Generations converge

GLEN DAWKINS -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 7:07 AM ET

Manitoba racquetball fans were given a rare opportunity yesterday at the Court Sports Club. In back-to-back matches, they got a chance to see the past, present and future of their sport.

Perennial provincial and two-time world champ and Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame member Sherman Greenfeld (the past) dumped 18-year-old Canadian junior national team member Michael Burgess of Brandon (the future) 15-2, 15-5 to win the men's open title at the Manitoba Provincial Racquetball Championships. Earlier, defending national women's champ Jen Saunders (the present) blanked Sara Jane Schmidt 15-0, 15-0 to take the women's crown.

"I'm still the future," joked Greenfeld, the 43-year-old 10-time Canadian champion who retired from high-level competition following the 1999 Pan Am Games and was inducted into the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame in 2001. "I'm the past, present and the future."

'CHANGE OF GUARD'

Greenfeld's bravado aside, it would seem that the future will have to wait a little longer to overcome the past.

"There's got to be a change of the guard at some point," said Greenfeld, who won his first provincial title in 1980 at the age of 18 and has won more than 20 since. "It's just that I'm still playing well and I've got relatively-good conditioning. I've still got my same court speed from 20 years ago. The only difference is I'm not as focused on the training element, but I still have the shots and everything else."

Even Burgess couldn't keep from admiring Greenfeld's talent despite being on its receiving end.

"It's not really frustrating (playing Greenfeld)," said Burgess, the Boys 18 and under singles silver medallist and doubles champion at last weekend's Canadian junior championships. "You just know that you have to go higher up and just work harder to reach him and try to beat him. It's a challenge more than anything."

The fact that Greenfeld continues to dominate the local racquetball scene has definite positives and negatives, said Saunders whose job it is to develop the game as Racquetball Manitoba's program co-ordinator.

"The positive is that he's such a great ambassador for the sport and he's such a great guy so he helps promote racquetball in Manitoba," said Saunders, who also played in the men's open event but lost to Greenfeld in Saturday's semifinals. "But the negative is that it's almost a foregone conclusion (who's going to win) before the tournament even starts. It's a little bit anti-climatic."

Next up is the Canadian Championships, May 22-27 in Edmonton. In addition to defending her singles crown, Saunders and partner Josee Grand'Maitre of Longueuil, Que., will be gunning for their fourth consecutive women's doubles title.

As well, spots on the Canadian team for this summer's World Championships in the Dominican Republic will be on the line in Edmonton. The women's singles field is expected to include two-time U.S. Open champion and the No. 1-ranked pro player in the world Christine Van Hees of Kelowna, B.C., who normally plays only pro events.

"The nationals that I've won there have always been people asking me, 'Was Christine there?' and I've always had to say no," said Saunders. "Now I'm looking forward to (playing her)."

FAMILIAR FACE: To qualify for the world junior championships Burgess had to beat his doubles partner and fellow Brandonite Scott Campbell.

"We were serving the same serves the whole match," said Burgess, a bronze medallist at the 2004 world juniors who turns 19 in July. "We know each other's weaknesses."


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