September - October 1998
Photography by John Foust
Go ... Fish!
Often the longest journeys in life begin with one simple step forward ... Current U.S. National Singles champion Adam Karp understands this concept all too well. For years, Karps simple steps have led him closer and closer to the pinnacle of U.S. racquetball.
Hes upwardly mobile. A round of 16 finisher in 1995 at the U.S. National Singles Championships, Karp went another round better the following year, reaching the quarterfinals in 96. Then a semifinal in 97, and finally the championship round and national title in May of this year. But, until recently, racquetball glory and stardom seemed to cling to those nearest Karp rather than himself.
Hes a quick study. At the 1991 U.S. Junior Nationals in Burnsville, Minn., Karp was busy winning the boys 18-and-under blue division while current pro John Ellis was defeating Sameer Hadid for the gold title. Even in doubles, Karp and partner Eric Wong fell to Ellis and Eric Muller for the national crown.
Hes an underdog. The racquetball world was treated to a glimpse of Karps potential in 95 when he upset Dan Fowler to win the gold medal at the U.S. Olympic Festival in Colorado Springs. But, for the next three years, the Australian-born Californian took a lower profile while he honed his talents in doubles.
Hes an MVP. Along with long-time doubles legend Bill Sell, Karp captured the 95 and 97 U.S. National Doubles titles, the 96 Tournament of the Americas crown, the 98 Pan Am Trials championship and the gold medal at the 96 and recent 98 World Championships. At each international event, Karp helped the U.S. team capture the overall team crown. However, despite his substantial contributions to the team, others always seemed to bask in the glory. At the 96 Worlds in Phoenix, it was Todd ONeil and Michelle Gould who captured the World Singles Championships and, therefore, earned most of the limelight. Karp and Sells first world title was pushed to the background.
Adam Karp the ultimate team player! His teammates and coaches certainly wont argue. As the current national singles champion, Karp had the option of playing singles at this years World Championships. It was his choice. But he knew that by playing doubles, the U.S. Team would be even stronger.
Hes ... under-rated? Has the Fish earned the respect of his peers and racquetball fans in general? Yea ... I mean, people know, Karp said of winning the national title. On the pro tour, that kind of stuff doesnt really impress em. But, right now, after winning National Singles, Im starting to get some (respect).
Hes philosophical. If Karp would have played for and won the world singles crown in Bolivia, might he have gained in reputation? When asked what he thought his chances would have been had he played singles, the Fish admitted, The way Im playing right now, I would have loved my chances. I would have loved playing singles up there in the altitude (over 8,000 feet) . . . it would have suited my game pretty well. The ball stays up and I usually get a lot of balls anyway but I would have gotten even more in that altitude.
Hes switching gears. Without any specific plans or time frames in which to turn pro, the 26-year-old Karp is focusing on two goals this season: 1) finish the IRT in the top five, and 2) win the Pan American Games. Even if he duplicates last seasons double-gold feat of winning both the National Doubles and Singles, Karp says that he will compete in singles at the Pan Ams.
His stock is rising. As one of the hottest young players in the world, currently ranked 10th on the pro tour, the Fish may have a Pan American Games gold medal in his future. Like his earlier march to USRA acclaim, his pro rankings are on the move. His trend thus far? He finished the 1994-95 IRT season ranked 13th, the 95-96 season at 12th, the 96-97 season at 11th and last season at 10th ...
With a few more simple steps forward and upward it looks like Fish could be the IRTs blue-plate special no later than 2007. Or sooner ...
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