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2008 National Doubles – No Double Donut!

Hope all is well in Tempe, AZ this weekend. This tournament is the first National Event I’ve missed in over 4 years! I had too much going on with family, work, and school to make the trip. It looks like the “full crowd” is back in the US Team qualifier draws for men and women – I’m sure there will be some great matches. I’d encourage anyone else not in Tempe this weekend to check out http://www.racquetballonline.tv . They are doing live video streaming so everyone can watch some great doubles matches over the next few days.

February 14th, 2008 by Geoff Thomsen

Photos – 2007 National Doubles

After a long, long, long wait .. the photos from the 2007 National Doubles Championships are FINALLY online. I had some major stuff hit my schedule recently, and unfortunately, updating double donut fell to the bottom of the list. Things are slowing coming around, and I should have more content on here shortly.

Up next: 2007 Portland Open Turkey Shoot Racquetball Championships
Up after that: 2007 US OPEN Racquetball Championships

For now: Gallery – 2007 National Doubles Racquetball Championships

December 11th, 2007 by Geoff Thomsen

2007 National Doubles Quick Links

Here are some quick links for the 2007 USA Racquetball National Doubles Championships:

Location: Arizona State University Recreation Center – Tempe, AZ (you can click the controls on the map to zoom around).

View Larger Map

General Schedule:

9/28 Friday – Quarterfinal rounds played
9/29 Saturday – Semifinal rounds played
9/30 Sunday – Final rounds played, national champions crowned

Check back here for updates throughout the weekend, and of course, PICTURES!

4 comments September 26th, 2007 by Geoff Thomsen

2007 USA Racquetball National Doubles Championships

The 2007 USA Racquetball National Doubles Championships start in 4 days?! Where did this summer go? Things have definitely been shaken up this year from an “open draw” standpoint. Following the model from the 2007 National Singles Championships, Doubles will also add a “US National Team Qualifying” division. There is also a kink in the national racquetball calendar for 2008, as some of the major event dates are changing. The 2008 National Doubles is in February of 2008 – only five months after the 2007 event. The World Championships is in summer of 2008, which means TWO doubles events will occur before world’s does. This has caused a small problem .. Which event do “Team Qualifiers” have to win to earn a spot on the US National Team? My current understanding is as follows: the October event winners will represent at the Tournament of Americas, and the February event winners will represent at the Worlds.

I was also checking out some 2007 entry stats to compare this year’s event to 2006.

Participants 2006 – 484
Men’s Open – 36
Women’s Open – 28
Mixed Open – 30
Players from Oregon – 23

Participants 2007 – 416
Men’s Open – 16
Men’s US Team – 18
Women’s Open – 2
Women’s US Team – 17
Mixed Open – 30
Players from Oregon – 2

Some interesting numbers! First of all, we are down about 70 entrants from 2006, which is about 15%(!). The total number of Open men entrants remained exactly the same, with players split 50/50 between Open and US Team. On the women’s side, things are NOT looking good! Only TWO entrants the Women’s Open!! That is entrants, NOT teams! And then, only 17 (? not sure how that works) women in the US Team division. The draw will start in the quarters! Where are our players going?!

Also to note, is the fact that several top IRT Pros are currently missing from the draws – Jack Huczek, Rocky Carson, Jason Thoerner, and Mitch Williams. The men’s divisions are WIDE OPEN!! There are also some interesting new teams this year – I can’t wait to get to Tempe!

September 21st, 2007 by Geoff Thomsen

Photos – National Doubles Finals

 The finals of the 2006 USA Racquetball National Doubles Championships finished without a single tie-breaker!  All three of the Open divisions finished in two straight games, with the reigning champions from 2005 claiming victory again this year.

Stats to note:

  • On Thursday, there were 30+ matches that ended 11-10 tie-breaker (causing the tournament to get pretty backed up)
  • Aimee Ruiz set a new Nationals Doubles record by winning her 5th consecutive national title

 Match Galleries:

2 comments October 16th, 2006 by Geoff Thomsen

Photos – National Doubles Semi’s

Most of the semifinal rounds at the 2006 USA Racquetball National Doubles Championships followed the seedings, but a few of the matches did make some waves.  After winning game one of the second women’s semifinal, Jackie Rice twisted her knee re-injuring a recent pull.  She went to the floor, and then took an injury timeout.  I immediately assumed the match was done, only to come back to the court to see Jackie hobbling back into action.  My first reaction was that she was taking a huge risk playing on her injured knee, but I was then shocked to see Kim Russell take center court and finish the match two on one against Rhonda Rajsich and Janelle Tisinger.  Kim battled the match out, with Jackie dumping any shots her way into the corner or ceiling.  Rhonda and Janelle soon began tiring the team out, and took the match in the tie-breaker.

Also of note was the mixed semifinal with defending champions Thoerner / Ruiz against Ellis / Walsh.  Ellis and Walsh jumped to a quick lead, and took game one before Thoerner and Ruiz could get things going.  Part way through game two, Thoerner took a quick glance at Kristen Walsh’s racquet, and made sure to point out to John Ellis that the grip was extending beyond the end of the frame :) .  Jason and Aimee never did appeal the length (not exactly sure if Jason or Aimee’s racquets were also in violation), and went on to win the match 11-6 in the breaker.

Match Galleries:

October 16th, 2006 by Geoff Thomsen

Photos – 2006 National Doubles Quarters

As soon as stepping off the plane in Tempe, and then into the club at the ASU Recreation Center, I was off and shooting for the 2006 USA Racquetball Nationals Doubles Championships.  Things started off with a bang, as several huge upsets rocked the draws.  After first beating the number three seeds Solis / Dunn, Dan Darling and Jason Samora proceeded to take out Ben Croft and Woody Clouse in a big 11-10 tie breaker.  Each team served NUMEROUS times at 10-10, and finally Darling / Samora were able to put together the game-ending rally.

Out of nowhere, Jeff Stark and Andy Hawthorne moved through the draw, meeting long time men’s finalists Jason Thoerner and Mitch Williams in the quarters.  Andy and Jeff couldn’t miss a shot, and kept Thoerner and Williams off-balance and out of position throughout the match.  Mitch and Jason just seemed to be missing everything, and my usual 10 shots of Mitch diving through the air came in at only one or two for this match.  Andy and Jeff closed out the match in two straight games.

John Ellis made a splash this year at National Doubles, playing well and showing some of the event veterans some new tricks.  In Ellis and Royster’s match against the number one seeds, they made some event “talk” by appealing the racquet lengths of their opponents Carson and Huczek in the first game.  As their rubber grips extended 1/2″ beyond the end of the racquet (making the total length 22.5″), the number one seeds were disqualified from the first game.  After a quick trip to the event stringer for a grip trim, Rocky and Jack fought back to take the next two games, and the match.

Match Galleries:

October 16th, 2006 by Geoff Thomsen

2006 National Doubles – Wrap-Up

Holy cow, what a weekend! First of all, congratulations to the winners for their hard fought battles at the 2006 USA Racquetball Nationals Doubles Championships! For the Open’s, we have:

Men’s Open : Jack Huczek & Rocky Carson
Women’s Open : Aimee Ruiz & Laura Fenton
Mixed Open : Jason Thoerner & Aimee Ruiz

These National Champions have also earned spots on the USA Racquetball National Team. Congrats again!

Days spent at club : 3
Hours spent at the club or traveling : 44
Cans of Redbull : 8
Cans of Dr. Pepper : Lost count
Photos taken : Just over 4,000

I came back home to a sick family, so there’s going to be a small delay in getting things posted up here. There were some REALLY exciting matches this weekend, and I can’t wait to get the pictures online. They’ll be here ASAP, and I’ll probably have the “keepers” posted to my galleries over the the next week.

Check back for updates!

2 comments October 2nd, 2006 by Geoff Thomsen

2006 National Doubles – Quarterfinals Set

The rounds of sixteen have been completed, and the contenders for the quarterfinal rounds have been set at the 2006 USA Racquetball National Doubles Championships.

Men’s Open – Two teams made upsets to earn quarterfinal berths in the Men’s Open Division.  Shawn Royster and John Ellis (9) had a NARROW 11-10 tie break finish to upset Charlie Pratt and Sanjay Laforest (8), and my hometown boys Jason Samora and Dan Darling (14) pulled off a HUGE upset by defeating the number three seeds Greg Solis and John Dunn (3) in an 11-6 tie break.  Wow.  The quarter are (my picks in bold):

  • Q1: Huczek / Carson (1) vs. Royster / Ellis (9)
  • Q2: Tucker / Vanderson (5) vs. Ganim / Bell (4)
  • Q3: Darling / Samora (14) vs. Croft / Clouse (6)
  • Q4: Hawthorne / Stark (7) vs. Thoerner / Williams (2)

Women’s Open - There were also two upsets on the Women’s side, as Foster / Albrecht (12) make it past the number five seeds Walsh / Brown (5) and Shattuck / Gellman (9) earn a win over Gardner / Hjelm (8) to earn a spot in the quarters. The quarter are (my picks in bold):

  • Q1: Ruiz / Fenton (1) vs. Shattuck / Gellman (9)
  • Q2: Foster / Albrecht (12) vs. Gudinas / Inglesby (4)
  • Q3: Tisinger / Rajsich (3) vs. Kyzer / Moore (6)
  • Q4: Lyons / Pfahler (7) vs. Paraiso-Rice / Russell-Waselenchuk (2)

Mixed Open – What would the sixteens be without a few upsets (we obviously have a trend!)?  Jason Samora / Kim Wilkerson (9) start things off with a tie-break upset over Fredenberg / Franks (8), and then Albrecht / Vanderson (11) finish with a win over Gellman / Medina (6) in two straight games.  The quarter are (my picks in bold):

  • Q1: Ruiz / Thoerner (1) vs. Samora / Wilkerson (9)
  • Q2: Ellis / Walsh (5) vs. Hawthorne / Moore (4)
  • Q3: Gudinas / Lowe (3) vs. Albrecht / Vanderson (11)
  • Q4: Royster / Rajsich (7) vs. Tisinger / Dunn (2)

Some tough picks in Mixed Open!  With such a mix of top ranked touring pros and national level amateurs, anything could happen!  I can’t wait to get to Tempe to witness all the action (4 hours and counting!).

September 29th, 2006 by Geoff Thomsen

2006 National Doubles – Quick Links

Here are some quick links for the 2006 USA Racquetball National Doubles Championships in Tempe, AZ:

General Schedule:

Friday – Quarterfinal rounds played
Saturday – Semifinal rounds played
Sunday – Final rounds played, national champions crowned

Check back here for updates throughout the weekend, and of course, PICTURES!

September 28th, 2006 by Geoff Thomsen

2006 National Doubles Preview – Men’s Open

I think the Men’s Open draw at the 2006 USA Racquetball National Doubles Championships is the most exciting one I’ve seen in a while.  There should be some awesome matchups this weekend, with finalists from last year battling their way through the draw to earn that spot again.  There is no way I can talk about every matchup this early, so I’m just going to highlight some areas of my personal interest, and make some quarterfinal predictions.

  • Shawn Royster / John Ellis vs. Charlie Pratt / Sanjay Laforest – This should be a real showdown.  Pratt and Laforest played INCREDIBLE last year, almost earning a HUGE upset over Solis / Dunn (11-9 breaker).  Let’s see what a year of practice does for these up-and-comers (although they need over the #1 seeds to make a semi appearance)
  • Josh Tucker / Shane Vanderson – These guys have been moving up the IRT ranks quickly, but will have a good match against the doubles veterans Ganim and Bell.
  • Greg Solis / John Dunn vs. Dan Darling / Jason Samora – This is one match I’m to regret missing! Dan and Jason are my hometown boys, and GREAT players.  Will they have enough for a win against one of the best teams of all time?
  • Andy Hawthorne / Jeff Stark – This is one interesting matchup.  I’ve never seen Andy Play doubles, but these have the potential for a win against Thoerner / Williams.
  • Last but not least, the top seeds.  Rocky Carson / Jack Huczek and Mitch Williams / Jason Thoerner.  These guys have had some real battles the last two years, each time Carson / Huczek rising in the breaker.  Both teams have some STIFF competition in the early rounds, and another 3-gamer if they meet in the finals!

Predictions for the quarterfinals:

Q1: Huczek / Carson vs. Laforest / Pratt
Q2: Tucker / Vanderson vs. Ganim / Bell
Q3: Croft / Clouse vs. Darling / Samora (gotta pull for the hometown boys!)
Q4:  Thoerner / Williams vs. Hawthorne / Stark

September 28th, 2006 by Geoff Thomsen

2006 National Doubles Preview – Women’s Open

Some new matchups have appeared in the Women’s draw this year at the 2006 USA Racquetball National Doubles Championships, but the finals will most likely be a repeat of last year’s showdown between tournament veterans.  Since 1995, four women have dominated this tournament, claiming titles with several different partners.  Although there are some great matchups bound to happen in early rounds, my pick for the finals is a resounding Aimee Ruiz / Laura Fenton vs. Jackie Paraiso-Rice / Kim Russell-Waselenchuk.  There is no doubt in my mind that this will go a full three games, with the tie-break in the 11-10 / 11-9 range.

For a quick history of the winners of this division:

2005 Aimee Ruiz & Laura Fenton
2004 Jackie Rice & Kim Russell
2003 Jackie Rice & Kim Russell
2002 Jackie Rice & Kim Russell
2001 Cheryl Gudinas & Kim Russell
2000 Laura Fenton & Jackie Paraiso
1999 Robin Levine & Kim Russell
1998 Joy MacKenzie & Jackie Paraiso
1997 Joy MacKenzie & Jackie Paraiso
1996 Michelle Gould & Cheryl Gudinas
1995 Michelle Gould & Cheryl Gudinas

September 28th, 2006 by Geoff Thomsen

2006 National Doubles Preview – Mixed Open

Although relatively small, the mixed open draw looks like it has some interesting matchups this year at the 2006 USA Racquetball National Doubles Championships.  It looks like many of the Open players who normally have only played one event (just men’s or women’s open) have also decided to add Mixed as a second division.  Amiee Ruiz and Jason Thoerner earned the number seed after winning the title in 2005, but they will face MUCH stiffer competition this year (IMO).  I haven’t seen every person in the draw play, but I’ll give some insight into the teams that I know about.

  • Jason Samora / Kim Wilkerson – Jason is a top ranked Open player in both Oregon and California, and is known for his speed and PHOTON backhand.  Kim Wilkerson is the top womens’ open player in Oregon, and these two should give Thoerner / Ruiz a run if they get past their first round.
  • Fredenberg / Franks – I don’t know much about this team, except that Fredenberg can BLAST the ball.  I’ve seen him compete at the US Open on the stadium court, and I believe he is a top ranked player in Texas.
  • John Ellis / Kristen Walsh – John is of course a legend on the court, but still recovering from shoulder / knee issues that sidelined him from the pro tour.  He’s still a TOP competitor on California’s tournament circuit, and brings some serious experience to the court.  Kristen Walsh is a top ranked WPRO player, and a HUGE threat on the “weak” side (can you even call the women’s side weak at this level?  I’ll just shut up since any of the “weak” side players could kick my butt on the court).
  • Brian Pointelin / Tammy Brown – Another “legendary” matchup, as Brian has competed on the IRT and held his own in national level events.  Tammy Brown, top-ranked WPRO player should be hitting bombs on the right side.  Another team to watch out for.
  • Dan Darling / Jo Shattuck – Dan Darling is the number one Open player in Oregon, losing only one or two matches in the state last season (to Jeff Stark).  Great scrapper, and he knows how to put the ball away.  Jo Shattuck falls into that same category, and is a clinician on the court.
  • Andy Hawthorne / Diane Moore – Great to see Andy make the move into mixed, he really needs no introduction.  He can cover the court like no other, and I have MANY galleries on my site devoted to him.  Diane is a TOUGH open player who has been making her way up the ranks on the Women’s Pro tour.  Another great team.
  • Cheryl Gudinas / Jimmy Lowe – Wow, this should be an interesting team.  Cheryl is of course a top player on the women’s tour, and Jimmy is a threat on the court at any level.  His unorthodox style of play makes his opponent’s heads spin, and he can hustle around the court making gets ALL DAY.  Note – check Jimmy’s racquet out when you see him play.  There is a small spot on his strings worn out from hitting the ball in the EXACT place on his racquet for every shot.  Amazing.
  • Key / Orr – I don’t think I’ve seen either of them play ..
  • Albrecht / Vanderson – I’ve never seen Albrecht play, but Shane Vanderson is a contender at national doubles with championships wins on the men’s side with Mike Dennison.
  • Gellman / Medina – I don’t think I’ve seen either of them play ..
  • Shawn Royster / Rhonda Rajsich – Two of Ektelon’s newest members, these two will be having fun on the court without a doubt.  Rhonda is the current #1 woman player in the world, and Shawn is the #1 racquetball video producer :) .  I’ve never seen him play, but I’ve heard he’s got some mean game!
  •  Sudsy Monchik / Kara Mazur – Sudsy is back on the pro tour, and back at national doubles.  Last year Sudsy played with Marty Hogan in the 25′s, but looked more relaxed than serious (I think they got beat in the semi’s or finals).  He’s back full time on the Pro tour this year, so we’ll see what he brings to doubles.  Kara is a top ranked junior, and the two should be a serious threat on the court.
  • Hardiman / Doniak – I don’t think I’ve seen either of them play ..
  • Janelle Tinsinger / John Dunn – Both serious threats on the court, I believe they made the finals last year, losing to Ruiz / Thoerner.  Look for them as serious contenders for another finals appearance.

WOW! I can’t wait to get to Tempe on Friday!!

September 28th, 2006 by Geoff Thomsen

Just around the corner – 2006 National Doubles

There are now less than two months training time to prepare for the 2006 39th USA National Doubles Racquetball Championships! Will Aimee Ruiz and Laura Fenton team up for a consecutive National Title after winning Worlds last weekend? Will contenders for the Men’s Title step up to prevent Rocky Carson and Jack Huczek from winning their third straight National Doubles title?

2005 Men's Open Champions - Rocky Carson and Jack Huczek
2005 National Doubles Champions - Laura Fenton and Aimee Ruiz

August 8th, 2006 by Geoff Thomsen

Pictures – National Doubles Complete!

All of the processing has been completed for the 2005 USA Racquetball National Doubles Championships. The best 450 or so shots from ~30 matches are now online. You’ll notice no coverage for the Men’s Open final, which started as I was enroute to the airport. Just to keep the suspense alive for the next magazine, I’ve held back several of the best shots from the event.

2005 USA Racquetball National Doubles Gallery

2 comments October 10th, 2005 by Geoff Thomsen

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