Shane Vanderson spends 40 weekends a year slamming a ball into a wall. Split-second decisions are a necessity for the racquetball professional. The hollow rubber ball can travel as fast as 180 miles per hour.
Ranked fifth on the International Racquetball Tour, Vanderson says his father introduced him to the sport.
"I think he got me started because he thought it would help in the other sports I played," Vanderson noted. "He always recognized the benefits of racquetball: the hand-eye coordination, the quick movement, and a good bit of cardio work."
The 28-year old grew up excelling in five different sports. But racquetball, proved to be Vanderson's passion.
"I got started real young. I played my first junior national tournament when I was six."
At age eight, Vanderson captured the first of his six USA Racquetball National Junior Age Division championships. He continued to compete while he was a student at Baldwin-Wallace College in Ohio. Vanderson says he reached a defining moment in his life after graduation.
"When I graduated college, I went on a couple of job interviews," Vanderson said. "I was like, 'eh, I don't really know if I want to go this route yet.'"
The Tampa resident decided to turn pro. He joined the IRT and won the 2003-2004 Rookie of the Year Award.
Beginning today, Vanderson will be one of 30 top racquetball players spending their weekend in Sarasota.
The Sarasota Bath and Racquet Fitness Club is hosting the Spring Break Open with more than $17,000 in prize money at stake.
Winning the tournament would be great for Vanderson's ranking as well as his wallet. While a sponsorship with HEAD/Penn Racquet Sports helps cover his expenses, prize money is a bonus. Racquetball is his full-time job.