Racquetball: Double Donut Studios | Racquetball Action Photography

Bye-Bye, Double Donut Studios!

So the post title may be a little overly dramatic, but things are going to slow down considerably around here.  Just as things have been steadily getting more busy around home/job, I was notified that there weren’t enough funds for USA Racquetball to hire me for the US OPEN this year.  Honestly, I was kind of wondering when this day would come.  I’ve been traveling to the big national events for 5 years now, and while USA Racquetball has been GREAT to do business with, it’s no surprise that the sport of racquetball isn’t exactly sky-rocketing in popularity.  I think the participation numbers in the national draws have been slowing decreasing every single year I’ve attended.

Anyway, I feel like I’m in the spot where I’ve got to either step things up a notch to justify the extra work/stress (like buying equipment, investing in more stable online galleries, etc) or cut back.  The news from USA Racquetball was the answer – cut back.  I love the sport of racquetball, and will continue to play and shoot photos of local events.  Oregon has a great program, and there is no lack of talented athletes to keep my camera busy.  I see myself following the men’s and women’s pro tours, but I’m not sure if I’ll be investing the same amount of time in blogging about them.

The momentum of the IRT seems to be building with more/bigger events and the new court, and I sincerly hope that some day racquetball will have the reputation to demand high dollar sponsors which can support big glamorous events and tons of money for the men’s and women’s pro tours.  Until then, I’m going to have to spend a little more time in the stands rather than on the sidelines.

6 comments August 20th, 2008 by Geoff Thomsen

2007 US OPEN Offcourt – Double Donut

Nothing starts off a long day of racquetball photography quite like a donut or two (thanks, Eddie!!):


February 29th, 2008 by Geoff Thomsen

2007 US OPEN – The Tennis Channel Broadcast #2

Last night’s broadcast of the 2007 US OPEN Racquetball Championships on The Tennis Channel featured a quarterfinal match between 2006 US OPEN Champion Jason Mannino and 2007 US National Champion Mitch Williams.  Both players had a ton of great gets, and it was a fun match to watch.  Part way through the second game, Shawn Royster and Mike Ceresia were joined in the announcers’ booth by none other than three-time US OPEN Champion, Kane Waselenchuk.  Kane stated that he has been training hard, and will be ready to play at the first IRT stop of the 2008-2009 season.  He likened his comeback to his first years on the tour, where he will have to battle his way through the qualifiers and into the main draw.  Has anyone done the math to figure out if Kane can capture the year-end number ranking in his first year back?  The draws are going to be VERY interesting with Kane coming in as a low seed for the first several events .. can’t wait!

February 28th, 2008 by Geoff Thomsen

2007 US OPEN Offcourt – Shawn Royster

Shawn Royster takes a moment to pose for a shot at the 2008 US OPEN Racquetball Championships:

Shawn Royster

Shawn is an avid racquetball enthusiast, and also heads up Royster Productions – who is responsible for the majority of racquetball related video coverage around today.  He produces the US OPEN broadcasts for The Tennis Channel, DVDs for USA Racquetball, and a variety of other content for Ektelon, World Outdoor Racquetball, and others.  When not filming on the court, Shawn is busy with everything from music videos to event hosting (speaking of which, you can check him out MC’ing the USA Racquetball banquet in Houston this year).

February 27th, 2008 by Geoff Thomsen

Photos – 2007 US OPEN

After chugging along, piece by piece, for the last two months – THE PHOTOS ARE READY!!

I’ve got the match galleries completed, and will now work on the “side” photos as time permits. I’ve got some cool shots of the venue, some back stage stuff, as well as some perspectives on the stadium court / players’ village. No guarantees about timelines – all I can say is that more stuff *may* be posted time permitting.

All of you who have been patiently waiting for “special” photos I promised during the event, I am now chugging back through email to make sure everyone gets what they need.

Without further ado, 2007 US OPEN GALLERIES

January 20th, 2008 by Geoff Thomsen

2007 US OPEN – IRT Final

By the time Rocky and Jack took to the court, the capacity crowd at the Racquet Club of Memphis had been treated to some absolutely fantastic racquetball.  First, by Ruben and Woody in the CPRT Finals, won by Ruben in 5, then by Rhonda and Cheryl in the WPRO finals.  So Rocky and Jack had a lot to live up to as they entered the stadium court at the 12th Choice Hotels US OPEN.  Luckily, they didn’t disappoint.

Rocky came out on fire and simply could not miss.  Most people around me were saying that he was “in the zone” and I would heartily agree.  While Jack was playing well, he simply couldn’t keep up with Rocky in the first game and the 11-3 scoreline is both a testament to how well Rocky played and how tough a competitor Jack is…the fact that he was able to score any points with the way Rocky was hitting proves that Jack is truly worthy of his Number 1 ranking.

Further proof was delivered in the second game.  The crowd was definitely feeling a Rocky sweep after that first game, but Jack refused to allow that to happen.  He changed things up and kept attacking Rocky every chance he got.  Although Rocky was still playing very solidly, Jack just refused to lose this game.  They were together throughout until Jack closed it late to tie things up 11-7 to Jack.

Now the crowd decided it would be best to settle in and just enjoy the moment.  Getting riled up for the TV Cameras seemed to have pumped up both of the competitors as they were definitely playing some amazing racquetball.

As the third game started, it was pretty obvious that both players were going to try and impose their will on this game in order to get the 2-1 lead and obtain the better odds of clinching the title and having their name etched on the Champions Cup of the Choice Hotels US OPEN.  Points seemed very hard to come by as both players spent a lot of time diving and hitting to the ceiling to keep the ball in play.  When the dust settled, though, Rocky had strung together enough at the end to squeak out the game 11-8.

At this point, Rocky could sense his time was coming.  However, Jack has earned that number 1 ranking and he wasn’t about to potentially give it up without a major fight.  Both players traded points early in the game until Rocky went on a run that would bring him to the verge of the title.  He got the score to 10-5 and then he stalled…or more appropriately, Jack really turned his own game up.  Rocky served for the match at least 6 different times, but at the same time, he only gave up one more point himself during this long stretch of time.  Rocky did have one moment when he thought that he had finally ended it with a dive in the right side front court, but side Referee, Andy Hawthorne called it two bounces and so the celebration was postponed.  Each time Rocky stepped into the service box, the crowd started chanting, “Rocky, Rocky” so when he finally ended things it was only natural that the theme song from the movie would boom out in the stadi um court area.

As to my earlier report on the women’s final, I did see Rhonda as I was leaving the club for the airport and she mentioned that on that tough play in the 3rd game, when she hit Cheryl on her backswing, it threw her off quite a bit and after she had hit the ball, her own racqet came up and caught her in the nose.  All I can say is that it was very bloody.

This concludes my Choice Hotels US OPEN experience.

The US Junior Team heads to Cochabamba, Bolivia for the IRF Junior Worlds in about 3 weeks.  A few of the team members made the trip to Memphis and they all appear very eager to get down there and start playing.  I will do the best I can to get updates out to everyone as I receive word from those that will be there.

Next up for me, potentially, will be National Doubles in February in Tempe, AZ.  Still not 100% certain, but we’ll see.

Anyway, I just got home, and I haven’t had a chance to upload the pictures that I did take from my camera and won’t be doing that tonight.  When I have, I will send some out to everyone…I am not a Geoff Thomsen or Mike Boatman by any means, so please keep that in mind.

In the meantime, I hope everyone has a very Happy Thanksgiving this coming week!

2 comments November 19th, 2007 by Adam Katz

2007 US OPEN – Final Thoughts

If I have some time later, I will put something out about the IRT Final between Rocky Carson and Jack Huczek, but before I do that I just wanted to put my final thoughts down as I try to do at the end of each tournament I attend. I won’t be giving out my unofficial awards of the tournament because there were so many amazing matches throughout the week that it would truly be unfair to distinguish them. I would just remind everyone that many of the IRT matches will be seen in January and February on the Tennis Channel, please check them out, you won’t regret it.

First and foremost, to Doug Ganim…THANK YOU for inviting me to be a part of this 12th Choice Hotels US OPEN Racquetball Championships. It was a great honor to me and I sincerely hope that I will be back for many years to come. It was by far, the best racquetball experience of my life!

To the Media Staff and it’s leaders, Jeff Oliver, Leo Vasquez, Geoff Thomsen and Mike Boatman, and all the rest…you all are the best, we definitely had some fun times in the media center and I couldn’t imagine a better team to work with.

To the Event Staff and everyone that helped put it all together. Words cannot express how much I truly respect and appreciate all that you do. From changing the Racquet Club of Memphis into the greatest racquetball show on Earth, to all the little things that are far too numerous to mention, you did it all with a smile on your face and made it look far easier than it really was. Eddie Meredith, I just want you to know that I sat back amazed all week at how you and your team took care of every last detail.

Also, please let me encourage everyone to check out some of the early photos that were taken at the event. There are two sites you’ll want to check out.

http://www.choicehotelsusopen.com which has a slide show of more than 50 photos by both Geoff Thomsen and Mike Boatman.

And, of course, I cannot thank Angela Grisar, Pablo Farje, Jo Shattuck, and Denny Erardi enough for bringing racquetballonline.tv to Memphis so that everyone could see the best matches on the Stadium Court.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, if you’ve never been to Memphis for the Choice Hotels US OPEN, get here. They are moving the tournament up to October 22-26, 2008, so I would HIGHLY ENCOURAGE everybody to make plans to be there.

2 comments November 19th, 2007 by Adam Katz

2007 – US Open: Kane Waselenchuk

Kane Waselenchuk joins Shawn Royster and Woody Clouse behind the Tennis Channel announcers’ table at the 2007 US OPEN Racquetball Championships:

2007 US OPEN

1 comment November 17th, 2007 by Geoff Thomsen

2007 US OPEN – Semifinals

Cheryl Gudinas Holmes versus Christie Van Hees

Cheryl began this match with a short serve, and that gave Christie a little momentum out of the gate. Jumping ahead 2-0 and then 5-2, it looked like Christie would be more than happy to relive last year’s final. However, Cheryl had other ideas and came back to tie the score each time. Tied at 5, Christie decided it was time to take one more lead and once she had it she closed it out.

That only served to fire Cheryl up. She’s been playing very well in recent events and that certainly continued today. The players took turns grabbing one point leads early in Game 2 until Cheryl led 4-3. At that point, there was a close call on the left side wall. That particular call went Christie’s way, but Cheryl used that and regained the momentum quickly. She built her lead to 7-3 before Christie was able to get the service back. Cheryl then kept the pressure up and built her advantage to 10-5. Christie then went on a run to bring it back to 9-10, but that was as close as she would get. Cheryl closed it out on her next service to even the game count at 1.

Each player knew they needed game three to put additional pressure on their opponent, and both players came out firing. Cheryl built a quick 2-0 lead, but Christie came right back and strung together five points for a 5-2 lead. Cheryl then pushed it up to another level and stormed back with nine straight points to close it out.

Cheryl now sensed her moment, but Christie came out for a quick 2-0 lead. Cheryl erased that right away with four straight points. At that point, they started trading points with some amazing shots. At 10-8, Cheryl served another short serve, but quickly regrouped with a side out. She would end in on her next serve and now looks forward to another championship final on the stadium court at the 12th Choice Hotels US OPEN.

Rhonda Rajsich versus Angela Grisar

This one started fairly slow as both players adapted to their surroundings on the stadium court. Eventually Rhonda put a run together to grab a 7-1 lead, but Angela started to calm her nerves and got back into the game at 4-7. Playing on the stadium court seemed to hinder Angela’s usual precise shots as she had a few serves go out of bounds on the fly for side outs and Rhonda continued to take advantage. Building her lead, very slowly Rhonda inched her way to game one 11-7.

Game two was a back and forth affair as Angela was able to grab her first lead of the match. Playing very controlled and smooth, she built a 7-3 lead before she stalled. Rhonda increased the pressure with some incredible diving kills and was able to end the game with an 8-1 run.

Rhonda’s momentum seemed to be building but Angela refused to go down without a fight. She grabbed a quick 2-0 lead, but now Rhonda sensed her opportunity. She knew she didn’t want to let Angela get comfortable and she moved the score to 2-2 with another great show of athleticism. Angela briefly grabbed a 3-2 lead, but once Rhonda got the lead back, she wouldn’t give it up. 11-3 to Rhonda and onward to the finals here at the 12th Choice Hotels US OPEN Racquetball Championships.

Rocky Carson vs Jason Mannino

Rocky came into this one very focused. Brimming with confidence from his recent win in Albuquerque combined with his first Grand Slam title in Colorado Springs, he could see the ultimate prize out there and he decided to grab it. keeping Jason on the defensive from the outset, Rocky stormed out to a 2 games lead. But Stadium Court at the Racquet Club of Memphis is like a second home for Jason and he wasn’t about to let some outsider in. Being the only former champion in the draw, he didn’t want to see someone else’s name go on the Silver Champions Cup and he blitzed Rocky in the third game 11-1. The crowd started to sense a comeback, but it was not to be. Rocky regrouped and managed to pull out a point for point battle in the 4th game to take the match and earn his second successive Choice Hotels US OPEN Final berth.

Jack Huczek vs Shane Vanderson

Shane had another amazing battle with Alvaro yesterday, and that seemed to take something out of him. And when you have to play the number 1 player that’s not a good thing. Jack took advantage of a slightly sluggish Shane and closed this one in 3. Shane did put up a good fight and probably should have won the second, but Jack proved that his ranking is a true reflection of his character. He’s onto the final tomorrow of the 12th Choice Hotels US OPEN.

November 17th, 2007 by Adam Katz

2007 US OPEN – Rhonda Rajsich

Rhonda was ALL business during her round of 16 match:


November 16th, 2007 by Geoff Thomsen

2007 US OPEN – Back Bleachers

Some of the longest, loudest, and hardest fought matches in the US OPEN have taken place in the back courts at the Memphis Racquet Club.  Thursday night was no exception.  Andy Hawthorne vs. Ben Croft in the near court.

November 16th, 2007 by Geoff Thomsen

2006 US OPEN Coverage – Men’s Finals

The men’s finals of the 2006 US OPEN Racquetball Championships had everyone guessing.  Would the “rested” Rocky Carson who had not dropped a single game all tournament steamroll Jason Mannino who was injured and also off a huge five game battle royal?  Would Jason’s drive and confidence propel him to his second US OPEN title?  I think most people expected four or five games, but Jason Mannino won his second US OPEN title in three straight.

MF – Jason Mannino def. Rocky Carson (9,8,5)

Double Donut Gallery Link for 2006 US OPEN

December 8th, 2006 by Geoff Thomsen

2006 US OPEN Coverage – Men’s Semifinals

The Men’s semifinal rounds of the 2006 US OPEN Racquetball Championships truly set the tone for the finals on Sunday.  Rocky started out with a quick finish over Shane Vanderson, and many noticed that he seemed rested and ready for the match on Sunday.  On the other half of the draw, there was a blood bath that will not soon be forgotten in Memphis.  Jack Huczek and Jason Mannino played an INCREDIBLE five game battle royal that even had Shawn Royster dancing on the announcer’s desk near the end of game five.  Jason’s torn calf muscle seemed to be having little impact on his play, and his mental game seemed unshakable.

MS1 – Jason Mannino def. Jack Huczek (5,6,(6),(9),10)
MS2 – Rocky Carson def. Shane Vanderson (5,8,3)

Double Donut Gallery Link for 2006 US OPEN

December 8th, 2006 by Geoff Thomsen

2006 US OPEN Coverage – Men’s Quarterfinals

Things really started to kick up a notch with the Men’s Quarterfinal rounds of the 2006 US OPEN Racquetball Championships.  Each match seemed to have its own little point of interest ..

MQ1 – Jack Huczek def. Mitch Williams ((7), 4, 1, 4)
This was the first quarterfinal appearance for Mitch Williams at the US OPEN.  He had been playing very well all week so far, and seemed ready to step up to the number one player in the world.  Along with the quarterfinals appearance came some limelight – Mitch got his first Tennis Channel interview, and seemed right at home.  Things kicked off with a bang, and Mitch took game one before Jack knew what happened.  Huczek quickly re-grouped during the between game break, and had Williams forcing bad shots and chasing balls for the next three games.

MQ2 – Jason Mannino def. Cliff Swain (8, 11, 2)
Both players had heavy minds during this match – Cliff Swain had announced retirement earlier this year, and this was possibly his last match on the stadium court, ever.  Mannino had torn a calf muscle in the early rounds, but was able to use smart game play to nurse his wounds.  Cliff would clearly take advantage of any possible weakness, so this would undoubtabley be Jason’s first hardcore match with the injury.  It was to my great surprise, that Jason stepped on the court and dominated from beginning to end, taking the match in three straight games.  Does this guy have a chance at the title?!

MQ3 – Shane Vanderson def. Alvaro Beltran ((8), 7, 6, 1)
This was a quarterfinal that many thought could go either direction.  Alvaro Beltran has been playing some great ball lately, and just picked up a new sponsor – Pro Kennex.  Shane Vanderson had also been playing some great ball, and was poised to take it to the next level here in Memphis.  After losing a tight first game, Shane was able to hit a stride, and finish the match in four games.

MQ4 – Rocky Carson def. Andy Hawthorne (2, 8, 6)
Andy Hawthorne has been making some huge waves this season, and continued his run by taking out top 10 seed Jason Thoerner in the round of 16 during a 3+ hour (so goes the rumor) five game showdown.  The cheers from this match were heard all the way from the back courts to spectators of the stadium court.  This match seemed to take the wind out of Andy sails, and this combined with Rocky’s make-no-mistakes offense, resulted in a three game victory for Rocky.


Double Donut Gallery Link for 2006 US OPEN

December 8th, 2006 by Geoff Thomsen

2006 US OPEN Coverage – Women’s Semifinals & Finals

Super Saturday lived up to its name at the 2006 US OPEN Racquetball Championships with some incredible matches from the WPRO.  Brenda Kyzer made her semifinal debut on the stadium court, but Christie Van Hees was successful at keeping her in the back court and rolling everything in sight.  The bottom half semifinal was a tense five gamer between Cheryl Gudinas and Kerri Wachtel.  Kerri has been charging up the ranks of the WPRO this year, and won the pro stop right before the US OPEN.  She jumped to early leads in all the games against Cheryl, but Gudinas was able to dig deep and finish the games she needed for a spot in the finals.

The finals was all Christie Van Hees, as she rolled to a quick victory over Cheryl.  Christie only lost a single game on her way to the title, which was to Rhonda in the quarterfinals.

WF – Christie Van Hees def. Cheryl Gudinas (3,2,2)
WS1 – Christie Van Hees def. Brenda Kyzer (3, 3, 9)
WS2 – Cheryl Gudinas def. Kerri Wachtel (0,(5),10,(2),9)

Double Donut Gallery Link for 2006 US OPEN

December 8th, 2006 by Geoff Thomsen

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