2021 Adult Team Championships Conclude
by Renée Isherwood
Adult Team Qualifier Event Determines 2021-22 US National Team
July 14-18, 2021
Wellmark YMCA, Des Moines, Iowa
The 2021 USA Racquetball National Junior Championships and Adult Team Qualifying, Presented by Penn, wrapped up in Des Moines on Sunday the 18th. It was great to see everyone, hear the familiar sound of balls against front walls, and watch some amazing racquetball! More than sixty matches were streamed on Facebook over the five days of the event.
Before the first serve of the first match, the news came that defending National Doubles Champion Sudsy Monchik had to withdraw from the competition. His partner, Alejandro Landa, chose not to find a substitute and withdrew from the Doubles division as well, leading to the reseeding of the draw. Then it became the 2019 Doubles Champions Charlie Pratt (OR) and Rocky Carson (CA) vs. John Goth (MN) and Blake Hansen (IA) in one semifinal match, with Charlie and Rocky winning, 15-5, 15-7.
In the other half of the bracket, brothers Jake Bredenbeck (MN) and Sam Bredenbeck (OR) battled Maurice Miller (GA) and Troy Warigon (GA), with the Bredenbecks prevailing, 15-6, 7-15, 11-8. Their win advanced them to the final against Rocky Carson and Charlie Pratt.
The brothers took the first game 15-12, but Carson and Pratt came back to win the second, 15-5. In the tiebreaker Carson and Pratt had a 10-0 lead when Jake went into the zone, scoring on behind the back shots and upping the score with eight unanswered points. Carson ultimately ended the match on a backhand reverse pinch to secure the Doubles title.
It was a close semifinals match between the Doubles teams of Michelle De La Rosa (AZ) and Sheryl Lotts (OH) vs. Hollie Scott (WA) and Kelani Lawrence (VA), with De La Rosa and Lotts winning 15-14, 12-15, 11-9. In the other semifinal, Rhonda Rajsich (AZ) and Erika Manilla (CO) advanced to the finals with a win over Lexi York (OR) and Linda Tyler (TX), 15-6, 15-8.
On to the finals, where Manilla had several jam wrap serves which the duo was able to capitalize on. While De La Rosa had some great gets, they ultimately became setups that Rajsich put away with kill shots. Rajsich and Manilla took the match in two games, 15-8, 15-14, giving Manilla back-to-back Doubles titles and Rajsich her third.
Rajsich defeated Kelani Lawrence 15-7, 15-14 to earn her twelfth National Singles title. Of the oldest female competitor at the championship, commentator Dean Baer declared, “Rajsich has found the fountain of youth!” After the match, Rajsich told USA Racquetball Executive Director Mike Wedel, “The pandemic actually helped me train longer and harder with more time to recover.”
In Men’s Singles, Rocky Carson won his eighth National Singles title, defeating Alejandro Landa in two games. Carson played aggressively throughout the match. After winning the first game 15-12, he found himself behind 13-6 in the second but managed to overtake Landa, winning 15-13 and preventing a tiebreaker.
U.S. National Team 2021-22
Women's National Team
Rhonda Rajsich – Doubles/Singles
Erika Manilla – Doubles/Singles
Michelle De La Rosa – Doubles
Sheryl Lotts – Doubles
Kelani Lawrence – Singles
Hollie Scott – Singles
Men's National Team
Rocky Carson – Doubles/Singles
Charlie Pratt – Doubles/Singles
Jake Bredenbeck – Doubles/Singles
Sam Bredenbeck – Doubles
Alejandro Landa – Singles