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Delray Beach’s Jonathan Burns lost a year of training due to the pandemic, but it didn’t seem to affect him as he captured his fifth consecutive national racquetball championship at Lifetime Fitness at the Target Center in Minneapolis.
Burns, who turned 43 in July, won his third straight 40+ title in the UnitedHealthcare US Open Racquetball Championships in Minneapolis when he topped hometown favorite John Goth (Minnesota), 10-15, 15-14, and 11-8, in the tiebreaker.
He also won the 35+ title in 2016; the Centurion Doubles title in 2017 with his father Marc; and has captured to the 40+ championships in 2018, 2019 and this year. COVID-19 forced the cancelation of last year’s 2020 tournament.
“It was a grueling week of racquetball playing eight matches in 75 hours, but I am glad to come through with another national title,” said Burns, a Boca Raton lawyer who is now 2-2 against Goth. “Once I won the second game, I felt like I had the upper hand going into the tiebreaker. I was able to play steady in the tiebreaker and withstand John’s late charge.”
Burns was the oldest competitor in the division’s final four. The other three semifinalists — Mike Harmon (Sarasota), Brent Walters (North Carolina) and Goth (Minnesota) — had all just turned 40 and moved up to the 40+ group.
“Whether I got John or Mike in the championship match, I knew it was going to be difficult,” Burns said. “Both of those guys have won many titles and know how to play the tough points.
“All the hard work leading into the tournament paid off,” he said. “The cross-training to work on my cardio and the drills on shot-making and serving all played a part in my winning that final match.”
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Burns likes to cross-train with a personal trainer who focuses on cardio and core activities.
“During COVID, I had to stop training due to gyms closing and the threat of the virus,” he said. “Once I was vaccinated, I resumed my training, but I missed approximately one year, which made ramping back up more difficult.”
Going into it the tournament, he said he was confident he could win another title.
“I felt really good about the level of my play going into the tournament,” said Burns, whose racquetball shot travels about 160 mph. “Despite my age, I am playing better than I have ever have, but I knew there would be difficult competition. In June, I won Open at Florida State Singles (signifying the best player in the state regardless of age) beating several top players, so I can see my game continuing to improve.”
The 75-hour grind was something that Burns had to make it through. He had two matches per day starting on Wednesday afternoon and his last match was Saturday late afternoon.
“I would have to stretch between matches and there is a trainer on staff at the tournament who helped keep me loose,” Burns said. “I also focused on hydrating to avoid muscle cramps.”