Pan American Games Day 1 Review
July 19, 2015
Finally, at long last, racquetball made its appearance today at the 2015 Pan American Games. Beginning at 9:05 AM, matches were consecutively held for 12 hours until the Colombian team of Amaya and Gomez finished the day with a comeback 11-10 tiebreaker win over the Bolivian pair of Loma and Mendez.
Although the pool play of the singles matches were entertaining, results appeared to go the way of the favored players. Home favorite Lambert was forced to overcome losing her first game 15-2 to Chilean Angela Grisar before prevailing 15-10, 11-5, to give the Canadians a winning start. The home team nearly went undefeated throughout the day, but the women's team of Morissette and Richardson fell to Venezuelan pair Tobon and Paredes, 15-6, 15-8.
Perhaps unsurprisingly given their historic success at the Pan American Games, both Mexico and the United States can consider themselves satisfied with a successful day. The key match-up to identify the undefeated team came courtesy of women's singles where Mexican Samantha Salas took on American Michelle Key. Although Salas took game one comfortably 15-3, Key served for the second game, but was unable to extend the match to a tiebreaker, losing game two, 15-14.
Rios (Ecuador) completed a tight 15-13, 15-13 win over Keller (Bolivia) that might be considered an upset by some. Keller was a semi-finalist at the 2014 World Championships and the 2015 Pan American Championships. Because pool play is used to provide seedings for the elimination bracket, an early loss could result in a poor seeding later for Keller.
Doubles competition began in the evening, featuring some exceptional play and close matches. The women's matches were highly competitive: both the USA and Colombia were winners courtesy of tiebreakers against Argentina and Bolivia, respectively. Rajsich (USA) was visibly shaken when she dove for a ball on match point and collided head first with the front wall. Fortunately, the injury does not appear serious, and it highlights the commitment and effort these players put forth for their countries.
It is unfortunate that injury cut short what was likely to be a thrilling tiebreaker between the men's doubles teams of Canada and Ecuador. Having split the first two games 15-5, the Ecuadorian pair forfeited the tiebreaker and thus the match due to an injury to Rios.
Both Mexico and USA men's doubles teams won close matches between Costa Rica and Argentina, respectively. The USA team of Rojas and Allen prevailed in a match full of drama, 13-15, 15-12, 11-3. Although the tiebreaker might be considered comfortable, the two games prior were not, and play was halted on many occasions as players appealed referee decisions or sought rules clarifications. In international racquetball, each team or individual athlete receives five appeals per game (three in the tiebreaker), and appeals are only considered used when the player/team loses the appeal. Appeals are made to two line judges who may agree or disagree with the referee's decision.
Simultaneously on the adjacent court, having lost game one, 15-12, Argentina produced a string of quality shots to sneak game two, 15-14, against Mexico and force a tiebreaker. However, Mexico took an early lead in the final game, and while Argentina did cut the lead, Mexico prevailed, 11-6.
Day Two promises to bring more excitement and drama! Match results are posted live here, but we will provide an overview each day. Don't forget to visit our Facebook page for more updates, photos, and videos during the coming week.
Contribution by Tim Baghurst