Rodriguez meets Elias in men’s final, and it’s an all-USA clash in the women’s
By ALAN THATCHER in London and STEVE WREN in Toronto
Miguel Angel Rodriguez of Colombia meets Peru’s world junior champion Diego Elias in the Pan-Am Games men’s squash final. The women’s gold-medal match is an all-USA showdown between Amanda Sobhy and Olivia Blatchford.
Rodriguez overcame Argentina’s Leandro Romiglio 3-1 in the quarter-finals (11-9, 14-12, 4-11, 11-6) and then beat Canada’s Shawn Delierre 3-0 in the semis (11-7, 11-8, 11-8).
Elias was too strong for Chris Gordon (USA) winning their quarter-final clash in straight games, 11-9, 11-7, 11-9, but the powerful young Peruvian was 2-1 down against Cesar Salazar when the Mexican was forced to retire through injury (below).
America will be guaranteed gold and silver in the women’s singles after Sobhy and Blatchford powered through to the final. Sobhy beat Canada’s unofficial olympic ambassador Samantha Cornett 11-2, 3-11, 11-4, 11-6 in front of a big crowd at Direct Energy Place, Toronto.
Blatchford enjoyed the perfect day, winning both her quarter-final and semi-final matches without dropping a game. First of all she removed Anita Pinto of Chile 11-3, 11-4, 11-7 and then beat the dangerous Samantha Teran of Mexico 11-7, 11-6, 11-7.
Host nation Canada will be take some comfort in Delierre and Cornett claiming bronze medals.
From US Squash: Long wait for gold is over
Amanda Sobhy and Olivia Blatchford ensured Team USA’s first Pan American Games Squash Championships gold medal since 2007, setting up an all-American women’s individual final Monday.
Top-seeded Sobhy, world No. 10, contested the first semifinal Sunday night against Canada’s Samantha Cornett, who Sobhy most recently defeated in the 2014 Women’s World Team Championships in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario.
Blatchford, a 3/4 seed, upset Mexico’s second-seeded Samantha Teran to ensure both the silver and gold medals would go home with Team USA.
“I am so happy for Amanda because here is a girl playing for her country and has been No. 1 for some time and she handled herself so beautifully under a lot of pressure against Cornett and in front of the home crowd,” said Paul Assaiante, Ganek Family US Squash Head National Coach and Women’s Head Coach.
“It was impressive to see how confident Olivia was against an extremely experienced player. She has made us all proud to have two players in the Finals tomorrow.
“For the first time in a long time we are going to hear our National Anthem while standing on the top of the podium.”
While Blatchford’s next match will be the Monday night individual final, Sobhy may play two doubles matches with partner Natalie Grainger Monday afternoon before contesting the final.
On the men’s side, Chris Gordon, a men’s doubles silver medalist in the 2011 Pan American Games, and Chris Hanson, a mixed doubles silver medalist at the 2014 Pan American Olympic Festival, carry medal hopes into the 16-team men’s doubles draw.
“Doubles is a completely different game and uses different tactics, but we will be doing all we can to get back on the podium and represent the Red, White and Blue. We are confident in the attitude of our teams and the importance that they have placed on this event” said Gilly Lane, Men’s Team Coach.
Men’s and Women’s doubles play begins Monday morning at 9am ET.
Follow updates @TeamUSASquash on Twitter and the Team USA Pan American Games page.
Steve Wren reports from Squash Canada:
Massive support showed up for Canada’s second opportunity of day two, to reach the medal round. Harrity came out of the gates quicker as Shawn stayed conservative in the opening rallies. Harrity found his front-court targets frequently and rolled out to an 8-3 lead, setting nerves amongst the Canadian camp. However, Delierre steeled himself and stayed error free to pressure Harrity and earn and 6 point run, getting himself back into the set. He stayed ahead to clinch a vital first set and Canadian cheers rung the hall.
Second set saw both players stay with each other until halfway, where Harrity then got the edge, especially by remaining tight on the backhand side repeatedly. Harrity deservedly earned the second set.
Next game, Delierre relied on his fast low and straight that found open spaces. Harrity was often in rallies but not striking points, Delierre run out to 5-1. The pattern continued to 8-5 to Delierre, yet the following rallies were a succession of no lets against Delierre and Harrity found him self back level.
Huge calls for Canada and Delierre from the crowd and the match sat in the balance…Delierre let his first game point slip, but at 10-10 he played 3 outstanding rallies of pace, short long, rewarding him and the crowd to steal the third 12-10.
Fourth game started strong for Delierre, another 5-1 lead that put all sorts of pressure on Harrity, yet he responded well. Harrity showed a commitment to match Delierre and remained intent to play front court touch, which he does so well.
Harrity climbed back to level the match at 8-8 when Delierre a received conduct warning for time wasting between rallies. He was fortunate that it took 60mins of play before this occurred and could have unsettled the situation.
Next, a brilliant rally of attack, retrieve, and counter attack from both that wowed an anxious crowd, and at this point, 50 shots in, Harrity hit perhaps his most reckless choice, a high straight arm backhand touch volley to float short…of which caught his frame and fell into the tin.
He would come to pay for it. Delierre snapped in shots low, hard and straight, sticking with what got him to this stage. Delierre dropped his first match point, then a let replay, and both Canadian and US supporters held their breath until Delierre struck the final winner.
A very tight, close encounter between these two national champions. Delierre steps into the medal round against Colombia’s Miguel Rodriguez.
Pan Am Games, 2015. Direct Energy Place, Toronto.
Men’s 1st round:
Max Camiruaga (CHI) bt Juan Sebastian Chacon (ECU) 10-12, 11-2, 11-9, 9-11, 11-9
Alonso Escudero (PER) bt [9/16] Joe Chapman (IVB) 11-7, 11-7, 11-2
[9/16] Sunil Seth (GUY) bt Mauricio Sedano (GUA) 11-9, 11-9, 11-5
[9/16] Jaime Pinto (CHI) bt Ernesto Davila (ECU) 13-11, 11-4, 11-6
[9/16] Nicolas Caballero (PAR) bt Jason-Ray Khalil (GUY) 11-2, 11-5, 11-4
 Miguel Angel Rodriguez (COL) bt Max Camiruaga (CHI) 11-8, 11-4, 11-3
[9/16] Leandro Romiglio (ARG) bt [5/8] Arturo Salazar (MEX) 6-11, 10-12, 11-9, 11-3, 11-9
[5/8] Todd Harrity (USA) bt Alonso Escudero (PER) 11-3, 11-8, 11-5
[3/4] Shawn Delierre (CAN) bt [9/16] Sunil Seth (GUY) 11-3, 11-8, 11-8
[3/4] Diego Elias (PER) bt [9/16] Jaime Pinto (CHI) 11-0, 11-4, 11-6
[5/8] Christopher Gordon (USA) bt [9/16] Josue Enriquez (GUA) 4-11, 11-7, 11-7, 11-2
[5/8] Robertino Pezzota (ARG) bt [9/16] Andrew Schnell (CAN) 11-9, 11-7, 9-11, 11-4
 Cesar Salazar (MEX) bt [9/16] Nicolas Caballero (PAR) 11-6, 11-4, 11-7
 Miguel Angel Rodriguez (COL) bt [9/16] Leandro Romiglio (ARG) 11-9, 14-12, 4-11, 11-6 (49m)
[3/4] Shawn Delierre (CAN) bt [5/8] Todd Harrity (USA) 11-8, 6-11, 12-10, 11-9 (73m)
[3/4] Diego Elias (PER) bt [5/8] Christopher Gordon (USA) 11-9, 11-7, 11-9 (41m)
 Cesar Salazar (MEX) bt [5/8] Robertino Pezzota (ARG) 11-7, 14-16, 11-5, 12-14, 11-9 (77m)
 Miguel Angel Rodriguez (COL) bt [3/4] Shawn Delierre (CAN) 11-7, 11-8, 11-8 (42m)
[3/4] Diego Elias (PER) bt  Cesar Salazar (MEX) 7-11, 8-11, 11-5 ret. (39m)
Women’s 1st round:
Thaisa Serafini (BRA) bt [5/8] Karla Urrutia (MEX) 11-3, 11-2, 11-6
Giselle Delgado (CHI) bt [5/8] Maria Antonella Falcione (ARG) 11-7, 11-8, 11-9
[3/4] Samantha Cornett (CAN) bt Pamela Anckermann (GUA) 11-6, 11-4, 11-0
[3/4] Olivia Blatchford (USA) bt Tatiana Damasio Borges (BRA) 11-5, 11-8, 11-2
[5/8] Anita Pinto (CHI) bt Winifer Bonilla (GUA) 11-4, 11-9, 11-5
[5/8] Hollie Naughton (CAN) bt Fernanda Rocha (ARG) 11-4, 11-5, 11-6
 Samantha Teran (MEX) bt Karol Gonzalez (COL) 11-3, 11-4, 11-0
 Amanda Sobhy (USA) bt Thaisa Serafini (BRA) 11-7, 11-3, 11-3 (19m)
[3/4] Samantha Cornett (CAN) bt Giselle Delgado (CHI) 11-6, 11-5, 11-5 (22m)
[3/4] Olivia Blatchford (USA) bt [5/8] Anita Pinto (CHI) 11-3, 11-4, 11-7 (20m)
 Samantha Teran (MEX) bt [5/8] Hollie Naughton (CAN) 7-11, 11-7, 11-9, 11-0
 Amanda Sobhy (USA) bt [3/4] Samantha Cornett (CAN) 11-2, 3-11, 11-4, 11-6 (29m)
[3/4] Olivia Blatchford (USA) bt  Samantha Teran (MEX) 11-7, 11-6, 11-7 (30m)
Official results and schedule here