By David Hughes
TERRE HAUTE — All the weather-related postponements caused Thursday to be a slow news day in Wabash Valley sports, so this is a good time to mention a national event coming to Terre Haute in September.
I realize that seems like a long time from now, but it’ll get here before we know it. Trust me, as I approach 50 in May, I’ve learned that each month passes quicker than the month before.
Anyway, the event is the Lawler Sports Terre Haute Racquetball Pro-Am tournament slated for Sept. 17-20 at the Indiana State University Arena indoor courts.
Tournament director Manny Rodriguez, a Terre Haute resident who has played the sport for 14 years and coached youths and college students in it for four years, anticipates about 300 athletes to enter either the men’s pro and amateur divisions.
Rodriguez said the tournament is sanctioned by USA Racquetball (amateurs) and International Racquetball Tour (pros).
“It’s definitely going to be a huge stop for the tour,” Rodriguez said this week. “It’ll be their first tournament of the season.”
Rodriguez explained that the men’s pro season runs from September through May. Only one pro from Terre Haute, Deli Stinnett, is expected to enter. But plenty of amateurs are likely to represent the Wabash Valley.
Rodriguez said the total purse for the men’s pro division will be at least $20,000, with a minimum of $7,500 going to the winner.
“The excitement level for professional racquetball is amazing,” Rodriguez emphasized. “It’s unbelievable what these guys do … how hard they hit the ball. These pros make it look so easy. It’s jaw-dropping excitement.”
For men’s and women’s amateurs who fare well in singles, doubles and mixed doubles, awards will be presented in various age groups.
Rodriguez requested that I mention the Terre Haute Convention & Visitors Bureau as the main sponsor.
There you go, Manny. You owe me one.
About 200 seats will be available for viewing the action at any given time. For ticket or entry information, call Rodriguez at (812) 235-3701 in the daytime or at (812) 230-1437 in the evening.
Rodriguez hopes this will become an annual event, if it’s successful this year. He also hopes ESPN360 will film highlights to be shown at a later date.
Last but not least, the tournament will be run in coordination with autismspeaks.org. In an effort to raise awareness of autism, Rodriguez said proceeds raised through various fund-raising activities before and during the tournament will go to the Web site.
David Hughes can be reached by phone at 1-800-783-8742, Option 4, or at (812) 231-4224; by e-mail at email@example.com; or by fax at (812) 231-4321.