Team USA Takes Bronze in Pan American Racquetball Championships
by Cheryl Kirk
XXXIII PAN AM RACQUETBALL CHAMPIONSHIP
SANTA CRUZ DE LA SIERRA – BOLIVIA
APRIL 9 - 16, 2022
In this first PARC event since Barranquilla, Colombia, in 2019, delegations from twelve countries* competed at the eight-court racquetball complex, Complejo de Raquetbol - Villa Deportiva Abraham Telchi.
* Argentina, Bolivia, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico, Puerto Rico, USA
Players numbering 140 populated 27 divisions -- 5 Open Individual Men’s and Women’s Singles and Doubles; 2 Open Team (Men’s and Women’s), Men’s A, Men’s A Doubles, and 18 Juniors (Boys/Girls Singles/Doubles 21 & Under, 18 & Under, 16 & Under, and 14 & Under).
The junior divisions competed for experience and country pride, but the event was not an official one such as the coming IRF World Junior Championships later this year (announced at the PARC Congress to be hosted in Guatemala City, likely in December).
The Team USA Delegation, seven strong, arrived in Santa Cruz on April 6 and returned home on April 17.
Jim Durham -- Coach
Jake Bredenbeck -- Men’s #2 Singles / Men’s Doubles
Sam Bredenbeck -- Men’s Doubles
Alejandro Landa -- Men’s #1 Singles / Mixed Doubles
Kelani Lawrence -- Women’s #2 Singles
Erika Manilla -- Women’s Doubles / Mixed Doubles
Rhonda Rajsich -- Women’s #1 Singles / Women’s Doubles
The Team’s trip was funded through the incredibly generous support of many racquetball benefactors (with a very special thanks to Randy Root). This much-appreciated help was supplemented by USA Racquetball through its Athlete Development Program (ADP).
Americans Dean Schear and Gary Mazaroff were also on hand at the event as members of the Pan American Racquetball Confederation’s Operations Team (floor management, WADA testing, etc.).
On Tuesday, April 12th, the PARC Congress met for the first time since 2019 in Barranquilla, Colombia. Among other business, PARC Executive Committee elections were held for the following positions with the individuals listed making up the roster through 2024:
President - Marcelo Gómez Pacheco (Costa Rica)
Executive Vice President - Osvaldo Maggi (Argentina)
Secretary - Cheryl Kirk (USA)
Treasurer - Dean Schear (USA)
Vice President North America - Ron Brown (Canada)
Vice President Central America Caribbean - Estuardo Wer (Guatemala)
Vice President South America - Patricio Gatica Tagle (Chile)
Women’s Development - Marie Gomar (Guatemala)
Also serving on the Executive Committee are:
Athlete Representative - Maria Paz Muñoz (Ecuador)
Secretary General - Luke St. Onge
TEAM USA MATCH COVERAGE AND WRAP-UP -- COACH JIM DURHAM
In addition to his many other duties and long days, Jim Durham provided riveting match coverage for each day of the competition. View the coverage and photos.
After the final day in Bolivia, Coach Jim wrapped it all up before boarding his flight back to the USA:
April 17, 2022 -- We had our last team meeting Friday evening. The team shared our appreciation for each other, the competitors that we faced all week, and all of the fans who donated their hard-earned money to make this trip possible. It’s always good to be reminded of the generosity we receive when our racquetball community feels connected to the dedicated players who represent the United States on the international stage. Each player had a chance to express their appreciation and thoughts regarding the week’s competition.
It was a challenging week. Matches ran two, three, and four hours late as the IRF grappled with the new rally scoring format. That made for long 8-12 hour days at the club. The new mixed doubles category was fun to watch, and the competition was stellar. Rally scoring also resulted in many more drama-packed matches with exciting must-win points like the one when Maria Vargas tried to surprise Erika Manilla with a jam serve at 9-10 in the tiebreaker. Manilla flat rolled a beautiful backhand winner for the match.
The awards ceremony on Saturday was very well organized. The Junior players were in attendance, and it was obvious that they appreciated being in the same ceremony as their adult racquetball heroes. Many had their pictures taken with adult players. Rhonda gave her shirt to a junior, and it brought the star-struck young lady to tears. Such moments make you realize how important international events are for our sport.
Note: In IRF and PARC events, both semifinalists earn 3rd place (bronze) medals and awards.
Women’s Open Singles
1st Angelica Barrios (Bolivia)
2nd Maria Jose Vargas (Argentina)
3rd Carla Muñoz (Chile) / Ana Gabriela Martinez (Guatemala)
Men’s Open Singles
1st Conrrado Moscoso (Bolivia)
2nd Andres Acuña (Costa Rica)
3rd Rodrigo Montoya (Mexico) / Alejandro Landa (United States)
Women’s Open Doubles
1st Vargas/Mendez (Argentina)
2nd Salas/Herrera (Mexico)
3rd Manilla/Rajsich (United States) / Sabja/Meneses (Bolivia)
Men’s Open Doubles
1st Iwaasa/Murray (Canada)
2nd Cueva/Ugalde (Ecuador)
3rd J. Bredenbeck/S. Bredenbeck (United States) / Garcia/Acuña (Costa Rica)
Mixed Open Doubles
1st Montoya/Salas (Mexico)
2nd Meneses/Moscoso (Bolivia)
3rd Manilla/Landa (United States) / Centellas/Garcia (Argentina)
3rd United States / Bolivia
3rd United States / Costa Rica
3rd United States / Argentina
Team USA would like to extend thanks to everyone who made it possible for this memorable event to occur. It is good to be back and playing an international schedule.
Much gratitude goes to the sponsors of this event:
The local Santa Cruz Organizing Committee did a fantastic job of preparing the racquetball facility. The courts and the whole complex was clean and beautiful, the snack bar was well-run and stocked with economical water and food, and the shuttles ran on time. The awards ceremony was superb.
Mauro Grandio, Osvaldo Maggi, Marcelo Gómez Pacheco, Gary Mazaroff, Dean Schear, and the team of referees were on point and kept the tournament moving forward.
Pablo Fajre handled the technical details of live streaming.
Renee Isherwood provided team support, booking hotel rooms and handling the many details that got Team USA to Bolivia. Thanks to Aimee Roehler for posting match coverage every day.
A special thanks to everyone in the racquetball community who stepped up and answered Erika Manilla’s call to action with a generous donation.
Thanks for reading!
-- Coach Jim Durham
Photos courtesy of Jim Durham