Racquetball Brought Us Together
Modern dating is challenging. Dinner & a movie is totally played out. Surely there are better alternatives for a fun and romantic date. Drive past the bars and nightclubs, because you just might find “the one” in a different kind of club: a racquetball club! Decades ago when racquetball was at the peak of its popularity, the racquetball court was the place to be to meet someone with similar hobbies and healthy lifestyles. Racquetball courts may be slowly diminishing across the country, but racquetball courtship is still thriving! Finding true love on the courts just might be the key to sustaining and growing racquetball generation after generation.
Ann & Doug
Ann and Doug Draudt are one of many racquetball couples who first met each other while playing racquetball. Doug has been playing since 1985, Ann since 1999. At least three times a week, the couple plays at the Maverick Club in Arlington, Texas with friends, including another couple Richard and Traci Kourajian.
The Draudts have played in nearly fifty sanctioned mixed doubles matches together for the last four years. Notable tournaments include the Texas State Doubles Championships, Battle at the Alamo Regional Tournament, and NMRA National Championships. The pair have been a cohesive doubles team for so long because their first priority is their relationship.
We both agree the relationship is most important, even more important than winning an acrylic trophy that is destined to sit in a drawer or the closet. You've probably noticed we kiss each other on the court before and after each game.
Racquetball is a game. Don't let it come between you. Your relationship comes first.
Their off-court activities together, like yoga and gardening, keeps their relationship strong and their court skills agile and zen-like. But don’t be fooled by their sweet demeanor. They are tough competitors who strive to win just as much as any other duo. Their strength lies in their support for one another.
Linda and Garrett
Linda grew up in the DFW metroplex, and Garrett is from the Tampa area in Florida. Linda Tyler's dad, Don Scales, was one of the top Open-level players in New York during the late 70s. Garrett's parents, Gary and Janet Tyler, were also Open-level players. Janet is a National Champion, who continues to compete in national tournaments. Both sets of parents met at racquetball clubs! Don was giving lessons to his wife, Marcia Scales. Then when Linda was a child, her dad got her on the court. Garret's mom got him on the court as a child as well.
Their parents groomed them into great athletes. Garrett and Linda compete on the World Racquetball Tour (WRT) and Ladies Professional Racquetball Tour (LPRT), respectively. Parental influence has lead to successful matches off the court as well.
We met at the Maverick Athletic Club, The Mecca! I had no idea how he [Garrett] had my number, but later found out my dad had given it to him two years earlier. I mean it took three racquetball tournaments and Bo Champagne encouraging him to ask me out, and finally it happened. Of course we played racquetball on our first date.
Married since 2014 and now living in Utah, the couple have two beautiful little girls, Lindsay and Lauren. Yearly, they return to DFW for visits with family and friends. And of course, their pilgrimage to the "Mecca", the Maverick Athletic Club.
Jennifer & Mike
Jennifer Fenton grew up in Overland Park, Kansas and played racquetball through grade school and her college years. She was six years old when her mom Laura Fenton-Kovanda, who played in the Women's Professional Racquetball Organization (WPRO), introduced her to racquetball. Mike Guidry's parents introduced him to racquetball in 1981 when they joined a racquetball club in Odessa, Texas. Mike went on to become a top ten professional player on the International Racquetball Tour (IRT) is one of the most decorated U.S. players in amateur competition.
Although Jennifer and Mike had known each other for nearly twenty years from the Tour, a relationship was not in her plans when she decided to move to Texas to begin a new adventure in her career.
Prior to my move, I had no idea that he lived here in Texas, much less that I would end up marrying and sharing the most beautiful son that God could bless us with, Jaxson. ( As I had told myself I would NEVER date or be with a racquetball player). The man upstairs had a different plan, and his timing is always right.
A few years ago, Jen made me promise to play at least one tournament with her and with all my injuries and surgeries, this seemed like the best time before the injuries got any worse. So, I am playing for her.
Mike came out of retirement from competitive racquetball to compete as a couple in the Longhorn Open this past January, finishing third in Mixed Open Doubles. Although not the outcome they had wanted on the court, off the court the couple paired up today for the biggest event of their lives, their Wedding Day!
Brittany & Chase
The Texas Juniors Team brings kids together from all over the state. Brittany Click (Huffman,TX) and Chase Robison (Ft. Worth, TX) first met at a team Texas juniors practice in Austin, Texas in May 2012. It was her very first junior national tournament and his last one. They started a long distance relationship in 2013 and will be married in May 2018. For a long time, racquetball consumed the majority of their time spent together.
Both are skilled Open-level players with the talent to be pros. Chase is currently ranked fifth in the state, following four Pro players. Not to be out-done, Brittany has ranked as high as third in the state among women. Brittany has actually beaten Chase in a game! She recalls, "YES! Haha, that was a great day. Of course it happened to be a day that no one was there to witness, but it has happened! It has only been once." When asked about that day, Chase claimed, "I took it easy on her one game." [Riiiight!] Their competitiveness on the court has been on the back-burner for the time-being ever since Brittany started nursing school.
As of right now, racquetball is a way for us to take a break from our responsibilities and have fun together with our friends a couple times a week.
It is fun to trash talk and mess with him. Plus being in a relationship that is revolved around a sport/hobby you both love helps SO very much, because, as most of you know, it isn't always the easiest thing trying to keep up with and participate in a hobby that your significant other does not enjoy. Makes life easier hahaha.
Anita & Ramon
Anita started playing racquetball in 1993 while stationed in Hawaii, serving for 15 years in the military. Ramon started in 1985 as a freshman in high school living at Ft Hood, Texas. Originally from Brooklyn, New York, Anita came to San Antonio in 2001 after receiving a job offer at the VA Hospital. Ramon was born in San Antonio, Texas, grew up as a military brat, and returned to San Antonio in 2000.
Google Consumer Survey found that 38.6% of couples met their current significant others through mutual friends. Twenty-two percent of couples met out in a social setting. Meeting through a mutual friend in a social setting like a racquetball tournament is a formula for love!
Fellow racquetball player Tony Fernandez introduced me to Ramon at a tournament in Corpus Christi.
We talked, and I met her again at the hotel. As she was heading to her room, I invited her to have a drink with me but she declined.
Eventually, Ramon and Anita began dating. After several years together, Anita accepted when Ramon proposed during the 3WB World Outdoor Racquetball Championships in Las Vegas last year. The couple are dedicated partners on and off the court. They are both sponsored Prokennex players and authorized retail distributors. Seven years ago, Ramon started Alien Racquetball, a full service racquetball company. He was given the position of World Outdoor Racquetball (WOR) Director in 2016. Anita was elected to the TXRA board of directors this year. They are planning to be wed in 2019.
Lindsey & Jaxson
Many couples who love to play racquetball have children who grow up around racquetball courts, and inevitably, those children will learn to play and love racquetball. The Tyler's oldest daughter, Lindsey, often watches her parents train and compete, bringing home medal after medal. Perhaps she and her little sister Lauren will aspire to be great racquetball players like her parents and grandparents.
We hope they play, and I would love to see them both try out for the USA team. How cool would that be? Neither of us played the National Jr. events, and fortunately for our kids, I think they will be able to have that opportunity. All of the LPRT athletes say it’s just the best time. Let’s just hope they enjoy sports as much as we do.
The Guidry's son Jaxson (Jax), romps on the court from time to time. Racquetball a leisure activity for Jax, as it is now is for his parents. Despite his great racquetball genes, his parents are not as eager to influence Jax into playing racquetball at a professional level.
I am not going to encourage Jax to take it seriously. Unfortunately, with the state of the game, there isn’t an up-side to playing seriously like there was twenty to thirty years ago. You can’t make a living; there aren’t more than maybe a couple of scholarships anymore, and it is very hard on your body.
I think Jax will be a natural athlete and pick up anything very easily. And knowing his parents, he will probably be stubborn, driven, and very competitive as well.
Linda and Jennifer have been good, long-time friends, and often reconnect when Linda comes home to Texas to visit. Maybe Lindesy and Jax will have play dates together at the club while their parents play racquetball. And maybe one day they will be doubles partners at Junior Nationals or even make the US Team! Their parents may have different hopes for their children's careers, but they can agree that racquetball brought them together. Who knows? Is it too soon to imagine the distant sound of wedding bells?