The second half of the 2013-14 IRT Tier 1 season started west in California, headed east to New York, flew north to South Dakota and covering the final compass point south in Tampa for the Florida Spring Break Pro/Am in March, where Kane Waselenchuk defeated Rocky Carson for the title.
Match Recap: The Final
#1 Kane Waselenchuk d #2 Rocky Carson 2, 5, 3
Kane’s winning serve return set the tone for game one, and the next quick two points. Rocky hit low and hard, but couldn’t move Kane around the court. With quick hands and precision execution, the top seed put the ball away. Rocky did the same, but not as consistently. At 1-4, Rocky re-killed the ball for his second point, but Kane scored next. At 2-4, Rocky took a time out. Kane notched points on Rocky’s skips, as the second seed couldn’t execute shots. Rocky took another timeout at 2-10 for a quick phone consult, presumably with his coach. Kane buried the ball in the left front corner for the match, 11-2.
Kane climbed to a quick 4-1 lead, one of the points scored while breaking a string. A nice forehand pass from Carson gave him the serve. He needed the confidence boost, seeming unsure by questioning calls, hitting tentatively, and wondering what to serve. Kane’s kept the pressure on all the way from 5-2 to game point at 10-4. But Rocky wasn’t going to let it end, and kept trying to figure out what might work. A confidence-building backhand put him back in the serve box where he scored, 5-10. The two finalists exchanged rallies, Kane working to finish and Rocky fighting to claw back. Kane’s beautiful backhand pinch ended game two, 11-5.
Game three was all Kane. Rocky scored at 1-8 and again, on two unforced errors in a row for 3-8. That was it, Kane dominated the serve box for an 11-3 win for the match.
After thanking all for support, Rocky admitted it felt frustrating. “I played well today. I had opportunities I needed to execute and didn’t. Today I was probably 30% on that. That’s what I train for – it’s frustrating. I’m loking forward to get back on the court after that, training hard for Stockton.”
Kane Waselenchuk d Tony Carson 9, 3, 1
Rocky Carson d Charlie Pratt 4, 3, 7
Kane Waselenchuk d Marco Rojas 7, 3, 1
Tony Carson d Jose Rojas (8), (4), 6, 9, 7
Charlie Pratt d Alvaro Beltran 3, (8), 9, 4
Rocky Carson d Daniel De La Rosa 8, 8, (5), (10), 2
2014 IRT Florida Spring Break Pro/Am: A Preview
by Becky Wiese
The second half of the 2013-14 IRT Tier 1 season started west in California, headed east to New York, flew north to South Dakota and covering the final compass point south in Tampa for the Florida Spring Break Pro/Am March 6-9. And, as Kim Roy, tournament director, says, “Spring break in Florida means sun, fun, and racquetball. There’s no down side to that combination!
”The atmosphere should be electric. Defending champion Kane Waselenchuk had been knocked out of the #1 spot by Rocky Carson late in the first half of the season, but he’s come back strong with four consecutive tournament wins and has since regained the #1 ranking.
The short-lived change at the top has perhaps given other top players such as #2 Rocky Carson and #3 Alvaro Beltran, semi-finalists in 4 of the 5 tournaments Kane has won this season, a bit of hope that he can be toppled. #4 Jose Rojas knows this to be true, as he defeated Kane in the semis early in the season. With #5 Ben Croft (a 2013 semifinalist) dealing with some injury issues, #6 Daniel de la Rosa may be able to climb higher as he’s has had some success in making it to a final this season.
Adding to the interest and intensity, Carson, Rojas, #7 Chris Crowther, #8 Tony Carson, and #10 Jansen Allen played in the National Doubles Championships in mid-February, so some partners for that event might end up playing against each other just a few weeks later.
Harbour Island Athletic Club again serves as the main host facility, including the show court for the professional matches with seating for up to 400 spectators. “Harbour Island has a unique and beneficial setup in that the courts have glass back walls with a basketball court immediately adjacent,” explains Roy. “This gives us a huge area to put up bleachers for this event.”
Four additional sites will provide courts for the competition, allowing up to 17 matches to take place simultaneously around Tampa. Each facility will enable almost 300 participants from more than 20 states and several foreign countries to enjoy playing and watching high quality racquetball. Amateur matches will not be scheduled during the pro semifinal matches on Saturday afternoon or the final on Sunday, enabling everyone to enjoy the excitement and intensity of the pro atmosphere.
In fact, every registered player in the tournament receives a general admission ticket for the pro matches as part of the entry fee. Additional tickets for family and friends are available and seating is open except for reserved sponsor seats. Tournament food is also included in the guest ticket price.
Tickets purchase in advance will be sold at discounted prices—so plan ahead! Additional opportunities will enable players to play and party with the pros. The “Play the Pro” event lets amateurs play against a pro for one 11 point game. (Space is limited, so register soon!) If that idea intimidates you, plan to attend the “Party with the Pros” on Saturday night—dress up and plan to dance and party the night away with the pro players!
As this event continues to grow, Roy appreciates the help she receives to pull it off. “An event of this magnitude wouldn’t be possible without a lot of help from sponsors and volunteers,” she says. “And we have the best of both with people like the Sal and Dee Perconti, who run our charity event for Rapha House, Mike Ammen, Eric Foecking, and Yvonne and Randy Buffington, who go above and beyond every year to make this event successful.” Of course, sunshine, beaches, and spring break help, too!