top of page

Xelani's Debut: Breaking New Ground in Racquetball

Xelani made a remarkable entry into the racquetball scene with its inaugural event at the University of Miami's Herbert Wellness Center. The tournament marked a revival of the once-popular racquetball tournaments, including the renowned "Great Balls Of Fire," which had faded away almost a decade ago. Xelani became the first sanctioned racquetball tournament since that time, rekindling excitement and competition in the sport.

Diverse Participation:

With a unique approach, the Xelani Open welcomed participants globally, excluding only the top 30 ranked professional athletes. The tournament featured a singles bracket and a doubles bracket, attracting 45 players, with over half hailing from outside Florida and internationally, including players from Texas, Colorado, Washington, Guatemala, Colombia, Bolivia, Mexico, and Ecuador.

Olympic Format Explained:

To optimize player experience and playing time, the Olympic format was introduced, resulting in the creation of four divisions. The initial round, known as the "Gold Bracket," starts with all participants, and after the first round, the field is halved. Those who lose in the first round move to the "Red Bracket" consolation. Subsequently, players defeated in the first round of the "Red Bracket" enter a second consolation called the "White Bracket."

Returning to the main bracket, the first-round winners of the "Gold Bracket" proceed to the second round in standard competition. Meanwhile, participants losing in the second round of the main bracket enter a consolation draw known as the "Blue Bracket." This design ensures that every player is guaranteed three matches with this tournament format, aligning with the primary goal of getting lots of play time. Given the high-caliber players at this event, the likelihood of early elimination is significant.

The Singles Bracket:

Although the singles bracket fell short of the envisioned ideal player count, it marked a resounding success for a debut event. To appreciate this achievement fully, let's contrast it with numbers from comparable international events, notably The US Open – historically the pinnacle of racquetball. Just four months before the Xelani Open, the 2022 US Open attracted 32 players to its Open bracket, the same division level featured at Xelani, which hosted 27 players. It's essential to recognize that this isn't an apples-to-apples comparison.

At its 26th year, The US Open represented the sport's highest honor, while the Xelani Open, in its infancy, stood as a local tournament rivaling the stature of long-standing international competitions. The singles bracket's success at Xelani underscores its potential to make a significant impact in the racquetball landscape.

The Doubles Bracket:

In the ultimate of team dynamics within one of the world's fastest sports, confined to a small room with four participants, the scene is nothing short of controlled chaos. The players' remarkable ability and understanding in such an environment are truly a spectacle to behold. The Xelani Open Doubles Bracket emerged as a resounding success, boasting an unprecedented participation of 17 teams, totaling 34 players – a scale typically seen in international competitions.

It's important to note that, unlike long-established national events with decades of institutionalization, the Xelani Open is not categorized as a national tournament. It stands as a singular event in its infancy, yet it defied expectations. Despite lacking the historical standing of traditional racquetball tournaments, it was regarded on par with international competitions. Crafted to attract the crème de la crème from around the globe, the tournament achieved this goal admirably. Looking forward, the potential for even greater success is within reach.

A Great Experience:

Players and spectators expressed gratitude for the unique and enjoyable event. Many, recalling past tournaments at the University of Miami's Herbert Wellness Center, thanked Xelani for bringing back the courts and acknowledged the facility as one of the best in the state.


Special thanks to Cristina for coordinating the entire event. Before, during and after. Without Cristina, the tournament would not have been successful. I owe it all to you. Thank you Cristina!

racquetball tournament coordinator

Special thanks to Rick Bernstein for helping me navigate the tournament software website prior to the event and for running the tournament desk on Sunday. Very grateful for your support. Thank you Rick!

Special thanks to all of the players who participated and the spectators who came to watch the show. Without you there is no event. Thank you and see you again soon!

Huge shoutout to Kyle Artman of Racquetball Vibez for helping with the live streaming of two courts simultaneously for our online community watching at home.


What's your take on the tournament?

Please leave us your comments below.


bottom of page