Monday, October 6, 2008

Weekend Round Up - Looking Behind & Ahead - UPDATED

Well, he won again, eh? As predicted by The Racquetball Blog readers, Kane Waselenchuk won the International Racquetball Tour (IRT) Kentucky Open. We here at The Racquetball Blog picked Waselenchuk too, and kudos to whoever it was that chose Alvaro Beltran to win, as he was very impressive in reaching the final and winning the first game against Waselenchuk.

It's up to Canada this week for both the IRT and Women's Professional Racquetball Organization (WPRO), because the Canadian Racquetball Classic in Edmonton, Alberta is a full pro stop for both men and women. This is the only event with both the IRT and WPRO, apart from the US Open, so they are arguably the only true Grand Slam racquetball events.

The defending champions are Christie Van Hees on the women's side, and Jack Huczek on the men's. In fact, Huczek's won this event three years in a row, when this event was held in Burlington, Ontario. Organizer Adrian Webb has moved it to Edmonton this year to give people in western Canada a better opportunity to see the best racquetball players in the world.

Once again you can pick who you think will win this week's event by selecting that player from those listed on the right side of the blog. If your choice isn't up there, you can pick 'Another player,' so we have all our bases covered.

Racquetball History

Edmonton plays a big part in racquetball history. Since its inception in 1971, the Klondike Tournament was one of the first premier racquetball tournaments, and all the best players - American and Canadian - came to Edmonton to play in it (in the summer, no less!). The champions of the early Klondike tournaments are a who's who of racquetball: Bud Muehleisen, Charlie Brumfield, Steve Strandemo, and Peggy Steding.

The Klondike organizers - John Kempo, Howie Rankin, and Ken Wilson - also founded the Canadian Racquetball Association (CRA) in 1971 and ran that organization for three years, prior to Ivan Velan being elected President, with the three Edmontonians all still involved on the Board. The CRA later became Racquetball Canada.

Racquetball on TV

The IRT has taken a big step forward this year by having its events covered on, but the first major coverage of racquetball on television was also in Canada. The CBC International Racquetball Classic was an event held in Winnipeg for three years from 1979 to 1981, and taped for broadcast on CBC television in Canada and ESPN in the USA.

You can read about one of those events in which Jerry Hilecher took the title defeating both Marty Hogan and Mike Yellen along the way in a post from last week that you might have missed in the flurry of posts about the Kentucky Open.

WPRO: Mid-Atlantic Tournament Of Champions

Doreen Fowler defeated Karen Morton, 11-6, 3-11, 11-5, 11-3, in the final of the Mid-Atlantic Tournament of Champions in Laurel, Maryland. The tournament was a WPRO satellite event. Fowler was the top seed, so was expected to get to the final. Morton, however, upset two higher ranked players to reach the final, as she beat T. J. Baumbaugh in the quarters and Kimberly Ferina in the semis.

Here's the full draw:

Quarter finals (WPRO ranking)

(9) Doreen Fowler d. (-) Veronica Nogales, 11-3, 11-1, 11-3
(24) Phyllis Morris d. (51) Yolanda Jordan, 11-8, 7-11, 11-9, 11-6
(32) Karen Morton d. (17) T.J. Baumbaugh, 11-2, 13-15, 12-10, 11-6
(15) Kimberly Ferina d. (57) Dolly Watson, 11-0, 11-1, 11-7

Semi Finals

Doreen Fowler d. Phyllis Morris, 11-7, 6-11, 11-2, 12-10
Karen Morton d. Kimberly Ferina, 11-8, 7-11, 11-9, 11-6


Doreen Fowler d. Karen Morton, 11-6, 3-11, 11-5, 11-3

Follow the bouncing ball....

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