Well it’s hard to believe it has been sixteen years but the 2012 UnitedHealthcare US OPEN Racquetball Championships is approaching, a highlight of the first half of the 2012-2013 IRT Season. Obviously, the BIG NEWS is that UnitedHealthcare has signed on as our new Title Sponsor. This means the event is going to be bigger and better than ever! The purpose of this special Preview is to give you an idea of what to expect at this year’s tourney.
Amateur Draws: The amateur matches will be played at all three venues—Life Time Fitness Target Center, Life Time Fitness St. Louis Park, and Life Time Minneapolis Athletic Club. No consolation divisions will be offered due to the huge draw and lack of available court time. The competition will be excellent in all of the divisions offered as we always host competitors from all over the world. The top four finishers in each division will receive oversized US OPEN medals that weigh about 1 lb. each!
Pro Match Tickets: There is no better place in the world to watch pro racquetball than at the UnitedHealthcare US OPEN Racquetball Championships. First of all, every top player in the world on the IRT , LPRT, CPRT will be in Minneapolis. For the true racquetball enthusiast this means incredible matches to watch right from the round of 32. Second, ALL pro match courts are professionally wired for sound so spectators can hear every grunt, groan, and under -the –breath comment throughout every match of the tournament. The ball sounds like a missile being shot off so be sure to wear your earplugs if you have sensitive “flappers”. Third, all the feature matches take place on the breathtaking made-for-TV portable stadium racquetball court. This engineering marvel has four walls made of crystal clear Lucite acrylic that is not only optically correct (no tinting, blurring, or bending of light) but is beautiful to behold. All the Lucite material is butted up against each other with Lucite “fins” providing the support. Even the “L” brackets are made of Lucite so the result is a seamless visual experience that makes you feel like you right in the court with the players. The stadium seats about 1,100 fans and ticket sales are always brisk. Your best bet is to purchase a Preferred Ticket Package which includes all sessions. This is by far the best value ($135). For those that want the full VIP treatment consider purchasing a courtside GOLD BOX. Cost is $2,800 and includes 4 seats with All-Access credentials. Individual seats can be purchased for $800 if inventory is available. Call (614) 890-6073 to check availability.
Parties, Parties, and More Parties!: One of the things the UnitedHealthcare US OPEN is best known for is the evening social functions. For those planning to attend you can expect more of the same this year starting with the “free admission” Pro-Am Doubles for Charity on Wednesday evening, the fun “Players Gathering” at the dueling piano bar THE SHOUT HOUSE on Thursday evening, the Players Dance Party at Huberts Friday evening and the largest bash of the year—the Saturday evening–PARTY WITH THE PRO’s at the hot downtown club THE POURHOUSE. Other activities include a special Thursday evening Internationals Reception for all our “out of the country” guests and a weeklong Industry Trade Show in the Player’s Hospitality Village featuring all the top racquetball manufactures displaying the latest and greatest gear available in the sport. Look for returning special events this year including the IRT Champions Clinic and the IRT/LPRT Play the Pro for St. Jude Challenge.
Can’t play in the event?: If there is no way you can play in the tournament consider coming in just for the weekend to be an enthusiastic spectator. The pro Quarters are Friday afternoon/evening, Players Dance Party at Huberts Friday evening, the pro semi’s are on Saturday, the Grand Gala Party with the Pro’s is Saturday evening, and the pro finals are on Sunday. Just those three days will be an incredible experience and should not be missed.
No way to attend the event this year!: If you absolutely can’t make it to this year’s tournament then the last resort is to follow the action from home. To help make this easier we will transform our website –www.UnitedHealthcareUSOPEN.com— into a computer “window” to look in on the action at the tournament. Plans include offering live amateur division results posting, up to the minute pro match results, digital photography from throughout the event, streaming video of select pro matches, and web-radio voice interviews with top pro’s as well as play-by-play voice streaming of the quarters, semi’s, and finals (pay per view package required—sign up at www.UnitedHealthcareUS OPEN.com). Special thanks to our computer guru and webmaster Steve Kowalski for spearheading this ambitious project.
THE PRO’s!: As always, the focal point of the UnitedHealthcare US OPEN are the pro players and the incredible entertainment they provide as each player quests for the coveted US OPEN title. Anyone on tour will tell you that at the UnitedHealthcare US OPEN intensity is at its’ highest so every match yields both players at 120% effort. Check out the IRT, CPRT, and LPRT preview articles in this special Racquetball Magazine UnitedHealthcare US OPEN Preview Section for more info!
Tips to Attending:
Tip #1: ENTER EARLY! The event is expected to completely sell out this year. At 760 players we cap the draw and start turning people away. Don’t get shut out. Enter today on-line at www.UnitedHealthcareUSOPEN.com
Tip #2: ORDER TICKETS NOW! You must have a ticket to view any of the pro matches, and although the Stadium Court seats over 1,000 the event is always a sell-out from the quarters on. No-shows can free up some session tickets “at the door” but it’s risky to wait. By far, the best deal is to purchase a Preferred Ticket Package ($135) for unlimited viewing for ALL pro matches for the entire week — this guarantees you a backwall bleacher seat – but ticket packages are sold ONLY in advance!
Tip #3: ENTER TWO OR THREE EVENTS. Court time restrictions (and the large draw) do not allow us to offer consolation divisions, so we strongly recommend that you enter two divisions so that you are guaranteed at least two matches. Although players are limited to just two divisions there are a couple of exceptions. First, if you would like to play “up” into the Men’s or Women’s Pro draw (perhaps just for the experience) you can still play in two amateur divisions, for a total of three events. Second, if at least one of your divisions are doubles, you can play in any third event you choose. For these two exceptions only, a third event is permitted.
Tip #4: STAY AT THE HOST HOTELS. Check the entry form for the official list of host hotels. With the event is in a downtown setting area hotels are quite expensive. However, we have negotiated some great deals with our two host hotels (Marriott City Center and the Normandy Inn Best Western) and have a large number of rooms blocked for our group. Both hotels are walking distance to Life Time Fitness Target Center. These hotels will fill up VERY fast so call to book your room immediately.
Tip #5: BRING NICE CLOTHES AND YOUR DANCING SHOES! One of the really fun parts of attending the UnitedHealthcare US OPEN is experiencing the many evening social activities offered, especially the Grand Gala – The Party with the Pro’s. Racquetball or casual attire is not allowed at this bash so “dress to impress” will be the rule!
Tip #6: LAST FLIGHT OUT ON SUNDAY. Make sure you book the very latest flight you can to head home on Sunday. The Men’s Pro final is the last match of the tournament and you won’t want to miss it. A packed house, booming music, laser light show introductions and the television camera’s make this an experience like no other in the sport. The match usually ends around 2:30 pm so any evening flight will do. Can’t get a late flight out? Consider going home Monday morning. It will be worth it!
Tip #7: FLYING IN—NO RENTAL CAR NEEDED! From the Minneapolis airport you can take the cities clean light rail directly into downtown Minneapolis and right to The Target Center (only 22 minutes). Cost is just $1.75! Two of the three clubs we are using (including the main club) are downtown and so are both host hotels. All hotels and clubs are walking distance apart. For the Life Time Fitness St. Louis Park club, we will offer a free shuttle every 30 minutes from The Target Center (club is only 8 minutes away). If you are driving in for the event parking is going to cost you daily in downtown Minneapolis. Check out the The Normandy Inn Best Western who is offering daily parking for just $9 per day.
Keep these tips in mind when making plans to attend the 2012 UnitedHealthcare US OPEN and you will have the inside track for having a terrific time. See you in Minneapolis!
Pro-Am Doubles For Charity
Want to treat yourself to an incredible racquetball experience while at the same time supporting world-renowned children’s charities? On Wednesday evening Oct. 3rd at the 2012 UnitedHealthcare US OPEN 32 lucky amateurs will team up with the top stars on the IRT and LPRT for a special Pro-Am Doubles tournament. A $325 donation gets you into the draw, until 32 commitments are received. The evening features free food and drink, an autographed racquet from your pro partner, and a complimentary photo with your pro partner.
Although this event has sold out each of the last 15 years, at the time of this writing there are still a handful of spots left. If you are interested in participating, call (800) 234-5396 ext. 0 to register.