Steppin' up to success

GLEN DAWKINS -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 8:52 AM ET

Michael Burgess has always approached the sport of racquetball in a step-by-step manner. The 17-year-old from Brandon sets himself a goal and doesn't look past it until it is achieved.

Then he sets another goal and the process begins again.

It's worked so far, and there's no reason to change things now.

"I took it step by step, and I just strived for something and then one thing led to the next," said Burgess, a bronze medallist at the 2004 World Junior Championships in December and the current national champion in boys 16-and-under singles and doubles. He moves up to the 18-and-under category this year for the Canadian Junior Championships, April 26-30 in Winnipeg. "Then I'll be setting the next higher goal from that. My goal this year is to make it to the finals at Junior Nationals."

This weekend, Burgess took a couple of big steps towards reaching that goal with his play at the 31st annual Keystone Classic at the University of Winnipeg Duckworth Centre. First, he reached the men's open singles semifinals before losing 15-12, 7-15, 11-6 to local veteran Dwayne Kohuch.

Yesterday, he teamed up with his 16-and-under doubles championship partner, Brandon's Scott Campbell, to win the open doubles crown with a 11-15, 15-8, 11-3 victory over Dave Boyd and Racquetball Canada team member and two-time defending national women's doubles champion Jennifer Saunders. Burgess also beat Saunders in the men's open singles event.

"It's always tough going and competing (in the next age group)," said Burgess, who was first exposed to the sport seven years ago by his father Dave, the mayor of Brandon. "There are two guys from Saskatchewan that are really good. There are more competitors that I will have it tough against (in 18-and-under). It will be tough to make it to the finals, but that's what I'm striving for."

Should the Grade 12 student at Vincent Massey High School in Brandon reach the final at the junior nationals, he would earn a return trip to the World Junior Championships.

"If I make it on the national team again this year, I'll strive to do well at the worlds," said Burgess.

Meanwhile, two-time world and 10-time Canadian champion Sherman Greenfeld continued his dominance of the Manitoba racquetball scene with a 15-1, 15-6 victory over Kohuch in the men's open singles final.

In the women's A final, Sara Jane Schmidt downed Jeanette Clark 15-13, 15-5 in a reversal of last year's final.

Greenfeld, who was inducted in the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame in 2001, was happy to see Kohuch make the final. The pair both started out together as 16-year-olds, and here they were still battling it out at the age of 42.

"To see the Dwayne of old playing out there and beating some of the top juniors is great," said Greenfeld, who retired from international competition following the 1999 Pan Am Games but still plays enough to add to his list of athletic accomplishments. In November, Greenfeld won his 23rd Manitoba Open title. He said following yesterday's match that he is contemplating coming back for the Canadian championships, May 23-28 in Regina, just to see if he has any of the old magic left.

"The focus would be different," said Greenfeld.

"It would be a chance to test my skills against the players of today."


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