Thursday, July 30, 2009

Happy 10th Anniversary '99 Pan Am Gold Medalists!

Ten years ago today the finals of the 1999 Pan Am Games were held in Winnipeg, Canada. The USA swept the gold medals. Adam Karp won the men's gold, Cheryl Gudinas the women's, with the doubles titles going to Doug Ganim and Drew Kachtik in men's and Jackie Paraiso and Joy Mackenzie in women's.

The men's final was an all-USA battle, as Karp defeated countryman Michael Bronfeld for his third big win in a little over a year, as Karp had won the previous two US National Singles titles in 1999 and 1998.

But the other finals were US-Canada match-ups. Gudinas was up against Christie Van Hees. Their match went to a tie-breaker, and late in game three Van Hees was serving up 9-8. She served, but Gudinas didn't move, as she had her racquet up.

Van Hees claimed she had checked the receiver, and when she did so Gudinas didn't have her racquet up. The referee disagreed, ruling that Van Hees had not adequately checked the receiver, and as this was the second time in the match that Van Hees had served with Gudinas signalling she wasn't ready, Van Hees lost the serve.

It was a controversial ruling, causing much protesting in the moment. But with the serve Gudinas took full advantage, winning the next three rallies to take the game, match and gold medal. Canada has yet to win a Pan Am gold medal.

Few matches lead to rule changes, but that one did, as now in games with one serve a server who serves when the receiver is signaling not ready "will be allowed one more opportunity to hit a legal serve." (see USA Racquetball Rule 3.9.j).

In doubles, Ganim and Kachtik defeated Roger Harripersad and Kelly Kerr. It was their second gold together, as they'd won doubles earlier that year at the Tournament of the Americas (now Pan Am Championships). However, prior to that neither had played for Team USA since the early '90s, Kachtik in 1991 and Ganim in 1992. Perhaps more remarkably, it was 15 years since Ganim had made his first appearance on Team USA, having been part of the 1984 World Championship team.

MacKenzie and Paraiso - twin sisters - played their final match together for Team USA 10 years ago, and went out with gold medals, defeating Canadians Lori-Jane Powell and Debbie Ward for the gold medal. The sisters were undefeated in their seven appearances with Team USA.


The racquetball legacy in Winnipeg from the '99 Games has been disappointing, as there wasn't the hoped for bump up in racquetball interest locally. That may be partly due to the fourth place finish by local racquetball hero and 10 time Canadian champion, Sherman Greenfeld, who finished fourth after losing to Bronfeld in the semis and then to Rob DeJesus of Puerto Rico in the bronze medal match.

Greenfeld seemed to have spent all his energy in defeating the then up-and-coming teenager Kane Waselenchuk in a quarter final match that went tie-breaker in what was a very hot facility. The two Canadians met in the quarters because DeJesus had defeated Waselenchuk in one of the preliminary round matches used to make the draw for the medal round.

But in general the lack of increased interest calls into question the effectiveness of hosting a large event to generate interest in a sport. Is spending a lot of money on a big event really going to increase interest in the sports involved after the event is over?

Make no mistake. Sports festivals can be really fun, and are great events in their own right. But whether the interest in the sports will carry on past the end of the events is a open question. Some kind of local, one to one, introduction is likely to be more effective at creating sustained interest than a massive event.

Alternatively, the '99 Pan Ams legacy might have been different if new racquetball facilities had been created or if existing facilities had been upgraded for the Games. But that was not the case. The portable court then used for the US Open in Memphis was brought to Winnipeg, which provided good viewing for the event, but no infrastructure legacy.

A big event can create a legacy for a sport, but it won't do so by itself. Follow-up activities need to be done, and you need places for those activities. Without them it's almost pointless to have the event in the first place, if your goal is boosting interest and participation at the local level.

Follow the bouncing ball...

Monday, July 27, 2009

More racquetball on Wikipedia

We've made more entries on Wikipedia. There are now articles on several of the top men's and women's players (Carson, Huczek, Mannino, Waselenchuk, to go along with improved pieces on Swain and Monchik, as well as Gould, Gudinas Holmes, Longoria, Paraiso, Rajsich & Van Hees), as well as results from past 'Racquetball World Championships' and the 'US Open Racquetball Championships'.

Follow the bouncing ball....

Friday, July 24, 2009

Women's pro racquetball history & FB fans

We here at The Racquetball Blog are trying to get a complete record of the women's pro tour, akin to what Todd Boss has done with the men's pro tour. Like Boss we're using old racquetball publications to do this, as well as some internet records. But also like Boss we don't have complete records.

We've contacted some people previously involved in the women's pro tour, and more than one of them indicated that they believed the USA Racquetball (USAR) offices had many (if not all) of the old records from the women's pro tour. However, when we contacted Jim Hiser, the USAR Executive Director, he indicated that they did not have those records.

Thus, our search continues.

On a positive note, Shannon Feaster, Commissioner of the Women's Professional Racquetball Organization (WPRO), tells us that they are going to be including a "WPRO history page" on their website. She's hoping to have that set up on their site "before summer's end."

Facebook fans of the WPRO & IRT

You can become a fan of the women's and men's pro tours - the WPRO and International Racquetball Tour (IRT), respectively - on Curiously the current fan numbers have 8 times as many fans for the IRT than for the WPRO. Are there really 8 times more fans of men's racquetball than women's?

We suppose that's possible. We have told you about how men are a much greater proportion of racquetball tournament participants. Often it's a 3 to 1 or 4 to 1 men to women ratio, and sometimes it's greater. Still it seems astonishing that fans of the pro game would be so much more in favour of men's play over women's.

The Racquetball Blog is certainly a fan of women's pro racquetball, although we acknowledge that as racquetball is a power and speed game and men generally have a higher maximum on their power and speed they are able to do some things that women can't. Nonetheless women's racquetball matches can be great sporting events. The Brenda Kyzer versus Rhonda Rajsich match at last year's US Open was a prime example of how great women's play can be.

Follow the bouncing ball....

Thursday, July 23, 2009

World Games - Longoria and Huczek win gold

Paola Longoria and Jack Huczek won World Games gold Thursday in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, but both lost the first games of their respective finals by wide margins only to come back and win the matches in tie-breaking third games. Longoria defeated American Rhonda Rajsich in the finals, 5-15, 15-7, 11-5, to become the first non-American woman to win World Games gold in racquetball, while Huczek defeated teammate Rocky Carson 2-15, 15-12, 11-8.

Previous women's gold medalists at the World Games were Cindy Baxter (USA), who won in 1985 in London, England, and Michelle Gould (USA), who won in 1995 in The Hague, Netherlands.

In the women's bronze medal match, Cheryl Gudinas Holmes defaulted due to injury, so Angela Grisar of Chile is the bronze medalist. Grisar and Longoria are the first women not from the USA or Canada to win World Games medals.

Huczek's victory continues the gold medal streak for American men from previous World Games, as Andy Roberts won in 1985 and Michael Bronfeld won in 1993. It also avenges his loss to Carson in last year's World Championship final.

Carson and Huczek both dropped the first games of their semi-final matches, but were able to come back and win in tie-breakers. Carson defeated Mexican Alvaro Beltran, 9-15, 15-7, 11-8, and Huczek beat Canadian Vincent Gagnon, 3-15, 15-8, 11-7.

The bronze medal match was also a tie-breaker, as Gagnon defeated Beltran, 15-11, 12-15, 11-3, to win the bronze medal. Gagnon joins Sherman Greenfeld and Roger Harripersad as Canadian men medaling in the World Games. Greenfeld won bronze in 1993 and Harripersad got silver in 1985.

2009 World Games - Kaohsiung, Taiwan
Women's Gold Medal Match

Paola LONGORIA (Mexico) d. Rhonda RAJSICH (USA), 5-15, 15-7, 11-5

Women's Bronze Medal Match
Angela GRISAR (Chile) d. Cheryl GUDINAS HOLMES (USA), injury default

Men's Gold Medal Match
Jack HUCZEK (USA) d. Rocky CARSON (USA), 2-15, 15-12, 11-8.

Men's Bronze Medal Match
Vincent GAGNON (Canada) d. Alvaro BELTRAN (Mexico), 15-11, 12-15, 11-3

Men's Semi-finals
Rocky CARSON (USA) d. Alvaro BELTRAN (Mexico), 9-15, 15-7, 11-8
Jack HUCZEK (USA) d. Vincent GAGNON (Canada), 3-15, 15-8, 11-7

Follow the bouncing ball....

World Games - Longoria & Rajsich to meet in Final

Rhonda Rajsich and Paola Longoria will compete for the gold medal in the World Games racquetball competition in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. American Rajsich defeated Angela Grisar of Chile in the semi-finals, 8-15, 15-2, 11-5, while Longoria of Mexico defeated Rajsich's teammate Cheryl Gudinas Holmes, 15-6, 11-15, 11-7 in a re-match of their Pan American Championships semi-final in April that Gudinas Holmes won.

Grisar and Gudinas Holmes will playoff for the bronze medal.

If Rajsich wins, she will be the third American woman to win a World Games gold medal in racquetball, joining Cindy Baxter, who won in 1985 in London, England, and Michelle Gould, who won in 1993 in The Hague, Netherlands.

The men's semi-finals are up next with American Rocky Carson facing Mexican Alvaro Beltran in one match and American Jack Huczek against Canadian Vincent Gagnon in the other.

Americans also won the men's gold medals in racquetball at previous World Games, as Andy Roberts won in 1985 and Michael Bronfeld won in 1993.

The finals will be played later on Thursday. As Taiwan is over 10 ahead of time zones in the Americas the final results will be known around breakfast time in the Americas on Thursday.

The site of the 2013 World Games has been announced as Cali, Columbia, which we believe would make it likely that racquetball will again be included.

2009 World Games - Kaohsiung, Taiwan
Women's Semi-finals

Rhonda RAJSICH (USA) d. Angela GRISAR (Chile), 8-15, 15-2, 11-5
Paola LONGORIA (Mexico) d. Cheryl GUDINAS HOLMES (USA), 15-6, 11-15, 11-7

Women's Gold Medal Match
Rhonda RAJSICH (USA) vs. Paola LONGORIA (Mexico)

Women's Bronze Medal Match
Angela GRISAR (Chile) vs. Cheryl GUDINAS HOLMES (USA)

Men's Semi-finals
Rocky CARSON (USA) vs. Alvaro BELTRAN (Mexico)
Jack HUCZEK (USA) vs. Vincent GAGNON (Canada)

Follow the bouncing ball....

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

World Games - Quarter Final Results

They are through the quarter finals at the 2009 World Games racquetball competition in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, and things are unfolding as expected as the field has now been narrowed to four men and four women.

World Champion Rhonda Rajsich (USA) will face Angela Grisar of Chile in one women's semi-final, as Rajsich defeated Bolivian Yazmine Sabja, 15-10, 15-10 in the quarters and Grisar beat Canadian Jennifer Saunders, 15-7, 15-5.

The other women's semi will have American Cheryl Gudinas Holmes against the current women's #1 pro Paola Longoria of Mexico. Gudinas Holmes defeated Toskiko Sakamoto of Japan, 15-9, 15-10 and Longoria sent home Canadian Josée Grand'Maître, 15-8, 15-9.

Straight game victories were also the order of the day on the men's side, as World Champion Rocky Carson reached the semis with a victory over Mike Green of Canada, 15-9, 15-9. Carson's opponent will be Mexican Alvaro Beltran, who defeated countryman Leopoldo (Polo) Gutierrez, 15-8, 15-13.

The other men's semi also features an American as Jack Huczek made it through with an easy win over Michimune Kono of Japan, 15-4, 15-0. Huczek will face Canadian Vincent Gagnon who also had a relatively easy time of it in the quarters, as he beat Fernando Rios of Ecuador, 15-8, 15-1.

Both the semi-finals and finals will be played on Thursday. Note that Taiwan is over 10 hours ahead of American time zones, depending on where you are.

2009 World Games - Kaohsiung, Taiwan
Women's Quarter finals

Rhonda RAJSICH (USA) d. Yazmine SABJA (Bolivia), 15-10, 15-10
Angela GRISAR (Chile) d. Jennifer SAUNDERS (Canada), 15-7, 15-5

Paola LONGORIA (Mexico) d. Josée GRAND'MAÎTRE (Canada), 15-8, 15-9
Cheryl GUDINAS HOLMES (USA) d. Toshiko SAKAMOTO (Japan), 15-9, 15-10

Men's Quarter finals
Rocky CARSON (USA) d. Michael GREEN (Canada), 15-9, 15-9
Alvaro BELTRAN (Mexico) d. Leopoldo GUTIERREZ (Mexico), 15-8, 15-13

Vincent GAGNON (Canada) d. Fernando RIOS (Ecuador), 15-8, 15-1
Jack HUCZEK (USA) d. Michimune KONO (Japan), 15-4, 15-0

Follow the bouncing ball....

Monday, July 20, 2009

World Games - Day 1 Results - UPDATED

The first round of the racquetball competition at the 2009 World Games has concluded in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, and there have been few surprises so far.

Veteran Angela Grisar of Chile was tested by teenager Jenny Daza of Bolivia, losing the first game but prevailed in a tie-breaker, winning 12-15, 15-4, 11-6. Grisar will next play Canadian Jennifer Saunders who defeated Cristina Cordova (Ecuador), 15-1, 15-10.

However, Mexican veteran Susana Acosta was not so fortunate, as she lost to Yazmine Sabja, the other Bolivian player in the women's draw, 15-4, 15-14. Sabja will now play top seed and current World Champion Rhonda Rajsich, who had a bye in the first round.

The Round of 16 will be completed Tuesday, the quarter finals Wednesday, and the semi-finals and finals on Thursday. Note that Taiwan is over 10 hours ahead of American time zones, depending on where you are.

2009 World Games - Kaohsiung, Taiwan
Women's Round of 16

Yazmine SABJA (Bolivia) d. Susana ACOSTA (Mexico), 15-4, 15-14

Angela GRISAR (Chile) d. Jenny DAZA (Bolivia), 12-15, 15-4, 11-6
Jennifer SAUNDERS (Canada) d. Cristina CORDOVA (Ecuador), 15-1, 15-10

Paola LONGORIA (Mexico) d. Jung Eun ANE (South Korea), 15-8, 15-5
Josée GRAND'MAÎTRE (Canada) d. Maria Paz MUNOZ (Ecuador), 15-9, 15-8

Toshiko SAKAMOTO (Japan) d. Harumi KAJINO (Japan), 15-6, 15-11
Cheryl GUDINAS HOLMES (USA) d. Christina AMAYA (Columbia), 15-6, 15-5

Quarter finals
Rhonda RAJSICH (USA) vs Yazmine SABJA (Bolivia)
Angela GRISAR (Chile) vs. Jennifer SAUNDERS (Canada)

Paola LONGORIA (Mexico) vs. Josée GRAND'MAÎTRE (Canada)
Toshiko SAKAMOTO (Japan) vs. Cheryl GUDINAS HOLMES (USA)

Men's Round of 16
Rocky CARSON (USA) vs. BYE
Michael GREEN (Canada) d. Ricardo MONROY (Bolivia), 15-14, 15-9

Leopoldo GUTIERREZ (Mexico) d. Jorge ZAMBRANA (Bolivia), 15-6, 15-12
Alvaro BELTRAN (Mexico) d. Ivan VILLEGAS (Costa Rica), 15-5, 15-3

Vincent GAGNON (Canada) d. Daniel MAGGI (Argentina), 15-5, 15-9
Fernando RIOS (Ecuador) d. Takaaki HIROSE (Japan), 15-5, 15-4

Michimune KONO (Japan) d. Felipe CAMACHO (Costa Rica), 15-11, 9-15, 11-0
Jack HUCZEK (USA) d. Sang-Soo LEE (South Korea), 15-6, 15-3

Men's Quarter finals
Rocky CARSON (USA) vs. Michael GREEN (Canada)
Leopoldo GUTIERREZ (Mexico) vs. Alvaro BELTRAN (Mexico)

Vincent GAGNON (Canada) vs. Fernando RIOS (Ecuador)
Michimune KONO (Japan) vs. Jack HUCZEK (USA)

Follow the bouncing ball....

Happy 55th Birthday Jerry Hilecher!

You were one of the original elite racquetball players. You first played on the pro tour in the 1973-74 season, and played in each of the next 14 seasons for a total of 131 tournament appearances, which places you 10th all time. The only player from the 70s who played in more tournaments is Marty Hogan (152).

You reached the finals 20 times and won five of them. You may have won more if not for Hogan's dominance during the period of your career. Nevertheless, those 5 tournament victories put you in 17th place overall.

Your career was during racquetball's glory days, although it wasn't always so good for you, as you were initially excluded from the National Racquetball Tour (sponsored by Catalina Sportswear and often referred to as the Catalina tour), and considered taking legal action about that. But victories on court - including at the 1981 CBC Classic in Winnipeg, Canada - led them to include you.

All in all you had a fine career. Happy birthday!

(note: statistics from the IRT Historical Data Archive)

Follow the bouncing ball....

Sunday, July 19, 2009

2009 World Games - Round of 16

The World Games racquetball competition begins Tuesday in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. There are 16 players in both the men's and women's events, who qualified based on last year's International Racquetball Federation (IRF) World Championship results. They will play the Round of 16 on Tuesday, the quarter finals Wednesday, and the semi-finals and finals on Thursday.

None of the men's first round match-ups catch our eye, but the women's matches are another matter, as there are several up and coming junior players who had good results at last year's World Championships and this year's Pan Am Championships.

Current World Champion, Rhonda Rajsich (USA) will face Christina Amaya of Columbia in the 16s, and they went tie-breaker at the Pan American Championships in April, when Rajsich won.

In an all Jen match, Canadian Jennifer Saunders will is up against Jenny Daza of Bolivia, who beat Rajsich in the preliminary round of the Pan Am Championships in April. Saunders's team-mate Josée Grand'Maître is also in tough against Maria Paz Munoz (Ecuador), who was a bronze medalist at last year's World Junior Championships.

2009 World Games - Kaohsiung, Taiwan
Women's Round of 16

USA - RAJSICH Rhonda vs COL - AMAYA Christina
MEX - ACOSTA Susana vs BOL - SABJA Yazmine
CHI - GRISAR Angela vs CHI - MARQUEZ Fabiola
CAN - SAUNDERS Jennifer vs BOL - DAZA Jenny
MEX - LONGORIA Paola vs ECU - CORDOVA Cristina
JPN - SAKAMOTO Toshiko vs JPN - KAJINO Harumi

Men's Round of 16
USA - CARSON Rocky vs ARG - MAGGI Daniel
CAN - GREEN Michael vs BOL - MONROY Ricardo
CAN - GAGNON Vincent vs DOM - SIMO Leonel
ECU - RIOS Fernando vs JPN - HIROSE Takaaki
JPN - KONO Michimune vs CRC - CAMACHO Felipe

Follow the bouncing ball....

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Going Wiki

It recently came to The Racquetball Blog's attention that racquetball is sadly underrepresented on Wikipedia. Given how often web searches, if not direct Wikipedia searches, are the first line of inquiry for many people these days racquetball should have a better presence there.

Thus, the crack research team at The Racquetball Blog has been improving the wiki racquetball entry and improving or creating related entries on prominent racquetball players, including Cliff Swain, Sudsy Monchik, Kane Waselenchuk and Jack Huczek.

Some of you might be thinking "hey, those are all guys! what about the gals?" The hitch for writing pieces about women racquetball players is there's no archive of information about them to refer to regarding their pro careers as there is with for the men on the IRT Historical Archive maintained by Todd Boss.

Hence, we can tell you that Swain is the winningest male racquetball player, because we can refer to the data archive to back up that claim. But we can't tell you that Lynn Adams is the winningest female racquetball player, although that's what the records we've gathered together here at TRB HQ indicate, because there's no source that we can point at to back up that claim. You kinda have to take our word for it, and that's really not good enough.

Racquetball organizations have been poor at keeping track of their sport's history. As nice as Boss's IRT archive is he admits it's incomplete, but it is remarkably complete, which is a testament to Boss's perseverance in tracking down all the records.

We've been trying to do the same thing for the women's pro tour over the last few months by gathering all the past records we can. But it's not easy, and begs the question why do we (and Boss, for that matter) need to do this? Why haven't the associations kept up on this?

Ignoring past events is akin to saying that they didn't matter. But that could be extended to say the current events don't matter. That may be harsh, but if you're going to forget about today's event in a couple of years, why wait? Let's just ignore it now.

It's the sort of thing someone outside of racquetball - a potential sponsor, say - might ask upon finding out that an organization doesn't keep track of its history.

Thus, we encourage you to not just remember the past, but keep records of it! Because memories are fallible, and we can't make a web link to them - at least not yet.

Follow the bouncing ball....

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

European news

The Racquetball Blog is marking this day, the 14th of July - the day of liberation in France (ahh, to be drinking champagne on the Champ de Mars today), with some discussion of racquetball in Europe.

The 15th European Championships are less than three weeks away. Nanterre, France, a suburb of Paris just to the west of the City of Lights, is the site for the event. The defending champions are Victor Montserrat of Catalan (Spain) and Marie-Josée Collet of France.

As we reported last year the European Racquetball Federation (ERF) dropped a bombshell when they resigned from the International Racquetball Federation (IRF) at the IRF meetings in Ireland. In a recent letter to IRF President Keith Calkins, Michael Haverty, the ERF's General Secretary indicated that the ERF continues to be concerned about the IRF's performance or lack their of.

Some of the ERF's concerns are the lack of a marketing plan to promote racquetball, as well as the relative inactive website. They feel the IRF website is not updated often enough, and doesn't contain enough information regarding upcoming events.

Further, the ERF would like to see the IRF as the lead umbrella racquetball organization, but that would require the co-operation of the other racquetball organizations, specifically the pros: International Racquetball Tour (IRT) and Women's Professional Racquetball Organization (WPRO) as well as the World Outdoor Racquetball organization (WOR).

The ERF's primary concern in this regard is compliance with the World Anti-Doping Agency's (WADA's) rules regarding doping in sport. The pro racquetball organizations have indicated that they are not going to enforce WADA rules, which leads the ERF to suggest that players from those organizations should not be allowed to participate in IRF events, such as the World Championships.

We talked to Dave Negrete the IRT's Commissioner today about this, and he indicated that although the IRT doesn't have a doping policy, many IRT players are subject to WADA rules because they play for their countries and doing so brings them under WADA regulations. Negrete's concern about such a policy is not the principle of it, but the practicality of enforcing it, given the costs required for such testing.

Regarding the general idea of co-operation between the IRT and IRF, Negrete is happy to work with the IRF in general, but wonders what the advantage of having the IRT under an IRF umbrella would be. He doesn't see the IRT as being an obstacle to any of the IRF's goals for racquetball, and is happy to sanction tournaments in other countries with minimal requirements - scoring standard (best of 5 games to 11 points) and use of the IRT logo being the primary ones - which would help any players who then come to play in a main IRT event.

We share the ERF's concerns about the IRF, although we're not sure if their proposal - of banning players - to the lack of WADA enforcement on the pro tours is the best solution.

The ERF remains committed to racquetball in Europe, and growing the game there. It has revamped its website, which is looking very nice, and has a presence on Facebook.

We wish them the best with their efforts.

Follow the bouncing ball....

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Carson repeats as World Outdoor Racquetball Champion; Longoria wins first title outdoors

In a repeat of last year's final, Rocky Carson successfully defended his World Outdoor Championship title Sunday by defeating Alvaro Beltran, 15-10, 15-12, to win the 2009 Racquetball Warehouse World Outdoor Racquetball Championships (WOR) in Huntington Beach, California.

Paola Longoria, who recently became the #1 women's player indoors, won the women's outdoor title by defeating Jackie Paraiso, a former #1 player indoors, 15--11, 14-15, 11-9.

Earlier in the day, Longoria defeated last year's runner-up Keely Franks in one semi-final, 15-13, 15-8, and Paraiso defeated Michelle Poage, 15-13, 10-15, 11-8.

Kevin Booth and Mike Peters were surprise winners in men's doubles, as they defeated Carson and Mark Koidin, 15-8, 15-12. Booth and Peters were seeded 6th, and took out heavy hitters Jason Mannino and Cliff Swain in the semi-finals, 15-10, 9-15, 11-9.

Carson and Koidin beat Josh Tucker and Son Nguyen, 9-15, 15-13, 11-9, in the other semi.

Rhonda Rajsich and Martha Mcdonald won the women's doubles title by defeating Janel Tisinger and Poage in the final, 15-5, 15-13. Rajsich and Mcdonald faced the indoor World Champions Paraiso and Aimee Ruiz, and beat them in three games, 15-14, 7-15, 11-6. Tisinger and Poage won their semi by injury default against Kristen Bellows and Laura Fenton.

2009 Racquetball Warehouse World Outdoor Racquetball Championships
Women's Open Singles

Jacqueline Paraiso d. Michelle Poage, 15-13, 10-15, 11-8
Paola Longoria d. Keely Franks, 15-13, 15-8

Paola Longoria d. Jacqueline Paraiso, 15-11, 14-15, 11-9

Men's Open Singles

Rocky Carson d. Alvaro Beltran, 15-10, 15-12

Women's Doubles Final
Rhonda Rajsich & Martha Mcdonald d. Janel Tisinger & Michelle Poage, 15-5, 15-13

Rajsich & Mcdonald d. Aimee Ruiz & Jacqueline Paraiso, 15-14, 7-15, 11-6
Tisinger & Poage d. Laura Fenton & Kristen Bellows, WBF - Injury

Men's Doubles Final
Kevin Booth & Mike Peters d. Rocky Carson & Mark Koidin, 15-8, 15-12

Carson & Koidin d. Josh Tucker & Son Nguyen, 9-15, 15-13, 11-9
Booth & Peters d. Jason Mannino & Cliff Swain, 15-10, 9-15, 11-9

Follow the bouncing ball....

Saturday, July 11, 2009

World Outdoor Racquetball Championships - Poage in semi-finals

Michelle Poage is a surprise semi-finalist at the 2009 Racquetball Warehouse World Outdoor Racquetball Championships (WOR) in Huntington Beach, California, after defeating top seed and defending champion Angela Grisar in the quarter finals, 15-11, 15-9. Poage is ranked 31st on the Women's Professional Racquetball Organization (WPRO) tour, the more common indoor version of the game, and she hasn't been in a semi-final of a WPRO Tier 1 event.

Poage will face Jackie Paraiso, one of the greats of the game, Sunday in the semis, as Paraiso defeated Janel Tisinger in the quarters, 15-6, 15-5. Paraiso is a former #1 player indoors, and in contrast to Poage has played in at least 57 semi-finals on the women's pro tour.

On the other side of the draw, last year's runner-up Keely Franks is in the other semi after defeating Diane Moore, 15-9, 15-11. She'll face the current WPRO #1 Paola Longoria, who beat Kristen Bellows, 15-14, 15-9, in a rematch of the WPRO Pro Nationals final in May that Bellows won.

In men's play, second seed and runner up last year, Alvaro Beltran made it back to the final but needed two tie-breakers on Saturday to get there. He first defeated up and coming Jose Rojas, 7-15, 15-13, 11-6, in the quarter finals before taking out Ben Croft in the semis, 12-15, 15-7, 11-7.

Beltran will play defending champ and top seed Rocky Carson who beat Charles Pratt, 15-13, 15-13, in the other semi-final later Saturday. In the quarters, Carson defeated Mike Orr while Pratt took out Scott Davis.

You can watch the finals Sunday on line via Racquetball Online.

2009 Racquetball Warehouse World Outdoor Racquetball Championships
Women's Open Singles
Quarter finals

Michelle Poage d. Angela Grisar, 15-11, 15-9
Jacqueline Paraiso d. Janel Tisinger, 15-6, 15-5

Paola Longoria d. Kristen Bellows, 15-14, 15-9
Keely Franks d. Diane Moore, 15-9, 15-11

Michelle Poage vs. Jacqueline Paraiso
Paola Longoria vs. Keely Franks

Men's Open Singles
Quarter finals

Rocky Carson d. Mike Orr, scores unknown
Charles Pratt d. Scott Davis, 15-9, 15-11

Ben Croft d. Chris Crowther, 15-5, 13-15, 11-8
Alvaro Beltran d. Jose Rojas, 11-15, 15-4, 11-8

Rocky Carson d. Charles Pratt, 15-13, 15-13
Alvaro Beltran d. Ben Croft, 12-15, 15-7, 11-7

Rocky Carson vs. Alvaro Beltran

Follow the bouncing ball....

World Outdoor Racquetball Championships - Down to QFs

They're down to the quarter finals at the 2009 Racquetball Warehouse World Outdoor Racquetball Championships (WOR) in Huntington Beach, California. There have been some upsets by the seedings, but last year's champions and runners up remain on course to reach the finals again.

On the women's side, Angela Grisar, the defending champion, easily won her first match against Christie Noller, 15-10, 15-0, as did second seed and last year's runner-up Keely Franks, who defeated Devon Pimentelli, 15-4, 15-6.

There were a couple of surprise vicories in women's play. Janel Tisinger defeated Aimee Ruiz, winner of the USA Racquetball indoor title in May, 15-7, 10-15, 11-6. Tisinger finished fourth at last season's world outdoor tournament. Also, Jackie Paraiso defeated Rhonda Rajsich, 7-15, 15-10, 11-5, in a battle of former #1 indoor players.

The big women's match up of the quarter finals will be a re-match of last season's Pro Nationals final match between Kristen Bellows and Paola Longoria, the new women's #1, that was won by Bellows.

Defending champ and top seed Rocky Carson has comfortably made it through to the quarter finals with wins over Michael Bernstein in the Round of 16, 15-9, 15-5, and Matthew Barserian in the 32s, 15-8, 15-12. Similarly, Alvaro Beltran, second seed, is also into the quarters with wins over Bradley Bowers, 15-8, 15-2, and Jose Diaz, 15-11, 15-8, in the 16s and 32s, respectively.

There have been upsets though. Robert Sostre defeated fourth seed Dillon Silver, 15-12, 15-6, in the Round of 32. But Sostre's good fortune was short lived, as he lost to Charles Pratt in the Round of 16, 15-14, 15-14. Pratt will play Scott Davis in the quarter finals.

Third seed Greg Solis only lasted one round more than Silver, as the 3rd seed lost to Ben Croft, 12-15, 15-4, 11-7, in the Round of 16. Croft, the 8th ranked player on the International Racquetball Tour (IRT), will play Chris Crowther, the IRT's 9th ranked player, in the quarter finals.

Croft and Crowther's last match was in May at the IRT Pro Nationals in Chicago. A conflict developed between the players in that match which led to Croft being defaulted from the match. If they want to "take it outside" on Saturday, well, they'll already be there.

You can watch the WOR Championships from Huntington Beach on line via Racquetball Online.

2009 Racquetball Warehouse World Outdoor Racquetball Championships
Women's Open Singles - Round of 16

Angela Grisar d. Christie Noller, 15-10, 15-0
Michelle Poage d. Christie Riley, 15-0, 15-3

Jacqueline Paraiso d. Rhonda Rajsich, 7-15, 15-10, 11-5
Janel Tisinger d. Aimee Ruiz, 15-7, 10-15, 11-6

Paola Longoria d. Vivian Gomez, 15-5, 15-12
Kristen Bellows d. Aubrey O'brien, 15-9, 15-12

Diane Moore d. Linda Scales, 15-8, 15-3
Keely Franks d. Devon Pimentelli, 15-4, 15-6

Quarter finals
Angela Grisar vs. Michelle Poage
Jacqueline Paraiso vs. Janel Tisinger

Paola Longoria vs. Kristen Bellows
Diane Moore vs. Keely Franks

Men's Open Singles
Round of 16:

Rocky Carson d. Michael Bernstein, 15-9, 15-5
Alvaro Beltran d. Bradley Bowers, 15-8, 15-2
Ben Croft d. Greg Solis, 12-15, 15-4, 15-7
Charles Pratt d. Robert Sostre, 15-14, 15-14
Scott Davis d. Brian Pineda, 15-7, 15-4
Chris Crowther d. Maykel Rodriguez, 15-10, 15-8
Jose Rojas d. Bradley Kirch, 7-15, 15-13, 11-6
Mike Orr d. Jesus Ocana, 7-15, 15-14, 11-8

Quarter finals
Rocky Carson vs. Mike Orr
Charles Pratt vs. Scott Davis

Ben Croft vs. Chris Crowther
Alvaro Beltran vs. Jose Rojas

Round of 32:
Rocky Carson Iii d. Matthew Barserian, 15-8, 15-12
Alvaro Beltran d. Jose Diaz, 15-11, 15-8
Greg Solis d. Anthony Carson, 15-4, 15-2
Robert Sostre d. Dillon Silver, 15-12, 15-6
Brian Pineda d. Cliff Swain, WBF - Injury
Maykel Rodriguez d. Wayne Pentecost, 15-6, 15-7
Jose Rojas d. Jason Richard Conway, 15-4, 15-14
Jesus Ocana d. Chris Young, 15-4, 15-3
Mike Orr d. Andy Hawthorne, 15-11, 7-15, 11-10
Bradley Kirch d. Lou Orosco, 15-11, 15-12
Chris Crowther d. Rafael Filippini, 15-13, 13-15, 11-5
Scott Davis d. David Horn, 15-11, 15-2
Charles Pratt d. Allan Kazem, 15-1, 11-15, 11-3
Ben Croft d. Andy Solis, 15-11, 15-3
Bradley Bowers d. Brandon Davis, 15-12, 13-15, 11-10
Michael Bernstein d. Gregory Lewerenz, 12-15, 15-7, 11-5

Round of 64:
Jose Diaz d. Ryan Rodgers, 15-9, 15-7
Matthew Barserian d. Carlos Oviedo, 15-13, 7-15, 11-10

Follow the bouncing ball....

Thursday, July 9, 2009

World Outdoor Racquetball Championships

The 2009 Racquetball Warehouse World Outdoor Racquetball (WOR) Championships begin today in Huntington Beach, California with 283 players participating, which up over 50 players from last year's 229 players.

Many top indoor players are playing this weekend, including Rocky Carson, defending men's champion, and Angela Grisar, defending women's champion. The seedings are different for outdoor than indoor. It seems it follows last year's WOR championship results, but not exactly.

Carson is the top men's seed, and 2008 runner up Alvaro Beltran is second. Greg Solis is 3rd seed, and he finished 3rd last year. But the fourth seed is Dillon Silver with Cliff Swain in 5th, although Swain was 4th last year and Silver won on the consolation side.

Grisar is seeded #1 on the women's side, and Keely Franks, who lost to Grisar in last year's final, is seeded second. But Vivian Gomez is 3rd seed, and she didn't play in last year's championships. Janel Tisinger did, finishing fourth which is her seed for this year.

Matches will be broadcast on the web via Racquetball Online beginning on Friday.

Follow the bouncing ball....

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Happy One Year Anniversary TRB!

The Racquetball Blog officially began to "follow the bouncing ball" on July 7th of last year, and although the start was slow, we did manage to put out 155 articles by the end of 2008. That was a pace of 1.15 posts per day!

This year, we've put out 154 posts (including this one) over 188 days, which is still about 1 per day (0.82 actually). Our goal is to bring you something new about racquetball each day.

There are several topics that we've covered, primarily reports about the elite players, but also discussions of racquetball on continents other than North America, as well as the history of the game and instructions from some of racquetball's top coaches.

On the horizon, as we start our second year are the World Games later this month in Taiwan and the European Championships in Paris. We'll also have further installments in our instruction series with Jim Winterton, former US National Team coach, Loren Prentice, one of Canada's National Team coaches, and others.

We encourage you to spread the word about The Racquetball Blog. Tell your friends! Tell your enemies! Tell anyone interested in racquetball! Become a fan of The Racquetball Blog on Facebook!

We also encourage you to let us know what you think of any of our articles, or story ideas by either leaving a comment directly on TRB site (click on "N comments", where "N" is the number of comments left to date, that appears at the bottom of each article) or sending an email to The Racquetball Blog (all one word) AT gmail DOT com.

We appreciate your interest, readership and welcome all feedback as we continue to ...

Follow the bouncing ball....

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Happy Canada Day!

Canada, you've produced some of the best racquetball players in history: Kane Waselenchuk, Christie Van Hees, Heather Stupp, Sherman Greenfeld and by adoption Heather McKay. Yes, you've definitely been the second best racquetball nation on the planet.

Indeed, you won the team competition at the International Racquetball Federation (IRF) World Championships in 2000, and Greenfeld and Van Hees won both individual World Championship singles titles in 1998, making Canada the only country other than the USA to do so.

But lately you've been challenged. You finished 3rd overall in the team competition at the World Championships last year in Ireland, which was your lowest finish ever. You've still got good players, but they're finding themselves challenged in every match now as other countries improve.

Waselenchuk is still the #1 men's player, but it's unlikely he will play for you in any future international competitions given the suspension for a doping violation he had to endure after playing in your National Championships in 2006.

Also, Van Hees is still a good player, but she didn't play for Canada in last year's Worlds because she failed to satisfy the criteria to qualify for the team. Van Hees only played in two tournaments this past season, which was the fewest since coming out of her hiatus in 2003. Whether she'll be interested in playing in next year's Worlds is an open question.

Add to this the facts that the #1 women's player is a Mexican and the quality of the US players hasn't dropped off, and you can see how it's become harder for one of your players to reach the podium.

But there aren't just concerns at the Natioanl Team level. You've been losing courts all over the country and few news ones have been built to replace those lost.

There are some positive signs. Your Junior National Championships remain big events, and many people are committed to attending Nationals year in and year out. Also, your high level coaching program has expanded, which should help further develop elite players.

So to all the people of the Great White North, Happy Canada Day! Here's to your great racquetball history, and hoping that continues for many years to come.

Follow the bouncing ball....