One of BC’s largest raquetball tournaments in Vernon has a new name.
The Splatfest Racquetball Tournament is now called the Keith Callander Open to honour a long time friend and promoter of racquetball, Keith Callander, who lost a battle with ALS earlier this year.
Callander began playing the game at the age of 19 in 1979 at the Valley Racquet Centre in Abbottsford, and rose to become one of the top players in BC, ranked 7th at the time of his passing.
Friends say Callander always promoted the sport of racquetball through his demeanour and sportsmanship on the court as well as his willingness to assist any level of player to improve their game.
“Keith was one of those unique individuals that was liked by everyone and definitely paid it forward,” says Doug Ross, tournament co-director.
Callander was ranked as high as 47th in Canada, and after 35 years of playing and competing Keith was ranked 87th in Canada and in the top 30 for players 50+ in the country.
“The racquetball community lost a great advocate and player due to ALS,” says Ross. “Keith was diagnosed in March of 2016 with one of the most aggressive forms of the disease and passed away in January of 2017.”
Ross says it was a wish of Callander’s that no one should ever have to go through what he experienced, so the tournament will be setup to take donations for ALS Canada research and treatment.
The tournament is one of the largest racquetball events in BC, and this year it is even larger, with 60 registered players and more on a waiting list.
Players from across BC, Saskatchewan, Ontario, Alberta and Washington have registered.
Corey Osborne of Penetanguishene, Ontario ranked 13th in Canada and Tanner Mattson of North Vancouver ranked 1st in BC and 17th in Canada are expected to battle for the Men’s Open title again this year.
People are encouraged to come to The Roster Sports Club to watch some exciting racquetball action.
The tournament kicks off mid-day on Friday and runs through the weekend.
Photo courtesy of Mountlake Terrace.