Saturday, November 19, 2022

Mejia defeats Longoria in semi-finals at LPRT 30th Anniversary Turkey Shoot

Montserrat Mejia defeated Paola Longoria - the #1 player on the Ladies Professional Racquetball Tour (LPRT) Saturday in the semi-finals of the LPRT Platt Hill Nursery 30th Anniversary Turkey Shoot in Lombard, Illinois. Mejia won in three games, although she almost got it done in two straight. But Longoria fought off a match point in game two to force a tie-breaker, which Mejia won, taking the match, 15-12, 14-15, 11-3.

Meija will play LPRT #2 Alexandra Herrera in the final on Sunday, as Herrera beat Erika Manilla in the other semi-final, 15-7, 15-4.

At least that’s the plan. But in the doubles semi-finals, Mejia - playing with Longoria - was hit by Manilla - playing with Natalia Mendez - early in the third game of their match. Manilla was hitting a forehand shot on the right side, and Mejia moved forward in anticipation of covering the shot, but did not clear the path of Manilla’s swing. Thus, she took a racquet in the back, and immediately went down.

Mejia stayed down for awhile, and took the full 15 minutes possible of injury time. But when play resumed she was not moving much at all, so Longoria was taking most of the shots.

How fit Mejia will be for the singles final on Sunday is anyone’s guess, but we’re pretty sure that she won’t be 100%. There was even speculation that she might not play the final, but that decision will need to wait until the morning.

In their singles semi-final, an upset did not look to be on the cards for Mejia early on against Longoria, as the LPRT #1 went up 6-0 and 10-4 in game one. But Mejia came all the way back, tying the score at 12-12, which led to a Longoria timeout. That timeout wasn’t successful, as Mejia got the next three points to end the game 15-12.

The storyline in game two was similar, as Longoria was up 6-2 and 11-4. However, Mejia again came back, and tied it at 11-11. She didn’t stop there, and got to match point at 14-11 with a drive serve ace to the left side.

Longoria fought off that match point with a forehand cross court return off a drive serve to the right side. She followed that up with four points on as many rallies to come back and win the game 15-14. Mejia called a timeout at 14-14, but to no avail.

Often a match that has two close games has a blowout in the tie-breaker, and so it was in this match. Yet it was Mejia, not Longoria, who came out on top, as she went up 7-0 in the breaker.

Longoria did call a timeout at 4-0, and got some points and sideouts down the stretch, but that early lead put the writing on the wall. Mejia wrote the last chapter of the match by closing out game three, 11-3.

Longoria was her own worst enemy, as she made several unforced errors that were very uncharacteristic. Indeed, she made bad skips that gave Mejia her 10th and 11th points in the breaker. The first was a forehand in the front court, as she tried to take the ball early after Mejia had hit it into the back wall to keep it in play, and the second was also a forehand but in the back right corner as the ball came off the back wall.

Longoria may have been hindered - and Mejia helped - because she and Brenda Laime played a long match in the quarterfinals that went to a tie-breaker (Mejia’s quarterfinal was a straight game win over Sheryl Lotts). Laime beat Longoria earlier this season, so you know she wanted to get some revenge today, and may have been more emotionally invested in that match than if she’d played any other opponent.

In the first two games, Longoria had significant leads, only to see Laime come back and make it close. Indeed, in game one, Laime pulled out the win, but wasn’t able to repeat the trick in game two.

Then in the tie-breaker, Laime goes up 4-1, and we’re thinking “maybe she’s going to pull off another upset.” However, Longoria wins 9 unanswered points using a lob kiss serve to the left side that Laime wasn’t attacking to lead 10-4, and we’re thinking “well, that’s probably that.”

However, Laime digs in, and fights off the first match point, and then scores three points to make it 10-7. Longoria called a timeout at 10-6, but to no avail. However, she did get the serve back at 10-7, yet she didn’t convert her second match point. Or her third.

Longoria took another timeout prior to serving her fourth match point, but that wasn’t successful either. Laime gets an eighth point on an avoidable call against Longoria, but then again gives up the serve.

On her fifth match point, Longoria finally finishes off the match with a forehand wide angle cross court that Laime can’t retrieve, and makes a big exclamation that seemed to be more relief than joy.

Manilla and Mendez are into their second consecutive LPRT Doubles final, and are coming off a win at the US Open. Their win over Longoria and Mejia could be said to be partially due to Mejia’s injury after being hit by Manilla. But (a) Mejia was in error by putting herself in the path of Manilla’s swing, which was assessed as an avoidable hinder, and (b) the injury came early in the tie-breaker (Longoria and Mejia were leading 3-1), which could have gone Manilla and Mendez’s way even without the injury to Mejia.

In that match, the first game was close with ties at 7-7, 10-10 and 12-12. Manilla and Mendez actually led at 12-10, only to see Longoria and Mejia get five consecutive points to win it.

Game two was streaky. Manilla and Mendez were up 7-2, and then down 9-7. Then they won 15-9. Does the stretch of that game, Manilla was hitting hard Z serves to Mejia on the right side, and she was having trouble returning them. Thus, Manilla and Mendez were the team with momentum going into the breaker.

They got the first point of the breaker, but then lost serve as Manilla was hit by the ball. Longoria and Mejia got three points to lead 3-1, and then the injury happened.

When play resumed, Longoria and Mejia actually extended their lead, despite the fact that Mejia wasn’t moving very much. Yet Longoria can play pretty well by herself, and it may have taken a bit of time for Manilla and Mendez to recognize exactly how incapacitated Mejia was.

Once they recognized that it gave them a new game plan of what shots to play, and more freedom to play them. For example, Mendez hit a backhand pinch shot from deep for their 9th point, and it was a good shot, but she likely hit it knowing that Longoria was in the back court and Mejia was not going to be in position to cover it, so there was no pressure on Mendez. Easier to hit good shot with no pressure.

Manilla and Mendez will play Herrera and Samantha Salas in the final Sunday, as Herrera and Salas beat 5th seeds Carla Muñoz and Maria Renee Rodriguez, 15-8, 15-1, in the other semi-final.

You can watch the action from Illinois live via the LPRT YouTube channel. The singles final will be noon Sunday with the doubles final to go at 1 PM Sunday. All times CST.

2022 LPRT 30th Anniversary Turkey Shoot, November 18-20, 2022
Lombard, Illinois

Quarterfinals - Saturday

1) Paola Longoria d. 9) Brenda Laime, 13-15, 15-10, 11-8
5) Montserrat Mejia d. 13) Sheryl Lotts, 15-11, 15-2

3) Erika Manilla d. 11) Samantha Salas, 15-13, 15-11
2) Alexandra Herrera d. 10) Kelani Lawrence, 15-3, 15-11

Semi-finals - Saturday

5) Montserrat Mejia d. 1) Paola Longoria, 15-12, 14-15, 11-3
2) Alexandra Herrera d. 3) Erika Manilla, 15-7, 15-4

Final - Sunday

2) Alexandra Herrera v. 5) Montserrat Mejia - Noon

Doubles - Semi-finals - Saturday

1) Alexandra Herrera & Samantha Salas d. 5) Carla Muñoz & Maria Renee Rodriguez, 15-8, 15-1
3) Erika Manilla & Natalia Mendez d. 2) Paola Longoria & Montserrat Mejia, 12-15, 15-8, 11-7

Doubles - Final - Sunday

1) Alexandra Herrera & Samantha Salas v. 3) Erika Manilla & Natalia Mendez - 1 PM

Follow the bouncing ball….

No comments: