World Racquetball Tour

RYDF Helps Alex Succeed On and Off the Court

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Alejandro Cardona is a 25-year-old professional racquetball player from Juarez, Mexico, with a distinguished junior career. Alex was an eleven-time Junior World Singles Champion and a five-time Junior Pan American Champion.  It seemed inevitable Alex would begin a career as a professional racquetball player.

But for almost two years, Alex had to abandon his hopes of playing professionally due to high travel costs to tournaments. He and his family didn't have the money to pursue his professional dream.  But through the creation of the World Racquetball Tour in 2012, sponsorship support from Gearbox, and the Reaching Your Dream Foundation, Alex has a second chance at reaching his dream.   And he's making the most of it.

Professional Racquetball now provides an opportunity for Alex to support his family back in Mexico.  With the winnings from his exceptional talent and RYDF and other support, Alex purchased and runs a food truck to help support himself and his family.  The Reaching Your Dream Foundation is proud to assist Alex and wishes him continued success both on and off the court, as we do for all the players we support.

Your generous tax-exempt donation helps support players like Alex and many others.  Please donate today.

Getting to know Carla Munoz

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RYDF Athlete Carla Munoz is fresh off her Gold Medal performance at the 2016 National Intercollegiate Championships in Tempe, AZ. We decided to take this time to get to know a bit more about Carla on and off the court.

How did you get started playing racquetball? I started because of my dad, he used to play with friends and one day he signed up for a local tournament and he asked me to go with him, I always did a lot of different physical activities so I was really interested on what racquetball was. The same day I got inside of the court and I completely loved everything about it. After that day, my dad would take me to play and train twice a week and since then racquetball is my passion and my favorite thing to do by far.

When and why did you come to CA? After I had the opportunity to represent my country in Pan-American Games in 2011 I realize that I really wanted to become a professional player, however, I knew that I would need to move to USA because racquetball isn't a big competitive sport in my country. I spent two years coming for short periods of time until 2014 when I decided to settle in the bay area to continue my education and to be able to travel to more tournaments.

Carla and Kelani

Carla and Kelani

Now that you won the US National Intercollegiate Championships what is next on your list of racquetball goals to accomplish? My next goal is to get the top 10 LPRT ranking, and I'm also working hard to get a medal representing my country (Chile) in international competition, which is my biggest motivation.

Where do you go to school and what is your major? Estimated Graduation Date? I'm currently going to Las Positas College in Livermore, CA and my major is Business Administration. I'm planning on transferring next semester to the university to achieve my bachelors and become an accountant in two years.

What do you want to do after you graduate? At first I would like to dedicate some time only to train and play racquetball because being a full time athlete and full time student isn't that easy, and time to rest is very limited. After that I would like to have a job that allows me to play and train. On the future I would like to go back to Chile and develop racquetball and grow it especially among children. I would love to own a racquetball club where I can apply all that I learn at school, and teach people how to play racquetball.

 

I heard that you currently have an internship. Where do you intern at and what do you do there? I'm doing an internship at a company that gives services of interpretation and translation to workers who get injured at work and have to deal with health insurances, and don't speak enough English. My duties are mainly filing, scanning, and accounting work. Even though it hasn't been easy, I'm learning a lot about accounting practices and also how to manage my time.

Do you have a coach and if so whom? Yes, Pablo Fajre

Who are your sponsors? Gearbox racquetball, Reaching Your Dream Foundation, Comite olimpico de Chile, and Insituto Nacional del Deporte.

How has the Reaching Your Dream Foundation had an impact on your racquetball career? The foundation is helping me to achieve my dreams, because without their help I wouldn't be able to play many tournaments. They also help to become a better athlete in and off the court, teaching me ways promote myself better.

What does a weekly practice/training session look like? I train 6 days a weeks. The racquetball training consist on 3 days of playing and 3 days of court drilling where I practice things as rally situations, serves, return serves, and other. I also do a physical training session every day, where I mainly train strength, endurance, speed, agility and coordination.

Let's have some fun now..

What do you like to do when you're not playing racquetball/going to school or working? In my free time I like to be outside and as long as there is nature around I'm happy. I love going to the lake, to the beach, or to parks.

If you could go to dinner with three people alive or deceased, who would they be? Elvis Presley, Anybody from my family, and my boyfriend

What does your perfect day look like? My perfect day would start with some racquetball games, then some sushi for lunch, and then spend all afternoon at the beach with my family and boyfriend playing games or just enjoying the company.

If you could have any super power what would it be? I would like to be The Flash, I think that's the coolest super power ever.

Getting to know David Bobby Horn

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David Bobby Horn was always an athlete. In high school his main sport was basketball and he was frequently found shooting around the gym at the In-Shape West Lane racquetball club in Stockton. A group fitness dance class held in the gym would interrupt David’s time on the basketball court, leaving him two options:  hanging around the club doing nothing, or going home to do nothing.  One day while waiting for the basketball court, Jose Diaz invited him to hit the racquetball around. David, being a natural athlete and competitor, was immediately hooked. From that first day, David loved racquetball. It wasn’t about playing racquetball competitively; it was just for enjoyment.  As a teen who didn’t really know where he was going with his life, racquetball became a positive outlet and a way to stay out of trouble.

David embraced the Stockton racquetball scene and started traveling to tournaments with Diaz and the Rojas family. This was David’s first opportunity to travel, ever.  With the excitement of traveling and his love for the sport, David started to see how racquetball could be a part of his future. Today, through his professional career, David has been all over the United States, places like New York City, Chicago, and the beautiful state of Colorado, where he hopes to fish the next time he is there (fishing is David’s second passion). In addition to traveling the United States, he has played tournaments in Mexico, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Colombia, Bolivia and Chile.

 

You can still find David at the gym, but now he’s on the racquetball court, playing, practicing or teaching. As a consistent quarter finalist and frequent semi-finalist, David is a top player on the World Racquetball Tour (WRT), and is now at the No. 3 spot.  In the last year, David has made changes to his diet, his training habits and has focused on dedicating his life to racquetball. It was this past August in San Luis Potosi where Horn saw his hard work and dedication pay off.  At the 2015 San Luis Open this season, David won his first WRT title, defeating No. 2, Jake Bredenbeck in the finals 15-9, 15-2. The win in San Luis has further fueled David’s enthusiasm for training and competing. David is hungry for another title.

Mike Lippitt, RYDF Founder and Bobby Horn

Mike Lippitt, RYDF Founder and Bobby Horn

David continued to wet his appetite this season, at the U.S. Open where he battled Alvaro Beltran in Round of 16s. He won game two against Beltran, but ultimately lost in four games. And in the U.S. Open Doubles Quarter Finals, with his partner and Junior Mexican National Champion Andree Parrilla, they battled against Ben Croft and Kane Waselenchuck in a nail biting three game showdown. David and Parrilla won game one, 15-5, lost game two, 15-6, and answered back in game three tied at 10-10, but ended up losing 11-10.  The young duo continued as a team again at the WRT Modesto Open, where they won the Doubles Championship against Jake Bredenbeck and Jose Diaz 14-15, 15-11, 11-4.

From the great support he has received at home in Stockton to the opportunities he has had with the World Racquetball Tour and the Reaching Your Dream Foundation, David is so grateful he can make a career for himself in professional racquetball. In addition to traveling on the WRT, David teaches racquetball at ClubSport Pleasanton and is in his final year at Cal State East Bay. When David returns from the Pan American Championships he will then be off to Tempe, AZ where he will be representing California State University East Bay playing #1 Singles in the collegiate nationals.

Follow David and his hunger for more on his Facebook Fan Page.

Bredenbeck’s Rollercoaster

Jake Bredenbeck and Bobby Horn

Jake Bredenbeck and Bobby Horn

Jake Bredenbeck is having one heck of a year. He describes it as a bit of a rollercoaster. Opening the year, in January, Bredenbeck won the WRT Sonora Open, defeating then No. 1 Polo Gutierrez and becoming the first American in the No. 1 spot on the World Racquetball Tour. That is an incredible way to start the year. The following weekend, at the WRT San Diego Open, he lost in the first round. In speaking with Bredenbeck, he guesses maybe he was burnt out, but he’s not sure what happened. He does know he wasn’t comfortable playing and wasn’t playing well in the weeks following his big win. So, the champ took a few days off, changed his mind set for playing in front of his home crowd in Minnesota for the WRT Midwest Championships and was focused on playing for fun. “I wasn't worried about the other stuff,” like preserving his No. 1 position on the WRT. Of course, the new mind set paid off, he won his second WRT Title at the Midwest Championships in May.

The year has continued to have its ups and downs for Bredenbeck. He constantly battles for the No. 1 position on the World Racquetball Tour, and is currently in the No. 2 spot, behind Alex Cardona. He is a consistent semi finalist and finalist on the WRT, but hasn’t won a title since the Midwest Championships in May. Back at the top of another peak of 2015, a monumental accomplishment was going to the Pan American Games to play and represent the United States in singles racquetball. “Winning two years in a row at National Singles has been incredible,” but Jake says it contributed to the roller coaster-like feeling. After winning Nationals this year he wasn’t sure that the qualifying process would ensure he would play in the Pan Ams. It’s a huge deal to represent your country in the biggest racquetball tournament in the world. According to Bredenbeck, the Pan Ams have a different atmosphere, a different set up and that was exciting but it was stressful waiting to find out if he would be a part of the team. When he got the call from the USA National Coach, Dave Ellis, he was filled with a mix of excitement, relief and lots of happiness. Out of all the racquetball moments in his life, he thinks this is the most happiest he’s ever been. He was proud to represent the USA. His parents were also very excited. In fact, they drove up to Canada to support their son.

Bredenbeck comes from a family that is particularly loyal to racquetball. Both Jake’s parents, Karen and Bill, are in the Minnesota Racquetball Hall of Fame. His younger brother, Sam, just won the 2015 Junior Nationals in both singles and doubles. Jake comes from a really competitive family who does their best not only in sports but everything they do. It’s ingrained in them. You can further see this by Bredenbeck’s remark that the second happiest moment he can compare to the feeling of going to represent the USA in the Pan Ams is graduating from University of Colorado with his Masters in Business, at age 22. That was a big accomplishment and a proud moment in his life. Sure, he won a couple of junior national tournaments and he’s sure he was excited and happy but these recent accomplishments are outstanding and so fresh in his memory. He’s won two national titles in the last two years and has represented his country to play the sport he loves at the biggest racquetball tournament that only happens once every four years.

The racquetball powerhouse pro still has big plans for 2015. To finish out 2015, Bredenbeck wants to get back to No. 1 on the WRT and finish the year in the No. 1 position. If he plays more IRT events, he wants to rise to the top 10 of their ranks. You know what, he wants to win the US Open too. This is a guy who shows up to win, not to just be there, “the US Open is a huge tournament with a lot of big players,” and he is there to play to win.

As far as his goals beyond 2015, Bredenbeck wants to continue to grow the juniors programs and support the growth of the racquetball community. He coached several kids, not just his brother, at the Junior Nationals last month in Stockton, California. He wants to help other junior national teams, as he has done in the past, and found he really enjoys it. The biggest obstacle for Bredenbeck in helping the racquetball community is the demands of traveling. He travels a lot for tournaments, and therefore helps out whenever and however he can. He says, “it’s hard to start a juniors program in Arizona (where I reside) but harder because of all the traveling I do.” Life on the road can have it’s challenges, but it allows Bredenbeck to pursue his dreams, and he helps with clinics, lessons and supports the racquetball community in every way he can while on the road.

Cardona on Fire!

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Alex Cardona is on fire! Currently No. 1 on the World Racquetball Tour (WRT), Cardona proves he is worthy of his rank by winning back to back titles at the Grace Warrior Atlanta Open and the Suncoast Open. This achievement gives Cardona six total WRT Titles.

At the WRT Grace Warrior Atlanta Open, Cardona defeated No. 2 Jake Bredenbeck 15-6, 15-2 in the finals, after battling other pros like Samuel Murray (CAN), Christian Longoria (MEX) and Andree Parrilla (MEX). The WRT Suncoast Open was another tough event full of fierce WRT pros. To get to the finals, Cardona had to defeat top WRT pros like Mike Harmon (USA), Jaime Martell (MEX), Andree Parrilla (MEX). Once in the finals, Cardona faced third seeded, No. 4 on the WRT, David Bobby Horn, winning 15-12, 15-3.

Cardona hasn’t always been on top. As a seven time Junior World Singles Champion, it seemed seamless for him to transition into a career as a professional racquetball player. For close to two years, Cardona was forced to abandon his hopes of playing pro racquetball due to the high costs incurred traveling to professional events to and from his home in Juarez, Mexico. With the creation of the WRT in 2012, Cardona was offered a second chance at rebuilding his dreams. Now, with the assistance of the WRT paired with the support of the Reaching Your Dream Foundation, Cardona is able to thrive in the sport he loves.

Cardona’s previous titles include:

2015 Colombia Open Champion

2015 San Diego Champion

2014 San Antonio Open Champion

2013 San Diego Open Champ

You can watch Cardona’s matches on the WRT YouTube Channel.

RYDF: Our Mission Continues...

Mario Mercado

Mario Mercado

For us at the Reaching Your Dream Foundation, this first year has been a time filled with intimately learning the struggles young professional racquetball players face trying to make racquetball a life endeavor. The major goal of our foundation is to grow racquetball, and within that context, identify and raise the resources needed to address the unmet needs of players from diverse cultural and socio-economic backgrounds.

Throughout this year, we’ve engaged with many organizations and individuals to try and identify opportunities to enable players to pursue professional racquetball. However, our main operational strategy to date, to address the needs of these players, has been to help the World Racquetball Tour, in part, with their mission to facilitate a professional environment for young aspirational racquetball players. RYDF has provided support for players logistically with travel expenses and working to try and develop actionable engagement that help players make the most of their experiences on tour.

Our dedicated board most of which are from the Bay Area and who I will talk about in a later entry, worked bring the WRT to ClubSport in Pleasanton, California this past February. It was an endeavor to provide RYDF players another opportunity to compete for prize money, while allowing the local community to see and enjoy the players the community support.

The Mario Saga: One Player Pushing Us To Open Doors

One of the young players who came to Pleasanton was Mario Mercado age 19 from Bolivia. Mario is the 2013 Word Junior Champion. Mario had recently made the decision to leave Bolivia and play for Columbia. His decision found him with a few months of “free time”. He decided to stay in the Bay Area and was graciously taken in by a number of families, most of whom were board members of the foundation.

While in the Bay Area, Mario was closely befriended and mentored by Bobby Horn from Stockton, California and Carla Munoz of Chile, both RYDF supported players. Bobby plays primarily at WRT tour stops and Carla is a regular on the LPRT. Both train and teach racquetball to children and adults at ClubSport Pleasanton. Bobby and Carla spent a good amount of time with Mario working on his racquetball game as well as his cultural adjustment here in the States.

The mentoring Mario received was closely supervised by Pablo Fajre. Pablo is the coach of the Chilean Racquetball Team and president of the World Racquetball Tour. Also involved in oversight was Carlos Contreras, a Columbian born player who now lives and plays in the United States and is a citizen of the USA. Carlos is also the Treasurer and accountant for the RYDF.

Although all of these machinations dealt with the specifics of one player, it provided a good opportunity to explore educational opportunities and possible partnerships for players like Mario. The leadership of the foundation in conjunction with Pablo and Carlos decided to meet with some administrators of Las Positas College. We met with the Dean of Athletics and the Coordinator of the International Students Program to discuss the more general issue of understanding what is involved with assisting non-USA citizens with their desire to live, learn, train, and play high level professional racquetball in the United States, specifically (for now,) the Bay Area.

We are finding that there is much to learn and we feel very encouraged by our experience with Mario. The Reaching Your Dream Foundation has a mission of providing opportunities for players while facilitating growth for racquetball. Right now, we envisioned the Bay Area becoming a major training and education center for both American and non-American, young, elite racquetball players. We are currently learning that moving forward with our mission often involves investing in our players one at a time.