Saturday, October 25, 2014

Three new champions from three different countries in Boy's singles at World Junior Championships

Four of the six finals in the boy's divisions needed tie-breakers to determine the winners, as boys from three different countries won singles at this year's International Racquetball Federation (IRF) World Junior Racquetball Championships held in Cali, Colombia.

The two finals that were over in two straight games both involved American Jordan Barth. Barth won Boy's U14 singles by defeating Andres Montero of Costa Rica, 15-10, 15-11. But he and Justus Benson lost to Mexicans Cristian Longoria and Jordy Alonso, 15-9, 15-6.

In the singles final, Barth was down against Montero, a left-hander, in game two early at 4-1, 9-5 and 10-7. But he tied the game at 10-10. Barth then got to match point at 14-10, using his height advantage to generate a lot force against Montero, who is more of a control player.

The Costa Rican didn't give in easily, as he fought off two match points, and scored another point before the American got the championship point he needed.

Bolivian Mario Mercado again surprised the crowd, as he defeated countryman and last year's champion Conrado Moscoso to claim the U18 title, winning 15-12, 7-15, 11-7. In winning the title, Mercado beat 4th seed Adam Manilla of the USA, 1st seed Coby Iwaasa of Canada, and then the defending champion. Thus, the title is well deserved after that difficult path.

It was not an easy victory in the final either, as Mercado was down 7-0 in game one. But he came back by scoring 15 points and holding Moscoso to only five more. The game winner was a diving kill shot.

They were close early in game two with Moscoso leading 7-6. But then he ran the score up while holding Mercado to only one more point, as Moscoso won 15-7 to force a tie-breaking third game.

In the breaker, Moscoso quickly went up 5-0 using a lob nick serve to Mercado's backhand. Some observers thought the match was over at that point.

But Mercado called a timeout. Then he got the serve back, and scored a couple of points to make it 5-2 in favour of Moscoso.

They went back and forth for a few rallies before Moscoso scored two points to make it 7-2. On the next rally, Moscoso was hit by the ball on a rally where it looked like he would win.

Yet from then on, Moscoso failed to score any points, as Mercado got nine unanswered points to win the game, match and championship. The winning shot was a soft forehand down the right side with Moscoso getting himself up off the floor on the left side. Moscoso appealed for a hinder on the rally, but it was denied, as one of the line judges agreed with the referee that there was no hinder.

In a bit of irony, the serve that Mercado used to get back in the tie-breaker was the serve that Iwaasa used against him to come back and win the second game of their semi-final match on Friday: a lob z to the right or forehand side.

The Boy's U18 final also needed tie-breaker, as Mexicans Erik Garcia and Francisco Mar turned a match that seemed all but lost to defeat Americans Sawyer Lloyd and Adam Manilla, 1-15, 15-13, 11-8.

The Americans won the first game in the blink of an eye, and were three points from the title at 12-5 and then two points at 13-6. But the Mexicans came back, and tied the game at 13-13.

But the Americans got the serve back at that point. However, they failed to score at Manilla skipped two shots. The first was a bang-bang play in the front court and the second was a forced error.

Serving again, the Mexicans closed out game two with two more skips from Manilla.

The pattern of scoring was reversed in game three, as the Mexicans went up 7-1 only to see the Americans come back and tie it at 7-7 with Manilla hitting a clean down the line winner.

But three pinch shots by Garcia got them the serve back and two points to make it 9-7 in favour of the Mexicans. The US called a timeout, but when play resumed Mar hit a backhand pinch to the front left corner to give them match point.

The Americans got the serve back with Lloyd hitting a forehand pinch shot and Manilla a kill shot off a straight drive serve. They scored a point, but then gave up the serve after a Garcia kill shot and a splat return from Mar.

For much of the second part of the match, Lloyd - the right side American player - was hitting jam serves to the left side that came around to Mar on the right side (Garcia was playing the left side). For his serves, Mar hit a lot of half lob serves tight to the right side glass wall.

With the serve back, Mexico thought they'd won the match but a no hinder call was overturned by the line judges giving the Americans another chance. That chance lasted only one rally, however, as Lloyd ended a rally with a skipped forehand pinch shot that was not off by much.

Cristian Longoria of Mexico - the younger brother of Paola Longoria, the #1 player on the Ladies Professional Racquetball Tour (LPRT) - won both the singles and doubles titles in Boy's U16. He beat Cristhian Mina of Bolivia in the singles final, winning 15-10, 8-15, 11-5, and with Jordy Alonso, beat the Americans Jordan Barth and Justus Benson, as mentioned above.

Finally, the Boy's U14 doubles title went to Eduardo Portillo and Santiago Garcia of Mexico, who beat Costa Ricans Andres Montero and Julian Homberger, 15-12, 8-15, 11-5.

The matches that were streamed live will be archived, and available early next week via the IRF Network.

26th IRF World Junior Racquetball Championships
Cali, Colombia

Boy's U18 Singles Final

Mario Mercado (Bolivia) d. Conrado Moscoso (Bolivia), 15-12, 7-15, 11-7

Boy's U16 Singles Final

Cristian Longoria (Mexico) d. Cristhian Mina (Bolivia), 15-10, 8-15, 11-5

Boy's U14 Singles Final

Jordan Barth (USA) d. Andres Montero (Costa Rica), 15-10, 15-11

Boy's U18 Doubles Final

Erik Garcia & Francisco Mar (Mexico) d. Sawyer Lloyd & Adam Manilla (USA), 1-15, 15-13, 11-8

Boy's U16 Doubles Final

Jordy Alonso & Cristian Longoria (Mexico) d. Jordan Barth & Justus Benson (USA), 15-9, 15-6

Boy's U14 Doubles Final

Santiago Garcia & Eduardo Portillo (Mexico) d. Julian Homberger & Andres Montero (Costa Rica), 15-12, 8-15, 11-5

Follow the bouncing ball....

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