In the early era of women’s racquetball, Diane Heims stood out for her boldness and greatness. She won a total of 4 major women’s early outdoor championships including 3 singles championships and one doubles woman's title. In 1975, during the outdoor national’s second year, Diane captured the woman’s singles title over the first year’s champ, Betty Weed, about six months after picking up a racquet. In 1977, a local newspaper story said that Diane Heims won the woman’s singles titles back to back in 1977 and 1978. In 1978; she beat two time Hall of Famer Lynn Adams in the 1978 singles finals (it was called Women’s A’s but was in fact “open level” as per early historians of the game). Finally in 1978, Diane Heims played in doubles with Lynn Adams Clay to win the women’s top doubles division (women’s A) over Hall of Famer Martha McDonald and Laura Martino in a tiebreaker.
The records show that Diane Heims played in four finals and never lost a finals (or possibly any match at Nationals) based on the limited records we have.
Note 1-Records for the early women’s era (pre-1980’s) are sparse , and according to Hall of Famer, Martha McDonald, most top woman simply started playing in the men’s divisions in the early 1980’s (and judging from Martha’s own success almost a half century later, Martha is still doing nicely at it as well). Also, the women’s A as they called it back then, was the name of the top division and is basically woman’s pro/open then.
Note 2 -Most Sport’s Hall of Fames do include the winner of the very first event (or events) as an historic moment in the sport with greater emphasis on the early wins than the volume. These early winners are typically considered to be the trailblazers/fore-founders of the sport.
Note 3- Dianne Heims is considered to be the third, great women’s star player of the early women’s era along with Martha McDonald and Lynn Adams. She runs a restaurant called the Sidewalk Cafe in Costa Mesa and on occasion a HOF member including Brian Hawkes and Dan Southern have visited.
Notable Top Woman’s Outdoor National Finishes for Diane Heims:
1974 - Diane did not finish or play. The first annual Outdoor Nationals Woman’s singles was won by Betty Weed over Joy Koppel. Martin took 3rd and Nancy Gick took 4th.
1975 - Diane Heims wins her first Outdoor National Singles title over Betty Weed (the outdoor singles champion of year one) by a score of 21-6 and 21-7.
1976 - a) Diane did not play in 1976 since she had a baby that year. According to a local newspaper publication, “The defending National Champ (Heims) is in no shape to defend her title this year. No, that’s not a put down. Dianne Heims is six months pregnant.” The top four in singles in 1976 are Martha Byrd McDonald, 2nd Betty Weed (who was also inducted this year) , 3rd Karen Seavello and 4th Julie Davdson.
1977 - The quote immediate below for 1978 suggests that Diane Heims won back to back woman’s Open/ A singles in 1977 and 1978. We do know that Martha McDonald took 2nd. No other records are listed .
1978 - a) Diane Heims win the Woman’s A’s Singles (which was Open back then) at National Outdoors at Orange Coast College (OCC): Diane Heims beats Lynn Adams in singles (the indoor and outdoor Hall of Famer): “OCC student Diane Heims captured her second national outdoor women's A division singles title in a row, blitzing Lynn Adams of Costa Mesa 21-19, 21-8.” (A local newspaper quote provided by Steve Belmonte).
1978 - b) Woman’s A’s Doubles (which was Open back then) at National Outdoors at Orange Coast College (OCC): Diane Heims and WOR Hall of Famer Lynn Adams beat Martha McDonald (WORHOF inductee) and Laura Martino of Gainsville Florida in doubles for the top women's A (open) doubles championship in a tiebreaker 20-21, 21-2, 11-4.”
“She was the best woman player by far and the #1 player for years until Lynn Adams came around.“ Dan Southern, WOR Hall of Famer
“I think all of our memories are fading ,but Diane Heims and Betty Weed are absolutely deserving of being in the Hall of Fame for the wins and the enthusiasm they brought to the sport.” I was there when they were dominating the women’s field and its never easy winning a national title to be the best of the best at that time. They also helped promote the sport in the beginning era." Charlie Brumfeld
In the early years, we would have 300-400 entries overall. Both Betty Weed and Dianne Heims deserve to be in the WORHOF and Diane in particular was the top player of the early women’s era. Most telling is that six months after picking up a racquet, she was the 1975 woman's’ singles champion.“ Barry Wallace, cofounder Outdoor Nationals
“Diane Heims was an even better athlete [than Betty Weed] and an incredible women’s player.” RO Carson
1975- “Waiting in the upper bracket for Diane (Heims) was Bette Weed, a strong, veteran racquetball pro from San Diego. As the defending Outdoor National champion Bette (Weed) was heavily favored. “Bette’s too strong...” “Diane Doesn’t have enough experience...” said the sideline experts. Diane (Heims) obviously wasn’t listening, as she went out and quickly silenced everyone with a very convincing 21-16,21-7 win. Six months after first picking up a racquet, she (Diane) was the Women’s Outdoor National Champions.“ Barry Wallace co founder of the national Outdoors
“At the beginning and at the first few nationals, Diane Heims was always the number one seed and the person we looked up to. She was tall and she was absolutely dominated the woman. The best three players of the early era were Diane Heims, Martha Byrd McDonald, and Lynn Adams. Diane was the one to beat early. I played against her and she also played in men’s division of doubles. She was a better player than me [...and Dan she still is…] and I learned a lot from her when I first came up.“ Hall of Famer, Dan Southern
“She swings easy and hits hard and I modeled my game after it. She used her size to crush ball. She was absolutely impressive and why I nominated for the hall of fame [that and beating you in the men’s division before your future famous success as the men’s outdoor National Champ later on probably didn’t hurt either].” “She played the game at the highest level for a very long time.” Dan Southern
“Diane and Dave Trenton had kids. Diane and Dave Trenton were at the grass roots.” They were there when handball transferred to racquetball at the competitive level." Dan Southern
“I do remember Diane Heims as the girl that would beat Lynn Adams in those early days and she was a better player during her time out there... She was a great athlete and in 1978 beat Lynn Adams pretty easily...I think she also had a kid with Dave Trenton (an early star). I also think she won a state and national title. And I’m pretty sure that left handball for Racquetball.” Alan Belmonte, an early racquetball player and historian
“This is a truly special year for women’s racquetball as it is a great honor to induct these two early women greats who dominated the first three national championships and to see them inducted into the Hall of Fame. She also had glowing remarks from the committee who saw her play.” Brett Elkins, chairman/cofounder of the Outdoor Racquetball Hall of Fame
“It is a special honor to induct Diane Heims, the winner of many of the first few Outdoor National Titles and a true pioneer of our sport. Greg Lewerenz, WOR National Director