Roanoke racquetball sensation Jay Osborne captured his third straight Charlottesville Racquetball Championship with an electrifying 15-14, 11-15, 11-9 victory over Jerry Miller that left Wednesday night’s crowd at ACAC Downtown on the edge of their seats.
Osborne, the 68th ranked player in Virginia, finishes the 2018 campaign as the No. 1 ranked player in Charlottesville and Central Virginia with a 13-3 overall record. Osborne has now eliminated Miller, an unranked state player, who has played racquetball for 18 months, in the last three Charlottesville Championships: two finals and one semifinal.
Miller closes 2018 as the No. 2 ranked player in Charlottesville and Central Virginia with a 16-3 overall record. ACAC Racquetball Pro Bruce Pierce, the 37th ranked player in Virginia, finishes the CVille season No. 3 overall while crafty Wes Davis (No. 4) and super southpaw Sean O’Connor (No. 5) round-out the top five.
Osborne opened the match with effective nick lob serves to Miller’s backhand, which propelled Osborne to an early lead. Roughly halfway through game one, facing a 7-2 deficit, Miller looked at the standing-room only crowd through the glass wall and could sense that fans were thinking this match would play out like the summer Charlottesville Championships when Osborne dismantled Miller, 15-5, 15-7.
Miller called timeout while down 7-2 and pivoted his strategy. He countered Osborne’s nick lob serve with challenging z-shots and around-the-world shots to Osborne’s backhand, which seemed to fluster the big-hitter because he was unable to set his feet.
While Miller’s late charge in game one was not enough to win the game, it certainly shifted the momentum entering game two. In the second stanza, Miller showcased his lateral quickness, a deadly right-corner pinch-shot and a z-lob to Osborne’s backhand that changed the mood of the match. While Miller won game two 15-11, he was in control the entire time, which built his confidence entering the final frame.
Game three truly showcased the very different styles of both players. Osborne is the hardest hitter in CVille. He has a compact, fundamentally sound swing, which he learned from his father, a one-time statewide RBall standout. Osborne is an aggressive offensive player who tries to win the point very early in the rally.
Miller, on the other-hand, is an unorthodox player who is more athlete than racquetballer. Miller digs more shots than anyone in Charlottesville, and his lateral quickness allows him to keep rallies alive longer than most players.
This contrasting style created a collision of drama and entertainment for spectators. In game three, after jumping out to an early lead, Miller led 9-8 and had a point-blank kill shot from 5-feet that he squandered with an unforced error.
Osborne, an experienced tournament player, proceeded to closeout the match with three straight points. Osborne was exhausted at the end of game three, but he displayed true grit, character and determination in the latter stages of the match.
Sources say Miller has a life-size poster of Jay Osborne in his basement that’s been punctured with months of throwing darts at it. (Yikes!)
On the B-Side, Boston Bob Dame beat John “The Referee” Tomko to claim the B-League Championship. Marlon Cerritos won the C-League Championship with a victory over Rachel Stone.
If you’d like to learn or start playing racquetball in Charlottesville or Central Virginia, ACAC Downtown is the place to do it. The best players in a 45-mile radius of CVille play at ACAC Downtown.
Thank you to the gregarious and always organized Bruce Pierce for hosting and executing a top-flight racquetball tournament in Charlottesville, Virginia.
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CEO Jerry Miller
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