Sunday, May 15, 2022

Longoria wins singles, Herrera & Parrilla doubles at 2022 LPRT Sweet Caroline Open

Paola Longoria, the #1 player on the Ladies Professional Racquetball Tour (LPRT), got back in the winners’ circle Saturday, as she beat LPRT #2 Alexandra Herrera, 15-9, 13-15, 11-7, to win the 2022 LPRT Sweet Caroline Open in Greenville, South Carolina. Herrera had won the last two LPRT events, defeating Longoria in each of those finals. But Herrera did get the better of Longoria in the doubles final, as she and Jessica Parrilla beat Longoria and Samantha Salas, 15-13, 15-5.

Herrera led early in game one of the singles final, but Longoria tied the score at 6-6, and then outscored Herrera 9-3 from there to win it 15-9. Longoria hit a lot of drive Z serves to the right side, which is the left-handed Herrera’s backhand side, and it was an effective strategy.

Herrera was undaunted, as she took a 11-1 lead in game two. Yet Longoria matched that undauntedness by coming all the way back to tie the game at 13-13. However, a great Herrera forehand shot got her back in the service box and then Longoria skipped shots on the next tow rallies that undid her comeback and gave the game to Herrera, 15-13.

Game three was similar to game one, as Herrera was off the mark first by taking a 3-0 lead. Then they were tied at 4-4, from which Longoria jumped ahead to lead 10-5. Herrera fought off two match points, and got within three at 10-7 before Longoria finished it off with a backhand winner making it 11-7.

The win is Longoria’s 5th of the season. Herrera’s won twice, and Gabriela Martinez won the first tournament of the season back in August, when she defeated Herrera in the final.

The singles result wasn’t a surprise, but maybe the doubles result was, as Longoria and Salas are the current and three time International Racquetball Federation (IRF) Women’s Doubles World Champions, while Herrera and Parrilla were playing together for the first time, as neither of the usual partners were in Greenville. Herrera usually plays with Montserrat Mejia and Parrilla with Montserrat Perez, so they had in common normally playing with someone named Montserrat. Perhaps that was enough chemistry for them to gel in Greenville.

In game one of the doubles final, it looked like it was going to go the way of the World Champs, as they led 12-7. Herrera and Perez closed it to 13-10, but Longoria and Salas got the serve back at that point, and you thought that they would see the game out. Instead, they were sided out as Salas and then Longoria skipped shots.

Herrera and Parrilla got five points without giving up serve in five different ways. In order, there was a Herrera winner, an avoidable hinder, Longoria and Salas skipped shots on back to back rallies, and then Parrilla finished it out with a winner that was the 3rd shot of a rally that began with her lob serving to Salas, who hit a forehand down the line that came off the back wall setting Parrilla up for a pinch shot that won the game 15-13.

A disappointing outcome for Longoria and Salas for sure, but you didn’t think that they would go down without a fight, and believed a tie-breaker was a definite possibility. And they were neck and neck early in game two, and tied at 4-4. Then the wheels fell off the Longoria-Salas bus, as they were out scored 11-1 the rest of the way. Herrera hit winners for the last two points to close out a stunning outcome.

Herrera has more doubles success than Parrilla, but Parrilla has three wins previously on the LPRT. Perhaps ironically two of those have been at Herrera’s expense. Parrilla and Aguilar defeated Herrera and Maria Renee Rodriguez at the 2014 Battle at the Alamo, and she teamed up with Frédérique Lambert to get the better of Herrera and Mejia in Guadalajara in 2017. Parrilla’s third win came earlier this season, when she and Perez won in Denver last August.

The 2021-22 LPRT season concludes next month with the Super MAX Slam in Overland Park, Kansas, June 9-12. If you missed any of the Sweet Caroline action, check out the LPRT YouTube channel, as well as the LPRT Facebook page.

2022 LPRT Sweet Caroline Open
May 12-14, 2022 - Greenville, South Carolina

LPRT Singles - Final - Saturday

1) Paola Longoria d. 2) Alexandra Herrera, 15-9, 13-15, 11-7

LPRT Doubles - Final - Saturday

3) Alexandra Herrera & Jessica Parrilla d. 1) Paola Longoria & Samantha Salas, 15-13, 15-5

Follow the bouncing ball….

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