‘Great Balls of Fire’ competition comes to campus

The University of Miami welcomed the ninth annual Great Balls of Fire tournament to the Wellness Center, which featured some of the best female racquetball players in the world.

Rhonda Rajsich came into this year’s tournament ranked the No. 1 player in the world after recently winning the National Singles Tournament and National Outdoor Tournament.

She was joined by 32 other professional women players including Angela Grisar, the No. 3 player on the tour, who beat Rajsich in the semifinals in this tournament last year on her way to winning the title.

Grisar attributed that win to her strategy of copying Rajsich’s playing style.

“I decided to play like she did,” Grisar said. “[Rajsich] goes for it even when she is not in her best moment. she is never tentative. Last year I decided to be like that.”

However, this year these two players did not meet until the finals.

Rajsich got to the finals winning three matches against Dori Zieman – a childhood inspiration – Diane Moore and Kerri Wachtel, the No. 4 player on the tour.

Rajsich’s opponents say her ability to dive to get the ball and her kill shot gives her a big advantage. A kill shot is being able to hit the ball very low to the ground without it touching the court.

Grisar’s biggest win of the tournament came in the semifinals against Cheryl Gudinas-Holmes, the No. 2 player on the tour. She made it to the finals without losing a set in her three matches in the tournament.

With 40 people surrounding the Wellness Center’s court one, the finals match began Sunday afternoon. All matches in this tournament were best of five sets. Each set is played to 11 points and the winner must win by two points.

In the first set, Rajisich was able to jump ahead early 5-1 and won it 11-5. In the second set, Grisar was down 2-6 but managed to tie the game at 8-8. Rajsich then pulled ahead and won the set 11-8. During this set, Rajsich preformed her trademark dive to keep the rally going, but eventually lost the point.

The final set also went to Rajsich 11-5.

As an ambassador, Rajsich seeks to promote racquetball and improve the visibility of the sport.

“I want to do for racquetball what Tony Hawk did for skating,” Rajsich said.

Edward Fishman may be contacted at e.fishman1@umiami.edu.