The 2007 USA Racquetball National Doubles Championships start in 4 days?! Where did this summer go? Things have definitely been shaken up this year from an “open draw” standpoint. Following the model from the 2007 National Singles Championships, Doubles will also add a “US National Team Qualifying” division. There is also a kink in the national racquetball calendar for 2008, as some of the major event dates are changing. The 2008 National Doubles is in February of 2008 – only five months after the 2007 event. The World Championships is in summer of 2008, which means TWO doubles events will occur before world’s does. This has caused a small problem .. Which event do “Team Qualifiers” have to win to earn a spot on the US National Team? My current understanding is as follows: the October event winners will represent at the Tournament of Americas, and the February event winners will represent at the Worlds.
I was also checking out some 2007 entry stats to compare this year’s event to 2006.
Participants 2006 – 484
Men’s Open – 36
Women’s Open – 28
Mixed Open – 30
Players from Oregon – 23
Participants 2007 – 416
Men’s Open – 16
Men’s US Team – 18
Women’s Open – 2
Women’s US Team – 17
Mixed Open – 30
Players from Oregon – 2
Some interesting numbers! First of all, we are down about 70 entrants from 2006, which is about 15%(!). The total number of Open men entrants remained exactly the same, with players split 50/50 between Open and US Team. On the women’s side, things are NOT looking good! Only TWO entrants the Women’s Open!! That is entrants, NOT teams! And then, only 17 (? not sure how that works) women in the US Team division. The draw will start in the quarters! Where are our players going?!
Also to note, is the fact that several top IRT Pros are currently missing from the draws – Jack Huczek, Rocky Carson, Jason Thoerner, and Mitch Williams. The men’s divisions are WIDE OPEN!! There are also some interesting new teams this year – I can’t wait to get to Tempe!
Wow, what a crazy weekend to start the 2007-2008 professional racquetball season! Eddie Meredith was in action hosting an all new IRT Grand Slam event in Colorado Springs at the 2007 World Racquetball Championships.
Things started off on par during the qualifying rounds, with only one top seed falling early. As the action begun to unfold in the main draw, things started to get interesting – very quickly. Polo Gutierrez quickly caught attention in his first round of the main draw as he began a deep game three comeback against Jason Mannino. Just as Jason thought he had the final nail in Polo’s coffin, Polo made an amazing comeback to take games three, four, and five to win the match.
Just as the shock and awe had started to wane in the crowd, Javier Moreno ignited the court with a decisive four game victory over the number one player in the world, Jack Huczek. WIth the two top seeds down, the tournament was wide open for some fresh blood on the victory podium. Alvaro Beltran and Rocky Carson would meet in the finals, both players vying for their first Grand Slam crown. Rocky would rise to the occasion, defeating Alvaro in four games. (Thanks to Spidey for the video below – a match between mask wearing Javier Moreno and Jason Mannino)
This event made some big waves for racquetball’s newest equipment manufacturuer, Gearbox Racquetball. The Gearbox players Javier Moreno and Polo Gutierrez would take out the two top seeds, while Alvaro Beltran flew under the radar into the finals. Way to start a season!
For those expecting a report on the Men’s Final from the Motorola Pro Racquetball World Championships presented by Verizon Wireless, I’m afaid I won’t be down in Colorado Springs for the match. Previous obligations will keep me away from Colorado Springs today.
I still would highly encourage everyone to get to a Grand Slam event as soon as you can, the atmosphere is amazing and the players are extremely personable and very approachable.
I spent a good portion of the day yesterday sitting at the US Junior Team desk, which happened to be right next to Ruben’s setup and I sat back and watched Ruben interacting with the fans throughout the day. Ruben truly is a great ambassador. I can’t tell you how many pictures he took or autographs he signed, but he never stopped smiling.
Next up will be the USAR National Doubles in Tempe, AZ. Good Luck to all the participants!
I’ve known both players for several years…of course, they’ve known each other for many more years, so this one figured to be a battle right from the start.
Imagine going to your club on any given night and playing against your usual opponent. You know, the same guy you’ve been playing for years. Now instead of playing this match at your local club, put it on the portable court at a grand slam tournament with a packed house watching your every move. That was how this match started.
Javier came out wearing a wrestler’s mask and clowned around for the crowd as he walked (more like hopped) to the court for the start of this one. Alvaro came out calm, cool. and collected. Javier continued to clown around for the crowd between points and this seemed to keep him balanced and kept away any nerves that might have come into play. Both players came out hitting strong and so points were definitely hard to come by. Eventually, Javier was able to string together a run to build a 7-4 lead when Alvaro called a timeout. That strategy appeared to fail when Javier scored on his next serve, but Alvaro was able to fight back to 8-10. Both players took several turns trying to get the elusive next point. Finally, Javier was able to hit a solid forehand (he is left handed) down the line on the left side to put away game one.
Game 2 followed a similar pattern to the earlier semifinal as Javier started skipping the ball early, but he managed to right the ship and started to frustrate Alvaro as he was looking for the clinching point. Starting at 6-10, Javier inched his way back into the game, but was only able to get to 8. After several attempts, and I didn’t have a count going but it was at least 5, Alvaro sent a shot down the line as Javier dove cross court towards the awaiting video camera.
Game 3 was all Alvaro as he just refused to let Javier into the game. Jumping to a 6-0 lead, he appeared headed for a quick game. But these guys know each very well and Javier kept getting sideouts. He couldn’t seem to find the right serve, though, and Alvaro eventually closed him out 11-0 to gain the 2-1 lead in games.
As Game 4 started, Javier looked like the extra matches qualifying into this one combined with the altitude had finally taken their toll on him and it showed as Alvaro raced to an 8-0 lead. Javier got it back to 2, but he didn’t have an answer as Alvaro was hitting strong. He ended it with a diving rekill pinch to the left corner and jumped to his feet and pumped his fist.
So the final is set and cinderella fell one round short. Tomorrow at Noon Mountain Time #3 Rocky Carson takes on #4 Alvaro Beltran for the title at the Motorola World Pro Racquetball Championships presented by Verizon Wireless.
One last note before I sign off for the night. Right after the match, the drawing for the Dell Notebook was held and Dave Negrete added a Motorola Razr to sweeten the pot. The lucky winner was Julia Lanham (I think that was the last name) from California. Congratulations and thank you for supporting our Junior National Team!
I remember at the Junior Worlds in Juarez, Mexico in 2005 that John Ellis played an exhibition match against Polo, but due to other issues I didn’t get a chance to see it. I talked to John the next day and he mentioned that Polo was a very good player and that he had potential to do well if he would play the tour full time.
It looked like Polo’s speed caught Rocky off guard in the first game as he seemed to retrieve everything. Rocky couldn’t find an answer and Polo, enjoying large crowd support slowly built his lead and finished things off 11-6.
The crowd was entertained by a local musician between games and then the second game started with the crowd wondering if Polo would continue his march through this draw. Rocky, however, had other ideas and started trying everything in his arsenal, including, a few outdoor overhead serves. They traded sideouts early, but Rocky kept the pressure on and pulled away for the 11-2 win.
In Game 3, both players came out intent on winning to gain the 2-1 edge and that showed in the many sideouts that started this one. Finally at 4-4, Rocky was called for encroachment and unknowingly swung things in his own favor. He started cutting everything Polo threw at him off in the front court for some relatively easy points and rolled to the 11-5 victory and the all important 2-1 games lead.
That seemed to take its toll on Polo as Rocky was now pumping his fist with every point and hitting everything just out of Polo’s reach. Game 4 ended almost before it began as Rocky jumped to a 3-0 lead and just kept the pressure on throughout to score the 11-0 win and the match 3 games to 1.
Next up is the battle between Alvaro Beltran and Javier Moreno…let’s see if the higher seeds can continue to end the cinderella runs in these Motorola World Pro Racquetball Championships presented by Verizon Wireless.
For those that have never attended one of the Grand Slam Racquetball events, you really need to get to one of these. The atmosphere is amazing and the level of play in every division is just a step above.
The Motorola World Professional Racquetball Championships presented by Verizon Wireless has been filled with upsets from the beginning, but nobody can say that the level of racquetball has suffered in any way.
Due to my work commitments, I was unable to get down here until Friday evening, but I did get here just in time for the Rocky Carson-Mitch Williams match. Rocky had been waiting for this match since Houston, where Mitch pulled out the win on his way to his first National Singles Open championship.
With the altitude and as hard as Mitch hits the ball, it appeared that he was going to try and serve Rocky off the court as he came out firing on all cylinders to gain the first game win 11-9.
That only seemed to fire Rocky up as he turned it up to another level to gain 2 quick games 11-7 and 11-0. He then jumped to a 6-0 lead in the 4th game. But both men are pros and Mitch wasn’t about to go down without a fight. Mixing half lobs and drive serves, Mitch fought back to 9-8, and seemed to be gaining the momentum in the match overall as Rocky seemed very frustrated with each missed opportunity on serve. But he fought through it and ended it with a bizarre lob off a seam in the glass that fooled Mitch and saile right over his head for the ace. This sets up a semifinal meeting with Mexico’s Polo Gutierrez who continued his strong play by following up his 5 game upset win over #2 Jason Mannino with a straight games win over Chris Crowther.
In the other half of the draw, Alvaro Beltran is heading to the semis after an amazing 5 game win over Shane Vanderson. I wasn’t here to see that match, but many people were still talking about it around midnight last night. He’ll meet his good friend, Javier Moreno, in the semis as Javier followed up his upset of #1 Jack Huzcek with a hard fought victory over Ben Croft last night. Both players left it all on the court last night, but having Alvaro front and center for this match seemed to fire Javier up at the end of each game as he was able to pull away for the win.
The matches start at 3 Mountain time this afternoon with Rocky and Polo followed at 5 by Alvaro and Javier.
If you happen to be in CO, I would definitely encourage you to come on out to Lynmar for the action. Dave Negrete, Doug Ganim, Eddie Meredith and all the rest have done a great job transforming this club into the latest Grand Slam event for Racquetball.
On the CO Juniors front, Adam Manilla is doing things the hard way as he is playing his first full Men’s B tournament here and so far he is looking strong as he is in the semifinals which will also be at 3 this afternoon…so I will be spending time watching both matches. Jeremy will also be around this afternoon for the first semifinal so I will try to get some pictures and send those out later.
The US Junior Team drawing for a Dell Notebook will take place shortly after the 2nd semifinal this evening. If anyone would like tickets, feel free to respond to this email and I will make sure to get them for you. They are $10 each and go towards the Junior Team and their trip to the IRF Junior Worlds in Cochabamba, Bolivia in December.
Just a quick note to remind everyone that the start of the Pro Tour season is now just over a week away. Both tours start with great events right out of the gate on the weekend of Sept. 15-16.The WPRO opens with the Outback Blast It in Fayetteville, NC. I remember playing in that tournament back in the early 90s, and it is always a good time. Great club, and great people. If you’re in the area, I would highly encourage you to check it out. If you’re not in the area, you can follow the action live on the internet at:
The IRT season opens with the third and newest Grand Slam event The Motorola World Racquetball Championships presented by Verizon Wireless at Lynmar Racquet Club in Colorado Springs. I would definitely recommend this one to everyone as well as Eddie Meredith and crew always put on a great tournament, and having all the pros in town for a Grand Slam will definitely make this one a tournament to remember. You can follow the draws online at the following link:
As you all hopefully know, the US Junior Team is trying to raise the funds needed to send the Junior Team to the Junior Worlds which will be played in Cochabamba, Bolivia in December. One of their fund raisers is a raffle for a Laptop Computer. I can’t actually find my tickets that I bought back at Junior Nationals, so I can’t tell you much about the Laptop, but tickets are $10 a piece and the raffle will be drawn on the Saturday of the IRT Grand Slam in CO Springs. If you’d like to buy some tickets, please contact Junior Council President, Kelley Lavely. She can be reached by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org
National Doubles closes out a very busy month of September as the Student Rec Center at Arizona State University hosts their 4th major event in about 10 months. For those that have played there, you know what a great facility this is. And the end of September is definitely a great time to head down to Tempe!
I do know that my availability during the IRT event is going to be limited to Saturday at best. If I can make it down there, I will do what I can to send out a summary of the day along with some pictures…assuming that I can figure out my new camera by then.