WCW #16 – AKA Women Making Racquetball History Now! – Jacqueline Paraiso-Larsson

Jacqueline Paraiso-Larsson Racquetball Professional Photographed by Jeff Gallemore

Daily Racquetball’s Women Crush Wednesday Racquetball Influencers!

AKA Women Making Racquetball History Now!

We will feature another woman making racquetball history every Wednesday. Do you know someone else we should be celebrating with this interview and feature process? Drop us a line on Facebook!

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Name: Jacqueline Paraiso-Larsson

Are you a pro player, coach, association board member, tournament organizer, or racquetball broadcaster AKA why do racquetball players know you?

I am a pro player, coach, tournament organizer, and a board member on the California Junior Association, San Diego Court Sports Association, and the Racquetball Hall of Fame Committee.

Racquetball

The local racquetball player who is trying to re-grow interest in a sport that has been on the decline.

Posted by Steve Smith 10News on Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Where do you promote racquetball on social media and the web?
Facebook

Country of Origin: USA
Place you consider home: Ramona, California

Have you ever been on your country’s national team? When?:
Yes, 1990-2011 and 2017-2018.

Did you play as a junior?
Only played the last year I was eligible. 

When & how where you introduced to the competitive side of racquetball?
I was introduced to the sport because my parents played. They were advocates for exercise and quality family time. My older siblings played racquetball at school and told my parents about the sport. It was when racquetball was booming in San Diego (Marty Hogan Era). We would normally go to a school site after school hours and play tennis with my family/Mom. When my Mom started to play racquetball she loved it! She especially loved the fact that she could play, even when it rained (unlike tennis). My siblings and I started out playing each other and rotated playing my Mom. We eventually got better and started playing in tournaments. There were 4 of us younger siblings that competed the most. I have 5 other siblings that dabbled in racquetball before they started families/careers. Us 4 younger siblings excelled in racquetball. I remember one tournament when all of us were in the semis of the Men’s C Division. I continued playing seriously (pro and US Team). Also, 2 of my siblings made the US Team at one point with me.

Playing hand: Right

Year you started playing racquetball: 1979

First female mentor or idol in racquetball: Lynn Adams

Favorite racquetball shot: diving kill shot

Motivation for the game (what keeps you playing):
Racquetball is such a challenging and exciting sport. I love the power, speed and strategy that’s involved. It keeps me young😀

Love most about racquetball:
I love the community of racquetball players. I have made several friends over the years, both nationally and internationally. They are such wonderful people.

Preferred equipment:
HEAD/PENN has been the best company to represent. Doug Ganim appreciates what I have accomplished and what I continue to accomplish. They have the best equipment, hands down, from the shoes to the racquet! Ashaway is another company that has been great to me. Steve Crandall has developed awesome string that gives me the extra edge I need. The PowerKill string has lots of power, as well as control. I string my racquets at 34/33.

Favorite event:
I absolutely love the US Open. It is “hands down” the best event out there for racquetball. I also enjoyed playing in the Olympic Festival. I run junior events in San Diego. My brother and I have run several events in San Diego over the years.

Best results at tournaments you’ve played in:
World finals
7 Doubles titles (1990, 1994, 1996, 1998, 2002, 2004, 2008, 2010)
National finals
14 Doubles titles (1990, 1991, 1994, 1997, 1998, 2000, 2002-04, 2007-11, 2015, 2017)
Highest world ranking
No. 1 (1991-92, 1998-99 to 1999-2000)- Women’s Pro Singles
Olympic Festival (only racquetball player to attend all 6)
5 Gold Medals

World Championships
Gold medal – first place 1990 Caracas Doubles
Gold medal – first place 1994 San Luis Potosi Doubles
Gold medal – first place 1996 Phoenix Doubles
Gold medal – first place 1998 Cochabamba Doubles
Gold medal – first place 2002 San Juan Doubles
Gold medal – first place 2004 Anyang Doubles
Gold medal – first place 2008 Kingscourt Doubles
Silver medal – second place 2010 Seoul Doubles
World Championships – several other gold medals for Womens’ overall and Team overall.

Pan Am Championships
Gold medal – first place 1991 Santiago Singles
Gold medal – first place 1993 Cochabama Singles
Gold medal – first place 1997 Chihuahua Doubles
Gold medal – first place 1998 Winnipeg Singles
Gold medal – first place 1999 Rosarito Doubles
Gold medal – first place 2001 San Pedro Sula Doubles
Gold medal – first place 2003 Santo Domingo Doubles
Gold medal – first place 2006 Guatemala City Doubles
Gold medal – first place 2008 San Jose Doubles
Gold medal – first place 2009 Cali Doubles

Pan American Games
Gold medal – first place 1995 Argentina Doubles
Gold medal – first place 1999 Winnipeg Doubles
Silver medal – second place 2003 Santo Domingo Doubles
Other Gold Medals for overall Women Team

WOR
1st place Pro Singles – the second year I played (2011)
2nd place Pro Singles – the first year I played (around 2009) & 2012
1st place Pro Doubles (2010 & 2017)
Other first and second place at 3wallball and shootouts

WPRA (Women’s Pro Racquetball Association) “Player of the Year” and Sportsmanship Award

USA Racquetball Player of the Year

2009 Hall of a Fame Inductee for Racquetball

San Diego Hall of Champions – 9 time “Star Athlete of the Month.”

Day job:
Para Educator in the Intensive Outpatient Program in Ramona School District, Junior Racquetball Instructor at World Gym, Racquetball Instructor and Home Health Care Provider.

Charity close to your heart: Rady’s Children

Family shoutout:
Married to husband, Michael Larsson. Have daughters, Danielle and Raelynne. Have grandsons, Wolfgang and Dean.

Other sports played in addition to racquetball:
Gold medals in Paddleball and Pickleball. I love playing indoor soccer, but only competed at high rec level.

What can we do to activate more female players?
Have more incentives for women. A lot of women have children and find it difficult to leave the home. Making it easier for them to travel and compete would help. Less days scheduled would make it more feasible for some women to compete.

What is your hope for the future of racquetball?
My hope for the future of racquetball is to keep it alive and thriving. I have seen a decline in the popularity and participation. Clubs are getting rid of courts. I have to travel further to play/practice. I travel an hour to teach at my junior academy. I would like to see a come back of the sport where clubs are building courts instead of tearing them down.

How do you feel is the best way to help grow the sport of racquetball?
The grassroots (juniors, schools, programs) is the best way to grow it. I see other countries, such as Mexico with courts filled with children playing racquetball. The women & men pro players have also grown.

If you could bring one thing back from racquetball past – what would it be and why?
Well, the Olympic Festival was an amazing event. Just the name of it alone is prestigious. I met many Olympians there. It was an event that US athletes strived to qualify for. Thirty-two total went to it. It no longer exists, unfortunately.

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Do you know someone else we should be celebrating with this interview and feature process? Drop us a line on Facebook!