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Video – 2008 NYC Finals Carson vs. Huczek

Thanks to David Calabrese for posting this to Google Video! Awesome 1 HOUR clip of the finals from the NYC Finals for the IRT.


January 21st, 2008 by Geoff Thomsen

Photos – 2007 US OPEN

After chugging along, piece by piece, for the last two months – THE PHOTOS ARE READY!!

I’ve got the match galleries completed, and will now work on the “side” photos as time permits. I’ve got some cool shots of the venue, some back stage stuff, as well as some perspectives on the stadium court / players’ village. No guarantees about timelines – all I can say is that more stuff *may* be posted time permitting.

All of you who have been patiently waiting for “special” photos I promised during the event, I am now chugging back through email to make sure everyone gets what they need.

Without further ado, 2007 US OPEN GALLERIES

January 20th, 2008 by Geoff Thomsen

Tennis Channel Reminder

Just a quick reminder to let everyone know that the Tennis Channel will be airing the Final of the Motorola World Professional Racquetball Championships presented by Verizon Wireless tonight.

It is scheduled to air at 11pm Eastern Time, so if you get the Tennis Channel, please check it out.  This match was a very good one between Rocky Carson and Alvaro Beltran.

December 12th, 2007 by Adam Katz

2007 US OPEN – IRT Final

By the time Rocky and Jack took to the court, the capacity crowd at the Racquet Club of Memphis had been treated to some absolutely fantastic racquetball.  First, by Ruben and Woody in the CPRT Finals, won by Ruben in 5, then by Rhonda and Cheryl in the WPRO finals.  So Rocky and Jack had a lot to live up to as they entered the stadium court at the 12th Choice Hotels US OPEN.  Luckily, they didn’t disappoint.

Rocky came out on fire and simply could not miss.  Most people around me were saying that he was “in the zone” and I would heartily agree.  While Jack was playing well, he simply couldn’t keep up with Rocky in the first game and the 11-3 scoreline is both a testament to how well Rocky played and how tough a competitor Jack is…the fact that he was able to score any points with the way Rocky was hitting proves that Jack is truly worthy of his Number 1 ranking.

Further proof was delivered in the second game.  The crowd was definitely feeling a Rocky sweep after that first game, but Jack refused to allow that to happen.  He changed things up and kept attacking Rocky every chance he got.  Although Rocky was still playing very solidly, Jack just refused to lose this game.  They were together throughout until Jack closed it late to tie things up 11-7 to Jack.

Now the crowd decided it would be best to settle in and just enjoy the moment.  Getting riled up for the TV Cameras seemed to have pumped up both of the competitors as they were definitely playing some amazing racquetball.

As the third game started, it was pretty obvious that both players were going to try and impose their will on this game in order to get the 2-1 lead and obtain the better odds of clinching the title and having their name etched on the Champions Cup of the Choice Hotels US OPEN.  Points seemed very hard to come by as both players spent a lot of time diving and hitting to the ceiling to keep the ball in play.  When the dust settled, though, Rocky had strung together enough at the end to squeak out the game 11-8.

At this point, Rocky could sense his time was coming.  However, Jack has earned that number 1 ranking and he wasn’t about to potentially give it up without a major fight.  Both players traded points early in the game until Rocky went on a run that would bring him to the verge of the title.  He got the score to 10-5 and then he stalled…or more appropriately, Jack really turned his own game up.  Rocky served for the match at least 6 different times, but at the same time, he only gave up one more point himself during this long stretch of time.  Rocky did have one moment when he thought that he had finally ended it with a dive in the right side front court, but side Referee, Andy Hawthorne called it two bounces and so the celebration was postponed.  Each time Rocky stepped into the service box, the crowd started chanting, “Rocky, Rocky” so when he finally ended things it was only natural that the theme song from the movie would boom out in the stadi um court area.

As to my earlier report on the women’s final, I did see Rhonda as I was leaving the club for the airport and she mentioned that on that tough play in the 3rd game, when she hit Cheryl on her backswing, it threw her off quite a bit and after she had hit the ball, her own racqet came up and caught her in the nose.  All I can say is that it was very bloody.

This concludes my Choice Hotels US OPEN experience.

The US Junior Team heads to Cochabamba, Bolivia for the IRF Junior Worlds in about 3 weeks.  A few of the team members made the trip to Memphis and they all appear very eager to get down there and start playing.  I will do the best I can to get updates out to everyone as I receive word from those that will be there.

Next up for me, potentially, will be National Doubles in February in Tempe, AZ.  Still not 100% certain, but we’ll see.

Anyway, I just got home, and I haven’t had a chance to upload the pictures that I did take from my camera and won’t be doing that tonight.  When I have, I will send some out to everyone…I am not a Geoff Thomsen or Mike Boatman by any means, so please keep that in mind.

In the meantime, I hope everyone has a very Happy Thanksgiving this coming week!

2 comments November 19th, 2007 by Adam Katz

2007 US OPEN – Final Thoughts

If I have some time later, I will put something out about the IRT Final between Rocky Carson and Jack Huczek, but before I do that I just wanted to put my final thoughts down as I try to do at the end of each tournament I attend. I won’t be giving out my unofficial awards of the tournament because there were so many amazing matches throughout the week that it would truly be unfair to distinguish them. I would just remind everyone that many of the IRT matches will be seen in January and February on the Tennis Channel, please check them out, you won’t regret it.

First and foremost, to Doug Ganim…THANK YOU for inviting me to be a part of this 12th Choice Hotels US OPEN Racquetball Championships. It was a great honor to me and I sincerely hope that I will be back for many years to come. It was by far, the best racquetball experience of my life!

To the Media Staff and it’s leaders, Jeff Oliver, Leo Vasquez, Geoff Thomsen and Mike Boatman, and all the rest…you all are the best, we definitely had some fun times in the media center and I couldn’t imagine a better team to work with.

To the Event Staff and everyone that helped put it all together. Words cannot express how much I truly respect and appreciate all that you do. From changing the Racquet Club of Memphis into the greatest racquetball show on Earth, to all the little things that are far too numerous to mention, you did it all with a smile on your face and made it look far easier than it really was. Eddie Meredith, I just want you to know that I sat back amazed all week at how you and your team took care of every last detail.

Also, please let me encourage everyone to check out some of the early photos that were taken at the event. There are two sites you’ll want to check out.

http://www.choicehotelsusopen.com which has a slide show of more than 50 photos by both Geoff Thomsen and Mike Boatman.

And, of course, I cannot thank Angela Grisar, Pablo Farje, Jo Shattuck, and Denny Erardi enough for bringing racquetballonline.tv to Memphis so that everyone could see the best matches on the Stadium Court.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, if you’ve never been to Memphis for the Choice Hotels US OPEN, get here. They are moving the tournament up to October 22-26, 2008, so I would HIGHLY ENCOURAGE everybody to make plans to be there.

2 comments November 19th, 2007 by Adam Katz

2007 – US Open: Kane Waselenchuk

Kane Waselenchuk joins Shawn Royster and Woody Clouse behind the Tennis Channel announcers’ table at the 2007 US OPEN Racquetball Championships:

2007 US OPEN

1 comment November 17th, 2007 by Geoff Thomsen

2007 US OPEN – Semifinals

Cheryl Gudinas Holmes versus Christie Van Hees

Cheryl began this match with a short serve, and that gave Christie a little momentum out of the gate. Jumping ahead 2-0 and then 5-2, it looked like Christie would be more than happy to relive last year’s final. However, Cheryl had other ideas and came back to tie the score each time. Tied at 5, Christie decided it was time to take one more lead and once she had it she closed it out.

That only served to fire Cheryl up. She’s been playing very well in recent events and that certainly continued today. The players took turns grabbing one point leads early in Game 2 until Cheryl led 4-3. At that point, there was a close call on the left side wall. That particular call went Christie’s way, but Cheryl used that and regained the momentum quickly. She built her lead to 7-3 before Christie was able to get the service back. Cheryl then kept the pressure up and built her advantage to 10-5. Christie then went on a run to bring it back to 9-10, but that was as close as she would get. Cheryl closed it out on her next service to even the game count at 1.

Each player knew they needed game three to put additional pressure on their opponent, and both players came out firing. Cheryl built a quick 2-0 lead, but Christie came right back and strung together five points for a 5-2 lead. Cheryl then pushed it up to another level and stormed back with nine straight points to close it out.

Cheryl now sensed her moment, but Christie came out for a quick 2-0 lead. Cheryl erased that right away with four straight points. At that point, they started trading points with some amazing shots. At 10-8, Cheryl served another short serve, but quickly regrouped with a side out. She would end in on her next serve and now looks forward to another championship final on the stadium court at the 12th Choice Hotels US OPEN.

Rhonda Rajsich versus Angela Grisar

This one started fairly slow as both players adapted to their surroundings on the stadium court. Eventually Rhonda put a run together to grab a 7-1 lead, but Angela started to calm her nerves and got back into the game at 4-7. Playing on the stadium court seemed to hinder Angela’s usual precise shots as she had a few serves go out of bounds on the fly for side outs and Rhonda continued to take advantage. Building her lead, very slowly Rhonda inched her way to game one 11-7.

Game two was a back and forth affair as Angela was able to grab her first lead of the match. Playing very controlled and smooth, she built a 7-3 lead before she stalled. Rhonda increased the pressure with some incredible diving kills and was able to end the game with an 8-1 run.

Rhonda’s momentum seemed to be building but Angela refused to go down without a fight. She grabbed a quick 2-0 lead, but now Rhonda sensed her opportunity. She knew she didn’t want to let Angela get comfortable and she moved the score to 2-2 with another great show of athleticism. Angela briefly grabbed a 3-2 lead, but once Rhonda got the lead back, she wouldn’t give it up. 11-3 to Rhonda and onward to the finals here at the 12th Choice Hotels US OPEN Racquetball Championships.

Rocky Carson vs Jason Mannino

Rocky came into this one very focused. Brimming with confidence from his recent win in Albuquerque combined with his first Grand Slam title in Colorado Springs, he could see the ultimate prize out there and he decided to grab it. keeping Jason on the defensive from the outset, Rocky stormed out to a 2 games lead. But Stadium Court at the Racquet Club of Memphis is like a second home for Jason and he wasn’t about to let some outsider in. Being the only former champion in the draw, he didn’t want to see someone else’s name go on the Silver Champions Cup and he blitzed Rocky in the third game 11-1. The crowd started to sense a comeback, but it was not to be. Rocky regrouped and managed to pull out a point for point battle in the 4th game to take the match and earn his second successive Choice Hotels US OPEN Final berth.

Jack Huczek vs Shane Vanderson

Shane had another amazing battle with Alvaro yesterday, and that seemed to take something out of him. And when you have to play the number 1 player that’s not a good thing. Jack took advantage of a slightly sluggish Shane and closed this one in 3. Shane did put up a good fight and probably should have won the second, but Jack proved that his ranking is a true reflection of his character. He’s onto the final tomorrow of the 12th Choice Hotels US OPEN.

November 17th, 2007 by Adam Katz

2007 US OPEN – Jason Maninno

Rumored to have been trying new training regiments including Yoga, Jason Maninno was definitely looking more lean and muscular:


November 16th, 2007 by Geoff Thomsen

2007 US OPEN – Back Bleachers

Some of the longest, loudest, and hardest fought matches in the US OPEN have taken place in the back courts at the Memphis Racquet Club.  Thursday night was no exception.  Andy Hawthorne vs. Ben Croft in the near court.

November 16th, 2007 by Geoff Thomsen

2007 US OPEN – NUTS!

During an “all Gearbox” match with Alvaro Beltran, Javier Moreno somehow kicked himself in the nuts with his own shoe. Ouch.


November 16th, 2007 by Geoff Thomsen

2007 US OPEN – John Ellis

I finally had a chance to catch John Ellis on the stadium court, and he didn’t disappoint ..




1 comment November 16th, 2007 by Geoff Thomsen

2007 US OPEN – Mannino TV Spot

Jason Maninno gives a rundown of this year’s event in Memphis, for Good Morning Memphis. Click here for the story and video interview.


November 14th, 2007 by Geoff Thomsen

12th Choice Hotels US Open Racquetball Championships

Greetings from Memphis and the 12th Choice Hotels US Open Racquetball Championships. Many of the players are already here as the Pro-Am Doubles challenge which benefits the St. Judes Children’s Hospital is currently ongoing. In fact, I’m sitting here watching Kristen Bellows(formerly Walsh) warm up for her match as I sit in the Media Center right next door.

24 IRT Pros and 8 WPRO Pros are each teaming up with 32 players who have made a generous donation to the St. Judes Children’s Hospital to play one game to 15 matches. We even have a couple of Juniors playing in this event as Ohio’s Matthew Wray and California’s Jose Diaz are both paired with pro players. Can’t remember Matthew’s partner off hand, but Jose is teamed with the Mexico’s Javier Moreno. Their match is coming up in the next round and I am definitely looking forward to that.

As way of reminder, the defending champions in this event are Christie Van Hees and Jason Mannino, both are currently playing against each on the main stadium court. Kristen Bellows and John Ellis are currently playing on what I understand is Court 6 as I sit behind the glass on the right side wall.

The action kicks off bright and early tomorrow morning at 3 local clubs. I have been asked to cover the WPRO for the tournament so my updates will have more of their matches, but I will do the best I can to get reports about the men’s matches as well.

Personally, I open my tournament with a match Wednesday night at 9 and I am already excited about it.

I do have a few pictures from today, but I haven’t downloaded them to my laptop yet, so I will try to get those out either later tonight or early tomorrow morning.

Will also try to update everyone on the winner of the Pro-Am tourney later on tonight.

November 13th, 2007 by Adam Katz

2007-2008 IRT Season Kickoff

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!

September 17th, 2007 by Geoff Thomsen

The Finals

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!

September 16th, 2007 by Geoff Thomsen

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