Landmark Women's Tour Event History
A note before you read: this is very skeletal right now; we'll include more details as we get them.
Dec 2016: Four-time tour Champion Rhonda Rajsich fails to reach the semis of any of the first five tournaments of the season, and subsequently misses the next three LPRT events after the death of her father. She hasn't missed three tournaments in a row since the 1999-00 season, nor has she had such a long string of futility since she started playing.
Dec 2016, also pointed out in the Restrung magazine review of 2016; the completely collapse of American female
touring pros. In the first half of the 2016-17 season, just two americans advanced even to a semi final of a pro
tournament, and at the halfway point there's just one American (Rajsich, who may be retiring) in the top 10. There's just
3 americans in the 11-20 range, meaning 16 of the top 20 players are from outside of the USA. 9 of the top 20
are from Mexico.
Sept 2016: per Restrung Magazine's 2016 top 10 Racquetball stories, LPRT deputy Commissioner Andy Kulback was abruptly "dropped" by the tour. This leaves the tour with no commissioner and with President TJ Baumbaugh acting as commissioner.
Aug 2016: Maria Vargas suddenly retires from the tour; she had finished #2 on tour in 2014-15 with two tourney wins
and having reached the final of the 2014 US Open. Per her confidants, she has gotten engaged back in her home country of
Argentina and has business interests there, and has decided to focus her time away from racquetball.
May 2014: Another long time tour player Kristen (Walsh) Bellows retires after having played the tour for 14 years. She retires with 9 seasons in the top 10 and one tournament win.
May 2013: Kerri (Stoffregen) Wachtel retires from active touring after a 12 year career that featured 9 top-4 finishes and several tournament wins.
Mid 2013: Paola Longoria is recognized as one of the 50 most influential women in Mexico by Forbes Magazine (mexico edition), and a tournament in her name is broadcast live within the country. Longoria's success is transcending the sport in the country of Mexico.
Mid 2012: the Ladies Professional Racquetball Tour (LPRT) was formed and new president and current tour player T.J. Baumbaugh installed as President. She is joined at the helm by Andy Kulbeck as deputy commissioner. New website is www.lprtour.com.
2011-2012: Tour reorganized and power is grabbed from those in charge; WPRO goes to LPRT.
Fall 2011: #3 ranked Samantha Salas suffers a shoulder injury that costs her the entire 2011-12 season.
Nov 2010: Paola Longoria is named the Mexican Sportswoman of the year for 2010. See this link for the story of her receiving the "Premio Nacional de Deporte" from the Mexican president (link in spanish). In an ironic twist, Longoria has to skip the Olympia LPRT event in Nov 2010 to accept the award, and skipping that event essentially cost her the 2010-11 LPRT title (she lost by around 25 points to Rajsich, which is about the number of points you get for losing in the round of 16 at a normal tier 1 event). One has to think the tour should have made an exception for this situation.
May 2009: Paola Longoria becomes the first Mexican player (man or woman) to finish #1 on the pro tour.
Nov 2008: Paola Longoria becomes the first Mexican player (man or woman) to take Racquetball's biggest prize; the US Open.
Early 2008: Top player Rhonda Rajsich is assulted outside her home and left hospitalized. At first her career was in doubt, but she recovered well and was back on the court competing within two months.
March 2011: #4 Angela Grisar from Chile becomes the first Latin American player to win a women's pro tour, Winning the Miami tour stop. It was her only career tour win and she retired from the tour after the 2011-12 season.
Mid 2007: www.ladiesproracquetball.com is retired and migrated to www.wpro-tour.com
2006: tour player Lori-Jane Powell is forced to retire due to a knee injury.
2005: LPRA goes to WPRO: Womens Professional Racquetball Organization as the players take back responsibilty for the tour. Shannon Feaster takes over as Commissioner.
Fall 2003: Van Hees unretires and comes back full-force, eventually winning the 2004-05 tour championship and staying in the top 5 for several more seasons.
2003: 3-time tour champ Jackie Paraiso retires from full-time touring, but continues to play events and stay active in the amateur realm.
2002: Claude Crocker is named as the Commissioner, in a "leasing" agreement to take over the tour.
Aug 2001: up and coming player Christie Van Hees retires from tour at the age of 24. The press release in Racquetball Magazine's July/August 2001 issue cites a sickness and a change of priorities for Van Hees. She eventually marries former IRT pro champ Jack Huczek and settles in Dallas, TX.
2000: When Marcus is outsted from the IRT, the WIRT effectively ended as well. In its place was the LPRA: Ladies Professional Racquetball Association. Stephanie Munger is listed as the President and a council of current players is installed as the LPRA Board of Directors. The LPRA is owned and administered by the USRA (United States Racquetball Association), the amateur governing body at the time, in a move considered "odd" but necessary to continue women's pro racquetball. Jim Hiser is the Executive Director of USRA. New website to support the new tour eventually is www.ladiesproracquetball.com. A link to the online article "Dr. H and the Women" is located here at archive.org.
1999: Michelle Gilman Gould abruptly retires from tour due to injuries; She had a period of dominance heretofore unseen in the sport. She went undefeated on tour for multiple seasons during the 1990s and was so dominant that the sport changed its scoring rules in an attempt to mitigate her unreturnable serve. She went 106-2 over a period of four seasons (1994-1998), winning 18 consecutive tournaments and 30 of 33 during the timeframe.
Summery 1998: Marci Drexler retires from playing, having been a top player on tour for more than a decade. She retires with 6 career wins, at least 10 seasons in the top 3 of the world, and perhaps the title of "Best player never to finish #1."
1995: Hank Marcus of the International Racquetball Tour (IRT) came forward with a proposal to consolidate the top level of the sport and the Women's International Racquetball Tour (WIRT) was formed. This guaranteed the presence of the women's events at
the marquee Men's events (events such as the US Open, Pro Nationals and other "major" tournaments).
1991: 5-time champ Lynn Adams is forced to retire from the tour due to complications from Multiple Sclerosis.
1989: Michelle Gilman (eventually to become Michelle Gilman Gould) bursts onto the scene, finishing 2nd on tour in her first full pro season.
1987: Lynn Adams is diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, but continues to play at a top level, including the 1989-90 championship and two #2s on tour.
1985: Marci Greer (seemingly?) retires from the tour
1985: 4-time champ Heather McKay returns to her native Australia, leaving the tour and her rivalry with Adams. Adams immediately follows up McKay's departure by going undefeated during the 1984-85 season.
1980: Legendary Squash player Heather McKay (who was unbeaten in Professional Squash from 1962-1981) retires from professional Squash and begins playing competitive Racquetball at the age of 40. She immediately begins dominating the sport, winning four titles in five years. Her biggest rival is Lynn Adams.
late 1979: The Women's Professional Racquetball Association (WPRA) is formed by a small breakaway group of players to focus on the Women's game. They form their own tour for 1980. Rumors of the women being "thrown out" of the NRC.
1976: the NRC begins including Women's events and formalizes a real women's tour.
1973: National Racquetball Club (NRC) formed when Kendler breaks away from IRA (resigns 4/73, forms NRC 6/73)
1970-1975: IRA Champ considered World Champ in the absence of an organized Women's pro tour.
1968: International Racquetball Association (IRA) founded by Robert Kendler.
IRA is (over the years) eventually renamed American Amateur Racquetball Association (AARA) and then
United States Racquetball Association (USRA). For several years the IRA holds