National Masters Racquetball Combined with the IRT in Portland, Oregon
by Cindy Tilbury, NMRA President
It took almost three years to get the NMRA back to Portland. It was well worth the wait and the effort of setting up and tearing down this tournament two times! The Multnomah Athletic Club in downtown Portland was our host club for this year’s NMRA Doubles-Only event, November 29-December 1, 2022. Thanks so much to Hank Marcus for facilitating our visit. And as always, Head/Penn was our ball sponsor. Thanks to Fran Davis for taking care of our ball needs.
We had a great group of players for our round-robin 40+ style of racquetball on the Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday before the big IRT pro stop started later on our last day. That was the plan: combining an NMRA tournament with an IRT Tier 1 Pro Stop. This allowed our 40+ players who never get to watch the pros to stay the weekend and watch or play or both. A few of us played both tournaments, and we had a great time, including watching Jake Bredenbeck win an extra-exciting final match and his first Tier 1 pro stop! In addition to hosting a large group of 80+-year-old players, we were also gratified to find 26 new first-time NMRA players to join our NMRA family. View the draws and results at https://www.r2sports.com/tourney.asp?TID=36029.
As always, the NMRA provided great competition, great food, and great camaraderie. Our fundraiser at our Thursday night banquet was for the IRT pro stop sponsor and charity, Live Like John Foundation. Proceeds go toward making veterans’ lives (many disabled) a little better. Our NMRA group has many veterans involved, so we found some very generous players at the dinner.
One almost-tragic event happened on Wednesday morning before play started. Cathy Law and her husband had come all the way from Anchorage, Alaska, to play in their first NMRA event. In their hotel room on Wednesday, Cathy stopped breathing, and Joe performed CPR to get her into the hands of the EMTs and hospital. Cathy fought for several days, and the doctors eventually inserted a heart pacemaker before she was able to fly home. We rearranged the draws for Cathy and Joe’s doubles partners, but all in all, that was so minor compared to the unthinkable heartache of potentially losing one of our players. We were so happy to hear she was feeling chipper shortly after returning home to Alaska, and we continue to pray for Cathy and Joe and for Cathy’s long-term health. Note: See a current update from Joe at the end of this article.
Cathy Law & Terri Marceron. Photo courtesy of Joe Law
In the general draws, when we needed several doubles partners for players traveling in from other states, we were so happy that some of the club members and the food caterer stepped up to fill the spots. They had not entered originally, but when they saw our group playing practice games on Monday, they figured they would fit in with our group perfectly. We got them all signed up as USA Racquetball members and added them into the tournament. What great guys for helping us out...and they won medals, too!
Another fun story of the tournament was the Canadians! A group of four racquetball friends ventured across the border to join us in the Men’s Doubles 60 and Men’s Doubles 65 divisions for the first time. They had heard about the NMRA for years as their dads had played years ago! It was finally time to try us, and they all did very well.
We hope to be back in Portland in a few years. It is such a great racquetball area for high school and younger players, and that energy spills over into NMRA age groups. Our next event will be at the end of March 2023 when we return to St. Louis to Vetta Racquet Sports - Concord. For our summer tournament, contracts have not yet been signed, but we are trying to bring our group to Pleasanton, California, in late July. More information coming soon.
If you haven’t yet played one of our events and you are 40 years old up to 100+, please consider joining us! You are never eliminated at our tournaments, and that provides a lot of value for your travel dollar. Call me if you have questions or want to get on the USA Racquetball/R2 Sports mailing list.
Update on Cathy Law: I reached out to Joe to see how Cathy is doing, and he reports: “Cathy is improving each day. It will likely be a month or so before she’s back to full swing. We will be back at a National Masters eventually. We are going to spend March and April in St. George, Utah, and play a bunch of racquetball with the locals and Warren Bailey. God Bless and Happy New Year.”
What great news! Happy New Year to Cathy, Joe, and all of our NMRA Players!
Sanjay Bedi and Charles Blomquist -- Men's 50+
Fritz Camp and Carl Goebel -- Men's 80+
Keith Sime -- Men's 80+ and Mixed 80+
All photos courtesy of Cindy Tilbury unless noted