Friday, December 18, 2009

World Junior Racquetball Championships - How the world is changing

In years gone by racquetball's superpower was the USA followed by Canada. Then Mexico came along as the third power, and international competitions have been a battle between those three countries in recent years.

But changes have begun, and you can see them in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic where the 21st World Junior Racquetball Championships hosted by the International Racquetball Federation (IRF) are in progress. Specifically, you can see the changes in the Girls 18 & under doubles.

There are 7 teams in Girls 18 & under doubles, so three teams are going to be on one side of the draw and four on the other. The three teams on the top half of the draw are Canada, Mexico and the USA. Never would that have happened in the past, because those were your Big Three countries. In the past, two of the Big Three would draw the short straws and be on the same side of the draw, meaning a semi-final showdown prior to a final against the other Big Three nation.

But not in this draw.

This happened because both the USA team of Aubrey O'brien and Danielle Key and the Canadian team of Brigitte Richard and Christine Richardson lost in the preliminary round; in fact, Canada lost twice. Thus, Canada and the USA will be playing off with the winner meeting the top seeded Mexican team of Jessica Parrilla and Rocio Enriquez Gatz in the semi-finals.

On the other side of the draw, Maria Jose Vargas and Yazmine Sabja of Bolivia are seeded second based on wins over the USA (15-13, 15-13) and the Irish team of Donna Ryder and Majella Haverty. Vargas and Sabja will play Venezuelans Islhey Mariana Paredes and Marianna Tobon, and then face either the Irish girls or Cristina Cordova and Maria Paz Munoz of Ecuador, who defeated the Canadian team in the preliminary round.

Thus, while the pro ranks are still dominated by American, Mexican and Canadian players currently, the scene could be very different in the near future as young junior players from outside North America mature and develop into strong senior players.

So, yes, Virginia, the racquetball world is changing.

Follow the bouncing ball....

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