Repeat Winner Says Denny Racquetball Tournament Is Special, Like Namesake

January 31, 2017

Pawel Wolinski poses with his first-place trophy at last year's tournament.
Pawel Wolinski poses with his first-place trophy at last year's tournament.
Pawel Wolinski will try to hold onto his crown in the fourth-annual racquetball tournament set for Saturday, Feb. 25, to raise funds for the George S. Denny Memorial Scholarship Fund. But, it's not the first priority for the three-time champ.

"The tournament is special to me because I knew George and it reminds me of him," Wolinski said. "It is an opportunity to do something good by raising funds for the College of Education and Health Professions. So, even after his passing, George still makes an impact on students' lives."

The College of Education and Health Professions at the University of Arkansas is sponsoring the racquetball tournament to benefit the fund that awards scholarships to doctoral students in the college. The family of late U of A professor George Denny established the scholarship fund following his death in 2013.

The tournament will be played at the racquetball courts in the HPER Building.

Wolinski played racquetball with Denny numerous times over the years. Denny was enthusiastic about the game and liked to match himself with players of all skill levels, Wolinski said.

Wolinski has won the competitive division of the tournament every year since it started. He began playing racquetball in 1987 when he moved here with his parents and saw the courts in the HPER Building.

"I liked it because I didn't have to chase the ball around like in tennis," he said.

Wolinski works as a systems administrator in the Arkansas High Performance Computing Center and is an adjunct professor in the U of A computer science program. He's a member of the USA Racquetball association and plays in its tournaments, keeping his skills sharp and picking up pointers. He is ranked 4th in Arkansas among 49 ranked players in the state.

At 43, he's often able to beat younger, faster players because he studies their game and finds weaknesses upon which he can capitalize.

"I've played for so long that I know how to adjust and change my game," he said.

Online registration for the tournament is required. The entry fee is $25 for University of Arkansas students and $50 for all others. The deadline to enter is Feb. 17.  Please read the tournament rules below before registering.

Denny taught in the educational statistics and research methods program. He joined the faculty of the College of Education and Health Professions in 1991. He published numerous research papers over the years and won many awards for his work. He won the college's STAR award in May 2013 for outstanding all-around faculty member.

In addition to being a valued and respected teacher, colleague and researcher, Denny was known for his devotion to racquetball and played with several of his fellow professors.

If you would like to support this cause but prefer to sleep in on Saturday morning, you may sponsor a player. Email Lori Foster at llfoste@uark.edu for information on giving without competing.

Contributions to the scholarship fund in honor of Denny may also be made directly by visiting the Online Giving website. Make sure that the Designation field says Other department, program or fund and that the Other department, program or fund field says George Denny Memorial Scholarship.

Tournament Rules

1 - THE GAME

POINTS AND OUTS Points are scored only by the serving side when it serves an irretrievable serve (an ace) or wins a rally. Losing the serve is called a sideout in singles.

MATCH, GAME, TIEBREAKER Pool play games in the morning will be played to 11 points. Bracket games in the afternoon will be played to 15. Players must win by 2 points.

GAME RULES Standard singles rules will be employed; all players will call their own match in the spirit of good sportsmanship that reflects the spirit and positivity of George Denny.

2 - DIVISIONS

** Competitive

** Recreational

** Couch Potato

** Note - we may expand or contract the number of divisions based on number of participants

3 - THE TOURNAMENT:  ROUND ROBIN AND BRACKET PLAY During the morning, we will have pool play (round robin) in which each player will be guaranteed two games. Based on these games, we will create the championship brackets in the afternoon. We will likely have a Gold, Silver and Bronze Bracket in each division. The final positions of players or teams in round robin competition is determined by the following sequence:

a. Winner of the most matches;

b. In a two-way tie, winner of the head-to-head match;

c. In a tie of three or more, the total point differential;

d. If all else fails, coin toss!

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