XXXIV Pan American Racquetball Championships Blog

by Cheryl Kirk

Blog #9
Pan American Racquetball Championships (PARC)
Guatemala City, Guatemala
Saturday, April 8, 2023
Rodger Fleming, our athletic trainer (see Blog #4), has been tirelessly treating Team USA since his arrival on Saturday. He’s a miracle worker. After the Awards Ceremony this evening, Rodger will prepare to catch the United redeye flight to Houston with Victor Manilla. Rodger, when asked for his perspective on his fourth international event with Team USA, had this to say:


“I was the last of the delegation to arrive (Saturday evening), and I had the entire team of six athletes receiving some form of treatment and recovery that very evening. As the days went by, everyone stayed as ready as they possibly could be. This type of tournament tests everyone’s physical and mental toughness! We didn’t succeed in every aspect, but what we did do, I could see by the hour, we grew as racquetball players, and most importantly, human beings. To battle through the adversity of what international tournaments present, this team is GOLD medal worthy! Without some failure, there can be no success. As the team heard me say this trip: “Some days you’re the bug, some days you’re the windshield.” 
“Thank you, USA Racquetball, Rhonda, Michelle, Erika, Jake, Sam, and Thomas for allowing me the opportunity to be here for you! Humbled and Blessed!!
“Thank you, Victor Manilla and Jen Meyer for taking me to dinner. As a medical provider, we sometimes are in some form of isolation or “on an island” during these types of trips. Forever grateful. 
A HUGE shoutout for Cheryl Kirk. Her attention to detail, passion, and dedication to individuals on this trip did not go unnoticed! Having Cheryl on a trip vs. NOT are drastically different experiences. Cheryl - you are the ROCKSTAR.  
Saving the most important for last, my dear, sweet, strong, and supportive wife, Michelle. I couldn’t do this without you! Thank you for doing everything behind the scenes at home and for putting your life on hold while I travel for work. To my son, Chandler: I’ll be home soon, and thank you for helping Michelle. I love you both! 

Blogger’s note: Rodger, thanks for your very kind words, and hey, a shoutout to Chandler! We hear there’s a possibility of meeting you face-to-face in Chicago at the National Adult Team Singles Qualifying event the last weekend of May. We may even put you to work if you beg us to do it. See you there!
Mail from Home, Part VI
Thanks as always for your support of Team USA! 
Susan Hendricks, Maureen Keough, Sharron Bradford, Gail Cowley, Kit Lawson, Brett Elkins, Carrie Reitmeier, Joanne Pomodoro, John O’Donnell, Jr., Karen Key, Karen Bredenbeck, Luke St. Onge, Keith Calkins, David Stob...and more!
TEAM USA – Saturday Match Results
Men’s Singles
Men’s Open -- Playoff for 3rd: Jake def. Diego Garcia (ARG), WBF
Men’s 9/12 -- Playoff for 3rd: Thomas def. Gabriel Garcia (CRC), 11-3, 11-1, 11-1
Women’s Singles
Women’s 9/12 – Playoff for 3rd: Erika def. Maria Paz Munoz (ECU), 11-8, 8-11, 11-7, 11-8
Women’s 13/16 – Playoff for 3rd: Rhonda def. Anna Paula Aguilar Salvatierra (GUA), 11-13, 11-9, 11-5, 11-4
Women’s 5/8 – Final: Erika and Michelle def. Maria Jose Munoz/Ana Sarmiento (ECU), 11-4, 4-11, 11-5, 11-4
Men’s Open – Playoff for 3rd: Jake and Sam def. Gabriel Garcia/Andres Acuña (CRC), 11-9, 11-8, 11-4
Mixed – Playoff for 3rd: Sam and Michelle def. Maria Jose Vargas/Diego Garcia (ARG), WBF


Four racquetball players play a game of doubles while another person looks on.

Team USA Overall Results
Erika Manilla, Women’s Singles 9/12, #11  
Rhonda Rajsich, Women’s Singles 13/16, #15  
Erika Manilla/Michelle Key, Women’s Doubles 5/8, #5  
Jake Bredenbeck, Men’s Singles, Bronze 
Thomas Carter, Men’s Singles 9/12, #10  
Jake Bredenbeck/Sam Bredenbeck, Men’s Doubles, Bronze 


Michelle Key/Sam Bredenbeck, Mixed Doubles, Bronze 


Four racquetball players stand on the podium, proudly holding the flag of their country.


Four pairs of racquetball players stand on the podium, proudly holding the flag of their country.


Four pairs of racquetball players stand on the podium, proudly holding the flag of their country.

PARC Overall Results
Men’s Open Singles
1st – Conrrado Moscoso (BOL)
2nd – Carlos Keller Vargas (BOL)
3rd – Jake Bredenbeck (USA)
3rd – Diego Garcia (ARG)
Women’s Open Singles
1st – Montserrat Mejia (MEX)
2nd – Maria Jose Vargas (ARG)
3rd – Maricruz Ortiz (CRC)
3rd – Natalia Mendez (ARG)
Men’s Open Doubles
1st – Rodrigo Montoya/Eduardo Portillo (MEX)
2nd – Kadim Carrasco/Conrrado Moscoso (BOL)
3rd – Sam Bredenbeck/Jake Bredenbeck (USA)
3rd – Gabriel Garcia/Andres Acuna (CRC)
Women’s Open Doubles
1st – Alexandra Herrera/Montserrat Mejia (MEX)
2nd – Gabriela Martinez/Maria Renee Rodriguez (GUA)
3rd – Jenny Daza/Angelica Barrios (BOL)
3rd – Valeria Centellas/Natalia Mendez (ARG) 
Mixed Open Doubles
1st – Angelica Barrios/Conrrado Moscoso (BOL)
2nd – Paola Longoria/Rodrigo Montoya (MEX)
3rd – Michelle Key/Sam Bredenbeck (USA)
3rd – Maria Jose Vargas/Diego Garcia (ARG)
PARC Team Competition
Congratulations to all of the countries for their efforts and results at the Pan American Racquetball Championships! Team USA was third in Men's Team, and fourth in Overall Combined Team. We're really proud of the effort everyone put in to play their hearts out and to support each other.
Women’s Team
1st – Mexico
2nd – Argentina
3rd – Bolivia
4th – Guatemala
Men’s Team
1st – Bolivia
2nd – Mexico
3rd – USA
4th – Argentina
Combined Team (Overall)
1st – Mexico
2nd – Bolivia
3rd – Argentina
4th -- USA


A group of American racquetball players stand behind the American flag, smiling.


A group of American racquetball players stand behind the American flag, smiling.

Thank You’s
The U.S. Team Delegation wishes to deliver our gratitude to those who made this event so truly memorable:
The Local Organizing Committee, headed by Dr. Estuardo Wer, for hosting this very successful event. The work behind the scenes to host a tournament of this magnitude is extensive. Congratulations on a job very well done! From the hotel to the transportation, the awards, the coordination, this experience was smooth and enjoyable. 
Javier Gomez and Marta Garcia of Las Americas Exclusive Service for their friendly and reliable ground transportation from airport/hotel/airport.
The staff of the Clarion Suites Hotel for their welcoming hospitality. 
The club staff members, the many volunteers at the club, and the shuttle drivers who provided excellent service and hospitality. You did your country proud!


Clarion suites hotel staff club members smile with their arms draped around each other.

Marie Gomar deserves a very special thank you for the many, many things she did for Team USA (and everyone else!) and for the multitudes of questions she answered immediately upon receiving them. What a blessing to have such a wonderful friend to help us navigate logistics and details on this 10-day trip! 
The desk staff and referees from eight countries who were on hand to provide a quality experience for the players:
=> Operations/Leadership: Osvaldo Maggi (Argentina), Mauro Grandio Buzeleh (Argentina), Dean Schear (USA), Gustavo Farell (USA/Uruguay)
=> Broadcast/Streaming/Social Media: Pablo Fajre (Chile), Gary Mazaroff (USA), Adrian Macrino (Argentina), Alexis Iwaasa (Canada)
=> Desk Staff and Referees: Alberto Sánchez (Venezuela), Sebastián Digón (Argentina); Ivan Valdéz, Diana Aguilar, Ricardo Gonzalez (Mexico); Fabián Torres, Francisco Gómez (Colombia); Alvaro Yáñez (Chile), Roland Keller, Daniel Villaroel (Bolivia); John Halko (Canada); Jehyson Franco, Luis Perez, Javier Martinez (Guatemala)


Desk, staff and referees gather for a picture.

IRF sponsor Gearbox who contributes significantly to these international events.
Uniform sponsor Nike APS and Kevin Cowley (see Blog #7) – thanks for the outstanding assistance!
Jen Meyer and Victor Manilla for coming to hang with Team USA at PARC. Your uplifting presence made a big difference to all of us!


Jen Meyer, and Victor Manila pose for a picture, smiling.

Tom Travers for the donated use of two massage tables so that Rodger could properly treat our athletes. 
Antonio Olivieri, USOPC Director of Security Operations, for his unwavering support of Team USA, not only during this event but over many years. We know you have our backs!
IRF President Osvaldo Maggi and IRF Vice President Marcelo Gomez Pacheco 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. 
Aimee Roehler who posted the blogs and photos as they were sent over.  
Last but not least, to all the readers of this blog, some reaching out with comments, who helped Team USA feel the love from back home! 
That’s a wrap on the Daily Blogs from Guatemala City! Tomorrow we return to the U.S. and look back on this experience as one we’ll always treasure.
Happy Easter to all who celebrate, and...


Blog #8
Pan American Racquetball Championships (PARC)
Guatemala City, Guatemala
Friday, April 7, 2023
Last but not least, Erika Manilla delivers her thoughts on this 10-day event:
"What a trip. As you have seen in the results, today was a tough day for Team USA. Win or lose, the mental and physical difficulty of this tournament is something I have never experienced before, and I applaud and admire all of my teammates for leaving it all out on the court. The new environment, humidity, last-minute changes of schedules, rules differences, adjusting to new foods, representing your country…it adds up!! We had a job to get done this week and although we fell short, there is no other shirt that I would have rather worn with pride than the three letters that mean the world to each and every one of the athletes and representatives here. 
"What makes this IRF event so different from not only a regular LPRT/IRT event but even a different IRF event is the significance of our performance. It is about bringing our best, day in and day out, for 8 days (repeat and emphasis on 8 days) to allow USA to have the best possible representation at the Pan American Games, the highest we go as a sport in the Olympic movement. This past week no one has even been alone, and we have continued to lean on one another and bring each other up as Team USA. Every athlete not only repped our letters with Pride but was there for one another. You need something, your teammate has you. You feel like you can’t get that last point, your team is there to give you the confidence that you can. Need a hug…well Jake has us all covered on that one! ha-ha
"Shoutout to everyone who has been watching from home. The support is noticed, and we are grateful for it. I am blessed to be here, blessed to compete, blessed to be an American. Thank you all, we are still not done, for our match results tomorrow will continue to determine rankings for the Pan American Games as well as overall points. Forever and always bleed the Red, White, and Blue, and Go Team USA!"
(Blogger’s Note: Another way we can succeed as delegations at international competitions is to make a difference in the lives of others we meet along the way. Sebastian and Valentina Cardona from Honduras were back at the club today, and Erika gave them each a Team USA shirt. They were SO excited! After Erika signed the shirts, they stayed to watch Team USA matches and rooted for us the rest of the day. They’ll remember this forever!)


Erika Manilla Signing a Team USA shirt for Sebastian and Valentina Cardona from Honduras at the 2023 Pan American ChampionshipsSebastian and Valentina Cardona from Honduras at the 2023 Pan American Racquetball Championships

TEAM USA – Friday Results 
Men’s Singles
Semifinals: Jake lost to Conrrado Moscoso (BOL), 5-11, 7-11, 3-11
Men’s 9/12 Semifinals: Thomas lost to Jose Daniel Ugalde (ECU), 6-11, 8-11, 11-8, 11-8, 6-11
Women’s Singles
Women’s 9/12 Semifinals: Erika lost to Angelica Barrios (BOL), 5-11, 8-11, 8-11
Women’s 13/16 Semifinals: Rhonda lost to Merynanyelly Delgado (DOM), 11-6, 4-11, 8-11, 11-5, 10-12
Semifinals: Jake and Sam lost to Rodrigo Montoya/Eduardo Portillo (MEX), 5-11, 7-11, 7-11 
Women’s 5/8: Erika and Michelle def. Carla Munoz/Paula Javiera Mansilla Cid (CHI), 11-8, 11-5, 11-5
Semifinals: Michelle and Sam lost to Angelica Barrios/Conrrado Moscoso (BOL), 11-4, 11-9, 4-11, 8-11


Michelle Key & Erika Manilla at the 2023 Pan American Racquetball Championships


Mixed Doubles action at the 2023 Pan American Racquetball Championships

Mail From Home, Part V
Thanks for your emails and texts – you are making a difference to Team USA:
Alok Mehta, David Stob, Maureen Keough, John Thorson, Mike Russo, Kevin Cowley, Karen Bredenbeck, Kendra Tutsch, Joanne Pomodoro, Christopher Lawson, John O’Donnell, Jr., Susan Hendricks, Keith Calkins, Sharron Bradford, and Jonathan Greenberg
Good Friday Carpets
As in Antigua and Downtown Guatemala City, the Clarion Suites Hotel today created a sawdust carpet outside the front door of the hotel in observance of Good Friday. Jen Meyer and Marie Gomar helped out with information, research, and photos of this centuries-old practice. Read on...
“Sawdust carpets (Spanish: tapetes de aserrín) are one or more layers of colored sawdust, and sometimes other additional materials, laid on the ground as decoration. Sawdust carpets are traditionally created to greet a religious procession that walks over them. The tradition of decorating streets in this fashion began in Europe and was brought to the Americas by the Spanish. The tradition is still found in Mexico, Central America, parts of South America and parts of the United States, but it is strongest in Mexico and Central America.
“The most traditional use of these carpets is for processions related to Holy Week in Mexico and Central America (especially in Sutiaba, León, Nicaragua and Antigua Guatemala) and Corpus Christi in the United States. ...”
To find out more:

Sawdust carpets at the 2023 Pan American Racquetball Championships

Sawdust carpets at the 2023 Pan American Racquetball Championships

Saturday – Match Schedule
All times are the same as U.S. Mountain Time.
Men’s Singles
Men’s Open -- Playoff for 3rd: Jake, 11:00 vs. Diego Garcia (ARG)
Men’s 9/12 -- Playoff for 3rd: Thomas, 11:00 vs. Gabriel Garcia (CRC)
Women’s Singles
Women’s 9/12 – Playoff for 3rd: Erika, 11:00 vs. Maria Munoz (ECU)
Women’s 13/16 – Playoff for 3rd: Rhonda, 12:00 vs. Anna Paula Aguilar Salvatierra (GUA)
Women’s 5/8 – Final: Erika and Michelle, 1:00  vs. Maria Munoz/Ana Sarmiento (ECU)
Men’s Open – Playoff for 3rd: Jake and Sam, 2:00 vs. Gabriel Garcia/Andres Acuna (CRC)
Mixed – Playoff for 3rd: Sam and Michelle, 3:00 vs. Maria Jose Vargas/Diego Garcia (ARG)
After the Awards Ceremony takes place late tomorrow afternoon, the 14 countries’ delegations will be winding down, packing, and preparing to return home. 
This blog may reach racquetball fans a little off-schedule as six of us in the delegation (including yours truly) will make their way to La Aurora International Airport in the wee hours of Easter Sunday. 
But we still have an exciting day of competition tomorrow! In unison, join us in chanting...

Blog #7
Pan American Racquetball Championships (PARC)
Guatemala City, Guatemala
Thursday, April 6, 2023
It’s Sam Bredenbeck’s turn at the “mic”:
“Thursday was a busy one. We started the day off with an unfortunate USA vs. USA match-up between Rhonda and Erika. We always hope for that to happen in the finals but sometimes it doesn't work out that way. They both played hard and represented well. The team looked on as we prepared for the next few matches. Thomas took on Argentina, making sure to get in and out in three straight games. Jake came away with a great four-game win against Mexico's Andree Parilla to move on to the semifinals. Next, Erika and Michelle had a tough match against Bolivia, which did not go the way we had hoped. Next time 💪🏼. Next, Jake and I played Ecuador, winning in three straight games. Finally, Michelle and I finished off the day with a tough four-game win against Chile. Friday is another big day for everyone as we continue to play out all positions. We are excited and ready to get to work all day tomorrow. Let's keep it rolling! 
“On a different note, this team has been phenomenal to be a part of. It is the ultimate privilege and honor to compete for the United States and to do it alongside these individuals makes it that much more special. There is nothing taken for granted by this group. We show up prepared, we support one another, we push each other to perform, and we walk away stronger each day. Thank you, guys, for being an awesome team to be a part of. 
“Finally, like everyone else has stated, we are extremely appreciative of the endless support that we have received while being here. We are proud to represent you, each other, and our country. Thank you!”


Team USA at the 2023 Pan American Racquetball Championships

TEAM USA – Thursday Results 
Women’s Singles
Women’s 9/12: Erika def. Rhonda, 13-11, 11-4, 11-9
Men’s Singles
Quarterfinals: Jake def. Andree Parrilla (MEX), 11-7, 11-9, 8-11, 11-8
Men’s 9/12: Thomas def. Fernando Kurzbard (ARG), 11-7, 11-6, 11-7
Quarterfinals: Erika and Michelle lost to Jenny Daza Navia/Angelica Barrios (BOL), 5-11, 5-11, 7-11
Quarterfinals: Jake and Sam def. Jose Daniel Ugalde/Juan Francisco Cueva (ECU), 11-5, 11-4, 11-2
Quarterfinals: Michelle and Sam def. Jaime Mansilla/Carla Munoz (CHI), 13-11, 11-9, 6-11, 11-5


Jake Bredenbeck in great form at the 2023 Pan American Racquetball Championships


Thomas Carter in action at the 2023 Pan American Racquetball Championships


Jake & Sam Bredenbeck in Men's Doubles action at the 2023 Pan American Racquetball Championships.

Mail From Home Part IV
Thanks for the continuing correspondence from these folks (and more on Facebook and Instagram) who make sure we are feeling the love from Back in the USA: 
David Stob, George Bustos, Dan Whitley, Sharron Bradford, Keith Calkins, Maureen Keough, Luke St. Onge, Gail Cowley, Susan Hendricks, Patricia Thieman, Joanne Pomodoro, Kit Lawson
You guys rock!
Uniforms – Important and Nearly Always a Challenge
Under “Mail From Home,” I haven’t yet mentioned Kevin Cowley of Nike APS and all of the help he has given in working with us to get the uniform styles and graphics squared away for this event and also the Pan American Games in October. 
This PARC event is an experiment of sorts to test out styles and fit as we move toward placing mid-year orders for those who will compete in Santiago 2023. Kevin sent several styles and sizes ahead of time so that we didn’t have to place orders “blind,” as sometimes happens. Everything runs a little bit differently, as many tournament directors will attest. 
There are still some challenges to be figured out, but I can’t say enough about Kevin’s accessibility to assist and collaborate. And, he has been reading the blogs and saying nice things about Racquetball, including posting some of our photos from here to their website!
A special thanks goes to Lynn Yeazell and her colleague Kris at Response Graphics & Embroidery in Plainfield, Illinois. A last-minute size adjustment had Kevin sending screen transfers, Nike sending the pieces themselves, and Kris at Response performing (perfectly!) the application of the transfers just two days before takeoff. “Whatever it takes” is everyone’s motto, and we are so grateful for the TLC!
The Cardona Family
One of the best things about attending international racquetball events is the people you get to meet. It’s been delightful getting to know the Cardona family -- Ronal, Alejandra, Sebastian (9), and Valentina (7). Turns out the kids are medaled swimmers back home in Honduras. Sebastian just won a speech competition. Valentina likes unicorns!
Communicating might have been a bit more challenging if Sebastian didn’t have a very good command of English. He’s studied it for a number of years in school. In fact, he helped translate when there was a need in talking with the laundry company yesterday. He did a great job!
Now Alejandra and I are negotiating who gets to hire Sebastian as an assistant. I’d like to think I have an advantage since I gave him and Valentina some Easter rubber duckies and stickers, but I’m not overly optimistic. Alejandra’s his mom, after all. 
Buen viaje, Cardonas! Mucho gusto and hope to see you again soon!


Team Leader Cheryl Kirk and friends at the 2023 Pan American Racquetball Championships

Team Leader Cheryl Kirk and friends at the Team USA at the 2023 Pan American Racquetball Championships

Friday -- Match Schedule
All times are the same as U.S. Mountain time.
Men’s Singles
* Semifinals: Jake, 10:00 vs. Conrrado Moscoso (BOL)
Men’s 9/12 Semifinals: Thomas, 12:00 vs. Jose Daniel Ugalde (ECU) 
Women’s Singles
Women’s 9/12 Semifinals: Erika, 10:00, vs. Angelica Barrios (BOL) 
Women’s 13/16 Semifinals: Rhonda, 1:00 vs. Merynanyelly Delgado (DOM)
* Semifinals: Jake and Sam, 12:00 vs. Rodrigo Montoya/Eduardo Portillo (MEX)
Women’s 5/8: Erika and Michelle, 3:00 vs. Carla Munoz/Paula Javiera Mansilla Cid (CHI)
* Semifinals: Michelle and Sam, 4:00 pm vs. Angelica Barrios/Conrrado Moscoso (BOL)
* Scheduled for live streaming on Court 6! Doubles times are approximate based on the length of earlier matches on that court. 
Signing off on this mild April evening in Guatemala City...see you tomorrow!

Blog #6
Pan American Racquetball Championships (PARC)
Guatemala City, Guatemala
Wednesday, April 5, 2023
Thinking back to 2012, this annual PARC event took place in Temuco, Chile. I was the team leader and Rhonda Rajsich was the team. We both survived. Since then, we’ve been to many destinations together, with many delegations, with lots of stories to tell, with lots to reminisce about.  
It’s Rhonda’s turn for comments in the 2023 blog...enjoy!
“What a week it has been so far! This may be one of the smaller delegations that I have been a part of, but it is definitely one of the strongest and most talented, incredibly unified in purpose and support. Especially since most of us play our respective pro tours mostly in solitude, it is tremendous to have the support of such a well-seasoned group of champions in this lineup.  
“While each of us has run into an undesired outcome in at least one of our matches, we remain focused and determined to continue play hard and leave it all on the court. We want to achieve the best results for the USA for the Pan Am Games in October. The heart in this Team is stronger than I have the words to describe. I am incredibly proud to battle alongside each and every one of them, and will do so anytime, anywhere. Jake, Sam, Thomas, Erika, Michelle, just say when.
“That certainly includes our fearless and meticulous Team Leader, Cheryl, for putting in countless hours of preparation and diligence to ensure that the only thing we need to do when we get here is just play. She takes on so much to make sure that we don’t have to. Since I have been on the U.S. Team “a few” times, I can tell you it is drastically different as an athlete when there are events where we are absent of her thoughtfulness and attention to detail. Thank you, Chief!
“I know I can speak for us all when I say that Rodger is absolutely our secret weapon. He provides what we wish we had at every event we play throughout the season. From patching up wounds to taping ankles, pre- and post-match stretching, and multiple disciplines of therapies and treatments, Rodger makes sure that we can physically be at our best, even when that means early mornings and late nights for him to get each of us taken care of. We couldn’t play this hard for this long without his extensive experience and modalities to keep us ready and healthy. Thank you, Rodger! 
“The support for this Team from our loved ones at home is deeply appreciated. The words of encouragement, the comments on the live feeds, the phone calls and voicemails that we get from YOU go a long way in knowing that there is a nation behind us, supporting us and cheering for us. I would personally like to thank my closest for their dedication to tuning in when we play, and sending me into every match with love and inspiration: my partner Lea and our puppy, Lezbo, my mother Deneen and her husband, Randy, Ms. Jacque, Sara & Fiona, Coach Jim Winterton and from another plane, my father, Dennis. Also, shoutouts to Kit Lawson, Frank Taddonio, Nick Materese, Joanne Pomodoro, and Laura (from across the street).
“We may not find ourselves exactly where we had intended to be at the beginning of this event, but we have a lot more to give in these next rounds as we continue to fight as a group on a single mission. Thank you all for your support. We couldn’t be here without you!
“P.S. On a final personal note, I would like to thank Lea for spending a week in Guatemala with me ahead of this event to celebrate her birthday. We had such incredible experiences (and probably the best pizza we’ve ever eaten) in Antigua; hiking and spending the night at Acatenango volcano; stunned at the beauty of Fuego erupting. We made memories in San Marcos, San Pedro, Jaibalito, Santa Cruz, and Panajachel, all on Lake Atitlan, where we had an adorable, secluded lake-side cottage with an outdoor bathroom (yes, literally outside under the sun and stars) and breathtaking views. Finishing the trip with a tandem jump into the lake from our private dock, I was honored to share this dream trip celebrating my dream partner in such a beautiful place. Thank you, my love, I hope it was the best birthday yet!”
TEAM USA – Wednesday Results 
Men’s Singles
Jake def. Edwin Galicia (GUA), 7-11, 11-8, 6-11, 11-4, 11-5
Thomas lost to Diego Garcia (ARG), 11-9, 12-10, 9-11, 8-11, 6-11


Men's Round of 16 action at the 2023 Pan American Racquetball Championships

Women’s Singles
Erika lost to Montserrat Mejia (MEX), 9-11, 14-16, 11-8, 13-15
Rhonda lost to Paola Longoria (MEX), 5-11, 5-11, 13-15


Erika Manilla in Round of 16 action at the 2023 Pan American Racquetball Championships


Erika Manilla at the 2023 Pan American Racquetball Championships


Rhonda Rajsich vs. Paola Longoria in Round of 16 action at the 2023 Pan American Racquetball Championships

Photo Courtesy of Asociación Nacional de Raquetbol de Guatemala

Mail from Home, Part III
Adding to the list of family and friends who have been staying in touch so far via this blog, today I’m pleased to add Rosco Halsey and Brett Elkins. Brett shared some memories of Junior Worlds trips featuring Erika and Thomas as well as Jordan Cooperrider, Daniel Rojas, and Adam Manilla. Good times, great memories!
A Wednesday Surprise
Speaking of Junior Worlds, guess who snuck into the country today with only the knowledge of a couple of people sworn to secrecy? It’s U.S. Junior Team Esprit Coach Jen Meyer! A couple days ago, Jen introduced this wild idea that sprung from a FaceTime call with Erika. Erika said, “I wish you were here, Jen!” Apparently when Erika speaks, airline tickets get bought, passports get dusted off, and ungodly layovers take place. But Jen made it here, and it instantly became “old home week.” She was greeted in a verklempt fashion including lots of hugs before settling in to watch some Team USA racquetball. Later, she chilled back at the hotel for a while before going to dinner with the gals on the team. Team USA in six total matches tomorrow will have the benefit of Jen’s encouragement and support! Welcome, Coach Jen!!


Jen Meyer and Erika Manilla at the 2023 Pan American Racquetball Championships


Cheryl Kirk and Jen Meyer at the 2023 Pan American Racquetball Championships

Random Observation
You know it’s hot and humid when support staff members take turns holding up (very) sweaty shirts in front of a huge pedestal fan to get them dry enough to put back on (Thomas) in case the 12:00 laundry run didn’t make it. (Note: fans that big and powerful make a train wreck out of perfectly coiffed hair – just saying.)


2023 Pan American Racquetball Championships

Thursday -- Match Schedule
Women’s Singles
Rhonda vs. Erika, 10:00, Women’s 9/12
Men’s Singles
Jake, 11:30 vs. Andree Parrilla (MEX), Quarterfinals
Thomas, 12:15 vs. Fernando Kurzbard (ARG), Men’s 9/12
* Erika and Michelle, 1:45 vs. Jenny Daza Navia/Angelica Barrios (BOL), Quarterfinals
Jake and Sam, 2:30 vs. Jose Daniel Ugalde/Juan Francisco Cueva (ECU), Quarterfinals
* Michelle and Sam, 4:45 pm vs. Jaime Mansilla/Carla Munoz (CHI), Quarterfinals
* On live streaming schedule


Sam Bredenbeck at the 2023 Pan American Racquetball Championships

-- Cheryl Kirk
Blogger’s Note: Wishing Terry Rogers a very Happy Birthday on Thursday! Terry is Vice President of the USAR Board of Directors and President of the California Nevada Racquetball Association (CNRA). She additionally serves in significant leadership roles with Military Adaptive Court Sports (MACS) and the Women’s Senior Masters Racquetball Association (WSMRA). Thanks for all you do, Terry, and have a great birthday!

Blog #5
Pan American Racquetball Championships (PARC)
Guatemala City, Guatemala
Tuesday, April 4, 2023
Thomas Carter reports in on Day #4 here in Guatemala:
“After the completion of the pool play stage yesterday, today marked the start of the main draw. Team USA only had two matches this morning, so this set us up for a relatively light day. Erika and Rhonda both came away with good wins in their respective matches versus Canada. After they finished up, we all headed back to the hotel to relax and recharge. While I don’t think anyone did anything incredibly noteworthy on our free afternoon and evening, I do believe the day was well spent recovering and getting focused on doing our job tomorrow. It will be a big day for us with two men’s singles matches in the morning and two women’s singles matches in the afternoon. 
“I personally am very excited to watch everyone on the team compete in the upcoming days. We all have the same goal, and everyone’s passion for achieving it is undeniable. I know for a fact that all of us are very grateful for the opportunity to play on this stage and that each of us will leave it all on the court. 
“I want to thank everyone back home who is following along and supporting Team USA. It means a ton to all of us, and we are very appreciative. Representing Team USA is a very special honor that we do not take lightly. I also want to thank my teammates for their dedication to our goal. We have a great team dynamic, and I truly believe this puts us in the best possible position to succeed.”
TEAM USA – Monday Results 
Rhonda def. Juliette Parent (CAN), 9-11, 11-9, 11-7, 9-11, 11-8
Erika def. Michele Morissette (CAN), 11-7, 11-7, 11-5
How did they spend their “semi-free” day?
Michelle: Today was an excellent day of relaxation and recovery. We enjoyed walking around and discovering new places to eat. We got some much needed rest so we can be ready for the rest of the event. For dinner, we went back to the Artisan Restaurante for that chocolate cake! Can’t wait for some great wins tomorrow.


Michelle Key and Erika Manilla at the 2023 Pan American Racquetball Championships


Jake & Sam Bredenbeck at the 2023 Pan American Racquetball Championships

Victor: Mountain biking (Victor, you’re a beast!)
Rodger: Since it was a short day, I took the time for self-care! Took an afternoon nap, worked out in the hotel gym, got a massage. Then had an almost 2-hour Zoom meeting with my new accountant.
Cheryl: PARC Executive Committee Meeting at 8:00 am...PARC General Assembly at 7:00 pm. In between those times: A walk and shopping at Oakland Mall – beautiful and world class!


More Mail From Home!
Responding to Blog #4 were Waseem Bawa, Joanne Pomodoro, David Stob, John O’Donnell, Jr., Karen Bredenbeck, Alok Mehta, Maureen Keough, Susan Hendricks, Kit Lawson, Luke St. Onge, Sharron Bradford, Nancy Manilla, and Keith Calkins. Thanks for the encouragement and support! 
Here are a few comments received so far:
“Absolutely love hearing about the team spirit, patriotism, and environment of love for each other and the game! That is why racquetball, like all other sports, is a universal language to respect each other while understanding our deep connection as human beings, and digging in to find our potential and purpose (and playfulness/humor). Can't wait to see the upcoming results. Give everyone a high five from us here in Arizona!”  -- Susan Hendricks
“Always a great way to start my day. Love the notes from the players.” – Nancy Manilla
“Watching as many matches as possible during the day/live is a challenge but not impossible… Working during the day, I’ll have to catch up in-between patients…but my spirit and my support is right there with you all…rooting loud and proud for TEAM USA.” – Joanne Pomodoro
“Love receiving these Blogs. Go USA!!!” – Keith Calkins
PARC General Assembly 
All countries in attendance at this event were represented at the PARC General Assembly held this evening at the host hotel. The agenda included financial reports, an anti-doping update, IRF/PARC event report, and a WorldWide Racquetball Day presentation (the latter from Cheryl on behalf of Cindy Tilbury). Watch for more coming on the latter!


Coaches and Delegates Meeting at the XXXIV Pan American Racquetball Championships

Wednesday -- Match Schedules 
All times are the same as U.S. Mountain time.
Men’s Singles
* Jake – 10:45 am vs. Edwin Galicia (GUA)
Thomas – 10:45 am vs. Diego Garcia (ARG)
Women’s Singles
Erika – 1:00 pm vs. Montserrat Mejia (MEX)
* Rhonda – 1:45 pm vs. Paola Longoria (MEX)
* On live streaming schedule
With the Doubles teams not scheduled until Thursday, Michelle and Sam will continue to support Team USA’s singles players in their matches tomorrow. You’d better believe, though, that they’re itching to get back onto the court themselves!
Live Streaming/Results/Blogs
* Watch live on the IRF YouTube Channel, the IRF Facebook page, or the PANAM Sports Channel.
* For draws and results, visit, or, or R2 Sports
* Daily Blogs are posted on as well as linked from the USA Racquetball Facebook page. 


Wednesday's Streaming Schedule at the 2023 Pan American Racquetball Championships (PARC)

Watch LIVE on the PanAm Sports App from the 2023 Pan American Racquetball Championships

Good night from Guatemala City...see you tomorrow!

Blog #4
Pan American Racquetball Championships (PARC)
Guatemala City, Guatemala
Monday, April 3, 2023
For a great start to this daily blog, Team Co-Captain Michelle Key shares her thoughts about what this experience in Guatemala means to her:
“I've never been prouder to represent Team USA alongside these incredible athletes. Our team dynamic is incredible. We are so supportive of each other and always there for one another. I love this team and I'm so thankful for each unique aspect each and every one of my teammates bring to the table. I don't think I will ever be able to capture in words how much playing with you means to me. 
“We have been overwhelmed with support from back home, and it's exciting to see people have something to unite them. I'm truly honored to be able to represent our country and play my heart out for all of you. 
“This event has been awesome so far. The people are all very nice and the amount of work everyone puts in is outstanding. Thank you to everyone who made this event possible, we really appreciate it. 
“To my fellow teammates. I'm so incredibly proud of you. You guys make me want to be better. You provide extra drive and motivation when I need it. You guys are all there for one another and it gives us something really special. I'm ready to battle it out with you guys and give it my all. Love you! Let's go, Team USA!
“To my family and know who you are. Thank you for moving mountains to get me here. I miss you like crazy, and I wouldn't be here without your help. Thank you for supporting me and my dreams. I carry you with me in my heart until I'm back home with you again... hopefully with some new "necklaces" 🥇🥰 See you soon!”
Mail From Home
Like Michelle says, the support from home is heartwarming and appreciated. We’ve received emails from so many. In response to the blog, a big thank-you goes to: Joanne Pomodoro, Kendra Tutsch, David Stob, Brett Elkins, Alok Mehta, Sharron Bradford, Susan Hendricks, Luke St. Onge, Gail Cowley, Mike Mahon, Christopher Lawson, John O’Donnell, Jr., Karen Key, Jen Meyer, and Alisa Burris.
TEAM USA – Monday Results 
Men’s Singles    
Jake def. Juan Salvatierra (GUA), 11-1, 15-13, 11-5
Thomas def. Jose Daniel Ugalde (ECU), 11-4, 11-7, 11-1


Thomas Carter vs. Ecuador at the Pan American Racquetball Championships (PARC)

Women’s Singles
Erika lost to Montserrat Mejia (MEX), 9-11, 13-15, 8-11
Rhonda lost to Paola Longoria (MEX), 8-11, 5-11, 4-11


Rhonda Rajsich vs. Paola Longoria at the Pan American Racquetball Championships (PARC)

Jake/Sam lost to Conrrado Moscoso/Kadim Carrasco (BOL), 8-11, 12-10, 3-11, 8-11
Michelle/Erika lost to Alexandra Herrera/Montserrat Mejia (MEX), 12-10, 9-11, 9-11, 7-11
Michelle/Sam lost to Maria Jose Vargas/Diego Garcia (ARG), 8-11, 11-9, 10-12, 10-12 


Michelle Key and Sam Bredenbeck warming up for Mixed Doubles at the Pan American Racquetball Championships

In absorbing overall results that were different from the first two days of round robin competition, we’re happy for Jake’s and Thomas’s success this morning. It’s hard, though, to see how close so many of these games and matches were through the rest of the day. From 10 am to after 7 pm tonight, everyone supported each other with the same pride and intensity throughout. 
Jake said it best in a text to the team this evening: “I know a few of us had some tough losses. But proud of everyone for fighting and working. Great job to those who got the wins. Tomorrow the real tourney starts.
Indeed it does, and this team will be ready. 
Team USA’s Secret Weapon -- Rodger Fleming
We are extremely fortunate for the presence, service, skill, and knowledge of Rodger Fleming, our athletic trainer. Rodger worked 10 years in professional baseball; toured with a Rock & Roll Hall of Fame musician; worked on the set of “42” as an athletic trainer and Licensed Massage Therapist (LMT) for a lead actor; worked with Cirque Du Soleil performers from “Quidam” ... and much more. To say he is a master of his trade would be an understatement, and Team USA is the grateful recipient of Rodger’s care and expertise. This is his fourth time working with Team USA at an international event, and he fits in beautifully. 
On this trip, Rodger joined us a couple of days later than he normally would have. That’s because he was attending the 3rd Annual USOPC NGB Medical Conference, held in Colorado Springs. Its purpose was to bring as many USOPC NGB Medical providers under one roof for education and networking opportunities. Almost every Team USA NGB had at least one provider present, ranging from MD, DC, DDS to Physiotherapists and Athletic Trainers. Valuable opportunities were given to connect and learn how other NGBs handle injury/illness, EAPs, and emergencies during their respective competitions and various events. Topics covered latest research findings for current topics with concentration on women’s health, mental health, head injuries, environmental (heat) illnesses and injury/illness prevention.
Rodger holds a BA, Interdisciplinary Studies in Athletic Training from the University of Toledo. He owns Body Awareness Performance + Therapy in Macon, Georgia, a fitness recovery and wellness center. Find out more about Rodger and his business at Also, check out his social media presence at Body Awareness Performance and Therapy on Facebook, @bodyawarenesstm on Instagram, and bodyawarenessga on Twitter. 
Rodger is married to his high school sweetheart, Michelle, and they have a son Chandler, 16.
ELA Preempted for a Day!
At Redlands Middle School in Grand Junction, Colorado, U.S. Junior Team Esprit Coach Jen Meyer made sure her 5th grade and 6thgrade ELA (English Language Arts) classes finished their assigned work early. Then, as a special reward, they got to watch Thomas Carter’s and Erika Manilla’s streamed matches on the Promethean board in the classroom. Team USA points scored were celebrated with much enthusiasm, as the photo shows! There was even a shout-out by commentator Gustavo Farell, and Jen said the kids were so excited: “They think they are famous now!”


Redlands Middle School in Grand Junction, Colorado, class of Jen Meyer watching the LiveStream from the 2023 Pan American Championships

Tuesday’s Schedule for Team USA
Now we’re into the main draws as of tomorrow morning. These draws look very different from the ones you may have been viewing over the past several days. Recall that for the singles divisions, it’s not a “single elimination” scenario since more matches will continue in order to assign a place to each and every male and female player competing here. This is because this event serves as a qualifier for the 2023 Pan American Games in Santiago, Chile, this October (see Blog #3).
Team USA’s results, especially in the first two days of round robin competition, have earned a "semi-free day” with only two matches in Women’s Singles:
Rhonda – 10:00 am vs. Juliette Parent (CAN)
Erika – 10:00 am vs. Michele Morissette (CAN)


Rhonda Rajsich & Erika Manilla at the Pan American Racquetball Championships (PARC)

How will Team USA spend their free time tomorrow? Tune in to Blog #5 and find out!

Blog #3
Pan American Racquetball Championships (PARC)
Guatemala City, Guatemala
Sunday, April 2, 2023
Greetings, and welcome to Blog #3!
The next six installments will contain comments made by U.S. Team members, one per day, as they give their perspectives on their experiences here.
First up is Team Co-Captain Jake Bredenbeck:
“These first days in Guatemala have been great! The first two days of competition have gone very well for Team USA. We have won every match so far, but tomorrow will be the most difficult day of pool play for all of us. Nothing we can't handle. Not having a head coach here has been interesting but in a good way! Everyone on the team is supporting each other really well by being at matches when they can (have to take care of our bodies and our own needs to be prepared first of all), taking care of needs for others, etc. We have a good dynamic with other players coaching and helping in any way possible. Everything is running smoothly so far on that front. All of the players are dialing it in and turning it up, which is great to see knowing that each day is one step closer to our goal. I fully believe and know that this team can take home the overall title, as well as the men’s and women’s titles. 
“I am very thankful and happy to be here playing for Team USA. There is nothing I love more in racquetball than representing my country while playing the sport I love. To be able to have my brother here and to be playing doubles with him means even more and is something I will cherish forever. This team has been awesome to be a part of, and I know they all want to win just as badly as I do. Time to get some rest and take another step towards the gold tomorrow. 
“Thank you to everyone who is back home supporting us. Thank you to my parents for always supporting me.Thanks to my brother for being in my corner in singles and going to battle with me in doubles. Lastly, thanks to the team for putting in the effort and work needed accomplish our goals individually, as well as a team. Time to go to work.


Men's Doubles at the 2023 XXXIV Pan American Racquetball Championships (PARC)

TEAM USA – Sunday Results 
Women’s Singles
Rhonda def. Juliette Parent (CAN), 11-6, 11-9, 12-10
Erika def. Michele Morissette (CAN), 11-7, 12-10, 11-4  
Men’s Singles
Thomas def. Set Cubillos (COL), 11-9, 11-5, 11-2
Jake def. Fernando Kurzbard (ARG), 11-6, 11-8, 11-8
Jake/Sam def. Ronal Cardona/Carlos Eduardo Medrano Casco (HON), 11-5, 11-3, 11-7
Michelle/Sam def. Cristina Amaya/Set Cubillos (COL), 11-6, 11-3, 11-8
Michelle/Erika – Bye


Team USA Mixed Doubles vs. Colombia at the 2023 XXXIV Pan American Racquetball Championships (PARC)

PARC Staff and Referees
Dedicated staff members and referees are here in support of the event and its athletes. The operations staff, including those who are providing live streaming, are a dedicated and talented team who do a magnificent job and continue to raise the bar at each and every IRF and PARC event. 
The referees (in Spanish, arbitros) met after the Coaches meeting on Friday, and we grabbed a great group photo before their meeting started. They are the unsung heroes of each event, officiating many hours a day to ensure that athletes get experienced referees and never have to think about being referees themselves. 


PARC Staff and Referees at the 2023 XXXIV Pan American Racquetball Championships (PARC)

Following are the members of this excellent team:

Operations/Leadership: Osvaldo Maggi (Argentina), Mauro Grandio Buzeleh (Argentina), Dean Schear (USA), Gustavo Farell (Uruguay)
Broadcast/Streaming/Social Media: Pablo Fajre (Chile), Gary Mazaroff (USA), Adrian Macrino (Argentina), Alexis Iwaasa (Canada)
Desk Staff and Referees: Alberto Sánchez (Venezuela), Sebastián Digón (Argentina); Ivan Valdéz, Diana Aguilar, Ricardo Gonzalez (Mexico); Fabián Torres, Francisco Gómez (Colombia); Alvaro Yáñez (Chile), Roland Keller, Daniel Villaroel (Bolivia); John Halko (Canada); Jehyson Franco, Luis Perez, Javier Martinez (Guatemala)
One of the most meaningful and exciting attractions for both local and international visitors that Guatemala has to offer are its 37 volcanoes. The three active volcanoes, Pacaya, Fuego, and Santiaguito, are different in their level of difficulty given the time and effort needed to hike them.
For instance, in one hour, one can hike up Volcán de Pacaya to see the views of other volcanoes. The hike up Pacaya is on a trail of volcanic sand through a rain forest. Once high enough, volcanic lava rocks take over the landscape. The crater can be seen at a close distance with beautiful views of Volcán de Agua and Volcán de Fuego in the distance. Lava flows and explosions have been common, although Pacaya has been dormant for the past year.
Fuego is a different story. It gets the most attention, because its explosions are the most frequent (every 30 seconds to one minute). However, it takes two days to hike it, including camping to watch Fuego’s explosions late into the night and then viewing the sunrise. This is not an undertaking for everyone!
For more info, including a description of the eruption of Volcán de Fuego in June 2018, visit


Volcanos at the 2023 XXXIV Pan American Racquetball Championships (PARC)


Volcanos at the 2023 XXXIV Pan American Racquetball Championships (PARC)


Speaking of Volcanoes...
Victor Manilla, Erika’s dad, is here in Guatemala as a racquetball fan and a tourist...although tourist isn’t exactly the right word to define what he did late last week. On Friday and Saturday, he joined with a hiking excursion group and had the experience of a lifetime. 
With a group of 20 other hikers (9 women, 12 men), two guides, and two well-treated stray dogs, Victor first ascended Volcán de Acatenango (13,044 ft. above sea level), slept in a 12 x 12 ft. tent with 7 other hikers (including one who snored), and go all the way down only to then hike toward Volcán de Fuego (12,346 ft. above sea level) where the most frequent and dramatic eruptions occur. In fact, it was Fuego that erupted significantly on December 11th of last year just as the U.S. Junior Team Delegation was preparing to return home to the U.S. 
Victor’s fellow hikers were mostly young people in their 20’s, nomads per se, exploring the world and searching for their place in it. Countries represented included Spain, Australia, Italy, Wales, Germany, British Columbia and others. He was the only American in the group. Nearly all spoke English. 
Spectacular photos punctuated this arduous undertaking that Victor describes as “extremely difficult,” regardless of what the guide company described. 
Reflections on the Adventure:
“First there was the jungle, then the tree line, and above that was volcanic rock. The trails were crushed dirt or rock, and steep. They recommended that you bring climbing sticks (could be bought in the village before ascent), and I found I needed them as much to climb up as to break a fall.
“Getting to know the people in the group, I was thoroughly impressed with their work ethic to support traveling the world on their own. They prefer not to have friends or family travel with them. They feel it drags them down, that they can’t be completely free when they’re with another person, that being by themselves makes them more outgoing, and it’s easier to meet people. They look for adventures in cities with hostels. Almost no one knew each other in this group. They told me about, where jobs can be found in countries around the world, to earn money to live this kind of life, for example in agriculture, as au pairs, etc. 'Employers pay you, let you live with them, and feed you, which allows you to save money, explore, and then move on.' The girls in the group, in particular, impressed me with their confidence. They reminded me of my own daughter.
“When I got back to the hotel on Saturday, I took off my shoes and socks, and my feet were nearly black from the dirt and ash. I wish I had taken a photo to show Nancy!
“Socks? I went through two pair, the second dirtier than the first.
“Overall, it’s amazing what the body can do when there is no choice but to finish. Once you started this, there was no turning back.
“A Gallo Cerveza tasted great on Saturday night!”
After a good night’s sleep, Victor was at the club Sunday to cheer on the U.S. Team to their 6-for-6 wins.


Hiking Excursion at the 2023 XXXIV Pan American Racquetball Championships (PARC)


Sleeping Area during Hiking Excursion at the 2023 XXXIV Pan American Racquetball Championships (PARC)


Distance Hiked at the 2023 XXXIV Pan American Racquetball Championships (PARC)


Monday’s Match Lineup – April 3, 2023
All times are the same as U.S. Mountain Time.
Now it’s on to the final day of pool play/round robin competition. 
The matches on Monday are the last of the round robin seeding rounds. Results from these past three days will now be used to create the main draws that will be played out in the last half of the tournament, resulting in finals and individual/team medals presentations on Saturday, April 8th.  
Men’s Singles    
Jake – 10:00 am vs. Juan Salvatierra (GUA)
Thomas – 10:45 am vs. Jose Daniel Ugalde (ECU)
Women’s Singles
Erika – 12:15 pm vs. Montserrat Mejia (MEX)
Rhonda – 12:15 pm vs. Paola Longoria (MEX)
Jake/Sam – 2:30 pm vs. Conrrado Moscoso/Kadim Carrasco (BOL)
Michelle/Erika – 3:15 pm vs. Alexandra Herrera/Montserrat Mejia (MEX)
Michelle/Sam – 4:45 pm vs. Maria Jose Vargas/Diego Garcia (ARG)
Be sure to visit, or R2 Sports to keep up with the results and review the live streaming schedule each day. 
From Guatemala City...GO TEAM USA!!


Thomas Carter getting a liitle work down by Trainer Rodger Fleming at the 2023 XXXIV Pan American Racquetball Championships (PARC)


Team USA at the 2023 XXXIV Pan American Racquetball Championships (PARC)


Victor & Erika Manilla at the 2023 Pan American Racquetball Championships


Blog #2
Pan American Racquetball Championships (PARC)
Guatemala City, Guatemala
Saturday, April 1, 2023
I’m usually not at a loss for words, but the best way to convey the emotion of today is O.M.G.
Resilience, mental toughness, experience, grit, determination, power – it was all there on display as Team USA went 6 for 6 on this first day of round robin competition. And it certainly wasn’t without a couple of nail-biter 5-game matches that had us sitting on the edge of the bleachers with hearts beating fast. Please let them win. Please let this be over. Some of us, or at least one of us, is too old for this! 
This was especially true for Rhonda’s singles match and the Sam/Michelle mixed doubles war that ended the day.
Rhonda took on Merynanyelly Delgado from the Dominican Republic. Rhonda’s experience and maturity prevailed over the younger player’s impressive textbook racquetball performance. I’ve been watching Merynanyelly for years but hadn’t seen her in a while. She played great! She has come of age.


Rhonda Rajsich her opponent at the XXXIV Pan American Racquetball Championships


Michelle Key, Jake Bredenbeck, Sam Bredenbeck, Thomas Carter, cheering on Rhonda Rajsich at the XXXIV Pan American Racquetball Championships


Rhonda Rajsich in Women's Singles action at the XXXIV Pan American Racquetball Championships

Michelle and Sam took on Pazita and Cueva of Ecuador, and we had another 5-game battle on our hands with three of those games going into extended “win by 2” territory. As fifth-game spectator Gary Mazaroff was overheard to have predicted when the score was around 9-9, “This is going to go 17-15.” 
He could have saved my manicure if he had just told me that. Gary, you owe me $40. 
So take a look at how it all unfolded on this first day of April and first day of competition:
TEAM USA – Saturday Results 
Men’s Singles
Thomas def. Ronal Cardona (HON), 11-4, 11-3, 11-4 
Jake – First-round bye
Women’s Singles
Erika def. Maricruz Ortiz (CRC)  11-8, 5-11, 11-8, 11-8
Rhonda def. Merynanyelly Delgado (DOM) 11-8, 8-11, 16-18, 11-8, 12-10
Jake/Sam def. Christian Wer Llerena/Edwin Galicia (GUA) 11-7, 9-11, 11-6, 11-5
Michelle/Erika def. Carla Munoz/Paula Javiera Mansilla Cid (CHI) 11-7, 11-8, 11-9
Michelle/Sam def. Maria Paz Munoz/Juan Francisco Cueva (ECU), 9-11, 12-10, 11-7, 12-14, 17-15


Erika Manilla in Women's Singles action at the XXXIV Pan American Racquetball Championships


Women's Doubles action at the XXXIV Pan American Racquetball Championships


Men's Singles action at the XXXIV Pan American Racquetball Championships

PARC 2023 Format/Scoring/Qualifier
Let’s stop here for a moment and review some key points about this event:
As mentioned yesterday, the first part of the tournament is pool play/round robin, seeded by countries’ past results. The outcome of this first phase will determine the seeding for the main draws* that will commence on Tuesday 4/4. From there, individual medals and team honors will be awarded on Saturday 4/8. 
The format throughout will be Best 3 Games of 5, all to 11 points, all win by 2 points. In other words, the first player/team to win three games is the match winner. If one player/team wins the first three games in a row, the match is over. If they split with their opponent(s), two games each, they go to a tiebreaker fifth game. 
Rally scoring is standard, which means that a point is scored on every rally whether the rally winner was the server or the receiver. 
*Usually once the main draws have been established, it’s single elimination from then on. However, this event is different in that it is the sole qualifier for the Pan American Games (Santiago 2023) that will take place in October. What this means is the 14 countries in attendance are vying for how many will be allowed to participate and then of those who qualify to go, how many players they will be allowed to bring (male and female separately, based on this event’s results). All places will be played out via dropdown places to the very end. 
In Santiago, 24 men and 24 women will be invited to compete. For the first four countries, male and female positions can earn a maximum of 3 positions (with Chile as the host country automatically being one of these four.) Then, another six will earn positions for two players.
The U.S. Team athletes competing for their country are not necessarily the ones who will go to Santiago. Once USAR knows how many slots have been earned, that number of athletes will be selected, via recommendation of the U.S. Team Committee and approval of the USAR Board of Directors, from the roster of the new U.S. Team whose term runs from 6/1/23 through 5/31/24. 
Long story short, these six athletes competing their hearts out here are doing it for love of their country and their sport with no guarantee of a spot on the Santiago 2023 U.S. Team delegation. Thanks to each and every one. 
Rodger Fleming is Here!
Welcome to Rodger, our athletic trainer, who arrived tonight. As an April Fools’ joke, I thought about telling the team today that Rodger had to cancel his trip here at the last minute...but Rodger is WAAYY too important to mess with their heads like that, even for 20 seconds. So this day passed without a single April Fool’s joke played.
Oh, I take that back. 
Several years ago, my good friend Marie Gomar who lives here in Guatemala wrote to say her son was starting a lawn-mowing business and could I arrange to send a lawn mower to Guatemala? Not wanting to disappoint, I thought hard about how I could pull that off until she sent a hysterically laughing emoji and “April Fools.”
Fun Fact: April 1st is not April Fools’ Day in Guatemala. It’s December 28, and it’s called El Día de Los Inocentes (The Day of Innocents). Different name, different month. same concept.
So anyway, revenge was mine today. I had brought Marie some Cadbury Chocolate Eggs (Royal Dark), something she really loves, and I was keeping them safe with me at the club. She came to claim them, and putting on an “oh no” expression, I told her that I had shared some with the team and then had carelessly left the rest on the bleachers three courts down. She started off on a sprint until it hit her: April Fools’! 😂


Mini Eggs at the XXXIV Pan American Racquetball Championships

If that didn’t come through as a hysterically laughing emoji, use your imagination.
But I digressed significantly. 
Welcome, Rodger! We’re so glad you’re here!
All times are the same as U.S. Mountain Time.
Women’s Singles
Rhonda – 10:00 am vs. Juliette Parent (CAN)
Erika – 10:45 am vs. Michele Morissette (CAN)
Men’s Singles
Thomas – 11:30 am vs. Set Cubillos (COL)
Jake – 12:15 pm vs. Fernando Kurzbard (ARG)
Jake/Sam – 3:15 pm vs. Ronal Cardona/Carlos Eduardo Medrano Casco (HON)
Michelle/Sam – 4:45 pm vs. Cristina Amaya/Set Cubillos (COL)
Michelle/Erika – BYE
To help everyone back in the States feel like they’re right here courtside, the following will be in place: 
1.     The Daily Blog, accompanied by plenty of photos posted on the USA Racquetball website.
2.     Social media posts from USAR as well as the athletes themselves.
3.     Live streaming provided by PARC and also broadcast on the (Download the app!). This should begin on Sunday 4/2. 
Be sure to visit, or R2 Sports to keep up with the results and see how your favorite players are doing.  


XXXIV Pan American Racquetball Championships


Erika Manilla, Thomas Carter, Michelle Key and Cheryl Kirk at the XXXIV Pan American Racquetball Championships

Sunday, here we come!


Tournament Logo at the XXXIV Pan American Racquetball Championships
Blog #1
Pan American Racquetball Championships (PARC)
Guatemala City, Guatemala
Friday, March 31, 2023
Greetings from Guatemala City, where the entire U.S. Team Delegation (except for Athletic Trainer Rodger Fleming) had arrived as of Friday. Team members will compete here in Singles, Doubles, and Mixed Doubles over the next week against 13 other countries. 
Introducing the U.S. Team Delegation
Let’s meet the delegation for this event, with competition taking place every day, April 1-8.
Jake Bredenbeck (Minnesota): #1 Singles
Thomas Carter (Illinois): #2 Singles
Jake Bredenbeck and Sam Bredenbeck (Oregon): Doubles
Erika Manilla (Colorado): #1 Singles
Rhonda Rajsich (Arizona): #2 Singles
Erika Manilla and Michelle Key (Arizona): Doubles
Michelle Key and Sam Bredenbeck: Mixed Doubles
Supporting our U.S. Team Athletes:
Rodger Fleming (Georgia): Athletic Trainer
Cheryl Kirk (Illinois): Team Leader   
Guatemala, officially the Republic of Guatemala (Spanish: República de Guatemala), is a country in Central Americabordered by Mexicoto the north and west, Belizeand the Caribbeanto the northeast, Honduras to the east, El Salvadorto the southeast, and the Pacific Oceanto the south. With an estimated population of around 17.61 million, it is the most populous country in Central America and is the 11th most populous country in the Americas. Guatemala is a representative democracy; its capital and largest city is Nueva Guatemala de la Asunción, also known as Guatemala City, the largest city in Central America.  
CurrencyQuetzal - same as the National Bird (about Q7.78 to $1 USD)
Population (Guatemala): 17.61 million
Population (Guatemala City): c.995,000
PresidentAlejandro Eduardo Giammattei Falla (2020- )
Rhonda was the first to arrive in Guatemala, having been here on vacation since last week. Jake and Sam came in on Wednesday, and Erika, Michelle, Thomas, and Cheryl arrived Thursday evening. Rodger will join us on Saturday fresh off of a business trip to Colorado.
While some of us were still traveling in on Thursday, Jake, Sam, and Rhonda practiced at the Domo Complejo de Racquetball, Guatemala’s beautiful 10-court facility, still new. The club’s inaugural event was the IRF Adult & Junior Worlds in December 2021 and was then followed a year later by IRF World Juniors last December.  
First Things First
1: Arrive. 
2: Get supplies!
The traditional trip to the grocery store for (a lot of) water, snacks, fruit, bread, peanut butter, jelly, maybe a cookie or two, possibly chocolate, took place Thursday night. We are so blessed with Marie Gomar’s friendship and assistance. Directly after hotel check-in, she drove Thomas Carter, Dean Schear, and me to La Torre, a beautiful, clean, and well-stocked supermarket. Dean was observed performing manual labor, which summoned grateful tears from the rest of us. 


Food Shopping at the XXXIV Pan American Racquetball ChampionshipsThomas Carter food shopping at the XXXIV Pan American Racquetball Championships

A Busy Friday
Friday’s schedule was a busy one! Four of our athletes practiced this morning (Jake, Sam, Erika, and Michelle). 


Sam Bredenbeck, Michelle Key, Erika Manilla, and Jake Bredenbeck at the XXXIV Pan American Racquetball Championships

The Coaches and Delegates meeting commenced at 12:00 at the host hotel where a great deal of information about the event was provided to the 14 countries* in attendance, especially the draws/match schedules for the first phase of competition. Jake, Michelle, and Cheryl represented the USA.  


Coaches and Delegates Meeting at the XXXIV Pan American Racquetball Championships

* Argentina, Bolivia, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Puerto Rico, USA
U.S. Team athletes Rhonda and Thomas practiced in the afternoon, then a team meeting and a team dinner broke out simultaneously around 6 pm. 
Jake and Michelle were elected Team Captains, and great dialogue took place about how the six athletes will support each other over the course of the next week while making sure they themselves are ready for competition. 
Kit Lawson’s wife (that would be me), having seen that the stock market did well today and assuming he would do similarly well at the casino, announced to the team that Kit wanted to buy dinner. All that was asked was that they each send him a thank-you text message. Messages were sent from right there at the table, but the missing part was that Kit did not (by design) realize that he had offered to buy dinner. He was at first perplexed, then his wife sent him a photo, and the pieces started falling into place. Happily, it was a good poker night, because Kit, unbeknownst to him, decided he wanted everyone to order dessert, too. (They were wonderful desserts!)
Back at the hotel, Erika arranged for a video call through her brother Adam to the Manilla Athletics Junior Camp at the USOPC Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. Sixteen racquetball athletes, ages 12-21, are gathered there to train and pursue their aspirations to one day compete on Adult Team USA. Erika, Michelle, and Thomas each delivered inspiring and encouraging words about their own racquetball history and offered up some tips as well. Adam, along with Bobby Horn and Sheryl Lotts, is managing this life-changing experience for these up-and-comers who are the next generation of our sport.
Saturday’s Schedule – Day One!
All of a sudden, it’s April 1st and time for the pool play/round robin phase of competition to begin. Visit or R2 Sports to view all draws and divisions. 
Yes, there will be live streaming! Since this is a qualifier event for the Santiago 2023 Pan American Games in October, we’re happy to say that select matches will be broadcast on the More info on this tomorrow.


Streaming & Social Media information from the XXXIV Pan American Racquetball Championships

We can’t wait to see Team USA in action! Here’s the first-day lineup (all times are the same as U.S. Mountain Time):
Men’s Singles
Thomas – 10:00 am vs. Ronal Cardona (HON)
Jake – First-round bye
Women’s Singles
Erika – 12:15 pm vs. Maricruz Ortiz (CRC)
Rhonda – 1:00 pm vs. Merynanyelly Delgado (DOM)
Jake/Sam – 2:30 pm vs. Christian Wer Llerena/Edwin Galicia (GUA)
Michelle/Erika – 3:15 pm vs. Carla Munoz/Paula Javiera Mansilla Cid (CHI)
Michelle/Sam – 5 :30 pm vs. Maria Paz Munoz/Juan Francisco Cueva (ECU)
Okay, we’re settled in and ready to go to work. Tomorrow night’s blog will include match results and continuing stories from Guatemala. Stick with us, there’s so much to come!

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