Thursday, February 9, 2023

Pan-Am squash finals: Play-by-play

Great finish in Toronto for a talented Canadian squad
Great finish in Toronto for a talented Canadian squad

Canada are happy hosts with team gold and silver to celebrate in Toronto

Hosts Canada finished on a high with gold and silver in the Pan-American Games squash team event finals. 

The Canadian men mastered Mexico to claim gold, while the women finished runners-up to a strong USA team, led by triple gold winner Amanda Sobhy.

Women’s final: Canada vs USA
Match #1 – Olivia Blatchford def Hollie Naughton 3-0 (11-4, 12-10, 11-8)
Second strings Hollie Naughton and Olivia Blatchford take to the court first to start off our gold medal matches. Olivia claimed the silver medal in the Women’s Individual event, but Hollie has the latest win, defeating Blatchford in a WSA final in December.

Their first game traded points to start before Blatchford pulled away and eventually took it 11-4. Naughton came back firing and really made the second a battle, tying it at 5s, 7s and 10s. A nifty winner from Blatchford and a tin from Hollie gives Blatchford the 12-10 win.

Blatchford opens the third with a 5-2 lead before Naughton battles back to again bring it to 5 all, 6 all, 7 all, 8 all, before the referees were called upon to make a few decisions in a row, each going in Blatchford’s favour to finish the game and match at 11-8.

Samantha Cornett chases the ball against Amanda Sobhy
Samantha Cornett chases the ball against Amanda Sobhy

Match #2 – Amanda Sobhy def Samantha Cornett 3-0 (11-3, 11-2, 11-8)
Team number ones Samantha Cornett and Amanda Sobhy were in match number two, where Cornett knew she was in deep against the Top 10 ranking. Sobhy wastes no time showing the crowd the game that’s made her worthy of her impressive squash feats, and takes the first 11-3.

The second game was even more Sobhy, as she ran Cornett around the court, controlling long rallies and making beautiful winning shots. Cornett makes a few unforced errors and is unable to find her game, giving the second to Sobhy 11-2.

Timely nice shots from Cornett keep it close in the opening points of the third. Back and forth points have the game tied at 5. Cornett gains momentum with some winning shots, then loses the lead with an unforced error. She’s able to battle back and tie it again at 9. A winner by Sobhy and a called stroke at 10-8 gives Sobhy the game, match, and the Gold Medal for United States.

Match #3 Nikki Todd def Natalie Grainger 11-9, ret
The dead rubber ended up being a close game between the wheels of Nikki Todd versus the incredible shot making of Natalie Grainger, a former World Number 1. The game was back and forth, though it was evident that Grainger was battling her knee ailments and Todd found her confidence. Todd took the first game 11-9, after which Grainger retired.

Silver for Canada's Sam, Hollie and Nikkie
Silver for Canada’s Sam, Hollie and Nikki

Men’s Final: Team Canada vs Mexico
Match #1 Andrew Schnell def Eric Galvez 3-0 (11-9, 11-7, 11-8)
Schnell comes out firing but Galvez’s determination and fight don’t give in easy. A lot of long rallies where Galvez shows his physically and also his finesse, ending a few with beautiful winners. Schnell takes the first 11-9, leaving the court to a standing ovation.

The second game saw Schnell find his groove early, jumping to a 5 point lead early. Though Schnell seemed to control the rallies and much of the game, Galvez brought the score within two at 9-7. Andrew outlasted in the next two rallies to take the second game 11-7 with another huge cheer from the Canadian fans.

An even bigger start for Schnell in the third, as he gradually builds his lead to 9-3 with lots of controlled rallies and well timed shots. Galvez maintains his composure and gathers 4 quick points to bring it to 9-7, then 9-8. With the support of the crowd and giving it everything he has left, Schnell closes it out 11-9 to take the match 3-0 and a 1-0 lead for Canada.

Andrew Schnell on the attack against Mexico
Andrew Schnell on the attack against Eric Galvez of Mexico

Match #2 Shawn Delierre vs Cesar Salazar 3-1 (7-11, 11-4, 11-5, 11-7)
Both Bronze medalists in the Men’s Individual event, Salazar seems to catch Delierre off guard to start the match and climb to a 7-3 win. Delierre battles back to tie it at 7, but Salazar pulled away again after long, impressive rallies of dives and recovers from both players. 11-7 Salazar.

Shawn comes out to an early lead in the second 4-1, before a classy move of admitting contact on the swing which lead to a let and killer winning shot by Salazar. The physical game continued as the referees were called upon to make a few decisions in a row following long rallies that moved to all corners of the court.

Shawn Delierre gets in front
Shawn Delierre gets in front

Delierre grows the lead to 6-2, before a stroke call to Mexico and a short winner from Delierre to keep it 7-3. Points traded again to 8-4, before Delierre pulled away with a stunning drop shot and two more winners to take the second 11-4.

The short game was present all match, especially to start the third, where shots were moving all around and allowed Delierre to pick up two quick winners and force a tin by Salazar. Through no lack of effort from Salazar, Delierre controlled the third game and came out on top of nearly every long rally, wearing Salazar down with each shot. Third game 11-5 to Delierre.

Salazar starts the fourth game having found another gear, this time being the one to capitalize on long rallies and reaching a 7-2 lead. Delierre answers, as he has all match to bring it to 7-all and take the lead at 8-7.

To thunderous applause from a packed crowd, he completes the game 11-7 and secures the gold for Canada, captured in the video clip below.

2015 Pan American Games Squash Championships, Direct Energy Place, Toronto, Canada.

Friday July 17, 2015. Men’s Final:
[2] CANADA bt [1] MEXICO 2/0
Andrew Schnell bt Eric Galvez 11-9, 11-7, 11-8 (37m)
Shawn Delierre bt Cesar Salazar 7-11, 11-4, 11-5, 11-7 (57m)
Women’s Final:
[1] USA bt [2] CANADA 2/1
Olivia Blatchford bt Hollie Naughton 11-4, 12-10, 11-8 (25m)
Amanda Sobhy bt Samantha Cornett 11-3, 11-2, 11-8 (28m)
Natalie Grainger lost to Nikki Todd 9-11 ret.


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