Saturday, March 27, 2010

2010 Pan American Championships - Preview & No Team USA

There will be new champions at the 23rd Pan American Championships, which begin today in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, as last year's winners Mexican Alvaro Beltran and American Cheryl Gudinas are not in Honduras. Beltran's absent because of the injury he suffered in August, which has kept him out of action all season.

Gudinas, however, isn't there, because USA Racquetball (USAR) did not send a team to Honduras. More on that below.

This opens the door for Paola Longoria (Mexico) and Jennifer Saunders (Canda), the highest ranked players from the Women's Professional Racquetball Organization (WPRO) that are competing in Honduras. Longoria has won this competition twice, in 2006 and 2008, while Saunders has yet to win it.

Not to be overlooked, however, are Carola Loma of Bolivia, who was runner up to Gudinas last year, Columbian Cristina Amaya, who's ranked 18th on the WPRO tour, as well as the young Ecuadorians Cristina Cordova and Maria Paz Munoz and Loma's Bolivian team-mate Jenny Daza Navia.

On the men's side, maybe this will be Mexican Polo Gutierrez's year. He has been runner up to Beltran two years in a row, so with Beltran absent this could be Gutierrez's time. Challengers to Gutierrez include Canadians Kris Odegard, who won this competition in 2006, and Vincent Gagnon, who was a bronze medalist in last year's World Games, as well as Gutierrez's countryman Gil De Los Rios.

With the Americans' absence, the doubles is even more wide open, especially on the women's side. Some of the women are playing both singles and doubles, but Mexico and Canada have dedicated doubles teams in Honduras. Veterans Susy Acosta and Samantha Salas are playing for Mexico while Canada is represented by Geneviève Brodeur and Frédérique Lambert.

The Pan American Championships begin Saturday March 27 and will have a preliminary round prior to an elimination round. Results from the preliminary round are used to seed players for the elimination round. Play continues through April 3.

No USA Team

The Racquetball Blog has tried to contact the USAR for an official word on why there is no Team USA in Honduras, but to no avail. US Team head coach Mike Guidry did tell us that he'll be in Honduras for meetings with the Pan American Racquetball Confederation and the International Racquetball Federation, and will explain the American team absence to them at that time.

But the American absence raises several questions. What message is it sending to the other countries about the USAR's opinion of or valuing of the Pan Am Championships? What does it say about the USAR if the rumour that it only had enough funds to send a team to one competition this year forcing them to pass on Pan Ams so as to send a team to Korea for the World Championships in August? If this is so, then there need be no more evidence of USAR financial woes.

The United States is the biggest country for racquetball. Thus, its national racquetball organization - the USAR - should be a leader in the sport. But not sending a team to Honduras suggests the USAR can't fill that role. So, moving forward other countries should not expect the USAR to be the primary leader nor should the USAR expect other countries to follow it in whatever policies it puts forward.

Stepping further back, this development is distressing and does not speak well for the sport.

XXIII Pan American Racquetball Championship
San Pedro Sula, Honduras - March 27 to April 3, 2010

Men's Singles

Pablo Kurzbard - Argentina
Carlos Keller Vargas - Bolivia
Ricardo Monroy - Bolivia
Kris Odegard - Canada
Vincent Gagnon - Canada
Francisco Gomez - Columbia
Andres Herrera - Columbia
Felipe Camacho - Costa Rica
Ivan Villegas - Costa Rica
Simon Perdomo - Dominican Republic
Luis Perez - Dominican Republic
Fernando Sierra - Guatemala
Christian Wer - Guatemala
Raul Banegas - Honduras
Roberto Nasser - Honduras
Gilberto De Los Rios - Mexico
Polo Gutierrez - Mexico
Carlos Barrios - Nicaragua
Fernando Mansell - Nicaragua
Osvaldo Garcia - Puerto Rico
Raymundo Garcia - Puerto Rico
Cesar Castro - Venezuela
Roberto Santander - Venezuela

Men's Doubles

Danny Maggi & Shai Manzuri - Argentina
Carlos Keller Vargas & Ricardo Monroy - Bolivia
Mike Green & Tim Landeryou - Canada
Francisco Gomez & Andres Herrera - Columbia
Juan S Cageao & Ignacio Sabate - Costa Rica
Luis Perez & Leonel Simo - Dominican Republic
Jose Daniel Alvarez & Fernando Rios - Ecuador
Juan Salvatierra & Christian Wer - Guatemala
Selvin Cruz & Eduardo Kafie - Honduras
Ruben Estrada & Alejandro Landa - Mexico
Carlos Barrios & Fernando Mansell - Nicaragua
Ward Myers & Curtis Winter - Puerto Rico
Cesar Castillo & Luis Reveron - Venezuela

Women's Singles

Jenny Daza Navia - Bolivia
Carola Loma - Bolivia
Brandi Jacobson Prentice - Canada
Jen Saunders - Canada
Cristina Amaya - Columbia
Carolina Gomez - Columbia
Claudine Garcia - Dominican Republic
Yira Portes - Dominican Republic
Cristina Cordova - Ecuador
Maria Paz Munoz - Ecuador
Monica Escobar - Guatemala
Marie Gomar - Guatemala
Ana Fortin - Honduras
Pamela Sierra - Honduras
Nancy Enriquez - Mexico
Paola Longoria - Mexico
Vivian Rodriguez - Puerto Rico
Kim Vanegas - Puerto Rico
Islhey Mariana Paredes - Venezuela
Marianna Tobon - Venezuela

Women's Doubles

Jenny Daza Navia & Carola Loma - Bolivia
Geneviève Brodeur & Frédérique Lambert - Canada
Cristina Amaya & Carolina Gomez - Columbia
Claudine Garcia & Yira Portes - Dominican Republic
Cristina Cordova & Maria Paz Munoz - Ecuador
Marie Gomar & Lucy Zachrisson - Guatemala
Ana Fortin & Pamela Sierra - Honduras
Susana Acosta-Mendoza & Samantha Salas Solis - Mexico
Raquel Perez & Kim Vanegas - Puerto Rico
Islhey Mariana Paredes & Marianna Tobon - Venezuela

Follow the bouncing ball....

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