Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Real Big Events this weekend

Super Bowl, sch-mooper bowl, these two racquetball tournaments will be the really the big events this weekend.

Wilson Tour of Hope

The 2009 Wilson Tour of Hope event happens in Cincinnati this weekend, and it's a Tier 4 International Racquetball Tour (IRT) event and a satellite event on the Women's Professional Racquetball Organization (WPRO). The men's line up is highlighted by Andy Hawthorne, Juan Herrera and Mike Dennison, while the women's side features three top 10 WPRO players in Cheryl Gudinas Holmes (#2), Kerri Wachtel (#4) and Adrienne Fisher (#7).

The event is in support of the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation.

Racquetball Canada Singles Selection Event

Racquetball Canada's National Team Singles Selection event begins Friday in Brossard, Quebec just outside Montreal. This event is the final qualifying event for the Racquetball Canada's Pan American Championships team. Results from this weekend will be combined with results from last year's Nationals to select the singles players who will represent Canada at the Pan Ams in Columbia in April.

Rumours are that Mike Green will not be in Brossard due to injury. This would make the top four seeds, in order, Vincent Gagnon, Kris Odegard, Michael Burgess and Ryan Smith. Burgess broke through to the top 5 after defeating Smith at last year's Canadian Championships, when Smith had to retire after losing game one as he suffered a broken nose from a follow through by Burgess. Smith's nose would not stop bleeding even after 15 minutes of injury time.

Also looking to do well will be Eric Desrochers, who won the Doubles Selection event with Green earlier this month in Burnaby, British Columbia. A good showing in Brossard may get Desrochers his first Team Canada appearance.

On the women's side, Jennifer Saunders is clearly the one to beat. Christie Van Hees, who did win last year's Canadian Championships yet did not qualify for Canada's World Championship team in part because she didn't play in this event last year, is not entered. Van Hees hasn't played this event since 1999.

Saunders's main competition this weekend will come from her doubles partner, veteran Josée Grand'Maître, as well as Véronique Guillemette. But another player to watch is junior Frédérique T. Lambert, who at 15 was the youngest player to earn a spot on Team Canada when she qualified for last year's Pan Am Championships. Now 16, she'll be looking do that again.

The format of the event is not a straight draw. Initial matches will sort players into groups of four, and then there will be a round robin within those groups. Racquetball Canada adopted this format a few years ago for selection events so that all players have to play each other. Without doing so it was felt there was some uncertainty about which players were better.

Follow the bouncing ball....

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