IRF Junior Worlds In LA

November 18th, 2010 by John Ellis

On the road again….. I’m heading down to Los Angeles this morning to watch a little junior racquetball while representing the best company in racquetball, Ektelon!! I’m excited about this trip as I’ll be travelling with my homies from Stockton. Making the five and a half hour trek with me is Jose Rojas, Bobby Horn, Jose Serrano and Jesse Serna. We’ll be heavily supporting Jose Diaz and Markie Rojas as they make their way through the Boy’s 16′s Singles and Doubles draws. Naturally I’ll be pulling for the US Team but it’s not that clear cut for me anymore as I’ve gotten to know a lot of international racquetball families and there are a few players outside of the US that I’ll be rooting for. All in all, this will be a great three day trip and allows me to stay in touch with junior racquetball.

So, as I look at the Playoff Bracket Draws this morning, I’ve noticed a few interesting match ups that will happen in the next few days. Here’s my take on the FIVE MOST INTERESTING MATCHUPS @ THE JUNIOR WORLDS………

5) I’ll begin with my girl Devon Pimentelli and her future semifinal match with Maria Jose Vargas. Devon is a player that I work with about once a month and she has a ton of natural talent. However, she’s a shy little thing and sometimes that personality trait comes out on the court, causing her to play unagressive. That can’t happen vs Maria Jose as she packs a ton of energy and desire into her game. Maria has owned the matchups so far but I know Devon has been chomping at the bit to get another chance at Maria and she’ll get it in the semis Friday at 2PM.

4) Thanks to the upset loss by Alex Cardona in his pool play, he’s now seeded 8th and staring directly at Taylor Knoth in the quarter finals of the Boy’s 18′s Singles. This is not good for either player as Alex beat Taylor in the finals two years ago in the 16 & Under Worlds. But times change and now they’re playing early. Advantage Taylor in this one as I believe he’ll carry more confidence this year, his last as a junior. He’s a strong dude that has had some good experience over the last two years. If he plays as well as he can, he’ll win in two.

3) Staying in the Boy’s 18′s, whomever wins the Knoth vs Cardona match will then have to deal with Carlos Keller, assuming he can get by Mexico’s Jaime Martell. I believe he will and Carlos will advance to the semis and in my opinion, beyond. Carlos is my pick for the Boy’s 18′s so I expect him to work his way through the draw and meet Brad Kirch in the finals. I’ve been aware of Carlitos for some time now as I’ve traveled through Bolivia in the past and had several games against him. He’s an awesome talent that will threaten to be a top player on the IRT some day. He’s my pick for the next two years!!

2) Making my way back to the girls and you find maybe the match of the tournament in the Girls 18 & Under semi finals with Aubrey O’Brien vs Jessica Parrilla. This isn’t a sure thing as Jessica will have to get by Maria Paz, but she will and she’ll be ready for Aubrey in that semi. Aubrey is a top level WPRO player at 18 years of age with a ton of great experience. Jessica is a lot of fun to watch with her all out style on the court and serious attitude if things aren’t going her way. I expect a tough tiebreaker in this one and I’ll resist the urge to make a pick this time. I’ll be rooting for Aubrey as a Nor Cal player but wouldn’t be too bummed if Jessica won. Match of the tourney and seats will be tough to come by.

1) Lastly, I have to go with my favorite junior match up out of all of them. Jose Diaz vs. Markie Rojas in the Boy’s 16′s final. Now, both are definitely no sure thing and I dare to say that Markie will have a tough time making it to the finals. But I’ve learned never to count these two out when they have a chance to play each other because at only 17 years of age for each, they’ve played a ton of mathes already and always seem to find each other in draws, whether it’s junior or open play. The way these two communicate with each other is hilarious to watch and I probabaly like that part of the match better than the play. Diaz is always a showman and Markie always looks so stressed against Jose. Jose Diaz won the last match at a tourney here in Stockton a few months ago, but that’s certainly not the finals of the Junior Worlds. Markie’s ankle was badly sprained about eight days ago and I’m sure it’s affecting him. Both have a long way to go and a couple of Mexican players to get by first, but if they do then I’ll take Diaz is this match as he’ll pounce on Markie and the bad ankle, making sure to make the most of the opportunity.

Okay, I’ll try to blog again on the morning of the finals, which will be Saturday. I’m sure some of these matchups won’t take place but I sure hope they all do!!

Keep em rollin……………. Elli

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The Collegiate Corner w/ Coach Schenck – Vol. 3 Part II

November 4th, 2010 by Ben

Make sure to read Vol. 3 Part I prior to reading this post.

Here is one example of a match from that week: Kristen Frisk was a senior at ASU; she had played for me for three years. Just to round out our history together, she got “volunteered” about one month before we went to the 2008 Intercollegiate Championships in Kansas City. She was friends with one of the guys on the team and had never played racquetball before. My number six girl had a knee injury 7 weeks before the event that year, and we were going to be one girl short if we didn’t find a replacement. You are not eligible for the team competition if you do not have a full squad of 6 guys and 6 girls. She lost every match, with no experience and no help during the event (I figured she was going to lose anyway). By the end of the week she was serving to win her first game. Oh, by the way, I made her play number 1, knowing this would be better for the team as a whole in terms of points.

Two years later to the day she is in the semi finals at the number 5 position. Both of her knees hurt, her swing is still terrible (I never was able to fix that) and when she warms up she looks like she’s never played before. I would hear her opponent’s excitement when they watched her for the first time, thinking she was terrible and that they would win easily. But once things got started, she was tough as nails. She slowly squeezed people to death, rarely making an error and her hustle making up for her technical inefficiencies. She executed every game plan I ever gave her and never, ever complained. Down 11-13 in the first game of the semi’s, I made her call time out to talk to her. She complied and came off the court. I told her to switch her serve, and hit a lob Z to the forehand of her opponent. She looked at me like I was crazy. I told her to trust me, and so she did. As I hoped, her opponent attacked the first serve she hit and dumped it into the floor. The next one she went conservative and hit it to the ceiling, only to sail it off the back wall and give Kristen an easy shot up front. She dinked it for a winner, tying the game at 13-13.

Her opponent called time out and came off the court looking rattled. Kristen came bounding out of the court looking very confident. As they walked back in to court, I said aloud “Do the same thing” and shut the door behind her. Kristen’s opponent looked back at me with a scared look in her eyes, knowing she was going to see more of the same. Kristen served out, hitting a clutch forehand winner to seal game one. Game two was very similar, with Kristen hanging around and frustrating her opponent by getting to good shots and extending rallies. Thirteen all…here we go again. She calls time out and walks off the court. I looked at her and said “You know what to do” and she smiled back at me. I was so nervous for her, but I never let it show. She went back in and battled her way to another 15-13 win, making the finals and having a shot at gold.

The next day Kristen played in the finals and lost. She gave everything she had. The picture says it all.

kristen-frisk

I was so proud of her, and I get chills just thinking back to this one of the many moments for that week. She graduated and is now back on the East Coast and working in her career of choice. I have no doubt if she applies half of the determination she did on the court to the rest of her life, she will be very successful.

I am so proud of all my “kids”; we work together for six months to play this four day event. All of them represent the school and themselves with class and sportsmanship that would make any coach proud. The lack of money is irrelevant; I love my job and wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Darrin Schenck

ASU Head Coach

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The Collegiate Corner w/ Coach Schenck – Vol. 3 Part I

November 1st, 2010 by Ben

People often ask me why I spend so much time working with the ASU team when I don’t get paid for it? I have to laugh to myself, and then remember that they have not experienced what I have in the past four years as a coach. I have coached and instructed individuals for about 20 years now, but nothing compares to coaching a team of players. I will try to elude what the experience is like in the following post. All of the following experiences took place at the Intercollegiate Championships in 2010 in Springfield, MO.

We begin practice for the season in September to coincide with the beginning of the school year. I have a core group of players who were returning, and I needed to make a few additions as well. As the year progressed it became obvious that I would have to have a playoff for the positions on the Men’s team as we have a few more players than spots since we were traveling and didn’t have the finances to bring everyone. So I was forced to do the thing I hate most in my role as coach, break the news to several of my players that they are not going to make the trip to Springfield. I hate it, more than I can really explain. I want so badly for them to have this experience, make the memories and have fun that it kills me to have someone not be able to go. We established an in house tournament and had a playoff for the six positions on the team. I literally couldn’t watch.

Once that was behind us, we made arrangements for 7 girls (one of my girls was struggling with an injury and so we elected to not have her play doubles) and seven guys (one of the guys paid his own airfare and played in the “extra” divisions that are available) to travel the event. We rented two vehicles and my only graduate student on the team was designated with the task of carting half of the team around all week. We randomly split up the crew, and switched people around frequently to avoid getting sick of one another. We all stayed at the same hotel, rooms right next to one another, ate every meal together, and were basically together non-stop for the five days we were in Springfield. All of the kids had class work to keep up with, so they were preparing to play, cheering on their team mates who were playing or on the computer keeping up with their class responsibilities.

Read the rest of this entry »

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