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Date: 10/25/03 to 10/26/03
Location: Classic Athletic Club in Fairfield New Jersey
Event: Club Tournament Halloween Havoc
Divisions: Men and Women Open, A, B, C, D.
Ball Used: Pro Penn Green (Fastest)
Author: Joseph Delgado
Updated: May 1, 2004

Halloween Havoc Synopsis (My 2nd Tournament)
Overall I was still nervous the night before and didnít get that much sleep. Maybe about four hours or so, maybe less, I loaded up on as much carbs as I had available. My wife drove to the tournament at the Classic Club in Fairfield and it was great to have her support in-between games and during my matches.


I also met Leigh Marshall at the tournament. Leigh was psyched about attending his first tournament even a week before it started. So I helped answer his questions and make sure Bill Serafin saved a spot for him in Cís and Dís. I never beat Leigh, so having him in the same division as me really had me worried. I thought he would breeze right through, but it turned out to be a good division for him.

My first match was in the Cís against Juan Martinez; it was his first tournament also and wanted to play against different people. What sucks about this match is that I gave up after the first game. He beat me 15-12 and it really bothered me that I couldnít keep the pressure up and take the win. So I lost the second game 15-0. Juan played Winters (C Division Champ) after me and was knocked out.

Then it was Leighís turn and he faced off against Joey Butacovoli in the Cís. I met Joey at Fran Davisí camp and he says he saw me at State Singles back in March. Heís fifteen and can look forward to a great future in racquetball. I donít remember a lot of the details, but Leigh was playing too far forward on his return of serve. Can actually see his feet in the picture at left. Joey, who had the camp manual with him, just hit hard and played smart. At camp, we learned about having a game plan, Iíll bet Joey had a game plan numbered and itemized for Leighís tendencies. Mine was pretty basic and I lost it a couple of times, but at least I had a plan for once.

After taking out Leigh, Joey took out Hartery who had a bye to reach the semi-finals against Winters. Joey lost to Winters. I heard from Joeyís parents that Winters doesnít belong in the Cís that heís sand bagging that everything he hit was killed. It even reached Bill Serafin, the Tournament Director. I looked at the State Singles draw sheet and Winters was in the Cís, but didnít finish first. I refereed the semi-finals in Cís and it was the worst experience Iíve had with racquetball to date.

Itís pretty easy to label a person as a sand bagger when you lose to them. I found that out by experience at State Singles. What one person calls a D or C player can be different from another person and so on. Weíre at the tournament to win and have fun, what sucks winning and having fun are often one and the same.

Luckily the Dís was a round robin, so I got to play a lot more than at State Singles. I played Leigh and Joey on Saturday. Itís all a blur from Leigh, it was two games to 11, but Iím pretty sure it wasn't close. Something happened with my second game with Joey that was pretty unique, I actually got pissed off, but I wasnít pissed at Joey or anything more like ďCome on Joe! Fight!Ē Fight I did, I didnít win, but I came up 6-11 or so. Often I think of Racquetball as a social thing, but I need to stop when itís a competition plenty of time to be social after the match. I forgot my game plan and I started playing every point as game point far too late in the match.

Leigh and Rudy's match in the D's was a pretty heated one. Since it was Leigh's first tournament and we didn't go over the rules, when Rudy raised his racquet before the serve and Leigh served. An argument ensued. I had to actually bang on the wall to stop the shouting match between the guys. I sided with Rudy since it is a legal rule, but I've never seen Leigh so animated over racquetball. Normally he's ice man on the courts. I believe Leigh lost, after the argument I left to do something else for a bit.

Bob another person in the Dís asked if I wanted to play my match with him on Saturday. Letís see I played a match and four games, I declined. I didnít want to make it too easy on him.

From Jason Mannino at camp, I learned to leave the tournament and do something else instead of just sitting on a mat or just waiting around doing nothing. So Leigh and I left for Willowbrook mall for lunch and we hit the arcade. We even shared a game of Street Fighter and took on some people there. I used to play Street Fighter II in the arcade all the time, so it was a good break.

So on Sunday, I refereed the finals for Cís. Basically Bill asked me to ref the match and I agreed since he was in a jam and I thought it would be cool to get it out of the way. In case, I actually win a match and have to ref in the future. It was Baldinger against Winters and I made one mistake that Iíll never forget. I turned the damn score sheet to mark a time out for Winters! When he came back he said he was serving, Baldinger said he was serving, and the Ref had no idea because he turned the damn sheet and didnít remember. What a stupid mistake.

The points kept mounting up against Baldinger. I called his lob serve to the back wall good since I saw it hit the crack of the floor and back wall. They disagreed with me. Eventually I wasnít in control of the match. Winters asked me not to call score until he was ready, big deal you have ten seconds after the score is called to get ready, but I waited for both sides to be ready. As I said, it was the worse experience to watch something unfair go on and feel responsible. Rattled and angry Baldinger gave away lot of the remaining points in the second game and Winters was champ.

I know personally if I was in a trophy winning match and I won questionably or my opponent wasnít giving me his best that the win would be cheapened. I would still keep the trophy, but it wouldnít mean the same. I believe the trophy represents a personal victory a struggle to be the best. Somehow from the pictures I took of Winters, I donít think he felt great about the win. With everyone calling him a sandbagger and a cheater or having opponents get angry with him. It wasnít a great situation to be in either, but still congrats to Winters. I can't make a judgment as to him cheating or sandbagging, but he didn't listen to the ref.

I had played Bob before hand and he was pretty tough and lost. Donít recall too many details. After the Baldinger/Winters match I played my last match against Rudy Sanchez. Of course, I couldnít get the previous match out of my head and lost my focus. I even tried to get focused like last time, but it wasnít working. I didnít give Rudy my best and he got enough points to take first in the Dís.

At least, Leigh got second. I didnít expect him to get a trophy since it was only five of us, but he did and I got a picture for him and the web. I over heard a couple of people, who must be pretty used to winning, say they throw away trophies they get. Never earning one I looked at them like youíve got to kidding. When I get one, itís going to get a special shelf with a light on it. Iíll probably dust it everyday and sleep with it.

Of course, I had to be there with my camera taking pictures. I took pictures of all the trophy winners at Bill Serafinís request. I also took a picture of Rudy and our D division. Also got some shots of Billís Open Doubles match.


(D Division From Left to Right: Joey Butacovoli, Rudy Sanchez, Leigh Marshall, Bob Jarrach, and Joe Delgado)

Rudy left accepting his first place D Division Trophy from Tournament Director, Bill Serafin. I've been taking lessons from Bill for quite a while now. Bill took Open Doubles and Singles Champion positions.

As for Rudy, we met at Fran Davis' Racquetball Camp in Woodbridge and this was his first tournament since then. Glad it paid off for you Rudy and congrats on your win.

From my last Tournament I had a laundry list of things I wanted to improve. I played the night before the tournament, which had good and bad aspects. I used the green ball religiously for about two weeks. Iíve added about a hundred reps to my drills. Still need more cardio and speed drills. Still get nervous, but I actually slept well on Saturday night. I got there pretty early and warmed up better than last time. I also got orthotics for my feet, which has been a great help. Lastly, I got a big E-Force bag that can hold three racquets, clothes, shoes, and a bunch of accessories.

My Laundry List from this tournament:

  • Need to drill and take more offensive shots of the game from Franís nine positions.
  • Need a game plan tailored to my opponents this time. (Iíll see these guys again.)
  • Need to work on my footwork.
  • Relax. Iím getting better at this, no more heart pounding in my chest or breathing heavy.
  • Need to really push hard to win my first game of the match. I believe the momentum will keep me winning.
  • Need to stop giving away points or serves on questionable calls.
  • Need to play my shots lower and more be patient with the ball. Especially on returning serve. Most times the ball is going to come out of the corner.

Bring on the next tournament which is in December.

Thanks for reading and hope to see you on the courts.
--Joe Delgado