Eight players from Washington State made the trip to Tempe, Arizona to play on the great courts at the ASU Campus Recreation Center February 12-16, 2014. A total of 301 participants kept the courts busy each day with some inspiring racquetball performances. The match of the tournament for the Washington players was Jeff Stark and his partner Jackie Paraiso playing a jaw dropping match in the semi finals of Mixed Open Doubles. Their opponents were Nick Montalbano of NY and Women’s Pro Rhonda Rajsich. The match went tiebreaker, with Stark pulling out a great shot to win 11-10. Stark and Paraiso took silver, losing to Jansen Allen and Aimee Ruiz in the finals: 15-9, 15-8. Jeff took home two gold medals as well, winning the Men’s 35+ Open division with partner Keith Minor (winning 8 games in four matches). Stark and Minor also teamed up to win the Men’s 40+ Open division without losing a game as well. They dominated Jimmy Lowe and Tim Hanson in the finals. It is always a treat to see Jeff Stark play at his very best on the national stage.
Wanda Collins teamed up with Paul Julbes in Mixed 45+ Open for the second year, hoping to repeat their first place finish from 2013. They finished in second place, with three of their four matches going tiebreaker, including the loss that put them in position for silver. Wanda also took 1st place in the Women’s 60+ Open division with Partner Terry Rogers of Las Vegas.
Paul Julbes entered Men’s 45+ Open and Men’s Elite with Dave Croom. In 45’s, the pair won their first round in a tiebreaker, moving on to play the 1st Place seeded team of Doug Ganim and Tim Doyle. Julbes and Croom lost, and Ganim and Doyle went on to win the division. In Men’s Elite, Julbes & Croom lost a close one in a tiebreaker their first round to the team that finished second. There are no consolation matches at Nationals, so they were one and done.
Steve Kowalski and Richelle Kulju competed in Mixed A’s and Mixed 40A’s. Kowalski was battling a serious cold/flu bug, and the two played hard to win 3rd Place in the Mixed A’s, winning three matches along the way. The Mixed 40A’s were tough, and there was no hardware for the pair.
Ernie Lehman and Juanita Rockwell Names entered the Mixed Centurion B. They finished 5th that event. Juanita was paired up with Patrick Durbin of Texas by the Tournament Committee in Mixed A’s. They had some tough matches and did not medal in that event.
Congratulations to all of the Washington players who attended and competed. The weather was warm and sunny in Arizona and when they weren’t on the courts the Washingtonians enjoyed the 40 degree bump in the weather and remembered what a warm sun feels like.