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2008 Junior Nationals Preview

June 23rd, 2008 by Adam Katz

Just wanted to send along my “unofficial Junior Nationals Preview” as the tourney begins this coming Wednesday, June 25, in Concord, CA.

The Girl’s 18s got some added intrigue this year when Oregon’s Shannon Inglesby decided to enter in her final year of junior eligibility, after a two year hiatus where she has been focusing on Softball. She and Indiana’s Sharon Jackson look to be the finalists this year, but you can never count out Ohio’s Sheryl Lotts who may pull an upset along the way. Inglesby and Jackson will also team in the doubles in an attempt to double qualify for the Junior National Team that will represent the US at the IRF Junior Worlds in December.

The Girl’s 16s features California’s Aubrey O’Brien, who looks to be the player to beat in this field. Aubrey will be looking to go one step further in December where she has been the beaten finalist in each of the last two Girl’s 14 and Under title matches at Junior Worlds. She’s hungry for another national title (or 3 as she’s playing doubles and mixed). Her doubles partner, Arizona’s Danielle Key, should also provide some strong competition in the singles, and you have to consider Ohio’s Lily Berry a contender here as well.

In the Girl’s 14s, this one is just too close to call as there are 3 young ladies that could very easily bring home the gold. Last year’s beaten finalist, California’s Devon Pimentelli, will certainly be a contender as will this year’s High School Nationals runner up, Courtney Chisholm from Massachusetts. The other player who will certainly be in the mix is last year’s 12 and Under National Champion, Kelani Bailey of Virginia. You can never count Kelani out of any match and her style of play can and will frustrate opponents into submission this coming week in California. Devon and Courtney will team up in the doubles and look to be the favorites in that division.

In the Girl’s 12s, again 3 young ladies should be battling for the title and once again, I can’t say that any one is more favored than the others in this one. California’s Sabrina Viscuso was the runner up last year, which should earn her the top seed this week, but Ohio’s Abbey Lavely and Oregon’s Hollee Hungerford are just as tough and ready to take the title in their last year in the 12s and thus the Espirit divisions. Sabrina and Hollee are the defending champions in the doubles and look to repeat as Abbey will be playing up with Kelani Bailey in the Girl’s 14 doubles.

In the Girl’s 10s, the favorite has to be Colorado’s Erika Manilla who was the runner up last year and will be looking to sweep the division in singles, doubles, and mixed. Judging from the beating she gave me a couple of weeks ago, I wouldn’t bet against her. Her doubles partner, Florida’s Jordan Cooperrider should provide stiff competition in the singles. These two battled for the 8 and Under title last year, with Erika getting the hard fought win.

As for the Girl’s 8s, I’m afraid I am not familiar with any of the players, so I won’t hazard a guess as to what might happen.

On the Boy’s side, the 18s features another potential match up of close friends, Jose Rojas and Ishmael Aldana both from California. Jose managed the 16s and 18s double last summer as he focused on singles, but Ishmael is in his last year of junior eligibility and is always a threat for the title. There are plenty of solid competitors among the 39 players currently listed in this division, but Jose and Ishmael always seem to be able to get to the finals at this tourney and I can’t say this year will be any different.

In the Boy’s 16s, Current High School National Champion, Oregon’s Taylor Knoth, looks to add the title that eluded him last year as the runner up to Jose Rojas in this division. Again, there are plenty of tough competitors fighting for this prize, so look for partner Jake Bredenbeck of Minnesota, Joseph Lee of Louisiana, and Dylan Reid of Oregon to have a say in the final outcome of this division. Joseph and Dylan will also team in the doubles and could very well face Taylor and Jake for the gold in that event.

In the Boy’s 14s, Current World Champion Marko Rojas of California has got to be a strong favorite to repeat, but you can never count out his doubles partner, Jose Diaz also from California. Other players who should be in the hunt include Louisiana’s Zach Wertz, Oregon’s Sam Reid and John Lindsay. Zach and Sam will also team in the doubles and could be a tough match for Marko and Jose if they should meet for the gold.

In the Boy’s 12s, Colorado’s Adam Manilla should emerge as the top seed based on last year’s results (the only returning semifinalist), but there are several players that have really stepped up their games this year and have to be given serious consideration. Among them are (in no particular order) Oregon’s Josh Lebow, New Hampshire’s Chris Francis, California’s Bobby Sehrgosha, Alabama’s Robert Hemphill, Florida’s Sean Cooperrider, and Colorado’s Zach Pellowski. Adam Manilla teamed with Sean Cooperrider to win the doubles last year and should be favorites again this year.

In the Boy’s 10s and the Boy’s 8s, once again I’m afraid that I’m not familiar enough with the players to make an educated guess but there should be plenty of tough competition in both divisions.

The action kicks off Wednesday morning from Concord and you can follow the draws at the following link:

http://www.r2sports.com/tourney/home.asp?TID=2466

Also, if you can’t get to Northern California for this one, you can watch the best matches online at the following link:

http://racquetballonline.tv/

You can also bet that the US Adult Team Coach, Dave Ellis, will be providing commentary on many of the matches this week.

Once again, I want to wish each and every player good luck as they compete for the title of National Champion.

Related posts:

  1. Introducing the 2008 USA Racquetball National Junior Team
  2. 2007 Junior Nationals – The Finals
  3. 2006/2007 US Junior National Racquetball Team
  4. Wrap up – 2008 Junior Nationals
  5. Congrats 2007 Junior Nationals Champions!

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