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USA and Mexico Secure Teams Golds at Junior Pan American Games

The USA and Mexico have secured the last available gold medals in squash, winning the women’s teams and men’s teams events, respectively.

The Games, held every four years for athletes between the ages of 17-22, features 315 events across 28 sports, including squash singles, doubles and team events. This year’s event is being held in the west Colombian city of Cali, with squash being played in Club Campestre de Cali.

The USA, boasting a talented team of the Stefanoni sisters and Serena Daniel, went into their final confident they could upset Mexico’s tops seeds Dina Anguiano, Fabiola Cabello and Paola Franco.

Opener Marina Stefanoni got off to a rough start in her first game, which Anguiano took 11-8. The American recovered well, though, fighting back to take the opening match with 11-4,11-4 and 11-3 wins.

The second match was a simpler affair for the USA. Daniel started quickly, securing an 11-9 win over Cabello in the first, which she followed up with comfortable 11-6 and 11-3 wins to secure the USA’s second gold of the tournament.

Team Mexico celebrate a historic win.

In the men’s event, hosts Colombia’s Matias Knudsen went up against Leonel Cardenas for the second time in the Games, after Cardenas emerged the victor in the men’s singles final.

Once again, World No.51 came out on top, dispatching Knudsen with 11-5, 11-5 and 11-6 wins.

The second match was a more even affair, with Mexico’s Leonardo Vargas taking the first game 11-4 only to be pegged back 11-9 by Juan Torres. Vargas quickly regrouped, however, and secured the gold with two 11-8 wins.

Speaking afterwards, Marina Stefanoni said: “I had to play a lot of tough matches to win gold in the individual event in Cali and even more to help win gold in the team event, so I am proud to be flying back to the U.S. with two gold medals.

“Team USA went into this event seeded as ¾ in the team event and we beat top seeds Ecuador and Mexico to win gold. Lucie, Serena, and I fought hard in our matches against great opponents, so coming home with gold medals together is something special.

“It’s incredible to see squash being showcased at an event like this, so I am glad that I was able to be a part of this tournament. Thank you to everyone who helped send us to Cali, Colombia and thank you to all supporting staff and organisers at the event, we could not have felt more welcomed!”

Meanwhile, Mexico coach Eric Gálvez said: “You can’t imagine how happy I am with this team, since we had difficult moments in different periods of our programme, the key to this team and the success we had was the willingness to sacrifice and open our minds to advice and the improvement of each player. This sport is very strategic and requires so many qualities that we as coaches have to indicate.

“Leó is the element that each country needs, an indisputable leader with a personality and a dignified character. He motivated his teammates with each battle he fought and I made them visible, the secret weapon in a historic result for our sport and a very happy country for all these results.”

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