SANTO DOMINGO, D.R. – Burlington’s Mike Green has helped put Canada into the gold medal game at the 2006 International Racquetball Federation (IRF) World Championships. Both Canada’s men’s and women’s teams will play for gold today (August 11) in the finals of the team competition.
Green and partner Brian Istace of Calgary defeated Venezuelans Cesar Castro and Jorge Hirsekorn, 15-13, 5-15, 11-8. However, it was a battle all the way.
They trailed most of game one, including a 13-11 deficit, before pulling it out. Then they trailed 7-3 in their second match and couldn’t recover, setting up the tie breaker. That game started better as the Canadians led all the way until Venezuela evened the score at 8.
But Hirsekorn skipped a shot, giving Canada the serve back, and they were able to finish out the match.
Canada’s women’s team had a relatively easy time in their semi-final against Japan, winning in three straight matches. Singles World Champion Christie Van Hees of Calgary defeated Maiko Sato, 15-4, 15-8, and Jennifer Saunders of Winnipeg won her match over Estuko Noda, 15-13, 15-11.
The women’s doubles team of Josée Grand’Maître (Longueuil, Quebec) and Lori-Jane Powell (Calgary) downed Naomi Wakimoto and Toshiko Sakamoto, 15-5, 15-2.
The Canadian men were in tough in their semi-final against Venezuela after Francois Viens of Montreal lost the first match to Cesar Castro, 15-9, 15-8.
Viens hurt his back near the end of his quarter final victory over Felipe Camacho of Costa Rica on Wednesday and aggravated it further during the third rally of the match with Castro. By the end, Viens wasn’t able to touch his knees.
That’s when Green and Istace levelled the score with their doubles win.
The victories set up another team gold contest between Canada and the USA at the Worlds. The American and Canadian women have met in every IRF Team final with the U.S. winning all 12 going back to 1984.
The Canadian men have won the men’s team title five times: 1986, 1988, 1996, 2000 and 2002.