Friday, December 3, 2021

Three Americans into singles semi-finals at 20th IRF World Championships

They’re down to the semi-finals at the 20th International Racquetball Federation (IRF) World Championships in Guatemala City, Guatemala, and of the eight semi-finalists in Men’s and Women’s Singles, three of them are American with five other countries accounting for one each. To be fair there are three Bolivian born players and two Mexican born players among the eight semi-finalists.

Those Mexican born players are the top seeds Men’s and Women’s Singles, and both won their quarterfinal matches in two straight games. In Women’s Singles, Paola Longoria defeated long time doubles partner Samantha Salas, 15-13, 15-5, while, in Men’s Singles, Alejandro Landa - who now plays for the USA - beat Guatemalan Juan Jose Salvatierra, 15-8, 15-12.

Natalia Mendez of Argentina defeated the defending Women’s Singles World Campion Gabriela Martinez of Guatemala, 9-15, 15-10, 11-7, to book a showdown with Longoria in the semi-finals on Sunday.

In their tie-breaker, Martinez actually led early at 4-1, but then found herself behind as Mendez got seven unanswered points to lead 8-4. Martinez stopped the bleeding at that point by getting the serve back, and scored three points of her own to get within one at 8-7.

But that was as much as Martinez would get, as Mendez called a timeout, and then got the serve back on the ensuing rally. That was followed by three winners to take the breaker, 11-7, and the match in two out of three games.

The other semi-final features two Americans squaring off. One is the wily veteran Rhonda Rajsich, who beat Guatemalan Maria Renee Rodriguez, 15-7, 15-1. The other is Kelani Lawrence, who defeated Bolivia’s Angelica Barrios, 15-13, 15-11. Lawrence was three points away from losing her match in the first round, but will be going home with at least a bronze medal.

But Lawrence isn’t the first World Championships medalist in her family, as her mother Malia Bailey (née Kamahoahoa) was in the semi-finals at the 1996 World Championships in Phoenix, Arizona, where she lost to Cheryl Gudinas. Lawrence will also have a chance to equal her mom in World Games medals, as she’s qualified for the 2022 World Games in Birmingham, Alabama. Bailey was a silver medalist at the 1993 World Games in The Hague, Netherlands.

Men’s Singles

Conrrado Moscoso of Bolivia will play Landa in the Men’s Singles semi-finals. Moscoso, the most recent winner on the (International Racquetball Federation, defeated Mexican Andrew Parrilla, 15-12-15-14. The games were close all the way with Parrilla holding game point in game two, leading 14-11. Yet Moscoso found a way to come back and win that game and the match in two straight games.

Second seed Andres Acuña of Costa Rica beat Ecuador’s Jose Daniel Ugalde in the quarters, 15-6, 15-2. Acuña will play Colombian Mario Mercado in the semi-finals, as Mercado defeated American Jake Bredenbeck, 15-13, 11-15, 11-4.

Bredenback had a late lead on Mercado in game one at 12-9. But Mercado was able to get out of that jam to win it 15-13.

It looked like that might happen again in game two, as Mercado came back from 9-4 to tie it at 9-9. Bredenbeck scored the next three points to lead 12-9. Then Mercado got two points of his own and was within one at 12-11. Yet he couldn’t close it, as Bredenbeck held on to win game two and force a tie-breaker. He did so with a drive serve ace to the right side for game point.

In the breaker, they were tied at 2-2 early in the game. But then Mercado got four straight points to lead 6-2. Bredenbeck then responded with two points of his own to get within two, making it 6-4. Then Mercado called timeout.

When play resumed, Mercado got the serve back with a backhand pinch shot off a drive serve to the left side. He followed that up with five straight points to go from 7-4 to 11-4, and reach his first ever podium finish at Worlds.

Afterwards, Mercado said he "cannot believe what is going on," but was "really excited" about it all. He also congratulated Bredenbeck on a good tournament saying the American is an "amazing player." Though Mercado's in disbelief, he also said "I'll be ready" for the semi-finals on Sunday.

Live streaming has begun! Check out the (IRF on Facebook for the live streaming feed.

20th IRF World Championships
November 29-December 6 - Guatemala City, Guatemala

Men's Singles Quarterfinals - Friday

Alejandro Landa (USA) d. Juan Jose Salvatierra (Guatemala), 15-8, 15-12
Conrrado Moscoso (Bolivia) d. Andree Parrilla (Mexico), 15-12, 15-14

Mario Mercado (Colombia) d. Jake Bredenbeck (USA), 15-13, 11-15, 11-4
Andres Acuña (Costa Rica) d. Jose Daniel Ugalde (Ecuador), 15-6, 15-2

Men's Singles Semi-finals - Sunday

Alejandro Landa (USA) v. Conrrado Moscoso (Bolivia) - 9 AM
Andres Acuña (Costa Rica) v. Mario Mercado (Colombia) - 11 AM

Women's Singles Quarterfinals - Friday

Paola Longoria (Mexico) d. Samantha Salas (Mexico), 15-13, 15-5
Natalia Mendez (Argentina) d. Gabriela Martinez (Guatemala), 9-15, 15-10, 11-7

Kelani Lawrence (USA) d. Angelica Barrios (Bolivia), 15-13, 15-11
Rhonda Rajsich (USA) d. Maria Renee Rodriguez (Guatemala), 15-7, 15-1

Women's Singles Semi-finals - Sunday

Paola Longoria (Mexico) v. Natalia Mendez (Argentina) - 10 AM
Kelani Lawrence (USA) v. Rhonda Rajsich (USA) - Noon

Follow the bouncing ball....

No comments: