2018 Junior World Championships Blog

Nov. 03, 2018, 9:46 a.m. (ET)
XXX IRF World Junior Racquetball Championships Daily Blogs
San Luis Potosí, Mexico
b
y Cheryl Kirk, Team Leader
photos courtesy of Ron Denler, Scott Fish, and Cheryl Kirk


Blog #10
Monday, November 12, 2018
 
With the exception of Dave Ellis, Pat Ellis, and Prem and Kareena Mathew (who were winging their way back to California today), I am happy to report that all members of the US Team Delegation are safely home and starting their week.
 
For 44 members of the delegation, Sunday morning came very early, before the dawn at 3:00 am, when we and our massive amounts of luggage were loaded onto a mega-bus and transported for just under an hour to the airport. Once there, we waited for approximately 90 minutes for American and United Airline employees to arrive and check us in. Whilst in line, a number of our girl players, still not sure how many, took a group nap (the floor appeared clean enough). It appeared to be a random pile of legs and heads -- check out the photo!
 
 
Now it's time to hear from Coaches Jen and Charlie as they wrap up this amazing week in San Luis Potosí, Mexico.
 
Summary from Esprit Coach Jen Meyer:
What an incredible week! From the opening ceremonies to the closing ceremonies and uniforms being exchanged afterwards, the experience was second to none. All athletes left their hearts on the court and gave everything they had to give. The USA and all racquetball fans should be extremely proud of how each kiddo represented the USA throughout the tournament both on and off the court. Congratulations to Timmy and Andrew, Heather and Julia, and Nikhil for winning gold. It is always so much fun to see kiddos earn their medals and reach their goals when you have seen the work they have put in over the years! There are not many kiddos around the world who can say they are the best in their sport. It is quite the accomplishment! The competition level was extremely high, and kids from all countries formed forever friendships. Elizabeth Denler even had Mexico cheering for USA against Mexico! Yes, this event is about racquetball and competition, but it is also about life. Each of the Team USA athletes grew as a competitor and as a person throughout the week.  
 
Thank you to all of the referees and the local committee for making sure everything ran smoothly. A big shout out goes to all of the parents who took time off of work to support their kiddo's dream of becoming a world champion. Parents also made sure we did not have to worry about food each night due to each taking the time to organize having the meals ready for us as we finished our last match. Thank you to all of the sponsors who donated money for the meals every night. Your help is needed and very appreciated! 
 
Last, but definitely not least, a huge thank you to Cheryl Kirk. Anyone who knows the time, effort, and organization that goes into this trip from before Junior Nationals, through the event, and until every last one of us has touched down in our hometowns knows we could not do her job. She allows kiddos to play, parents to cheer, coaches to coach, and takes care of everything else! It is appreciated so much. She is one of a kind, and we honestly could not do this trip without her! 
 
I feel very fortunate to be a part of such a wonderful team of coaches, athletes, and parents! Congratulations to all of the kiddos and their accomplishments. I am already looking forward to next year!
 
 
Thanks, Jen! Last up is a great read from Head Coach Charlie Pratt. All day I waited for his final thoughts, thinking he must have fallen asleep (and who would blame him) or he had gotten pulled away to other duties. But no -- he was writing ALL DAY LONG! It's seven pages and worth every minute of reading. What a great recap, and I believe he will be winning the award for "Longest Summary by a Head Coach in Racquetball History." Charlie's great comments end the blogs for the XXX IRF World Junior Championships, and before closing, I want to personally thank both Charlie and Jen as well as the members of the delegation for their kind words and assistance. It was an honor to serve Junior Team USA's coaches, players, and their families.
 
On to Charlie's final comments...enjoy!
 
Summary from Head Coach Charlie Pratt:
It all goes by so fast. Between the five days at the Junior Training camp in Colorado and the 10 days at the World Championships, we become a team, share memories that last a lifetime, and give everything we have into our journey. It is an intense two weeks, and it never seems like enough.
 
The 2018 World Championships in San Luis Potosí, Mexico, was a flashback of memories for me since it was my last Junior World Championships, at the same club, same courts. I can relive almost every match I played and watched 14 years ago. The same green AstroTurf in between the courts, the same natural light coming in through the ceiling, getting brighter and dimmer with every passing cloud. The same packed stands. This is a very special venue for so many reasons.
 
Team USA came in prepared to go to battle, as we knew we would. It was clear in the first few days of practice that this team was ready to compete, and so was everyone else. The only thing that has changed since my time on the team is the depth of talent from many other countries. It is no longer USA vs. Mexico in the semis and finals. It is all about who brings their best every single day. As much as you may have prepared, you need to get up for every match. There are no easy days, and that was apparent from day one.
 
The first few days featured pool play competition that determines your seeding into the main draw. Although not crucial to individual overall success, it's very important to the team's success, as multiple losses might result in early round matchups of USA vs. USA. This was the case in Girls 14 Singles and Girls 16 Singles. Perhaps the toughest part of the tournament was watching Annie Roberts vs. Erin Slutzky, who were also doubles partners, knowing that one would be knocked out. The same was true for Heather Mahoney vs. Julia Stein. We weren't the only country it happened to. All you can really tell a defeated player in that situation is that we are proud of them, and "let's focus on doubles now."
 
As we reached the quarterfinals with three days remaining, everyone was still in at least one division, which was not the case last year - already an improvement. It was a tough day of ups and downs, a rollercoaster of great wins and hard losses. As coaches, we ended each day saying, "What a day." You feel the joys of every win and the lows of every defeat. At the end of quarterfinals on Thursday, about half the team remained. The team meeting that night was now focused on supporting your team if you were out of the draw. You could see the look on the kids' faces, knowing how much they put into this journey, and it had now come to an end. I have been there, several times at their age. I can definitely relate. It is not an easy feeling. Of course you are happy for your teammates who are still in the tournament, but you can't help but think, "Why not me?" Success in a tournament like this does not come easy. There are so many factors involved. Hard work, patience, courage, luck, recovery, mental toughness -- and they all need to line up. You are up against the best in the world. This is an individual sport, and it's either you or them, and it's not always going to be you.
 
Let's recognize our Esprit team. It is easy to focus on the World Cup Team of 14s, 16s and 18s, but for almost all of us, we started competing at a young age. I remember my first World Championships at age 8 in Fountain Valley, California, at Los Caballeros. It has been so many years since I have been there, and I imagine that if I went back, it would bring back a huge rush of memories. The younger years were truly the best for me, and I have no doubt that the Esprit players will eventually feel the same way.
 
When I got the Head Coaching position, like most new hires I received a lot of phone calls from parents, coaches, and friends offering advice. My theme for this team is sportsmanship and carrying ourselves well, having fun and having a great experience. But something I wasn't prepared for was our involvement with the Esprit players. It's not necessarily part of the job description, but after speaking to many parents, I realized the importance of involving the younger players and being there for them as much as we are for the World Cup Team. They are, after all, the future of this team, and the future of our sport.

 
We made a point last year to be at every single USA match, younger or older, no matter what division they were playing, even if it meant going to the club three hours before any World Cup matches. And it was not just the coaches; we respectfully asked our older players to come as well, as long as it didn't throw them off their normal routine. Jen Meyer, coach of the Esprit team, is an absolute superstar and has been for almost two decades (but somehow hardly looks a day over 30). I have learned more from her than anyone else so far in my two years as coach.
We stayed true this year to our Esprit support. It is more fun than it is work, trust me when I say that. Coach Jen said it best. "You coaches have been a huge help, and at the same time, these players will be yours someday. Think of the amount of experience you will have with them by the time they are on your team." True that, Jen!
 
Semifinal Friday was once again filled with ups and downs. It is hard to describe some of these performances by our players, but I will do my best. First up with Heather Mahoney vs Mexico's #1, Daniela Edith Rico Segura, in 14 Singles. Although I was not on that match, I was able to catch some of the first game then went to coach another teammate. When my match finished, I ran back over to Heather's, which was at 6-6 in the tiebreaker. Just looking at the body language of both players, it was clear that they were in perhaps the biggest battle of their racquetball careers. Without knowing who would be victorious, I immediately had a tremendous amount of respect for both players. Every rally was played at 100%, and both players were hunched over, either on their knees or on the back wall. The look on their faces was like looking at someone fighting for their life, and that is not an exaggeration. Pain, desperation, determination, hope, strength, weakness, fear, confidence. I was blown away by the toughness and heart of both players. It was the type of match that no one should lose. In the end, Heather was victorious, 11-9. She nearly fainted at the end. She was on to the finals.
 
Next match was Andrew Gleason, our Boys 14 for singles and doubles. Andrew was also playing Mexico's #1 player, Andres Ruelas Reza. This was Andrew's first year on the team. It was clear from the very beginning that Andrew was more than ready for this event. His work ethic is unmatched. He is fearless, something you can't always find at his age, especially in your first year on the team.
 
Andrew's match was much less dramatic than Heather's but extremely fun to watch. Andrew put on an absolute clinic. He looked comfortable and confident. He was just out there having fun, hitting any shot he wanted, including an overhead backhand to the opposite corner -- the type of shot you would never think of doing in a semifinal of a world championship. That made all of us coaches look at each other in disbelief, and we are pros! Andrew won his match in two games. Even his opponent walked off the court with a grin on his face. Andrew was on to the finals, a truly remarkable accomplishment for his first year. He and Timmy Hansen also won their doubles later that day to reach the finals for 14 Doubles.
 
Following Andrew's match was Kareena Mathew in the Girls 12 singles semifinal against Mexico's #1 player, Cynthia Araceli Gutierrez. They found themselves in a tiebreaker with the momentum in Kareena’s favor. She was playing outstanding, making great gets, great shots and found a serve to the right that was working. She reached match point, 10 serving 4. Most of the time, the last point is the hardest one to get. Cynthia held off multiple match points and scored points along the way. The momentum had switched. Both players showed a lot of courage in the tiebreaker, but Kareena was unable to close it out, and Cynthia ran seven straight points to win 11-10. It was a heartbreaking loss for Kareena. We all felt the loss. It was an incredibly emotional ending for both players.
 
In the other semifinal of Girls 12, Ava Kaiser took on Naomi Ros from Mexico. Coach Robbie Collins was on the match while Jen Meyer was on Kareena’s match. Ava was down match point in the second game but came back to win 15-14. The tiebreaker was point for point, but in the end it was Mexico who edged out the victory 11-8. A tough day for our Girls 12s. One or two shots could have been the difference in both matches. How close we were to an all-American final. As I coached another match a few courts away, I looked down over to where Ava had just played and saw Coach Robbie, still sitting, staring at the empty court. We feel the wins and losses almost as much as the players, and those two hurt. Ava and Kareena had a chance at redemption in doubles against the same two girls from Mexico but fell short in two close games. Their tournament was over, but we were all so proud of the way they competed. As disappointing as it was, it is important in your career to have those kinds of days, those kinds of tournaments. Without them you will never succeed. We look forward to the future with Ava and Kareena. As I looked to their empty court once again, I saw Jen Meyer hugging Ava and her mother, Rhonda. That would be Ava’s last match as an Esprit player, something that didn't occur to me until now. Just like our 18 and unders graduate out of Juniors, our 12 and unders also move on. Although they will still be around, every year we as coaches, players, and parents, must say goodbye to something or someone.
 
Later that day, Dane Elkins and Ricky Diaz played their last match as juniors. They went up against a tough Bolivian doubles team, the same team they played and lost to a few days before in pool play. They gave everything they had, but the Bolivian team, who clearly had an edge of experience together, was too much to handle for our boys. Bolivia won in two games. Disappointing for Dane and Ricky, but they did earn a bronze medal, which was their only Worlds medal in their junior careers. All we can say is, thank you for a great ride, and thank you for giving everything you had. Now, welcome to the big leagues! This is just the beginning.
 
The final match of the evening featured our dynamic duo of Elizabeth Denler and Lillian Ford-Crimi taking on Costa Rica in the Girls 10 doubles semifinal. We absolutely loved watching these two compete but even more enjoyed their antics and personalities off the court as they were often featured in the “Overheard” section of the nightly blogs. In this match, Elizabeth learned the importance of getting out of the doubles box and into good position as fast as possible. To this day, I have never seen anyone do it better. Multiple people were taking video of her sprinting out of the box as soon as the ball touched Lily’s racquet. Her father, Ron Denler, videotaped the whole match and later posted clips of her speedy positioning on Facebook, which got a lot of laughs and thumbs up including a comment from legendary coach Jim Winterton. One of the highlights of my tournament was when Lily asked me for advice on stretching before a match -- a very responsible inquiry from a 10 year old. I showed her my routine, the same one I do every match, every practice, and the same one I teach to the World Cup Team. From then on, Lily found me before every one of her matches, asking me to help her warm up. We would go through the five-minute routine and then always end it with an extremely enthusiastic high five!
 
So, their match with Costa Rica was going very well. They won the first game pretty handily and were up 14-9 in the second when Lily hit a backhand that appeared to be a rollout but was called a skip. We all looked at each other and agreed that it was good, but the match continued nonetheless. Costa Rica got the serve back and ran six straight points to force a tiebreaker. At this point, this was the last match being played that night, so the crowd began to grow as people migrated from other finished matches. The tiebreaker was point for point. Parents and coaches were beginning to get nervous, probably more than the players were. Our dynamic duo stepped up and won 11-8 to move on to the finals. A great and relieving way to end the night!
 
Our final day was now upon us. We had six matches where a gold medal was up for grabs in the Gold (top) divisions:
 
Boys 12 singles featuring Nikhil Prasad vs. Bolivia
Girls 14 Singles featuring Heather Mahoney vs. Bolivia
Boys 14 Singles featuring Andrew Gleason vs. Bolivia
Girls 14 Doubles featuring Heather and Julia vs. Mexico
Boys 14 Doubles featuring Andrew and Timmy vs. Bolivia
Girls 10 Doubles featuring Elizabeth and Lily vs. Mexico
 
Nikhil started us off on the main court against a very tough and very well known player from Bolivia, Jhonatan Flores. We knew going into it that we had our hands full. Jhonatan’s skills with the racquet are unmatched. His hands and his backhand splat rival professionals. He is smooth, calm, and despite not being very big, can cover the court and get to balls that normal 12-year-olds cannot. Our theme with Nikhil was to play hard. In his semifinal the day before, Nikhil came out slow, flat footed, and was down 11-5 against a tough Mexican player. We called a timeout, and it was time for a pep talk. Sometimes it is important to be calm with players, sometimes encouraging. In this case, it was time to be tough. I told Nikhil that he would never win this tournament without giving 100%. At the US Junior Training camp, like most young players, he challenged all the older players to games, including myself. He wanted to see how he stacked up against the best and knew he had nothing to lose. He actually took a game off of me, but I have my excuses! During the timeout in his semifinal, being down 11-5, I reminded him of camp, and told him to play every point like he was playing me. Nikhil went back in and won 15-13, 15-2, a nice 25-4 run. After the semifinal, I made him promise that he would play every point like that from now on.
 
In the final, he did exactly that. Although Jhonatan was a tough and worthy opponent, he was just no match for Nikhil Prasad's 100%. Nikhil was moving his opponent front, back, side to side. Great serves on the glass and incredible shots from the back court. He had the entire USA Team cheering for him. In the middle of a timeout, a few of the team members started singing the National Anthem. The coaches stood up, put a hand on their heart, and sang with them. This was our time. Nikhil won 15-10, 15-6. As the players shook hands, I waved at Nikhil and told him to do his trademark dance, “The Floss." He did, with extreme enthusiasm. Many of us got it on camera, and so did the IRF stream. Go take a look if you have a chance. It will brighten your day.
 
Next up was Heather Mahoney in the final of Girls 14 singles. Heather won the 12 singles title last year in Minneapolis and was having a spectacular tournament this year, especially considering it was her "down" year (the first of two years she is eligible for 14s). She was up against a very tough opponent, Micaela Meneses from Bolivia. The coaches, like every night, watched tape on any opponent we could find. We watched Micaela, having not seen her play yet, and knew we were in for a tough match. She was very good on both sides -- great serves and moved very well. Heather gave everything she had, as usual, but Micaela was just too strong, winning 15-7, 15-4. A wonderful tournament for Heather, receiving a silver medal in singles, and she still had a gold medal match in doubles to play later in the day.
 
During Heather’s final, Andrew Gleason played another Bolivian, Luis Antonio Aguilar, in the Boys 14 singles final. Luis had played Timmy Hansen, our #1 singles player, in the semifinal the day before. Timmy was not on his game, but at the same time, the Bolivian was playing very well. Once again, we knew we would have our hands full. This was Andrew's first time on the team, so to be in the final of the World Championships was a phenomenal accomplishment. It was unfamiliar territory, but he was not at all thrown off his game. It was a hard-fought battle with the Bolivian taking the first game and up big in the second, only to have Andrew go on a 13-0 run to win the second and force a tiebreaker. The Bolivian built a small lead in the tiebreaker, then Andrew tied it up. Luis continued to play solid, with great Z serves to Andrew's backhand that died in the corner every time. Luis found himself at match point and then served a crack ace to the left to end it. Andrew would settle for a silver medal. He showed true class in defeat, shaking his opponent's hand and giving him the credit he deserved. Andrew fought hard, but in the end, it was not his day. He displayed everything that we coaches could ever ask for: heart, integrity, class, sportsmanship, and more. Andrew made this team proud, and I speak for all of us when I say that we look forward to many more years with Andrew Gleason.
 
We had a small break in the action for Team USA. The coaches grabbed lunch, the kids went to the hotel to rest a bit, then we were back for our final three matches of the day, all at 2pm. Jody and I were on the Girls 14 doubles final featuring Heather and Julia vs. Mexico. These two teams met earlier in the week on the first day of pool play, with team Mexico winning in a tiebreaker. On a side note, after the first loss, I went up to Julia who was a little upset and said, “Don’t worry, we will get them in the main draw.” Julia shook her head as to say, “No, we won’t.” I was a little confused by this, thinking that I had missed something. Turns out that Julia thought that was just a round robin and that the first loss meant that they would not receive a gold medal. The next day, Julia ran up to me and said, “Did you know that we are doing a main draw also?!” There was a look of excitement in her eye. They would, in fact, get another chance to play them. This time, it would be revenge.
 
Before the match started, while we were waiting for Mexico to finish warming up, Julia said, “I’m nervous.” It was time for another pep talk. I told her “That’s ok. Turn the nerves into strength. Understand that is this going to be a battle, and there is no way around it. This is revenge, and I’d rather be the one climbing the mountain than the one looking down. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain. A few days ago you didn’t even think you would have another chance at this. Know your roles as players. Heather, get every ball! Julia…Smash! You can beat this team!” Our girls came out firing and controlled the game right from the start. Julia was hitting great jam serves, something we hadn’t seen all week. Heather was controlling the front court and making great gets all over. They won the first game 15-10. They came out of the court and we told them to keep it up, but in the back of my mind I knew Mexico was not going to roll over that easy. They were going to make adjustments, and they were going to step their game up. They did just that, coming out to a huge lead. We took our timeouts just to slow them down a little. Mexico won the second game 15-1. The girls came out. I said “Racquetball, especially doubles, is a momentum game. Right now, they have the momentum, but you are a few shots away from taking it back. Be patient, hit the right shots. Communicate. Be ready for anything. Fist pump every rally. This is your match!” The girls played a near-perfect tiebreaker. Heather was getting every ball possible, keeping the rally alive until either Mexico made a mistake or we capitalized. Julia was hitting perfect serves and devastating passes to the corners. I have been saying for two years, “I have not seen Julia Stein at her best yet.” In the tiebreaker, Julia was at her best. The girls won 11-1. They are World Champions. It is my most proud moment as a coach to date.
 
Another proud moment for us as a team was how much support we gave our players. Despite being in Mexico, I am willing to bet that we, overall, were the loudest at the event. Julia Stein was the leader of the support team, bringing small but mighty cowbells from home and handing them out to everything. It was a great way to tell how our team was doing, even if you weren’t watching the match. Every time you heard the jingles, it was music to our ears. As a rebuttal, Mexico went out and bought wooden spinning clackers (for lack of better description) and blow horns, which made it sound like a soccer game. We all agreed that our cowbells sounded way better and were far less annoying. During Julia and Heather’s match, the Head Coach for Mexico was swinging a wooden clacker every time Mexico won a rally. All you can do is roll your eyes and keep playing. It was nice to keep them to an almost-zero noise factor in the tiebreaker.
 
On the court next to Heather and Julia, Lily and Elizabeth played Mexico in the Girls 10 final. I didn’t get to see the match, but it appeared that they were up against a very tough team. The scores were 15-6, 15-4. We couldn’t be more proud of our Girls 10 -- they received a silver medal. They were the youngest players on our team and kept our spirits high every time we saw them. I think back to when I was that age. It was a long time ago, but it still seems like yesterday.
 
Same goes for Eshan Ali and Ace Akins, who played 10 Boys singles and doubles. Although I also played at their age, I didn’t get a chance to travel outside of the country to play racquetball until I was 18 years old. What a great experience for these kids! A special shout-out to the 10 and under parents: Anwar Ali, Donnie and Wendy Akins, Ron Denler and Skip and Gina Lecy. Yes, we had an Ace and a Skip on our team! Thank you for providing this opportunity, not just for the kids, but for all of us to enjoy!
 
A few courts away, Andrew and Timmy were in a tiebreaker of their own against Bolivia in the Boys 14 doubles final. The Bolivian team featured Luis Antonio Aguilar, the new World Champion, having defeated Timmy and Andrew in singles. It was time for more revenge. The tiebreaker was fast-paced, with lots of long rallies. Bolivia went up 9-6. Coaches Bobby and Robbie called a timeout. USA got back in the box and scored a point to get to 7-9. Andrew served a crack ace that will be remembered for a long time. It may sound funny, but I knew we were going to win after that serve. The next few rallies were long and intense, with players making great gets, switching sides, scrambling back into position. There were a few calls which were appealed and overturned. It was a true World Championship final. Team USA closed it out with a patented Timmy Hansen forehand pinch in the right corner. World Champions! Such a great way to end it. Special shout-out to Team Bolivia, coached by Felipe Mercado, who not only won the Boys Team Title and 2nd place overall, but also displayed great respect and sportsmanship throughout the whole tournament.
 
Our World Cup Team finished 3rd overall, 2nd in the Girls, and 3rd in the Boys. We showed a lot of improvements in many divisions, capturing 2 gold medals, 2 silver, and 3 bronze.
 
Our Esprit Team finished 3rd overall, just 7 points behind Bolivia (879 to 872). The Girls finished 2nd and the Boys finished 3rd. They took two gold medals, two silver, and four bronze.
 
Congratulations also goes to Ashton Akins, our only Challenger (aka Friendship) Division player who competed in a ton of matches all week and took a silver medal!
 
Just like last year, I, along with the other coaches, had the time of my life. They say that things get easier when you love what you do. That is exactly the case with this team.

I have been around the game all my life, been to almost every tournament imaginable. Junior Worlds is by far the most exciting tournament on the planet. The others don't even come close. The passion, competition, camaraderie, and friendships, from people all over the world, ages 10-18, creates an environment that is unmatched. Before the event I tell the whole team, Esprit, World Dup, coaches, and parents, that my main goal as coach is to have a great experience. I didn’t think it could get better than last year in Minneapolis, but this year was equally amazing. This truly is a team!
 
Special thanks to Cheryl Kirk for everything she has done. A few months ago I was reading some comments on Facebook about her being team leader. Some people actually mentioned that other people should be given a chance at team leader. No disrespect to the others out there, but there is absolutely no one on the planet who can do what she does. No one. Thank you, Cheryl!
 
Special thanks to Scott Fish, fellow Oregonian and Associate Team Leader, who was a huge help and support in the event! Welcome to the Junior World Championships, my friend! Hope to see you at many more.
 
To the parents and grandparents, you all truly make this the experience of a lifetime. I can’t thank you enough for the support, and for raising such great kids. Thank you for giving the other coaches and me the opportunity and respect to coach this team. You are all a huge part of it, whether you know it or not. Thank you!
 
To the players, whether you know it or not, you all inspire me each and every day to not only be a better coach and racquetball player but also a better person. I look up to all of you and admire what you do. Thank you for letting me be your coach (not that you have a choice!).
 
To my fellow coaches, Robbie, Bobby, Jen, and Jody. The best thing that I have done for this team is pick you four to be coaches. You have my full trust at all times, which makes my job so  much easier. I have the title of Head Coach, but let’s be honest -- this team is coached by five equally great coaches. I admire and look up to you all. You make me a better coach. Thank you!
 
Signing off from my couch in Portland. It feels good to be home, but I miss the experience already. Looking forward to seeing many of you in my home city, Portland, Oregon, for Junior Nationals 2019!
 
GO TEAM USA!!

Blog #9
Saturday, November 10, 2018

 
COACHES' COMMENTS are deferred until tomorrow on the journey home so that Charlie and Jen can have dinner and sleep a little before morning comes WAY too early. Look for Blog #10 that will contain final recaps of this World Juniors event sometime Sunday or early Monday morning!
 
What an exciting day for Junior Team USA! Check out the results below, including the overall outcomes for the XXX IRF World Junior Championships. It's in the record books now!
 
Team USA's Saturday Results
 
CB12S  Ashton Akins lost to Javier Farfan Enriquez (Bolivia), 3-15, 3-15
B12S Blue – Gatlin Sutherland lost to Hernan Ruiz Michel (Bolivia), 2-15, 3-15
G12S Red – Sonya Shetty def. Florencia Villazon (Bolivia), 15-7, 15-10
B12S – Nikhil Prasad def. Jhonatan Flores (Bolivia) 15-10, 15-6
G14S  Heather Mahoney lost to Micaela Meneses (Bolivia), 7-15, 4-15
B14S – Andrew Gleason lost to Luis Antonio Aguilar (Bolivia), 6-15, 15-9, 6-11
G14D – Julia Stein/Heather Mahoney def. Jessica Balderrama/Daniela Edith Rico (Mexico), 15-10, 1-15, 11-1
B14D – Andrew Gleason/Timmy Hansen def. Mateo Claros/Luis Antonio Aguilar (Bolivia), 5-15, 15-3, 11-9
G10D – Elizabeth Denler/Lillian Ford-Crimi lost to Andrea Martinez Zarmeño/Zara Ximena Barraza Ozaeta (Mexico), 6-15, 4-15

 
US JUNIOR TEAM MEDALS
 
TEAM USA Overall Results -- Individual -- WORLD CUP
Girls 14 Singles -- Heather Mahoney -- SILVER
Boys 14 Singles -- Andrew Gleason -- SILVER
Boys 14 Singles -- Timmy Hansen -- BRONZE
Girls 14 Doubles -- Julia Stein/Heather Mahoney -- GOLD
Boys 14 Doubles -- 
Andrew Gleason/Timmy Hansen -- GOLD
Girls 18 Doubles -- Hannah Carver/Megan Carver -- BRONZE
Boys 18 Doubles -- Dane Elkins/Ricardo Diaz -- BRONZE
 
TEAM USA Overall Results -- Individual -- ESPRIT CUP
Girls 10 Doubles -- Elizabeth Denler/Lillian Ford-Crimi -- SILVER
Girls 12 Singles -- Ava Kaiser -- BRONZE
Girls 12 Singles --- Kareena Mathew -- BRONZE
Girls 12 Singles Red -- Sonya Shetty -- GOLD
Boys 12 Singles -- Nikhil Prasad -- GOLD
Boys 12 Singles Blue -- Gatlin Sutherland -- SILVER
Girls 12 Doubles -- Kareena Mathew/Ava Kaiser -- BRONZE
Boys 12 Doubles -- Nikhil Prasad/Gatlin Sutherland -- BRONZE
 
TEAM USA Overall Results -- Individual -- CHALLENGER CUP
Boys 12 Singles Challenger -- Ashton Akins -- SILVER

 
Overall Results -- Country Standings
 
World Cup -- Girls
1.     Mexico
2.     USA
3.     Bolivia
4.     Canada
 
World Cup -- Boys
1.     Bolivia
2.     Mexico
3.     USA
4.     Costa Rica
 
World Cup -- Combined
1.     Mexico
2.     Bolivia
3.     USA
4.     Canada
 
Esprit Cup -- Girls
1.     Mexico
2.     USA
3.     Bolivia
4.     Guatemala
 
Esprit Cup -- Boys
1.     Mexico
2.     Bolivia
3.     USA
4.     Colombia
 
Esprit Cup -- Combined
1.     Mexico
2.     Bolivia
3.     USA
4.     Costa Rica
 


Uniform Exchange
After the medals ceremony, after the multitudes of photos, a mass exchange of uniform shirts and jackets took place. Technically, uniforms are not to be exchanged with other countries. However, in instances where the head coach agrees, and since EVERYBODY was doing it, the USA joyfully participated. It was no longer easy to spot Team USA players once this took place. You actually had to look at their faces to see if they were part of the team. At one point I looked at a group and thought, how nice that Team USA and several other countries are chatting together. Then I realized it WAS Team USA, they just weren't wearing their own uniforms anymore!
 
Overheard (at the Club)
Coach Jen: I want to switch shirts, I need to find a Canadian.
Elizabeth: Hey, I'M a comedian!!
Eye Guards for a Young Player
Earlier in the afternoon, I went down to Court 8 to quietly work on this blog and saw four (presumably Mexican) kids in their early teens playing recreationally. One was playing without eye guards. I stopped the game and told him he had to put on eye guards. He wasn't sure I had authority (I actually wasn't sure of that, either), but since I was older than he was, he decided to come out and look for eye guards somewhere. He didn't find them, came back, and sat out while the other three played cutthroat. I felt bad, and not wanting to be the Wicked Witch of the West (er, North), I asked Ron Denler if he had any extra eye guards. He did! We loaned them to the kid, and he went back on the court and played for quite awhile. When I started packing up my stuff to go down to another court, he came out to give me back the eye guards. I told him again how important it is to wear them, and he said his had gotten broken when a ball hit him. He turned to walk away, and I called him back. I now owe Ron Denler a pair of eye guards. (Ron said he would have done exactly the same thing...whew!)
 
The Last QOTDs
You've been a lovely, lovely group of readers. Thanks for tuning into the blogs this past week. As a reward and a farewell, yes, you are getting two more Questions of the Day! You deserve it.
 
Penultimate Question of the Day
It's almost Thanksgiving! What is your favorite family tradition, holiday, or gathering?
 
Eshan Ali: EiD
Lillian Ford-Crimi: Christmas
Andrew Gleason: My birthday
Erin Slutzky: Thanksgiving, because of the food
Ava Kaiser: Christmas because the celebration is at our house and we have great food, family and fun.
Elyse Duffié: Christmas
Gatlin Sutherland: Thanksgiving -- the food!
Timmy Hansen: Christmas (holiday); Spring Family Cruise (tradition)
Cayden Akins: Christmas Day with the family!
Ace Akins: Christmas with the family and Nana's cooking! Thanksgiving Brunch at the Gaylord Texan Hotel!
Benjamin Horner: Putting up Christmas tree; Halloween
Kareena Mathew: My family normally visits a new country every summer for vacation (tradition); Christmas (holiday)
Elizabeth Denler: Every year we go to the ‘cut your own tree’ farm for Christmas sausage, sleigh rides, hot cocoa and cider, and fireside chats.
Heather Mahoney: Christmas
Annie Roberts: Christmas with my family is very cool
Dane Elkins: My birthday
Hannah Carver: Christmas and New Year's
Megan Carver: Christmas
Krish Thakur: Halloween
Sahil Thakur: Diwali (November 7th this year)
Ashton Akins: Christmas
Nikhil Prasad: I enjoy the annual party at my house in December because I get to meet many of my friends and chill.
Graciana Wargo: Christmas family gatherings, plus we always celebrate birthdays in a big way
Julia Stein: Christmas
 
Anonymous Guest Responder:
National Punctuation Day, followed closely by National Grammar Day

 
Final Question of the Day
What do you think you will be doing 10 years from now?
 
Eshan Ali: Going to college
Lillian Ford-Crimi: I will still be playing racquetball.
Andrew Gleason: Architect or Engineer with racquetball
Erin Slutzky: I will be living in a city with a good job.
Ava Kaiser: I will still be in college as I want to be a veterinarian. Also having fun playing racquetball.
Elyse Duffié: Hopefully traveling and experiencing all types of cultures.
Gatlin Sutherland: Law enforcement
Timmy Hansen: Working towards being a doctor, playing racquetball
Cayden Akins: Programming
Ace Akins: Training to get on a football team or working at Chick-Fil-A
Benjamin Horner: Playing racquetball and buying a house
Kareena Mathew: Hopefully getting a job, I want to be a physical therapist, and still playing racquetball and soccer.
Elizabeth Denler: Taking classes to learn about art.
Heather Mahoney: Hopefully playing in the LA 2028 Olympics for racquetball!
Annie Roberts: Playing racquetball and working as a personal trainer
Dane Elkins: Playing Madden 28 against my bro Cody
Hannah Carver: Becoming a physical therapist
Megan Carver: Hopefully pursuing a career in art and playing professional racquetball
Krish Thakur: Hopefully finishing college
Sahil Thakur: Hopefully working and getting $$
Ashton Akins: Going to medical school
Nikhil Prasad: I will be in college getting an MBA.
Graciana Wargo: Living with a great husband, in our own designed home, with 3 awesome dogs.
Julia Stein: I will either be on the LPRT or becoming a doctor.


Thank You’s
The US Junior Team Delegation wishes to deliver our gratitude to those who made this event so truly memorable:
 
All the individuals who made contributions large and small...every bit counts! The Team USA Challenge on www.usaracquetball.com provides the opportunity for racquetball players to support the US Teams with their participation at international competitions. Please remember us on Giving Tuesday!
  
The tournament staff and referees who came in from several countries to provide a quality experience for the players, including the significant gift that no player had to ref the next match!
 
Pablo FajreTim Baghurst, Paula Mansilla, Raphael Gatica, Diego Gatica, Alex David Cocco Hayes, Gary Mazaroff, and Gustavo Farell for live streaming quarterfinals, semifinals, and finals action to viewers.
 
The staff of the Ankara Hotel who were friendly, efficient, and responsive to all requests.
 
The owners, management, and staff of La Loma Centro Deportivo for providing a first-class facility for this World Juniors competition.
     
The parents and cheerleaders who were there for every match, living every point as if they were out there playing themselves, and pitching in to provide/arrange meals and snacks and multitudes of small favors that were hugely helpful to the coaches and staff. We felt the love!

 
Once again, the associations who made contributions for team meals -- Illinois, Missouri, Texas, Kansas x2, and the Reaching Your Dream Foundation x2. You guys are the best! And to Becky and Mike Gleason and all the parents who arranged for the meals, awesome job!
 
Renée Gundolff, USA Racquetball staff member, who assisted the team with multiple duties behind the scenes -- US Junior Team contracts, timeline communication, insurance set-up, and parent and private coach certifications, to name a few.
 
USAR Official Apparel Sponsor Rollout Racquetball (Jonathan Clay) -- thanks for making the US Junior Team look so good!
 
Last but not least, Leo Vasquez who stopped whatever else he might have been doing as soon as a blog and photos were ready for posting.

 
Personal note: To my husband Kit Lawson who always supports me 100%...you are my best friend! <3
  
Signing off from San Luis Potosí, and all that's left to be said is...
 
GREAT JOB, TEAM USA!
 
-- Cheryl Kirk

Blog #8
Friday, November 9, 2018
 
Greetings from San Luis Potosí as we move into the final day of competition. But first, let us tell you about Friday's results!

 
COACHES JEN AND JODY SUMMARIZE THE DAY

Our day of semifinals was filled with some great wins and a few heartbreaking defeats.
 
A special shout out to Andrew Gleason and Heather Mahoney who laid everything out there and qualified for finals in both singles and doubles. Of special note, Heather battled through a grueling two-hour singles match, emerging victorious 11-9 in the tiebreaker.
 
Representing the USA and going for Gold tomorrow are Lily and Elizabeth in Girls 10 Doubles, Nikhil in Boys 12 Singles, Gatlin in Boys 12 Blue, Sonya in Girls 12 Red, Ashton in Boys 12 Challenger, Heather in Girls 14 Singles and Doubles with her partner Julia, and Andrew in Boys 14 Singles and Doubles with his partner Timmy.
 
We are incredibly proud of our bronze medal winners from today. The USA will be well represented on the medals stand at tomorrow night's Awards and Closing Ceremonies!
 
Friday's Results
WORLD CUP
B14S Timmy Hansen lost to Luis Antonio Aguilar (Bolivia), 9-15, 8-15
G14S Heather Mahoney def. Daniela Edith Rico Segura (Mexico), 15-12, 12-15, 11-9
B14S Andrew Gleason def. Andres Ruelas Reza (Mexico), 15-12, 15-4
G18D Hannah Carver/Megan Carver lost to Abril Daniela Sacristan/Ana Laura Flores (Mexico), 8-15, 9-15
B14D Andrew Gleason/Timmy Hansen def. Duvan Torres/Juan Pablo Rodriguez (Colombia), 15-6, 15-6
B18D Dane Elkins/Ricardo Diaz lost to Fernando Ruiz Michel/Gerson Miranda (Bolivia), 8-15, 5-15
G14D Julia Stein/Heather Mahoney def. Tamara Wilscam/Ofelia Wilscam (Canada), 15-7, 15-11
 
ESPRIT
B12S Blue – Gatlin Sutherland def. Jose Pablo Caceres Morales (Guatemala), 15-9, 15-6
G12S – Ava Kaiser lost to Naomi Ros (Mexico), 7-15, 15-14, 8-11
B12S – Nikhil Prasad def. Jorge Gutierrez Ortiz (Mexico), 15-13, 15-2
G12S – Kareena Mathew lost to Cynthia Araceli Gutierrez (Mexico), 8-15, 15-13, 10-11
G12S Red -- Sonya Shetty def. Yanna Salazar (Mexico), 15-13, 15-6
G12D – Kareena Mathew/Ava Kaiser lost to Cynthia Aracell Gutierrez Caja/Naomi Ros (Mexico), 10-15, 13-15
B12D – Nikhil Prasad/Gatlin Sutherland lost to Hernan Ruiz Michel/Jhonatan Flores (Bolivia), 6-15, 11-15
G10D – Elizabeth Denler/Lillian Ford-Crimi def. Adriana Vargas Ledezma/Sherry Arce (Costa Rica), 15-5, 14-15, 11-7

CHALLENGER
CB12S -- Ashton Akins def. Josue Farfan Enriquez (Bolivia), 15-8, 15-8

 
Overheard, v 3.2 (The Robbie and Bobby Show)
Jody: So, how long have you guys been friends?
Bobby: Not very long.
Robbie: Too long, I’m waiting for it to be over.
 
Bobby (after a long day at the club): I’m going to go to sleep and never wake up.
Robbie: I can only hope.


Question of the Day
There are more questions than there are days in the trip, so this lucky readership gets a bonus Question of the Day! Read on...
 
What is your best childhood memory?
Eshan Ali: Visiting Puerto Vallarta this summer.
Lillian Ford-Crimi: Going ice-skating for the first time.
Andrew Gleason: Getting an archery hunting bow from my grandpa and learning how to shoot from him.
Erin Slutzky: Playing kickball at recess in elementary school.
Ava Kaiser: Making cookies with my grandma. Fishing with my grandpa. Winning my first National title. Hatching my pet duck.
Elyse Duffié: Swimming with dolphins and stingrays.
Gatlin Sutherland: Grandpa and I visiting indoor waterpark in Edmonton
Timmy Hansen: Disney vacations with my family.
Cayden Akins: Ski trips with the family.
Ace Akins: Hitting my first over-the-fence homerun in baseball!
Benjamin Horner: Going to Hawaii.
Kareena Mathew: Went on a weeklong trip to France.
Elizabeth Denler: Launching whipped cream and trying to catch it in your mouth. (or watch it as it stuck to the ceiling)
Heather Mahoney: Going to Hawaii with my family and hiking out to watch the active volcano on the Big Island, snorkeling and swimming with dolphins.
Annie Roberts: Road trips to California.
Dane Elkins: Graduating elementary school.
Hannah Carver: Going to my first concert which was Carrie Underwood.
Krish Thakur: Summer camping with my friends in 2007.
Sahil Thakur: Making pillow fortresses.
Ashton Akins: Vacations with my family.
Nikhil Prasad: I remember playing cards with my friend on his bed and he was so sugar high that he fell off his bed face flat. I was laughing so hard.
Julia Stein: The first time I went to Worlds in LA 2012.

 
Guest Responders:
Coach Jen Meyer: Sleeping on the trampoline on warm summer nights and building forts in the living room with my brother and sister using every blanket and piece of furniture available. 
Mike Gleason: Going hunting with my dad.
Becky Gleason: Shaking all the presents under the Christmas tree every year!
Cheryl Kirk: Christmas! And also, one year our grandparents gave blue jeans to my sister and me, and our mom allowed us to wear them! We were maybe 9 and 6 or so.
Anwar Eli: Camping with my family.
Brett Elkins: Six months in Europe in 1971 in a red VW camper with parents both teachers.
Rhonda Kimler: I had grandparents who lived on a lake and the other set lived on a farm. It was the best of both worlds growing up. Swimming, sledding, collecting eggs, fishing, and I even milked the goats.
Scott Sutherland: I plead the 5th.
Brian Ancheta: Driving to Disneyland with my family as a kid. Great memories and funny stories that we still tell today.
Charlie Pratt: Just spending time with my parents and my sister.
Marie Gomar: Playing invaders during recess in the 5th grade.
Prem Mathew: Spent a week on a houseboat in Kashmir (Himalayas).
My next-door neighbor and good friend Maureen: Not one thing in particular. What stands out most is the feeling I had every time I walked through the door of my childhood house and any house thereafter where my parents lived. It was safe and warm. It was home.

 
What is your favorite word in Spanish?
Eshan Ali: Hola (Hello)
Lillian Ford-Crimi: Comida (Food)
Andrew Gleason: Quince (Fifteen)
Erin Slutzky: Inteligentemente (Intelligently)
Ava Kaiser: Electrónicos (Electronics)
Elyse Duffié: Fiesta (Party)
Gatlin Sutherland: Taco...about all I know
Timmy Hansen: Dormir (Sleep)
Cayden Akins: Vámonos (Let's go)
Ace Akins: Adios (Goodbye)
Benjamin Horner: Traviesa (Naughty)
Kareena Mathew: Perro (Dog)
Elizabeth Denler: Rosado Elefante (Pink Elephant)
Heather Mahoney: Las papas fritas (French fries - fried potatoes)
Annie Roberts: Buen juego (Good game)
Dane Elkins: Papi (Daddy)
Hannah Carver: Salchichas (Sausages)
Megan Carver: La luna (The moon)
Krish Thakur: Corazon (Heart)
Sahil Thakur: Estupendo (Great)
Ashton Akins: Hace frio (It's cold)
Nikhil Prasad: Relajarse (Relax)
Julia Stein: Champú  (Shampoo)
 
Guest Responders
Cheryl Kirk: Estacionamiento (Parking lot)
Scott Fish: Invasión (Encroachment, in racquetball lingo)
Charlie Pratt: Madrugada (Dawn)

 
Officials (aka Referees) and IRF Staff -- Working Long Days!
Thanks so much to the officials and staff members who traveled from Argentina, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Mexico, Venezuela, and the USA to provide a professional experience for the 12 countries that are competing here in Mexico!
Officials -- Gary Mazaroff (USA), Gustavo Farell (USA), Adrian Macrino (Argentina), Jorge Romero (Argentina), Carlos Cuadri (Argentina), Sebastian Digon (Argentina), Felipe Arenas (Colombia), Francisco Gomez (Colombia), Cristina Amaya (Colombia), Carlos Bermudez (Venezuela), Ramon De Leon (Dominican Republic), Maria Paz Muñoz (Ecuador), Cristian Longoria (Mexico), Eleni Guzman (Mexico), Tucky Kravitz (Mexico), Ivan Valdez (Mexico), Jaime Martell (Mexico)
 
Tournament Desk -- Mauro Grandio (Argentina), Pablo Berriel (Argentina), Maria de Los Angeles (Colombia).
 
WADA (Drug Testing Education)-- Dean Schear (USA)
Streaming --Tim Baghurst (USA), Pablo Fajre (Chile)
 
Leadership --IRF President Osvaldo Maggi (Argentina) and PARC President Marcelo Gómez (Costa Rica)
 
Saturday -- The Finals!
As Coaches Jody and Jen mentioned earlier, nine singles and doubles divisions have a USA player in the finals tomorrow! That means nine gold or silver medals for Team USA plus the seven singles/doubles bronze medalists from today! So proud of each and every US Junior Team player who represented their country here in San Luis Potosí, and good luck to everyone playing tomorrow!
 
9:00 am – B12S Ashton Akins vs. Javier Farfan Enriquez (Bolivia)
9:00 am – B12S Blue – Gatlin Sutherland vs. Hernan Ruiz Michel (Bolivia)
10:00 am – G12S – Sonya Shetty vs. Florencia Villazon (Bolivia)
10:00 am – B12S – Nikhil Prasad vs. Jhonatan Flores (Bolivia)
11:00 am – G14S – Heather Mahoney vs. Micaela Meneses (Bolivia)
11:00 am – B14S – Andrew Gleason vs. Luis Antonio Aguilar (Bolivia)
2:00 pm – G14D – Stein/Mahoney vs. Jessica Balderrama/Daniela Edith Rico (Mexico)
2:00 pm – B14D – Andrew Gleason/Timmy Hansen vs. Mateo Claros/Luis Antonio Aguilar (Bolivia)
2:00 pm – G10D – Elizabeth Denler/Lillian Ford-Crimi vs. Andrea Martinez Zarmeño/Zara Ximena Barraza Ozaeta (Mexico)
 
After the last match concludes on Saturday afternoon, the Awards and Closing Ceremonies will be in the same basketball court area where the Opening Ceremonies were held last Saturday. After that, it will be dinner and off to bed (?) for the families and their young players.
 
Well before dawn on Sunday morning, families will begin heading home to resume normal life (school, jobs, errands) and this World Juniors will become a fond memory. Speaking for the coaches and staff members, we have had a great time with this delegation of 74 -- certainly one of the most considerate and enthusiastic we have experienced.
 
The timing of the final blog that will report results and give closing comments and thank-you's may be Saturday very late, or it may be written during the trip home in the wee hours of Sunday. Expect one more, whenever it can be pulled together!
 
GO TEAM USA!!
 
-- Cheryl Kirk


Blog #7
Thursday, November 8, 2018
 
Howdy! I've come up with all sorts of blog features in order to potentially qualify as author of the longest blog in modern history. Grab a cup of coffee and sit back...this is going to take awhile...
 
Coach Charlie Comments on the Day
Quarterfinal Wednesday started with all of our players still in the tournament. After many hard-fought matches, about half of them remain. We played the top three seeds in 15 different matches. The kids played their hearts out. They gave everything they had, and win or lose, they made the coaches proud! The highlight of the day was the final match featuring our Boys 18 Doubles team of Ricky and Dane. Both played singles earlier in the day and fell just short to the two Bolivia players. This is their last year in what has been a great junior career. Their doubles quite possibly could have been their last match as a junior. After dropping the first game, the coaches reminded them that this very well could be it, but we did not want to see it end. Ricky and Dane stepped up big time to force a tiebreaker. It was point for point until the end, and Ricky Diaz showed incredible heart, willing them to an 11-8 victory. Their junior career lives on, and they are on the medals podium. It is hard to see our players get knocked out, but spirits were still high, and the team is ready to support the players still competing. Tomorrow is semifinal Friday. Let's get to some finals! Go USA!


 
Thursday's Results
WORLD CUP
B16S Cayden Akins lost to Jose Carlos Ramos Martinez (Mexico), 3-15, 8-15
B16S Sahil Thakur lost to Juan Sebastian Flores Guerrero (Ecuador), 15-3, 9-15, 2-11
G18S Elyse Duffié lost to Monserrat Mejia de la Torre (Mexico), 2-15, 0-15
G18S Graciana Wargo lost to Angelica Barrios (Bolivia), 1-15, 2-15
G16S Annie Roberts lost to Maria Fernanda Gutierrez Ceja (Mexico), 12-15, 11-15
B14S Timmy Hansen def. Juan Pablo Rodriguez (Colombia), 15-14, 15-6
B14S Andrew Gleason def. Mateo Claros (Bolivia), 15-3, 15-10
G14S Heather Mahoney def. Julia Stein, 15-5, 15-3
B18S Dane Elkins lost to Fernando Ruiz Michel (Bolivia), 4-15, 15-8, 5-11
B18S Ricardo Diaz lost to Gerson Miranda (Bolivia), 13-15, 12-15
B14D Andrew Gleason/Timmy Hansen def. Josue Garrido /Bruno Vasquez (Ecuador), 15-4, 15-4
B16D Sahil Thakur/Krish Thakur lost to Longoria/Ramos Martinez (Mexico), 8-15, 5-15
G16D Erin Slutzky/Annie Roberts lost to Sofia Freer Aguilar/Maricruz Ortiz (Costa Rica), 3-15, 11-15
B18D Dane Elkins/Ricky Diaz def. Geovana Mendoza/Nathan Martinez (Guatemala), 7-15, 15-7, 11-8
G18D Hannah Carver/Megan Carver lost to Sacristan/Flores (Mexico), 3-15, 0-15
 
ESPRIT CUP
B12S Gatlin Sutherland lost to Jhonatan Flores (Bolivia), 5-15, 4-15
B12S Nikhil Prasad def. Hernan Ruiz Michel (Bolivia), 15-1, 15-3
B12S Red, Benjamin Horner lost to Ricardo Velarde Serrano (Mexico), 8-15, 14-15
B12S White, Brandon Ausucua lost to Martin Carchi Cuesta (Ecuador), 11-15, 2-15
G12S Ava Kaiser def. Jimena Sandoval (Costa Rica), 15-12, 15-12
G12S Kareena Mathew def. Anna Paula Salvatierra (Guatemala), 2-15, 15-8, 11-2
G12S Red Sonya Shetty def. Fatima Sanchez Garcia (Mexico), 15-6, 15-6
B10S Blue Ace Akins lost to Diego Romano (Mexico), 1-15, 5-15
B10S Eshan Ali lost to Humberto Gomez (Mexico), 15-10, 11-15, 8-11
B12D Nikhil Prasad/Gatlin Sutherland def. Jose Luis Alba/Marco Antonio la Cruz (Mexico), 15-5, 15-10
B12D Brandon Ausucua/Benjamin Horner lost to Jorge Gutierrez Ortiz/Eder Renteria Perea (Mexico), 4-15, 8-15
G10S Lillian Ford-Crimi lost to Zara Ximena Barraza Ozaeta (Mexico), 4-15, 6-15
G10S Elizabeth Denler lost to Liz Segundo Ramos (Bolivia), 6-15, 11-15
G12D Kareena Mathew/Ava Kaiser def. Andrea Gabriela Reyes/Anna Paula Salvatierra (Guatemala), 15-13, 15-4
B10D Eshan Ali/Ace Akins lost to Sebastian Ruiz Michel/Luis Medrano Michel (Bolivia), 5-15, 3-15
 
CHALLENGER CUP
CB12S Ashton Akins lost to Javier Farfan Enriquez (Bolivia) 12-15, 11-15


Esprit Dinner
On Wednesday evening, thanks to the generosity of the Texas Racquetball Association, the Esprit Team enjoyed dinner together at Italianni's, a restaurant in a nearby mall that has become a favorite on trips here. Parents, along with Coach Jen, Cheryl, and Scott, tagged along for a meal and the inevitable entertainment value. The kids all sat together down at one end of the very long table. Toward the end of the evening, I noticed some type of activity taking place down there. It didn't become clear until I asked Benjamin Horner today what was going on. Brace yourself. Apparently, kids like to take a leftover beverage (in this case, mango Italian soda), and add in whatever is left on the table. In this case it was shrimp. And bread. And olive oil. Then they see who will actually partake. Benjamin, Nikhil, Ace, Gatlin, and Kareena are rumored to have participated. Eww. They all seemed okay today.
 
Overheard 3.1
Overheard from Scott: "Bobby, I bet Andrew will be better than I am now, and I'm willing to put my own money on that."


Question of the Day
What is on your bucket list?
 
Eshan Ali: Visit Paris.
Lillian Ford-Crimi: To become a pro racquetball player.
Andrew Gleason: Build a muscle car.
Erin Slutzky: I have no idea, to be honest.
Ava Kaiser: To travel to Australia. To win a RB world title.
Gatlin Sutherland: Go to and win the US OPEN
Timmy Hansen: Fly a jet
Cayden Akins: Enter a professional ping-pong tournament
Ace Akins: Visit all 50 states in the USA
Benjamin Horner: Go to five different countries
Kareena Mathew: Go waterskiing
Elizabeth Denler: To win Worlds
Heather Mahoney: Travel the world
Annie Roberts: I really want to visit Israel and Germany
Dane Elkins: What isn't, is the question
Hannah Carver: Meet Chris Hemsworth, go to Australia, go sky diving
Megan Carver: Meet Tom Holland, go to Venice
Sahil Thakur: Eat in a Gordon Ramsay restaurant
Ashton Akins: See a baseball game at every MLB stadium
Nikhil Prasad: Go to Europe.
Elyse Duffié: Skydiving, seeing the northern lights, climbing a mountain, and going on a safari in Africa
Krish Thakur: Skydiving
Graciana Wargo: Skydiving.
Julia Stein: To go skydiving.
 
Guest Responders:
Coach Jen: Travel the world and take more opportunities to be completely present in the moment.
Mike Gleason: Go to Gettysburg
Cheryl Kirk: Go on a Mediterranean cruise and set foot on the continent of Africa. I'm thinking I won't be making it to the 7th continent (Antarctica).
Anwar Ali: Travel
Brett Elkins: US OPEN. Tahiti. Running a hedge fund.
Rhonda Kimler: A Rockies by Rail trip including Banff and a stay at the Chateau at Lake Louise.
Scott Sutherland: Devil's Pool, Victoria Falls, and Huashan Trail (China)
Brian Ancheta: Huge baseball fan and have yet to visit Fenway Park in Boston and Wrigley Field in Chicago.
Charlie Pratt: All the great monuments of Ancient Egypt.
Marie Gomar: Christmas with "my amiga favorita."
Prem Mathew: Go to one Manchester United game.
Scott Fish: I’d love to take a trip to Australia, perhaps even live there for a few years. What’s better than hanging out with kangaroos and koalas?

 
Lowdown on the US Team Coaches
I want to recognize a very special group here who give so much to the sport and to this experience: the US Team Coaches. Coaches Charlie Pratt, Jen Meyer, Jody Nance, Bobby Horn, and Robbie Collins take off work and call it "vacation," making sure they’re here to support the players with everything they need for success. Their duties are not only to be courtside at match after match and offer coaching based on their vast experience, but also to talk with the players, make sure they know their start times, deliver encouraging content at team meetings, ensure the players are wearing the correct uniforms, making certain they have enough water… all of that and more. We’re so lucky to have this group of successful athletes heading up our US Junior Team!

 
Who are they? Where do they come from? How long have they been in racquetball? So many questions...
 
Charlie Pratt -- Head Coach
City/State: Portland, Oregon
Years in racquetball: 26 years playing, second year coaching
Family: Wife (Ceci), Mom (Deb), Dad (Charley), Sister (Katie), niece or nephew on the way.
Pets: My parents have a Puggle (Pug/Beagle) named Greta.
Day job: Personal trainer
 
Jen Meyer -- Esprit Coach
City/State: Fruita, Colorado
Years in racquetball: 30 years playing and 15 years coaching
Family: Mom Becky and stepdad Dave; Dad Dallas and his girlfriend Donna; Sister and Family: Amy, David, Lucy, and Abby; Brother and Family: Drew, Kathy, Ryan, Casey, and Avery
No pets, never home!
Day job: 6th grade English/Language Arts teacher
 
Jody Nance -- Athletic Trainer/Assistant Coach
City/State: Lodi/Stockton, California
Years in racquetball: More than 31 years (29 years coaching)
Family: Son Logan (23), daughter Jordan (19), fiancé Jim
Pets: Koda (Yorkie), Princess Lola (Shih Tzu), four cats - Flash/Sophie/Candy/Bebe
Day job: Home Health Physical Therapist/Instructor at the University of the Pacific - Physical Therapy Program
 
Robbie Collins -- Assistant Coach
City/State: Kapolei, Hawaii
Years in racquetball: 18 years playing, 5 pro
Family: Parents Marian and Randy Collins
Day job: Professional racquetball player and coach
 
Bobby Horn -- Assistant Coach
City/State: Stockton, California
Years in racquetball: 15
Family: Grandma Anna, mother Michelle, sister Nichole
Day job: Racquetball

 
Staff Members
Cheryl Kirk -- Team Leader
City/State: Naperville, Illinois
Years in racquetball: 41
Family: Husband Kit Lawson, Mom Beverly, Sister Karen and her husband Claudell, stepdaughters Christi, Kati, and Meg; grandson Lucas, nieces Ashley and Taylor, nephew Austin.
And several friends who are the same as family!
Pet: Hayley the Wonder Dog
Day job: This is it.
 
Scott Fish -- Associate Team Leader
City/State: Vancouver, Washington
Years in racquetball: 23
Family: Wifey Erin, two younger brothers Kevin and Ryan
Pets: Two Corgis named Tyrion and Mercator
Day job: Marketing agency
 
Private and Parent Coaches are in the House
This year, USA Racquetball is continuing a program that was started for the first time last year in Minneapolis. Private and parent coaches (who work with the players year 'round) were invited to come to World Juniors and support their players. Required was completion of USAR-IP certification, SafeSport and CPR training, and a background check. Their presence contributes significantly to the delegation. So glad you're all here! Let's learn a little bit about them:
 
Anwar Ali
City/State: Union City, California
Years in racquetball: 38 years playing; club pro seven years
Family: Married to Nazia, two daughters, Javeria, 20, and Marium, 17,  and son Eshan (11); Mom, Fatima
Pets: Outdoor stray cat; have had every pet you can imagine
Day job: Outside sales rep
 
Brian Ancheta
City/State: Gresham, Oregon
Years in racquetball: 28
Family: Wife Tami, sons Brady, 20, and Chase, 14
Day job: Athletic club manager
 
Rich Carver
City/State: Currently Spokane, Washington; grew up in Kenai, Alaska
Years in racquetball: 38 -- my dad Bill introduced me to the sport. Club pro for combined about 20 years; taught racquetball at the University of Alaska - Anchorage for seven years.
Family: Wife Debbie, daughters Hannah, Megan, Ashlyn; younger brother Tom
Pets: None at the moment but love German Shepherds
Day job: Helping people get free cell phone service. Also, racquet stringer and Gearbox dealer.
 
Dave Ellis
City/State: Stockton, California
Years in racquetball: 43 years involved in playing and coaching. Head Coach of Adult Team USA.
Family: Wife Pat, son John and his wife Jen, and grandchildren Julius and Jordan
Day job: Keeping Pat happy.
 
Tim Hansen
City/State: Wellington, Florida
USA Racquetball Hall of Fame Member, inducted 2017
Family: An entourage of seven here in Mexico!
 
Skip Lecy
City/State: Robbinsdale, Minnesota
Years in racquetball: 25+ years playing, 6 years more seriously; LifeTime Fridley Junior Racquetball Program for 3+ years
Family: Blended family -- I have 2 sons, Gina has 4 daughters and 2 granddaughters we are raising, including Miss Lily!
Pets: Two dogs and one cat
Day job: My own business -- independent case management in human services helping people stay in their own homes instead of group homes, nursing homes, hospitals, or institutions.
 
Pendem Prasad
City/State: Fremont, California
Racquetball involvement: Coach and play only with Nikhil
Family: Wife Parag, son Nikhil , 13, daughter Ishika, 10. Parents and siblings (a brother and a sister) live in India.
Day job: Software engineer
 
Ethan Slutzky
City/State: Berea, Ohio
Years in racquetball: 14
Family: I am Erin Slutzky's coach and brother. Our dad Steve is here, too.
Pets: I have a seven-month old puppy named Prince and two beta fish.
Day job: I am a full-time student studying chemistry and mathematics.

 
Lessons Learned -- Outside of School
When you're at an event like World Juniors, the days go on (and on) with lots and lots of racquetball, but that's not at all the total experience our young players gain while being part of the US Junior National Team.
 
Parents here agree that while it can be challenging for the players to miss seven days of school (although homework being done is evident here), the experience of visiting another country, learning about differences and culture, making friends even when you don't speak the same language, creates a different kind of educational experience that's impossible to replicate in a classroom.
 
Coaches like Charlie Pratt and his team who emphasize sportsmanship and fair play as key in this very special World Juniors experience are standing for something that will serve our players well in their coming years, both in sports competition and in their personal and professional lives.
 
Teamwork is key as well. Each player is here to do well for himself or herself, but it's also a team experience. This group is bonded as a whole, not just as World Cup and Esprit groups. Today may not have been the best day, but spirits were high here in the hotel this evening, and I think it's because the kids are enjoying each other's company and getting ready to root for those who have made it to the semifinals tomorrow.
 
Racquetball is "A Sport for Life" in so very many ways.
 
Friday's Schedule -- It's the Semis!
So here we go! Be sure to go to www.internationalracquetball.com to check out the streaming schedule.
 
World Cup
9:45 am – B14S Timmy Hansen vs. Luis Antonio Aguilar (Bolivia)
10:45 am – G14S Heather Mahoney vs. Daniela Edith Rico Segura (Mexico)
11:30 am – B14S Andrew Gleason vs. Andres Ruelas Reza (Mexico)
3:45 pm – B14D Andrew Gleason/Timmy Hansen vs. Duvan Torres/Juan Pablo Rodriguez (Colombia)
3:00 pm – G18D Hannah Carver/Megan Carver vs. Abril Daniela Sacristan/Ana Laura Flores (Mexico)
3:45 pm – B18D Dane Elkins/Ricardo Diaz vs. Fernando Ruiz Michel/Gerson Miranda (Bolivia)
4:45 pm – G14D Julia Stein/Heather Mahoney vs. Tamara Wilscam/Ofelia Wilscam (Canada)
 
Esprit
9:45 am – B12S Blue – Gatlin Sutherland vs. Jose Pablo Caceres Morales (Guatemala)
10:45 am – G12S – Ava Kaiser vs. Naomi Ros (Mexico)
11:30 am – B12S – Nikhil Prasad vs. Jorge Gutierrez Ortiz (Mexico)
12:30 pm – G12S – Kareena Mathew vs. Cynthia Araceli Gutierrez (Mexico)
1:15 pm -- G12S Red -- Sonya Shetty vs. Yanna Salazar (Mexico)
3:45 pm – G12D – Kareena Mathew/Ava Kaiser vs. Cynthia Aracell Gutierrez Caja/Naomi Ros (Mexico)
4:45 pm – B12D – Nikhil Prasad/Gatlin Sutherland vs. Hernan Ruiz Michel/Jhonatan Flores (Bolivia)
5:30 pm – G10D – Elizabeth Denler/Lillian Ford-Crimi vs. Adriana Vargas Ledezma/Sherry Arce (Costa Rica)
 
Challenger
2:15 pm -- CB12S -- Ashton Akins vs. Josue Farfan Enriquez (Bolivia)
 
Sixteen matches in total -- good luck to all!
 
GO TEAM USA!!
 
-- Cheryl Kirk
 

Blog #6
Wednesday, November 7, 2018


COACH CHARLIE REPORTS IN
"A very successful day for Team USA! The highlights of the day were the Boys 16s. Sahil was down match point and battled back to win 15-14 to force a tiebreaker. He was also down most of the tiebreaker but stayed solid and won 11-7. It was an incredible win!
 
"Directly after that was Cayden on the show court. They split the first two games and were point for point until the end when Cayden pulled away to win 11-7. Another hard-fought match! Our players stepped up when they needed to.
 
"An additional highlight was Elizabeth Denler winning her Girls 10 match this morning on the show court in two close games. She played a tough opponent from Mexico. Both had lots of smiles and great rallies. Elizabeth is a character, probably the most social person at this tournament. She is our team mascot!
 
"Everyone is still in the tournament and everyone has a chance at a medal. We believe in ourselves. We can beat anyone out here. Looking forward to tomorrow! Go USA!"


 
WEDNESDAY'S RESULTS
WORLD CUP
G16S Annie Roberts def. Erin Slutzky, 15-10, 15-7
G18S Elyse Duffie def. Martina Katz (Argentina), 15-9, 15-7
G18S Graciana Wargo def. Aranxa Itamar Anguizola (Costa Rica), 15-5, 15-5
B18S Dane Elkins def. Felipe Cardona (Colombia), 15-10, 15-14
B18S Ricky Diaz def. Marco Sarmiento (Honduras), 15-3, 15-3
B14S Timmy Hansen def. Bairon Antonio Rosil Garcia (Guatemala), 15-0, 15-6
B14S Andrew Gleason def. Josue Garrido (Ecuador), 15-3, 15-4
B16S Cayden Akins def. Sean Sauve (Canada), 15-13, 11-15, 11-7
B16S Sahil Thakur def. Ian Frattinger (Canada), 6-15, 15-14, 11-7
G14D Julia Stein/Heather Mahoney def. Tamara Wilscam/Ofelia Wilscam (Canada), 15-5, 15-4
G18D Hannah Carver/Megan Carver lost to Marjolaine Parent/Alexis Iwaasa (Canada) 7-15, 6,15
B16D Krish Thakur/Sahil Thakur def. Philip Odhran Moloney/Paul Hynes (Ireland) 15-6, 15-8
B18D Dane Elkins/Ricky Diaz def. Rafael Gatica/Johan Igor (Chile) 15-11, 15-6
 
ESPRIT CUP
B12S Red Benjamin Horner def. Sebastian Rodriguez Brenes (Costa Rica), 15-2, 15-2
B12S Red Brandon Ausucua lost to Andres Guzman (Bolivia), 0-15, 1-15
G10S Elizabeth Denler def. Marijose Franco Gonzalez (Mexico), 15-12, 15-12
G10D Lillian Ford-Crimi/Elizabeth Denler def. Adriana Vargas Ledezma/Sherry Arce (Costa Rica), 15-0, 15-7
G12D Kareena Mathew/Ava Kaiser def. Jocelyn Hernandez/Yanna Salazar (Mexico), WBF
B12D Benjamin Horner/Brandon Ausucua def. Sebastian Rodriguez Brenes/Sebastian Sandoval (Costa Rica), 15-4, 15-7
G10S Lillian Ford-Crimi def. Adriana Vargas Ledezma (Costa Rica), 15-3, 15-12
 
CHALLENGER
C12S Ashton Akins def. Ignacio Gutierrez (Chile), 15-4, 15-1

 
QUESTION OF THE DAY
What is the most rewarding or fulfilling thing you have ever done? 
 
Eshan Ali: Finish reading the holy Quran in Arabic.
Lillian Ford-Crimi: Making it to Mexico.
Andrew Gleason: I made the US Junior Team!
Erin Slutzky: Volunteer at my elementary school to help kids who struggle with reading and writing.
Ava Kaiser: Being a volunteer swim instructor for the American Red Cross Swim program.
Elyse Duffié: Traveling to France and meeting lots of different people.
Gatlin Sutherland: Made this team.
Timmy Hansen: Training and winning A division at US OPEN.
Cayden Akins: Staying true to myself.
Ace Akins: Won the school spelling bee.
Benjamin Horner: Going to Worlds two years ago.
Kareena Mathew: My friend and I raised about $400 for a refugee camp for a school project.
Elizabeth Denler: I found a cow skull in the middle of Montana.
Heather Mahoney: After Northern California Fires of 2017, I volunteered at several housing agencies that helped people that lost their homes. One project we worked on was creating a Serenity Garden for people to have a space to reflect in. I helped paint a mural “love grows here” which has been enjoyed by many families so far.
Annie Roberts: Picked up a racquet.
Dane Elkins: Traveling all across the country.
Hannah Carver: Winning Nationals this summer.
Krish Thakur: Helping with a charity drive every December.
Sahil Thakur: Volunteering at Brighter Christmas.
Ashton Akins: Helped my baseball team with the championship.
Nikhil Prasad: Working hard for Nationals this year and qualifying for Worlds is very rewarding.
Graciana Wargo: Competing for my country on Team USA has been very fulfilling. Completing the Colorado Springs Incline hike and run was great, too.
Julia Stein: Community service for my church at summer camp.
 
Guest Responders
Coach Jen Meyer: Being a daughter, sister, aunt, friend, and teacher my family can be proud of knowing. 
Mike Gleason: First mission trip to Nicaragua.
Becky Gleason: Meeting my biological dad.
Cheryl Kirk: Participated in a long-term protest that ultimately shut down a store that was selling puppy mill puppies.
Anwar Ali: Performing the HAJJ Pilgrimage to Mecca.
Brett Elkins: Got married to my beautiful wife; watched Dane win all three divisions at High Schools and get into Sports Illustrated; win a skill division at outdoor nationals with NO skills.
Rhonda Kimler: Being a parent.
Rick Kaiser: Watching my daughter enjoy and play the sport that I love.
Scott Sutherland: Adopted and raised Gatlin.
Brian Ancheta: Becoming a parent and raising two boys has been very rewarding and challenging at times but fills our lives with happiness.
Charlie Pratt: Coaching the US Junior Team.
Prem Mathew: I went out a mile into the Pacific Ocean on a boogie board to "swim" with the turtles, and I don't know how to swim.
Mi amiga y hermana Marie Gomar: Give birth!
My next door neighbor and good friend Maureen: Starting a family and raising my children.  I'm hoping it will feel more rewarding and fulfilling once I see the fruits of my labor in the future! (3 teenagers now are making it tough)!


Overheard v. 3.0
Overheard (Charlie and Dave coaching Ricky)
Charlie: "Dave, how do you do it?
Dave: "Do what?"
Charlie: "Sit here and coach all these matches. I've watched a hundred matches this week. I want to get out there so bad!"
Dave: "I miss it so much."
 
Overheard (while coaching Cayden)
Charlie: "Hit a lob Z to his forehand."
Cayden: "I don't feel comfortable hitting that."
Charlie: "Ok, no worries."
Next timeout:
Cayden: "I'm going for the back court crack ace."
Charlie and Bobby: "Okay..."
Cayden walks into the court.
Charlie to Bobby: "He can hit a back court crack ace but not a lob Z??"
 
Overheard (talking about pets at dinner)
Sonya Shetty: "I used to have a fish, but it died the day after I got it. It was a Wal-Mart fish."
 
Sponsors Rock!
We thank Jonathan Clay of Rollout for his support of the US Junior Team as our Official Apparel provider. It's not easy outfitting 27 players across the country in the correct sizes (and making sure doubles partners match exactly), but it all came together in the end, and the team looks great!
 
Team Meals
The World Cup Team has the gift of multiple parents (and the generosity of a few associations like Missouri, Illinois, Texas, Kansas, and the Reaching Your Dream Foundation) who provide meals each evening after a long day of competition. The associations made the donations and the parents bring it in and serve it! Warm thanks to Becky and Mike Gleason who are the leaders of this effort.
 
THURSDAY'S SCHEDULE (is it Thursday already??)
It's down to the wire now...for many divisions, tomorrow's results will determine whether medals (at least bronze) are won. FYI, the IRF awards bronze medals for both semifinal finishes in straight draws -- there are no third place playoffs. Good luck to our Team USA players who are in the quarterfinals on Thursday! Good luck to all!!
 
WORLD CUP
12:30 pm – B16S Cayden Akins vs. Jose Carlos Ramos Martinez (Mexico)
12:30 pm – B16S Sahil Thakur vs. Juan Sebastian Flores Guerrero (Ecuador)
1:15 pm – G18S Elyse Duffié vs. Monserrat Mejia de la Torre (Mexico)
1:15 pm – G18S Graciana Wargo vs. Angelica Barrios (Bolivia)
1:15 pm – G16S Annie Roberts vs. Maria Fernanda Gutierrez Ceja (Mexico)
2:15 pm – B14S Timmy Hansen vs. Juan Pablo Rodriguez (Colombia)
2:15 pm – B14S Andrew Gleason vs. Mateo Claros (Bolivia)
2:15 pm – G14S Julia Stein vs. Heather Mahoney
3:45 pm – B18S Dane Elkins vs. Fernando Ruiz Michel (Bolivia)
3:45 pm – B18S Ricardo Diaz vs. Gerson Miranda (Bolivia)
5:30 pm – B14D Andrew Gleason/Timmy Hansen vs. Josue Garrido /Bruno Vasquez (Ecuador)
6:30 pm – B16D Sahil Thakur/Krish Thakur vs. Longoria/Ramos Martinez (Mexico)
6:30 pm – G16D Erin Slutzky/Annie Roberts vs. Sofia Freer Aguilar/Maricruz Ortiz (Costa Rica)
7:15 pm – B18D Dane Elkins/Ricky Diaz vs. Geovana Mendoza/Nathan Martinez (Guatemala)
7:15 pm – G18D Hannah Carver/Megan Carver vs. Sacristan/Flores (Mexico)
 
ESPRIT CUP
9:45 am B12S Gatlin Sutherland vs. Jhonatan Flores (Bolivia)
9:45 am B12S Nikhil Prasad vs. Hernan Ruiz Michel (Bolivia)
9:45 am B12S Red Benjamin Horner vs. Ricardo Velarde Serrano (Mexico)
10:45 am B12S White Brandon Ausucua vs. Martin Carchi Cuesta (Ecuador)
10:45 am G12S Ava Kaiser vs. Jimena Sandoval (Costa Rica)
10:45 am G12S Kareena Mathew vs. Anna Paula Salvatierra (Guatemala)
10:45 am G12S Red Sonya Shetty vs. Fatima Sanchez Garcia (Mexico)
11:30 am B10S Blue Ace Akins vs. Diego Romano (Mexico)
11:30 am B10S Eshan Ali vs. Humberto Gomez (Mexico)
3:45 pm B12D Nikhil Prasad/Gatlin Sutherland vs. Jose Luis Alba/Marco Antonio la Cruz (Mexico)
3:45 pm B12D Brandon Ausucua/Benjamin Horner vs. Jorge Gutierrez Ortiz/Eder Renteria Perea (Mexico)
4:45 pm G10S Lillian Ford-Crimi vs. Zara Ximena Barraza Ozaeta (Mexico)
4:45 pm G10S Elizabeth Denler vs. Liz Segundo Ramos (Bolivia)
4:45 pm G12D Kareena Mathew/Ava Kaiser vs. Andrea Gabriela Reyes/Anna Paula Salvatierra (Guatemala)
5:30 pm B10D Eshan Ali/Ace Akins vs. Sebastian Ruiz Michel/Luis Medrano Michel (Bolivia)
 
CHALLENGER CUP
Thursday 9:00 am CB12S Ashton Akins vs. Javier Farfan Enriquez (Bolivia)
 
GO TEAM USA!!
 
-- Cheryl Kirk

Blog #5
Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Greetings from San Luis Potosí where the weather was a heavenly 80 degrees and sunny today, and the forecast looks like it will be the same through Saturday. A little snowflake appears on the forecast for Naperville, Illinois on Friday. I can't think about it.
Delegation Extraordinaire
Last night some of the delegation parents and coaches said what they like about being here. Tonight, I'd like to share what I like about this delegation. Each delegation is different, very special in its own way. I'm grateful to be with this group. Here are some examples:
 
A 10-year-old offering his seat to an adult, unprompteda 12-year-old offering to get smoothies for the coaches; a dad picking up trash around the court area; a parent helping with recording and reporting scores as matches are complete. Ask on Whatsapp and ye shall receive: Oreos, paper goods, whatever is needed. Everyone is willing to go above and beyond. For example, when someone wasn't feeling well first thing Monday morning, an appeal for advice went out on Whatsapp, and multiple parents responded with offers of Pepto Bismol, Sprite, crackers, etc. This delegation is a FAMILY!
 
The parents and grandparents are contributing their time and resources to bring the kids to another country to compete. They live and die by every point or skip, make sure their players are hydrated and well fed, and give them their space when needed. From my vantage point, they are heroes; from theirs, they are just doing what they do every day.
 
Now for a report on the day...
 
Coaches Weigh In
"I thought today went great! All the kids played really hard. Great wins and tough losses. Really excited to see everyone start in the main draw tomorrow! 'Merica!" -- Bobby Horn
"Our kids keep getting better and better. We are all extremely excited to watch them compete. This is where world titles are earned!" -- Charlie Pratt



Tuesday's Results
WORLD CUP
B14S #1 Timmy Hansen def. #13 Daniel James Hanrahan (Ireland), 15-3, 15-2
B14S #3 Andrew Gleason def. #15 Keelan Seamus O'Gorlan (Ireland), 15-10, 15-2
G14S #4 Heather Mahoney def. Tamara Wilscam (Canada), 15-2, 15-3
G18S #7 Graciana Wargo lost to #1 Ana Laura Flores Saavedra (Mexico), 2-15, 7-15
G18S #5 Elyse Duffié def. #11 Martina Katz (Argentina), 15-14, 3-15, 11-6
G16S #3 Annie Roberts lost to #11 Maricruz Ortiz (Costa Rica), 15-9, 5-15, 5-11
G16S #5 Erin Slutzky def. #13 Ashly Melissa Barrantes (Costa Rica), 15-4, 15-9
B16S #8 Cayden Akins def. #20 Philip Odhran Moloney (Ireland), 15-9, 15-5
B16S #6 Sahil Thakur def. #18 Paul Hynes (Ireland), 15-4, 15-5
B18S #1 Ricardo Diaz lost to #9 Sergio Acuña (Costa Rica), 11-15, 15-7, 7-11
B18S #3 Dane Elkins lost to #11 Pablo Andres Freer (Costa Rica), 14-15, 11-15
B14D #1 Andrew Gleason/Timmy Hansen def. #7 Antonio Sanchez/Luis Felipe Guillen (Costa Rica), 15-13, 15-8
B16D #7 Krish Thakur/Sahil Thakur lost to #1 Roberto Arellano Choque/Diego Garcia Quispe (Bolivia), 10-15, 1-15
G18D #2 Hannah Carver/Megan Carver def. #5 Aranxa Anguizola/Ashly Barrantes (Costa Rica), 15-1, 15-3
G14D #1 Heather Mahoney/Julia Stein def. #3 Wilscam/Wilscam (Canada). NO-CRC. 15-2, 15-6
B18D #4 Dane Elkins/Ricardo Diaz lost to #5 Fernando Ruiz Michel/Gerson Miranda (Bolivia), 13-15, 8-15


ESPRIT CUP
B10S #8 Ace Akins lost to #9 Luis Alvaro Guillen (Costa Rica), 0-15, 3-15
B10S #6 Eshan Ali def. #22 Mario Huyke (Colombia), 15-3, 15-2
G12S #1 Ava Kaiser def. #17 Giselle Nieto (Mexico), 15-2, 15-13
G12S #3 Kareena Mathew def. #14 Tamara Brenes (Costa Rica), 15-1, 15-8
G12S #11 Sonya Shetty lost to Anna Paula Salvatierra (Guatemala), 0-15, 9-15
B12D #2 Nikhil Prasad/Gatlin Sutherland def. #8 Sebastian Rodriguez Brenes/Sebastian Sandoval (Costa Rica), 15-7, 15-5
B12D #4 Brandon Ausucua/Benjamin Horner def. #10 Joaquin Villacreses/Martin Carchi Cuesta (Ecuador), 15-7, 14-15, 11-7
B10D #6 Eshan Ali/Ace Akins lost to #2 Pablo Lagos/Sebastian Terrazas (Bolivia), 10-15, 4-15
G12D #4 Kareena Mathew/Ava Kaiser def. #5 Ashly Arce/Jimena Sandoval (Costa Rica), 15-10, 15-6
G10S #1 Lillian Ford-Crimi lost to #9 Catalina Guzman Spichiger (Chile), 10-15, 10-15
G10S #3 Elizabeth Denler lost to #11 Fernanda Miranda (Mexico), 12-15, 8-15



Question of the Day
If you could travel back in time three years and visit your younger self, what advice would you give yourself?
 
Eshan Ali: To be the best person you can be.
Lillian Ford-Crimi: To work hard and don't give up.
Andrew Gleason: Understand, this is just a game!
Erin Slutzky: I would tell myself to eat sushi.
Ava Kaiser: Hard works pays off and believe in you.
Elyse Duffié: Learn to laugh at all things, good and bad.
Gatlin Sutherland: Study, study, study
Cayden Akins: Try harder in school.
Ace Akins: Think before you act and keep getting good grades.
Benjamin Horner: Practice hard and never give up.
Kareena Mathew: Keep fighting even if times get tough, and believe in yourself.
Elizabeth Denler: To stop before running into the concrete racquetball walls. (Not worth that extra one point.)
Heather Mahoney: Hard work will pay off.
Annie Roberts: Don't compare yourself to anyone because everyone's so different.
Dane Elkins: I don't have any; I'm doing pretty great.
Hannah Carver: Don't wear so much pink.
Megan Carver: Do more off-court training.
Krish Thakur: Don’t complain about middle school homework.
Sahil Thakur: Sleep more, because you aren't going to have much of it in the future
Ashton Akins: Read more books.
Nikhil Prasad: Just chill, and keep your grades up like you are, and have fun.
Graciana Wargo: Be 100% true to yourself. Don't just focus on what others think.
Julia Stein: Practice more racquetball.

 
Overheard 2.0
Overheard (already, at 9:30 am Tuesday)
Lily: "Elizabeth, it's too early in the morning for this!"
As Elizabeth clings to Lily while Lily drags her around the club.
 
Overheard (as Scott Fish rings the cowbell for the 575th time)
Cheryl: I could use a little less cowbell.
 
Overheard (while Rhonda Kimler is asking for help with posting on Facebook)
Rhonda: I'm a Techie Window Licker (© pending). I used to say I'm not tech savvy, now I just tell it like it is.
 
Overheard (when Gary Mazaroff wandered by)
Fernando (at the concession stand): You are a team leader? What is that?
Cheryl: I'm kind of like a cruise director.
Fernando (confused expression)
Gary arrives: Do you know anything about American football?
Fernando: A little...
Gary: She's like an all-purpose running back.
(Blogger's note: I don't know much about football, but I think that's a good thing?)
 
Overheard (Monday night at 8:20 pm)
Melodese Mahoney: Is this the last match today?
Jen and Cheryl: Yes!
Bobby (after 12 hours in the club): Kinda wish there was more...
(Blogger's note: He didn't mean it.)
 
Overheard (watching Boys 10 Singles)
Charlie: "This kid would probably take Robbie to a tiebreaker."
Robbie: "And he probably bench presses more than Charlie."
 
Photo from School
Most photos are sent from here to the U.S. Here's a big shout out to Mrs. Brown's second hour 8th grade Geography class at Mahtomedi Middle School in Mahtomedi, Minnesota. On Tuesday morning, they sent fellow student and US Junior Team Member Ava Kaiser a class photo with all thumbs up. Zephyr Pride!

 
Horario de Miercoles -- Wednesday Schedule
WORLD CUP
Wednesday 9:00 am – G16S Erin Slutzky vs. Annie Roberts
Wednesday 12:30 pm – G18S Elyse Duffie vs. Martina Katz (Argentina)
Wednesday 12:30 pm – G18S Graciana Wargo vs. Aranxa Itamar Anguizola (Costa Rica)
Wednesday 1:15 pm – B18S Dane Elkins vs. Felipe Cardona (Colombia)
Wednesday 1:15 pm – B18S Ricky Diaz vs. Marco Sarmiento (Honduras)
Wednesday 2:15 pm – B14S Timmy Hansen vs. Winner of Wednesday 9:45 Match Guatemala vs. Canada
Wednesday 2:15 pm – B14S Andrew Gleason vs. Winner of Wednesday 9:45 Match Ecuador vs. Ireland
Wednesday 3:00 pm -- B16S Cayden Akins vs. Sean Sauve (Canada)
Wednesday 3:00 pm -- B16S Sahil Thakur vs. Ian Frattinger (Canada)
Wednesday 4:45 pm – G14D Julia Stein/Heather Mahoney vs. Tamara Wilscam/Ofelia Wilscam (Canada)
Wednesday 4:45 pm – G18D Hannah Carver/Megan Carver vs. Marjolaine Parent/Alexis Iwaasa (Canada)
Wednesday 5:30 pm -- B16D Krish Thakur/Sahil Thakur vs. Philip Odhran Moloney/Paul Hynes (Ireland)
Wednesday 5:30 pm – B18D Dane Elkins/Ricky Diaz vs. Rafael Gatica/Johan Igor (Chile)
 
ESPRIT CUP
Wednesday 10:45 am -- B12S Red Benjamin Horner vs. Sebastian Rodriguez Brenes (Costa Rica)
Wednesday 10:45 am -- B12S Red Brandon Ausucua vs. Andres Guzman (Bolivia)
Wednesday 11:30 am -- G10S Elizabeth Denler vs. Marijose Franco Gonzalez (Mexico)
Wednesday 3:45 pm -- G10D Lillian Ford-Crimi/Elizabeth Denler vs. Adriana Vargas Ledezma/Sherry Arce (Costa Rica)
Wednesday 3:45 pm -- G12D Kareena Mathew/Ava Kaiser vs. Jocelyn Hernandez/Yanna Salazar (Mexico)
Wednesday 3:45 pm -- B12D Benjamin Horner/Brandon Ausucua vs. Sebastian Rodriguez Brenes/Sebastian Sandoval (Costa Rica)
Wednesday 4:45 pm -- G10S Lillian Ford-Crimi vs. Adriana Vargas Ledezma (Costa Rica)
 
CHALLENGER
Wednesday 11:30 am -- C12S Ashton Akins vs. Ignacio Gutierrez (Chile)
 
Note: Live streaming has begun, so please visit www.internationalracquetball.com and click on "Watch" at the top of the homepage. See you there!
 
GO TEAM USA!!
 
-- Cheryl Kirk

Blog #4
Monday, November 5, 2018


US Team Coaches' Comments
"A new day for the USA! It was apparent the kiddos had settled down and their increased comfort transitioned into a winning trend. A great turnaround from yesterday with USA winning 14 of 21 matches! We started out strong with Julia Stein and Heather Mahoney winning their Girls 14 singles matches and Ashton Akins winning his 12 Challengers singles match. Other singles matches won were Elizabeth Denler, Gatlin Sutherland , Erin Slutzky, Annie Roberts, Cayden Akins, Dane Elkins, and Ricky Diaz.
 
"Doubles was a bit tougher with the only teams to win being Lily/Elizabeth and Annie/Erin. Sahil and Krish had a tough match against Canada, losing 13 and 12.
 
"One other winner today who showed great perseverance and fortitude was Nikhil Prasad in his Boys 12 singles match. He was battling a stomach bug and summoned all of his strength to a victorious two-game win over Bolivia.

 
"From a coaches' perspective, this team is determined, united, has heart, and exudes camaraderie. You can hear cowbells (thank you, Julia) and USA chants at the club throughout the day with parents and players supporting each other. We are looking forward to the competition the rest of the week." -- Coaches Jen Meyer and Jody Nance
 
"Big shout out to Julia and Heather on their battle with Mexico today in doubles. It was a match I will always remember. Extremely high level! Big crowd, glass court, intensity, dives, and lots of rollouts! So proud of them." -- Charlie Pratt
 
"Big improvement from the kids today. Our team is trending in the right direction." -- Robbie Collins

 
Monday's Results
 
WORLD CUP 
G14S #6 Julia Stein def. #7 Luz Abigail Rivera Vanegas (Costa Rica), 15-4, 15-1
G14S #4 Heather Mahoney def. #9 Jasmin Aguilar Salvatierra (Guatemala), 15-8, 15-0
B16S #6 Sahil Thakur def. #19 Juan Andres Segovia (Colombia), 15-6, 15-7
G16S #3 Annie Roberts def. #14 Martina Katz (Argentina), 15-6, 15-11
G16S #5 Erin Slutzky def. #12 Jasmin Aguilar Salvatierra (Guatemala), 12-15, 15-4, 11-7
B16S #8 Cayden Akins def. #17 Federico Viveros (Colombia), 15-3, 15-4
B18S #1 Ricardo Diaz def. #16 Johan Igor (Chile)W game one 15-10, 15-12
B18S #3 Dane Elkins def. #14 Sergio Ortega (Honduras), 15-0, 15-12
G14D #1 Julia Stein/Heather Mahoney lost to #2 Jessica Balderrama/Daniela Edith Rico (Mexico), 4-15, 15-9, 6-11
G18S #7 Graciana Wargo lost to #6 Alexis Iwaasa (Canada), 7-15, 13-15
G18S #5 Elyse Duffié lost to #8 Marjolaine Parent (Canada), 13-15, 14-15
G16D #3 Erin Slutzky/Annie Roberts def. #6 Paula Mansilla/Josefina Toro (Chile), 15-2, 15-7
B16D #7 Krish Thakur/Sahil Thakur lost to #6 Sean Sauve/Ian Frattinger (Canada), 13-15, 12-15
B18D #4 Dane Elkins/Ricardo Diaz lost to #1 Rodrigo Rodriguez/Sebastian Fernandez, 4-15, 7-15
 
ESPRIT
B12S #13 Gatlin Sutherland def. #4 Benjamin Horner, 15-3, 15-4
B12S #2 Nikhil Prasad def. #18 Matias Arnez (Bolivia), 15-11, 15-0
G10S #3 Elizabeth Denler def. #14 Barbara Monyque Gutierrez (Mexico). 8-15, 15-7, 11-3
B12D #4 Brandon Ausucua/Benjamin Horner lost to #9 Ricardo Izquierdo/Arturo Izquierdo (Colombia), 11-15, 12-15
B10D #6 Eshan Ali/Ace Akins lost to #3 Humberto Gomez/Diego Romano (Mexico), 4-15, 2-15
G10D #1 Elizabeth Denler/Lillian Ford-Crimi def. #4 Isabella Wer Obiois/Jamyleth Sipac (Guatemala), 15-6, 15-5
 
CHALLENGER
B12S #1 Ashton Akins def. #3 Josue Farfan Enriquez (Bolivia), 15-1, 15-13

 
Question of the Day
Do you have pets? If not, what pet would you like?
 
Eshan Ali: I would want a German Shepherd.
Lillian Ford-Crimi: I have 2 dogs, 1 cat, and 1 fish.
Andrew Gleason: Yes, my dog Copper!
Erin Slutzky: I have a dog named Toby, he has one eye, and a cat named Ally. 
Ava Kaiser: I have a pet Peking duck and painted turtle. I hatched them both. I would like a goat, dog, and hamster.
Elyse Duffié: Yes, I have a boxer named Bear.
Gatlin Sutherland: Pendleton and Lucy, our Doxies
Timmy Hansen: No pets. I would like a monkey.
Cayden Akins: Yes, 2 cats
Ace Akins: Yes, 2 cats (Milkshake and Oreo) and 1 fish (Swimmy Neutron)
Benjamin Horner: No pets; a hermit crab
Kareena Mathew: Yes, one dog (mini-golden doodle).
Elizabeth Denler: I do not have a pet, but I would like a dog.
Heather Mahoney: Dog named Cali; cat named Mittens
Annie Roberts: Yes, I have a Chihuahua, and she is the only pet I'll ever want.
Dane Elkins: No pets
Hannah Carver: No, I would like a German Shepherd.
Megan Carver: No, I want a dog.
Krish Thakur: No pets, but I would want a dog.
Sahil Thakur: No pets; a dog would be nice.
Ashton Akins: Yes, see Ace's answer.
Nikhil Prasad: I don't have any pets.
Graciana Wargo: We have a great Golden Doodle dog and a rabbit.
Julia Stein: I have a dog named Daisy and a frog named Fish.
 
Speaking of pets, Kathleen Wargo clued me in on the My Talking Pet app and said, "It's the best $3.99 you'll ever spend." I texted hubby Kit Lawson to download it, and he decided to apply it to my photo instead of our dog's. It's bizarre and hilariously funny. Hubby will pay.

 
Question of the Day II  (Adults are People, Too, v1)
What do we like?
Dave Ellis: The club, being here with Pat, tacos of SLP, watching Team USA compete, and, of course, practicing Spanish.
Pat Ellis: Amazing club, easy walk, hotel staff really friendly.
Steve Slutzky: Long walks on the beach and romantic sunsets. (Blogger's Note: Um, Steve? You do realize we're landlocked here?)
Susan Duffié: I love the friendliness of the Mexican people. They are very patient with my inferior language skills.
Ethan Slutzky: I love the food here! Fresh fruit everywhere!
Anwar Ali: I love the club, best I have seen anywhere.
Kads Beelwar: I like playing doubles from outside the court for Team USA.
Becky Gleason: The Spanish/English translating, ha! Got four salmon plates instead of two!
Mike Gleason: Having not been here before, the La Loma Club is great! And lots of very friendly people!
 
Americans at World Juniors -- Not Just the US Delegation! 
In addition to those from other countries, thanks to the following individuals who have traveled here from the USA to perform various services such as event management, refereeing, live color commentary, streaming, social media coverage, and rules clarifications. Our gratitude goes to Tim Baghurst, Gary Mazaroff, Gustavo Farell, and Dean Schear for their dedication to the IRF and to racquetball!

 
A Story of Lost and Found 
Pat Ellis related a funny story this morning about a lost item. Picture this: some venue in some country maybe four years ago. Pat's favorite pair of black pants went missing from their hotel room. She continued on with her life, realizing her pants would likely not ever be seen again. Fast forward to this trip to Mexico. Dave brought a different bag than he normally takes on trips. While unpacking the bag here, Pat felt something wasn't right with the bottom lining of the bag. Sure enough, the black pants were there, alone and lonely for four-plus years. There's even happier news: Pat has lost weight, and the pants are way too big!
 
It’s Tuesday Already!
It seems like such a long trip when you arrive, then you look around and we’re nearly halfway through the event! Sixteen matches are scheduled for the World Cup team on Tuesday. Coach Jen’s Esprit players will have 11 matches. A total of 27 matches tomorrow means we are moving ever closer to the main event beginning on Wednesday!
 
World Cup 
Tuesday 9:00 am -- B14S #1 Timmy Hansen vs. #13 Daniel James Hanrahan (Ireland)
Tuesday 9:00 am -- B14S #3 Andrew Gleason vs. #15 Keelan Seamus O'Gorlan (Ireland)
Tuesday 9:45 am -- G14S #4 Heather Mahoney vs. Tamara Wilscam (Canada)
Tuesday 11:30 am -- G18S #7 Graciana Wargo vs. #1 Ana Laura Flores Saavedra (Mexico)
Tuesday 11:30 am -- G18S #5 Elyse Duffié vs. #11 Martina Katz (Argentina)
Tuesday 1:15 pm -- G16S #3 Annie Roberts vs. #11 Maricruz Ortiz (Costa Rica)
Tuesday 1:15 pm -- G16S #5 Erin Slutzky vs. #13 Ashly Melissa Barrantes (Costa Rica)
Tuesday 2:15 pm -- B16S #8 Cayden Akins vs. #20 Philip Odhran Moloney (Ireland)
Tuesday 2:15 pm -- B16S #6 Sahil Thakur vs. #18 Paul Hynes (Ireland)
Tuesday 3:00 pm -- B18S #1 Ricardo Diaz vs. #9 Sergio Acuña (Costa Rica)
Tuesday 3:00 pm -- B18S #3 Dane Elkins vs. #11 Pablo Andres Freer (Costa Rica)
Tuesday 3:45 pm -- B14D #1 Andrew Gleason/Timmy Hansen vs. #7 Antonio Sanchez/Luis Felipe Guillen (Costa Rica)
Tuesday 5:30 pm -- B16D#7 Krish Thakur/Sahil Thakur vs. #1 Roberto Arellano Choque/Diego Garcia Quispe (Bolivia)
Tuesday 6:30 pm -- G18D #2 Hannah Carver/Megan Carver vs. #5 Aranxa Anguizola/Ashly Barrantes (Costa Rica)
Tuesday 6:30 pm -- G14D #1 Heather Mahoney/Julia Stein vs. #3 Wilscam/Wilscam (Canada)
Tuesday 7:15 pm -- B18D #4 Dane Elkins/Ricardo Diaz vs. #5 Fernando Ruiz Michel/Gerson Miranda (Bolivia)
 
ESPRIT CUP
Tuesday 10:45 am -- B10S #8 Ace Akins vs. #9 Luis Alvaro Guillen (Costa Rica)
Tuesday 10:45 am -- B10S #6 Eshan Ali vs. #22 Mario Huyke (Colombia)
Tuesday 12:30 pm -- G12S #1 Ava Kaiser vs. #17 Giselle Nieto (Mexico)
Tuesday 12:30 pm -- G12S #3 Kareena Mathew vs. #14 Tamara Brenes (Costa Rica)
Tuesday 12:30 pm -- G12S #11 Sonya Shetty vs. Anna Paula Salvatierra (Guatemala)
Tuesday 3:45 pm -- B12D #2 Nikhil Prasad/Gatlin Sutherland vs. #8 Sebastian Rodriguez Brenes/Sebastian Sandoval (Costa Rica)
Tuesday 3:45 pm -- B12D #4 Brandon Ausucua/Benjamin Horner vs. #10 Joaquin Villacreses/Martin Carchi Cuesta (Ecuador)
Tuesday 4:45 pm -- B10D #6 Eshan Ali/Ace Akins vs. #2 Pablo Lagos/Sebastian Terrazas (Bolivia)
Tuesday 4:45 pm -- G12D #4 Kareena Mathew/Ava Kaiser vs. #5 Ashly Arce/Jimena Sandoval (Costa Rica)
Tuesday 5:30 pm -- G10S #1 Lillian Ford-Crimi vs. #9 Catalina Guzman Spichiger (Chile)
Tuesday 5:30 pm -- G10S #3 Elizabeth Denler vs. #11 Fernanda Miranda (Mexico)
 
Team USA is playing their hearts out for themselves, their families and friends, their sport, their country, their team, and all of you. Please send tons of good luck in their direction!
 
GO TEAM USA!!
 
-- Cheryl Kirk


Blog #3
Sunday, November 4, 2018
 
Greetings from San Luis Potosí where the US Delegation continues to enjoy the hotel, the club, the nice people here, and the camaraderie of the group as we support these great players who happen to be great people as well. Here's a recap of the first day of competition, with six more to go!

 
Coach Charlie Comments on Day One
The first day of pool play is always the hardest because you play your toughest opponent first. We played Mexico five times in the World Cup division, and each game was difficult. We also played Bolivia several times. This was a good day to get under our belts early, giving us insights into our competition. I know the team will be stronger as the tournament progresses.
 
 
My favorite part of the day was coaching Benjamin Horner and Brandon Ausucua when they played Mexico. Mexico was a strong team and defeated Team USA 15-5 in the first game. We made some adjustments including Benjamin hitting jam serves that gave us set-ups from Mexico, and the score of the second game was 15-10 in our favor. Benjamin was the shooter and Brandon was the retriever -- they synched up and improved as the match went on. The crowd got into the game to the point where it was probably the noisiest and most enthusiastic crowd of the day. Ultimately, we lost 9-11 in the tiebreaker after being down 1-7. This doubles team found their roles as a team together, gaining more flow, confidence, and communication as they played.
 
Live Like John
This morning, Coach Charlie sent this message to the US Delegation:
"In memory of John Pelham. John was an avid racquetball player like all of us. He was a soldier in the United States Army. On February 12, 2014, John was taken from us in Afghanistan. His story touched us all, especially in the racquetball world. His last Facebook post read, 'I can't wait to play racquetball again.' John's father Wendall has started the Live Like John Foundation to support veterans. Although I did not know John, getting to know Wendall has been one of the best things to happen to me. He donates these wristbands to Team USA every year and is one of our biggest fans. All of the players will be receiving a Live Like John wristband today. Here's to John, who is still with us."

 
Team USA Results -- Day #1
Overheard: Coach Charlie, around 10:00 am via group text, said, "Some fine representation for our first match of the tournament. Ace Akins is putting on a serving clinic. I wish my name was Ace..."
 
It turned out to be 26 matches for Team USA today when Eshan Ali was contacted first thing this morning that, due to a draw adjustment, he had a singles match scheduled at 1:15 pm (instead of a BYE). Eshan and his dad were happy: "We came here to play!" Eshan had a successful day in both singles and doubles.
 
Ace Akins did indeed start us down the right path, but Team USA ended up winning just 9 of the 26 matches scheduled on Sunday. But as Coach Charlie commented, the first day of the round robin divisions are the toughest. We have high hopes for tomorrow!
 
ESPRIT
B10S #8 Ace Akins def. #25 Matias Zeledon (Costa Rica), 15-0, 15-0
B12S #13 Gatlin Sutherland def. #20 Daniel Rodriguez Sibaja (Costa Rica), 15-2, 15-1
B12S #15 Brandon Ausucua lost to #18 Matias Arnez (Bolivia), 2-15, 7-15
G10S #2 Lillian Ford-Crimi lost to #8 Jamyleth Sipac (Guatemala), 15-13, 12-15, 7-11
G10S #3 Elizabeth Denler lost to #6 Andrea Martinez Zermeño (Mexico), 7-15, 6-15
B10S  # 6 Eshan Ali def. #27 Josue Farfan Enriquez (Bolivia), 15-5, 15-11
B10D #6 Eshan Ali/Ace Akins def. #7 Denis Diarmuid Riordan/Peter Barrett (Ireland), 15-7, 15-4
G12D #4 Kareena Mathew/Ava Kaiser lost to #1 Cynthia Araceli Gutierrez Ceja/Naomi Ros (Mexico), 12-15, 9-15
B12D #2 Gatlin Sutherland/Nikhil Prasad lost to #5 Hernan Ruiz Michel/Jhonatan Flores (Bolivia), 15-12, 11-15, 3-11
B12D #4 Brandon Ausucua/Benjamin Horner lost to #3 Jose Luis Alba/Marco Antonio la Cruz (Mexico), 5-15, 15-10, 9-11
G10D #1 Elizabeth Denler/Lillian Ford-Crimi lost to #2 Andrea Martinez Zermeño/Zara Ximena Barraza (Mexico), 7-15, 1-15
 
WORLD CUP
G14S #4 Heather Mahoney lost to #3 Karime Estrella Arreola (Mexico), 8-15, 8-15
G14S #6 Julia Stein lost to #1 Daniela Edith Rico Segura (Mexico), 11-15, 4-15
B14S #1 Timmy Hansen def. #12 Benjamin Vivar (Chile), 15-8, 15-6
B14S #3 Andrew Gleason def. #10 Jaime Mansilla (Chile), 15-8, 15-12
G16S #3 Annie Roberts lost to #6 Juliette Parent (Canada), 15-14, 10-15, 9-11
G16S #5 Erin Slutzky lost to #4 Guadalupe Griffin (Mexico), 7-15, 15-6, 3-11
B16S #6 Sahil Thakur def. #7 Esteban Rodriguez (Costa Rica), 15-5, 15-3
G18S #5 Elyse Duffié lost to #2 Angelica Barrios (Bolivia), 1-15, 2-15
B16S #8 Cayden Akins lost to #5 Tomas Sanchez Burgos (Costa Rica), 15-10, 10-15, 3-11
B18S #1 Ricardo Diaz lost to #8 Fernando Michel Ruiz (Bolivia), 11-15, 12-15
B18S #3 Dane Elkins lost to #6 Gerson Miranda (Bolivia), 7-15, 9-15
G16D #3 Annie Roberts/Erin Slutzky lost to #2 Ximena Martinez/Maria Gutierrez (Mexico), 5-15, 3-15
B14D #2 Andrew Gleason/Timmy Hansen def. #6 Jose Tomas Fernandez/Benjamin Vivar (Chile) 15-8, 15-5
G18D #2 Hannah Carver/Megan Carver lost to #3 Ana Lucia Sarmiento/Maria Jose Munoz Albornoz (Ecuador), 6-15, 8-15
 
CHALLENGER CUP
B12S #1 Ashton Akins def. #5 Lautaro Cornejo (Argentina), 15-0, 15-2

 
QUESTION OF THE DAY
If you suddenly won the Mega Millions lottery, what's the first thing you would do?
 
Eshan Ali: Give money to charity
Lillian Ford-Crimi: I would give some of it to children in need.
Andrew Gleason: Give my parents enough to pay off our house and retire!
Erin Slutzky: I would do a trip around the world.
Ava Kaiser: Scream!! Then spend some, give some away and save the rest.
Elyse Duffié: Skydive in Australia
Gatlin Sutherland: Go to Hawaii
Timmy Hansen: Buy a house
Cayden Akins: Travel the world!
Ace Akins: Save it for college.
Benjamin Horner: Buy a house with a movie theater.
Kareena Mathew: I would go on a trip around the world and donate.
Elizabeth Denler: Buy and reopen the Oakmoor racquetball courts in Iowa.
Heather Mahoney: Tropical vacation
Annie Roberts: Give money to charity to grow education in third world countries.
Dane Elkins: Pay taxes
Hannah Carver: Go to Australia
Megan Carver: Call a lawyer, then go on vacation to a different country.
Krish Thakur: Donate half to charity
Sahil Thakur: Put it in a bank and lock it away.
Ashton Akins: Put it in the bank, so I don't lose it.
Nikhil Prasad: Pay off family debts, invest in stocks, buy a new house, and become a VC.
Graciana Wargo: Travel all over the USA and the world.
Julia Stein: Build a big gym to host racquetball tournaments.
 
Guest Responses
Marie Gomar, my friend in Guatemala: Fly to Taiwan, then to Israel to devise our family's plan to invest and help.
My next door neighbor and friend Maureen: I would start a foundation that would help send kids, who had given up the dream of higher education, to college.
My husband Kit Lawson: Note - I tried to include him, but he failed with some obtuse comment. Now instead he must stay in the background and simply send me complimentary and encouraging messages each day.

 
Monday (Lunes) at World Juniors
The formats for most of the divisions are round robin pools to determine seeding in main draws beginning Wednesday. All World Cup divisions are formatted this way except for Girls 18 Doubles and Girls 14 Doubles that are straight round robins. However, the following Esprit divisions are Olympic format: Boys 12 Singles, Boys 10 Singles, and Girls 12 Singles. This means that a first-round loss in the gold division places the player into the red division and a second-round loss in the gold division places the player into the blue division. The Challenger 12S division is a straight round robin.
 
With Day One under our belts, Team USA will turn up the heat tomorrow in 21 matches. Coaches, put on your running shoes…on your mark…get set…
 
WORLD CUP
Monday 9:00 am -- G14S #6 Julia Stein vs. #7 Luz Abigail Rivera Vanegas (Costa Rica)
Monday 10:45 am -- G14S #4 Heather Mahoney vs. #9 Jasmin Aguilar Salvatierra (Guatemala)
Monday 12:30 pm -- B16S #6 Sahil Thakur vs. #19 Juan Andres Segovia (Colombia)
Monday 12:30 pm -- G16S #3 Annie Roberts vs. #14 Martina Katz (Argentina)
Monday 12:30 pm -- G16S #5 Erin Slutzky vs. #12 Jasmin Aguilar Salvatierra (Guatemala)
Monday 1:15 pm -- B16S #8 Cayden Akins vs. #17 Federico Viveros (Colombia)
Monday 2:15 pm -- B18S #1 Ricardo Diaz vs. #16 Johan Igor (Chile)
Monday 2:15 pm -- B18S #3 Dane Elkins vs. #14 Sergio Ortega (Honduras)
Monday 3:00 pm -- G14D #1 Julia Stein/Heather Mahoney vs. #2 Jessica Balderrama/Daniela Edith Rico (Mexico)
Monday 4:45 pm -- G18S #7 Graciana Wargo vs. #6 Alexis Iwaasa (Canada)
Monday 4:45 pm -- G18S #5 Elyse Duffié vs. #8 Marjolaine Parent (Canada)
Monday 5:30 am -- G16D #3 Erin Slutzky/Annie Roberts vs. #6 Paula Mansilla/Josefina Toro (Chile)
Monday 6:30 pm -- B16D #7 Krish Thakur/Sahil Thakur vs. #6 Sean Sauve/Ian Frattinger (Canada)
Monday 7:15 pm -- B18D #4 Dane Elkins/Ricardo Diaz vs. #5 Fernando Ruiz Michel/Gerson Miranda (Bolivia)
 
ESPRIT
Monday 9:45 am -- B12S #13 Gatlin Sutherland vs. #4 Benjamin Horner
Monday 9:45 am --B12S #2 Nikhil Prasad vs. #18 Matias Arnez (Bolivia)
Monday 3:00 pm -- G10S #3 Elizabeth Denler vs. #14 Barbara Monyque Gutierrez (Mexico)
Monday 3:45 pm -- B12D #4 Brandon Ausucua/Benjamin Horner vs. #9 Ricardo Izquierdo/Arturo Izquierdo (Colombia)
Monday 3:45 pm -- B10D #6 Eshan Ali/Ace Akins vs. #3 Humberto Gomez/Diego Romano (Mexico)
Monday 4:45 pm -- G10D #1 Elizabeth Denler/Lillian Ford-Crimi vs. #4 Isabella Wer Obiois/Jamyleth Sipac (Guatemala)
 
CHALLENGER
Monday 9:00 am -- B12S #1 Ashton Akins vs. #3 Josue Farfan Enriquez (Bolivia)
 
Join Us in the Action
Via the miracles of modern technology, the draws can be viewed on www.internationalracquetball.com. Go to Events & Rankings, drop down to Live Events, click on HERE, then choose the age group you'd like to view.
 
We are live on the USA Racquetball Snapchat. Follow us at USARacquetball through this entire week of competition!
 
Facebook posts abound, from USA Racquetball and many who are here supporting the US Junior Team.
 
Matches are being streamed on the International Racquetball Federation's Facebook page until Wednesday when live streaming with commentary will begin (go to www.internationalracquetball.com to join in the excitement)!
 
Here we go, Racquetball Fans -- the action is just beginning!
 
GO TEAM USA!!
 
 
-- Cheryl Kirk



Blog #2
Saturday, November 3, 2018
 
Today’s schedule was a whirlwind with some questionable weather thrown into the mix. Temperatures are mild, but a pretty impressive thunderstorm made the first part of Opening Ceremonies fairly noisy.
 
First Things First
I forgot to mention in Blog #1 that Coach Charlie and I went on an early morning run to Wal-Mart to get cases of water for the coaches' rooms and to determine a solution for cleaning the courts (if we had to) that were found to be a bit too dusty for safety on Thursday night. A sturdy squeegee and a bunch of economically priced hand towels proved the right solution. As far as the water...Coach Charlie participated in a solitary but spirited game of Water Jenga when we discovered the larger-than-life bottled water display. Picture a bunch of plastic-wrapped cases with individual bottles on the top level. See the accompanying photo. Final Score: Coach Charlie 1, Bottled Water Display 0.
 
Sábado -- ¡Un Día Muy Ocupado!
Everyone had a chance to practice on the courts this morning, and a few took advantage of the afternoon times as well. Coaches Charlie, Bobby, and Robbie, as well as Team Leader Cheryl and Associate Team Leader Scott attended the Coaches' meeting where the rules of the event were communicated and the draws were distributed. Now we have the lay of the land!
 
The US Junior Team Delegation congregated at Court #1 at 4:00 pm for team photos before Opening Ceremonies. The team looks fantastic in their uniforms provided by Rollout Racquetball (USA Racquetball’s Official Apparel Sponsor). Jonathan Clay's support means so much to Team USA. We were able to snap the team as a whole; the team with US Team Coaches; the team with US Team Coaches and parent/private coaches; the World Cup Team; and the Esprit Team, all in the space of about 30-40 minutes. Team USA is a well-oiled machine.

Opening Ceremonies
Countries began lining up at 5:30 pm for their entrance into the Opening Ceremonies. There are 12 countries (198 players) participating in total: Argentina, Bolivia, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Ireland, Mexico, and the USA.
 
Scott Fish gives this account of his first Opening Ceremonies at an international competition:
 
"Walking off the plane in Mexico, I could tell that World Juniors would be something special. Over the last two days, getting to know more of the team, parents, and coaching staff has been a great experience, one that has me feeling excited about the next week of competition.
 
"The Opening Ceremony on Saturday night was a showcase by the host country of Mexico. Hours before the opening ceremony started, the club was filled with eager participants and team members from around the world. You could feel the energy and see the excitement in the players' faces. I had the pleasure of meeting more of Ireland's national team and seeing friends from Colombia's and Mexico's teams - all of whom I saw or met in October at the US OPEN. The international connections are my favorite part about being involved with racquetball, and the Opening Ceremony was an exclamation point in that experience! As our team lined up for the Parade of Nations, everyone was feeling good, and some were feeling extra goofy! The team was unwinding the night before competition, and as they walked into the ceremony, they were proud to be representing their country. With Sunday upon us quickly, the World Cup team was able to meet with their coaches and get fired up before retiring for a good night's rest."

 
Cheerleaders
The 27 U.S. Junior Team players brought along plenty of support! Besides the coaching staff of five, plus two more staff members, 40 family members and friends (bringing the delegation number to 74) will be right there in the stands tomorrow cheering enthusiastically for our young competitors. Joining us here in San Luis Potosí are Donnie Akins, Wendy Akins, Anwar Ali, Brian Ancheta, Juan José Ausucua and family, Kads Beelwar. Bill Bray, Margaret Bray, Rich Carver, Ron Denler, Carolina Diaz, Jose Diaz, Sr., Susan Duffié, Dave Ellis, Pat Ellis, Becky Gleason, Michael Gleason, Tim Hansen, Sarah Hansen, Katie Hansen, Kellie Hansen, Dan Horner, Melissa Horner, Zane Horner, Rhonda Kimler, Skip Lecy, John Mahoney, Melodese Mahoney, Prem Mathew, Pendem Prasad, Bryan Roberts, Steve Slutzky, Adam Stein, Scott Sutherland, Rajesh Thakur, Gary Wargo, Kathleen Wargo, Thanks to each of you for your enthusiastic presence for Team USA!


 
Question of the Day
What do you like to do for fun (besides racquetball)?
 
Eshan Ali: Play video games or basketball
Lillian Ford-Crimi: I like to read.
Andrew Gleason: Bike ride, anything with sports
Erin Slutzky: Driving, I love to drive.
Ava Kaiser: Water sports, volleyball, softball and enjoying the outdoors
Elyse Duffié: Climbing and anything outdoors
Gatlin Sutherland: Football, hang with friends
Timmy Hansen: Hang out with my friends
Cayden Akins: Play the piano
Ace Akins: Baseball, tennis, football, and learning new things
Benjamin Horner: Read, other sports, playing video games
Kareena Mathew: I also play soccer.
Elizabeth Denler: I like to play the piano, art, and climb trees. Oh, and climb to the top of the racquetball glass for balls that get stuck.
Heather Mahoney: Play soccer, hang with friends
Annie Roberts: Hiking and just being around my friends
Dane Elkins: Netflix
Hannah Carver: Run, play volleyball, play tennis, watch movies
Megan Carver: Play tennis, draw and paint
Krish Thakur: Run cross-country and hang out with friends
Sahil Thakur: Sleep
Ashton Akins: Play baseball
Nikhil Prasad: I go hang out with my friends after school on Fridays.
Graciana Wargo: Working out is fun. Plus simply hanging out with friends is great fun.  Going to movies, too.

 
Competition Begins!
The 25 matches scheduled for Sunday will have the coaches sprinting from court to court. For those reading this blog who are not die-hard racquetball enthusiasts, here’s a key to some of the abbreviations you’ll be seeing throughout the week:
 
G = Girls
B = Boys
Number = age division
S = Singles
D = Doubles
# __ = Seed
 
Here's the lineup for first-round matches. (Note: the Monday and Tuesday matches you see listed here signify division first rounds for Team USA...this doesn't mean that these are all of the Team USA matches that will be played on Monday and Tuesday -- not by a long shot!).
 
ESPRIT
Sunday 9:00 am -- B10S #8 Ace Akins vs. #25 Matias Zeledon (Costa Rica)
Sunday 9:45 am -- B12S #13 Gatlin Sutherland vs. #20 Marco Antonio de la Cruz Mayers (Mexico)
Sunday 9:45 am -- B12S #15 Brandon Ausucua vs. #18 Matias Arnez (Bolivia)
Sunday 10:45 am -- G10S #2 Lillian Ford-Crimi vs. #8 Jamyleth Sipac (Guatemala)
Sunday 10:45 am -- G10S #3 Elizabeth Denler vs. #6 Andrea Martinez Zermeño (Mexico)
Sunday 4:45 pm -- B10D #6 Eshan Ali/Ace Akins vs. #7 Denis Diarmuid Riordan/Peter Barrett (Ireland)
Sunday 4:45 pm - G12D #4 Kareena Mathew/Ava Kaiser vs. #1 Cynthia Araceli Gutierrez Ceja/Naomi Ros (Mexico)
Sunday 5:30 pm -- B12D #2 Gatlin Sutherland/Nikhil Prasad vs. #5 Hernan Ruiz Michel/Jhonatan Flores (Bolivia)
Sunday 5:30 pm -- B12D #4 Brandon Ausucua/Benjamin Horner vs. #3 Jose Luis Alba/Marco Antonio la Cruz (Mexico)
Sunday 5:30 pm -- G10D #1 Elizabeth Denler/Lillian Ford-Crimi vs. #2 Andrea Martinez Zermeño/Zara Ximena Barraza (Mexico)
Sunday 7:15 pm -- C12S #1 Ashton Akins vs. #5 Lautaro Cornejo (Argentina)
 
Monday 9:45 am -- B12S #4 Benjamin Horner vs. winner of Sunday 9:45 am match between Mexico and USA
Monday 9:45 am -- B12S #2 Nikhil Prasad vs. winner of Sunday 9:45 am match between USA and Bolivia
Tuesday 10:45 am -- B10S #6 Eshan Ali vs. winner of Sunday 10:45 am match between Colombia and Costa Rica
Tuesday 12:30 -- G12S #1 Ava Kaiser vs. winner of Monday 9:00 am match between Mexico and Costa Rica
Tuesday 12:30 -- G12S #3 Kareena Mathew vs. winner of Monday 9:00 am match between Mexico and Costa Rica
Tuesday 12:30 -- G12S #11 Sonya Shetty vs. Anna Paul Salvatierra (Guatemala)
 
WORLD CUP
Sunday 11:30 am -- G14S #4 Heather Mahoney vs. #3 Karime Estrella Arreola (Mexico)
Sunday 11:30 am -- G14S #6 Julia Stein vs. #1 Daniela Edith Rico Segura (Mexico)
Sunday 12:30 pm -- B14S #1 Timmy Hansen vs. #12 Benjamin Vivar (Chile)
Sunday 12:30 pm -- B14S #3 Andrew Gleason vs. #10 Jaime Mansilla (Chile)
Sunday 1:15 pm -- G16S #3 Annie Roberts vs. #6 Juliette Parent (Canada)
Sunday 1:15 pm -- G16S #5 Erin Slutzky vs. #4 Guadalupe Griffin (Mexico)
Sunday 2:15 pm -- B16S #6 Sahil Thakur vs. #7 Esteban Rodriguez (Costa Rica)
Sunday 2:15 pm -- G18S #5 Elyse Duffié vs. #2 Angelica Barrios (Bolivia)
Sunday 3:00 pm -- B16S #8 Cayden Akins vs. #5 Tomas Sanchez Burgos (Costa Rica)
Sunday 3:45 pm -- B18S #1 Ricardo Diaz vs. #8 Fernando Michel Ruiz (Bolivia)
Sunday 3:45 pm -- B18S #3 Dane Elkins vs. #6 Gerson Miranda (Bolivia)
Sunday 5:30 pm -- G16D #3 Annie Roberts/Erin Slutzky vs. #2 Ximena Martinez/Maria Gutierrez (Mexico)
Sunday 6:30 pm -- B14D #2 Andrew Gleason/Timmy Hansen vs. #6 Jose Tomas Fernandez/Benjamin Vivar (Chile)
Sunday 7:15 pm -- G18D #2 Hannah Carver/Megan Carver vs. #3 Ana Lucia Sarmiento/ Maria Jose Munoz Albornoz (Ecuador)
 
Monday 3:00 pm -- G14D #1 Heather Mahoney/Julia Stein vs. #2 Jessica Balderrama/Daniela Edith Rico (Mexico)
Monday 4:45 pm -- G18S #7 Graciana Wargo vs. #6 Alexis Iwaasa (Canada)
Monday 6:30 pm -- B16D #7 Sahil Thakur/Krish Thakur vs. #6 Sean Sauve/Ian Frattinger (Canada)
Monday 6:30 pm -- B18D #4 Dane Elkins/Ricardo Diaz vs. #1 Rodrigo Rodriguez/Sebastian Fernandez (Mexico)
 
Tomorrow's blog will report results, Monday's schedule, and, yes, another “Question of the Day." Back in 24...
 
GO TEAM USA!!
 
-- Cheryl Kirk
 
P.S. Somehow, the US Team Delegation missed the autumn time change completely in coming to Mexico (where they went to Standard Time a week ago). No extra hour of sleep for us! As of 2:00 am Sunday morning, the time here is the same as US Central Standard Time.

Blog #1
Friday, November 2, 2018

 
Greetings from San Luis Potosí, Mexico, where the temperature is in the 70s during the day and in the 50's at night. It's mostly cloudy and rain is predicted the next two days, but if you're from Chicago and Minneapolis (as some of us are), who's complaining?
 
US Junior Team Delegation members numbering 63 had arrived by Thursday evening with four tonight and several more this weekend into early next week. There have been no issues in immigration and customs, no lost luggage (knock on wood), and ground transportation has been efficient and timely.
 
There are 27 players (14 boys and 13 girls), 7 staff members, and 40 parents/grandparents/siblings in the delegation. I’ll be recognizing our "cheerleaders" in a coming blog.
 
Introducing the US Junior Team players and staff:
 
WORLD CUP (15) 
 
Boys Singles
18 & Under  -- Ricardo Diaz (CA), Dane Elkins (CA)
16 & Under -- Sahil Thakur (CA), Cayden Akins (TX)
14 & Under -- Timmy Hansen (FL), Andrew Gleason (IA)
 
Boys Doubles
18 & Under -- Ricardo Diaz (CA)/Dane Elkins (CA)
16 & Under -- Sahil Thakur (CA)/Krish Thakur (CA)
14 & Under -- Timmy Hansen (FL)/Andrew Gleason (IA)
 
Girls Singles
18 & Under -- Elyse Duffié (MO), Graciana Wargo (FL)
16 & Under -- Annie Roberts (OR), Erin Slutzky (MO)
14 & Under -- Heather Mahoney (CA), Julia Stein (PA)
 
Girls Doubles
18 & Under -- Hannah Carver (WA)/Megan Carver (WA)
16 & Under -- Annie Roberts (OR)/Erin Slutzky (MO)
14 & Under -- Heather Mahoney (CA)/Julia Stein (PA)
 
ESPRIT (11)
 
Boys Singles
12 & Under -- Nikhil Prasad (CA)*, Benjamin Horner (IA)*, Gatlin Sutherland (MT), Brandon Ausucua (TX)
10 & Under -- Eshan Ali (CA)*, Ace Akins (TX)*
 
Boys Doubles
12 & Under -- Nikhil Prasad (CA)/Gatlin Sutherland (MT)*, Brandon Ausucua (TX)/Benjamin Horner (IA)
10 & Under -- Eshan Ali (CA)/Ace Akins (TX)*
 
Girls Singles
12 & Under -- Ava Kaiser (MN)*, Kareena Mathew (OR)*, Sonya Shetty (CA)
10 & Under -- Lillian Ford-Crimi (MN)*, Elizabeth Denler (MN)*
 
Girls Doubles
12 & Under -- Ava Kaiser (MN)/Kareena Mathew (OR)*
10 & Under -- Lillian Ford-Crimi (MN)/Elizabeth Denler (MN)*
 
CHALLENGER
12 & Under -- Ashton Akins (CA)
 
* Denotes Point Earners -- For the Esprit Cup category, each country is allowed to enter up to six players/teams in the 12's and 10's for both singles and doubles. However, two must be designated as point earners toward the overall Esprit Cup championship.
 
STAFF
Charlie Pratt (OR) – Head Coach
Jennifer Meyer (CO) – Esprit Coach
Jody Nance (CA) – Trainer/Assistant Coach
Robbie Collins (CA) -- Assistant Coach
Bobby Horn (CA) -- Assistant Coach
Cheryl Kirk (IL) – Team Leader/USAR Board of Directors
Scott Fish (WA) -- Staff Member/USAR Board of Directors



Travel Stories
We had a heart-stopper in Dallas when Hansens and Slutzkys flights were delayed, making it an extremely tight connection. When nine of the 16 delegation members weren't at the gate with 20 minutes before the door would close, everyone on Whatsapp (see explanation below if you don't know about Whatsapp) was regaled with texts like: "Hansens, what is your status? Slutzkys, are you close? Run like the wind, they won't hold the flight!" They all made it onto the flight within minutes of the door closing - whew! Happy dance. Rick Kaiser chimed in on text, "That's a gold medal performance!" Coach Charlie added, "Wow, well done, everyone. That was thrilling! I had my popcorn out. Go ahead and take the day off!"
 
While waiting anxiously for those arrivals at Gate B44 in Dallas, I heard my name paged along with several others. Oh, no. Are they going to throw me off the flight? I didn't do anything WRONG. I have to go with the team to SLP! I'm their team leader! I went to the desk. It wasn't that...they told me I had just gotten upgraded to first class. I asked why. She replied, "You don't like it?" At the risk of hurting her feelings, I replied, "No, no, I do." Then I got to go explain to my fellow travelers in the delegation why their team leader was in first class and the rest of them were not. When I slunk onto the plane to sit in 2F, I smacked my head HARD on the lower-than-expected overhead bin (is that an oxymoron?). A bump formed; I figured I deserved it. At least I got to have a headache in first class with plenty of space to stretch out in agony. I also had enough space to write this blog entry without my elbows digging into my ribs. Okay, it was nice.


Friday Highlights
The first two of four practice sessions before the main event begins on Sunday were scheduled for 10:00 am-12:00 pm and 6:00 pm-8pm today.
 
The walk between the hotel and the club is about seven minutes, if thatLa Loma Centro Deportivo features eight courts, all glass backs, including two stadium courts with an additional glass sidewall each. It’s a beautiful facility.
 
Afternoon trips by parents and grandparents to Costco and Wal-Mart netted mucho agua plus various snacks and supplies. On any international trip, obtaining bottled water is the first order of business, and with the altitude here at 6,070 feet above sea level, it's critically important for everyone to stay hydrated.

 
WhatsApp
We’re loving this app – it’s so efficient and cost effective for delegation communications. I set up a group chat before we left, and from a team leader perspective, it's great for getting information across throughout the entire trip, starting with early details, to travel communication (keeping track of arrivals, etc.), to hotel check-in instructions, and on into the busy week ahead. I can’t imagine how much harder it would be on everyone (especially me!) if we didn’t have this technology. It's all about me...
 
Question of the Day -- I asked our US Junior Team members to answer 20 blog questions, so we'd better get started!
 
What is your favorite; least favorite food?
 
Eshan Ali: Pizza; Milk
Lillian Ford-Crimi: Mexican food; Fish
Andrew Gleason: Carrots; I can't think of any Erin Slutzky: BBQ salmon; Celery
Ava Kaiser: Chinese food; Radishes
Elyse Duffié: Ice cream; Carrots
Gatlin Sutherland: I am from Montana -- steak; Mushrooms are gross
Timmy Hansen: Pizza; Scallops
Cayden Akins: Pork Belly; Burgers
Ace Akins: Ramen; Burgers
Benjamin Horner: Spaghetti and meatballs; Broccoli
Kareena Mathew: Pizza; Tofu
Elizabeth Denler: My favorite food is sushi – especially with avocado and raw Ahi Tuna.   I really do not like cherries.
Heather Mahoney: Pasta; Tomatoes
Annie Roberts: Taco salad; Sushi
Dane Elkins: Pizza/Kale
Hannah Carver: Mashed potatoes; Eggs
Megan Carver: Mashed potatoes; Mushrooms
Krish Thakur: Carne Asada Quesadilla / Eggplant
Sahil Thakur: Pizza; Eggplant
Ashton Akins: Cereal/Salad
Graciana Wargo: Sushi (Favorite)
 
"Overheard"
Here's another feature that will be included as content presents itself. Overheard today outside of court 5...
 
Bryan Roberts (Annie's dad): How you doin'?
Annie: Not good, did you see my backhand??
Bryan: I asked how YOU were doing, not your backhand.
Annie: I AM my backhand!

 
Mañana...Sabado (Saturday)
Saturday will be another busy day with the Coaches’ meeting at 12:00 pm, team photos at 4:00 pm, and Opening Ceremonies at 5:00 pm. Morning and afternoon courts are reserved for Team USA players who haven’t had the chance to practice yet or who want to get in a little more time.
 
Play commences on Sunday morning, and over the next week, these blogs will carry news on match schedules and results, streaming information, and fun question features to help you get to know our players OFF the courts. Stay tuned, and…
 
GO TEAM USA!!
 
-- Cheryl Kirk