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Waldron graduate to represent Team USA in China

By KRIS MILLS - kmills@shelbynews.com

Sharon Jackson, a 2008 Waldron graduate, competed in the Racquetball National Doubles Championships, held in Tempe, Arizona at the beginning of February.

Jackson won the 2018 Women’s Doubles Racquetball Team U.S.A. Qualifying Division to earn another year on Team U.S.A. She was a member of the 2017 U.S. team that competed in the Pan American Racquetball Championships in Costa Rica.

As National Doubles Champions, Jackson and her teammate, Kelani Bailey, earned appointments and secured positions on the U.S. National Team and will represent Team USA at the 2018 IRF World Championships in Haining City, Zhejiang Province, China this coming August.

In the final match of the doubles championship, Jackson and Bailey defeated Rhonda Rajsich and Sheryl Lotts, 15-10, 11-15, 11-8.

After dropping the first game, Rajsich and Lotts took a 8-0 lead in game two, only to see Bailey and Jackson come back to lead 10-8. That put them in position to win the match in two straight games. However, Rajsich and Lotts weren’t going to go quietly. They came back to win game two 15-11 and force a tie-breaker.

In the breaker, Rajsich and Lotts again took the early lead at 5-0 with Bailey and Jackson coming back to 5-4, and then tying the game at 7-7. It was back and forth from there to 8-8. Bailey and Jackson scored points on back-to-back rallies to make it 10-8. But their first match point was lost because a penalty hinder was called on Bailey. They appealed but the line judges upheld the call.

With the serve back, Rajsich and Lotts had the advantage despite the score. However, back-to-back skips, first by Rajsich and then by Lotts, gave the serve back to their opponents.

“We rallied back and forth and finally took the lead at 10-8 (tiebreaker is only to 11 points), but they won the serve back,” Jackson said. “Little did I know my partner got hit in the face with the racquet during the previous rally. She’s a fierce competitor and somehow stopped the bleeding long enough for us to get back into the service box.”

Bailey and Jackson won it on their second match point, as Bailey - playing the left side - drove a serve to Rajsich, and the ball came out of the back left corner into the middle, where Rajsich hit it into the floor with her forehand.

“(There was) over 350 participants,” Jackson said. “My doubles partner, Kelani Bailey from Virginia, and I placed third in this event last year, but we were there to win it all this time.

“This was my first victory at an adult national tournament. It’s an unbelievable feeling to know that all the training and hard work paid off. I’d like to thank the Taylor family (Al, Diane, Seth, Adam, Dain and Shanae) for teaching me how to play and going to all those tournaments together, all the support I received from the Shelbyville Community, my family, SCAC and the Indiana Racquetball Association.”

Kris Mills is the Sports editor of The Shelbyville News. Follow Kris on Twitter @KrisMills37.