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BW brother-sister duo are top-ranked racquetball players

With world-title credits to their names, racquetball champions Thomas Carter '17 and Julia Stein '24 represent the best of Yellow Jacket success.

Carter is a globally ranked player.

Julia Stein '24 was named the national winner of the 2024 USA Racquetball National Intercollegiate Championships in both the women's singles and doubles.

This builds on her success at last year's competition when she and team partner Angie Case '25 placed first in the women's doubles competition. It also echoes the accomplishment of her brother Thomas, who won both the singles and doubles national titles during his senior year at BW.

Stein's two national titles this year were featured in a Spectrum News 1 report, while Case's achievement was written up in her hometown newspaper, The Gazette.

Domination on the court

(l-r) Racquetball doubles champions Stein and Case.

According to BW racquetball coach Andy Hawthorne, the tournament had all the best collegiate players in the country. Even though BW is a D3 university, the team competes against D1 schools.

Although six men and six women represent a team at the national championship, BW had only four women who could attend. This posed a significant challenge for the team, as points are tallied per individual. BW refused to let this setback hinder its chances of achieving a high overall ranking.

At last year's nationals, Stein and Case took home the gold medal for doubles after a nearly two-decade drought. The duo was hungry for a back-to-back win, which elevated their preparation for this year's tournament.

"I would go in the mornings to practice serves and drill by myself," said Stein, a biology and public health major from Malvern, Ohio, who is the first female BW athlete to receive a singles gold medal since 2009. "I focused on eating healthier and practiced visualization and affirmations, which ended up really benefiting me mentally."

Despite being seeded sixth in the women's division 1, Stein secured the gold medal, an accomplishment she had never achieved throughout her college career.

Her doubles partner, Case, also boosted her practice time. "Even though it is a club sport, we practiced two hours three times a week. "Everyone tried their best to make it to practice, which benefited us all. Coach Andy gives a lot of his time to make us all better."

Their preparation paid off. The duo won the match and doubles title in a tiebreaker game.

"Going into our finals game, I was definitely nervous," said Case, an art education major from Brunswick, Ohio. "Julia had just won her singles final match a few hours before we were up to play our doubles final. I knew if we won this, Julia would win singles and doubles for her senior year, so the pressure was on."

BW 2024 racquetball team at nationals.

After a hard-fought weekend, the women's team ended up taking third place overall out of 10 teams, which was an impressive feat for a team of four. The men's and women's teams took fifth overall out of 19 teams.

Taking his YJ4L grit to the global level

Former BW racquetball player Carter also won both the singles and doubles national titles during his senior year at BW. Post-graduation, he embarked on a journey in the Racquetball Pro tour for the USA, where he is currently ranked No. 12 globally.

When reflecting on his journey, Carter said that sports have instilled a competitive spirit and a relentless drive for self-improvement on and off the court.

"When competing, obviously, you either win or you lose, so all athletes must learn to deal with failure if they want to be successful in the long term," acknowledged Carter. "This tough lesson taught me how to focus on what I can control instead of solely focusing on results."

Carter credited the transformative impact of his college racquetball team experience on his personal and professional growth. "I was very fortunate to play on a team filled with talented and competitive players. The racquetball community is very tight-knit. We pushed each other hard in practice. This helped me grow as a racquetball player and, more importantly, as a person. I am very grateful for that.

"I am lucky to have built relationships with a lot of great people at BW — teammates, coaches, professors and alumni," said Carter, who majored in finance at BW. "These relationships definitely helped me in my racquetball career, mainly by providing me with support and guidance. I also know these relationships will help me smoothly transition to a new career when I decide to move on from playing racquetball professionally."

Content for this story originally appeared in The Exponent, BW's student newspaper. Its edited version is used here with permission.

Photo credit: Kevin Savory for Thomas Carter image.

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