you've been doing this ... thing ... (publishing this sole, solitary,
specialty magazine) ... for as long as I have (15 years now), it's sometimes
difficult to get jazzed. I've seen most of the top players firsthand, so I'm
well acquainted with their game styles. I'm as familiar with their strengths
and weaknesses as anyone, and I've got a pretty good grasp on a wide range
of intricacies that impact individual performances. I even have a high
percentage of accuracy on predicting how most will respond to interview
questions. It's just hard to surprise me, much of the time.
So when it does happen, I enjoy it thoroughly. Shake ups
on the pro tour, fierce team competition in the international arena, and
just plain old-fashioned turnover in the amateur ranks are all cause for
celebration, in my book. Of course, it's great to see athletes enjoy
extended and successful careers, and I applaud the staying power of those
who can set, and hold onto, records for longevity. But after a long, dry
spell of dominance by the same - albeit outstanding - athletes, it's just as
great to see some "new" faces step up to share the limelight.
As you'll read in our U.S.OPEN coverage, out of eight
events, only half as many male athletes have ever hoisted the Champions Cup.
In each of the last four years, a different woman has claimed it each time.
Overcoming both mental and physical adversity, this year's champions - as
well as their challengers - jazzed me with their drive and skill. They
weren't really "new" faces; they've all been touring for some time. But they
toppled some pretty big names, to inspire a host of up-and-comers in their
At the same time, more than a few of those hopefuls are
"training" in the junior ranks, where international competition is at its
all time best. At press time, the Mexican National Team had just clinched
its second Junior World Cup to validate that their record breaking win last
year was no fluke. Long-dominant in both the adult and junior ranks, U.S.
Team players and coaches always give their best effort, but Mexico has now
inspired a host of up-and coming countries in their wake. The end
result can only be more and better competition, across the board, as the
playing field is leveled and the sport heads toward another stage in its
For that, I'm proud of everyone who takes to the court
with good intention ... to compete and win fairly, regardless of what's
expected, or historic, or traditional. Since outcomes are never assured, it
takes courage, dedication and a remarkable willingness to fail -- as well as
win -- to get ahead in this, or any, sport. I'm also proud of my personal
conviction that racquetball, on the whole, has plenty of what it takes to
survive any shakeup. Change is good for giving hope and generating
excitement -- and who doesn't want that? May your New Year be full of