Greensburg Daily News
Sharon Jackson won a Gold medal in doubles and a Bronze medal in the singles competition as part of the United States Racquetball team at the Pan American Racquetball Championships held in Cali, Columbia, March 22-30. This was an international event supported by the Olympic committee, with 15 countries participating.
Sharon, who lives in Atlanta, Ga., is the daughter of Frances Jackson from Shelbyville, and niece of Virginia and Willard Jackson and Bill and Harriet Fisher from Greensburg. She graduated from Waldron High School and University of Alabama in 2012. She became a member of the United States Racquetball team when she won the National Collegiate Championships in 2012. She was selected from that team to represent the USA in the 26th Pan American Racquetball Championships held in Cali, Columbia at the Club Deportivo Cañasgordas, March 23-30 hosted by the Pan American Racquetball Confederation (PARC).
Club Deportivo Cañasgordas is a beautiful facility. It is a bumpy ride on a very rough jungle road, then all of a sudden, your vehicle takes a right turn, and you’ve entered the grounds of a first-class sports complex. The racquetball pavilion is open air with bamboo supports, six courts with glass back walls and uncoated wood floors to absorb moisture.
The international event began with Opening Ceremonies held in the Americana Mall near the host hotel where most of the participants stayed. Team USA headed on foot in uniform to the mall en masse with the delegations from the other countries, sparking quite a bit of interest from pedestrians and vendors. Once inside, teams lined up alphabetically by country and waited for the procession to the mall’s center court for the Opening Ceremonies. While we waited in line, a significant number of other countries’ players requested pictures with team USA. The USA team was announced as the team from Estados Unidos. Team Captains Rhonda Rajsich and Jansen Allen held the American flag, and the delegation proceeded across the stage and around to the seating area in front of the stage to a lot of applause. From the daily blog: “ After the well choreographed program was complete and a troupe of dancers had provided entertainment, we felt like movie stars, especially Sharon who received multiple requests for photos with the dancers, spectators and a lot of kids. Sharon was gracious and granted every request.”
The next three days was pool play where the seeding for the tournament is decided.
In pool play singles, Sharon defeated Sona Sabrio from Costa Rica, 15-8,15-5; Martha Canellas from Puerto Rico 15-2,15-1 and Carolina Gomez from Chile 15-13, 15-10. These wins gave Sharon a fourth-place seed in the tournament.
In pool play doubles, Sharon and Rhonda Rajsich defeated Rodriquez/Martinez from Guatemala, 15-9,15-6; beat Masis/Saborio from Costa Rica 15-9, but lost to the Daza/Riveros team from Bolivia 9-15, 6-15. This loss put them as the sixth seed in the doubles tournament.
Tuesday was a day off to prepare and relax before the actual tournament.
In the first round of the singles tournament, Sharon defeated Melania Masis from Costa Rica, 15-12, 15-9. In a two-hour, 20-minute nail-biter match, Sharon defeated Angela Grisar 12-15, 15-12, 11-9 tie breaker. In the semi-finals of the singles division, Sharon was defeated by Paola Longoria, No. 1 player in the world, 8-15, 5-15; she had earned a Bonze medal in the singles tournament.
The doubles tournament began with a rematch with the Guatemala team, 15-8, 15-6; The second day of competition, Jackson/Rajsich defeated the team Amaya/ Gomez from Columbia, 15-13,15-3. This win set up a semi final rematch with the Daza/Riveros Bolivian team which they defeated 15-9, 15-6.
All the Open Division finals were USA verses Mexico.
The women’s doubles final was against the world’s top team, the Mexican team of Longoria/Salas that has not been defeated since 2009. Sharon, Rhonda and USA Coach Dave Ellis executed a game plan that defeated them 15-5, 15-7 to win the GOLD medal for the USA in the Women’s doubles division.
The USA team brought home seven medals for the USA, two gold, four silver and one Bronze.
In the team competition the USA received second place in singles, doubles and overall.
Racquetball champ excelled beyond athletics
Sharon Jackson earned 13 varsity letters at Waldron High School. Originally from Shelbyville, Ind., Jackson now resides in Atlanta, Ga.
A natural athlete, Jackson graduated cum laude from the University of Alabama in 2012 with a degree in General Business with an emphasis on Healthcare Management. Jackson, 23, owns 26 national and world racquetball titles, including a gold medal in doubles and a silver in singles at the 2006 World Juniors. Jackson was the National Intercollegiate Women’s Singles Champion in 2010 and 2012 and Intercollegiate Women’s Doubles Champion all four years of college, 2009-2012.
Her most memorable racquetball moment occurred at these Pan American Games beating the #1 doubles team in the world (who hasn’t lost a match since 2009) 15-5,15-7 in the finals of the Pan American Championships.
“I was so excited when I received the call from Dave Ellis (USA coach) about a month-and-a-half ago,” said Jackson, “telling me that I would represent the USA in Cali for the Pan American Championships. Participating in this tournament has been such a dream come true...and being in the semifinals of both singles and doubles is just a cherry on top! I hope to continue playing for my country and bringing many titles back to the USA in the future.”