Sunday, August 10, 2008

World Championships - Semi Finals Update


Monday was moving day at the 14th International Racquetball Federation (IRF) World Championships in Kingscourt, Ireland, as there were quarter finals or semi-finals or both in men's and women's singles and doubles. The Americans did the most moving up, and are positioned for a sweep.

The men's final on Tuesday will be an All-American affair with Rocky Carson facing Jack Huczek. They are the number 1 and 2 players, respectively, on the men's professional International Racquetball Tour (IRT). It's the first time the top two IRT players will meet in the World Championship final.

Carson defeated Mexican Alvaro Beltran, who's 3rd in the IRT rankings, 15-9, 15-8, in one semi-final Monday, while Huczek beat Canadian Vincent Gagnon, 15-11, 15-8 in the other.

In men's doubles, a Mexican team has reached the final for the sixth consecutive time. Gilberto Meija and Javiar Moreno defeated the Venezuelan team of Cesar Castro and Jorge Hirsekorn, 15-7, 15-1, in the semi-finals.

Moreno won the doubles title two years ago with Beltran, and also won in 2000 with Luis Bustillos. Meija won the title in 2002 with Polo Gutierrez. Overall, Mexicans have won four of the last five world titles.

The Mexicans will face Americans Jason Thoerner and Mitch Williams, who beat Hiroshi Shimizu and Michimune Kono of Japan in the other semi-final, 15-4, 15-2.

Like the men's final, the women's final will be both an All American match up and a playoff of the top two players on the professional tour, as the number 1 ranked Women's Professional Racquetball Organization (WPRO) Rhonda Rajsich will play off against Cheryl Gudinas Holmes, the number 2 WPRO player.

In the semi-finals, Rajsich defeated Mexican Paola Longoria, 15-10, 15-9 to reach her first World Championship final. This achievement is especially remarkable, as Rajsich was in hospital in early June after being attacked and beaten while walking home one night.

In the other semi-final, Gudinas Holmes needed a tie-breaker to defeat Canadian Jennifer Saunders by scores of 15-8, 11-15, 11-8. Gudinas Holmes will be trying for her fourth World Championship on Tuesday. She last won worlds in 2004.

The women's doubles final will be a USA-Canada match up for the tenth time overall, but first since 2002. The top seeded American team of Aimee Ruiz and Jacqueline Paraiso defeated Angela Grisar and Fabiola Marquez and Chile, 15-4, 15-5 in one semi-final.

Ruiz is half of the reigning women's doubles championship team, as she won with Laura Fenton two years ago in Santo Domingo, Domnican Republic. Paraiso has been part of six world championship doubles teams.

In the other semi-final, Geneviève Brodeur and Veronique Guillemette of Canada beat the Mexican team of Paola Longoria and Rosy Torres, 3-15, 15-6, 11-9.

American women have won all the doubles world titles except one. In 1986, Canadians Carol McFetridge and Marion Sicotte defeated Connie Peterson and Michelle Gilman.

Earlier on Monday in men's doubles quarter final action, the Japanese team of Hiroshi Shimizu and Michimune Kono upset the 3rd seeded Canadian team of François Viens and Kris Odegard, 2-15, 15-7, 11-6.

In the other quarter finals, Americans Jason Thoerner and Mitch Williams (USA) beat Bolivians Ricardo Monroy and Roland Keller, 15-3, 15-7, Cesar Castro and Jorge Hirsekorn of Venezuela defeated Fabian Apa and Dany Maggi of Argentina, 7-15, 15-8, 11-4, and Mexicans Mejia and Moreno defeated Pablo Fajre and Sebastian Roessler of Chile in a walk over.

Play in the individual competition continues through Tuesday. The team competition begins on Thursday and runs to next Saturday, August 9 in Kingscourt, Ireland. The draws are available at R2Sports.

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