WINNIPEG (August 9, 2019) The quest for medals at the Lima 2019 Pan Am Games is over for Canada’s racquetball team as both the Women’s and Men’s Team were eliminated from competition on Thursday.
The Canadian team of Frédérique Lambert of Montréal and Jennifer Saunders of Winnipeg had advanced from the round of 16 after defeating the team from the Dominican Republic late Wednesday night.
Despite a late return to the Athletes Village, Team Canada was back on the court early in the day Thursday in their quarterfinal match against Argentina. In the first round Saunders faced Natalia Mendez in singles, losing 15-9, 15-5. In round two Lambert and Saunders played doubles against Mendez and Maria José Vargas but lost 15-4, 15-5. The Canadian’s went into the match knowing that it would be tough as Mendez and Vargas medaled in both singles and doubles earlier in the week, but hoped a good doubles match would give them the opportunity to move on.
Canada’s men’s team of Coby Iwaasa of Lethbridge and Samuel Murray of Baie-Comeau had a bye to the quarterfinals but came up against a strong team from Colombia. Iwaasa faced Mario Mercado in the first round but lost with scores of 15-11, 15-9. The two countries battled it out in doubles with Canada coming close to winning before Colombia finished it in the tiebreaker, with scores of 12-15,15-12, 11-9.
Lambert who has been juggling sport with medical school spoke about her Pan Am Games experience. “I came to the Games without any expectations because of my medical studies,” said Lambert. “I was just hoping for the best and that maybe I could play like I did when I was able to train and compete full time. I had a very tough draw in the beginning phase of competition and it wasn’t that I was playing really bad. It was just the consistency that was missing.”
“Pan Am Games is the ultimate level of competition for racquetball,” said Saunders. “It was an honour to be here. Having said that, our team had medal potential and to come away with no medals is a definite disappointment. I was encouraged because in singles I played really well and felt that would carry well into doubles, but there’s a lot less opportunity to make winning shots.”
This was Murray’s first Pan Am Games experience. “We didn’t finish the way we wanted with a medal,” said Murray. “I just wish we had a better result in the end. I was really hoping we would win our doubles and I’d have the chance to play in the final match to get us a guaranteed a medal.”
Despite the fact that their tournament is over, all athletes agree it’s been a rewarding experience.
Murray said, “We compete all the time for Racquetball Canada, but when you get the chance to play for Team Canada, it’s something else entirely. I’m looking forward to the closing ceremony to see how it will feel to walk into the stadium all together.”
Iwaasa has valued the experience of being a member of Team Canada. “It’s awesome being around athletes who are here for their sport and who are here to try to win a gold for Canada. There’s a connection that you instantly make with other Team Canada members.”
Saunders said, “The Games are always special because it’s a multisport event and it’s been a privilege to be here. The Canadian Olympic Committee has been amazing. We weren’t here for the opening ceremony so I’m really looking forward to being part of Team Canada at the closing ceremony.”
“The Pan Am Games are a great experience,” said Lambert. “It’s like our Olympics so that’s why I wanted to come back and play in this tournament.”
Draws and results are posted on both the International Racquetball Federation (IRF) website as well as the Lima 2019 site.
Click here for the link to the IRF draw page.
Click here for the link to the Lima 2019 draws and results page.