The USA Racquetball Junior Nationals just concluded and I just wanted to send along congratulations to everyone that played this weekend out in Concord, CA. Based on results, the Junior National Team for 2008 will be:
Sharon Jackson – Indiana – Singles and Doubles
Sheryl Lotts – Ohio – Singles
Shannon Inglesby – Oregon – Doubles
Aubrey O’Brien – California – Singles and Doubles
Danielle Key – Arizona – Singles and Doubles
Devon Pimentelli – California – Singles and Doubles
Courntney Chisholm – Massachusetts – Singles and Doubles
Sabrina Viscuso – California – Singles and Doubles
Abbey Lavely – Ohio – Singles
Hollee Hungerford – Oregon – Doubles
Erika Manilla – Colorado – Singles and Doubles
Mary Zeng – Michigan – Singles
Jordan Cooperrider – Florida – Doubles
Kaitlyn Boyle – Oregon – Singles
Victoria Leon – California – Singles
Jose Rojas – California – Singles and Doubles
Danny Lavely – Ohio – Singles
Jansen Allen – Texas – Doubles
Taylor Knoth – Oregon – Singles
Brad Kirch – New York – Singles and Doubles
Nick Montalbano – New York – Doubles
Marco Rojas – California – Singles and Doubles
Jose Diaz – California – Singles and Doubles
Adam Manilla – Colorado – Singles
Sawyer Lloyd – California – Singles and Doubles
Bobby Sehrgosha – California – Doubles
Jake Birnel – Washington – Singles and Doubles
Jordan Barth – Minnesota – Singles
Ryan Francis – New Hampshire – Doubles
Sean Henry – Indiana – Singles
Christian Ulliman – Ohio – Singles
Look for this team to be out at the Student Recreation Complex on the campus of Arizona State University in December at the 20th IRF World Junior Racquetball Championships.
June 29th, 2008
by Adam Katz
It was an exciting weekend of play at the 2008 USA Racquetball Junior Olympic Racquetball Championships! I was lucky enough to catch a few of the early round matches live on www.racquetballonline.tv , who were onsite broadcasting live racquetball video throughout the event. If you’d like to see some racquetball photos, Leo Vasquez was onsite capture some of the action. You can see the galleries on the USA Racquetball website.
Congrats to all new National Champions!! Jose Rojas won for the second straight year in Boys 18 and under, and Sharon Jackson won in the Girls 18 under. The complete event results can be found on the R2Sports event results page.
By looking at the various media reports, I may have stumbled on the final state team standings. When running a player report by state, it tells you how many points each player was awarded, and then how many for each state. Congrats are in order for California, who has won the event for the third straight year. Oregon and Ohio round out the top three. Here is the complete list:
New York: 161
New Hampshire: 84
New Mexico: 46.5
North Dakota: 36
South Dakota: 21
June 29th, 2008
by Geoff Thomsen
Play has started today at the 2008 USA Racquetball Junior Olympic Championships, and www.racquetballonline.tv is onsite to provide racquetball fans with live video coverage of the event. Registration on the site is free, and the quality of the stream is EXCELLENT!
June 25th, 2008
by Geoff Thomsen
If you’d like a little background information on some of the "top contenders" for this weekend’s 2008 USA Racquetball Junior Olympic Championships, Racquetball Warehouse has some really good interviews / play clips for some of the local players. Featured in the videos are Jose Rojas, Jose Diaz, and Aubrey O’Brien.
Just follow the link to Racquetball Warehouse’s Videos, and scroll to the bottom for the player interviews. While you’re there, you might want to check out some of the other content featuring the top players of the IRT and WPRO, as well as instructional info and equipment reviews. Great stuff!!
June 24th, 2008
by Geoff Thomsen
The number of entries received for the 2008 USA Racquetball Junior Olympic Championships (Junior Nationals) has pretty much leveled off, and the final count is 211. Through R2Sports, I went in and did a report for entries by state to see where in the U.S. the players are coming from. With the event in California this year, it’s no surprise they have the highest number of entrants. I believe CA won the "state title" last year over long time champion Oregon, so it should benefit them to have a strong team again. Oregon and Ohio follow California, and surprisingly Washington State comes in ahead of Florida in Forth. Should be a great event!!
June 23rd, 2008
by Geoff Thomsen
Just wanted to send along my “unofficial Junior Nationals Preview” as the tourney begins this coming Wednesday, June 25, in Concord, CA.
The Girl’s 18s got some added intrigue this year when Oregon’s Shannon Inglesby decided to enter in her final year of junior eligibility, after a two year hiatus where she has been focusing on Softball. She and Indiana’s Sharon Jackson look to be the finalists this year, but you can never count out Ohio’s Sheryl Lotts who may pull an upset along the way. Inglesby and Jackson will also team in the doubles in an attempt to double qualify for the Junior National Team that will represent the US at the IRF Junior Worlds in December.
The Girl’s 16s features California’s Aubrey O’Brien, who looks to be the player to beat in this field. Aubrey will be looking to go one step further in December where she has been the beaten finalist in each of the last two Girl’s 14 and Under title matches at Junior Worlds. She’s hungry for another national title (or 3 as she’s playing doubles and mixed). Her doubles partner, Arizona’s Danielle Key, should also provide some strong competition in the singles, and you have to consider Ohio’s Lily Berry a contender here as well.
In the Girl’s 14s, this one is just too close to call as there are 3 young ladies that could very easily bring home the gold. Last year’s beaten finalist, California’s Devon Pimentelli, will certainly be a contender as will this year’s High School Nationals runner up, Courtney Chisholm from Massachusetts. The other player who will certainly be in the mix is last year’s 12 and Under National Champion, Kelani Bailey of Virginia. You can never count Kelani out of any match and her style of play can and will frustrate opponents into submission this coming week in California. Devon and Courtney will team up in the doubles and look to be the favorites in that division.
In the Girl’s 12s, again 3 young ladies should be battling for the title and once again, I can’t say that any one is more favored than the others in this one. California’s Sabrina Viscuso was the runner up last year, which should earn her the top seed this week, but Ohio’s Abbey Lavely and Oregon’s Hollee Hungerford are just as tough and ready to take the title in their last year in the 12s and thus the Espirit divisions. Sabrina and Hollee are the defending champions in the doubles and look to repeat as Abbey will be playing up with Kelani Bailey in the Girl’s 14 doubles.
In the Girl’s 10s, the favorite has to be Colorado’s Erika Manilla who was the runner up last year and will be looking to sweep the division in singles, doubles, and mixed. Judging from the beating she gave me a couple of weeks ago, I wouldn’t bet against her. Her doubles partner, Florida’s Jordan Cooperrider should provide stiff competition in the singles. These two battled for the 8 and Under title last year, with Erika getting the hard fought win.
As for the Girl’s 8s, I’m afraid I am not familiar with any of the players, so I won’t hazard a guess as to what might happen.
On the Boy’s side, the 18s features another potential match up of close friends, Jose Rojas and Ishmael Aldana both from California. Jose managed the 16s and 18s double last summer as he focused on singles, but Ishmael is in his last year of junior eligibility and is always a threat for the title. There are plenty of solid competitors among the 39 players currently listed in this division, but Jose and Ishmael always seem to be able to get to the finals at this tourney and I can’t say this year will be any different.
In the Boy’s 16s, Current High School National Champion, Oregon’s Taylor Knoth, looks to add the title that eluded him last year as the runner up to Jose Rojas in this division. Again, there are plenty of tough competitors fighting for this prize, so look for partner Jake Bredenbeck of Minnesota, Joseph Lee of Louisiana, and Dylan Reid of Oregon to have a say in the final outcome of this division. Joseph and Dylan will also team in the doubles and could very well face Taylor and Jake for the gold in that event.
In the Boy’s 14s, Current World Champion Marko Rojas of California has got to be a strong favorite to repeat, but you can never count out his doubles partner, Jose Diaz also from California. Other players who should be in the hunt include Louisiana’s Zach Wertz, Oregon’s Sam Reid and John Lindsay. Zach and Sam will also team in the doubles and could be a tough match for Marko and Jose if they should meet for the gold.
In the Boy’s 12s, Colorado’s Adam Manilla should emerge as the top seed based on last year’s results (the only returning semifinalist), but there are several players that have really stepped up their games this year and have to be given serious consideration. Among them are (in no particular order) Oregon’s Josh Lebow, New Hampshire’s Chris Francis, California’s Bobby Sehrgosha, Alabama’s Robert Hemphill, Florida’s Sean Cooperrider, and Colorado’s Zach Pellowski. Adam Manilla teamed with Sean Cooperrider to win the doubles last year and should be favorites again this year.
In the Boy’s 10s and the Boy’s 8s, once again I’m afraid that I’m not familiar enough with the players to make an educated guess but there should be plenty of tough competition in both divisions.
The action kicks off Wednesday morning from Concord and you can follow the draws at the following link:
Also, if you can’t get to Northern California for this one, you can watch the best matches online at the following link:
You can also bet that the US Adult Team Coach, Dave Ellis, will be providing commentary on many of the matches this week.
Once again, I want to wish each and every player good luck as they compete for the title of National Champion.
June 23rd, 2008
by Adam Katz
2008 USA Racquetball Junior Olympic Racquetball Championships
June 25th-29th, 2008
Concord, CA (Big C Athletic Club)
Total Participants: 198
Please feel free to leave additional info in the comments!
June 16th, 2008
by Geoff Thomsen
Team Racquetballonline.tv…Angela Grisar and Pablo Farje…that’s me just behind Pablo (below):
Michelle Key with her fan club prior to a match (below):
l-r Holly Hettesheimer and Sharon Jackson talking with Scott Hettesheimer (below):
Conlon Berry, forecourt, versus Christopher Francis, backcourt (below):
Kelani with Mercedes Arias after their match (below):
Left to Right John Lindsay, Sam Reid, Adam Manilla, Sean Cooperrider before the Boy’s 12 Doubles Final (below):
Karen Key talking with a couple of unknown players…photo by Frank Taddonio(below):
Tim Smith (Serving) and Kevin Hernandez versus whoever they played in the First Round of the Boy’s 18 Gold Doubles (below):
L-R – Michelle Key and Gabrielle Schnurman (below):
June 29th, 2007
by Adam Katz
With most of the Junior National Team spots earned, play began bright and early Sunday morning at the 34th USA Racquetball Junior Olympic National Championships presented by Penn Racquet Sports.
In the Girl’s 18 Singles, Defending National and World Champion Michelle Key of Arizona successfully defended the first title and has now earned a shot at defending the second in December by virtue of her 15-8,15-6 victory over Indiana’s Sharon Jackson. Michelle was clearly pumped up for this one and seemed in control from the outset. Sharon gave it everything she had, but Michelle was clearly on a mission in this one. Both young ladies will be in Cochabamba, Bolivia this December and both will certainly be in the hunt for the World Championship.
In the Girl’s 18 Doubles, Michelle started Sunday morning with the final match of the Round Robin competition with her partner, Iowa’s Gabrielle Schnurman, against the defending champions Kara Mazur of Connecticut and Samantha McGuffey of Ohio. Michelle and Gabrielle started off on fire in this one and grabbed a quick 11-0 lead, but Kara and Samantha chipped away with each service rotation. They weren’t quite able to finish the comeback, but that did set the stage for the remainder of the match as they fought through a tough 10-15, 15-8, 11-4 win to officially win the National Championship.
In the Girl’s 16s, Sheryl Lotts of Ohio had already claimed the National Championship on Sat. after her victory over Arizona’s Danielle Key.
In the Girl’s 14 Singles, California’s Aubrey O’Brien completed her mission of a National Championship and return appointment to the Junior National Team with a dominating performance over fellow Californian Devon Pimentelli. I have to give a great deal of credit to Aubrey as she just refused to allow Devon to get comfortable in this match. You can see that she is already pointing towards a possible rematch with current world champion, Veronica Sotomayer of Ecuador. For those of you that read my updates from Junior Worlds, you know that was one of the matches of the tournament.
In the Girl’s 14 Doubles, Aubrey completed a perfect tournament with a hard fought win with partner, Lily Berry of Ohio over Devon Pimentelli and her partner Courtney Chisholm of Massachusetts. Scores were 12-15, 15-4, 11-4. So Aubrey will be playing both singles and doubles at the Junior Worlds and she is really looking forward to the challenge.
In the Girl’s 12 Singles, Virginia’s Kelani Bailey completed her surprise run through the draw in her Junior Nationals debut to bring home the National Championship with a straight games win over California’s Sabrina Viscuso.
In the Girl’s 10 Singles, Colorado’s Elizabeth Vargas claimed the Gold Medal that had eluded her in 2 previous attempts in this division with a straight game victory over Team Colorado teammate Erika Manilla, who is still a candidate for my player of the tournament designation, for whatever that’s worth.
In the Girl’s 8 Singles, Erika rebounded nicely to claim this national championship with a hard fought win over Florida’s Jordan Cooperrider. These two will probably end up playing doubles together starting next season, which is a good thing as they are already good friends. This title brings Erika’s count to 5 National Titles to go along with 3 runners up finishes. Not bad for a girl who turned 9 this past February. For those of you wondering how a 9 year old could win the 8 and Under National Championship, in the sport of racquetball at the junior level a player is considered to be whatever age they are on January 1st of any given year. This year, Erika was still 8 on January 1.
In the Boy’s 18 Singles, Jose Rojas of California was looking to claim the title in this division as well as the 16 Singles arguably the two toughest divisions in the tournament. He got things going in the right direction with a straight games victory over his close friend and former doubles partner, Ishmael Aldana also of California. It looked as though Saturday’s battles had taken their toll on Ishmael as he had 3 of the most grueling matches anyone could remember winning two. The only loss was the Mixed 18 Doubles Final which I will talk about at the end of this article.
In the Boy’s 16 Singles, Jose successfully completed his sweep of these two singles divisions with a straight games victory over Oregon’s Taylor Knoth. Jose also has a claim to my designation of player of the tournament.
In the Boy’s 14 Singles, Marko Rojas of California joined his brother as a National Champion with an impressive victory over Oregon’s Dylan Reid. Dylan played extremely well in this one, but Marko, like his brother, appeared to be on a mission from the beginning of this tournament.
In the Boy’s 12 Singles, Louisiana’s Zach Wertz completed his surprise run through the draw to claim the title in two very hard fought games over Oregon’s Sam Reid. To be honest, I had been keeping my eye on Zach as I had asked Junior National Team Coach Kelley Beane who had made an impression at the recent Rumble Camp right before Junior Nationals and she mentioned that she was expecting great things from Zach. He definitely delivered.
In the Boy’s 10 Singles, Ohio’s Spencer Shoemaker claimed the National Title with a win over Minnesota’s Sam Bredenbeck. These two had faced off the day before for the doubles championship and Spencer managed to get the sweep this year.
In the Boy’s 8 Singles, Jordan Barth of Minnesota defeated top seed Justus Benson of Wisconsin in 2 games for the Gold Medal. Jordan was a strong player for Team Minnesota as they crept up the rankings in the State competition.
In the State competition, I don’t have the overall scores but I have heard that California did manage to retain their championship for the second year. Granted, they still have 12 more years to match the streak that Oregon put together that ended last year, but they are well on their way and they do have a lot of talent coming up through the youngest ranks in these championships. Oregon did come in second followed by Ohio.
Of course, I am extremely proud of Team Colorado for again coming home 4th overall despite having only 9 point earning players in this year’s event. They squeaked out 4th this year over Minnesota with Florida and Arizona completing the top 7.
As I come to the end of this wrapup, I will do as I did at Junior Worlds and announce my Awards of the Tournament. Again this is entirely my own opinion based on what I saw at this tournament.
Point of the Tournament – Hands down the last point of the Mixed 18 Doubles Final. Kara Mazur of Connecticut and Richard Sledzik of Massachusetts against Samantha McGuffey of Ohio and Ishmael Aldana of California. This one point was an absolute dive fest with each player getting involved. I cannot really do a description justice, so I can tell you that this match was covered by racquetball online. So I would HIGHLY encourage everyone to check it out at: http://www.racquetballonline.tv It is free to watch. I’m not sure how quickly it will be available to view online, but I would definitely recommend it!
Match of the Tournament – There were so many matches to choose from as there were a lot of 11-10 tiebreaker matches, but the one that stands out for me was the Girl’s 10 semifinals between Colorado’s Erika Manilla and California’s Ashley O’Brien. Ashley came out strong in this one to claim the 15-12 first game win, but Erika overcame the nerves and the disappointment of the first game loss to even things with a 15-5 game two win. The tiebreaker was a back and forth affair as Ashley came out strong, but Erika refused to lose and despite trailing 7-10 came back for the 11-10 win and the spot in the final.
Player of the Tournament – Again a lot of strong contenders in this one but the player that stood out to me was Kelani Bailey of Virginia. In her Junior Nationals debut, she claimed the Girl’s 12 and Under National Championship and also brought home a Silver Medal in the Mixed 12 Doubles with Michigan’s Sam Zeng as her partner. It’s not very often that a player can make their debut in a division higher than 8s and bring home the gold, but Kelani fought through the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th seeds on her way to the title and did it with a smile on her face the entire tournament.
State Team of the Tournament – Have to give a big hand to Team Florida. These kids were always there cheering their teammates on at every match and they played their hearts out throughout the tourney, and they managed to bring home some National Championships in the Girl’s 10 Doubles and Boy’s 12 Doubles and Girl’s 8 Multi Bounce. Kim Roy has done an outstanding job building the junior program in Florida and I can definitely see them becoming a true force to be reckoned with in the near future.
Kudos also have to go to the Event staff from USA Racquetball. Jim Hiser, Otto Dietrich, Eddie Meredith, Mary Meredith, and the rest did an outstanding job keeping the tournament running smoothly and on time.
Also great job to the Local Organizing Committee led by Frank Taddonio.
That’s all for now, I do hope you’ve enjoyed these updates
June 25th, 2007
by Adam Katz
The 2007 USA Racquetball Junior Olympic Championships concluded hours ago on Tempe, AZ. Thanks to www.racquetballonline.tv, I was able to watch several of the featured matches live from Portland, OR! I don’t have the complete list of champions from each age division, but I do know that the winners of the 18 and under divisions for boys and girls were Jose Rojas and Michelle Key.
And just when winning the toughest boys division in the event isn’t enough, Jose also won a gold in the boy’s 16 and under as well. There are only three juniors in the history of USA Racquetball to have accomplished the feat of winning both 16′s and 18′s in the same year:
2007 Jose Rojas (Calif.)
2002 Adrienne Fisher (Ohio)
2000 Jack Huczek (Mich.) - 2007 #1 Men’s Player in the World
There are also two champions who won 18′s three years in a row, which means that they were 16 when winning their first title. These athletes most likely did not compete in both 16′s and 18′s during their first 18 and under championship season:
Elkova Icenogle (Calif.), 1990, 1991, 1992
Michelle Gilman (Ore.) 1987, 1988, 1989
**** Jack Huczek won three 18′s titles (2000, 2001, 2002)
**** Adrienne FIsher won three 18′s titles (2002, 2003, 2004)
For a complete list of this year’s finishers, here are the online results: http://www.r2sports.com/tourney/display/tourney.asp?TID=2093 . If you click “results” on that page, you’ll get a nice listing of the top finishers in each division.
Adam Katz has promised a final day recap as well as photos, so stay tuned!!
June 24th, 2007
by Geoff Thomsen
An incredibly emotional day here at the 34th USA Racquetball Junior Olympic National Championships presented by Penn Racquet Sports on the campus of Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona.
Today, I will start with the Doubles divisions as they held their finals in order to determine the National Team appointments for the next year and the announcement at the banquet earlier this evening.
In the Girl’s 18 Doubles, it looks as though Kara Mazur of Connecticut and Samantha McGuffey of Ohio will defend their title in this Round Robin event after they beat Holly Hettesheimer of Ohio and Sharon Jackson of Indiana in a tough up and down three game battle. Scores were 15-4, 6-15,11-4. They still have to defeat Michelle Key of Arizona and Gabrielle Schnurman of Iowa in a match tomorrow to officially earn the spot, but I believe that the tiebreakers do favor them in case of defeat. Later on at the banquet, Samantha received the Junior World Cup Age Athlete of the Year award. A truly well earned award!
In the Girl’s 18 Singles, The defending champions from the 18s and 16s will square off for the gold tomorrow as Defending 18s National and World Champion Michelle Key of Arizona will take on Indiana’s Sharon Jackson in a match that will definitely be exciting. Both of these young ladies hit the ball very hard and very low so this promises to be a true war.
In the Girl’s 16 Doubles, Danielle Key of Arizona and Sheryl Lotts of Ohio breezed to the title with a straight games win over Brianna Ho and Jessica Munoz of Washington by identical 15-2 scores. This has earned them each two spots on the Junior National Team as they were also the leaders in the girl’s singles round robin.
In the Girl’s 16 Singles, Sheryl beat Danielle in two games of 15-10,15-2. It appeared that Danielle might have tweaked something in her shoulder during that 1st game, but she toughed it out determined to try and bring home the gold this year. While she came up a little short in that effort, she still had a great tournament and is excited about the prospect of traveling to Bolivia in December for the Junior World Championships.
In the Girl’s 14 Doubles, the championship and the spots on the Junior National Team will be determined tomorrow in the matchup between Lily Berry of Ohio and Aubrey O’Brien of California against Courtney Chisholm of Massachusetts and Devon Pimentelli of California. Lily and Aubrey ended Jackie and Samantha Rosado’s hopes of getting onto the team by virtue of their impressive 15-3,15-3 victory today but will have to bring their best tomorrow in their match with Courtney and Devon as these two have been playing extremely well all week too.
In the Girl’s 14 Singles, Aubrey O’Brien and Devon Pimentelli will spend a lot of time on court together tomorrow and both times on opposite sides in the battle as they will square off for the singles gold. Aubrey defeated Courtney Chisholm today while Devon got past Samantha Rosado in a rematch of last year’s Girl’s 12 final. The result remained the same.
In the Girl’s 12 Doubles, Hollee Hungerford of Ohio and Sabrina Viscuso of California earned their spot on the Junior National Espirit Cup team with a straight games win over Abbey Lavely of Ohio and Elizabeth Vargas of Colorado. Scores were 15-10,15-6. Later on today, Abbey was named the Espirit Female Athlete of the Year at the Banquet in celebration of her many national titles that she has been collecting since the age of 6, with many more still ahead in her future. She looks forward to trying to win the 12s next year.
In the Girl’s 12 Singles, Before I arrived for this tournament I had thought that Mercedes Arias would win my unofficial player of the tournament, and she did play extremely well throughout this event. But once I arrived and the tournament began I see now that in the Girl’s 12s Kelani Bailey deserves a great deal of recognition. I was talking with a totally impartial observer after the banquet this evening, and granted he did look a lot like her father, Jim, but this person did say that he was so totally impressed with how Kelani has come through this tournament in her Junior Nationals debut she has taken out the second seed Abbey Lavely and now she has also defeated the third seed Mercedes Arias. Both matches were very similar as Kelani used her impressive retrieval skills to frustrate both opponents into mistakes and take a very hard fought win in a tiebreaker today’s scores being 15-12,12-15,11-7. In her debut event she has reached the final in singles and also the Mixed Doubles where she fell a little short today.
In the Girl’s 10 Doubles, Florida’s Abby Carter and Kaitlyn Simmons of Maryland had clinced the title yesterday and they didn’t play today other than the fact that they received their gold medals today and spent a good amount of time running around the club showing them off to anyone they came in contact with.
In the Girl’s 10 Singles, Team Colorado emerged from the pack to claim both spots in the final. Elizabeth Vargas fought through some nervous jitters to gain a 15-6,15-14 win over Oregon’s Alecia Fladstol who played the best match that I’ve ever seen her play today, she is definitely one to watch in the future. In the other semifinal, Erika Manilla won an incredible tiebreaker match against California’s Ashley O’Brien to set up the all Colorado final. And of course, a special kudos has to go to Erika for advancing to the Girl’s 10 final in a year where she was playing up just to have a second division. As it turns out, she ended up playing 3 divisions as she was a late entrant in the Mixed 10 Doubles and has already claimed that National Title and will battle for 2 more tomorrow in the 8s and 10s.
In the Girl’s 8 Singles, Erika Manilla advanced to the finals with a victory over Ohio’s Christina Lavely while Jordan Cooperrider of Florida defeated Michigan’s Mary Zeng in 3 very tough games to set up a final between younger sisters of a boy’s 12 doubles team that you’ll read about a little later in this update. On a related note Erika and Jordan may very well be a doubles team next summer at the Junior Nationals.
In the Boy’s 18 Doubles, Ishmael Aldana of California and Danny Lavely of Ohio defeated Allan Crockett of Alabama and Jonathan Doyle of Ohio to bring home the gold and the appointment to the Junior National Team.
In the Boy’s 18 Singles, Ishmael and Allan got to spend even more time together on the court as they met in one semifinal and like he has done every other year for quite some time now, Ishmael defeated Allan this time in a tough tiebreaker scores were 15-9,4-15,11-7. This one was a true battle and both players definitely left it all on the court. To show his heart, Allan kept Ishmael from that elusive closing point in the tiebreaker for at least 6 service attempts before Ishmael found the right shot to bring an end to Allan’s bright Junior career. Allan would later be announced as the Junior World Cup age Male Athlete of theYear at the banquet. Congratulations on this very prestigious award! In the other half of the draw, Jose Rojas, who is attempting to win both the 18 and 16 Singles got to the first final after defeating Richard Sledzik of Massachusetts in two close games. Scores were 15-11,15-1 3.
In the Boy’s 16 Doubles, Jake Bredenbeck of Minnesota and Taylor Knoth of Oregon brought home the gold in two tough, close games over John-Craig Chisholm of Massachusetts and Brad Kirch of New York.
In the Boy’s 16 Singles, Jose Rojas of California and Taylor Knoth both breezed into the finals and will fight it out tomorrow for the national title. These two have clearly separated themselves from the rest of the field, and at this point I would even dare to suggest that Jose has separated himself from Taylor, but they will still battle it out tomorrow.
In the Boy’s 14 Doubles, Joseph Lee of Louisiana and Dylan Reid of Oregon fought through another match of the day type match in their win over the California team of Marko Rojas and Jose Diaz. Marko and Jose came out shooting lights out in this one and it looked as though they were going to steamroll through this in no time. Scoring the 15-4 first game win, their confidence was sky high as they headed back onto the court for the second game. But a slight change of strategy for that second game allowed Joseph and Dylan to grab an early lead and they would hold that lead throughout the game to claim the 15-13 win and force the tiebreaker. In that breaker, each team made some truly amazing shots and had the crowd cheering wildly throughout before Joseph and Dylan could finish it off 11-9. Overall an incredible match. The funny thing about this is that these 4 players would go on to meet later in the day in the singles semifinals and during the doubles, I noticed that each side of the doubles match had both singles semifinalists squaring off directly. Dylan and Jose played the right side while Marko and Joseph played the left side.
In the 14 Singles, Dylan Reid continued the exhilaration of winning the doubles title and earned a truly hard fought 15-13,14-15,11-10 win in another match of the day type of matchup. It was difficult to find a vantage point to actually view this match as this one brought everyone out to cheer on both players. In the other semifinal, Marko Rojas ended many years of frustration as he beat Joseph Lee for the very first time. These two have had some absolute wars in the past, and while Marko won in two games, there was nothing easy about it. Marko was shooting lights out, and he had to as Joseph was right there with him in each of the two games.
In the Boy’s 12 Doubles, Adam Manilla of Colorado and Sean Cooperrider of Florida collected their second straight national title as they fought off a very determined John Lindsay and Sam Reid of Oregon. In yet another match of the day type match Adam and Sean came out shooting the best that they have in this entire tournament. I don’t think that John and Sam knew what hit them and before you knew it game one was in the books at 15-8. John and Sam regrouped but still fell behind 7-2 to start the second game. Slowly, but surely, they crept back into it and tied things up at 10. At this point, John and Sam put together the 5 point run that would send this match to the tiebreaker. That breaker was a true dive fest as all the players left it all on the court, but in the end Adam and Sean were able to earn the 11-6 win and the national title. Later on, Adam was awarded the Junior Male Espirit Age Athlete of the Year Award and I have to say t hat this was truly a well earned award. I’ve known Adam for the past 5 years and he is all heart. You know that he is going to give you everything he has everytime he steps onto the court and even when the chips are down, he’ll find away to win. I have honestly enjoyed watching him develop into the young man he is today, and I look forward to being a part of his future development as well.
In the Boy’s 12 Singles, Sam Reid managed to get his revenge as he took on Adam Manilla in one of the semifinals. Sam was clearly disappointed with the loss in the doubles earlier in the day and wanted to make a statement. That statement was made early in the 15-2 game one victory. Sam just came out red hot and Adam came out a little tentative and it showed. In the second game, Adam came out more relaxed, but Sam was clearly on a mission and he had an answer for anything that Adam attempted. He fought bravely but Sam still managed the 15-8 win to earn a spot in the finals and on the Espirit Cup team. In the other semifinal, Zach Wertz of Louisiana continued his surprising run through the draw with a win over the top seed John Lindsay of Oregon 15-13,15-11.
In the Boy’s 10 Doubles, Kyle Ulliman and Spencer Shoemaker of Ohio earned the gold in a win over Sam Bredenbeck of Minnesota and Matt McAdam of Colorado in two very close games. Scores were 15-11,15-14. Matt was clearly disappointed in this result, but he played extremely well all week and will be going home with 3 medals when they leave tomorrow afternoon.
In the Boy’s 10 Singles, Sam Bredenbeck got over the disappointment of the doubles to earn a spot in the final with a win over Jake Birnel of Washington. Joining him will be Ohio’s Spencer Shoemaker who beat Ryan Francis of New Hampshire in two tough games.
In the Boy’s 8 Singles, Justus Benson of Wisconsin and Jordan Barth of Minnesota will fight it out for state bragging rights and the national title tomorrow.
Please catch all of the action live tomorrow starting at 9am Arizona time on: http://www.racquetballonline.tv there is no charge and the matches have been and will continue to be simply awesome!
As for tomorrow, I am heading back to Colorado tomorrow evening so I will try to put out some updates as events warrant throughout the day. If I cannot do that, it might take me a couple of days to put everything together as I have some things to take care of Monday in Denver.
June 24th, 2007
by Adam Katz
Before I start with today’s update, I have to say…WOW what an incredible day of intense, high quality racquetball at these Junior Nationals. As you all know by now, I usually try to highlight one or two matches that stood out during the course of the day, but the reality is that today just about every division had a bona fide Match of the Day.
As usual, we’ll start with the Girl’s 18 Singles where this match of the day was the battle between Ohio’s Holly Hettesheimer and Kara Mazur of Connecticut. Although it only last two games, they were both memorable as they traded points throughout this one until late in the game each time. Holly managed to dig deep both times and earned the 15-12, 15-13 win and a semifinal date with her doubles partner, Sharon Jackson of Indiana. Sharon disposed of yesterday’s upset specialist, California’s Sue Sublaban in two games today. Also advancing to the semifinals were Michelle Key of Arizona and Samantha McGuffey of Ohio.
In the Girl’s 18 Doubles, the matches were a bit one sided as higher seeded team won both matchups in this round robin event, but those two teams Hettesheimer/Jackson and Mazur/McGuffey will square off tomorrow in what amounts to the championship match of this round robin event. There is still a chance that Key/Schnurman can throw a wrench into the plans, but at this point the two teams have separated themselves from the field.
In the Girl’s 16 Singles, both Sheryl Lotts of Ohio and Danielle Key of Arizona enjoyed comfortable wins today to set up their championship match tomorrow afternoon. These two played for the National Title in the Girl’s 14s in Portland two years ago with Sheryl taking the title, so I’m sure Danielle is anxious to avenge that loss in front of her hometown fans.
In the Girl’s 16 Doubles, tomorrow will bring the championship match in this round robin event as Key/Lotts takes on Brianna Ho and Jessica Munoz. Sheryl and Danielle have looked extremely strong together this week, and I can’t say that I’ve seen either of the other players in a match so far. Consequently, I won’t make any premature predictions at this time.
In the Girl’s 14 Singles, the top 4 seeds have all advanced to the semifinals but the match of the day here again only went two games but was another point for point struggle as Connecticut’s Samantha Rosado defeated Ohio’s Lily Berry 15-13,15-12. I didn’t have a clock going on this one, but it was a very long battle with some great shooting from both players. Samantha was just able to dig deeper as each game came to a close to get the win.
In the Girl’s 14 Doubles, there is currently a three way tie for the lead in this round robin event. Aubrey O’Brien and Lily Berry will play each of the other teams in the tie (Jackie and Samantha Rosado and Courtney Chisholm/Devon Pimentelli) in the next two days so there probably won’t be a national champion decided until Sunday in this division. Each of these three teams has been playing very well this week so tomorrow’s battle between Berry/O’Brien and Rosado/Rosado could be something special.
In the Girl’s 12 Singles, another match of the day took place in the quarterfinal between Virginia’s Kelani Bailey, in her Junior Nationals debut, and yes, she is Malia’s daughter, and Ohio’s Abbey Lavely, a seasoned Junior Nationals participant and several time National Champion already. Abbey seemed to come out a step slow in this one and Kelani took quick advantage for a 15-2 win in game one. This seemed to fire Abbey up as she came back to the court for the second game. Jumping to a 9-1 lead, Abbey looked to be in control and ready to force a tiebreaker, but Kelani had other ideas. She slowly chipped away at the lead and even grabbed a short lived 11-10 lead, but Abbey perservered and came back for the 15-11 win to force the tiebreaker. In that tiebreaker, Kelani came out strong hitting some solid passing shots to both sides of the court keeping Abbey off balance. She grabbed a quick lead of about 5-2 and then seemed to stall. Mali a, at this point, started to get a bit nervous and was seen pacing around the court area and I just tried to stay out of the way and enjoy this match. They seemed to trade points for a while until Kelani got to 10-6. At this point, they started trading serves as neither player could get the elusive next point, but then Kelani managed to get it and Malia was the first to voice her approval. She now faces a semifinal match against Michigan’s third seeded Mercedes Arias tomorrow. In the other half of the bracket, Oregon’s Hollee Hungerford will take on California’s Sabrina Viscuso for a spot in the finals.
In the Girl’s 12 Doubles, the top two teams will face off tomorrow for the National Title as Hollee Hungerford and Sabrina Viscuso will team up to take on Ohio’s Abbey Lavely and Colorado’s Elizabeth Vargas. Abbey and Elizabeth took home the gold in the Girl’s 10 doubles last year after beating Sabrina and her previous partner in a very exciting and very long lasting final match and will have to defeat Sabrina and her latest partner if they are to gain the win in their first attempt in the Girl’s 12 Doubles.
In the Girl’s 10 Singles, the top four seeds have all advanced to the semifinals and two of my Team Colorado players are a part of this group. Elizabeth Vargas will take on Oregon’s Alecia Fladstol while Erika Manilla will challenge California’s Ashley O’Brien for spots in Sunday’s Finals. I watched each of these young ladies play today and all I can say is they will have some really good matches in this division tomorrow.
In the Girl’s 10 Doubles, we’ve crowned our first National Champions of this year’s event as Florida’s Abby Carter and Kaitlyn Simmons of Maryland completed their sweep of this round robin division with an impressive 15-2,15-6 victory over the Boyle sisters of Oregon. Congratulations to Abby and Kaitlyn! They really played great this week.
In the Girl’s 8 Singles, our match of the day here was the semifinal battle between Florida’s Jordan Cooperrider and Michigans, Mary Zeng. These two played in the multi bounce division last year in Michigan, and I cannot recall who won. However today it appeared that Mary would be heading into the finals as she grabbed a 15-8 victory in the first game. But Jordan had other ideas as she displayed the heart that all of these kids have shown throughout this event to come back and win the next two games 15-6 and 11-4.
In the Boy’s 18 Singles, the top four seeds are all through to the semifinals, but not without a major scare for the second seed, Jose Rojas. In another match of the day, Jose took on Nebraska’s Jacob Hutkins. I didn’t actually get to see this match but if you were fortunate enough to be logged on to racquetballonline.tv this evening, then you surely saw a great match. Jacob gave it everything he had, but Jose was able to gut out the 13-15, 15-5, 11-7 win to move on to the semifinals where he’ll face Richard Sledzik of Massachusetts. In the other half of the bracket, top seed Allan Crockett of Alabama will face California’s Ishmael Aldana for the spot in the finals and a spot on the US Junior National Team.
In the Boy’s 18 Doubles, the top two seeds have advanced to the final Ishmael Aldana and Danny Lavely struggled mightily against Jacob Hutkins and Jansen Allen, but were able to fight through some struggles as they are playing a tournament together for the first time. They battled their way to a 15-14,15-9 victory and a matchup against Allan Crockett and Jonathan Doyle for a National Title and a spot on the US Junior Team. As fast as all these players are, I’m sure this final will be a lot of fun to watch.
In the Boy’s 16 Singles, the top four seeds have advanced and again the number two seed, in this case Oregon’s Taylor Knoth played in the match of the day. Taking on his doubles partner in Minnesota’s Jake Bredenbeck, Taylor survived three up and down games for the 15-3, 9-15, 11-4 victory and a match against the player he defeated last year for the 14 Singles National Title, New York’s Brad Kirch. The added bonus to this match tomorrow occured today with the arrival of Hall of Famer, Jim Winterton. Jim coaches Brad and will most likely be on the sidelines tomorrow alongside Taylor’s coach and also Hall of Famer, Fran Davis. So the battle will be both on the court and off in this one and I know I can’t wait to see the results. In the other half of the draw, Jose Rojas will take on 4th seed Trevor Snyders of Illinois for a spot in the Final on Sunday.
In the Boy’s 16 Doubles, both of the semifinals were worthy of being called the match of the day as John-Craig Chisholm and Brad Kirch defeated Miguel Wiggins and Trevor Snyders in 3 tough games 9-15,15-9,11-1. Not to be outdone, Jake Bredenbeck and Taylor Knoth defeated Danny Lavely and Chad McGuffey also in three tough games. Scores were 11-15,15-4,11-2. So Brad and Taylor will meet twice tomorrow and therefore Fran and Jim will square off at least twice tomorrow as well.
In the Boy’s 14 Singles, again the top four seeds are into the semifinals and they all did so today in fairly comfortable fashion. So in tomorrow’s semifinals, Louisiana’s Joseph Lee will take on California’s Marko Rojas in a rematch of a classic match that occured in 2005 in Portland. In the other half of the bracket, top seed Dylan Reid of Oregon will take on California’s Jose Diaz. All of these players are definitely playing beyond their years to this point and these matches tomorrow will certainly provide some highlight reel material.
In the Boy’s 14 Doubles, the 4 singles semifinalists will get very familiar with each other tomorrow as the team of Joseph Lee and Dylan Reid will take on the team of Jose Diaz and Marko Rojas for the title and the spot on the Junior National Team.
In the Boy’s 12 Singles, yet another match of the day as Colorado’s Adam Manilla took on Oregon’s Joshua Lebow for a spot in the semifinals. Adam came out and built a 3-1 lead in this one and seemed comfortable, but Joshua was shooting extremely well and keeping the pressure on throughout the first game. Adam was able to score the 15-8 win, but the amount of diving that he was doing was certainly concerning me. I walked away from this match for a couple of minutes and then I heard the referree call a score of “zero serving six”. Naturally, I hoped that Adam was receiving serve, but when I got back to the match I say that Adam did in fact serve that particular ball. Once I returned to that court, Adam started to chip away at the lead. He got it to 5-6 before Joshua went on another run, but Adam again fought back from 9-14 to 12-14 before Joshua was able to put the game away. In the tiebreaker, Adam grabbed an early lead and refused to allow J oshua to get too close and he pulled away for the 11-6 win and a spot in the semifinals against his former doubles partner, Sam Reid of Oregon. That barnburner will take place tomorrow afternoon, and I will definitely be there to watch that one. In the other half of the draw, Oregon’s John Lindsay will take on Louisiana’s Zach Wertz for the spot in the finals on Sunday.
In the Boy’s 12 Doubles, 3 of the four players will get very familiar with each other tomorrow as Sam Reid and his current partner, John Lindsay will take on Adam Manilla and his current partner, Florida’s Sean Cooperrider for the title. Adam has won a National title in doubles in each of the past two Junior Nationals, one with Sam and one with Sean. In both cases, they were beaten in the semifinals at the Junior World Championships.
In the Boy’s 10 Singles, the top half of the draw provided all the drama as Jake Birnel of Washington and Colorado’s Matt McAdam met in yet another match of the day. Three very tough games ended with Jake squeaking out the 9-15,15-10,11-10 win and a spot in the semifinals against Matt’s doubles partner, Sam Bredenbeck of Minnesota. Sam upset the top seed, Kyle Ulliman of Ohio to earn his spot in this matchup. The other half of the draw has played to form as second seed, Spencer Shoemaker of Ohio will take on third seed Ryan Francis of New Hampshire for the spot in the finals.
In the Boy’s 10 Doubles, the top two seeds have advanced to the finals as Ohio’s Shoemaker/Ulliman will take on the Minnesota/Colorado combo of Bredenbeck and McAdam for the title.
In the Boy’s 8 Singles, the seeds really didn’t hold here as only the top seeded Justus Benson of Wisconsin was able to secure a spot in the semifinals. In that semi, he’ll face another Bailey in Malia’s son, Warren. The other half of the bracket pits Minnesota’s Jordan Barth against Oregon’s Daryl Wainwright.
Tomorrow is going to be an amazing day of racquetball, but at the same time there will be many great joys and many great sorrows as the 2007 US Junior National Team will be determined, with the possible(more likely probably) exception of the Girl’s 14 Doubles. While it is great to see the exhilaration that comes to the winners, sometimes it can be hard to watch the devastation that befalls the vanquished.
I certainly hope you’re enjoying reading these updates and I do apologize that I haven’t been able to provide pictures along with them. If you’d like to see some pictures of players alongside these updates, please check out the following website:
The Banquet is tomorrow night, so the update will probably go out late tomorrow or early Sunday morning.
June 23rd, 2007
by Adam Katz
Every player played at least one match today at the 34th USA Racquetball Junior Olympic National Championships presented by Penn Racquet Sports and the matches were all very entertaining.
In the Girl’s 18 Singles, they are down to the quarterfinals as all the higher seeds advanced with the exception of the 6th seed, Brittany Leggett of Oregon. Playing California’s Sue Sublaban, Brittany’s 1 year absence from Junior Nationals showed as Sue fought through 2 very tough games and the 15-14, 15-11 victory. Next up is the 3rd seed, Sharon Jackson from Indiana.
In the Girl’s 18 Doubles, there was a very highly anticipated matchup as the reigning 16 World Champions, Holly Hettesheimer of Ohio and Sharon Jackson of Indiana took on Michelle Key of Arizona and Gabrielle Schnurman of Iowa. Again in two tough games Holly and Sharon were able to gain the 15-11, 15-9 victory and now can start to look forward to Saturday’s match with Kara Mazur and Samantha McGuffey who are the defending champions in this division.
The Girl’s 16 singles continued their round robin today as both Sheryl Lotts and Danielle Key earned 2 game wins to inch a step closer to their meeting on Saturday which could determine the champion in this division.
In the Girl’s 16 Doubles, Danielle and Sheryl teamed up to gain an impressive victory today. I only saw a little of that match so I don’t have the scores but they looked very much in control for that part that I did see.
The Girl’s 14 Singles are now down to the quarterfinals and the match that caught my attention here was Ohio’s Lily Berry taking on Idaho’s Savannah McVay. Lily earned her first appointment to the US Junior Team last summer in Michigan and looked very much like she wanted to re-qualify for the team as she rolled to a 15-1, 15-1 victory. I honestly don’t recall her missing a single shot in this match as she powered her way into a meeting with Connecticut’s rising star, Samantha Rosado tomorrow.
In the Girl’s 14 Doubles, we had a definite Match of the Day in the battle between the Rosado Sisters and Courtney Chisholm of Massachusetts and Devon Pimentelli of California. Courtney and Devon started this one very strong to gain the 15-6 win in the game one, but found themselves down 11-3 quickly in the second game. It appeared that this was headed to the tiebreaker, but they fought back with all they had to knot the score at 14. As they clearly had the momentum it looked like this one would now end in two, but they lost the serve and during a long rally, the ball struck Courtney after Devon had played her shot and just like that, we were on to the tiebreaker. That tiebreaker consisted of 2 big runs. Courtney and Devon went ahead 2-0 before Jackie and Samantha put together a 7 point run. When Courtney and Devon returned to the service box, they ran 7 points themselves before we settled into a 9-7 score for a full service rotation. Jackie and Samantha would get to 8, but they would get no more as Courtney and Devon finished the 11-8 win and can now start to think about their Sunday meeting with Aubrey O’Brien from California and Ohio’s Lily Berry.
The Girl’s 12 Singles will kick it into gear tomorrow with the quarterfinal matches. There was one match in this division today, but I didn’t see it. I do know that Sara Leon of California beat Arizona’s Nicole Ortega, but I don’t have any other information on that match.
The Girl’s 12 Doubles also played one match in this 3 team round robin as Oregon’s Hollee Hungerford and California’s Sabrina Viscuso defeated Oregon’s Fladstol Sisters, Alecia and Victoria in two close games.
The Girl’s 10 Singles also played one match today to set up the quarterfinals tomorrow as Kaitlin Simmons from Maryland defeated California’s Julia Lanman.
In the Girl’s 10 Doubles again just one match played as Kaitlin joined her doubles partner, Abby Carter of Florida to defeat the California team of Ashley O’Brien and Julia Lanman.
In the Girl’s 8 Singles, they are down to the Semifinals as Ohio’s Christina Lavely won a very tough match over Oregon’s Sierra Reid by scores of 15-12, 5-15, 11-5. That victory sets up a semifinal with top seed, Erika Manilla of Colorado. The other half of the bracket has Florida’s Jordan Cooperrider taking on Michigan’s Mary Zeng.
On the Boy’s side in the 18 Singles today, they are to the quarterfinals and I have to say that the top 4 seeds are all looking very impressive. None of them has dropped so much as a game to this point, but I would have to give a slight edge to Jose Rojas who just looks like he is totally in control of his matches from the moment he walks onto the court to warm up. He certainly has an air of confidence about him and yet he is the most humble individual away from the court. I talked with him briefly today and you would never know that he is just plowing through the field at this point.
In the Boy’s 18 Doubles, they are also down to the quarterfinals and the top 4 seeds again are looking very strong as they haven’t dropped a game between them yet. I haven’t seen any of these matches yet, but will make a point to do so tomorrow.
In the Boy’s 16 Singles, they are down to the quarterfinals and Jose Rojas is looking extremely dominant in this divison. The matchup that I am looking forward to, however, is the quarterfinal between doubles partners in Oregon’s Taylor Knoth and Minnesota’s Jake Bredenbeck. This should be a great match tomorrow, and is my early candidate for Match of the Day.
In the Boy’s 16 Doubles, they are down to the semifinals and the top four seeds will battle it out. The match that I’m looking forward to in this one is the 2-3 battle of Taylor Knoth/Jake Bredenbeck against Ohio’s Danny Lavely and Chad McGuffey. Danny and Chad won the World title in the 14 Doubles 2 years ago and Taylor and Jake just missed with a silver medal performance in the 14 Doubles last year, so this has the potential to be a very special match.
In the Boy’s 14 Singles, again they are down to the quarterfinals and the top four seeds are looking very impressive. Dylan Reid of Oregon had a very good match today with Chase Stanley of Louisiana. I was very impressed with both players ability to retrieve seemingly killed shots, but in the end Dylan’s consistency and strong shot selection kept his title hopes alive 15-10, 15-2.
In the Boy’s 14 Doubles, they are down to the semifinals and it is looking like a finals showdown between Joseph Lee of Louisiana and Oregon’s Dylan Reid and the California team of Marco Rojas and Jose Diaz. These two teams have just appeared to be a level better than anyone else in this division.
In the Boy’s 12 Singles, they are down to the quarterfinals and Team Colorado’s Adam Manilla is still on track in his quest for 2 gold medals. Adam played some absolutely great racquetball today to gain a hard fought 15-10, 15-3 win over California’s Sawyer Lloyd. After that first game, Adam just seemed to turn it up another gear and Sawyer had no response. Also looking very strong today was the second seed, Sam Reid from Oregon.
In the Boy’s 12 Doubles, they are down to the semifinals and the top two seeds have advanced but 3 and 4 were sent packing today.
In the Boy’s 10 Singles, they are down to the quarterfinals and again a Team Colorado player has kept alive his dreams of 2 Gold medals. This time, it is Matt McAdam who looked very impressive in his 15-4, 15-1 victory over Wisconsin’s Justus Benson.
In the Boy’s 10 Doubles, they are in the semifinals and there is another Diaz/Rojas California combination looking to take home the title. They’ll play the top seeds tomorrow and that match could be another match of the day candidate.
In the Boy’s 8 Singles, they only had a couple of matches today and I didn’t see either one. They, like all the rest, are down to the quarterfinals.
As I wrap up today’s recap, I must say that I am extremely impressed with the overall level of play of each and every one of these players. There may have been some lopsided scores on the scoresheets, but points have still been difficult to come by. When all is said and done the players that will win the National Title in each division will have truly earned it.
I’ve been having problems connecting to the internet over at the Student Rec Center and so I cannot send pictures out at this time. I will continue to work on this problem tomorrow and hopefully have something out before the tourney ends, otherwise, I will send pictures out when I return home to Colorado early next week.
June 21st, 2007
by Adam Katz
Greetings from Tempe, Arizona and the USA Racquetball Junior Olympic National Championships presented by Penn Racquet Sports.
The action kicked off bright and early this morning at the Student Recreation Center on the campus of Arizona State University, but I spent most of the day catching up with my “racquetball family”. So first, I will give everyone a look at the seeds in the divisions this year. Of course, this year everyone wants to earn that appointment to the US Junior National Team as the Junior Worlds will be held in Cochabamba, Bolivia this coming December. Spots will be earned by the finalists in each of the World Cup divisions, and those are the 14s, 16s, and 18s for singles for the girls and the boys. There is still a great deal of debate about the Doubles teams, but my understanding is that the winning team in those same age groups will still earn a spot on the team, but their ability to join the team for the Junior Worlds in Bolivia will depend on fund raising. As I generally try to avoid the political aspects of the sport with these updates, I won’t be saying anymore about that. After all, this tournament is all about the children and I’m all for that.
In the Girl’s 18s, defending National and World Champion Michelle Key, from Arizona is the top seed. I spoke with her earlier today and she is looking forward to the challenge of defending both her titles and she got her tournament off to a good start by winning her 1st round in the Girl’s 18 Doubles, which this year is a 5 team round robin. The second seed is Connecticut’s Kara Mazur, who is a member of the National Championship team from the University of Alabama. Third seed is Sharon Jackson from Indiana, who swept the 16s last year and is looking for the repeat in her first year in the 18s. The fourth seed is Ohio’s Samantha McGuffey who just wanted to play today. She’ll get that chance tomorrow.
In the Girl’s 16s, there is a 5 person round robin in the singles where Sheryl Lotts of Ohio and Danielle Key from Arizona are the seasoned Junior Nationals participants and Junior Team qualifiers.
The Girl’s 14s is certainly loaded this year and should provide some great matches in the days ahead. Top seed is Aubrey O’Brien from California. She is also the defending champion and runner up from Junior Worlds. She is very motivated to earn another spot on the team to try and win that elusive World Title, as many of you will recall the final of the Girl’s 14s at Junior Worlds was one of the best matches of the tournament. The second seed is California’s Devon Pimentelli. She won the 12s last summer in Michigan and got her tourney off to a good start today in the doubles with a fairly comfortable win. The third seed is Samantha Rosado from Connecticut and the fourth seed is Courtney Chisholm from Massachusetts.
In the Girl’s 12s, Oregon’s Hollee Hungerford is the top seed as she takes her Gold Medal from the 10s last summer up into the 12s. Last year’s beaten finalist in the 10s, Ohio’s Abbey Lavely, is the second seed and she is hoping to reverse the order this year. The third seed is Mercedes Arias from Michigan, and she is my early pick to be the player of the tournament. The fourth seed is Samantha Simmons from Maryland, and I have to admit that I am not very familiar with this young lady.
In the 10s, Team Colorado’s Elizabeth Vargas leads the way as the top seed. She actually played up in this division two years ago, so she is now in her third year looking for that elusive national title that would go so well with the bronze and silver medals she has earned the last two years. The second seed is Ashley O’Brien from California, she has made great strides from last year and is looking to follow in her sister Aubrey’s footsteps with a title. The third seed is another of my Team Colorado juniors in Erika Manilla. She spent the day wanting to play, but her first match isn’t until tomorrow. The fourth seed is Oregon’s Alecia Fladstol.
In the 8s, Erika Manilla is looking to defend her title that she earned last summer. Since I do get to work with her and see her practicing, I know how determined she is and I’m just glad that I don’t have to play her.
On the Boy’s side in the 18s, defending champion Allan Crockett from Alabama leads the way. He was largely overlooked last year as he was in his first year in the 18s, but that didn’t stop him from a very convincing win. He’s being overlooked again so we’ll just have to wait and see if he can successfully defend his title. The second seed is Jose Rojas from California who looks very determined, and he’s going to have to be as he is also playing the Boy’s 16 singles and these are the two biggest draws in the tournament. Chances are he’ll be playing at least two full matches in each division for each of the next two days. I did speak with US Adult Team Head Coach, Dave Ellis, today and he said that Jose just can’t get enough racquetball so the prospect of 4 matches in a day doesn’t phase him one bit. The third seed is Rick Sledzik from Massachusetts who is in his final year of Juniors eligibility. The fourth seed is the World Champion from the 16s, Ishmael Aldana. I spoke with Ishmael today and he is very quietly confident, which is very much his style.
In the Boy’s 16s, Jose Rojas is the top seed and defending Champion. Last year Jose and Ishmael split Nationals and Worlds and the difference was an 11-10 tiebreaker to Jose at Nationals and an 11-9 tiebreaker to Ishmael at Worlds. The second seed is Taylor Knoth of Oregon, who is moving up from the 14s and has some pressure already lifted as he has earned a spot on the US Junior National Team by virtue of his victory in March at the High School National Championships. The third seed is Brad Kirch from New York. He was the beaten finalist in the 14s last summer. The fourth seed is Trevor Snyders from Illinois.
In the Boy’s 14s, another loaded division as Oregon’s Dylan Reid has earned the top seed, but that just means a meeting with Louisiana’s Chase Stanley who is back at Junior Nationals after a 2 year hiatus. That match goes tomorrow and is an early candidate for match of the day. The second seed is Louisiana’s Joseph Lee who is always in the hunt at Junior Nationals. The third seed is Marco Rojas from California and he is just as hungry as his older brother, Jose, for that trip to Bolivia and Junior Worlds. The fourth seed is Jose Diaz from California, and he is looking to put a somewhat disappointing Junior Worlds behind him at this tournament.
In the Boy’s 12s, John Lindsay of Oregon leads the way as top seed. John is all heart on the court and I know that he will give it everything he has to get the title. The second seed is Sam Reid from Oregon he also is John’s doubles partner in that event. The third seed is a familiar player to those of you that regularly read these updates, he’s my Team Colorado player and Ektelon’s Junior Athlete of the Year, Adam Manilla. Adam swept the 10s last summer and has been playing extremely well lately, so I look forward to reporting his progress to you this week. The fourth seed is California’s Bobby Sehrgosha, the beaten finalist in the 10s last year.
In the Boy’s 10s, Ohio looks to have a stranglehold on this one as Kyle Ulliman and Spencer Shoemaker, respectively, have the top two seeds and they will be playing doubles together. The third seed is Ryan Francis from New Hampshire and the fourth seed is Jake Birnel from Washington state. Those two are moving up from the 8s where they were the finalists last year.
In the Boy’s 8s, Justus Benson of Wisconsin has earned the top seed ahead of Indiana’s Sean Henry, California’s Mauro Rojas, and Ohio’s Christian Ulliman.
As I said, I didn’t see that many matches today, but some players that stood out were Minnesota’s John Behm who took out the Third Seed today. Also, Mitchell Hardin of Ohio played very well in squeaking out an 11-8 tiebreaker win in the 12s today against Sean Cooperrider.
The state competition this year promises to be very exciting as Oregon looks to regain the title after California ended their 14 year run last year in Michigan. Oregon brought 38 players this year to try and take the crown back, but California isn’t going to give it away that easily as they brought 31 players themselves. Also in the hunt this year will be Ohio with 22 players and Arizona which brings 20 players to these championships. A sleeper that is coming up through the ranks could be Florida and their 14 players. A kudos has to go to Kim Roy down in Florida for putting together such a large team and bringing them out to Arizona.
I will be out there for all the action tomorrow and will have more reports on the matches tomorrow night including pictures.
June 21st, 2007
by Adam Katz
The 2007 Junior Olympic Racquetball Championships kick off this week in Tempe, AZ! ~250 juniors from around the country will come to compete in boys, girls, and doubles brackets segregated by age. Many of last year’s champions are back to defend their titles, while every other player in the draw has their eye on a big upset.
The other big story is the TEAM title, which California stole from Oregon last year. Oregon has held the crown for MANY years (10+ I *think*), but the competition from the golden state was too much. Does Oregon have what it takes to win the title back, or are the new guns in town to stay a while?
Just in case you didn’t get a flight booked to Tempe to check out all the great action, our GREAT friends at www.racquetballonline.tv will be onsite to provide FREE LIVE VIDEO coverage of the matches on the main court. Just stop by their site to get started!
Draws – http://www.r2sports.com/tourney/display/tourney.asp?TID=2093
TOTAL ENTRANTS: 251
Ore. USA (38)
Calif. USA (31)
Ohio USA (22)
Ariz. USA (20)
Fla. USA (14)
Wash. USA (11)
Mich. USA (10)
Minn. USA (10)
Colo. USA (9)
N.H. USA (8)
Va. USA (8)
Md. USA (7)
Wis. USA (7)
Utah USA (6)
Mass. USA (5)
N.M. USA (5)
Texas USA (5)
Idaho USA (4)
Ala. USA (3)
Conn. USA (3)
Ind. USA (3)
Mo. USA (3)
La. USA (3)
N.Y. USA (3)
Iowa USA (2)
Ill. USA (2)
Neb. USA (2)
Alaska USA (1)
Hawaii USA (1)
Miss. USA (1)
N.C. USA (1)
N.D. USA (1)
S.D. USA (1)
June 21st, 2007
by Geoff Thomsen