Friday, April 28, 2023

Longoria & Laime in final at 2023 LPRT Battle at the Alamo

Paola Longoria, the #1 player on the Ladies Professional Racquetball Tour (LPRT), has not had an easy time of it at the 2023 LPRT Battle at the Alamo in San Antonio, Texas. However, she’s passed all the tests that have come her way, and made it through to the final on Saturday. Longoria advanced to the final by defeating former LPRT #2 Maria Jose Vargas, 15-10, 8-15, 11-7. It was the second tie-breaker she had to play Friday after needing three games to get past Carla Muñoz in the quarterfinals, at hat was after a 15-13, 15-14 match against Gabriela Martinez in the Round of 16 on Thursday.

No, it’s not been an easy path to the final at all.

Longoria will face 11th seed Brenda Laime in the final, as Laime defeated veteran Samantha Salas in the other semi, 15-11, 15-11.

Longoria got off to a good start against Vargas, going up 5-1 in game one. But Vargas came back and tied it at 7-7, only to see Longoria surge ahead again to lead 12-7, and close it out at 15-10.

In game two, Vargas took the lead early, and when she led 7-3, Longoria called a time out. Vargas maintained the lead, and when it was 11-4, Longoria called her second timeout.

She was able to narrow the gap after that, making it 12-8. However, the writing was on the wall, and Vargas closed it out at 15-8.

Usually, when the first two games are not close, the tie-breaker is. But that didn’t look likely, when Longoria jumped out to a 4-0 lead. At 5-1, Vargas called a timeout.

That did little to slow Longoria down, as she went out to a 9-2 lead. Longoria had a chance to make it 10, but made an unforced error when she skipped a backhand shot.

Cue the comeback.

Vargas scored five unanswered points from there to make it 9-7, and wasn’t deterred by Longoria calling both her timeouts during that run. You had the sense that maybe she could come all the way back.

Vargas was using a Z serve to Longoria’s backhand for her second serve, and it’d made Longoria a bit uncomfortable. So, it was predictable that Vargas was going to hit it for second serve at 7 serve 9, and Longoria jumped over to take it early with her forehand for a winner.

That halted Vargas’s momentum, and led to a back and forth of sideouts. Longoria broke the deadlock with a forehand cross court winner to make it 10-7. She only needed the one match point, as Vargas skipped a backhand shot on the next rally, giving Longoria the win.

It was a very competitive match, but not one of great overall quality. Both players were great for spurts, but neither seemed to really be on their "A" game, which for the neutral made for a good watch.

What to expect in the final

A final between the tour’s #1 player, who’s dominated the sport for 15 years, and an 11th seed seems like a complete mismatch. If there was a betting line on this, Longoria would be the clear favourite over Laime.

And yet Laime is in with a shout here, in part, because she already has a win over Longoria. She’s also lost to Longoria four times, but still one win over Longoria is more than most players on tour have.

So, we’re saying there’s a chance.

You can watch Laime take her chance live from San Antonio via the LPRT YouTube channel. The final will 4:40 PM Saturday Central time.

2023 LPRT Battle at the Alamo
San Antonio, Texas - April 27-29, 2023

Semi-finals - Friday

1) Paola Longoria d. 12) Maria Jose Vargas, 15-10, 8-15, 11-7
11) Brenda Laime d. 10) Samantha Salas, 15-11, 15-11

Final - Saturday

1) Paola Longoria v. 11) Brenda Laime - 4:40 PM

LPRT U21 Singles - Round of 16 - Friday

1) Valeria Centellas - BYE
8) Naomi Ros d. 9) Khyathi Velpuri, 15-2, 15-7

4) Camila Rivero - BYE

3) Martina Katz - BYE
6) Paula Mansilla - BYE

7) Yanna Salazar d. 10) Leonela Osorio, 15-7, 15-8
2) Annie Roberts - BYE

LPRT U21 Singles - Quarterfinals - Friday

1) Valeria Centellas d. 8) Naomi Ros, 15-7, 15-6
4) Camila Rivero - BYE

3) Martina Katz d. 6) Paula Mansilla, 15-6, 15-6
2) Annie Roberts d. 7) Yanna Salazar, 15-13, 15-12

LPRT U21 Singles - Semi-finals - Saturday

1) Valeria Centellas v. 4) Camila Rivero - 10:10 AM
2) Annie Roberts v. 3) Martina Katz - 10:10 AM

Mixed Doubles - Quarterfinals - Friday

1) Maria Jose Vargas & Alejandro Landa d. 8) Alexandra Herrera & Diego Gastelum, 15-10, 15-9
4) Erika Manilla & Erik Garcia d. 5) Kelani Lawrence & Cole Sendrey, 15-4, 15-8

3) Carla Muñoz & Alan Natera d. 11) Paola Longoria & Christian Longoria, 14-15, 15-2, 11-7
10) Brenda Laime & Marcelo Vargas Aguilar d. 2) Hollie Scott & Daniel De La Rosa, 12-15, 15-7, 11-8

Mixed Doubles - Semi-finals - Saturday

1) Maria Jose Vargas & Alejandro Landa v. 4) Erika Manilla & Erik Garcia - 11:15 AM

3) Carla Muñoz & Alan Natera v. 10) Brenda Laime & Marcelo Vargas Aguilar - 11:15 AM

Follow the bouncing ball….

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