Kane Waselenchuk continued where he left off at the 2016 US Open this weekend in Lilburn, Georgia outside Atlanta at The Galaxy Custom Printing IRT Pro/Am. Waselenchuk beat Daniel De La Rosa by injury forfeit in the championship final to win his 101st Tour title. In the doubles finals, Charlie Pratt/Jansen Allen defeated Alejandro Landa/Samuel Murray 15-13, 9-15, 11-6 to win their first Tier 1 Title.
Singles Championship Final
Kane Waselenchuk d Daniel De La Rosa WBF – Injury 11-0
Singles Championship Final Recap
By Dale Gosser
Kane takes final, again
Many matches involving Kane Waselenchuk are anti-climatic and Saturday night’s final against No. 3 Daniel De La Rosa was no different.
Waselenchuk took the win by virtue of forfeit as De La Rosa was unable to continue. It’s unclear of the exact reason why De La Rosa forfeited, however, in his earlier match against Alejandro Landa he did take an injury time for an apparent groin issue.
To De La Rosa’s credit, he did attempt to play the match. But not being 100 percent is a difficult task against Waselenchuk, who won game 1 11-0 with very little effort. Six of his 11 points were aces because De La Rosa was unable to move well enough to react.
Waselenchuk did entertain the crowd by issuing an invite to the tournament’s founder, Donald Williams, who joined him on the court for a short exhibition. Williams lost the friendly match.
Doubles Championship Final
Charlie Pratt/Jansen Allen d Alejandro Landa/Samuel Murray 15-13, 9-15, 11-6
Doubles Championship Final Recap
By Dale Gosser
Pratt, Allen take first Tier 1 doubles title
Whoever won the title in Atlanta would be first-time Tier 1 doubles winners on the IRT Tour and the match didn’t disappoint.
Charlie Pratt and Jansen Allen, the No. 3 seeds, held off a tough duo of Alejandro Landa and Samuel Murray, 15-13, 9-15, 11-6, for the victory.
After splitting the first two games, Pratt and Allen started the tiebreaker in a hole at negative 1 after Pratt received a technical at the end of game 2 for striking the ball after the final point. It was a slow starting pace in the tiebreaker as the teams traded shots without much scoring.
Trailing 1-0, Pratt took over in the box and put he and Allen up for good with consecutive points, one via a skip by Landa and one a kill for himself.
After a half out, it was Allen who helped put the match away on his serve, scoring five straight points. Three of the points came from strong Pratt kill shots, while Landa and Murray each had a skip to give away the other two points.
Down 7-1, Murray and Landa made it 7-3 via a Murray kill and a Pratt skip but Allen ended the threat with a kill. Pratt added two more points for his team after Landa and Murray skipped consecutive shots to make it 9-3.
The No. 5 seeded team did make one last run, scoring three straight on their next serve to close to within 9-6. Pratt ended the match on his serve with two straight kill shots, the last on a backhand down the line that Murray couldn’t pick up.
In game 1, Landa and Murray led for most of the match but allowed a late comeback by Pratt and Allen, who stole the game. Pratt and Allen trailed 9-4 and closed it to 9-6 before their opponents added two more points on a Landa kill and Allen skip to make it 11-7.
Pratt and Allen went on the defensive and held Landa and Murray in check and cut the lead to 11-10. Pratt had three kills, including a passing shot that got by both players. Murray did manage to make it 12-10 but Pratt added two more points to tie it at 12-12.
Trailing 13-12, Pratt and Allen finished off the game with three straight points, including a cracked out ace serve.
In game 2, Murray and Landa never allowed Pratt and Allen to get on track, building a 13-5 advantage. In one last effort to close the gap, Pratt and Allen scored four unanswered points to make it 13-9 but eventually fell on Landa and Murray’s next serve.
Kane Waselenchuk d Charlie Pratt 11-8, 11-2, 11-3
Daniel De La Rosa d Alejandro Landa 11-7, 12-10, 1-11, 9-11 11-6
Singles Semifinals Recaps
By Dale Gosser
Charlie Pratt is having a career weekend, making both the doubles and singles semifinals, however, no matter how good your weekend is going it’s bound to hit a speed bump when facing the No. 1 player in the world.
Pratt fought hard against Kane Waselenchuk in game 1 of his semifinal singles matchup, falling 11-8, but games 2-3 were all Waselenchuk who went on to sweep Pratt 11-2, 11-3.
Pratt held his own, trailing 2-1 early in game 1, but Waselenchuk went on a 5-0 run to go up 6-1. But Pratt battled back with three points on his next serve to close to within 6-4. Waselenchuk went up 7-4 before Pratt again rallied to tie it at 7-7 with an ace, a skip by Waselenchuk and a kill.
After a side out, Pratt skipped a ball and then Waselenchuk blasted an ace to go up 9-7. After going up 10-7, Pratt managed to cut the deficit to two points with an another ace but Waselenchuk finished the game off with a kill on his next serve.
In the second singles semifinals of the day, it went as many predicted, a five-game affair. Who would win was the big question when Daniel De La Rosa and Alejandro Landa faced off.
After a grueling four games, it was De La Rosa who came out on top, 11-7, 12-10, 1-11, 9-11, 11-6.
De la Rosa never trailed in the tiebreaker. He bolted to a 5-1 advantage but Landa managed to creep back into the game to cut it to 6-4 after two consecutive skips by De La Rosa.
A skip by Landa, who was obviously fatigued, made it 7-4 and then 8-4 before he took advantage of two skips by De La Rosa for an 8-6 deficit.
De la Rosa made it 9-6 on another skip by Landa before he sliced a backhand kill into the corner to reach match point, 10-6. Landa had one more chance but another backhand kill by De La Rosa ended the threat before he finished out the match.
In their four previous match-ups on tour, Landa had defeated De La Rosa three times. De La Rosa trailed 7-4 in game 1 but used a 7-0 run to finish off the win. He did so by smashing five kills, including a backhand pinch shot to round out the game.
Game 2 was a back and forth affair, one in which Landa had two chances to win on game point but couldn’t put it away. Trailing 10-7, De La Rosa nailed a backhand splat to end a Landa run. He cut it to 10-8 and then stopped Landa on another game-point chance before running off four straight points to win, 12-10.
Game 3 was all Landa who jumped out to a 6-0 lead and cruised to the 11-1 win. Game 4 was long but didn’t disappoint as both players were fighting fatigue. Trailing 9-8, Landa took serve and scored three straight for the win.
Alejandro Landa/Samuel Murray d Alvaro Beltran/Rocky Carson 15-10, 9-15, 11-8
Charlie Pratt/Jansen Allen d Daniel De La Rosa/Felipe Camacho 15-5, 15-8
Doubles Semifinals Recaps
By Dale Gosser
In the first semifinal of the day, the No. 5-seeded team of Alejandro Landa and Samuel Murray knocked off the top seeds, Alvaro Beltran and Rocky Carson, 15-10, 9-15, 11-8.
The top seeds came out slow in game 1, falling behind 10-3 before making a small comeback bid. However, the powerful backhand of Murray kept them off balance. Beltran and Carson managed to gain their bearings and take game 2 to force the tiebreaker, which proved to be the best of the three games.
Landa and Murray took an early 2-0 lead but the top seeds battled back for four unanswered points, the last coming when Landa was called for stepping on the encroachment line. Carson and Beltran managed a 5-3 advantage but Landa and Murray fought back to go ahead, 6-5, on a kill by Murray and a pair of skips by Carson.
Landa stretched it to 8-5 on his next serve, but Carson tied it at 8-8 on his next serve with a kill, an ace drive z-serve to the forehand of Landa and a Landa skip.
Landa gave his team the lead with a quick-handed kill in the front right side to make it 9-8, but two forehand blasts by Beltran forced a side out and one more chance for the top seeds. However, a crushing backhand kill by Murray and another kill by Landa ended the threat.
Another kill by Murray made it 10-8 before Beltran forced a half out with a backhand kill of his own. With Murray serving, he smashed another backhand kill to end the match and secure the upset.
In the second semifinal, it was all Charlie Pratt and Jansen Allen as the duo rolled by Daniel De La Rosa and Felipe Camacho, 15-5, 15-8.
This match was not without its drama as De La Rosa and Camacho started game 2 with a technical call already down 1-0, giving them negative 1. Allen extended the lead to 5-0 after De La Rosa skipped two balls and a Pratt kill.
Pratt and Allen built a 12-2 advantage when De La Rosa was called for a technical, the second for his team, and then received a third technical when he slammed the ball into the back wall after being accessed the first technical, making it 12-0.
The technicals ignited a fire for De La Rosa and Camacho who closed to within 14-8, which would have been 14-11 without the three technical calls. However, Pratt finished off the match with a cross court backhand kill to advance he and Allen into the finals.
Alejandro Landa d Jansen Allen 11-9, 11-7, 11-9
Kane Waselenchuk d Markie Rojas 11-4, 11-3, 11-8
Daniel De La Rosa d Sebastian Franco 9-11, 11-8, 11-4, 11-7
Charlie Pratt d Alvaro Beltran 12-10, 8-11, 11-8, 15-13
By Dale Gosser
Landa defeats Allen
Alejandro Landa continued his amazing run to earn a semifinals berth by knocking off No. 6 Jansen Allen in three straight games, 11-9, 11-7, 11-9. Landa did this with little rest after a hard-fought, five-game victory over No. 2 Rocky Carson earlier in the day in the Round of 16s.
Allen jumped out to a quick 6-0 lead in game 1 but Landa tied it at 6-6. It was close all the way to the end with Landa taking a 9-7 lead and then Allen tying it at 9-9 before Landa finished it off with two straight points.
In game 2, Allen again took an early lead 4-2, and then at 7-3. However, Landa again rallied for eight straight unanswered points to win. Game 3 was much like game 1. The pair battled to a 9-9 tie before Landa ended the match with two straight points.
Waselenchuk sweeps Rojas
Fresh off his 12th US Open singles title and 100th career Tour victory, Waselenchuk left little to doubt against Markie Rojas, winning in three straight games, 11-4, 11-3, 11-8, including a massive comeback in game 3.
Rojas, who with his brother Jose, defeated Waselenchuk and Ben Croft at the Open in the men’s doubles tournament to eventually win their first US Open Title, started off hot in game 3. Rojas jumped out to an 8-1 lead, the biggest lead against Waselenchuk this season in any game.
Not to be outdone, Waselenchuk rallied for three points to make it 8-4 before Rojas called a much-needed time out. It did little to hinder the No. 1 player in the world. Five points later, it was 9-8 Waselenchuk before Rojas could get back into the box.
A quick side out let Waselenchuk pick up two more points and the victory.
De la Rosa beats Franco
After dominating most of game 1 and jumping out to a 10-5 lead, Sebastian Franco held on to win 11-9, but after an odd twist in which a disqualification call ended game 2 and gave De La Rosa the win, 11-9, Franco never recovered.
With both players fighting for center court position and playing tightly together on every rally, they found themselves tied 10-10 in game 2. Trailing 9-10, De La Rosa used a lob serve that tied Franco up and fell in for an ace. A skip by De La Rosa gave Franco another chance but he couldn’t capitalize.
De la Rosa went up 11-10 and was about to serve for the game when Franco, out of frustration, attempted to kick the ball against the back wall, but instead booted it out of the court, which resulted in a technical and point loss, giving De La Rosa the 11-9 win.
De La Rosa led 4-3 in game 3 in what appeared to be another tight game before he used a 4-0 run to make it 8-3. Franco got to within 8-4 but De La Rosa closed it out with three straight points, 11-4.
De la Rosa continued with the pressure in game 4. He broke open a 6-5 game with a 4-0 run to go up 10-5, the last point coming off another lob ace. Franco managed to cut the lead to 10-7 before De La Rosa closed out the match, 11-7.
Pratt holds off Beltran
In probably the best quarterfinal match of the day, Charlie Pratt held off No. 4 Alvaro Beltran in four games, 12-10, 8-11, 11-8, 15-13.
Beltran had several chances to push it to a game 5, leading 10-7 late in game 4. Pratt managed to tie it at 10-10 and then took a lead at 11-10 and then another at 12-11 but couldn’t put it away. Beltran rallied for two points and a 13-12 lead but couldn’t finish it off.
Pratt tied it at 13-13 and eventually closed it out at 15-13 for the game and the match.
Pratt was the more consistent player throughout the match, forcing Beltran to play catch-up, except for game 2. Beltran led 5-4 in game 3 before Pratt used a 4-0 run to go up 8-5. He extended it to 10-6 before Beltran closed to within 10-8 but Pratt held on for the game.
Singles Round of 16s
It only took the first pairing of matches in the Galaxy Custom Printing IRT Pro/Am Round of 16s until there was an upset. Alejandro Landa outlasted Rocky Carson 11-5, 10-12, 11-0, 5-11, 13-11 to pull off the upset.
Alejandro Landa d Rocky Carson 11-5, 10-12, 11-0, 5-11, 13-11
Jansen Allen d Robert Collins 11-6, 11-2, 11-6
Kane Waselenchuk d Samuel Murray 11-5, 11-3, 11-1
Markie Rojas d Felipe Camacho 11-9, 11-9, 11-4
Sebastian Franco d Andres Acuna 11-5, 11-2, 11-3
Daniel De La Rosa d Jeremy Best 11-2, 11-3, 11-1
Alvaro Beltran d Troy Warigon 11-3, 11-2, 11-2
Charlie Pratt d Mario Mercado 11-6, 11-13, 11-6, 11-6
Singles Round of 32s
Samuel Murray d Maurice Miller 11-1, 11-8, 11-0
Charlie Pratt d Austin Cunningham 11-4, 11-4, 11-1
Troy Warigon d Robert Hemphill 11-13, 11-6, 11-9, 4-11, 11-6
Jeremy Best d Marquis Miller 11-5, 11-4, 11-6
Andres Acuna d Scott McClellan 11-3, 11-4, 11-1
Robert Collins d Set Cubillos 11-6, 11-2, 11-6
Alejandro Landa d Jose E Ubilla 11-4, 11-2, 11-3
Men’s Doubles Quarterfinals
Alejandro Landa/Samuel Murray d Mario Mercado/Sebastian Franco 14-15, 15-7, 11-8
Charlie Pratt/Jansen Allen d Maurice Miller/Troy Warigon 15-4, 10-15, 11-9
Daniel De La Rosa/Felipe Camacho d Jeremy Best/Bryan Titus 15-4, 15-7
2016 Galaxy Custom Printing IRT Pro/Am: Glitter, Games, & Now Kane
Last year’s Galaxy Custom Printing IRT Pro/Am had it all: the glitter and hospitality of a world class host city — Atlanta; an exciting championship match between Alvaro Beltran and Rocky Carson; and the anticipation of the return of professional racquetball to Atlanta for the first time in nearly 20 years.
The only thing it lacked was the men’s professional International Racquetball Tour’s (IRT) top ranked player, Kane Waselenchuk. Last year Waselenchuk withdrew from the tournament shortly before it began due to health reasons (he missed four events on the IRT Tour before easily earning his 11th #1 IRT ranking by season’s end).
Fans who longed to watch “King Kane” in person last year will get their wish fulfilled this time around – Waselenchuk is registered to play and appears to be in top form once again.
“Last year Kane was registered to play in the Galaxy Custom Printing Pro/Am, but withdrew just before the tournament due to health reasons,” said Chad Bailey, tournament director. “I wish I had a dollar for every time I heard someone ask where Kane was last year. You always want to have the top player in your tournament, but Kane especially.”
The 2016-2017 IRT season’s Tier 1 tourney — to be played at the crown jewel of Atlanta’s racquetball community, the venerable “Rec Atlanta” in suburban Lilburn — will showcase the Tour’s most dominant player.
As of press time, registration for the Tier 1 event included all of the top 10 ranked players, including Waselenchuk, who figures to be the odds-on favorite to capture the tournament. Waselenchuk has won the IRT’s first two events – the 17th Annual Novasors Ghost of Georgetown Kansas City Open and the UnitedHealthcare US Open in convincing fashion. In the Ghost of Georgetown, Waselenchuk dominated Rocky Carson in the finals 11-4, 11-2, 11-0. In his three previous matches Waselenchuk swept all three matches in three games, allowing a total of 21 points in nine games.
At the US Open, Waselenchuk defeated Carson once again in the finals, this time in three games by scores of 11-2, 11-2, 11-6. It was Waselenchuk’s 12th US Open Title and his 100th overall career title.
“Kane quite simply is the most dominant player on Tour, perhaps the most dominant in the history of professional racquetball,” said Donald Williams, Galaxy Custom Printing CEO and tournament sponsor.
Having Waselenchuk on hand when the tournament begins Nov. 3 should boost attendance at the event, Williams said.
“Many players around here have not seen Kane play in person, and they can’t wait to see him compete,” Williams said. “Last year he was a late scratch, but he is so popular among racquetball players. I think it is so awesome that he will play. I mean, he is the best player in the world.”
Williams is a primary sponsor of the Galaxy Custom Printing IRT Pro/Am, and was instrumental in bringing the pro Tour back to Atlanta after a hiatus of nearly 20 years. Even without Waselenchuk in last year’s draw, the tournament was a success, according to Williams. With the Tour’s top player in the fold, it will become an annual event.
“That was the goal, initially, to make this an annual event here. The ‘Rec Atlanta’ is a hub for amateur racquetball in this region, and it is an incredible facility for a pro event,” Williams said. “We want to maintain it as a regular, anchor event this time of year for the IRT for years to come.”
Bailey said the structure and format of the event will go unchanged.
“It was very successful, so we are keeping it pretty much the same,” Bailey said.
The pro finals will be played on Saturday night on the championship court. The IRT matches will be televised on the IRT Network throughout the weekend. A handful of top amateur players are expected to try and qualify for the right to compete against the Tour’s best.
- Tournament is scheduled for Nov. 3 through Nov. 6 at the Rec Atlanta in Lilburn, GA
- All top 10-ranked pros are scheduled to appear
- A “Meet and Greet” party with the pros will take place Saturday night
- The pros will conduct a free juniors instructional clinic on Saturday morning
- Official tournament ball will be the Pro Penn Purple
- Tournament sponsors include: (Gold Sponsors) Galaxy Custom Printing; Williams Accounting and Consulting; (Silver Sponsor) Fortiva Financial
By Don Grigas
Don Grigas is an award-winning journalist who grew up on the south side of Chicago and is now living in Bolingbrook, IL, where he first developed a passion for racquetball. In 1979 Don played his first game of racquetball at the Bolingbrook Park District Racquet and Health Club. Within two years Don rose from a Novice to an Open player, and shortly thereafter became the club professional at the Naper Olympic Fitness Center for more than 20 years until that facility closed in 2007. After winning three state championships in doubles, Don retired from active playing and now writes for the IRT as well as working on other freelance projects.