back with a forehand pinch shot, and won the game with another forehand shot, 15-5.

Game two started out like game one, as Longoria took a 5-0 lead. But Mejia got a point to make it 5-1, and she worked her way back into the game, tying the score at 6-6. Again, Longoria called a timeout.

Mejia hit a drive serve to the right side on the ensuing rally, and Longoria returned it cross court for a winner. She then hit Z serves to the left side - Mejia's backhand, which was a change, and an effective one, as it led to three straight points and a 9-6 advantage.

Although Mejia got a hideout at that point, she didn't score, and only served once more, as Longoria went on to win with 9 unanswered points, 15-6. She pounced on an offensive opportunity to get her 14th point, hitting a forehand cross court from centre court. Then Longoria sealed the victory at 15-6 with a backhand pinch volley from the front court.

Look to the the LPRT website, or the LPRT YouTube channel for US Open action.

2019 UnitedHealthcare US Open Racquetball Championships
Minneapolis, Minnesota - October 2-6, 2019

LPRT Singles - Semi-finals - Saturday

1) Paola Longoria d. 12) Montserrat Mejia, 15-5, 15-6
3) Maria Jose Vargas d. 2) Samantha Salas, 15-12, 7-15, 11-1

LPRT Singles - Final - Sunday

1) Paola Longoria v. 3) Maria Jose Vargas - 10 AM

Follow the bouncing ball….

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