The XXVIII Pan American Championship begin concluded this weekend will see women from Mexico, Columbia, Argentina and Ecuador in the Women's Singles Finals as a trend continues. Top tier racquetball, where the women are concerned, is fast becoming saturated with international players. Currently, it's their territory. Paola Longoria of course has dominated the sport for well over two years and continues to do so, yet the field directly behind her continues to fill with players form outside of the United States. U.S. players are finding it more and more difficult to break into the latest rounds during international competition. Though they are still maintaining a good presence inside the top 10 on the Ladies Professional Racquetball Tour, that is a matter of access to the tour.
If it became an easier financial proposition for more players outside of the U.S., that landscape would be drastically different. The LPRT should really start to build on the possibilities that come along with international exposure for these players could provide the tour with significant support for growth. Specifically identifying which key marketers would be interested in these players, the LPRT could then start thinking critically about providing concrete and deliberate return on investment for these sponsors. It wouldn't be a hard thing to do or overly expensive for that matter. It's well within reach right now. Right now. And it could make a world of difference for the tour.
For the men, well there are definitely some players that could make serious waves within the International Racquetball Tour immediately if only they could access the tour regularly. For example, two Bolivian players, Carlos Keller and Conrado Moscoso beat Mexicans Alvaro Beltran and Daniel De La Rosa in quarterfinal singles play. (Though they will meet two Americans in the semifinals, Brendenbeck and Diaz. There could be an all Bolivian or all American final.) Beltran and De La Rosa are ranked #3 and #4 respectively on the International Racquetball Tour. Again, it's about figuring out how some of these players can be identified and arrangements put in place to capitalize on interests outside of the U.S. that would be interested in using the guys for their marketing efforts. It's right there. The World Racquetball Tour has a system in place that facilitates players from other countries showing up on their tour regularly, but that is a different model in theory than specifically tying sponsors to individual players and doing the work of specifically providing return directly to those sponsors. It could facilitate more events played outside of U.S. soil.
Things could possibly be very interesting for professional racquetball this next season, or, we could just all keep following along in the toil.
You can follow the information flow and breakdowns of what is happening at the Pan American Championships by checking in with The Racquetball Blog.
And you can view live streaming and quickly archived match play for free on the IRF Channel on the IRT Network.