While 2014-2015 IRT season results differed from this time last year for many pro racquetball players at the Florida IRT ProAm last weekend, there is little movement at the top of the rankings. Rocky Carson still clings to a small 72 point advantage over Kane as they were 2 of only 3 players ranked in the top 16 to repeat their result from last season, which saw Kane convincingly take the title over Rocky in 3 quick games. While a much more contested battle occurred this year, Kane still emerged victorious in 3 games.
Many points changed hands following this event, due mostly to inconsistent finishes by Charlie Pratt, Tony Carson, Ben Croft, and Alvaro Beltran last season. Pratt and Carson went deeper than expected in the draw, both making the semis, while Croft and Beltran both made early exits in the round of 16.
Beltran and Croft both benefit from the improvement in their results this year. Beltran’s semi final finish further solidifies his spot at #3, creating an almost 600pt gap between the #3 and #4 spots, and allowing him to gain a little ground on Kane and Rocky. Being almost 800 points behind #2 though will likely mean his ranking will remain at #3 this season. Croft’s improvement on last season’s finish keeps him right in the midst of a dogfight for the coveted 4th place spot in the rankings. He currently sits at #5, just 41 points behind Daniel De La Rosa, and 78 points ahead of Jose Rojas. With only a few tournaments left on the schedule, this is the most exciting battle. With how close these 3 players are in skill and ranking points, it almost certainly will come down to the season-ending ProKennex Tournament of Champions, not to mention they could flip flop 2-3 times between now and then.
Jose Rojas, while surely wasn’t happy with a quarterfinal exit, did not lose ground on his point total and remains in the #6 position, enjoying a sizeable gap between himself and the next competitor. His younger brother unfortunately didn’t fare so well in the most recent update. Marco Rojas’ exit in the 16’s, combined with Jansen Allen’s quarterfinal finish, pushed the young Texan ahead and into the #7 spot with the younger Rojas brother rounding out the top 8. With only 200 points separating #7 from #9 on the ladder though, this is another section of the rankings that will be hotly contested and down to the wire as the season closes.
Charlie Pratt remains at #9 despite trading his semifinal points last year for quarterfinal points this year. This is largely due to the next few players in the rankings not attending the event in Sarasota this year. Tony Carson (#10) lost all of his semifinal points from last season, but remains just ahead of Alejandro Landa (#11) who pulled out of this event at the last minute due to injury. Despite relinquishing all his round of 16 points from last year’s finish, Chris Crowther (#12) also retains his position due to a large but dwindling point advantage over #13 Jose Diaz. If Crowther has indeed retired from the IRT, Diaz should take over the #12 spot with another round of 16 finish or better. The top 16 is rounded out by Matt Majxner (#14), Robert Collins (#15), and Danny Lavely (#16). Maxner remains 72 points behind Jose Diaz, while Collins moves ahead of Lavely into the #15 spot. The last tight point race occurs here, as only 102 points separate #15 from #17.
With only a few events left and Rocky clinging to the #1 spot, will Kane be able to make up the ground he lost during his injury hiatus? Who will bring their best games between DLR, Rojas, and Croft to capture the #4 spot? And of course who will secure places in the coveted top 8 and be invited to the ProKennex Tournament of Champions in May? Only time will tell, and by all accounts, it will be an exciting tale.
Photo by Ken Fife
Written by Tim Landeryou