USA Racquetball News 2015 IRF XXVII World...

2015 IRF XXVII World Junior Racquetball Championship Blogs

By Cheryl Kirk | Nov. 07, 2015, 1:23 p.m. (ET)

IRF XXV11 World Junior
Racquetball Championships

Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
November 7-14, 2015

Team USA Challenge Donation Link

Blog #9

Saturday, November 14, 2015
by Cheryl Kirk, US Junior Team Leader

Team USA Coaches Wrap it Up
Coach Cheryl – “I’m proud of the team. A gold and three silvers [World Cup] is an improvement over last year. We closed the gap between Bolivia and us. It’s all positive and we are overjoyed with the improvement of the team since last year and camp.”
Coach Jeff – “I have been so impressed by the development of the entire junior team throughout the course of this week. They absolutely played their hearts out every single match. No matter what the score, they played with intensity and focus. So proud of our boys and girls.”
Coach Jen – “First off, congratulations to Akul and Heather for winning GOLD today in 12 and 10 divisions respectively! Also, congratulations to Josh for winning GOLD in the White division! All three played amazing and had incredible mental games on their way to earning their World titles!
“This week went by incredibly fast and throughout the tournament the kiddos grew as athletes on and off the court! USA Racquetball can be so proud of the representation of Junior Team USA in The Dominican Republic. I feel so fortunate to be a part of such an amazing group of people! We are already planning training camp and looking forward to next year!
“A huge shout out to Cheryl Kirk for EVERYTHING she does for us! The endless hours of behind-the-scenes work doesn’t go unnoticed! This trip couldn’t be done without her, and we are thankful to have her on our team!
“Thank you to everyone for all of the messages and support from home!”
Cheryl K: “Jen, thanks for the kind words! It’s a pleasure to serve the team and coaches in any way I can to make things go more smoothly. I, too, am so proud of our US Junior Team!”
Saturday is in the Record Books
There was a bit of streaming confusion regarding the first match of the day. Those of you who were watching and expecting to see the USA vs. Guatemala Girls 16 singles final match instead saw the Bolivia vs. Dominican Republic Girls 18 singles final. Originally, the latter match was scheduled for the 11:00slot. Somehow it was changed, and an appeal was made by the Dominican Republic. The decision was made to revert to the original schedule. Especially since the Minister of Sport and their National Olympic Committee had been alerted to the streaming, it was only right that the DR as host country receive this respect. The US and Guatemala were given the choice of waiting an hour, but both players wanted to play immediately…and that’s what took place!
G16S: Jordan Cooperrider lost to Ana Gabriela Martinez (Guatemala), 6-15, 8-15
B10S White: Josh Shea def. Elner Andre Loza Mercado (Bolivia), 15-9, 15-6
B12S: Akul Ramayani def. Carlos Esparza (Mexico), 15-6, 15-9
G10S: Heather Mahoney def. Angela Veronica Ortega Sabido (Mexico), 10-15, 15-4, 11-6
B18D: Sam Bredenbeck/Jake Birnel lost to Andree Parrilla/Erik Garcia (Mexico), 8-15, 6-15
B16D: Wayne Antone/Kevin Vazquez lost to Cristian Longoria/Gerardo Franco (Mexico), 7-15, 9-15
Medals Ceremony at the Club
After the doubles finals were played, the LOC and delegates were on hand to assist with the awarding of the medals. Court 1 was packed with medals stands, medals tables, camera tripods, and TONS of people. The bleachers surrounding the court were packed as well. While it was a bit warm there in the club, enthusiasm ran high as each player who earned a medal had his/her moment in the limelight.
Junior Team USA: Medal Count
Gold (4) – Jordan Cooperrider and Erika Manilla (Girls 16 Doubles), Akul Ramayani (Boys 12 Singles), Heather Mahoney (Girls 10 Singles), Josh Shea (Boys 10 Singles White)
Silver (5) – Sam Bredenbeck/Jake Birnel (Boys 18 Doubles); Wayne Antone/Kevin Vazquez (Boys 16 Doubles), Jordan Cooperrider (Girls 16 Singles); Vedant Chauhan (Boys 10 Singles), Tommy Andraos (Boys 12 Singles Red)
Bronze (5) – Daniel Rojas (Boys 18 Singles), Mitchell Turner/Julian Singh (Boys 14 Doubles), Lexi York (Girls 18 Singles), Heather Mahoney/Julia Stein (Girls 12 Doubles),
Vedant Chauhan/Josh Shea (Boys 10 Doubles)

Congratulations to all!!
Junior Team USA: Overall Results
Esprit Boys 2nd /Girls 2nd /Overall 2nd (Mexico 1st)
World Cup Boys 3rd /Girls 3rd /Overall 3rd (Mexico1st/ Bolivia 2nd)
Behind the Scenes: Toe-ing the Line
The day before yesterday, Heather Mahoney stepped onto the elevator and smashed her toe (hard) when the elevator hadn’t settled flush with the outside floor. Elevator 1, Heather 0. It was pretty bad – blood pooled in her sandal, nail split, pedicure ruined (not to make light of it by any means, but we gals think about these things). With the heart of a champion, Heather endured a rugged cleaning and taping and then elevated her foot for the rest of the evening. Loaded up with steri-strips and a bit of ibuprofen, she won her match yesterday and continued today to win the Gold in Girls 12 Singles! Heather, you’re TOUGH!
What do you like to do for fun (besides racquetball)?
Daniel Rojas – go with family or friends
Wayne Antone – hang out with friends and camping
Akul Ramayani – play ping-pong with my older sister
Antonio Rojas – hang out with friends
Mitchell Turner – I love to snowboard
Brittany Click – watch tons of movies/Netflix
Hollie Scott – softball, watch Netflix, and walk my dogs
Erika Manilla – play soccer, hang out with friends and family
Briana Jacquet – work out, teach junior racquetball, and ride horses
Nikita Chauhan – I enjoy baking, watching movies, hanging out with my friends
Elena Dent – hang out with my friends, ultimate Frisbee, read, listen to music
Graciana Wargo – hang out with friends
James D’Ambrogia – play baseball and music
Vedant Chauhan – do math problems with my dad, play outside with my friends, playing cricket with my dad, and playing board games with my mom
Josh Shea – play baseball, hang out with my friends, play basketball, fish
Julia Stein – ride rollercoasters, decorate for Christmas, bake cakes.
Heather Mahoney – I like to play soccer and play electric bass
Sage Hartman – play with my friends, go to family cabin
Raina Hartman – write, play basketball, and do science experiments
What was the nicest thing you ever did for someone?
Akul Ramayani – Helped my Grandma find her gold ring. It was stuck in the drainpipe.
Antonio Rojas – Bought food for my friend
Brittany Click – Nothing that stands out, but I try to smile and greet people on a daily basis in hopes that there is some good during their day
Erika Manilla – I went down to Nicaragua to go help those living in the dumps. My group helped build a house for a family of 8. And it was an amazing experience but I believe they did more for me than what I did for them.
Briana Jacquet – talked someone out of suicide
Nikita Chauhan – on my birthday, I donated some money and provided a meal for an orphanage.
Elena Dent – made dinner for my mom when she was having a bad day
Graciana Wargo – took care of a friend that was sick at summer camp
Vedant Chauhan – once my sister hit me very hard, which usually would make me tell my mom, but I let it go and made her promise that she won’t do it again
Julia Stein – write letters to needy children that our family sponsors
Sage Hartman – I stood up for a friend when they were bulled on the playground.
Raina Hartman – I volunteered at Second Harvest and packed food for those in need.
What do you think you will be doing 10 years from now?
Daniel Rojas – hopefully playing racquetball professionally
Akul Ramayani – studying hard to go to med school and playing racquetball.
Antonio Rojas – playing racquetball
Brittany Click – be a nurse, playing professional racquetball, and starting a family
Hollie Scott – an anesthesiologist
Erika Manilla – playing professional racquetball
Briana Jacquet – racquetball, and being a trauma surgeon
Nikita Chauhan – I may or may not be done with college, but I know I will be doing something I love.
Graciana Wargo -- racquetball
Vedant Chauhan – I think that I will become a professional racquetball player 10 years from now
Josh Shea – going to college
Julia Stein – hopefully on LPRT
Heather Mahoney – playing pro racquetball
Sage Hartman – studying to become a doctor at the University of Minnesota
Raina Hartman – I will be at NYC University getting my degree in Journalism.
Thank You’s
The US Junior Team Delegation wishes to deliver our gratitude to those who made this event so truly memorable:
All the individuals who made contributions large and small...every bit counts! The Team USA Challenge on provides the opportunity for racquetball players to support the US Teams with their participation at international competitions.
The Local Organizing Committee, headed by Rafael Fernandez, for putting on this great event. The work behind the scenes to pull off a tournament of this magnitude is extensive. Thanks also to Belkys Fernandez and Rafa, Jr. for their hospitality at the club.
The tournament staff (Osvaldo Maggi, Francisco Kurzbard, Amanda Kurzbard, Mauro Grandio, Pablo Berriel, and Walter Capandegui)
The referees who came in from several countries to provide a quality experience for the players, including the happy gift that no player had to ref the next match!
Rick Glazebrook of for bringing quarterfinals, semifinals and finals action to viewers on the IRF Network, and Gary Mazaroff, Tim Baghurst, and Gustavo Farell for providing entertaining commentary.
The parents and cheerleaders who were there for every match, living every point as if they were out there playing themselves, and pitching in to provide/arrange meals and snacks.
USAR Official Apparel Sponsor Rollout Racquetball (Jonathan Clay) and American Motors (Victor and Nancy Manilla) for their generous support.
Last but not least, Leo Vasquez who stopped whatever else he might have been doing as soon as a blog and photos were ready for posting. Leo ran a State Doubles event in Texas this past weekend to boot!
Thanks for tuning in to the blogs. The team sends their heartfelt gratitude for all the support via Facebook, Twitter, email, text messages, and telepathy.

Back to the USA!

Tomorrow morning, shuttle times begin at 3:00 am and run through 10:30 am. It’s recommended that we leave the hotel 3-4 hours before flight time. (Ouch.) However, traffic, airport procedures, etc., are variables we don’t want to ignore.
Great Job, Junior Team USA!! I’m proud of the US Junior Team and proud to be an American. 
Until next time, signing off from Santo Domingo and homeward bound in the morning,


Blog #8
Friday, November 13, 2015
by Cheryl Kirk, US Junior Team Leader

Greetings from Santo Domingo, where we saw not a drop of rain all day long!

Coach Cheryl succinctly enthuses, “Great day! Looking forward to several potential GOLDS tomorrow.”
Coach Jen chimes in: “I am incredibly proud of all of the athletes who are still competing at this point in the tournament! A huge congratulations to Erika and Jordan who started us off with our first gold medals today and we are looking to add more tomorrow! We had a few very close and tough matches today. I was extremely impressed with the Esprit doubles play. The matches didn’t go our way, but the kids played great racquetball. I couldn’t be more proud of the kids, their effort, their sportsmanship, and their heart! Tomorrow’s matches are going to be tough and the play will be extraordinary to witness. Akul, Heather, Josh, Kevin, Wayne, Jake, Sam, and Jordan are going to give it all and leave it all on the court. We are all looking forward to cheering you on to your gold medals!”
First things first… Seven wins today, three of which went to tiebreakers. Two (**) were live streamed to the world, including the very exciting Girls 16 Doubles gold medal final vs. Mexico. The club was clearing out by mid-afternoon, but the stands were still packed in front of the two courts still playing. Wayne and Kevin capped off the day with their 11-6 win over Ecuador, and we all started the short walk to the hotel. On the bridge over the street, we ran into the Mahoneys and Sheas who were headed BACK over to the club do a little more practicing before the finals tomorrow! That’s dedication!

G16S: Jordan Cooperrider def. Monserrat Mejia (Mexico), 15-5, 15-11 
** G18S: Lexi York lost to Maria Cespedes (Dominican Republic), 15-11, 7-15, 2-11
B18S: Daniel Rojas lost to Andree Parrilla (Mexico), 11-15, 5-15
G14D: Elena Dent/Graciana Wargo lost to Canada, 9-15, 15-13, 6-11
** G16D: Erika Manilla/Jordan Cooperrider def. Mejia/Ramirez (Mexico), 13-15, 15-5, 11-5
B14D: Mitchell Turner/Julian Singh lost to Ecuador, 7-15, 14-15
B16D: Wayne Antone/Kevin Vazquez def. Ecuador, 15-10, 3-15, 11-6
B18D: Sam Bredenbeck/Jake Birnel def. Costa Rica, 15-5, 15-10
G10S: Heather Mahoney def. Guatemala, 15-2, 15-3
B10S Blue: Vedant Chauhan lost to Colombia, 10-15, 13-15
B10S White: Josh Shea def. Ecuador, 15-3, 15-10
B12S: Akul Ramayani def. Mexico, 15-2, 15-1
B12S Red: Tommy Andraos lost to Bolivia, 5-15, 8-15
B10D: Vedant Chauhan/Josh Shea lost to Mexico, 15-10, 9-15, 10-11
G12D: Heather Mahoney/Julia Stein lost to Bolivia, 9-15, 10-15
Jody Rocks!
Jody Nance works the longest hours of anyone here. She is available to all of the players in her athletic trainer role at the beginning of the day and after matches until late in the evening. During the day, she is not only our athletic trainer but also an assistant coach. Shamefully, I asked her about the tender spot on the inside of my elbow that has been bothering me for a while. I not only got a likely diagnosis -- medial epicondylitis (aka overblogging?) -- but she also pulled out her kinesiotape (brand name: Rock Tape) and made me look (and feel) like one of the cool kids. I just wish it would last until our local Turkey Shoot tournament next weekend. The photo will have to do… Warm thanks to Jody for helping me and for being a godsend to Team USA!
Happy Birthday, Alanna Shea!
Alanna (sister of Esprit player Josh) turns 16 tomorrow. What a great sport she is to be celebrating such an important milestone in her life supporting her brother at Junior Worlds! The delegation surprised her tonight with a cake and singing. I know Josh will play his heart out tomorrow in the finals of the Boys 10 Singles White division in his sister’s honor. Alanna will celebrate her birthday with her friends when she gets back to New York.
Questions of the Day
What is your happiest memory?
Wayne Antone – Making the Junior National Team for the first time
Akul Ramayani – Winning my first Nationals
Antonio Rojas – Winning 6 and Under Worlds in 2008
Brittany Click – Prom
Hollie Scott – Going on all the rollercoasters at Six Flags
Erika Manilla – All of my happiest memories come from when I was spending time with my family. One was for my 16th birthday. All of my sisters flew into town, and my brother came down from college, and I came home and they all hid in my room and surprised me.
Briana Jacquet – When I was finally able to bring my puppy home
Nikita Chauhan – Junior Worlds last year in Cali, Colombia
Graciana Wargo – Going to the amusement park with my best friends
Vedant Chauhan – Living in India with the rest of my family
Julia Stein – My brothers going off to college
Heather Mahoney – Being at Disneyland with family
Sage Hartman – My family dinners, especially tonight.
Raina Hartman – When we moved into our new house, and I slept in my own room in my new bed!
Three words to describe you would be _________, _________, and ________.
Daniel Rojas -- Respectful, trustworthy, and honest
Wayne Antone – Funny, charismatic, happy
Akul Ramayani – Naughty, fun, loving
Antonio Rojas – Athletic, funny, outgoing
Brittany Click – Hardworking, caring, and honest
Hollie Scott – Funny, space cadet, and dog-loving
Erika Manilla – Outgoing, athletic, caring
Briana Jacquet – Dedicated, loyal, godly
Nikita Chauhan – Daring, fun loving, and thoughtful
Elena Dent – Competitive, athletic, loyal
Graciana Wargo – Fun, sweet, and funny
Vedant Chauhan – Athletic, humorous, smart
Josh Shea – Funny, athletic, smart
Julia Stein – Spunky, short, awesome
Heather Mahoney – Funny, crazy, unique
Sage Hartman – Kind, respectful, silly
Raina Hartman – Creative, funny, and nice!
Okay, it’s down to the wire, Blog #8, and I know you’ve been waiting all week for this question. Deep breath, here we go…
For $5,000, would you eat a bowl of live crickets?
Wayne Antone – YES!!
Akul Ramayani – No way
Antonio Rojas – No, but I’d do it for $10 million
Mitchell Turner – Yes, if I could put chocolate on them
Brittany Click – Never in my entire life!
Hollie Scott – Gross…no…need more money
Erika Manilla – Alive or dead: If dead, yes; if alive, no
Briana Jacquet – NO
Nikita Chauhan – Nope
Elena Dent – Nooooooooo!!
Graciana Wargo – Ya
James D’Ambrogia – Yes
Vedant Chauhan – NO!
Josh Shea – Yes!
Julia Stein – No, you’d have to up the ante a lot.
Heather Mahoney – Umm…no thank you J
Sage Hartman – NO WAY!
Raina Hartman – I would smash them and eat them, YES!
Guest Respondents:
Jody Nance -- Nooooooo!
Cheryl Kirk – Absolutely not, ever.
Jen Meyer – I would have to be extremely desperate, and it would have to be a lot more than $5k!

Saturday Schedule (Horario de sábado) 

In order to send the right vibes at the correct times, recall that the time here in Santo Domingo is one hour later than Eastern. I can’t predict the streaming schedule, but I hope the U.S. gets some exposure on the short schedule tomorrow!


11:00 -- G16S: Jordan Cooperrider vs. Ana Gabriela Martinez (Guatemala)
11:00 -- B10S White: Josh Shea vs. Elner Andre Loza Mercado (Bolivia)
11:00 -- B12S: Akul Ramayani vs. Carlos Esparza (Mexico)
12:00 -- G10S: Heather Mahoney vs. Angela Veronica Ortega Sabido (Mexico)
2:00 -- B18D: Sam Bredenbeck/Jake Birnel vs. Andree Parrilla/Erik Garcia (Mexico)
2:00 -- B16D: Wayne Antone/Kevin Vazquez vs. Cristian Longoria/Gerardo Franco (Mexico)

One more blog tomorrow … GO TEAM USA!!

Blog #7
Thursday, November 12, 2015
by Cheryl Kirk, US Junior Team Leader


Live streaming commenced today, and five US matches were broadcast to the world (see ** below). Planning on more tomorrow… It’s exciting to have Team USA on the world stage!
Hearing from Esprit Coach Jen Meyer, “The kiddos had a long day of well-fought matches! They all left their hearts on the court and played their hardest!  We still have a lot of racquetball to go in the last two days. With semifinals and finals coming up, the kiddos will have to continue to play hard and stay tough mentally. As the rounds progress, so does the chanting and cheering for each country! Team USA supporters can be very proud of these athletes and their efforts. Looking forward to some amazing matches tomorrow!”
The World Cup Team won 7 of their 11 matches today while the Esprit Team won 5 out of 11. The entire delegation was on hand to cheer on the players ("USA! USA!"), and other delegations were cheering similarly for their countries, so the club was rocking from morning 'til evening.
Thursday’s Results
** G16S: Erika Manilla lost to Guatemala 11-15, 9-15
G16S: Jordan Cooperrider def. Mexico, 15-11, 15-4
G14S: Briana Jacquet lost to Bolivia, 11-15, 14-15
G18S: Lexi York def. Canada, 12-15, 15-5, 11-7
B14S: Akul Ramayani lost to Bolivia, 8-15, 11-15
B18S: Daniel Rojas def. Ecuador, 15-6, 15-9
** G14D: Elena Dent/Graciana Wargo def. Ireland, 15-12, 13-15, 11-7
B16D: Wayne Antone/Kevin Vazquez def. Guatemala, 15-3, 15-2
B14D: Mitchell Turner/Julian Singh def. Costa Rica, 15-14, 1-15, 11-9
** G18D: Lexi York/Hollie Scott lost to Mexico, 4-15, 15-4, 10-11
B18D: Sam Bredenbeck/Jake Birnel def. Bolivia, 15-3, 15-8
** G12S: Julia Stein lost to Mexico, 5-15, 8-15
G10S: Heather Mahoney (USA) def. Raina Hartman (USA)
G10S: Sage Hartman lost to Guatemala
** B10S Blue: Vedant Chauhan def. Ecuador, 15-6, 15-1
B10S White: Josh Shea def. Costa Rica, 15-3, 15-4
B12S Red: Tommy Andraos def. Bolivia, 15-7, 15-14
B12S Red: James D’Ambrogia lost to Bolivia, 8-15, 3-15
G12D: Heather Mahoney/Julia Stein lost to Mexico, 2-15, 4-15
G10D: Raina Hartman/Sage Hartman lost to Guatemala, 0-15, 3-15
B12D: Tommy Andraos/James D’Ambrogia lost to Ecuador, 6-15, 15-10, 2-11
B10D: Vedant Chauhan/Josh Shea def. Costa Rica, 15-5, 15-8
Men (Temporarily) Without a Country
The IRF has worked hard to provide a great experience for the Junior players, and this includes the fact that these days players rarely, if ever, have to referee after losing a match. There are several Americans here who fulfill that role. While they are here, they will never ref a match involving an American player, and they have to keep a low profile relative to rooting for Team USA because of the need to preserve the image and reputation of referee neutrality. We’d like to thank them, though, for their service to the Juniors and to racquetball. They are: Tim Baghurst (OK), Gary Mazaroff (NM), Bronc Hughes (CA), Gustavo Farell (TX), and first-timer Dean Schear (CO).
Tim, Gary, and Gustavo are pulling double duty providing color commentary for’s Rick Glazebrook (MO) who is administrating live streaming.
Welcome to Terra Leigh Baghurst, Tim’s wife, who arrived today and hopes to actually set eyes on her husband sometime over the next few days.
Featured Coach of the Day – Cheryl Gudinas
Head Coach Gudinas lives in Naperville, IL, and her occupations are Personal Trainer, Vet Assistant, and Pro Tour Player (32 years). Her family consists of her mom Pat and her dad Bill, Aunt Joy and Uncle Lou, and several cousins. Her dogs Diego and Newman are valued family members as well!
Cheryl started playing at age 15 when her mom took her to play at Benedictine University, and the rest is history.
(Check out
What was your most memorable moment(s) in racquetball?
Probably the two times I won the US Open, especially the first time in 2002. I also loved all of the national events in Houston. That became my home-away-from-home, and I miss it tremendously. I also am very proud of my performance in the 2011 Pan American Games.
Cheryl lists her hobbies as watching movies, reading (mainly legal fiction and non-fiction), cycling, ping pong, and spreading awareness of animals and rescue.
Cheryl says, “I would like to recognize my best friend, Kelley Beane, my parents, and coaches Kelley, Jim Hiser, strength coach Tim Lang, and all the people who support me year after year, including my practice partners back home. Special shout-out to closest LPRT friends Kerri Wachtel, Susy Acosta, TJ Baumbaugh, Jen Saunders, Lauren Sheprow, Queen Bee Machiran, and Janet Myers. Also, thanks to current and former Junior Team coaches Jen Meyer, Jody Nance, Jeff Conine, Shane Wood, Nick Montalbano, Andy Pitock, and Mitt Layton.”
When asked about her philosophy on life, she replied, “To surround yourself with an excellent support system and to treat all living things with kindness and compassion. The one thing that I think everyone knows I'm about is loving animals. I strive to do the best I can to create awareness about animal abuse. I would like to bring awareness to young children so that over time the world becomes a better place. 
Questions of the Day
If you could travel back in time three years and visit your younger self, what advice would you give yourself?
Daniel Rojas – Don’t be stupid.
Wayne Antone – Do better in school.
Akul Ramayani – Enjoy the time you have. Life’s too short.
Antonio Rojas – Control your temper.
Brittany Click – Make more memories with family and friends.
Hollie Scott – Do what you want to do and not worry about other’s opinions…and adopt 17 dogs.
Nikita Chauhan – Don’t care about what others think about you, be yourself.
Graciana Wargo – Be confident in who you are, make friends, and BE YOU.
James D’Ambrogia – Get organized.
Vedant Chauhan – Have a positive attitude and remain respectful.
Julia Stein – Stop fighting with all of the girls.
Heather Mahoney – Never give up – it pays off.
Sage Hartman – “Stay away from drama.”
Raina Hartman – Don’t worry about “bad stuff happening” because you will live until 9 years old and likely longer!
If you could make one rule that everyone in the world had to follow, what rule would you make? Why?
Akul Ramayani – No suicide.
Antonio Rojas – No cursing.
Brittany Click – Rules against verbal and physical harm because those forms of violence affect people in many negative ways.
Hollie Scott – No more animal abuse, because animals are cute and loving to everyone.
Erika Manilla – Play racquetball, so we can become an Olympic sport.
Nikita Chauhan – To treat each other with respect because the world would be a much better place.
Graciana Wargo – Can’t lie! You would always know what you are dealing with.
Vedant Chauhan – Treat everybody else equal, so people are treated just as well as others.
Julia Stein – Don’t commit crime. Earth would be a utopia.
Heather Mahoney – Be kind because that’s really important
Sage Hartman – Only two people on a teeter-totter. It’s unsafe to have more than two at a time.
Raina Hartman – Schools must serve pancakes at least once a week!
It’s Friday Already??  (¿¿Es viernes ya??)
Just two days to go. It’s amazing, when you arrive here, it seems like the trip is going to last forever. But then the days start running together. (Overheard in the elevator: “What time is it? Um, what day is it?”) All of a sudden it’s Friday, and the players and cheerleaders realize our time together is growing short. But what a fantastic experience! Please send lots of telepathic good luck wishes to Team USA tomorrow…
10:00 -- G16S: Jordan Cooperrider vs. Mexico
11:00 -- G18S: Lexi York vs. Dominican Republic
12:00 -- B18S: Daniel Rojas vs. Mexico
1:00 -- G14D: Elena Dent/Graciana Wargo vs. Canada
2:00 -- G16D: Erika Manilla/Jordan Cooperrider vs. Mexico (finals)
3:00 -- B14D: Mitchell Turner/Julian Singh vs. Ecuador
4:00 -- B16D: Wayne Antone/Kevin Vazquez vs. Ecuador
4:00 -- B18D: Sam Bredenbeck/Jake Birnel vs. Costa Rica
9:00 -- G10S: Heather Mahoney vs. Guatemala
10:00 -- B10S Blue: Vedant Chauhan vs. Colombia
10:00 -- B10S White: Josh Shea vs. Ecuador
11:00 – B12S: Akul Ramayani vs. Mexico
11:00 -- B12S Red: Tommy Andraos vs. Bolivia (finals)
1:00 -- B10D: Vedant Chauhan/Josh Shea vs. Mexico
1:00 -- G12D: Heather Mahoney/Julia Stein vs. Bolivia

Blog #6
Wednesday, November 11, 2015
by Cheryl Kirk, US Junior Team Leader
Coach Cheryl Gudinas recapped the day: "It was a tough day with several tough losses. But in those, everyone played their hearts out. Love every player on this team. We are super optimistic about tomorrow."
Esprit Coach Jen Meyer reports, "The jitters are working themselves out and the kiddos are playing more and more relaxed every point. Super proud of them giving their all each and every match! We have a lot of matches tomorrow, and we are looking forward to leaving it all on the court!"
G18S: Lexi York def. Dominican Republic, 15-2, 15-4
G18S: Brittany Click lost to Costa Rica, 5-15, 3-15
G16S: Erika Manilla def. Korea, 15-1, 15-2
G16S: Jordan Cooperrider def. Colombia, 15-1, 15-1
G14S: Briana Jacquet def. Ecuador 15-2, 15-7
G14S: Nikita Chauhan lost to Dominican Republic, 11-15, 12-15
B14S: Akul Ramayani def. Ecuador, 15-7, 15-6
B14S: Antonio Rojas lost to Costa Rica, 7-15, 7-15
B18S: Sam Bredenbeck lost to Mexico, 15-8, 1-15, 7-11
B18S: Daniel Rojas def. Ecuador, 15-4, 15-3
G16D: Erika Manilla/Jordan Cooperrider def. Bolivia, 15-3, 15-14
G14D: Elena Dent/Graciana Wargo lost to Ecuador, 0-15, 5-15
B16S: Daniel Rojas lost to Canada, 15-3, 10-15, 3-11
B16S: Justus Benson lost to Costa Rica, 12-15, 10-15
B12S: Antonio Rojas lost to Mexico, 10-15, 15-12, 7-11
B12S: Akul Ramayani def. Mexico, 15-2, 15-1
B10S: Vedant Chauhan lost to Mexico, 15-13, 7-15, 7-11
B10S Red: Josh Shea lost to Bolivia, 11-15, 5-15
B12S Red: Tommy Andraos def. Argentina, 15-0, 15-5
B12S Red: James D’Ambrogia def. Ireland, 15-8, 15-4
G10D: Raina Hartman/Sage Hartman lost to Mexico
Featured Coach of the Day – Jeff Conine
Jeff was born in Tacoma, WA, but grew up in Rialto, CA, about 60 miles east of
Los Angeles. He attended UCLA for three years and was drafted by the Kansas City Royals after his junior year. “I was very fortunate to be able to play Major League Baseball for 16 years. I currently work for the Miami Marlins as a special assistant to the
How/when did you begin playing racquetball? “My dad was a long-time handball player and ended up injuring his shoulder. He then made the switch to racquetball, and that is when I started playing at age 10. I dabbled for a couple years until a friend went to a Junior Nationals and told me how awesome it was. That is when I went crazy with
racquetball. It became my passion. Probably my best racquetball memory was winning Junior Nationals in Newport Beach.”
Jeff’s other interests are “collecting wine, playing tennis (just started), and for a long time being around my three children and watching them grow and compete in their various endeavors. My two oldest are in college now, and I have a freshman in high school.”
He added, “I want to thank coach Cheryl Gudinas for having the crazy idea to invite me to be a coach and my wife Cindy for encouraging me to be a part of the team. It has truly been a joy to be around these kids and be a part of their world championship journey. It has rekindled my love for the sport, and I hope to be able to come back for many more (if Cheryl will have me).”
Parents (and Others) Pitch In
With a delegation of this size (65), everything can’t get done without help. For example, as I was struggling to get all of the credentials to everyone right before opening ceremonies last Saturday, Kathleen Wargo stepped right in to assist, and it quickly turned painless. Amy D’Ambrogia has set up an iCloud photo sharing site, and Melissa York always has snacks for those in need of one (or two).
It has been the tradition of the World Cup Team to eat dinner together before or after their nightly team meeting. Thanks to the annual efforts of Nancy Manilla, sponsors are identified to donate the meals. Often, it’s parents. Here on the ground, if you have sponsored a meal, you also arrange to have it delivered or served. One night it was in the hotel restaurant, and another night it was pizza. Last night the group walked to a nearby restaurant for an Italian meal. Tonight it was dinner served in the pool area. Thanks to all, and here’s a rundown of who is sponsoring each night’s meal:
Sunday -- Jacquet / Dent / Wargo families
Monday -- Legacy Real Estate and Associates (Jennifer Singh)
Tuesday – Illinois State Racquetball Association (Cheryl Kirk) and Don Birnel
Wednesday -- Oregon Parents – Antone / York / Turner
Thursday -- Manilla / Cooperrider / Rojas families
Friday – USRF (Bredenbeck) / Chauhan family
Saturday – Jeff Conine


Questions of the Day
Where is your favorite place in the world?
Wayne Antone – my bed
Akul Ramayani – New York
Mitchell Turner – Italy
Brittany Click – the beach
Hollie Scott – at the lake in Oconomowoc, WI
Erika Manilla – Olympic Training Center
Briana Jacquet – Hawaii
Nikita Chauhan – Disneyland!!!
Elena Dent -- home
Graciana Wargo – wherever my best friends are
James D’Ambrogia – Hawaii
Vedant Chauhan -- India
Julia Stein – San Diego
Heather Mahoney -- home
Sage Hartman – Minnesota, I like the snow!
Raina Hartman – I’ve learned a lot about London, and it sounds like a cool place
If you could give one gift to every single child in the world, what gift would you give?
Wayne Antone – a full stomach
Akul Ramayani – candy
Mitchell Turner -- $3,000
Brittany Click – a family that loves them unconditionally
Erika Manilla – what I learned in Nicaragua is that love can last a lifetime where objects are only temporary.
Briana Jacquet – I would give the advice, “You are in control of your own life, you can do or become anything you desire.”
Nikita Chauhan – a storybook
Elena Dent -- Bible
Graciana Wargo – LOVE
James D’Ambrogia – Unlimited food and water
Vedant Chauhan -- equality
Josh Shea – Food
Julia Stein – a happy life
Heather Mahoney -- Happiness
Sage Hartman -- $20 – it’s hard to know what they would like, they can pick it out with the $$.
Raina Hartman – a book, because I like to read. The book title is “Smile.”


Thursday (that’s Jueves) at World Juniors
Live streaming begins tomorrow, but I’m unsure of the schedule at present. As mentioned yesterday, please go to the IRF website – -- to gain access to the streaming. Twenty matches tomorrow, and Team USA will be out in full force as both players and team members.
World Cup
11:30 -- G16S: Erika Manilla vs. Guatemala
11:30 – G16S: Jordan Cooperrider vs. Mexico
11:30 – G14S: Briana Jacquet vs. Bolivia
12:15 -- G18S: Lexi York vs. Canada
12:15 – B14S: Akul Ramayani vs. Bolivia
1:00 – B18S: Daniel Rojas vs. Ecuador
3:00 – G14D: Elena Dent/Graciana Wargo vs. Ireland
4:00 -- B16D: Wayne Antone/Kevin Vazquez vs. Guatemala
4:00 -- B14D: Mitchell Turner/Julian Singh vs. Costa Rica
5:00 -- G18D: Lexi York/Hollie Scott vs. Mexico
5:00 -- B18D: Sam Bredenbeck/Jake Birnel vs. Bolivia
No match scheduled -- G16D: Erika Manilla/Jordan Cooperrider
Esprit Cup
9:00 -- G12S: Julia Stein vs. Mexico
9:00 -- G10S: Raina Hartman (USA) vs. Heather Mahoney (USA)
9:00 -- G10S: Sage Hartman vs. Guatemala
10:30 – B12S Red: Tommy Andraos vs. Bolivia
10:30 – B12S Red: James D’Ambrogia vs. Bolivia
2:00 -- G12D: Heather Mahoney/Julia Stein vs. Mexico
2:00 -- G10D: Raina Hartman/Sage Hartman vs. Guatemala
2:00 -- B12D: Tommy Andraos/James D’Ambrogia vs. Ecuador
3:00 -- B10D: Vedant Chauhan/Josh Shea vs. Costa Rica

Blog #5
Tuesday, November 10, 2015
by Cheryl Kirk, US Junior Team Leader
There was much joy in Mudville, er, Santo Domingo, today as the World Cup team won 12 of their 15 matches and the Esprit kids won 4 of 7. Win or lose, we were all so proud of our players!Tomorrow begins “the main event,” i.e. the second half of the tournament that decides individual and team medal winners. The results of the past three days determined the seeding going forward, and the draws are set and ready to be competed. But first, today’s results…
G14S: Nikita Chauhan lost to Mexico, 3-15, 1-14
G16S: Erika Manilla def. Honduras, 15-2, 15-1
G18S: Lexi York def. Dominican Republic, 15-12, 15-6
G16S: Jordan Cooperrider def. Ecuador, 15-3, 15-9
B16S: Daniel Rojas def. Guatemala, 15-2, 15-1
B16S: Justus Benson def. Honduras, 15-4, 15-9
B14S: Akul Ramayani def. Canada, 15-0, 15-4
B14S: Antonio Rojas def. Canada, 15-5, 15-1
B18S: Daniel Rojas def. Bolivia, 15-6, 15-8    
G14D: Elena Dent/Graciana Wargo lost to Dominican Republic, 4-15, 7-15
B14D: Mitchell Turner/Julian Singh lost to Mexico. 0-15, 12-15
G18D: Lexi York/Hollie Scott def. Guatemala, 15-9, 15-9
G16D: Erika Manilla/Jordan Cooperrider def. Ecuador, 15-0, 15-1
B18D: Sam Bredenbeck/Jake Birnel def. Guatemala. 15-6, 9-15, 11-6
B16D: Wayne Antone/Kevin Vazquez def. Honduras, 15-4, 8-15, 11-8 
B18S: Sam Bredenbeck
G18S: Brittany Click
G14S: Briana Jacquet
G10S: Raina Hartman lost to Mexico, 8-15, 2-15
G10S: Heather Mahoney def. Guatemala, 15-0, 15-5
B12S: Akul Ramayani def. Bolivia, 15-1, 15-4
B12S: Antonio Rojas def. Ecuador, 15-6, 15-6
B12D: Tommy Andraos/James D’Ambrogia lost to Bolivia, 15-13, 11-15, 6-11
B10D: Vedant Chauhan/Josh Shea def. Costa Rica, 15-1, 15-2
G12D: Heather Mahoney/Julia Stein lost to Bolivia, 5-15, 2-15
B12S Red: Tommy Andraos
B12S Red: James D’Ambrogia
G12S: Julia Stein
B10S: Vedant Chauhan
B10S Red: Josh Shea
G10S: Sage Hartman
G10D: Raina Hartman/Sage Hartman

I’m proud to bring you a story of US Junior Team sportsmanship. At match point in his 14 Singles today, Antonio (also known as Tatoe) Rojas discovered that the ball had broken in the final rally. Neither the referee nor his opponent noticed, and the referee was walking away to turn in the scores. Tatoe, ball in hand, went after the ref and said, “The ball is broken.” The match continued, and Tatoe did win. He likely would have won anyway, but the point is, he did the right thing for the right reasons. Nice going, Tatoe, you’re a class act!

Featured Coach of the Day -- Jen Meyer
Jen was born in Lake City, IA, and raised in Fruita, CO. Her family includes “my mom Becky and stepdad Dave, my sister Amy and her husband David, my dad Dallas, my nieces Lucy and Abby, my brother Andy and his wife Kathy, my nephew Ryan and also a yet-to-be born nephew due Christmas Day!”
Jen holds two degrees – a Bachelor of Arts and a Master of Arts in Elementary Education. She is a “mean, rotten, and ornery 4th grade teacher.”
When asked how she got started playing racquetball, she replied, “When my mom and dad joined an athletic club, they got my siblings and me involved there as well. At 12 years old, I got on the court and hit and tried to figure it out. I never had a coach until I made the National Team in 1992/93, the year after the program started. Junior Worlds was always in Florida back when we were kids. We traveled on a goodwill tour in Europe in the summer of 1993, visiting countries like the Netherlands, Belgium, and Germany.”
Favorite memories in racquetball?  “My first Junior Nationals in Columbus, OH, and also (as a coach) the year the U.S. won Junior Worlds after a long dry spell of losing to Mexico several years in a row.”
Besides racquetball, Jen also enjoys volleyball, hiking, traveling, NLP, and any activities with friends and family. For their support, she recognizes her family; former Head Coach Kelley Beane; Anthony Herrera; the current coaches here in Santo Domingo; and her “school kiddos.”
Jen summarizes, “I feel fortunate to be able to travel the world coaching kids in a sport that I love and that has given so much back to me. You meet such amazing people from around the world who become lifelong friends!”

Jen Meyer, you are one of those amazing people. What would we do without you??
Now it’s time for…
Questions of the Day!
If you could grow up to be famous, what would you want to be famous for?
Daniel Rojas – helping people in need
Wayne Antone – being a professional racquetball player
Akul Ramayani – kind human being
Mitchell Turner – racquetball
Brittany Click – famous athlete
Hollie Scott – inventing something amazing
Erika Manilla -- racquetball
Briana Jacquet – racquetball
Nikita Chauhan – maybe racquetball
Graciana Wargo – acting
James D’Ambrogia – racquetball
Julia Stein – putting racquetball into the Olympics
Heather Mahoney – racquetball and being an actor
Sage Hartman -- racquetball
Raina Hartman – I want to be an author of children’s books
What is the best gift you have ever received? Why was it so special?
Wayne Antone – cell phone because I can text my ladies
Akul Ramayani – National Championship three years in a row
Mitchell Turner -- money, ‘cause I can buy stuff
Brittany Click – a puppy (Brandie) because she is the most loving, caring, and irreplaceable animal that I will ever have <3
Hollie Scott – my dog, Milo. He is my baby. <3
Erika Manilla – my first phone because I finally had something that everyone had
Nikita Chauhan – a penny board because it’s really fun to ride it
Graciana Wargo – my iPhone, I use it every day
Vedant Chauhan -- racquetball
Josh Shea – my lizard because he is my first pet of my own
Julia Stein – Daisy, my pet dog. All of the years of begging finally paid off.
Heather Mahoney – I received a Christmas gift to go to Disneyland with my cousins
Sage Hartman – a card from my grandma, because she said nice things
Raina Hartman – when I was 5, I went on a trip to Arizona for my birthday gift and first trip on an airplane
Team Leader Chronicles
Last night the blog was finished, Words with Friends was played, teeth were brushed, and the light went out about 2:00 a.m. At 3:17 a.m….rinnngggg! "Hello?" It was Coach Cheryl, suffering a bad moment because…
“My phone is dead. It’s totally dead. I can’t go six or seven days without a phone, I just can’t!”
 “Have you plugged it in all the outlets in the room?”
“Yes, it’s dead! No, wait a minute…it’s starting to power up again. But there has to be something wrong with it.”
“Okay, I understand your concern, let’s see how it’s doing in the morning.”
“Can you call me at 8:00 a.m. to make sure I’m awake?”
Happy news, the phone is fine. Another crisis averted. We re-enacted the scene for some parents and athletes, and I must say it was a lot funnier this afternoon than it was at 3:17 a.m. Coach Cheryl realized in retrospect that she probably jumped the gun a bit and could have tried a soft reset before sounding the alarm. (Yeah.)
By the way, coincidentally, my room number here is 411. Really. This is a trend, I think, that our delegation is coming to depend on me for information, and I do take enormous pride in helping out. But this could get out of hand, as Amy D’Ambrogia pointed out. “You know we’re going to be calling you for help when we get back home. If the washing machine breaks, call Cheryl. If a certain kid misbehaves, Cheryl will be on the next plane. And so on.”
Wait a minute.
This job description is evolving in an unexpected direction. Message to US Delegation – I love you guys, but November 15 is a full stop on the team leader thing. At least until next year…unless you really need something...
Miercoles (that’s Wednesday) at World Juniors
Here we go! Send good thoughts to the US Junior Team, and be sure to go to to prepare for live streaming Thursday through Saturday! 
9:45 -- G18S: Lexi York vs. Dominican Republic
9:45 -- G18S: Brittany Click vs. Costa Rica
11:30 -- G16S: Erika Manilla vs. Korea
11:30 -- G16S: Jordan Cooperrider vs. Colombia
12:15 -- G14S: Briana Jacquet vs. Ecuador
12:15 -- G14S: Nikita Chauhan vs. Dominican Republic
2:00 -- B14S: Akul Ramayani vs. Ecuador
2:00 -- B14S: Antonio Rojas vs. Costa Rica
3:00 -- B18S: Sam Bredenbeck vs. Mexico
3:00 -- B18S: Daniel Rojas vs. winner of Puerto Rico and Ecuador
4:00 -- G16D: Erika Manilla/Jordan Cooperrider vs. Bolivia
4:00 -- G14D: Elena Dent/Graciana Wargo vs. Ecuador
5:00 -- B16S: Daniel Rojas vs. winner of Honduras vs. Canada
5:00 -- B16S: Justus Benson vs. Costa Rica
9:45 -- B12S: Antonio Rojas vs. Mexico
9:45 -- B12S Akul Ramayani vs. Mexico
10:30 -- B10S: Vedant Chauhan vs. Mexico
10:30 -- B10S Red: Josh Shea vs. Bolivia
1:00 -- B12S Red: Tommy Andraos vs. Argentina
1:00 -- B12S Red: James D’Ambrogia vs. Ireland
4:00 -- G10D: Raina Hartman/Sage Hartman vs. Mexico
Any divisions not mentioned here play next rounds on Thursday. Good luck to all -- the action is heating up!

Extra special greetings go to Raina Hartman who is entering double digits on Wednesday – it’s her 10th birthday! We’re so happy to be celebrating with you here at World Juniors, Raina! Happy Birthday to YOU!!
Important P.S.: As our nation celebrates Veteran's Day, the US Junior Delegation is grateful to all the men and women who have protected our freedom. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you.

Commemorated as Armistice Day beginning the following year, November 11th became a legal federal holiday in the United States in 1938. In the aftermath of World War II and the Korean War, Armistice Day became Veterans Day, a holiday dedicated to American veterans of all wars.  --

Blog #4
Monday, November 9, 2015
by Cheryl Kirk, US Junior Team Leader
One of the most exciting matches of the day was Lexi York’s 18 Singles. She was down 0-7 in the tiebreaker vs. a tough Costa Rican player and came back to win it 11-10! Adrenaline was flowing both on and off the court – it’s not easy being a spectator!
Three other tiebreakers didn’t have as happy an outcome – Sam lost a tough one to Guatemala, 10-11, Lexi and Hollie lost to Canada 9-11, and Julian and Mitchell lost to Canada, 10-11. Great matches, great rallies, fantastic players on both sides -- looking forward to watching these guys tomorrow and into the medal rounds later this week! Nine World Cup matches had favorable outcomes today, as did five Esprit matches (if you count the USA vs. USA match-up, which is never easy!).
G14S: Briana Jacquet lost to Dominican Republic, 5-15, 5-15
G14S: Nikita Chauhan def. Puerto Rico, 15-11, 15-5
G16S: Erika Manilla def. Colombia, 15-1, 15-1 
G18S: Lexi York def. Costa Rica, 15-9, 10-15, 11-10
G18S: Brittany Click lost to Costa Rica, 13-15, 5-15
G16S: Jordan Cooperrider def. Puerto Rico, 15-0, 15-1
B16S: Daniel Rojas def. Korea, 15-3, 15-4
B16S: Justus Benson def. Korea, 15-12, 15-5
B14S: Akul Ramayani def. Chile, 15-10, 15-6
B14S: Antonio Rojas lost to Chile, 3-15, 2-15
B18S: Sam Bredenbeck lost to Guatemala, 5-15, 15-3, 10-11
B18S: Daniel Rojas def. Guatemala, 15-9, 15-10
G14D: Elena Dent/Graciana Wargo lost to Mexico, 5-15, 2-15
G18D: Lexi York/Hollie Scott lost to Canada, 15-12, 14-15, 9-11
B18D: Sam Bredenbeck/Jake Birnel def. Ecuador, 15-4, 15-6
B14D: Mitchell Turner/Julian Singh lost to Canada, 10-15, 15-8, 10-11
BYE -- B16D: Wayne Antone/Kevin Vazquez 
BYE -- G16D: Erika Manilla/Jordan Cooperrider
G10S: Heather Mahoney (USA) def. Raina Hartman (USA) 15-0, 15-2
B10S: Vedant Chauhan def. Argentina
B10S: Josh Shea lost to Colombia
G12S: Julia Stein lost to Mexico, 6-15, 4-15
B12S Red: Tommy Andraos def. Costa Rica, 15-2, 15-1
B12S Red: James D’Ambrogia def. Ecuador, 6-15, 15-9, 11-6
G10S: Sage Hartman lost to Guatemala
B12D: Tommy Andraos/James D’Ambrogia lost to Ecuador, 10-15, 8-15
B10D: Vedant Chauhan/Josh Shea def. Ireland, 15-3,15-11
G12D: Heather Mahoney/Julia Stein lost to Mexico, 8-15, 2-15
G10D: Raina Hartman/Sage Hartman lost to Guatemala, 2-15, 2-15
BYE -- B12S: Antonio Rojas 

BYE -- B12S: Akul Ramayani


Hartman Girls "Hold Court" at World Juniors!

Raina and Sage Hartman are the youngest U.S. kids here at 9 years old. Andrea Hartman had this to say on Facebook: “Raina might be one of the tallest 4th graders in Minnesota, but these girls from Guatemala make Raina look short. Raina and Sage are winning the hearts of the tournament. I know this how? The opponents’ parents were cheering for Raina and Sage!”
I completely agree! These little gals are becoming quite popular. Kids from other countries want photos with them, and the tournament desk staff members are smiling ear-to-ear when Raina and Sage (taught well by their mom) go there after losing a match and ask if they are needed to referee. On the court, they are not scoring many points (yet), but their attitudes are wonderful – they love to play! My heart was lost when Sage came up to me during a timeout and asked, “Do you have any advice for me?” I am hoping to see them play racquetball for a very long time!

Chauhans Celebrate Diwali

Diwali (or Deepavali, the "festival of lights") is an ancient Hindu festival celebrated in Autumn (northern hemisphere) or Spring (southern hemisphere) every year. Diwali is one of the largest and brightest festivals in India.
Anuj, Kirti, Nikita, and Vedant Chauhan celebrated Diwali in Santo Domingo today in a couple of different ways. Nikita and Vedant won three matches between the two of them! And, as a gift, Anuj and Kirti brought Krispy Kreme donuts to the club for the US Team players and coaches. Thank you, Chauhan family, and Happy Diwali!
Sean Swarner Pays a Visit
At the US Junior Team camp at the USOC Training Center in Colorado Springs in August, Sean Swarner, a motivational speaker, author, and founder of a non-profit organization, The CancerClimber Association, inspired our junior athletes with stories of his challenges and accomplishments against all odds. Sean, a friend of Assistant Coach Jeff Conine and a resident of Breckenridge, Colorado, decided to take his involvement one step further and flew to the Dominican Republic both to visit his dad who lives here and at the same time support the US Junior Team at Worlds. He was at the club today, and it was truly a pleasure to meet him.
Sean’s book, Keep Climbing: How I Beat Cancer and Reached the Top of the World, is available on his website,, and on Amazon as well. Sean’s book in Kindle version is now downloaded on my iPad. I can’t wait to start reading it…as soon as I finish this blog!
Featured Coach of the Day – Jody Nance
We have four dedicated coaches here who are donating their time and expertise, and I thought you might like to learn more about them. First up is Jody Nance, who serves double duty as the team’s athletic trainer and assistant coach. Jody presently hails from Lodi, CA, but she was born into a military family serving in Neubruke, Germany, and grew up in Salinas, CA.
Jody holds both a Doctorate and a Master of Science in Physical Therapy as well as a Bachelor of Science in Human Performance. Her occupation is physical therapist and part-time adjunct professor.
Jody’s family includes son Logan (20), daughter Jordan (16), boyfriend Jim, and two dogs, Princess and Koda Bear. She enjoys working in her garden, spinning, and doing “mom stuff” like supporting her kids in their activities.
Jody started playing racquetball at age 22 after her eligibility for track was up in college. Her favorite racquetball memory is actually about someone else (not surprising): it was when José Rojas beat David Ortega of Mexico at Junior Worlds in Cochabamba, Bolivia (2007).
When asked whom she would like to recognize for their lifelong support, Jody was quick to first name her mom, Dottie, who passed away several years ago. She thanks her kids for encouraging her to take coaching trips, and she is grateful to Dave and John Ellis and the 209 crew for motivating her to be better and to do more for the sport.
Here in Santo Domingo, Jody works non-stop from dawn to late at night in support of the US Junior Team, and we couldn’t be more grateful!
Questions of the Day
As promised, here are two more from the Q&A list, with lots more to come!
Favorite subject in school?
Wayne Antone – Environmental Studies
Akul Ramayani – Math
Mitchell Turner – CAD
Brittany Click -- Chemistry
Hollie Scott – History
Erika Manilla – Athletic training
Briana Jacquet – Biology
Nikita Chauhan – French
Elena Dent -- Latin
James D’Ambrogia – Jazz band
Vedant Chauhan -- Math
Josh Shea – Math
Julia Stein – Math
Heather Mahoney – Math
Sage Hartman – Math
Raina Hartman – Math & Science
Of all the things you are learning, what do you think will be the most useful when you are an adult?
Daniel Rojas – money management
Wayne Antone – my mad people skillz
Mitchell Turner – Math
Akul Ramayani -- I think that the skill of studying in a good way will help me most throughout life.
Brittany Click – Anatomy and Physiology will be most important since I am planning on working as a nurse.
Hollie Scott – Biology
Erika Manilla – Anatomy
Briana Jacquet – Patience
Nikita Chauhan – Biology, because I want to do something with science when I grow up.
Graciana Wargo – Spanish
Vedant Chauhan – Manners, responsibility, and Math
Josh Shea – problem solving
Julia Stein – delaying gratification
Heather Mahoney -- percentages
Sage Hartman – Math for daily life, like paying taxes
Raina Hartman – Writing, because I will be able to sign off on stuff with my signature.
It’s Tuesday Already!
It seems like such a long trip when you arrive, then you look around and we’re nearly halfway through the event! Fifteen matches are scheduled for the World Cup team on Tuesday. It will be a lighter day for Coach Jen’s Esprit kids with seven matches and seven byes.
10:30 -- G14S: Nikita Chauhan vs. Mexico
11:30 -- G16S: Erika Manilla vs. Honduras
12:15 -- G18S: Lexi York vs. Dominican Republic
12:15 -- G16S: Jordan Cooperrider vs. Ecuador
1:00 -- B16S: Daniel Rojas vs. Guatemala
1:00 -- B16S: Justus Benson vs. Honduras
1:00 -- B14S: Akul Ramayani vs. Canada
1:00 -- B14S: Antonio Rojas vs. Canada
3:30 -- B18S: Daniel Rojas vs. Bolivia
3:30 -- G14D: Elena Dent/Graciana Wargo vs. Dominican Republic
5:30 -- B14D: Mitchell Turner/Julian Singh vs. Mexico
5:30 -- G18D: Lexi York/Hollie Scott vs. Guatemala
5:30 -- G16D: Erika Manilla/Jordan Cooperrider vs. Ecuador
6:30 -- B18D: Sam Bredenbeck/Jake Birnel vs. Guatemala
6:30 -- B16D: Wayne Antone/Kevin Vazquez vs. Honduras
B18S: Sam Bredenbeck BYE
G18S: Brittany Click BYE
G14S: Briana Jacquet BYE
9:00 -- G10S: Raina Hartman vs. Mexico
9:00 -- G10S: Heather Mahoney vs. Guatemala
9:45 -- B12S: Akul Ramayani vs. Bolivia
10:30 -- B12S: Antonio Rojas vs. Ecuador
4:30 -- B12D: Tommy Andraos/James D’Ambrogia vs. Bolivia
4:30 -- B10D: Vedant Chauhan/Josh Shea vs. Costa Rica
4:30 -- G12D: Heather Mahoney/Julia Stein vs. Bolivia
B12S Red: Tommy Andraos BYE
B12S Red: James D’Ambrogia BYE
G12S: Julia Stein BYE
B10S: Vedant Chauhan BYE
B10S Red: Josh Shea BYE
G10S: Sage Hartman BYE
G10D: Raina Hartman/Sage Hartman BYE
Team USA is playing their hearts out for themselves, their families and friends, their sport, their country, their team, and all of you! Please send tons of good luck in their direction – GO TEAM USA!!
P.S. Streaming information to come…scheduled for Thursday through Saturday.

Blog #3
Sunday, November 8, 2015
by Cheryl Kirk, US Junior Team Leader
On this first day of competition, Team USA was out in full force, 25 matches total, giving it their all on the courts. Head Coach Cheryl Gudinas said, "I think overall we had a good day. All the round robins are tough. So out of our 15 World Cup matches, we won nine against great competition. So it's positive, and I'm proud of that. People don't realize how tough all of these countries are!"
Assistant Coach Jeff Conine added, “I was extremely pleased the way the US Team performed on Day One of the World Championships. There were a lot of first-day nerves that our team had to deal with. Now that we have the jitters taken care of, we will work on bringing home some gold!”
World Cup Results
G14S – Briana Jacquet lost to Bolivia, 5-15, 7-15
G16S – Jordan Cooperrider def. Bolivia, 10-15, 15-3, 11-3
B14S – Antonio Rojas lost to Bolivia, 15-3, 15-1
G18S – Lexi York def. Canada, 15-10, 7-15, 11-2
G18S – Brittany Click lost to Mexico, 4-15, 15-12, 2-11
B16S – Daniel Rojas def. Ecuador, 15-5, 15-1
B16S – Justus Benson def. Ecuador, 15-10, 15-13
G16S – Erika Manilla def. Bolivia 15-1, 15-2
B18S – Sam Bredenbeck lost to Canada, 6-15, 10-15
B14S – Akul Ramayani lost to Bolivia, 7-15, 3-15
B14D – Mitchell Turner/Julian Singh lost to Chile, 13-15, 3-15
G16D – Erika Manilla/Jordan Cooperrider def. Canada, 15-9, 15-5
G18D – Hollie Scott/Lexi York def. Honduras, 15-8, 15-10
B16D – Kevin Vazquez/Wayne Antone def. Bolivia, 15-9, 8-15, 11-4
B18D – Sam Bredenbeck/Jake Birnel def. Bolivia, 15-3, 15-7
Esprit Cup Results
G10S – Sage Hartman lost to Mexico
G10S – Raina Hartman lost to Guatemala
G10S – Heather Mahoney def. Mexico, 15-2, 15-1
B12S – Akul Ramayani def. Bolivia 15-6, 15-8
G12S – Julia Stein lost to Bolivia
B12S – Tommy Andraos lost to Ecuador
B12S – Antonio Rojas def. Bolivia, 15-0, 15-9
B12S – James D’Ambrogia lost to Costa Rica, 14-15, 15-10, 6-11
B10D – Vedant Chauhan/Josh Shea def. Mexico, 15-10, 15-9
G10D – Raina Hartman/Sage Hartman lost to Mexico
For a complete look at the draw sheets, please visit this web address, click a couple of times, and you’re in:
Now for a wildly popular regular feature: Question of the Day. In fact, I gave the team so many questions to answer, I’ll do TWO each day. What do you think of THAT? Here we go…we’ll start with some basics.
What is your favorite TV show?
Wayne Antone – The Blacklist
Mitchell Turner – The League
Brittany Click – Grey’s Anatomy
Hollie Scott – The Walking Dead and Devious Maids
Erika Manilla – Grey’s Anatomy
Briana Jacquet – I Love Lucy
Nikita Chauhan – Once Upon A Time, Psych, Arrow, Gossip Girl
Elena Dent – Once Upon A Time, Psych, White Collar, Chuck
James D’Ambrogia – Modern Family
Vedant Chauhan – Kickin It
Julia Stein – Gossip Girl
Heather Mahoney – Modern Family
Sage Hartman – All Disney Channel shows
Raina Hartman – Girl Meets World
Favorite food?
Daniel Rojas – everything but fish
Wayne Antone – Lucky Charms
Akul Ramayani – pizza
Mitchell Turner – Annie’s Mac & Cheese
Brittany Click – pizza
Hollie Scott – spaghetti
Erika Manilla – tacos
Briana Jacquet – gumbo
Nikita Chauhan – macaroni & cheese
Elena Dent -- chocolate
James D’Ambrogia – pizza
Vedant Chauhan – whatever my mom cooks; Indian noodles
Josh Shea – brownies
Julia Stein – sushi
Heather Mahoney – pasta
Sage Hartman – steak
Raina Hartman – pancakes
Loving the diverse tastes of this group! Tomorrow we’ll hear about education: favorite school subjects and valued learning. Some pretty cool stuff… And for blog regulars, yes, the cricket question is coming later in the week.
Monday at World Juniors
With Day One under our belts, Team USA will turn up the heat tomorrow in not 25 but 27 matches. Coaches, put on your running shoes…on your mark…get set…
10:30 am -- G14S: Briana Jacquet vs. Dominican Republic
10:30 am -- G14S: Nikita Chauhan vs. Puerto Rico
11:30 am -- G16S: Erika Manilla vs. Colombia
12:15 pm -- G18S: Lexi York vs. Costa Rica
12:15 pm -- G18S: Brittany Click vs. Costa Rica
12:15 pm -- G16S: Jordan Cooperrider vs. Puerto Rico
1:00 pm -- B161: Daniel Rojas vs. Korea
2:00 pm -- B162: Justus Benson vs. Korea
2:00 pm -- B14S: Akul Ramayani vs. Chile
2:00 pm -- B14S: Antonio Rojas vs. Chile
2:45 pm -- B18S: Sam Bredenbeck vs. Guatemala
3:30 pm -- B18S: Daniel Rojas vs. Guatemala
3:30 pm -- G14D: Elena Dent/Graciana Wargo vs. Mexico
5:30 pm -- G18D: Lexi York/Hollie Scott vs. Canada
6:30 pm -- B18D: Sam Bredenbeck/Jake Birnel vs. Ecuador
6:30 pm -- B14D: Mitchell Turner/Julian Singh vs. Canada
BYE -- B16D: Wayne Antone/Kevin Vazquez
BYE -- G16D: Erika Manilla/Jordan Cooperrider
9:00 am -- G10S: Heather Mahoney (USA) vs. Raina Hartman (USA)
9:45 am -- B10S: Vedant Chauhan vs. Argentina
9:45 am -- B10S: Josh Shea vs. Colombia
9:45 am -- G12S: Julia Stein vs. Mexico
10:30 am -- B12S Red: Tommy Andraos vs. Costa Rica
10:30 am -- B12S Red: James D’Ambrogia vs. Ecuador
10:30 am -- G10S: Sage Hartman vs. Guatemala
4:30 pm -- B12D: Tommy Andraos/James D’Ambrogia vs. Ecuador
4:30 pm -- B10D: Vedant Chauhan/Josh Shea vs. Ireland
4:30 pm -- G12D: Heather Mahoney/Julia Stein vs. Mexico
4:30 pm -- G10D: Raina Hartman/Sage Hartman vs. Guatemala
BYE -- B12S: Antonio Rojas 
BYE -- B12S: Akul Ramayani 
Live streaming on Court #2 will be provided on Thursday, November 12th through Friday, November 14th. Tomorrow I’ll include information here on signing up and getting set to watch World Juniors action later this week.

Blog #2
Saturday, November 7, 2015

by Cheryl Kirk, US Junior Team Leader

Today’s schedule was a whirlwind with some questionable weather thrown into the mix. Everyone had a chance to practice on the courts at 9:00 and 2:00, then they returned for some quick sightseeing, a trip to the grocery store, or perhaps a little R&R before Opening Ceremonies this evening. Thunderstorms rolled in late afternoon, making us happy that the festivities had been moved indoors to a convention hall from the pool area due to anticipated attendance numbers (over 400!).
After the Parade of Nations when the country delegations were introduced and took their Olympic-style lap of honor, a short program was followed by a Dominican band and colorful dancers. After their marvelous exhibition, the dancers went out into the audience to ask players to join them up front. Soon, new stars were born, including Americans Elena Dent and Justus Benson. Refreshments were served at the end of the program.
The evening was rounded out by a parents’ meeting and a World Cup players’ meeting. I believe we can pronounce everyone “primed and ready for action.”
The US Junior Team looked especially sharp in their uniforms provided by Rollout Racquetball (USA Racquetball’s Official Apparel Sponsor) and sponsored by American Motors (Victor and Nancy Manilla). Their generous support means so much to Team USA.
Sunday’s Schedule – Competition Begins!
Correction to last night’s blog: The USA has no players entered in the Challenger Cup divisions. Those identified as competing in the Challenger Cup are actually entered in Esprit divisions. Apologies to Tommy Andraos, James D’Ambrogia, and Raina Hartman for the error!
The schedule for the first day will have the coaches sprinting from court to court with only a brief lull in the afternoon. For those reading this blog who are not die-hard racquetball enthusiasts, here’s a key to some of the abbreviations you’ll be seeing throughout the week:
G = Girls
B = Boys
Number = age division
S = Singles
D = Doubles
BYE = No match today
World Cup
10:30 am – G14S – Briana Jacquet vs. Bolivia
12:15 pm – G16S – Jordan Cooperrider vs. Bolivia
1:00 pm – B14S – Antonio Rojas vs. Bolivia
1:00 pm – G18S – Lexi York vs. Canada
1:00 pm – G18S – Brittany Click vs. Mexico
2:00 pm – B16S – Daniel Rojas vs. Ecuador
2:00 pm – B16S – Justus Benson vs. Ecuador
2:00 pm – G16S – Erika Manilla vs. Bolivia
2:45 pm – B18S – Sam Bredenbeck vs. Canada
2:45 pm – B14S – Akul Ramayani vs. Bolivia
5:30 pm – B14D – Mitchell Turner/Julian Singh vs. Chile
5:30 pm – G16D – Erika Manilla/Jordan Cooperrider vs. Canada
5:30 pm – G18D – Hollie Scott/Lexi York vs. Honduras
6:30 pm – B16D – Kevin Vazquez/Wayne Antone vs. Bolivia
6:30 pm – B18D – Sam Bredenbeck/Jake Birnel vs. Bolivia
B18S – Daniel Rojas – BYE
G14S – Nikita Chauhan – BYE
G14D – Elena Dent/Graciana Wargo – BYE
9:00 am – G10S – Sage Hartman vs. Mexico
9:00 am – G10S – Raina Hartman vs. Guatemala
9:00 am – G10S – Heather Mahoney vs. Mexico
9:45 am – B12S – Akul Ramayani vs. Bolivia
9:45 am – G12S – Julia Stein vs. Bolivia
10:30 am – B12S – Tommy Andraos vs. Ecuador
10:30 am – B12S – Antonio Rojas vs. Bolivia
10:30 am – B12S – James D’Ambrogia vs. Costa Rica
4:30 pm – B10D – Vedant Chauhan/Josh Shea vs. Mexico
4:30 pm – G10D – Raina Hartman/Sage Hartman vs. Mexico
B10S – Vedant Chauhan – BYE
B10S – Josh Shea – BYE
B12D – Tommy Andraos/James D’Ambrogia – BYE
G12D – Heather Mahoney/Julia Stein – BYE
The 27 U.S. Junior Team players brought along plenty of support! Besides the coaching staff of five, 33 family members and friends will be right there in the stands tomorrow cheering enthusiastically for their young competitors. Joining us here in Santo Domingo are George Andraos, Annette Antone, Jeff Benson, Don Birnel, Kirti Chauhan, Anuj Chauhan, Daryl Cooperrider, Amy D’Ambrogia, Eric Dent, Amy Dent, Andrea Hartman, Felix Hernandez, Eric Jacquet, John Mahoney, Melodese Mahoney, Hadley Mahoney, Nancy Manilla, Victor Manilla, Stacy O’Neal, Shawn O’Neal, Atul Ramayani, Mauro Rojas, Robert “Mr. Bob” Santoro, Beth Shea, David Shea, Alanna Shea, Jennifer Singh, Adam Stein, Frances Turner, Michael Vazquez, Yina Vazquez, Gary Wargo, Kathleen Wargo, and Melissa York. Thanks to each of you for your enthusiastic presence for Team USA!
Tomorrow’s blog will report daily results, the next day’s schedule, and “Question #1.” See you back here!


Blog #1
Friday, November 6, 2015

by Cheryl Kirk, US Junior Team Leader

Greetings from Santo Domingo, where the temperature is in the high 80’s and sunny…except for that storm that came through this afternoon.
Twenty of the US Junior Team Delegation arrived Thursday afternoon and evening with 35 in today. Nine more will arrive Saturday. There have been no issues in immigration and customs, no lost luggage (knock on wood), and ground transportation is efficient and timely.
Actually, there was one almost-situation that I don’t feel bad about relating since it turned out well, and it’s plastered all over Facebook anyway. Coach Cheryl Gudinas, in her own words: “I stop in the bathroom and place my purse on a hook in the stall. I remind myself not to forget it. I go out to charge my phone for 15 minutes and get my racquetball bag and realize I never took my purse off that hook. Frantic, I race back, and it's gone! The bathroom attendant has ‘no idea,’ what I'm talking about, no idea about any purse. Another traveler overhears me and tells me it is in the back of the restroom on a totally different counter. (I'm thinking the bathroom attendant was well aware of that.) Next step, see if all my money is there. My wallet was in a different compartment of my purse, but everything was there, cash and credit cards. It is feasible that I could have gotten on the plane and realized my purse was gone after we took off. How lucky am I? Aye, caramba!!”
As Team Leader, what do I have to say about this? Many thoughts raced through my head, colliding crazily with one another: Did I have enough money with me to front us both for 10 days? (Maybe) Is there enough aspirin in the world to cure the kind of instant headache one gets when something like this happens? (No) Is it in the team leader’s job description to watch the coach’s purse? (No) Should it be? (Maybe) Will I be able to share this in the blog? (Yep) Will Facebook crash with all the likes, comments, and advice? (Not yet) Questions asked, questions answered, crisis averted. On with the blog!
Without further ado, Introducing the US Junior Team players and staff! There are 27 players, 5 staff members, and 33 parents/siblings/friends in the delegation. I’ll be recognizing the latter in tomorrow’s blog. Here’s our line-up…
Boys 18 Singles: Sam Bredenbeck (MN) and Daniel Rojas (CA)
Boys 18 Doubles: Sam Bredenbeck/Jake Birnel (WA)
Boys 16 Singles: Daniel Rojas and Justus Benson (WI)
Boys 16 Doubles: Wayne Antone (OR)/Kevin Vazquez (FL)
Boys 14 Singles: Akul Ramayani (NY) and Antonio Rojas (CA)
Boys 14 Doubles: Mitchell Turner (OR)/Julian Singh (CA)
Girls 18 Singles: Lexi York (OR) and Brittany Click (TX)
Girls 18 Doubles: Lexi York/Hollie Scott (WA)
Girls 16 Singles: Erika Manilla (CO) and Jordan Cooperrider (FL)
Girls 16 Doubles: Erika Manilla/Jordan Cooperrider
Girls 14 Singles: Briana Jacquet (AZ) and Nikita Chauhan (CA)
Girls 14 Doubles: Elena Dent (NC)/Graciana Wargo (FL)
Boys 12 Singles: Antonio Rojas (CA) and Akul Ramayani (NY)
Boys 12 Doubles: Tommy Andraos (CA)/James D’Ambrogia (CA)
Boys 10 Singles: Vedant Chauhan (CA) and Josh Shea (NY)
Boys 10 Doubles: Vedant Chauhan/Josh Shea
Girls 12 Singles: Julia Stein (PA)
Girls 12 Doubles: Heather Mahoney (CA)/Julia Stein
Girls 10 Singles: Heather Mahoney and Sage Hartman (MN)
Girls 10 Doubles: Raina Hartman (MN)/Sage Hartman
Boys 12 Singles: Tommy Andraos and James D’Ambrogia
Girls 10 Singles: Raina Hartman
Cheryl Gudinas (IL) – Head Coach
Jeff Conine (FL) – Assistant Coach
Jennifer Meyer (CO) – Assistant Coach (Esprit)
Jody Nance (CA) – Trainer/Assistant Coach
Cheryl Kirk (IL) – Team Leader
Highlights of the Day
The first of four practice sessions over the next two days was scheduled for 10:00 am-12:00 pm today. (Informative tidbit: the time here is one hour later than US Eastern time. The Dominican Republic does not change times twice a year.)
We set out at 9:45 am on the 10-minute walk to the club. We’re located in a metropolitan area with an elevated walkway that crosses over very busy streets almost all of the way to the club.
Team members practiced in groups of 2, 3, and 4 to get a feel for the courts. It was pretty hot already by late morning in the club viewing areas. The Pabellon de Raquetbol, Centro Olimpico Juan Pablo Duarte, features eight courts, all glass backs, including two stadium courts with an additional glass sidewall each. The club is covered and open air, but the courts are air-conditioned. It’s a very nice facility.
An afternoon trip to Nacional, a world-class supermercado (grocery store), netted mucho agua (en botellas grande y pequeno), plus Windex and paper towels (for shoes), rubbing alcohol (our wonderful trainer Jody is producing homemade ice bags), snacks, etc. It would have been impossible to buy all the water we needed if the taxi driver hadn’t waited and transported us back for a reasonable fee.
We’re loving this app – it’s so efficient and cost effective for delegation communications. I set up a group chat before we left, and from a team leader perspective, it's great for getting information across throughout the entire trip, starting with early details, to travel communication (keeping track of flights, etc.), to hotel check-in instructions, and on into the busy week ahead. I can’t imagine how much harder it would be on everyone (especially me!) if we didn’t have this technology.
Saturday will be another busy day with the Coaches’ meeting at 12:00 pm and Opening Ceremonies at 5:00 pm. Morning and afternoon courts are reserved for Team USA players who haven’t had the chance to practice yet.
Play commences on Sunday morning, and over the next week, these blogs will carry news on match schedules and results, streaming information, and fun question features to help you get to know our players OFF the courts. Stay tuned, and…

P.S. Hoping Victor Manilla had a great birthday today! He will be joining us here tomorrow evening.