Saturday, May 1, 2021

Longoria & Herrera to face off in both finals Sunday at the 2021 LPRT Sweet Caroline Open

Number 1 will play number 2 Sunday in the final of the Ladies Professional Racquetball Tour (LPRT) Sweet Caroline Open in Greenville, South Carolina, where Paola Longoria, the #1 LPRT player, will take on 2nd seed Alexandra Herrera. The two Mexican players won their respective semi-final matches on Saturday in two straight games. Longoria and Herrera will meet for the 15th time on the LPRT Sunday, and Longoria has won the previous 14 times.

Longoria defeated 13th seed Montserrat Mejia, 15-4, 15-7, in one semi, while Herrera beat 6th seed Natalia Mendez, 15-6, 15-8, in the other.

Mejia has beaten Longoria, although not on the LPRT. Thus, we expected more from their semi-final. However, Longoria rolled through game one, letting Mejia serve only three times as she went up 13-1.

Mejia called her second timeout at that point, and managed to get a few points before Longoria closed out game one, 15-4. That bit of momentum helped to set the scene for game two, which unfolded much slower.

How much slower? Consider that after 21 rallies in game two, the score was 3-3. After 21 rallies in game one, the score was 13-1.

Mejia did lead 3-0 early in game two, and even once Longoria tied it at 3-3 and went ahead 7-3, Mejia stayed relatively close until it was 10-7. After that Longoria held Mejia off the board through three service opportunities while getting the last five points to finish the game and match.

Longoria and Herrera will also face each other in the doubles final. Longoria and Samantha Salas are the top seeds, and they advanced to the final with a win over 4th seeds Gabriela Martinez and Marie Renee Rodriguez, 11-15, 15-7, 11-9, in the semi-finals. In the other semi, Herrera and Mejia beat Kelani Lawrence and Hollie Scott, 15-5, 15-11.

Longoria and Salas dropped the first game of a doubles match for the second straight time, and for the same reason: their opponents were on fire. Martinez and Rodriguez played very well in game one, taking leads of 5-1, 10-3 and 14-7, and held on to win 15-11.

They started well in game two also, taking a 4-0 lead. But then Longoria and Salas came back and tied it at 4-4 and 5-5 before pushing on to lead 10-5. Martinez and Rodriguez only got two more points before Longoria and Salas closed it out, 15-7, to force a tie-breaker.

In the breaker, they were back and forth early. Longoria and Salas ahead 2-0. Then Martinez and Rodriguez were up 3-2. It was 5-4 for Longoria and Salas, who then pressed on to 9-4. Martinez and Rodriguez then called their 2nd timeout.

A Martinez serve return winner got her side the serve back, and they scored five consecutive points to tie it 9-9. They lost serve with two unfortunate plays. Martinez was caught in center court and tried to keep the ball in play by hitting it to the back wall, but instead hit it out of play at 9-8. Then after Salas skipped a shot to make it 9-9, Longoria ended a scramble rally by putting the ball over to the right side, and where it hugged the wall so much Rodriguez couldn’t get her racquet on it.

With the serve back, Salas hit a drive serve that came off the right side wall, and in hitting it straight back to the front wall, Rodriguez hit Salas with the ball, leading the referee to call a penalty hinder (avoidable) against Salas. Salas appealed that it should only be a replay hinder, but the line judges agreed with the referee’s call.

That was only delaying the end, though, as Longoria and Salas got the final two points on the next two rallies. First, Longoria hit a solid forehand winner on the next rally, then Salas hit a front court winner, which ended another scramble rally with Martinez and Rodriguez putting in maximum effort to win the rally. However, it wasn’t enough on Saturday night.

Herrera and Mejia have defeated Longoria and Salas on tour, doing so three times, most notably in the final of the 2019 US Open. But they’ve lost more often, as Longoria and Salas have 13 wins over Herrera and Mejia, including their last three meetings. It should be a great final.

You can watch the LPRT Sweet Caroline Open 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 1 PM Sunday with the doubles final to follow at 2 PM. All times eastern. 

2021 LPRT Sweet Caroline Open, April 30-May 2, 2021 

Greenville, South Carolina 

Semi-finals - Saturday 

1) Paola Longoria d. 13) Montserrat Mejia, 15-4, 15-7
2) Alexandra Herrera d. 6) Natalia Mendez. 15-6, 15-8

Final - Sunday 

1) Paola Longoria v. 2) Alexandra Herrera - 1 PM

Doubles - Semi-finals - Saturday 

1) Paola Longoria & Samantha Salas v. 4) Gabriela Martinez & Maria Renee Rodriguez, 11-15, 15-7, 11-9
3) Alexandra Herrera & Montserrat Mejia d. 10) Kelani Lawrence & Hollie Scott, 15-5, 15-11

Doubles - Final - Saturday 

1) Paola Longoria & Samantha Salas v. 3) Alexandra Herrera & Montserrat Mejia - 2 PM

 Follow the bouncing ball….

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