Monday, January, 18th, 2021
From January 7th-10th, 2021, the International Racquetball Tour (IRT) hosted the Suivant Consulting Pro Pan Am tournament in Lilburn, Georgia, a prestigious Grand Slam event. This was the first men’s pro tour event since the COVID-19 shutdowns began in March 2020. Samuel Murray, a member of Racquetball Canada’s national team, has won this very prominent title.
The magnitude of this win cannot be over-stated. Sam is only the second Canadian male to ever win a pro stop. Under the current climate it makes it even more remarkable to me.
Jen Saunders, Sport Development & High Performance, Racquetball Canada
The COVID-19 pandemic has had an impact that can be felt across the globe. With the cancellation and postponement of sporting events, many athletes have had to adjust their training.
“The pandemic has changed my plans, as it has for everyone else. Without tournaments, I had to find a job in my field and put my racquetball careers on ‘pause’ for a while.” Sam told the Canadian Sport Centre Manitoba. When the IRT announced the upcoming tournaments, it gave Sam the opportunity to begin training even harder and more regularly.
Having a goal helped me a lot.
Fortunately for racquetball athletes in Quebec where Sam trains, many of the courts have remained mostly open since June 2020. He was able to take advantage of the time he had on the courts, and continue physical training during the break from competition.
“On the court, I am lucky to have my brother to play with me and to see fastballs. I am also lucky to have my coach with me so we have spent a lot of time on the courts over the past three-four months.”
With the cancellation of sporting events, Sam had not competed in a tournament in 10 months. “I didn’t really know at what level I could play, and more importantly, I didn’t know if I had managed to keep the level of fitness necessary to play at this level.” However, as we saw, Sam clearly had what it took to win the elite Grand Slam title.
Sam faced some tough competitors during the tournament, with impressive victories over four of the top players in the world. This also included the top seed in the tournament. Jen Saunders discussed the immense calmness and resiliency that Sam exhibited during his tough fought matches.
“I felt good throughout the tournament, better and better as the tournament progressed. I was always in control of my emotions and it seemed like no situation could bother me. I played four games that lasted about two hours. Normally my level of play would have gone down, but not this time.”
This truly was an impressive feat.
It is still hard to believe I won a Grand Slam. I didn’t think it was within my grasp, but I did it and I’m really proud of it. I’m proud of how far I’ve come to become the player I am today.
With more tournaments from the IRT to come, Sam believes he has gained the confidence needed from this title to show that he is part of the top group of players. His goal is to be in the top three on the professional circuit.