Friday, April 10, 2009

Pan American Championships - Singles semi finals

It will be the expected and the unexpected in the singles finals on Saturday at the Pan American Championships in Cali, Colombia. The expected are on the men's side, as Mexicans Alvaro Beltran and Polo Gutierrez will meet in the final for a second consecutive year. The unexpected are on the women's side as American Cheryl Gudinas Holmes and Bolivian Carola Loma will face off for the title. Loma has made history by reaching the finals as she's the first player not from Canada, Mexico, or the USA to be a finalist in singles at the Pan American Championships.

Gudinas Holmes reached the final by defeating top seed and defending Pan Am champion Paola Longoria (Mexico) in the semi-finals, 5-15, 15-10, 11-8. After making several errors in game one, Gudinas Holmes was able to right the ship in game two. She effectively moved Longoria around the court, and went on to win in three. It's her first victory over Longoria this season in six meetings.

In the other semi-final, Loma beat Frédérique T. Lambert of Canada, 15-3, 15-14, to reach the final of an Pan American Championship final for the first time. Lambert had a 14-8 lead in game two, but was not able to force a tie-breaker.

Previous to this, Loma has primarily been a doubles player. She played doubles with Jenny Daza Navia in the two previous Pan American Championships as well as last year's World Championships. Loma and Daza Navia were silver medalists in doubles at the 2007 Pan American Championships.

Finals are old hat to Gudinas Holmes, who will be in her 8th Pan American Championship final on Saturday. She's won 3 of the previous 7 finals, but not since 2001 when she beat Josée Grand'Maître of Canada. Gudinas Holmes's most recent finals appearance was in 2005, when she lost to fellow American Kristen Walsh.

Gudinas Holmes and Loma played on Monday in the preliminary round, and Gudinas Holmes won in a tie-breaker, 15-14, 12-15, 11-4.

Men's Divisions

Beltran has a chance to win a third consecutive Pan American title on Saturday, as he beat American Andy Hawthorne, 15-10, 13-15, 11-1, in Friday's semi-finals.

The final will be a repeat of last year, as Beltran's opponent will be team-mate Polo Gutierrez, who defeated Canadian Kris Odegard, 15-12, 13-15, 11-3 on Friday. Gutierrez was up 13-8 in game two and the match looked in well in hand. But Odegard, the 2006 Pan American Champion, fought back and ran the table to force a tie-breaker.

Unfortunately for him, that's all Odegard was able to do. He later said it felt as if Friday was the hottest day of the tournament, which may have contributed to his loss.

In 2007, Beltran defeated Odegard for his first Pan Am title in his first final. Beltran's never lost in the Pan American Championship finals.

Pan American Championships
Women's Semi finals

Cheryl Gudinas Holmes (USA) d. Paola Longoria (Mexico), 5-15, 15-10, 11-8
Carola Loma (Bolivia) d. Frédérique T. Lambert (Canada), 15-3, 15-14

Women's final

Cheryl Gudinas Holmes (USA) vs. Carola Loma (Bolivia)

Men's Semi finals

Alvaro Beltran (Mexico) d. Andy Hawthorne (USA), 15-10, 13-15, 11-1
Polo Gutierrez (Mexico) d. Kris Odegard (Canada), 15-12, 13-15, 11-3

Men's final

Alvaro Beltran (Mexico) vs. Polo Gutierrez (Mexico)

Follow the bouncing ball....

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