Whatever it takes to win

GLEN DAWKINS -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 7:14 AM ET

After Jennifer Saunders won her first Canadian women's singles racquetball title in 2002, she felt it came too easy. As a result, it took her three years to repeat that success and win her second national singles crown last May.

With the World Championships around the corner, Saunders decided to stop trying to paint masterpieces on the court and simply do whatever it takes to win. This weekend, she tried out her new improved attitude and she couldn't be happier with the result.

"We have a World Championship coming up this summer and I really feel like at my age that this is a great opportunity for me to win a World Championship," said the 28-year-old, who upset top seed Lori-Jane Powell of Calgary 15-13, 4-15, 11-2 to win the women's open singles final of the Canadian Open Racquetball Classic yesterday in Burlington, Ont.

"If I'm going to do that, I have to be prepared on all levels as best as I can."

By winning the first tournament of the season, Saunders grabbed the No. 1 seed from Powell who beat the Winnipegger to win the Canadian titles in 2004 and 2003.

"I consider that there are three top players in Canada and No. 2 and 3 have to battle it out to play No. 1," said Saunders, who teamed up with long-time partner and third-ranked singles player Josee Grand'Maitre of Longueuil, Que., to reach the Canadian Open doubles final before losing yesterday to Powell and Calgary's Julie Neubauer 15-5, 15-17, 11-6. "The four and five players are strong and they're capable of upsets but definitely the top three women are tough."

'Battle it out'

Saunders and Grand'Maitre have won the last three national doubles crowns.

"Josee and Lori get to battle it out to see who makes the final instead of me battling Josee," said Saunders, who needed a tie-breaker to beat Grand'Maitre 15-9, 15-17, 11-7 Saturday.

The World Championships are next August in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. It would be her third trip to the World Championships which are held every two years.

Saunders reached the semifinals in women's doubles at the 2004 World Championships in Korea and was the silver medallist in women's singles at the 2002 World Championships in Puerto Rico.

"I'm scrappy and determined to win at all costs as opposed to (trying to) win pretty," said the Racquetball Manitoba program coordinator. "I'll win any way it takes. That's my attitude now."

Next up for Saunders is the U.S. Open, next month in Memphis, Tenn. She's hoping her new attitude translates into an improvement over her past performances. In the past, she has never gotten further than the round of 16. Last year, she won a qualifying game but lost in the first round of the main draw.

"I'm going to take that determined attitude into that tournament," said Saunders. "I don't care what (her opponent's) name is or what their ranking is. I'm going to be determined to win."


Videos

Photos