Parkway West senior Erin Slutzky stepped on the world racquetball stage and came back to Chesterfield with a medal that weighed her down.
Slutzky and doubles partner Nikita Chauhan, a senior at Dougherty Valley High School in San Ramon, California, earned a bronze medal in the recent International Racquetball Federation Junior World Championships. The tournament was held in San José, Costa Rica.
“Since it was my first time winning a medal at worlds, I had no idea how heavy it was,” Slutzky said. “I took it off right after getting off stage because it was hurting my neck. But it was definitely an honor to get a medal at such an intense tournament. Getting the medal was a extremely motivating to do even better next year.”
The U.S. team took third overall. The U.S. finished third in both boys and girls competition in Costa Rica.
This year was Slutzky’s second year in the junior worlds. She qualified when she went to junior nationals in Portland, Oregon during the summer. She won first in 18U doubles and third in 16u singles.
It was there Slutzky met Chauhan.
“I got to know her at last year’s high school nationals and then she asked to be partners a few months after that,” Slutzky said. “Before juniors nationals we had never played together, but before worlds we had played together two times.”
Last summer, Slutzky took part USA Racquetball’s camp. Unlike in 2018 when she attended the camp at the Olympic Training Center, there was a different site.
“This year it was in Stockton, California,” Slutzky said. “It was definitely a memorable experience being surrounded by such impressive athletes and professional equipment.”
This was her first trip to Costa Rica. She liked the Central American nation.
“It was beautiful. I could look out my window at the hotel and see mountains and the rain forest,” Slutzky said. “The weather was also much nicer there. While my mom was in St. Louis dealing with the first snow of winter, I was outside in the 75 degree weather everyday. Everyone we met from Costa Rica was really nice, as well.”
Slutzky played four matches in singles competition. In doubles, she played five matches.
In singles, Slutzky defeated Ecuador’s Fabiana Landy 15-4, 15-3 in pool play and lost to Mexico’s Guadalupe Griffin 15-8, 15-7. She then topped Costa Rica’s Sofia Freer 14-15, 15-8, 11-5 in bracket play 16s. In the quarterfinals, she was eliminated by Bolivia’s Micaela Menesses 15-0, 15-13.
In doubles, Slutzky and Chauhan defeated Costa Rica’s Abigail Solano and Aranxa Anguizola 15-5, 15-6 and rallied to top Ecuador’s Fabiana Landy and Ana Sarmiento 8-15, 15-8, 11-5. In bracket play, Slutzky and Chauan again defeated the Solano-Anguizola pair 15-3, 15-1. THey followed that with a 15-12, 15-3 win over Chile’s Josefina Toro and Paula Mansilla. In the bracket play semifinals, they lost to Mexico’s Marifer Gutierrez and Anna Rivera 15-9, 15-6.
“It was an amazing experience getting to compete with such high-level players and meeting people from different countries,” Slutzky said.
Slutzky is playing this winter with the Longhorns’ racquetball team.