Racquetball: Double Donut Studios | Racquetball Action Photography

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

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

RB Update

Just wanted to send congratulations out to Kara Mazur, University of Alabama, and Tony Carson, Colorado State University – Pueblo, for their victories last weekend in the #1 Gold Division at Intercollegiates. Those wins have earned each a 1 year appointment to the US National Team.

Still awaiting word if Kara will now go on to New Orleans and the Chemtech WPRO World Championships presented by Ektelon April 17-20. This one will be a great event as Rhonda Rajsich and Cheryl Gudinas Holmes fight it out for the coveted year end #1 ranking. You can enter online for this one at:

http://www.r2sports.com/tourney/home.asp?TID=3645

The IRT is currently in Tijuana, Mexico, and 3 Herrera’s have made the main draw. Last week’s beaten finalist from the Men’s #1 Gold, Anthony Herrrera, has rebounded nicely to qualify into the main draw where he plays Rocky Carson.

There are some great matches slated for this tournament this weekend, so check out the results at:

http://www.irt-tour.com

This all leads up to the Big One…The Motorola IRT Pro Nationals presented by Verizon Wireless. All I can say is, get to Chicago if you can. Rocky Carson and Jack Huczek will be bringing all they have to win the year end #1 ranking. The brand new Lucite Court will make its debut and ESPN360 will be there, as well as ESPN Classic. You can check out the website at:

http://www.irt-pronationals.com

entry forms are available at that site. I didn’t see an online entry there, but you can download the form. If I can find the online entry, I will send that along.

April 4th, 2008 by Geoff Thomsen

Update

Lots of racquetball action coming up in the days and weeks ahead. First, the Choice Hotels US OPEN from November 2007 starts airing with Quarterfinal #1 tomorrow (Wednesday, Feb 6) at 9pm Eastern Time on the Tennis Channel. If you get the Tennis Channel, check it out!

Update: The Tennis Channel has revised their scheduling and the Choice Hotels US OPEN will not air tonight as previously reported. The first installment is now scheduled to air on Wed. Feb 20 at 9pm Eastern Time. Check out the following link to better track the schedule on the Tennis Channel.

http://tennischannel.com/schedule/index.aspx

Then the WPRO is in Tempe, AZ for the Ektelon Fireball Rollout this coming weekend Feb 7-10. You can follow the draws at the following link:

http://www.r2sports.com/tourney/home.asp?TID=3701

The following weekend will be the USAR National Doubles Championships also in Tempe, AZ. You can follow all the action at the following link:

http://www.r2sports.com/tourney/home.asp?TID=2459

Also, Racquetballonline.tv will be there showing all the best matches…check them out at:

http://www.racquetballonline.tv

As a reminder, Jacqueline Paraiso and Aimee Ruiz are the defending champions in the Women’s Qualifying Division and there is plenty of stiff competition as they try to repeat. Current WPRO #1 Rhonda Rajsich will team with Janel Tisinger once again, WPRO #2 Cheryl Gudinas Holmes will team with former Junior Team member, Shannon Inglesby, Kristin Walsh and Kim Russell-Walselenchuk will also be in the hunt.

The Men’s Qualifying Division has some interesting pairings as the defending champions, Ben Croft and Mitch Williams will split up and play with their usual partners, Woody Clouse and Jason Thoerner, respectively. It’ll be interesting to see how the seedings play out as 2006 champions, Rocky Carson and Jack Huczek return looking to regain the crown. Also in the fray will be John Ellis along with Junior Team Member Jose Rojas, fresh off his gold-silver performance at Junior Worlds in the 16s and 18s respectively.

Not playing in the Qualifying division, but still returning to competitive play will be one of the legends of the sport as Cliff Swain has entered the Men’s 40s and the Mixed Open.

Closing out a very busy February, the IRT will be at the Washington Athletic Club for the Seattle Open Feb 21-24, check out their website for further information at:

http://www.irt-tour.com

The USAR Junior Nationals will run June 25-29 at the Big C Athletic Club in Concord, CA. At the current time, I am uncertain of my attendance as I am trying to go to Beijing this coming August for the Summer Olympics.

Team Colorado will be raffling off a framed jersey autographed by one of the following Colorado sports players: Carmelo Anthony, Allen Iverson, or Joe Sakic in order to help pay for the trip out to Junior Nationals. At the current time, I am not sure which jersey will be made for raffle as I won’t be getting those until early March during a dinner at the Pepsi Center. Once details are finalized I will let everyone know how they can obtain tickets.

That’s all for now.

February 5th, 2008 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

WPRO – Superbowl Open Racquetball Championships

While the men’s professionals on the IRT are battling it out on the East Coast, the women of the WPRO will be having a showdown of their own in Stockton, CA at the Super Bowl Open Racquetball Championships. The top women’s players in the world will compete for precious ranking points as the season passes its halfway mark. Rhonda Rajsich started the season in the number one spot, but now trails Cheryl Gudinas by a narrow margin. Also to note is the race for number three, as Kerri Wachtel continues to climb the ladder with exceptional play and her eye on Angela Grisar’s 8-point third place lead. Also charging up the list is Brenda Kyzer, and after several semifinals appearance this year, trails number five player Kristen Walsh by just 36 points.

The draws have been posted for the Super Bowl Open, and if the top eight players advance to the quarterfinals, the matchups will be:

  • Q1: Cheryl Gudinas vs. Samantha Salas
  • Q2: Kerri Wachtel vs. Kristen Walsh
  • Q3: Angela Grisar vs. Brenda Kyzer
  • Q4: Rhonda Rajsich vs. Jo Shattuck

The bottom half of the draw should be very interesting, as the 2006 Pan American Women’s Singles Champion Paola Longoria plays Jo Shattuck in the 16′s. Also to note is the absence of Christie Van Hees in the draw for this event. There was a rumor that she was going to finish the season with appearances at each remaining stop, but that appears not to be the case.

Rankings as of January 7th, 2007:

Rank Name Points
1 Gudinas Holmes, Cheryl 1009
2 Rajsich, Rhonda 974
3 Grisar, Angela 722
4 Wachtel, Kerri 714
5 Walsh, Kristen 537
6 Kyzer, Brenda 501
7 Van Hees, Christie 460
8 Moore, Diane 338
9 Shattuck, Jo 293
10 Fowler, Doreen 291
11 Salas, Samantha 220
12 Gomez, Vivian 177
13 Fisher, Adrienne 167
14 Acosta, Susy 133
15 Hostovich, Candi 128
16 Brown, Tammy 101

January 18th, 2007 by Geoff Thomsen

2006 World Junior’s – Pictures

2006 IRF Junior World Racquetball Championships

Danielle Key congratulating her sister Michelle after the Girl’s 18 Singles Final (below):

Michelle Key being interviewed by Jim Hiser for the online feed (below):

Jose Rojas with Coaches Kelley Beane and Shane Wood (below):

Chris Coy and Sheryl Lotts (below):

Boys 10 Doubles Team Sean Cooperrider and Adam Manilla with Coach Jen Meyer during a timeout (below):

Sharon Jackson and an admirer from Team Ireland…cannot remember his name, Ruaidhri O’Rourke (below):

Ishmael Aldana talking things over with Coach Shane Wood (below):

US World Cup and Espirit Cup team at the Opening Ceremonies (below):

Captains Ashley Willhite and Allan Crockett leading Team USA into the Opening Ceremonies (below):

Cheryl Gudinas, Sharon Jackson, Kelley Beane prior to Sharon’s first match in pool play (below):

2 comments December 26th, 2006 by Adam Katz

WPRO – And we’re off!

After what seems to have been the LONGEST off-season ever, the professional athletes on the Womens’ Professional Racquetball Organization are back in action this weekend at the Outback Blast It! Pro-Am in Fayetteville, NC (live internet video feeds! See links below!).  Rhonda Rajsich returns as the number #1 ranked player on the tour to defend her title against an always tough draw.  One item to note is the absence of Christie Van Hees, who is rumored to have started a new job which prevents her from traveling as much.  Will we see her at other stops this season?

If the top eight ranked women make it to the quarterfinals this weekend, the matchup’s will be:

  • Q1: Rhonda Rajsich (1) vs. Tammy Brown (8)
  • Q2: Angela Grisar (4) vs. Diane Moore (5)
  • Q3: Kristen Walsh (3) vs. Brenda Kyzer (6)
  • Q4: Cheryl Gudinas (2) vs. Jo Shattuck (7)

Links:

September 11th, 2006 by Geoff Thomsen

2006 National Singles Photos – Men’s and Women’s Finals

Men’s Final – Rocky Carson def. Jack Huczek (15-10, 13-15, 11-3)

- Full Double Donut Match Gallery

Women’s Final – Rhonda Rajsich def. Cheryl Gudinas (15-5, 15-8 )

- Full Double Donut Match Gallery

June 10th, 2006 by Geoff Thomsen

Photos – Women’s Semifinals – 2006 National Singles

WS1 – Cheryl Gudinas def. Tammy Brown (15-9, 12-15, 11-1)

- Full Double Donut Match Gallery

WS2 – Rhonda Rajsich def. Kristen Walsh (15-7, 11-15, 11-9)

- Full Double Donut Match Gallery

June 10th, 2006 by Geoff Thomsen

2006 Singles Photos – Women’s Open Quarterfinals

The next round of photo processing includes the Women’s Open Quarterfinal rounds of the 2006 USA Racquetball National Singles Championship in Houston, TX. This was first night better quality photos started turning up, and I learned very quickly that shooting from the side glass is TRICKY with a very limited area on the court to get good shots.

Quarterfinal 1 – Cheryl Gudinas def. Brenda Kyzer (15-7, 15-8)

- WQ1 Double Donut Gallery Link

This match started out fast with Brenda firing shots to keep Cheryl on her toes. Both games started close, with Cheryl’s focus and consistency paying off in end.


Gudinas looks for a cross court pass while
Kyzer keeps the front court on lock-down. Photo: Geoff Thomsen

Kyzer rips a backhand to the corner as Gudinas
hurries back into position. Photo: Geoff Thomsen

Quarterfinal 2 – Tammy Brown def. Malia Bailey (15-14, 11-15, 11-4)

- WQ2 Double Donut Gallery Link

Tammy Brown wasted no time turning the power on, but Malia Bailey played every angle on the court to force a tie-break. This was a battle from beginning to end, as Malia tried to keep Tammy on the move and out of position. Tammy seemed to take the momentum when it counted, deep in the tie-break.


Brown blasts a photon from the back court. Photo: Geoff Thomsen

Bailey sends a backhand down the line away
from a waiting Brown. Photo: Geoff Thomsen

Quarterfinal 3 – Kristen Walsh def. Liz Alvarado (14-15, 15-2, 11-4)

- WQ3 Double Donut Gallery Link

Kristen got a slow start in this match, and Liz took every available opportunity. Kristen found a groove too late, and Liz steals game one 15-14.The rest of the match is all Kristen, with her excellent getting ability and power shooting.


Walsh gets some air to cover the down-the-line pass by Alvarado.
Photo: Geoff Thomsen

Alvarado scrambles back for a pass to catch Walsh in the front court.
Photo: Geoff Thomsen

Quarterfinal 4 – Rhonda Rajsich def. Kersten Hollander (15-11, 15-2)
- WQ4 Double Donut Gallery Link

This is the first time I see Rhonda playing her new “focused and smart” game. Part way through game one, she goes into the zone and puts an immediate stop to Kersten’s attack. With a game like this, Rhonda could go all the way.


Rajsich proves there’s no safe spot for a pass
on *this* court. Photo: Geoff Thomsen

Hollander moves in to take advantage as Rajsich scrambles
up from the floor. Photo: Geoff Thomsen

1 comment June 2nd, 2006 by Geoff Thomsen

2006 USAR National Singles Wrap-Up

First of all, CONGRATULATIONS to the 2006 USAR National Singles Racquetball Champions; Rocky Carson and Rhonda Rajsich!!! Rhonda interrupted Cheryl Gudinas’ 6th consecutive National Title by taking a win in 2004, but Cheryl stormed back in 2005 for her 6th overall title. After securing her first year-end #1 ranking on the WPRO Tour, Rhonda capped an incredible season with her second win at National Singles in three years. Rocky has been battling fiercely with Jack Huczek for the 6 past years, and dashed his chances to be the first male with three consecutive wins with a tie-break victory this past weekend. This title will be Rocky’s third, with wins also in 2000 and 2003.

Some quick DoubleDonut event stats:
Cans of redbull: 9 (slow start due to $3.50 a can at the Hyatt)
Cans of Coke: lost count
pictures taken: 4600
Matches and Events covered: 35

It’s going to take some time to process the “final cut” from those 4,600 shots, but I am hard at work. Check the site for updates, or subscribe to the RSS news feed to receive automatic updates. For now, some teasers:

What would National Singles be without some challenging photography? ;)

6 comments May 31st, 2006 by Geoff Thomsen

WPRO News

Rhonda takes Denver! – The WPRO stop in Denver, CO ended with gold for Rhonda Rajsich. After four close games in a semifinal win over Kristen Walsh, Rajsich fired through the finals beating Cheryl Gudinas in three. In the other semifinal match, Gudinas overcame a 2-1 game deficit to beat Angela Grisar.

New Commish! -

Shannon Feaster, long-time participant and promoter of the Women’s Professional Racquetball Organization (WPRO), has been elected to serve as its new Commissioner. For more than 20 years, the Maryland-based marketing executive has been committed to enhancing the growth and potential of women’s racquetball.

See www.ladiesproracquetball.com for complete details ..

February 7th, 2006 by Geoff Thomsen

WPRO / IRT Update

The New Mexico Open was played this weekend as a full tour stop for WPRO, and a Tier 2 event for the IRT.

In women’s play, number one seeded Christie Van Hees managed a NARROW 12-10 win in game 5 over Cheryl Gudinas (6, 8, (4), (3), 10). DRAWS WPRO

On the IRT draw, Rocky Carson cruised to a first place finish after meeting Josh Tucker in the finals (4, 4, 9). DRAWS IRT-TOUR

October 24th, 2005 by Geoff Thomsen

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