Saturday, April 4, 2015

Longoria & Diaz win singles at 2015 Pan Am Championships

Paola Longoria of Mexico and Jose Diaz of the USA are the 2015 Pan American Racquetball Champions in Women's Singles and Men's Singles, respectively, winning the title in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic on Saturday in what were undramatic finals, as both Longoria and Diaz won in two straight games.

Longoria defeated Veronica Sotomayor of Ecuador, 15-2, 15-5, in what was a very lopsided match. Sotomayor usually a very accurate player didn't kill a ball until well into the second game. But Longoria killed a lot of balls, as well as serving some aces, including on game point in the first game, when she hit a Z serve to the right side glass wall.

Game two was a little better for Sotomayor, who scored her first point after Longoria had four. Sotomayor didn't score in game one until Longoria had eleven. But 4-1 was as close as Sotomayor got to Longoria.

Curiously, Longoria lob served to end the match, beginning at 13-5. Strange because she'd been drive serving effectively up throughout the match to that point. For her part, Sotomayor tried a variety of serves to get something going, but nothing proved to be very effective.

The Men's Singles final was an All-American battle between Diaz and Jake Bredenbeck. We imagined it would be close, but Diaz had other ideas, and won it comfortably 15-7, 15-5. In fact, they were tied at 6-6 in game one, and then Diaz scored 24 of the next 30 points in what turned into a dominating performance.

Although the scores weren't close, there were some great shots by both players, and none better than the match winner, which came from Diaz diving to the right side glass wall and hitting a pinch kill shot into the right corner. A great way to end it.

Afterwards, Diaz said he "was hoping [Bredenbeck] wouldn't drive serve well," and he got his wish, as we anticipated Bredenbeck didn't drive serve very much, given the one serve rule in effect. But after losing the first game during which he only drove serve once, Bredenbeck drove serve on his first three serve opportunities in game two, and faulted on all three.

For his part, Diaz didn't drive serve at all, and when asked why he explained that "it's a long tournament," and drive serving can take its toll. Also, Diaz said "I'm fast, so I can get to ball, so if I get in a rally, I feel I can dominate in the rally."

Diaz said it was "bitter sweet" to be playing a team-mate in the the final, but better in the final than earlier in the draw. But once they get on court "it's just another guy."

"It feels good," to win the tournament, Diaz said, as the hard training he's done for the last month - playing a lot, getting stronger, upping his conditioning - paid off in his first international win in Men's Singles. Perhaps ironically, Diaz's first international win overall came last year in Men's Doubles with Bredenbeck as his partner at the Pan American Sports Organization festival in Guadalajara, Mexico.

If you missed the finals, you can see them the archive via the International Racquetball Federation website.

XXVIII Pan American Racquetball Championships
Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic - March 28-April 4, 2015

Women's Singles - Final

1) Paola Longoria (Mexico) d. 7) Veronica Sotomayor (Ecuador), 15-2, 15-5

Men's Singles - Final

7) Jose Diaz (USA) d. 5) Jake Bredenbeck (USA), 15-7, 15-5

Follow the bouncing ball....

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