The 2020 Longhorn Open Preview
By: Kelly R. Diesel
The International Racquetball Tour (IRT) is heading south beginning this Thursday for the 2020 Longhorn Open in Austin, Texas, the sixth Tier 1 (T1) event of the 2019-2020 season. From January 16-19, the Tour and all its’ star-studded athletes will be competing at the University of Texas’ Austin Gregory Gym, the home of the Texas Racquetball Club!
The Longhorn Open has been around for over four decades, but the Longhorn Open that the IRT community knows today was initially developed in 2006! Tournament Director, Soly Kor, residing in Houston, Texas, and his college friend Jack Long started the first Longhorn Open back in their college careers (94-98) as a way to raise some money to help cover the cost of Intercollegiate Nationals. Kor moved away after college but returned in the early 2000s and began playing professional tournaments.
“I was excited to get back to competing again, but it just wasn’t the same,” Kor said. “I was frustrated with the poor tournament experiences and thought about bringing back the Longhorn. I met with the club’s president and had our first Longhorn Open back up and running in 2006!”
According to Kor, the state of Texas has a large number of racquetball players, with some of the nation’s best athletes and a strong love for the sport. The city of Austin, however, has a small racquetball community outside the University of Texas. The University has had a strong racquetball club membership for the past 20 years. Members that pay and meet twice a week to compete and travel to various tournaments in or around Texas, and also compete in South Collegiate Racquetball Conference events.
The Longhorn Open has sold out every year since 2009, and the tournament even increased its registration numbers this year for more players to compete in the action. With 470 individuals signed up and over 605 matches to be played, Austin, Texas, is the place to be this weekend if you’re a racquetball fan! All the top pros are in the draw, except for an injured Rocky Carson, from Ladera Ranch, California. With over $21,000 in prize money, a VIP player’s lounge, and a tournament party on Saturday night at the AT&T Conference Center, the 2020 Longhorn Open isn’t a tournament you’ll want to miss!
“Racquetball is the best sport I’ve ever played, and it just doesn’t get the credit or exposure it deserves,” Kor said. “Having the Longhorn Open is my way of bringing exposure to the sport, and getting the college students engaged and involved. The IRT needs higher-profile events to showcase their great players, and we offer them that platform.”
To catch all the matches courtside, head over to the University of Texas’ Austin Gregory Gym! It is free to watch, and food and drinks will be provided, along with some exciting racquetball action! Don’t forget to check out the tournament party on Saturday night and swing by the VIP lounge to snag an autograph or picture with your favorite athlete! If you can’t make it to Texas this weekend, be sure to follow along at home on the Tour’s social media platforms for live-action: IRT Facebook and IRT YouTube.