Team USA Prepares to Compete at the Pan American Games
by Cheryl Kirk
SANTIAGO 2023, here we come! Five athletes, two coaches, an athletic trainer, and seven “cheerleaders” will head south (way south) to Santiago in mid-October to represent the United States of America on what is arguably the World’s Second Biggest Stage (besides the Olympics themselves).
The racquetball venue in Santiago is under construction and will be ready for prime time when practice sessions begin on October 17.
The five Team USA athletes, all of whom are National Champions in one or more divisions, are:
Daniel De La Rosa (San Antonio, TX), 1st Singles and 1st Men’s Doubles
Adam Manilla (San Jose, CA), 2nd Singles and 1st Mixed Doubles
Alejandro Landa (El Paso, TX), 1st Men’s Doubles
Erka Manilla (Centennial, CO), 1st Singles, 1st Women’s Doubles, 1st Mixed Doubles
Michelle Key (Gilbert, AZ), 1st Women’s Doubles
Staff members supporting the athletes are:
Pablo Fajre (Tracy, CA) – Head Coach
Jennifer Meyer (Fruita, CO) – Assistant Coach and on-site Team Leader
Rodger Fleming (Macon, GA) – Athletic Trainer
Arrive in Santiago -- 10/16
Practice Days -- 10/17-20
Walk in Opening Ceremonies -- 10/20
Competition Days -- 10/21-26
Finals and Awards -- 10/24 and 10/26
Depart from Santiago -- 10/27
Eleven countries will compete, with a total of 48 athletes (24 men/24 women) vying for top honors. The Official Ball of the International Racquetball Federation is the Gearbox Sleek Black. The format will be both Individual (Men’s and Women’s Singles and Doubles; Mixed Doubles) and Team Competition (Men’s and Women’s Singles and Doubles). Rally scoring will be used, Best 3 Games of 5, all games win by 2 points.
Team USA Racquetball (athletes, coaches, trainer) will reside in the Athletes’ Village along with more than 500 other Team USA athletes (plus staff members) representing 37 sports. The USOPC will have presence in the Athletes’ Village as well. They are a hard-working staff assigned to the many logistics of providing a safe and smooth experience for Team USA.
Our Team USA Athletes were asked, “What are your thoughts about competing at the Pan American Games?” They offered these insights:
Michelle Key: I’m beyond excited and grateful to have the opportunity to represent my country again at the Pan American Games. Wearing Team USA is an incredible honor and privilege that I do not take lightly. I will do my best and give it everything I’ve got.
Alex Landa: My thoughts on competing at the Pan American Games? This is the most important competition in Racquetball, and playing it with USA on my shirt is a dream come true. It’s something special that I will never forget.
Adam Manilla: I am extremely humbled to be representing USA for the first time on the biggest stage our sport has. Competing at this event has been a dream I have had since I was young. I am ready to represent my country with everything I have and bring back some medals for Team USA.
Erika Manilla: Playing on the professional tour is my passion. Playing for Team USA is a dream come true. You are no longer alone on the court. You are supported by a team and a community. Our flag is worn as armor. You are supported, and then the responsibility is to represent with pride, courage, and integrity.
Daniel De La Rosa: I am very excited to play at one of the biggest sporting events there is. And I’m grateful to represent my family and the USA.
In addition to the official delegation named above, Team USA is thrilled to have seven “cheerleaders” who will be there in the stands at each of the competition sessions. Thanks to USAR Board President Stewart Solomon, Rhys Andersen, Lacey Henderson, Darold Key, Karen Key, Nancy Manilla, and Victor Manilla for making the trip to be there in support of our deserving athletes!
GO TEAM USA!!