I just wanted to let everyone know that I will have a wrap up out at some point today or tomorrow, but I had to leave early yesterday in order to catch my flight out of Chicago.I did watch Chris Coy and Zach Apperson beat Mike Keddie and Rick Sledzick in the Boy’s 18 Doubles Final. I told Chris after that match that I had never seen him lose a match and so I was grateful that he kept that streak alive. He was just happy to have earned a spot on the US Junior Team.
I also saw Ishmael and Jose win the Boy’s 16 Doubles…they looked awesome…and then had to turn around and play each other for the Singles Gold. What great kids both of them are…and when Jose was awarded Male athlete of the year at the banquet, he even thanked Ishmael in his speech!
On the Team Colorado front, Elizabeth Vargas earned a spot on the Espirit Team at Junior Worlds, thanks to a win with Ohio’s Abbey Lavely in the Girl’s 10 doubles final. They beat Viscuso and O’Brien in a tiebreaker after falling behind 5-0 in that breaker…I am extremely impressed with her focus and perseverance.
I had to leave in the middle of the Girl’s 8 Single bounce final, but I do know that Erika Manilla won the title over Abbey’s little sister, Christina Lavely. Don’t know the scores, but I do know that they both played very well in the first game.
Adam Manilla finished his sweep of the 10s Divisions with a gold in the Boy’s Singles. Again, wasn’t there, but I do know he lost the first, won the second and dominated the tiebreaker.
As soon as I have some time to sort through what else happened, I will report. Pictures will probably take another week to get out as I am heading back out of town this evening for the remainder of the week.
June 26th, 2006
by Adam Katz
Another extremely emotional day up here in Lansing, Michigan, as most of the World Cup births were earned you had the extremes of joy and devastation. At times it was tough to watch, but these are all great kids and before too long everyone was back to smiling once again.
I do have to correct one thing from yesterday. The Doubles Finals were not set yesterday in the World Cup Age Groups. Instead, it was the semifinals that were set on the boy’s side.
First up this morning was the match between Coy/Apperson and Crockett/Miller. This one was a true battle from the beginning as Crockett/Miller were on fire in the first game. Claiming a 15-7 win, things weren’t looking so good. But the two minutes between games seemed to re-energize Coy/ Apperson as they came out killing everything in sight for a 15-1 win in game 2. The tiebreaker, of course was a very nervous affair as Sue Coy was pacing her way around the area that I was watching in. I tried all I could to reassure her, but she wouldn’t believe me until Chris and Zach put away the 11-8 victory. At that point, she finally started to breathe again.
They will meet Keddie/Sledzik for the spot on the team in tomorrow’s finals. This will mean two matches tomorrow for Mike Keddie as he will also be in the Boys 18 Singles Final against Allen Crockett. Allen pulled the big upset of the day defeating Chris Coy in a very up and down battle 11-2 in the tiebreaker. I talked with Chris earlier at the banquet and he is looking forward to the doubles and the chance to end his Junior career with a spot on the US Junior Team.
The 16s Doubles will also feature the top two seeds in the final tomorrow. Aldana/Rojas will play both singles and doubles tomorrow as they look to double qualify. Jose Rojas, who earlier was named Co-Male Junior Athlete of the Year, has looked truly unbeatable this week and will take on his longtime friend Ishmael Aldana. Ishmael started slow in his match with Danny Lavely, but was able to regroup in the second game to start to pull it out. He has the type of game to win, but Jose has that look in his eyes.
The 14s Doubles will also feature a match between the top two seeds as Bredenback/Knoth take on Reid/Lee. The singles will have Brad Kirch going up against Taylor Knoth for the gold.
The Girl’s 18 Doubles final was played today as Female Junior Athlete of the Year Kara Mazur and Samantha McGuffey won a streaky match against Sarah Hetteshiemer and Michelle Key. Game winners jumped to big leads in all three games, only to be caught by the opponents, but they were unable to maintain the momentum of the comeback and fell. The Tiebreaker started with a 7-0 run by Mazur/McGuffey before they fell behind 8-7. But they regrouped to close things out 11-8.
The Girl’s 16 Doubles also ended play today as Sharon Jackson and Holly Hettesheimer won the gold. Sharon has now double qualified for the Junior World Cup.
In the 14 Doubles, Danielle Key and Lilly Berry have taken the gold, and Danielle has double qualified as she will play for the singles gold in tomorrow’s final.
The Espirit Cup team is mostly decided as only the Girl’s 10 Doubles and Boy’s 12 Doubles spots remain to be filled. The team currently consists of:
Mercedes Arias (Doubles)
Sean Cooperrider (Doubles)
As for Team Colorado, another strong day for most of the team.
Our new leader, Adam Manilla again completed a 3-0 day and claimed his first two National Championships for this year, his third and fourth overall.
His day started with the Boy’s 10 Doubles Final against fellow Team Colorado player Zach Pellowski and Chris Francis of New Hampshire. Adam and Sean jumped to big leads in each of the two games and held on late for the 15-10, 15-12 victory. I watched this match next to US Junior Team Coach, Kelley Beane as she coaches Chris Francis, and she was the first of many people to tell me how impressed they are with Adam Manilla’s play and demeanor on court.
After that came the Boy’s 10 Singles semifinal against Ohio’s Spencer Shoemaker, Spencer gave it all he had, but he had never experienced playing a lefty before and that proved too much to overcome as he fell in two close games.
His day ended with the Mixed Doubles Final against singles finalist Bobby Sehrgosha and Sabrina Viscuso. Again two close games saw Adam and Oregon’s Hollee Hungerford claim the National Title.
Elizabeth Vargas started the day with a doubles match that was very straightforward and close. Two close games with Hollee Hungerford and Victoria Fladstol now put them on the brink of a National Championship. After that, she faced Hollee Hungerford in the Girl’s 10 Singles semifinals. This match was a roller coaster as Elizabeth fell behind 5-14 in game one before she found her groove and closed out the game. She fell behind again in both the 2nd game and the tiebreaker and just ran out of time before she could come back, losing 11-9 in the tiebreaker.
Zach regrouped from his loss in the Doubles final to win his Blue Division singles semifinal.
Matt McAdam lost his Blue division semifinal, but won his Mixed Doubles consolation match.
So tomorrow Adam Manilla goes for his 3rd National Championship this year in the Boy’s 10 Singles. Erika Manilla goes for the Gold in the Girl’s 8s and Girl’s 8 Multi Bounce. Elizabeth Vargas attempts to win the Girl’s 10 Doubles. Zach Pellowski attempts to win the Blue division of the Boy’s 10s. Elizabeth and Matt McAdam attempt to win the Mixed 10 Doubles Consolations.
Overall, a very strong performance by a great group of kids!
Also, an early note about tomorrow, due to the fact that I have to get home, I will be leaving before most of the best matches take place. I cannot even guarantee that I will get any kind of update out to everyone, but I will do what I can.
June 25th, 2006
by Adam Katz
Photos from the 2006 USA Racquetball National Junior Olympic Championships in Lansing, MI
Darold Key with Michelle Key prior to the semifinal with Kara Mazur (below):
Ed Mazur with Kara Mazur prior to the semifinal (below):
US Junior Team Coach Kelley Beane with Sheryl Lotts (below):
Courtney Chisholm with US 12 and Under Coach Jen Meyer (below):
Sharon Jackson being interviewed by Royster Productions (below):
June 25th, 2006
by Adam Katz
I mentioned the other day that the day before Junior Nationals begins is always my favorite day because there is no competition, therefore no disappointment. Well, today marked the beginning of the three most emotional days in Junior Racquetball as appointments to the US Junior Team began to be earned. The first four appointments to the Junior Team were earned today and the matches that produced those players were simply amazing.The match of the day was the Girl’s 18 semifinal between top seeded Kara Mazur and number 4 Michelle Key, they played for the title in the Girl’s 16 Singles last year with Kara winning in the breaker. Well today Michelle exacted her revenge. Playing point for point throughout, Michelle squeaked out the 11-10 victory. Of course, afterward you had the extremes of the day as Michelle celebrated her spot on the team, while Kara was very upset at this missed opportunity. She has another chance in the Girl’s 18 Doubles tomorrow, though, so all is not lost.
The other semifinal featured Former 16s World Champion, Ashley Willhite, against Sarah Hettesheimer. Again, another tough battle, but again the lower seeded Willhite prevailed. And yet more emotions from both players, ironically, both Sarah and Kara have opportunities to earn spots on the team via the doubles, but only one of them will earn it as they meet in the finals tomorrow with other partners.
In the Girl’s 16 Singles, Sharon Jackson and Sherrika Darnell have earned spots on the team for the next year by virtue of 2 convincing wins today.
The remaining spots on the team will be earned tomorrow and the singles national champions will be determined on Sunday.
Performances of note on the Girl’s side today were Danielle Key in the Girl’s 14s, Devon Pimentelli in the Girl’s 12s, Abbey Lavely in the Girl’s10s and Erika Manilla in the Girl’s 8s.
On the Boy’s side, the draws continued to shrink getting us to the semifinals. To date the seeds have held to form and tomorrow promises some truly great racquetball as more Junior Team Appointments are on the line. Today’s top performances were turned in by Mike Keddie in the Boy’s 18s, Jose Rojas in the Boy’s 16s, Taylor Knoth and Brad Kirch in the 14s, Marko Rojas in the 12s, Adam Manilla in the 10s, and Ryan Francis in the 8s.
As far as doubles is concerned, they are down to the finalists in each division and there are some great match ups to look forward to tomorrow.
Junior Team Coach Kelley Beane arrived in town today, as did World #2 Cheryl Gudinas for the weekend of meeting with the newest members of their team…our team. The first step in the process that will culminate with their participation at the Junior World Championships in December.
On the Team Colorado front, things went fairly well today. Tim Smith is done, but had a great day watching his teammates and all the other great matches. Kevin Hernandez fell out of the Red Division of the Boy’s 16 singles and that has ended his tournament, but Bryce Johnston still has one more doubles match left in the Boy’s 14 Doubles Consolation bracket.
Now for all of the good news! To start, Adam Manilla capped a perfect 3-0 day as he rolled through his singles 15-9, 15-8. Once again he continued mixing things up as he looks ahead to a semifinal showdown with Spencer Shoemaker from Ohio. In doubles, he and partner Sean Cooperrider fought threw a grueling battle with Kyle Ulliman and Spencer Shoemaker before winning in the tiebreaker 11-4. That match seemed to take something out of Kyle as they had to turn around and play in the Mixed 10 Doubles. Although the match went to a tiebreaker, the 11-0 scoreline left little doubt who had won. I know Adam was a very tired young man afterwards, but he is very focused on the task at hand. He really wants 3 gold medals.
His sister, Erika, was not to be outdone as she went 2-0 today with wins in the Girl’s 8 Singles and Girl’s 8 Multi Bounce. These wins place her in the finals of both divisions and she gets to enjoy a day off before those matches. Of course, she won’t really enjoy that, as I know that she will walk onto any open court she can find and hit for just a few minutes throughout the day tomorrow, it is just her nature.
Elizabeth Vargas also capped a 3-0 day today with a 15-14, 15-14 win in the Girl’s 10 Singles as well as wins in the 12/10 Doubles and 10 Mixed Doubles Consolation brackets. The Singles win puts her in the semifinals tomorrow and the Doubles win sets them up for a medal of some kind in that competition.
Matt McAdam also had a 2-0 day with wins in the Boy’s 10 Singles Blue division, as well as the Mixed 10 Doubles Consolation.
Zach Pellowski completed the perfect day for our youngest competitors with a victory in the Boy’s 10 Singles Blue Division. He and partner, Chris Francis from New Hampshire, await Adam and his partner Sean Cooperrider in the Boy’s 10 Doubles Final tomorrow morning at 10:30 Eastern time. This guarantees a Coloradan at least part of a national championship at these Junior Nationals.
June 23rd, 2006
by Adam Katz
L-R: Alicia Fladstol, Hollee Hungerford, Abbey Lavely, Victoria Fladstol (below):
L-R: Zach Pellowski, Erika Manilla, Adam Manilla, Hollee Hungerford (below):
L-R: Facing Camera Jose Rojas, Michelle Key, Danielle Key (below):
Me (Adam Katz) at the pool party (below):
L-R: Sarah Hettesheimer and Kara Mazur. Richard Sledzik in the back (below):
June 22nd, 2006
by Adam Katz
Another fantastic day of racquetball here at the Head/Penn Junior Olympic Racquetball Championships in Lansing, MI. Things are starting to heat up as the divisions draw closer to their respective conclusions.A couple of upsets to note to start this report, in the Boy’s16 Doubles Current World 14 Champions Danny Lavely and Chad McGuffey were beaten by Brad Kirch and John-Craig Chisholm in 3 very close games. I believe the scores were 15-10, 14-15, 11-6. Also, in the Girl’s 16 Singles, 2nd seed Holly Hettesheimer lost to California’s Sherrika Darnell. I don’t recall any specifics about the match, but I did talk with Sherrika afterward and she was very happy with this result.
All of the big names were in action today in both singles and doubles. One particular mention that needs to be made was Jose Rojas. In Juarez, Mexico last December during Junior Worlds he had a specific look in his eyes as he plowed through the draw on his way to a World title. That look is back!
Chris Coy looked comfortable today winning his singles and then teaming with Zach Apperson to easily claim victory in doubles. Mike Keddie also looks good on these courts. He played his singles on the show court which has left side and back wall glass. As hard as he hits the ball, it was easy to tell who was on that court as I watched some of my Colorado kids on the court next door.
In the 16s, Ismael Aldana also won his match quite easily and then teamed with Jose Rojas for a victory in the doubles. Chad McGuffey got over the disappointment of the doubles defeat and won a hard fought battle in the singles.
In the 14s, all of the seedings held to form in both the singles and doubles.
On the Girl’s side, the top 4 seeds were all in action today in the 18s and they all claimed comfortable quarterfinal wins. This sets up matches between Kara Mazur and Michelle Key on the top half and Sarah Hettesheimer and Ashley Willhite on the bottom half. Michelle and Sarah also teamed today to win the first match of the 3 team Girl’s 18 Doubles.
In the 16s, the remaining seeds held to form after Sherrika’s big win, but I cannot tell you anything about the doubles as they were held at the alternate club and I didn’t get over there today.
In the 14s, again all seeds held to form and the matches were played at the alternate club.
On the Espirit side, things are starting to get very tight as they near the qualifying positions for Junior Worlds. I missed most of the matches in these divisions today outside of the Team Colorado matches, so those are the only ones I can talk about at this time. The Michigan organization hosted a pool party this evening after play had ended complete with outdoor racquetball, volleyball and hot dogs.
On the Team Colorado front, Adam Manilla completed a 2-0 day as he cruised into the quarterfinals of the singles with a 15-1, 15-2 victory. He was obviously in control of this match from the beginning, but he did take the time to work on all aspects of his game to get them used to these courts for later battles. He followed that up with a convincing win in the Mixed Doubles battle with his sister, Erika. Adam, like Jose Rojas, seems on a mission in this tournament, and at this point I’m just very glad that I don’t have to play him!
The rest of the news in the Boy’s 10 Singles wasn’t so good for Team Colorado. Both Zach Pellowski and Matt McAdam fell out of the Gold Division and into the Blue Division as they suffered tough defeats. Both matches were very close, but neither players was able to pull out the victory.
On the plus side, though, Zach was able to regroup with his doubles partner, Chris Francis from NH, and win their semifinal in the Boy’s 10 Doubles winning over Matt and his partner, Conlon Berry of Ohio.
Tim Smith had a lot of fun today, but fell out of the tournament in both singles and doubles. The experience has been extremely fun for him and he looks forward to starting his training for next year.
Bryce Johnston learned another lesson today in the Red Division and will now give the White Division a shot tomorrow, he also has consolation doubles to look forward to.
Kevin Hernandez managed to win is Red Division match today and will continue on in that division tomorrow.
Despite the loss to her big brother, Erika was able to storm back and post a 15-1, 15-0 victory in the girl’s 8 Singles. Only two more matches in that 5 team round robin to go. Tomorrow she’ll start her play in the Girl’s 8 Multi Bounce.
Elizabeth Vargas had a mixed day as she and Girl’s 10 Doubles partner Abbey Lavely of Ohio won their match in the 12/10 doubles. However, she and Mixed 10 Doubles partner Matt McAdam lost a tough tiebreaker in the quarterfinals.
Now that you know what happened at the tournament, it’s time to let you all know some other information. A few months ago, I was asked by Ed Mazur, Chairman of the USAR Junior Council, to join the Executive Board of that Council. Well, after going back and forth for a while, I accepted. Unfortunately, I have discovered that I don’t have any desire to continue working on the national level and would prefer to downsize to spending the time that I do during the weeks with our kids in CO. As such, I will be handing in my resignation effective at the end of this tournament on Sunday.
I will still continue to do what I can to keep people updated about tournaments like Junior Nationals and Junior Worlds, but at the same time I will keep myself focused on my Team Colorado kids!
June 22nd, 2006
by Adam Katz
Photos from the 2006 USA Racquetball National Junior Olympic Championships in Lansing, MI
L-R: Erika Manilla, Elizabeth Vargas, U.S. 12 and Under Coach Jen Meyer, and Bonnie McGuffey (below):
Mr. Charles Lee talking with his son, Joseph Lee (below):
L-R: Boy’s 10 Doubles – Robert Hemphill, Thomas Thorndike, Adam Manilla, Sean Cooperrider (below):
June 22nd, 2006
by Adam Katz
Day Two of the 2006 USA Racquetball National Junior Olympic Championships in Lansing, MI (Copyright 2006 Adam Katz)
Well the action started bright and early this morning, and of course I was unable to watch too many matches so I cannot give too much detail except for the Team Colorado matches.
There were no major upsets today as the seeds progressed on one more day. I briefly saw Jose Rojas in action, and he looked particularly impressive in his debut in the Boy’s 16s.
The match of the day, however, featured Oregon’s Dylan Reid taking on California’s Tyler Lanman. Dylan is a seasoned player at Junior Nationals while Tyler was making his Junior Nationals debut. From the beginning, Tyler had Dylan frustrated as he took advantage of many errors to win the first game 15-11 and jump to a 12-1 lead in the second. At that point, Dylan regrouped and fought his way back into the match. Chipping away, he kept Tyler scoreless for the duration gaining a truly hard fought 11-15, 15-12, 11-0 win.
Other performances of note included Joseph Lee in the Boy’s 14s, Courtney Chisholm in both the Girl’s 12s and Girl’s 14s, Danny Lavely in the Boy’s 16s, and Alex Ackermann in the Boy’s 18s.
On the Team Colorado Front, overall a mixed day, but all the kids played hard and had a lot of fun. Zach Pellowski led the way with an impressive 3-0 day (Singles, Doubles, and Mixed). The Mixed match being the highlight of our day as he was listed as needing a partner this morning. After several attempts to find girls for him to play with, I came to one solution. Girl’s 8 and 8 Multi Bounce competitor, Erika Manilla, also of Colorado. Erika proved up to the challenge as she more than held her own with some solid serves and strong play on the right side in the 15-5, 15-7 victory. That win sets up a meeting with her older brother, Adam and Oregon’s Hollee Hungerford tomorrow evening. Most of Team Colorado had dinner together this evening, and the talking has definitely begun. The big match takes place tomorrow evening at 5:20.
Erika also had a perfect day as she also won her Girl’s 8 Single Bounce match in two.
Elizabeth Vargas started her 2006 Junior Nationals with a match in the Girl’s 12/10 Doubles and she and partner, Abbey Lavely of Ohio lost a tough two gamer to a local Michigan team. The girls learned a lot in this match and are looking forward to their next match in this round robin event.
Matt McAdam and partner Conlon Berry of Ohio received a forfeit win in their first match. Meanwhile, Adam Manilla and Sean Cooperrider of Florida played and looked very impressive in their15-3, 15-1 win. Many people walking by the match were amazed at Adam’s command of the court for such a young age (Boy’s 10s).
Our other players making their junior nationals debuts suffered from a very common occurrence as both Tim Smith and Bryce Johnston were a bit overwhelmed by the ability of their opponents and lost tough two game matches. Each still has doubles to go tomorrow as well as life in the Red Division of their respective age brackets, and they are both looking forward to these experiences.
And the hardest hit player on the Team Colorado roster was Boy’s 16s player Kevin Hernandez. Kevin played hard and looked very strong in both his singles and doubles matches, but lost both. Of course, it probably didn’t help that Bob Croft was coaching his singles opponent.
Anyway, there isn’t much else to report…for tomorrow’s report I will try to talk to some of the other team coaches and get some information on their players for everyone. I will also try to get a report of Team Standings after the first 2 days of competition.
June 22nd, 2006
by Adam Katz
Well, people started arriving throughout the day here in Michigan and we all managed to make our way over to the Michigan Athletic Club. This is always the most fun part of the tournament for me…just seeing friends, no competition just friendship and stories.Making the rounds today were Shane Vanderson and US Adult Team Coach, Dave Ellis.
I spoke with Dave for a while as he filled me in on the Pan Ams in Guatemala and the upcoming IRF World Championships in Santa Domingo. The Adult team really needs money to be able to make it down there…so if you are able, please do what you can.
The seedings are out for the tournament and I will let everyone know the top four for each single division and the top 2 for each doubles division. At the end of each update, I will focus on my Team Colorado kids.
Before I give you the seeds, I just wanted to say that each division is loaded with some amazing talent from all over the country. As many of you know, Team Oregon has won this event for the past 14 years. Well, this year promises some very tough competition in the Team race between Oregon, California, and Ohio.
Now the seeds:
1. Current High School National Champion, Kara Mazur CT
2. Sarah Hettesheimer OH
3. Ashley Willhite OR
4. Michelle Key AZ
Girl’s 16 Singles
1. Sharon Jackson IN
2. Holly Hettesheimer OH
3. Teresa Diaz CA
4. Sheryl Lotts OH (last year’s winner in the Girl’s 14s)
Girl’s 14 Singles
1. Danielle Key AZ
2. Aubrey O’Brien CA
3. Lily Berry OH
4. Courtney Chisholm MA
Girl’s 12 Singles
1. Samantha Rosado CT
2. Devon Pimentelli CA
3. Courtney Chisholm MA
4. Anna Thorndike OR
Girl’s 10 Singles
1. Abbey Lavely OH
2. Elizabeth Vargas CO
3. Hollee Hungerford OR
4. Alicia Fladstol OR
Girl’s 8 Singles
1. Erika Manilla CO
2. Christina Lavely OH
Boy’s 18 Singles
1. Chris Coy, OK, Defending Champion
2. Mike Keddie, NH
3. Darrel Miller
4. Allen Crockett AL
Boy’s 16 Singles
1. Ismael Aldana CA
2. Jose Rojas CA
3. Jerome Jackson
4. Danny Lavely OH
Boy’s 14 Singles
1. Brad Kirch NY
2. Joseph Lee LA
3. Taylor Knoth OR
4. Jade Hemiller SD
Boy’s 12 Singles
1. Marco Rojas CA
2. Sam Reid CA
3. Jose Diaz CA
4. John Lindsey OR
Boy’s 10 Singles
1. Adam Manilla CO
2. Chris Francis NH
3. Conlon Berry OH
4. Spencer Shoemaker OH
Boy’s 8 Singles
1. Ryan Francis NH
2. Derrick Wray
Girl’s 18 Doubles
1. Key/Hettesheimer AZ/OH
2. Mazur/McGuffey CT/OH
Girl’s 16 Doubles
1. Hettesheimer/Jackson OH/IN
2. Taylor/ Lotts IN/OH
Girl’s 14 Doubles
1. Key/Berry AZ/OH
2. Klopp/Horyza CA/CA
Girl’s 12/10 Doubles
1. Lavely/Vargas OH/CO
2. O’Brien/Viscuso CA/CA
Boy’s 18 Doubles
1. Keddie/Sledzik NH/MA
2. Coy/Apperson OK/OH
Boy’s 16 Doubles
1. Aldana/Rojas CA/CA
2. Allen/McDermott TX/TX
Boy’s 14 Doubles
1. Bredenbeck/Knoth MN/OR
2. Reid/Lee OR/LA
Boy’s 12 Doubles
1. Diaz/Rojas CA/CA
2. Reid/Lindsey OR/OR
Boy’s 10 Doubles
1. Berry/McAdam OH/CO
2. Manilla/Cooperrider CO/FL
So as you can see a broad spectrum of the states is represented here. The action starts first thing in the morning, and I will provide coverage of as much as I can…hopefully including photos.
I will include the link for the draws tomorrow.
June 21st, 2006
by Adam Katz
This weekend, the top junior players in the country are descending upon Lansing, MI in hopes of bringing home a national title at the 2006 USA Racquetball National Junior Olympic Championships. Oregon has won the state title for 14 consecutive years, but will be face stiff competition this weekend.
June 21st, 2006
by Geoff Thomsen