Wednesday, August 8, 2012

16th IRF World Championships - Individual Results Summary

We're halfway through the 16th International Racquetball Federation (IRF) World Championships in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, so it's a good time to review what's happened so far. For the first time, Americans won only one of the individual competition gold medals. Also for the first time, Mexico won three gold medals in individual competition. Mexico's previous best was two in 2000.

To the Americans credit, all of their players or teams did medal while one of the Mexicans did not. Also in the American's defence one could say they left some of their best players at home, as Ben Croft, say, could have helped them in men's doubles.

But it's on the women's side where the USA should be most concerned as for the first time they didn't have any women playing for gold. They've once before failed to put a woman in the singles final, which was back in 2006 when the women's singles finalists were Christie Van Hees (Canada) and Angela Grisar (Chile).

This year Grisar did to them again as she and Carla Muñoz defeated the US women's doubles team of Aimee Ruiz and Rhonda Rajsich in the semi-finals. Of course, Ruiz was a late replacement for Kim Waselenchuk, who won the USA National Doubles Championship with Rajsich, so one could argue that was a factor. However, Ruiz and Rajsich played doubles in last year's Pan American Games, so it's not like they had no experience together.

The question is whether age is catching up to the American women, as all are over 30. That would be OK if there were young American women on the verge of making the team, but we don't see that. As The Racquetball Blog has pointed out, there aren't a lot of junior girls playing at the US Junior Nationals and few Americans under 30 in the top 20 of the women's pro tour.

It's an issue that the USA needs to address.

Good news, bad news

Agustin Tristan, playing for Catalunya, had what could be the best ever result for a man playing for European country. Tristan made the quarter finals, and finished in 7th. Gary Mazaroff, IRF Tournament Director, couldn't recall a better performance. Perhaps back in the early competitions, but certainly, there hasn't been one recently.

Tristan didn't grow up in Catalunya, which is the Spanish region around Barcelona. He grew up in San Luis Potosi, Mexico and was Boy's U16 World Champion for Mexico in 2002. But Catalunya has had team's at Worlds previously and their racquetball organization agreed to let Tristan - and his sister Rebeca, who also played this week - represent them this year in Santo Domingo.

And he's done a fine job of it.

Not such a good job was turned in by the Japanese team, particularly the men, who lost all their matches on day one of the competition for the first time in a long while. The Japanese team of Hiroshi Shimizu and Michimune Kono were men's doubles bronze medalists in 2008 but lost their first match this week to a young Dominican Republic team of Junior Rodriguez and Ramon De Leon, although they did go on and win the Red (Consolation) division.

In singles, Kono was taken out by Argentine veteran Shai Manzuri, and Takaaki Hirose was a victim of Agustin Tristan. Kono finished 19th and Hirose 20th.

The Japanese women did fine, although they didn't repeat their podium performance in doubles from two years ago. In singles, Naomi Wakimoto was 7th and Toshiko Sakimoto was 12th.

Go Guatemala!

Finally, kudos to Edwin Galicia & Pedro Manolo Sandoval of Guatemala, who earned what we believe is Guatemala's first ever medal at the World Championships. The bronze medalists in men's doubles aren't even men yet, technically, as they're still junior players, but their racquetball future is bright.

The second half of Worlds begins Thursday with the team competition, which will conclude Saturday. There's live streaming via the IRF website.

16th IRF World Championships
Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

Men's Singles

GOLD - Rocky Carson (USA)
SILVER - Gilberto Meija (Mexico)
BRONZE - Polo Gutierrez (Mexico) & Jose Rojas (USA)

Men's Doubles

GOLD - Alvaro Beltran & Javier Moreno (Mexico)
SILVER - Jansen Allen & Tony Carson (USA)
BRONZE - Edwin Galicia & Pedro Manolo Sandoval (Guatemala) and Ricardo Monroy & Roland Keller (Bolivia)

Women's Singles

GOLD - Paola Longoria (Mexico)
SILVER - Jennifer Saunders (Canada)
BRONZE - Rhonda Rajsich (USA) and Cheryl Gudinas (USA)

Women's Doubles

GOLD - Paola Longoria & Samantha Salas Solis (Mexico)
SILVER - Angela Grisar & Carla Muñoz (Chile)
BRONZE - Aimee Ruiz & Rhonda Rajsich (USA) and Josée Grand'Maître & Frédérique Lambert (Canada)

Total Medals by country

Mexico - 3 Gold, 1 Silver, 1 Bronze
USA - 1 Gold, 1 Silver, 4 Bronze
Canada - 1 Silver, 1 Bronze
Chile - 1 Silver
Bolivia - 1 Bronze
Guatemala - 1 Bronze

Follow the bouncing ball....

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