Friday, April 12, 2019

2019 Pan American Championships - Preview

The XXXII Pan American Championships begins Saturday in Barranquilla, Colombia, which was the site of the 2018 Central American and Caribbean Games. Thus, some of the players in the field have been there before, but for many players - those from Argentina, Chile, Canada, USA - it will be a new venue. This is the 4th time Colombia has hosted the Pan American Championships (or Tournament of the Americas, as this event was once known), but the previous three times were in Cali, not Barranquilla.

The USA veteran Rhonda Rajsich comes into the event as the two time defending champion in Women’s Singles. She beat Mexican Paola Longoria in the both finals, and you can be sure that Longoria would like to take back the title she’s won a record seven times. Rajsich has won it four times, which is tied for 2nd most with Cheryl Gudinas and Michelle Gould.

Carlos Keller of Bolivia won Men’s Singles last year in Temuco, Chile, where he defeated David Horn of the USA in the final. Keller became just the 2nd Bolivian to win Men’s Singles after Ricardo Monroy won in 2010.

Mexico swept doubles in 2018, as Longoria and Alexandra Herrera won Women’s Doubles and Alvaro Beltran and Ricardo Montoya won Men’s Doubles. Based on the recent Mexico Team Selection Event, we believe they will be represented by Longoria and Monserrat Mejia in Women’s Singles, Beltran and Alejandro Landa in Men’s Singles, Longoria and Samantha Salas in Women’s Doubles, and Montoya and Javiar Mar in Men’s Doubles.

But the International Racquetball Federation (IRF) who oversees this event has yet to release any official team rosters, which is typical for them, and incredibly frustrating.

However, we know that the USA will be represented by seven players. Rajsich will be there to defend her Women’s Singles title. We were concerned about whether she’d be fit for the event, as word from the last Ladies Professional Racquetball Tour (LPRT) event in Bolivia was that she had a severely damage knee. Not that that stopped her from playing the doubles final in Bolivia, and it seems she’s up for her Pan Am Championship title defence even though she might not be 100%.

Joining Rajsich in Colombia are Kelani Bailey Lawrence, who will also play Women’s Singles, and Sheryl Lotts, who will play Women’s Doubles with Bailey Lawrence. The USA men’s team will be David Horn and Charlie Pratt in Men’s Singles, and Jake Bredenbeck and Mauro Rojas in Men’s Doubles. Horn and Pratt reached the podium in Men’s Singles at last year’s IRF World Championships, and they’ll look to do that again in Barranquilla.

Canada is sending six players to Colombia. Jen Saunders and Danielle Drury will play Women’s Doubles with Erin Geeraert and Michèle Morissette playing Women’s Singles. Samuel Murray and Coby Iwaasa will play both Men’s Singles and Doubles.

This year’s Pan American Championships have an added importance as they are the qualifying event for the 2019 Pan American Games to be held this summer in Lima, Peru. How well a team does in Barranquilla will determine how many players can be sent to Lima. If a team does really well, then they could send as many as 4 players to Lima. Men’s and women’s teams are separate, so a country whose men and women both do well in Barranquilla could qualify 8 players for Lima (4 men and 4 women).

But if a country doesn’t do well, they may only be able to send 2 players to Lima, or may fail to qualify for the Pan Am Games at all.

You can see some of the action from Barranquilla via the IRF Website or the IRF Facebook page beginning on Saturday. If the event follows the format used in recent IRF events, then there will be three days of group play with the results used to seed players for an elimination, or medal, round to determine the medalists. The finals will be next Saturday, April 20.

Here’s the 2017 Pan American Championships medalists.

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

Women's Singles

GOLD - Rhonda Rajsich (USA)
SILVER - Paola Longoria (Mexico)
BRONZE - Gabriela Martinez (Guatemala) and Samantha Salas (Mexico)

Men's Singles

GOLD - Carlos Keller (Bolivia)
SILVER - David Horn (USA)
BRONZE - Rodrigo Montoya (Mexico) and Andree Parrilla (Mexico)

Women's Doubles

GOLD - Alexandra Herrera & Paola Longoria (Mexico)
SILVER - Gabriela Martinez & Maria Renee Rodriguez (Guatemala)
BRONZE - Stefanny Barrios & Jenny Daza (Bolivia) and Carla Muñoz & Josefa Parada (Chile)

Men’s Doubles

GOLD - Alvaro Beltran & Rodrigo Montoya (Mexico)
SILVER - Roland Keller & Conrrado Moscoso (Bolivia)
BRONZE - Nicolas Bousquet & Samuel Murray (Canada) and Juan Francisco Cueva & Jose Daniel Ugalde (Ecuador)

Follow the bouncing ball....

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