In Pasadena, Opposites Attract Racquetball Doubles Title Duo Of Laidley, Daly Win In Salt Lake City

November 09, 1990|By Roch Eric Kubatko | Roch Eric Kubatko,Staff writer

The differences between the two Pasadena racquetball players are striking.

One took up the sport merely for exercise, while the other had dreams of a national ranking. One relies on her strength to gain an advantage over her opponents, the other uses her quickness. Eight years separate the women.

But important similarities exist as well.

Both are former athletes at Severna Park High who took an extended hiatus from the sport, only to return and win state and national doubles championships.

Lisa Laidley, 29, and Samantha Daly, 21, were awarded gold medals at last weekend's National Doubles Tournament in Salt Lake City. They were victorious in all five of their matches after entering the competition as second seeds.

"One of the girls we beat was ranked 10th in the nation," Laidley said.

"We were both pretty confident, but we didn't know what to expect. It was our first national tournament together. We're not surprised that we won, just real happy."

Daly said, "We figure if you work that hard for something, you go in expecting to win. We trained a lot right before the tournament. We focused on it."

They also learned to adapt to each opponent over the course of a match.

"We changed a lot of our game during the tournament," Daly said. "It definitely was a learning experience. It's amazing the different caliber of play you see when people come nationwide, as opposed to locally."

The duo was warned about such things by Severna Park Racquetball and Nautilus Club professional Val Rogolino, who has coached Daly since she was 13.

"They usually play front and back," he said, "but I told them before they went to the nationals that against power players they had to play side to side. They had to convert. They're above-average players, so they can adapt quickly."

Last year, Laidley and Daly won the doubles portion of the Maryland State Tournament. They bypassed the event this year, but will compete both as singles and doubles in the Pro Division of tomorrow's Long Island Open -- the largest tournament on the East Coast with nearly 1,000 entrants.

"I enjoy playing both singles and doubles," Laidley said. "Doubles are kind of nice because you have someone else to rely on. You're not solely on your own. But singles is exciting, too. It's a better workout, and it's also a little easier. You have the whole court to work on."

Having been coaxed by her father into playing racquetball, Laidley won the first tournament she ever entered, in Annapolis, about 10 years ago.

"I started playing for the exercise," she said, "then I started getting more and more into it."

That is, until giving up the sport for four years after her marriage to Michael Laidley -- a member of last year's national flag football champion Shaklee Raiders -- and the birth of their two sons, now ages 4 and 2.

"My priorities changed," she said.

The same was true of Daly, who first started playing at age 13, but stopped for two years when "high school life took over."

"I was burned out anyway," she said.

Daly has won regional championships in 14-and-under and 18-and-under competitions, and reached the final round of 16 in the junior nationals in New York when she was 14.

She first met Laidley while the two were competing separately in a tournament in Baltimore nearly nine years ago.

"We were playing against each other," Daly said. "We were just acquaintances. Then, a couple of years ago, we started to become good friends. Now it's interesting. We're not only doubles partners, but also the best of friends."

On the court, the two are veritable opposites, but they use their contrasting styles to their advantage.

"That's what complements our game," Daly said. "She's extremely quick and I'm stronger. She's a good frontcourt player and I'm a good backcourt player. We pick up where each other's downfalls are."

Racquetball no longer is simply a hobby for Daly. She quit her full-time job at a Baltimore-based weight-loss center to devote more time to the sport.

"It's something right now that I'm really pursuing," Daly said. "My ultimate goal is to be ranked in the top 10 in the country."

Daly said if she ever reaches that plateau, she can thank Rogolino.

"I already owe just about everything to him," she said.

"She has the ability, no doubt about it," said Rogolino, who also has worked with Laidley.

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