Thompson-born Canadian racquetball superstar Jennifer Saunders has added a Hall of Fame to her Wall of Fame.
Saunders, who retired from competition last December, was one of the first six inductees to the Thompson Wall of Fame in the Thompson Regional Community Centre in 2015.
Five years later, on July 29, she became one of eight new individual athletes inducted into the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame.
Saunders’s 24 national women’s singles and doubles racquetball titles are more than any other Canadian player. She appeared in every national women’s singles championship match from 2011 to 2019 and won the title 11 times overall. She has also won 13 national women’s doubles championships.
Saunders grew up in Thompson and learned to play racquetball in the courts in the multipurpose room of the old Thompson recreation centre. She moved to Winnipeg in 1995 at the age of 18 to attend the University of Winnipeg. She won her first Manitoba women’s championship that year and went on to win it five more times. Twice in her career, she won both the men’s and women’s provincial titles.
Saunders won her first national singles championship in 2005, when she also won the doubles championship. She never won a gold medal in a major international championship, having competed in nine world championships, 16 Pan Am Championships and four Pan Am Games. She won two silver and two bronze medals in singles at the world championships and two bronze medals in doubles, as well as two silver and three bronze medals in the women’s team event. She won two silver medals and four bronze at the Pan Am Championships and a bronze medal at the Pan Am Games in Toronto in 2015.
The Manitoba Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association picked Saunders as the province’s female athlete of the year in 2009.