2016 Coast to Coast California IRT Open Closes Season

Top ranked Kane Waselenchuk with 2016 Coast to Coast California IRT Open sponsors Rick Betts, Rick Roussin (Coast to Coast Computer Products owner), Nadia, tournament director Debbie Tisinger-Moore and Alf Knudsen (Casco C.A. Schroeder Inc.) after his victory over Daniel De La Rosa.

Kane Waselenchuk beat Daniel De La Rosa 11-4, 11-2, 11-0 to win the 2016 Coast to Coast California IRT Open and secure his 11th season-ending IRT Title. 

2016 Coast to Coast California IRT Open Pro Draw 

Championship Final

Blog by Tim Prigo

Kane Waselenchuk d Daniel De La Rosa 11-4, 11-2, 11-0

Kane Waselenchuk and Daniel De La Rosa had the last match of the 2015-2016 IRT season. Both players met the previous Saturday in the finals of the ProKennex Tournament of Champions presented by Campbell Group in Portland, Oregon. Waselenchuk won, but his #1 ranking depended on his finish at the season finale: the Coast to Coast California IRT Open in Reseda.

“Once he won Portland, he had a little more room,” Adam Karp, IRT Vice President of Event Development, explained after the last match of the season. “Once he won his quarterfinal match in California, the #1 ranking was locked up. He ended up winning and Rocky lost in the semifinals so Kane will finish the 2015-2016 IRT season with a decent lead once the 2015 Fresno IRT Summer Kick-off Pro-Am drops at the end of May.” (The IRT awards ranking points based on a rolling, 12-month calendar.) 

De La Rosa meanwhile, was searching for his second Tier 1 victory and was also looking to do it with an on-court victory against Waselenchuk. A feat that had not been done since his semifinal loss to Jose Rojas in the 2013 season opener, The Novasors Ghost of Georgetown.

What made the conditions surrounding the final all the more intriguing was the fact that Waselenchuk was still recovering from an emergency hernia surgery he had seven weeks prior. He had looked great in his previous rounds but not otherworldly, an occurrence that has become commonplace for racquetball fans. Waselenchuk had been pushed hard by Beltran and was not able to get out of matches as quickly as he usually does. De La Rosa had shot the ball better than he ever had against Carson in his semifinals, winning in four. Also, being 10 years the junior, the freshness and recovery factor would favor De La Rosa in comparison to Waselenchuk.

The actual match however would not reflect this speculation as Waselenchuk cruised to an 11-4, 11-2, 11-0 tournament victory. Waselenchuk slowed everything way down. He hit exclusively lob serves and would often serve with his backhand. He waited patiently for a missed ceiling ball to shoot or would dink the ball softly into the corners for points. Waselenchuk’s style and tempo were as foreign for us to watch as it was for De La Rosa to play.

The outcome? De La Rosa missed many of his shots, often only half-swinging, skipping the ball far more often than killing it when shooting. De La Rosa missed a surprising amount of front court dinks and was strangely immobile. He appeared to give up on many balls that he had got against Carson. Whether it was fatigue or Waselenchuk’s unorthodox style, De La Rosa was never mentally in the match. He grew more lethargic and despondent with the passing of each point. Waselenchuk had found a way to win, even in his compromised state. Though many of Waselenchuk’s on court attributes are praised and debated among racquetball analysts it is clear that among his top talents are his versatility.

Semifinals Recaps

Blog by Tim Prigo

Kane Waselenchuk d Alvaro Beltran 11-3, 6-11, 11-5, 11-6

Alvaro Beltran and Kane Waselenchuk met in the first semifinal. Both players stayed close in the score line throughout the first 15 minutes. It was Waselenchuk who had the first offensive outburst via serves that either landed for aces or procured down the line setups. In the second game, Beltran was able to get into a rhythm, counter-punching the ball into the corner for points. His drive serves to Waselenchuk’s backhand may not have been as precise or fast as the ones Waselenchuk hit but they served their purpose in allowing Beltran to step out of the server’s box for soft third shot kills. Tied a game a piece, Beltran lost his stroke, hitting many of his pinches too high or into the floor. Waselenchuk was not able to go on a large scoring run but gradually increased the lead over time. Beltran certainly had opportunities in the match but to Waselenchuk’s credit could not come up with the important shots when they mattered. Waselenchuk, on the other hand, found a way to score points at pivotal moments.

Daniel De La Rosa d Rocky Carson 11-7, 5-11, 11-6, 11-9 

Rocky Carson and Daniel De La Rosa faced off in a rematch of the ProKennex Tournament of Champions Semifinals in the other semifinal. Last weekend, De La Rosa won in five, but on Carson’s home turf, the order may be even more difficult. De La Rosa came out blistering shots with precision and power to take a commanding lead from the outset. In fact, all match De La Rosa shot the ball well and all match Carson would have to make sprinting and diving attempts to keep the ball in play against the offensive minded Mexican. De La Rosa shot well, save for game two, a game that Carson won easily. The rest of the match however was a testament to the superior shot making that De La Rosa now possesses. Even when, in game four, Carson was pressuring and coming back (with the crowd on his side) De La Rosa remained poised and closed out on some clutch shots.

Semifinals

Kane Waselenchuk d Alvaro Beltran 11-3, 6-11, 11-5, 11-6

Daniel De La Rosa d Rocky Carson 11-7, 5-11, 11-6, 11-9 

Quarterfinals Recaps

Blog by Tim Prigo

Rocky Carson d Mario Mercado 9-11, 11-8, 11-9, 11-7

Mario Mercado and Rocky Carson kicked off the quarterfinals. Mercado proved once again that he could hold his own with the best players in the world. He had an exciting battle with Carson, particularly in the first two games, where he was able to win the second game. Mercado hits well from center-front court, especially on his backhand side. Not only is the raw talent on Mercado’s side, but he is also extremely well composed and bleeds a cool blue in his matches. Carson proved to be too much to handle in the third and fourth games, where he jumped out to big leads before having to provide many winners.

Kane Waselenchuk d Jansen Allen 11-3, 5-11, 11-2, 11-4

Kane Waselenchuk and Jansen Allen had one of the more interesting matches. This was largely due to the ever-steadied spotlight on Waselenchuk. He had not looked in the best of form in Portland, perhaps rusty from a six-week absence but still good enough to win the title. Tonight he looked non the improved. Allen was able to take game two from him and often times was able to move Waselenchuk around the court, extending the rallies much longer than in a typical Waselenchuk quarterfinal. Yet, with any amount of criticism, Waselenchuk still won the match in four games. Allen was able to score some big points but lacked the powerful offense to deal Waselenchuk much more damage than a few long rallies.

Daniel De La Rosa d Felipe Camacho

Daniel De La Rosa looked very impressive in his match against Felipe Camacho. This match was the most entertaining of the night as Camacho made some acrobatic explosive gets. While the match featured some of the highest energy rallies, De La Rosa was slowly expanding his winning margin. Most of the rallies saw De La Rosa shooting the ball and Camacho hurling himself towards ball and floor to merely continue the points. De La Rosa was on, he was able to shoot from both sides winner after winner when set up. Camacho ended his best year to date with a flashy yet futile effort against the Tour’s best up and coming star.

Alvaro Beltran d Markie Rojas 11-1, 11-9, 11-1

Markie Rojas and Alvaro Beltran had the nightcap. Though Beltran is 5-0 against the young Rojas, many speculated this as the match of the night. To Beltran’s credit, this was indeed the least competitive match of the evening. Rojas is a quick player and the thought was that if he could put some pressure on Beltran by hustling out one of the first games it could be a late night for Beltran. Instead it was Beltran who moved his feet quicker, and of the two, had the better footwork getting to the ball. Beltran played vigorously from the onset and only improved as the match went on. His off speed touch kills seemed to all connect and he was able to read and anticipate many of Rojas’s setups. Perhaps in the back of Beltran’s mind was an out of whack Waselenchuk, waiting for him in the semifinals.

Quarterfinals

Rocky Carson d Mario Mercado 9-11, 11-8, 11-9, 11-7

Kane Waselenchuk d Jansen Allen 11-3, 5-11, 11-2, 11-4

Daniel De La Rosa d Felipe Camacho

Alvaro Beltran d Markie Rojas 11-1, 11-9, 11-1

Round of 16s

Rocky Carson d Scott McClellan 11-2, 12-10, 3-11, 3-11, 11-9

Mario Mercado d Jose Rojas 11-9, 11-9, 11-7

Kane Waselenchuk d Andree Parrilla 11-5, 11-3, 11-2

Jansen Allen d Sebastian Franco 11-6, 6-11, 11-7, 11-2

Daniel De La Rosa d David Bobby Horn 11-5, 11-6, 11-1

Felipe Camacho d Robert Collins 4-11, 11-9, 11-5, 11-4

Alvaro Beltran d Chris Crowther 11-3, 11-8, 11-9

Markie Rojas d Jake Bredenbeck 11-5, 4-11, 11-6, 11-0

Thursday Pro Qualifying

Round of 32s

Andree Parrilla d Jose Diaz 11-8, 11-7, 11-5

Sebastian Franco d Keith Minor 11-1, 11-7, 7-11, 11-1

Jake Bredenbeck d Francisco Troncoso 12-10, 11-7, 11-6

Chris Crowther d Matthew Majxner 11-4, 13-11, 11-2

David Bobby Horn d Charlie Pratt 11-9, 11-5, 6-11, 11-9

Robert Collins d Dane Elkins 11-3, 11-7, 11-3

Mario Mercado d John Wolfe 11-3, 11-6, 11-6

Scott McClellan d Majeed Shahin 11-2, 12-10, 3-11, 3-11, 11-9

Round of 64s

Chris Crowther d David Hester 11-0, 11-5, 11-4 

John Wolfe d Javier Rebollar 11-1, 13-11, 11-8

Majeed Shahin d Luis Felipe Munoz WBF – No Show

Dane Elkins d James Anderton 11-3, 11-3, 11-0

David Bobby Horn d Nicolai Miramontes 11-5, 11-9, 11-9

Francisco Troncoso d Alexi David Cocco Hayes 11-7, 11-9, 11-5

Keith Minor d Jose E Ubilla 11-1, 13-11, 9-11, 11-0

Sebastian Franco, Jose Diaz, David Bobby Horn, Jake Bredenbeck, Mario Mercado, Andree Parrilla, and Francisco Troncoso will be representing the Reaching Your Dream Foundation at the final tournament of the 2015-2016 IRT season. 

2016 Coast to Coast California IRT Open Closes Season

Coast Logo 2016The Coast to Coast California IRT Open in Reseda, California will mirror a Hollywood movie with the multitude of storylines, including the race for season-ending ranking. Located in the San Fernando Valley and in close proximity to beaches, Universal City (home to Universal Studios, Disneyland and Magic Mountain), the area provides the perfect backdrop for the finale of the 2015-2016 IRT season May 19-22. 

Last May the Fresno IRT Summer Kickoff Pro-Am ended the season of racquetball in Northern California with Kane Waselenchuk reclaiming the top spot from Rocky Carson and winning his 10th World Title. This year Waselenchuk leads Carson by 202 points going into the ProKennex Tournament of Champions presented by Campbell Group, held one week before the Southern California tournament.

Can Carson chip away on that advantage held by Waselenchuk in that span of time? Waselenchuk looks to be questionable as he withdrew during his Round of 16s match due to injury during the Florida IRT ProAm the last weekend in April, raising speculation about whether he returned too soon after emergency incarcerated hernia surgery during the Sunshine State’s premier tournament.

Carson benefits from ending the season in his home state. “Rocky has a lot of family and friends that support him and drive up and watch him,” said Debbie Tisinger-Moore, Coast to Coast California Open Tournament Director. “He loves winning in his hometown.” Local Majeed Shahin will also be competing in the pro division against the top racquetball players from the IRT.

An IRT schedule mainstay typically starting the second half of the IRT season, the Coast to Coast California Open was previously held in Canoga Park and Los Angeles before settling in Reseda at the 360 Health Club. Because of renovations to the 360 Health Club, the tournament was postponed last season and has returned to close out this season.

The centerpiece of the 360 Health Club is the stadium court, which can be seen from the lobby and the café restaurant. “I think just the ambiance of that is why the pros like being here,” Tisinger-Moore said. “You have the restaurant and you have the stadium court. It fills up to capacity and the pros love playing on that.”

Ranked as one of the top health clubs in the country by Men’s Health magazine, it features four racquetball courts, a boxing gym and two basketball courts that are used throughout the year by NBA players.

From the beginning, the tournament has been sponsored by two Ricks with one Rick leading to another. Rick Betts brought in Rick Roussin, the owner of Coast to Coast Computer Products and a 360 Health Club member. The two have been huge supporters since the tournament’s inception.

Roussin is the big reason for the IRT player Meet and Greet on Thursday, May 19. “He wanted to have the top pros in the area,” Tisinger-Moore said of Roussin’s support of the tournament. “Being able to mingle with them. He wants everyone to be able to meet with them and talk with them.”

Betts enjoys entertaining the pros when they stay and hosts the pros at his house in Malibu that is on a mountain and overlooks the ocean. “Another reason why the pros like coming is he opens up his home to the pros who want to stay there,” Tisinger-Moore said of Betts’ accommodations. “It is almost like five star service.”

This year, the Coast to Coast California Open has added SolarCity and Casco C.A. Schroeder Inc. as sponsors.

The 2016 Coast to Coast California Open will close out the IRT season and have major ramifications for the entire year-end rankings. Will Waselenchuk hold on and win his 11th IRT World Championship or will Carson close the gap and edge him out for the top spot? The race from three through 13 will also be a highly contested one. Expect those rankings to see a shakeup before the end of the year.

By Eric Mueller

Eric Mueller started working with the IRT after joining the 2014 UnitedHealthcare US OPEN Racquetball Championships Media Team, where he garnered coverage for top racquetball pros and amateurs in their hometown media while also helping to provide updates to the racquetball community during the tournament. With a degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, Mueller also brings experience in sports reporting and news writing for newspapers like the Pioneer Press in St. Paul as well as the Southwest Journal and the Downtown Journal in Minneapolis. Mueller has also worked in marketing and public relations for Gopher Sports Marketing at the University of Minnesota, the St. Paul Saints professional baseball team and the 2015 Cowles Cup Champion Chicago Bandits professional softball team.