Want to Get Better? Get in the Court

GetBetter.jpg

You want to get better? Get in the court. Start hitting the ball - over and over and over. And hit the ball with a purpose. It isn’t enough to take half-speed swings for two hours a day. You need to hit the ball the way you are going to be hitting the ball in a tournament setting. Practice with intensity.

Practice is boring, you say? Too bad. If practicing isn’t exciting for you - or the prospect of getting better isn’t exciting - then stop feeling sorry for yourself about losing and get comfortable with being average.

There’s a reason that some people are better than others. Don’t fall into the trap of believing that every person better than you is simply more talented. While it’s true that genetics are a factor in athletic performance, it’s an excuse used by an overwhelming majority of athletes - especially the mediocre and average ones.

Winners do more. Winners put in time. It’s not rocket science. Get in the court and practice at game speed consistently. Not just one month out of the year before the biggest tournament of the season. Practice year-round. It will pay off.

Parrilla’s eye-raising run at 2017 Shamrock Shootout proof positive that players are getting better

Players get better.

Whether it’s competing on the International Racquetball Tour or the World Racquetball Tour - players get better.

That simple fact has never been more clear following four days of racquetball March 16-19 at the 2017 Shamrock Shootout IRT ProAm in Chicago, Illinois.

After a relatively well-known history of dismissing the WRT as semi-pro racquetball or a different level, IRT loyalists were given a stark reminder that preparation and opportunity can come together to make special things happen, regardless of tour affiliation.

And what a special weekend it was for Andre Parrilla. Five wins, two of those coming against the IRT’s No. 2 and No. 3 ranked players, en route to his first career IRT final.

“Like everybody, I have bad days on the court. Some other days are really, really good,” Parrilla said following the weekend.

And things turned out really, really good for Parrilla in Chicago.

He opened the tournament with wins over Bryan Crosser and Justus Benson before defeating No. 3-ranked Daniel De La Rosa in the round of sixteen. Parrilla won in five (11-3, 1-11, 11-9, 10-12, 12-10), and thanks to those two previous matches being three games each, he had plenty of gas left in the tank.

Being a ripe, young 20 years of age doesn’t hurt, either. Parrilla turns 21 in July.

Parrilla followed up the De La Rosa match with another notable victory against Alejandro Landa (11-8, 10-12, 11-3, 12-10) and found himself advancing to his first ever IRT semifinal against No. 2-ranked Rocky Carson. Parrilla won in five games (3-11, 11-8, 4-11, 11-5, 11-8), showing poise and confidence throughout the match.

If Parrilla’s victory over De La Rosa didn’t raise any eyebrows in the world of racquetball (and it almost certainly did), following that up with a win against Carson may have seemed even more unlikely. But Parrilla didn’t seem surprised, and said he has been feeling more comfortable on the court.

“One of the main differences is the fact that I’ve been playing a lot of tournaments, “ he said. “Last year I played in maybe twenty to twenty-five tournaments. This year I started strong like that, playing three tournaments in January.”

He played another in February before making the trip to Chicago.

Parrilla has taken advantage of the time he spends on the road to concentrate on training and watching racquetball video, something he acknowledges has improved his game and his shot selection.

“Sometimes I just go to bed and watch four or five different matches before sleeping. It’s becoming a problem now, because when I have to sleep I’m watching matches,” he says.

For now, it’s safe to say all the study has paid off. And the lack of sleep didn’t prevent him from a dream weekend in Chicago.

Eventually, like most tournaments end up on the IRT, Parrilla fell to Kane Waselenchuk in the final (11-1, 11-4, 12-10). But the fact that Parrilla was able to make that kind of run speaks volumes about how young players are improving. Another WRT regular, David Bobby Horn, notched a victory over the IRT’s No. 6-ranked Jansen Allen in the same tournament.

All of this makes for entertaining discussion and comparisons, but it shows clearly that players are getting better regardless of professional tour - and that makes racquetball on the horizon even more of a compelling subject. And what the future of racquetball will look like isn’t something lost on players like Parrilla.

“Of course we think about it,” he said. “We would like racquetball to be big, big, big - as much as soccer, tennis, or some other big sport. But for now we’ve just got to do what we have to do. If we can help our tour, if we can help racquetball with something, then we will do it.”

Forehand Mechanics Checkup from Dave Peck's Championship Racquetball System

If you haven't read Dave Peck's book, I would highly recommend it. Check out a few quick points on forehand mechanics from his book in the summary below.

If you haven't read Dave Peck's book, I would highly recommend it. Check out a few quick points on forehand mechanics from his book in the summary below.

Forehand Grip

  • Put the racquet frame perpendicular to the floor and shake hands with the racquet.

  • Don’t grip too high like a hammer, you will lose some control.

  • Don’t grip too low, because you may find yourself squeezing the racquet harder to maintain control. This can lead to arm fatigue and costly errors in big matches.

  • Place the index finger on the back side of the racquet, creating a trigger grip.

  • The trigger grip should provide power, stability, and control.

  • Wrap your thumb around your middle finger.

  • The V formed the thumb and index finger should be on the middle of the racquet.

  • A common error is not utilizing the trigger grip and instead wrapping the index finger all the way around the racquet.

 

The Forehand Stroke

  • Assume the ready position while facing the side wall.

  • Bring elbow up.

  • Forearm parallel to the floor.

  • Elbow should form a 90 degree angle from forearm to biceps.

  • Keep your arm up at shoulder height.

  • If you are not sure what this should look like, form an “L” with your shoulder and elbow.

  • A common error is putting your arm and racquet in the “salute” position. Bringing the elbow and racquet up to a salute position can cause you to hit yourself in the eye, but also can elongate the stroke and force the elbow in. The elbow coming in will cut down on maximum power and time.

  • Only take the racquet back even with the shoulder. Don’t pull your arm further behind your shoulder and back. This elongates the stroke and puts a lot of strain on your shoulder and back muscles.

  • Step into your shot with the front foot ending up at a 45 degree angle. Back foot should stay square.

  • Why have the front foot at a 45 degree angle? Power is generated by pushing your body weight forward, opening your hips, and getting hip rotation into the shot.

  • It’s vital to push off the back leg because it forces your hips to open and rotate.

  • If your front foot is even with the back or closed in, your hips will lock and you won’t reach your full power potential.

  • A closed or even stance also forces the angle of your swing upward because your hips are unable to shift through.

  • The 45 degree angle allows the lowering of your body into the ball.

  • Most elbow injuries in racquetball are a result of not using the legs and trying to muscle the ball, relying too much on the arm and not the legs.

  • Remember to drag the instep of your back foot. This will help prevent you from skipping shots.

  • When you stay up and lean over shots, you tend to skip the ball more. Dragging the instep of your back foot should help.

 

The Arm Swing

  • Arm swing and step are almost simultaneous.

  • First movement is to lead with the elbow, pulling down like a pendulum and not into your side.

  • Keep the elbow about 10 inches from your body and you should feel tension on your shoulder when your elbow passes through on this arc.

  • At this tension point you begin your extension.

  • Elbow-extend should be your thinking.

  • Extending at this point accelerates the racquet head and gets the proper pronation/extension of the arm to allow for maximum wrist snap.

  • When you extend, bring the racquet through square and perpendicular to the floor, like a sidearm pitch in baseball.

  • Follow through should be on the same plane as the shot so the ball remains parallel to the floor.

  • Some players follow through with racquet up by their neck or head. It looks cool, but pushes your shot upward a couple of inches, making opponent re-kills a better possibility.

  • What about wrist action? Don’t worry too much about it. It should happen automatically.

 

Non-Hitting Arm

  • Non-hitting arm should rotate hard away from your body, pulling your hips open and rotating your midsection.

  • This helps generate power, but more importantly it keeps the racquet level.

  • Do not try to guide your shot in your power zone.

  • The secret to controlling the forehand is hitting the ball with the same stroke every single time. The only thing that changes is where the ball is contacted in the power zone.

  • Kill shots should be contacted just above floor level.

  • Passing shots should be contacted at knee level.

Drama continues at the Florida IRT Pro-Am

Jake Bredenbeck picked up the biggest win of his career and arguably the biggest win of the 2015-2016 IRT season against No. 1-ranked Kane Waselenchuk, Daniel De La Rosa won a decisive battle over Jose Rojas in one of the IRT's most interesting rivalries, and you can almost hear Rocky Carson and Alvaro Beltran licking their chops for a chance at another Tier 1 championship now that Waselenchuk is out of the tournament.

Those were just a few of the story lines from Friday as the Florida IRT Pro-Am enters the final day of competition today. Semifinal action starts at 11:00 a.m. and the championship is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. tonight.

Bredenbeck and Waselenchuk battled into the fifth game before the world No. 1 and reigning IRT champion bowed out due to injury. Friday's performance earned the young Minnesotan another signature win in his pro racquetball career. With victories against both Waselenchuk and Carson this season, he is working his way up the charts in the IRT. Even though he is sure to be disappointed with a quarterfinal loss to Sebastian Franco, Bredenbeck is making his mark.

After putting an end to Cliff Swain's run into the round of 16, Daniel De La Rosa took out Jose Rojas in three straight games in the quarterfinals. Rojas held a 3-2 edge over De La Rosa this season in head-to-head matchups. The win solidifies the duo's rivalry and puts De La Rosa in a position to make his third final of the season. De La Rosa's two previous championship appearances both resulted in losses to Kane Waselenchuk. With Waselenchuk out of the field, it will be interesting to see how he performs down the stretch. De La Rosa will take on Sebastian Franco today, who will be playing in his second semifinal of the season.

The most interesting dynamic of the tournament may be the semifinal matchup between Rocky Carson and Alvaro Beltran. With Waselenchuk out of the tournament and their chances of capturing a Tier 1 championship improved, they are sure to be running on a little extra adrenaline as they fight to make the finals.

Some things to keep an eye on down the road:

How will Waselenchuk's early exit affect the points race for the year-end championship and how will it affect the rest of his season? With a recent surgery playing a role in this weekend's performance, how much of a factor will it play in the final two events of the year? And with the entire racquetball world witnessing the Bredenbeck victory, how will it affect the dynamics of future matches? Players often play fearlessly when they smell blood in the water, and this chink in the armor could be an added incentive for opponents to come out firing against the king of the court.

Questions to be Answered at the Florida IRT Pro-Am

by Justin Johnson

We're coming down the home stretch of the 2015-2016 International Racquetball Tour season. And there are more than a couple story lines for racquetball fans to follow. Here are a few that are sitting at the forefront of my mind.

Jake Bredenbeck is in a unique position. He will be taking on Kane Waselenchuk tomorrow in the quarterfinals, who is fresh off an emergency surgery that forced him out of the last major IRT event. Could this be the weekend Bredenbeck makes a permanent mark on professional racquetball by pulling off one of the biggest upsets of all-time? If there was ever a time for Waslenchuk to lose, this could be it. And if there is an up-and-comer hungry enough to make it happen, it's Bredenbeck. The young Minnesotan has already knocked off Rocky Carson this season.

Will Cliff Swain continue to inspire and impress the racquetball world with his legendary story? At 50 years old, the game's unmistakable emblem of dominance and endurance still has the chops to fight for a Tier 1 title. His match against No. 4-ranked Daniel De La Rosa on Friday will be one to watch.

Can Markie Rojas break through? It seems as if he is on the verge of rocking the boat on the IRT. He's taken Rocky Carson to five games before, and there is no doubt he has his eye on a potential rematch with Carson this weekend.

Will Alvaro Beltran make a push down the finish line to make this one of the best seasons of his career? With one major victory under his belt already, another one would make this a season to remember for the aging pro. With the field set up the way it is right now, he still has a chance to make magic happen every weekend.

What will become of the rivalry between Jose Rojas and Daniel De La Rosa? This season Rojas has a 3-2 edge over the Mexican star. The two players are poised to enter the prime of their careers, and it will be interesting to see who takes the reigns to take charge in the race to future number one of the IRT.

These are just a few of the things racquetball fans can ponder this weekend and beyond. And there are sure to be more to come.

Age Before Beauty in the Raising Some Racquet for Kids Championship Finals

Age before beauty.

The saying held true this weekend in Ohio, as Rocky Carson and Alvaro Beltran made their way into the finals of the Raising Some Racquet for Kids IRT Tier 1 event in Huber Heights.

Not that age is a knock on either of these pro racquetball legends. At 37 and 36 years old, Beltran and Carson are still forces to be reckoned with on the IRT. And not implying anything detrimental about their appearance, as both stars remain as photogenic as ever.

But beauty is often associated with youth. And during Saturday's semifinals, the beauty of youth fell victim to the wisdom of two veteran racquetball warriors. Columbia’s Sebastian Franco bowed out to Beltran in three straight in the first semifinal of the day and Mexico’s Daniel De La Rosa fell in four to Carson.

Beltran and Carson met during in finals of the 2015 Galaxy Custom Printing Pro-Am in Atlanta earlier this season, where Beltran captured the third Tier 1 championship of his career. The match lasted four games, Beltran winning by scores of 11-8, 8-11, 11-5, and 11-4. Carson got revenge two weeks later, besting Beltran in three straight during the semifinals of the 25th Annual Garden City Turkey Shootout.

Tonight's match should be interesting for a couple of different reasons. First, there aren't many chances for other players on tour to come away with Tier 1 championships. As world number one Kane Waselenchuk sits out this weekend due to injury, a championship match without him makes for some entertaining speculation. Second, Carson and Beltran have been back and forth throughout their entire career when it comes to head-to-head matchups with Carson holding a 22-20 edge. And with young up-and-coming players like Franco and De La Rosa nipping at their heels, opportunities like this don't present themselves every day.

Waselenchuk has 96-match winning streak heading into the new year, looks to hit 100 consecutive wins at New York City Open

Kane Waselenchuk serves at the 2015 U.S. Open. Photo courtesy of Roby Partovich.

Kane Waselenchuk serves at the 2015 U.S. Open. Photo courtesy of Roby Partovich.

Kane Waselenchuk has a 96-match winning streak heading into the International Racquetball Tour’s first major event of the 2016 calendar year. And depending on the size of the draw at the New York City Open on January 14-17, there is a high probability he will be playing for his 100th consecutive win in the semifinals or finals of that event.

So with the prospect of another landmark achievement in the career of racquetball’s greatest player, I took some time to look back on his professional record. What I found gave me a whole new appreciation for what he has been able to accomplish.

Racquetball fans today assume Kane is going to win each and every time he steps onto a racquetball court. He’s looked at as a Herculean figure of the racquetball universe – more than a man, but less than a god… So it’s easy to forget it wasn’t always that way for Kane Waselenchuk. He did have struggles with opponents from time to time. Granted, they were some of the greatest of the greats, but he had to persevere through some tough times before he molded himself into one of the most dominant athletes in the history of professional sports.

Case in point: Cliff Swain. During the first three years of Waselenchuk’s professional racquetball career, Swain was a code he couldn’t crack. They first met at the Bud Light IRT Pro Nationals in Las Vegas during the 1999-2000 season, where Swain won in five. They met twice the following season, both four-game victories for Swain.

The rivals went head-to-head on four more occasions throughout the 2001-02 season with Swain coming out on top each time to make it seven victories in a row.

Kane finally broke through to get a victory over Swain the following season, winning in five at the Halloween Classic in Chicago, Illinois. But Swain avenged the loss three weeks later at the U.S. Open, making it eight wins in nine matches between the two iconic lefties.

Things changed after that – and they changed drastically. Swain and Waselenchuk would go head-to-head 13 more times, with Waselenchuk winning all but one of those matchups. Swain’s only victory during that span came on September 12, 2004, when he snapped an 18-match Waselenchuk winning streak at the George Spanos Stockton Pro-Am. (Side note: Waselenchuk would go on to win 22 matches in a row following that loss. He has won nine straight over Swain to date).

Swain isn’t the only example of somebody that gave Waselenchuk trouble early in his career. From 2000 to 2003, Jason Mannino won six of their first 11 meetings. From 2002 to 2004, Sudsy Monchik won three of the last four matches the duo would ever play. And despite winning 16 of his first 17 meetings with Jack Huczek, there was a stretch in 2005 and 2006 when Huczek took four out of five matches from Waselenchuk – all in championship finals.

It’s easy for the average fan to assume the greatest players of all-time were always great. We look upon the stars of our sports in awe and forget that they earned their position through hard work and perseverance. When faced with obstacles, the greatest champions of all-time didn’t quit – they found a way to work through those obstacles or climb over them. Michael Jordan toiled for years against the Detroit Pistons until finally breaking through. John Elway could have easily quit after years of missing out on that elusive Super Bowl ring.

Waselenchuk has earned his position on top of the racquetball world by working harder and longer than anybody on mastering his craft and perfecting his game. And just as basketball and football fans realized how special it was to witness to two of the greatest players of all-time in Jordan and Elway, more and more followers of professional racquetball are realizing that every opportunity we get to see Waselenchuk perform is a chance to witness history.

One hundred consecutive wins is extremely rare. In team sports or individual sports, it’s a number very few reach. Julio Cesar Chavez had 87 wins in a row to start his professional boxing career before a fight with Pernell Whitaker ended in a draw. In 2010 the University of Connecticut women’s basketball team topped the UCLA men’s record of consecutive victories by winning 90 straight before falling to Stanford. Edwin Moses won 122 consecutive races from 1977-1987 before stumbling over the final hurdle to see his streak come to an end. Martina Navratilova won 13 straight tournament in 1984, which amounted to 74 consecutive wins before eventually losing at the Australian Open. Rafael Nadal won 81 consecutive matches on clay between 2005 and 2007. The 1971-72 Lakers won 33 in a row, a record which still stands today and is currently being challenged by the Golden State Warriors.

The all-time greatest win streak in the history of professional sports? Try 555 in a row. A guy named Jahangir Khan pulled off that feat in professional squash from 1981-1986. Whether or not Kane replicate that is complete speculation. I wouldn’t bet against him though. For the time being I will enjoy counting with the rest of the racquetball world and watch Waselenchuk’s numbers grow from tournament to tournament, season to season, until somebody knocks the Kane Train off of his current consecutive wins track.

Alvaro by numbers: Beltran through the first half of the 2015-2016 IRT season

Photo courtesy of Gearbox.

Photo courtesy of Gearbox.

Alvaro Beltran has an overall record of 11-6 this year on the International Racquetball Tour.

He has played a total of 68 individual games, winning 46 and dropping 22.

Beltran is outscoring opponents this season 633-526.

He has lost twice to Kane Waselenchuk and once to the following opponents: Bradly Rogers, Cliff Swain, Rocky Carson, and Mario Mercado.

Listed below are the number of points losing opponents have scored against Beltran in individual game losses:

0 points: 0

1 point: 0

2 points: 1

3 points: 4

4 points: 6

5 points: 8

6 points: 7

7 points: 8

8 points: 6

9 points: 4

10 points: 1

13 points: 1


Rocky by numbers: Carson through the first half of the 2015-2016 IRT season

Photo courtesy of Restrung Magazine. www.restrungmagazine.com.

Photo courtesy of Restrung Magazine. www.restrungmagazine.com.

Rocky Carson is 22-6 on the season.

Four losses have been to Kane Waselenchuk. One loss has come at the hands of Daniel De La Rosa and another to Alvaro Beltran.

In 28 matches, Carson has played a total of 93 individual games. He has 73 wins and 20 losses in those games.

Rocky Carson has outscored opponents this season 904-545.

Rocky Carson has beaten opponents by a score of 11-0 on six different occasions this season. Carson handed out two consecutive donuts to Jeremy Best at the Galaxy Custom Printing Pro-Am and closed out a match against Matthew Majxner in the following round 11-0. Carson has also given donuts to Brad Schopieray, Fernando Rios, and Mario Mercado.

Listed below are the number of points losing opponents have scored against Carson in individual game losses:

0 points: 6

1 point: 10

2 points: 7

3 points: 6

4 points: 10

5 points: 9

6 points: 3

7 points: 8

8 points: 8

9 points: 3

10 points: 2

11 points: 1

Kane by numbers: Waselenchuk through the first half of the 2015-2016 IRT season

Photo courtesy of Pro Kennex.

Photo courtesy of Pro Kennex.

Waselenchuk has 21 straight victories to start the 2015-2016 season. In those 21 match wins, Waselenchuk won 63 games and dropped only two.

Waselenchuk has scored 709 points this season. Opponents have scored 150 points against him.

Rocky Carson and Jansen Allen are the only players to take a game from Waselenchuk this season. Carson defeated Waselenchuk in game three of the Ghost of Georgetown IRT Pro-Am championship 13-11. Allen won the first game of their U.S. Open quarterfinal match 11-3.

Waselenchuk has beaten five different players 11-0 in games so far this season. Three of those games came in the first Tier 1 stop of the season, the Ghost of Georgetown IRT Pro-Am. Waselenchuk opened up the tournament with an 11-0 win over Brad Schopieray, handed an 11-0 loss to Jose Rojas in the semifinals, and beat Rocky Carson 11-0 in game number two of the championship.

The other two victims of a Kane Waselenchuk donut were Jansen Allen and Sebastian Franco. Allen lost 11-0 following his game one victory over Waselenchuk in the U.S. Open. Franco took an 11-0 loss in the semifinals of the Garden City Turkey Shootout.

Listed below are the number of points losing opponents have scored against Waslenchuk in individual game losses:

0 points: 5

1 point: 6

2 points: 13

3 points: 9

4 points: 11

5 points: 5

6 points: 2

7 points: 4

8 points: 4

9 points: 2

10 points: 2





Indoor or outdoor, nobody can compare to Kane Waselenchuk

Kane Waselenchuk drive serves during the 2015 U.S. Open in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Photo courtesy of Roby Partovich.

Kane Waselenchuk drive serves during the 2015 U.S. Open in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Photo courtesy of Roby Partovich.

Sometimes people start arguments for the sole purpose of arguing. Other times there is a legitimate point to be made concerning the topic at hand. Often, these two scenarios blend together to create the perfect storm of arguing for argument’s sake and bringing a valid opinion to the forefront of discussion.

During IRT Network broadcasts over the past few weeks there has been recurring talk about Kane Waselenchuk and whether or not he could dominate outdoor racquetball the same way he dominates the indoor game. On one occasion the argument was even made that someone other than Kane Waselenchuk is the best “overall” racquetball player in the world.

These types of statements fall into a different category, one I like to refer to as bullshit. On the Internet they call it trolling – a slang term used to describe behavior designed to intentionally anger or frustrate others in an attempt to get an emotional response.

I’m biting on this one hook, line, and sinker – just for fun…

For self-deluded experts who continue to claim Waselenchuk wouldn’t dominate the outdoor game and those who go so far as to say he isn’t the best “overall” player in the game today, I have two words for you.

Get serious.

You don’t need to be a racquetball expert to recognize differences between the outdoor game and indoor game. You also don’t need to be a brain surgeon to recognize that Waselenchuk is by far the most skilled racquetball player in the world and arguably the best athlete in the game. But to insist that Kane wouldn’t dominate the outdoor game (if he chose to compete outdoors) is intellectually dishonest at best and ignorant at worst. And suggesting he isn’t the best overall player in the game is outright ludicrous.

Did you happen to see Waselenchuk in the U.S. Open Doubles Championship this year? He and injured partner Ben Croft dominated the championship by playing an “I” formation with Kane taking all the serves and producing nearly all of the offense. Scores of that championship match? 15-0 and 15-5.

If you think that Kane wouldn’t dominate the outdoor game, that’s fine – I’m sure racquetball fans are all ears to hear your reasons why. But you have to defend your position a little better than simply saying, “The outdoor game is different than the indoor game. We all know the games have some differences.

I would love to hear specifics... What specifically in the outdoor game is so different that it would throw off Kane’s game enough for other players to hang in there and have a chance? Because right now nobody can hang in there with Waselenchuk. Rocky Carson, the world’s number-two ranked player and the man who has won more outdoor championships than anybody in recent history, has a career 3-61 record against Waselenchuk. Yes, we know that’s indoors. But what is it about the outdoor game specifically that would bridge the gap in ability between Kane and the rest of the racquetball world?

And before you go on about the differences between indoor and outdoor racquetball, please keep in mind: it’s racquetball – not rocket science. Kane hits the ball harder and more accurately than anybody in the world. He’s got more shot-making ability than anybody in the world. And he moves as well as anybody in the game.

As I listened to those recurring arguments against Kane Waselenchuk and his ability to dominate outdoor racquetball over the past few weeks, one thought kept popping into my head. It’s a phrase that originated from the William Shakespeare play Hamlet:

            “Methinks thou dost protest too much.”

This phrase is a figure of speech used to describe how one person’s repeated attempts to convince others of something ironically convinces those same people that the opposite is true.

I’m convinced that Kane Waselenchuk would dominate the outdoor game in the same fashion he dominates the indoor game. I’m not opposed to listening to outdoor racquetball purists and their thoughts about why he wouldn’t dominate. But going out of your way to bring it up time and again looks defensive and insecure.

I put in my two cents on this topic because it is an interesting discussion. It may not be a very productive one, since Kane doesn’t play outdoor racquetball. And as long as that is true both sides will always be able to pontificate about what it would be like if he did. I would prefer to spend my time witnessing history and appreciating the opportunity to watch the greatest player of all-time take the court on any kind of surface.

Waselenchuk wins third straight IRT tournament of season

by Justin Johnson

Kane Waselenchuk plowed through the field of the Krowning Moment Bobcat Invitational in the same fashion an out-of-control locomotive plows through obstacles going downhill at full speed – quickly and without much resistance.

The recently crowned U.S. Open Champion looked as strong as ever, taking the championship over Rocky Carson 11-6, 11-3, and 11-2 for his third tournament win in as many tries this season.

Waselenchuk jumped out to a lightning-quick 10-0 lead in game one before getting off track with a couple of playful shot attempts on game point that missed their mark. Carson took advantage of the miscues to work his way back to a 10-6 score, but Waselenchuk’s fourth ace of the game ended the comeback and set the tone for the rest of the match.

The serve that ended game number one remained a familiar sight in game number two. Six aces propelled Waselenchuk to a 2-0 lead, the final three ending the game on points 9, 10, and 11.

Waselenchuk continued to take advantage of pinpoint serving to pick up another quick victory and close out the match with an 11-2 victory in the third game. Three aces and a serve that resulted in a Carson skip resulted in four points. Four more points came on three-shot rallies ending with a Waselenchuk kill, two rallies ended with a Waselenchuk kill on the fifth shot, and Carson skipped in another ball to account for 11 points in the final game.

 

KROWNING MOMENT INVITATIONAL

Finals

Kane Waselenchuk def. Rocky Carson 11-6, 11-3, 11-2

 

Semifinals

Kane Waselenchuk def. Alvaro Beltran 11-8, 11-4, 11-7

Rocky Carson def. Sebastian Franco 11-8, 11-3, 11-7

 

Quarterfinals

Kane Waselenchuk def. Jansen Allen 3-11, 11-0, 11-7, 11-3

Alvaro Beltran def. Marco Rojas 11-6, 4-11, 11-9, 3-11, 11-4

Sebastian Franco def. Robert Collins 12-14, 11-9, 11-5, 11-4

Rocky Carson def. Edson Martinez 11-4, 11-3, 11-7

 

Round of 16

Kane Waselenchuk def. Javier Mar 11-7, 11-2, 11-8

Jansen Allen def. Felipe Camacho 11-6, 9-11, 11-5, 11-7

Marco Rojas def. Scott McClellan 11-2, 11-9, 11-5

Alvaro Beltran def. Jake Bredenbeck 4-11, 11-7, 11-5, 11-5

Sebastian Franco def. Daniel De La Rosa 2-11, 11-4, 11-6, 6-11, 11-7

Robert Collins def. Mauricio Zelada 11-6, 11-7, 6-11, 4-11, 11-7

Edson Martinez def. Jose Rojas 5-11, 11-8, 11-8, 11-5

Rocky Carson def. Andree Parrilla 11-5, 11-7, 11-6

 

Round of 32

Javier Mar def. Jody Morris 11-5, 11-6, 11-9

Felipe Camacho def. Justus Benson 11-3, 11-5, 11-3

Scott McClellan def. Bruce Robles 9-11, 11-1, 11-0, 12-10

Jake Bredenbeck def. Francisco Troncoso 11-3, 11-6, 13-11

Sebastian Franco def. Troy Warigon 11-6, 11-1, 11-7

Mauricio Zelada def. Juan Esparza 11-4, 11-4, 11-4

Edson Martinez def. Matthew Majxner 11-2, 11-6, 10-12, 12-10

Andree Parrilla def. Mario Mercado 9-11, 11-9, 11-9, 11-9

 

Round of 64

Justus Benson def. Korosh Shetabi 11-4, 11-8, 11-1

Juan Esparza def. Erik Mendoza 11-8, 4-11, 11-4, 11-9

Edson Martinez def. A.J. Fernandez 11-1, 11-4, 11-2

 

Tournament Champion: Kane Waselenchuk - Tourament Recap

Kane Waselenchuk def. Javier Mar 11-7, 11-2, 11-8

Kane Waselenchuk def. Jansen Allen 3-11, 11-0, 11-7, 11-3

Kane Waselenchuk def. Alvaro Beltran 11-8, 11-4, 11-7

Kane Waselenchuk def. Rocky Carson 11-6, 11-3, 11-2

 

Tournament Runner-Up: Rocky Carson - Tournament Recap

Rocky Carson def. Andree Parrilla 11-5, 11-7, 11-6

Rocky Carson def. Edson Martinez 11-4, 11-3, 11-7

Rocky Carson def. Sebastian Franco 11-8, 11-3, 11-7

Kane Waselenchuk def. Rocky Carson 11-6, 11-3, 11-2

 

Semifinal Appearance: Alvaro Beltran - Tournament Recap

Alvaro Beltran def. Jake Bredenbeck 4-11, 11-7, 11-5, 11-5

Alvaro Beltran def. Marco Rojas 11-6, 4-11, 11-9, 3-11, 11-4

Kane Waselenchuk def. Alvaro Beltran 11-8, 11-4, 11-7

 

Semifinal Appearance: Sebastian Franco - Tournament Recap

Sebastian Franco def. Troy Warigon 11-6, 11-1, 11-7

Sebastian Franco def. Daniel De La Rosa 2-11, 11-4, 11-6, 6-11, 11-7

Sebastian Franco def. Robert Collins 12-14, 11-9, 11-5, 11-4

Rocky Carson def. Sebastian Franco 11-8, 11-3, 11-7

 

Kane Waselenchuk wins 11th U.S. Open Championship with three-game victory over Daniel De La Rosa

Kane Waselenchuk hits a backhand during the 2015 U.S. Open finals against Daniel De La Rosa. Waselenchuk won his 11th U.S. Open championship with a victory over De La Rosa. Photo courtesy of Roby Partovich.

Kane Waselenchuk hits a backhand during the 2015 U.S. Open finals against Daniel De La Rosa. Waselenchuk won his 11th U.S. Open championship with a victory over De La Rosa. Photo courtesy of Roby Partovich.

by Justin Johnson

It’s hard to overstate how special Kane Waselenchuk is to racquetball. The Canadian-born phenomenon has 10 International Racquetball Tour championships to his name, and with last weekend’s win at the 2015 U.S. Open he has 11 titles in the 20-year history of racquetball’s most prestigious event.

“It never gets old,” he said after Sunday’s 11-5, 11-8, 11-3 victory over Mexico’s Daniel De La Rosa. “I think as I get a little bit older I start appreciating it a little bit more.”

And while the racquetball world awaits an heir-apparent to challenge the undisputed king of the court, Waselenchuk continues to add to an already unforgettable record. It seems unimaginable that a man with 11 U.S. Open championships could still be in the prime of his career, but the numbers don’t lie. Waselenchuk has dropped just a single game in two major events this year. At the U.S. Open he didn’t lose any. And despite the fact that his IRT competitors are performing at increasingly higher levels of play, Waselenchuk appears to be pulling away from the field.

The sky still seems to be the limit for Waselenchuk, who looks as physically and mentally sharp as he ever has. And at 33 years of age, he is displaying an increased perspective on the game that’s made him one of the most dominant athletes in the history of professional sports. With every championship he adds to his list of accomplishments, it’s nearly impossible for fans not to talk about his legacy and what he means to racquetball.

“When I step away from the game I think that the most important thing for me would be how I treated people off the court,” Waselenchuk said. “It’s kind of easy to be a good ambassador on the court, but that’s only half the job. I hope that when I walk away from the game they say that I’m the greatest player ever to play – not only that – but that I was the nicest guy in the world off the court, too.”

His IRT peers can only hope that niceness carries over to inside the court, where they will need every edge they can to muster up a legitimate run at his position on top of the racquetball world. The likelihood of that isn’t very good, though, as Waselenchuk appears to be as focused as ever.

“Maybe to people on the other side of the fence my legacy is solidified, but to me it’s not. I’m not content with what I’ve done yet,” he said. “Trust me, I’m very proud of myself. I’ve put in a lot of hard work and sacrificed a lot of things to get where I am. But I’m still in it and I don’t plan on going anywhere for years to come.”

Challengers are stepping up to the plate like young Daniel De La Rosa, who made the most of his 2015 U.S. Open with the first semifinal and finals appearance of his career. The IRT’s number four-ranked player displayed a confidence and comfort level during a five-game win over Rocky Carson in the semifinals that carried over into the championship.

“I never feel pressure against anybody. I just play my game,” De La Rosa said. “It’s just me and the ball. Whoever is on the other side, I don’t care. I’m going to keep my same mentality. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.”

Although he wasn’t able to get the win this time around, De La Rosa showed a lack of intimidation that could allow him to reach new heights.

“He better enjoy it,” De La Rosa said after the finals. “Because next year that cup is going to be in my hands.”

Whether De La Rosa will be able to take that giant step anytime soon is up for debate. What seems to be agreed upon by everyone, including Waselenchuk, is that he is a player to keep an eye on.

“You can see he’s got game,” Waselenchuk said. “He’s going to mature, and unlike myself he’s got time on his side right now. He’s just got to stay focused.”

With several other young players making their way through the ranks, the future of racquetball has never looked brighter. And while Waselenchuk is in the middle of the proverbial racquetball ring slugging it out with all of them, you get a sense that he has begun to look deeper into the future of the game. As is common with the greatest of the greats, he is beginning to take on more of a role as an ambassador of the game. And with a platform like none other in the world of racquetball, he is in a unique position to help take racquetball to new heights.

“I’m no longer the future of the sport. I’m here now, my time is now – and guys like De La Rosa, Jose [Rojas], and down the line, younger people – they are the future of the sport,” he said, speaking of his hopes that junior programs in the United States and Canada will continue to improve and bring more players into the game.

Waselenchuk added that growing participation can be something all players can contribute to.

“You don’t have to be a pro to promote the game and teach juniors,” Waselenchuk said. “When I’m at the club and I see a young kid in the court, I go in there and play around with him. But even B, C, and D players – you don’t have to be a professional – embrace the young kids that are on the court. They’re the future of our sport… We need to give them every opportunity to get better.”

De La Rosa wins battle with Carson, moves on to face Waselenchuk in Finals

Daniel De La Rosa serves against Rocky Carson in the 2015 U.S. Open semifinals. Photo courtesy of Roby Partovich.

Daniel De La Rosa serves against Rocky Carson in the 2015 U.S. Open semifinals. Photo courtesy of Roby Partovich.

by Justin Johnson

Watching Daniel De La Rosa and Rocky Carson on Saturday night was like watching a classic boxing rerun on ESPN - an epic battle with one fighter throwing a flurry of punches and the other coming back with a flurry of his own, round after round, until the judges hand down a decision.

In all likelihood, had De La Rosa and Carson been engaged in a boxing match, it could have very well ended in a draw. But it was De La Rosa who landed the last flurry of punches to tip the scales in his favor 11-9, 10-12, 8-11, 11-8, 12-10 in front of a packed house at the Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

After a countless number of diving gets, a pair of injury timeouts, and the ebb and flow of one of the most memorable matches in U.S. Open history, De La Rosa eventually punched a ticket to his first ever U.S. Open Finals appearance. He will attempt to dethrone the reigning king of racquetball, 10-time U.S. Open champion Kane Waselenchuk.

“I feel amazing,” Del La Rosa said afterward. “I give you my heart on the court.”

The anticipation of the match’s final points made it even more exciting and nerve-racking for fans cheering for either player. Serving at 8-10 in game number five, De La Rosa appeared to hit a winner to cut the lead to 9-10 when Carson discovered the ball was broken. What followed was an eight-shot rally that ended with Carson hitting a winner to get back into the service box at a chance to close out the match.

De La Rosa came back with a kill on the fourth shot of the next rally, waving his finger as he walked almost carefree back to the service box.

De La Rosa drove serve to Carson’s forehand and had to dive to get the return, and Carson confidently rolled out a backhand splat on the following shot. The former U.S. Open champion erupted with a fist pump and loud yell following the winner.

Carson chose to drive serve to backhand side, where De La Rosa hit a good offensive return. Carson kept the rally alive, but De La Rosa mustered up another big winner with a backhand kill.

De La Rosa busted out the finger wave again on the side out. Walking back to the service box, looking as relaxed as he did, you would have never guessed this was the biggest match of the young player’s life.

De La Rosa’s ensuing drive serve attempt came up short, and he went with a half lob to Carson’s forehand on his second. De La Rosa hit a touch shot into the right corner off of Carson’s return, drawing the number one seed into the front of the court where he was forced to dive to get to the ball. Carson’s return pushed his opponent to the back of the court, and after touching the glass back wall with his left hand to gauge his distance, De La Rosa unleashed a backhand splat winner to cut the lead to 9-10.

No finger wave this time, but the shot draw huge applause from fans in attendance as De La Rosa made a slow, calm walk back to the service box.

De La Rosa went with the half lob again to Carson’s forehand, and was waiting for the crosscourt return in perfect position to hit a backhand slice into the left corner that rolled out for a quick and easy winner to even the score at 10-10.

Another half lob to the forehand side was answered with Carson cutting it off and driving it to the opposite corner. The return came off the side wall to give De La Rosa a wraparound forehand attempt, but the shot stayed up enough to give Carson a setup off the back wall. Carson chose to attempt a backhand reverse pinch, leaving it up for De La Rosa, who answered with a backhand pinch that rolled out in the front of the court.

11-10. De La Rosa was now serving for the match.

De La Rosa went with the half lob again, and Carson answered by cutting it off and driving it to the opposite corner again. This time De La Rosa was forced to go to the ceiling, and Carson ran around his backhand to cleverly box De La Rosa against the side wall. It left Carson a forehand setup, and he hit a winner to the wide open space left on the court.

Carson let loose a few fist pumps and engaged the crowd, trying to get all the momentum he could.

He drove serve to De La Rosa’s backhand, which came off the side wall and back wall for a setup that De La Rosa shot down the line. Carson went to the ceiling to keep the rally alive, but gave De La Rosa a forehand setup in the middle of the court that he hit for a winner.

De La Rosa went back to the service box and hit another half lob. Carson answered as usual, sending it across the court with his return. De La Rosa was forced to lay out to get the ball in the front of the court, and was out of position leaving the entire right side for Carson on his backhand setup. Carson’s next shot missed its mark, and De La Rosa was able to hit a return that drove Carson backward. Carson answered with a forehand, but fell after hitting the shot. De La Rosa ripped a backhand shot down the line and dropped to the floor after seeing Carson would not be there to return it.

On to the finals.

“I’m ready – absolutely ready,” De La Rosa said. “I’m going to go back to my hotel room, relax and eat a little bit, and talk to my family.”

De La Rosa will need to be ready. Waiting in the wings is a fresh Kane Waselenchuk who has plans to defend a title he has held for what seems like an eternity.

De La Rosa doesn’t seem to be too intimidated by the daunting task in front of him. Maybe it’s his youth. Maybe it’s a newfound confidence he has gained with his increasing experience on the IRT. Whatever he is feeling, it appears he is just looking forward to the opportunity.

“I’m going to feel the same thing in the beginning,” De La Rosa said when asked how he will approach the match. “I just play my game. I’ve said before that it’s me and the ball – I don’t care who’s on the other side. So I’m going to do my best.”

De La Rosa will square off with Waselenchuk at the Target Center in Minneapolis on Sunday in a match scheduled to start at 12:00 p.m. Fans not able to attend can see the match live on the IRT Network.

Semifinals set for 2015 U.S. Open

by Justin Johnson

If Daniel De La Rosa wrote a classic novel about Friday’s quarterfinal victory over Jose Rojas he could call it A Tale of Two Matches.

Two weeks after falling to Rojas in a five-game marathon at the Kansas City IRT Pro-Am, De La Rosa flipped the script and made quick work of his opponent at the U.S. Open with an impressive 11-2, 11-4, 11-5 win.

“In Kansas we had a battle,” De La Rosa said following Friday’s win. “After the tournament I learned some little things that I had to work on. We did that and it showed today on the court.”

The win puts De La Rosa in his first ever U.S. Open semifinal, where he will face No. 1 seed Rocky Carson. The two last met on September 26 in the 3WallBall World Championship in Las Vegas, where De La Rosa took the title from Carson in a tiebreaker.

De La Rosa is looking forward to the opportunity to face Carson again.

“Everything is mental,” he said. “I have the game. I have the shots. I have the conditioning and everything. But now it’s mental.”

 

Alvaro Beltran vs. Anthony Herrera

Any concerns about Alvaro Beltran’s lingering back issues were put to rest Friday as the veteran dove around the court on the way to a three-game victory over Anthony Herrera.

A slow start forced Beltran to fight his way back from a 1-7 deficit in the first, but shut down Herrera from there to win 11-7, 11-8, and 11-8. The three-game victory was an added plus for Beltran, who had to battle through a five-game tiebreaker in his opening round match and a four-game match in the round of 16.

“It feels good just to be in the main court and get a win against anybody,” Beltran said. “Whoever steps into that court is going to bring it and he’s going to give all he has, so winning my match and making the semifinals – I’m happy about it.”

Beltran looked fresh and rejuvenated after battling nagging injuries through the start of the 2015-16 IRT season.

“I’m glad I was able to get back on track the last ten days,” he said. “I felt like my back was much better and I started training a little harder. Before that I just couldn’t do anything, even tie my laces.”

Beltran’s quick victory over Herrera will also give him more time to recover before taking on Kane Waselechuk in the semifinals.

“I’m really happy to be here,” Beltran added. “I’ve been struggling with my back the last two years and it’s very frustrating for me because sometimes I feel that I’m playing really well and do well in a tournament and all of a sudden my back fails me. But I’m happy I’m still in the tournament and enjoying every second of it.”

 

Kane Waselenchuk vs. Jansen Allen

After a slower-than-usual start in his quarterfinal match, 10-time U.S. Open champion Kane Waselenchuk got on track and was his dominant self in an 11-3, 11-1, 11-1 victory over Jansen Allen.

“The serve at the beginning wasn’t really coming in like I wanted to, hitting the side wall and back wall instead of right in the corner,” Waselenchuk said afterward. “The rally play was great today. It felt good, it felt smooth, footwork felt really nice. Probably midway through the first game I think is pretty much when I kind of got in my comfort zone and really started cranking on balls.”

Waselenchuk cranked his way into a familiar position as he advances to the semifinals to take on Alvaro Beltran.

“It’s business as usual,” he said. “The quarterfinals is kind of where my tournament starts and I’m excited. I played well today. I hit the ball good, hit serves good, and I’m ready for tomorrow.”

 

Rocky Carson vs. Marco Rojas

Marco Rojas put up a good fight against Rocky Carson in the quarterfinals, but the No. 1 seed was able to put a stop to any momentum Rojas picked up in the match during an 11-4, 11-9, 11-5 victory.

After winning game one comfortably, Carson trailed early in game number. Facing a 6-2 deficit, he battled back to take a commanding 2-0 lead. Rojas mustered up another run in game number three to take a 5-4 lead, but the steady play of Carson was too much.

“If I gave him shots to work with he made most of them, so I had to capitalize on getting in front of him on the rallies and taking advantage of the first shot,” Carson said. “When I had it I think I did a pretty good job most of the time.”

Carson moves on to face Daniel De La Rosa in what should be an electric semifinal matchup.

Carson ends Martell's run at the 2015 U.S. Open

Rocky Carson prepares to serve during the round of 16 against Jaime martell. Photo courtesy of Roby Partovich.

Rocky Carson prepares to serve during the round of 16 against Jaime martell. Photo courtesy of Roby Partovich.

by Justin Johnson

Jaime Martell’s storied run at the 2015 U.S. Open came to an end on Thursday, falling to No. 1 seed Rocky Carson 11-8, 11-8, and 11-2.

The youngster went toe-to-toe with the former U.S. Open champion and threatened to win games one and two, but Carson made timely runs at the end of each game before controlling game three to close out the match.

“He beat two great players to get to where he was at, so I knew I had to be ready to play,” Carson said. “He was grooved into his game and I knew I just had to jump on top of the rallies and control them. Finishing the rallies was definitely not the best most of the match, but the last game I played better.”

The win propels Carson into the quarterfinals for a matchup with Marco Rojas. For Martell, it ends a week of racquetball he will remember forever.

“I think it’s the best moment of my career. I’ve had one or two tournaments where I’ve had good results, but this is the grand slam,” Martell said. “This is the best tournament of the year and to play in the stadium in the round of sixteen is one of the things I’ve been dreaming of all my life.”

Martell made an impression on racquetball fans who witnessed his play throughout the tournament, drawing considerable applause and attention for his intensity and shot-making ability. His play carried him to wins over Cliff Swain and Mauricio Zelada, and after battling with Carson one thing is clear – the kid can play. His name should be noted as one to keep an eye on in the years to come.

“I feel good because I think that now I can compete against these guys and I’m always hungry,” he said. “I’ll still continue training and will be back to get better results.”

Martell upsets Swain to highlight first day of U.S. Open

Jaime Martell celebrates after defeating Cliff Swain during the opening day of the U.S. Open in Minneapolis, Minn.

Jaime Martell celebrates after defeating Cliff Swain during the opening day of the U.S. Open in Minneapolis, Minn.

by Justin Johnson

If you check out Jaime Martell’s Facebook page, you can find a video from this past Sunday, October 4th posted at 2:29 p.m. It’s a short clip of him playing a practice game with racquetball legend Cliff Swain.

Martell included a message with the video, thanking the six-time IRT Champion and two-time U.S. Open title winner for the game.

“I learned a lot,” the message reads. “Now I’m ready for the US Open.”

Perhaps Martell got a feel for Swain’s game during that practice session. Or maybe the youngster is beginning to hit his stride on International Racquetball Tour. Whatever the case, Martell ended Wednesday’s U.S. Open qualifier the same way he ended that Facebook post – with a smiley face.

Martell turned in the most impressive performance of the opening day of the U.S. Open, upsetting Swain in four games to make it through the qualifier and into the main draw.

“I grew up seeing that guy play,” Martell said following the match. “The result is something I never expected.”

Fans who witnessed Martell’s performance might beg to differ. The young Mexican’s play against Swain can be summed up in one word - fearless. Martell stayed aggressive and controlled the match after dropping the first game to Swain 11-9.

“I was up in that first game and then I lost, but I said to myself, ‘Hey, you’ll be there. You can win.’ I started playing well and he lost confidence,” Martell said. “I feel good with the result.”

The result for Martell was one of the biggest moments of his career, winning by scores of 9-11, 11-9, 11-4, 11-7. He moves on to face Mauricio Zelada, a player he defeated in their only meeting last season. A win over Zelada this time around would put him in the U.S. Open round of 16.

“This is a new year,” Martell said when asked about another matchup with Zelada. “He’s trained a lot and it’s going to be a tough match.”

Play at the U.S. Open will resume Thursday morning at 9:00 a.m. Martell and Zelada will square off at 12:30 p.m.

First IRT tournament in the books for 2015-2016

IRT fans saw some familiar results during the Ghost of Georgetown 2015 IRT Pro-Am in Kansas City, but there were a couple of matches that caused a collective, "Whoa..." after two of the most surprising upsets in recent racquetball history.

While Kane Waselenchuk and Rocky Carson were their usual dominant selves during this year's IRT season opener, a couple of notable upsets sent ripples through the IRT. Number three-ranked Alvaro Beltran and number-six ranked Ben Croft both fell in their opening-round matches of the tournament, clearing the way for some fresh new faces to appear on the IRT scene.

To be fair, injury most definitely played a part in both matches. Beltran, who's had a history of back problems throughout his career, reportedly struggled with back issues as Wichita's Bradly Rogers battled his way to a five-game victory. Rogers was down two games to one before fighting his way back for the win with scores of 3-11, 11-4, 9-11, 11-5, 11-8. Rogers was ranked no. 55 in the country by USA Racquetball heading into the tournament and entered the event ranked 37th in the IRT.

Croft lasted four games before bowing out to Felipe Camacho, who came into the event as the IRT's no. 19-ranked player. Croft entered the tournament just five months after undergoing shoulder surgery and withdrew due to injury after Camacho jumped out to a 7-0 lead in the fourth game. Camacho led the match two games to one at the time after games of 11-0, 2-11, and 11-5.

All of these are interesting side notes heading into the U.S. Open next month in Minneapolis, Minnesota where racquetball players and enthusiasts from all over the world will congregate to take part in the most anticipated event of the year.

There was no indication of rust during the IRT season opener for the game's top two players in the world. Waselenchuk and Carson both looked as sharp as ever, cruising to victory throughout the early rounds before locking horns in the finals. Waslenchuck dominated the action in games one and two of the championship, winning the first 11-5 and stifling Carson in game two with a dominating 11-0 performance. But Carson refused to quit, and came out of game three with an exciting 13-11 win to extend the match.

IRT fans got a scare near the end of the third game, as Waselenchuk went down after lunging for a Carson drive serve deep in the corner of the court. The IRT's 10-time No. 1 player in the world and 10-time U.S. Open champion hit his knee against the wall in an attempt to return the serve and was forced to take an injury timeout to walk it off. Waselenchuk returned to form quickly in the fourth and closed out the championship with an 11-2 win.

 

Ghost of Georgetown 2015 Kansas City IRT Pro-Am: Tournament Summary

 

Finals

Kane Waselenchuk def. Rocky Carson 11-5, 11-0, 11-13, 11-2

 

Semifinals

Kane Waselenchuk def. Jose Rojas 11-6, 11-0, 11-2

Rocky Carson def. Felipe Camacho11-5, 11-8, 11-7

 

Quarterfinals

Kane Waselenchuk def. Jose Diaz 11-3, 11-3, 11-2

Jose Rojas def. Daniel De La Rosa 9-11, 12-10, 11-1, 7-11, 11-9

Felipe Camacho def. Bradly Rogers 11-9, 11-7, 11-4

Rocky Carson def. Jansen Allen 11-7, 11-1, 11-5

 

Round of 16s

Kane Waselenchuk def. Brad Schopieray 11-0, 11-4, 11-5

Jose Diaz def. Robert Collins 11-6, 11-1, 11-6

Jose Rojas def. Mauricio Zelada 11-0, 11-4, 11-4

Daniel De La Rosa def. Scott McClellan 11-3, 11-1, 11-0

Bradly Rogers def. Alvaro Beltran 3-11, 11-4, 9-11, 11-5, 11-8

Felipe Camacho def. Ben Croft 11-0, 2-11, 11-5, 7-0 (WBF)

Jansen Allen def. Matthew Majxner 11-1, 11-2, 11-4

Rocky Carson def. Mario Mercado 11-5, 11-4, 11-9

 

Round of 32

Brad Schopieray def. Cody Hudson 11-0, 11-8, 14-12

Mauricio Zelada def. Troy Warigon 8-11, 11-1, 11-6, 11-7

Scott McClellan def. John Hudson 11-3, 9-11, 11-8, 11-7

Bradly Rogers def. Jeremy McGlothin 11-3, 11-5, 11-2

Mario Mercado def. Filip Vesely 11-9, 11-1, 11-5

 

Tournament Champion: Kane Waselenchuk - Tournament Match Recap

Kane Waselenchuk def. Brad Schopieray 11-0, 11-4, 11-5

Kane Waselenchuk def. Jose Diaz 11-3, 11-3, 11-2

Kane Waselenchuk def. Jose Rojas 11-6, 11-0, 11-2

Kane Waselenchuk def. Rocky Carson 11-5, 11-0, 11-13, 11-2

 

Tournament Runner-Up: Rocky Carson - Tournament Match Recap

Rocky Carson def. Mario Mercado 11-5, 11-4, 11-9

Rocky Carson def. Jansen Allen 11-7, 11-1, 11-5

Rocky Carson def. Felipe Camacho 11-5, 11-8, 11-7

Kane Waselenchuk def. Rocky Carson 11-5, 11-0, 11-13, 11-2

 

Semifinal Appearance: Felipe Camacho - Tournament Match Recap

Felipe Camacho def. Ben Croft 11-0, 2-11, 11-5, 7-0(WBF)

Felipe Camacho def. Bradly Rogers 11-9, 11-7, 11-4

Rocky Carson def. Felipe Camacho 11-5, 11-8, 11-7

 

Semifinal Appearance: Jose Rojas - Tournament Match Recap

Jose Rojas def. Mauricio Zelada 11-0, 11-4, 11-4

Jose Rojas def. Daniel De La Rosa 9-11, 12-10, 11-1, 7-11, 11-9

Kane Waselenchuk def. Jose Rojas 11-6, 11-0, 11-2

Croft falls to Camacho in return to the IRT

by Justin Johnson

Ben Croft’s much anticipated return to the racquetball court ended suddenly in game number four of his opening round match with Felipe Camacho when he withdrew due to injury in a round of 16 loss at the Ghost of Georgetown Kansas City IRT Pro-Am.

Camacho, who started his IRT season with an impressive 11-0 victory over the number-six ranked player in the world, played aggressive in what was at times an intense match between the two competitors.

Leading two games to one, Camacho stormed out to a 7-0 lead in the fourth when a frustrated Croft signaled for a timeout. He never returned to the court, giving Camacho the win and the right to play in the quarterfinals.

 

Jansen Allen vs. Matthew Majxner

Friday’s opening match of the Kansas City IRT Pro-Am was quick and painless for Jansen Allen and frustrating at best for Matthew Majxner, who fell in three straight to the young Texan. Allen controlled the action and cruised to victory by scores of 11-1, 11-2, 11-4.

Allen’s accurate drive serve made it difficult for Majxner to generate any offense on his serve return, allowing Allen to control a vast majority of the offensive exchanges throughout the match. Majxner took out some of his frustrations in game number two with timely rekills to get on the board early, but Allen eventually pulled away using his serve to elicit weak returns from his Montana opponent.

Majxner jumped out to an early lead in the third game, but struggled to maintain rhythm against the steady aggressive play of Allen, who moves on to face Rocky Carson in the quarterfinals Friday afternoon.

 

Kane Waselenchuk vs. Brad Schopieray

Brad Schopieray’s date with Kane Waselenchuk at the Kansas City IRT Pro-Am started with an 11-0 drubbing at the hands of racquetball’s number one player in the world. The young lefty from Swartz Creek, Michigan did his best to put up a fight before falling in three to the undisputed champion of racquetball.

Waselenchuk took his first match of the 2015-16 season by scores of 11-0, 11-4, 11-5. He moves on to face Jose Diaz in the quarterfinals.

After game one went by in a blink, game number two turned into a friendly affair with both players exchanging pleasantries early on. Schopieray got within 4-5 using a combination of dink shots into the front corner to answer Waselenchuk’s lob-nic. The youngster also took plenty of time between serves when he was in the box. The momentum was short-lived, however, and game two seemed to end almost as quickly as game one after Waselenchuk put his foot down.

The third game started out with Schopieray serving for an early 3-0 lead, and the two battled at times throughout. Waslenchuk wrapped things up matter-of-factly 11-5, but the young Schopieray almost certainly left the court with a few positive memories as he was able to muster up some offense against the racquetball legend.

 

Daniel De La Rosa vs. Scott McClellan

Daniel De La Rosa didn’t break much of a sweat in his opening round match against Scott McClellan, gliding around the court and executing relaxed shots in a 11-3, 11-1, 11-0 victory.

The number four-ranked player in the world look physically bigger and stronger in his first appearance of the 2015-2016 season, but the quick handiwork he made of his Austin, Texas opponent made it hard to evaluate other areas of his game.

De La Rosa is sure to be tested for the first time this season when he takes on Jose Rojas in a Friday evening match.