Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Team USA for 2018 Pan American Championships

USA Racquetball has announced its team for the 2018 Pan American Championships in Temuco, Chile from March 23 to 31. Rhonda Rajsich, the reigning Pan American Champion in Women’s Singles, will be there to defend her title. The veteran will be joined by Janel Tisinger, David Horn - a Pan Am Championship silver medalist last year in Men’s Doubles - and Thomas Carter. All players will play both singles and doubles.

Rajsich will be representing Team USA for the 23rd time in her career. Only Cheryl Gudinas (27) and Jackie Paraiso (24) have had USA on their backs more often. But Rajsich has got to 23 over 17 years, which is one behind Paraiso who got to 24 over 21 years. Gudinas’s international career spanned 23 years.

In contrast, Carter will be making his first appearance on Team USA. He’s a left hander, so that will give the USA a lefty-righty doubles team. By our count, Carter is the 105th racquetball player to represent the USA.

Horn and Tisinger have both been on the team several times: 6 times for Horn and 5 for Tisinger. Yet they’ve only been on the team together once before - at the 2014 Pan Am Championships, which was Horn’s first time on the team. That was Tisinger’s second with her first coming back in 2007 at the Pan Am Championships.

Tisinger’s first team appearance was a successful one, as she teamed with Rajsich to win Women’s Doubles. Since then, Tisinger has won Women’s Doubles with Aimee Ruiz at the 2016 International Racquetball Federation (IRF) World Championships, when they upset Mexicans Paola Longoria and Samantha Salas in the final. She’s only played singles once for the USA, and that was in 2014, when she lost to Susana Acosta in the Round of 16.

Horn’s yet to top the podium for the USA, although he is the #1 player on the World Racquetball Tour (WRT). He’s been in the finals of Men’s Doubles twice: last year with Jake Bredenbeck and in 2014 with Jose Rojas. His best singles result has been the quarterfinals, which he’s reached three times, including last year when he lost to Andres Acuña, who was playing at home in Costa Rica.

Supporting the players will be coach Dave Ellis, trainer Brent Huff and team leader Cheryl Kirk.

Follow the bouncing ball….

Monday, February 12, 2018

Weekend round up - Wins for Croft & Connell

Remember Ben Croft? Formerly in the top three of the International Racquetball Tour (IRT)? Has won three US Open Doubles titles with Kane Waselenchuk? Well, he’s still playing, and playing singles.

On the weekend, Croft was in the 2018 Atlanta Singles tournament - a Tier 5 IRT event - in Lilburn, Georgia, where he won a five player round robin without giving up more than six points in any one game (to 15). Overall, Croft surrendered 7 points per match on average in winning the event.

David Stincer came second and Jimmy Lan was third.

Also on the weekend, Lee Connell won the 44th Annual Keystone Classic in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Connell defeated Trevor Webb in the final, 15-10, 11-15, 11-7. Ian Frattinger beat Kirby Shwaykosky, 15-6, 15-8 for third place. Connell and Frattinger won the Keystone doubles title with Matthew Kushnir and Logan Strand coming second in a five team round robin.

Coming Up

The next IRT event is the San Antonio March Madness, March 1-4 in San Antonio, Texas. The next event on the Ladies Professional Racquetball Tour (LPRT) is the 2018 LPRT Peachtree Open in Atlanta, Georgia, March 9-11. The World Racquetball Tour (WRT) will also be in action March 9-11 in Fridley Minnesota with the Life Time Series - Fridley event.

2018 IRT Atlanta Singles
Lilburn, Georgia - February 10-11, 2018

Men’s Open - Final Standings

1. Ben Croft - 4-0
2. David Stincer - 3-1
3. Jimmy Lan - 2-2
4. Marco Mijares - 1-3
5. Todd Upchurch - 0-4

44th Annual Keystone Classic
Winnipeg, Manitoba - February 10-12, 2018

Men’s Open - Final

Lee Connell d. Trevor Webb, 15-10, 11-15, 11-7

Men’s Open - 3rd place

Ian Frattinger d. Kirby Shwaykosky, 15-6, 15-8

Follow the bouncing ball….

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Carson defeats Pratt in National Team Qualifying at 2018 USA Racquetball National Doubles Championships

Rocky Carson and Rhonda Rajsich won the National Team Singles Qualifying Divisions Sunday at the 2018 USA Racquetball National Doubles Championships in Tempe, Arizona. Carson defeated Charlie Pratt, 15-5, 13-15, 11-7, while Rajsich had a walkover win against Kelani Bailey.

Carson dominated game one, going up 14-3. But Pratt fought off three game points before Carson finished it off at 15-5. That little spurt at the end gave Pratt momentum for game two, when he took the early lead 3-0, and 8-4.

However, Carson caught up at 9-9, and then he took the lead 12-9, as he scored six straight points and looked good to win the match in two straight games. Carson maintained the lead to 13-11.

At that point the match stalled, as they traded side outs for nine rallies. Pratt broke the deadlock, scoring two points to tie the game 13-13. Carson called a timeout, and - as often happens - won the next rally to get the serve back.

But Carson was able to use the opening to score, so Pratt got the serve right back. He scored two straight points, winning the game on his first game point with a spectacular shot that he took as he turned around in center court, hitting the ball at shoulder height and put a forehand into the front right corner.

Pratt’s momentum continued into game three, as he got the first two points to lead 2-0. But Carson took control from there, scoring four straight points to lead 4-2. He maintained the lead to the end, which came when a long rally ended with Pratt hitting a backhand down the line shot into the floor to make the score 11-7.

It was a small error, but errors like that were enough to be the difference between him and Carson.

The win puts Carson in the driver's seat for qualifying to play Men's Singles on Team USA at the International Racquetball Federation (IRF) World Championships in China this August. He qualified to play Men's Doubles on the team by winning the USA Racquetball Men's Doubles Championship with Sudsy Monchik on Saturday.

Thus, Carson could qualify to play both singles and doubles at Worlds. But would that be a good idea for a player who will be 39 in May? Carson's in great shape, but Worlds is a long event, lasting over a week, so playing two events during that period will be taxing. Carson is also the 5 time defending Men's Singles champion. Surely, he would want to defend that title, if possible. It will be interesting to see how this situation plays out.

As for the women’s final, Bailey won the Women’s Doubles title with Sharon Jackson Saturday, so perhaps she wasn’t feeling the need to play the need to play the singles final with Rajsich, as they have qualified for the US Team that will compete at Worlds. Regardless, it was disappointing that the women's final was not contested.

If you missed any of the action, you can watch archived matches via the USA Racquetball LiveStream Channel. The Men's Singles final is certainly worth a look.

2018 USA Racquetball National Doubles Championships
Tempe, Arizona
US National Team Divisions

Men’s Singles

Final - Sunday

1) Rocky Carson d. 2) Charlie Pratt, 15-5, 13-15, 11-7

Women’s Singles

Final - Sunday

1) Rhonda Rajsich d. 7) Kelani Bailey, forfeit

Follow the bouncing ball....