NewsUSA Racquetball News

Junior Team USA Preparing to Compete in Tarija, Bolivia

by Cheryl Kirk

Junior Worlds Logo
Photo by: International Racquetball Federation

Just when the U.S. Adult Team is arriving back in the U.S., the U.S. Junior Team Delegation* will be finishing up their preparations and getting ready for a long and exciting trip to represent the USA at the IRF 34th World Junior Championships in Tarija, Bolivia, November 10-18, 2023.

Upon arrival, the goals will be to recover and settle in at the host hotel, get adjusted to altitude, buy plenty of bottled water, and practice at the club.

* 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

Note: A shout-out to Coaches Brian Ancheta and Marian Bala! Oregon and Illinois each have the pleasure of supporting Brielle Fernando who hails from the former and attends college in the latter.

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

World Cup (21/18/16)

Iain Dunn (CA)
Tucker Elkins (OR)
Cole Sendrey (TX)
DJ Mendoza (TX)
Eshan Ali (CA)
Grant Williams (MO)
Paul Saraceno (CA)
Vedant Chauhan (CA)
London Townsend (CA)
Brielle Fernando (IL/OR)
Khyathi Velpuri (CO)
Naomi Ros (TX)
Sonya Shetty (CA)
Thea Mattfeldt (AZ)
Heather Mahoney (CA)
Victoria Rodriguez (CA)

Esprit Cup (14/12/10)

Nathan Rykhus (CA)
Vaishant Mangalampalli (CA)
Alejandro Robles Picon (CA)
Ayan Sharma (CA)
JT Wright (MO)
Chris Nelson (TX)
Eli Wright (MO)
Andrea Perez-Picon (CA)
Aarya Shetty  (CA)
Shreya Chandel (CA)
Nyasa Gupta (CA)
Sloka Marivada (CA)
Aaradhya Raja (CA)
Sameera Rai (CA)

U.S. Junior Team Coaches/Staff

Tim Baghurst - Head Coach (FL)
Jen Meyer - Esprit Coach (CO)
George Bustos - Assistant Coach (TX)
Adam Manilla – Assistant Coach (CA)
Sandy Rios - Assistant Coach (TX)
Delaney Farmer - Athletic Trainer (WA)
Cheryl Kirk - Team Leader (IL)


Arrivals 11/7-10
Practice 11/8-10
Opening Ceremonies 11/10 (first time since the pandemic!)
Matches 11/11-18
Awards 11/18
Departures 11/18-21

Good Stuff to Know

To arrive in Tarija involves 3-4 flight connections with layovers galore. Entry requirements require some concentrated organization on the part of the families. Finally getting off the flight in Tarija puts everyone at 6,100 feet above sea level!

As you get ready to fall in love with this Junior Team and follow their experiences in Tarija via social media and the Daily Blogs, our objective will be to make you feel like you’re there with the Team. Let’s get started:

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

Weather: Avg. high 82 F, avg. low 55 F.

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

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

Match Format: The scoring will be 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.

Official Ball: Gearbox Sleek Black

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 is providing a full uniform package at no charge (wait until you see 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:

So, it’s expensive when you add up flights, visas, hotels, meals, entry fees, etc. One-third of the players are taking advantage of a fundraising effort organized by USA Racquetball. Tickets from all who donated will be entered into a drawing for a $500 cash prize.

Organizations and individuals are stepping up to help athletes and their families in their local areas. If anyone reading this article wishes to explore contributing on a personal or professional level to the Team and/or any of the individual athletes, contact Cheryl Kirk at She’ll send you in the right direction!

It’s almost here! As mentioned above, mark your calendars and read more in the Daily Blogs that will be published on USA Racquetball’s website and social media pages. The Daily Blogs will connect you with our Junior Team athletes’ World Juniors experience beginning Thursday 11/9 and concluding Sunday 11/19.