Monday, April 18, 2022

2022 Pan Am Championships - Summary

The 2022 Pan American Racquetball Championships wrapped up on the weekend in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, and we have a summary of the results for you below. Interestingly, all of the gold medalists were first time winners in their respective divisions. Bolivians Conrrado Moscoso and Angelica Barrios won Men’s and Women’s Singles, respectively, for the first time, although Moscoso’s gold was his second Pan Am Championship, as he won Men’s Doubles in 2019 with Roland Keller.

The team Moscoso and Keller beat in the 2019 final - Canadians Coby Iwaasa and Samuel Murray - won Men's Doubles this year, which was Canada’s first gold at the Pan Am Championships in a decade - Mike Green won Men’s Singles in 2012 - and first in Men’s Doubles since Green and Tim Landeryou won in 2010. It’s the first Canadian gold won at Pan Ams by someone not named Green since 2007, when Vincent Gagnon and François Viens won Men’s Doubles.

Natalia Mendez and Maria Jose Vargas of Argentina won Women’s Doubles, which highlighted one of the interesting line up choices made in Bolivia. Mendez has been playing doubles with Valeria Centellas, and they seemed to be more in synch as a team than Mendez and Vargas have been. But Mendez and Vargas got it to work last week, so Mendez got her 1st Pan Am gold medal, and Vargas got a 2nd Pan Am gold medal to go with her Women’s Singles gold back in 2014.

Mexicans Rodrigo Montoya and Samantha Salas both had Pan Am Championship gold previously - Montoya once and Salas eight times - but they won together in Bolivia to take the first ever Pan American gold medal in Mixed Doubles. It was the inclusion of Mixed Doubles that could have led to some different line up considerations we saw in Bolivia. Players could have played three divisions, and some did - such as Cristina Amaya and Mario Mercado - but is playing three divisions the wisest choice?

Playing three divisions means that you could have three matches a day for three consecutive days during the group play part of the tournament (if there are four players / teams in each of your groups), but you will have at least two matches a day for three days (two when there are only three players / teams in your group). Canada and the USA didn’t have any of their players play three divisions, though most of them played two divisions. It was the first time countries had to deal with this situation, so we’ll see how they deal with it moving forward.

Mexico was in both team finals, but lost both. However, they had a young team on the men’s side - only Montoya had been on the team before - and faced a strong Bolivian side. Argentina beat Mexico in the Women’s Team final, and there were veterans on both sides - Mendez and Vargas for Argentina and Herrera and Salas for Mexico, so perhaps it was surprising that it didn’t go three matches. Salas was close to forcing it to a third match playing singles versus Mendez, but she lost in a tie-breaker.

The caveat to Mexico’s women losing the team title is that Paola Longoria - the 15 time Pan American Champion, 8 singles titles and 7 doubles titles - wasn’t in Bolivia, and it’s difficult to imagine that she wouldn’t have made a difference. We not sure of the reason for Longoria’s absence, as she usually plays at all the international events. We are sure that she’ll be at the 2022 IRF World Championships in August in her hometown of San Luis Potosi, Mexico.

Bravo Barrios!

Finally, let’s review how remarkable Barrios’s Women's Singles win was. This wasn’t her first international competition, as in 2019 she’d played at both the Pan Am Championships and Pan Am Games as well as in last year’s International Racquetball Federation (IRF) World Championships, but it was her first final. And to get there she defeated Kelani Lawrence - silver medalist from the IRF Worlds last year - Alexandra Herrera - who’s won the last two Ladies Professional Racquetball Tour (LPRT) events - and Gabriela Martinez - a former IRF World Champion. What were the odds of her even getting to the final through those opponents?

Then in the final against Maria Jose Vargas - a former Pan American Champion and the #3 player on the LPRT - she loses the first two games, and comes back and wins in five games! Did we mention she was down 10-9 in the breaker, and won 12-10? Seriously. We’re not sure we’d believe this storyline if it was a Disney movie. Yet Barrios did it.

Moreover, Barrios is only 21. She’ll turn 22 next month, and her future looks very bright indeed.

Again, if you missed any of the matches from Bolivia, many of them - including all the semi-finals and finals, were streamed by the International Racquetball Federation (IRF), so check out the IRF Facebook page or the IRF YouTube channel, perhaps especially look for the Women’s Singles final between Barrios and Vargas.

XXXIII Pan American Racquetball Championships
Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia - April 9-16, 2022

Women's Singles

Gold - Angelica Barrios (Bolivia)
Silver - María José Vargas (Argentina)
Bronze - Gabriela Martinez (Guatemala), Carla Muñoz (Chile)

Men's Singles

Gold - Conrrado Moscoso (Bolivia)
Silver - Andres Acuña (Costa Rica)
Bronze - Rodrigo Montoya (Mexico), Alejandro Landa (USA)

Women's Doubles

Gold - Natalia Mendez & Maria Jose Vargas (Argentina)
Silver - Alejandra Herrera & Samantha Salas (Mexico)
Bronze - Erika Manilla & Rhonda Rajsich (USA), Micaela Meneses & Yazmine Sabja (Bolivia)

Men's Doubles

Gold - Coby Iwaasa & Samuel Murray (Canada)
Silver - Juan Francisco Cueva & Jose Daniel Ugalde (Ecuador)
Bronze - Jake Bredenbeck & Sam Bredenbeck (USA), Andres Acuña & Gabriel Garcia (Costa Rica)

Mixed Doubles

Gold - Rodrigo Montoya & Samantha Salas (Mexico)
Silver - Micaela Meneses & Conrrado Moscoso (Bolivia)
Bronze - Alejandro Landa & Erika Manilla (USA), Valeria Centellas & Diego Garcia (Argentina)

Women’s Team

Gold - Argentina
Silver - Mexico
Bronze - USA, Bolivia

Men’s Team

Gold - Bolivia
Silver - Mexico
Bronze - Costa Rica, USA

Follow the bouncing ball….

No comments: