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Gainesville resident wins racquetball title
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“Trust your shot.”

That was the advice given to Counte Cooley of Gainesville before he won the title in the Men’s Singles Age 65 plus C Division at the 45th National Racquetball Championship in Fullerton, Calif., this weekend.

Cooley said he wasn’t exactly sure what to do with the advice but took it anyway.

Over the next few games, he found that trusting his shots meant knowing he couldn’t go back and practice the game differently. He just had to play with what skills he brought.

Though he’s been playing racquetball as a way to exercise for more than 20 years, he has been playing in competitions for only the last three years.

He said winning the top spot was a great accomplishment.

“We were acting like we’d won the Super Bowl when I finally hit that last shot,” Cooley said.

Cooley said he has had to pinch himself a few times since winning the championship match Sunday.

“It’s still kind of a funny feeling; when I came out here I didn’t actually think or let myself think I could go all the way and win it,” Cooley said.

He competed against some of the best players his age, and there were some close calls.

At one point Cooley was behind by 10 points but still ended up winning the game.

“The ball just bounced my way perfectly all three days,” Cooley said.

He said the trick is to stay focused on the ball — not to think about how far behind he was or about the next match if he was winning.

“The adrenaline was flowing so much, and I was so focused. I haven’t done anything like that in a long time,” Cooley said.

Cooley said once he gets back home he’ll start getting ready for the state competitions this July and start all over again. It’s just too much fun to quit, he said.

“Plus it’s kinda like I’m getting my exercise for free,” Cooley said.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect a correction to the name of the division Cooley competed in.