Sunday, November 19, 2023

Vargas and Herrera & Mejia win at 2023 LPRT Turkey Shoot

María José Vargas defeated Erika Manilla, 15-9, 15-5, to win the 2023 Ladies Professional Racquetball Tour (LPRT) Turkey Shoot in Lombard, Illinois on Sunday. It’s Vargas’s sixth win on tour, but first since 2019, although it was her third final in 2023.

Vargas never trailed in the match, taking large leads in both games. In the first Manilla came back from 6-0 down to get within one at 9-8. But Vargas outscored her 6-1 from there to close out game one, 15-9.

In game two, Vargas went out to a 7-0 lead, and while Manilla did score some points from there, she never got within five points of Vargas.

In the middle of game one, Vargas hit a backhand lob Z serve to the left side that Manilla was clearly uncomfortable with. Recognizing that Vargas used that serve for most of the rest of the match.

Vargas is a power player, so she generally drive serves, and did that to start game one. But she’s become a smarter player, and her recognition of Manilla’s discomfort and then trying to exploit that is a reflection of that smartness.

Manilla did make some good returns off that lob Z serve, but she was also called for encroachment twice, and continued trying to attack the ball early. Manilla seemed to be assuming that the ball would be too difficult to return if it went to the back wall, but maybe she should have tested that assumption by letting it go and seeing what happened.

Nonetheless, Manilla had a good tournament. She played in her 2nd career final, and beat Brenda Laime and Paola Longoria - both for the first time - to get there. Impressive.

Herrera and Mejia win doubles

Alejandra Herrera and Montserrat Mejia defeated Longoria and Samantha Salas, 12-15, 15-5, 11-9, to win the doubles final, which was a great match between two closely matched teams. There was a bit of controversy at the end, as match point was an avoidable call against Salas, as she prevented Mejia from setting up for a shot as the ball was coming off the back wall.

Longoria and Salas appealed, but the call stood, as the line judges both agreed with the referee’s call. Although harsh at match point, it seemed like the right call.

Herrera and Mejia looked like they were going to win the first game of the final, as they were up 12-5. But Longoria and Salas came back to get 10 unanswered points and steal the game. They carried that momentum into game three, going up 5-0.

However, the tables turned again, as Herrera and Mejia scored 15 (fifteen!) straight points - getting the first 10 without giving up serve to take game two, 15-5.

Herrera was the major force early in game two, as the left-hander started hitting very good drive Z serves to Longoria, who had trouble returning them. So much so that at 7-5, she switched sides with Salas for one return but to no avail.

Longoria and Salas’s timeouts - taken first when still leading 5-4 and then when trailing 9-5 - also didn’t help them.

In game three, Herrera and Mejia were up early at 4-0, 6-1 and 8-3. But, like game one, Longoria and Salas came back, as Salas hit winners on five straight rallies to tie the game at 8–8. Then Mejia skipped a ball to put Longoria and Salas in the lead at 9-8.

Mejia made up for it on the next rally with a touch pinch winner. Salas had been hitting drive Z serves to Mejia, so Longoria came across to hit that serve to Mejia also. But maybe they were outsmarting themselves, as Longoria and Salas lost that rally after Herrera hit a winner.

The teams exchanged sideouts with no one scoring over the next four rallies. A Herrera backhand made it 9-9, and then Longoria mishit a return of another Herrera drive Z serve to put Herrera and Mejia on match point at 10-9.

There was a bit of a scary incident then, as Mejia inadvertently tripped over Salas’s leg. But it was close to the back wall, and when she went down with a loud thud, it was feared that she might have fallen into the wall. However, the sound was worse than it was, as Mejia got up after a few seconds and seemed none the worse for wear.

And then the avoidable happened that ended the match.

The LPRT will next be in action next month at the 31st Annual Christmas Classic, December 8-10, 2023 in Millersville, Maryland.

If you missed any of this weekend’s action from the Glass Court, or want to watch them again - and there were some great matches, including today’s finals - check out the LPRT YouTube channel.

2023 Glass Court Swim & Fitness LPRT Turkey Shoot
Lombard, Illinois - November 17-19, 2023

LPRT Singles - Final - Sunday

4) María José Vargas d. 6) Erika Manilla, 15-9, 15-5

LPRT Doubles - Final - Sunday

2) Alexandra Herrera & Montserrat Mejia d. 1) Paola Longoria & Samantha Salas, 12-15, 15-5, 11-9

Follow the bouncing ball….

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