Sunday, August 10, 2008

World Championships - Team Day 1

DATELINE - AUGUST 7, 2008

It's on to the team championships at the 14th International Racquetball Federation (IRF) World Championships in Kingscourt, Ireland. After the USA swept up all the gold medals in the individual competition, it's hard to imagine they won't do the same in the team competition.

On the men's side, Americans Rocky Carson and Jack Huczek were the finalists in singles, and were number 1 and 2, respectively, on the men's professional International Racquetball Tour (IRT), but if another country is going to beat Team USA, they will have to beat either Carson or Huczek. Not an easy task.

Canada and Mexico are seeded 2 and 3, so they are lined up to meet in the semi-finals. The Canadians have made a change in their line up, with Kris Odegard is playing singles with Vincent Gagnon playing doubles with Fran├žois Viens. Odegard and Viens had played doubles in the individual competition, losing in the quarter finals to Hiroshi Shimizu and Michimune Kono of Japan.

Gagnon and Viens won the 2008 Canadian National Championship in doubles, and have played together for the last several years. Gagnon had doubled qualified for the Canadian team and chose to play singles in the individual competition, so he could qualify to play at the World Games in Taiwan next year.

The seeding of the women's team competition looks likely to produce another USA-Canada final, as Mexico is on the USA side of the draw. Two years ago the American women beat the Canadians in the women's team final two matches to one.

The USA women are as formidable as the men, but their strongest link may be the doubles team of Aimee Ruiz and Jackie Paraiso, who have 9 World Championship doubles titles between them including this year's victory.

Then there's Rhonda Rajsich and Cheryl Gudinas Holmes, the number 1 and 2, respectively, ranked players on the Women's Professional Racquetball Organization (WPRO), so it'll be difficult to topple them.

First Round Upset

We here at The Racquetball Blog picked the Catalonian team as a team watch, so we're happy to report that they produced the only upset in the first round of the men's team competition. They were ranked 20th and defeated 13th ranked Guatemala. Next up for Catalonia is 4th ranked Venezuela.

The team competition runs through Saturday in Kingscourt, Ireland.

The draws are available at R2Sports.

No comments: