Lake Elmo resident Ava Kaiser has been a quick study in the sport of racquetball, earning a spot in national and international events during the past year.
Kaiser, a sixth-grader at Rutherford Elementary in Stillwater, represented the United States at the World Junior Racquetball Championships in San Luis Potosi, Mexico from Nov. 12-19. She competed in singles and doubles in the girls 10-and-under age division.
Kaiser’s original doubles partner was unable to attend the World Junior Championships, but she joined Kareena Mathew of Oregon to win a bronze medal in the doubles category.
The American duo rallied after losing the first game to Andrea Reyes and Anna Aguilar Salvatierra of Guatemala and falling behind 8-0 in the second game. Kaiser and Mathew rallied to win by scores of 2-15, 15-11, 11-5.
In other matches, Kaiser and Mathew also defeated Ashley Arce and Jimena Gomez of Costa Rica 15-13, 15-3 on the way to the bronze.
In singles competition, Kaiser defeated Jimena Gomez of Costa Rica 15-4, 15-12, but was stopped by Carolina Garcia Romero 15-14, 15-9 in the opening round of brackets.
Kaiser contributed to a United States team that placed third overall in the team standings, which was an improvement over the previous year. This event featured a 182 athletes representing 13 countries.
Kaiser has only been playing racquetball for a few years, introduced to the sport by her father Rick Kaiser, who has played for more than three decades. Ava Kaiser started taking the game more seriously two years ago with lessons under coach Brian Pearson. She currently works with Cliff Swain, a professional player and United States Racquetball Association Hall of Famer.
Since taking lessons and entering more tournaments, Kaiser is on the court three to four times per week and even more than that prior to big events.
Last year included several achievements for Kaiser, including two gold medals and a silver at the National Junior Olympic Championships, which were held at Life Time Fitness in Fridley. This was Kaiser’s first time competing at nationals and she won the 10-and-under titles in doubles and 12-and-under title in mixed doubles.
She also claimed a silver medal in the 10-and-under singles division. Those finishes qualified her for nationals in singles and doubles, though mixed doubles is not played in international competitions.
While competing at the state racquetball tournament a year ago, Kaiser not only captured the girls’ 10-and-under championship she played up a division and claimed the girls 12-and-under title as well.