25th Annual Women’s Senior/Masters National Racquetball Championships: 25 Years of Great Racquetball
Perfect beach weather greeted the 72 players from 16 states arriving in California for the 25th Annual Women’s Senior/Masters Racquetball National Championships held Jan 17-19, 2014 at the Los Caballeros Sport and Racquet Club in Fountain Valley. Los Caballeros was a fantastic facility for the tournament, with plenty of courts and facilities including outdoor pools, tennis courts, spas, workout rooms and a snack bar.
Players arriving at the courts for the traditional “Fun Doubles” on Thursday found that in keeping with the Hollywood theme they had their own “Walk of Fame” in the lounge area, with a star for each player and overseen by a life-sized Oscar statue, The fun doubles is a traditional fund-raiser for breast-cancer research and this year we raised $394 through player donations. All players who donated won a door prize donated by Wilson Racquetball. Check-in followed doubles and the goody bags included a mini “Cow Pie” candy from Wisconsin in honor of the first tournament held in Madison WI in 1990. The tournament souvenir was a special 25th Anniversary silver jacket.
Round-robin play within age groups began early Friday morning. When not on the courts, players could enjoy food and drink at the hospitality table, enjoy the club’s amenities or watch the court action from sofas behind the glass courts in the main lounge area. The back-to-back match schedule meant that there was time for sightseeing or a trip to the beach only 10 miles away. Some players even tried out the outdoor racquetball courts!
This year WSMRA Board Members Terry Rogers and Merijean Kelley acted as tournament directors, and received help from a large number of volunteers who worked the tournament desk, kept R2 updated, and assisted with the silent auction and the hospitality table. Peggine Tellez and Tod Mack of the CNRA provided invaluable assistance, as did WSMRA members Kathy Zasucha, Beth Sacco, Lola Markus, Nancy Kronenfeld, Pat Meyer, Nidia Funes and Paula Sperling. Tina Marchie assisted by “Eddie the photographer” set up the group photo and took pictures and videos all weekend.
A long-time tradition of this tournament is the silent auction, featuring a raft of merchandise provided by our sponsor Wilson Racquetball, as well as items donated by other organizations and individuals. This year nearly $800 was raised and will be donated to the USAR Collegiate scholarship program and the CNRA Junior program to help insure the future of our sport.
The Saturday night banquet continued Hollywood theme with a red carpet, stars on the ceiling, a Hollywood sign and many players in “formal” attire. A slide show of pictures from all 25 years created by Tina Marchie played in the background during dinner. In a short program some of the many people who contributed so much to the success of the tournament were recognized, and there were lots of fun awards for the players who came the farthest- Tina Marchie from New York State and Marie Gomar from Guatemala; and for the states with the largest attendance: California had 19 while Illinois had 11. Two players were in attendance had also played in the first tournament: Linda Couvalt and Kendra Tutsch, both from Wisconsin. In the 25 years of the tournament over 2040 players have participated, and 9 have attended 20 or more tournaments. They are: Kendra Tutsch (WI), Nancy Kronenfeld (IL), Lola Markus (IL), Pauline Kelly (IL), Margaret Hoff (IL), Merijean Kelley (CA), Mildred Gwinn (NC), Carol Gellman (NM) and Paula Sperling, (NM). Founders of the WSMRA in attendance were: Nidia Funes (CA), Mildred Gwinn (NC), Margaret Hoff (IL), Merijean Kelley (CA), Nancy Kronenfeld (IL), Lola Markus (IL) and Kendra Tutsch (WI). The highlight of the evening was the best-dressed award, won by Stacie Cato! Tunes for dancing were spun by the WSMRA’s own DJ’s Beth Sacco and Cindy Tilbury.
The party did not deter players from their continued outstanding play on Sunday with championships on the line. A tough weekend of competition was wrapped up by early Sunday afternoon. 50+ was the last division to be decided, with Kim Whalen (WI) taking first over her twin sister Kelly Whalen (WI) by less than 1 point average. In 70+ Mildred Gwinnn (NC) regained her title, and in 65+ Margaret Hoff (IL) did the same. In 60+ Marsha Berry (KY) did not drop a match in taking first on points over Elaine Dexter (CA). In 55+ Linda Moore (NE) did not lose a match but finished 2nd to Debra Tisinger-Moore (CA) on average points. Jean Halahan (NY) repeated as 45+ Champion and other winners were: 35+, Heather Colon (CA); 40+, Cindy Herceg (CA); 35B/C, Stacie Cato (NC); 45B/C, Julia Mouser (CA); and 55 B/C Judy Redding (NY). For a link to all results and lots of pictures visit our web site www.wsmra.com and check the Women’s Senior/Masters Racquetball Association on Facebook.
As we start the next quarter century, the WSMRA is looking to implement some changes, including the possible addition of doubles divisions. Information on the 2015 tournament will soon be available; so keep watching our web site and Facebook page. You are never out of the draw at this round-robin tournament for all women 35 and over, and we expect great things as we embark on our next 25 years! Thanks to Terri Graham and Chris Evon of Wilson Racquetball for continued awesome support!