Thursday, October 2, 2008

Happy Anniversary Jerry Hilecher!

Twenty seven years ago you won the CBC International Racquetball Classic in Winnipeg, defeating Mike Yellen in the final and Marty Hogan in the semi-final. This was in the first year of the infamous National Racquetball Tour (NRT) sponsored by Catalina Sportswear, which you had been excluded from despite the fact that you were one of the top players of the time. You had considered taking action against your exclusion from the tour in a law court, but far better was how you battled them on the racquetball court in Winnipeg.

The CBC Classic - in its third year - was a special event pitting 8 Canadian men and 6 women against a like number of top American players. This format - the Canadian content requirement and involvement of women - meant the tournament was not part of the NRT/Catalina tour, which had selected and signed 12 of the top men's players to play 8 tour events. Players ranked too low or deemed undesirable for whatever reason were excluded from those 12.

Your semi-final victory over Hogan might have been in two games if you'd held the 9-3 lead you had in game one. But Hogan squeaked it out 15-14. You won game two, 15-7, to send the match to a tie-breaker.

In that you got down 8-2 and 10-7, but fought back to tie it at 10. Then three times it appeared you'd hit the winning shot only to have the referee rule otherwise, supported by one of the two linemen. You could have been forgiven for thinking forces were conspiring against you. However, on your fourth opportunity, you hit the match winning shot, defeating the top ranked Hogan and moving on to the final.

The final seemed anti-climatic after the battle with Hogan, but it had drama all its own. After splitting the first two games, 15-3 in Yellen's favor and then 15-12 in yours, a tie-breaker was needed. You stormed out to a 9-1 lead, but Yellen battled back to 10-10. However, destiny was on your side, so it was no surprise that you got the point that finished it off, 11-10.

As a result of this victory, and winning the week before in Los Angeles, where you beat Hogan in the final, you were invited to play on the NRT.

The 3rd CBC Classic was taped September 29-October 2, 1981 for television broadcast in 30 minute segments that were shown in Canada on the CBC and in the USA on ESPN.

Draw (note: the event format had 8 Canadians vs. 8 Americans in the first round)

Round of 16

Marty Hogan d. Dwayne Kohuch, 15-7, 15-12
Ben Koltun d. Wayne Bowes, 15-4, 15-9
Jerry Hilecher d. Brad Kruger, 15-7, 15-14
Davy Bledsoe d. Lindsay Myers, 3-15, 15-11, 11-4
Craig McCoy d. Bob Daku
Dave Peck d. Wes Hadikin, 15-2, 15-9
Don Thomas d. Wendell Talaber, 15-3, 15-7
Mike Yellen d. Sherman Greenfeld, 15-10, 15-?

Quarter finals

Marty Hogan d. Ben Koltun, 15-8, 15-11
Jerry Hilecher d. Davy Bledsoe, 15-7, 15-6
Craig McCoy d. Dave Peck, 4-15, 15-12, 11-10
Mike Yellen d. Don Thomas, 15-9, 15-10


Jerry Hilecher d. Marty Hogan d. 14-15, 15-7, 11-10
Mike Yellen d. Craig McCoy


Jerry Hilecher d. Mike Yellen, 3-15, 15-12, 11-10

Source: Article by Tony Leighton in Racquetball Canada magazine, November-December, 1981.

Follow the bouncing ball....

1 comment:

Stacey Witenberger said...

this video is available for viewing somewhere? Would be something to see.