Saturday, July 7, 2018

Ten Years Later

Ten years ago - July 7, 2008 - the first article of The Racquetball Blog was published, so July 7, 2018 is our 10th Anniversary. Yay! We haven’t looked back on our history for awhile, but anniversaries always good for that.

The Racquetball Blog’s mission is stated above: “independent writing and reporting on racquetball.” This outlet isn’t tied to one organization or company or tour. We’re trying to cover everything, and to do so in a “just the facts, ma’am” kind of way.

Recently, someone was critical of us for not taking more of a stand on things, making predictions and being more opinionated. However, we’re not interested in stirring the pot unnecessarily. We’ll make arguments for things when there’s a sound basis for it. For example, it should have been clear what we thought of the International Racquetball Tour (IRT) changing their match format (spoiler: it was dumb and unnecessary). And we’ve often expressed concerns about the number of women playing racquetball, including in junior tournaments.

We often did predictions in the early days, but with the dominance of Paola Longoria and Kane Waselenchuk that began to seem a bit unnecessary. If one of them in the draw? If so, then we predict that they will win.

However, after Waselenchuk won the 2008 US Open, we wrote about who had the best chance to beat him, arguing that Alvaro Beltran was mostly likely to defeat Waselenchuk. In the 2009 California Open - next IRT event that happened after our analysis came out - Beltran beat Waselenchuk. Waselenchuk’s only lost once since.

Since 2008, there have been 2718 pieces on The Racquetball Blog (this is 2719). Racquetball is a great game. Yes, there are issues, and things that could be improved, although most of the problems would likely be resolved if there were, say, 20% more players. More players could create other problems, but those would be nicer to deal with.

Will The Racquetball Blog be around for another 10 years? That’s hard to say, as 10 years is a long time. Sometimes it seems we’re a bit of a voice in the wilderness, but if you are reading this, and know other racquetball people who might like it too, let them know. We appreciate the word of mouth.

Also, if you want to give us feedback on what you’re reading, you can contact us via email - theracquetballblog at gmail.com - or on Twitter @racquetballblog. Comments can also be left at the bottom of articles, although they may not show up immediately, as there’s a spam filter on them.

Regardless of whether you comment or not, we hope that you continue to enjoy reading The Racquetball Blog, and continue to ...

Follow the bouncing ball….

Monday, June 18, 2018

Costa Rica to host 2018 IRF World Championships

The International Racquetball Federation (IRF) has announced the 2018 World Championships will be held in San José, Costa Rica, August 10-19. Originally, Worlds were to be held in China, but the local organizing committee encountered difficulties with government approval. That led the IRF to select Cali, Colombia, which hosted the last World Championships in 2016, to host the event again.

However, as the details were being finalized for that the venue unexpected was demolished. The eight courts there were razed to the ground. This was a shocking development, and resulted in the IRF scrambling for another venue with little more than two months until Worlds are to begin.

Thus, San José has become the host.

That solves the immediate issue for the IRF, but the demolition of the courts in Cali will have implications for the Colombian racquetball association, as most of their players were from Cali and we’re not sure there’s another facility in the city. Thus, losing those courts could cripple the racquetball in Cali, specifically, and Colombia, generally.

Colombia has produced world class players, including former Men’s Doubles World Champions Sebastian Franco and Alejandro Herrera, as well as Cristina Amaya, one of the top 10 women on the Ladies Professional Racquetball Tour (LPRT). But to produce more players and continue to train the current ones, they need to have courts.

So while The Racquetball Blog is happy the IRF has a venue for Worlds, we’re concerned about what’s going to happen in Colombia moving forward.

Follow the bouncing ball….

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Longoria wins twice at 2018 LPRT Teamroot.com Classic

Paola Longoria, the #1 player on the Ladies Professional Racquetball Tour (LPRT), won twice Sunday at the Teamroot.com Classic in Overland Park, Kansas, as she captured both the Women's Singles title and the Women's Doubles title with partner Samantha Salas. The wins will solidify Longoria as the #1 LPRT player in both singles and doubles for the 2017-18 LPRT season. Lambert won 7 tournaments this season, which concluded with the Sunday finals.

In the singles final, Longoria defeated LPRT #2 Frédérique Lambert, 11-6, 6-11, 11-4, 11-2, and she and Salas beat Natalia Mendez and Maria Jose Vargas, 15-13, 15-6, in the doubles final.

The singles final was unusual, as the first two games were mirror images of each other. In game one, Lambert got the good start with a 6-1 lead only to see Longoria score 10 unanswered points to win it, 11-6. The reverse happened in game two, when Longoria took a 6-1 lead with Lambert then scoring 10 points to win that game, 11-6, and level the match at 1-1.

In game three, they were close early with ties at 2-2 and 4-4. But then Longoria edged ahead with a point followed by an exchange of sideouts three times to make the score 7-4. Longoria scored four straight points from there, including a drive serve ace to the left side of the court, that got her to game point at 10-4. She won game three on the next rally with a forehand cross court winner.

Longoria got the first three points of game four, and really never looked back, as she went on to win, 11-2. Despite the lopsided score, there were several sideouts, so Lambert had many chances to get points. She simply didn't. Longoria won the game and match with a drive serve to the left side that caught Lambert unawares, as she had moved to the right thinking the serve was going that direction rather than where Longoria actually hit it.

In the doubles final, Mendez and Vargas led for much of game one, including at 12-9 and 13-12. However, they couldn't finish it off, as Longoria and Salas held them at 13 over four serves, as they went from 13-12 down to 14-13 up. Credit Mendez and Vargas for holding off two game points at that score, but after getting the sideout, they couldn't score themselves, as Salas hit two winners to get her side the serve back. Longoria then won it with a forehand to the left side.

After coming up short in game one, it seemed predictable that game two would not be close, and it wasn't. Longoria and Salas went up 6-0 and 11-1. Mendez and Vargas did claw a few points back before falling, 15-6. Mendez and Vargas tried a few different strategies, including switching sides (Vargas began the match on the left and Mendez on the right), and both serving to Salas, but nothing was ultimately successful against the three time World Champions.

If you missed any of the action from Kansas, go to the LPRT website and click "Live Streaming."

The 2018 LPRT Teamroot.com Classic, June 8-10, 2018
Overland Park, Kansas


Final - Sunday

1) Paola Longoria d. 2) Frédérique Lambert, 11-6, 6-11, 11-4, 11-2

Doubles - Final - Sunday

1) Paola Longoria & Samantha Salas d. 3) Natalia Mendez & Maria Jose Vargas, 15-13, 15-6

Follow the bouncing ball….