Jose Diaz

American Dreams on the World Stage

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By what gauge does one judge the state of racquetball in the U.S? From July 15-23 in Cali, Colombia at the World Games, the international racquetball community will be introduced to TEAM USA, the product of the current U.S system. Though some racquetball insiders may judge more critically, the casual fan determines a country’s strength by the success of its top talent. The South American countries have undergone periods of extraordinary growth and success in racquetball. No longer does the birthplace of the sport hold the leader's position in the international scene as the majority of those poised for great things are almost exclusively not from the United States. The discussion about the decline of American racquetball and the sport itself can seem like a revolving door of ideas. The Reaching Your Dream Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping young male and female athletes enter into the professional arena, strongly believes that the infusion of new players can directly impact not only the lives of players, but also affect match-ups and outcomes on the largest of stages. A case in point is the USA men's doubles team members, Jake Bredenbeck and Jose Diaz, two of these young players chosen and supported by the Reaching Your Dream Foundation for several years, culminating in the highest honor of being Team USA’s doubles team.

At the 2016 U.S National Doubles Championships, Diaz and Bredenbeck had a searing run through a draw featuring top teams and players from the country. They were able to overcome every team in route to the title, and earn a spot on the men's national team. This accomplishment would have been very difficult, if not impossible, had it not been for the Reaching Your Dream Foundation.

Used by persmission from Dave Elllis

RYDF helps young, promising talent with a variety of resources that can include assistance with air fare, lodging, and entry fees. As difficult as it is to play at their level, it is equally difficult to carve out a living in the sport, especially as an American. Thanks in large part to the donations of generous and loyal players, friends, and fans of racquetball, Diaz and Bredenbeck were able to gain their rightful position as the U.S national doubles team representing their country at the World Games.

The perceived decline of U.S racquetball may appear greater than it is because of recent surges in participation and money that has been invested into the sport in other parts of the world. Substantially funded programs like those of Mexico, Bolivia, and Colombia have made those countries more dominant in the sport. For all the conjecture and uncertainty about where the U.S game may be headed, the RYDF has played and is playing a vital part in helping our best talent showcase itself to the United States and now to the world. There would be no Diaz and Bredenbeck in the draw at the U.S Open, the National Doubles, or at the World Games without, to some extent, the support of the RYDF. With the help of RYDF, Jake and Jose proved that they were the best team in the country and not having the best team in the country playing at the world games would be unfortunate for U.S racquetball. The World Games is not only a show of a country’s power but also a proving ground for individual athletes who have their own personal dreams and aspirations. Diaz and Bredenbeck will not only carry the weight of their own goals but also the hopes of their country. We salute Jose and Jake for their dedication and will to win, just as we at RYDF are deeply grateful to donors such as you helping RYDF supported players to reach their dreams. Thank you for your past and future support!

Bredenbeck/Diaz 1st U.S. National Doubles Champs

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Jake Bredenbeck (Scandia, MN) and Jose Diaz (Stockton, CA) have qualified for the US National Team by winning the Men’s US Team Qualifying Division at National Doubles this weekend in Tempe, Arizona. Bredenbeck/Diaz. Jake and Jose are sponsored by the Reaching Your Dream Foundation which helps young players develop their careers both on and off the court. In winning, they bested the #1 seeded team of Rocky Carson and Jansen Allen in two very close games, 15-14 15-11.

The newly crowned doubles team is slated to represent the United States at the upcoming International Racquetball Federation World Championships to be held July 15-23 in Cali, Colombia.

Becoming a Professional Player - Part 1

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There are two prominent ways to win in amateur racquetball, (1) overpowering your opponent by striking the ball with extreme power throughout the rallies; and (2) by retrieving everything, keeping the ball in play, until your opponent makes a mistake.  Many outstanding junior and collegiate players enter the pro tour with histories of winning with one or both of these qualities. 

To become a successful professional, however, a player has to realize that at the highest level these strategies are faulted.  At the highest level, you will not be able to overpower your opponents.  You will not be able to retrieve your opponent’s shots continuously. 

A prospective professional player has to realize that he/she will need to add major new elements to his/her game.  It will perhaps take some losses to convince our prospective pro that this is the case, but this realization must be made to have the correct mental attitude to move forward.

Becoming a Professional Player - Part 2

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Becoming a successful racquetball pro requires the proper mental attitude.  Above all, there needs to be a totalappreciation for the precision involved.  At the highest level, it is a game of inches. An inch or two on the front wall target will separate a successful drive serve from one that comes off the back wall for a set up.  Inches to the right or to the left can make the difference between a successful passing shot and one that is hit at an angle that will bring the ball to where the opponent is located.

A couple of inches can make the difference between a perfect ceiling ball and one that comes off the back wall. Those players that think they can win by just hitting the ball harder or by thinking they can get everything, do not see the importance of the necessary precision.  Sure, power at the proper moment and retrieving are important. To become a successful pro, the importance of shot precision must be must exist in the mind of the player to an extent that he/she is totally self-demanding.

This attitude must be taken to the practice court. I have an expression as coach, “Make it boring (for everyone except your coach).”  That is, “Do not fail to hit a rally ending shot when the opportunity is there.”  The greatest player ever, Kane Waselenchuk, understands this perfectly.  With him, it’s all business, get the match done, and get back to the hotel room. One of our players has said, “But the game is not fun if the rallies are so short.”  To be a successful professional, the attitude must be, “kill or be killed.”