Saturday, December 14, 2019

1 v 2 in both singles & doubles finals at 2019 LPRT Christmas Classic

Number 1 will play number 2 in the final of the Ladies Professional Racquetball Tour (LPRT) 2019 Christmas Classic in Laurel, Maryland on Sunday, as LPRT #1 Paola Longoria and #2 Maria Jose Vargas both won their respective semi-finals Saturday night. Longoria beat #4 Alexandra Herrera, 15-3, 15-1, in one semi-final with Vargas defeating #6 Natalia Mendez, 15-3, 15-8, in the other.

Longoria was dominant against Herrera, although they were close early in game one. They were tied at 2-2 and only trailed by three at 6-3. They went back and forth a few times at that score before Longoria put together nine points that Herrera had no answer for.

Game two was similar but more so, as Herrera got the first point, and then Longoria got the next 15. Herrera’s a good player, but Longoria made sure she didn’t play her best by moving her around the court. The end came as Longoria hit a half lob second serve to the right - the backhand side for the left-handed Herrera - that Herrera returned down the line but high, so the ball came off the back wall allowing Longoria to hit a forehand winner back down the line.

In the other semi-final, Vargas was also dominant against Mendez, her Argentina team-mate. But Mendez tried to do what she could to throw Vargas off her rhythm. Vargas likes to play quickly, so took her timeouts and took time between rallies. It was a good strategy, but it wasn’t enough.

Five years ago today, Vargas won her 1st LPRT event: the 2014 Christmas Classic. She defeated Rhonda Rajsich in the final that year. Sunday Vargas can give herself an early Christmas present by winning her 6th LPRT event and 2nd Christmas Classic.


Mendez and Vargas held off Herrera and Carla Muñoz to win, 15-13, 9-15, 11-4. They tried to take advantage of Muñoz - the lowest ranked player of the four - by double serving her. That is, all of Mendez’s and Vargas’s serves went to Muñoz on the right side.

It looked like it might turn out differently, though, as Mendez and Vargas were up 12-6 in game one, and Herrera and Muñoz came back to 14-13 before losing 15-13. That momentum carried over to game two, and Muñoz especially took her game to a higher level, as she and Herrera won it, 15-9.

After two close games, the tie-breaker is often not close, so it proved to be in this match. They were tied 2-2, then Mendez and Vargas took the lead 6-2. Herrera and Muñoz cut it to 6-4, but then a Vargas forehand winner ended that run.

A spot of controversy came at 7-4, when Mendez’s shot did reach the front wall, as she’s clashed racquets with Vargas. The referee called no hinder, which would have given the serve back to Herrera and Muñoz, but Vargas’s swing for the ball was impeded by Muñoz’s position. Mendez saw that, which is why she also swung. Their two racquets met, which prevented a good shot from being made.

Mendez and Vargas appealed the call, and the line judges overturned the referee’s call of no hinder. Thus, Vargas served again at 7-4. From our vantage point, a hinder was the appropriate call, because Muñoz’s position did impede Vargas.

Vargas hit a winner on the next rally to make it 8-4. Then Muñoz got handcuffed at the back, and it was 9-4. She and Herrera called a timeout, but that only delayed the end, as Mendez hit a winner to make it 10-4, and Vargas ended it with a winning forehand pinch shot.

Mendez and Vargas will play Longoria and Samantha Salas in Sunday’s doubles final, as Longoria and Salas defeated Nancy Enriquez and Jessica Parrilla, 15-6, 15-7. The big talking point of that match came early in game one, when Enriquez hit a lob serve on the right side to Salas, who took it early and shoulder high to go cross court.

Not a bad play, except the ball slammed into Enriquez’s head from a short distance. Ouch.

Understandably, Enriquez needed some injury time to collect herself. When play resumed, a hinder was given, so Enriquez served again at 1-3. Looking at the replay, it seemed Enriquez’s position was taking away the cross court shot from Salas, so an avoidable or penalty hinder could have been called. But would have been adding insult to injury, literally.

Enriquez and Parrilla seemed to take some momentum from Enriquez’s recovery, as they drew level with Longoria and Salas at 4-4. But that momentum was short lived, as Longoria and Salas again went out into the lead at 9-4. They maintained a comfortable lead to win 15-7.

Longoria and Salas continued to carry the play in the second game, going out to a 10-2 lead. Enriquez and Parrilla did get some points back close to the end, but the outcome was not in doubt, as Longoria and Salas won 15-7.

Watch the finals live via the LPRT YouTube channel or the LPRT website (click “LPRT Live” at the top of the page). The singles final will be noon Sunday with the doubles final to follow at 1 PM. All times eastern.

2019 LPRT Christmas Classic, December 13-15, 2019
Laurel, Maryland

Semi-finals - Saturday

1) Paola Longoria d. 4) Alexandra Herrera, 15-3, 15-1
2) Maria Jose Vargas d. 6) Natalia Mendez, 15-3, 15-8

Final - Sunday

1) Paola Longoria v. 2) Maria Jose Vargas - Noon

Doubles - Semi-finals - Saturday

1) Paola Longoria & Samantha Salas d. 4) Nancy Enriquez & Jessica Parrilla, 15-6, 15-7
2) Natalia Mendez & Maria Jose Vargas d. 3) Alexandra Herrera & Carla Muñoz, 15-13, 9-15, 11-4

Doubles - Final - Sunday

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

Follow the bouncing ball….

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