June 1, 2020

Hello, Team Illinois,
This letter goes especially to the players who have enjoyed racquetball with their friends at the Lattof YMCA (Des Plaines), Leaning Tower YMCA (Niles), and Kroehler Family YMCA (Naperville). I am so sorry to hear of the closings of these clubs that have been second homes to so many in your communities, including our Racquetball family members.

With so much we’re going through as Americans this year, this could seem to the general public as not a big deal, just a blip on the radar of much bigger challenges. I’m here to tell you that this is a BIG deal to us in our world, and you’re feeling it keenly at this moment. The hopes you had to get past this pandemic and back to leagues and Saturday morning pick-up games just as before have evaporated.

On October 14, 2006, Naper Olympic closed its doors. To this day, I still remember the feeling, and it was awful. It was like finding out suddenly that you’re an orphan of sorts. “Where will we play? When and where will we meet up with our friends again?”

We all owe a debt of gratitude to leaders like Art Michaely, Dave Negrete, and Howie Robins who have helped to keep racquetball thriving in the northern suburbs of Chicago for years and years. In fact, Art, the guru of all things racquetball at Lattof, has been there for nearly 60 years, even before racquetball hit its heyday! I know these gentlemen and others will be at the forefront of keeping everyone together and playing as you have before.

Illinois has lost 12 courts as a result of these closings, and while we mourn (yes, mourn) our loss, I wish you strength and the resolve to stay connected to your YMCA racquetball peeps as you each seek your next racquetball home.

Your ISRA Board of Directors stands with you in this sad moment, and we will do anything we can to help. Please stay in touch, and please keep playing! Racquetball is very special in all of our lives, and it’s worth fighting for.

In friendship and in solidarity for the sport we love,

Cheryl Kirk
President, Illinois State Racquetball Association

March Update

Thanks to everyone who participated and volunteered at the 35th Annual KWM Gutterman Shamrock Shooutout Pro-Am Presented by MyPillow, March 12-15. It was an action-packed weekend, and although a handful of concerned competitors elected to drop from the tournament, we left Sunday afternoon feeling it was a successful event for everyone who attended and who watched on the IRT Network.

Players numbering 185 (158 men/27 women) traveled in from six countries* and 18 states**.

* Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Mexico, USA

** Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and Wisconsin.

Before a full weekend of pro and amateur competition kicked off, the Pro-Am Doubles provided a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for eight lucky amateurs to play with pro partners. When the smoke cleared, it was Raj Sondhi and Andree Parrilla defeating Danny Ortega and Rocky Carson in the final. On the dropdown side, Axel Lopez and Lalo Portillo bested Jose L. Arteaga and Alex Landa.

Thirty-nine IRT Pros competed in Qualifier and Main singles rounds in an attempt to make it to the finals. Additionally, ten teams competed in Pro Doubles. Saturday night, Daniel De La Rosa and Alvaro Beltran took the Pro Doubles over Javier Mar (Mexico) and Rodrigo Montoya (Mexico), 15-10, 15-13. In the Sunday afternoon Pro Singles final, Kane Waselenchuk (Canada/USA) defeated Alejandro Landa (Mexico/USA), 15-3, 15-5.

Although the pros are the “main attraction” at any pro stop, thirty amateur divisions were offered in Men’s and Women’s Singles and Doubles as well as Mixed Doubles.

In the Women’s Open, it was Erika Manilla (Colorado) vs. Melania Sauma (Costa Rica) with Manilla winning 15-9, 15-8. On the Men’s Open side, Andres Acuna (Costa Rica) defeated Sebastian Fernandez (Mexico/USA), 15-11, 15-13. Erin Slutzky (MO) and Alok Mehta emerged the winners in a four-state Mixed Open round robin.

Visit https://www.r2sports.com/tourney.asp?TID=31369 for a full look at the draws!

In addition to recognizing Glass Court’s excellent staff for their hard work, Dan Jaskier and Joe DeArmas and the ISRA extend much gratitude to the team of volunteers who pitched in to provide a top-notch Shamrock Shootout experience: Marian Bala, Doug Brown, Laura Brown, Alisa Burris, Todd Burris, Mike Davern, Laurel Davis, Jonelle Dubois, Michael Fornero, Marie Gomar, Lori Good, Pam Grace, Karen Grisz, Mike Grisz, Alcides Gutierrez, Doug Halverson, Michelle Halverson, Evelyn Herrera, Cheryl Kirk, Dolores Lamberson, Kit Lawson, Luz Lopez, Dave Milazzo, Liz Molitor, Sue Mueller, Spencer O’Dea, Deb Peters, Geoff Peters, Bill Roberts, Joe Silius, Dave Singer, Jim Thomas, John Thorson, Claudia Torres, Barb Vagedes, Tracie Valentine, Carolyn Vazquez, Beth Winters, and Rich Winters.

Sponsors are the lifeblood of any Pro Stop, and thanks to an impressive group of racquetball-loving sponsors, we in Illinois have enjoyed the consistent pleasure of welcoming the pros to Glass Court. Thank you to these 2020 Shamrock Shootout sponsors: Title Sponsor KWM Gutterman (Keith Minor), MyPillow, PapaNicholas Coffee (Jim Schlicher), Rick Seaberg, Platt Hill Nursery (Platt Hill), Edwardo’s Pizza (Dave Milazzo), Anthony’s Pizza (Tony Cosmano), Frank & Diane Bunker, JAM Trucking (Bob Randazzo), Bob Joly, Chicago Spectro (Geoff Goldblatt), Alok Mehta, John O’Donnell Jr., Equipo Vision (Jose L. Arteaga), Susan L. Klimaitis Foundation (Sue & Leo Klimaitis), Taco Burrito King (Danny Ortega), Baird & Warner Brokers (Wayne Lorenz), Newman Schimel Financial Advisors (Jack Newman), Mike Davern, Geoff & Deb Peters, Cheryl Kirk & Kit Lawson, John Thorson, Willy Fellows, Janet Eminger, and Liz Molitor. In addition, racquetball manufacturers and additional friends stepped up to support our Silent Auction for Junior Racquetball. These included: Racquetball Warehouse, Head/Penn Racquetball, E-Force, Gearbox, Tom Carroll, Janet Eminger, and PapaNicholas Coffee.

Each entrant received a 35th Anniversary Shamrock Shootout hat and a travel (GoAnywhere) MyPillow. Winners of non-prize money divisions at the Shamrock Shootout did not go home empty-handed! First place was a king-size MyPillow and second place netted a queen-size version.

shamrock1 shamrock2 shamrock3

Presumably, these MyPillows are providing rest and comfort in these “downtime” days. But…

While the vast majority of us are unable to play for several weeks, we wanted to hook you up with several ideas to fill your time.

First of all – the videos of matches from the Shamrock are worth watching! Here is the link to the Men’s IRT Pro Final with Kane Waselenchuk vs. Alex Landa, and after you watch that, you will want to catch some of the great doubles action, including action that Doug Halverson said was some of the best he had ever seen! Here’s the Singles Final: https://youtu.be/1MGiOSiqHt8

Also available is a gallery of great photos put together by Ken Fife who was camped by the Glass Court much of the weekend. You can see some great pictures of the Pros – and check out our Pro-Am competitors as well in the their glamour shots. Here is the link to the photo gallery: https://www.fifephoto.com/Racquetball/IRT/2020-03-12-35th-Annual-KWM-Gutterman-Inc-Shamrock-Shootout

Also – Thomas Carter has started up a new service while we are away from the courts. Read below and click on the link if it is something you might be interested in:

Missing racquetball? Subscribe to Tommy’s Tips!

A subscription to this brand new group provides you access to a database of instructional videos to help improve your racquetball game. Included are videos on forehand, backhand, serve, footwork, drills, etc. Bonus videos will also be uploaded from time to time, along with Q&A sessions and other surprise content.

This group also includes plenty of off-court footwork drills and ways to work on your game even while gyms are closed. Now is the time to get a step up on your competition!
Here is the link to subscribe: https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd= s-xclick&hosted_button_id=G9GYWW8PQVZCE

If you have not done so already, please be sure to click on the link to ISRA Courtside to enjoy 22 pages of tournament results and features about racquetball here in Illinois as well as the 2019 UnitedHealthcare US OPEN and the 35th World Senior Racquetball Championships. Illinois players are featured prominently, with lots of pictures included!

Above all, everyone: STAY HOME, STAY SAFE, SAVE LIVES!

— Your ISRA Board of Directors

Notice of Annual Meeting and Election of ISRA Board Members

The ISRA Board will hold its Annual Meeting on Wednesday, June 10, 2020. As with all ISRA meetings, this meeting is open to the membership. The Annual Meeting is particularly important since all members attending have a vote in the election of the ISRA Board of Directors. If you plan to attend, please contact ISRA Board Secretary Barb Vagedes at barbaravagedes@aol.com for time and location.

Board positions are staggered two-year terms. There are eleven open seats on the Board for this year’s election. As part of the process, the Nominating Committee will determine which sitting Board members wish to run for re-election.

According to Article IV, Section IV.2 of the ISRA Bylaws (ratified by the ISRA Board of Directors in December 2013 and posted on the ISRA website):

Additional Director candidates must be nominated in writing by one or more ISRA/USAR members, endorsed by signed petition of at least 50 members, and received by the President prior to May 1. If there are any additional Director nominations, the President shall first verify that the nominee is in agreement to run and serve and shall give notice of said nomination to the public via the ISRA website and email communication on or before May 15 but in no case fewer than 30 days before the Annual Meeting date. The election shall take place at the Annual Meeting in June, by ballot, with only members present voting. If there are no additional nominations, the Nominating Committee’s slate shall be accepted automatically.

ISRA President Cheryl Kirk’s email address is cherylkkirk@aol.com.
Additionally, any ISRA member who wishes to help improve the quality of racquetball in Illinois and familiarize themselves with Board processes is welcome to join the Auxiliary Board. Come out and support Illinois Racquetball!

The ISRA Nominating Committee
Mike Davern (Chair), Pam Grace, and John Thorson

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