Jr. National Championship Update 2016
“Wayne Antone, Jordan Cooperrider, Mitchell Turner and Ingrid Robledo ALL win GOLD/SILVER at the Junior National Championships on the road to the USA Jr. National Team”
“Rocky Carson finishes 2015/2016 season ranked #2 IRT”
“Paola Longoria finishes 2015/2016 season ranked #1 LPRT for the 7th Time”
My “Junior Championship Racquetball Team,” led by Wayne, Jordan, Mitchell and my newest member, Ingrid, went to the Junior National Championships in Minneapolis, MN on a mission to bring home some hardware and they all did just that…5 Gold Medals and 1 Silver Medal. Wayne, Jordan and Ingrid are now members of the USA Junior National Racquetball Team. They all walked away with a one-year appointment to the USA Junior National Team. They will all be going to the United States Olympic Training Center (USOTC) in August to train for the Junior World Championships in the San Luis Potosi, MX in November.
Wayne Antone – Wayne came into the Jr. National Championships with the #4 seed in the Boy’s 18 & U singles and the #2 seed in the Boy’s 18 doubles, so he knew he had a tough road ahead of him. All I told him was, “This is what we trained for all year and you just have to BELIEVE in the process of the last 12 months of training.” The only glitch we had was from mid-January to April when Wayne was sidelined with a wrist injury. He actually had to miss the H.S. National Championships in his home state of OR, but it proved to be the right decision.
In doubles Wayne and Kevin had to face off with Jordan Barth and Justice Benson in the semi-finals and Wayne and Kevin came up short after beating them last year to make the team. So now the stage turned to singles as both Wayne and Kevin had to make it to the finals to be on the USA Jr. National Team. What pressure that was, but I NEVER mentioned that to Wayne at all as I didn’t want any more pressure on him. He knew very well he had to beat everyone in his half of the draw to make the finals.
In singles Wayne had to beat Justice Benson, the #5 seed, in the quarter-finals and he was able to beat him in 2 games. He then faced off with the H.S. National Champion and the #1 seed, Daniel Rojas, in the semi-finals. That match proved to be a battle as they are both very talented and great retrievers and shot makers. Wayne took the 1st game 15-10 and lost the 2nd game 9-15, now it all came down to the tie-breaker. It was back and forth with great shots and gets, but in the end Wayne prevailed and won 11-8 to advance to the finals. It was a very emotional win as Wayne never beat Daniel at any Jr. Nationals and that put Wayne on the USA Jr. National Team, so it was a sweet victory all the way around. But, I told Wayne, “It is not over yet as you still have the finals against Kevin Vasquez tomorrow.” We all went to dinner, then my team and I had a meeting in my room preparing them for the “finals day.” We talked game plans, strategy, routines, mental toughness, rest and and and. I then met with Wayne individually and we watched video, which was our ritual every night. When I saw Wayne at the club in the morning I could tell he had his “game face on.” He was focused and his concentration level was high. He was there to WIN….and he did just that. Kevin, his doubles partner, and Wayne faced off for the 1st time and it was Wayne’s day as he went for his shots and serves and was hitting them brilliantly. Wayne beat Kevin in 2 games, but it was a sweet ending as BOTH the boys made the USA Jr. National Team by making it to the finals.
CONGRATS Wayne I am so PROUD of you for making your dream a reality and I am glad I am a part of your journey.
Wayne Antone you are the Boy’s 18 National Champion…way to go!
Jordan Cooperrider – Jordan came into the tournament seeded #2 to Erika Manilla in the Girl’s 18 singles
and #1 seed in the Girl’s 18 doubles, so she knew she had a tough road ahead of her as she lost to Erika at last years Jr. National Championships and at the 2015 US Open. We worked all year to prepare Jordan better physically and mentally. It started to show up when Jordan beat Christina Amaya (#11 LPRT pro) and Cheryl Gudinas (20x USA National Team Member) at the SE Regional/IRT Pro Stop in Sarasota, FL in April 2016 and then took Rhonda Rajsich (#2 LPRT pro) to 4 games in the LPRT pro stop in San Antonio, TX.
In the singles Jordan had to play Holly Scott in the semi-finals, which was a repeat of the H.S. National Championships. This time Jordan had to get the job done in a tie-breaker as Hollie came to play that day and pushed Jordan to the max. This was another sign of Jordan becoming more mentally tough as she was able to hold off a fierce competitor.
We did our usual ritual of having a team meeting that night and we went over game plans, strategy, routines, mental toughness, rest and and and. I met with Jordan alone and I reminded her of what to expect when she played Erika in the morning, so I think she was more prepared then ever.
In the finals match against Erika it was a back and forth battle and very tight, but Jordan took the 1st game 15-14. It could have gone either way and it was a big mental victory because they were both playing very well. The second game was a duplicate of the 1st with lots of back and forth rallies, but Jordan prevailed and took the 2nd game 15-13. It was a very sweet victory as she regained her Jr. National Championship title after losing it last year to Erika.
I was so PROUD of Jordan, as she had to bounce back in the singles finals from last year to play her best, which she did and earned 2 GOLD’s. Jordan qualified for the USA Junior National Team in BOTH singles and doubles. Jordan showed she learned from her 2 losses to Erika, the sign of a true champion…. CONGRATS Jordan.
Jordan Cooperrider you are the Girl’s 18 National Champion…way to go!
Jordan Cooperirder was named USAR Junior Female Athlete of the Year 2016….for the 2nd straight year.
Mitchell Turner – Mitchell had a tough loss to Dane Elkins in the Boy’s 16 & U singles quarter-finals
match, but had to regroup for his doubles finals against Dane Elkins and Ricky Diaz the next day. It was a tough loss to Dane as I think his nerves got to him because a lot of his balls were high or he was missing, which made him inconsistent. We will head back to the drawing board, as they say, and work harder then ever.
In doubles Mitchell and Julian had to face off with Dane and Ricky in the finals and Mitchell and Julian came up short losing the first game 5-15, then the 2nd game 14-15. We made great adjustments from game 1 to game 2, but too many skip balls at the end cost them the match. Mitchell and Julian took home a Silver Medal and they are the alternate team to go to the Jr. World Championships.
I was so PROUD of Mitchell. He has come so far with his game in such a short time. When I started working with him a few years ago he was a Men’s B player. Mitchell now plays Men’s Elite and has made several finals in some very big tournaments. His game is growing and developing into a “championship game.”
Ingrid Robledo – Ingrid is my newest addition to my Junior Championship Team as I met her at the 2016 H.S. National Championships and then she attending my camp in Las Vegas, NV in April. She is learning “how to play the game, not just playing the game.”
This was Ingrid’s 2nd Jr. National Championships and in the short amount of time of working with me Ingrid is a double winner at the Jr. National Champion in the Girls 16 singles and doubles. I knew the first time I met her she had it in her to make the USA Jr. National Team.
In the singles she had to dig deep and rise to the occasion as Briana Jacquet pushed her to the limit. Ingrid took the 1st game and Brian took the 2nd game, so it all came down to the tie-breaker. Ingrid showed just how tough she was as she had a 9-3 lead against Briana, but Briana took a time out and then ran 4 straight points to make it 7-9. Ingrid then took a time out to hopefully stop Briana, which she did. Ingrid eventually won 11-7 in the tie-breaker to win her first-ever National Championship.
CONGRATS Ingrid, the best is yet to come.
Ingrid you are the Girl’s 16 National Champion…way to go!
*Wayne, Jordan, Mitchell and Ingrid I am VERY PROUD of your accomplishments and how hard you all worked this year.
But remember, as I used to tell Jason Mannino all the time, “It is easier to become #1, then to stay #1, as everyone is gunning for you.”
My “Adult Championship Racquetball Team” led by Rocky and Paola, finished the 2015-2016 season ranked #2 on the International Racquetball Tour (IRT) and #1 on the Ladies Professional Racquetball Tour (LPRT). But they are both having a busy summer, no rest for the wicked.
Rocky Carson is preparing for the WOR Championship held in Marina Park in Huntington Beach, CA July 7-10. The WOR Championships is the biggest of all the Outdoor Racquetball events as well as having the most players, and the top pro’s from WOR, IRT, LPRT AND THE CPRT.
Paola Longoria is being honored by her country, Mexico, at the Opening Ceremonies of the Olympics by being part of the delegation.
Rocky, Paola and I will be heading to Cali, Columbia for the World
Championships July 13-23 and they will each be representing their home countries in this IRF event.
***All USAR/IRF events are streamed on Livestream.com.
Enjoy your journey to your “championship game,” like my “championship teams.”