Pali High racquetball player Dane Elkins discusses qualifying for the Junior National team.
Palisades High athletes Dane Elkins and Atossa Rejaei were feeling that Rocky Mountain “high” after teaming up to capture the mixed doubles 14-and-under gold division title Saturday during the 41st Wilson National Junior Olympic Racquetball Championships at Highlands Ranch Community Center in Denver, Colorado.
The duo dropped only one game in five matches for first place in the round robin format, playing in the highest (gold) division.
Elkins also won the boys’ gold division 14-and-under-doubles crown with partner Ricardo Diaz of Stockton, earning a spot on the USA junior national indoor team. Elkins finished fourth in singles after falling to Diaz in the third-place match Sunday. Rejaei reached the quarterfinals of the girls’ 14-and-under gold division, then dropped down to the Blue Division, where she got to the finals.
Elkins and Rejaei will be sophomores at Pali High in the fall. Elkins’ younger brother Cody, a student at Kenter Canyon Elementary School, took third in the 10-and-under gold division doubles and fourth in the gold division mixed doubles.
“It’s a great sport, you can play anywhere, anytime, there’s a lot of great coaching and hopefully I can win the worlds or place really well,” said Elkins, who turned 15 in April. “I want to represent my country until I’m 18 and hopefully afterwards on the U.S. national team.”
The World Racquetball Junior Championships will be in October in Cali, Colombia and the American team will prepare for the competition at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. Only some expenses are covered by USA Racquetball, meaning athletes must pay for airfare, housing and uniforms. Click here for information on how to contribute to Dane Elkins’ fundraising efforts.
— Steve Galluzzo