The 6th annual Florida Spring Break ProAm is in the books as the 2012-2013 IRT season plays out. Follow the pro draw below and click to read more about the results.
Click HERE to view the pro draw.
By John Beninato
Incredible match from these two players! Ben needed to put a lot of pressure on the number 1 player and gain control of the match. Kane came out looking sharp as he normally does, but Ben put together an unbelievable comeback in the first game and shocked his opponent, 12-10. The crowd erupted in applause. Was this the day that Kane could lose a match? Of course, winning one game off Kane is tough to do, but Ben’s momentum seemed to be enough to carry him.
Everything worked for Ben in the second game too. His shots and drive serves were crisp and Kane was forced to use the ceiling. Croft’s straight-in drive serve to Kane’s backhand was strong and he was able to string points together using that serve. Kane needed to make shots and stop Ben from taking another game. He stepped up to the challenge and made Ben work for every point. Kane put a stop to Ben’s momentum and took this game, 11-7.
Ben lost the upper hand in this match and needed to do whatever it took to get it back. He flew around the court and got absolutely every shot possible. There were some jaw-dropping gets, but Kane stayed in the driver’s seat. Kane took a 4-0 lead, but Ben did not go down without a fight. There was a lot of pressure on both players to make shots and Ben started to berate the referee to keep things fair. Croft felt that a lot of Kane’s drive serves were screens and took every opportunity possible to make this known to the official. While some missed calls may have effected the match, Ben lost a lot of focus by using his energy to argue instead of getting over it and playing the points. Kane capitalized on Ben’s loss of focus and went up two games to zero, 11-4.
This was Ben’s last chance to force a tiebreaker. Unfortunately, he started to show some signs of fatigue and skipped a lot of easy shots. Also, his drive serve began to come off the side wall and Kane drilled a lot of shots for quick side-outs. Ben still had a hard time getting over some bad calls and earned a technical. The chances of any comeback were very slim and Kane could see the light at the end of the tunnel. Croft was able to get a couple points and avoid a -1 loss, but ultimately could not take another game off Kane and lost this one, 11-3.
By IRT Intern Kathy Geels
#1 Kane Waselenchuk d. #5 Jose Rojas 6, 2, 3
Kane Waselenchuk defeated Jose Rojas in a decisive three game match. Rojas appeared unexpectedly lacking in offensive mind-set, compared to other late-draw performances this season. Waselenchuk relied mainly on an almost nonchalant lob-serve, with Rojas coming across as nearly helpless in the face of such a mild-mannered tempo, and unable to create his own aggressive momentum. Waselenchuk moves on to play Ben Croft in the finals.
#8 Ben Croft d. #2 Rocky Carson 5, 7, (1), (4), 4
Ben Croft unexpectedly upset the master craftsman, Rocky Carson in an extended (two plus hours) five game match. Croft ripped through games one and two, playing things his way with drive serves, low side to side rallies, and flat kills, with Carson appearing to match him in fitness in acrobatic finesse but coming up slightly short in the long run. Game three, Carson appeared to have to switched over completely to an almost plodding game of slow lobs, methodical angles, with ruthless kills to finish while simultaneously, Croft’s serves drive serves seemed to fail him and his shots were consistently two to three inches too high. Game five appeared to potentially go either way, but Croft seemed to regain his effective drive to the right side, and with a few uncharacteristic but crucial skips by Carson, Croft moves on to the finals to play the winner of the second semi.
By IRT Intern, Brendan Giljum
Carson defeats Crowther (12),(5),0,7,10
Chris Crowther came out of the gate with a lot to prove as he seemed to be adament on taking down the number two seed, Rocky Carson, in three games. He played with incredible pep and power but the first game went back and forth with both players not willing to give in and pushing the game to extra innings. Chris eventually took game one 12-10.
He brought that momentum into game two as he seemed to handle Rocky fairly easily as compared to their past matchups, taking the second game by a score of 11-5.
Everything changed as Rocky stepped out onto the floor for game three. He came out with renewed vigor and it seemed like Crowther had forgotten everything he was doing well in the first two games. Carson sailed past him in game three beating him by a score of 11-0.
In game four it almost seemed like Crowther was going to take the match as he was rolling along and Rocky was getting extremely upset by some of the calls, taking long breaks to argue with the referee. This in and of itself seemed to mess with Crowther’s flow, as when finally Carson stopped complaining, he rattled off a bunch of points in a row, eventually taking game four 11-7.
Game five seemed to last forever as neither player wanted to lose the match they had worked so hard for. When finally Rocky went up big and Chris took an injury timeout, it seemed like it was all but over. Fortunately for the fans watching, Crowther was able to put together a comeback and push this game to its maximum limit. After a few more calls that both players were unsure about, and some incredible serves from Rocky, Carson was able to take the final game and the match 12-10.
Ben Croft d Alvaro Beltran (8), (4), 9, 2, 7
Ben Croft and Alvaro Beltran squared off in this quarterfinal game, two of the more fun people to watch on the tour, and this match did not disappoint. Croft came in hot early on and Beltran went down 6-4 after disagreeing with some calls made from referee Andrew Gale. Beltran then exchanged some unkind words with the ref and earned himself a technical making the score 6-3. After the technical though, the game changed tides and Ben started becoming flustered and Alvaro seemed to have cooled down. Alvaro came back in a big way to win 11-7.
In game two, both players traded rallies, not scoring any points for the longest time with the game stuck at 4-4 for what seemed like forever. Then Ben got extremely irate and earned himself 3 technicals, losing three points of his score total to take him to three. His game play wasnt the same after and Alvaro rolled him over to make the final score 11-3.
Game three showed both players giving it their all with Beltran wanting to win in 3 games and Croft needing a win just to stay alive in the match. The scoring went back and forth with both players arguing with referee Gale at different times during the match until finally Ben was able to pull out the game 11-8, and force a game four, which he won for a game 5 and the match.
Florida Spring Break Pro/Am: The Name Says It All!
By Becky Wiese
The 6th annual Florida Spring Break Pro/Am tournament will be better than ever in 2013 with an exciting mix of professional and amateur matches, fabulous venues, and special events—all taking place in Tampa, Florida, March 6-10. And if that isn’t enough, as Tournament Director Kim Roy says, “It’s Spring Break time in Florida…enough said!”
This unique event takes place at five different locations throughout the week, allowing for 17 matches to be played simultaneously. The main venue, Harbour Island Athletic Club, will host all the professional matches beginning with the round of 16 on Friday, March 8. Quarterfinal matches take place Friday evening, with semis on Saturday afternoon, and the championship match begins at noon on Sunday. Amateurs who play in the tournament will be able to see the pro semifinal and final matches as no amateur matches will be played during those events. In addition, bleacher seating will allow up to 400 spectators to view the show court on which the semifinal and final matches will be played.
As a Tier 1 event, the Florida Spring Break Pro/Am offers a great field of both professional and amateur players. “Last year there were 32 pro players and more than 200 amateurs that competed,” says Roy. “There were 22 states represented and five foreign countries.” The big question regarding the pro field is whether Kane Waselenchuk’s knee injury has healed enough for him to compete. Several of the other top 5 players, including Rocky Carson, Alvaro Beltran, and Jose Rojas, are poised to make a run for the championship.
In addition to great racquetball, the tournament location enables spectators and participants alike to enjoy a variety of special events and local attractions, many of which are within walking distance of the main venue. The Party With the Pros event will take place on Saturday evening at a local Greek restaurant, an easy walk from Island Harbour Athletic Club. Earlier in the day, sponsors and a limited number of other participants will have the opportunity to play an 11-point game with a pro–an up-close-and-personal chance to see how good they really are at the professional level.
Every tournament relies on its sponsors and volunteers to be successful, but according to Roy, “this is the only pro stop that the sponsors are also the top volunteers.” Sal and Dee Perconti of Perconti Data Systems have been sponsors for all six years of this event. In 2012, they started a charity auction to benefit Rapha House, raising more than $8,000. “Rapha House actually changes lives,” says Dee Perconti. “Through Rapha House, girls in Cambodia are rescued from brutality, slavery, and sexual exploitation and are given trauma counseling, physical and mental rehabilitation, vocational training, justice and legal services, education including English, and job placement. The best part is that although they were battered and depressed, they now have joy, love, and hope again.” She goes on to say, “It is very rewarding to see how much the racquetball community cares for these children. We’ve learned that racquetball players have huge hearts.”
Another sponsor, Mike Ammen of Ammen Family Cremation & Funeral Care, is excited to be a part of the tournament for a second consecutive year. “Racquetball has done so much for me–I’m happy to help the tournament be a success and ensure that racquetball continues to prosper in Florida.”
Perconti adds, “The reason we sponsor The Florida Spring Break IRT Pro/Am is that we love racquetball and want to see Florida and Tampa Bay experience a true Tier 1 Event with the best players in the world. These are some of the world class athletes in an intimate setting that can’t be achieved in any other sport. It is an awesome sports value!”