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Canada beats Mexico to win gold in men's team squash competition at Pan Ams

07/17/2015 06:50 EDT | Updated 07/17/2016 05:59 EDT
TORONTO - Canada defeated Mexico to win gold in the men's squash team competition Friday night at the Pan Am Games.

Andrew Schnell of Calgary opened with an 11-9, 11-7, 11-8 victory over Eric Galvez and Shawn Delierre sealed the win with a 7-11, 11-4, 11-5, 11-7 victory over Cesar Salazar at Exhibition Centre.

Calgary's Graeme Schnell was scheduled to play the dead rubber against Arturo Salazar. Earlier, Canada won silver in the women's team competition after dropping a 2-1 decision to the United States.

Schnell used tight length and crisp drops while keeping the mistakes to a minimum on the all-glass showcourt. The Canadian was cutting the ball off nicely and prevented his opponent from getting into a rhythm.

The Delierre-Salazar matchup was also a repeat from the 2011 Pan Am team final in Guadalajara four years ago. Host Mexico won that event 2-1.

Both players treated the near-capacity crowd of about 500 fans to a rollicking display of energetic squash. The pace was amped up with both players mixing in incredible retrieving ability with a wide variety of creative offensive shots.

Salazar jumped out to a 7-0 lead but Delierre pulled even with seven straight points of his own. The Mexican took the opening game but then had trouble matching the pace of the Canadian, who had the crowd gasping with some of his gets and deception.

In the clinching game, Delierre hit three straight winners to pull ahead 10-7. He hit a drop winner to secure the victory.

In the women's final, Olivia Blatchford opened with an 11-4, 12-10, 11-8 victory over Hollie Naughton of Mississauga, Ont. Amanda Sobhy secured the team victory with an 11-3, 11-2, 11-8 win over Samantha Cornett of Deep River, Ont.

Nikole Todd of Regina defeated Natalie Grainger 11-9, 11-0 in the dead rubber. Grainger retired after the first game in a match that had already been trimmed to a best-of-three from the usual best-of-five games.

Cornett anchored the Canadian women to a gold medal in this event at the 2011 Pan Am Games in Guadalajara, Mexico with a veteran lineup that included Miranda Ranieri and Stephanie Edmison. This year's squad was younger with all three Canadians aged 25 or younger.

The Canadians had a stiff challenge against the favoured Americans, who are well ahead of them in the world rankings. Sobhy holds the No. 10 position while Cornett is at No. 33. Blatchford is at No. 38, 20 positions higher than Naughton.

Blatchford controlled the frontcourt in the opening game and put away loose balls at will. Naughton seemed frustrated at times and unforced errors didn't help her cause.

The Canadian seemed more focused in the second game and forced extra points. However, she hit the tin on game point and then dropped the third game in just six minutes.

Cornett seemed overpowered in her match with Sobhy dictating the pace and controlling the rallies in the first two games. The reigning Canadian women's champion seemed like her normal self in the third game, but came up a few points short.

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