Team USA ended its 2018 Pan American Junior Championships campaign by claiming bronze medals in both the girls’ and boys’ team competitions this weekend at the Capitol Squash Center in Brasilia, Brazil.
The U.S. delegation returns home with a total of five medals, including the girls’ and boys team bronzes, Claire Aube earning girls’ individual bronze, Haley Aube & Jesse Brownell claiming girls’ doubles bronze and Cullen Little & Ashley Manning earning mixed doubles bronze.
The boys’ team outperformed their eight seeding by making a surprise run to the semifinals. The U.S. boys clinched a spot in the semis with of an upset over four seeds Mexico in the quarterfinals, courtesy of two, 3-1 victories from Cullen Little and Myles McIntyre. The boys eventually fell against a strong Canadian team in the semifinals, consigning the U.S. to bronze medals.
The girls’ team secured bronze by defeating Mexico for the second time in the tournament following a previous win in pool play. Claire Aube gave the U.S. a 1-0 lead, and Ashley Manning clinched the victory by coming back from 8-4 down in the fifth to win 11-8. The U.S. girls’ run came to an end in the semifinals, where six-seeded Barbados led by Commonwealth Games veteran Meagan Best defeated Team USA.
National Coaches Fabio Cechin and Fernanda Rocha led the delegation. The squad comprised of two U19 and two U17 players on each time. The boys’ team includes Cullen Little (U19), Liam Rotzoll (U19), Myles McIntyre (U17) and Nick Spizzirri (U17). The girls’ team includes Claire Aube (U19), Haley Aube (U19), Jesse Brownell (U17) and Ashley Manning (U17).
“Overall a very good performance from Team USA,” Rocha said. “More and more countries are taking part in this event and it’s certainly raised the bar, competition has gotten tougher. The kids adapted quickly to weather and court conditions and also to the softball doubles format, which they rarely play. Getting on the podium for the doubles divisions was definitely part of our goal since other countries spend a fair amount practicing it. It was a fantastic experience for everyone especially for the younger team members.”
The 2018 squad matched 2017 with a total of five medals. Twelve nations from North and South American competed for the twenty-one medals on offer.
“Our players had great competitive spirit on the court and just as importantly demonstrated fair play and sportsmanship throughout the tournament,” Cechin said. “This was a great first exposure to international competition for this group of players that will serve them well in future competitions for Team USA.”
“We’re very proud of this team, we’ve seen them give their all on the court and it was incredible to see the support they had for each other during every single match we played,” Rocha said. “They were always there to cheer on for each other. There was a special connection among the players and the great camaraderie kept getting stronger throughout the trip. We couldn’t have asked for a better squad.”
2018 marked the fourth year since Team USA revived the Pan American Juniors national team delegation.
Junior national team focus now shifts to the WSF World Junior Championships, July 18-29, in Chennai, India.
For more information visit the Pan American Juniors tournament page.