Monday, October 21, 2013

IRF 25th World Junior Championships - Day 1

Play began on Sunday at the 25th International Racquetball Federation (IRF) World Junior Racquetball Championships in Sucre, Bolivia, and there were a few upsets*.

Girl's Rounds

In the girl's rounds, Melania Sauma of Costa Rica - the 12th seed - had the only upset on Sunday in Girl's U18 singles, as she defeatd 5th seed Paulina Sempertegui of Ecuador, 15-2, 15-1.

Girl's U18 doubles is being played as a double round robin, as there are only three teams, in part because Canada, Costa Rica, the USA and Venezuela only have one U18 girl entered in Sucre. In the first match of the competition, Alexandra Herrera and Ximena Gonzalez beat Paola Cossio and Masiel Rivera of Bolivia, 15-7, 15-14. Guatemalans Maria Renee Rodriguez and Ana Gabriela Martinez are the third team in this division.

In Girl's U16 singles, both Dominican Republic players won their matches, despite being the lower seeded players. Maria Cespedes defeated American Kaitlin Simmons, 15-0, 15-2, and Merinanliely Delgado beat Andrea Martinez of Guatemala, 15-11, 15-4.

But the Dominicans lost their doubles match against top seeded Mexicans Diana Aguilar and Montserrat Perez, 15-5, 15-2. However, Bolivians Iriana AvendaƱo Cuellar and Natalia Mendez upset Americans Hollie Scott and Simmmons, 15-6, 15-3, in a battle of the 3rd and 2nd, respectively, seeded teams. Girls U16 doubles is a five team round robin, with Canadians Danielle Drury and Michelle Morissette as the fifth team.

There was an upset in Girl's U14 singles as 9th seed Ana Gabriela Martinez of Guatemala defeated #1 seed Monserrat Mejia of Mexico, 15-14, 15-9. Also in Girl's U14 doubles, the Bolivian team of Adriana Homsi and Wanda Carajal won the 3/4 seed match against Canadians Annie Fisher and Alexis Iwaasa, 15-3, 15-10.

Boy's Rounds

A couple of upsets in Boy's U18 singles, including a win by the narrowest of margins when 15th seed Diego Pimentel of the Dominican Republic beat 6th seed Luis Fernando Polo, 5-15, 15-14, 11-10. Also, the Bolivian boys in U18 are seeded lowly due to their team's results last year, but both won on Sunday.

Diego Crespo (Bolivia), 14th seed, beat Michael Leduc (Canada), 6th seed, 15-3, 15-13, and Conrado Kevin Moscoso Ortiz (Bolivia), 12th seed, defeated Edwin Haraldo Galicia Lutin of Guatemala, the 9th seed, 15-0, 15-9.

One upset in Boy's U18 doubles, as the Costa Rican team of Andres Aviles and Gabriel Garcia got the better of the Canadian team of Michael Leduc and Anthony Schonberger, 15-10, 15-3.

No upsets in Boy's U16 but perhaps the highlight of play on Sunday was American Sam Bredenbeck's win over Christian Chavez of Ecuador, 10-15, 15-7, 11-10, because it showed what international competition is all about with wild cheering for both sides in the tie-breaker.

In that tie-breaker, Bredenbeck was ahead all the way, leading 4-2, 8-4 and 10-8. But Chavez never quit, and tied the game at 10-10. He was on the verge of an upset and had a glorious chance for a winner when Brendenbeck hit a ball that hit the back wall about 10 feet high. It was a clear set up for Chavez on his backhand, but he skipped it.

On the next rally Brendenbeck served to the left side - Chavez's backhand - and again Chavez had an opportunity to make a good return as the serve came off the back wall, but sadly for the Ecuadoran he skipped the serve return giving the game and match to the American.

Some upsets in Boy's U14, as Set Cubillos of Colombia defeated Justus Benson of the USA, 15-9, 15-6 and in doubles all two of the three higher ranked teams lost their first matches on Sunday, including the Americans Benson and Evan Wargo, who were beaten by Cubillos and Arturo Gonzalez, 15-8, 15-6. The Boy's U14 doubles is a six team round robin.

Other notes: there are 170 players on the Bolivian team at this year's World Juniors. Also, play was interrupted briefly on Sunday when the power went out in the late afternoon. It was out for about 20 min causing a delay in the matches, but play resumed once the power came back on.

*NOTE: initial seedings for group play are based on performances from last year's World Juniors, so the players from the country that won the division, for example, are seeded 1st and 3rd (thereby those players would be on opposite sides of the draw if all the preliminary matches go according to the seedings). Of course, players often change from year to year, and as the seeding goes with the country not the player, an "upset" based on the initial seedings should not be taken as something that's necessarily surprising. This is why the tournament has a preliminary round to determine the seeding for the elimination, or playoff, round.

Follow the bouncing ball....

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