Sunday, June 12, 2022

Longoria, Herrera & Manilla win at 2022 LPRT Super Max Slam

Paola Longoria defeated Montserrat Mejia, 15-14, 15-10, to win the Ladies Professional Racquetball Tour (LPRT) Super Max Slam in Overland Park, Kansas in what was a rematch of last year’s final that Mejia won. Last year’s win was Mejia’s first LPRT title, while today’s win was Longoria’s 107th, and further solidified her as the LPRT’s #1 player for an 11th straight season and 13th time overall.

In the doubles final, Alexandra Herrera and Erika Manilla defeated Gabriela Martinez and Maria Renee Rodriguez in two straight games, 15-12, 15-14.

Longoria led most of the way in game one, and when she was up 7-1, it seemed that she might steam roll Mejia. But that was not the case, as Mejia came back and got within one at 7-6 and kept it close from there.

Longoria did go up 13-9 and then 14-10 on Mejia, but for the longest time she couldn’t get the last point. After two game point opportunities went by Longoria took a timeout prior to serving for her third game point. Yet Mejia again denied her by hitting a nice touch backhand shot.

That led to three Mejia winners on consecutive rallies to get her within one at 14-13. Longoria won the next rally, despite two dives by a Mejia the second of which was unsuccessful in keeping the ball in play.

On her fourth game point, Longoria skipped a forehand shot, which was an uncommon unforced error by the LPRT #1, who made more than a few such errors in game one. They exchanged sideouts again - Mejia fighting off Longoria’s fifth game point with a backhand cross court serve return off a drive serve to the left side. That led to a point for Mejia, as she drove serve to the right side and Longoria skipped the forehand return to make it 14-14.

Mejia hit a drive Z serve to the left side on the next rally, which was the serve she used almost exclusively late in game one. This time the ball came off the side wall into the middle of the court, and Longoria’s serve return hit Mejia, who was directly between the ball and the front wall. The referee called an avoidable hinder, which put Longoria back in the service box. Mejia did appeal, but the line judges agreed with the referee’s call.

The sixth time proved to be a charm for Longoria, as she won game one on her sixth game point when Mejia skipped a backhand shot, making the final 15-14.

They were close in game two with ties at 4-4, 7-7 and 10-10. That last tie came after a Longoria timeout following a six rally exchange of sideouts. She got two more points to lead 12-10, and Mejia called a timeout.

Mejia got the serve back after play resumed following her timeout, but she didn’t score as a Longoria forehand winner got her the serve back. Two points followed on consecutive rallies, which put Longoria on match point at 14-10.

As in game one, Mejia staved off Longoria’s match point, but a great backhand pinch by Longoria prevented Mejia from scoring and put Longoria into the service box for her second match point. She converted that with a forehand pinch winner, winning game two 15-10 and the match in two straight games.

In doubles, Herrera and Manilla led early in game one versus Martinez and Rodriguez at 5-1. But then Martinez and Rodriguez put together a run and won the mid-game to take a 12-8 lead. However, they stalled there, as Herrera and Manilla won the last seven points of the game to take it, 15-12.

In game two, Martinez and Rodriguez led the whole way, including at 7-2, 10-5 and 14-10. Herrera and Manilla called a timeout at 14-10, and won the next two rallies to get the serve back. They scored two points to get within two at 14-12 before giving the serve back to Martinez and Rodriguez.

But the third and fourth game points went by the boards, as Martinez and Rodriguez again couldn’t get the point they needed to force a tie-breaker. They called a timeout after Herrera and Manilla got within one at 14-13.

Martinez hit a winning forehand kill shot to put Herrera and Manilla half down. Herrera hit a forehand pinch winner to tie it at 14-14, and Manilla won them the match on the next rally, when she hit a backhand cross court winner to make it 15-14. They never led in game two until the end.

It was a remarkable win, as Herrera injured her right ankle recently and wasn’t sure she was going to be able to play in Kansas. Indeed, she couldn’t play her singles match, as she forfeited it a few points into the first game.

Yet Herrera managed to put it together for doubles with Manilla, who had more than enough energy to cover the balls that Herrera couldn’t reach. And when Herrera could reach the ball, she was more than able to do something with it.

Herrera is great when her feet are planted, and this weekend it was hard for her to have her feet anything but planted.

The win was Manilla’s first LPRT title. She was runner up with Rhonda Rajsich in Women’s Doubles at the first event of this season in Colorado, but that wasn’t a full LPRT doubles draw as they played mixed doubles with the International Racquetball Tour in that event. So, this was probably Manilla’s first LPRT final also.

This brings the 2021-22 LPRT season to a close. If you missed any of the action from Kansas, go to the LPRT YouTube channel or the LPRT website. There were several great matches, including Sunday’s finals.

2022 LPRT, June 9-12, 2022
Overland Park, Kansas

Final - Sunday 

1) Paola Longoria d. 6) Montserrat Mejia, 15-14, 15-10

Doubles - Final - Sunday

2) Alexandra Herrera & Erika Manilla d. 5) Gabriela Martinez & Maria Renee Rodriguez, 15-12, 15-14

 Follow the bouncing ball….

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