Saturday, November 28, 2015         


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Racquet man

Army vet Jimmy Lowe has the passion for racquetball and the titles to prove it

By Cindy Luis


Passion is the fuel for life. And success is the spark that ignites.

The competitive fire that burns inside Jimmy Lowe comes from racquetball. The U.S. Army veteran has more trophies than years in the sport, and with the new year will come a new focus on the sport.

Lowe turns 50 on Dec. 30 and moves up in age group. It likely won't matter, however, since he consistently has beaten players sometimes 30 years younger in open tournaments.

The holiday break means a mid-season break for Lowe, who is gearing up for next month's Longhorn Open in Austin, Texas. It's a time to work on fitness, both physical and mental.

"I do a lot of stationary bike, walking, Nautilus (weight machine), stretching and some swimming," said Lowe, who retired as an Army staff sergeant in 2001. "What's also important is good focus. The higher the level you go the more mentally tough you have to be.

"You have to have the (playing) skills but you also have to have the mental focus to win those tournaments. My fitness level and experience gets me through a lot of tournaments."

Lowe, ranked 34th nationally, first gained exposure to the sport while in high school in Xenia, Ohio. His older sister was taking racquetball as an extracurricular activity in college and "I fell in love with the sport," said Lowe, a five-sport athlete in high school.

"When I came into the Army, that's where I really started to play. There were courts on all the bases."

Lowe made the all-Army team, winning the Army championship seven times, and the Armed Forces championship six teams.

His success did not go unnoticed. Lowe was the first racquetball player to be sponsored by Wilson Sporting Goods in 1994, a partnership that remains in place today.

"They've been very loyal to me," said Lowe, who has 31 national titles in singles and doubles. "It's not a lot of money but it allows me to travel, and they provide me with equipment and apparel. You can go to Sports Authority and see my picture above their racquets. That is pretty cool.

"But I would play for free. I have a passion for it. I love to play the game."

That he's playing in Hawaii, year-round training weather, is a bonus. Lowe is a Department of Defense civilian worker who began work at Schofield Barracks in 2004.

"There are a lot of good racquetball players in Hawaii," he said. "They help me keep my competitive edge."

One of those is 62-year-old Joe Lee, who was on the All-Army team with Lowe. Lee has won his age group six years in a row at the U.S. Open in singles and won the 60-64 doubles title in February with partner Steve Colen of California.

"Jimmy is an outstanding player, one of the best in the country, pretty much a racquetball machine," Lee said. "When we go to national tournaments, we're usually roommates and coach each other.

"We have the national doubles tournament coming up. I guarantee you that Jimmy and I will both come back with those trophies again."

Lowe's doubles partner is Tim Hansen of Florida.

"We don't get to train together much but we've been playing together for so long that we have a great chemistry," Lowe said.

"There is a lot of trust involved."

Lowe recommends racquetball as a way of life, where fitness, competitiveness and camaraderie come together in one place.

"It's a lifetime sport," he said.

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