In-Shape WPRO Championships presented by Ektelon

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…………………….

John Ellis

Posted in Racquetball Reality | 90 Comments »

His Name is David Bobby Horn – The Other Stockton Baller

March 11th, 2011 by John Ellis

I realize there are many good young players around the states and definitely in Mexico and I’m not trying to claim Stockton, CA as the best of the young guns.  BUT, we do have solid representation in the age range of 17-21.  It all begins with Jose Rojas of course.  He’s earned that recognition so far with his countless Junior National and World Titles, two Collegiate National Titles and his solid start to an IRT career with a #8 ranking and his upset wins over Jack Huczek, Ben Croft, Shane Vanderson and the Commish, Jason Mannino.  Jose has lost a few matches to players that will not have the career he’ll have, but let’s not forget that he’s only 20 years old, a full time college student, a kid from the East Side of Stockton who’s parents have kept a close blanket over him so that he stays alive and involved in a serious relationship, which always takes one’s attention.  Now, I’m not saying Jose is a sure thing future #1 player, that’s yet to be determined.  He hasn’t had the start that the greatest of all times have had, meaning he’s not Hogan, Swain, Monchik, Waselenchuck or Huczek.  Those guys won stops early, before their 20’s, but he’s also in the era of the greatest of all time in Kid Kane. BTW, Yellen is apart of the greatest of all time list, but I believe he did his first winning after the age of 20, but I’m also not 100% sure of that. The point is that Rojas will be a top 5 player in due time and he will win stops.  He’s in this game for the long haul and those that think he won’t be a major force by the time he’s 27-28 are crazy.  He’s only 20, he’ll peak in eight years!!

Enough about Rojas, someday he’ll be happy with just being the best player in his own family with brother Markie already taking a tournament match from him…… I’m writing today to talk about this Horn kid from Stockton.  David “Bobby” Horn is now 21 years old and I speak from experience when I say that he is already one of the fastest humans on the court that I’ve ever scene.  It’s raw speed and he doesn’t know how to handle it just yet, but he’s super fast.  He’s 6’0, 170 lbs of pure muscle and has an attitude of “I don’t give a s__t about any of the top players.  He’s respectful and fun to be around off the court, but on the court, he brings an attitude that can get under one’s skin.  His diving ability personally makes me nervous as I always fear that one of his flying gets will end right in the middle of my 38 year old knees, finally putting me down for the count.  But, it’s on my mind and it will be on the mind’s of IRT players over the next decade and a half.  What most don’t realize about Bobby is that he didn’t begin playing until he was 14 years old.  He was the kid hanging around the club, playing hoops and generally just looking for something to do.  He and Jose Diaz first struck up a relationship playing hoops at the club, which of course was a schooling for Diaz as Bobby was a starting point guard for his high school team.  This led to Horn trying racquetball, and from that first moment, he had natural abilities.  He’s only been playing serious for six years while all the other Stocktonians having been racquetballing since they were 5 years old.  Like any young player, Bobby will not peak for another seven or eight years, but the experience he’ll gain over that time will be his racquetball experience and I’m telling you all, he’ll be a solid pro that will threaten to win a stop at some point in his career.  He has a team of friends around him that want the same thing for themselves, but will also do whatever it takes to help him accomplish his goals.  That’s the bonus Bobby has with being from Stockton.

Bobby plays Kane today at 11:30am and it’s likely that the match will be a three game win for the #1 player.  It might even be a rout, but this experience will go along way to what will be a successful racquetball career.  If you haven’t watched Bobby Horn play yet, then today is a great opportunity to get your first look at this talented, but extremely raw player.  You’ll enjoy his speed and his ability to shotmake, although the latter might not be as available today with Kane being his opponent.  You’ll also get a kick out of his little “Stockton mustache” too!!  They all seem to think that is the cool style now adays.  I don’t get it……. Enjoy the matches from Tampa, especially my boy Bobby Horn.

Posted in Racquetball Reality | 328 Comments »

The Pro’s Perspective – Vol. 2 Part II

February 16th, 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..

In our last Pro’s Perspective Article we were unable to include our phenom Ektelon player – Jose Rojas. Here is his story:

I feel like I ended 2010 on a great note, making almost every quarter  and a semi. I do wish I could have done much better in Colombia, but  even then I felt as my ankle was going to fall off. I really had no  control over that. After the US Open,which I didn’t play at my best, I  felt as if I could do much better than what I have been and proved it  at the next tournament in Chihuahua. That has to be my highlight of  2010  when I made the Semi and came really close to making the first  final in my career, losing in 5 to Alvaro Beltran. I am really looking  forward to the next half of the season in 2011 as I feel stronger and  more confident then ever. Although the month of January has been  pretty much a slump for me losing in the 16′s 2 out of the three  tournaments, I still feel mentally stronger than I did in Chihuahua.

Make sure to check back often for more insight and updates from the Racquetball World!

RW Staff

Posted in The Pro's Perspective | 189 Comments »

The Pro’s Perspective – Vol. 1

September 28th, 2010 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 #10 – http://www.racquetballwarehouse.com/proplayer2.html?ccode=JROJAS
Rhonda Rajsich – WPRO #2 – WPRO Pro Player Gallery coming soon..

The IRT Season started with a Tier 1 event on September 9 in Kansas City, followed immediately after by the first Grand Slam event of the season in Cali, Colombia September 15-19. Let’s hear what a few of our players have to say about the season kick-off:

Rocky Carson
Getting ready for KC I was really excited to get the season started. After getting there, the weekend was really a great time. As for my play, I played solid getting to the finals. But as for my body, I really felt beat up going into the semis. Fortunately, I got through but could not quite pull out a victory in the finals. The parties and the venue were really enjoyable and made for a great way to start the season. It was also nice to see the IRTNetwork.com back to broadcasting us pros and hearing all the RB fans thoughts on the weekend from what they saw from the network.

Cali, Columbia was one of the greatest experiences for myself as a player on the IRT and also for the IRT in itself. Having our first grand slam of the year this early in the season can put a lot of pressure on us to be ready for the beginning of the season. As far as my play, I didn’t have a great tourney and lost in the quarters. Even though I was quite disappointed in my play and results for the weekend, I got to still witness Chris Chrowther’s epic comeback facing 6 match points in the semis, to making it to his first finals of his career. To see him make it to his first final, and know how much it meant to him was not only emotional for him but for myself as well, being that I have known him about as long as I can remember and how much this would mean to his dad (Jack). It was also just a great reminder to me on how fortunate I have been to have the success I have had in my career. The venue was so cool, being that the courts were outside and just covered with a roof, I loved it. The only problem was I got eaten alive by mosquitoes. I also spent some time doing some color commentary with the IRTNetwork.com. It is really enjoyable seeing John Scott and Pablo from the IRTNetwork.com make the IRT possible for everyone to enjoy.
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in The Pro's Perspective | 184 Comments »

IRT Network, not your typical paysite..

November 25th, 2009 by Ben

I will keep this brief. I would like to make sure that all dedicated racquetball players know about a relatively new online service. Have you ever spent hours combing Youtube for racquetball videos? Have you been channel surfing and wondered “why isn’t there racquetball on TV? It would be much better than this Rambo marathon I’ve been watching for 4 hours.” If you answered yes, and even if you didn’t, I have a website you need to check out.

I am of course referring to the IRT Network which provides live streaming of all IRT (International Racquetball Tour) events in high quality video with several camera angles and full time commentators. The IRT tournaments are played on the all lucite court, which allows you, the viewer, to see the top pros play their best matches from all angles. Check out the court below:picture-1Now, through December 20, the IRT Network is offering the chance for any new subscription sign ups to win Rocky Carson’s Motorola Gear, worn at the US Open. Enter the promo code ‘Rocky’ upon subscription signup for the chance to win – I am pretty sure he is going to wash these before giving them away. If you are unsure, do not fret, IRT Network lets you sign up for free and receive limited access so you can decide if it is worth the subscription.

My thoughts? Support the businesses that support racquetball! If you want to keep growing the sport, it’s not going to be free. This is a Win Win – support the sport and get access to some kick-ass racquetball matches all year long. Lastly, this is a great gift idea for any die-hard racquetball fans!!

- Ben – www.IRTnetwork.com

Posted in General | 414 Comments »