Hosts Canada face USA and Mexico in Pan-Am team finals
By STEVE WREN in Toronto
Both Canadian teams will be playing for Pan Am Gold tomorrow in the team finals. Once again they will be guaranteed massive support from the packed roads who have created such an amazing atmosphere at the Direct Energy Place squash venue here in Toronto.
Women: Canada 3 Mexico 0
Second strings Nikki Todd and Karla Urrutia were first on court, and started the match off fairly evenly. After being tied at 5s, Todd took control of the game to pull out the first 11-6. Long, intense rallies with lots of impressive gets from Urrutia started the second game, which combined with a few unforced errors from Todd gave Mexico the early lead 4-2. Todd fought back to tie it at 5s, and then points switch until a 9-7 lead by Todd. From there Nikki secure the game, winning the last point on an unforced error by Urrutia.
The third saw Todd take a quick lead 4-0. There was no turning back from there as she took control of the game, really running Urrutia around and making her work for each point. Final score was 11-4 to take the match 3-0 and give Canada the early lead.
Team number ones Samantha Teran (MEX) and Samantha Cornett (CAN) were next to compete.
These two have a long history, especially in Pan-Am events. Teran ousted Cornett for the Individual Gold in Guadalajara in 2011, and the two went to five at the Women’s World last December.
The first game was much like their team-mates’, very evenly matched, which saw them tied at 5s. With the support of the home crowd, Cornett took command and took the first quickly from there 11-5.
The second game started off all Cornett, seeing her take a quick 8-3 lead in much quicker rallies and less effort from Teran. Not one to give up so easily, Teran managed to trade points with Cornett, but didn’t have enough to come all the way back, losing 11-7 in the second. Teran’s fight continued into the third, as she was visibly digging deeper and keeping up with longer rallies. Always the feisty player, Teran had an answer for all of Cornett’s actions, as the game reached 3-all, 4-all, 5-all. A timely nick for Cornett took the game to 7-5, answered by a beautiful shot down the right wall for Teran.
A few unforced errors by Cornett brought the score back to a tie, but she quickly redeemed herself with a tight winning shot and retook the lead 9-8. The errors reentered Cornett’s game, and when combined with a debated stroke call it was enough for Teran to take the fourth 11-9.
The fourth game again started strong for Cornett, who pulled ahead to a 4-1 lead. Cornett was able to capitalize on long rallies and maintain the lead, holding at 8-4. Teran fought back yet again, taking control of the game and running Cornett around, bringing the score to ties at 8 and 9. ntrol of pace traded between opponents throughout rallies, as did the points, finding the game tied at 9.
With cheers form the homecrowd pushing her to the finish line, Cornett took the game 11-9 to secure Canada’s spot in the final.
Though a dead rubber, Hollie Naughton and Diana Gasca played a best of three match, where Naughton won 12-10 and 11-5.
Men: Canada vs Argentina
Again with the third racquets starting the match, Graeme Schnell was facing off against Rodrigo Pezzota of Argentina. Schnell clearly wasn’t on his game in the first, hitting a few tins and other unforced errors which lead to a quick 11-4 win for Pezzota.
The second showed another early lead for Pezzota 3-1, before a few sleek shots and a nice right wall winner by Schnell bringing it to 3 all. Pezzota again took the lead, gaining a few points before Schnell was able to take his first lead of the match at 9-8. Schnell held this to through a lot of long, physical rallies to win the game 11-9, leaving the court to a standing ovation from the home crowd.
Lots of antics back and forth started the third game, as Schnell felt Pezzota was delaying the game, and Pezzota began pressing on Schnell’s protests. The physicality and feisty play continued, and Schnell couldn’t quite pull away despite leading a few times. Pezzota won the third 11-9 as he continued to get to Schnell.
The fourth was much of the same, with a lot of aggressive rallies and back and forth points. Schnell wasn’t able to fend Pezzota off, who tirelessly kept the game within two points before pulling ahead near the end. Schnell himself battled off a few match balls, but in the end it wasn’t enough to overcome Pezzota, who took the third 15-13 and the match.
Not without their own drama, the next two matches went pretty easily to the Canadians. Shawn Delierre first faced Roberto Pezzota, who was physical in his own way. The first game went pretty easily to Delierre 11-4.
The second and third picked up in the calls, with lots of lets requested and many denied., Delierre got in Roberto’s head and used that to his advantage in the next two close games, pulling them out 11-8 and 12-10 much to the displeasure of Argentina.
Andrew Schnell found himself in a position he is quite happy with, having the fate of the team come down to his match. He showed just how comfortable he is with the pressure, coming out to fast leads in each of the games against Leandro Romiglio. Argentina’s Romiglio certainly didn’t give in, fighting back in the first and second to make them close midway, before Schnell pulled away 11-7 and 11-6.
The third game was a clinic from Andrew, as Romiglio had nothing left to fight back. Schnell sealed the win for Canada with the 11-2 third game score.
Canada is delighted to have both teams in tomorrow’s finals. Both will feature 1-2 seed match-ups, with the women taking on USA at 5:30 followed by the men facing off against Mexico.
In the other semi-finals, USA women beat Colombia, but the Colombian men reversed the result.
Pan Am Games, 2015. Direct Energy Place, Toronto. Men’s and Women’s Teams Semi Final
TORONTO (ON) – Thursday 16th July 2015.
Women’s Teams – Canada 3 Mexico 0
Nikki Todd def Karla Urrutia 11-6, 11-7, 11-4 in 33mins
Samantha Cornett def Samantha Teran 11-5, 11-7, 9-11, 11-9 in 40 mins
Hollie Naughton def Diana Garcia 12-10, 11-5 in 16mins
Men’s Teams – Canada 3 Argentina 0
Rodrigo Pezzota def Graeme Schnell 11-4, 9-11, 11-9, 14-12 in 76mins
Shawn Delierre def Roberto Pezzota 11-4, 11-8, 12-10 in 49mins
Andrew Schnell def Leandro Romiglio 11-7, 11-6, 11-2 in 33 mins
Pictures by PAIGE STEWART