Saturday, April 27, 2024

Vargas wins singles, Herrera & Mejia doubles at 2024 LPRT Battle at the Alamo

Maria José Vargas confirmed her position as the #1 player on the Ladies Professional Racquetball Tour (LPRT) by winning the 2024 LPRT Battle at the Alamo in San Antonio, Texas, on Saturday. She defeated LPRT #3 Montserrat Mejia in the final, 15-12, 8-15, 11-7, for her fourth win of the season.

But Mejia did win doubles, as she and Alexandra Herrera beat 7th seed surprise finalists Michelle Key and Carla Muñoz, 15-7, 15-10.

In the singles final, Vargas took a 9-1 lead in game one, yet Mejia almost came all the way back, getting within two at 9-7, 13-11, and 14-12, before Vargas finished it off with a three shot rally that she ended with a backhand pinch shot.

They were close early in game two, but after being tied at 8-8, Mejia scored seven unanswered points to win it, 15-8. Vargas only served twice in that stretch.

Mejia carried that momentum over into the tie-breaker, going up 4-0 and and 7-3. But that would all the points Mejia would score, as Vargas came back and tied the game at 7-7 with an ace drive serve that she jammed off the left wall, so it travelled through the encroachment zone making it difficult to return. That was one of four such aces Vargas hit in the breaker.

Mejia tried to halt Vargas’s momentum by calling a timeout when she was still up 7-5, and another when she was down 9-7. But after that second timeout, Vargas hit another of those ace serves to bring up match point.

On that point, Vargas drove the ball to the left side, so Mejia hit a backhand return that came off the left wall a bit. That allowed Vargas to hit a backhand cross court shot to the right side. Mejia stepped over and hit a good forehand down the line shot, but Vargas was able to reach it, and from a crouch hit an even better forehand down the line that won the rally, the game and the match.

The doubles final was close early in game one, as they were tied at 3-3, 5-5, and 6-6. However, after that Herrera and Mejia outscored Key and Muñoz 9-1 from there to win game one, 15-7.

That momentum carried over into game two, as Herrera and Mejia went out to a 12-0 lead. Curiously, Key and Muñoz didn’t call any timeouts during that stretch. Nonetheless, they did come back to get to 13-7 at which point Herrera and Mejia called a timeout.

Two rallies later and they had the serve back. Herrera put them on match point with a forehand down the line, but Muñoz fended that off with a forehand down the line shot of her own.

Muñoz hit two more winners, as she and Key got three points to make the score 14-10. But Herrera then hit a pinch winner off a Key lob to the left that put her and Mejia back in the service box.

Herrera hit the winning shot, as she hit a drive Z to the left side, and Key let it go thinking that the score hadn’t been called, so it would be a fault. However, the referee had called the score, so Herrera’s serve was an ace, ending the game at 15-10, and the match in two straight games.

Key and Muñoz reached the final with a semi-final win earlier on Saturday over Vargas and Natalia Mendez, 15-12, 14-15, 11-4. Vargas and Mendez led for much of the first game, only to see Key and Muñoz come back and take the game away from them.

It looked like they would win in two straight games, as Key and Muñoz were up 11-3 on Mendez and Vargas in game two. However, Mendez and Vargas were able to turn the tables in part by switching their formation from having Mendez on the left to the right and vice versa for Vargas.

That led them to a game point at 14-11. However, Key hit a backhand pinch winner off a Z serve to left to get her side back in the service box. Once there, they scored three points to tie it at 14-14. At that point, Vargas hit a forehand to the left side that was called good, although look like it may have skipped. Key and Muñoz appealed the good shot call, but the line judges upheld the referee’s call. On the next rally, Key skipped a backhand shot, so a tie-breaker was needed.

In the breaker, they were close early, and tied at 4-4. However from there it was all Key and Muñoz, who scored seven unanswered points and only gave up the serve once. Two Muñoz winners got them the serve right back. They forced their opponents into skips on three straight rallies at the end.

The other doubles semi-final was straight forward, as Herrera and Mejia only trailed Kelani Lawrence and Hollie Scott at the start of game one, 2-0. After tying it at 2-2, they never trailed again, going on to win 15-9, 15-5.

The LPRT will next be in action at the Sweet Caroline Open in Greenville, South Carolina, May 17-19. That will be the penultimate event of the season, and the last event will be the LPRT Battle at the Beach in Chesapeake, Virginia, June 6-9.

If you missed any of the action from San Antonio - and there were several tie-breaker matches, including the singles final, check out the LPRT YouTube channel.

2024 LPRT Battle at the Alamo
San Antonio, Texas - April 25-28, 2024

Singles Final - Saturday

1) Maria José Vargas d. 3) Montserrat Mejia, 15-12, 8-15, 11-7

Doubles - Semi-finals - Saturday

1) Alexandra Herrera & Montserrat Mejia d. 4) Kelani Lawrence & Hollie Scott, 15-9, 15-5
7) Michelle Key & Carla Muñoz d. 3) Natalia Mendez & Maria José Vargas, 15-12, 14-15, 11-4

Doubles - Final - Saturday

1) Alexandra Herrera & Montserrat Mejia d. 7) Michelle Key & Carla Muñoz, 15-7, 15-10

Follow the bouncing ball….

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