Monday, November 3, 2008

Busy weekend ahead

This coming weekend could be the busiest in the racquetball season despite the fact there's no Tier I event on either the International Racquetball Tour (IRT) or Women's Professional Racquetball Organization (WPRO) schedule. However, there are five - count 'em 5! - pro events across the USA.

In Yakima, Washington, Rocky Carson, Ben Croft, Taylor Knoth, Mike Orr and Jose Rojas will be action at the Shawn Hyatt Excavating Shootout. Down the coast in Portland, Oregon the Sunset Turkey Shoot has 168 players with 16 in the pro division highlighted by US Open Champion Jimmy Lowe and Charles Pratt. Further down the west coast, the Pomona Valley Open in Claremont, California will feature Chris Crowther, Andres Herrera and Willie Tilton.

Those tournaments are IRT Tier 4 events. The highest tier event this weekend is the New Mexico Pro Am in Albuquerque, a Tier 3 event, where according to tournament director Gary Mazaroff about 100 players will be competing including 20 in a pro draw highlighted by Alvaro Beltran, Mitch Williams, and Polo Gutierrez.

But the largest tournment this weekend - at 200 participants - will be the Long Island Open, which is both an IRT Tier 4 and WPRO satellite event. Playing there will be Rhonda Rajsich, Cheryl Gudinas Holmes and Aimee Ruiz on the women's side, as well as Jason Thoerner, Andy Hawthorne and Ruben Gonzalez on the men's side.

Two hundred players might seem big to you, but tournament director Tom Keogh told us that their January event - an IRT Tier I stop - is bigger with 250 players expected. Last year there were 48 in the IRT qualifying draw alone.

Thus, most of the pro players will be in action one place or another this weekend.

Follow the bouncing ball....

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