In a thrilling, tension-filled 5-game tiebreaker, #1 Kane Waselenchuk overcame #2 Rocky Carson’s tough play to take home the Coast to Coast California Open title, leaving questions as to whether the champion will be healthy enough to play at the New York Temperature Controls ProAm next weekend.
Click HERE to view the pro draw.
by IRT Intern, John Beninato
Kane Waselenchuk d. Rocky Carson 11-13, 6, 8, (8), 8
Great match from these top players! Kane did not play his best racquetball and switched between periods of killing the ball and skipping the ball. Rocky stuck to his game plan of mixing up serves and being aggressive to keep Kane off balance. Carson started off this match with an early lead and controlled center court very well. He primarily kept with a slow drive serve to Kane’s backhand, but mixed in some other speeds and serves. Rocky worked really hard in this first game and gained a lot of momentum. Kane skipped a huge shot late in the game and gave Rocky an opportunity, which he capitalized on to take this first game, 13-11. This shocking upset led many to believe that maybe today would be the day Kane would lose a match to a person rather than for some other reason, like an injury forfeit.
Kane skipped a lot of shots throughout this match and really did not look like himself. Rocky played incredibly well to take advantage of this fact. In game 2, Kane kept shooting from deep court but left a lot of shots up or dumped them into the floor. Rocky took a 6-0 lead, but Kane started to get warmed up. After a huge scoring run, Kane took control of this game and answered right back to Rocky’s game 1 win with an 11-6 victory.
In game 3, the players were still very even. Kane switched over to drive serves but neither player dominated the other. Kane kept playing within his style, but did not seem to have that “fire” that he displays constantly. However, he took this game and clearly wanted to end this match in 4 to avoid giving Rocky any chance of a comeback.
Kane came in to game 4 looking to close and took a huge 6-0 lead that put pressure on Rocky. Carson stuck to his game plan and kept chipping away. He was able to work back from a deficit until suddenly it was 8-8. Carson fought so hard for every ball and covered the court very well. Rocky shocked Kane by taking this game and forcing a tiebreaker, 11-8.
The audience kept silent between points, evidence of the tension in the air for this last game. Rocky seemed to get everything that Kane threw at him and went offensive when the situation called for it. Kane did not seem to be feeling that great and led many to believe that his knee was starting to become more of a factor. He did not move as well around the court and tried his best to kill the ball to shorten the points. Waselenchuk took out a lot of frustration on the referee, but was able to overcome his injured knee and what he thought were bad calls. He was able to shut down Rocky to win the match after a few late game side-outs. Hopefully Kane will be back and able to play next weekend in New York, but he was not around to provide a post-game interview, so we will just have to wait and see.
BONUS Recap…Another perspective:
Rocky gave Kane all he could handle in a grueling 50 minute first game, keeping Kane off balance with his serves and forcing numerous errors. Rocky controlled the front court, and won the first 13-11.Losing the first game of the finals to the #2 ranked player in the world, and being down 0-6 in the second game seemed to wake Kane up, as he fired back with blistering return of serves and re-kills, winning the second game 11-6. Back and forth they went in the third game, until Kane pulled away to win it in a close 11-8 game. Kane went up 8-2 in the fourth, and the match was all but over until Rocky started to mount a comeback. He put Kane on freeze, scoring 9 in a row to win the fourth game 11-8.
Whispers in the crowd questioned whether this would be the day that Rocky tamed the Kane train. One fan likened it to breaking the 4 minute mile. They traded serves and points in the final game, and Kane seemed to start favoring his left knee. At 6-6 it was anyone’s match, Rocky returned everything the offensive-minded Kane threw at him. The turning point in the match happened at 7-6. Rocky served and then blew a set up in the front court, giving Kane the serve back. Kane rattled off 4 in a row, one of which was an overhead reverse pinch on the backhand side, from about 39.5 feet that gave him a 10-7 lead. Rocky had one more surge in him, getting to 8, and Kane scored the final point winning the match 11-8 in a 2 ½ hour battle. One of the most entertaining matches of the year!
by IRT Intern Kathy Geels
#1 Kane Waselenchuck d. #13 Alex Landa 2, 8, (7), 3
After a two-month layoff after an injury kept Waselenchuk out of December’s ROLLOUT NJ Open, the #1 player reached the semifinals and defeated Alex Landa in four games. Waselenchuk did not appear pressured, however Landa put on an impressive display of speed, agility, and execution in his debut IRT semifinal appearance, taking the third game. The win puts Waselenchuk into the finals, where he will play against Rocky Carson.
Semifinal #1 #2 Rocky Carson d. #3 Alvaro Beltran (5), 4, (5), 10, 5
Rocky Carson defeated Alvaro Beltran in a five-game match, reminiscent of their nearly 3-hour meeting for the title in New Jersey before the break. Carson’s win edged him closer in their lifetime head-to-head record, earning 14 wins to Beltran’s 15 (bossconsulting.com/irt)..
Game one, the players started warily, breaking the conservative tempo only on low-to-moderate risk setups. At around 2-3, Carson broke away and began shooting more aggressively, but Beltran respond with a drive-service game that left Carson on his heels.
Game 2, Carson kept up the aggressive tempo, leaving Beltran a little slow off the blocks, but Beltran rallied in game three, keeping the momentum through the third or fourth point of game four, when Carson took a critical timeout. Although Beltran remained close on his heels, Carson never truly looked back from that point on, going on to handily win the fifth game. He proceeds to the finals to play the winner of the Waselenchuk v Landa semi.
#2 Rocky Carson d #7 Tony Carson (7), (10), 5, 9, 2
Right out of the gate, the first semi-finals match had sparks flying with whispers of “upset” as Tony Carson got out to a 2 game to 0 lead (11-7, 12-10). Rocky took the second game 11-5; Tony seemed to be tentative, and Rocky put away all of his set ups. The fourth game was the momentum changer, with Rocky winning an intense 11-9 game! As good of shape as Tony is in, living and training at altitude in Colorado, he managed to cramp up in the fifth, and Rocky took advantage winning 11-2.
# 1 Kane Waselenchuk d #9 Javier Moreno 2, 0, 8
Nothing left to say; Kane dominates, though he took a bit of a nap in the third game.
#3 Alvaro Beltran d #6 Ben Croft 8, (6), (5), 8, 3
Alvaro jumps to a 1 game lead in a tight 11-8 first game, only to find himself down 2 games to 1, dropping the second and third 11-6, 11-5. Croft looked like he was in complete control after losing the first, and was focused on finishing up the match in four. They went point for point in the beginning of the fourth game, and Alvaro started to pull away only to see Ben creeping back – Alvaro gave one more big push to win the fourth game 11-8 and never looked back, taking the fifth game 11-3.
#13 Alex Landa d #12 Daniel De La Rosa (11), 8, 10, (6), 9
The theme of the evening is 5 game battles (with the exception of Kane’s match, who seems to ruin 5 game opportunities for his opponents), and this match would not disappoint. After being tied 2 games each, Daniel got off to a 9-3 lead only to watch Alex rattle of 8 in a row to win the breaker 11-9.
Round of 16 Results:
#1 Kane Waselenchuk d #17 Markie Rojas (5), 3, 0, 4
#9 Javier Moreno d #8 Andy Hawthorne 4, (9), (4_, 6, 9
#12 Daniel De La Roasa d #8 Chris Crowther (7), 8, 8, (7), 3
#13 Alex Landa d #4 Jose Rojas 10, 8, 8,
#3 Alvaro Beltran d #14 Polo Gutierrez (1), (4), 6, 1, 5
#8 Ben Croft d #11 Brad Shopieray 6, 5, 10
#7 Tony Carson d #10 Anthony Herrera 9, (8), 2, 5
#2 Rocky Carson d #18 Jansen Allen 2, 8, 5
By Nick Rynerson
As IRT Tier 1 action returns for the second half of the 2012-2013 IRT season, racquetball enthusiasts have a lot to be excited about. The superlative favorite, top-ranked Kane Waselenchuk, looks to continue his three-year winning streak, yet a few Davids will be taking shots at Goliath.
Kane returns to the courts after missing the ROLLOUT New Jersey Open to recuperate from a knee injury that had been getting progressively worse before the holiday break and to avoid risking pulling out of the draw or forfeiting like he had in the final at the Cactus Salon NYC ProAm a year ago this month. His last loss on the court occurred during the semifinals of the 2009 California Open, the predecessor to this event. His opponent at the time, now ranked #3 Alvaro Beltran, is coming off of a tough loss at December’s ROLLOUT New Jersey Open, where he faced #2 Rocky Carson in a thrilling 5-game final. The last tier 1 tournament of 2012 gave fans a series of upsets, with #19 Alex Ackermann taking out #8 Andy Hawthorne and #27 Jansen Allen defeating #14 Brad Schopieray in the Round of 16. #24 Nick Montalbano made his semifinal debut against Beltran after upsetting #7 Shane Vanderson in the Round of 16 and #4 ranked Jose Rojas in the Quarters. The competition at 360 could be stiffer than expected.
Beautiful Reseda, California is a fitting place to kick off 2013 and spectators heading to the 360 Health Club will be in for a treat. The club has been ranked one of the top health clubs in the country by Men’s Health and offers a unique atmosphere to racquetball fans and players alike. Tournament coordinator, Debra Moore, is expecting the relationship between 360 and the IRT to be a great one. “Never before have I experienced a facility so energetic in welcoming the men’s professional International Racquetball Tour (IRT). It boasts a Stadium court, which will make pro viewing exceptional, and a full service cafe with a view of the Stadium court in addition to six beautiful racquetball courts. It’s a beautiful facility.”
360 Health Club, boasting resort-like amenities and located just a few miles from Hollywood, offers a sneak peak into the lives of So Cal elite. The 88,000 square foot facility caters to racquetball players, fans, and to just about everybody else with a boxing ring, sprinting track, sports performance center, and fitness classes. According to Phillip Botts, 360’s the Athletic Director, “360 Health Club is a premier health club because of the environment that has been created. From the moment you walk in, you will feel the difference; from the way the staff will treat you…to the cleanliness of the facility.”
Everybody at 360 seems prepared and excited for the IRT. Just as excited are the folks at Coast to Coast Computers, the tournament’s sponsor. Coast to Coast offers green, efficient, and affordable printer and faxing software solutions for businesses. As a company in the business of helping other businesses, Coast to Coast has cultivated an elite business model, but also a philanthropic spirit. CEO Rick Roussin a recent partnership to do just that. “We have recently partnered with a company that caters to individuals so that we do not have to turn away even small orders. Our consumer partner also gives 10% of every sale to the charity of the buyer’s choice.”
This is Coast to Coast’s third year sponsoring the event and CEO Rick Roussin is thankful for the collaboration between Coast to Coast and the IRT. Roussin continues to sponsor the event because he has a deep love of the game. And with the stiff competition, new facilities, and the backdrop of sunny Southern California, there isn’t a better place this side of the Rockies to watch the drama unfold.