With both the International Racquetball Tour and the Ladies Professional Racquetball Tour having two major events leading into this year's United Healthcare United States Racquetball Championships, the stack seems to be set for Racquetball's Premier Grand Slam.
There are of course a lot of story lines but in brief, these come out biggest from this view.
The IRT looks pretty much the same going in as it did last year with some interesting side stories with younger players making moves for ranking positions. Keeping in mind anything can happen and the US Open can lead to momentum for the rest of the season, but these two situations are up front after the first two pro stops. Kane Wasalenchuk going for his 10th US Open Championship and what I see as a Ben Croft Rojas brothers rivalry.
Croft seems to be trading wins and loses with the Rojai. The brothers Jose and Markie are both younger than Croft but I believe there are a lot of feelings tied up anytime Ben steps on the court with them. I expect them to be professional all around, of course, but you can almost sense the energy levels bouncing between players. Right now, this is the most interesting aspect to how the rankings will end up. (I compared Jose and Ben in the past, after their first T1 wins. Not quite sure how Markie will compare and seperate his personality yet.)
As far as Kane goes, the only question in my mind is what will he chose for commemoration apparel . He had the cool FlexFit hats at chip #8 and the hoodies at chip #9.
The LPRT will be interesting to see mid ranks play because the Mexican and South American contingent is just so strong. Maria Jose Vargas seems to be securing her claim to the two spot and the only ones I see keeping her from it at The Open is Rhonda Rajsich and Veronica Sotomayor. For Rajsich, this year is a pivitol year in respects to this event career-wise. It will be tougher for her this year than the last two. And Vero will be tough, she has been producing big the last two years in Mini-Apple.
And there is Paola Longoria. She will be going for her 5th title, half as many as Kane. Though her cache she will be bringing in droves. ESPN Deportes will be following her around and I will be expecting theme music to be playing everywhere she goes. I'm just kidding of course, but it can play out to huge exposure played rightly. I know anything can happen, but this woman knows how to spend her energy.
Something else. Pro Doubles. It will be fast. And I expect it to be noisey. Let's see.