Friday, October 14, 2011

2011 Pan American Games - Guadalajara begins today!

The 2011 Pan American Games begin today in Guadalajara, Mexico. The racquetball competition begins on Monday, and has two parts. An individual compeition, which will run Monday to Saturday (Oct 17-22) and a team competition, which will run Sunday October 23 to Tuesday October 25.

The Pan American Games are the second largest multi-sport event in the world behind only the Summer Olympic Games. These games serve as an Olympic qualifying event for several sports, such as water polo and field hockey, so this is really a big deal.

Of course, racquetball isn't an Olympic sport, so many view the Pan Am Games as racquetball's Olympics, although only countries in the Americas can compete. However, the strongest racquetball nations - the USA, Mexico and Canada - are in the Americas so it is an Olympic level competition in that regard.

The last time racquetball was in the Pan Am Games was in 2003 in the Dominican Republic. The 2007 games were in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and Brazil is just about the only country in the Americas that doesn't have an active racquetball community. Thus, the local organizing committee of the 2007 chose to leave racquetball off the program.

There was no question that racquetball, as a non-core Pan Am Games sport, was going to be left off the program in Mexico, as Mexico is a racquetball powerhouse. In fact, racquetball player Paola Longoria was in charge of lighting the first torch for the Pan Am Games as it began its journey from Mexico City to Guadalajara.

Team rosters

Longoria will be one of the Mexican players competing in Guadalajara, and she'll be playing singles and doubles along with Samatha Salas Solis, who's also scheduled to play both events.

Alvaro Beltran will also play both events on the men's side for Mexcio. Javier Moreno will be his doubles partner, and Gilberto Meija will be the other singles player.

The USA roster has had a couple of shake-ups from what might have been expected back in the spring. These have resulted from Jack Huczek's retirement, Ben Croft's job commitments, and Jackie Paraiso's family commitments.

Thus, the American team will be Rhonda Rajsich playing both singles and doubles, with Aimee Ruiz, and Cheryl Gudinas filling the other women's singles spot. On the men's side, Rocky Carson will play singles with Alex Ackermann and the US men's doubles team will be Chris Crowther and Shane Vanderson.

Canada's representatives are going to be Jennifer Saunders and Frédérique T. Lambert in women's singles and Josée Grand'Maître and Brandi Jacobson Prentice in women's doubles. The Canadian men are Mike Green and Vincent Gagnon in singles with Kris Odegard and Tim Landeryou in doubles.

There will certainly be strong players from other countries, such as Angela Grisar of Chile, Cristina Amaya of Colombia and Ricardo Monroy of Bolivia.

Follow the bouncing ball....

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