Paola Longoria and Jack Huczek won World Games gold Thursday in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, but both lost the first games of their respective finals by wide margins only to come back and win the matches in tie-breaking third games. Longoria defeated American Rhonda Rajsich in the finals, 5-15, 15-7, 11-5, to become the first non-American woman to win World Games gold in racquetball, while Huczek defeated teammate Rocky Carson 2-15, 15-12, 11-8.
Previous women's gold medalists at the World Games were Cindy Baxter (USA), who won in 1985 in London, England, and Michelle Gould (USA), who won in 1995 in The Hague, Netherlands.
In the women's bronze medal match, Cheryl Gudinas Holmes defaulted due to injury, so Angela Grisar of Chile is the bronze medalist. Grisar and Longoria are the first women not from the USA or Canada to win World Games medals.
Huczek's victory continues the gold medal streak for American men from previous World Games, as Andy Roberts won in 1985 and Michael Bronfeld won in 1993. It also avenges his loss to Carson in last year's World Championship final.
Carson and Huczek both dropped the first games of their semi-final matches, but were able to come back and win in tie-breakers. Carson defeated Mexican Alvaro Beltran, 9-15, 15-7, 11-8, and Huczek beat Canadian Vincent Gagnon, 3-15, 15-8, 11-7.
The bronze medal match was also a tie-breaker, as Gagnon defeated Beltran, 15-11, 12-15, 11-3, to win the bronze medal. Gagnon joins Sherman Greenfeld and Roger Harripersad as Canadian men medaling in the World Games. Greenfeld won bronze in 1993 and Harripersad got silver in 1985.
2009 World Games - Kaohsiung, Taiwan
Women's Gold Medal Match
Paola LONGORIA (Mexico) d. Rhonda RAJSICH (USA), 5-15, 15-7, 11-5
Women's Bronze Medal Match
Angela GRISAR (Chile) d. Cheryl GUDINAS HOLMES (USA), injury default
Men's Gold Medal Match
Jack HUCZEK (USA) d. Rocky CARSON (USA), 2-15, 15-12, 11-8.
Men's Bronze Medal Match
Vincent GAGNON (Canada) d. Alvaro BELTRAN (Mexico), 15-11, 12-15, 11-3
Rocky CARSON (USA) d. Alvaro BELTRAN (Mexico), 9-15, 15-7, 11-8
Jack HUCZEK (USA) d. Vincent GAGNON (Canada), 3-15, 15-8, 11-7
Follow the bouncing ball....