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
I was able to spend a few hours last weekend at the 2008 USA Racquetball NW Regional Championships at Cascade Athletic Club in Gresham, OR. This was a huge event, featuring over 250 participants from around the Pacific Northwest. The only regional qualifier larger in size was the 2008 IRT Pro Nationals with 305 entrants, which was also a regional qualifier for the Chicago area. There were well over 50 people in just the men’s pro division, and MANY people who flew in from around the US to participate – which, in my opinion, really goes to show just how big the event in Oregon was.
Rocky Carson made a guest appearance on Saturday of the event, to do a pro clinic followed by a few “play the pro” matches. The crowd seemed to be very impressed that the current #1 pro in the world was there to share some racquetball insight.
Be sure to check the galleries for shots of the following players: Jimmy Lowe, Chad Westwood, Taylor Knoth, Dan Darling, Dave Azuma, Grant Stalley, David Laforest, Joey Lakowske, Jeremy White
April 27th, 2008
by Geoff Thomsen
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
As luck would have it, I had a few free hours to spare the weekend of 2007 regional qualifiers for USA Racquetball. On Saturday evening of the 2007 Northwest Regional Racquetball Championships, I was able to catch one of the Men’s Open semis, as well as both of the semis for the Men’s Open Doubles.
Doubledonut Gallery – http://www.doubledonut.com/v/2007_nw_regional/
MS1 – Stark def. Pratt (6, (4), 8) – This was a GREAT match between veteran Jeff Stark, and up-and-comer Charlie Pratt. Stark finished second at National Doubles in 2006, and is a member of the USA Racquetball National Team. Pratt is veteran of the Junior tour, and is a long time USA Racquetball Junior Team member. He has started to make his presence felt on the pro tour, where he had a nice win over top ranked IRT player, Jason Thoerner.
MDS1 – Westwood Rutledge def. Baida Solomon (14, 9) – These guys are all long time players in Oregon; Westwood known for winning the Men’s Open singles division in Oregon for the past three years running.
MDS2 – Pratt Knoth def. Darling Rasmussen ((7), 12, 10) – Charlie Pratt teams up with junior champion Taylor Knoth against long time veterans Dan Darling (3rd 2006 National Doubles Men’s Open), and Kelley Rasmussen. Rasmussen would injure his knee part way through game two, which forced Darling to cover the entire court for the rest of the match. While this sounded like an instant victory for Knoth and Pratt, they had to fight hard to *barely* take the tie-breaker.
June 14th, 2007
by Geoff Thomsen
The 2007 Wilson High School National Racquetball Tournament was held this weekend in St. Louis, MO. In addition to being crowned “National High School Champion”, the winners of the Boys #1 and Girls #1 positions were awarded 1 year appointments to the U.S. Junior Racquetball Team. On the boys side, Taylor Knoth (Milwaukie, OR) first upset number one seed Alan Crockett in the semifinals, and then defeated number two seed Danny Lavely on his road to victory. On the girl’s side, number two seed Shannon Inglesby defeated Sharon Jackson in the finals. The official Racquetball Blog of the Oregonian, Rollin’ it Out, has a complete write-up on the local participants. USA Racquetball also re-caps the team standings. Draws, courtesy of R2Sports.
March 5th, 2007
by Geoff Thomsen
US Junior National Coach Kelley Beane has announced the 2006/2007 US Junior National Racquetball Team. This team will represent the U.S. during the Junior World Racquetball Championships this December.
I am pleased to announce the 2006/2007 Junior National Team. After a week of blood, sweat and tears we have our new team. It is difficult to see the tears when an athlete doesnt make the team, and yet pure joy to see the tears when they do. We have a big squad, one with confidence and they have the talent to back that confidence up. We have training camp Aug 4th-Aug 10th, and until then, enjoy your victories, and I will see you all soon.
Boys 18 Allan Crockett Mike Keddie
Girls 18 Michelle Key Ashley Wilhite
Boys 16 Jose Rojas Ishmael Aldana
Girls 16 Sharon Jackson Sherika Darnell
Boys 14 Taylor Knoth Brad Kirch
Girls 14 Aubrey Obrien Danielle Key
Boys 18 Doubles Chris Coy/ Zach Apperson
Girls 18 Doubles Kara Mazur/ Samantha McGuffey
Boys 16 Doubles Ishmael Aldana/ Jose Rojas
Girls 16 Doubles Holly Hettesheimer/ Sharon Jackson
Boys 14 Doubles Taylor Knoth/ Jake Bredenbeck
Girls 14 Doubles Danielle Key/Lily Berry
June 27th, 2006
by Geoff Thomsen