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2008 National Singles: Manufacturers’ Booths

The USA Racquetball National Singles Championships has traditionally been title sponsored by Ektelon, so they have been the only manufacturer allowed to to set up a booth showcasing the new season’s products.  The other companies were forced to host suites back at the sponsoring hotel, where sponsored players would congregate to see the new products and enjoy some snacks.  This year, four of the major racquetball equipment manufacturers had booths in the players’ village.  Ektelon, Head, E-Force, and Gearbox were all on-site showing off new products.

Ektelon – I’d say that Ektelon definitely had the largest presence, with their typical huge banners, and tons of products from their entire line (racquets, apparel, etc) both for see and for sale.  As Ektelon brings this setup to all of the major national events, it’s no surprise that they have a fine-tuned event machine.

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Head – A big presence at the US OPEN, it was nice to see Head with a big display at National Singles.  Besides showcasing the forthcoming technology, they also a HUGE display of old racquets to stir up the racquetball memories.  And to keep you always coming back for more, Head also had a TV in the booth running Fran’s instructional DVD’s, and Tennis Channel broadcasts for past US OPEN events.

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Gearbox – Still relatively new on the scene, Gearbox brought a worthy booth to National Singles.  New apparel, as well as some new racquet designs were on display, and the Gearbox staff of Joel Arredondo and Rafael Filippini were always ready to chat about anything racquetball related.

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E-Force – The guys at E-Force kinda got the bum location of all the vendors, way back in the corner of the players’ village.  You kinda missed it when walking in, and by the time you’re leaving the club after a long day, stopping by a booth seemed like the last thing on your mind.  The new racquets looked and felt GREAT, and I think Chris Crowther was all the advertisement they needed.  He was absolutely CRUSHING every single shot of every rally.  Bar-none, he had the most powerful game of anyone at the event.

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June 11th, 2008 by Geoff Thomsen

2008 Racquetball Racquets – Ektelon / Head

Eketelon and Head both had their new racquet for the 2008-2009 season on display today. Ektelon had the new Ektelon O3 Speedport RED/CAMO on display, which is a 170g frame available in two color schemes – Either a silver/red or a camo/black special edition. The graphics/paint on both looked great! The camo was a GREAT call, I’m sure that racquet will be in HIGH demand (note to all Team Ektelon players, GET YOUR ORDERS IN EARLY :) ). The ports now mimic the square versions seen on the Prince tennis frames, and the frame is tapered down at end similar to the Ektelon O3 Red of yore. www.ektelon.com
Racquetball Racquet: Ektelon o3 Speedport

Racquetball Racquet: Ektelon o3 Speedport

Racquetball Racquet: Ektelon o3 Speedport

Head introduced th “AMP SERIES”, with the Head AMP 175, Head AMP 185, and Head AMP 195. The frames had a big “port” in the lower throat, and felt amazingly similar to the IGS series of a few years back (by the shape of the frame and weight in the hand). If these play anything like my beloved Head 175 IGS, I may have my racquet for the 2008 – 2009 season. www.head.com

Racquetball Racquet: HEAD AMP 195

Racquetball Racquet: HEAD AMP 185

Racquetball Racquet: HEAD AMP 175

May 22nd, 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

Ektelon Launches the 2007-2008 Racquet Line

While at the 2007 National Singles Racquetball Championships last month, I got a chance to check out the new sticks by Ektelon.  A few stats on the racquets quickly jumped to my attention.  First of all, the new top-of-the-line model, the O3 Copper, will come in at 190 grams.  This is the first Ektelon flagship racquet in a LONG time that tipped the scales over 170g (was the last, the yellow and black Vendetta at 190g?).  They also include small “plugs” that can be inserted into the frame to increase the weight / change the balance.  It will be interesting to hear some feedback once these racquets hit the streets.

Debuting in the second slot, is the 03 White.  This is not the 03 RG (which is also white).  I’ve spent some time hitting with this racquet, and it feels like the natural 170g successor to the 03 Black.  Good balance and power, great racquet all around.  Also included with the O3 White are the “plugs”.

Another interesting move that caught my attention was the reduced weight of the 03 RG.  Last year when Ruben Gonzales’ Signature Racquet debuted, it was a rebranded version of the 03 Red, which was 170g.  It seems like they’ve truly set this frame into its own by reducing the weight by 5g to 165g.  I like that Ektelon has decided to separate the line a little!

If anyone has played with either of these three racquets (or has any other general feedback about the new line), please leave a comment below!

The Leader in Racquetball Technology Unveils Three New O3 Racquets
O3 Copper, O3 White and O3 RG Offer Revolutionary Customization Options

Bordentown, NJ – May 17, 2007 – Racquetball players everywhere are already buzzing about the never-before-seen racquet customization offerings incorporated into Ektelon’s three new O3 racquets. The sport’s technology leader is proud to officially announce the introduction of the O3 Copper, O3 White and O3 Ruben Gonzalez (RG) – all of which incorporate the company’s new, patented Total Racquet Customization offerings. Total Racquet Customization provides players the opportunity to personally fine-tune their racquets depending on power, stability, weight and balance preferences and makes Ektelon the only company to truly put players in complete control of their racquet and game.

Beginning this July, all three racquets will be available to consumers and will come complete with a set of four Power Plugs and in the case of the O3 Copper, Power Ring Inserts as well.

“This is an incredible, breakthrough offering for racquetball players, “said Scott Winters, General Manager at Ektelon. “Customization is a huge story. We know each player has his own personal preference when it comes to how power, weight and balance are incorporated into the racquet. With the customization options built into these three different O3 frames, players can now tweak an already incredible racquet into something even greater – depending on what they like best or need most.”

How it works:
Clearly marked, small, thermoplastic “Power Plugs “can be inserted directly into the 12 o’clock O-ports to change the weight and balance of the frame. Every two plugs inserted increases the racquets power level by 100 points and its weight by 3 grams.

In addition to Power Plugs, each O3 Copper will come with two inter-changeable throat pieces called Power Ring Inserts that will allow players the opportunity to string the racquet four different ways! The Power Ring Inserts help customize the string bed for maximum power, added control and additional string life.
All three O3 racquets offer unique features – The O3 Copper is a Super Widebody frame and is the most powerful of the three. It comes complete with a set of Power Plugs and Power Ring Inserts as well as a customization kit.

The O3 White, the racquet of choice for Rocky Carson, is also a Super Widebody frame, and comes with Power Plugs to help add weight, power and dictate balance.

The O3 Ruben Gonzalez (RG), designed in partnership with one of the game’s greatest legends, is Ektelon’s lightest O3 racquet ever made and comes complete with Power Plugs and an autographed souvenir head cover

“Power is the name of the game and O3 technology on its own is amazing. But offering additional ways to fine-tune the racquet to gain additional power while dictating balance and weight is incredible,” said Carson. “These small inserts add huge benefits and it is hard to now imagine my racquet without them. I have found that using two power plugs gives me just the right combination of power, stability and balance I need to succeed on tour! Ektelon has again taken into consideration the needs of players and raised the bar in terms of racquet offerings and innovations.”

About the Racquets:

O3 Copper:
• Super Widebody frame
• Weight -190g,
• Includes Power Plugs, Power Ring Inserts and Customization Kit.
• Power Level 3300-3500.
• Retail Price $229.99

O3 White:
• Super Widebody frame
• Weight -170g
• Includes Power Plugs
• Power Level 3200-3400.
• Retail Price $199.99

O3 Ruben Gonzalez signature model:
• Weight – 165g
• Includes Power Plugs and special souvenir head cover.
• Power Level 2750-2950
• Retail Price $199.99

All three racquets will be available at sporting goods stores or wherever racquets are sold. To learn more about Ektelon, O3 Technology or to find out more about racquet customization, log onto www.ektelon.com/customizeit.

About Ektelon
Based in Bordentown, New Jersey, Ektelon is a division of Prince Sports, Inc. Ektelon has enjoyed the longest, most successful reign of dominance in the sport of racquetball. Ektelon’s heritage includes the introduction of more revolutionary technologies and programs to the sport of racquetball than any other company. Ektelon innovations include oversized racquetball racquets, the Racquet Taper System (RTS), Power Ring® racquets and Total Racquet Customization among others. For more information please contact us at 800-283-2635 or log onto our website at www.ektelon.com.

4 comments June 15th, 2007 by Geoff Thomsen

Rhonda getting new gear?


Anyone else notice this at the club during the event? Maybe Rhonda is just noticing how well the Ektelon O3 matches her shirt. Maybe there is something else going on here? Is Ektelon making moves to sign a new top ranked female player? Guess we’ll see what she’s wearing at the US Open :)

October 10th, 2005 by Geoff Thomsen

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