Thursday, May 28, 2009

IRT 2008-09 Season Ending Rankings

The International Racquetball Tour (IRT) has released its rankings following the last Tier 1 event of the 2008-09 season. No changes in the top 9 players, as Kane Waselenchuk - 10 time winner on tour this season - tops the list followed by Rocky Carson, who won twice, and Jack Huczek, winner of one IRT Tier 1 event.

Andy Hawthorne moved past Jason Thoerner to round out the top 10. Thoerner has been inactive the last few months due to work commitments, although he was on hand as referee in Chicago at the Motorola Pro Nationals.

In the second 10, Andres Herrera fell two spots to 16, passed by Travis Woodbury, now in 14th, and Hiroshi Shimizu (15th). Kris Odegard and Anthony Herrera flipped places with Odegard going to 17th and Herrera 18th.

Finally, Javier Moreno and Alejandro Landa finished in the top 20, 19th and 20th respectively, helped by their good performances at the Motorola Pro Nationals, where Moreno made the quarter finals and Landa the Round of 16.

2008-2009 Season End Rankings
May 11, 2009

Rank - Pro - Points - Previous Rank

1 Kane WASELENCHUK, 4928 - 1
2 Rocky CARSON, 3889 - 2
3 Jack HUCZEK, 3566 - 3
4 Alvaro BELTRAN, 3206 - 4
5 Jason MANNINO, 2535 - 5
6 Shane VANDERSON, 2498 -6
7 Mitch WILLIAMS, 2299 - 7
8 Ben CROFT, 2141 - 8
9 Chris CROWTHER, 1815 - 9
10 Andy HAWTHORNE, 1571 - 11
11 Jason THOERNER, 1455 - 10
12 Juan HERRERA, 1095 - 12
13 Alejandro HERRERA, 1069 - 13
14 Travis WOODBURY, 960 - 15
15 Hiroshi SHIMIZU, 934 - 16
16 Andres HERRERA, 893 - 14
17 Kris ODEGARD, 814 - 18
18 Anthony HERRERA, 801 - 17
19 Javier MORENO, 791 - 23
20 Alejandro LANDA, 701 - 22

Follow the bouncing ball....

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Happy 28th Birthday Shane Vanderson!

You finished the 2008-09 International Racquetball Tour (IRT) season ranked 6th, which was down one spot from last season due to Kane Waselenchuk's return to the tour. You've been a top 10 player since the 2003-04 season, but haven't cracked the top four.

You've been in finals of IRT Tier 1 events twice, and in the semi-finals 12 times. Those final appearances were only a few weeks apart back in the spring of 2005. You played Cliff Swain in the 2005 San Diego Open, losing 3-1, and then played Jack Huczek in the final of the Red Swain Memorial event a few weeks later, also losing 3-1.

You've been a Team USA player four times, winning gold in doubles with Mike Dennison at the 2004 International Racquetball Federation (IRF) World Championships in Korea. You earned silver at the 2006 Worlds in singles, and both silver (in doubles with Dennison) and bronze (singles) at the 2004 Pan American Championships.

You showed great promise as a junior player, winning IRF World Junior titles 5 times in singles and 6 times in doubles. Then you were a collegiate champion while attending Baldwin Wallace College, where you were part of two men's collegiate championship teams in 2001 and 2002 helped by your singles championship in 2001 and doubles championship in 2002 with Andy Hawthorne. You also won doubles with Hawthorne in 2003.

Thus, early in your pro career it looked like that you were going to actualize some of the potential you showed as a junior, but of late there's been some inconsistency. You made two semi finals this year, including the US Open, when you defeated Jason Mannino in the quarter finals hitting shoulder high backhand and forehand shots that slid along the side wall and flat rolled when they got to the front wall.

Shots like that almost defy belief.

Yet to crack the top four you'll have to make those kind of shots more often. We believe you can do it, but wonder if the lack of progress lately indicates a lack of commitment to crack the top 4. With Waselenchuk, Huczek, and Rocky Carson all stating they are going to be working hard this summer to play even better next season, you'll need to be doing the same.

We hope you will, so you can provide another threat to win on any given weekend.

(note: IRT stats from Boss Consulting)

Follow the bouncing ball....

Monday, May 25, 2009

USA National Singles - Most Career Titles

Jack Huczek's US National Singles Championship this year put him into a three way tie for most top tier US Singles titles by a man at 4. Rocky Carson and Ed Andrews also have four titles.

There are five other men who won multiple championships: Adam Karp, Mike Bronfeld, Tim Doyle, Bill Schmidke and Charlie Brumfield, who all won two titles each. Curiously, all of those players won their titles in consecutive years except for Schmidke who's two titles came on either side of Brumfield's victories. Andrews's four wins were two pairs of back to back titles.

If Cheryl Gudinas Holmes had won on Sunday, she would have tied Michelle Gould for the most women's titles at 8. Gould won those titles over a 9 year span that was interrupted by Robin Levine, who also won the year after Gould took her last title.

Other women who've been multiple winners are Cindy Baxter, Rhonda Rajsich, Peggy Steding, and Jan Pasternak.

[note: titles here refers to the Open division from 1968 until 2007, when the US Team Qualifying Division was created, and to wins in that division from 2007 on]

USA Racquetball National Singles Titles
Men's (total) years

Jack Huczek (4) 2009, 2005, 2004, 2001
Rocky Carson (4) 2007, 2006, 2003, 2000
Ed Andrews (4) 1986, 1985, 1981, 1980
Adam Karp (2) 1999, 1998
Mike Bronfeld (2) 1995, 1994
Tim Doyle (2) 1990, 1989
Bill Schmidke (2) 1974, 1971
Charlie Brumfield (2) 1973, 1972

Michelle Gould (8) 1997, 1996, 1995, 1993, 1992, 1991, 1990, 1989
Cheryl Gudinas Holmes (7) 2008, 2005, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999
Cindy Baxter (4) 1986, 1985, 1983, 1981
Rhonda Rajsich (3) 2007, 2006, 2004
Peggy Steding (3) 1975, 1974, 1973
Robin Levine (2) 1998, 1994
Jan Pasternak (2) 1972, 1971

Follow the bouncing ball....

Sunday, May 24, 2009

USA National Singles - Ruiz and Huczek 2009 Champions

On Sunday, Aimee Ruiz added the US Singles title to her the US Doubles and World Doubles titles she currently holds by defeating Cheryl Gudinas Holmes in the final at the 42nd USA Racquetball National Singles Championships.

Ruiz defeated top seed Cheryl Gudinas Holmes in Sunday's final, 15-5, 15-7. It's the first time a woman has been US Champion in both singles and doubles since Gudinas Holmes was in 2001. Only four women have been singles and doubles champions since 1985. Toni Bevelock and Michelle Gould, who held both titles six times, are the other two.

On the men's side, Jack Huczek got the better of Rocky Carson in the final, beating him 7-15, 15-9, 11-10 to win his fourth US National Singles Championship. Chris Crowther came third by defeating Shane Vanderson, 15-10, 15-5.

In each year since 2002, one of the US doubles champions has also been singles champion. Five of those years it's been either Carson or Huczek, who won doubles together this year. But Mitch Williams also won both in 2007, as did Mike Guidry in 2002.

Previous to that only John Ellis had held both titles, when he accomplished the feat in 1993.

2009 USA Racquetball National Singles
Men's Singles US team Qualifying

Jack Huczek vs. Rocky Carson, 7-15, 15-9, 11-10

Third Place
Chris Crowther d. Shane Vanderson, 15-10, 15-5

Jack Huczek d. Shane Vanderson, 15-7, 15-6
Rocky Carson d. Chris Crowther, 15-7, 15-10

Women's Singles US team Qualifying

Aimee Ruiz d. Cheryl Gudinas Holmes, 15-5, 15-7

Cheryl Gudinas Holmes d. Adrienne Fisher, 15-9, 11-15, 11-8
Aimee Ruiz d. Rhonda Rajsich, 15-14, 15-10, 11-2 [as on the website]

Follow the bouncing ball....

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Canadian National Championships - Nouveau Champions

There are two new, or nouveau, Canadian champions as Kris Odegard and Jennifer Saunders won the finals Saturday at the 2009 Canadian National Racquetball Championships in Edmonton. It's Odegard's second national title and Saunders's third.

Odegard, seeded third, defeated defending champion Mike Green in two close games, 16-14, 17-15. In game one, Odegard had the early lead at 5-1, but Green came back and went ahead 8-5 and then 14-9. Usually leads like that are safe, but not Saturday, as Odegard came back and won it 16-14.

Game two was back and forth the whole way. Odegard got to 14 first, leading 14-12. He served a lob to the left that Green volleyed for a pinch winner. Back in the service box, Green went ahead 15-14, but could not close it out to force the tie-breaker.

Odegard's previous Canadian Championship was in 2007, when he also defeated Green in the final.

Saunders won her third Canadian Championship by defeating current Canadian Junior Champion Frédérique T. Lambert in the final, 15-10, 15-8. Saunders has been a finalist nine years running.

Saunders found herself down 5-1 and 6-2 in game one, but came back and took a 10-6 lead, shooting very well on both the backhand and forehand sides. It was close early on in game two as well, but after a 6-6 tie, Saunders pulled ahead and forged on to victory.

Saunders was previously Canadian Champion in 2002 and 2005. And her singles title gives her The Double, as she won the doubles title earlier this week with partner Josée Grand'Maître. Saunders also won both singles and doubles in 2005.

Canadian National Championships
Men's Singles - Finals (seeding)

(3) Kris Odegard d. (1) Michael Green, 16-14, 17-15

Women's Singles - Finals
(1) Jennifer Saunders d. (3) Frédérique T. Lambert, 15-10, 15-8

Follow the bouncing ball....

USA Racquetball Singles Championships - QFs

There were two upsets in women's play but the men's division is still going according to form in Houston, Texas at the 42nd USA Racquetball National Singles Championships.

Aimee Ruiz, reigning US and World Doubles Champion, took out second seed Kristen Bellows, 15-12, 15-12. Bellows had been coming off her first career women's pro tournament title last month in Stockton, California at the Women's Professional Racquetball Organization (WPRO) Pro Nationals.

Ruiz will next face Rhonda Rajsich in the semi-finals, as she beat Da'monique Davis, 15-4, 15-6, in the quarters.

On the top side of the draw, Adrienne Fisher defeated Kerri Wachtel, 15-6, 15-8. It wasn't an upset by the seedings, as Fisher was 4th and Wachtel 5th, but Wachtel has a higher WPRO rank (she's 5th) than Fisher (who's 7th).

Fisher takes on top seed Cheryl Gudinas Holmes in the semis Saturday. Gudinas Holmes defeated Liz Alvarado, 15-4, 15-6, in the other quarter final.

On the men's side, the top four seeds will face off in the semi-finals. Jack Huczek will face Shane Vanderson, while Rocky Carson takes on Chris Crowther.

2009 USA Racquetball National Singles
Men's Singles US team Qualifying
Quarter Finals:

Jack Huczek d. Jose Rojas, 15-8, 15-10
Shane Vanderson d. John Ellis, 15-13, 15-12
Chris Crowther d. Andy Hawthorne, 15-7, 11-15, 11-8
Rocky Carson d. Ruben Gonzalez, 15-7, 15-5

Jack Huczek vs. Shane Vanderson
Rocky Carson vs. Chris Crowther

Women's Singles US team Qualifying
Quarter finals:

Adrienne Fisher d. Kerri Wachtel, 15-6, 15-8
Rhonda Rajsich d. Da'monique Davis, 15-4, 15-6
Aimee Ruiz d. Kristen Bellows, 15-12, 15-12
Cheryl Gudinas Holmes d. Liz Alvarado, 15-4, 15-6

Cheryl Gudinas Holmes vs. Adrienne Fisher
Rhonda Rajsich vs. Aimee Ruiz

Follow the bouncing ball....

Canadian National Championships - Semi-final Results

Top seeds Mike Green and Jennifer Saunders successfully made the finals by winning their semi-final matches Friday at the 2009 Canadian National Racquetball Championships in Edmonton.

As Green only eked out a victory in the quarter finals Thursday, some were suggesting he would not make it past his semi-final match against 4th seed Vince Gagnon, especially as Gagnon had played so well in his quarter final. However, Green controlled their match throughout, drive serving well, and follow up with rally winning shots as necessary, winning 15-1, 15-12.

Third seed Kris Odegard will be Green's opponent in Saturday's final, as seventh seed Francis Guillemette had to default his match with Odegard in game two due to a left ankle injury. Guillemette's trouble was obvious during the first game, as he was only able to get on the board after Odegard had 13 points. The final score line was 15-2, 6-1 injury default.

It was Guillemette's first semi-final appearance in singles at the Canadian Championships.

A win Saturday will make it six titles for Green, the third most all time behind Lindsay Myers with seven titles and Sherman Greenfeld with 10.

Odegard is going for his second title, as he won it in 2007, when he defeated Green in the final.

Saunders defeated Brandi Jacobson Prentice in her semi-final match, 15-7, 15-11. Jacobson Prentice had a 10-3 lead in game two, but was not able to transform that lead into a tie-breaker.

Saunders will face current Canadian Junior Champion Frédérique T. Lambert in the final, as third seeded Lambert upset the second seed, Josée Grand'Maître, 15-10, 13-15, 11-7.

All the finals of the 2009 Canadian Nationals singles competitions are slated for Saturday.

Canadian National Championships
Men's Singles - Semi-finals (seeds)

(1) Michael Green d. (4) Vincent Gagnon, 15-1, 15-12
(3) Kris Odegard d. (7) Francis Guillemette, 15-2, 6-1 injury default

Women's Singles - Semi finals
(1) Jennifer Saunders d. (4) Brandi Jacobson Prentice, 15-7, 15-11
(3) Frédérique T. Lambert d. (2) Josée Grand'Maître, 15-10, 13-15, 11-7

Follow the bouncing ball....

Friday, May 22, 2009

USA Racquetball Singles Championships - First Rounds

Play began Thursday in the US Team Qualifying divisions in Houston, Texas at the 42nd USA Racquetball National Singles Championships, and everything's gone according to form. However, last year's champions - Rocky Carson and Cheryl Gudinas Holmes - have yet to play.

Carson's Round of 16 match is scheduled for Friday, while everyone else played Thursday. All the higher seeds won setting up some interesting quarter final matches.

In the quarters, Jack Huczek will take on Jose Rojas in a battle of previous junior phenom versus current junior phenom, respectively. Also of interest will be John Ellis versus Shane Vanderson and Chris Crowther taking on Andy Hawthorne. Ruben Gonzalez awaits the winner of the match between Carson and Daniel Case.

In women's play, the top three seeds had byes in the first round, where National Doubles Champion Aimee Ruiz held off US Junior Team member Aubrey O'brien, 15-9, 12-15, 11-0. It was an upset by the seedings, but Ruiz does not play a lot of tournaments, so her ranking doesn't accurately reflect her ability.

Also an upset by the seedings, Da'monique Davis beat Janel Tisinger, 15-6, 9-15, 11-4.

2009 USA Racquetball National Singles
Men's Singles US team Qualifying
Round of 32:

Shannon Kohl d. Rafael Filippini, 13-15, 15-5, 11-6
Allan Crockett d. Stacey Young, 15-4, 15-2
Mike Orr d. Jacob Hutkins, 15-9, 15-3
Jason Sylvester d. Jonathan Doyle, 15-13, 15-10
Tyler Otto d. Dustin Webster, 15-10, 15-9
Daniel Case d. Jansen Allen, 15-13, 15-14

Round of 16:
Jack Huczek d. Tyler Otto, 15-3, 15-4
Shane Vanderson d. Jason Sylvester, 15-10, 15-7
Chris Crowther d. Mike Orr, 15-10, 15-5
Andy Hawthorne d. Allan Crockett, 15-8, 15-6
John Ellis d. Shannon Kohl, 15-7, 15-3
Jose Rojas d. Anthony Herrera, 14-15, 15-1, 11-7
Ruben Gonzalez d. Patric Mascorro, 12,6,7 [sic]
Rocky Carson vs Daniel Case - Friday

Quarter finals
Jack Huczek vs. Jose Rojas
Shane Vanderson vs. John Ellis
Chris Crowther vs. Andy Hawthorne
Ruben Gonzalez vs. either Rocky Carson or Daniel Case

Women's Singles US team Qualifying
Round of 16

Adrienne Fisher d. Keely Franks, 14-15, 15-10, 11-4
Kerri Wachtel d. Sharon Jackson, 15-5, 15-11
Da'monique Davis d. Janel Tisinger, 15-6, 9-15, 11-4
Aimee Ruiz d. Aubrey O'brien, 15-9, 12-15, 11-0
Liz Alvarado d. Jo Shattuck, 13-15, 15-3, 11-10

Quarter finals:
Kerri Wachtel vs Adrienne Fisher
Rhonda Rajsich vs Da'monique Davis
Aimee Ruiz vs Kristen Bellows
Cheryl Gudinas Holmes vs Liz Alvarado

Follow the bouncing ball....

Canadian Racquetball Championships - Singles Quarter Finals

Several top seeds were pushed hard in the quarter finals and some succumbed to the pressure Thursday at the 2009 Canadian National Racquetball Championships in Edmonton. Top seeds Mike Green and Jennifer Saunders survived, but barely.

In men's play, Green beat Lee Connell, 16-14, 15-13. Connell had a 14-11 advantage in game one, but was unable to close it out. However, it is progress for the 8th seed, who benefited from playing 9 events on the International Racquetball Tour (IRT) this season.

Saunders easily won her first game against Christine Richardson, only to have Richardson storm back and take the second. However, Saunders took a lead in the tie-breaker and held that lead to win the match, 15-6, 10-15, 11-2.

Second seed Ryan Smith succumbed to the pressure, as he fell to 7th seed Francis Guillemette in two straight games, 15-10, 15-9. Guillemette will face 3rd seed Kris Odegard, who fought off a match point against Tim Landeryou in the tie-breaker before winning 13-15, 15-12, 14-12.

Landeryou had overcome a 10-3 deficit in the tie-breaker to lead 12-11, but he couldn't find the winning point.

The women's third seed Frédérique T. Lambert was equally pushed in her match against Denise Haynes. It was a battle of the reigning Canadian Junior Champion in Lambert versus the former Canadian Junior Champion in Haynes. Lambert won the first game, then lost game two and was down 8-7 in the tie-breaker.

At that point, Lambert called a timeout. When play resumed, Haynes faulted on her serve to let Lambert back in the service box. Lambert took advantage of the opportunity, not giving up another point as she won 15-6, 12-15, 11-8.

The Canadian Nationals singles competitions continue Thursday with the finals slated for Saturday.

Canadian National Championships
Men's Singles - Quarter-finals

Vincent Gagnon d. Eric Desrochers, 15-5, 15-7
Kris Odegard d. Tim Landeryou, 13-15, 15-12, 14-12
Francis Guillemette d. Ryan Smith, 15-10, 15-9
Michael Green d. Lee Connell, 16-14, 15-13

Men's Singles - Semi-finals (seedings)
(1) Michael Green vs. (4) Vincent Gagnon
(3) Kris Odegard vs. (7) Francis Guillemette

Women's Singles - Quarter finals
Jennifer Saunders d. Christine Richardson, 15-6, 10-15, 11-2
Brandi Jacobson Prentice d. Geneviève Brodeur, 15-7, 15-11
Frédérique T. Lambert d. Denise Haynes, 15-6, 12-15, 11-8
Josée Grand'Maître d. Brigitte Richard, 15-11, 15-1

Women's Singles - Semi finals (seedings)
(1) Jennifer Saunders vs. (4) Brandi Jacobson Prentice
(2) Josée Grand'Maître vs. (3) Frédérique T. Lambert

Follow the bouncing ball....

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Canadian Racquetball Championships - Singles

The men's singles competition got underway Wednesday in Edmonton at the 2009 Canadian National Racquetball Championships, and the script went pretty much according to form. Top seed Mike Green is on track to defend his title, as he beat Nathaniel Husulak in the Round of 16, 15-8, 15-4, setting up a Quarter Final contest with Lee Connell, who defeated James Landeryou in the Round of 16 15-7, 15-1, and Danny Tarrabain 15-4, 15-8 in the Round of 32.

No other top seeds have been knocked off, although fourth seed Vincent Gagnon needed a tie-breaker to beat junior Pedro Castro, 15-8, 5-15, 11-2. Gagnon will play Eric Desrochers on Thursday. Desrochers had a close match with current Canadian Junior Champion, Colin Mohr, winning 16-14, 16-14. Mohr was up 14-12 in the second game, but couldn't manage to win it to force a tie-breaker.

In women's play, only two games happened Wednesday in the first round, as Brigitte Richard defeated Alison Schlichemeyer, 16-14, 15-7, and Christine Richardson beat Catherine Nichols- Dickinson, 15-1, 15-5.

Richardson will next play top seed Jennifer Saunders with Richard facing second seed Josée Grand'Maître on Thursday.

The Canadian Nationals singles competitions continue Thursday with the finals slated for Saturday.

Canadian National Championships
Men's Singles - Round of 32

Ryan Smith d. Darryl Thomas, 15-3, 15-0
Kris Odegard d. Glen Yaretz, 15-11, 15-8
Vincent Gagnon d. Cam Bourque, 15-1, 15-2
Eric Desrochers d. Logan Hordyski, 15-9, 15-8
Tim Landeryou d. Graham Richardson, 15-3, 15-3
Francis Guillemette d. Kurtis Cullen, 15-10, 15-3
James Landeryou d. Troy Brooks, 15-13, 15-7
Lee Connell d. Danny Tarrabain, 15-4, 15-8
Sean Barclay d. Tanner Mattson, 15-4, 15-7
Conrad Cole d. Mathieu Messier, 13-15, 15-11, 11-5
Colin Mohr d. Simon Rainville, 15-6, 15-11
Pedro Castro d. Rich Threlfall, 15-11, 15-11
Sebastien Boissonneault d. Tommy Murray, 12-15, 15-7, 12-10
Jamie Slamko d. Kevin Caouette, 15-7, 11-15, 11-9
Nathaniel Husulak d. Josh Keil, 15-8, 8-15, 11-1

Round of 16
Michael Green d. Nathaniel Husulak, 15-8, 15-4
Ryan Smith d. Jamie Slamko, 15-3, 15-3
Kris Odegard d. Sebastien Boissonneault, 15-2, 15-4
Vincent Gagnon d. Pedro Castro, 15-8, 5-15, 11-2
Eric Desrochers d. Colin Mohr, 16-14, 16-14
Tim Landeryou d. Conrad Cole, 15-2, 15-3
Francis Guillemette d. Sean Barclay, 10-15, 15-4, 11-8
Lee Connell d. James Landeryou, 15-7, 15-1

Quarter-finals - Thursday
Eric Desrochers vs Vincent Gagnon
Kris Odegard vs Tim Landeryou
Francis Guillemette vs Ryan Smith
Michael Green vs Lee Connell

Women's Singles - Round of 16
Brigitte Richard d. Alison Schlichemeyer, 16-14, 15-7
Christine Richardson d. Catherine Nichols- Dickinson, 15-1, 15-5

Quarter finals - Thursday
Jennifer Saunders vs Christine Richardson
Geneviève Brodeur vs Brandi Jacobson Prentice
Frédérique T. Lambert vs Denise Haynes
Brigitte Richard vs Josée Grand'Maître

Follow the bouncing ball....

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Canadian Racquetball Championships - Doubles Titles

Vincent Gagnon and François Viens successfully defended their doubles title Tuesday by defeating Eric Desrochers and Mike Green, 15-9, 15-9, in the final at the Canadian National Racquetball Championships in Edmonton, Alberta. It's the second doubles title for Gagnon and Viens, but third overall for Viens, who also won it with Corey Osborne in 2003.

Earlier Tuesday Gagnon and Viens beat Tim and James Landeryou, 15-11, 15-5, in the semi-finals, while Desrochers and Green needed a tie-breaker to defeat Kris Odegard and Ryan Smith, 15-3, 13-15, 11-7.

In women's play, Jennifer Saunders and Josée Grand'Maître regained the Canadian women's doubles crown that they lost to Genevieve Brodeur and Véronique Guillemette last year by defeating the defending champions 15-7, 17-15. This makes it 5 doubles titles in 6 years for Saunders and Grand'Maître.

Brodeur and Guillemette served for the second game, but Saunders hit a volley pinch return off Guillemette's lob serve that rolled out of the front left corner to regain the serve.

The Canadian Nationals singles competitions begin on Wednesday with the finals slated for Saturday. The four top men's seeds are Green, Smith, Odegard and Gagnon, 1st through 4th respectively, while on the women's side Saunders is the top seed followed by Grand'Maître, Frédérique T. Lambert, and Brandi Jacobson Prentice.

Canadian National Championships - Doubles

Men's - Vincent Gagnon & François Viens d. Eric Desrochers & Mike Green, 15-9, 15-9
Women's - Jennifer Saunders & Josée Grand'Maître d. Genevieve Brodeur & Véronique Guillemette, 15-7, 17-15

Follow the bouncing ball....

Monday, May 18, 2009

Championships North and South of the Border

The American and Canadian racquetball seasons come to a close this week with the USA Racquetball National Singles Championships in Houston, and Racquetball Canada's National Championships in Edmonton.

USA Singles Championships

Rocky Carson is the defending champion in the men's US Team Qualifying draw. He defeated Jack Huczek in last year's final. Both are in the draw this year, along with Shane Vanderson and John Ellis. However, not in the draw are Mitch Williams or Ben Croft, the 7th and 8th ranked players on the men's pro tour (International Racquetball Tour).

Cheryl Gudinas Holmes will try to defend her title against 11 other women in the women's US Team Qualifying draw. Gudinas Holmes beat Kristen Bellows in last year's final. Bellows will be in Houston to try and get the title she let slip through her grasp last year, but also in Houston seeking the title will be Rhonda Rajsich and Kerri Wachtel.

For 26 years, Houston has been the site of the USA National Singles Championship. But the Downtown YMCA in Houston will undergo a facelift and the new facility will not have the capacity to hold this event, which has almost 500 players, so 2009 will be the last year USA National Singles are in Houston. A new site has not been announced.

Canadian Championships

Thirty one men are vying for the Canadian Championship, led by top seed and defending Champion Mike Green. Third seed Kris Odegard will be looking to win a second title, while Ryan Smith and Vincent Gagnon, the second and fourth seeds, respectively, are seeking their first National Championships.

Ten women are playing for the Canadian women's title, and top seed Jennifer Saunders is the clear favorite, as three time defending Champion Christie Van Hees is not in Edmonton to defend her title. Saunders has won the title twice, most recently in 2005, and been a finalist in each of the last eight years.

Saunders and her partner Josée Grand'Maître will try to regain their doubles crown that they lost to Genevieve Brodeur and Véronique Guillemette last year. That loss halted a streak of five consecutive doubles titles for Saunders and Grand'Maître.

In men's doubles, defending champions Vincent Gagon and François Viens will try to keep the title against several new teams, including top seeded Mike Green and Eric Desrochers, who won the doubles selection event in January, and the brother team of Tim and James Landeryou, who are seeded third.

Canadian Nationals has its doubles competition on Monday and Tuesday with the singles competitions beginning on Wednesday. The singles finals are on Saturday, while all the doubles finals are late on Tuesday.

Follow the bouncing ball....

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Huczek & Van Hees Engaged

Former #1 professional racquetball players Jack Huczek and Christie Van Hees are engaged. Dave Negrete mentioned this in the aftermath of Huczek's semi-final loss to Rocky Carson at last week's Motorola International Racquetball Tour (IRT) Pro Nationals in Chicago. Huczek and Van Hees have been seeing each other since 2006, and recently moved to Dallas together.

As well as being #1 pro racquetball players, both Huczek, 26, and Van Hees, 31, have been International Racquetball Federation (IRF) World Champions multiple times, although for different countries. Huczek won World Championships for the USA in 2002, 2004, 2006 while Van Hees won in 1998 and 2006 for Canada.

Follow the bouncing ball....

Saturday, May 9, 2009

IRT Pro Nationals - Waselenchuk defeats Carson to take title

Kane Waselenchuk described himself as "a man on a mission" this season and that mission is now complete, as he won the Motorola International Racquetball Tour (IRT) Pro Nationals in Chicago Saturday, finishing the IRT season as its #1 player having won 10 of the 13 main events. Waselenchuk lost only once this season, and also became the first to win all three Grand Slam events in one season.

Waselenchuk beat IRT #2 Rocky Carson in Saturday's final, 11-8, 11-1, 11-6, to take home the winner's check of $10,000.

Carson won the first point of the match, but then Waselenchuk came in and ran five straight points to make it 5-1. To his credit, Carson battled back and trailed by only one at 9-8. But then Waselenchuk closed out game one, 11-8, with the game point coming off a service return error by Carson.

In game one, Waselenchuk served lobs to the right - Carson's forehand - as he did in their US Open final. Asked afterwards why he chose that strategy, Waselenchuk said he felt "I get a few more opportunities on that side," and "it keeps him off balance."

That's consistent with Carson's comments when we asked him if that lob serve was really that tough. Carson said the difficulty comes in the "way [Waselenchuk] covers the court after the serve."

Carson often used a half speed cut serve to the right side in game one.

Game two was all Waselenchuk, as he got out to a 5-0 lead. A Carson time out led to one point, but that was all, as Waselenchuk maintained the momentum, winning 11-1.

In game three, Carson took the lead early at 4-1. But Waselenchuk got the next eight points, to lead 9-4. Carson clawed a couple back, but that only delayed the inevitable on this day, as Waselenchuk pushed on to win 11-6 and take the match in three straight games. The match winner came after another lob serve forced a weak return from Carson that Waselenchuk flat rolled out of the front left corner.

Afterwards, Carson said he "was happy with the way I played this season," but Waselenchuk "played as good as I've seen anyone over an entire season."

Carson told us he "felt comfortable on the court," but that it "comes down to execution." Waselenchuk's execution Saturday was just better than Carson's.

Waselenchuk said he "couldn't plan this any better," as what he planned last summer is now a reality. Also he said he's "ecstatic," about how it all played out.

Waselenchuk said he "put a lot of hard work in, and hard work pays off."

Waselenchuk told us he plans to take some time off, but then get back and "work even harder. " He said there's "nothing specific" that he'll work on, but feels "about 70-75% of my maximum potential" now so there's room for improvement. "I'm never going to stop learning," he said.

If this is how Waselenchuk performs at only 70-75%, then the rest of the IRT players should be on notice. And for his part, Carson said he was going to work hard in the off season to come back and take on Waselenchuk next season. Jack Huczek also said as much yesterday following his semi-final loss to Carson.

The semi-finals and finals were taped for broadcast this summer on the Versus network.

Motorola Pro Nationals

Kane Waselenchuk d. Rocky Carson, 11-8, 11-1, 11-6

Follow the bouncing ball....

Friday, May 8, 2009

IRT Pro Nationals - Semi finals

It'll be #1 vs. #2 in the final of the Motorola International Racquetball Tour (IRT) Pro Nationals in Chicago Saturday, as Kane Waselenchuk and Rocky Carson won their semi-final matches on Friday. Both victories were by surprisingly comfortable margins.

Waselenchuk, the IRT's #1 player, beat #4 Alvaro Beltran, 11-4, 11-5, 11-3. Beltran's the only player to defeated Waselenchuk this season, but afterwards said Waselenchuk "played out of his mind," and "really showed why he's #1."

Waselenchuk for his part said he "wanted to make a statement."

He certainly did, although it was some time coming at the start. After Waselenchuk won the first two points of game one, each player served at least 5 times. There were so many side outs, we lost count. Beltran did tie it at 2-2, before Waselenchuk got a small lead at 4-3.

Then Waselenchuk extended that to 8-3, and went on to take game one 11-4.

In that game, Beltran used a variety of drive serves, and made a couple of diving winners, while Waselenchuk lob served to the left early and then drove served to that side late in the game.

Waselenchuk took an early lead in game two at 5-1, and it looked like it might be all downhill for Beltran. But he was able to tie the match at 5-5. However, that was as many has he could manage, as Waselenchuk won it 11-5. Perhaps the highlight of the game was a winner Waselenchuk hit between his legs while facing the backwall to get his 5th point.

Game three was all Waselenchuk, as he took a lead of 6-1, and won it 11-3.

The other semi-final also took awhile to get going, but that was partly because Jack Huczek was bleeding at the elbow after a dive with Carson leading 2-0. But Huczek then took a 4-2 lead, and seemed to have all the momentum.

But momentum is a fickle thing, and it swung back to Carson in a big way, as he took a 5-4 lead at which point there was another delay to stop Huczek bleeding. Then Carson went on to win game one 11-5.

Huczek began by serving to the right side in game one, but switched to serving to the left side and continued that in game two, using drive Zs to Carson's backhand. That was a winning formula, as Huczek took a 5-2 lead, and won it 11-4.

Game three was close all the way, but with Carson leading 6-5, the story of the match emerged, as Huczek skipped backhands in three consecutive rallies, including one while trying to return Carson's Z serve to the left side. That made it 9-5 for Carson, and although Huczek came back to make it 9-8, Carson won it 11-8.

Those Huczek errors continued in game four, as Carson took a leads at 5-1 and 6-3 before winning 11-3.

Afterwards, Huczek acknowledged the backhand errors saying it was "pretty frustrating," and he "didn't play well, and Rocky deserved to win." Huczek said the match came down to "poor service return" and giving up "too many easy points."

But he also vowed to work hard this off season, so as to have a better season next year.

Carson said he was "extremely pleased with how I played," but acknowledged he "caught [Huczek] on an off day." Also, Carson said while "the scores may not have been close, it didn't feel easy."

Carson also said it was "extremely hard to see" on the court with the extra lighting used Friday. The matches were filmed for the Versus network, so extra spotlights were set up. The players did appear brighter in some spots of the court but that didn't effect the watching, but then we weren't on court trying to retrieve balls hit at well over 100 mph.

Waslenchuk and Carson also met in the final of the only other IRT Grand Slam event: the US Open in Memphis last October. Carson will be hoping for a better performance Saturday than he had in Memphis, as Waselenchuk won easily in October.

Motorola Pro Nationals
Semi Finals

Kane Waselenchuk d. Alvaro Beltran, 11-4, 11-5, 11-3
Rocky Carson d. Jack Huczek, 11-5, 4-11, 11-8, 11-3

Final 3 PM Central Saturday
Kane Waselenchuk vs. Rocky Carson

Follow the bouncing ball....

IRT Pro Nationals - Quarter finals

Play shifted to Navy Pier and the all Lucite portable court on Thursday for the quarter finals of the Motorola International Racquetball Tour (IRT) Pro Nationals in Chicago. In the best quarter final match, Mexican Javier Moreno's good run ended at the hands of his good friend and compatriot Alvaro Beltran, who defeated Moreno in five games, 7-11, 12-10, 11-9, 5-11, 11-8.

Early on, it looked like Moreno, not Beltran, would be moving on, as after winning game one he seemed to close out game two with a kill shot that would have made it 11-7. Indeed, Moreno was already off the court, before the referee informed him that the side judge had called his shot a skip. That gave Beltran the opportunity to come back and win the game, and he took full advantage, leveling the match at one game a piece.

One call never wins a match, but calling Moreno's shot a skip led to the match being 1-1 rather than 2-0 in Moreno's favor.

Beltran won a close game three, and it looked like it was going downhill for Moreno, and accelerating. But to his credit, he righted the ship by storming out to a 5-0 lead in game four, by using straight drives to the left side. He then led, 7-1 and 10-3, and closed it out 11-5, forcing the tie-breaker.

They were again close all the way in game five, including being stuck on 7-6 in Beltran's favor for eight serves. Moreno tied it at 7, but then Beltran pulled ahead 9-7 and went on to win, 11-8, after playing for two hours.

In other quarter final action, Jack Huczek made short work of Shane Vanderson, winning comfortably in three straight games, 11-3, 11-4, 11-4. Huczek lob served to the right side primarily, and Vanderson made several errors on the return.

Vanderson tried a variety of serves, but didn't settle on any. He did hit some nice Z serves to the left corner, but Huczek found a way to dig them out with good pinch shots.

The Rocky Carson-Andy Hawthorne quarter was, if anything, quicker, as Hawthorne was just not on. Afterwards, he said he "played pretty poor," so much so that we wondered if he was having trouble seeing the ball on the all Lucite court. Hawthorne confirmed that attributing his performance to not being able to see the ball and Carson's good play.

Carson used his usual style of hitting Z serves to the back left corner, which Hawthorne wasn't cutting off, and patiently keeping the ball in play until a winning opportunity came along. Then Carson killed the ball.

The first two games went quickly to Carson at 11-0 and 11-2. Carson got up 4-0 in game three, and it seemed it would be more of the same. But Hawthorne fought back and tied it at 5-5. But that was as much as he could manage as Carson pushed on to win game three, 11-5, and take the match in three straight.

Kane Waselenchuk also won in straight games Thursday, defeating Chris Crowther, 11-7, 11-7, 11-4, to set up a semi-final match-up against Alvaro Beltran. It will be their first meeting since the California Open, when Beltran handed Waselenchuk his first and only loss of the season.

Motorola IRT Pro Nationals
Quarter Finals

Kane Waselenchuk d. Chris Crowther, 11-7, 11-7, 11-4
Alvaro Beltran d. Javier Moreno, 7-11, 12-10, 11-9, 5-11, 11-8

Jack Huczek d. Shane Vanderson, 11-3, 11-4, 11-4
Rocky Carson d. Andy Hawthorne, 11-0, 11-2, 11-5

Semi Finals
Kane Waselenchuk vs. Alvaro Beltran - 7:30 PM Central
Rocky Carson vs. Jack Huczek - 6:30 PM Central

Follow the bouncing ball....

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

IRT Pro Nationals 32s and 16s

Javier Moreno won one of the most dramatic Round of 16 matches at the Motorola International Racquetball Tour (IRT) Pro Nationals in Chicago, defeating Jason Mannino in five games, 11-8, 2-11, 12-10, 6-11, 12-10. Mannino was clearly frustrated during the match, which featured many dives and backhand pinch/splat shots from both players.

Mannino's frustration started early, as he was up 6-2 in game one, only to see Moreno come back and win 11-8. Game two was all Mannino, but game three was close all the way. However, Mannino got to 10 first, and led by two at that point. However, he didn't close it out, as Moreno came back to win game three 12-10.

In game four, it was Moreno who had the lead in the middle of the game at 6-3. But Mannino stormed back to win the last 8 points of the game, taking it 11-6, despite disagreeing with some calls by the referee. At the end of the game, Mannino gave Moreno a talking to before letting him leave the court. The referee tried to interject, but Mannino kept him out of it, saying he just wanted to talk to his opponent. We're not sure what was said.

That set the stage for an interesting game five. In that game, Mannino led all the way, at 4-0, 6-3, 8-3, 8-6, and 10-8. Mannino had one chance to serve for the match, but that was all. Moreno got the serve back, tied it at 10, and then pushed on to win 12-10.

Mannino's loss will undoubtedly effect where he finishes in the season ending rankings. However, Mitch Williams didn't help himself, as he joined Mannino on the sidelines by losing to Andy Hawthorne, 11-3, 11-6, 4-11, 5-11, 11-1, in the Round of 16.

But Shane Vanderson should benefit by Mannino's loss, as he defeated Polo Gutierrez in another five game match, 6-11, 12-10, 11-6, 6-11, 11-2.

Yes, we have no Herreras

None of the four Herreras made it into the main draw round of 16, despite being seeded into the last round of qualifying. Moreover, none of their matches was especially close. Only Andreas Herrera as much as won a game, as he lost in four games to Alejandro Landa, 11-6, 6-11, 11-5, 11-2. The other Herreras - Anthony, Alejandro and Juan - all lost in three straight games.

Motorola Pro Nationals
Third Round Qualifying

Chris Crowther d. Gilberto Mejia, 12-10, 10-12, 11-9, 14-12
Kris Odegard d. Anthony Herrera, 11-3, 11-2, 11-5

Alejandro Landa d. Andres Herrera, 11-6, 6-11, 11-5, 11-2
Javier Moreno d. Alejandro Herrera, 11-3, 11-2, 11-3

Polo Gutierrez d. Juan Herrera, 11-3, 11-5, 11-6
Travis Woodbury d. Lee Connell, 11-1, 11-7, 7-11, 11-2

Hiroshi Shimizu d. Tony Carson, 11-5, 7-11, 11-7, 11-5
Andy Hawthorne d. Cliff Swain, 11-9, 11-7, 11-7

Main Draw - Round of 16

Kane Waselenchuk d. Kris Odegard, 11-3, 11-7, 11-1
Chris Crowther d. Ben Croft, (6), 9, 6-2 retired

Javier Moreno d. Jason Mannino, 11-8, 2-11, 12-10, 6-11, 12-10
Alvaro Beltran d. Alejandro Landa, 13-11, 11-7, 10-12, 11-5

Jack Huczek d. Travis Woodbury, 11-2, 11-3, 11-4
Shane Vanderson d. Polo Gutierrez, 6-11, 12-10, 11-6, 6-11, 11-2

Andy Hawthorne d. Mitch Williams, 11-3, 11-6, 4-11, 5-11, 11-1
Rocky Carson d. Hiroshi Shimizu, 11-2, 11-4, 11-0

Quarter finals

Kane Waselenchuk v. Chris Crowther
Alvaro Beltran v. Javier Moreno

Jack Huczek v. Shane Vanderson
Rocky Carson v. Andy Hawthorne

Follow the bouncing ball....

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

IRT Pro Nationals Qualifying Results

Day 1 of qualifying for the Motorola International Racquetball Tour (IRT) Pro Nationals in Chicago is over, and there have been no surprises so far. Perhaps the match of the day was Lee Connell vesus Brian Simpson. Connell is always energetic on the court, so very compelling to watch, while Simpson's court demeanor is very calm.

Simpson won the first game, 11-9, and was up 9-2 in game two, but Connell didn't quit, and he came back to level the match by winning game 2, 11-9. They then traded games with lop sided scores, as Simpson won game 3, 11-4, and Connell took game 4, 11-3.

In the fifth game tie-breaker, it was close all the way. In that game, Connell was lob serving to the back left corner - Simpson's backhand. But on his first service opportunity at match point, Connell drove serve to the left, hoping to catch the crack or hit a jam he said later.

But neither happened, so Simpson drove the ball across court to the right. Connell lunged out for it, and hit a down the line winner that slide along the side wall on its way to the front wall as he hit the floor. Connell said afterwards it was a lucky shot, but it's the kind of result that his effort often produces.

In other action, Cliff Swain showed that the old lion still has his teeth, as he defeated Keith Minor in straight games, 11-3, 11-6, 11-5. Minor probably wasn't playing his best, and during the match was rubbing his right bicep. Word is that he's had arm soreness, which we're not surprised by as he does alot of the work with his arm when swinging at the ball.

The final round of qualifying is set for Wednesday, which will be followed by the main draws Round of 16.

Qualifying action and the Round of 16 are happening at LA Fitness on South Canal in downtown Chicago. It's a nice club with four racquetball/handball courts that's been open about a year.

We feel we should mention handball there as there were four guys out Tuesday afternoon playing handball, while the racquetball action was going on the other courts. What's that, you ask? Why, yes, now that you mention it, they were all older white guys. How'd you know?

Motorola Pro Nationals
First Round Qualifying

Geoff Goldblatt d. Darrin McNally, 11-8, 11-4, 11-2
Eduardo Avila d. Dean Hamiti, 11-13, 11-5, 5-11, 11-8, 11-8
Bryan Crosser d. Manuel Flores, fft
Brian Simpson d. Jose Luis Martinez, 12-10, 11-7, 11-7
Dave Rocchi d. Felipe Munoz, fft

Second Round Qualifying
Q1: Gilberto Mejia d. Rafael Filipinni, 11-1, 11-3, 11-9
Q8: Kris Odegard d. Geoff Goldblatt, 11-4, 11-3, 11-6

Q5: Alejandro Landa d. Eduardo Avila, 11-2, 11-4, 11-4
Q4: Javier Moreno d. Bryan Crosser, 7-11, 11-1, 11-4, 11-2

Q3: Polo Gutierrez d. Charlie Pratt, 11-2, 11-3, 6-11, 11-8
Q6: Lee Connell d. Brian Simpson, 9-11, 11-9, 4-11, 11-3, 11-9

Q7: Tony Carson d. Dave Rocchi, 10-12, 11-1, 11-2, 7-11, 12-10
Q2: Cliff Swain d. Keith Minor, 11-3, 11-6, 11-5

Third Round Qualifying
Chris Crowther v. Gilberto Mejia
Anthony Herrera v. Kris Odegard

Andres Herrera v. Alejandro Landa
Alejandro Herrera v. Javier Moreno

Juan Herrera v. Polo Gutierrez
Travis Woodbury v. Lee Connell

Hiroshi Shimizu v. Tony Carson
Andy Hawthorne v. Cliff Swain

Main Draw - Round of 16

Kane Waselenchuk v. either Anthony Herrera or Kris Odegard
Ben Croft v. either Chris Crowther or Gilberto Mejia

Jason Mannino v. either Alejandro Herrera or Javier Moreno
Alvaro Beltran v. either Andres Herrera or Alejandro Landa

Jack Huczek v. either Travis Woodbury or Lee Connell
Shane Vanderson v. either Juan Herrera or Polo Gutierrez

Mitch Williams v. either Andy Hawthorne or Cliff Swain
Rocky Carson v. either Hiroshi Shimizu or Tony Carson

Follow the bouncing ball....

Happy 27th Birthday Kristen Bellows!

You gave yourself a wonderful early birthday present by winning your first pro tournament last month in Stockton, California at the Ektelon Women's Professional Racquetball Organization (WPRO) World Championships stealing the spotlight that was supposed to be on Paola Longoria and Rhonda Rajsich, who were battling for the season end #1 ranking.

It's surprising that was your first pro tournament title, but maybe more surprising is that it was only your fifth career final. Especially as you were in two finals in 2001-02 - in what we believe was your first year on tour. You finished #6 at the end of that season, and haven't been outside the top 8 since.

Although Stockton was your first pro win, you're no stranger to the winner's circle. You won 8 World Junior titles: singles titles in 2001 & 2000 (18 & under), 1999 (16 & under) and 1996 (14 & under), and doubles titles with Krystal Csuk in 2000 and 1998 and with Jeni Fuller in 1996 and 1995.

You won the Intercollegiate title three times in 2001, 2003 and 2004, and you were part of the University of Utah team that won the 2004 Intercollegiate women's team title. In addition, you took the Intercollegiate doubles crown with Marianne Walse in 2004 and Elle Summers in 2001.

You've also been Pan American Champion in 2004, winning singles along with a silver in doubles with partner Cheryl Gudinas Holmes, who you beat in the singles final. That year was the second of four consecutive appearances you made for Team USA at the Pan American Championships. You earned a bronze in doubles in 2003 with Kersten Hallander, and a silver in singles in 2006.

Our hope is that your breakthrough pro victory will just be the start of many more great results from you, as that will make the WPRO tour all the more interesting.

All of a sudden the 2009-10 season seems just too far away.

Follow the bouncing ball...

Monday, May 4, 2009

IRT - Motorola Pro Nationals Qualifying

Below are the draws for this week's Motorola International Racquetball Tour (IRT) Pro Nationals in Chicago. It will be interesting to see how Mitch Williams follows up his breakthrough victories in Allentown at the Dennis Rosenberg Pro Am, the most recent IRT event. Can he repeat his run to the final? You can be sure that Rocky Carson and Jack Huczek, Williams's victims in Allentown, will do everything they can to prevent a repeat.

Also, Kane Waselenchuk will be looking to cap his return to the IRT by finishing with a win. He's only lost once this season, and won't be interested in doing that again.

But Alvaro Beltran, the man who beat Waselenchuk at the California Open in January, is in the draw for Chicago, after missing the Allentown event due to illness. As the 1st and 4th seeds, respectively, Waselenchuk and Beltran are scheduled to meet in the semi-finals if they can get through the first two rounds.

Beltran's made the semis in all Tier 1 IRT events this season, save two, and one of those was the US Open when he lost to Waselenchuk in the quarter finals. Waselenchuk has made the semis in each of the tournaments he's been in this season.

Motorola Pro Nationals
First Round Qualifying

Darrin McNally v. Geoff Goldblatt
Eduardo Avila v. Dean Hamiti
Manuel Flores v. Bryan Crosser
Jose Luis Martinez v. Brian Simpson
Felipe Munoz v. Dave Rocchi

Second Round Qualifying
Q1: Rafael Filipinni v. Gilberto Mejia
Q8: Kris Odegard v. either Darrin McNally or Geoff Goldblatt

Q5: Alejandro Landa v. either Eduardo Avila or Dean Hamiti
Q4: Javier Moreno v. either Manuel Flores or Bryan Crosser

Q3: Charlie Pratt v. Polo Gutierrez
Q6: Lee Connell v. either Jose Luis Martinez or Brian Simpson

Q7: Tony Carson v. either Felipe Munoz or Dave Rocchi
Q2: Cliff Swain v. Keith Minor

Third Round Qualifying
Chris Crowther v. Q1
Anthony Herrera v. Q8

Andres Herrera v. Q5
Alejandro Herrera v. Q4

Juan Herrera v. Q3
Travis Woodbury v. Q6

Hiroshi Shimizu v. Q7
Andy Hawthorne v. Q2

Main Draw - Round of 16

Kane Waselenchuk v. either Anthony Herrera or Q8
Ben Croft v. either Chris Crowther or Q1

Jason Mannino v. either Alejandro Herrera or Q4
Alvaro Beltran v. either Andres Herrera or Q5

Jack Huczek v. either Travis Woodbury or Q6
Shane Vanderson v. either Juan Herrera or Q3

Mitch Williams v. either Andy Hawthorne or Q2
Rocky Carson v. either Hiroshi Shimizu or Q7

Follow the bouncing ball....

WPRO Season Ending Rankings

Paola Longoria is the #1 women's racquetball player in the world according to the latest Women's Professional Racquetball Organization (WPRO) rankings. It's the first time a Mexican player - man or woman - has risen to #1.

At 19, Longoria is also the youngest woman to be #1 since Christie Van Hees was #1 in December 2000 at age 23. Longoria may be the youngest woman, and only teenager, to ever be #1. Michelle Gould (Gilman) was 20 when she was #1 at the end of the 1990-91 season.

Kristen Bellows finished the season at #4, her highest ranking since 2006. Coming off her first tour victory in Stockton and on the eve of her 27th birthday, Bellows may be coming into the prime of her career, as several other WPRO players have done well in their careers during this period, including Van Hees, Rhonda Rajsich, Cheryl Gudinas Holmes and Kerri Wachtel.

Also, it's the first time four international players have finished in the top 10, as Longoria is joined in the top 10 by Veronica Sotomayor (Ecuador) in 6th, Angela Grisar (Chile) in 8th, and Canadian Jennifer Saunders in 9th. The last two seasons have seen three international players in the season ending top 10: Grisar, Longoria and Van Hees last season, and Samantha Salas with Grisar and Van Hees at the end of the 2006-07 season.

2008-09 WPRO Season Ending Rankings
Rank - Name - Points

1 Paola Longoria (Mexico) 1356.00
2 Rhonda Rajsich (USA) 1235.740
3 Cheryl Gudinas Holmes (USA) 838.74
4 Kristen Bellows (USA) 632.50
5 Kerri Wachtel (USA) 521.20
6 Veronica Sotomayor (Ecuador) 423.90
7 Adrienne Fisher (USA) 391.20
8 Angela Grisar (Chile) 330.50
9 Jennifer Saunders (Canada) 270.45
10 Jo Shattuck (USA) 238.41
11 Diane Moore (USA) 228.00
12 Doreen Fowler (USA) 222.34
13 Samantha Salas (Mexico) 183.00
14 T.J. Baumbaugh (USA) 178.21
15 Brenda Kyzer (USA) 176.50
16 Keely Franks (USA) 158.25
17 Krystal Csuk (USA) 157.93
18 Vivian Gomez (USA) 127.50
19 Christie Van Hees (Canada) 102.00
20 Brandi Jacobson Prentice (Canada) 96.54

Follow the bouncing ball....

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Happy 36th Birthday Angela Grisar!

You're ranked 8th on the Women's Professional Racquetball Organization (WPRO) tour, but have been as high as #3 as recently as last October. That's the highest ranking a Chilean, or any South American player - or any non-North American player for that matter, woman or man - has ever achieved.

You won the Miami WPRO event in 2007, and have been a finalist on at least four other occasions, three of those times in Miami, so that must be your favorite place to play.

You've also done well playing for Chile in international competitions, earning silver medals in singles at the 2006 and 2004 World Championships, as well as silvers in doubles at the 2006 and 2004 Worlds. Additionally, you earned silver medals in doubles at the 1999 and 2006 Pan American Championships, as well as a bronze medal on home soil at the 2007 Pan Am Championships in Santiago.

In recent years, you and your partner Pablo Fajre have been involved in developing - a racquetball webcasting service allowing people to watch matches live as well as in the archive on your web site. It's a great way to bring racquetball to more people than those who can just get to the club where the event is happening.

You've had a good career on court, and have also made valuable contributions to racquetball off it. We look forward to many more years of the same.

Follow the bouncing ball....

Friday, May 1, 2009

Happy May Day Everyone!

It's the first of May, and we're looking forward to the season ending tournaments this month. There's the last International Racquetball Tour event in Chicago, which will use the portable court to showcase racquetball in a public forum: Navy Pier.

Also, the USA Racquetball National Singles Championships and Canadian National Championships are happening this month, in Houston and Edmonton, respectively. Anyone think Kane Waselenchuk will show up at Canadian Nationals, as they're happening at the club where he learned to play? No, we don't think so either.

If you were planning on having the next Kane Waselenchuk (or Paola Longoria for that matter), May would be a pretty good month for the child's birthday, as several excellent racquetball players were born in May, including Angela Grisar, Kristen Bellows, Cheryl Gudinas Holmes, Rocky Carson, Adrienne Fisher, Kersten Hallander, Shane Vanderson, and Mike Guidry. Quite a list, eh? We're planning on highlighting their careers as their birthdays come along.

Yes, summer may be just around the corner, but there's still a lot of racquetball to come before then.

Follow the bouncing ball....