NMRA Descends on LSU in Baton Rouge, Louisiana

by Cindy Tilbury, NMRA President

What a week! As a native Minnesotan and more recent Californian resident, I had no idea of the fun times that Louisiana folks have all the time. The New Orleans/Baton Rouge crew definitely tried to show us, and of course, invited us to come back for Mardi Gras 2025. This past weekend (March 15-17, 2024), we just happened to choose St. Patrick’s Day Parade weekend—also LSU’s spring break. It seems Baton Rouge has town celebrations and parades during many weekends so it might not have been as lucky as we felt.

We didn’t see many students during this LSU spring break, but we did have a few ask about racquetball and what the big deal was with our 40+ group. That was a win for us—we got a few people interested in the sport, including the managers at Matherne’s Grocery Store who handled all of our food needs during the week. Of course we had jambalaya, gumbo, boudin balls, catfish, sweet tea and much more.

NMRA had never been to Baton Rouge before, but our players were eager to see some sights. sponsored our event and we are incredibly grateful for that. Their website had great recommendations for fun and food, but I don’t think our players found any restaurants that were not fabulous. This is definitely the city for seafood.

The on-court action was fast and furious too. With 25 first-time NMRA players getting familiar with the round-robin format, we had a lot of tired and sore muscles by Sunday night. Former pro Tom Fuhrmann joined us for the first time and took the 50 title, as well as the overall 45-to-55 singles round robin. Louisiana resident Kip Atwell dominated the 55s and Ray Flowers was not far behind Fuhrmann in the 50s. Very exciting matches to watch!

Doubles highlights included the very last three matches. A hardy group stayed until the bitter end, because they wanted to see the three-way tie for First-through-Third place broken in Men’s Doubles 60s. The two teams playing were John Winings/Patrick Gibson (Idaho/Texas) against Lars Cole/Glenn Martineau (Michigan/Texas. Watching to see which medal they ended up with were Eric Robinson/Mike Limsky (Maryland). It appeared it would be a two-game win for Winings/Gibson, but Cole/Martineau came back to win Game 2. Not enough, though—they needed 2 more points to take second place away from Robinson/Limsky, who had not been watching the points closely and were surprised when the medals were announced.

Men’s Doubles 65 places were more straightforward—the only division with a pool and playoff. The final was between last-minute fill-in John Vohland/James Lilley (Colorado/Florida) against Glenn Martineau/Tyrone Gilmore (Texas). Martineau/Gilmore took the gold.

The 10 ladies in the event included two Louisianans, Esmeralda Graham and Stacey Deshotels (Shockey) who were quite the superstars. They really added to the eight-team Mixed Doubles division. The Mixed 60 team of Marni and John Winings (Idaho) were 8-point winners over Cindy Tilbury and John Wright (California/Indiana), but more golds were awarded in the other age divisions.

Check out all of the results here.

LSU! The entire campus and especially the URec facility is so beautiful, with 9 great racquetball courts. Thanks to Brad Wilson and his whole staff for enabling the use of the courts and classroom. Our banquet was at the Lod Cook Hotel across the parking lot from the student rec building. It was a great banquet with fantastic food (is there any food in Louisiana that is not fantastic?). Bruce Adams was the co-director for this event, and he handles the AV needs and creates the presentations for the banquets. Our dinnertime fundraiser benefitted Lubbock Junior Racquetball (Ed and Sharan Mooney). Thank you to all of the donors to that effort, and to the bottom line of the event. We had Joe Williams shuttling our players and handling ALL of the lunches and evening food. It’s a big job and we appreciate all of his help. Tournament staff included Marni Winings, Pat Gibson, Bruce Adams, Cindy Tilbury, and more, plus many more volunteers who are amazing. Pro Penn balls are provided to us by Penn Racquetball and Fran Davis. The green balls were fast on the concrete walls, making the competition that much more exciting.

One of the highlights for about 20 of us happened after the matches were over. On Al Schof’s recommendation, we had dinner and much more at Houma’s House in Darrow—a former plantation with a gorgeous Greek Revival mansion, but there is so much more. Right on the Mississippi River, it is a huge restaurant, museum, Revolutionary War building turtle bar, destination for river cruise boats, wedding and concert venue, hotel. Perhaps the highlight is a monster oak tree, which was mature when the mansion was built. Its limbs spread out so far, they touch the ground—you won’t find that in a snowy-climate state where the branches break under the weight. You MUST put this on your travel bucket list—perhaps Christmastime.

NMRA Descends on LSU in Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Photo by: Bruce Adams

The next National Masters Racquetball Association event will be July 25-28 in Chicago. A great twist to our normal event is that we will combine with the IRF to host their 40th World Seniors Racquetball Championships. Details are still being ironed out, but Gary Mazaroff and Cindy Tilbury will make those available on R2Sports soon. You can sign up today. Please contact Gary or Cindy with questions. Singles, doubles and mixed are available to you at the Glass Court in Lombard, Illinois, and at least one other club. Host hotel will be the Embassy Suites Oak Park. See you in July in Chicago!

NMRA Descends on LSU in Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Photo by: Bruce Adams
NMRA Descends on LSU in Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Photo by: Bruce Adams

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