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BURNABY—When the University of Manitoba informed the Canadian Racquetball Association last December they could not meet  their commitment to host the 2015 national championships due to renovations to their athletic facilities, the call went out for a new site, knowing whomever took it on would only have six months to prepare.

Enter: A team of local racquetball officials who secured Rev’s Fitness Centre in Burnaby along with a cast of supporters, including Sport Burnaby, the sport event hosting arm of Tourism Burnaby. They made it work and the successful tournament of 137 competitors from nine Provinces ended May 23, after six days of competition in men and women’s singles and doubles and mixed doubles.

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“We very much appreciate the support shown by Sport Burnaby, who came to the table to help us make the tournament a success,” said Racquetball Canadian President Jack McBride, who also doubles as Vice-President of the International Racquetball Federation which has a membership of 55 countries.

“It was our pleasure to partner with Raquetball Canada to bring this prestigious national championship to our community.  We were more than happy to make our resources and expertise available to help them deliver this sizable event under their pressing timelines” shared Jennifer Scott, Manager Sport Burnaby.

The national tournament was an important one as it was the final selection event for Canada’s eight member (four men, four women) team for the Pan American Games in Toronto this July. The team will be announced in June.

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Racquetball was invented in 1950 by Joe Sobek at the New Britain Connecticut YMCA, and is making a comeback of sorts after a slight decline over the past few years.

McBride says there is currently 6,000 registered players in the country and new facilities on the way. “The Pan Am Games will leave a legacy of three glass backcourts and one all-glass court worth around $500,000. Edmonton is also building three new courts,” said McBride, who hails from St. Albert, Alberta.

As a country, Canada has ranked in the top five racquetball nations for the last ten years and looks to prove it once again at the Pan Am Games.

And as for the just concluded national tournament in Burnaby: “What a remarkable job by everyone,” said McBride, who has been around the sport for 33 years as a player, coach and administrator. “They can all pat themselves on the back and say well done, well done.”

For the record: Number four seed Colby Iwaasa of Lethbridge won the men’s Open gold medal while Quebec’s number one seed Frederique Lambert takes home the women’s Open title.