September 21, 1997 (NEW SHUTTLENWS) - Team USA broke Canada's domination of the sport of badminton in the Americas at the Pan-American championships that ended today in Winnipeg, Manitoba. The Americans led by men's singles ace Kevin Han grabbed two of the five championships at stake in today's finals, while the host Canadians retained three titles.

Han defeated Mike Beres of Canada in the men's singles championship match that went the full three games. Han later combined with Howard Bach to claim the men's doubles crown with a straight sets victory over teammates Mike Edstrom and Chris Hales.

Canada's titles were in the women's singles, women's doubles and mixed doubles events. Denyse Julien trounced Peru's Lorena Blanco in a quickly played final match 11-1 and 11-0. Milaine Cloutier and Robbyn Hermitage beat teammates Cindy Arthur and Jennifer Wong 15-10 and 15-10 in the women's doubles championship match. Julien also won a second 1997 Pan-American title pairing up with Iain Sydie to beat compatriots Mike Beres and Kara Solmundson 17-14 and 15-9 in today's mixed doubles final.

In the men's singles championship match, Mike Beres played all out in the opening game. The Canadian ran and lobbed and jumpsmashed to a commanding 9-1 lead before Han could find his bearings. Han started to come back and began to control play with flat clears, clever net spinners and opportunistic smashes. Han scored 5 points to close in at 6-9, but a Beres' ceiling-scraping serve got Han to smash wide on a crosscourt attempt, giving the Canadian a 10-6 advantage.

Beres moved further ahead 11-6 when he anticipated a Han crosscourt dropshot and replied with a deftly wristed tumbling net shot. The two exchanged points but Beres maintained his advantage and reached game point at 14-8 on a booming jumpsmash.

Han turned Beres back at game point three times, while scoring three on his own service turns. On his fourth game point with the score at 14-11, Beres engaged Han in an exchange of smashes, lobs and blocks. Han was able to gain the attack but Beres defended well, frustrating Han and pressuring the tall American lefthander into a game-ending smash error.

In the second game, the two finalists exchanged points in the early going. Han though slowly pulled ahead as he asserted control of the rallies, moving Beres from side to side and from front to back with well-placed shots. Han also started to defend better against Beres' devastating jump smashes, using soft blocks that went skimming just over the net.

Han took a 13-3 advantage and finished the second game at 15-4 with a body- twisting round-the-head smash which Beres blocked into the net.

Beres changed his tactics at the start of the decider, using very high lifts and lobs to the backline to try and get Han to hit errors and poor shots. Han though was able to score with smashes and also with some lifts that Beres hit out.

Han managed to keep control of the rallies and raced to a 7-2 lead before Beres gave up on the high lifting tactics and went back to his regular game of all-court retrieving and jumpsmashing. Beres came back with 3 points to close the gap at 5-7. However, Beres then gave Han a gift point, mishitting a jumping clip dropshot to end another rally.

At the change of ends with Han in the lead at 8-5, Beres was breathing hard and looked extremely tired. Two Beres errors and a net kill by Han increased the American's advantage to 11-5.

Beres seemed to have recovered some of his energy at this juncture, and he countered Han's maneuvering shot placements with some of his own. He ended this rally with a leaping net kill, sending the shuttle into Han's body.

Beres then pressured Han into a clear that went wide to notch his sixth point. In the next rally, Han was able to force Beres into a poorly timed shot which Han pounded to the floor with a smash from his midcourt.

Beres managed to get the service back with another ceiling-scraping lift that landed on the backline with Han looking on. Han though took the service back when he struck a jumping round-the-head smash crosscourt to finish off a sequence of attacking shots.

Han then scored with another mid-court jumpsmash to go up 12-6. The two swapped service turns, before the pressing Beres gifted Han with another point, this one on a smash that missed the lines.

Another Beres error under pressure brought Han to championship point. The American lefthander did not waste the chance and scored the final point with a booming smash.

The men's singles final scoreline: 11-15, 15-4 and 15-6.

In the men's doubles final, Han teamed up with the super-quick, high-jumping, hard-smashing Howard Bach to beat fellow Americans Mike Edstrom and Chris Hales 15-10 and 15-7. Han and Bach raced to a quick 9-0 lead in the first game behind Bach's quickness at net, his leaping smashes and net kills together with Han's own attacking prowess. Edstrom and Hales came back to close the gap at 8-9 as the Bach-Han combination faltered.

A jumpsmash by the wiry Hales took the score to 9-all. After a series of scoreless service turns, Han got his team rolling again with a net kill that was set up by Bach's smashes. Han and Bach combined effectively to reach game point at 14-10.

Edstrom and Hales stood their ground and turned back several Han-Bach service turns, but the pair also failed to score on their own serves.

Han and Bach got the service back and finally, Han scored the game winner when Hales tried to end a rally with a soft overhead shot that Han was able to pound to the floor with a midcourt smash.

In the second game, Han and Bach again took an early lead 4-0. Edstrom and Hales closed in at 3-4 but the Chinese-American duo then pulled away to a 10-3 advantage before their opponents scored again, this time with a dropshot to the sideline by Hales.

Han and Bach however were too quick and too powerful for Edstrom and Hales today. Han and Bach reached championship point at 14-6 on a midcourt smash by Han after Bach had softened up the Edstrom-Hales defenses with his jump smashes.

Two errors by Bach wiped out their service turn. On their turn at serve, Edstrom and Hales put up a strong defense against Han's attack and scored when Han hit a leaping round-the-head smash into the net.

Han and Bach managed to gain the service back. Edstrom wiped out the first serve with a net kill. On their second serve, Bach went on the attack from the rearcourt and set up Han at the net for the winning killshot.

The women's doubles final between the team of Cloutier and Hermitage and the duo of Arthur and Wong was a battle, with both teams exhibiting powerful smash attacks and excellent defenses. In the end, though, Hermitage's height and reach was the difference as she gained control of the net in the crucial stages of the match and scored several key points with net kills and taps.

In the women's singles championship match, the vastly experienced Julien bewildered Blanco with a repertoire of hard and soft shots plus quick court movement that the youthful Peruvian could not cope with.

In the mixed doubles final, Julien and Sydie were in command early, racing to a 10-1 advantage, until Beres scored with a smash into Julien for his side's second point.

Then, the umpire made a call that Sydie and Julien felt was incorrect and that had many in the audience questioning the umpire's decision. The fault against Sydie gave Beres and Solmundson their third point. With Sydie still on the boil about the umpire's decision, Beres and Solmundson made a run and pulled even at 11-all.

The two pairs then exchanged points as first Sydie and then Beres scored with booming smashes. Beres and Solmundson pulled ahead 13-12 when Sydie hit a smash into the net. After several exchanges of serve, Beres scored for a 14-12 lead when his drive shot ticked the top of the net and rolled over into the other end.

Sydie smashed a flick serve from Beres to save one game point. Beres and Solmundson then lost their second serve. Julien and Sydie failed to score on their turn.

Julien and Sydie held fast and turned their opponents back again, with Sydie ending the Beres-Solmunson service with a driving return of serve.

In the next rally, Julien and Beres exchanged drives and the Julien-Sydie duo scored when Beres hit a drive into the net. Sydie then went on the attack and they scored again to tie the game at 14-all when Beres blocked a smash wide.

In the tiebreak, Julien and Sydie scored the needed three points with a Sydie drive, a Beres drive shot mistake and a Solmundson net poach error.

In the second game, Julien and Sydie were back in control early and led at 9-2. Beres and Solmundson came back again on two Julien-Sydie mistakes, a kill shot by Solmundson set up by the Beres rearcourt attack, and a running net kill by Beres after he and Solmundson had softened up the opposition defense with several smashes and kill attempts.

Beres and Solmundsson pulled closer 8-9 on two Beres' jumpsmash winners. But then Sydie unloaded several thunderous smashes, scoring on a crosscourt power shot at Solmundson. Two Beres' errors added to the Julien-Sydie lead at 12-8. Another Sydie smash at Solmundson put Julien and Sydie at 13-8.

Sydie's attempt at a difficult crosscourt net shot failed and they lost their service turn. Sydie made amends on Solmundson's serve. He wiped out the first serve when he smashed Solmundson's flick shuttle into Beres.

On Beres' serve, he and Solmundson gained control of the rally and had Julien and Sydie scrambling to save the point. Beres ended the exchange with a half smash down the line and put the score at 13-9 in favor of Julien and Sydie.

Julien and Sydie then got the serve back. The two combined to score the next point. With Sydie smashing and Julien at the net, the duo pressured Solmundson into a cross court net shot error.

Julien and Sydie then scored the championship winner on an error by their opponents.

The 1997 Pan-American badminton championships medalists:

Men's Singles
Gold - Kevin Han (USA)
Silver - Mike Beres (Canada)
Bronze - Mario Carulla (Peru)
Bronze - Kenneth Erichsen (Guatemala)

Women's Singles
Gold - Denyse Julien (Canada)
Silver - Lorena Blanco (Peru)
Bronze - Charmaine Reid (Canada)
Bronze - Kara Solmundson (Canada)

Men's Doubles
Gold - Howard Bach/Kevin Han (USA)
Silver - Mike Edstrom/Chris Hales (USA)
Bronze - Mike Beres/Bryan Moody (Canada)
Bronze - Brent Olynyk/Marlon Samuel (Canada)

Women's Doubles
Gold - Milaine Cloutier/Robbyn Hermitage (Canada)
Silver - Cindy Arthur/Jennifer Wong (Canada)
Bronze - Sandra Jimeno/Doriana Rivera (Peru)
Bronze - Terry Leyow/Nigella Saunders (Jamaica)

Mixed Doubles
Gold - Iain Sydie/Denyse Julien (Canada)
Silver - Mike Beres/Kara Solmundson (Canada)
Bronze - Brent Olynyk/Robbyn Hermitage (Canada)
Bronze - Bobby Milroy/Jennifer Wong (Canada)



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