The Pro’s Perspective – Vol. 2

January 31st, 2011 by Ben

Racquetball Warehouse Sponsors 4 players on the International Racquetball Tour (IRT) and 1 player on the Women’s Professional Racquetball Tour (WPRO). In this series we let you into a glimpse of their lives, impressions, challenges and victories throughout their careers as professional athletes. Our sponsored players are:

Rocky Carson – IRT #2 – http://www.racquetballwarehouse.com/proplayer2.html?ccode=CARSON
Ben Croft – IRT #3 – http://www.racquetballwarehouse.com/proplayer2.html?ccode=BCROFT
Chris Crowther – IRT #5 – http://www.racquetballwarehouse.com/proplayer2.html?ccode=CROWTHER
Jose Rojas – IRT #9 – http://www.racquetballwarehouse.com/proplayer2.html?ccode=JROJAS
Rhonda Rajsich – WPRO #2 – WPRO Pro Player Gallery coming soon..

Now that the second half of the season is in full swing, and has brought some excitement with Rocky taking Kane to 5 games for the first time as well as a recent retirement, let’s hear what the pros have to say about 2010 going into 2011:

Rocky Carson

For the first half of the season all of the pros have had to make an adjustment to the new 2 serve rule. It definately puts more wear and tear on the body. Not just the arm but also on our legs. Especially when playing at altitude with 2 serves it makes it a game in which it can be tough to get a player when on fire on his serve out of the service box. A couple of our tourneys so far have been in high altitude; Cali,Columbia and Chihuahua, MX. It really makes for exciting matches and potential upsets.

So far the season has been a lot of fun. Seeing the effects of what the IRTNetwork.com is doing for the sport and allowing everybody at home to enjoy watching all of the pro-stops and to have the ability to follow us every weekend. This is just the beginning of what I believe will be what lifts the IRT to the next level. Not to mention, John Scott’s broadcating is off the hook.

We are seven stops into the season, and for myself I am ranked #2. I won the Chihuahua event and that got me back to playing ball with a much more focused game plan. I have played more solid this year than for most of all season last year. I have at least made the finals in all but 2 stops and look forward to finishing the season strong. If you want to keep up with me you can check me out on Facebook.

Ben Croft

2010. In my opinion, the most interesting and exciting year on tour in years! 2010 saw the first full season under a new President, the addition of many new tournaments, and more ranking changes than anyone could’ve expected! As a racquetball player and also fan, the first half of the season has left me energized and optimistic for the future of Professional Racquetball!

Fortitude was the theme for the 2010 season. It was a battle of who can stay healthy and compete at the highest level through consecutive months of a stacked schedule and very little time off. I found it very challenging both mentally and physically to perform at my best at times because I was competing in too many events. I hope the fans realize that and cut us a little slack when they see our level of play drop as the season progresses! J Considering the alternative, an incredibly busy schedule is a great problem to have! That being said, this has been a season that I am proud to be a part of. The tour has taken such a positive turn under the reigns of Jason Mannino and his “dream team” behind the scenes. 2010 should prove that, and as a player and fan I appreciate their hard work!

We brought in the second half of the season with three consecutive Tier 1’s, and it seems like the second half is on the same path (if not better) than the first! My goals for 2011 are simple but easier said than done, stay healthy and find a way to compete at my best at every event!

Thanks to HEAD, Racquetball Warehouse and everyone else for their support in 2010, and plan on strengthening every part of my game in 2011!

Chris Crowther

Overall the 2010 season was quite a rollercoaster.  I would have to say the highlight was making my first final and the low would be getting injured. Competition is tough out there and with the addition of 2 serves, it is very demanding on the body.  I spent the last few months doing extensive rehab on my back and now I feel good as new.  The goal for the second half of the season is to stay healthy, play hard and hopefully win a tournament. Looking forward to getting out there and competing!

Rhonda Rajsich

Let’s start with the lowlights…
Definitely a rough start at the beginning of the calendar year, just couldn’t seem to find my rhythm for months, concluding with a huge disappointment at the last Nationals that would ever be in Houston. The summer didn’t let up on the let downs either, as I missed my mark at the WOR Championships in Huntington Beach again too, but at least managed to get a great tan.  After taking some time to lick my wounds, the highlights began to take shape…

Now the good stuff…
Going back to Korea for the 2010 World Championships was a thrill in itself, but to come away with three Gold medals in that one was particularly sweet.  A bumpy start would follow in our WPRO season opener in Dallas, but I honestly did the best I could with what I had, and put it behind me quickly. Onto the first ever Grand Slam in another country, it was a joy to be a part of such a new and exciting event, and winning was just more icing on the cake.  Immediately following was the first-ever 3-Wall Ball Championships in Las Vegas.  It was an incredible sight to see all of the courts and the players in the parking lot of the Stratosphere Hotel and Casino, with the huge needle looming overhead.  Oh yeah, and winning that didn’t hurt either.  And finally the best and most memorable moment of my 2010 is absolutely getting my 4th US Open title in the new home of racquetball’s biggest Grand Slam, Lifetime Fitness in Minneapolis, MN. I’d manage a couple of more victories by the end of the year, but moving on to what’s on tap for 2011….

Predictions:
All I can say with any certainty is that I will continue to get better.  If 2011 brings me nothing else it will be improvement in leaps and bounds over what I have done and accomplished so far…and that is extremely exciting to me!! As much as I love my job, I have only scratched the surface of what I will do in this game…. Stay tuned….

Make sure to check back often for more updates from the dominant Racquetball Warehouse Pro Player Team!

Posted in The Pro's Perspective | 183 Comments »

The Collegiate Corner w/ Coach Schenck – Vol 4

January 10th, 2011 by Darrin Schenck

Gearing up for 2011

While the kids from ASU are still on winter break, I am doing my best to get into playing shape once again so we can prepare together for the Intercollegiate Championships in April here at ASU. Having a day job certainly seems to get in the way of my racquetball!!!

Our big focus for the New Year??? Two things: Serves and Return of Serve! The more consistently you can serve the better your chances of winning, period. A good repertoire of serves will be necessary to beat a variety of opponents, and practicing each one is important. I am continually surprised at when people play a lefty in a tournament their biggest concern is what to serve to them. This would not be a problem if you practiced ALL the serves, you would be armed with an answer for anyone you face. Drills as simple as standing a box or small garage can in the target area of your serve should finish is a fun way to see how accurate and consistent you really are. Most people are surprised, thinking they are better than in reality. Another way to practice for two people to for one to hit 10 of the same serve and someone else return each of those serves. The effectiveness of the serve should only be evaluated on the opportunity that you left your opponent with, not whether or not you win the rally. Errors and poor shot selection from the returner should be considered a bonus and not something you count on. Of course for the returner, their job is to minimize errors and reverse the advantage the server has with a smart return.

Since we are on Winter break I left everyone with warm holiday wishes and cautions to be careful on New Year’s Eve. I warned everyone before they left for Winter Break that they would need to come back from break in shape, as we will be hitting the ground running as soon as they return. We add a Saturday practice in during this ramp up time towards the big show, and this gets the kids on the court against local tournament players on a weekly basis. This year we are afforded the luxury (?) of having one tournament per month before the Intercollegiate event in which we can prepare. In past years, this has not been the case and I have felt we could have been a little more “tournament tough” before heading to compete. However there is always the concern for sore shoulders and court burns when you play tournaments that affect the following week’s practice time. But as we all know, this is part of the rigors of the game.

Circling back to the Saturday practices, after playing either me or the invited guests who show up, I usually take the team to run “The Hill”. Within about 5 minutes of the SRC there is a very steep and gravelly hill that is about a 200 sprint/climb to the top. It is a test of will and pushing through the barriers in your head that we all have. It isn’t the toughest climb in the vicinity of campus; the infamous “A Mountain” is notorious for breaking the spirit and endurance of many of ASU’s athletes. But this hill is ours. We run it as a team exercise, each of us individually but as a whole group to encourage and push one another. The main goal is to not slow down, pick a pace you think you can keep and no matter what don’t quit. I have never had someone quit; I did have someone who pretty much collapsed in effort to make it to the top, but she never quit. It develops mental toughness and prepares you for the pressure of all your team mates watching and cheering for you. A great addition to our training regimen.

The whole idea behind the practice sessions, practice matches and The Hill is that tournaments should feel like a vacation compared to what the kids “endure” during the weeks leading up to the events. I am big on having us aiming towards hitting a peak just in time for the Intercollegiate event in April. Using planned practice goals, tournaments as a barometer for progress, and scheduled training sessions which maximize fitness gains similar to on-court anaerobic needs we can get ready in an organized fashion and not a haphazard approach. Not only does this improve our chances for success, I hope that it teaches the students useful life skills as well.

Darrin Schenck

ASU Head Coach

Posted in The Collegiate Corner | 162 Comments »