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High Altitude Racquetball Shootout a great success

As the weather chills, a sundry variety of bugs makes it rounds, infecting folks with undignified symptoms: drippy nose, congested head, hacking cough, upset stomach (you get the picture).

There is, however, a different bug that has infected racquetball players — both local and out-of-town. It’s the tournament variety.

This last weekend, the High Altitude Racquetball Shootout, an annual event at the recreation center, proved successful for many Pagosans, as well as players from afar.

The No. 2-ranked player in New Mexico — Ken Cheshire — created some excitement when he showed up to play. With his signature crushing shots, he snatched the title away from local powerhouse Todd Ormonde (who also worked equally hard at organizing this great tournament). Todd was pleased to win his semi-final match against another New Mexican — Chris Pacheco (ranked fifth in New Mexico).

Other local players who participated gave it their best shot and came away reminded that no matter how good you are, there’s always someone better. It’s one of those humbling lessons in life, but those who continue to persevere are the true winners.

Chris Smith, in the Men’s Open Division, placed fourth; as well as a respectable third in the Men’s Open Doubles with his partner Patricia Thieman from Albuquerque. Chris, with Todd Ormonde, Bob Hujus and BJ Jones, are certified racquetball instructors and have been utilizing their training to create a feeder program for the local racquetball group by working with young players.

Kirk Loveday, a newcomer to Pagosa, provided an infusion of fresh energy and outlook into the Pagosa racquetball scene. Kirk placed first in the Men’s A bracket and another first in the Men’s A Doubles with his partner Mike Morales from Durango. Kirk and his brother, Carl, are both accomplished racquetball players who were raised in a family of serious racquetball people. I have seen their grandfather’s name pop up in articles in racquetball magazines. Incidentally, Carl really wanted to play in the tournament, but like many hardworking Pagosans, had to juggle work (three jobs) and forfeit play. Maybe next year, Carl.

BJ Love, another home-grown player (and in BJ’s case, he really did grow up in Pagosa, as I remember him as a tow-headed little tyke running around the recreation center) rallied to take a second in the Elite Division. He also took first in the Men’s B singles.

Bobby Hart Jr. took first in the Men’s C Division. In their first racquetball tournament ever, Steve Darcus, Lois Darcus and Terry Jackson did well, had lots of fun and are totally still enthusiastic about the sport. Steve Darcus placed second in the Men’s D Division and won a doubles match with partner Terry Jackson. Lois Darcus, a good student, played as she was taught by Todd Ormonde. She put her new skills to work and took first in the Women’s Novice division.

Besides the competitiveness, the excitement, the pre-game jitters and all, the tournament was a great time of family fun with kids and teenagers cheering on the action and getting to put in some of their own swings during timeouts or between matches. According to all the players, the food was awesome. I guess good food is an important component of racquetball tournaments as there are spans of time between matches to sit, chit-chat and eat. If you like all three, you might want to consider starting racquetball now in preparation for next year’s High Altitude Racquetball Shoot Out.