Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Happy 47th Birthday Sherman Greenfeld!

Your characteristic backhand slice serve done while standing just outside of the right side drive serve zone helped make you the best Canadian player of your time. The proof is in the 10 Canadian Championships you won, first in 1986 and last in 1998. You also were a finalist in 1999, but lost to a teenager named Kane Waselenchuk.

Often you'd be aiming that serve behind you into the right wall and floor crack by the 5 foot line, and more often than not you'd hit it, so the ball would just dribble across the floor. It gave your opponents fits.

But you'd also anticipate what shot your opponent was going to do before they even hit it. So when your opponent was deep in a back corner setting up to hit a pinch shot that looked like a sure winner, it wouldn't be a winner, because you'd have positioned yourself up by the front wall to re-kill it, even if the shot was almost flat.

Your game style of an unorthodox serve, great anticipation on court and excellent shot making, helped you defeat some of the best players of your era at one time or another, including John Ellis, Andy Roberts, Dan Obremski, Tim Doyle, Egan Inoue, Mike Ray and Cliff Swain.

Internationally, you played for Canada 17 times, second only to Mike Green for Team Canada appearances by a male player. Five times you were a champion, winning the International Racquetball Federation (IRF) World Championships twice, in 1994 and 1998, and the Tournament of the Americas (now Pan American Championships) three times, in 1990, 1994, and 1998.

Next month racquetball is going to be in the World Games for the first time since 1993. You played in 1993 World Games in The Hague, Netherlands, and came home with the bronze medal, behind Michael Bronfeld and John Ellis.

Despite the domestic and international success, you made few appearances on the pro tour. The Boss Consulting IRT Archive lists you in 34 pro matches (15 wins, 19 losses) from 1980 to 1998, which is a rate of only about 2 matches a year. In comparision, Mike Ceresia, a Canadian with a similar length career, played three times as many matches (102). We wonder what your pro record would have been if you'd played more.

But more than the excellence you displayed on court you were also a gentleman off court and well liked by all. It's for that reason that Racquetball Canada chose to designate the award they present to a junior male player, who demonstrates excellence on and off the court at the Canadian Junior Nationals, the Sherman Greenfeld Award.

Finally, we'd love to see you go down to the US Open in Memphis and play in the Classic Pro Racquetball Tour (CPRT) event there, because we're sure you could beat those guys. But you don't seem interested in the idea, feeling we suppose that your career is over and all good things must come to an end.

But your career wasn't just good. It was great.

Follow the bouncing ball....

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