Mexico Defend Team Title
San José Indoor Club, Costa Rica was the host venue for the 2017 Pan Am Championship, and what a Championship it turned out to be! Following an opening ceremony that included the presence of the Costa Rican President Luis Guillermo Solís, athletes competed in three days of round robin pool play before entering the single elimination bracket. The outcome of each match contributed to each country's points toward a men's, women's, and a combined team title.
In 2016, Mexico claimed all four gold medals at the Pan Am Championship thanks to Paola Longoria (singles and doubles), Samantha Salas (doubles), Daniel De La Rosa (singles), and the duo of Javier Moreno and Alejandro Landa (doubles). This year, they took one less gold, but remained the team to beat in Pan America.
Fast forward to 2017 and the team remained the same for the women, with Longoria and Salas both playing singles and doubles. In the men's division, Landa was selected to play both singles and doubles, but on this occasion he was joined by singles national champion Javier Mar and fellow doubles national champion Polo Guitierrez.
Perhaps the match of the tournament was the women's singles final, where American Rhonda Rajsich overcame three-time World Champion Longoria in a nail-biting 11-9 tiebreaker to claim gold. It was a terrific match, and in front of a standing room only crowd, the atmosphere was electric.
Mexico defended their title with three gold medals and a silver for 904 points, and USA followed with one gold and two silvers accruing 668 points. Although Bolivia were in no finals, collectively they captured third with 324 points. Guatemala and Ecuador each had 310 points.
The IRF's reach continues to expand, and record numbers watched the matches online. In total, over 250,000 viewers engaged in content during the week, which far surpasses any previous tournament.
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The next IRF tournament will be the Senior World Championships held in Albuquerque, New Mexico, United States beginning August 29th. The tournament is open to all players over the age of 35.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
3 April 2017 –
The year 2016 was a special one for Alok Mehta. At age 49, he became one of the oldest players to qualify and compete at an IRF World Championships, and did so representing his native India as Team Captain. This, in addition to his many other racquetball achievements in and around Illinois during the year, led to his selection as the 2016 Illinois State Racquetball Association (ISRA) Male Player of the Year.
According to Mehta, his love of the sport and the friendships that are made keep him motivated to compete. “Racquetball is all about having fun and having that community that you can rely on time and again,” he said. “I’m grateful for the many people in my personal and athletic life that have helped me to become the player and person I am.” Click here for an interview with Mehta about India Racquetball recorded during the 2016 World Championships.
ISRA Governing Board Member and IRF Board Officer Cheryl Kirk believed Mehta to be very deserving of the award. “Alok is a fine player and a gentleman on and off the court, always. He and his son Devin, 9, both competed in the ISRA State Singles Championships, and both took home medals for their fine showings. It is a pleasure to have Alok as a member of Team Illinois, and we are proud that he also brings the international perspective through his leadership and participation with Team India.”
Although Mehta may not attempt to qualify for India’s 2018 world championship team, he has and will continue to compete at the IRF Senior World Racquetball Championships, where players compete in their own age bracket. A regular at the event, expect Mehta to be a regular on the podium.
Photo courtesy of Cheryl Kirk.
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