Spotlight on Athlete Luis Avila

Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got into racquetball.

Growing up I played a lot of baseball and soccer. But I got to the point where I got tired of playing the same sport. I was a little bored and wanted a new sport. I came across racquetball through my dad who showed me the basic concepts of the sport. Darrell Warren really was the one who introduced me to the fundamental basics of racquetball. I was about 15 and started getting the hang of it.

Darrell started getting me into tournaments from the beginning. This was back in 2013 or so. In my first tournament I entered the beginner division and won my first medal! Ever since that first medal I saw that I had potential to go further in the sport, as did Darrell.

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Initially, I started in the sport to have fun and play around with my dad and my friends, but in time I started progressing a bit faster than what I expected. From that progress, I started to see more and more success. My motivation has not just come from the progress I have made in the sport but because I started loving the sport. It made me want to learn more, so I started training with new coaches to get better. I have been getting a lot better and stronger in the sport and now train with others like Rocky Carson to improve and see what it takes to get to that last step to become a professional.

So what does it take to move from being an open level player to a professional?

From what I have seen, heard, and been told, there are many little things that can make the difference between the two. Basic fundamentals, shots, and little minor errors can make the difference. Being more consistent and focused on what your goal is can be the difference. The professional is dedicated enough to attack that error and fix it.

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What are your goals in the sport?

I won my first major title at WOR this year, which is just the beginning for me. I would love to be within the top 10 within a year and top 5 within 2-3 more years. However, I am not sure how realistic that is because of my schooling. It is very difficult to get away during the week when I miss so many classes. Therefore, I cannot attend as many tournaments as I want, which affects my ranking. Therefore, for this year I am just focusing on performing my best at each tournament I attend and building upon each experience.

What do you off the court to help become a pro player?

Eating healthy makes a huge difference. I used to not care what I ate and really suffered from a lack of energy and conditioning. Now I do not get that tired and I am more focused. In addition, I learned that I need to sleep well. I used to go to bed really late, but I have learned that it really makes a big difference. Working out properly is important. I do pure calisthenics where I just use my body weight right now. I am trying to add weight but not much because I do not want to bulk up and affect my flexibility. I also find it good to help up and coming young racquetball players to help teach them about the sport. Not only am I helping them, but I am learning at the same time.

How do you fund your career?

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Right now, I am a full-time student going to college (Harbor Community College). I give lessons and restring racquets, and I use that money for traveling to go to tournaments. If I do not have the funds to attend tournaments, my family will help. Also, I have acquired one or two sponsorships from friends I have met along the way. Some of my friends have helped me because they have seen the progress I have made and the potential I have to become successful. I also sell gear for Gearbox, which helps to pay for expenses.

What does RYDF mean and do for someone like you?

I did not know about RYDF until Mike Lippitt introduced me to it and gave me information about it. It is a very, very great sponsorship! It helps many players like myself and others attend tournaments we would not be able to attend. They help with hotels which is a really, really big cost on many peoples’ wallets. It means a lot to me. I hope that in the future, when I can win more prize money, as much as they have helped me, I will give as much back. I want to help other up-and-coming players to succeed. If it was not for RYDF, I would not be going to many tournaments or improving like I have. I cannot thank them enough for giving me chances to compete and give back to the sport.

Photo Credit: Stephen Fitzsimons

Photo Credit: Stephen Fitzsimons

What does the next 12 months look like for you?

I have not attended many IRT tournaments, but I plan to attend at least four or five tour stops if I can. Part of it requires that I miss classes and so I have to get permission to do that. If I can attend more that would be great. I would also like to make the US team. I got to attend the camp as a junior but I never got a chance to represent the US as a junior because of school. That is another goal I have.

Anything else you would like to add?

I would like to thank all my coaches, my family, my sponsors, and all who have helped me to achieve my goals so far.