The Valentine Open Preview | By Kelly R. Diesel
After kicking-off the International Racquetball Tour’s (IRT) 2018-2019 season, Maryland racquetball is back again to host another Tier 1 tournament for the Tour.
The IRT and all of its incredibly talented athletes will be competing at the Valentine Open from September 19-22 at the SportFit Total Fitness Racquet Club located in Laurel, Maryland. Expect to see full draws and lots of great racquetball action in Laurel, along with some IRT pros that weren’t able to make it to last season’s singles event. Top 8 pros like Kane Waselenchuk, residing in Austin, Texas, Daniel De La Rosa, residing in Gilbert, Arizona, and Alvaro Beltran, residing in Tijuana, Mexico are all expected to make this season’s event in Maryland. Along with a parting gift bag, custom-made T-shirts and medals, the Tour’s pros will be competing for over $19,000 in total prize money!
Tournament Director, Tracie Valentine, 48-years-old from Fort Washington, Maryland, is running the show once again this season at the SportsFit Total Fitness Racquet Club. Valentine, who had previously worked with the Maryland Washington Racquetball Association (MWRA), is hosting this season’s Tier 1 tournament by herself. Valentine wasn’t sure if she’d be hosting another tournament after last season, due to potential retirement plans.
“Initially last year was supposed to be my retirement tournament,” Valentine said. “I didn’t want to run tournaments, I just wanted to play at my leisure. It was my daughter that talked me into running another tournament because she reminded me that we didn’t get the whole Tour. That’s actually why it’s called the Valentine Open, because of the two Valentine women.”
Valentine’s daughter, Imanii Valentine, 21-years-old born in Laurel, Maryland, inspired her mother to run another Tier 1 tournament for the Tour and they both have some great plans for the weekend. One of those plans includes to reveal a brand-new court that had been repaired for athletes to showcase their greatest talents. A VIP room, Saturday night party, extra bleachers and more, are just some examples of all the bells and whistles the Valentine’s are pulling out for the weekend, others you’ll have to see in person as I could not include them in this article!
It’s not easy getting everything in order for these Tier 1 IRT tournaments, and it takes a lot of effort and commitment from these tournament hosts like Valentine. The reason Valentine continues to host tournaments and put forth the effort is for the racquetball community!
“I’ve been in the racquetball community for 20 plus years and I’ve seen the ups and downs and in-betweens,” Valentine said. “The community base you meet and stay in touch with, the people and fans and athletes that remember your tournament and brighten your day and the absolute LOVE I have for this game is why I continue to run and host tournaments. People have real lives (full-time jobs, families, other commitments) outside of this sport, so if you’re going to give me money to play at my club, I’m going to make it a great atmosphere.”
Valentine would like to thank every single sponsor that helped her make this Valentine Open possible, and would like to encourage everyone in the area to come watch this great racquetball action FOR FREE! There is no charge at the door to come sit down and marvel at just how talented each one of these racquetball athletes is. Get down to the SportsFit Total Fitness Racquet Club located at 204 Fort Meade Road, Laurel, Maryland, 20707 from September 19-22 to check out the action, or watch online on the Tour’s YouTube and Facebook pages!
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