ISRA STATE OF THE STATE

October 3, 2022

Racquetball Players, here’s a “State of the State” update from ISRA President Cheryl Kirk:

Hey, we’re into the new season, and the US OPEN in Minneapolis was competed September 28-October 2. It’s a good time to offer an update from the ISRA. Before I begin, I’ll hit the most critical topic up front: MEMBERSHIP. Yep, all caps. During the pandemic, USA Racquetball and consequently the ISRA lost a significant number of USAR/ISRA memberships. To be brief and straightforward:

— The sport can’t survive without the infrastructure USAR provides.

— We need Illinois players, past and present, to consider membership an investment in this loved sport, not just a “competitive license.”

— Please renew your membership. It’s $65/year or $60 with auto renew at www.usaracquetball.com.

That’s as plain as it gets. We have something very special to preserve, and it will take more than a handful of players in each state to do it. Will you please help Illinois do our part?

On to the update. Settle in with a cup of coffee and a brownie and read on…

ISRA Board of Directors

Over the years, we have been the recipients of a lot of talent and a lot of heart, thanks to a strong group of hardworking Board members.

We remember the extraordinary service of Pam Grace who passed away in July 2021 and of Geoff Peters who passed away in May. We could never fully express our sorrow in the loss of these friends and colleagues.

A number of former ISRA Board members have moved on to other things (and other states), and they have our gratitude for their longtime dedication to the lives of Illinois players and fans. Thanks to Joe Silius, Patrice Calvi, Marla Cusano, Doug Halverson, Michelle Halverson, Jonelle Dubois, Barb Vagedes, and this year, Dolores Lamberson, Bill Roberts, and Rick Seaberg. Warmer climates seem to be a common denominator!

Our current ISRA Board reflects long-term members and newer ones as well. Cheryl Kirk (President), Laurel Davis (Vice President/Past President), Todd Burris (Treasurer), John O’Donnell Jr., Arun Baskaran, Alisa Burris, Mike Davern, Alcides Gutierrez, John Thorson, and Carolyn Vazquez have been joined more recently by Barry Dixon, Eric Mathews, and Sue Mueller (Secretary).

Social Media and ISRA Website

The ISRA website will soon be under construction with a whole new look including updated information and features. Webmaster Alisa Burris is taking on this challenge.

Due to the cost of producing ISRA Courtside several times a year, we moved to social media as our primary way of communicating Illinois racquetball news to Team Illinois and beyond. Alisa Burris is also our Social Media Coordinator, and because of her diligence and assistance, the ISRA’s social media efforts have progressed nicely:

ISRA Facebook: Illinois State Racquetball Association (826 likes and 874 followers)

Instagram: israillinois (174 followers)

Please like and follow us!

Looking Forward

US OPEN

Congratulations to the 21 players (19 men/2 women) from Illinois who ventured north to Minneapolis with intentions of bringing back medals from the US OPEN:

Thomas Carter, Guy Coggins, Fred Conforti, Tony Cosmano, Kristin Coulter, Eugene Coyle, Thomas George, Juan Herrera II, George Ipe, Michael Kull, Axel Lopez, Jesus Lopez, Steven McKean, Alok Mehta, Dave Milazzo, Frank Milazzo, Keith Minor, Tony Paten, Montserrat Torres, Robert Weber, and Blase Zera

Please visit the Illinois State Racquetball Association Facebook page for a results recap and plenty of photos!

Local and State Indoor Tournament Schedule

Platt Hill Nursery 30th Anniversary Turkey Shoot & LPRT Tier 1 Pro Stop

Thursday-Sunday, November 17-20, 2022. The site is live and taking entries!

https://www.r2sports.com/website/event-website.asp?TID=39960

ISRA State Doubles Championships

Saturday/Sunday, January 28-29, 2022

ISRA State Singles Championships & Annual Awards Ceremony

Friday/Saturday, February 17-18, 2022

PapaNicholas Coffee 38th Annual Shamrock Shootout & IRT Pro Stop

Thursday-Sunday, March 16-19, 2023

All the above tournaments will be competed at Glass Court Swim & Fitness in Lombard. We can’t thank Dan Jaskier and Joe DeArmas enough for being such great supporters and hosts for racquetball in Illinois.

We convey our gratitude also to Platt Hill (Platt Hill Nursery) and Jim Schlicher (PapaNicholas Coffee), the title sponsors who are bringing the LPRT and the IRT back to Lombard!

Outdoor Racquetball

The 7th Annual Windy City 3Wall Brawl Championships, hosted by Joey Logan, was held August 12-14 at Rainbow Beach in downtown Chicago. Participants (53) from eight states entered to play in doubles action on the long walls of the famed Rainbow Beach, soon to be part of a multimillion-dollar renovation thanks to the hard work of Carolyn Vazquez. (Source: USA Racquetball’s Serving Up the News, https://www.teamusa.org/USA-Racquetball/Features/2022/September/19/WOR-Update-September-2022)

Speaking of which…the following Rainbow Beach update comes courtesy of Carolyn Vazquez, who secured the improvement grant that was announced in January.

“Please Pardon Our Dust! The excitement builds as we move closer to the unveiling of the improved Rainbow Beach Plaza Courts in 2024. The architectural team has provided their perspective, and we are fine tuning with plans to begin construction in Spring 2023. It will require some adjustment for players (thanks in advance), and we ask for your patience and understanding during this renovation. We will have some fun events planned to cure your outdoor fix next summer with our buddies at LaGrange, and when everything is all done, Rainbow Beach will be a great spot for everyone to enjoy for many years to come. If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out at cvazquez1008@yahoo.com.”

Junior Team Illinois

The best way to preserve this sport for the next generation is to teach juniors to play, and Glass Court will again be the Home of JTI! Head Coach Barry Dixon, supported by John Thorson, Andy Pitock, Marian Bala, and Jairo Torres, will be starting the new JTI season this month. If you have family members (their friends, too!) who would like to see what this fabulous sport is all about, contact Barry Dixon at bdixon01@comcast.net for more information.

Several players have been JTI regulars over the past several years, and they’ve really started to take off! JC Herrera, Spencer O’Dea, Sami Elabed, Saigeetha Varadharajan, Montserrat Torres, and Axel Lopez all traveled to Des Moines in June to compete in the USAR National Junior Racquetball Championships. All six came home with medals, and in fact, Montserrat and Axel won Mixed 14 & Under Doubles and made the U.S. Junior Team! They will be competing for Team USA on the international stage in Guatemala City in December. This is the first time in decades that Illinois players have qualified, and we couldn’t be prouder! Be sure to follow them via the Daily Blogs on the USA Racquetball website beginning December 1st.

ISRA Hall of Fame/Annual Awards/Junior Scholarship Award

The pandemic put tournaments on hold for a time, and along with that pause came a temporary hiatus on the ISRA Hall of Fame and Awards program. We’re gearing back up, though, so please watch for a separate email blast inviting any USAR/ISRA member to nominate players in the categories of Hall of Fame, Male and Female Players of the Year, Most Improved Player, Distinguished Service Award, and the TJ Ferro Junior Scholarship Award.

We’re getting back to “normal,” so come along with us! Wishing everyone health, safety, and happiness!

~ Cheryl Kirk and the ISRA Board of Directors

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