Ava Kaiser of Mahtomedi has captured her fifth national championship in racquetball, this one in doubles, while narrowly missing the singles title.
The 13-year-old also garnered a special award from USA Racquetball.
Kaiser teamed with Kareena Mathew of Oregon to win 14U doubles in the National Junior Olympics Racquetball Championships in Portland, OR, June 19-23. They edged Arya and Esha Cyril of California 15-12, 15-11 in the finals, after clipping an Oregon duo 15-4, 15-1 in the semifinals.
In singles, Kaiser beat No. 2 Arya Cyril, 15-13, 15-5 in the semifinals. Against top seed Heather Mahoney of California in the finals, she lost the first game 15-5, then won game two 15-14 with the deciding point capping an exciting exchange of 17 shots. However, Mahoney took the tie-breaker 11-8.
“I was a bit nervous, since I knew I would be playing older girls, but decided to show them what I had. After I started winning my confidence increased,” Kaiser said. “I’m happy with my overall finish, and qualifying for Worlds, but I could have played better in the singles final. I missed shots I normally make.”
Previous titles by Kaiser came in 10U and 12U doubles, 12U mixed doubles, and 12 U singles. She’s also medaled five times in world meets.
Kaiser was named Esprit female player of the year at the awards ceremony. The presenter cited her fourth time qualifying for the World Cup team, her 4.0 GPA, volunteering at an animal hospital and as a swimming instructor, and competing hard but with a “constant smile on her face.”
She will compete at worlds in San Juan, Costa Rica, Nov. 9-16, after training at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado.
“I’m thrilled to play for my country this fall. It’s an amazing honor,” said Kaiser, who is sponsored by HEAD USA, a racquet sports company.