April 25th, 2011 by John Ellis
Hey Racquetballers, I hope you all had a Happy Easter Sunday and a nice weekend off from tournament play. I’m not sure how many tournaments were taking place this past weekend with the exception of the IRF Pan Am Champs in Nicaragua, but that one event had a huge upset victor in Mexico’s Daniel De La Rosa. De La Rosa was able to win the Men’s Singles with a victory over both US and Canada’s top players en route. His victory over Crowther in the finals is probably the biggest finals upset that event has ever witnessed. De La Rosa will certainly be a threat to win the 18 & Under World Champs this summer and will be an outstanding professional during his career. He plays with poise, smart game plans and a little chip, which is exactly what you need to succeed in professional racquetball. I look forward to watching my dudes from Stockton play Daniel a bunch over the next 15 years!!
But now on to what I really meant to write about and that’s the upcoming In-Shape WPRO Championships this coming weekend here at our home club in Stockton, CA. This is the third year in a row and fifth out of six years that we’ve hosted a Tier One WPRO Stop either in Stockton or Sacramento. We’ve been fortunate enough to have nice support from a few local business owners and a few “friends of racquetball” when it comes to raising the $10K to host the WPRO. This area loves professional racquetball whether its the men or the women and I know we’ll have great crowds throughout the weekend. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t care who made the finals as we’re no different from other WPRO cities in that we want to see the big rivalry between Paola and Rhonda go down here in the 209. It was an awesome final last year with Paola outlasting Rhonda in a tough fought five game battle. But, I do know that there are a few other gals on the WPRO that are capable of taking one or both of them down so whomever reaches the final, we know we’ll be in for a great match.
I get asked a lot why I host a WPRO Stop and not an IRT Stop. There are a few key answers, but it should be clear that I would love to host an IRT Stop and believe that we will eventually bring back the Stockton Pro-Am, which used to be the longest running pro stop in the game. But for now, my ties are connected to the women’s game and the WPRO. The fact that racquetball has become even more of a man’s game over the past 10 years is really a sad situation and one that I want to help drastically change. I grew up at a club where we had almost as many women playing racquetball as men and the atmosphere at the club was awesome because of this. The social aspect of racquetball is one major factor that drew me and my parents to the game of racquetball and that social atmosphere is barely alive, even at the national level. I believe that this mostly has to do with the lack of women at events. It’s just not that much fun to have a tournament with 95% of the players being men. Our WPRO Stop takes on a different vibe because of having so many women in the club at the same time. I can’t explain it in detail other than it’s just that natural feeling of men and women being involved in the same thing, making most everyone feel like they’re apart of something special. Of course my dad has held the position over the past two years as Deputy Commissioner for the WPRO and that certainly influences my decision to host a WPRO Stop. And, yes I’m apart of the Ektelon Management Staff so it makes sense to have a WPRO Stop with Ektelon being the Official Ball of the WPRO. But, I’m very pro IRT and look forward to the year that we get back to hosting the guys here in Stockton. I believe the IRT is heading in a good direction and their schedule looks solid for next season, plus we have plenty of players here in Stockton that would love to play a pro stop at their home club. It will eventually happen…….
But for now, let’s embrace women’s racquetball here in Stockton and prepare to enjoy a great weekend event. We need it around here as the Shootouts have taken over the tournament scene and the nature of shootouts is not very social at all. Having said that, we need the women of Nor Cal to sign up and support this tournament. The numbers are not great for this event as we’re at about 120 players today, which happens to be the deadline date. Hopefully we’ll see a spike in the number of entrants today, especially with the amateur women. Come on ladies, what better way to get motivated about your racquetball game then to watch the best females in the game at the same event you’re playing??
Lastly, I’m very thankful to Racquetball Warehouse for being apart of our sponsorship team. As the Official Retailer of the In-Shape WPRO Championships presented by Ektelon, they provide a ton of stability for this event and a service that most tournaments don’t have anymore. RW has been a great partner for me over the past seven years and to be honest, without them in my life, I might be out of RB at this point and doing something else for my living. I can’t thank them enough!! Please support RW whenever possible and feel free to use my referral code of RWEllis whenever you order online. This code does not make me any income, it’s there for you!!
If you’ve read this far down my blog today then I want to thank you for taking the time to read my rant!! Best wishes to all of the RBers and remember to Keep Em Rollin…………………….