2000 International Racquetball
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U.S. National Team
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Record-High 43 Countries to Compete for World Cup in Mexico
The International Racquetball Federation will hold its 10th World Championships in San Luis Potosi, Mexico, Aug. 4-12, with a record number of countries competing. Forty-three nations from around the globe will vie for the World Cup, which is currently held by the United States.
Although the U.S. is the reigning World Cup holder, both the men's and women's singles champions from the 1998 World Championships hail from Canada. Christie Van Hees (Vancouver, B.C.) will hope to defend her world championship title, but will face fierce competition from the USA's Cheryl Gudinas (Lisle, Ill.). Gudinas defeated Van Hees in an 11-10 tiebreaker during the gold medal match of the last summer's Pan American Games, held in Van Hees home country.
The USA's Jackie Paraiso (El Cajon, Calif.), the reigning doubles world champion, has switched her focus to singles play after the retirement of her twin sister-and doubles-partner Joy MacKenzie from the sport. Paraiso finished out the 1999-2000 WIRT pro tour at the top of the rankings, followed by Gudinas in second and Van Hees in third. Paraiso will play number-two singles for the USA, after losing in the U.S. National Singles finals to Gudinas.
Canada's reigning world champion Sherman Greenfeld (Winnipeg, Manitoba) will not defend his title at this year's championships, due to his retirement from the sport after a disappointing fourth-place finish at the 1999 Pan Am Games. Several of the world's top players will be seeking Greenfeld's crown, including the U.S. National Singles champion Rocky Carson (Santa Maria, Calif.) who captured the bronze medal at the 1998 championships.
Canada's hopes of regaining the men's singles title will be pinned on 18-year-old Kane Waselenchuk (Spruce Grove, Alberta), the two-time reigning Canadian national champion. Puerto Rico's Rob DeJesus (Phoenix, Ariz.), who defeated Greenfeld for the 1999 Pan Am Games bronze medal, is also shaping up to be a top contender.
World Championship titles will be awarded in men's and women's singles and doubles play, in addition to the World Cup being awarded to the country whose athletes garner the most points during team competition.
U.S. Racquetball Names World Championship Team
The United States Racquetball Association announced its World Championship Team, which will compete at the International Racquetball Federation's 10th World Championships in San Luis Potosi, Mexico, Aug. 4-12.
Headlining the Team is two 1999 Pan American Games gold medalist, Cheryl Gudinas (Lisle, Ill.) and Jackie Paraiso (El Cajon, Calif.), both of which will be playing women's singles. Gudinas is the two-time national singles champion and captured the women's singles gold medal at last summer's Pan Am Games over reigning world champion Christie Van Hees of Canada. Paraiso also won a gold at the Pan Am Games with her twin sister in women's doubles. She is was the silver medalist to Gudinas at this year's national singles championships, and is the number-one ranked pro player on the Women's International Racquetball Tour.
The United States' women's doubles team will be comprised of 1999 National Doubles gold medalist Kim Russell (Austin, Texas) and 2000 National Singles bronze medalist Kersten Hallander (San Diego, Calif.). Russell, who captured the last year's women's doubles gold medal with Robin Levin (Sacramento, Calif.), will pair up with Hallander due to her Levine's retirement from the sport.
The men's team will be led by 2000 national singles champion Rocky Carson (Santa Maria, Calif.). He will joined by silver medalist Doug Eagle (Houston, Texas) in the men's singles competition. Carson was the bronze medalist at the last world championships, held in 1998. 1999 National Doubles gold medalists Ruben Gonzalez (Staten Island, N.Y.) and Mike Guidry (Dallas, Texas) will compete in the men's doubles competition. Gonzalez, 49, has become known as a legend in the sport, and was inducted in the USRA Hall of Fame this year.
The International Racquetball Federation holds its World Championships every other year. This year's event will host 148 athletes representing 42 countries.
U.S. MEN'S TEAM
Doug Eagle Houston, Texas
Men's #2 Singles
Ruben Gonzalez Staten
Island, N.Y. Men's Doubles
Mike Guidry Dallas, Texas
U.S. WOMEN'S TEAM
Jackie Paraiso El Cajon,
Calif. Women's #2 Singles
Kersten Hallander San
Diego, Calif. Women's Doubles
Kim Russell Austin, Texas
Racquetball Canada ready for World Championships
By Cheryl McKeeman
Racquetball Canada will send a well-prepared contingent to Mexico August 5-13 for the World Championships. The team is coming off a recent training camp in Saskatchewan and Head Coach Ron Brown feels the camp has done wonders for team chemistry, team cohesiveness and team camaraderie.
The men's team will consist of Ontario's Mike Ceresia and Mike Green in doubles and Edmonton's Kane Waselenchuk and Brian Istace of Calgary in singles. On the women's side, Christie Van Hees of Vancouver, BC and Lori-Jane Powell from Prince Albert, SK will compete in singles and the doubles team will consist of Saskatchewan's Karina Odegard and Amanda MacDonald.
"I always find the times we have training camps are the times we have performed our best," says Brown. "We haven't seen these other countries in two years. You don't know who you'll play but we will be prepared."
Brown likens Waselenchuk's mental toughness to golfer Tiger Woods. It's what sets apart the good players from the great players.
"I'm going into this with a positive attitude," says Waselenchuk. "Just get on the court and play. I can't wait. I'm playing well and my focus is really good."
In men's singles, Rocky Carson and Doug Eagle will go in as the Americans to beat. Carson will be the number one American seed. Eagle has never played internationally at the senior level.
"Because we're playing at 6000 feet, Brian (Istace) can really make an impact. With Brian's serve and power, if he gets hot, he can be hard to beat," adds Brown.
Van Hees won the World Championship title in Cochabamba, Bolivia July 11-18, 1998 and at the time, was the youngest athlete to ever accomplish this feat. She was also, a bronze medallist at the 1999 Tournament of the Americas in Rosarito, Mexico.
She claims that there is no pressure being the defending champion in Canada. It's when she gets to Mexico where she will feel the pressure.
"The media will really get to me in Mexico," says Van Hees. "But I've been working with a mental trainer to deal with it. She has mapped out a plan for me to focus on before hand. I have to get myself into a different zone."
Saskatchewan's Lori-Jane Powell is going into the World Championships with the right attitude according to Brown.
"I like her attitude. She looked into my eyes at the Nationals and told me I'll be prepared, I'll open people's eyes'. She goes in as the underdog but she will perform quite well. Lori-Jane plays best with a chip on her shoulder. She's been given a second chance and she's going to make the best of it."
"We're really going to try and build momentum throughout the whole tournament," says Ceresia. "The Mexicans, Americans and Japanese will all be tough. I've played them all. The key to our success will be to peak at the right time, the semi-finals and finals."
When the duo from Ontario set their minds to something, they usually succeed. After losing the 1999 Senior Nationals Doubles Championship title, they focused on getting that title back throughout the 1999-2000 season.
When it came down to the 2000 National Doubles Final, Ceresia and Green finished off Waselenchuk and Istace in two straight 15-7, 15-11.
"This victory is something we planned on all year long," said Ceresia at the time. "We had to prove a point after losing in the finals last year. Winning this has been on our minds all year long."
"Having training camp in Saskatchewan was really good for me," says Odegard. "It was just like training as usual for me, I didn't feel any pressure. It's hard for Amanda and me because even though we play as a team, we have to train in different cities. But I think we're ready. It's a different US team than we know but the training camp really helped us keep our focus leading up to the Worlds."
The Canadians leave for Mexico August 2nd. Individual play begins August 5th and ends August 7th. Doubles begin Wednesday, August 9 and continues to Saturday August 12th.
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