Thomas Carter of Baldwin Wallace University won twice Saturday at the USA Racquetball 2017 Intercollegiate Championships in Fountain Valley, California, as came out on top in both Men’s Singles and Men’s Doubles. Carter’s double win is the third consecutive year a man has won both divisions, as Marco Rojas did it last year and Adam Manilla in 2015. Carter’s wins are also the second in three years that have gone to a left-handed player; Manilla, who finished 3rd in both singles and doubles this year, is also left-handed.
In the Men’s Singles final, Carter defeated Erik Garcia of Colorado State, Pueblo, 15-8, 15-13, and in the Men’s Doubles final, Carter and Garcia also faced off with Carter and Manolo Sandoval coming out on top of Garcia and Brad Schopieray, 15-11, 10-15, 11-8.
Carla Muñoz of Colorado State, Pueblo also had a chance to win twice Saturday, and she did win the Women’s Singles title against Melania Sauma of Arizona State, 15-6, 15-3, so she successfully defended the title Muñoz first won last year. But in the Women’s Doubles final, Muñoz and partner Samantha Baker lost to Erin Boadway and Erika Manilla of Northern Arizona, 15-10, 15-12.
In the Men’s Singles final, Carter was down early in both games, so he had to come from behind twice. In game one, Garcia had a 4-0 lead and was ahead until Carter caught him at 6-6. He led game one from there on, getting to game point at 14-7. But Carter stalled there, as Garcia fought off five game points. However, Garcia only scored once in that period, and three times he skipped a backhand shot to give Carter back the serve. Carter eventually won it with a forehand rekill after Garcia hit a forehand pinch serve return.
In game two, Garcia took a 6-2 lead early, but again Carter caught up at 6-6. Garcia took the lead again, and stayed ahead until 11-11. It was slow going from there, as they tied at 12-12 and 13-13. After a few side outs at 13s, Carter hit a drive serve to the right side - Garcia’s forehand - that the referee called a skip on the return. Garcia appealed that, successfully, so it would have been a replay, except Carter then appealed that the ball bounced twice before Garcia returned it. And that appeal was also successful, so the score became 14-13.
But those appeals took a few minutes to sort out, and Garcia, who came out on the came out on the short end of them - despite winning his initial appeal, seemed to be out of sorts. Thus, when Carter drove another serve to the right side, Garcia didn’t seem fully prepared, and skipped his return shot, which gave Carter the game and match. Afterwards, Garcia said he wasn’t happy about losing that way.
Nonetheless, Carter was “so excited” with the win that not only puts him in the record book as an Intercollegiate Champion it puts him on the USA Racquetball National Team. That’s remarkable for a player who was never on the USA Junior National Team.
The Men’s Doubles final was a battle of two lefty-righty teams, as Schopieray is also left-handed. And it was Schopieray and Garcia who got off to a good start in game one, going up 6-0. But Carter and Sandoval caught them at 7-7, and then went ahead 11-7, and never trailed after that, winning 15-11 on a side wall-front wall forehand shot by Sandoval.
In game two, Schopieray and Garcia took the early lead, and never trailed. Schopieray won it for them with a side-front forehand, 15-10, which forced a tie-breaker.
In the breaker, Carter and Sandoval got out to a 6-0 lead, but the momentum then swung back to Schopieray and Garcia, as they came back to tie it at 7-7, and then took a 8-7 lead. But a forehand skip by Garcia gave the serve back to the Baldwin Wallace team. However, you had a sense that Carter and Sandoval needed to score at that point, because they might not get a second chance.
And that’s what they did, as Carter and Sandoval scored four points without giving up the serve. Schopieray and Garcia called a timeout down 9-8, but to no avail. Appropriately, the last rally was a long one that Sandoval ended with a forehand pinch shot.
Muñoz won the Women’s Singles title by a comfortable margin. Sauma, who had defeated both the 2nd seed Lexi York of Oregon State and 3rd seed Erika Manilla of Northern Arizona in getting to the final, was close early in the first game, when Muñoz led 4-2 and 6-3. But she was not closer than six points after that.
Yet Sauma didn’t give in to Muñoz, even when she was down 8-0 to the defending champion, because it took 20 rallies to go from 8-0 to 9-1. Sauma certainly put in the effort, but Muñoz showed the quality that has made her the 8th ranked played on the Ladies Professional Racquetball Tour (LPRT).
In the Women’s Doubles final, Boadway and Manilla were in control in game one, as they led the whole way. They got game point off a Boadway lob serve to the right side that caught in the back right corner for an ace.
In the match, Muñoz played most of the balls for her team, as her partner - Baker - didn’t seem to be a very experienced player. Baker lost her three singles matches in two straight games. This made for a bit of an awkward match with much of the play seeming to be 2 against 1.
Yet in the second game, it was the one - Muñoz - who led most of the way. But down 12-8, Boadway and Manilla called a timeout. They got a sideout immediately after that and scored seven unanswered points to come back and win the game, 15-12, and the match in two straight games. They won it on a Manilla forehand shot to the right side that Muñoz dove out for, but was unable to get her racquet on.
If you missed any of the finals they are archived at the USA Racquetball LiveStream channel or on the USA Racquetball Facebook page.
2017 USA Racquetball Intercollegiate Championships
Fountain Valley, California
Women's Singles - Final Saturday
1) Carla Muñoz (Colorado State) d. 6) Melania Sauma (Arizona State), 15-6, 15-3
Women's Singles - 3rd Place Saturday
2) Lexi York (Oregon State) d. 4) Katie Nieswiadomy (Texas A&M), 15-4, 15-3
Women's Doubles - Final Saturday
4) Erin Boadway & Erika Manilla (Northern Arizona) d. 11) Samantha Baker & Carla Muñoz (Colorado State), 15-10, 15-12
Women's Doubles - 3rd Place Saturday
1) Erica Lipski & Lexi York (Oregon State) d. 2) Madeline Gauch & Christina Hughes (Missouri), 15-1, 15-2
Men's Singles - Final Saturday
1) Thomas Carter (Baldwin Wallace) d. 3) Erik Garcia (Colorado State), 15-8, 15-13
Men's Singles - 3rd Place Saturday
4) Adam Manilla (Colorado) d. 2) Mauro Rojas (Delta), 15-12, 15-9
Men's Doubles - Final Saturday
2) Thomas Carter & Manolo Sandoval (Baldwin Wallace) d. 1) Erik Garcia & Brad Schopieray (Colorado State, Pueblo), 15-11, 10-15, 11-8
Men's Doubles - 3rd Place Saturday
3) Adam Manilla & Nick Riffel (Colorado) d. 4) Mauro Rojas & Francisco Troncoso (Delta College), 15-14, 6-15, 11-6
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