Tuesday, November 25, 2014

2014 Central American & Caribbean Games - A summing up

Mexico won all the gold medals at the 2014 Central American and Caribbean Games (CACG) in Veracruz, Mexico. The gold results weren’t surprising, as the Mexicans were the defending champions in all divisions, and they have a strong team, including two time Women’s Singles World Champion Paola Longoria, who is also Women’s Doubles World Champion with partner Samantha Salas.

On the men’s side, Mexico was represented in Men’s Singles by former World Champion Alvaro Beltran and Daniel De La Rosa, who’s the 5th ranked player on the International Racquetball Tour (IRT). In Men’s Doubles, Mexico had Beltran and Javier Moreno, who have been World Champions together.

In short, the Mexican team was stacked.

Thus, it was a good tournament for Mexico, the host country, and it was also a good event for Guatemala, who collected four medals, including two silver medals for their women: Gabriela Martinez and Maria Renee Rodriguez. Those results bode well for the future for Guatemala, as Martinez is only 15 and Rodriguez 19, so they should have many years ahead of them.

Costa Rica had some good results, including a silver in the Men’s Team event and bronze for Felipe Camacho in Men’s Singles. Camacho also got a bronze medal four years, but in Men’s Doubles with Teobaldo Fumero.

Also, the Dominican Republic players Luis Perez and Junior Rodriguez got silver in Men’s Doubles, which equalled the Dominican performance from four years ago. Perez is 23 and Rodriguez 19, so they could also be medals threats for years to come.

Generally, the medalists in Veracruz this year are younger than those in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico four years ago. This reinforces the youth movement that’s been seen in other competitions, especially the Ladies Professional Racquetball Tour (LPRT).

Multiple medalists

Five players - four women and one man - were multiple medalists in the individual events in Veracruz. Three of them were Mexicans: Longoria with gold in Women’s Singles and Doubles, Salas with silver in Women’s Singles and gold in Women’s Doubles, and Beltran with gold in Men’s Singles and Doubles.

The two other players with multiple medals were Martinez of Guatemala with silver in Women’s Doubles and bronze in Women’s Singles, and Cristina Amaya of Colombia with bronze in both Women’s Singles and Doubles.

Part of the Olympic movement

You may be wondering why you should care about the Central American and Caribbean Games? It’s a regional competition, so there are only a handful of countries competing. Thus, is this really important?

Yes. Yes, it is.

In sport, people talk about quadrennials or four year cycles, because the Olympic Games happen every four years. Athletes are always trying to prepare for the next Olympic Games, and the smaller competitions are part of that preparation.

Moreover, just as athletes try to progress from small competitions to larger ones, so do the events themselves. In the Americas, it begins with the Central American Games, which last happened in 2013 - the first year after the 2012 Olympic Games in London. That involves seven countries. Racquetball has been part of that event since 1990.

The next year is the Central American and Caribbean Games, which is happening now in 2014. Overall, 32 countries participate in the CACGs, and racquetball has been included since 1990. The 2018 Central American and Caribbean Games will be held in Barranquilla, Colombia.

This is followed by the Pan American Games, which involves 42 countries, and will be held next year in Toronto. Racquetball has been part of the Pan Am Games since 1995 (the sport was not included in the 2007 games).

The in 2016 the Olympic Games will be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. That involves countries from all around the world, but sadly it doesn’t include racquetball yet.

So, the Central American and Caribbean Games is part of the Olympic quadrennial, and a stepping stone to get to Rio in 2016. The importance of the CACG - outside of their importance alone - is that it’s part of the building process for the Olympics.

When racquetball becomes an Olympic Games sport, then it will be clearer how the CACG is important for developing players to perform on the world stage.

2014 Central American & Caribbean Games
Veracruz, Mexico

Women's Singles

GOLD - Paola LONGORIA (Mexico)
SILVER - Samantha SALAS (Mexico)
BRONZE - Ana Gabriela MARTINEZ (Guatemala), Cristina AMAYA (Colombia)

Men's – Singles

GOLD - Alvaro BELTRAN (Mexico)
SILVER - Daniel DE LA ROSA (Mexico)
BRONZE - Felipe CAMACHO (Costa Rica), Alejandro HERRERA (Colombia)

Women's – Doubles

GOLD - Paola LONGORIA & Samantha SALAS (Mexico)
SILVER - Ana Gabriela MARTINEZ & Maria Renee RODRIGUEZ (Guatemala)
BRONZE - Mariana TOBON & Ishlhey PAREDES (Venezuela), Cristina AMAYA & Maria GOMEZ (Colombia)

Men – Doubles

GOLD - Alvaro BELTRAN & Javier MORENO (Mexico)
SILVER - Luis PEREZ & Junior RODRIGUEZ (Dominican Republic)
BRONZE - Cesar CASTRO & Cesar CASTILLO (Venezuela), Edwin GALICIA & Christian WER (Guatemala)

Women's Team

GOLD - Mexico
SILVER - Guatemala
BRONZE - Venezuela, Colombia

Men's Team

GOLD - Mexico
SILVER - Costa Rica
BRONZE - Colombia, Dominican Republic

Medal Summary

1. Mexico (6 gold, 2 silver, 0 bronze)
2. Guatemala (2 silver, 2 bronze)
3. Costa Rica (1 silver, 1 bronze)
3. Dominican Republic (1 silver, 1 bronze)
5. Colombia (5 bronze)
6. Venezuela (3 bronze)

Follow the bouncing ball….

Monday, November 24, 2014

Mexico wins both Men's & Women's Team Events at 2014 Central American & Caribbean Games

Mexico wins the Women's and Men's Team competitions at the 2014 Central American and Caribbean Games in Veracruz, Mexico on Monday, which wraps up the racquetball portion of the competition. Mexico successfully defended the team gold medals they won four years ago, and they only needed two matches in both the women's and men's finals.

Daniel De La Rosa started it off with a two game win over Costa Rican Andres Acuña, 15-7, 15-9. Alvaro Beltran completed the Mexican win over Costa Rica by defeating Felipe Camacho, 15-7, 15-10.

The two wins in singles meant the doubles match, which would have put Beltran and Javier Moreno against Andres Aviles and Joaquin Solera, wasn't played.

The Mexican women also won in two straight against Guatemala. Samantha Salas defeated Maria Renee Rodriguez, 15-10, 15-10, in the first match, and Paola Longoria beat Gabriela Martinez in the second match 15-9, 15-1.

Rodriguez was close to Salas in their games, and led early in game two at 6-5, but never again. Longoria and Martinez were tied at 5-5, but then Longoria, the World Champion, pulled away to lead at 11-7 and went on to win it. Game two was all Longoria.

Thus, Mexico swept the gold medals in all divisions in Veracruz. Six in total, as well as two silver medals, as the singles finals were all Mexico battles.

Guatemala finishes second in the medal standings with two silver and two bronze. Costa Rica got one silver and one bronze, as did the Dominican Republic. Colombia got five bronze medals, and Venezuela three.

This concludes the racquetball portion of the 2014 Central American and Caribbean Games, although the games continue to November 30. The 2018 Central American and Caribbean Games will be held in Barranquilla, Colombia.

2014 Central American & Caribbean Games
Veracruz, Mexico

Women's Team - Final

Mexico d. Guatemala, 2-0

Men's Team - Final

Mexico d. Costa Rica, 2-0

Follow the bouncing ball….

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Team Compeition Day 2 at 2014 Central American & Caribbean Games

The Mexican Women's and Men's Teams have advanced to the finals in the Team competitions at the 2014 Central American and Caribbean Games in Veracruz, Mexico. In the semi-finals, on the Men’s side, they defeated Colombia in the semi-finals, while the women beat Venezuela.

In the Men’s semis, Alvaro Beltran (Mexico) beat Alejandro Herrera, 15-9, 15-2, and teamed up with Javier Moreno to defeat Herrera and Andres Ramirez, 15-8, 9-15, 11-6. Thus, Colombia pushed it to a tie-breaker in an effort to have a third and deciding match played, but they didn’t quite get there.

Mexico will play Costa Rica in the Men’s Team final on Monday. Costa Rica defeated the Dominican Republic in the other semi-finals, 2-0. Felipe Camacho beat Luis Perez, 15-6, 15-7, and Andres Aviles and Joaquin Solera beat Perez and Junior Rodriguez, 9-15, 15-12, 11-7.

The Colombia and Guatemala women are going to a third match, as Cristina Amaya defeated Ana Gabriela Martinez, 15-3, 15-5, but Martinez and Maria Renee Rodriguez beat Amaya and Maria Gomez, 12-15, 15-8, 11-1.

In the third and deciding match, Rodriguez came back from a game down to defeat Gomez, 9-15, 15-5, 11-5, for a spot in the final against Mexico.

The Mexicans - Paola Longoria and Samantha Salas - defeated Venezuela easily, as Longoria beat Mariana Tobon, 15-1, 15-2, and they teamed up to win doubles, beating Tobon and Mariana Tobon, 15-2, 15-1.

2014 Central American & Caribbean Games
Veracruz, Mexico

Women's Team - Semi-finals

Mexico d. Venezuela, 2-0
Guatemala d. Colombia, 2-1

Women's Team - Final

Mexico v. Guatemala

Men's Team - Semi-finals

Mexico d. Colombia, 2-0
Costa Rica d. Dominican Republic, 2-0

Men's Team - Final

Mexico v. Costa Rica

Follow the bouncing ball….