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Posts filed under 'WPRO'

WPRO: 2008-2009 Schedule

The WPRO has posted their 2008-2009 season on the Tour Events page of the WPRO Website.  As was discussed on MNP, it’s a bit of a bummer that there is not a single stop next season on the entire West Coast of the U.S.!!

  • September 12-14 – Fayetteville, NC / Outback Steakhouse Blast It! (T1)clip_image002
  • September 26-28 – Tijuana, MEXICO / Mexico Open (T1)
  • October 3-5 – Laurel, MD / Mid-Atlantic Tournament of Champions (Satellite)
  • October 10-12 – Edmonton, Alberta, CANADA / Canadian Racquetball Classic West (T1)
  • October 22-26 – Memphis, TN / US OPEN (Grand Slam)
  • November 7-9 – Syosset, NY / Long Island Open (Satellite)
  • November 21-23 – New Jersey Open (Satellite)
  • December 12-14 – Arlington, VA / Christmas Classic (T1)
  • January 16-18 – Charleston, SC / Palmetto Challenge (T1)
  • January 30-February 1 – Cincinnati, OH / Wilson Tour for Hope Championship (Satellite)
  • February 27-March 1 – Miami, FL /Great Balls of Fire Pro-Am (T1)
  • March 20-22 – Gaithersburg, MD / Terrapin Shootout (T1)
  • March 27-29 – York, PA / Miller Lite Open (T1)
  • April 1-April 11 – Pan Am Championships
  • April 30-May 3 – New Orleans, LA / WPRO World Championships (Grand Slam)

July 3rd, 2008 by Geoff Thomsen

2008 WPRO Post-season Summary

As for the players on the IRT, I’ve also compiled a list of placements for the 10 top stops on the WPRO tour. It’s no doubt that Rhonda Rajsich ended up with the season title after not missing a single semifinal appearance in any Tier 1 or grand slam event, and then only missing two finals. A few of the top contenders missed several of the events throughout the season, including Christie Van Hees, Paola Longoria, and Brenda Kyzer.

    missed Quarters Semis Finals Champ
1 Rhonda Rajsich 0 10 10 8 5
2 Cheryl Gudinas Holmes 0 10 8 7 3
4 Angela Grisar 0 10 7 1  
3 Kerri Wachtel 0 10 7 1  
6 Paola Longoria 4 6 3 1 1
5 Kristen Bellows 0 10 3 1  
8 Brenda Kyzer 2 7      
7 Adrienne Fisher 1 6      
9 Christie Van Hees 8 2 2 1 1
12 Diane Moore - 3      
11 Jo Shattuck - 1      
10 Doreen Fowler - 2      
14 Vivian Gomez - 1      
18 Samantha Salas - 1      
27 Janell Wheeler - 1      

update 6/20: Changed rankings to reflect final 2007-2008 season standings

June 12th, 2008 by Geoff Thomsen

Rhonda Rajsich on ESPN NEWS

As racquetball claws its way back into mainstream sports media, Rhonda Rajsich is scheduled to be interviewed in ESPN News to talk about dominating performance on the women’s pro tour this season.  If any is successful recording this, I’d love to have a copy to post on the site! Here’s a press release from Shannon Feaster of the WPRO:

#1 WPRO Pro Rhonda Rajsich will appear on ESPNEWS’ “The Pulse” this Saturday (May 3) between 1-3pm ET to discuss her recent victory in New Orleans at the 2008 Chemtech WPRO World Championship presented by Ektelon! Rhonda will also talk about her career accomplishments and how she got to be #1 in the world for the third straight time. Rajsich won the last four major WPRO events to close out the 2007-08 season. We will try to send an update on the approximate segment time if we can but please set your VCR’s, DVR’s and Tivo’s to record the show! For more information about Rhonda, visit her Web site at www.rhondarocks.com.

Next season’s schedule will be posted on the tour’s Web site the first week of June, so please check out www.wpro-tour.com to see when the top WPRO pro’s will be in a city near you! On behalf of the WPRO, thanks for your support an d we hope to see you soon.

May 1st, 2008 by Geoff Thomsen

New Pro Contracts

‘Tis the time of year that the major equipment manufacturers start announcing any new contracts with Pro level players. This list is not comprehensive of all Pro players, as many are in the middle of existing contracts. Here is a quick summary:

Ektelon:

  • Rhonda Rajsich – 2 year contract

Head:

  • Shane Vanderson – 3 year contract
  • Jason Thoerner – 3 year contract
  • Mike Guidry – 2 1/2 year contract
  • Mike Green – 2 year contract
  • Ryan Smith – 2 year contract

Wilson:

  • Kerri Wachtel

Pro Kennex:

  • Kane Waselenchuk (*** no official word has been released to date, but Kane has been seen on event posters with his new “Krowning Moment” racquet. It appears to be his own line, produced by Pro Kennex – as noted by the Pro Kennex logo on the posters and racquet stencil)

E-Force:

Gearbox:

I’ll update this list as any new information surfaces ..

3 comments April 22nd, 2008 by Geoff Thomsen

Chemtech WPRO World Championships presented by Ektelon – Finals

Well folks, I wish I could tell you that I was in New Orleans for the final match as I figured, based on the way they were playing, that it would be something special, and from the scores and brief description that I’ve received, it certainly was.

The winner of the 2008 Chemtech WPRO World Championships presented by Ektelon, and the #1 player on the tour for the third time in her career is Rhonda Rajsich (Phoenix, AZ). She won the final in what looks like a true battle scores were 11-6, 2-11, 8-11, 13-11, 11-4, so as you can see both ladies had to have been playing extremely well. This is logical since they both had played so well just to reach the finals, especially in the manner that each did. Each woman only lost 1 game on their road to the final.

This concludes the 2007/2008 WPRO season and I thank you for your support!

April 21st, 2008 by Adam Katz

Chemtech WPRO World Championships presented by Ektelon – Quarters / Semis

Chemtech WPRO World Championships presented by Ektelon Quarterfinals

First up on the show court was the match between World #2, Cheryl Gudinas Holmes (Naperville, IL) and World #7, Brenda Kyzer (Leesville, SC). It took Cheryl a little while to find her rhythm in this one, so Brenda used that to her advantage for an early lead. And then Cheryl slowly started chipping away and finding her zone. Brenda tried to hold her off with her some strong passing shots, but Cheryl now had her own precision game firing on all cylinders. Brenda had some solid moments throughout this match, but Cheryl seemed to want it a little more , and so she was able to close out each game with her precise shooting from all over the court. She’s now on to the semifinals later this afternoon.

The match between World #3, Angela Grisar (Santiago, Chile) and World #6, Paola Longoria (San Luis Poteci, Mexico) started at the same time on the very next court. This one started as a battle of wills as both ladies came out shooting lights out trying to impose their own will on this match. As the first game progressed, Paola continued to keep the pressure on with some amazing pinches and powerful passes that finally enabled her to pull out the first game with a late run to 11. That win seemed to energize Paola as she sprinted to an 8-2 lead in the second game. Angela dug deep to hold her, but now the crowd coul d sense that Paola was on a mission and she wasn’t going to stop until a spot in the semifinals had been earned. Angela gave it all she had, but Paola was not to be denied and is on her way to a meeting with Cheryl Gudinas Holmes.

Next up was the match between World #4, Kerri Wachtel (Cincinnati, OH) and World #5, Kristen Bellows (Salt Lake City, UT). These two seem to meet at every stop so most everyone knew that this wouldn’t be over in three games and these ladies didn’t disappoint. Both players came out shooting strong with excellent placement, but Kristen’s serves seemed to have a bit more in them to start and she was able to pull out the first game, 12-10. That got Kerri fired up as she came out with her usual strong placement in the second game. Both players were playing extremely well, but Kerri started to take control and was able to sweep the l ast three games, all very close but Kerri just had a little extra at the end of each game.

The last quarterfinal match had World#1, Rhonda Rajsich (Phoenix, AZ) playing World #8, Adrienne Fisher (Centreville, OH) for the right to face Kerri Wachtel later on this afternoon. To say that Rhonda came out on fire is a true understatement. She simply couldn’t miss and she rolled to the first game. But Adrienne dug deep and trailing 7-10 in the second game starting hitting some incredible shots of her own. She went on the run that would get the second game and kept Rhonda diving and guessing throughout. The crowd was starting to sense that they were watching something special and the third game proved to be a point for point battle as each player was now hitting extremely well, and Rhonda seemed to be diving wi th almost every rally. In the end she grabbed the all important 2-1 game lead with the 13-11 win. That only fired her up as she raced to an 8-2 lead in the fourth. Adrienne fought back once again after Rhonda replayed a match point that was called in her favor. Adrienne got it back to seven but went no further. And so Rhonda moves on to the semifinals.

The first semifinal featured World #2, Cheryl Gudinas Holmes and World #6, Paola Longoria and this one was a fantastic match. Paola came out shooting everything in sight and raced to 3-0 and 7-2 leads. Cheryl changed things up and slowly gained the momentum as she was hitting some great passes and pinches to keep Paola off balance. Once she got the lead, she carried it straight through until 4-0 in the 3rd game. At that point, Paola started changing things up herself, as she regained that early fire when she couldn’t miss. Up until that moment, it appeared that Cheryl might sweep, but Paola had other ideas and she fought back to take the third game. The crowd was very happy as they were truly enjoying this match as both players were on fire. As the players walked onto the court for the fourth game, Cheryl had a look in her eyes that indicated she was ready for the moment. Hitting solid serves and incredible shots, she inched her way up to match point and then Paola fought back. Forcing a couple of sideouts, she tried to get herself back into the game, but Cheryl could see the finish line and wasn’t about to let up. Finally, on her third attempt, she was able to end it and move on to tomorrow’s Championship Match.

The second semifinal featured World #1, Rhonda Rajsich and World #4, Kerri Wachtel and this one also was a great match. Rhonda came out hitting solid, especially with her serve as she raced to a 7-0 lead, but Kerri wasn’t about to just give this match away. Slowly she inched her way back, but the initial lead and Rhonda’s athleticism eventually put this game away. Kerri tried to change things up as the second game began, but Rhonda was moving extremely well and her serves were certainly “on fire”. Kerri continued to fight through this one, but Rhonda could see the finals and she just kept putting on the pressure. Kerri kept the games close, but she couldn’t find the serves at the end of each game and so Rhonda was able to close it out and move on to the finals.

So it comes down to #1 versus #2 here at the 2008 Chemtech WPRO World Championships presented by Ektelon. Considering the season that both ladies have had, it is certainly fitting that they should meet with this Grand Slam Title on the line. They have met many times this season and many times over the past few years, so you can be sure that it will be a great match. Tune in at Noon Central Time as this is one you won’t want to miss. Check it out at:

http://www.racquetballonline.tv

April 21st, 2008 by Adam Katz

Chemtech WPRO World Championships round of 16

The Round of 16 brought an even higher level of shot making to the table as the afternoon session kicked into gear.

On the show court, World #3, Angela Grisar (Santiago, Chile) took on World #15, Samantha Salas (Leon, Guanajuato, Mexico) with a spot in the quarterfinals on the line. Angela came out firing on all cylinders in this one to claim the first game, but Samantha fought back and turned her own game up in the second as both players struggled for each point. It seemed that every great shot was met by an even better retrieval as both ladies were leaving it all on the court. Angela was able to scrape together enough points late to grab the 2-0 game lead, but this one was far from over.

Samantha caught fire in the fourth game and Angela was only able to smile as Samantha steamrolled her way back into the match. The packed crowd by the show court was now cheering each rally as both ladies were clearly on their game. Angela, in her usual precise style jumped out to an early lead in the fourth game and slowly marched her way to the win in the game and therefore the match. On to the quarterfinals for Angela.

The match between World #6, Paola Longoria (San Luis Poteci, Mexico) and World #12, Jo Shattuck (Denver, CO) started in a similar fashion as Paola came out on fire and Jo struggled to keep up. However, trailing 1-0 in games and 7-10 in points, Jo strung together 5 points with some incredible diving and great placement to even the match at a game a piece. That only seemed to fire Paola up as she stopped any and all mistakes and swept the last two games to book her spot in tomorrow’s quarterfinals, where she will face Angela.

Next up on the show court was World #2, Cheryl Gudinas Holmes (Naperville, IL) taking on Keely Franks (Euless, TX). Two things seemed to catch up with Keely in this one. First, she had battled through a brutal 5 game match only a few hours earlier. Second, she had to play Cheryl Gudinas Holmes. Keely gave it all she had, but Cheryl started off shooting lights out and simply never let up to book her spot in the Elite 8.

On Court 2, World #7, Brenda Kyzer (Leesville, MD) took on World #11, Doreen Fowler (Silver Spring, MD) for the right to face Cheryl Gudinas Holmes in the quarterfinals. Doreen came out extremely strong in this one to get the first game. Brenda then dug deep and came shooting strong. Doreen tried to keep up with the pace, but Brenda was on a mission and now she’s on to Saturday’s Quarterfinals.

World #4, Kerri Wachtel (Cincinnati, OH) went into her match with Phyllis Morris (Charlotte, NC) with a very determined look upon her face. Phyllis used her outstanding retrieval skills to keep many balls in play, but Kerri appeared on a mission in this one and never let Phyllis get too comfortable as she swept her way to the quarterfinals.

World #5, Kristen Walsh (Salt Lake City, UT) kept the momentum of the high seeds up by sweeping through former Junior National Teammate Da’Monique Davis (Tuscaloosa, AL) to earn her spot in the quarterfinals and a familiar match up with Kerri Wachtel.

Next up on the show court was World #1, Rhonda Rajsich (Phoenix, AZ) who was eager to show that her not having played yet wasn’t going to cause any problems. She came out strong against Candi Hostovich (Burke, VA) and closed her out with as Rhonda would later say, “A flat reverse roll.”

The last of the Round of 16 matches featured World #8, Adrienne Fisher (Centreville, OH) and World #9, Diane Moore (Griffith, IN) and this one would prove to be as close as their rankings. After splitting the first two games, 11 points weren’t enough to settle the third game as both players were continually making great shot after great shot. Adrienne was able to put the final two points together in the third game to grab the crucial 2-1 game lead and that pushed her over the top as she fought through a fourth straight point for point game to book her place in the quarterfinals.

So there you have it, one great day of racquetball and the top 8 Women in the World are still standing. The quarterfinals and semifinals await tomorrow here at the 2008 Chemtech WPRO World Championships presented by Ektelon.

April 19th, 2008 by Adam Katz

Chemtech WPRO World Championships presented by Ektelon Round of 32

The lower half of the overall draw is now down to the Round of 16 and once again the three game theme came through as these players tried to conserve energy for this afternoon’s battles.  The draw can be found HERE.

World #2, Cheryl Gudinas Holmes (Naperville, IL) led off this series of matches on the show court as she brought her brand of precision racquetball to the crowd and saw off the challenge of Beth Sacco (River Ridge, LA).  Beth played very well in this one, but Cheryl stayed calm throughout to pull away at the end of each game.

World #7, Brenda Kyzer (Leesville, SC) also swept through the Round of 32 in her match against Catherine Nichols-Dickinson (Ridgeville, Ontario, Canada).  Brenda is certainly hitting solid right now and will now start to focus on her Round of 16 match this afternoon.

World #11, Doreen Fowler (Silver Spring, MD) also came through in three tight games with Laura Brandt (Southwest Ranches, FL) and will now face Brenda Kyzer for a spot in Saturday’s quarterfinals.

This round of matches did produce the first 5 game marathon of the tournament in the match up between World #16, Keely Franks (Euless, TX) and World #19, Jennifer Saunders (Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada).  This match was simply a matter of changing momentum as these ladies battled point for point through 5 long games.  The match came in at just over 2 hours and 10 minutes, although it looked early on as though Jennifer would settle this one in 4 games as she had the 2-1 lead in games and a 5-0 lead in points.  However, Keely fought back and took advantage of a series of skip balls by Jennifer to force the tiebreaker.  That tiebreaker was a tense back and forth affair until Keely went on the run that brought her to the brink of the match at 10-6.  Jennifer wasn’t about to let this one slip away though and she slowly fought back point by point to 10-9.  Finally, on her 5th attempt to serve for the match, Keely hit the serve that forced the skip ba ll return and gave her the match and a Round of 16 meeting with World #2, Cheryl Gudinas Holmes (Naperville, IL).

April 19th, 2008 by Adam Katz

Greetings from New Orleans

Greetings from New Orleans, host of the 2008 Chemtech Women’s Professional Racquetball Organization (WPRO) World Championships presented by Ektelon.

The action kicked off this evening with the Pro Sponsor Doubles as 8 of the top Women’s players from around the world teamed with 8 local players for a fun and competitive evening of doubles.

When all was said and done, the final pitted current #4 Kerri Wachtel (Cincinnati, OH) and current 12 and Under National Champion Zach Wertz against current #9 Diane Moore (Griffith, IN) and local legend Dave McComb.

In a very close one game match to 11, Kerri and Zach were able to slip by for the 11-9 victory.  I asked Zach how he felt playing with Kerri, and he said, “She’s a great player, I was really happy that they teamed me with her.  We seemed to be able to read each other very well.”  Zach is also excited about playing in the Men’s A division this weekend in the Regional Qualifier for National Singles next month, although he’s more focused on the upcoming Junior Nationals at the end of June in Concord, CA.

Kudos have to go to Al Schof and his team at the Elmwood Fitness Center as they have gone all out for this one.  The club is in fantastic shape and Guy Keller has provided banners of the Top 10 ladies on display by the main courts.  If you happen to be in the New Orleans area this weekend, I would highly encourage you to come on out and cheer these ladies on.

The matches start at 10 am Central time on Friday and will be streamed live at the following site:

http://racquetballonline.tv

There will be plenty of action tomorrow as the ladies will play the Round of 32 and Round of 16 matches to be down to the quarterfinals by tomorrow night.

As a reminder, current World #1, Rhonda Rajsich (Phoenix, AZ) is the defending champion.  Last year, she defeated Mexican phenom, Paola Longoria (San Luis Poteci, MX).  Paola got some revenge last month at the Pan AM Championships in San Jose, Costa Rica, and now Rhonda is looking to finish the season strong and clinch her third season ending #1 title.

Also in her way will be current World #2, Cheryl Gudinas Holmes (Naperville, IL) who is also in the hunt for the coveted year end #1 ranking.  It would be her seventh and watching her earlier at the Pro Sponsor doubles, she is definitely focused.

April 19th, 2008 by Adam Katz

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

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 – WPRO Final

This one was billed as Rhonda’s Athleticism versus Cheryl’s Focus and this one definitely lived up to all the hype.

Cheryl came out strong shooting extremely well and Rhonda seemed to come out a little slower, but her great athletic talent kept her right there with her.  Both players traded side outs early in the first game trading serves at 1-1 and 2-2 for several serves.  Rhonda then started to click and built her lead to 5-2 before Cheryl could regain the all important serve.  However, once back in the service box Rhonda would go on the run that would get her to the brink of the first game.  Cheryl would fight back to 6, but would go no further as Rhonda closed out the first game and gave a quick fist pump.

In the second game, Rhonda started to catch fire as she jumped to a 4-1 lead.    Cheryl is a true champion and she wasn’t about to give this one away, so it surprised nobody in the house when she closed the score to 4-5.  Rhonda could sense the momentum changing and as she stepped into the service box, she took a quick, deep breath to get ready for the moment.  It certainly worked as she went on a run to 9-4 playing her usual aggressive style.  Cheryl as able to add one more point before the end, but Rhonda looked to be on a mission and she finished the second game 11-5 for the 2 game lead.

The third game would prove to be a great test of both players’ nerves.  Rhonda was clearly fired up and was looking to go for the kill and the sweep.  As such, she sprinted to a 3-0 lead.  Cheryl came into the service box and hit one of the best drive serves to the right side that I’ve seen in a while and totally sent Rhonda the wrong way.  That brought big momentum back to Cheryl, and she used it to tie the game at 3.  They would then go point for point right up to the pivotal moment of the match.  Rhonda serving 7-6, good rally, Rhonda set up on the side wall glass both p layers playing very close.  Rhonda hit Cheryl on her backswing and continued to hit a very close pinch shot.  The referee called the shot good instead of calling the avoidable.  Also, something happened to Rhonda at that moment.  I cannot tell you exactly what that was, she either hit Cheryl’s body, Cheryl’s racquet, the side wall, or her own racquet with her nose.  Any way you look at it, she was seriously bloodied and needed an injury timeout.  When all was said and done Cheryl was serving and Rhonda was not happy.  Cheryl used that to her advantage and strung together some very tough shots to grab the third game 11-8.

The crowd was starting the sense that this one might go five, but Rhonda had other ideas.  Cheryl did manage to take a 2-0 lead, but Rhonda wasn’t going to let this opportunity slip away that easily.  She came into the box and built her own 4-2 lead.  Both ladies could somehow feel that this game probably meant the title and Cheryl used that knowledge to come back for a 7-4 lead.  Once again, Rhonda refused to give in.  The crowd could clearly see that she was hurting, but she just kept plugging away, and with her amazing athletic ability to make impossible shots seem routine, she built her lead to match point.  Cheryl refused to give in, as always, and came back one last time to 9-10, but serving for match for the third time, Rhonda finally ended things with a well placed backhand down the left side out of Cheryl’s reach.  Cheryl was only able to look at the shot and nod knowing that the match was over.  11-9 to the 12th Choice Hotels US OPEN Racquetball Champion and now 2 time winner Rhonda Rajsich.

November 18th, 2007 by Adam Katz

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

US Open – The Quarterfinals

The WPRO worked overtime today as the ladies played both their round of16 and Quarterfinals.

First up on the Stadium Court here at the Choice Hotels US OPEN was 4th seed Kerri Wachtel of Ohio taking on Mexico’s Susana Acosta.  Both young ladies have represented their respective countries on many occasions, so the added pressure of being on the stadium court didn’t seem to affect either player as they both came out strong in this one.  11 points just weren’t going to be enough to settle this first game as Susana stepped into the service at 11-11.  She was able to close that one out, but Kerri changed th ings up and grabbed two games 11-7 and 11-4.  Needing a win to stay in, Susana fought back and once again went extra time for the 12-10 fourth game win to force the tiebreaker. However, in that breaker, Kerri came out on fire and stormed to the win 11-2.  That win earned Kerri a quarterfinal berth with Chile’s Angela Grisar.

On Thursday, when the IRT played two rounds in one day, 13 of the 16 matches were won in three games.  Today, Angela took her lead from that as she took on Maryland’s Doreen Fowler this morning.  Knowing that there would be another match later on today, Angela got on and off in 3 games to conserve some energy for the battle ahead.  Doreen played hard throughout, but it seemed that Angela had just a bit more at the end of each game to close it out and move on.

Utah’s Kristen Bellows came out very strong in her match with Indiana’s Diane Moore.  Diane had a 5 game battle yesterday and that seemed to take something out of her.  Combined with Kristen’s strong accuracy, Diane just couldn’t seem to find the right shot.  She fought bravely throughout but Kristen closed it out in three to move on to a quarterfinal match with third seed Cheryl Gudinas Holmes.

Cheryl came into her match with former US Junior Team member, Adrienne Fisher knowing that she would have a fight on her hands and this one did not disappoint.  Both players looked sharp early, but Cheryl was able to get that all important first game win 11-5.  Not one to get down on herself, Adrienne regrouped quickly and came out firing in game two.  When the dust settled, they were tied 1 game apiece after an 11-9 shootout for Adrienne.  At this point Cheryl got fired up and proceeded to bring everything in her arsenal as she was able to close out the next two games 11-4 and 11-8 to claim her spot in the quarterfinals.

Defending Champion, Christie Van Hees of Canada, continued her strong play today claiming a 3 game win over fellow Canadian, Jen Saunders on the stadium court.  Christie looked extremely sharp from the outset and never allowed Jen to get comfortable in this one.  This win sets up a rematch of one of last year’s semifinals here at the Choice Hotels US OPEN when she’ll face off with South Carolina’s Brenda Kyzer in the quarterfinals.

Brenda advanced to the quarterfinals by virtue of a truly hard fought 4 game battle with Mexico’s Samantha Salas.  Each game was very close, but Brenda used her veteran savvy towards the end of each game.  Samantha did manage to squeak out the third game, but Brenda appeared to be really well focused in this one and closed it out in four to move on.

The final quarter features top seed Rhonda Rajsich from Arizona who advanced with a tough 3 game victory over a very determined Candi Hostovich of Virginia.  Playing on the stadium court for the first time, Candi came out firing to a 3-0 lead.  But Rhonda slowly inched her way back and was able to end each game like the professional that she is.  In that quarterfinal, she’ll face one of the new faces of the WPRO in Mexican teenager, Paola Longoria, the current 16 and Under World Champion.

Paola advanced to the quarters with a very tough 4 game victory over Keely Franks of Texas.  Keely came out very strong in this one and seemed to surprise Paola with her shot making ability as she took the first game 11-9.  However, Paola dug deep and managed to sweep the next three games to set up a rematch of the final from this season’s very first stop the Outback Steakhouse Blast It!  In that event, Paola surprised everyone to win her first ever WPRO event.

The first quarterfinal match was the Angela Grisar-Kerri Wachtel battle and this one did not disappoint.  Angela came out shooting smart and Kerri was right there with her as the crowd was treated to a point for point struggle from the outset.  In the end, Angela was able to create a few more offensive opportunities and was able to capitalize on them for a hard fought four game victory.  This sets up a semifinal meeting on Saturday with top seed, Rhonda Rajsich.

Rhonda and Paola Longoria have enjoyed some great matches so far this season on the WPRO tour, and this one would prove to be another memorable one.  This one was close throughout, but Rhonda’s experience seemed to come to the fore at the critical moments of each game.  Although Paola did manage to gain the game two victory, Rhonda would come back to sweep the final two games to earn her place in the semifinals on Saturday afternoon.
The match up between Cheryl Gudinas Holmes and Kristen Bellows was another in a series of close matches between these two ladies, but Cheryl was able to close things out at the end of each of the three games to earn a semifinal match with Canada’s Christie Van Hees.

Christie and Brenda Kyzer played in the semifinals of the 2006 Choice Hotels US OPEN, and Brenda was looking for a better result.  However, Christie had other ideas on her mind as she came out strong keeping the pressure from the beginning.  Brenda did come out strong in the second game, but Christie changed tactics midway through and continued that momentum throughout the remainder of the match.
 
On the Men’s side, the top two seeds won three game matches today while the other two matches seemed to be absolute wars from start to finish.
 
First up was the Shane Vanderson – Alvaro Beltran match, and they got the quarters started with great flare as they have played some of the absolute best matches of the tour season so far.  Each match has been a classic and each match seems to go 5 games and today was no exception.
 
It didn’t start out looking like that would be the case as Shane charged out of the gates to grab the first two games.  At that point, I have to admit I started thinking about a comment Jason Mannino had made at the very start of the match.  He said that Shane would take the first two, Alvaro the next two and the breaker would be anyone’s guess.  Considering how well Shane played those first two, I doubted Jason’s prediction…my mistake.  Alvaro stormed back to take the next two and the tiebreaker turned out to be one for the ages.  Both players had mulitple match points before Shane was able to take the 12-10 win and the spot in the semifinals against Jack Huczek.
 
Jack played his usual controlled game and cruised past Jason Thoerner in three.  Perhaps being the ref for the previous 3 quarters had taken their toll on Jason before they even stepped on the court.
 
The second match on the stadium court today was the other war Jason Mannino and Mitch Williams.  Jason came out really strong in this one and Mitch seemed to be skipping a lot as Jason flew (sometimes literally) to the 11-4 win.  The first one may have appeared easy, but nothing of what turned out to be three remaining games proved to be that way as both players were able to turn their own respective games up a notch.  Jason gutted out the 11-9 second game win, but just when you thought this was only going three Mitch stormed back to squeak out the fourth game 11-9.  That only served to fire Jason up even more than he already was.  The fourth game was an all out war as both players left it all on the court.  In the end, Jason’s experience on the Stadium Court at the Choice Hotels US OPEN proved beneficial as he came away with the fourth game and the match 11-9.  That earns him a semifinal match with R ocky Carson.
 
Rocky played Andy Hawthorne in the quarters for the second year in a row and once again Rocky was able to earn a sweep.  Andy has had some good results at various Pro Stops, but he still seems a step below the big guns of the IRT Tour.
 
The Tennis Channel was out here today filming the quarterfinals and I can promise you that you don’t want to miss it when they air.  The current slate is for sometime in January and I will do my best to keep everyone updated of dates and times.
 
Tomorrow is billed as SUPER SATURDAY and it will definitely live up to the hype.  Both Women’s and Men’s semifinals…plus I will be on the stadium court for 3 rallies against a pro as they are doing a fund raiser for the St Jude Children’s Research Hospital…I know I can’t wait.
 
More later.

November 16th, 2007 by Adam Katz

2007 US OPEN – Rhonda Rajsich

Rhonda was ALL business during her round of 16 match:

IMG_4332

November 16th, 2007 by Geoff Thomsen

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