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2007 Junior Nationals – Day 4

June 24th, 2007 by Adam Katz

An incredibly emotional day here at the 34th USA Racquetball Junior Olympic National Championships presented by Penn Racquet Sports on the campus of Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona.

Today, I will start with the Doubles divisions as they held their finals in order to determine the National Team appointments for the next year and the announcement at the banquet earlier this evening.

In the Girl’s 18 Doubles, it looks as though Kara Mazur of Connecticut and Samantha McGuffey of Ohio will defend their title in this Round Robin event after they beat Holly Hettesheimer of Ohio and Sharon Jackson of Indiana in a tough up and down three game battle.  Scores were 15-4, 6-15,11-4.  They still have to defeat Michelle Key of Arizona and Gabrielle Schnurman of Iowa in a match tomorrow to officially earn the spot, but I believe that the tiebreakers do favor them in case of defeat.  Later on at the banquet, Samantha received the Junior World Cup Age Athlete of the Year award.  A truly well earned award!

In the Girl’s 18 Singles, The defending champions from the 18s and 16s will square off for the gold tomorrow as Defending 18s National and World Champion Michelle Key of Arizona will take on Indiana’s Sharon Jackson in a match that will definitely be exciting.  Both of these young ladies hit the ball very hard and very low so this promises to be a true war.

In the Girl’s 16 Doubles, Danielle Key of Arizona and Sheryl Lotts of Ohio breezed to the title with a straight games win over Brianna Ho and Jessica Munoz of Washington by identical 15-2 scores.  This has earned them each two spots on the Junior National Team as they were also the leaders in the girl’s singles round robin.

In the Girl’s 16 Singles, Sheryl beat Danielle in two games of 15-10,15-2.  It appeared that Danielle might have tweaked something in her shoulder during that 1st game, but she toughed it out determined to try and bring home the gold this year.  While she came up a little short in that effort, she still had a great tournament and is excited about the prospect of traveling to Bolivia in December for the Junior World Championships.

In the Girl’s 14 Doubles, the championship and the spots on the Junior National Team will be determined tomorrow in the matchup between Lily Berry of Ohio and Aubrey O’Brien of California against Courtney Chisholm of Massachusetts and Devon Pimentelli of California.  Lily and Aubrey ended Jackie and Samantha Rosado’s hopes of getting onto the team by virtue of their impressive 15-3,15-3 victory today but will have to bring their best tomorrow in their match with Courtney and Devon as these two have been playing extremely well all week too.

In the Girl’s 14 Singles, Aubrey O’Brien and Devon Pimentelli will spend a lot of time on court together tomorrow and both times on opposite sides in the battle as they will square off for the singles gold.  Aubrey defeated Courtney Chisholm today while Devon got past Samantha Rosado in a rematch of last year’s Girl’s 12 final.  The result remained the same.

In the Girl’s 12 Doubles, Hollee Hungerford of Ohio and Sabrina Viscuso of California earned their spot on the Junior National Espirit Cup team with a straight games win over Abbey Lavely of Ohio and Elizabeth Vargas of Colorado.  Scores were 15-10,15-6.  Later on today, Abbey was named the Espirit Female Athlete of the Year at the Banquet in celebration of her many national titles that she has been collecting since the age of 6, with many more still ahead in her future.  She looks forward to trying to win the 12s next year.

In the Girl’s 12 Singles, Before I arrived for this tournament I had thought that Mercedes Arias would win my unofficial player of the tournament, and she did play extremely well throughout this event.  But once I arrived and the tournament began I see now that in the Girl’s 12s Kelani Bailey deserves a great deal of recognition.  I was talking with a totally impartial observer after the banquet this evening, and granted he did look a lot like her father, Jim, but this person did say that he was so totally impressed with how Kelani has come through this tournament in her Junior Nationals debut she has taken out the second seed Abbey Lavely and now she has also defeated the third seed Mercedes Arias.  Both matches were very similar as Kelani used her impressive retrieval skills to frustrate both opponents into mistakes and take a very hard fought win in a tiebreaker today’s scores being 15-12,12-15,11-7.  In her debut event she has reached the final in singles and also the Mixed Doubles where she fell a little short today.

In the Girl’s 10 Doubles, Florida’s Abby Carter and Kaitlyn Simmons of Maryland had clinced the title yesterday and they didn’t play today other than the fact that they received their gold medals today and spent a good amount of time running around the club showing them off to anyone they came in contact with.

In the Girl’s 10 Singles, Team Colorado emerged from the pack to claim both spots in the final.  Elizabeth Vargas fought through some nervous jitters to gain a 15-6,15-14 win over Oregon’s Alecia Fladstol who played the best match that I’ve ever seen her play today, she is definitely one to watch in the future.  In the other semifinal, Erika Manilla won an incredible tiebreaker match against California’s Ashley O’Brien to set up the all Colorado final.  And of course, a special kudos has to go to Erika for advancing to the Girl’s 10 final in a year where she was playing up just to have a second division.  As it turns out, she ended up playing 3 divisions as she was a late entrant in the Mixed 10 Doubles and has already claimed that National Title and will battle for 2 more tomorrow in the 8s and 10s.

In the Girl’s 8 Singles, Erika Manilla advanced to the finals with a victory over Ohio’s Christina Lavely while Jordan Cooperrider of Florida defeated Michigan’s Mary Zeng in 3 very tough games to set up a final between younger sisters of a boy’s 12 doubles team that you’ll read about a little later in this update.  On a related note Erika and Jordan may very well be a doubles team next summer at the Junior Nationals.

In the Boy’s 18 Doubles, Ishmael Aldana of California and Danny Lavely of Ohio defeated Allan Crockett of Alabama and Jonathan Doyle of Ohio to bring home the gold and the appointment to the Junior National Team.

In the Boy’s 18 Singles, Ishmael and Allan got to spend even more time together on the court as they met in one semifinal and like he has done every other year for quite some time now, Ishmael defeated Allan this time in a tough tiebreaker scores were 15-9,4-15,11-7.  This one was a true battle and both players definitely left it all on the court.  To show his heart, Allan kept Ishmael from that elusive closing point in the tiebreaker for at least 6 service attempts before Ishmael found the right shot to bring an end to Allan’s bright Junior career.  Allan would later be announced as the Junior World Cup age Male Athlete of theYear at the banquet.  Congratulations on this very prestigious award!  In the other half of the draw, Jose Rojas, who is attempting to win both the 18 and 16 Singles got to the first final after defeating Richard Sledzik of Massachusetts in two close games.  Scores were 15-11,15-1 3.

In the Boy’s 16 Doubles, Jake Bredenbeck of Minnesota and Taylor Knoth of Oregon brought home the gold in two tough, close games over John-Craig Chisholm of Massachusetts and Brad Kirch of New York.

In the Boy’s 16 Singles, Jose Rojas of California and Taylor Knoth both breezed into the finals and will fight it out tomorrow for the national title. These two have clearly separated themselves from the rest of the field, and at this point I would even dare to suggest that Jose has separated himself from Taylor, but they will still battle it out tomorrow.

In the Boy’s 14 Doubles, Joseph Lee of Louisiana and Dylan Reid of Oregon fought through another match of the day type match in their win over the California team of Marko Rojas and Jose Diaz.  Marko and Jose came out shooting lights out in this one and it looked as though they were going to steamroll through this in no time.  Scoring the 15-4 first game win, their confidence was sky high as they headed back onto the court for the second game.  But a slight change of strategy for that second game allowed Joseph and Dylan to grab an early lead and they would hold that lead throughout the game to claim the 15-13 win and force the tiebreaker.  In that breaker, each team made some truly amazing shots and had the crowd cheering wildly throughout before Joseph and Dylan could finish it off 11-9.  Overall an incredible match.  The funny thing about this is that these 4 players would go on to meet later in the day in the singles semifinals and during the doubles, I noticed that each side of the doubles match had both singles semifinalists squaring off directly.  Dylan and Jose played the right side while Marko and Joseph played the left side.

In the 14 Singles, Dylan Reid continued the exhilaration of winning the doubles title and earned a truly hard fought 15-13,14-15,11-10 win in another match of the day type of matchup.  It was difficult to find a vantage point to actually view this match as this one brought everyone out to cheer on both players.  In the other semifinal, Marko Rojas ended many years of frustration as he beat Joseph Lee for the very first time.  These two have had some absolute wars in the past, and while Marko won in two games, there was nothing easy about it.  Marko was shooting lights out, and he had to as Joseph was right there with him in each of the two games.

In the Boy’s 12 Doubles, Adam Manilla of Colorado and Sean Cooperrider of Florida collected their second straight national title as they fought off a very determined John Lindsay and Sam Reid of Oregon.  In yet another match of the day type match Adam and Sean came out shooting the best that they have in this entire tournament.  I don’t think that John and Sam knew what hit them and before you knew it game one was in the books at 15-8.  John and Sam regrouped but still fell behind 7-2 to start the second game.  Slowly, but surely, they crept back into it and tied things up at 10.  At this point, John and Sam put together the 5 point run that would send this match to the tiebreaker.  That breaker was a true dive fest as all the players left it all on the court, but in the end Adam and Sean were able to earn the 11-6 win and the national title.  Later on, Adam was awarded the Junior Male Espirit Age Athlete of the Year Award and I have to say t hat this was truly a well earned award.  I’ve known Adam for the past 5 years and he is all heart.  You know that he is going to give you everything he has everytime he steps onto the court and even when the chips are down, he’ll find away to win.  I have honestly enjoyed watching him develop into the young man he is today, and I look forward to being a part of his future development as well.

In the Boy’s 12 Singles, Sam Reid managed to get his revenge as he took on Adam Manilla in one of the semifinals.  Sam was clearly disappointed with the loss in the doubles earlier in the day and wanted to make a statement.  That statement was made early in the 15-2 game one victory.  Sam just came out red hot and Adam came out a little tentative and it showed.  In the second game, Adam came out more relaxed, but Sam was clearly on a mission and he had an answer for anything that Adam attempted.  He fought bravely but Sam still managed the 15-8 win to earn a spot in the finals and on the Espirit Cup team.  In the other semifinal, Zach Wertz of Louisiana continued his surprising run through the draw with a win over the top seed John Lindsay of Oregon 15-13,15-11.

In the Boy’s 10 Doubles, Kyle Ulliman and Spencer Shoemaker of Ohio earned the gold in a win over Sam Bredenbeck of Minnesota and Matt McAdam of Colorado in two very close games.  Scores were 15-11,15-14.  Matt was clearly disappointed in this result, but he played extremely well all week and will be going home with 3 medals when they leave tomorrow afternoon.

In the Boy’s 10 Singles, Sam Bredenbeck got over the disappointment of the doubles to earn a spot in the final with a win over Jake Birnel of Washington.  Joining him will be Ohio’s Spencer Shoemaker who beat Ryan Francis of New Hampshire in two tough games.

In the Boy’s 8 Singles, Justus Benson of Wisconsin and Jordan Barth of Minnesota will fight it out for state bragging rights and the national title tomorrow.

Please catch all of the action live tomorrow starting at 9am Arizona time on:  http://www.racquetballonline.tv there is no charge and the matches have been and will continue to be simply awesome!

As for tomorrow, I am heading back to Colorado tomorrow evening so I will try to put out some updates as events warrant throughout the day.  If I cannot do that, it might take me a couple of days to put everything together as I have some things to take care of Monday in Denver.

Related posts:

  1. Introducing the 2008 USA Racquetball National Junior Team
  2. 2006 Junior Nationals – Wednesday
  3. 2006 USA Racquetball Junior Nationals – Saturday
  4. 2006 USA Racquetball Junior Nationals – Finals
  5. 2007 Junior Nationals – Day 3

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