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Friday, April 1, 2011

Farmington facility noted hotbed for racquetball competition

The best racquetball in the state of Michigan is arguably played right here in Farmington Hills. The Farmington Family YMCA has become a hotbed for racquetball talent and competition, producing three champions in the recent state tournament. “People come from all over to play, from Pinckney, Ann Arbor and Brighton,” said Mike DeCenso, who lives in Redford and plays regularly at the Farmington YMCA. “There aren’t a lot of racquetball places anymore, so everybody just kinda found their way there, realizing there’s still a lot of good players.” Ferd Samson, Mark Candy and Jim McGowan won the Men’s A, B and C divisions, respectively, in the state tournament March 19-20 at the Davison Racquetball Club. Samson, 48, hails from West Bloomfield; Candy, 53, travels from Pinckney to play in Farmington, and McGowan, 42, is a resident of Livonia. DeCenso, 42, was a semifinalist in Men’s B, and McGowan also was the state runner-up in Men’s C. “It was pretty unique,” DeCenso in regard to one club having three champions. “Everybody was talking about it. We’re considered a small club with four courts. A lot of clubs in it have 10 to 15. “To have one club win that many trophies is very unique. There were only four of us from the Farmington YMCA that entered.” The state tournament is also a qualifier for the U.S. Open. It wasn’t necessary to win to qualify, but a player’s finish helps to determine their seeding at the U.S. Open. The quality of competition at the Farmington YMCA made it possible for a small club to produce three state champions, according to DeCenso. “All the guys have been playing a long time,” he said. “There’s a super, super deep group of people who play at the Farmington YMCA. Every Saturday and Sunday and almost every day there’s open-court time, guys meet up to play; so it’s just a very competitive environment. “At least 50 guys play there on a regular basis — guys who’ve been champions for many years. Ferd has won the state more than once, and Mark has played in the U.S. Open several times.

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