The Severna Park Racquetball and Fitness Club (SPRFC) hosted the 29th annual Christmas Classic Tournament from December 10-12. The Christmas Classic is one of the most popular and longest-running events on the calendar for the Ladies Professional Racquetball Tour (LPRT).
The No. 1 ranked women’s player in the world, Paola Longoria from Mexico, won in both singles and doubles at the tournament, continuing her incredible form from the world championships held just a week prior, when she also won women’s singles and doubles titles. Longoria has been the No. 1 women’s player for 10 consecutive seasons and 12 of the past 13 seasons overall. After winning her first match, Longoria expressed the enjoyment she got playing in smaller tournaments like the Christmas Classic.
“When we saw the schedule, it was good for us to see tournaments like this one still on it,” Longoria said. “It’s a new location for us on the tour. I love the club, I love the people here, and the support has been great for us.”
Along with Longoria, fellow players like Rhonda Rajsich, the top U.S. ranked player, talked about what the Christmas Classic meant to her. “I’ve played in this tournament every year that I’ve been a pro player,” Rajsich said. “It’s one of the tournaments that we can always count on being there for us to play.”
This was the first time the SPRFC hosted the Christmas Classic, which was previously held in Virginia before moving to a club in Laurel for a few years.
“It’s really awesome that there is still a location in the area that has enough courts, has viewing space and has the local support of sponsors, caterers and the like to host an event such as this one,” Rajsich said. “This tournament has one of the longest longevities of any on our schedule, so that’s pretty special.”
T.J. Baumbaugh, a former professional player and current commissioner for the LRPT, talked about the potential of the event and other events to be held at SPRFC in the future.
“We hope so, yeah absolutely, we hope so,” Baumbaugh said. “This is a great location because BWI Airport is so close, so players have access. For the tour, it all depends on sponsor dollars. If the sponsor money is here, we’ll be able to come back.”
SPRFC owner Deborah Badro hopes to see players return next year. “We just want to show them what it meant for the tour and its players to be here playing at our club, and it looks like we were able to do just that,” Badro said.
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