Thanks to Shari Coplen, who sent along some old magazine scans she got from one of the early pro champions Steve Serot, we now have the full Men’s singles and doubles draws from the 1973 IRA (now known as USA Racquetball) national championships.
Serot featured prominently in both events and kept copies of the material throughout the years. He also provided full bracket scans (!!) for both draws. Read on for a fun trip down memory lane.
The Singles draw from 1973 nationals is amazing: 102 players. I have never entered a bigger draw.
Match report: http://rball.pro/2EBB7D
Top 10 seeds:
1 Charlie Brumfield
2 Rubenstein, Ron
3 Schmidtke, Bill
4 Lawrence, Paul
5 Serot, Steve
6 Michael Zeitman
7 Bo Keeley (Steve Keeley)
8 Porco, Ken
9 Charles H. Garfinkel
10 Jerry Hilecher
Other notables in the draw:
– #15 Charlie Drake, who eventually became the commissioner of the pro tour in the early 80s and the CEO of Leach industries (one of the major sponsors of the sport).
– #17 Steve Strandemo, who was a regular touring pro for a decade and one of the sport’s first big-time teaching pros, running clinics for years after retiring.
– #24 Davey Bledsoe, who would go on to win the 1977 nationals and who passed away in Dec 2019
– #26 Randy Stafford, who now curates the Racquetball Museum (and who just got it back online: http://racquetballmuseum.com/ )
– #72 Chuck Leve, who wrote several books on racquetball and was inducted into the USAR Hall of Fame in 1997.
– #91 Marty Hogan … which has the be the lowest he was ever seeded in a tournament in his life.
The draw went nearly chalk in its later rounds, with 15 of the top 16 seeds advancing out of the 32s (only the #8 seed was upset early), then 7 of the top 8 seeds making the quarters. From there, #1 and defending champ Brumfield took over, advancing past #5 Serot in the semis, while #7 Keeley beat the #2 and #3 seeds to advance to the final. Brumfield took the title in a breaker over Bo in the end.
1973 Doubles review
See http://rball.pro/CACB31 for the doubles bracket in the database.
The tournament is a throwback to the very early days of the sport, and the players involved in this event show as much.
1 Luciw, Mike & Rudusz, George; the 1972 champs.
2 Porco, Ken & Evans, Bill: Porco was part of the 1971 winning team.
3 Brumfield, Charlie & Serot, Steve; two of the best of the early touring racquetball pros during the sport’s infancy.
4 Souders, Roger & Charleson, Dave; Charleson would win the title in 1974.
5 Hilecher, Jerry & Wong, Kenny; Both St. Louis based and part of the core group of St. Louis natives that dominated early.
6 Keeley, Steve & Drake, Charlie; Keeley is the legendary character of the sport.
7 Dunn, Bill & Thurman, Bill were both early touring players and both played a number of NRC and IRA pro events from 73 to 77.
8 Johnson, Galen & Wirkus, Joe
9 Stafford, Randy & Davey Bledsoe
10 Strandemo, Steve & Strom, Ron
Also playing was a young Craig McCoy (the 15th seed as a 16yr old), and under-seeded Bill Schmidtke (the 1971 and 1974 Singles national champion), and seeded 44th a very precocious Marty Hogan, playing in his home-town at the age of 15.
The 5-time pro tour champ Brumfield, teamed with the lefty Serot, blew through the draw and were never really challenged in the event. They topped the #5 seeded Hilecher/Wong team in the final 1,15
thanks to Shari and to Serot himself for retaining this information. As always, if you can find the draw sheets for an old event, i’ll put it in.