NEWS
10/17/2011 05:49 EDT | Updated 12/17/2011 05:12 EST

Delierre and Ranieri win squash bronze at Pan Ams while Cornett goes for gold

GUADALAJARA, Mexico - When Shawn Delierre strolls up to the court, you can see traces of the style and flash that Canadian squash legend Jonathon Power displayed in his heyday.

Delierre had a bright bandanna on his head and the collar raised on his shirt for his men's singles squash semifinal at the Pan American Games on Monday. Like Power, who retired a few years ago, the Montreal player is quick, deceptive and has a short fuse at times.

It only took three points before Delierre was engaged in a heated discussion with the referee in his match against Miguel Rodriguez. The frustration built from there as Delierre made several unforced errors and never got on track, settling for a bronze medal after dropping a 3-0 decision to the Colombian.

The Canadian women's team added a pair of medals later in the day at the CODE Squash Complex. Samantha Cornett of Deep River, Ont., settled for silver after losing to Samantha Teran of Mexico 3-0 in the single's final.

"It was the hardest match on paper," said Cornett. "I was definitively apprehensive about playing it. I learned a little bit about myself today. I know that I can do it and where I want to be. It's not miles away but a couple."

Cornett was in tough in her match against Teran, who is ranked 14th in the world.

"She's good but human as everyone," said the 46th-ranked Canadian. "I'm bringing back experience and drive after having played against one of the top athletes in the world. That's what I want to be."

Miranda Ranieri of Waterloo, Ont., earned a bronze after she lost to Cornett in semifinal play.

Delierre did well to crack the final four at a tournament with several players who are used to playing at altitude. He was disappointed with his effort in the 28-minute match but still satisfied to reach the podium.

"It's patriotic and I get more patriotic as I get older," Delierre said. "I see what Canada is to the world, because I've travelled and seen how lucky we are. To have a medal to go home and share with everybody — and for my memoirs — it will be just this huge relief that hasn't even got to me yet.

"It'll be like, 'Yes, I got one there. I have it in my hand.'"

Cornett recorded her first victory over Ranieri in a tournament match, needing 23 minutes to complete the 3-1 win.

"I don't even know what I've done yet," a thrilled Cornett said afterwards. "I've never been to a (Pan Am) Games before. When I got into the semis, when I won that (quarter-final) match, I was way up (high). I can't even think about this yet. I'll have to wait until later."

Rodriguez will take on Mexico's Cesar Salazar for the men's title.

While Ranieri settled for bronze, she was happy her teammate moved on.

"We know each other's game styles completely so it was a little bit difficult in that sense," she said of the match. "But it was really enjoyable because even though I lost — and I'm upset about losing — I'm still very happy for her and if anyone was going to beat me, I'm glad it was her.

"I'm glad she's making it to the finals and I'll be there to support her. It's very exciting."

Ranieri also made it to the semifinals in women's doubles on Sunday night, taking bronze in that draw with Toronto's Stephanie Edmison.

"I wanted to medal in all the events," she said. "I'm meeting my goals. It hasn't really soaked in yet because I'm still a little bit down about the match I just finished playing. But at the end of the day, I got a bronze medal and I'm definitely happy about it.”

Delierre, meanwhile, was saddled with the earliest possible start time of 9 a.m., a big change from what he's used to on the Pro Squash Association tour.

"Maybe seeing the ball is a little off possibly because usually we're always (playing) at night," he said. "But I mean nine in the morning? Hello — wake up and see it, right?"

Rodriguez, 25, has a Canadian connection. He trained in Toronto at Power's National Squash Academy while first starting out on tour.

"The pace he plays at is so fast, you're forced to think faster, forced to get on the ball a little faster," Delierre said of his opponent. "He's cracking it, double bounce, dead in the back. So I have to almost jump into every shot."

Rodriguez, the world No. 25, used nice holds and deception to wrong-foot Delierre throughout the match. He had the Canadian running to all four corners of the court and consistently kept him on his heels.

"I felt happy and a little more content to get through to the top four," Delierre said. "He's No. 2 (in the draw) and I think he was gunning for the full-on win. He had an extra gas pump.

"He didn't tin it and he didn't let me in either."

The 29-year-old Delierre has been on tour for a decade now but has yet to find the consistency to really rise up the world rankings. He reached No. 40 in early 2007 and currently sits in the No. 58 position.

Life on tour — especially when you're not in the top 30 — can be a labour of love at times. There is little money, lots of travel and the sport is punishing on the body.

Delierre calls it a dream job, noting he has been able to travel to five different continents over his career and play against the best in the world. He also loves the brotherhood on tour and the stiff competition.

"We're compared to boxers a little bit," he said. "When we take a loss, we take it because we've thrown our bodies all over the court and we're mangled. ... You're almost like a soldier going into a country and you have to battle.

"You have to play with your mind, with all of the concepts of enjoyment that you can find and pull it all out and go, 'Hold on. It's amazing here. I'm in Mexico and the sun is shining on my face.'"

Delierre won silver at the 2007 Pan Am Games in Rio and hopes to make another appearance at the 2015 Games in Toronto. Since squash is not an Olympic sport, it's events like this that get circled on his calendar.

"This is massive in the long run," Delierre said.

Next up is the team event later this week, a competition that could see Canada return to the podium. Delierre, who's quick with a smile on and off the court, can't wait to get back in action.

"Squash is one of these sports that's underground," he said. "It's cool like BMX or skateboarding. It's sort of underground and not heard of. It's got its level of dirt where you shove and push each other around.

"It's gorgeous in that way."