Monday, 11 February 2013

Keystone Banquet/Sunday Morning

What a weekend! I think I may need to sleep for a week to make up for the past few days but definitely worth it (the Keystone never disappoints).

I gave a rundown of saturday's matches in my previous post, and though the day started late (11:45am first match) we were at the courts for the entire day, not getting back to our hotel room until 6pm. This gave us an hour to relax (and write my post about Saturday's matches) and get ready for the banquet saturday night. I had invited a friend living in Winnipeg to join us as she had never been to a racquetball tournament (or the club Opera we were going to check out later on) so she met us in the lobby at 7:30 and we proceeded to the banquet room.

Dinner was fantastic (as always) and following the meal was another epic period of games. These were somewhat more tame than in past years (I have a feeling that Sue Livingston's lesser involvement this year had something to do with that) but were extremely fun nonetheless. The games being concluded, we took our leave to check out Opera, a swank club in the exchange district housed in an old bank building. I wish I could say we took full advantage of our surroundings and partied the night away but unfortunately I had to play in the Pro Final the next day, and with $350 and my undefeated season on the line, I wanted to make sure I was prepared. Regardless, a good time was still had by all, enjoying friendly company and our own private booth (champagne service included!). We left the club about 1am and dropped our friend off with some of her friends nearby before heading back to the hotel and immediately going to bed.

I was rudely awakened after a paltry 6 hours of sleep by Jamie's alarm. Due to our long day at the club on saturday, he has missed the timing of his pain meds (that he takes for Crohn's Disease) and subsequently had not felt well for most of the evening. The early morning dose was in an effort to get back on track - good for him, bad for Tim's sleep schedule. The icing on the insomnia cake were the kids (I'm just assuming here, what kinds of adults do this) running around in the hallway above our room until 830am. The brief respite allowe me to get back to sleep by 845am, only to be woken by my own alarm 15mins later. Not yet ready for sunday to begin, my frantic slapping motions eventually found the snooze button on my phone and the warm embrace of rest was restored once more... for 10mins... It would be 2 more snoozes before I begrudgingly dragged myself from bed. In my post-somnia haze, my thought patterns were reduced to one-word grumbles...
"Bathroom", "ugh", "coffee", "no", "pants", "ok", "now coffee", "yes".

Needless to say it was a rough start to the day, but as is its custom, caffeine was able to restore a semblance of my humanity, and a small breakfast and half litre of water later I felt almost ready to face the day. This post is getting quite long though so I will break down the final match against Coby in my next post. Stay tuned!

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Keystone Finals Set!

Well after a long and eventful day of racquetball in Winnipeg the finals for the Men's Pro Singles and Men's Open Doubles are set.

It what will probably end up being the match of the tournament, 2nd seed James Landeryou (SK) took on 3rd seed and rising star Coby Iwasaa (AB). The first two games were extremely tight finishes. Landeryou gave Iwasaa large leads at the beginning of both games only to tighten up and mount comebacks, closing to within one point near the end but running out of time and dropping both games in nail biters 11-9, 11-8. Knowing he needed to have a good start to bring a game home, Landeryou would start strong in the third, building a lead that Iwasaa could not close and finishing strong to take the game 11-4. The fourth saw both players tighten up their games. This game was to and fro all the way to the finish, with James capitalizing on his opportunities late to take the game 11-9 and level the match. Appearing to have the momentum, Landeryou would open up a lead in the 5th game as well 3-1, extending it to 6-3. Several changes of serve ensued, with Iwasaa scoring the only point to make it 4-6. Then seemingly out of nowhere, Coby found his drive serve which had been eluding him for most of the match. Four quick points made it 8-6 and Iwasaa seemed poised to take the match. Landeryou would not be denied though and dug in, getting the serve back and tying the game at 8. It would take several more exchanges before any points were scored, but the match remained level, now at 9. Another few rallies saw Landeryou get opportunities to score his tenth point, but miss his shots but impossibly small margins. This seemed to tire him and Coby was able to take advantage and finish the match on his next service opportunity, taking the final game 11-9.

The second semi final saw #1 seed Tim Landeryou (SK) take on 4th seeded Brandon native Kurtis Cullen (MB). This match saw Landeryou start quickly, jumping out to a large lead in the first. By contrast Cullen seemed to struggle to find a rhythm and unable to take advantage of the few service opportunities he had, allowing Landeryou to take the first 11-3. The second was more of the same, although with more changes of serve it was clear Kurtis was working himself into the match, even if it was more slowly than he'd like. Landeryou would take this game 11-4. The third saw Cullen finally find his serving rhythm, or rather, embrace it like a long lost friend. Multiple aces and a solid mix of lines made returning serve extremely difficult for Landeryou, and to top it off Kurtis returned serve much better as well. The advantage swung heavily to Cullen's favour in this game and he would take the game 11-6. The fourth saw Kurtis' serve lose some of it's heat, and Landeryou tightened up, returning serve better and putting more pressure on Cullen. This swung the advantage back in Landeryou's favour and he would take the fourth game 11-2 and the match.

All four of these players are also in the Open doubles draw and will be competing in the final against each other tomorrow, as well as the Pro Singles final between Tim Landeryou and Coby Iwasaa. It will definitely be a great day of racquetball. Stay tuned for the exciting conclusion!

39th Keystone Classic

Well I'm on the road again for the Keystone Classic, taking place in Winnipeg, Manitoba this weekend. We drove up thursday after work and as a result didn't arrive into the city until late into the morning and thus am just updating on the tournament now. With the first day over, there haven't been any surprises yet.

On the singles side, all 4 of the top seeds are through to the semi finals except for 4th seeded Kurtis Cullen (Brandon) who will play 5th seeded Troy Brooks (Sherwood Park) in the last quarter final match this morning. Troy has an unconventional game style that could give Kurtis some trouble but without some kind of melt down, Kurtis should make it through to the semi finals.

In doubles, my bother James and I will play our first match (quarter final) this morning which shouldn't be too tough of a test, and the semi finals will take place later this afternoon. All the draws can be found on R2 -

Follow along and check for updates later today!

Tuesday, 5 February 2013


Wow what a feeling! It's pretty surreal, especially after getting back home and realizing that practically everyone I know has heard about it. I can't thank my family and friends enough, especially my loving wife Kaitlyn, who I know would love to come to every one of my tournaments if she could.

In case some of you are reading about this for the first time, I won the national team selection event over the weekend, upsetting the top seed and current canadian champion Mike Green in the final. The entire match was a seesaw battle. I went up big in the first game and he came back to make it tight before I was able to close it out 16-14. I took another lead in the second game, albeit a smaller one, before he went on a tear, scoring 13 unanswered points! I recovered a bit of momentum to begin the tiebreaker though and was able to start that game strong with a lead as well. He would recover and take the lead by a few points, then I took it back. The finish was extremely tight, with both of us having to make great shots to win the rally. I made the final one at 10-8 though and fell to my knees, in utter disbelief of what I had accomplished. I've been trying to beat this guy for years with no success. To finally have that goal realized is an incredible feeling and fantastic testament to my training over the last few years. Here's a press release from my local paper on the tournament and a write-up/interview I did for theracquetballblog.

The next tournament for me is this coming weekend where I'll be competing at the Keystone Classic in Winnipeg, Manitoba. It is the longest running racquetball tournament in Canada and one of my favourite events of the last few seasons. This year promises to be a quality draw as well, with several top players from Canada competing including up and coming stars Coby Iwasaa and Kurtis Cullen. Look for updates on this blog as well as the tournament website:

Saturday, 2 February 2013

Selection Event Semi Finals

Only one day remains in the selection event. Let's take a look at how the semi finals shook up and the match ups happening tomorrow...

In his first selection event semi final, young star Coby Iwasaa was looking to pull off what would be the biggest upset of his career. In the first game it looked like he would have an opportunity as he matched the current national champion point for point right up to 13-13. A great drive serve and skipped serve return from Coby gave Green the first game though and he never looked back. Turning up the heat on his serve in the second and taking it easily 15-2. 

In the second semi final, Pedro Castro was looking for his second upset of the tournament against Tim Landeryou after taking out #3 seed Nathaniel Husulak in the quarter finals earlier in the day. The first started fairly evenly, with players trading points up until 4-4. Landeryou would open a lead to 7-4, finding effectiveness in a tight lob serve down the right side wall. Using this serve would allow him to build his lead to 10-5. Castro didn't seem to have an answer for this serve and Landeryou would take the first game 15-7. In the second, the right side lob wasn't working as well, mainly because Landeryou seemed to be having trouble keeping it as tight to the wall as he did in the first. Castro was also being more aggressive on the serve return which paid off as he was trading points and getting back into the service box more frequently. Mixing the serve up scored a few points for Tim, and several long rallies through the midpoint of the game seemed to tire Pedro, and Landeryou would take advantage of some errors as a result. This allowed him to open up another lead, which he would hold for most of the game. At 13-7, Landeryou seemed poised to finish the match but Pedro dug deep and made some excellent shots to get the serve back. Several changes of serve ensued before Castro was able to score a few points and close to within 3 points. This would be as close as he would come though, as Landeryou would regain his former composure and close out the game 15-10 to take the match in 2 games. 

This sets up the final between top seeds Mike Green and Tim Landeryou. The last time these 2 faced off was at the 2012 National Championships on these very courts! Green came out victorious in 2 straight games 15-8, 15-2 so the advantage is definitely with him going into this match. Landeryou has put up decent first games historically though, and if he can steal the first in this contest the match could be an interesting one. Green's biggest weapon will be the drive serve, and if he is putting heat on and keeping the line straight, it will be very difficult to neutralize. I'm looking forward to it though as it should be high quality racquetball if nothing else.

Selection Event Quarter Finals

Well the quarter finals almost all went according to seeding, as 3 of the top 4 move onto the semis. On the top half, Mike Green's photon drive serve and consistent lane shooting were too much for Hugo Laprise and would take the match in 2 fairly easy games 15-2, 15-1. Coby Iwasaa had an extremely close, albeit straight games win over former junior national team mate Samuel Murray. Murray held a small lead late in the second game and looked as if he would force a tiebreaker serving at 13-11, but Coby showed great composure and played disciplined racquetball near the end to capitalize on Murray's errors and come back to take the game and the match 15-13, 16-14.

On the bottom half, I didn't have too tough of a time with Lee. He threatened at times and made some solid shots but I was able to mix my passes and pinches well to keep him off balance and take the match 15-5, 15-8. In the only upset of the quarter finals, Pedro Castro was able to take capitalize on some uncharacteristic and loose play from Nathaniel Husulak as well as having the match on his home courts to secure a win and the last spot in the semi finals. I didn't see very much of this match but Loren Prentice, Nate's coach, said Nate struggled to find a rhythm all match. His drive serve wasn't going in consistently and he was having trouble with his lanes. Passing is difficult on these courts and it is something I will have to establish if I'm to be successful against Pedro where Nate wasn't. There is definitely some intrigue in the semi finals but I won't be surprised if it's Mike and I playing for gold tomorrow.

Friday, 1 February 2013

Selection Event Day 1

Well the first day of the National Team Selection Event in 2013 is in the books and man was it a doozie... With 4 tiebreakers, 2 upsets, and the quarter final match ups all set let's get to the details!

Bottom Half:
While none of the upsets on Day 1 occurred in the bottom half of the draw, 2 of the tiebreakers did. The first of which was Patrick Jauvin's nail-bitingly close first round 12-10 victory over up and comer Mitch Brayley. A very disappointing loss for the youngster but he is improving rapidly and I'm sure will exact revenge the next time these 2 face each other. Both the other first round matches went according to seeding with Tommy Murray, Nicolas Bousquet, and Corey Osbourne moving into the second round. Since I already gave away that no upsets occurred you should already know who made it through to the quarter finals. There was some interesting racquetball though, as Patrick injured himself during our match and had to default, and Pedro seemed to demoralize Nicolas on his way to a steamroll style win. Nathaniel survived a scare in the second game, coming back from 13-7 down to take the second game and the match from wily veteran and former national champion Corey Osbourne. Finally Lee Connell had all he could handle from talented local Tommy Murray, he dug deep though, and narrowly scraped out an 11-8 tiebreaker win.

This sets up a quarter final match between Nathaniel and Pedro in what should be an interesting rematch from Kelowna. In that match Nate was fairly dominant but here, where the courts are slower (and thus drive serving is less effective) and where Pedro has home court advantage, the odds definitely swing in Pedro's favour. Whether this will be enough for Pedro to take the match is debatable but one thing is certain, the match should definitely be more interesting than their contest earlier this season. The second quarter final on the bottom half is between myself and Lee. On the basis of our play today, I'd say I was confident in my ability to impose my will and take the match but Lee showed a lot of grit today against Tommy. If he can bring that level of intensity and focus for our match tomorrow I will have my work cut out for me. If I was a betting man though, I would put money on having a rematch with Nate tomorrow evening.

Top Half:
There were no upsets in the first round as Quebec natives Sebastien Juteau, Samuel Murray, and Francis Guillemette advanced past their lower seeded opponents, although Juteau did have a tougher time with 17th seeded Sami Harb than any of the others. The 2 upsets both occurred on the top half of the draw though so let's get to those... The first was one I alluded to in my earlier post as 9th seeded Hugo Laprise upset 8th seeded Troy Brooks in a thrilling 12-10 tiebreaker finish! The second was another thriller as former junior national team mates Samuel Murray and Kurtis Cullen faced off. Kullen took the first game on the back of some blistering drive serves but Murray was able to come back to take the second and another 2 point tiebreaker 11-9. He will face another of his former junior national team mates in the quarter finals as Coby Iwasaa bested Quebec local and former national team member Francis Guillemette in 2 games. The last quarter final will be between Hugo Laprise and #1 seed and current national champion Mike Green.

I don't think Mike will have too much trouble with Hugo to take his spot in the semi finals, but the match between Samuel and Coby definitely has the potential to be tight. Samuel now has some experience with blistering drive serves under his belt at this tournament, and played mentally tough down the stretch against Kurtis. Of all the quarter finals that will be the match to watch. Look for an update tomorrow afternoon with the semi final match ups and predictions!