Saunders set to defend racquetball crowns

GLEN DAWKINS -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 12:12 PM ET

Winnipeg's Jen Saunders will begin defence of her women's singles and doubles crowns today when the Canadian National Racquetball Championships begin in Edmonton. Saunders will be looking for her third singles title overall and with partner Josee Grand'Maitre of Longueuil, Que., will be gunning for an unprecedented fourth consecutive women's doubles championship.

But in her way in the women's singles will be the No. 1 ranked player in the Women's Professional Racquetball Organization and three-time Canadian champion Christie Van Hees of Calgary.

Canadian champion in 1997, 1998 and 2000, Van Hees retired briefly before staging a comeback in 2003. Since then, she has concentrated on the WPRO tour with great success. This season, Van Hees has won the three WPRO tourneys she has entered including last November's U.S. Open.

The nationals are the final qualifier for the world championships, this summer in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. The doubles wrap up tomorrow with the singles finals set for Saturday.

ARTISTIC ACHIEVEMENT: Commonwealth Games bronze medallist Jenna Kerbis of the Brandon Eagles Gym Club finished tied for fifth in senior women's all around to lead the Manitoba contingent at the Canadian Artistic Gymnastics Championships this weekend in Quebec City.

Kerbis, who helped Canada win bronze in the women's team event at the Commonwealth Games in Australia, also placed fifth in the floor exercises event final.

Meanwhile, Patrick Oystryk of Flairs was 19th all around in the senior men's event while Nicolas Lees of Flairs was seventh all around in the junior men's event. Sarah Flett of Springers was 19th all around in the open women (16-and-over) event while Gabrielle May and Leah Cuscito of Panthers were 27th and 36th respectively in the novice women's all around.

ON A ROLL: Manitoba continues to roll along at the Volleyball Canada national championships. After very successful 20-and-under, 18-and-under and 17-and-under national opens with Manitoba teams winning four gold, three silver and three bronze including a sweep of the medals in the 17-and-under women's open, 14 and under teams captured four out of a possible six medals and both golds last weekend in Saskatoon.

In the girls' event, Manitoba teams swept the medals. In a repeat of the provincial final, Club West of Virden downed Shock from Winnipeg in the final. Big Sand rounded out the medal haul taking the bronze.

In the boys' event, provincial champion Hurricanes struck gold.

MISSING STARS: A couple of names were left off the list of all-stars from the Canadian Open 18-and-under volleyball championships which were published in the May 12 Eye on the Amateurs column.

Becky Young of Souris and Kristy Hunter of Roblin were both named all-stars at the 18-and-under national open volleyball championship after leading Club West from Virden to the silver medal. The pair also helped the Brandon University club team to the gold medal at the 20-and-under championship with Young being named to the tournament all-star team.


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