Thursday, March 29, 2018

Rajsich on track to defend title at 2018 Pan American Championships

Rhonda Rajsich of the USA is the defending Women’s Singles Champion at the XXXI Pan American Championships in Temuco, Chile, and she knocked off the top seed Maria Jose Vargas of Argentina, 15-10, 15-5, in the quarterfinals Thursday to keep her hopes of successfully defending the title alive. She’ll play Gabriela Martinez of Guatemala in the semi-finals Friday in what will be a rematch from the 2016 World Championships, when the Guatemalan teenager upset the American veteran.

In Thursday's quarterfinals, Martinez needed a tie-breaker to get by Natalia Mendez of Argentina, 15-12, 10-15, 11-2.

Rajsich had a good start in game one against Vargas, going up 6-2. Vargas never got closer than four points the rest of the game. She continued to put up the good fight against Rajsich, but wasn’t as good as the American on the day, as Rajsich took the first game 15-10. Game two was similar with Rajsich up 6-1, and again the closest Vargas got was four points at 7-3, as Rajsich went on to win 15-5.

On the other side of the draw, Paola Longoria of Mexico broke Bolivian Jasmine Sabja’s glass slipper, but it wasn’t easy for the Mexican, who won 15-12, 15-6. Not easy because Sabja led for most game one, and by as many as four points at 10-6 and 11-7. However, Longoria caught up at 11-11, and after they were tied 12-12, she finished it off 15-12.

Having survived game one, Longoria jumped out to a big lead in game two, as the young Bolivian seemed deflated. Longoria was up 9-0 before Sabja scored, but then she strung a few points together, helped by using a backhand Z serve to Longoria’s backhand that the Mexican clearly did not like.

So even though Longoria got the serve back at 9-5, there was hope the Bolivian could make it even closer with that serve. Unfortunately, Sabja didn’t serve again until 13-5. And when she did serve again, Sabja hit a drive serve to the right, which she used some in game one. It seemed like an unusual choice, except she hit it for an ace.

But Sabja couldn’t do it twice, and Longoria got the serve back on the next rally, as she went on to win game two, 15-6.

In the semi-finals, Longoria will play her team-mate and former doubles partner Samantha Salas, who needed a tie-breaker to fend off Colombian Cristina Amaya, 15-13, 7-15, 11-7.

On the men’s side, the closest match involved top seed Rodrigo Montoya of Mexico who defeated Costa Rican Andres Acuña in two close games, 15-12, 15-14. Word is that Acuña was ahead 14-7 in game two only to see Montoya come all the way back and finish the game off after saving multiple game points.

Montoya will play Carlos Keller of Bolivia in the semi-finals. Keller denied Cuban Maikel Mollet what would have been the first medal for a Cuban at the Pan Am Championships with 15-7, 15-7 win.

The other semi will be a rematch of the International Racquetball Tour (IRT) Shamrock Shootout from earlier this month, as Mexican Andree Parrilla will take on American David Horn. In that match, Parrilla came out on top, winning his first IRT event. But it wasn’t Horn’s best performance, and we're certain he'll want to do better on Friday.

To get to the semis, Parrilla defeated Francisco Troncoso of Chile, 15-10, 15-6, and Horn beat Canadian Pedro Castro, 15-7, 15-2. Castro was up 7-2 in game one, only to see Horn win 13 straight points, and take the game 15-7. After the match, we heard that Castro picked up an injury during the match, which could explain his lack of enthusiasm in game two. Nevertheless, Horn did play well, and will look to do that again in the semi against Parrilla.

XXXI Pan American Racquetball Championships
Temuco, Chile - March 24-31, 2018

Women's Singles - Quarterfinals - Thursday

8) Rhonda Rajsich (USA) d. 1) Maria José Vargas (Argentina), 15-10, 15-5
4) Gabriela Martinez (Guatemala) d. 12) Natalia Mendez (Argentina), 15-12, 10-15, 11-2

3) Samantha Salas (Mexico) d. 6) Cristina Amaya (Colombia), 15-13, 7-15, 11-7
10) Paola Longoria (Mexico) d. 15) Jasmine Sabja (Bolivia), 15-12, 15-6

Women's Singles - Semi-finals - Friday

4) Gabriela Martinez (Guatemala) v. 8) Rhonda Rajsich (USA) - 11 AM
3) Samantha Salas (Mexico) v. 10) Paola Longoria (Mexico) - 10 AM

Men's Singles - Quarterfinals - Thursday

1) Rodrigo Montoya (Mexico) d. 9) Andres Acuña (Costa Rica), 15-12, 15-14
5) Carlos Keller (Bolivia) d. 4) Maikel Mollet (Cuba), 15-7, 15-7

3) Andree Parrilla (Mexico) v. 6) Francisco Troncoso (Chile), 15-10, 15-6
2) David Horn (USA) d. 7) Pedro Castro (Canada), 15-7, 15-2

Men's Singles - Semi-finals - Friday

1) Rodrigo Montoya (Mexico) v. 5) Carlos Keller (Bolivia) - Noon
2) David Horn (USA) v. 3) Andree Parrilla (Mexico) - 1 PM

* Note: Temuco is 1 hour ahead of Eastern time, so 1 PM above would be noon eastern.

Follow the bouncing ball....

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