Monday, November 12, 2018

2018 IRF World Junior Championshps - Team results

Mexican players have dominated the International Racquetball Federation (IRF) World Junior Racquetball Championships for the past several years, so it was unsurprising that they were #1 in the overall team standings again this year at the 30th IRF World Junior Championships in San Luis Potosi, Mexico. Mexico was also first in the Girl’s Team standings, but Bolivia edged them out of first in the Boy’s Team standings, although only by 16 points. (1176 to 1160).

Bolivia actually had the most gold medals across the 12 World Cup divisions - Girl’s and Boy’s U14, U16 and U18 - with six, while Mexico had four and the USA two. But perhaps most significantly Mexico swept gold in the four U18 divisions.

”The racquetball stars of the future”

When people see kids performing well, there is a tendency to predict great things for those kids when they become adults. We’d like to temper that enthusiasm, because in general, performance as a kid does not predict performance as adult very well. That is, few junior champions will be adult champions.

This applies across sports - not just to racquetball. There’s a lot of evidence for this, but just consider the results of any given sports draft. In a draft, people who are professionals at assessing talent within their sport regularly get it wrong: select one player rather than another only to see the player they didn’t select become an all star. Tom Brady was the 199th player selected in the 2000 NFL draft - the 7th player selected by the New England Patriots. Thus, NFL teams assessed 198 players as better prospects than Brady. Some of those players were good, but not Tom Brady good. There were 198 wrong selections in the 2000 NFL draft.

Now, kids still need to play sports, and players who are good at sports as adults will likely have played those sports when they were kids. Thus, we are in no way against kids playing sports and competing in junior tournaments. We just don’t want to make too much out of the results from junior tournaments.

And less should be made out of junior results, when the kids are younger. The differences between kids up to 12, 13 even 14 years of age are going to primarily be driven by maturity, rather than talent. Kids don’t mature at the same rates, so out of a given group of 13 year olds, say, the most physically mature kids will probably be the ones who win. But those kids aren’t necessarily the most talented, so they may not be the ones who are winning at 18, let alone 23.

Let’s remember that winning really only matters to adults, not to kids. Sure, it’s fun to win as a kid, but that shouldn’t be the focus for playing sports. Kids want to play sports, because it’s fun. If you make it about winning, then you’re going to be taking the fun out of it, and that’s not good.

After having fun, kids should be developing sports skills that will help them be better players - and hopefully better people, regardless of whether they continue to play any particular sport. And - fun fact! - if a kid has better skills, then the kid will likely have more fun, because the kid will be able to do more things successfully, which will boost their self esteem, and we could all use some of that.

So, congratulations to all the kids who played in San Luis Potosi last week, including all those who didn’t finish on top of the podium.

We love to see you play.

30th IRF World Junior Racquetball Championships
San Luis Potosi, Mexico


Boys Team Standings

1 Bolivia - 1176 points
2 Mexico - 1160
3 USA - 784
4 Costa Rica - 452
5 Ecuador - 388
6 Canada - 330
7 Chile - 272
8 Colombia - 256
9 Guatemala - 234
10 Ireland - 148
11 Honduras - 104
12 Argentina - 20

Girls Team Standings

1 Mexico - 1136 points
2 USA - 676
3 Bolivia - 656
4 Canada - 568
5 Costa Rica -408
6 Ecuador - 268
7 Guatemala - 212
8 Chile - 132
9 Argentina - 56

Overall Team Standings

1 Mexico - 2296 points
2 Bolivia - 1832
3 USA - 1460
4 Canada - 898
5 Costa Rica - 860
4 Ecuador - 656
7 Guatemala - 446
8 Chile - 404
9 Colombia - 256
10 Ireland - 148
11 Honduras - 104
12 Argentina - 76

U18 Boy's Singles

Gold - Eduardo Portillo (Mexico)
Silver - Sebastian Fernandez (Mexico)
Bronze - Fernando Ruiz (Bolivia) and Gerson Miranda (Bolivia)

U16 Boy's Singles

Gold - Diego Garcia (Bolivia)
Silver - Jose Ramos (Mexico)
Bronze - Juan Flores (Ecuador) and Guillermo Ortega (Mexico)

U14 Boy's Singles

Gold - Luis Aguilar (Bolivia)
Silver - Andrew Gleason (USA)
Bronze - Timmy Hansen (USA) and Andres Ruelas (Mexico)

U18 Girl's Singles

Gold - Montserrat Mejia (Mexico)
Silver - Gabriela Martinez (Guatemala)
Bronze - Angelica Barrios (Bolivia) and Ana Laura Flores (Mexico)

U16 Girl's Singles

Gold - Valeria Centellas (Bolivia)
Silver - Maricruz Ortiz (Costa Rica)
Bronze - Guadalupe Griffin (Mexico) and Maria Gutierrez (Mexico)

U14 Girl's Singles

Gold - Micaela Meneses (Bolivia)
Silver - Heather Mahoney (USA)
Bronze - Karime Estrella (Mexico) and Daniela Rico (Mexico)

U18 Boy's Doubles

Gold - Sebastian Fernandez & Rodrigo Rodriguez (Mexico)
Silver - Gerson Miranda & Fernando Ruiz (Bolivia)
Bronze - Julian Homberger & Andres Montero (Costa Rica) and Ricardo Diaz & Dane Elkins (USA)

U16 Boy's Doubles

Gold - Diego Garcia & Roberto Arellano (Bolivia)
Silver - Sebastian Longoria & Jose Ramos (Mexico)
Bronze - Ian Frattinger & Sean Sauvé (Canada) and Juan Flores & Esteban Janon (Ecuador)

U14 Boy's Doubles

Gold - Andrew Gleason & Timmy Hansen (USA)
Silver - Luis Aguilar & Mateo Claros (Bolivia)
Bronze - Juan Rodriguez & Duvan Torres (Colombia) and Sebastian Hernandez & Omar Gonzalez (Mexico)

U18 Girl's Doubles

Gold - Ana Laura Flores & Abril Sacristan (Mexico)
Silver - Maria Jose Muñoz & Ana Lucia Sarmiento (Ecuador)
Bronze - Hannah Carver & Megan Carver (USA) and Alexis Iwaasa & Marjolaine Parent (Canada)

U16 Girl's Doubles

Gold - Valeria Centellas & Micaela Meneses (Bolivia)
Silver - Juliette Parent & Cassie Prentice (Canada)
Bronze - Sofia Freer & Maricruz Ortiz (Costa Rica) and Maria Gutierrez & Ximena Martinez (Mexico)

U14 Girl's Doubles

Gold - Heather Mahoney & Julia Stein (USA)
Silver - Jessica Balderrama & Daniela Rico (Mexico)
Bronze - Ofelia Wilscam & Tamara Wilscam (Canada) and Luz Abigail Rivera & Abigail Solano (Costa Rica)

Follow the bouncing ball….

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Gold is split three ways in doubles at 2018 IRF World Junior Championships

Bolivia, Mexico and the USA shared the spoils in doubles as each country won two gold medals at the 30th International Racquetball Federation (IRF) World Junior Racquetball Championships in San Luis Potosi, Mexico. Perhaps curiously, Mexico won both the Girl’s and Boy’s U18 titles; Bolivia won both Boy’s and Girl’s U16 title, and the USA won gold in both Girl’s and Boy’s U14.

Sometimes a player will win both singles and doubles at World Juniors. Three Bolivian players won both this year. Valeria Centallas won Girl’s U16 Singles and Doubles - to go with her win in Women’s Doubles at the IRF World Championships in August. She’s the first player to win doubles at Worlds and at World Juniors in the same year. Centellas’s doubles partner Micaela Meneses won Girl’s U14 Singles as well as the U16 Doubles title. Finally, Diego Garcia of Bolivia won gold in Boy’s U16 Singles and Doubles with partner Roberto Arellano.

The Boy’s U18 Doubles final followed the same storyline as the Boy’s U18 Singles final, as one side narrowly won the first game, and then the other side won games two and three convincingly. In the Doubles final, Sebastian Fernandez and Rodrigo Rodriguez of Mexico came back to defeat Gerson Miranda and Fernando Ruiz of Bolivia, 13-15, 15-6, 11-4. Fernandez ended the match with a soft forehand down the right side.

Mexicans also won the Girl’s U18 gold medal, as Ana Laura Flores and Abril Sacristan beat Maria Jose Muñoz and Ana Lucia Sarmiento of Ecuador, 15-5, 15-10, in the final. As with the boys final, Mexico and Ecuador played earlier in the week in a Group Stage match, which was also won by the Mexicans.

Bolivian Valeria Centellas became the first player to win both a IRF World Junior Championship in doubles and an IRF World Championship in doubles in the same year, as she won Women's Doubles at the 2018 IRF World Championships in August with Yasmine Sabja. Centellas and Micaela Meneses won the Girl’s U16 Doubles final by defeating Canadians Juliette Parent and Cassie Prentice, 15-8, 15-8. The win is Centellas’s second World Junior Championship in Girl’s U16 Doubles in as many years. Last year she won with Romina Rivero.

In the U14 divisions, Heather Mahoney and Julia Stein of the USA avenged a loss earlier in the week to defeat Mexicans Jessica Balderrama and Daniela Rico, 15-10, 1-15, 11-1, in the final. They teams had played earlier in the week in a preliminary round robin competition prior to the medal round, and Mexico won that match albeit in a tie-breaker.

On the boys’ side, Mahoney and Stein’s team-mates also needed a tie-breaker to win the gold medal in Boy’s U14 doubles. Andrew Gleason and Timmy Hansen came back from a game down to defeat Bolivians Luis Aguilar and Mateo Claros, 5-15, 15-3, 11-9.

If you want to see some of the action from San Luis Potosi, look to the IRF Facebook page or the IRF YouTube channel.

30th IRF World Junior Racquetball Championships
San Luis Potosi, Mexico - November 3-10, 2018


U18 Boy's Doubles

Final - Saturday

3. Sebastian Fernandez & Rodrigo Rodriguez (Mexico) d. 1. Gerson Miranda & Fernando Ruiz (Bolivia), 13-15, 15-6, 11-4

U16 Boy's Doubles

Final - Saturday

1. Diego Garcia & Roberto Arellano (Bolivia) d. 2. Sebastian Longoria & Jose Ramos (Mexico), 15-11, 15-6

U14 Boy's Doubles

Final - Saturday

1. Andrew Gleason & Timmy Hansen (USA) d. 3. Luis Aguilar & Mateo Claros (Bolivia), 5-15, 15-3, 11-9

U18 Girl's Doubles - Round Robin

Final - Saturday

1. Ana Laura Flores & Abril Sacristan (Mexico) d. 2. Maria Jose Muñoz & Ana Lucia Sarmiento (Ecuador), 15-5, 15-10

U16 Girl's Doubles

Final - Saturday

1. Valeria Centellas & Micaela Meneses (Bolivia) d. 3. Juliette Parent & Cassie Prentice (Canada), 15-8, 15-8

U14 Girl's Doubles

Final - Saturday

2. Heather Mahoney & Julia Stein (USA) d. 1. Jessica Balderrama & Daniela Rico (Mexico), 15-10, 1-15, 11-1

Follow the bouncing ball….

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Mejia wins Girl's U18 at 2018 IRF World Championships

Montserrat Mejia of Mexico successfully defended her Girl’s U18 title at the 2018 International Racquetball Federation (IRF) World Junior Racquetball Championships in San Luis Potosi, Mexico Saturday, as she defeated Guatemalan Gabriela Martinez in the final, 15-14, 8-15, 11-6, in what was a re-match of last year’s final. Mejia also defeated Martinez earlier in a Group Stage match earlier in the week, which suggests Mejia is the kryptonite to the Guatemalan Supergirl.

Martinez certainly flew around the court during the match, as she dove to retrieve balls and keep rallies going. She had the early lead in game one at 4-1, but Mejia came back and tied it at 7-7. From there they were back and forth.

Martinez got to 14 first, but only with a one point lead, 14-13. After a short serve, Martinez hit a good lob serve that touched high on the left side wall and dropped down close to the back wall. Yet Mejia was able to hit a backhand pinch winner into the front left corner to get the serve back.

In game two, Martinez again had an early lead at 7-2, and this time she maintained it to win 15-8. Martinez hit a drive serve ace to the right side for the game winning point.

In game three, Mejia took the early lead at 3-0. But Martinez caught up at 3-3, and they were back and forth to 6-6. From there, Mejia got five unanswered points, holding Martinez off the board to win the breaker 11-6.

Mejia calmly hit a soft forehand to get to 10, and then a backhand cross court ended it on her first match point opportunity.

In Boy’s U18, Eduardo Portillo won an all Mexico battle with Sebastian Fernandez, 14-15, 15-4, 11-7. He had to come back from a game down to win, but after narrowly losing the first game Portillo was dominant giving up only 11 points (while scoring 26) over the next two games, as he won the title in a tie-breaker.

Fernandez took the lead early in game one, going up 6-1. But Portillo then strung together nine unanswered points to lead 10-6. Then Fernandez came back to tie the game at 12-12, but Portillo got to 14 first, when he led 14-13. A Fernandez backhand denied Portillo the game, and with the serve back, Fernandez called a time out.

He scored when play resumed, as Portillo skipped a backhand pinch shot from his knees. An avoidable against Fernandez, which he unsuccessfully appealed, switched the serve back to Portillo, who gave the serve right back by skipping a backhand shot. On his 2nd game point, Fernandez his a drive serve ace to the left side to close out the game 15-14.

Game two was all Portillo, as he won 15-4. In the middle of game two, Portillo began to use a backhand lob serve, placing the ball tight to the left wall - Fernandez's backhand side. It was an effective serve, and he used it for most of the second half of the match.

Portillo took a 4-0 lead in game three. Fernandez got within two at 5-3, but Portillo then ran the score to 10-3. Fernandez made it interesting late in game three, as he scored four points to trail by only three at 10-7.

However, Portillo regained serve with a forehand cross court winner off a jam serve to the left side by Fernandez that came around to the right side for Portillo to smash it. On his 3rd match point, Portillo hit a winning forehand pinch shot to seal the victory and the championship in his last match as a junior player.

Fernandez has one more year of junior eligibility, so look for him to be back next year.

Overall, Bolivia won four the six gold medals in singles with the other two going to Mexico. The USA won two silver medals with Costa Rica and Guatemala each picking up one silver.

If you want to see some of the action from San Luis Potosi, look to the IRF Facebook page or the IRF YouTube channel.

30th IRF World Junior Racquetball Championships
San Luis Potosi, Mexico - November 3-10, 2018


U18 Boy's Singles

Final - Saturday

4. Eduardo Portillo (Mexico) d. 2. Sebastian Fernandez (Mexico), 14-15, 15-4, 11-7

U16 Boy's Singles

Final - Saturday

2. Diego Garcia (Bolivia) d. 1. Jose Ramos (Mexico), 15-4, 15-10

U14 Boy's Singles

Final - Saturday

5. Luis Aguilar (Bolivia) d. 3. Andrew Gleason (USA), 15-6, 9-15, 11-6

U18 Girl's Singles

Final - Saturday

3. Montserrat Mejia (Mexico) d. 4. Gabriela Martinez (Guatemala), 15-14, 8-15, 11-6

U16 Girl's Singles

Final - Saturday

1. Valeria Centellas (Bolivia) d. 3. Maricruz Ortiz (Costa Rica), 9-15, 15-4, 11-3

U14 Girl's Singles

Final - Saturday

2. Micaela Meneses (Bolivia) d. 4. Heather Mahoney (USA), 15-7, 15-4

Follow the bouncing ball….