4:32 pm
20 Jun 2024

USA On Course For Unique Pan Am Games Double

16 Jul 2007

A sensational run by 5/8 seed Julian Illingworth leaves USA on course for a unique gold double in the individual Squash event at the Pan American Games at the Miécimo da Silva Complex in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

The three-times US national champion from Portland made his breakthrough in the men's quarter-finals where he despatched Canada's top seed Shahier Razik, the title-holder, 9-3, 9-6, 9-6 in 58 minutes.

Illingworth maintained his focus in the semi-finals later in the day when he fought back from 2/1 down to beat Colombian Miguel Angel Rodriguez, a 3/4 seed, 9-7, 4-9, 8-10, 9-1, 9-6 in a 95-minute marathon - the longest match in the competition.

Illingworth, the first American to reach a men's Pan Am Games final, will face second seed Eric Galvez for the gold medal. The 23-year-old from Puebla became the first Mexican to make the final after defeating Canada's 3/4 seed Shawn Delierre 9-3, 9-3, 9-7.

The win ended Canada's hopes of maintaining their grip on the men's gold medal for a fourth term after winning all championships since Squash first became part of the Games in 1995 in Argentina.

Natalie Grainger is firm favourite for gold in the women's event after two 17-minute victories in the quarter and semi-finals. Playing in her first event since celebrating her 30th birthday earlier in the month, the top seed from Washington DC brushed aside US team-mate Michelle Quibell 9-2, 9-2, 9-2, then Canada's 3/4 seed Runa Reta 9-3, 9-5, 9-0.

"It's really exciting to be only one win away from the gold medal," said Grainger, who became a US citizen in February. "I'm having a great time competing for the US for the first time. I can't wait for that match in the finals."

Grainger's opponent will be Canada's 5/8 seed Alana Miller - who followed her quarter-final upset over Brazil's 3/4 seed Thaisa Serafini by battling to a 10-8, 9-3, 3-9, 6-9, 9-1 victory over second-seeded Mexican Samantha Teran in 79 minutes.

Men's Semi-finals:
[5/8] Julian Illingworth (USA) bt [3/4] Miguel Angel Rodriguez (COL) 9-7, 4-9, 8-10, 9-1, 9-6 (95m)
[2] Eric Galvez (MEX) bt [3/4] Shawn Delierre (CAN) 9-3, 9-3, 9-7 (44m)

Women's Semi-finals:
[1] Natalie Grainger (USA) bt [3/4] Runa Reta (CAN) 9-3, 9-5, 9-0 (17m)
[5/8] Alana Miller (CAN) bt [2] Samantha Teran (MEX) 10-8, 9-3, 3-9, 6-9, 9-1 (79m)