The 13th Annual Ghost of Georgetown KC IRT ProAm is in the books, with Kane Waselenchuk and Rocky Carson taking it to a four-game final. By the end of the two-hour match, Kane once again came away with the title, demonstrating why he continues to dominate the ranks of men’s professional racquetball. Click to read more about how the event played out.
Click HERE to view the pro draw.
#1 Kane Waselenchuk d. #2 Rocky Carson 7, (9), 9, 7
by IRT Intern Kathy Geels
As expected, the finals of the IRT’s season-opener went to Kane Waselenchuk, who has totally dominated the men’s racquetball tour for the past four seasons. However, an upset by the number-two seed Rocky Carson appeared possible until late into the match. Game one was tightly contested until about mid-point when Waselenchuk was able to break free of Carson, who then rebounded to take game two, 11-9. Game three went back to Waselenchuk, with another 11-9 score, who then finished game four fairly quickly, 11-7.
Carson, who has held the number two ranking for four seasons and is Waselenchuk’s closest rival on tour, has been in the top ten for more than thirteen years. In the nearly two-hour long match his conditioning and craftsmanship showed he is still ready for younger threats, but his renowned control of tempo only managed to needle Waselenchuk, not disrupt his rhythm. Waselenchuk is also a tour veteran who took over the number-one spot in 2003. His offensive risk and execution – which seem to continually improve – were nearly flawless by the fourth game, implying another undefeated record-breaking season is within his reach.
Kane Waselenchuk WBF (5) Alvaro Beltran
Kane Waselenchuk won by a forfeit from Alvaro Beltran, who appeared on the court and attempted to warm up, but cited back spasms in a follow-up interview. Waselenchuk advances to play the winner between Rocky Carson and Jose Rojas.
#2 Rocky Carson d. #3 Jose Rojas – 8, (7), 6, 5
With ten years difference in age, 33-year-old veteran Rocky Carson and Jose Rojas, 22, looked equally fresh coming into the bottom semis of the season opener. Carson captured an early five point lead in game one before Rojas narrowed the gap to a single point, but Carson recaptured the serve and finished off the win. Rojas seemed less restless in game two, but after a few scoreless turnovers Carson was first on the board, as both players warily changed up serves and seemed to search for vulnerabilities. Rojas eventually inched his way to a 5-2 lead, called a time-out when Carson tied it up 5-5, and made a final lunge to close game two, 11- 6. Carson started game three by attacking Rojas’ left side with a fierce drive-serve for three early points, while Rojas continued to mix up his service game. The score stayed close until 6-6, at which point Carson’s tactic seem to give him an edge. In spite of numerous fault serves, he powered his way to a final score of 11-6. In game four, Rojas’ showed a dwindling sense of offensive purpose and despite incredible marksmanship (including a winner from between the legs) he contested only the early points of the game. As Carson’s momentum increased, he seemed to manage Rojas in subsequent rallies, positioning him around the court off the serve-reply, and keeping him off his lethal shooting rhythm. At 4-4, Carson broke away for good, allowing Rojas to score only once more before ending the game and match at 11-5 (on two skipped return of serves). The win put Carson into the finals against Kane Waselenchuk.
Quarterfinal Results (recaps by IRT Intern Brendan Giljam:
(5) Alvaro Beltran d. (4) Ben Croft (1),8,7,(2),8
(3) Jose Rojas d. (6) Chris Crowther 11,11,(6),(6),2
Game one between the giant Chris Crowther and the small and fast Jose Rojas began very quick with both players going back and forth with their points. Both move very fast for their respective size and both can hit the ball extremely hard. This led to fast paced, kill shot heavy game. They played into extra inning with Chris losing his earlier lead and eventually the game by a score of 13-11.
In almost the same fashion, Crowther started off the second game playing very smart and passing Rojas well. It helped that Jose couldn’t work his wide angle shots as far away from Chris as he needed, which allowed Crowther to take a step over and put the ball down. But Jose was relentless in his determination and didn’t give up. He took the game one at a time and just like the first game, brought the score to 11-11 after being down. He kept making great shots and after a couple mistake set ups in a row from Crowther, Jose won the second game by the same score of 13-11.
In game four Chris carried over his momentum from the win in the third. They played each other really close once again and were tied at 6-6 until Chris was able to break through and take over the game winning it 11-7.
With the memory last years match against Crowther in Stockton fresh in his mind, Rojas came out in game five firing on all cylinders. He took a huge early lead, forcing Chris to take both time outs, and then finally pushedhrough to win the game and match in a barn burner, 11-2.
(2) Rocky Carson d. (7) Shane Vanderson 8,6,9
(1) Kane Waselenchuk d. (9) Tony Carson 1,2,1
Tony Carson won a hard fought battle earlier in the day against Andy Hawthorne, but Kane proved to be too much later on, putting on an absolute clinic in his defeat of him. From the very beginning of game one, Waselenchuk was putting away almost every shot from all over the court, leaving Carson with no room for any error. It appeared as if Kane wanted to come out strong to start the year off to show that he has no intent of going anywhere. Carson became more and more frustrated, not only with himself, but with Kane’s sheer prowess on the courts as the game went on, which ultimately led to him losing all three games. While Tony gave it all he could, in the end it just was not enough, as Kane rolled through the match, 1,2,1.
Round of 16:
After a big win against #11 ranked Anthony Herrera in the previous round, #22 ranked New Yorker Nick Montalbano’s tournament run is over in the Round of 16, falling to #6 ranked Chris Crowther from San Diego California 11-5, 11-5, 11-4. The match was closer than the scores depict, as the games were tight until Crowther pulled away through in the middle of each game.
So far, the upset of the day occurred when #9 ranked Tony Carson of Pueblo Colorado overtook Andy Hawthorne of Seven Hills, Ohio. But is it really an upset when #9 beats #8? The match was tight all the way through, going the five-game distance with Tony pulling away 11-6. Final scores: 7-11, 11-5, 5-11, 11-5, 11-6.
The round of 16’s in underway, consisting of the fastest match of the season (19 minutes), with Shane Vanderson of Tampa Florida besting Charlie Pratt of Portland Oregon 11-3, 11-4, 11-0.
After coming out strong, Rocky Carson of Ladera Ranch California struggled to finish his second game against David Horn of Stockton California and wound up closing it out 12-10. The third game was a mirror of the first, with Carson pulling away early and never looked back. Final scores 11-1, 12-10, 11-0.
The Kane train keeps rolling, as #1 ranked player Kane Waselenchuk of Austin Texas rolls over up and comer Jose Diaz of Stockton California 11-6, 11-1, 11-0. Diaz came out strong the first game, going point for point with the champ, scoring 6 in the first. After that, it was Kane putting his foot on the gas, scoring 22 of the next 23 points.
13th Annual Ghost of Georgetown KC Pro/Am
Preview by Becky Wiese
Novice to collegiate champions to the top pro players in the world will participate in the 13th Annual Ghost of Georgetown KC Pro/Am Racquetball Championships. “The event is really two separate tournaments running concurrently,” explains Mike Wedel, Tournament Director. “The International Racquetball Tour (IRT) hosts the men’s professional matches and the Ghost of Georgetown event includes amateurs in 20 divisions for men and women.”
The tournament gets its name from the original site of the tournament—the Georgetown Racquetball Club. “When that club closed, The Athletic Club in Overland Park carried on the tradition of holding the amateur tournament—hence the ‘Ghost of Georgetown,’” says Wedel. The Athletic Club provides a great venue for the event, as it is one of the few facilities in the country that was originally built with a focus on racquetball and handball.
“The Athletic Club has nine racquetball courts; most health club facilities only have two, maybe three courts,” Wedel clarifies. “For this tournament, we remove a large section of workout equipment and put in bleachers so that we can seat 250-300 spectators in the pro match court area.” In addition, the facility hosts an expo area in the gymnasium where spectators and players can find vendors, health product and service providers, and racquetball-related products.
This will be the eighth year that the tournament has included the IRT. “This is one of the largest Tier 1 level tournaments in the country, and we’re excited to have so many of the top-ranked professional players signed up to play,” states Wedel. Pro players include #1 ranked Kane Waselenchuk, who is looking to extend his top ranking for an 8th season. Three-time and current IRF World Champion Rocky Carson, ranked #2, and former collegiate champions #3 ranked Jose Rojas (Delta College) and #4 ranked Ben Croft (Colorado State University), are on the roster. Rounding off the top five is Álvaro Beltrán, who experienced a great season last year after coming back from a knee injury.
Another player of note is Ruben Gonzales, who is currently ranked #16. “Ruben will turn 61 this year,” says Wedel, “which is impressive since most of the top ranked players are 30-35 years younger.” Gonzales is hoping to achieve a top-10 ranking before he retires later this year.
Professional player appearances, in addition to matches that begin with the round of 64 at 3 p.m. on Thursday, September 13, include a junior clinic and Q&A session on Saturday, September 15 at 10:30 a.m. and a “Party with the Pros” event at 8 p.m. Saturday evening.
The draw of seeing professionals play as well as participating “strictly as an amateur” at the Tier 1 tournament that kicks off the season are just a few of the reasons Bart Miller, CEO of Novasors, (a company providing businesses the ability to reach customers more effectively) decided to sign on as a sponsor three years ago. “I’ve played racquetball for fifteen years and found that it’s a great way to make personal and professional contacts,” he explains. Sponsoring the tournament provides a win-win situation through widespread marketing and name recognition for Novasors and other sponsors, and more importantly, makes the Ghost of Georgetown/KC Pro/Am one of the most anticipated events in the country for amateurs, pros, and spectators alike. “This tournament has a great atmosphere and generates a lot of buzz in the racquetball world,” says Miller. “People from all over really look forward to coming to Kansas City to see great racquetball.”
Rosco Halsey, an Edward Jones financial advisor and tournament sponsor, agrees that the Ghost of Georgetown/Kansas City Pro/Am tournament stands out as one of the best. As a competitor who has played racquetball for forty years, Halsey thoroughly enjoys the challenge of playing in the open bracket against the toughest players. “I try to set an example of never quitting and working harder than most people are willing to work,” he says, modeling an attitude that works well in life as well as on the racquetball court.
Halsey feels the reason the tournament is one of the best boils down to the people involved in putting it together. “Everyone is so hospitable and genuinely nice—I think it’s got a lot to do with Midwestern hospitality. Families can bring their kids, and the players are very approachable—kids can walk right up and get an autograph. There’s always a good turnout. At the end of the day, sectators and players alike genuinely know that we love having them here.”