Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Happy 26th Birthday Jack Huczek!

You've built one of the strongest career records in racquetball. In years to come, when people talk about the best players of all time, they will have to consider you in the discussion.

Your start was auspicious, as you won the Boys 8 and under World Junior title in 1992. That was followed by 10 consecutive World Junior titles, two in each age division until 2002. It's a remarkable record that's unlikely to be broken or even equaled.

By then you'd turned your attention to the International Racquetball Tour (IRT) and professional racquetball. You were 17 when you made your first IRT appearance in 2000 and 19 when you got your first IRT tournament title. Only five players have won a men's pro tour tournament at a younger age*: Steve Serot (at 17), Marty Hogan (17), Brett Harnett (17), Tim Sweeney (18), and Cliff Swain (18).

That win came in your first full season on the tour, and helped you finish 5th in the year end rankings. The next season, 2002-2003, you were 4th, and then 2nd for three straight seasons behind Kane Waselenchuk.

When Waselenchuk was suspended for two seasons, you naturally rose to the top and finished #1 at the end of the 2006-2007 season. Then last year you were 2nd, as Rocky Carson just beat you out for top spot, so for the first time in your career, your season ending ranking was lower than it had been the season before.

Of the 97 IRT Tier 1 or Grand Slam tournaments you've been in, you've been a finalist more often than not, as you've won 28 of those tournaments and finished runner up 25 times. In fact, you have a winning career record against all other regular tour players except for Sudsy Monchik and Waselenchuk.

Playing for your country

As good as your pro career has been, your record has been better playing internationally on Team USA. In eight appearances, you have won six gold medals in singles as well as a silver and bronze.

Your first appearance with Team USA was at the 2002 Tournament of the Americas (now Pan Am Championships), when you lost in the semi-finals to Javier Moreno. You then went on a gold medal streak, winning three straight IRF World Championships in 2002, 2004 and 2006, two Pan Am Championships in 2003 and 2005, and the 2003 Pan Am Games.

That streak ended last year when you lost an 11-10 tie-breaker in the World Championship final to Rocky Carson, who's been your doubles partner in recent years. The two of you were silver medalists in doubles at the 2006 World Championships.

Yes, it's been some career. And given that you're only 26 today, there should be many more good years ahead.

We look forward to them.

*Note: Statistics from the Boss Consulting IRT statistics website, which notes that the birth dates for Serot, Harnett and Sweeney are estimates.

Follow the bouncing ball....

1 comment:

Leo Vasquez said...

I had to play Jack at the National Singles one year, I am glad you didn't mention that one. Hahaha