129 players showed up on March 30th to participate in the 2012 Washington State Singles racquetball tournament. This year the Washington State Singles was sponsored by Racquetball Warehouse, Gearbox, Wilson Racquetball, The Pro Sports Club, Imagine DS, and Awards by Wilson.
As you would expect at the Washington State Singles, there was serious competition at all levels, and several barn-burner matches that had huge crowds of people watching.
You can’t talk about great matches without including at least one from the Junior divisions. Jacob Allen and Micah Miller played a very long consolation final in the Boy’s 12 and under division. It was a tough game, and while Jacob continued to hit some great shots, Micah’s major skill is getting to the ball and getting it back to the front wall. I particularly remember a rally where Jacob hit a low fast backhand cross-court to the forehand side of the court that Micah retrieved by dashing behind Jacob, and then Jacob returned it again to the opposite side of the court only to have Micah get to it again. This went on for quite a while before the ball was finally put away by a great shot by Jacob. These players went through three referees who had to go and play their own matches before they finally finished with Jacob winning 15-13, 10-15, and 11-7.
I watched a consolation final match between Mourad Ettaki and Jose Ojeda on Sunday where neither player was willing to give ground on any of the points during the match, and it seemed like there were more side outs than points. Watching from the tournament desk as this match stretched on past the hour mark, I assumed the scores were tied or within a couple of points of each other. When they players finally came out of the court after the final point was scored in the tiebreaker, I discovered the final scores were 15-8, 8-15, and 11-8. It just goes to show that you can’t judge the intensity of the match based on the final scores.
Then there was the Women’s A final between Angie Doyle and Leslee Underhill. Leslee’s game has come up a ton this year, and Angie is definitely not an easy opponent. Angie is a diver, never hesitates going after the ball, and manages to get to quite a few that most people would consider down. Angie took game one, and then Leslee rallied and came back to win game two and game three. The final scores were 8-15, 15-10, and 11-6.
Another great match that I heard talked about was the match between Cheyenne Hayes and Grace Hughes to determine who went on to the Women’s Open final. As the match stretched on into the tiebreaker the crowd got quiet around point 4 and the players seemed to be stuck on the point. Will Hayes, Cheyennes husband, started yelling encouragement to Cheyenne and then the next point was scored. The ladies battled it out fiercely until the game was all tied up at 10-10 and Cheyenne managed to force Grace into a bad spot and score the final point of the match. The scores ended up being 15-12, 5-15, and 11-10.
The Men’s Open final was between Jeff Stark and Neale Jentsch. Jeff is a dominant player in Washington State and is always challenging our local Open players to step up and bring their game to the next level. Neale is also one of Washington State’s top players and was the #2 seed at this tournament, so it comes as no surprise to see the two of them meet in the final of this tournament. Jeff Stark came out fast and strong and took game 1 with a score of 15-6. Between games Neale rethought his strategy a little and stepped up his game, but it wasn’t enough. Jeff Stark took game two as well with a score of 15-13 to be crowned Washington State’s Men’s Singles Champion.