Thursday, May 16, 2019

Ganim to step down as UnitedHealthCare US Open Executive Director

Doug Ganim announced Monday that he will be retiring as the Executive Director of the UnitedHealthCare US Open, the largest racquetball tournament in the world, following the 2020 US Open. This was not unexpected, as there was a strong rumour at last year’s US Open that Ganim was planning retirement.

The US Open began in 1996 in Memphis, and ran there until 2007 with the Memphis Racquet Club as the main facility. In 2008, the US Open was moved to Minneapolis, where it has been ever since with the Life Time Fitness - Target Centre club as the main facility.

We understand that planning the US Open is very large undertaking, and it will be difficult to replace Ganim, who carries much of the burden in that planning. Indeed, it may be impossible to replace him, and that may result in a re-imagining of the event after Ganim steps down.

We don’t how much money USA Racquetball, which owns the US Open, makes from the event. A cost-benefit analysis will likely need to be done in making plans for what to do after 2020. It could be that the benefits are not worth the costs to make the event happen.

Ganim’s announcement comes early so that people have “enough notice to make sure [they can] plan in advance to attend in 2019 and 2020.” He plans to go out with a bang and wants you to be a part of it. The Racquetball Blog has been at every US Open since we began and our people were at several before that, so we know first hand how great the US Open is.

Also, the US Open is the only true annual Grand Slam event in racquetball. That is, the only annually held racquetball event that has both the men’s and women’s pro tours - the International Racquetball Tour (IRT) and Ladies Professional Racquetball Tour (LPRT), respectively - participating. That’s a special thing, and if there is no Grand Slam event after 2020, it would create a large hole in the racquetball community.

We look forward to attending both the 2019 and 2020 UnitedHealthCare US Opens, and wish Ganim the best with planning them, as well as in his plans for after 2020.

Follow the bouncing ball….

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Tisinger-Ledkins tests positive

Janel Tisinger-Ledkins tested positive for a banned substance at the 2019 USA Racquetball Doubles Championships, and as a result has been banned from competition for 16 months and disqualified from National Doubles. Thus, she and Aimee Ruiz have had their 2019 title vacated. Michelle De La Rosa and Danielle Maddux, who were runners up to Tisinger-Ledkins and Ruiz, will now be the 2019 Women’s Doubles Champions.

Tisinger-Ledkins’s positive test notice was posted on the USA Racquetball website rather discreetly with the headline “USAR Posting April 29 2019.” Only in paragraph three of the post does the pin drop that Tisinger-Ledkins tested positive.

She was found to have “octopamine sulfate, a metabolite of octopamine” in her system. Octopamine is a stimulant prohibited by the World Anti-Doping Agency for in competition use. Tisinger-Ledkins will not contest the sanction, and unwittingly took the substance, as it is an ingredient in “a supplement I have been taking,” she said.

Tisinger-Ledkins offered her “profound and sincere apologies to my doubles partner, Aimee Ruiz, who had nothing to do with this situation but is still subject along with me to loss [sic] of our National Doubles title. She deserves none of this.”

By winning the 2019 USA National Doubles title, Ruiz and Tisinger-Ledkins were possible US team members for the 2019 Pan American Games in Lima, Peru this summer. Now that won’t happen for Tisinger-Ledkins, and seems unlikely for Ruiz, who doesn’t have any other results to help her qualify for the team.

The Pan Am Games are the largest multi-sport event that includes racquetball, and it’s the only high level competition Ruiz - a three time International Racquetball Federation (IRF) Women’s Doubles World Champion - has not participated in. Ruiz is 44, and this was probably her last opportunity to go to Pan Ams, which is a quadrennial event. We can only imagine how disappointing it must be to not make the team because of a partner’s error.

Drug testing has become common place with elite athletes, and players aspiring to that level need to be aware of what is OK and what isn’t. Tisinger-Ledkins offered this advice to “my fellow athletes that it is critical to be vigilant and aware at all times regarding anything you put into your bodies. My hope is that my experience will prevent others from having to deal with this challenge in their own lives.”

Follow the bouncing ball….

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

2019 Pan Am Games Qualification

The 2019 Pan American Championships finished late last month in Barranquilla, Colombia, and it was the qualifying event for the 2019 Pan American Games that will take place in Lima, Peru this summer. The results from Barranquilla were used to determine how many players each country can send to Lima.

The qualification results have now been posted on the IRF Website. Most countries have qualified to send two players to Lima, so those two will need to play both singles and doubles. But there are a few exceptions.

Peru, as the host country, qualified to have three men in the Pan Am Games, as they had three men competing in Barranquilla. Mexico and the USA can also send three men to Lima, and Bolivia can send four, as they won gold in both Men’s Singles and Men’s Doubles in Barranquilla.

On the women’s side, Mexico can send four women to Lima, as they won both Women’s Singles and Women’s Doubles at the Pan American Championships. Argentina, Bolivia and Colombia can send three women. Note: the qualification slots are not tied to specific players, so the players who will be in Lima need not be those who were in Barranquilla.

Team results

Only one country at the Pan American Championships was in the top three in both the Men’s and Women’s competitions: Mexico, who won the Women’s event and tied for 2nd in the Men’s event. (note: winning here is simply the combined number of points from a country’s players’ performances in singles and doubles). Bolivia topped the Men’s event with the USA tied for 2nd with Mexico. Argentina was 2nd in the Women’s event with Colombia 3rd.

There were two multiple medalists in Barranquilla. Mexican Paola Longoria won gold in both Women’s Singles and Women’s Doubles, while Costa Rican Andres Acuña was a bronze medalist in both Men’s Singles and Men’s Doubles.

If you want to watch some of the matches that happened in Barranquilla, check out the IRF Facebook page. Often the IRF will put the videos up on their IRF YouTube channel, but that doesn’t seem to have been done as yet.

Number of players qualified for 2019 Pan American Games, Lima, Peru

Men


Peru - 3
Bolivia - 4
Mexico - 3
USA - 3
Canada - 2
Costa Rica - 2
Colombia - 2
Ecuador - 2
Dominican Republic - 2
Cuba - 2
Guatemala - 2
Argentina - 2
Chile - 1

Women

Mexico - 4
Argentina - 3
Bolivia - 3
Colombia - 3
Ecuador - 2
USA - 2
Canada - 2
Dominican Republic - 2
Cuba - 2
Guatemala - 2
Chile - 2
Venezuela - 2
Costa Rica - 1

XXXII Pan American Racquetball Championships
Barranquilla, Colombia - April 12-20, 2019

Team results

Men’s Team


1) Bolivia - 432
2) Mexico - 272
2) USA - 272
4) Costa Rica - 226
5) Canada - 208
6) Ecuador - 120
7) Dominican Republic - 118
8) Colombia - 110
9) Guatemala - 100
10) Cuba - 90
11) Argentina - 84
12) Chile - 56
13) Venezuela - 48
14) Peru - 40
14) Honduras - 40

Women’s Team

1) Mexico - 432
2) Argentina - 272
3) Colombia - 224
4) Bolivia - 212
5) Ecuador - 180
6) USA - 140
7) Canada - 116
8) Dominican Republic - 110
9) Cuba - 100
10) Guatemala - 90
11) Chile - 82
11) Venezuela - 82
13) Costa Rica - 18

Combined Team

1) Mexico - 704
2) Bolivia - 644
3) USA - 412
4) Argentina - 356
5) Colombia - 334
6) Canada - 324
7) Ecuador - 300
8) Costa Rica - 244
9) Dominican Republic - 228
10) Guatemala - 190
10) Cuba - 190
12) Chile - 138
13) Venezuela - 130
14) Peru - 40
14) Honduras - 40

Individual Results Summary

Women's Singles

GOLD - Paola Longoria (Mexico)
SILVER - María José Vargas (Argentina)
BRONZE - Maria Paz Muñoz (Ecuador) and Natalia Mendez (Argentina)

Men's Singles

GOLD - Carlos Keller (Bolivia)
SILVER - Charles Pratt (USA)
BRONZE - Alvaro Beltran (Mexico) and Andres Acuña (Costa Rica)

Women's Doubles

GOLD - Paola Longoria & Samantha Salas (Mexico)
SILVER - Valeria Centellas & Yazmine Sabja (Bolivia)
BRONZE - Cristina Amaya & Adriana Riveros (Colombia) and Danielle Drury & Jennifer Saunders (Canada)

Men's Doubles

GOLD - Roland Keller & Conrrado Moscoso (Bolivia)
SILVER - Coby Iwaasa & Samuel Murray (Canada)
BRONZE - Javier Mar & Rodrigo Montoya (Mexico) and Andres Acuña & Felipe Camacho (Costa Rica)

Follow the bouncing ball….