Hosts Mexico celebrated a magnificent four Squash gold medals in the fifth staging of the sport in the 2011 Pan American Games in Guadalajara.
Despite fears that hurricane ‘Jova’ would interrupt the opening ceremony, the sun shone brightly on the day that the XVI PanAm Games got underway. Squash action saw medals contested in Singles and Team competitions and – for the first time – in Doubles championships for both men and women.
A bronze medallist in both the 2003 and 2007 Games, world No14 Samantha Teran won the first gold medal for Mexico after storming to victory in the women’s singles. Teran, the top-ranked Mexican woman of all-time, romped through to the final without dropping a game, then beat Canada’s Games newcomer Samantha Cornett 11-6, 11-4, 11-6 to become the first Mexican to win singles gold.
Teran went on to win double gold, partnering Nayelly Hernandez to surprise success in the Women’s Doubles. After upsetting second seeds USA in the semi-finals, the Mexican pair progressed to overcome favourites Colombia (Catalina Pelaez & Silvia Angulo Rugeles) 11-8, 11-5 in the final.
And the hosts made it a double in the inaugural Doubles when top seeds Arturo Salazar & Eric Galvez survived a 93-minute marathon final against USA, ultimately beating Christopher Gordon & Julian Illingworth 11-7, 11-9.
Arturo Salazar had earlier suffered a surprise defeat to his lower-ranked twin brother Cesar Salazar in the Men’s Singles semi-finals. A 5/8 seed, Cesar made his breakthrough in the quarter-finals, upsetting Canada’s top seed Shahier Razik, the 2003 gold medallist.
But the 23-year-old Mexican from San Luis Potosi met his match in the final, as Miguel Angel Rodriguez despatched Salazar 11-7, 11-9, 11-4 in 55 minutes to become the first Colombian to win the gold medal.
It was the latest success in Rodriguez’s distinguished career after the 25-year-old from Bogota won his 17th PSA World Tour title in Brazil this month by extending his remarkable unbeaten record in Tour finals to 12 titles since 2007.
Mexico’s fourth gold medal came when the men’s team beat former champions Canada 2/1 in the Team final, where stalwartEric Galvez – the 2007 singles gold medallist – clinched victory (and his second Guadalajara gold) after beating Canadian newcomer Andrew Schnell 11-5, 11-1, 11-3.
After disappointment in two earlier finals, Canada finally tasted gold in the Women’s Team event where Samantha Cornett beat Catalina Pelaez 9-11, 11-6, 11-7, 11-2 before Miranda Ranieri overcame Silvia Angulo Rugeles 10-12, 11-8, 11-8, 11-7 as the second seeds beat Colombia 2/0 to successfully retain the title they have now won four times since 1995.
Before the opening Squash matches, the Federacion Panamericana de Squash (FPS) honoured former presidentSergio Rodriguez with a minute’s silence in his memory. It was an emotional moment for the many who knew the popular figurehead – in particular for his widow Marta Luz who was participating in the tournament as a referee director.
Event spokesman Gerardo Porras highlighted a notable performance in the event by Paraguay: “In the bottom of the doubles draw was Paraguay pair Esteban Casarino & Nicolas Caballero against Colombians Andres Vargas & Javier Castilla. This was a special match because it was the last PanAmerican tournament for Paraguay star Esteban Casarinoand the beginning for Paraguay’s rising star Nicolas Caballero, who is just 16 years old.
“The match was full of tension and emotions, which Paraguay won 11-9, 4-11, 11-10 to secure bronze medal – their first medal in the games and the sixth medal in their history. They are already heroes in their country,” concluded Porras.
Andrew Shelley has hailed the 2011 Pan American Games as the sport’s ‘best ever’.
“The growing strength of squash across the region is powerfully demonstrated by the fact that medals were shared across eight nations – Mexico, Colombia, Canada, Guyana, USA, Paraguay, Argentina and Brazil,” said the World Squash Federation CEO.
“But Mexico deserve massive credit – not for only winning four gold medals but also for securing medals in all six events,” added Shelley.
Pan American Games Squash Championships, Guadalajara, Mexico
Men’s Singles semi-finals:
[5/8] Cesar Salazar (MEX) bt [3/4] Arturo Salazar (MEX) 11-2, 11-8, 11-2
 Miguel Angel Rodriguez (COL) bt [3/4] Shawn Delierre (CAN) 11-7, 11-3, 11-7
 Miguel Angel Rodriguez (COL) bt [5/8] Cesar Salazar (MEX) 11-7, 11-9, 11-4 (55m)
Women’s Singles semi-finals:
 Samantha Teran (MEX) bt  Nicolette Fernandes (GUY) 11-3, 11-5, 11-3 (38m)
 Samantha Cornett (CAN) bt Miranda Ranieri (CAN) 11-9, 11-5, 5-11, 11-8 (24m)
 Samantha Teran (MEX) bt  Samantha Cornett (CAN) 11-6, 11-4, 11-6 (33m)
Men’s Doubles semi-finals:
 MEXICO (Arturo Salazar & Eric Galvez) bt [3/4] ARGENTINA (Hernan D’Arcangelo & Roberto Pezzota) 11-4, 11-6 (52m)
[5/8] USA (Christopher Gordon & Julian Illingworth) bt [5/8] PARAGUAY (Esteban Casarino & Nicolas Caballero) 11-8, 11-10 (37m)
MEXICO bt USA 11-7, 11-9 (93m)
Women’s Doubles semi-finals:
 COLOMBIA (Catalina Pelaez & Silvia Angulo Rugeles) bt CANADA (Miranda Ranieri & Stephanie Edmison) 11-7, 8-11, 11-7 (35m)
MEXICO (Nayelly Hernandez & Samantha Teran) bt  USA (Maria Elena Ubina & Olivia Blatchford) 11-4, 11-5 (19m)
MEXICO bt COLOMBIA 11-8, 11-5 (26m)
Men’s Team semi-finals:
 MEXICO bt [3/4] BRAZIL 2/1
Arturo Salazar lost to Rafael Alarcon 6-11, 7-11, 8-11 (26m)
Cesar Salazar bt Vinicius Rodrigues 11-4, 11-8, 11-6 (28m)
Eric Galvez bt Vinicius Costa 11-6, 11-5, 11-5 (38m)
 CANADA bt [3/4] USA 2/0
Shahier Razik bt Julian Illingworth 8-0 ret.
Shawn Delierre bt Christopher Gordon 11-8, 7-11, 11-6, 6-11, 11-8 (54m)
 MEXICO bt  CANADA 2/1
Cesar Salazar bt Shawn Delierre 9-11, 11-6, 11-6, 14-12 (76m)
Arturo Salazar lost to Shahier Razik 8-11, 11-9, 8-11, 3-11 (60m)
Eric Galvez bt Andrew Schnell 11-5, 11-1, 11-3 (33m)
Women’s Team semi-finals:
[3/4] COLOMBIA bt  USA 2/1
Silvia Angulo Rugeles lost to Olivia Blatchford 3-11, 6-11, 6-11 (21m)
Catalina Pelaez bt Maria Elena Ubina 8-11, 11-6, 11-0, 11-6 (22m)
Ana Gabriela Porras bt Lily Lorentzen 2-11, 4-11 ret.
 CANADA bt [3/4] MEXICO 2/1
Miranda Ranieri lost to Samantha Teran 5-11, 4-11, 2-11 (21m)
Samantha Cornett bt Imelda Salazar Martinez 11-6, 11-8, 13-11 (30m)
Stephanie Edmison bt Nayelly Hernandez 11-8, 11-2, 11-2 (28m)
 CANADA bt [3/4] COLOMBIA 2/0
Samantha Cornett bt Catalina Pelaez 9-11, 11-6, 11-7, 11-2 (29m)
Miranda Ranieri bt Silvia Angulo Rugeles 10-12, 11-8, 11-8, 11-7 (37m)