Friday, November 15, 2019

Singles Semi-finals at 2019 IRF World Junior Championships

The semi-finals were on tap Friday at the 2019 International Racquetball Federation (IRF) World Junior Racquetball Championships in San José, Costa Rica with the winners to play off in the finals on Saturday.

In the Boy’s U18, top seed Gerson Miranda from Bolivia defeated 4th seed Diego Garcia of Argentina, 15-6, 15-8 in one semi-final, while Costa Rican Tomas Sanchez - playing on home soil - won a crazy match with Mexican Jose Ramos, 15-10, 0-15, 11-10. Ramos scored 20 straight points - 15 straight in game two and then the first 5 in game three - but still lost the match.

After being down 5-0 in the tie-breaker, Sanchez took the lead at 9-6, only to see Ramos catch up and tie it 9-9 with a backhand kill shot. Sanchez stopped Ramos’s run there with a backhand kill shot of his own. Sanchez got to 10-9 on the next rally with a forehand winner. But his first match point went by as Ramos returned Sanchez drive serve to the left side with a backhand pinch winner.

Sanchez got the serve back with a nice forehand shot that he was sort of jammed on, but didn’t try to do too much with - just put it into the open space where Ramos couldn’t reach it. On match point #2, Sanchez hit backhand down the line that Ramos put to the ceiling. Then that happened a second time. Sanchez then tried to change it up, and attempted a pinch shot from deep on the left side that didn’t make the front wall. It would have been better to keep hitting the down the line.

With the serve back, Ramos tied it at 10-10 with a good forehand pinch shot. That gave him an opportunity to serve for the match. On that rally, Ramos had a similar set up to previous rally, but this time he skipped the pinch shot, giving the serve back to Sanchez.

Match point #3 was the charm for Sanchez. Ramos hit another forehand pinch shot, but left it up, and Sanchez - a tall, lanky player - was able to reach it and put a soft, controlled backhand down the left side well that Ramos couldn’t reach.

As Sanchez joyously laid on his back, Ramos walked straight off the court, gathered his things and was gone seconds after the match was over.

In Boy’s U14, it will be #1 versus #2 in the final, as top seed Jhonatan Flores of Bolivia beat 13th seed Hector Sierra of Guatemala, 15-1, 15-5, and 2nd seed Nikhil Prasad of the USA defeated 14th seed Juan Rodriguez of Colombia, 15-6, 15-8. Sierra and Rodriguez had good runs in the event, but fell short on Friday.

The Girl’s U18 final is as expected: a showdown between the two Bolivians - Valeria Centellas and Angelica Barrios. In the semi-finals, Centellas defeated Martina Katz of Argentina, 15-5, 15-3, and Barrios beat Ana Sarmiento of Ecuador, 15-4, 15-0.

The first semi-final in Girl’s U16 was not close, as Costa Rican Maricruz Ortiz looked very strong in her win over the USA’s Annie Roberts, 15-1, 15-2. In the final, Ortiz will play Bolivian Micaela Meneses, who defeated Mexican Ximena Martinez, 15-0, 15-9. Both players have been impressive in their medal round matches: Meneses has handed out two doughnuts and Ortiz one, and both have only surrendered double digit points in one of the six games they have played.

There were two close semi-final matches in Girl’s U14 with one of them going tie-breaker. Mexican Angela Ortega, seeded 8th, narrowly upset 4th seed Ava Kaiser of the USA, 15-12, 15-14, and Kaiser’s team-mate - the 2nd seed Heather Mahoney -squeaked out a win in three games over 3rd seed Camila Rivero from Bolivia, 15-9, 6-15, 11-9.

Of the 12 finalists, six are Bolivian with two each from Costa Rica, Mexico and the USA. Bolivia is guaranteed gold in Girl’s U18, as both finalists are Bolivian, and could win as many as five gold medals in singles.

The IRF will be streaming some of the finals via its Facebook page). The times for the matches are central standard time.

31st IRF World Junior Racquetball Championships
San José, Costa Rica - November 9-16, 2019

U18 Girl's Singles

Semi-finals - Friday

1) Valeria Centellas (Bolivia) d. 4) Martina Katz (Argentina), 15-5, 15-3
3) Angelica Barrios (Bolivia) d. 2) Ana Sarmiento (Ecuador), 15-4, 15-0

Final - Saturday

1) Valeria Centellas (Bolivia) v. 3) Angelica Barrios (Bolivia) - Noon

U16 Girl's Singles

Semi-finals - Friday

5) Maricruz Ortiz (Costa Rica) d. 9) Annie Roberts (USA), 15-1, 15-2
2) Micaela Meneses (Bolivia) d. 3) Ximena Martinez (Mexico), 15-0, 15-9

Final - Saturday

2) Micaela Meneses (Bolivia) v. 5) Maricruz Ortiz (Costa Rica) - 11 AM

U14 Girl's Singles

Semi-finals - Friday

8) Angela Ortega (Mexico) v. 4) Ava Kaiser (USA), 15-12, 15-14
2) Heather Mahoney (USA) d. 3) Camila Rivero (Bolivia), 15-9, 6-15, 11-9

Final - Saturday

2) Heather Mahoney (USA) v. 8) Angela Ortega (Mexico) - 10 AM

U18 Boy's Singles

Semi-finals - Friday

1) Gerson Miranda (Bolivia) d. 4) Diego Garcia (Argentina), 15-6, 15-8
6) Tomas Sanchez (Costa Rica) d. 7) Jose Ramos (Mexico), 15-10, 0-15, 11-10

Final - Saturday

1) Gerson Miranda (Bolivia) v. 6) Tomas Sanchez (Costa Rica) - Noon

U16 Boy's Singles

Semi-finals - Friday

1) Sebastian Longoria (Mexico) d. 4) Adrian Jaldin (Bolivia), 11-15, 15-11, 11-8
2) Hector Barrios (Bolivia) d. 6) Timothy Hansen (USA), 8-15, 15-9, 11-5

Final - Saturday

1) Sebastian Longoria (Mexico) v. 2) Hector Barrios (Bolivia) - 11 AM

U14 Boy's Singles

Semi-finals - Friday

1) Jhonatan Flores (Bolivia) d. 13) Hector Sierra (Guatemala), 15-1, 15-5
2) Nikhil Prasad (USA) d. 14) Juan Rodriguez (Colombia), 15-6, 15-8

Final - Saturday

1) Jhonatan Flores (Bolivia) v. 2) Nikhil Prasad (USA) - 10 AM

Follow the bouncing ball….

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