Green means gold at 2012 Pan Am Racquetball Championships

Mike Green of Hamilton won the men’s singles at the 2012 Pan American Racquetball Championships in Temuco, Chile, by defeating Fernando Rios of Ecuador, 15-12, 15-6, on April 8. The victory is Green’s second Pan American singles title and third overall. Green won singles back in 1999 and doubles two years ago with Tim Landeryou (Saskatoon).

Green began game one with his powerful drive serves, but quickly changed to lob serves to the left side and used that throughout the match. He seemed to be in control for the most part in game one, although Rios threw himself all over the court to keep rallies going.

They were close throughout game one with the biggest advantage coming late, when Green led 13-9. But Rios continued to make shots and it got nervy for Green late as Rios closed it to 13-12. Green though got the last two points, winning it on a flat kill shot down the right side.

Game two was also close early, and Rios had a slight lead at 5-3. But Green held Rios at 5 as he slowly added up the points, making it 7-5, then 9-5, and 11-5. At 13-5, the end was in sight and a few rallies later it was over as Green hit a winning pinch shot to the front left corner.

Green’s win is the first Pan Am Championships men’s singles title by a Canadian since 2006, when Kris Odegard (Saskatoon) won and he joins Sherman Greenfeld (1990, 1994, 1998) as the only Canadians with multiple Pan Am Championship men’s singles titles.

Rios was the first Ecuador man to reach the final of an international racquetball event.

Frédérique Lambert of Montreal had a chance to join Green in the winner’s circle, but came up short Saturday, as she lost the women’s singles final to Mexican Paola Longoria due to an injury withdrawal. Longoria was ahead 12-0 in game one, when Lambert decided that her right shoulder (she’s a right handed player) was too injured to continue.

Thus, Canada will come home from Temuco with four medals: gold for Green, silver for Lambert, and bronze for Christine Richardson (Regina) and Jennifer Saunders (Winnipeg) in women’s doubles, and Vincent Gagnon (Montreal) in men’s singles.

Also, Michelle Morissette of Baie Comeau, Que. was a bronze medalist in Girls U16.