Tuesday, February 10, 2015

USA Racquetball Doubles Championship - Preview

The 2015 USA Racquetball Doubles Championships begin tomorrow in Tempe, Arizona, and for the first time in, well, probably forever, there are more teams vying for the US National Team spots in the Women's draw than in the Men's draw. Astonishing.

There are 16 women in the draw, including last year's champions Aimee Ruiz and Janel Tisinger, and well as runners up Rhonda Rajsich and Kim Russell-Waselenchuk and third place finishers Cheryl Gudinas and Laura Fenton Kovanda.

Joining them in the draw are some young teams and some older teams, which include some former champions. Fourteen time US doubles champ Jacqueline Paraiso is back and playing with her sister, Joy Paraiso-Mackenzie. They've won three titles together.

Malia Bailey won two titles in the early 1980s, and she's back playing this year with Mary Kirchoff.

The young teams are Michelle Key and Danielle Key, who were runners up two years ago to Ruiz and Tisinger, and Sheryl Lotts and Kimberly Thomas. Mimi McClosky and Fran Transfiguracion round out the draw.

There are twice as many women's teams this year as last, and more teams this year than in most of the last five years (there were also eight in 2012). But there are a few players who aren't there - Da'monique Davis, Adrienne Haynes and Sharon Jackson, for example.

The big attrition this year is that the winner will earn the privilege to represent the USA at the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto this July. The Pan Am Games are the largest multi-sport event outside of the Summer Olympics, and the biggest event that includes racquetball.

Men's Doubles

Given that incentive, you would have thought more than 10 men would be competing for the privilege to wear "USA" on their back. But you would have been wrong. Sad.

Last year's champions are only half there, as Rocky Carson has given this event a pass, leaving Jose Rojas to play with Jansen Allen, who was third last year with Tony Carson. The Carsons are not related, except that neither will be in Tempe this week.

But Jake Bredenbeck and Charlie Pratt, who lost in a tie-breaker to Allen and Carson in the third place match last year, will be there, as will Anthony Herrera and David Horn, who've has some experience playing together on the World Racquetball Tour (WRT). Also experienced, but not in this event, are Jose Diaz and Marco Rojas, who've played together for several years going back to when they were juniors.

Croft and Fuhrmann almost won the title outright last year, winning game one versus Rocky Carson and Jose Rojas, 15-12, then losing game two 15-14 and the tie-breaker, 11-3. Yet they were the USA representatives in Men's Doubles at the International Racquetball Federation (IRF) World Championship last year, when they finished as bronze medalists after losing to Canadians Mike Green and Vincent Gagnon in the semi-finals.

Thus, there's a lot to play for in Tempe, and the men's competition should be fierce. We just wish there would be more of it.

You can watch the action from Tempe via the IRT Network.

2015 USA Racquetball Doubles Championships
Tempe, Arizona - February 11-15, 2015

Women's Doubles Teams

1) Aimee Ruiz & Janel Tisinger v. 8) Mimi McClosky & Fran Transfiguracion
4) Michelle Key & Danielle Key v. 5) Jacqueline Paraiso & Joy Paraiso-Mackenzie

3) Cheryl Gudinas & Laura Fenton Kovanda v. 6) Malia Bailey & Mary Kirchoff
2) Rhonda Rajsich & Kim Russell-Waselenchuk v. 7) Sheryl Lotts & Kimberly Thomas

Men's Quarterfinals

1) Jansen Allen & Jose Rojas - BYE
4) Anthony Herrera & David Horn v. 5) Jose Diaz & Marco Rojas

3) Charlie Pratt & Jake Bredenbeck - BYE
2) Ben Croft & Thomas Fuhrmann - BYE

Follow the bouncing ball….

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