By Scott Schaefer

This past weekend, Burien resident Ethan Janson won the Classic Professional Racquetball Tour’s (CPRT) Outdoor World Championships in Las Vegas.

Janson, who is 49-years young, beat out 400 other racquetballers from around the world at the Stratosphere Hotel, where he won the CPRT, which is the pro tour for players 40+ years old.

As a newcomer in his first major outdoor tournament, Janson had to beat the #1 and #2 seeds to achieve this trophy.

This is his first win in a major tournament.

“I’m still in a bit of shock, but becoming champion is beyond a dream come true for me,” Janson told The B-Town Blog. “After I reached the semi-finals by beating the #1 seed, I felt the satisfaction of all my hard training paying off. Winning my next matches were icing on the cake! I would like to thank my Coach Fran Davis, Team Head, and my girlfriend Ashley for keeping me hydrated and ready to play in the Vegas heat for 4 straight days!”

Ethan Janson (right) and Derek Izzi of Kansas, who he beat in the finals.
He also won the championships in doubles with his partner Jeff Elden, in the Men’s Centurion AB Division. Centurion is for players whose ages add up to 100+.

A total of 17 players from Washington State played in this tournament this year.

If you recognize his name, Janson is also a local dentist, and in 2013 he went viral with his fun ‘Seal Pup Slip n’ Slide’ video (which so far has over 2.7 million views) of sea lions frolicking on a swim platform off Three Tree Point.

Here’s more info on Ethan and his accomplishment:

Why (and what is) outdoor racquetball?
I normally train year round as a competitive indoor player, but for the past few summers, I have been switching to the outdoor game. This year, I had a LOT more local competition as many indoor players switched due to the closure of all the clubs. For the same reason, this 3WallBall World Championships was the first and only major racquetball tournament of 2020 and why Las Vegas had a record turn out this year. I LOVE playing outdoor racquetball as it requires significant endurance compared to the indoor game.

How long have you been playing? Is there a court around Burien?
I’ve been playing racquetball for about 6 years since I first tried it at Burien’s LA Fitness. For the past 3 years, I’ve been a sponsored player for Team Head. Fortunately, the Seattle area has 2 of the only parks with outdoor courts in Western Washington, Ridgecrest Park in Shoreline and West Fenwick Park in Kent. These courts are often crowded with racquetballers, handball players, and tennis players practicing. I surely dream of having courts in Burien someday!

What inspired you to enter this tournament?
Normally I am training at this time of year to play in the US Open, but due to its cancelation, I finally got the chance to train purely for the outdoor game.

To what do you attribute your success? Do you have a secret strategy?
I am incredibly fortunate to have a Hall of Fame coach Fran Davis who has helped train me for the entirety of my racquetball career. I would be nowhere near the player I am today, mentally or physically, without her guidance and wisdom. Also, prior to learning racquetball, I ran marathons and played squash for years, which gives me the endurance to perform deep into such grueling 4 or 5 day tournaments.

What was it like playing in a tournament during the COVID-19 pandemic? What precautions were taken?
Unfortunately, spectators were not allowed at this tournament to allow proper distancing. This was the 11th annual event in Vegas in which they literally build a temporary complex of outdoor courts at the Stratosphere Hotel’s parking lot. Our hotel rooms were also our changing rooms and showers…pretty luxurious!

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