USA’s sweetheart Mariana Stefanoni (#2), only 3 days shy of her 19th birthday, didn’t drop a set on her road to gold in the Women’s Individual Squash Championship defeating Mexico’s Dina Anguiano (#¾) 11-4, 11-5, 11-4 at the 1st Junior Pan American Games in Cali Valle, Colombia. Stefanoni, currently a 2nd year student at Harvard University captured her 4th US National Junior Title last week and is already ranked 66th on the Professional Squash Tour (PSA).
“I thought I played well and I’m was happy to have made it through in 3 games. Tina was a tough opponent and I am very excited to win gold here. I sincerely hope that squash remains in the Pan American Youth Games for many years to come. I’d also like to thank my parents and all the coaches that have worked with me throughout my junior career.” said Stefanoni.
US Team Coach Scott Devoy, Director of Squash at Merion Cricket Club in Philadelphia praised Stefanoni saying “Mariana played her best squash of the tournament in the final tonight and that was quite pleasing. She has worked very hard at her game and deserves all the success she is accomplishing both on the tour and in international competition”.
The Men’s final was a barn burner as Leonel Cardenas (#1) of Mexico ranked 49th in the World on the PSA tour was challenged by Colombia’s home town favourite Matais Knudsen (#2) for gold. After an incredible display of athleticism and brilliant racket skills by both players, Carndenas sealed the deal for gold 11-6. 11-6, 11-3 despite the incredible enthusiasm and support of the appreciative Colombian crowd.
“it was a tough match and the crowd was cheering for the other side” said Cardenas. “The first game Matias player awesome and I had to use my experience from play on the tour (PSA) to keep up with him and stay focused. I played solid in the second and third games and managed to win. I am very thankful to Team Mexico , my family and friends for their continued support.”
Mexico’s Coach Eric Galvez claimed “It was a pretty intense match as finals are always 50/50. We knew it was going to be a very tough match to win with all the Colombian fans. Matias is very talented and very dangerous. I’m very happy. Leo is a very professional player and understands and can execute advise. We have to stay focus now as we still have the doubles and team events. I am very proud of Team Mexico.”
A very classy Matias Knudsen acknowledged ” I play good but Leo is an outrageously good player. I have a lot of work to do but I am very hungry to do better.”
The victories secures both Marina Stefanoni (USA) and Leonel Cardenas (MEX) a berth in the 2023 Pan American Games Individual events in Santiago, Chile.