Monday, June 9, 2014

2014 IRF World Championships Preview

On Friday, the 17th International Racquetball Federation (IRF) World Championships opening ceremonies will happen in Burlington, Ontario, Canada. Worlds were last in Canada in 1992 in Montreal.

Mexican Team

We've got confirmation on who's playing for Mexico this year. Paola Longoria will lead the Mexican team and play Women's Singles and Doubles with Samantha Salas, who will also play Women's Singles. Their men's team will be Alvaro Beltran and Polo Gutierrez in Men's Singles with Daniel De La Rosa and Edson Martinez as the Men's Doubles team.

Historical tidbits

Sixty-four gold medals have been awarded at the 16 previous World Championships: one each in Women's Singles and Doubles and Men's Singles and Doubles. Mexicans and Canadians have won 16 of those 64 medals with Americans winning the other 48.

The USA has swept the four medal categories five times: in 1981, 1992, 1996, 2004, and 2008. The USA has won at at least two of the four individual event medals at every World Championship, except the last one.

In 2012, Mexico won three of the four individual competitions: Women's Singles and Doubles (Longoria and Longoria & Salas) and Men's Doubles (Beltran and Javier Moreno). Rocky Carson was the only American gold medalist two years ago.

Three players competing this year are among those tied for second most career Worlds gold medals: Beltran, Carson, and Longoria. By winning in Burlington, two of them could become the sole player in second all time behind American Jackie Paraiso, who's won seven World Championships in women's doubles.

Only two of the three, because Beltran and Carson are both playing Men's Singles, so only one of them can win gold in Burlington.

Team Competition Change

There's a change in the tournament format this year, as there will be no team competition. Previously, there were separate competitions for the individual titles and then a team competition with countries playing off against each other in a best of three match format involving two singles matches and a doubles match.

But this year, there will be a preliminary round of matches with players in groups of three or four players, and then an elimination round. This format has been used in recent Junior World and Pan Am Championship competitions.

Overall, players from over 20 countries will be competing, and the semi-final and final matches can be viewed via the IRF Network.

Play begins June 14 with three days of pool play followed by an off day and then the elimination rounds on Wednesday leading to the finals on June 21.

Follow the bouncing ball....

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