Sunday, December 11, 2022

Back to back winners at 30th Annual LPRT Christmas Classic

Montserrat Mejia defeated Paola Longoria, 15-8, 15-7, to win the Ladies Professional Racquetball Tour (LPRT) 30th Annual Christmas Classic in Millersville, Maryland on Sunday. Mejia is a back to back winner for the first time in her career, as she won the LPRT Turkey Shoot in Illinois last month. It’s her third win on tour.

Alexandra Herrera and Samantha Salas also won back to back, as they won in Illinois, and then again Sunday, when they defeated Longoria and Mejia, 15-0, 13-15, 11-7.

This the first time that Longoria - the LPRT’s #1 player - has not won either singles or doubles in back to back LPRT events since doubles started as a regular LPRT event in the 2013-14 season.

In the singles final, Mejia put on a clinic for how to move around the court. Her footwork was that good. She also served well, hitting three aces in game one and two more in game two.

Longoria did hit any aces, but she did hit seven unforced errors (i.e., skips) with her forehand, which is usually how many she hits over an entire tournament. Those errors combined with solid play by Mejia made for a match that was really never close.

Longoria got the first point of game two, but that was the only lead she had, and aside from early in each game, she was never closer than two points to Mejia.

Mejia made several pinch shot winners, but it didn’t seem like she was trying to flat roll the ball. Rather it seemed that she was simply going for a solid shot, even if she was deep in the court with Longoria in front of her. Longoria may have been ahead of Mejia, but generally she wasn’t in the front court, so was unable to reach Mejia’s good pinch shots.

The 15-0 score in game one of the doubles final is just the second time that score has happened in a LPRT doubles final. The first was in the 2015 Cali Open, when Longoria and Salas blanked Michelle De La Rosa and Frédérique Lambert in game two of that final. De La Rosa and Lambert had won game one, 15-10, but Longoria and Salas won the breaker, 11-5.

On Sunday, Herrera and Salas hit more winners than Longoria and Mejia. Herrera and Salas hit 22 and 24 winners, respectively, for 46 overall compared to 27 for Longoria (17) and Mejia (10). The teams had the same number of errors: 17 each.

After blanking their opponents in game one, it looked like Herrera and Salas would win two straight, as they led 7-3 and 10-6 in game two. But two winners by Longoria got her side back in the service box, and they scored seven points to take the lead 13-10 before they gave up the serve.

Herrera and Salas then tied the game at 13-13, so Longoria and Mejia called a timeout. They forced Herrera into skipping a shot when play resumed, which got them the serve back. Salas hit a ball out of the court, which made it 14-13 for Longoria and Mejia. Then Longoria hit a forehand pinch shot from deep in the court to close out the game, 15-13, and force a tie-breaker.

Early in the breaker, it looked like Longoria and Mejia were going to complete one of the more remarkable comebacks in LPRT history, as they were up 5-1. However, Herrera and Salas won 8 of the next 9 points to lead 9-6.

Their 8th point was from the You Know Things Are Going To Go Your Way Department, as Herrera went to the ground - quite unusual for her - to save a ball by the left wall in the front court. She had just got back on her feet, when Mejia got to the ball near the front wall and drove it right at Herrera, presumably believing that Herrera wouldn’t be ready for it. However, Herrera blocked it straight back for a winner.

That put the writing on the wall, and eight rallies later, Herrera and Salas closed it out, 11-7, after Salas hit another powerful cross court shot for the match winner.

Longoria and Salas were doubles partners for over a decade, and Herrera and Mejia played together for a long time also. But they decided to switch partners last month, and the change has been more successful for Herrera and Salas, who have now won back to back together.

This is the last LPRT event of 2022, and Herrera won six doubles titles (of nine possible) this year with four different partners: Erika Manilla, Jessica Parrilla, as well as Mejia and Salas. That’s why the left-hander is the LPRT’s #1 doubles player.

If you missed either of these remarkable finals, go to the LPRT YouTube channel and check them out. The LPRT will next be in action in February, when they go to Tempe, Arizona as the marquee event at the 2023 Arizona State Doubles, February 16-18, 2023.

2022 LPRT 30th Annual Christmas Classic
December 9-11, 2022 - Millersville, Maryland

Final - Sunday

3) Montserrat Mejia d. 1) Paola Longoria, 15-8, 15-7

Doubles - Final - Sunday

1) Alexandra Herrera & Samantha Salas d. 3) Paola Longoria & Montserrat Mejia, 15-0, 13-15, 11-7

Follow the bouncing ball….

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