Elkins Earns Spot on National Racquetball Team

Dane Elkins (left) and partner Ricardo Diaz were all smiles after winning the gold division doubles title at the National Junior Olympic Racquetball Championships in Minnesota. Photo courtesy of Brett Elkins
Dane Elkins (left) and partner Ricardo Diaz were all smiles after winning the gold division doubles title at the National Junior Olympic Racquetball Championships in Minnesota./ Courtesy of Brett Elkins

Palisades High racquetball phenom Dane Elkins again showed that he is one of the best players in the world for his age at last week’s USA National Junior Olympic Championships in Minneapolis.

Elkins, 17, made the U.S. indoor squad for the second time after winning the 16s gold division doubles title with partner Ricardo Diaz of Stockton, and winning seven of his eight matches to take third in singles.

Diaz tore ligaments in his ankle in the semifinals yet he and Elkins still beat Ben Hyman of Denver and Ben Baron of Phoenix, 15-7, 15-12. In the finals the California duo ousted Mitch Turner of Salem, Oregon and Julian Singh of Pleasanton, 15-3, 15-14.

Elkins, who earned his black belt in karate prior to leaving for Minnesota, lost 11-8 in a third-set tiebreaker to Akul Ramanyani of New York (ranked No. 2 in the world) but rebounded to beat Sahil Thakur of Tracy, 14-15, 15-10, 11-5 in the third-place match.

The tournament featured 225 players from 26 states. Elkins will represent the USA at the world championships in November in San Luis Portoso, Mexico and travels to Colorado Springs for     mandatory training August 15-20.

Elkins has made the U.S. outdoor team four times and has won 17 major national junior championships, including singles 14 and 18 titles, 11 world outdoor crowns and four Junior Olympic national titles. He is a five-time All-American and is 44th in the IRT (international pro tour) rankings.

Younger brother Cody Elkins took third in the boys 12 gold doubles division with partner Dane Bjorn of St. Louis.

— Steve Galluzzo