Styles Make Fights; Pro Doubles At The Open
Styles make fights. That's a boxing term but totally applies to racquetball matches. And in Pro Doubles, that is doubly true.
The inaugural Pro Doubles division at the UnitedHealthcare US Open was added to inject some new energy and viability to this event, and that's exactly what it did. Typically, professional racquetball has been an individual sport over the past decades. That has led to spectators having plenty of time to see what these players are like on the court. Their personalities. There has been plenty of character development based on single player to player matches.
Admittedly, it was interesting to see players team up creating dynamics that were at sometimes expected and sometimes unexpected and at first strange. For instance, I completely expected Rocky Carson and Alvaro Beltran to have an easy-going, fun attitude during play. Smiles and a fun interaction with each other, the crowd and their opponents... (depending on who they were playing). You sort of new, before the matches even got started what to expect. Carson and Beltran, who where being called "Rock and Roll" from people in the crowd, where in their element when they were on the court with Daniel De La Rosa and Jose Rojas. That match had all 4 players smiling and playing things up for the crowd. It was fun to watch and the fans bought in.
In contrast, Kane Waselenchuk teaming up with Ben Croft delivered some surprises. Expectations were they would be all business together and they were. Though they were surprisingly tight, or chummy for lack of a better word. And that only seemed to intensify the pressure these two could apply to opponents and the ref Charlie Pratt. You could feel it. And as styles make matches, teams they played seemed subdued. Almost hushing the crowd. Except in the final. The crowd went crazy. Two totally opposite team personalities squaring off with back the back and forth. Attitude... and you could tell these guys did not want to loss to the other. Racquetball fans, if you don't know who won... come back to earth.
Doubles did change things up with the main court. The LPRT didn't get show court time until their semifinal rounds. There were interesting match ups on their side too, but it didn't produce the emotional craziness as seen on the men's side.
Player match ups also seemd to come with coaches thrown into the mix for both the key men and women teams.
Now, on a personal note, I'm an Outdoor guy by origin. Outdoor racquetball is all about doubles. That's the main draw for playing. Singles is mostly a formal affair at 3 Wall events. Though, of late, the singles door has been creeping open here on the East Coast. I toss this in there because, from my end, I was feeling like I was seeing something new. I have to say, when it comes to emotionally watching racquetball, it's still ALL about styles. This year, those styles where doubled up.