As we are moving from the fall to the winter season for the East Bay Athletic League, let me step away from the EBAL for a second and talk about a huge athletic event coming to Pleasanton.
The Golden State Open racquetball tournament is taking place at the Bay Club (formerly Club Sport) in Pleasanton this Thursday-Sunday.
This is not your standard racquetball tournament – it’s the last start in the International Racquetball Tour meaning the top 30 professional racquetball players in the world will be on hand, fighting for the spots in the season ending rankings.
The pro qualifier is on Thursday with the main draw of the tournament beginning on Friday. Coming in with the best players in the world is the only all glass racquetball court.
“We are setting it up on the basketball court at the Bay Club,” said tournament director Adam Manilla. “It has been used at the U.S. Open before. We surround it with seating – it’s awesome.”
There will be three showcase courts at Bay Club giving spectators plenty of chance to see the action.
The tournament will see professionals from the United States, Mexico, Bolivia, Costa Rica, Canada, Argentina, Ecuador, Chile, and Guatemala.
The current top four in the world are Jake Bredenbeck (Minnesota), Daniel De La Rosa (Mexico), Conrrado Moscoso (Bolivia), and Rodrigo Montoya (Mexico).
The top California ranked players are Rocky Carson III (Ladera Ranch, No. 29), and Cody Elkins (Los Angeles, No. 33).
But this is more than just a professional tournament as amateurs will take over the courts as well. Included in the tournament are some former touring professionals including Gerry Price. Price has strong ties to the area, growing up in Castro Valley, living in Pleasanton during his touring days, and now living with his family in the Danville area.
Price was ranked in the top five in the world back in the glory days of racquetball when players like Marty Hogan as well as the Peck brothers – Dave and Gregg – roamed the courts.
He will team up with another former top player Sudsy Monchik in the Open Doubles bracket.
There are many local players in the event with 27 players from the Tri-Valley entered, ranging from juniors up to Open divisions.
Having been a competitive racquetball player a lifetime ago, it is one of the top cross-training sports I ever played, working on endurance, quickness, and reflexes as good as any sport.
The thrill of playing high level racquetball, with the rubber missiles shooting past your body is exhilarating. Of course, taking a few shots to your lower body – or even in the small of your back – brings an intense pain as well as the badge of honor of a racquetball welt.
Back in the 80’s walking around a racquetball club with the welts earned respect from others – and maybe some snickers.
It’s great to see the sport still going on at high levels. Back in the day there were clubs in every city and in some cases maybe two in a city.
Everyone was playing the sport and tournaments took place every month and, in some cases, more than once a month.
In the Tri-Valley the hot spot was Schoeber’s Athletic Club in Pleasanton, which hosted huge events every year, including a professional event.
This week’s event is free to Bay Club members with days passes for $30 available to non-members.
If you get a chance to get to the tournament and catch some of the action you will not regret it!
The tournament will be streamed on YouTube on the International Racquetball Tour channel.
For more information, please go to www.gsoracquetball.com