Monday, May 18, 2009

Championships North and South of the Border

The American and Canadian racquetball seasons come to a close this week with the USA Racquetball National Singles Championships in Houston, and Racquetball Canada's National Championships in Edmonton.

USA Singles Championships

Rocky Carson is the defending champion in the men's US Team Qualifying draw. He defeated Jack Huczek in last year's final. Both are in the draw this year, along with Shane Vanderson and John Ellis. However, not in the draw are Mitch Williams or Ben Croft, the 7th and 8th ranked players on the men's pro tour (International Racquetball Tour).

Cheryl Gudinas Holmes will try to defend her title against 11 other women in the women's US Team Qualifying draw. Gudinas Holmes beat Kristen Bellows in last year's final. Bellows will be in Houston to try and get the title she let slip through her grasp last year, but also in Houston seeking the title will be Rhonda Rajsich and Kerri Wachtel.

For 26 years, Houston has been the site of the USA National Singles Championship. But the Downtown YMCA in Houston will undergo a facelift and the new facility will not have the capacity to hold this event, which has almost 500 players, so 2009 will be the last year USA National Singles are in Houston. A new site has not been announced.

Canadian Championships

Thirty one men are vying for the Canadian Championship, led by top seed and defending Champion Mike Green. Third seed Kris Odegard will be looking to win a second title, while Ryan Smith and Vincent Gagnon, the second and fourth seeds, respectively, are seeking their first National Championships.

Ten women are playing for the Canadian women's title, and top seed Jennifer Saunders is the clear favorite, as three time defending Champion Christie Van Hees is not in Edmonton to defend her title. Saunders has won the title twice, most recently in 2005, and been a finalist in each of the last eight years.

Saunders and her partner Josée Grand'Maître will try to regain their doubles crown that they lost to Genevieve Brodeur and Véronique Guillemette last year. That loss halted a streak of five consecutive doubles titles for Saunders and Grand'Maître.

In men's doubles, defending champions Vincent Gagon and François Viens will try to keep the title against several new teams, including top seeded Mike Green and Eric Desrochers, who won the doubles selection event in January, and the brother team of Tim and James Landeryou, who are seeded third.

Canadian Nationals has its doubles competition on Monday and Tuesday with the singles competitions beginning on Wednesday. The singles finals are on Saturday, while all the doubles finals are late on Tuesday.

Follow the bouncing ball....

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