Rhonda Rajsich won the first event of the Women's Professional Racquetball Organization (WPRO) season by defeating Cheryl Gudinas Holmes in the final of the Outback Steakhouse Blast It! event in Fayetteville, North Carolina, 11-7, 11-8, 11-4. The victory extends Rajsich's winning streak to five WPRO tournaments going back to last season.
The first game on Sunday was close, as the players were tied at 7 before Rajsich finished it off. Then in game two, she got out to a big lead at 9-1, but almost gave it all back as Gudinas Holmes showed her toughness in fighting back to cut the difference to one at 9-8.
But Rajsich then closed out the second game, and got ahead 7-2 and 8-4 in game three, which were deficits that Gudinas Holmes did not come back from.
Rajsich used a mixture of serves - lobs, drives, and drive Zs, mostly to the left side - Gudinas Holmes's backhand. But she also had three drive serve aces to the right side from the same spot where she'd been serving to the left side.
Gudinas Holmes hit most of her serves to the right - Rajsich's forehand. Perhaps it's unusual to hit to a player's forehand, but after seeing Rajsich crush balls with her backhand again and again, one can see why an opponent would prefer to have her hit forehands.
The tournament reinforces the WPRO rankings as Rajsich is the WPRO number 1 player and Gudinas Holmes is number 2. Also, the number 3 and 4 players, Kerri Wachtel and Angela Grisar, respectively, were the other semi-finalists.
But a player to watch is Veronica Sotomayor, a teenager from Ecuador. Ranked 24th, she defeated T. J. Baumbaugh in the first round of the pro division before losing to Wachtel in four games. But Sotomayor won the Open division, defeating Adrienne Fisher (WPRO #7) and Krystal Csuk (#20) on the way to the title.
Word is that Sotomayor will be playing most of the WPRO events this season, so she could make a significant impact by season's end.
Finally, The Racquetball Blog readers were correct in predicting Rajsich would be victorious in Fayetteville, and TRB was wrong in selecting Gudinas Holmes. Sigh. We'll look to do better with next weekend's opening International Racquetball Tour event in Denver.
The next WPRO event is the Mexico Open in two weeks in Tijuana, Mexico.