The World Racquetball Tour touched down in Stockton, California this weekend. For many, it was an anticipated tour drop. The Port City "Shootout", run by John Ellis was a local affair that was meant to feature the WRT's first US event of the season. Most of the players that played in the pro draw made the stop with the help of the Reaching Your Dream Foundation, which was formed to make professional racquetball experiences more accessible to promising young players. The whole set up facilitated a lot of underline story lines between young players who have been regulars on the growing WRT and young International Racquetball Tour players who are based out of Stockton. Though a few of the top Mexican players who rank highly on the WRT didn't make the trip, there was still plenty of rivalry set ups. I'll note that top 8 IRT players are prohibited from playing professionally outside of the tour. And it may have been really interesting if a significant number of players ranked under 5 on the IRT (or even 3) would have shown up, along with the some notable names regularly playing the WRT. With this said, the 209 proved that their training system works as things stand in today's racquetball. You can get specific breakdowns from The Racquetball Blog.
RYDF also made it possible to have Cliff Swain show up this weekend and lend to some of the professional growth the foundation wants to facilitate. Part of that allowed an opportunity for Cliff to get some court time with select advanced level players Jose Rojas, Canadian Coby Iwassa and Daniel Rojas. The court time with Jose Rojas is interesting because Rojas, who is a product of the 209 recognizes that it may be in his best interest to take in some of the technical assistance offered by Swain. Currently ranked #4 on the IRT, he already has been a fixture over the past few years on top of that list. He seems completely dedicated to preparing for play this season on the IRT and it shows. Stockton based personal trainer Jesse Serna has both Jose and his younger brother Markos looking exceptionally fit.
A main theme of the weekend has been to look at professional development on numerous levels, so, in terms of all the sport culture stuff, things are still pretty much a work in progress, if there is work being done by the players themselves at all. I'm talking about players growing as professionals, doing their part to grow racquetball, not just show up to play.
It's an interesting starting weekend when I look at the landscape of professional opportunity for professional racquetball. The WRT is coming off of some potentially substantial growth happening in Mexico and is just beginning of it's run through the US. The IRT, with it's 17 Tier 1 stops on the schedule this season, could promise some interesting developments over the course of the season.
Ok Growth. Let's see you.
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