Saturday, August 11, 2012

Mexico wins women's, USA men's & overall at IRF World Championships

Mexico won the Women's Team Competition at the 16th International Racquetball Federation (IRF) World Championships in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, and the victory over the USA in the final marks the first time that the American women have not won the title.

And their loss was in two straight matches, as Paola Longoria defeated Rhonda Rajsich, 15-4, 14-15, 11-9, and then Jessica Parrilla beat Cheryl Gudinas, 15-13, 13-15, 11-4.

Longoria won game one versus Rajsich easily, but in game two they were close early and Rajsich led 5-4. However, Longoria stepped it up and took a 10-6 lead, and looked to be on the way to a win in two straight games.

But Rajsich fought back, tied the game at 13-13 and then got to 14 first. Then Longoria got the serve back and tied it at 14-14 with a pinch kill to the left corner.

Longoria's first match point was the first of six great rallies, and this one ended with Longoria skipping the ball on what looked to be a back wall set up until the ball took a funny bounce.

On the next rally, Longoria hit a pinch kill to the right corner, ending another long rally. Rajsich again fought off match point with a backhand splat shot off the left wall.

The next rally was the shortest of the six, as Rajsich hit a half lob serve to the left that Longoria short-hopped with her backhand, hitting it cross-court for a winner.

On her third match point, Longoria had a good set up on the right side, but skipped the ball. She appealed the call, but both linejudges agreed with the referee. The ball was close to right wall, which was glass so that might have been a factor in Longoria's error.

Rajsich finally won game one with a long pinch winner on her backhand side.

In the tie-breaker, the players were close early, including being tied 4-4. Then Longoria took the lead at 8-4 and 10-6. Rajsich kept working and cut the lead to one at 10-9.

The final rally began with Longoria drive serving to the left. Rajsich returned it with a ceiling ball that came off the back wall, and Longoria hit a backhand pinch shot to the left corner.

Longoria's pinch wasn't very good and Rajsich may have been expecting better as she seemed caught off guard and despite moving to the front court in anticipation of the shot, Rajsich skipped her shot.

That put Cheryl Gudinas in a must win situation against Jessica Parrilla. Given their relative rankings on the women's pro tour, one would think that a Gudinas win was likely. But sporting contests don't always work out like they are 'supposed' to and this match was a case in point.

Early in game one, it looked otherwise though, as Gudinas was up 7-4 and 11-9. But Parrilla tied the game at 13-13, and then got the final two points to win it 15-13. She hit primarily lob z serves to the right side, which was Gudinas's forehand side but also was the glass side wall.

As with Longoria, Parrilla looked good to take the match in two straight as she had a 12-6 lead in game two. But Gudinas started hitting drive serves and drive z serves, and that put her into the lead at 13-12, and then a 15-13 win.

But Gudinas was only postponing the inevitable as Parrilla took a 5-0 lead in the tie-breaker, and went on to win 11-4.

The Canadian women won the 3rd place match against Colombia, as Carolina Gomez, who played both singles and doubles for Colombia, had an injury left knee, so she was unable to play on Saturday.

USA wins men's title

On the men's side, American Rocky Carson won the first match of the USA-Canada final against Mike Green, 15-8, 15-8. Green played well, despite having to play four times on Friday, but Carson - the #2 player on the International Racquetball Tour (IRT) - played that little bit better.

The win put Kris Odegard in a must win position for his match against Jose Rojas (the #3 IRT player), as he needed to win for Canada to force a third and deciding doubles match. Early in game one of Odegard-Rojas, it looked like the doubles match would be necessary, as Odegard was playing well and got to game point first at 14-12. But he couldn't get that last point, as Rojas came back and won game one 15-14.

In game two, Rojas started well and built a big lead at 11-5. But Odegard didn't give up and cut the difference to one at 11-10. However, that's as close as he got, as Rojas made some clutch shots and closed out game two, taking the match, 15-14, 15-10, and giving the USA the men's team title.

In the men's third place match, Mexico defeated Bolivia, 2-0, with wins by Polo Gutierrez over Carlos Keller, 15-5, 15-11, and Gilberto Mejia over Kadim Carrasco, 15-3, 15-3.

Thus, the overall team title went to the USA (1st in the men's, 2nd in women's) with Mexico second (3rd in men's, 1st in women's), Canada third (2nd in men's, 3rd in women's) and Ecuador fourth (6th in men's, 5th in women's).

16th IRF World Championships
Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

Men's Team Competition


(1) USA d. (2) CANADA, 2-0
- Rocky Carson (USA) d. Mike Green (Canada), 15-8, 15-8
- Jose Rojas (USA) d. Kris Odegard (Canada), 15-14, 15-10

3rd Place

(3) Mexico v. (4) Bolivia
- Polo Gutierrez (Mexico) d. Carlos Keller (Bolivia), 15-5, 15-11
- Gilberto Mejia (Mexico) d. Kadim Carrasco (Bolivia), 15-3, 15-3

Women's Team Competition


(3) Mexico d. (1) USA, 2-0
- Paola Longoria (Mexico) d. Rhonda Rajsich (USA), 15-2, 15-1
- Jessica Parrilla (Mexico) d. Cheryl Gudinas (USA), 15-13, 13-15, 11-4

3rd Place

(2) CANADA d. (13) Colombia, 2-0
- Brandi Jacobson Prentice (Vaudreuil-dorion, Que.) d. Cristina Amaya (Colombia), default
- Jennifer Saunders (Winnipeg) d. Carolina Gomez (Colombia), injury forfeit

Follow the bouncing ball....

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