2015 is a significant year for the U.S. racquetball players who will compete at the Pan American Games. As racquetball is not yet an Olympic sport, the Pan Am Games is the sport’s only chance to be on display at an international multi-sport competition.
“To be able to represent the country is the biggest honor in the sport,” said Rocky Carson, the gold medalist at the 2011 Games and No. 1 singles player for the U.S. “I think we have a great shot.”
Carson is one of seven players to represent the U.S in racquetball in Toronto. He qualified by being the top-ranked American on the International Racquetball Tour. Jake Bredenbeck, who qualified by winning the 2015 U.S. National Singles Championship, will join him as the No. 2 singles player.
Carson and Bredenbeck earned the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds in their round-robin division by placing first and second, respectively, at the Pan American Racquetball Championships in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, that were held earlier this year. As a team, they placed first to qualify four spots at the Pan Am Games.
The men’s doubles team will include Jansen Allen and Jose Rojas, who qualified by winning the 2015 U.S. National Doubles Championships. Rojas, 25, and Allen, 25, are making their first Pan American Games appearances.
Both teams will be led by head coach Dave Ellis and assistant coach R.O. Carson, Rocky Carson’s father.
On the women’s side, Rhonda Rajsich will lead the women’s singles team as its No. 1 player and also play doubles with Kim Russell-Waselenchuk. The women’s team placed sixth in Santo Domingo, which gave them two spots, but they were allotted a third spot because another country decided not to bring its full complement.
Collectively, Team USA has won 11 out 16 individual gold medals awarded. The team will look to add to that total in what will be a competitive racquetball field.
“I’ve coached for nine years, and this is the first time I’ve been coach of the Pan American team,” Ellis said. “The Pan American Games are the Racquetball Olympics. I’m really excited.”