At this time of year, there is a lot happening in a variety of places. For me, it's all about outdoor, though I know things are swirling in other places. Indoor wise, the Worlds finished up last week, USA Racquetball's Junior Olympics is going on in Denver, and the Gearbox bus is rolling in Florida for the Suncoast Open.
It's not the WRT running that shootout in Florida, but the event is USAR sanctioned and features some interesting match ups. I caught in social that Jansen Allen who is ranked #8 on the IRT, lost early to Mexico's Erik Sandoval, who is highly ranked on the WRT. (I can't find WRT rankings...which isn't good for a tour.) If you read the blog, you know how I feel about the younger guys and tours. Although I know Sandoval and have seen how strong he is for myself, I'd expect things to go a bit differently if Allen was actively competing with closer peers as much as Erick. Though you could argue Jansen's access to the worlds best players should offset that. I'll return to these thoughts soon I imagine.
As outdoor is in full swing, the World Outdoor Racquetball Championships is happening in about 2 weeks. A few years ago, this event's name was changed from "Outdoor Nationals". I don't quite remember the argument for this. I think it had to do with WOR growing outside of California. The trend at the time was that this event was becoming the marquee event for WOR.
Though this year, which is the second year I'm choosing not to go, looks from here to be returning to being mostly a California thing as far as participation. The WOR Facebook page posted a question asking what happened to Team Florida in regard to this event. (I couldn't find the post this morning.) Florida is a huge WOR market and has been mostly responsible for sparking growth and interest nationally for WOR. Their players have been the most enthusiastic in terms of actively participating in events outside their state. It's been more of a concerted effort as far as player groups is concerned, where as California has very few players who will go out of their comfort zones to play WOR events. (New York is in somewhat the same boat.) Outside of Vegas 3 Wall ball (where the courts are built to Marina Park specs), California players, I will say, traditionally hardly ever fly out for WOR... however, they will drive to events with their court types.
Looking at the R2 site, registered participants is only at 68 right now, as I'm writing this. I remember the last time I went, you could just look at this page and get excited by the numbers and all the key names. But now, the top locals don't even bother to register, or may just be waiting around to see who they will team up with. Not the direction the WOR needs to be going for this event.
What are the issues? I'm sure it will still be a vibrant at the actual event. But from here, it's just Cali's biggest event. I may catch it on the run on the IRT Network.
Speaking of which...
I know. They are the same thing. But in how I've been relating to racquetball, I've become accustomed to referring to it as the IRT Network. Recently they announced the following.
"EnetLive.tv now has reached an agreement in multi-year deals with all professional and major associations to broadcast live racquetball! USA Racquetball, International Racquetball Tour, Ladies Professional Racquetball, International Racquetball Federation, US OPEN Racquetball Championships, Ektelon TV, Rollout TV, and more! Stay tuned for an exciting season to come!"
It caused me to take another look around all Enetlive's offerings. It's an interesting mix of content that runs a broad gamut. And it's all localized and feels random to me looking from the outside. Except when I click on the IRT Network Banner, which takes me to all the organizations and other names I instantly recognize. (Mentioned above.)
John Scott, who sees himself a visionary for our sport, carries the idea of getting groups looking to one place for content they care about. And even though, the other Entetlive content outside of racquetball isn't relevant to me, it could eventually be. For instance, the American Platform Tennis Association channel kept me engaged a bit because I've played it for a few years when I lived in Vermont. I still play paddle tennis regularly, (actually heading out to play after I finish this up...). So, I instantly imagined that I could be watching players from California and Florida, as well as maybe Padel, which is large in Spain. (I've been invited to check out a set up in California next month, where there is talk about an initial start to making the game available here in the states more readily. I'll have to wait since I've elected to not do WOR chips this year.)
Practically, I split the time I spend watching racquetball and squash online. I tend to watch more squash because it's more is available, when you consider the world's best play. SquashTV is a more dedicated site than Enetlive and is sometimes easier to get my watching when I'm at my laptop, but I don't have to download updated Adobe Flash to watch on my phone with Enetlive... which for now, makes the friction worth more to me when I'm trying to watch on the go, which is almost always when it's about watching live. SquashTV's operating model is more closely engrained in the PSA Tour than the IRT's and follows it around all over the world. Apples and oranges in some cases, but not as far as my engagement. Right now, I'll only watch racquetball live. Because I have deep interest in all the racquetball groups in which Enetlive has reached agreements. As long as the individual organizations keep things interesting to me, I'll watch. That's more of "the question" in my mind now. But I know where I can catch it.
Summer is just getting started and I don't yet know how I feel about it outside of just staying in shape. I'll be looking closely at the upcoming season...which will start early for some, beginning with the LPRT.