SASKATOON – The youth racquetball scene in Saskatoon may be small, but what it lacks in numbers it more than makes up for in talent. A trio of players from the area will represent Canada at the junior world championships this fall.
The Frattinger brothers, Ian and Graham, hail from Martensville, while Cassie Prentice calls Macrorie home.
“They can go pretty far here. They could definitely be on the national team at the senior level,” said Rob Barclay, who has coached all three athletes for several years.
At junior nationals in April, Ian Frattinger won gold in the boys’ 14-and-under singles division, while brother Graham claimed silver in the boys’ 18-and-under event. The pair then combined to win gold in boys’ 18-and-under doubles. Prentice, meanwhile, took gold in girls’ 14-and-under singles.
“When you start winning and everything, you play the odd tournament and you place good, you think ‘oh, I’m good at this, so I want to keep going,'” Graham Frattinger said of his latest trip to the podium.
“I just feel proud for how much I trained,” Prentice said.
The trio’s success is even more impressive given that there aren’t many other players in the province who share their age and skill level. With few other elite youth players around, all three often play against adults to stay sharp.
“When you don’t play kids your age that much it’s kind of different playing someone your age instead of older people,” Ian Frattinger said.
Another factor to the group’s success is coaching. In addition to Barclay, all three players receive instruction from national team coach Loren Prentice, who also happens to be Cassie’s uncle. The younger Prentice, who just turned 15, has high hopes for her racquetball career.
“I want to try and be number one on the ladies professional racquetball tour,” she explained.
Training alongside two fellow national junior champs is a good place to start.
“It’s pretty good because I get to train with some of the top people and I know that I’ll be able to play up to their calibre someday,” Prentice said.
With all three athletes continuing to push each other to greater heights, their racquetball futures look very bright.