Sunday, July 26, 2015

Mexico wins gold in Men's Team event at 2015 Pan American Games

Mexico defeated the USA in two straight matches to capture gold in the Men's Team event at the 2015 Pan American Games, which is a repeat of their performance four years ago in Guadalajara. Sunday, Daniel De La Rosa defeated Jake Bredenbeck in the first match, 15-12, 15-12, and then in a repeat of this year's Men's Singles gold medal match, Alvaro Beltran defeated Rocky Carson, 15-12, 15-7.

De La Rosa and Bredenbeck was close early in game one, as they were tied at 6-6. Bredendbeck actually went ahead 7-6, but De La Rosa held him there and scored eight unanswered points to lead 14-7.

Credit to Bredenbeck for staging a comeback to get it within two at 14-12, but giving a player of De La Rosa's quality that large a lead is not good. De La Rosa won it with a forehand cross court shot from left to right.

In game two, Bredenbeck took the lead early at 7-2. But De La Rosa came back, and tied the game at 7-7. Then the Mexican got a bit of a lead and extended it to 14-8. Bredenbeck again came back to 14-12. At that point, De La Rosa took a timeout, and when play resumed he got the serve back, and scored the final point on a backhand down the line shot that was tight to the left wall. Bredenbeck dove to try to keep the ball in play, but his effort was in vain.

Carson confirmed after the match that he suffered a hand injury, saying "I dove, and I put my hand down, and my thumb was pointing straight down. When I landed I felt it go back."

He was hoping it was just a sprain, but "when I pushed on it my joint didn't hurt but my thumb was moving. I think underneath my nail I probably broke the last bone of my thumb," said Carson.

Whenever someone takes that much injury time, there's a question of how effective he or she will be when play resumes. But Carson was effective in game one, and Beltran expected nothing less.

"I knew Rocky is a warrior and it takes more than that for him to quit a match," said Beltran after, adding "I knew I had to focus on my game. Trying to play the best I could."

Carson kept the score close the whole way in game one. In fact, Carson led late at 11-9.

But Beltran tied it at 11-11, then edged ahead to 13-11, and got to game point at 14-12. Carson fought off three game points, but on the fourth, his forehand cross court shot was parried down the line by Beltran.

In game two, Beltran took an early lead at 5-1, and although Carson came back to 5-4, he never tied it, as Beltran went out to lead 10-5, and win 15-7. He won the last points with lob nick serves to the left - Carson's backhand.

Coming in to the match Carson said "I felt good. I was really looking forward to playing today, and playing hard." But after the injury that was difficult.

"Not that I didn't play hard," despite the injury said Carson, "but I couldn't swing hard because I couldn't grab the racquet, couldn't feel the racquet that well either."

So, Carson adjusted, and thought "just stick with fundamentals put pressure on him. If he hits a shot, he hits a shot. But I got to at least make him make shots, and if I can do that then it gives me a chance. And it gave me a chance," said Carson.

But "Alvaro knows how to play racquetball," said Carson, adding "he knows how to win. Credit to him. Some other guys I might have been able to pull out of their game more. It wasn't like I was playing that bad of racquetball. I just didn't have a lot of offence to throw at him."

It seemed Carson's injury was effecting him more in game two, as he wasn't as effective as he had been earlier in the tournament, or even game one. But Carson attributed that to Beltran. "I think he just understood, seeing the shots that I was able to execute and what I couldn't. I couldn't be pinpoint. especially from the back court. I didn't have the power to get it by him. It was really hard to make it perfect without the pace."

Beltran said his "strategy was to be aggressive. Not let him prolong rallies. He's in top shape. He's in better shape than me. I knew I had to play my game. I had be aggressive and to make rallies shorter. That was my strategy, and it worked."

Asked about his condition coming into the day, Beltran said "I had a back spasm yesterday. I've been playing a lot of racquetball." How he feels tomorrow could but a different story, but "right now I'm just so happy, enjoying this medal, you don't feel the pain."

"I think tomorrow … my body will tell me that I'm 36," said Beltran.

Beltran's age - and Moreno's who's 39 - could be a factor in whether Mexico can win the Men's Team event four years from now in Lima, Peru, as Beltran will be 40 then, and Moreno 43. However, De La Rosa's only 22, and if some of the other young Mexican players can raise their skill levels, Mexico could well win again in Peru.

2015 Pan American Games - Toronto, Canada

Men's Team - Final

2) MEXICO (Daniel De La Rosa, Alvaro Beltran & Javier Moreno) d. 1) USA (Rocky Carson, Jake Bredenbeck, Jansen Allen & Jose Rojas), 2-0

Follow the bouncing ball....

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