Basque Pelota Preview
One of the world’s most unique and exciting sports is returning to the 2019 Pan American Games in Lima, Peru. For the fourth time in history, and for the first time since 2011, Basque pelota will be featured on the program of the Pan American Games.

Basque pelota and its various disciplines originated along the Iberian Peninsula in modern day Spain. Known as the “fastest ball sport in the world,” the sport consists of four modalities and 14 disciplines, each constituting a variation of a racket sport.

Five athletes will compete for Team USA in four disciplines of Basque pelota, hoping to build upon a successful showing at the 2011 Pan American Games in which the U.S. earned three medals – two silvers and one bronze.

Agusti Brugues, Chava Espinoza, Omar Espinoza, Jose Huarte and Rolando Tejeda will compete in Basque pelota events at the Complejo Deportivo Villa Maria del Triunfo from Aug. 4-10.

Brugues will compete in paleta cuero, a discipline of Basque pelota in which a wooden paddle and leather ball are used in competition. He placed sixth in paleta cuero fronton at the 2018 world championships in Barcelona, Spain.

Chava Espinoza looks to medal in two disciplines of Basque pelota – frontenis, played with a reinforced tennis racket and a rubber ball, and paleta peruano, often played with a fiberglass paddle and rubber ball.

Omar Espinoza, Chava’s younger brother, will also be competing in frontenis. Both brothers placed fourth in frontenis at the 2018 world championships.
Huarte is one of two Pan American Games veterans on Team USA, returning to the Games for the first time since 2011. A three-time world championships competitor, he earned a silver medal in mano doubles at the 2011 Pan American Games and will compete in paleta cuero in Lima.

Tejeda rounds out Team USA and will compete in paleta goma, a discipline of Basque pelota played with a wooden paddle and a rubber ball. He also competed at the 2011 Pan American Games, placing fourth in frontenis, and has participated in two world championships.

Each athlete was selected to Team USA following their performance at the 2018 world championships.