U.S. Junior Racquetball Team - Daily Blog from the XXXIV IRF World Junior Racquetball Championships

by Cheryl Kirk

XXXIV IRF World Junior Racquetball Championships
Tarija, Plurinational State of Bolivia
Tuesday, November 21, 2023: Blog #10

With nearly all of the U.S. Junior Team delegation back in our homes after our adventure in Bolivia, here’s the final blog for this event. Thanks to everyone who followed along on social media, R2 Sports, and via these blogs. Here we go...#10 is a long one (weren’t they all?), so settle in with a cup of tea and a brownie, and enjoy!

Coach Tim Gives a Wrap-Up:

What a week of competition! Competing at this level is tough. And our players gave everything. We had some great moments, but beating Bolivia and Mexico consistently requires us to be at a whole other level of skill and preparation. For example, Bolivia had over 300 participants in their junior nationals this year. Many who didn't qualify would have comfortably made the teams of other countries. That's the depth we don't currently have. 

But we do have talented athletes and some are on the cusp. In addition, many of our players saw international competition for the first time, and that experience has been a wake-up call to put in the work required to do something about their early exit next year. We also saw some who had been eliminated from competition go back to the courts in the early mornings to train. It's this level of commitment that will be required to compete at the pinnacle of this sport. 

When I spoke at Junior Nationals in June, I told parents and players that Bolivia is THE place to compete. They love racquetball here and matches were streamed daily on national TV. The large crowds and chants of "BO-LI-VI-A" from fans who had paid to come and watch was an awesome experience. Some say racquetball is dying. Next year, come see for yourself if it is. Better yet, bring your kid!

Saturday Results

10:30 am -- G18D Heather Mahoney/Naomi Ros lost to Miranda Martinez/Amaya Ardaya (BOL)  BRONZE

11:15 am -- G16D Sonya Shetty/Victoria Rodriguez def Andrea Marquez/Yanna Salazar (MEX)   SILVER 

11:15 am -- B18D Vedant Chauhan/Cole Sendrey lost to Gutierrez Ortiz/Renteria (MEX)  SILVER

Let’s sneak in one more QOTD before we wrap up and prepare for the holiday season.

Question of the Day

What’s your dream job?

(Note: I particularly love this question because the responses demonstrate the depth, character, and diversity of this team. These athletes are multi-faceted and motivated!) 

World Cup (21/18/16)

Eshan Ali, 16: Software engineer
Vedant Chauhan, 19: Being a software engineer
Iain Dunn, 20: Firefighter in Kings Canyon
Tucker Elkins, 19: Working within a professional sports team
Brielle Fernando, 19: Athletic trainer
Heather Mahoney, 19: I want to make an impact on environmental issues while also traveling to various parts of the world
Thea Mattfeldt, 16: To be an Athletic Trainer.
DJ Mendoza, 18: Personal trainer
Victoria Rodriguez, 16: To do racquetball
Naomi Ros, 18: Be my own boss, have a clothing brand, and be a professional racquetball player
Paul Saraceno, 18: Playing any type of professional sport. Racquetball preferably.
Cole Sendrey, 17: Commercial Real Estate…just like my dad….but he would never let me work with him…
Sonya Shetty, 17: Realistically a Biomedical Engineer but I would love to be a Marine Biologist…
London Townsend, 16: Pro racquetball player/musician
Khyathi Velpuri, 21: Pediatrician
Grant Williams, 14: Wildlife Specialist/Photographer

Esprit Cup (14/12/10)

Shreya Chandel, 13: My dream job is being either a cardiologist or an oncologist.
Nyasa Gupta, 13: I’m still exploring, but I want to do something that can make an impact in people’s lives.
Vaishant Mangalampalli, 13: My dream job is to be a criminal lawyer.
Sloka Marivada, 9: Interior designer
Chris Nelson, 10: Cyber security engineer
Andrea Perez Picon, 15: Professional RB player
Alejandro Robles Picon, 12: Professional athlete
Sammie Rai, 8: Being a teacher
Aaradhya Raja, 11: My dream job is to be a CEO of a non-profit medical foundation
Ayan Sharma, 13: Theoretical physicist. Physics explain how the whole world works, and it fascinates me
Aarya Shetty, 14: A psychiatrist or an investment banker.
Eli Wright, 10: Graphics designer
JT Wright, 13: Some type of doctor

And...

Calvin Wright, 7: Veterinarian
Anna Mendoza: Being a mom
Colleen Williams: Being a mom
Kit Lawson: A world famous photographer for National Geographic
Jen Meyer: Teaching and coaching...how lucky am I? :)
Tim Baghurst: I think I have it
Sara Wright: Small bookstore owner or librarian
Sandy Rios: Breeding horses
George Bustos: Doing it now!
John Wright: Farming
Delaney Farmer: Running a high end Athletic Training Facility for my high school with plenty of staff and great pay.
Cheryl Kirk: Photographer or journalist...or blogger! 

After the last match was finished and the IRF calculated the final standings, the Closing Ceremonies began outside the club. Mother Nature once again did not fully cooperate (with rain to match that of Opening Ceremonies on 11/10), but crowds of citizens, family members of athletes, country and city dignitaries, and the athletes themselves turned out big-time for the presentation of medals. Once all 44 division winners and finalists had been recognized (and the rain had subsided), a big celebration began with music, dancing, and fireworks. There is no doubt that Bolivia knows how to throw a party! 

Photos from the Final Blog from the XXXIV IRF World Junior Racquetball Championships
Photo by: Junior Team Delegation Athletes, Family, and Friends
Photos from the Final Blog from the XXXIV IRF World Junior Racquetball Championships
Photo by: Junior Team Delegation Athletes, Family, and Friends

Below is the list of individual medals earned by Team USA athletes as well as World Cup team competition results. 

IRF World Junior Racquetball Championships

Overall Results 

Individual Team USA Results

SILVER

B14S Blue -- Nathan Rykhus 
B10S Red -- Eli Wright 
B18D -- Vedant Chauhan/Cole Sendrey 
G16D -- Sonya Shetty/Victoria Rodriguez  
G18D -- Heather Mahoney/Naomi Ros 
M55+ -- Tim Mattfeldt 

BRONZE

B12S Red -- JT Wright  
B21D --  Paul Saraceno/Iain Dunn   
B14D -- Vaishant Mangalampalli/Nathan Rykhus 
G18S -- Naomi Ros                       
G16S -- Sonya Shetty       
MX16D -- Sonya Shetty/Eshan Ali  
MX18D – Naomi Ros/Cole Sendrey
Women’s Singles A -- Victoria Rodriguez 

World Cup Team Competition - Results

Boys

1.     Bolivia

2.     Mexico

3.     USA 

4.     Ecuador

Girls

1.     Bolivia

2.     Mexico

3.     USA 

4.     Ecuador

Combined 

1.     Bolivia

2.     Mexico

3.     USA 

4.     Ecuador

Photos from the Final Blog from the XXXIV IRF World Junior Racquetball Championships
Photo by: Junior Team Delegation Athletes, Family, and Friends

Medals or no, we are extremely proud of each of our 30 Team USA athletes. Congratulations to every one for representing the United States of America honorably and with 100% effort and heart.

Thank You’s – So Much to Say! 

The U.S. Junior Team Delegation wishes to deliver our gratitude to those who made this event so truly memorable:

The Host Country of Bolivia and the Local Organizing Committee (Javier Olivares, Daniel Villarroel, and Bernardo Arze, et al.) for hosting this very successful event. The work behind the scenes is extensive. Congratulations on a job very well done! Your service to the 12 countries who came to compete was efficient, friendly, and never to be forgotten. 

The staff in the club, family members of athletes, and the citizens of Tarija did not hesitate to try to bridge the language barrier to communicate and connect. We all just figured it out together with the help of others to translate; Google Translate; modified charades, etc. But even just in passing, their smiles told us we were warmly welcome. 

The management and staff of the Tarija Municipal Racquetball Center for providing a first-class facility for this World Juniors competition. Also, we appreciate the club employees and volunteers who kept the entire facility and the courts themselves clean and organized throughout the event.

This event was supported by a seasoned staff led by IRF President Osvaldo Maggi (Argentina). IRF staff members deserve so much gratitude and respect for their time and expertise. Mauro Grandio (Argentina), who expertly orchestrates so many of the behind-the-scenes details of IRF events, was joined at the tournament desk by Pablo Berriel, Adrian Macrino, Walter Capandegui, and Sebastián Digón (all from Argentina). Dean Schear (USA) as floor manager constantly monitored the courts and viewing areas to ensure smooth operations. 

Pablo Fajre, Gary Mazaroff, and Gustavo Farell (all from the USA) provided live streaming and excellent commentary for racquetball fans near and far. Kadim Carrasco (Bolivia) and Nicolas Florio (ARG) did a great job on the social media aspects of this event. 

A number of referees from 10 countries were on hand to provide a quality experience for the players (see Blog #7 on November 15, 2023, for their names and nationalities). These individuals work incredibly hard in service to the IRF and the athletes. 

The staff of Los Parrales Hotel was friendly, efficient, and responsive to all requests. This is truly one of the nicest hotels I’ve ever had the pleasure to experience. Everyone was genuine and caring. For instance, multiple families came in on a 10:55 am flight each day the first week. Although hotel check-in was 3:00 pm, the staff made sure that rooms were ready so that the exhausted travelers could immediately go to their rooms. (See Blog #2, November 10, 2023.) 

Manuel Flores (Bolivia) who helped make the connection with business owner Don Marcelo who came to the hotel at 8:00 am every morning to pick up laundry and drop off clean clothing. What a nice man with a wonderful wife and daughter! It was a such a pleasure to meet them. 

Victoria Garzon Ramirez and Ana Valda who coordinated transportation for Team USA and others. Shuttle buses were frequent and on time. These ladies were both instrumental in making sure we got where we needed to go with a minimum of stress.

Thanks to Coach Jen Meyer, Anna Mendoza, Kristine Fernando, Colleen Williams, Pat Saraceno, Cindy Tilbury, and Alisa Burris for their above-and-beyond assistance, and to Nyasa Gupta, Shreya Chandel, Ruchika Mohan, and Surekha Anantharaman for their service on the Dream Team (see Blog #8, November 16, 2023). 

The family members were present for every match, living every rally as if they themselves were out there competing. And, I felt our delegation did a wonderful job of striving to dispel any preconceived stereotypes about Americans. 

Gearbox (owner Rafael Filippini) who contributes significantly to these international events as an IRF sponsor.

Splathead, the U.S. Junior Team Official Apparel Provider, created uniforms that players from other countries were clamoring to trade at the end of the event. Joe Hall’s amazing generosity meant that each athlete who competed here in Tarija received a full player package at no charge. For Fans & Friends who would like to purchase U.S. Junior Team apparel, here’s the link: https://www.splathead.com/collections/teamusa.

Aimee Roehler, who stopped whatever else she might have been doing as soon as a blog and photos were ready for posting and who did a super job with social media visibility. 

Jonathan Greenberg, who helped with trip preparation and then watched from the wings, ready to help with any challenge that arose. 

IRF President Osvaldo Maggi and IRF Director Mauro Grandio for their leadership and dedication to Racquetball and its development around the world. Also, to Luke St. Onge and Keith Calkins whose earlier work set a solid foundation for the future. 

Congratulations to each and every athlete and country delegation who placed in the standings as well as those who did not. Everyone represented their countries with honor and pride, and Team USA is proud to be a member of the worldwide Racquetball family. We wish everyone a safe trip back home! 

Personal note: To my husband Kit Lawson who always supports me 100% and never more than now...you are my best friend! ❤️

Post Message and Appeal 

As we sign off from Tarija and return to our homes in the United States, I ask for a final word with all who love, enjoy, and appreciate Racquetball and what it brings to your lives, individually and collectively. 

You’ll soon see information sent out from USA Racquetball about Giving Tuesday (November 28), asking for support with the challenges USA Racquetball faces with operational and developmental expenses. Presently we’re mostly volunteer, and we want nothing more than to continue to support Racquetball in the USA. We need your help, and any amount will be deeply appreciated. 

Renew your membership, now, even if you don’t plan to play in a tournament right away. Or ever again. Make an investment in the sport. Make a tax deductible year-end donation. Make it a gift of gratitude for what racquetball has meant in your life or the lives of loved ones and a gift to those who have yet to discover Racquetball and all it can mean in so many ways. https://www.teamusa.org/usa-racquetball

I wish every one of you could have been here with us in Tarija to experience firsthand how special this all is. Put it on your bucket list! 

To all the readers of this blog who helped Team USA feel the love from back home, thank you, and we wish you a Happy Thanksgiving and a wonderful holiday season filled with love, good health, and time spent with family and friends.                

Until next time...

GO TEAM USA!!

-- Cheryl Kirk

XXXIV IRF World Junior Racquetball Championships
Tarija, Plurinational State of Bolivia
Saturday, November 18th: Blog #9.5

Good morning, Everyone! Just a quick one before the wrap-up in the next day or so. This day is turning into a challenging travel day for the U.S. Delegation. We are toughing it out, of course! Connections may be affected due to wildfires around Santa Cruz that are affecting visibility.

I want to get the full rundown of results from the IRF, and there will be plenty of time to write the final blog in transit. What I’ll tell you right now is that the World Cup team (21/18/16) took third in Boys, Girls, and Combined. We’re so proud of them!

Some of our World Cup and Esprit Cup athletes earned individual medals...more on that soon!

For your reading pleasure, here’s a QOTD to tide you over until Blog #10 hits your email sometime in the next 24 hours. And for this one, refer to Google Translate or a Spanish dictionary as necessary!

Question of the Day

World Cup (21/18/16)

Eshan Ali, 16: Hola

Vedant Chauhan, 19: Hola

Iain Dunn, 20: Reggaeton

Tucker Elkins, 19: Vamos

Brielle Fernando, 19: I don’t know Spanish haha so Hola

Heather Mahoney, 19: Yo tengo hambre

Thea Mattfeldt, 16: Por favor (please)

DJ Mendoza, 18: Biblioteca

Victoria Rodriguez, 16: Vamos!!!

Naomi Ros, 18: All of them are normal to me haha I think chipotle

Paul Saraceno, 18: Dinero

Cole Sendrey, 17: Que???

Sonya Shetty, 17: Disfrutar 

London Townsend, 16: Tonto

Khyathi Velpuri, 21: Hermosa

Grant Williams, 14: Stupido

Esprit Cup (14/12/10)

Shreya Chandel, 13: Aqui

Nyasa Gupta, 13: Esperanza - it means hope, and the word itself sounds beautiful

Vaishant Mangalampalli, 13: Rapido (fast)

Sloka Marivada, 9: Perra (dog)

Chris Nelson, 10: Si

Andrea Perez Picon, 15: Chingona

Alejandro Robles Picon, 12: Vamos

Sammie Rai, 8: Es pasito

Aaradhya Raja, 11: Hola!

Nathan Rykhus, 15: Guapo because it is relatable for me.

Ayan Sharma, 13: 

Aarya Shetty, 14: Taco

Eli Wright, 10: Raquetbol

JT Wright, 13: Bueno

íHasta luego!
XXXIV IRF World Junior Racquetball Championships
Tarija, Plurinational State of Bolivia
Friday, November 17th: Blog #9

Words from Coach Jen

We had a long hard-fought day of matches. The athletes played with incredible heart and sheer determination each and every point. I am continually in awe of the level of play, the fantastic gets, and the composure exhibited throughout each match. 

It has been rewarding to watch the athletes grow over the course of this tournament. Every time we ask for more, they dig deep. I feel proud to be a part of this experience with this group of athletes!  Many athletes have had the opportunity to see the level of play, certain playing styles, and specific shots and/or serves they need to become familiar with this next year to be even more successful. I know not everyone met their goal this year, but as some athletes have mentioned already, we have 364 days to train until the next Worlds. I look forward to what that hunger looks like, but in the meantime, we have three finals tomorrow. The delegation will be cheering on Vedant, Cole, Naomi, Heather, Sonya, and Victoria with all Team USA heart! 

Results

B14S Blue Nathan Rykhus lost to Sebastian Terrazas (BOL) 

B14D Vaishant Mangalampalli/Nathan Rykhus lost to Lagos Asturizaga/Cordova Soria (BOL)  

B18D Vedant Chauhan/Cole Sendrey def Montejo/Sanchez (CRC)  

B21D Iain Dunn/Paul Saraceno lost to Jauldin Lobo/Aguilar (BOL)

G18S Naomi Ros lost to Camila Rivero (BOL)   

MX16D Sonya Shetty/Eshan Ali lost to Renteria/Salazar (MEX) 

M55+ Tim Mattfeldt lost to Victor Hugo Mercado Alvarez (BOL)  

SA Victoria Rodriguez lost to Sabrina Flores (ARG)

MXD18 Cole Sendrey/Naomi Ros lost to Iglesias/Miranda Martinez (BOL)

Question of the Day

What is on your bucket list?

World Cup (21/18/16)

Eshan Ali, 16: Travel around the world

Vedant Chauhan: Travel to the 20 largest cities in the world

Iain Dunn, 20: Snorkeling, sky diving, Bahamas, living in Oregon

Tucker Elkins, 19: Go to the Super Bowl

Brielle Fernando, 19: Realistically a Biomedical Engineer but I would love to be a Marine Biologist…

Heather Mahoney, 19: Travel to as many countries as I can

Thea Mattfeldt, 16: To go skiing in Norway

DJ Mendoza, 18: Travel to every U.S. state

Victoria Rodriguez, 16: To be the number one racquetball player in the world. To travel to Paris, Israel, Rome, Hawaii

Naomi Ros, 18: Get more junior titles and for now pass first round in singles in the LPRT

Paul Saraceno, 18: Visiting Japan during the cherry blossom season

Cole Sendrey, 17: Skydiving

Sonya Shetty, 17: Backpacking through Europe!

London Townsend, 16: To be the greatest racquetball player to ever live

Khyathi Velpuri, 21: Travel the world, have my own private practice, make the Adult National Racquetball team, and be part of the top 10 on the LPRT. 

Grant Williams, 14: Climb Mount Everest

Esprit Cup (14/12/10)

Shreya Chandel, 13: Traveling at least 6 continents

Nyasa Gupta, 13: - visit as many countries as possible and try each cuisine 

- live and work in different countries to absorb different cultures

- get a gold medal in Worlds Junior Racquetball

- see the northern lights

- publish a book

- have a designated library in my house

- go to the backstage of a sold-out concert

- go to a top 10 college

- play a role in promoting STEM for girls so that we can have more women leaders in tech

- retire by 45

Vaishant Mangalampalli, 13: I want to go scuba diving.

Sloka Marivada, 9: Winning more racquetball tournaments and visiting as many countries as possible after my education.

Chris Nelson, 10: Visiting Italy

Andrea Perez Picon, 15: Travel the World

Alejandro Robles Picon, 12: To be the #1 in the World

Sammie Rai, 8: Bata fish

Aaradhya Raja, 11: Winning the 12 and under racquetball championships. 

Nathan Rykhus, 15: Winning Worlds 

Ayan Sharma, 13: Skydiving

Aarya Shetty, 14: Scuba diving

Eli Wright, 10: Becoming famous (for a sport)

JT Wright, 13: Go to Europe

...and 12 more:

 Calvin Wright, 7: Go to France, they speak French there and I like their breadsticks

Anna Mendoza: Reading the 100 top novels ever written (right now I’m reading Of Mice and Men) along with acquiring beautiful versions 

Colleen Williams: I’d like to go whale watching

Cheryl Kirk: Learn American Sign Language

Kit Lawson: The south of Spain on my wedding anniversary

Jen Meyer: Traveling and experiencing as many places and life adventures as possible.

Tim Baghurst: I want to represent USA in Squash 57.

Sara Wright: Travel with my family

Sandy Rios: Safari in Africa; Australia

George Bustos: Open up a sports complex center with 18 backwall glass indoor racquetball courts with 2 championship all glass courts and stadium seating., 1 indoor restaurant and coffee bar, 1 outdoor restaurant and smoothie bar. Fitness Center, turf training facility, and provide classroom courses to branding yourself as a professional athlete and much more. 

John Wright: Learn Spanish

Delaney Farmer: Go to the Olympics with one of our NGBs or USOPC.

Saturday’s Schedule

10:30 am -- G18D Heather Mahoney/Naomi Ros vs Miranda Martinez/Amaya Ardaya (BOL)

11:15 am -- G16D Sonya Shetty/Victoria Rodriguez vs Andrea Marquez/Yanna Salazar (MEX)   

11:15 am -- B18D Vedant Chauhan/Cole Sendrey vs Gutierrez Ortiz/Renteria (MEX)

The Girls 18 Doubles match will be live streamed at 10:30 am. 

In the late afternoon, the Medals and Awards will begin, and with 44 divisions, it may take a while! Scaffolding is going up across the street which surely means an outside ceremony. 

Safe travels to the 44 members of the U.S. Junior Team Delegation who are starting the journey home tomorrow evening.

XXXIV IRF World Junior Racquetball Championships
Tarija, Plurinational State of Bolivia
Thursday, November 16th: Blog #8

Assistant Coach Adam Manilla Reports In

“Today was the start of the elimination rounds here at Worlds. If you lose you are now officially out of the event. We had some close matches that didn’t go our way and some that we pulled out. Match of the day goes to Naomi & Heather, winning 13-11 in the fifth game. 

“Coming back to this tournament for the first time in 10 years has opened my eyes to the amazing talent that is out there around the world. As a coach, I know where we stand with our athletes and where we need to be next year when we arrive. 

“The energy in the club and the cheers of all the countries is like no other feeling. Some big semifinal matches tomorrow!”

Blog #8 Photos from the XXXIV IRF World Junior Racquetball Championships
Photo by: Junior Team Delegation Athletes, Family, and Friends
Blog #8 Photos from the XXXIV IRF World Junior Racquetball Championships
Photo by: Junior Team Delegation Athletes, Family, and Friends
Blog #8 Photos from the XXXIV IRF World Junior Racquetball Championships
Photo by: Junior Team Delegation Athletes, Family, and Friends

Match Results – Thursday 11/16

Yesterday a bug hit Eli Wright (not literally) that kept him from playing his finals match in the Boy’s 10 Singles Red division today. However, Eli captured the silver medal – big congratulations! And Eli is feeling better, thankfully! 

Here’s the Thursday results rundown...

B21S Iain Dunn lost to Luis Aguliar (BOL)

B18S DJ Mendoza lost to Antonio Sanchez (CRC)

B18S Cole Sendrey lost to Jhonathan Flores (BOL)

B16S Eshan Ali lost to Eder Renteria (MEX)

B10S Red Eli Wright lost to (WBF) Jhohan Flores (BOL)

B21D Iain Dunn/Paul Saraceno def Gatica/Mansilla Cid (CHI)

B18D Vedant Chauhan/Cole Sendrey def Caceras/Sierra Mansilla (GUA)

B16D Eshan Ali/London Townsend lost to Renteria/Galindo (MEX)

B14D Vaishant Mangalampalli/Nathan Rykhus def Aguirre Fuentes/Gutierrez Orellana (CHI)

G18S Naomi Ros def Cynthia Gutierrez (MEX)

G16S Sonya Shetty lost to Natalia Mendez Veizaga (BOL)

G14S Aarya Shetty lost to Luciana Illanes Quenta (BOL)

G18D Heather Mahoney/Naomi Ros def Balderrama/Gutierrez (MEX)

G16D Sonya Shetty/Victoria Rodriguez lost to Blacutt Conde/Mendez Veizaga (BOL)

MXD21 Heather Mahoney/DJ Mendoza lost to Mansilla Cid/Mansilla Cid (CHI)

MXD18 Cole Sendrey/Naomi Ros def Reyes Perez/Sierra Mansilla (GUA)

M55+ Tim Mattfeldt def Jerry Riveros Moron (BOL) 

MA/B Singles Cesar Avalos lost to Fernando Jiminez Macias (ECU)

SA Victoria Rodriguez def Valeria Villavicencio Garabito (BOL)

Question of the Day

If you had a time machine, what time would you travel to? Past? Future? When?

World Cup (21/18/16)

Eshan Ali, 16: The past, to like 1900’s

Vedant Chauhan, 19: I would travel back to when I was in elementary school, since that was a great time.

Iain Dunn, 20: 1980’s for sure

Tucker Elkins, 19: Future, 50 years

Brielle Fernando, 19: I would travel to the future to see what we become and how the world changes.

Heather Mahoney, 19: Back in time to the 80’s to experience the music, fashion, and all the different trends

Thea Mattfeldt, 16: I would travel to the past, probably around 2015-ish.

DJ Mendoza, 18: I would go to the late 90’s to watch the Chicago Bulls play.

Victoria Rodriguez, 16: Past

Naomi Ros, 18: Future, to see if I made it big like I always wanted

Paul Saraceno, 18: Past to the good ol days when life was simpler.

Cole Sendrey, 17: Back to the 80’s with good music and vibes.

Sonya Shetty, 17: Woodstock 1969

London Townsend, 16: The past, like dinosaurs

Khyathi Velpuri, 21: Past, probably around the Jazz Era (1920s-30s)

Grant Williams, 14: WWII Germany as an Allied Soldier

Esprit Cup (14/12/10)

Shreya Chandel, 13: I would travel 100 years into the future.

Nyasa Gupta, 13: I would travel to about 245 million years ago in Tanzania so I could see the first-ever known dinosaur - the Nyasasaurus.

Vaishant Mangalampalli, 13: I would travel to Ancient Greece because I love ancient Greek culture.

Sloka Marivada, 9: Future - 2089

Chris Nelson, 10: Past to 2020 so I can save my lost pet

Andrea Perez Picon, 15: I would travel back in time to the 2022 World Championships.

Alejandro Robles Picon, 12: Future in 2029

Sammie Rai, 8: Past, to Antarctica

Aaradhya Raja, 11: I would travel to the future because by then there would be portable racquetball courts! 

Nathan Rykhus, 15: I would travel to the past in Christ's time so I could see Him in person.

Ayan Sharma, 13: Time travel to the future to see how humanity has evolved.

Aarya Shetty, 14: I would travel to the future to see what my life is like. 

Eli Wright, 10: The future because I would buy technology and bring it back

JT Wright, 13: Future – maybe 200 years

More great answers...

Calvin Wright, 7: The past, Civil War

Anna Mendoza: Past, 1991 when David and I met, we had the best time

Colleen Williams: Back to the start of cell phones and make sure they weren’t made

Jen Meyer: Typically, I would say the past so I could go back and fix mistakes, but then I wouldn't be exactly who I am today.  So, I would say I would travel to the future when I am retired to see how life looks like for me in the next phase!

Tim Baghurst: I’d like to see what the Tower of Babel looked like. Maybe the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. 

Sara Wright: Past...1940s

Sandy Rios – Future – 100 years just to see if we (humans) are still around.

George Bustos: Future 2222

John Wright: Past, to spend more time with my dad

Delaney Farmer: Future 500 years

Cheryl Kirk: Past – to the time of Henry VIII, as long as I could come back at will. One wouldn’t want to get stuck there.

Kit Lawson: 100 years from now, just to see how all the stuff in play now turns out 

Delaney is in the House!

The U.S. Junior Team Delegation is happy to have Delaney Farmer, LAT, LMT, ATC as our Athletic Trainer here at the IRF World Junior Championships. He is a dual credentialed healthcare provider with 16 years in the field of Athletic Training and 26 years as a Massage Therapist. Delaney runs his own massage practice, PRM Sports Therapy, and works as an Athletic Trainer at Lake Washington High School (Home of the Kangaroos) just outside of Seattle, Washington. He also spends time working with USA Track & Field, USA Diving, and USA Ultimate during the summer months when he is not working at the high school. Delaney finds enjoyment in being creative with photography, graphic designs, and creating fun objects with his laser.

Check out Delaney’s website at www.PRMsportstherapy.com. This is his second time traveling with USA Racquetball, and we couldn’t be happier with his knowledge level; service to our athletes; friendly and approachable style; and sense of humor! 

Recent Arrival Further Strengthens Team USA!

Welcome to Dylan Mattfeldt, who is Tim’s son and, coincidentally, Thea’s brother. Dylan arrived today to surprise his sister and to spend a few days with Tim and Thea early next week before they all travel home for Thanksgiving. Happy to have you here, Dylan!

Blog #8 Photos from the XXXIV IRF World Junior Racquetball Championships
Photo by: Junior Team Delegation Athletes, Family, and Friends

Dream Team Supports Team Leader

Several times during the past week there have been some tasks where the old saying has applied: “Many hands make light work.” There were credentials to be filled out and provided to the delegation members last Friday, and this was accomplished in record time and in fine style. Then last night the aptly named Dream Team swung into action again to assemble small goodie bags for the 30 members of the team. Again, quick and easy thanks to them, and what fun to visit at the same time.

Much gratitude goes to Shreya Chandel, Nyasa Gupta, Calvin Wright, Ruchika Mohan, Jen Meyer, and Surekha Anantharaman for pitching in to support this team leader. I can’t thank you enough!

Blog #8 Photos from the XXXIV IRF World Junior Racquetball Championships
Photo by: Junior Team Delegation Athletes, Family, and Friends
Blog #8 Photos from the XXXIV IRF World Junior Racquetball Championships
Photo by: Junior Team Delegation Athletes, Family, and Friends

Friday’s Schedule

We’re entering semifinal territory with some exciting matches coming up on Friday. Send good vibes and wishes, everyone!

Friday 9:00 am -- B14S Blue Nathan Rykhus vs. Sebastian Terrazas (BOL)

Friday 10:30 am -- G18S Naomi Ros vs Camila Rivero (BOL)   

Friday 10:30 am -- M55+ Tim Mattfeldt vs Victor Hugo Mercado Alvarez (BOL)

Friday 11:15 am -- B14D Vaishant Mangalampalli/Nathan Rykhus vs Lagos Asturizaga/Cordova Soria (BOL)

Friday 12:45 pm -- B18D Vedant Chauhan/Cole Sendrey vs Montejo/Sanchez (CRC)

Friday 12:45 pm -- B21D Iain Dunn/Paul Saraceno vs Jauldin Lobo/Aguilar (BOL)

Friday 1:30 pm -- MX16D Sonya Shetty/Eshan Ali vs Renteria/Salazar (MEX)

Friday 1:30 pm -- SA Victoria Rodriguez vs Sabrina Flores (ARG)

Friday 2:15 pm -- MXD18 Cole Sendrey/Naomi Ros vs Iglesias/Miranda Martinez (BOL) 

We’re down to the wire now and ready for some serious cheering tomorrow! 

GO TEAM USA!!

XXXIV IRF World Junior Racquetball Championships
Tarija, Plurinational State of Bolivia
Wednesday, November 15th: Blog #7

“Just wanted to share some thoughts on my time in Tarija with this being my second World Juniors. It's been pretty awesome!
“Tarija is a city in Bolivia, not huge but it's got heart. What struck me is their idea of being humble -- it's not about thinking less of yourself but thinking of yourself less and thinking of others more. They've welcomed all of us with open arms, showing that true kindness is about caring for others. They've welcomed us like we're a long-lost family, proving that real kindness is about looking out for each other.
“The people here know how to treat guests. It's like they've reinvented good customer service. Their racquetball players are no joke -- well-trained and well-coached. It's clear that Tarija is a welcoming and down-to-earth place.
“Shoutout to Team USA! Our coaches, private mentors, and parents have come together to take care of us. I've had parents giving me snacks, coffee, and anything I needed to keep going. With 72 of us here, it feels like we're all in this together, and I'm really grateful to be part of it.
“Being on the world stage is a big deal. Our first timers are getting exposed to a whole new level, and it's cool to see. Win or lose, they'll understand what it means to be world-class. Some will go back and train even harder, while others will realize they're not too far off. It's all about enjoying the journey, the hard work, and knowing that anyone can make it if they really want to.”

Blog #7 Photos from the XXXIV IRF World Junior Racquetball Championships
Photo by: Junior Team Delegation Athletes, Family, and Friends
Blog #7 Photos from the XXXIV IRF World Junior Racquetball Championships
Photo by: Junior Team Delegation Athletes, Family, and Friends
Blog #7 Photos from the XXXIV IRF World Junior Racquetball Championships
Photo by: Junior Team Delegation Athletes, Family, and Friends
Blog #7 Photos from the XXXIV IRF World Junior Racquetball Championships
Photo by: Junior Team Delegation Athletes, Family, and Friends

Wednesday Results

B16S Eshan Ali (USA) def Angel Gonzales (GUA)
B16S Grant Williams (USA) lost to Bismarck Pereira (BOL)
G16S Sonya Shetty (USA) def Thea Mattfeldt (USA)
G18S Naomi Ros (USA) def Brielle Fernando (USA)
G10S Sloka Marivada (USA) lost to Kenia Condori Garabito (BOL)             
G10S Aaradhya Raja (USA) lost to Lia Montserrat Gonzalez Perez (MEX)
B14S Blue Nathan Rykhus (USA) def Emilio Jurado (MEX)
B18S DJ Mendoza (USA) def Esleiker Gomez (DOM)
B18S Cole Sendrey (USA) def Christian Pocsai (CAN)
B10D Eli Wright/Chris Nelson (USA) lost to Arteaga/Arandia (BOL)
G21S Khyathi Velpuri (USA) lost to Ana Lucia Sarmiento (ECU)
G21S Brielle Fernando (USA) lost to Alejandra Jimenez (DOM)
B21S Iain Dunn (USA) def Tucker Elkins (USA)
B12D Ayan Sharma/Alejandro Robles Picon (USA) lost to Bermeo/Davila (ECU)
MX16D  Sonya Shetty/Eshan Ali (USA) def Villacreses/Villacreses (ECU)
G18D Naomi Ros/Heather Mahoney (USA) lost to Miranda Martinez/Amaya Ardaya (BOL)
G14D  Aarya Shetty/Nyasa Gupta (USA) lost to Wer/Sipac (GUA)
G21D  Brielle Fernando/Khyathi Velpuri (USA) lost to Flores/Katz (ARG)
MX12D Shreya Chandel/JT Wright (USA) lost to Moscoso/Coro (BOL)
MX14D Aarya Shetty/Nathan Rykhus (USA) lost to Wer/Navarijo (GUA)
MX18D Naomi Ros/Cole Sendrey (USA) lost to Gomez/Moreta (DOM)
MA/B Singles Cesar Avalos (USA) lost to Ignacio Scoppa (ARG)

Toughing it Out in Tarija (Blogger’s Perspective)

On Tuesday, a number of things happened all at once that kept Delaney Farmer, Team USA’s athletic trainer, sprinting from court to court. One such issue involved the Girls 16 Doubles match vs. Mexico on Court 3  (in 4th game). Sonya Shetty took a racquet to her front right big tooth (aka incisor) that broke it off halfway up. 

When the term “mental toughness” comes to mind (and I’ll understand if you never forgive me for calling it “dental toughness” in this instance), I’ll always think of Sonya: the way she spit out half of her tooth, handed it to her mom outside the court, then returned to finish out the game. The 1973 song “Taking Care of Business” by Bachman-Turner Overdrive comes to mine. No curling up into a fetal position for Sonya. You can almost imagine the shrug of the shoulders.

Mail From Colorado Springs – Wednesday 11/15

From Luke St. Onge, Secretary General of the IRF:

Dear All, 

“I have just read past IRF President Keith Calkins’ letter to you, and I would like to share some thoughts directly with parents and family on this trip. 

“The Junior Worlds began in the late 1980’s into the 90s at Junior Orange Bowl held in Coral Gables Florida during Christmas week. It was first moved out of the USA in 2004 to San Luis Potosí, Mexico. Over 300 athletes competed. Based upon the results from 2004, major changes were made to upgrade certified referees for all matches, hold Worlds in one venue, have professional monitors on each court, and ensure results are posted worldwide on time. 

“But this note is not about the progress or athletes, it’s directed to athletes’ parents, family, and friends who are largely forgotten during the fray. I am sure many of you have said, “Why Racquetball, when my child could start in many other more publicized sports? Traveling to Bolivia, a country where most Americans have no idea where it is and making a financial commitment to go there, it is much as like buying a car to attend Worlds.

“The IRF and USA Racquetball owe you everything for your dedication to the future of the sport. The IRF has recognized this commitment and will continue to professionalize our events to make them events you are all proud of. I am sure that for many of you this is the first time you have spent two weeks of intense quality time together. Treasure it! Life comes at you fast.”

Appreciation for IRF Referees and Staff

A number of referees from 10 countries traveled here to support the IRF at this World Juniors event. The IRF has continually improved over a number of years from the time that losing players were required to referee the next match. These skilled individuals attend regular update sessions. We’re grateful for their support and hard work!

IRF Staff By Country

Argentina: Osvaldo Maggi, Mauro Grandio, Pablo Berriel, Sebastián Digón, Walter Capandegui, Adrian Macrino, Nicolas Florio, Germán Coppolecchia
Bolivia: Rodrigo Mendoa, Kadim Carrasco, Roland Keller, Bernardo Valencia, Rodrigo Gutierrez, Luis Segundo, Valeria Garzon, Andrea Gutierrez
Chile: Pablo Fajre*, Dorian Guzmán, Alvaro Yañez
Colombia: Francisco Gómez, Fabián Torres           
Dominican Republic: Merynanyelly Delgado, Ramon De Leon         
Ecuador: Juan Francisco Cueva, María Paz Muñoz
Mexico: Ivan Valdéz, Jaime Martell, Ricardo Gonzalez, Diana Aguilar                        
Puerto Rico: Miguel Santiago      
USA: Dean Schear, Gary Mazaroff, Gustavo Farrel              
Venezuela: Alberto Sánchez        

* Pablo Fajre (CHI) arrived on Monday to set up for live streaming beginning Tuesday.  

Nicolas Florio (ARG) and Kadim Carrasco (BOL) are working to publicize the event using their social media and graphics expertise. Visit the International Racquetball Federation on Facebook and Instagram! 

Question of the Day

Where is your favorite place in the world?

World Cup (21/18/16)

Eshan Ali, 16: Hawaii
Vedant Chauhan, 19: Cancun
Iain Dunn, 20: Kings Canyon National Park
Tucker Elkins, 19: Reser Stadium (OSU)
Brielle Fernando, 19: Wheaton College
Heather Mahoney, 19: Rainforest in Costa Rica
Thea Mattfeldt, 16: Pagosa Springs, Colorado
DJ Mendoza, 18: Disney World
Victoria Rodriguez, 16: Paris, France
Naomi Ros, 18: A place where I am with my family
Paul Saraceno, 18: Wherever my best friend is
Cole Sendrey, 17: Bahamas (anywhere with a beach and good fishing)
Sonya Shetty, 17: My favorite place in the world is Mumbai! My entire family lives there and it is so homey.
London Townsend, 16: The fitness factory in Cleveland, Tennessee
Khyathi Velpuri, 21: Colorado. There truly is no place like home.
Grant Williams, 14: Spain

Esprit Cup (14/12/10)

Shreya Chandel, 13: My favorite place in the world is Costa Rica
Nyasa Gupta, 13: I haven’t explored all the places I would like to visit in the world yet, but my favorite place so far is Switzerland. It has so much to offer. I really enjoyed its beauty and culture, and of course, the chocolates.
Vaishant Mangalampalli, 13: The Amazon Rainforest in Brazil
Sloka Marivada, 9: Hawaii
Chris Nelson, 10: Italy
Andrea Perez Picon, 15: To be determined
Alejandro Robles Picon, 12: The Racquetball Court.
Sammie Rai, 8: Disneyland
Aaradhya Raja, 11: My favorite place in the world would probably be the Bay Club’s racquetball courts. It’s a place where I can blow off steam and be free. 
Nathan Rykhus, 15: My favorite place in the world is in the temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints because it makes me feel peaceful and loved.
Ayan Sharma, 13: My home racquetball club, Bay Club
Aarya Shetty, 14: My home.
Eli Wright, 10: Paris
JT Wright, 13: Chicago

Here they are again...

Calvin Wright, 7: Bolivia
Anna Mendoza: La Jolla, California
Colleen Williams: Montana
Cheryl Kirk: My home. After that...my home.
Kit Lawson: Home sweet home
Jen Meyer: Next to the ones I love.
Tim Baghurst: Wherever I’m playing sports
Sara Wright: Home
Sandy Rios: Sitting on my deck enjoying the view
George Bustos: Trezzo sull'Adda - Italy, Acapulco
John Wright: Anywhere my family is, so… Bolivia!!
Delaney Farmer: My parents’ cabin in the foothills of the mountains and along a river.

Match Schedule – Thursday 11/16

Thurs. 9:00 am - MA/B Singles Cesar Avalos vs Fernando Jiminez Macias (ECU)
Thurs. 9:45 am - B18S DJ Mendoza vs Antonio Sanchez (CRC)
Thurs. 9:45 am - B18S Cole Sendrey vs Jhonathan Flores (BOL)
Thurs. 9:45 am - B10S Red Eli Wright vs Jhohan Flores (BOL)
Thurs. 9:45 am - G14S Aarya Shetty vs Luciana Illanes Quenta (BOL)
Thurs. 10:30 am - B16S Eshan Ali vs Eder Renteria (MEX)
Thurs. 10:30 am - G16S Sonya Shetty vs Natalia Mendez Veizaga (BOL)
Thurs. 11:15 am - G18S Naomi Ros vs Cynthia Gutierrez (MEX)
Thurs. 11:15 am - B21S Iain Dunn vs Luis Aguliar (BOL)
Thurs. 12:00 pm - B14D Vaishant Mangalampalli/Nathan Rykhus vs. Aguirre Fuentes/Gutierrez Orellana (CHI)
Thurs. 12:45 pm - B16D Eshan Ali/London Townsend vs Renteria/Galindo (MEX)
Thurs. 12:45 pm - G16D Sonya Shetty/Victoria Rodriguez vs Blacutt Conde/Mendez Veizaga (BOL)
Thurs. 1:30 pm - B18D Vedant Chauhan/Cole Sendrey vs Caceras/Sierra Mansilla (GUA)
Thurs. 1:30 pm - B21D Iain Dunn/Paul Saraceno vs Gatica/Mansilla Cid (CHI)
Thurs. 1:30 pm - G18D Heather Mahoney/Naomi Ros vs Balderrama/Gutierrez (MEX)
Thurs. 2:15 pm - M55+ Tim Mattfeldt vs Jerry Riveros Moron (BOL)
Thurs. 3:00 pm - MXD18 Cole Sendrey/Naomi Ros vs Reyes Perez/Sierra Mansilla (GUA)
Thurs. 3:45 pm - MXD21 Heather Mahoney/DJ Mendoza vs Mansilla Cid/Mansilla Cid (CHI)
Thurs. 3:45 pm - SA Victoria Rodriguez vs Valeria Villavicencio Garabito (BOL)
Please visit www.internationalracquetball.com for the daily live streaming schedule and links to matches via Facebook and YouTube.

     GO TEAM USA!!

     -- Cheryl Kirk

“We at USA Racquetball are extremely proud of our young athletes in Bolivia. They are our future and we're behind them all the way.” – Mike Grisz, Executive Director, USA Racquetball

XXXIV IRF World Junior Racquetball Championships
Tarija, Plurinational State of Bolivia
Tuesday, November 14th: Blog #6

A special event took place at the Racquetball Center on Tuesday evening. Tarija’s Mayor Johnny Torres visited to address athletes and staff members, present gift bags, and deliver a message of welcome to the attendees of this World Championship. There was significant news media presence, and the resulting coverage will bring even more visibility to this beautiful complex and to the sport of Racquetball in Tarija.

Blog #6 from the XXXIV IRF World Junior Racquetball Championships
Photo by: Junior Team Delegation Athletes, Family, and Friends

Speaking of which...Assistant Coach Sandy Rios expresses her high regard for the athletes competing here in Tarija:

Coach’s Comments -- Sandy Rios

“Today was a day full of shuffling and hopping for the U.S. Junior Team coaches as we were loaded with 31 matches on the 13 courts. We had some matches called early, some late, and some when other coaches filled in until the assigned coaches could make it to their players’ matches. And how did the players respond? Just as we expected them to -- they were amazing! With maturity and flexibility, they listen and they learn with every match. They ask questions about why should I do this or that; why would that shot be better than this shot; what is the best serve to use with this opponent. We’ve seen them grow in mental toughness. We’ve seen a few breaks in that same mental toughness but watched them bounce back and play with intensity and a never-say-die attitude. Ultimately, what we want is for them to find the strength and will power to find success in every challenge they tackle and to use this game and the dedication they have for it in other aspects of life. Even though they’ve worked so hard to get here, they may not go home with gold but they are still winners. These athletes are doing the coaching staff proud.”

Tuesday’s Match Results

B10 S Blue Chris Nelson (USA) lost to Andres Zambrana (BOL)
B10 S Red Eli Wright (USA) def Iker Guzman (ECU)
M55S Tim Mattfeldt (USA) def (WBF) Edwin Chavarria (BOL)
B18S Cole Sendrey (USA) lost to Ezequiel Subieta (BOL)
B18S DJ Mendoza (USA) def Alexander Mateo (DOM)
G18S Brielle Fernando (USA) lost to Kristin Salinas (BOL)
G18S Naomi Ros (USA) lost to Camila Rivero (BOL)
B12S Alejandro Robles Picon (USA) lost to Matias Garavito Campos (BOL)
B12S Blue Ayan Sharma (USA) lost to Matias Aldana (GUA)
B12S Red JT Wright (USA) lost to Roberto Gonzalez (BOL)
B21S Iain Dunn (USA) lost to Oscar Elias Nieto Valadez (MEX)
B21S Tucker Elkins (USA) lost to Diego Gastelum (MEX)
G12S Nyasa Gupta (USA) lost to Rebecca Valverde Alanes (BOL)
G12S Shreya Chandel (USA) lost to Julia Rebollo (BOL)
G21S Brielle Fernando (USA) lost to Camila Rivero (BOL)
G21S Khyathi Velpuri (USA) lost to Leonela Osorio (MEX)
G10D Sloka Marivada/Sameera Rai (USA) lost to Gonzalez Perez/Jurado (MEX)
B14S Vaishant Mangalampalli (USA) lost to Sebastian Ruiz Michel (BOL)
B14S Blue Nathan Rykhus (USA) def Yordi Navarijo (GUA)
B14S Blue Grant Williams (USA) lost to Sebastian Terrazas (BOL)
G14S Andrea Perez-Picon (USA) def Suszel Andrea Pairo Galileo (BOL)
G14S Aarya Shetty (USA) lost to Nicol Abril Mansilla Tambo (BOL)
G12D Shreya Chandel/Nyasa Gupta (USA) lost to Villarroel Garzon/Calvo Daza (BOL)
B21D Iain Dunn/Paul Saraceno (USA) lost to Nieto Valadez/Gastelum (MEX)
G21D Brielle Fernando/Khyathi Velpuri (USA) lost to Osorio/Gutierrez (MEX)
G16D Sonya Shetty/Victoria Rodriguez (USA) lost to Marquez/Salazar (MEX)
B18D Vedant Chauhan/Cole Sendry (USA) lost to Gutierrez Ortiz/Renteria (MEX)
B16D Eshan Ali/London Townsend (USA) lost to Pereira/Mamani Aguilar (BOL)
G18D Heather Mahoney/Naomi Ros (USA) def Reyes Perez/Aguilar Salvatierra (GUA)
MX12D JT Wright /Shreya Chandel (USA) lost to Medrano/Gomez Aguilar (MEX)
MX21D DJ Mendoza/Heather Mahoney (USA) lost to Gastelum/Gutierrez (MEX)
MX14D Andrea Perez-Picon/Nathan Rykhus (USA) lost to Medrano Michel/Montecinos (BOL)

Check out the results/scores at the end of each day and throughout the day at www.internationalracquetball.com or on R2 Sports: HERE

Blog #6 from the XXXIV IRF World Junior Racquetball Championships
Photo by: Junior Team Delegation Athletes, Family, and Friends
Blog #6 from the XXXIV IRF World Junior Racquetball Championships
Photo by: Junior Team Delegation Athletes, Family, and Friends

Question of the Day

What is the most rewarding or fulfilling thing you have ever done?

World Cup (21/18/16)

Eshan Ali, 16: Finish the Quran
Vedant Chauhan, 19: I raised $10k for an orphanage in Jaipur, India, during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Iain Dunn, 20: Being a top medalist at Cooperstown for the Home Run Derby
Tucker Elkins, 19: Playing Racquetball
Brielle Fernando, 19: Being in a Christ centered community and serving with my friends.
Heather Mahoney: Working toward my goal to earn a world title
Thea Mattfeldt, 16: Being able to help and teach kids how to play racquetball.
DJ Mendoza, 18: Being a role model for my junior players
Victoria Rodriguez, 16: I won my first racquetball pro tournament at 13 years old.
Naomi Ros, 18: Win junior worlds, learn a new language, and have the courage to move to another country without my parents.
Paul Saraceno, 18: Graduating high school with a 4.7 cumulative GPA and an Associates’ Degree
Cole Sendrey, 17: Getting on Team USA!!!
Sonya Shetty, 17: The most fulfilling thing that I have done is probably work at UCSF.
London Townsend, 16: Win a racquetball tournament
Khyathi Velpuri, 21: My volunteer work in the NICU. When you can provide some relief or happiness to a child suffering from sickness, there’s no greater feeling in the world.
Grant Williams, 14: Make Team USA

Esprit Cup (14/12/10)

Shreya Chandel, 13: The most rewarding or fulfilling thing I have done is qualify for Worlds.
Nyasa Gupta, 13: Impromptu paragliding in the Alps. I truly understood how immaterial our worries and problems are in that 10 minute drop near the Roof of Europe. It gave me a whole new perspective.
Vaishant Mangalampalli, 13: Singing. I enjoy music and love to immerse myself in tunes whenever I can.
Sloka Marivada, 9: Winning 5 gold medals in racquetball tournaments
Chris Nelson, 10: Making the U.S. Racquetball Team as first place
Andrea Perez Picon, 15: Winning tournaments with my family members.
Alejandro Robles Picon, 12: Getting #2 in the World
Sammie Rai, 8: Roller coaster (Gold Striker)
Aaradhya Raja, 11: Playing Racquetball!
Nathan Rykhus, 15: Either winning nationals or simply making friends with a nice old lady I met on an airplane flight.
Ayan Sharma, 13: Qualifying for the junior team this year
Aarya Shetty, 14: Volunteer work.
Eli Wright, 10: Making Team USA
JT Wright, 13: Playing racquetball at Nationals and playing baseball at Cooperstown

A few more...

Calvin Wright, 7: Practicing my drums without my mom and dad telling me to
Anna Mendoza: My three children
Colleen Williams: Two out of the three of my children, depends on the day on a rotating basis
Cheryl Kirk: Taking “college prep typing” in high school, circa 1974. Learning to type opened up so many doors in my career and beyond.
Kit Lawson: I won a trophy at a 5th grade “field day” on a bad ankle. My mom was so excited for me and made a
big deal out of it.
Jen Meyer: My hope is that I am someone my family can be proud of and my students and athletes can look up to in life.
Tim Baghurst: I was the first person in my family to go to college
Sara Wright: Becoming a mom
Sandy Rios: Working with the 2022 and now 2023 Junior Team – no words adequately describe it
George Bustos: Doing it now!
John Wright: Being a dad!
Delaney Farmer: Creating things for others, to see their excitement.

Greetings from Tarija!

Eli Wright's entire 5th grade class (Mrs. Joannette Lamb) at Babler Elementary School in Wildwood, Missouri, were able to catch his singles match via livestream on his Instagram page Monday morning. Mrs. Lamb played Eli’s match in front of the classroom on the smart board, and at each timeout she took a few questions from his classmates to post in the Instagram chat. Says John Wright (Eli’s dad): “It was so awesome and it really made Eli feel good to know that his classmates were cheering for him some 4,400 odd miles away.”

Raffle Drawing Announcement

Many of the athletes competing here in Tarija took the opportunity to participate in selling raffle tickets to help raise funds for their trip to the World Junior Championships. They sent their ticket stubs in to USA Racquetball’s Jonathan Greenberg who drew out the winner of the $500 prize on Tuesday evening.

Congratulations to Barbie Williams of Wickliffe, Kentucky! The winning ticket was sold by Grant Williams of Wildwood, Missouri.

Wednesday Match Schedule

We’re sorry to have to announce that Andrea Perez-Picon suffered an injury in her Mixed Doubles match on Tuesday afternoon and will not be able to continue in the competition. The entire delegation is so sad that this took place, and we can’t wait until Andrea can get back on the courts and continue her very promising racquetball journey.

Looking to Wednesday now, this tournament is moving at lightning speed. You arrive at an international destination feeling like you’ll be here forever, then all of a sudden you’re staring down departure dates. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves...there’s a lot more racquetball to come. Here’s Wednesday’s schedule.

Many of the divisions are now in a single elimination format. Good luck to all!

Wed 9:00 am – B16S Eshan Ali (USA) vs Angel Gonzales (GUA)
Wed 9:00 am – B16S Grant Williams (USA) vs Bismarck Pereira (BOL)
Wed 9:45 pm – G16S Sonya Shetty (USA) vs Thea Mattfeldt (USA)
Wed 9:45 am – G18S Naomi Ros (USA) vs Brielle Fernando (USA)
Wed 10:30 am – G10S Sloka Marivada (USA) vs Kenia Condori Garabito (BOL)
Wed 10:30 am – G10S Aaradhya Raja (USA) vs Lia Montserrat Gonzalez Perez (MEX)
Wed 11:15 am – B14S Blue Nathan Rykhus (USA) vs Emilio Jurado (MEX)
Wed 12:00 pm – B18S DJ Mendoza (USA) vs Esleiker Gomez (DOM)
Wed 12:00 pm – B18S Cole Sendrey (USA) vs Christian Pocsai (CAN)
Wed 12:45 pm – B10D Eli Wright/Chris Nelson (USA) vs Arteaga/Arandia (BOL)
Wed 12:45 pm – G21S Khyathi Velpuri (USA) vs Ana Lucia Sarmiento (ECU)
Wed 12:45 pm – G21S Brielle Fernando (USA) vs Alejandra Jimenez (DOM)
Wed 1:30 pm – B21S Iain Dunn (USA) vs Tucker Elkins (USA)
Wed 1:30 pm – B12D Ayan Sharma/Alejandro Robles Picon (USA) vs Bermeo/Davila (ECU)
Wed 1:30 pm – MX16D Sonya Shetty/Eshan Ali (USA) vs Villacreses/Villacreses (ECU)
Wed 2:15 pm – G18D Naomi Ros/Heather Mahoney (USA) vs Miranda Martinez/Amaya Ardaya (BOL)
Wed 2:15 pm – G14D Aarya Shetty/Nyasa Gupta (USA) vs Wer/Sipac (GUA)
Wed 3:00 pm – G21D Brielle Fernando/Khyathi Velpuri (USA) vs Flores/Katz (ARG)
Wed 3:00 pm – MX12D Shreya Chandel/JT Wright (USA) vs Moscoso/Coro (BOL)
Wed 3:45 pm – MX14D Aarya Shetty/Nathan Rykhus (USA) vs Villacreses/Zea Cueva (ECU)
Wed 4:30 pm – MX18D Naomi Ros/Cole Sendrey (USA) vs Gomez/Moreta (DOM)
Wed 4:30 pm – MA/B Singles Cesar Avalos (USA) vs Ignacio Scoppa (ARG)

Pablo Fajre is all set to go! Please visit www.internationalracquetball.com for the daily live streaming schedule and links to matches via Facebook and YouTube.

GO TEAM USA!!

Blog #6 from the XXXIV IRF World Junior Racquetball Championships
Photo by: Junior Team Delegation Athletes, Family, and Friends
XXXIV IRF World Junior Racquetball Championships
Tarija, Plurinational State of Bolivia
Monday November 13, 2023: Blog #5

Head Coach Tim Baghurst kicks off Blog #5 with these thoughts:

“The theme for this year’s team has been ‘sisu.’ The word is Finnish and has no direct English translation but can roughly be translated as possessing the inner strength to combat adversity. Well, we saw a lot of sisu today, that’s for sure. One of our goals as a coaching staff has been to encourage our athletes, win or lose, to compete to the very end. It’s easy, when down in rally scoring, to begin thinking that the game is already done. But that’s not sisu. That’s not how we play. And it happened today. Nathan Rykhus and Andrea Perez-Picon lost their first game against their Mexican opponents in 14 Mixed Doubles. Yet, down 6-4, 6-3, and 6-2 in games 2, 3, and 4, they dug deep, never quit, and came out 3-1 winners. 

“The script doesn’t always have a happy ending, and we’ve had the frustration of experiencing our share of losses this week. Yet, these kids are trying, and learning, and win or lose they will be going home with the knowledge of what it really takes to be a world champion.”

Monday's Results

B16S Eshan Ali (USA) lost to Bismarck Pereira (BOL) 
B16S Grant Williams (USA) lost to Marco Mamani Aguilar (BOL) 
B12S Alejandro Robles Picon (USA) def Arturo Chavarria (CRI)
B12S Ayan Sharma (USA) lost to Isaac Merma Coro (BOL)
B10S Chris Nelson (USA) lost to Juan Emilio Quinde Bravo (ECU) 
B10S (Red) Eli Wright (USA) def Felipe Hidalgo (CRI)   

B16D Eshan Ali/London Townsend (USA) lost to Aguirre Fuentes/Igor (CHI) 
B14D Nathan Rykhus/Vaishant Mangalampalli (USA) def Haro Perez/Quezada (ECU) 
B12D Alejandro Robles Picon/Ayan Sharma (USA) lost to Garavito Campos/Merma Coro (BOL) 
B10D Chris Nelson/Eli Wright (USA) lost to Hidalgo/Vishnia (CRI)

G18S Naomi Ros (USA) def Luz Moreta (DOM) 
G16S Sonya Shetty (USA) def Andrea Marquez (MEX) 
G16S Thea Mattfeldt (USA) lost to Yanna Salazar (MEX) 
G12S Shreya Chandel (USA) lost to Rosario Calvo Daza (BOL) 

G14D Andrea Perez-Picon/Aarya Shetty (USA) lost to Portillo/Farias (MEX) 
G12D  Shreya Chandel/Nyasa Gupta (USA) lost to Vedia Arteaga/Saavedra Rodriguez (BOL) 
G10D Sloka Marivada/Sameera Rai (USA) lost to Mendez/Paez Bejarano (BOL) 

MX21D DJ Mendoza/Heather Mahoney (USA) def Jimenez/Mateo (DOM) 
MX18D Naomi Ros/Cole Sendrey (USA) lost to Gutierrez/Ortiz/Balderrama (MEX) 
MX16D Eshan Ali/Sonya Shetty (USA) lost to Renteria/Salazar (MEX) 
MX14D Andrea Perez-Picon/Nathan Rykhus (USA) def Sanchez Lara/Farias (MEX) 

M55S Tim Mattfeldt (USA) def Tito Nunez (BOL)
Women’s A Singles / Victoria Rodriguez (USA) lost to Gabriela Diaz Fernandez (BOL)

Check out the results/scores at the end of each day and throughout the day at www.internationalracquetball.com or on R2 Sports: HERE

Blog #5 photos from the XXXIV IRF World Junior Racquetball Championships
Photo by: Junior Team Delegation Athletes, Family, and Friends
Blog #5 photos from the XXXIV IRF World Junior Racquetball Championships
Photo by: Junior Team Delegation Athletes, Family, and Friends

Mail From Home

This feature expresses the U.S. Junior Team’s gratitude for the messages we receive during the tournament. Let’s start with USAR Board President Stewart Solomon’s letter of encouragement and support to the coaches and athletes:

“Greetings, Team, from back home in the States!

“Thank you for all you have done and will be doing over the course of the event in Bolivia. I am sure with the team we have assembled you will be able to get the best from our Juniors competing for our country.

“Having the Juniors competing at this IRF event has the ability to have an impact on the next wave of junior players throughout the states! When I told my 6-year-old there was an 8-year-old playing against other countries in Bolivia, his eyes lit up and he said he wanted to go play.

“Sending wishes of good luck from the Board of Directors to the Team and let them know we are all very proud of them and look forward to hearing all about their accomplishments and experiences when they get back!”

A message arrived from Keith Calkins, whose work in developing Racquetball over decades helped shape the sport as we know it today. Keith was president of the IRF for years and was heavily involved in USA Racquetball for many years as well. Keith is a member of USA Racquetball’s Hall of Fame, Class of 1996.

“I would like to send my sincere appreciation for all 73 who made that difficult trip to Bolivia. You will forever be rewarded as a result. Twenty years from now you all will be talking with each other about that once in a lifetime trip. It will truly be an unforgettable experience. Please don't forget that The Sport of Racquetball will bring more to each of you than just what happens on the court. Take advantage of this wonderful opportunity, play like champions on and off the court, and you all will come home winners. We are so proud of everyone one of you. I personally appreciate this opportunity to read about your daily experiences and successes. Go Team USA”

Nice messages have also arrived from Terry Rogers, John O’Donnell, Jr., Alok Mehta, Kendra Tutsch, Luke St. Onge, Maureen Mulvenna Keough, Barbara Curran, David Stob, Joanne Pomodoro, Pete Martinez, Gail Cowley, John Freiburger, Brett Elkins, T. J. Baumbaugh, Kevin Cowley, Manny Rodriguez, Dan Whitley, and Karen White. Thanks to everyone for taking the time to send over your best wishes for a great tournament here in Tarija!

Question of the Day

If you could have lunch with anyone living who would it be?

World Cup (21/18/16)

Eshan Ali, 16: Steph Curry
Vedant Chauhan, 19: Kendrick Lamar, to learn about his lyrical inspirations 
Iain Dunn, 20: My family
Tucker Elkins, 19: Michael Jordan
Brielle Fernando, 19: Josiah Queen
Heather Mahoney, 19: Alex Morgan
Thea Mattfeldt, 16: Taylor Swift
DJ Mendoza, 18: Randy Moss
Victoria Rodriguez, 16: Jesus
Naomi Ros, 18: Always family
Paul Saraceno, 18: Eiichiro Oda (author of One Piece)
Cole Sendrey, 17: Lavell Crawford
Sonya Shetty, 17: Lana del Rey
London Townsend, 16: Jon Jones or Kane Waselenchuk
Khyathi Velpuri, 21: Beyonce. It would be the best lunch of my life. 
Grant Williams, 14: The Rock

Esprit Cup (14/12/10)
Shreya Chandel, 13: Taylor Swift
Nyasa Gupta, 13: Taylor Swift
Vaishant Mangalampalli, 13: The creator of One Piece Eiichiro Oda because I want to learn about how he created One Piece and what he plans for the manga.
Sloka Marivada, 9: Taylor Swift
Chris Nelson, 10: My whole family
Andrea Perez-Picon, 15: Paola Longoria
Alejandro Robles Picon, 12: Stephen Curry
Sammie Rai, 8: Zoë (friend)
Aaradhya Raja, 11: Taylor Swift! The best singer of all time!
Nathan Rykhus, 15: Jonathan Isaac, to see what life is like in the NBA and know why he stood up during the Pledge of Allegiance instead of kneeling like the rest of his team.
Aarya Shetty, 14: Rivers Cuomo
Eli Wright, 10: My best friend
JT Wright, 13: Elon Musk or Jeff Bezos
Bonus Responses...

Calvin Wright, 7: My mom
Anna Mendoza: Alexander Skarsgård (played in Tarzan and True Blood)
Colleen Williams: Pink
Cheryl Kirk: My neighbors Liora and Aviela and talk about punctuation and Taylor Swift.
Kit Lawson: Charlie Brumfield
Jen Meyer: My family
Tim Baghurst: I don’t know. I’ve thought about this a lot. There are too many but no one stands apart.
Sara Wright: Man, I cannot pick just one!
Sandy Rios: Peyton Manning – I think he’s got a lot of knowledge and a fun guy
George Bustos: Coach Gregg Popovich
John Wright: Sara Wright
Delaney Farmer: Cheryl Kirk (Blogger’s note: He came up with this on his own!)
Tarija Municipal Racquetball Center Av. de la Integración, Tarija, Bolivia 

This world-class Racquetball Center is a delight to discover. It boasts 13 glass back courts, one being three-wall glass with stadium seating. A concession stand offers beverages, ice cream, candy, and sandwiches. Employees are continually cleaning the floors both inside and outside the courts. Volunteers bring water to the athletes who have just been assigned courts. Stairs at the front and back lead up to a walkway platform down the middle that gives a birds-eye view of the 12 courts below. 

The organizing committee of this World Juniors event seek to ensure safety and security with guards monitoring the doors and with a medical staff (doctor, nurse, and physiotherapist) on site and a fully stocked ambulance outside, should the need arise. 

Outside is a statue of the mascot of Tarija Racquetball, Lito, short for Cardenalito (little cardinal). The plaque below the statue explains the story and the inspiration behind the reason Lito was chosen. To paraphrase, about 25 years ago an imported species of cardinals was accidentally released. Over the years they procreated, integrated, and became a leader species in the Guadalquivir River area. The other birds accepted the cardinals, and the cardinals accepted them. Cardinals exist in abundance in Tarija, and they are a symbol of unity, inclusiveness, and resilience. The Racquetball family in Tarija embraces these same values, and Team USA can certainly confirm firsthand the friendly and welcoming spirit at the Center.

Blog #5 photos from the XXXIV IRF World Junior Racquetball Championships
Photo by: Junior Team Delegation Athletes, Family, and Friends
Blog #5 photos from the XXXIV IRF World Junior Racquetball Championships
Photo by: Junior Team Delegation Athletes, Family, and Friends
Blog #5 photos from the XXXIV IRF World Junior Racquetball Championships
Photo by: Junior Team Delegation Athletes, Family, and Friends

Tuesday’s Match Schedule 

We’re four days into this World Championship event already, and tomorrow will be busier than ever. Team USA will compete in 34 matches, and the coaches and athletic trainer are ready to serve...presumably on roller skates.

Tue 9:00 am -- B10 S Blue Chris Nelson (USA) vs Andres Zambrana (BOL) 
Tue 9:00 am -- B10 S Red Eli Wright (USA) vs Iker Guzman (ECU) 
Tue 9:00 am –  M55S Tim Mattfeldt (USA) vs. Edwin Chavarria (BOL)
Tue 9:45 am -- B18S Cole Sendrey (USA) vs Ezequiel Subieta (BOL) 
Tue 9:45 am --  B18S DJ Mendoza (USA) vs Alexander Mateo (DOM) 
Tue 9:45 am --  G18S Brielle Fernando (USA) vs Kristin Salinas (BOL)
Tue 9:45 am –  G18S Naomi Ros (USA) vs Camila Rivero (BOL) 
Tue 10:30 am -- B12S Alejandro Robles Picon (USA) vs Matias Garavito Campos (BOL) 
Tue 10:30 am -- B12S Blue Ayan Sharma (USA) vs Matias Aldana (GUA) 
Tue 10:30 am -- B12S Red JT Wright (USA) vs Roberto Gonzalez (BOL) 
Tue 11:15 am -- B21S Iain Dunn (USA) vs Oscar Elias Nieto Valadez (MEX) 
Tue 11:15 am -- B21S Tucker Elkins (USA) vs Diego Gastelum (MEX) 
Tue 11:15 am – G12S Nyasa Gupta (USA) vs Rebecca Valverde Alanes (BOL)
Tue 11:15 am – G12S Shreya Chandel (USA) vs Julia Rebollo (BOL)
Tue 12:00 pm -- G21S Brielle Fernando (USA) vs Camila Rivero (BOL) 
Tue 12:00 pm -- G21S Khyathi Velpuri (USA) vs Leonela Osorio (MEX) 
Tue 12:00 pm -- G10D Sloka Marivada/Sameera Rai (USA) vs Gonzalez Perez/Jurado (MEX) 
Tue 12:45 pm -- B14S Vaishant Mangalampalli (USA) vs Sebastian Ruiz Michel (BOL) 
Tue 12:45 pm -- B14S Blue Nathan Rykhus (USA) vs Yordi Navarijo (GUA) 
Tue 12:45 pm -- B14S Blue Grant Williams (USA) vs Sebastian Terrazas (BOL) 
Tue 1:30 pm --  G14S Andrea Perez-Picon (USA) vs Suszel Andrea Pairo Galileo (BOL) 
Tue 1:30 pm --  G14S Aarya Shetty (USA) vs Nicol Abril Mansilla Tambo (BOL) 
Tue 1:30 pm --  G12D  Shreya Chandel/Nyasa Gupta (USA) vs Villarroel Garzon/Calvo Daza (BOL)
Tue 2:15 pm --  B21D Iain Dunn/Paul Saraceno (USA) vs Nieto Valadez/Gastelum (MEX) 
Tue 2:15 pm --  G21D Brielle Fernando/Khyathi Velpuri (USA) vs Osorio/Gutierrez (MEX)
Tue 2:15 pm -- G16D Sonya Shetty/Victoria Rodriguez (USA) vs Marquez/Salazar (MEX) 
Tue 3:00 pm -- B18D Vedant Chauhan/Cole Sendry (USA) vs Gutierrez Ortiz/Renteria (MEX) 
Tue 3:00 pm -- B16D Eshan Ali/London Townsend (USA) vs Pereira/Mamani Aguilar (BOL) 
Tue 3:00 pm -- G18D Heather Mahoney/Naomi Ros (USA) vs Reyes Perez/Aguilar Salvatierra (GUA) 
Tue 3:00 pm -- MX12D  JT Wright /Shreya Chandel (USA) vs Medrano/Gomez Aguilar (MEX) 
Tue 3:45 pm -- MX21D DJ Mendoza/Heather Mahoney (USA) vs Gastelum/Gutierrez (MEX) 
Tue 3:45 pm -- MX14D Andrea Perez-Picon/Nathan Rykhus (USA) vs Medrano Michel/Montecinos (BOL) 
Tue 4:30 pm -- SA Victoria Rodriguez (USA) vs Mirela Michel (BOL) 
Tue 4:30 pm – Men’s Singles A/B Cesar Avalos vs Hector Castellanos (BOL)

Pablo Fajre has arrived in Tarija with his streaming equipment, and that means that we’ll soon be seeing a schedule released each day to give us the rundown on what to expect! Stay tuned for more info tomorrow...

GO TEAM USA!

Blog #5 photos from the XXXIV IRF World Junior Racquetball Championships
Photo by: Junior Team Delegation Athletes, Family, and Friends

XXXIV IRF World Junior Racquetball Championships
Tarija, Plurinational State of Bolivia
Sunday November 12, 2023: Blog #4

Esprit Coach Jen Meyer offers these comments after Day 2 of competition here in Tarija:

“The ratio of wins and losses is not what we had hoped for today, but the athletes are playing better each round. This is important as we get ready to head into straight draws on Wednesday in most divisions. Every year the level of play from around the world continues to increase across all age divisions. This means there is a lot of fantastic racquetball being played from the start and even more to come in the days ahead. I have been impressed with the attitude and grind of our USA athletes who are attending their first World Championships, and I'm equally impressed with the composure and leadership of our veterans.

***We interrupt these comments to relate an experience that took place in the room as Jen was reading her comments out loud to Cheryl. A moderately large “something” began flying around the room. One of us jumped out of her chair and began running around uttering certain exclamations that may or may not have contained questionable content. As what turned out to be a (behe)moth, later named Monte, took up residence on the wall, the other of us started looking for something to trap him (or her). A large Ziploc bag and a draw sheet did the trick, and we went out into the hallway to find an open window and save a life. Mission accomplished, and please continue to enjoy Jen’s comments.***

“All day long outside each of the 13 courts are spectators who are using noise makers and cheering on their team. Team USA athletes and families are no exception! It is amazing to hear the support during matches and a USA chant after a great win! I am looking forward to seeing the athletes continue to play hard, have fun, and leave everything on the court for the end goal! Go Team USA! 

Blog #4 Photos from the XXXIV IRF World Junior Racquetball Championships
Photo by: Junior Team Delegation Athletes, Family, and Friends
Blog #4 Photos from the XXXIV IRF World Junior Racquetball Championships
Photo by: Junior Team Delegation Athletes, Family, and Friends

Sunday's Results

B21S Iain Dunn (USA) def Juan Segovia (BOL)
B16S Eshan Ali (USA) def Christian Aldana (GUA)
B16S Grant Williams (USA) lost to Angel Gonzalez (GUA) 
B14S Vaishant Mangalampalli (USA) def Benjamin Andre Aguirre Fuentes (CHI)
B14S Nathan Rykhus (USA) lost to Santiago Borja (BOL)
B14S Grant Williams (USA) lost to Brian Axel Sanchez Lara (MEX)
B12S Alejandro Robles Picon (USA) def Roberto Gonzalez (BOL) 
B12S Ayan Sharma (USA) def Daniel Matzen (CRI)
B12S JT Wright (USA) lost to Emilio Haro Perez (ECU)
B10S Eli Wright (USA) lost to Benjamin Lino Daza (BOL)

B21D Iain Dunn/Paul Saraceno (USA) lost to Bermeo/DeJanon Calderon (ECU)
B18D Vedant Chauhan/Cole Sendry (USA) lost to Ruiz Michel/Iglesias (BOL)
B16D Eshan Ali/London Townsend (USA) lost to Zea Cueva/Carchi (ECU)
B14D Nathan Rykhus/Vaishant Mangalampalli (USA) def Alvarado/Hidalgo (CRI)
B10D Chris Nelson/Eli Wright (USA) lost to Garcia/Soto (MEX)

G21S Brielle Fernando (USA) lost to Ana Lucia Sarmiento (ECU)
G21S Khyathi Velpuri (USA) lost to Fabiana Landy (ECU)
G16S Sonya Shetty (USA) lost to Natalia Mendez Veizaga (BOL) 
G16S Thea Mattfeldt (USA) lost to Sofia Veronica Argandoña Moscoso (BOL) 
G14S Andrea Perez-Picon (USA) def Maria Laura Villacreses (ECU)
G14S Aarya Shetty (USA) lost to Paula Aldana (GUA)
G12S Nyasa Gupta (USA) lost to Mia Gomez Aguilar (MEX) 
G10S Aaradhya Raja (USA) lost to Maria Jose Jurado (MEX) 

G21D Brielle Fernando/Khyathi Velpuri (USA) def Moreta/Jimenez (DOM) 
G18D Heather Mahoney/Naomi Ros (USA) lost to Reyes Perez/Aguilar Salvatierra (GUA) 
G16D Sonya Shetty/Victoria Rodriguez (USA) def Blacutt Conde/Mendez Veizaga (BOL)
G12D  Shreya Chandel/Nyasa Gupta (USA) lost to Gomez Rubio/Gomez Aguilar (MEX)
G10D Sloka Marivada/Sameera Rai (USA) lost to Zapata Claure/Hinojosa Garcia (BOL) 

MX12D  JT Wright /Shreya Chandel (USA) lost to Subieta Roscoso/Merma Coro (BOL) 

M55S Tim Mattfeldt (USA) def Wilfredo Cortez (BOL)

Check out the results/scores at the end of each day and throughout the day at www.internationalracquetball.com or on R2 Sports: https://www.r2sports.com/website/division-list.asp?TID=41801&sortBy=defaultOrder

Happy Diwali!

Thanks to the efforts of several parents, a delightful dinner celebration was hosted in a private area of the hotel restaurant. Earlier, parents had gone shopping for fresh vegetables, and the hotel staff was happy to modify menu items to lend an Indian flavor (the meal was delicious!). Afterward, Surekha Anantharaman wrote, “Thank you all for celebrating with us today and making Diwali 2023 so memorable for all of us here in Tarija, Bolivia!” Melodese Mahoney echoed everyone’s sentiments, “Such a wonderful gathering! We loved the delicious food and were quite impressed with all the effort made - no small feat!! Such beautiful traditional attire too - so lovely! Thank you for sharing this with us!!” 

Blog #4 Photos from the XXXIV IRF World Junior Racquetball Championships
Photo by: Junior Team Delegation Athletes, Family, and Friends

Question of the Day!

If you could eat only one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?

World Cup (21/18/16)
Eshan Ali, 16: Chicken wings
Vedant Chauhan, 19: Dave’s hot chicken
Iain Dunn, 20: Panda Express for sure
Tucker Elkins, 19: Steak
Brielle Fernando, 19: Sushi
Heather Mahoney, 19: Pasta, because there are so many different types of pastas to eat.
Thea Mattfeldt, 16: Chicken Alfredo
DJ Mendoza, 18: Chicken because you can prepare it different ways.
Victoria Rodriguez, 16: Chicken
Naomi Ros, 18: Salad or burgers
Paul Saraceno, 18: Hibachi steak and shrimp fried rice
Cole Sendrey, 17: Poke!!!
Sonya Shetty, 17: Korean food!
London Townsend, 16: Chicken tetrazzini
Khyathi Velpuri, 21: I’m a sucker for PIZZA! It’s so good, and you can change the toppings every time, so it never gets boring.
Grant Williams, 14: Greek gyros 

Esprit Cup (14/12/10)
Shreya Chandel, 13: Tacos from Chipotle.
Nyasa Gupta, 13: Crepes – I love making them, and they can be both sweet and savory.
Vaishant Mangalampalli, 13: My mom’s chicken curry is delicious and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
Sloka Marivada, 9: Donuts
Chris Nelson, 10: Hot brownie with cold ice cream
Andrea Perez Picon, 15: Acai Bowl
Alejandro Robles Picon, 12: In-n-Out Burgers
Sammie Rai, 8: Pasta
Aaradhya Raja, 11: Chipotle kids bundle
Nathan Rykhus, 15: My mom's homemade pizza because it is super good.
Aarya Shetty, 14: Soup, since it has variety.
Eli Wright, 10: Peanut butter and jelly sandwich
JT Wright, 13: Spaghetti

Guest contributors weigh in...
Calvin Wright, 7: Raw apples

Anna Mendoza: Pinto beans

Colleen Williams: Steak

Jen Meyer: Raspberries

Tim Baghurst: Poke bowl

Sara Wright: Freshly baked bread

Sandy Rios: Potatoes

George Bustos: Grilled barbecue chicken with a baked potato

John Wright: Pizza

Delaney Farmer: Tacos

Kit Lawson: Mom’s meatloaf (it was a recipe on the back of the Quaker Oats box)

Cheryl Kirk: Butternut squash gnocchi

Monday’s Schedule

The temperature has been in the mid to upper 90’s, and even with fans in the building, it’s been a bit warm. Monday should be about 15 degrees cooler. There are 26

matches to be played, and that will be a welcome change. Here’s the rundown for tomorrow!

Mon 9:00 am -- B12S Alejandro Robles Picon (USA) vs Arturo Chavarria (CRI) 

Mon 9:00 am -- B12S Ayan Sharma (USA) vs Isaac Merma Coro (BOL) 

Mon 9:45 am -- B18S Cole Sendrey (USA) vs Fernando Jimenez Macias (VEN) 

Mon 9:45 am -- B18S DJ Mendoza (USA) vs Jorge Gutierrez Ortiz (MEX) 

Mon 9:45 am -- G18S Naomi Ros (USA) vs Luz Moreta (DOM) 

Mon 10:30 am -- B10U Chris Nelson (USA) vs Juan Emilio Quinde Bravo (ECU) 

Mon 10:30 am -- G10S Sloka Marivada (USA) vs Mary Hinojosa Garcia (BOL) 

Mon 11:15 am -- B10S (Red) Eli Wright (USA) vs Felipe Hidalgo (CRI) 

Mon 11:15 am -- B16S Eshan Ali (USA) vs Bismarck Pereira (BOL) 

Mon 11:15 am -- B16S Grant Williams (USA) vs Marco Mamani Aguilar (BOL) 

Mon 11:15 am -- G16S Sonya Shetty (USA) vs Andrea Marquez (MEX) 

Mon 11:15 am -- G16S Thea Mattfeldt (USA) vs Yanna Salazar (MEX) 

Mon 11:15 am – Women’s A Singles / Victoria Rodriguez (USA) vs Gabriela Diaz Fernandez (BOL)

Mon 12:45 pm -- G12S Shreya Chandel (USA) vs Rosario Calvo Daza (BOL) 

Mon 1:30 pm -- B10D Chris Nelson/Eli Wright (USA) vs Hidalgo/Vishnia (CRI) 

Mon 1:30 pm -- G10D Sloka Marivada/Sameera Rai (USA) vs Mendez/Paez Bejarano (BOL) 

Mon 2:15 pm -- B14D Nathan Rykhus/Vaishant Mangalampalli (USA) vs Haro Perez/Quezada (ECU) 

Mon 2:15 pm -- G14D Andrea Perez-Picon/Aarya Shetty (USA) vs Portillo/Farias (MEX) 

Mon 2:15 pm -- M55S Tim Mattfeldt (USA) vs Tito Nunez (BOL)

Mon 3:00 pm -- B12D Alejandro Robles Picon/Ayan Sharma (USA) vs Garavito Campos/Merma Coro (BOL) 

Mon 3:00 pm -- B16D Eshan Ali/London Townsend (USA) vs Aguirre Fuentes/Igor (CHI) 

Mon 3:00 pm -- G12D  Shreya Chandel/Nyasa Gupta (USA) vs Vedia Arteaga/Saavedra Rodriguez (BOL) 

Mon 3:00 pm -- MX18D Naomi Ros/Cole Sendrey (USA) vs Gutierrez/Ortiz/Balderrama (MEX) 

Mon 4:30 pm -- MX14D Andrea Perez-Picon/Nathan Rykhus (USA) vs Sanchez Lara/Farias (MEX) 

Mon 4:30 pm -- MX16D Eshan Ali/Sonya Shetty (USA) vs Renteria/Salazar (MEX) 

Mon 4:30 pm -- MX21D DJ Mendoza/Heather Mahoney (USA) vs Jimenez/Mateo (DOM) 

In tomorrow’s blog, I’ll tell you more about this great club and their warm and welcoming staff. ¡Hasta lunes!


XXXIV IRF World Junior Racquetball Championships
Tarija, Plurinational State of Bolivia
Saturday, November 11, 2023: Blog #3

Today was the first day of competition here at World Juniors, and Head Coach Tim Baghurst starts off Blog #3 with some reflections:

“Day one is in the books! This evening the coaching staff had supper (welcome, Adam!) and discussed how much this competition has changed. For a number of years, teams such as the USA, Bolivia, and Mexico had easy first-day matchups against developing countries with a few recreational junior players. Gone are those days! USA had to battle today and battle they did. Yes, we lost some matches, but we saw a lot of sisu (inner strength) from so many, grinding out four-game and sometimes even five-game wins. Shoutout to Thea for taking one of her games 21-19! 

“About half of our team did not qualify/attend last year’s event in Guatemala, so for many this was their first experience with international play. Something we have focused on developing in our USA Team over the past two years is pride in representing our country, family, and self. These kids give everything on the court today, and win or lose, we are all so proud of how they are handling success and defeat. We hope you are, too.”

Blog #3 from the XXXIV IRF World Junior Racquetball Championships
Photo by: Junior Team Delegation Athletes, Family, and Friends
Blog #3 from the XXXIV IRF World Junior Racquetball Championships
Photo by: Junior Team Delegation Athletes, Family, and Friends

Saturday’s Results

B21S Iain Dunn (USA) def Diego Gatica (CHI)
B21S Tucker Elkins (USA) lost to Jaime Nicolas Mansilla Cid (CHI)
B18S DJ Mendoza (USA) def Oscar Montejo (CRI)
B18S Cole Sendrey (USA) def Jose Caceras (GUA)
B16S Grant Williams (USA) lost to Martin Carchi (ECU)
B16S Eshan Ali (USA) def Joaquin Villacreses (ECU)
B14S Grant Williams (USA) def Leonardo Haro Perez (ECU)
B12D Alejandro Robles Picon/Ayan Sharma (USA) def Cevallos/Haro Perez (ECU)
B10D Chris Nelson/Eli Wright (USA) lost to Carchi/Quinde Bravo (ECU)
G21S Brielle Fernando (USA) lost to Alejandra Jimenez (DOM)
G21S Khyathi Velpuri (USA) lost to Jazmin Elizabeth Aguilar Salvatierra (GUA)
G18S Naomi Ros (USA) def Maria Angela Villacreses (ECU)
G18S Brielle Fernando (USA) lost to Jazmin Elizabeth Aguilar Salvatierra (GUA)
G16S Sonya Shetty (USA) def Ana Paula Jaramillo Gonzalez (ECU)
G16S Thea Mattfeldt (USA) def Chloe Jauvin (CAN)
G14S Andrea Perez-Picon (USA) def Ana Lucia Montecinos (BOL)
G14S Aarya Shetty (USA) lost to Mariel Montecinos (BOL)
G12S Shreya Chandel (USA) def Catalina Rufino (ARG)
G12S Nyasa Gupta (USA) lost to Ivana Salamea (ECU)
G10S Sloka Marivada (USA) lost to Sofia Rocabado (BOL)
G10S Aaradhya Raja (USA) lost to Miranda Castro (CRI)
G14D Andrea Perez-Picon/Aarya Shetty (USA) def Montecinos/Illanes Quenta (BOL)
G12D Nyasa Gupta/Shreya Chandel (USA) lost to Salamea/Quinde Mendieta (ECU)
G10D Sloka Marivada/Sameera Rai (USA) lost to Castro/Chavarria (BOL)
MX18D Naomi Ros/Cole Sendrey (USA) def Wilscam/Pocsai (CAN)
MX16D Eshan Ali/Sonya Shetty (USA) def Aldana/Gonzales (GUA)
MX14D Andrea Perez-Picon/Nathan Rykhus (USA) def Isabella Wer/Yordi Navarijo (GUA)
MX12D  JT Wright /Shreya Chandel (USA) lost to Salamea/Bermeo (ECU)
M55S Tim Mattfeldt (USA) def Edwin Chavarria (BOL)

Check out the results/scores at the end of each day and throughout the day at www.internationalracquetball.com or on R2 Sports: HERE.

Diwali is Tomorrow – November 12

Over the years, there have been a number of World Junior tournaments during which Diwali was celebrated. I thought it was charming and wished I knew more. Surekha Anantharaman graciously provided this description for tonight’s blog. 

“Diwali is a vibrant and joyous festival celebrated by Hindus around the world. The word "Diwali" is derived from the Sanskrit word "Deepavali," which translates to ‘row of lights.’ The festival typically lasts five days, and its main focus is the triumph of light over darkness and good over evil. Diwali is marked by the lighting of oil lamps, or diyas, and the decoration of homes with colorful rangoli patterns. Families come together to share festive meals, exchange gifts, and participate in religious ceremonies. The celebration is also associated with various mythological stories, with the most common being the return of Lord Rama to Ayodhya after defeating the demon king Ravana. Diwali serves as a time for reflection, renewal, and the fostering of goodwill, symbolizing the victory of inner light and the dispelling of ignorance.”

Editorial comment: Does the world need anything more right now than what Diwali inspires?

Several families in the U.S. Junior Team Delegation here in Tarija will begin celebrating on Sunday, and they are wished a truly lovely holiday. 

QOTD

Now it’s time to bring forward yet again the wildly popular blog feature, Question of the Day (QOTD for short). Our Junior athletes answered a number of questions in advance, and we know their responses will help everyone get to know them as people off the court as well. They’re pretty great humans, as you’ll see. Enjoy!

What's your Why? Why do you play racquetball?

World Cup (21/18/16)

Eshan Ali, 16: Because it’s fun and good exercise
Vedant Chauhan, 19: It’s a huge part of my life as I’ve been playing for about 13 years now, and I want to be the best in the world! 
Iain Dunn, 20: I grew up with Racquetball in my family and then when my mom passed away, it helped me cope with that.
Tucker Elkins, 19: For the competition
Brielle Fernando, 19: I love the community of racquetball and have always enjoyed the energy that comes with the game. I am always excited to play new people and get to meet new personalities!
Heather Mahoney, 19: I love how fast the game is and all the friends and memories I have made over the years of playing.
Thea Mattfeldt, 16: I play racquetball because it’s always going to be there for me whenever I need it.
DJ Mendoza, 18: I play racquetball because of my dad, he introduced it to me when I was 5.
Victoria Rodriguez, 16: I play racquetball because it’s my passion
Naomi Ros, 18: I play racquetball because it makes me feel strong, because I love it
Paul Saraceno, 18: I play racquetball to continuously push my physical limits and sharpen my mental discipline.
Cole Sendrey, 17: I play racquetball to push myself to become the best.  I love the adrenaline and speed of the game.
Sonya Shetty, 17: I play racquetball because I love the community and constant support. I used to take it for granted when I was younger, but I now understand the importance of a community like ours.
London Townsend, 16: Because it’s fun.
Khyathi Velpuri, 21: Racquetball is my happy place. I have a relatively stressful academic and work life, and the court is the one place that I can disassociate from that stress, play a fun game, and get a good workout. Not to mention, the people. I’ve met most of my best friends and developed the greatest relationships through racquetball. Especially my relationship with my dad, who was my first teacher.
Grant Williams, 14: Because I can eat more food and it’s fun.

Esprit Cup (14/12/10)

Shreya Chandel, 13: I play racquetball because I had many family friends playing the sport in around 2018
Nyasa Gupta, 13: When I was five years old, my parents tried to introduce me to tennis. I refused to enter the court! Until a few years ago, I was mostly focused on academics, reading, and writing poetry. I saw my cousins play squash and got fascinated. I wanted to  try an indoor racquet sport. I started learning racquetball about a year and a half ago and instantaneously found a connection. I love the fast pace and the energy that this game brings.
Vaishant Mangalampalli, 13: I play racquetball because I love to play! I enjoy making friends during tournaments.
Sloka Marivada, 9: It’s a fun game to play with a teammate
Chris Nelson, 10: I play racquetball for fun, fitness and to meet new people
Andrea Perez-Picon, 15: I play racquetball because it's kind of an escape forming everything going on around and I LOVE IT.
Alejandro Robles Picon, 12: I play racquetball because it’s fun.
Sammie Rai, 8: Because I like it
Aaradhya Raja, 11: I used to play squash just for fun. But 6 months ago my dad advised me to try racquetball. Once I won my first game at the practice I knew this would be the sport for me. And lucky for me it was. I enjoy playing Racquetball mainly because it is so much fun!
Nathan Rykhus, 15: I play Racquetball because I want to win Worlds and I love the game.
Aarya Shetty, 14: I like the community and the travel.
Eli Wright, 10: I like the speed and the smarts of racquetball.
JT Wright, 13: I play because I love the fast pace of the game

You got to the end and were a little disappointed, weren’t you? You thought, “Aww, I want more!” 

Under the heading of “Adults are People, Too”...here you go!
Tim Baghurst: I love the competition, the feeling of hitting a perfect shot, and the responsibility that, whether you win or lose, it’s on you.
George Bustos: Purpose to provide life’s tools through the sport of racquetball. To introduce players to pursuing excellence in everything. 
Delaney Farmer: I find it rewarding to work with the athletes and help them continue to play the sport they love when they get injured. Their passion for their game is my why. 
Jen Meyer: Meeting and creating lifelong relationships with people from all over the world.
Sandy Rios: The competition and the fact it can be played all your life 
John Wright: I play because my boys love the sport! Also, great exercise and fun!
Kit Lawson: It was such a great outlet of emotion and energy and sweat
Cheryl Kirk: So many reasons – competition, exercise, friendship, belonging, a way to make a difference

Team USA’s Sunday Schedule at World Juniors

The first day is under our collective belts and Sunday looms large. Good luck to everyone, athletes and coaches alike, as 30 matches are competed between 9:00 am and 4:30 pm. Singles matches will be first up, then doubles will take over for the remainder of the day.  

Sun 9:00 am – B10S Eli Wright (USA) vs Benjamin Lino Daza (BOL)
Sun 9:00 am – G14S Andrea Perez-Picon (USA) vs Maria Laura Villacreses (ECU)
Sun 9:00 am – G14S Aarya Shetty (USA) vs Paula Aldana (GUA)
Sun 9:45 am – B14S Vaishant Mangalampalli (USA) vs Benjamin Andre Aguirre Fuentes (CHI)
Sun 9:45 am – G10S Aaradhya Raja (USA) vs Maria Jose Jurado (MEX)
Sun 9:45 am -- M55S Tim Mattfeldt (USA) vs Wilfredo Cortez (BOL)
Sun 10:30 am – B14S Nathan Rykhus (USA) vs Santiago Borja (BOL)
Sun 10:30 am – B14S Grant Williams (USA) vs Brian Axel Sanchez Lara (MEX)
Sun 10:30 am – G21S Brielle Fernando (USA) vs Ana Lucia Sarmiento (ECU)
Sun 10:30 am  – G21S Khyathi Velpuri (USA) vs Fabiana Landy (ECU)
Sun 11:15 am -- B21S Iain Dunn (USA) vs Juan Segovia (BOL) 
Sun 11:15 am – B16S Eshan Ali (USA) vs Christian Aldana (GUA)
Sun 11:15 am -- B16S Grant Williams (USA) vs Angel Gonzalez (GUA) 
Sun 12:00 pm -- B12S Alejandro Robles Picon (USA) vs Roberto Gonzalez (BOL) 
Sun 12:00 pm -- B12S Ayan Sharma (USA) vs Daniel Matzen (CRI) 
Sun 12:00 pm -- B12S JT Wright (USA) vs Emilio Haro Perez (ECU) 
Sun 12:00 pm -- G12S Nyasa Gupta (USA) vs Mia Gomez Aguilar (MEX) 
Sun 12:45 pm -- G16S Sonya Shetty (USA) vs Natalia Mendez Veizaga (BOL) 
Sun 12:45 pm -- G16S Thea Mattfeldt (USA) vs Sofia Veronica Argandoña Moscoso (BOL) 
Sun 1:30 pm -- B14D Nathan Rykhus/Vaishant Mangalampalli (USA) vs Alvarado/Hidalgo (CRI) 
Sun 1:30 pm -- G10D Sloka Marivada/Sameera Rai (USA) vs Zapata Claure/Hinojosa Garcia (BOL) 
Sun 2:15 pm -- B10D Chris Nelson/Eli Wright (USA) vs Garcia/Soto (MEX) 
Sun 2:15 pm -- B18D Vedant Chauhan/Cole Sendry (USA) vs Ruiz Michel/Iglesias (BOL) 
Sun 2:15 pm -- G12D  Shreya Chandel/Nyasa Gupta (USA) vs Gomez Rubio/Gomez Aguilar (MEX) 
Sun 2:15 pm -- G18D Heather Mahoney/Naomi Ros (USA) vs Reyes Perez/Aguilar Salvatierra (GUA) 
Sun 3:00 pm -- B16D Eshan Ali/London Townsend (USA) vs Zea Cueva/Carchi (ECU) 
Sun 3:00 pm -- B21D Iain Dunn/Paul Saraceno (USA) vs Bermeo/DeJanon Calderon (ECU) 
Sun 3:00 pm -- G16D Sonya Shetty/Victoria Rodriguez (USA) vs Blacutt Conde/Mendez Veizaga (BOL) 
Sun 3:00 pm -- G21D Brielle Fernando/Khyathi Velpuri (USA) vs Moreta/Jimenez (DOM) 
Sun 4:30 pm -- MX12D  JT Wright /Shreya Chandel (USA) vs Subieta Roscoso/Merma Coro (BOL) 

Live streaming from the stadium court will begin on Tuesday when Pablo Fajre arrives in Tarija. We’re hearing that in the meantime, matches are being broadcast live on Bolivian TV channels 71 and 72. 

Blog #3 from the XXXIV IRF World Junior Racquetball Championships
Photo by: Junior Team Delegation Athletes, Family, and Friends

Every one of you who loves this sport would revel in the atmosphere of passion and excitement here in Tarija. And it’s all about Racquetball.

Blog #3 from the XXXIV IRF World Junior Racquetball Championships
Photo by: Junior Team Delegation Athletes, Family, and Friends
Blog #3 from the XXXIV IRF World Junior Racquetball Championships
Photo by: Junior Team Delegation Athletes, Family, and Friends
Blog #3 from the XXXIV IRF World Junior Racquetball Championships
Photo by: Junior Team Delegation Athletes, Family, and Friends

Hasta mañana, and...

GO TEAM USA!!

XXXIV IRF World Junior Racquetball Championships
Tarija, Plurinational State of Bolivia
Friday, November 10, 2023: Blog #2

This first Friday of World Juniors was a busy one. While our athletes practiced once more before the beginning of competition on Saturday, the last group of travelers arrived without incident. Happy to say that even with the immigration line issues described in Blog #1, everyone (along with their luggage) arrived safely. 

Tim, Jen, and Cheryl attended the Delegates & Coaches meeting along with representatives of the other 11 countries to compete  here in the coming days: Argentina, Bolivia, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico, and Venezuela. Draws were provided for the 44 divisions and after a review period were posted online for the highly anticipated first look at how the week would unfold for the 297 athletes participating. 

Coach Tim Baghurst led a short mid-afternoon team meeting for our 30 athletes first, then one for their parents. A little later, just before departing for Opening Ceremonies, we grabbed our first team photo and then boarded buses to Opening Ceremonies at 5:30 pm. 

An afternoon storm, complete with loss of power at the hotel, had us thinking that the Opening Ceremonies scheduled for early evening might be a wet one. Indeed, that would be the case. 

Blog #2 from the XXXIV IRF World Junior Racquetball Championships
Photo by: Junior Team Delegation Athletes, Family, and Friends
Photos from Blog #2 at the XXXIV IRF World Junior Racquetball Championships
Photo by: Junior Team Delegation Athletes, Family, and Friends

Opening Ceremonies -- A Home Run

Mother Nature’s rainy evening did not succeed in dampening the spirits of the Parade of Nations participants (athletes and staff) who lined up alphabetically by country to be introduced and cheered by the many hundreds of spectators lining the streets. Oh, to find the best words to describe this spectacular event. Marching bands (yes, plural) in resplendent uniforms...professional costumed dancers...flags...a huge grandstand with video screens on either side...the adorable mascot Lito (short for “cardinalito” – little cardinal)...speeches by dignitaries...athletes’ and officials’ oaths...and fireworks! Even though a bit soggy, we enjoyed being a part of the parade and feeling the warm welcome of the crowd lining the streets. The weather didn’t keep anyone away. The citizens of Tarija were genuinely welcoming and proud of their city’s achievement of hosting the IRF World Junior Championships. 

Racquetball is a big, huge deal here. 

Photos from Blog #2 at the XXXIV IRF World Junior Racquetball Championships
Photo by: Junior Team Delegation Athletes, Family, and Friends
Photos from Blog #2 at the XXXIV IRF World Junior Racquetball Championships
Photo by: Junior Team Delegation Athletes, Family, and Friends
Blog #2 from the XXXIV IRF World Junior Racquetball Championships
Photo by: Junior Team Delegation Athletes, Family, and Friends
Blog #2 from the XXXIV IRF World Junior Racquetball Championships
Photo by: Junior Team Delegation Athletes, Family, and Friends
Photos from Blog #2 at the XXXIV IRF World Junior Racquetball Championships
Photo by: Junior Team Delegation Athletes, Family, and Friends

Good Stuff to Know 

As you get ready to fall in love with this U.S. Junior Team and follow their experiences in Tarija via social media and the Daily Blogs, the objective is to make you feel like you’re right here with us.

Time difference: Two hours later than U.S. Central time

Weather: Avg. high 82 F, avg. low 55 F. (warmer than that, really, with storms every afternoon so far)

1 US Dollar (USD) = 6.90 Bolivian Bolivianos (BOB or Bs) 

Electrical voltage and outlets are not the same as in the U.S.

In just the first few days of this trip, we can’t say enough about the welcoming warmth and beauty of Hotel Los Parrales and its exemplary staff. General Manager Annelise Molina can be proud of her front desk, bell, and restaurant staff members. This is truly a resort hotel, and we’re in racquetball paradise. Thanks to Yenny, Paola, Ana, Rachel, Reynaldo, Lizbeth, Magdalena, Emanuel, Erlan, Henry, German, César, Alex, Poli, Lidia, Daniela, and Juan Carlos, who have all become friends already!

Support for the Junior Team

Joe Hall of Splathead became the Junior Team’s Official Uniform Sponsor this year. In a class all his own, Joe has provided a full uniform package at no charge (love the design!) to every athlete competing in Bolivia. This is a significant gift to the athletes and their families, and we can’t thank Joe enough for his partnership. For Fans & Friends who would like to purchase U.S. Junior Team apparel, here’s the link: https://www.splathead.com/collections/teamusa.

Let the Games Begin!

Match Format: Best of 5 games to 11 points, all games won by 2 points. Rally scoring (a point scored on every rally regardless of server or receiver winning the rally) will be used. The Official Ball is Gearbox Sleek Black. 

Team USA Coaches will be kept very busy on Saturday going from court to court to lend their coaching expertise. Below are the matchups for this first day of competition.  

(For those less familiar with Racquetball: B14S, for example, is Boys 14 Singles; G10D is Girls 10 Doubles, MX16D is Mixed 16 Doubles, and yes, M55S is Men’s 55+ Singles. Adults are people, too – Go, Tim!) 

Sat 9:00 am -- B14S Grant Williams (USA) vs Leonardo Haro Perez (ECU)

Sat 9:00 am -- M55S Tim Mattfeldt (USA) vs Edwin Chavarria (BOL)

Sat 9:45 am -- G10S Sloka Marivada (USA) vs Sofia Rocabado (BOL)

Sat 9:45 am -- G10S Aaradhya Raja (USA) vs Miranda Castro (CRI)

Sat 9:45 am -- G14S Andrea Perez-Picon (USA) vs Ana Lucia Montecinos (BOL)

Sat 9:45 am -- G14S Aarya Shetty (USA) vs Mariel Montecinos (BOL)

Sat 10:30 am -- B18S Cole Sendrey (USA) vs Jose Caceras (GUA)

Sat 10:30 am -- B18S DJ Mendoza (USA) vs Oscar Montejo (CRI

Sat 10:30 am -- G18S Naomi Ros (USA) vs Maria Angela Villacreses (ECU)

Sat 10:30 am -- G18S Brielle Fernando (USA) vs Jazmin Elizabeth Aguilar Salvatierra (GUA)

Sat 11:15 am -- G12S Shreya Chandel (USA) vs Catalina Rufino (ARG)

Sat 11:15 am -- G12S Nyasa Gupta (USA) vs Ivana Salamea (ECU)

Sat 12:00 pm -- B16S Eshan Ali (USA) vs Joaquin Villacreses (ECU)

Sat 12:00 pm -- B16S Grant Williams (USA) vs Martin Carchi (ECU)

Sat 12:00 pm -- G16S Thea Mattfeldt (USA) vs Chloe Jauvin (CAN)

Sat 12:00 pm – G16S Sonya Shetty (USA) vs Ana Paula Jaramillo Gonzalez (ECU)

Sat 12:45 pm -- B21S Tucker Elkins (USA) vs Jaime Nicolas Mansilla Cid (CHI)

Sat 12:45 pm -- G21S Brielle Fernando (USA) vs Alejandra Jimenez (DOM)

Sat 12:45 pm – G21S Khyathi Velpuri (USA) vs. Jazmin Elizabeth Aguilar Salvatierra (GUA)

Sat 1:30 pm -- B10D Chris Nelson/Eli Wright (USA) vs Carchi/Quinde Bravo (ECU)

Sat 1:30 pm -- B21S Iain Dunn (USA) vs Diego Gatica (CHI)

Sat 2:15 pm -- G10D Sloka Marivada/Sameera Rai (USA) vs Castro/Chavarria (BOL)

Sat 2:15 pm -- G14D Andrea Perez-Picon/Aarya Shetty (USA) vs Montecinos/Illanes Quenta (BOL)

Sat 2:15 pm -- MX18D Naomi Ros/Cole Sendrey (USA) vs Wilscam/Pocsai (CAN)

Sat 3:00 pm -- B12D Alejandro Robles Picon/Ayan Sharma (USA) vs Cevallos/Haro Perez (ECU)

Sat 3:00 pm -- G12D  Shreya Chandel/Nyasa Gupta (USA) vs Salamea/Quinde Mendieta (ECU)

Sat 3:00 pm -- MX16D Eshan Ali/Sonya Shetty (USA) vs Aldana/Gonzales (GUA)

Sat 4:30 pm -- MX12D  JT Wright /Shreya Chandel (USA) vs Salamea/Bermeo (ECU)

Sat 4:30 pm – MX14D Andrea Perez Picon/Nathan Rykhus (USA) vs. Wer/Navarijo (GUA)

Twenty-six matches in all, and Team USA is ready to roll!

Check out the results each day and throughout the day at www.internationalracquetball.com or on R2 Sports: https://www.r2sports.com/website/division-list.asp?TID=41801&sortBy=defaultOrder 

Join us tomorrow night for a report on the first day of competition and the debut of Question of the Day!

GO TEAM USA!!

-- Cheryl Kirk

On the 11th day of November, a United States federal holiday, we recognize our U.S. military veterans for their service. You have our gratitude for the sacrifices you have made for our country and its citizens. 

XXXIV IRF World Junior Racquetball Championships
Tarija, Plurinational State of Bolivia
Thursday November 9, 2023: Blog #1 -- Intro

Greetings from Tarija, Bolivia, where 30 U.S. Junior Team athletes have either arrived or soon will arrive to compete in the XXXIV International Racquetball Federation (IRF) World Junior Championships, November 10-18, 2023. The qualifier event was the USA Racquetball National Junior Championships in Pleasanton, California, in June 2023. 

Meet the Athletes and Staff

· 30 junior athletes ranging from 22 years to 8 years old
· 7 U.S. Junior Team Staff members
· 36 parents, siblings, friends, and private coaches eager to support the Team

That’s 73 in the delegation!

The 30 athletes come from 7 states: California 19, Texas 4, Missouri 3, Oregon 1, Illinois 1, Arizona 1, Colorado 1.

Racquetball players and fans across the country, get ready to cheer on the 2023-24 U.S. Junior Team!

WORLD CUP

21 & Under

Iain Dunn, CA (Singles, Doubles)

Tucker Elkins, OR (Singles)

Paul Saraceno, CA (Doubles)

Brielle Fernando, OR/IL (Singles 21/18, Doubles)

Khyathi Velpuri, CO (Singles, Doubles)

18 & Under

Cole Sendrey, TX (Singles, Doubles, Mixed)

DJ Mendoza, TX (Singles, Mixed)

Vedant Chauhan, CA (Doubles)

Naomi Ros, TX (Singles, Doubles, Mixed)

Heather Mahoney (Doubles 21/18)

16 & Under

Eshan Ali, CA (Singles, Doubles, Mixed)

Grant Williams, MO (Singles)

London Townsend, CA (Doubles)

Sonya Shetty, CA (Singles, Doubles, Mixed)

Thea Mattfeldt, AZ (Singles)

Victoria Rodriguez, CA (Doubles)

ESPRIT CUP

14 & Under

Nathan Rykhus, CA (Singles, Doubles, Mixed)

Vaishant Mangalampalli, CA (Singles, Doubles)

Andrea Perez Picon, CA (Singles, Doubles, Mixed)

Aarya Shetty, CA (Singles, Doubles)

12 & Under

Alejandro Robles Picon, CA (Singles, Doubles)

Ayan Sharma, CA (Singles, Doubles) 

JT Wright, MO (Mixed)

Shreya Chandel, CA (Singles, Doubles, Mixed)

Nyasa Gupta, CA (Singles, Doubles)

10 & Under

Chris Nelson, TX (Singles, Doubles)

Eli Wright, MO (Singles, Doubles)

Sloka Marivada, CA (Singles, Doubles)

Aaradhya Raja, CA (Singles)

Sameera Rai, CA (Doubles)

U.S. JUNIOR TEAM STAFF 

Head Coach – Tim Baghurst (Florida)
Assistant Coaches – George Bustos (Texas), Adam Manilla (California), Jennifer Meyer (Colorado), Sandy Rios (Texas)
Athletic Trainer – Delaney Farmer (Washington)
Team Leader – Cheryl Kirk (Illinois)

Here’s a quick rundown of the timeline for this event:

Arrivals 11/7-10

Practice 11/8-10

Opening Ceremonies 11/10 (first time since the pandemic!)

Matches 11/11-18

Awards Ceremony 11/18

Departures 11/18-21

The main goals as we’ve begun to arrive are to recover and settle in at the host hotel, get adjusted to altitude, buy plenty of bottled water, and practice at the club. That’s exactly what happened on Wednesday and Thursday. 

Travel Challenges -- “You can’t get there from here”

To arrive in Tarija involved 3-4 flight connections with layovers galore. Preparing entry requirement materials required some concentrated organization on the part of the families. 

Speaking of the families, nearly everyone this week has contended with waits in immigration lines that have been responsible for mad dashes, missed flights and subsequent rebookings, and long exhausting layovers. We have no idea what was causing the snail pace to pay for visas in Santa Cruz before one moved on to passport control, but it was agonizing. I’m happy to report that as of this writing everyone has arrived except for the eight passengers currently en route from Miami to Santa Cruz (VVI). Our advice to them was run like h-ll to get to the front of the immigration line first (without hurting anyone...or maybe just causing minor injuries). JK

Seriously, my admiration goes to each member of this delegation who all handled the stress and frustration with grace and class. This was the first demonstration of this wonderful USA group we have here in Tarija.

The Warmest of Welcomes

Finally getting off the flight in Tarija put everyone at 6,100 feet above sea level. There was a major distraction of the most moving kind, though, and no one thought about the altitude or even being so tired and frustrated from travel because a BIG surprise awaited. 

It was a party coming out of baggage claim! All of a sudden there were smiling people handing us American flags, bearing welcome signs, taking photos...and there was a band! It was the sincerest and most memorable of welcomes, and we all felt very special. Thank you, Tarija!

Blog #1 Photos from the XXXIV IRF World Junior Racquetball Championships
Photo by: Junior Team Delegation Athletes, Family, and Friends
Blog #1 Photos from the XXXIV IRF World Junior Racquetball Championships
Photo by: Junior Team Delegation Athletes, Family, and Friends
Blog #1 Photos from the XXXIV IRF World Junior Racquetball Championships
Photo by: Junior Team Delegation Athletes, Family, and Friends
Blog #1 Photos from the XXXIV IRF World Junior Racquetball Championships
Photo by: Junior Team Delegation Athletes, Family, and Friends

The U.S. Delegation in Tarija

So the U.S. Junior Team Delegation will total 73 once everyone has arrived on Friday! Family members, friends, and a private coach* will also be there in support of the Team. And, five parents** will do double duty as coaches for their own athletes and others, alongside the U.S. Junior Team Coaches. 

Cheerleaders, we love you:

Anwar Ali**, Surekha Anantharaman, Cesar Avila, Georges Barrera, Kadambari Beelwar, Sirisha Bhimineni, Ram Chandel, Douglas Elkins, Kristine Fernando, Bobby Horn*, Vineet Kumar, John Mahoney, Melodese Mahoney, Sameer Mangalampalli**, Satya (Sam) Marivada, Tim Mattfeldt, Ruchika Mohan, Anna Mendoza, Solomon Nelson, Raja Muthuraman, Jose Benjamin Perez Picon**, Sathwik Rai, Drohn Raja (6), Hugo Rodriguez, Sarah Rykhus, Steve Rykhus**, Frank Saraceno, Patricia Saraceno, Kevin Sendrey, Vikas Sharma, Amber Synha, Mark Townsend, Colleen Williams, John Wright**, Sara Wright, Calvin Wright (7) 

For the Fans Back Home...

It’s so important to the U.S. Junior Team Delegation that the love is felt from home! To help everyone back in the States feel like they’re right here courtside, the following will be offered: 

1.     The Daily Blog, accompanied by plenty of photos posted on the USA Racquetball website and social media

2.     Social media posts from the staff as well as the families and the athletes themselves

3.     Live streaming provided by the IRF next week for quarterfinals, semifinals, finals, (and the Awards Ceremony on November 18th), for fans from participating countries including the USA

Friday brings the last of the Team USA arrivals; more practice; the Delegates & Coaches meeting at 12 noon where we’ll receive the draws; a team meeting; and the Opening Ceremonies. A big day coming up!

Beginning Saturday, November 10, be sure to visit www.internationalracquetball.com to keep up with the draws and see how your favorite players are doing!

Follow along with us, here we go...

GO TEAM USA!!

-- Cheryl Kirk

P.S. Larry Haemmerle, U.S. Team Committee Chair, offers these words as the event unfolds here in Tarija: 
“We are so excited to be sending such an enthusiastic and talented group of Juniors to this year's IRF World Junior Championships! We wish them the very best in this exciting event. They will gain a great deal of knowledge from their travels, the competition, and interaction with players from other countries. Our wish is that they’ll have a great experience there and at the same time contribute to building a deeper foundation in our sport. Go Team USA!

Blog #1 Photos from the XXXIV IRF World Junior Racquetball Championships
Photo by: Junior Team Delegation Athletes, Family, and Friends
Blog #1 Photos from the XXXIV IRF World Junior Racquetball Championships
Photo by: Junior Team Delegation Athletes, Family, and Friends
Blog #1 Photos from the XXXIV IRF World Junior Racquetball Championships
Photo by: Junior Team Delegation Athletes, Family, and Friends
Blog #1 Photos from the XXXIV IRF World Junior Racquetball Championships
Photo by: Junior Team Delegation Athletes, Family, and Friends

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