Friday, August 8, 2008

World Championships - Who else to watch?

Dateline - July 31, 2008

The Racquetball Blog (TRB) has picked the USA to sweep the competitions at the International Racquetball Federation (IRF) World Championships that begin later this week in Kingscourt, Ireland. TRB also highlighted who else is likely to vie for the titles. However, there are other things we'll be looking for at Worlds.

Two years ago Team Catalonia made their first appearance at the IRF World Championships. Although it was their first appearance, they had a full team in Santo Domingo: four men and four women.

For those who are wondering, Catalonia is one of the 17 autonomous regions of Spain with Barcelona as its principal city. Racquetball is a regional sport in Spain, as there are courts in Catalonia and not so much in the rest of Spain. The Catalonia racquetball site is

In fact, a new 5 court racquetball facilities is being constructed in Barcelona, so we suspect that Barcelona will host Worlds in the near future. Perhaps not in two years, but maybe in four years time.

Two years ago in the Dominican Republic, a Team Catalonia member indicated that they had received some financial support from the regional government rather than the national government, so they chose to play under the Catalonia banner rather a Spanish one.

On the court, Team Catalonia finished near the bottom in the Dominican Republic. However, since then their players have had success in Europe. Carlos Ovieda won three European tournaments this past season in Ireland, Paris and Istanbul, while Victor Montserrat was the 2007 European men's singles champion.

Both Ovieda and Montserrat will be in Ireland for Catalonia, so we expect that Team Catalonia will finish further up the standings than they did two years ago. That's one of the things we'll be looking for. 

Four years ago, the World Championships were in South Korea. The South Korean team were in the middle of the pack, finishing 14th in men's, 7th in women's and 9th overall. However, two years ago in the Dominican Republic, South Korea fared significantly better, finishing 6th in men's, 7th in women's and tied for 6th overall.

That suggests South Korea has had a long term benefit from hosting Worlds. Can South Korea improve on their finish from two years ago? That's another of the questions we're interested in.

Similarly, will we see an improvement in the performance of the Dominican Republic team? They hosted the last Worlds Championships, finishing 13th in men's, 14th in women's and tied for 12th overall, so can they improve on those finishes in Ireland?

Furthermore, we hope that by hosting Worlds Ireland will get a boost in racquetball interest that will carry forward.

Thus, while we're interested in who's going to win the World Championships, who's going to be the kings of the court in Kingscourt - as it were, we're also interested in the ordering of the other court members.

No comments: