Sunday, November 24, 2019

Longoria wins singles & doubles at 2019 LPRT Turkey Shoot Open

Paola Longoria, the #1st player on the Ladies Professional Racquetball Tour (LPRT), won twice Sunday in both the singles and doubles finals of the 2019 LPRT Turkey Shoot Open in Lombard, Illinois. She handily defeated Montserrat Mejia in the singles final, 15-2, 15-6, and then teamed up with Samantha Salas to defeat Mejia and Alexandra Herrera, 4-15, 15-10, 11-7, in the doubles final. Longoria remains undefeated in singles this season, and their doubles win is a measure of revenge for Longoria and Salas, who lost to Mejia and Herrera in the US Open final last month.

Mejia was playing in her first LPRT singles final, and got off to a good start by scoring the first two points of the game. However, those were the only points she’d get, as Longoria came back with 15 unanswered points. She went from 3-2 to 12-2 without giving up serve. Strangely, Mejia didn’t call timeout at all in game one.

Game two began the same way, as Mejia took the lead at 3-0 and 5-1. Then Longoria took a timeout, because that’s what you do when the game is going against you. When play resumed, Longoria got a sideout, and then began scoring points. She got to 6-5, and then took another timeout, and spent that period attending to her left knee. There didn’t seem to be an incident that resulted in her injurying it, and after she moved it around and walked on it a bit, Longoria was good to continue the match.

And continue she did, as Longoria pushed on to win game two 15-6. So from that timeout, when she was down 5-1, she outscored Mejia 14-1. That’s the kind of dominance Longoria had in the final, and really on the LPRT for the past decade.

Another strange aspect of the match was that Mejia called a timeout - her first TO of the match - when the score was 14-6 in game two. Can you say “too late?” Sure, you can. But notably, Mejia won the rally after the timeout, although she didn’t score any points, as Longoria got immediately got a sideout in response.

In the doubles final, Herrera and Mejia were dominant in game one. Longoria and Salas used their timeouts to try to derail the H & M train, but to no avail, as the young team took game one, 15-4. They started game two strongly also, as Herrera and Mejia took a 7-0 lead.

But Longoria and Salas are three time LPRT US Open Doubles Champions and three time International Racquetball Federation (IRF) Women’s Doubles Champions for a reason, and they responded to the challenge posed by the young team by coming back to tie game two at 8-8. One thing they did in making that come back was to have Salas serve lobs into the middle - between the lefty-righty team of Herrera and Mejia. Often those serves were taken by Mejia who drove the ball to the right side, but Salas was there to hit a winner, which she did a lot. An alternative return would be to try to drive the ball back up the middle, rather than drive it to one of the sides, which is where the Longoria and Salas were positioned. But Herrera and Mejia never tried that.

Longoria and Salas pushed on to lead 12-8, and they went on to win game two 15-10, forcing a tie-breaker.

In the breaker, Herrera and Mejia again took the early lead at 4-1, but again they weren’t able to hold it, as Longoria and Salas tied it at 4-4. Longoria then cost her side a point, as she was demonstrably upset by the referee’s call, which resulted in a technical, and a loss of point, because Longoria had been warned earlier in the match for not being so upset about referee’s calls. In this instance, a hinder was called as Longoria was impeding Herrera getting to a ball that was playable, and a replay seemed like the correct call. But Longoria seemed to think there was no hinder. However, they didn’t appeal the hinder call, which could have been done even after the technical was assessed (technicals cannot be appealed).

However, that incident was just a blip on Longoria and Salas’s run from 1-4 down to a 9-4 lead. They held Herrera and Mejia off the scoreboard on four side in service opportunities. Herrera and Mejia did put together three straight points on consecutive rallies late in the game to make it 9-7. But a Longoria and Salas timeout at that point stopped that run, as they got a side out when play resumed.

With serve back, Longoria put her team on game point with a flat forehand pinch shot, 10-7. She had an opportunity to end it on the next rally, as Longoria stood in the front court with a seemingly easy forehand shot, but she skipped the ball. But that made it half down, so they had a second match point. Longoria lob served into the middle of her opponents, and the ensuing rally ended when Herrera skipped a forehand shot that gave the game and match to Longoria and Salas.

The LPRT will next be in action at their traditional Christmas Classic in Laurel, Maryland, December 13-15. If you missed any of the LPRT Turkey Shoot action you can watch it (or watch it again) via the LPRT YouTube channel.

2019 LPRT Turkey Shoot, November 21-24, 2019
Lombard, Illinois

Final - Sunday

1) Paola Longoria d. 10) Montserrat Mejia, 15-2, 15-6

Doubles - Final - Sunday

1) Paola Longoria & Samantha Salas d. 3) Alexandra Herrera & Montserrat Mejia, 4-15, 15-10, 11-7

Follow the bouncing ball….

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