Tuesday, August 10, 2010

2010 World Championships PREVIEW

There are only a few days now until the beginning of the 15th International Racquetball Federation (IRF) World Championships in Seoul, South Korea. Two years ago in Kingscourt, Ireland, the USA swept all four individual titles as well as the team competitions, and Team USA has brought all those team members to Seoul with one exception.

Ben Croft makes his Team USA debut in men's doubles with partner Mitch Williams, who won the doubles title with Jason Thoerner in Ireland. Croft and Williams will be joined by defending champions Rocky Carson (men's singles), Rhonda Rajsich (women's singles), Aimee Ruiz and Jackie Paraiso (women's doubles) as well as Jack Huczek and Cheryl Gudinas.

Team Mexico is likely the biggest obstacle in the way of the Americans plans to repeat. Mexican Paola Longoria has to be considered the favorite in women's singles, as she's the #1 player on the Women's Professional Racquetball Organization (WPRO) rankings.

But in a curious move, it seems Longoria will be playing both singles and doubles, which could have an effect on her by the end of the competition. Her doubles partner will be Samantha Salas. Nancy Enriquez is their other women's singles player.

Note that Longoria, Salas and Enrquiez are all young players, and Mexico has also sent a young men's team to Korea, as Alejandro Landa and Eduardo Avila will play singles and Landa will also play doubles with Miguel Perea.

That's right racquetball fans: no Alvaro Beltran or Gilberto Mejia, and no Polo Gutierrez and Javier Moreno in doubles. Those four players were the Mexican team in the Central American Games two weeks ago.

This is likely a strategic move by Mexico to get their younger players more international competition, especially as Mexico will be hosting the Pan American Games next year in Guadalajara.

The Canadian contingent in Korea will be a mix of young and old, as three Canadians are making their World Championship debuts, although all three played in the Pan American Championships earlier this year. Indeed, one of the rookies - Tim Landeryou - won men's doubles with veteran Mike Green.

Green and Landeryou will again play doubles in Korea and the other two Canadian Worlds rookies are playing women's doubles: Brandi Jacobson Prentice and Frédérique Lambert. Rounding out the Canadian team are Vincent Gagnon, Kris Odegard, Jennifer Saunders, and Josée Grand'Maître, who are all playing singles.

Seventeen countries will be represented by more than one player. Joining the USA, Mexico and Canada will be Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, India, Ireland, Japan, Taiwan, Tonga, Venezuela, and the hosts from South Korea.

Players to watch from those other countries include Ricardo Monroy of Bolivia, who won the Pan American Championships earlier this year, Columbians Cristina Amaya, Alejandro Herrera and Juan Herrera, as well as Japanese players Maiko Sato and Hiroshi Shimizu.

Also, Véronique Guillemette, who played for Canada in Ireland two years ago, will be in Seoul, but in powder blue and white rather than red and white, as she'll be playing for Argentina. Guillemette moved to Buenos Aires in 2009 to be with her partner veteran Argentine player Daniel Maggi.

Matches will be streamed live over the internet. Go to the IRF web page to find the link.

Below are the results from the 2008 IRF World Championships.

2008 IRF World Championships Results

Men's Singles
Gold Rocky Carson (USA)
Silver Jack Huczek (USA)
Bronze Alvaro Beltran (Mexico) and Vincent Gagnon (Canada)

Men's Doubles
Gold Jason Thoerner & Mitch Williams (USA)
Silver Gilberto Meija & Javiar Moreno (Mexico)
Bronze Cesar Castro & Jorge Hirsekorn (Venezuela) and Hiroshi Shimizu & Michimune Kono (Japan)

Women's Singles
Gold Rhonda Rajsich (USA)
Silver Cheryl Gudinas (USA)
Bronze Paola Longoria (Mexico) and Jennifer Saunders (Canada)

Women's Doubles
Gold Aimee Ruiz & Jacqueline Paraiso (USA)
Silver Geneviève Brodeur & Veronique Guillemette (Canada)
Bronze Angela Grisar & Fabiola Marquez (Chile) and Paola Longoria & Rosy Torres (Mexico)

Follow the bouncing ball....

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