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Saunders settles for silver at racquetball worlds

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SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic — Jennifer Saunders of Winnipeg will come home with silver from the 16th International Racquetball Federation (IRF) World Championship in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic after losing the women's singles final to Paola Longoria of Mexico, 15-11, 15-2.

Playing in her second world championship final, Saunders was close with Longoria in game one, and had the lead at 5-4. However, Longoria got the lead back and ran the score to 14-6.

Saunders didn't give up, though, and closed the gap to 14-11 before Longoria won game one.

That gave hope Saunders would stage a comeback victory, as she did in the semifinals against American Cheryl Gudinas. But any momentum that Saunders might have gained by the late run in game one didn't transfer to game two, as Longoria quickly went out to a 7-0 lead and never looked back.

Nonetheless, Saunders is the first Canadian woman to reach the women's singles final since Christie Van Hees won the title in 2006.

The world championship is also the qualifying event for the 2013 World Games to be held in Cali, Colombia July 25-Aug. 4. The top 16 players in Santo Domingo qualified for that and had to play off to determine their World Games seeding.

In the final World Games seeding matches, Kris Odegard (Saskatoon) lost to Bolivian Carlos Keller, 11-15, 15-3, 11-2, and will be seeded sixth for the World Games. Tim Landeryou (Saskatoon) fell to Alejandro Herrera of Colombia, 8-15, 15-9, 11-5, and will be seeded 12th, and Brandi Jacobson Prentice (Vaudreuil-dorion, Que.) defeated Carla Muñoz of Chile, 15-10, 4-15, 11-5, and will be seeded 13th.

Those three players join Saunders in qualifying for the World Games. Racquetball at the World Games will only have men's and women's singles competitions, no doubles competition.

Wednesday will be an off day and then the team competition will begin on Thursday and conclude on Saturday.

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