Riley Sommerville is the new national AB racquetball champion.
At 14, Sommerville could have competed at the junior level championships, but they were in Valleyfield, Quebec this year and that would be too costly a trip from her Langley, B.C. home.
“It’s really expensive,” Sommerville said.
So she stayed home in Langley, where the Newlands Gold and Country Club was hosting the week-long Canadian National Racquetball Championships, competed in the AB division against top-ranked, older players, and won every game she played to take the championship.
The AB division differs from the open division (won by Murielle Boivin) in that players aren’t competing for a spot on international teams.
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Sommerville said she was more nervous and intimidated than usual going up against the older, more experienced, players, but once a game was underway, she was fine.
“As I get more in the zone, I get focused on the game,” she observed.
Her toughest win, she said, was in the quarter finals against Carly Bosomworth from Saskatoon ( 7-15, 15-7, 11-8).
“She [Bosomworth]was like, diving [to make shots] and it was a little intimidating,” Sommerville told the Langley Advance Times.
Taking the final game to win the championship was an emotional moment, she said.
“I thought I was going to start crying, but I didn’t. I didn’t want to embarrass myself.”
She made a point of thanking her coach, Eric Urteaga, the people at the Newlands Golf and Country Club and her family.
Sommerville didn’t do as well in mixed doubles at the nationals, finishing fourth of five.
But she had considerably more fun, thanks to her playing partner, 68-year-old Larry Oakley.
Oakley is her grandfather, and the person who introduced her to the sport when she was 10.
“It was great because I got to do it with family,” she said.
She recalls viewing racquetball as just a fun thing to do until she went to the junior nationals in Kelowna and won the U12 category.
Sommerville also teamed up with Kelowna’s Malaya Galigan to take silver in the 14 and under doubles division.
She’s going to give the world junior racquetball championships a pass this year, because they are being held in Costa Rica, which would be an expensive trip.
Next year, however, she expects the junior Canadian championships will be closer to Langley, and she intends to compete.
Her long-range plans are not set, but whatever they are, they will include racquetball.
“I don’t know if I want to make a career of it,” she said, “[but] I want to compete all my life.”
She is hopeful racquetball will one day be recognized as an Olympic sport, and would “definitely” like to play for Canada.
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