Sunday Spotlight: Racquetball player Jerry Northwood wins 10th world title
PRESCOTT - Jerry Northwood, who will be 75 years old at the end of the year, recently won his 10th World Racquetball Championship at the 6th annual International Racquetball Federation (IRF) World Senior Doubles Championships in Santa Fe, N.M.
Northwood won titles in the 70-plus men's and the 65-plus mixed doubles divisions.
"These last two championships were without a doubt the most satisfying, and to win two world titles in the same tournament was commendable," Northwood said.
The veteran racquetball player, who's been competing for 30 years, only lost two games in a combined 20 matches.
"It's pretty grueling, and you play back-to-back," he said.
Northwood won the mixed doubles title with his partner Mary Lou Furaus, and the men's championship with Rex Lawler.
"I'm very competitive. I naturally want to win," he said. "In the record books, as time goes on, they will show I was there. I've told people I want to be the first 100-plus champion."
One reason why Northwood has been able to be so successful is because he's in great physical condition.
"He takes racquetball very seriously, and he works at it," friend and local racquetball player Rodger Timian said. "If he's out there, he's out to win."
Timian added, "His versatility (is his strong point). If he's losing in a particular situation, he has the ability to change his game."
Northwood has been involved in the fitness industry for many years, as he used to design, build and manage health clubs in Southern California.
In fact, that's how he first started playing racquetball.
Northwood, who had previously played handball up until 1970, picked up racquetball after the physical director of the YMCA in Newport Beach, Calif., asked him to warm up a player who was training for a tournament.
"I said, racquetball? I don't play racquetball; I play handball," Northwood said to the director.
The director responded, "No. You know all the angles, so you can warm him up. I have the flu and I can't do it."
Northwood played five or so games with the tournament player, losing every time, but the sport sparked an interest in him.
"(Losing to him) was the best thing that could have happened, because then I was like, 'What's this game all about?' "
Northwood played handball one more time and then started playing racquetball full time.
"It's much faster than handball. The racquet and ball do all the work and you don't destroy your body," he said.
Northwood, who is sponsored by Ektelon and Mannatech Supplements, moved to Prescott in 1980 and became involved with the Prescott Downtown Athletic Club.
He served as the general manager of the club and the racquetball coordinator, which he still does.
Northwood also owned the Yogurt Castle for three years and currently owns an insurance company.
His wife, Claudene, also helped start Helping Hands Home Care, but the couple has since sold the business.
Northwood spends a lot of his time operating his insurance company, but is very active at the club, where he works out and/or plays racquetball six times each week.
He enjoys promoting the sport and likes to help young players improve their skills.
Northwood also holds free clinics for beginners.
Next up, the racquetball champion will compete in the IRF World Senior Racquetball Championships Aug. 30 through Sept. 3 in Albuquerque, N.M, where he will compete in the 70-plus singles and mixed doubles divisions.