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Sunday, June 19, 2011

Teaching Mechanics and Joys of the Game

Roy Angleberger teaches racquetball at the YMCA in Frederick.

To Roy Angleberger, the members of the racquetball league at Frederick's YMCA are more than just players.
"I call them my racquetball family," Angleberger said.

And it's a large family. Over the past five years, Angleberger has helped the racquetball program grow from 8 players to about 100.

He knows who's left-handed, who has kids, who works where.

A retired physical education teacher from Walkersville, Angleberger, 59, has always loved sports.

At Gov. Thomas Johnson High School, he played baseball, basketball and football. He continued playing baseball and football at Western Maryland College (now McDaniel College). Today he works part time at Glade Valley Golf Club and at the Y for the racquetball program. He organizes league matches and tournaments and gives private lessons.

"It's been an awful lot of fun," he said.

Angleberger said racquetball is a sport for anyone -- those in his league range from age 7 to 70. Both men, women and children play. All you need is a racquet, a ball and a pair of goggles, he said.

The league is confined to three glass courts in the basement of the YMCA building down a long maze of hallways. Air conditioning runs at full blast to keep the glass walls from perspiring.

For many members of the league, racquetball is a way to exercise while having fun. Angleberger said an hour in the racquetball court always seems to go faster than an hour in the gym.

Karen McKinney of Frederick took up racquetball in place of running on treadmills and ellipticals. She also enjoys the break a game of racquetball gives her from her twins.

"It's a great place to take out frustration," she said.

Angleberger agreed. "I know after work hitting that racquetball is enjoyable," he said.

Sarah Godwin, who has been playing for 31Ú2 years, is now playing in the men's league with help from Angleberger.

"He's a superstar. He really is," Godwin said.

After retiring, Angleberger decided to take the job as the racquetball coordinator at the Y for fun.

More than anything else, he said email helped him expand the program by giving him an easy way to communicate with members. He now has about 350 families on his mailing list.

As the league grows, the competition gets tougher, and players want to improve, so Angleberger ends up giving more lessons -- 100 so far this year.

Although he enjoys playing racquetball, after spending years working with reluctant students in gym class, teaching people who really want to learn is rewarding, he said.

"I love to play, but I love to give lessons even more," he said.

Teaching seems to runs in the family.

Angleberger's son, Mark Angleberger, is a physical education teacher at Tuscarora High School. He coaches football there and tennis at Walkersville High School.

Angleberger's wife, Barbara, is an assistant professor of psychology at Frederick Community College and chairwoman of the social sciences department. While she's not a gym teacher, Angleberger said she loves sports.

As for how long Angleberger plans to stay with the league, he said the answer is simple. "As long as I can hit a racquetball, I guess," he said.

Inventing More Powerful Sports Equipment

If you watch the U.S. Open golf tournament this week or Wimbledon next week you will see plenty of 300-yard drives and 140-mph serves.

Part of that is due to the fitness level and strength training of modern athletes, and part is due to the changes in equipment. The driver that Arnold Palmer used is tiny compared to the oversized drivers that today's pros and amateurs use. The same goes for tennis racquets. The wooden Dunlops and Donnays used by John McEnroe and Bjorn Borg 30 years ago had far less power than Roger Federer's Wilson, which is lighter and a third bigger in the head.

One of the first tinkerers in sports equipment was Memphian Randy Stafford, former racquetball pro and owner of The Court Company. Like tennis, racquetball was radically changed by progressively bigger and more powerful racquets. Some of his old friends jokingly call Stafford "the anti-christ" because of the changes he wrought. This little essay by Stafford, who was 17 years old in 1972, is about goofing around, innovation, and the limitless future of the young as well as the sport he has played for 40 years.

The First Oversized Racquetball Racquet: A Slice of History

I had no money to pay for my time with Dr. Bud Muehleisen, so I brought two ice chests on the plane with me full of bear meat that I just shot in Alberta. It was the summer of '72 and having just graduated from high school and moved there, I lost in the second round of the Klondike Open to Dr. Bud.

‘Come to San Diego and spend the rest of the summer at my home and playing racquetball,’ he urged.

‘Wow!’ I said, and showed up with the bear meat. I thought if I could not pay him at least I could cook for him.

My life changed forever that summer, but what does this have to do with the first oversized racquet?

After my arrival in San Diego, Dr. Bud hooked me up with a great southpaw named DC Charleston. DC was going to college and he picked me up in an old Volkswagen daily and we played at Mel Gorham’s and at the beach in La Jolla. DC was a top national doubles player with Charley Brumfield, the county’s smoothest beach runner, and could ‘Name that Tune’ of any rock-and-roll song after hearing two notes,

Racquetball was in its infancy and especially with equipment. I had just changed over from the Dayton Steele to the Muleheisen Ektelon racquet. Leach was also coming on as a popular racquet brand. So, basically there were two companies making racquets and both located in San Diego.

Both DC and I were playing with Ektelon's at the time, and we would sit around after our matches talking about the sport and invariably it wound around to every detail of the racquets. A racquet could make or break a player.

One afternoon DC said, ‘Lets go over to the Ektelon plant and look around.’ We arrived at a small metal building with a stringer machine being rolled outside so the stringer could enjoy the sunshine as he worked. Inside the door was a modest machine shop and we zeroed in on one guy bending aluminum frames for the Dr. Bud racquet. Overhead a dozen frames hung at the mid-point of fabrication, ready for the wood handles to be installed.

We fingered the metal frames looking at the throat where the metal extended into the wood grip. One of us exclaimed, ‘We can make this throat an inch longer and install the wood grip leaving the racquet an inch longer.’ Our thought was to get more power out of the racquet.

We walked out of Ektelon with one slightly longer racquet and off to the beach court to give it a try. It worked! It did allow us to hit the ball harder, so we made up a few more and used them through the summer. A few months later, a black Ektelon racquet came on the market called the Schmidkie XL.

The first oversized racquet was born and with it power racquetball

Monday, June 13, 2011

Racquetball Tournament Honors Girl's Memory

After Jenny Straszacker lost her battle to lymphoma, her friends decided to remember her in a very appropriate way.

Mark Brimer, left, plays Cor Jesu racquetball coach Dan Whitley in the tournament to celebrate Jenny Straszacker.

Jenny Straszacker always had a smile for everyone. She was also a national champion racquetball player at Cor Jesu Academy and died last September from lymphoma.

Long-time friend of the Straszacker family, Thad Kemlage, wanted to celebrate Straszacker and keep her memory alive. And, what better way to do that than with a memorial racquetball tournament? He contacted Jenny’s coach at Cor Jesu, Dan Whitley, who is also a manager at Vetta Sports at its Old Tesson Road location. Whitley backed the idea all the way.

The tournament was held Saturday, and they’re hoping it will grow and become an annual event.

“She’s a timeless example for the girls on the team,” Whitely said. “She was one of the toughest and most focused persons I’ve ever known.”

They spread the word through social networking, beginning with Straszacker’s Facebook page. Through the Cor Jesu and De Smet racquetball and church communities, support for the tournament grew steadily. All the money raised heads to the Jenny Straszacker Scholarship Fund, which will be given to a graduating eighth-grade student from Saint Margaret Mary as she prepares to attend high school.

“We'll end up picking one or two students who best embody Jenny to win the scholarship starting next school year,” Kemlage said.

“Everybody wanted to do something, but what do you do?” Jenny’s father, Bob Straszacker, said. He said her friends wanted to keep her memory alive. This made sense because Jenny loved racquetball so much. “She was a friend to everyone. She was such a good competitor.”

“It’s a great tribute to use the money to give back to the community,” he said. “It’s the only way to make sense out of this situation.” All five Straszacker sisters went to Saint Margaret Mary and continued on to Cor Jesu while her brother went to De Smet.

All 10 courts at Vetta were busy from 10 a.m. until 8 p.m. Saturday. Seventy-five people signed up to participate, paying donations ranging from $25 to $35. There was also a silent auction and sponsors for each court. A kick-off event was held at Chevy’s on Tesson Ferry the previous evening.

Jenny’s mother, father and three of her siblings played in the tournament while two other sisters were on hand to help.

Whitley said Straszacker didn’t give in when diagnosed with cancer.

“She fought for us, so we’re going to play for her,” he said.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

O`Callaghan captures 19th at National Championships

Fermoy`s Noel O`Callaghan captured his 19th All Ireland Singles Championships at the National Singles Championships played in Kingscourt, Co Cavan. He defeated clubmate Sean Keane by 2 games to nil in the final. Aisling Hickey(Rossmore)pictured left won her first Womens Singles title when she defeated Donna Ryder (Newport) in the final by 2 games to nil. Aisling also won the Girls Under 18 Singles. In the other divisions, Mark Murphy (Kilkenny) won the B Singles, Conor Skehan (Touraneena) is the C Singles Champion, Mike Haverty (Castlebar) won the D Singles Championships while Steve Quinn (Rossmore) is the Mens Novice Singles Champion for 2011. The Women`s C Singles was won by Kate Ryan (Rossmore), D Singles Champion is Elaine Murphy (Templederry) while Aimee Quinn is the 2011 Novice Singles Champion. The junior championships also was held with Joe Dillon (Kingscourt) winning the Under 18 Singles.

More Irish News at

A weekend full of Racquetball and Racketball

Courbevoie Racquetball and Espana Racquetball will organize a weekend full of Racquetball and Racketball on 8th - 10th of July. There will be competitions on the racquetball court and the squash court on which Racketball, the squash version of racquetball, will be played. Racketball has been one of the fastest growing sports in England lately. It is also known as Softracket or Australian Racquetball.

Courbevoie Racquetball is a member organization of Racquetball France. For more information please check out

Hardison wins AERA event in Stuttgart

Timothy Hardison is the winner of the AERA Killshot Tournament that was held last weekend in Stuttgart, Germany. He defeated Peter Rakowski from Poland (but residing in Hamburg, Germany) with 15-6, 15-6. Hardison also succeeded in the seniors division by defeating James Johnson (USA) 15-4, 15-9. The 2011 Stuttgart Killshout Tournament was held in the Patch Fitness Center. Check out more information on this and other AERA events at

The next AERA event will be the 3rd AERA Invitational 2011 in Ramstein, Germany. The AERA Invitational is THE event on the AERA circuit. Last year's event boasted 40 participants...all of whom played at least 4 matches over the course of the weekend! It was really an exhausting event....but there was never a dull moment. None the less, this year's event is expected to be much the same! Registration is open so do not wait to the last minute to register! Check out for more.

Mike Green has accumulated 14 Canadian racquetball titles

He remembers the first championship rather vividly. It was 2002 in Montreal. Doubles. Beat one of his best friends for the title.

The past four are right on the tip of his tongue, too. Then again, they were won last year and last weekend — singles and doubles, both — so dredging up the details of those moments isn’t exactly taxing his memory.

But you want details of the other nine? You’d get a quicker response if you asked him to name the capital cities of Palau, Dijbouti and Liechtenstein. Just listen.

Where’d he win Title No. 2 and who’d he beat to get it?

“I can’t remember,” Mike Green says after a long pause filled with more than a few umms and aahhs.

OK, how about No. 3?

“I can’t remember,” he says sheepishly after staring at the floor for a while. “I really can’t remember.”

Numbers 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10?

“What year are we in?” he offers meekly, before pausing again, thinking hard and finally admitting defeat.

For the record, Green isn’t suffering from clinical memory loss, early onset Alzheimer’s or post-concussion syndrome. It’s just that when you’ve won 14 Canadian racquetball championships — seven singles and seven doubles — and have become one of the most-successful athletes in the sport, the big moments start to blend together.

He doesn’t even have trophies or medals to fall back on for memory refreshment. Most of the time, he didn’t get a keepsake for his victories. The few times he did, he stuffed them in a drawer and really isn’t sure where they are now.

So the wildly successful middle section of his career remains somewhat blurry, obscured in a haze of endless victories. Clearing up with last year’s wins and again at last weekend’s championships when he overwhelmed the second seed 15-4 and 15-6 in the singles final and teamed up with Kris Odegard to win the doubles 15-9 and 15-6.

Defending titles isn’t something new to him. From 2004 to ’07, he won four straight doubles crowns and from 2002 to ’04 he won three singles championships in a row.

What’s most remarkable about this is he’s still winning titles at a time he wasn’t even supposed to be in the game.

By his own acknowledgement, the Hamilton resident was done three years ago. Now nearly 38 — ancient in the racquetball world — he says the sport had essentially passed him by. His speed, power and mental edge were slipping and he’d started losing matches to guys he knows he should’ve crushed. After not coming up on the short end of the scoreboard in Canada for years, he began dropping matches on home soil. The intimidation factor he’d carried into the court was gone. Things reached the point where losing wasn’t even bothering him, which itself bothered him.

Green pulled back from playing 25 pro events to two, phasing himself out of the game and into his real estate work. It left him in a lousy spot. He could quit, knowing he’d regret that decision later. Or he could play on and lose more and more, knowing he’d regret that, too.

“Neither one was a good option,” Green says.

But a funny thing happened on the way to the old-folks’ home. He discovered a new fitness regimen built around hot yoga — “the fountain of youth,” he calls it — and started winning again. At least a decade older than most of his opponents, the magic returned with the passion in lockstep.

In January, he regained his No. 1 Canadian ranking. Then, last weekend in Antigonish, N.S., he defended both his national singles and doubles titles, lifting him to second all-time on the championship list. The wins qualified him for the Pan Am Games in October, which are his sport’s Olympics, since racquetball isn’t an Olympic sport.

Things are going so well now, he’s thinking of jumping back into the full-time racquetball loop next year. The long-term goal, though, is to stay on top long enough to play in the Pan Am Games in Hamilton in 2015. For inspiration, he’s found himself watching old guys in other sports. Mark Recchi is playing in the Stanley Cup final at 43. Jason Kidd is in the NBA final at 38.

“It’s all in your mind,” Green says. “I know I’m 37 but I don’t think I’m 37.”

Not when he’s winning, anyway.

One last thing. The capital cities of those countries are Ngerulmud, Dijbouti and Vaduz.

The details of those championships? Nah, he still can’t remember.

Air Force Sports program helps create Hurlburt champions

by Staff Sgt. William Banton and Ashley Wright
1st Special Operations Wing Public Affairs and Air Force Special Operations Command Public Affairs

6/7/2011 - HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. -- Many children have a dream of growing up and competing athletically at a national- or international-level.

A few Hurlburt Field Airmen reached this dream while serving their country by competing in volleyball, beach volleyball, racquetball and rugby through the Air Force Sports program.

The Air Force Sports program includes 15 different sports and is designed to allow active duty, National Guard, and reserve personnel the opportunity to participate in Air Force, Armed Forces, national and international sports events.

Senior Airman Thomas Read, 1st Special Operations Dental Squadron dental assistant, competed in volleyball at the 2011 Armed Forces Championship, an inter-service competition between all branches of the military, and was selected to compete internationally with the U.S. Armed Forces Conseil International du Sport Militaire, an international military sports council that organizes various sporting events, for different military nation teams.

"We all know how fortunate we are to be able to be let go from our jobs to play (volleyball), so we take advantage of every moment by competing to the best of our abilities," Airman Read said.

Capt. Joe Gross, 720th Special Tactics Group combat controller, will be competing in the beach volleyball competition at the 5th Annual World Military Games in Brazil this July. His skills with the volleyball during the Armed Forces Tournament proved to be beneficial and opened a door to a great opportunity.

"I'm excited to be in the world games," Captain Gross said. "To me, it is just an incredible challenge."

One Air Commando is no stranger to international competition. In fact he is in his third decade of playing racquetball for various Air Force and national teams.

"This is my sixth year on the team, and it is always an honor to represent the armed services and the Air Force," said Master Sgt. Shaun Stone, Air Force Special Operations Command remotely piloted aircraft sensor operator.

The Air Force Sports program allowed Sergeant Stone, Senior Master Sgt. Ian Chin, 1st Special Operations Communications Squadron production superintendent, and Tech. Sgt Julio Estrada, 1st Special Operations Maintenance Operations Squadron maintenance qualification training program instructor supervisor, to compete at the Air Force's 2011 USA Racquetball's National Singles Championship, May 25 - 29.

Capt. Ryan Dombrock, 10th Combat Weather Squadron special operations weather team officer in charge, will be representing the Air Force in the 2011 Armed Forces Rugby Championship, Nov. 1 -7. In May, Captain Dombrock participated in a tournament against the Royal Australian Air Force, Royal New Zealand Air Force and Royal Malaysian Air Force rugby teams in Brisbane, Australia.

"I was so excited to be able to go overseas and compete at that high level of rugby," said Captain Dombrock.

Airmen interested in following these athletes' footsteps should begin by submitting AF Form 303, a request for U.S. Air Force specialized sports training, to your chain of command or base athletic director by each respective sports submission date. From there the form will be forwarded to the Headquarters Air Force Service Agency for processing prior to each team's selection process and tryouts.

For more information on the Air Force sports program please contact the Aderholt Fitness Center at 884-6884.

The Racquetball U Camp July 9-10th‏

Mitch Williams & Shane Vanderson Racquetball U!!

Date: July 9th – 10st 9am-4pm (45 min Lunch Break)

Location: Sarasota Bath and Racquet Club 

2170 Robinhood Street. Sarasota, FL 34231

Cost: $375.00

Sign up at (All ages-tournament level racquetball players, no beginners)

***Limited to the First 16 People (to keep the Teacher/Student Ratio Low)

· Two Full Days of racquetball instruction

· Racquetball U notebook for reviewing materials and taking notes, two instructional DVD’s, and other giveaways.

· Training preparation for tournaments

· Stroke mechanics and shot selection (Doubles too!)

· Personalized DVD with video analysis and voice-overs, to refer back to after the camp

· Drills to help Footwork and other mechanics

· Basic to Advanced strategies to help you improve quickly

· Mental Tips and Advice

· Racquetball specific training - Done by a Personal Trainer or Shane and Mitch

Mitch Williams

· Former US singles Champion

· Current World Doubles Champion

· USA Team Member

· Former 6th ranked Professional Player

· Former Elite Camp Instructor

Shane Vanderson

· Former Intercollegiate Champion (2003)

· Former World Doubles Champion (2004)

· USA Team Member

· Former 4th Ranked Professional

· Former Elite Camp Instructor

Time to sign up for the BIGGEST party in racquetball!!!!!‏

2011 WOR RACQUETBALL WAREHOUSE Outdoor Racquetball World Championships, presented by Ektelon

July 7th thru 10th
Marina Park and Edison Park
Huntington Beach, CA


This is the 38th Annual and longest running outdoor championship tournament, and promises to be even bigger than ever this year.

Please sign up early!

Moderate to intense exercise cuts risk of 'silent stroke' 40 percent

Keeping the aging brain healthy might be as simple as taking a hike, playing racquetball, playing tennis, swimming, or engaging in other moderate to intense exercise activities. Research show older adults can cut the chances of developing brain lesions, also known as ‘silent stroke’ or brain infarcts, by 40 percent, compared to those who don’t exercise at all or exercise lightly.

Older adults who exercise moderately have healthier brains
Study author Joshua Z. Willey, MD, MS, of Columbia University in New York and a member of the American Academy of Neurology explains the finding that ‘silent stroke’ can be prevented with moderate to intense exercise is important for helping older adults avoid falls, memory problems, dementia and impaired mobility that can result from small brain lesions.

"Encouraging older people to take part in moderate to intense exercise may be an important strategy for keeping their brains healthy." Silent stroke that causes brain lesions is a risk factor that can also result in major stroke..

In their study, researchers found older adults who engaged in exercise activities like hiking, tennis, swimming, biking, jogging or racquetball were 40 percent less like to develop brain lesions indicative of lack of blood flow to the brain (infarct), compared to their counterparts who engaged in either no or light exercise.

Even though light exercise wasn’t shown to prevent silent stroke, the study authors say the finding should not discourage older adults from doing light exercise that also has beneficial effects.

In the study that included 1,238 participants who never had a stroke, and followed for 6 years, 43 percent reported via initial questionnaire that they didn’t exercise. Thirty-six percent said they engaged in light exercise activities such as golfing, dancing, walking and bowling.

Past studies show exercise can reduce the risk of stroke, but the current study shows small brain lesions or infarcts that can occur with aging could also be prevented with at least moderate exercise.

Questionnaires were submitted at the start of the study. At approximately age 70, six years later, MRI scans were taken of the brain.

Participants who engaged in regular moderate to intense exercise were less likely to have brain infarct, even for older adults who smoked, had high blood pressure or high cholesterol.

The authors also found individuals with Medicaid or no health insurance were more likely to have 'silent stroke', even if they did exercise moderately. The researchers suspect emotional difficulties related to no health insurance negated the beneficial effects of exercise.

The study shows moderate to intense exercise for older adults could be an effective way to preserve brain function with aging and prevent ‘silent’ and major stroke. In the study, 16 percent of the participants had small areas of brain infarct.

American Academy of Neurology

USA Racquetball Board Elections‏


USA Racquetball is excited about the 2011 Board of Directors Election.

We are proud to announce this year's election will be held solely electronically.

Electronic voting is a means of moving forward in an effort to offer our members the ease of voting directly from their computers and at their convenience.


No service charges will be incurred.


Any currently licensed member in good standing, over the age of 18, is eligible to vote.

If your license has expired or if you are new to racquetball and want to join USA Racquetball, click on the 'enter now' icon and register as a first time participant.


(Candidates are listed in alphabetical order and are identified as USAR Board Slate Approved or Petitioners)

Members may vote for 1, 2 or 3 candidates of their choice to fulfill the 3 upcoming vacancies

To Vote click the following link:

Thank you for supporting USA Racquetball

Racquetball class at NVC begins Monday

There will be racquetball this summer at Napa Valley College. A new fee-based community class will be offered Mondays and Wednesdays from 6 to 8:30 p.m. starting June 13.

Taught by Napa Valley College instructor and AmPro teaching pro Richard Bruns, the Intermediate/Advanced racquetball class is designed for players who have successfully completed at least one collegiate level course, or who have been playing at a club or other venue for a year or more.

Instruction will parallel that of the credit PHYE 118 class at Napa Valley College, although as a community class, grades are not applied. Topics covered will be USRA racquetball rules of play, understanding all aspects of safety while playing the game, appropriate rules for recreation-level racquetball, self-refereeing, stroke analyses and correction, and her related topics. Players interested in learning racquetball should consult the Fall NVC Credit schedule online.

Intermediate and advanced players new to the instructor will be evaluated on skills and understanding of the rules, playing strategy and safety procedures and deficits corrected.

Participants must provide their own equipment which includes a current style racquet equipped with a wrist safety tether; approved racquetball lensed eye-guards (Bruns suggests avoiding ones that actually look like goggles; glasses styling preferred); court shoes that do not make marks on the floor (no running shoes); and P.E. clothing. Balls will be provided.

Interested players should visit, click Academics, then Community Education, then go to pages 66 and 67 of the Community Education schedule for sign-up options. The class is not listed in the online schedule.

The section number is ZCED-2565-62314. The cost for the seven-week, 35-hour class is $143 ($4 per hour). Space is limited and it is first-come-first-in until the class is full.

For more information, contact Bruns at or 253-3119.

Racquetball: 2011 Georgia State Games‏

This 2011 Georgia State Games racquetball event is sanctioned by USA Racquetball & the Georgia Racquetball Players Association.

***** Entries limited - please enter early*****
This event is open to out of state players!

Dates: Friday July 8th thru Sunday July 10th. Play begins Friday at 5PM.

Place: Recreation ATL, 754 Beaver Ruin Road, Lilburn, GA 30047

Entries: Entries limited to online entry only. Participants limited to 2 events only.
Entry deadline Sunday July 3rd at 7PM EST.
***** Visit for online entry ******

Entry Fees: Singles & Doubles events - $44 first event, $20 second event
**Out of state residents add $5.00 to the entry fee.

Divisions: Men's & Women's Singles and Doubles - Open, Elite, A, B, C, D, & Age Groups
Juniors 12 & under, 16 & under.

Membership: This is a USA Racquetball (USAR) & Georgia Racquetball Players Association (GRPA) sanctioned event. All participants MUST be current USA Racquetball members PRIOR to the tournament. Memberships are available online at

Rules: USAR Official Rules of Racquetball shall apply.

Referees: All match winners must referee at least one match. Referees will be paid $5 for each event after the first one.

Official Ball: Ektelon Premium Select Blue

Awards: Georgia Games commemorative T-shirt to all participants.
Medals to all Georgia residents for 1st, 2nd, & 3rd place.

For more information, please visit the Georgia State Games website at and the tournament website at

Please visit & join GRPA on Facebook by searching for Georgia Racquetball.

If you have questions about this event, please contact

P.A. resident entranced by racquetball after introduction to sport

--PRINCE ALBERT-- Konya Sriram peered intently into the racquetball court at California Fitness having never picked up a racquet, and only two years on, tells national-winning tales.

Lorne Renouf is Sriram's coach and doubles partner and remembers him approaching the court and stopping, actively watching with unwavering concentration.

"He would watch for five minutes at a time," Renouf said. "I saw him watching and approached."

No wheedling was required as Sriram pounced on the opportunity to learn the game.

"I started from scratch," said the D-division national winner. "It was a lot of hard work, I played five times a week."

Sriram was born in India and moved to Prince Albert after a six-year stint in South Africa. Very focused in his approach to the game, Sriram fell in love from the outset.

"It's a lovely game, very interesting," the 48-year-old said. "I cannot figure out how the time passes. "Sprinting and stopping, sprinting and stopping; very challenging for the heart."

His coach, Renouf has a knack for picking talent and has played racquetball since moving to Prince Albert from Newfoundland 10 years ago. But never has he seen a forehand with such ferocity.

"It's amazing to see," said the 49-year-old coach. "Nobody in his class can hit the ball that hard."

Breezing by people like a Ferrari on the Autobahn, Sriram never turns down a match, showing lust for his newly found obsession.

Rallies in racquetball are usually quick and extremely intense. Winners are decided by best-of-three matches, of which 15 points is the mark for the first two games followed by a tiebreaker game up to 11.

"It's amazing to see," said the 49-year-old coach. "Nobody in his class can hit the ball that hard." - Lorne Renouf
The victor, like in most racquet sports, must win by two.

Racquetball works on a points system and because Sriram has only played for two years, accumulating enough points to progress to a higher division proved difficult. He entered Nationals playing at an entry level.

Though the 48-year-old said winning the tournament was gratifying, he acknowledged, "it was not challenging enough."

Due to his victorious week in Antigonish, N.S., Sriram will no longer play inferior opponents, having been promoted one division.

Renouf and Sriram won their consolation final in doubles over the week-long tournament, which was held on May 20-29.

Squash and racquetball are often compared: A squash ball is softer, slower and smaller and squash racquets are longer and narrower; a racquetball court is longer but marginally less wide; Other various subtle differences exist.

Prince Albert used to host competitions infrequently, but now has only one court, excluding it from contention.

Racquetball players in Prince Albert play from September to May, travelling across Saskatchewan and Alberta in search of competition.