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Retired master sergeant hopes to keep racquetball alive

  • Published
  • By Steve Berry
  • 375th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
Retired Master Sgt. Yee Cheng hones his racquetball skills at the James Gym. He has been making big moves in his sport recently, winning the Midwest Regional Championships Saturday in St. Louis and claiming second place in the racquetball tournament held at Scott last week. He was beaten by tournament champion Jerry Turley. 

Mr. Cheng won the base tournament in 2008 and also recently won the Midwest Collegiate Championships in addition to the Missouri State Singles Racquetball Championships March 22. 

He has been playing racquetball for 30 years, and at Scott he meets with fellow racquetball regulars after work for friendly competition. 

"Most of these guys are senior players, but they are awesome," Mr. Cheng said. "They are very competitive. Racquetball is a very aggressive competitive sport. So it's a lot of fun." 

While Mr. Cheng plays for fun and stress relief, he is seriously concerned about the future of the sport. 

"If we don't have new people coming in, the sport is going to die out, which it did in the late 1980s and the 1990s," Mr. Cheng said. 

He would like to bring racquetball to area high schools, including O'Fallon Township High School. 

"This is a great region because the high school nationals are held in St. Louis. You've got high schools from California, the East Coast and all over coming to compete," Mr. Cheng said. "Our personal goal is to try to establish a core of youth players."
In addition to being a racquetball player and advocate, Mr. Cheng is an instructor at the O'Fallon YMCA. He also teaches informally at James Gym. 

"Anytime there are people at the gym that need help I spot them out and I help them out--give them a few pointers on some strokes," Mr. Cheng said. "I like to instruct people; I like to help people and get them better." 

Mr. Cheng said he became good at the sport through years of hard work and dedication. Mr. Cheng--an amateur player--continues to grow at the O'Fallon YMCA and James Gym with help from local Sean Moskwa, who used to play on the professional racquetball tour. 

"He has given me a few pointers that have really helped me out these past few months," Mr. Cheng said. 

The USA Racquetball National Championships will be held next month in Houston, Texas. Mr. Cheng said he hopes to compete.