Kane Waselenchuk shared a bit of advice with the coach of his opponent during the Round of 16s last weekend. “Tell him to have fun.” IRT Scholarship Winner, Felipe Camacho, might have had more than merriment on his mind as he faced the 6-Time World Champion, who is as nice off the court as he is dominating on the hardwood. Kane demonstrated why he’s ranked #1 after winning the first Tier 1 tournament of the season and extending his record-breaking unbeaten streak to 117 matches in a row. Click here to view the draw.
Cool and rainy weather outside made it a perfect weekend for racquetball, as Bart Miller, Novasors CEO experienced. “Playing side-by-side with pros from around the country and players from around the world shows how great the fraternity of racquetball really is and why I and Novasors would love to continue to sponsor this event for years to come.”
Local ESPN sports radio (WHB 810 AM) broadcast their College Football Game Day show live from the host club on Saturday afternoon, noting that Auburn’s 17-game winning streak ended with a loss to Alabama. Waselenchuk, however, was unstoppable. Heavily favored, Kane played through the draw, losing only one game to #9 Anthony Herrera who bowed out in 4-game quarterfinal match. IRT Collegiate Scholarship winner, # 18 Alex Ackerman upset #15 Alejandro Landa in the 32’s before falling to #2 Rocky Carson in the Round of 16s.
A bigger impact on the rankings, however came with #13 Javier Moreno’s 5-game win over #4 Chris Crowther in the Round of 16s; #5 Andy Hawthorne’s first Tier 1 semifinal appearance; and #10 Alvaro Beltran, who erased any doubts about his conditioning or commitment, advancing past #7 Shane Vanderson in a 5-game Round of 16’s battle before bowing out to #2 Rocky Carson after a controversial 5-game quarterfinal match. The end results shook up the top-8 seeding for the first Grand Slam of the season, the US Open in Minneapolis, Minnesota (October 5-9).
While the US Open proves to be the biggest event of the season, over 200 players (including about 45 juniors and collegiates) competed in Kansas City, almost 20% more than last year. Tournament Director Mike Wedel anticipates that it will continue expanding. “The event just keeps growing. We played 425 matches and expect to play more next year, when we’ll have expand to Thursday or add more courts. How great is that!”
“I was amazed by the number of international players in this tournament,” commented Rosco Halsey a Local Financial Advisor with Edward Jones and sponsor of the radio broadcast. “There’s so much passion for the game here, and that’s what we all try to do – live our lives with passion.”
Passion for the sport inspired the name of the event, according to Wedel. When a local racquetball club closed and its members joined the Overland Park Athletic Club, organizers named the event the Ghost of Georgetown Championships, nodding to the history of the expired club’s event. Others continue to keep that history alive, like sponsors Kansas Racquetball Association, Centrinex, and NovaSors, which offers outsourced call centers for business.
If the 12th Annual Ghost of Georgetown Championships proves any indication, pro racquetball fans are in for an exciting season as they watch #1-ranked Kane Waselenchuk in his prime as he continues to break records even as other top pros step up their level of play in order to unseat him. Who will be the first to hand him a loss? Which rising stars will shake up the ranks from below? The US Open will prove the next test.
“If you keep your faith, family, and Health (in that order) above all else, you’ll never have to worry about your money.” Edward Jones Local Financial Advisor Rosco.Halsey@edwardjones.com(913) 381-8608
By IRT Intern, Seth Brody:
Final: Waselenchuk d Carson (11-3, 11-5, 11-1)
Waselenchuk orchestrated a symphony of aces, kills, and pinches.
The finals of the first T1 event of the season are done and the victor takes the spoils. Kane Waselenchuk was as impressive as always. Rocky Carson played tough and tried several strategies but none were efficient in bringing the Waselenchuk Express to a screeching halt. Game 1 was dominated by Waselenchuk’s consistent down-the-lines. Waselenchuk ran away with the win at 11-3. Game 2 started looking better for Carson as he tried different serves and giving Waselenchuk different looks. Carson took 5 points for himself, but when Waselenchuk was in need of more points he scored 11. Game 3 was quick and seamless. If Waselenchuk was still warming up in the first two games then he was ready to burn the roof off in this 11-1 proclamation of his dominance and that he is going to extend his match win streak as far as possible.
As this fan of the game can see, Waselenchuk is of a different breed, and that doesn’t mean his Canadian roots. Waselenchuk dominated this tournament with only losing one game to Anthony Herrera, who played the best against Waselenchuk this weekend. There is more to the story that makes Waselenchuk the best in the world. People have their opinions about what he is doing differently than the others and why he can obliterate the other top-ranked players on tour, but the true difference lies in Waselenchuk’s biomechanics and constant precision. He isn’t “playing” the game any differently than the others, but he is by a few degrees of flexion and several degrees of trunk rotation. In my “almost” professional opinion, it’s mostly in the biomechanics of his body and his placement within the court using his body more efficiently as a machine that adds points.
Seth Brody is a senior at San Diego State University majoring in Kinesiology. with an emphasis in Fitness, Health, and Nutrition.
Semifinal Recaps by IRT Intern John Beninato:
Semifinsl 2: Kane Waselenchuk d Andy Hawthorne 11-5, 11-3, 11-0
Andy did everything he could to get some points in his first semifinal match, but Kane was on fire. Kane was getting everything Andy was shooting at him. In the first game, Andy was getting frustrated that Kane was rolling a lot of tough shots and he lost this game, 11-5. When the second game started, Andy started to pull out all the stops and was diving all over the court. Hawthorne still had a tough time grabbing points from Kane and lost the second one 11-3. As the third game began, Andy was in desperate need of some points. Kane was making points very hard to come by with his numerous aces and unbelievable returns. Waselenchuk was nailing shots behind his back and from the floor and ultimately won the game and the match, 11-0. Kane extends his unreal win streak to 116 matches.
Semifinal 1: Rocky Carson d Ben Croft 11-1, 11-4, 11-5
From the very beginning of this match, Rocky was in top form. Croft was struggling to hit shots and started to force a lot of balls, leading to many unforced errors. Game one started off with an early lead for Carson, and with a lot of frustration from Croft. Ben took a timeout as Carson went up 6-0 in the first, but could not pull it together and dropped the game 11-1. The second game was a continuation of the dominance of Rocky over Ben. Croft was still trying to avoid skipping the ball and was having a very time tough getting his first serve in. Carson took this game 11-4. As game three started, viewers hoped that Croft would start making shots and force a fourth game, but Rocky kept the pressure on Ben and took this game and the match, 11-5.
Quarterfinal Rounds by IRT Intern, Seth Brody:
Q4: Hawthorne d Moreno (11-6, 11-9, 8-11, 11-6)
Great playing by both Javier and Andy, yet Andy has got something cooking inside of him. He’s looking tough.
As the night moved on nearing the midnight hours Andy Hawthorne and Javier Moreno jumped in the court to give us another great showing of the best sport in the world. Both Hawthorne and Moreno played amazing 5 game matches earlier today in the round of 16. Moreno upset #4 Chris Crowther while Hawthorne battled Juan Herrera. Game one started out neck to neck. Hawthorne gained the momentum and shifted some points his way while taking game one 11-6. Game two was all Hawthorne, as he stayed strong at 5-0 and very consistent throughout the game. Moreno made a run to battle back but could only manage to score 9. Hawthorne would eventually pull through with his consistent play to win game two 11-9. Game three started out slower as Hawthorne and Moreno seemed glued to 1-1. Hawthorne was trying to stay in command as Moreno was trying to find his rhythm. Moreno took a small lead but Hawthorne answered while taking the score to 8-5. The battle continued as Moreno picked off point by point to take his first game of the match at 11-8. Hawthorne jumped out the gate with an early 4-point lead. Moreno was looking alive and playing hard but Hawthorne continued to have the edge. Moreno made a last minute charge but could only manage to hold Hawthorne off for several minutes before one of Hawthorne’s match point attempts took the game 11-6.
Q3: Croft d Rojas (11-9, 11-9, 7-11, 11-2)
Great showing from both with Croft having the edge. Rojas made a statement but it wasn’t enough.
As a great night of racquetball goes on Ben Croft and Jose Rojas enter into showdown of their own. Rojas took an early lead spreading out with a comfortable seven-point lead at 9-2. But Croft wouldn’t throw in the white flag so soon. Croft kept up to par and turned the momentum in this hard-hitting game. Croft crept in and ties it all at 9. With a huge comeback and a confident fearless attack on the ball Croft took game one 11-9. Game 2 started in similar fashion with Rojas taking a fast powerful lead. Both Croft and Rojas were playing with intense passion and focus. And again, Croft gains command and takes Rojas on a run to 7-4. Rojas feels the pressure and gets pumped up with a huge rollout. Croft answers and plays the way that earned him his number 3 ranking while winning 11-9. Game three was quite different as Rojas adds his insight into the match by keeping Croft from creeping up as fast as the first two games. Rojas takes a mental time out and returns to the court with a vengeance to hold off Croft 11-7. Croft gave Rojas a tough time as Croft creates a huge gap. Rojas lets his frustration get the best of him but tries desperately to fend of the Croft attack at 7-1. Rojas makes his last push to stay alive but can’t produce the points giving Croft the upper hand to win 11-2.
Q2: Kane Waselenchuk d Anthony Herrera (11-4, 11-2, 10-12, 11-6)
Herrera played impressively during the middle of the match, but it wasnt enough to take the W away from the W
As expected Kane Waselenchuk was on fire. Waselenchuk came out blazing leaving Herrera befuddled while trying to hitch a ride on the Kane Train. Waselenchuk won 11-4, 11-2, in games one and two respectively. Herrera played a honest game but just couldn’t keep up the #1 in the world. As precise and smooth as Waselenchuk played, Herrera caught steam and took Waselenchuk to 12-10. Herrera learned from his mistakes in the first two games and decided to apply his new knowledge. As game 4 began Waselenchuk took an early 6-1 lead. Herrera wanted to keep playing so he brought the game to a tie at 6 each. Waselenchuk underestimated his opponent. Herrera was nothing less than impressive as he ran with Waselenchuk. However, Waselenchuk’s pressure to keep his winning streak going was alive and well. Waselenchuk woke up and ignited his engines to win the game (11-6) and match.
Rocky Carson d Alvaro Beltran (12-10, 9-11, 3-11, 11-9, 11-9)
Definitely a long one, wish there was a full page article for this match. One of the best Ive seen in a long long time.
If you thought these players would be rusty coming into the first T1 event of the 2011-2012 season, then you were wrong by a long shot (or maybe it was short). Number 2 ranked Rocky Carson was matched up with 10-seeded Alvaro Beltran in the first of four quarterfinal matches of the night. The game started out tight as both Carson and Beltran were feeling each others’ game out. Carson took the first game in a close one 12-10, yet Beltran would make his statement soon. Game 2 began with a showing of Beltran controlling the points with a huge lead getting to its highest at 9-2. However, Carson didn’t quit as he kept Beltran on the court longer than he would have wished. Beltran fortunately won game two 11-9 and kept the streak going into game three. Game three was starting to look a lot like the previous game. Carson couldn’t package the whole deal as Beltran took it 11-3. At 2 hours into the match, Carson and Beltran are fighting for each point in game. Beltran’s personality began to creep in, as his shots were looking finer and crisper. Beltran’s roar is heard over the airwaves but Carson’s consistent game play gave him the edge to win the fourth game 11-9. Game 5 tiebreaker began as Beltran showed tremendous explosive strength as he make two dives-to-pinches back-to-back. Carson came in close to Beltran as he brought the score to 8 a piece. Carson held off Beltran and stole the show 11-9 to win one of the best matches so far.
Round of 16’s by IRT Intern John Beninato
Rocky Carson d Alex Ackermann 11-4, 11-0, 11-5
Rocky was off to a bit of a slow start in game 1. Ackermann was up 3-0 early in the game and it was clear that Rocky needed to pick up the pace. As the game went on, Rocky’s drive serve started to become effective and he got back into the game. He closed game one with a mean drive serve ace to Alex, giving him the win at 11-4. When game 2 started, Rocky started to bring it to Ackermann with his drive serves and smart shots. Rocky shut down Alex in this game, 11-0. After game 2, it was clear that Rocky was in control of this match. Game 3 started with Rocky dominating Alex with serves and excellent passes and kills. He was playing very aggressively and ended up winning the game and the match 11-5.
Alvaro Beltran d Shane Vanderson 11-6, 11-6, 6-11, 9-11, 11-2
From the first few points of this match, you could tell that it was going to be a battle. Beltran chose to work the forehand of Vanderson, knowing that Vanderson has a killer backhand. It was close, but Beltran came out on top of game one 11-6. As game two started, Vanderson knew that he had to change his strategy, but Beltran was drilling corners and making shots. This game ended the same as the first, with Beltran going up 11-6. Game 3 started with an early lead for Beltran, leading many to think that Vanderson was going to drop this match in three. However, Shane started hitting drive serves to Alvaro’s backhand which gave him a 3-2 lead. Alvaro was having some trouble on his backhand side, which Shane capitalized on. Shane went on a run in this game, which Alvaro tried to stop with timeouts, but Vanderson took the run all the way to 11, ending the game at 11-6. As game four started, Vanderson had some new life in the match and started playing very aggressively to win at 11-9 and force a tiebreaker. Shane battled back from 2 games to none to force the breaker and it was definitely anybody’s game. As the breaker started, both players were pounding shots and putting the ball down, but Alvaro started to break away which forced Vanderson to do anything for a side-out. However, his efforts proved to be no match for Beltran’s shots and the breaker and the match went to Alvaro 11-2.
Kane Waselenchuk d Felipe Camacho 11-2, 11-1, 11-1
As Kane stepped into the box, you knew that it was going to be a one-sided match. He got the early lead and seemed to get every ball that Felipe was hitting. Camacho was making some good shots and trying to force weak returns, but Kane’s power and precision proved to be too much for him. Kane pulled away from Felipe and won game one 11-2. Game 2 started with Kane serving and led to a kill shot by Felipe to get the side-out. Camacho got a 1-0 lead on Kane, but then Kane started to put almost everything away. Felipe forced a lot of shots, trying to get anything to go, but points for him were hard to come by. Kane dominated him in the second game, 11-1. As game 3 started, things were looking pretty bleak for Felipe. Kane drilled shots and made insane shots from everywhere on the court. Kane extends his win streak to 114 with a win in game 3, 11-1.
Ben Croft d. Alejandro Herrera 6, 9, (11), 4
Jose Rojas d. Tony Carson 5, 3, 6
Round of 16s by IRT Intern Brendan Giljum
Carson defeats Ackermann 11-4, 11-0, 11-5.
Alex Ackermann came out guns blazing from the pro qualifying round to meet Rocky Carson in round one. Ackermann stayed hot early taking an early 4-0 lead. Carson then went from backhand lob to drive and scored the next 22 points in a row, overpowering his opponent. Carson’s serve gave him easy set ups and court position at the start of every rally which allowed him to cruise. Alex came out firing again in game 3 as well taking a quick 3-0 lead. The game went back and forth until Carson took the lead 5-3. With both players volleying for position and the serve, Rocky went on to a slow and steady victory, 11-5.
Waselenchuk defeats Camacho 11-2, 11-1, 11-1
It seemed from the start that Kane was toying around a little and experimenting, but after going up big in all three games, this was evident. Camacho was no match for Kane’s atypical shots and 135 mph pass shots. Kane hit several complete awe inspiring shots that had the crowd wowed. Felipe’s speed in all three games kept him in the rallies, but Kane’s impeccable shot selection and passing abilities were too much for the csu student and the games played out all relatively the same. After going back and forth for a little at the end of the third game, Kane finally rolled and took the match.
Ben Croft defeats Alejandro Herrera 6,9,(11),4
Both players took the court with a lot to prove coming into this upcoming year as Ben hopes to make a run at the top two spots and Alejandro is looking to become a more household racquetball name. Both players were running laps the first two games but Croft came out on top 11-6 after game one. Game two was closer with the lead going back and forth but eventually Ben hung on by a thread to win 11-9. Herrera was not done though, he jumped out to a big lead and played on Ben’s emotions, forcing him to get frustrated and take time outs. Croft pulled back to tie it at 11 a piece to go to extra points. But Alejandro dug deep and pulled out a 13-11 game three win. Croft calmed himself and ran his opponent around in game four, eventually taking the game and match, 11-4.
Pro Racquetball Returns to Kansas City
Participants hailing from six countries and as far away as Japan are traveling to the United States, with over 40 entries in the pro draw. #11-ranked Alvaro
Beltran returns from knee surgery. #51 Ruben Gonzales is capping his career by making a run at the top-10 before he retires at age 60. Former pro and local favorite, Bradly Rogers, returns to his home club. Rising stars like IRT Collegiate Scholarship winners Alex Ackerman, Jose Diaz, David Horn, Tony Carson, Brad Schopierary, and Felipe Camacho will compete to hit the courts against the pros.
Those earning a slot in the pro draw have a chance to play today’s dominating champion, Kane Waselenchuk as well as all the top pros who are shooting for the chance to hand him his first loss since 2009. Has #2 Rocky Carson solved the riddle of how to beat Kane? Will #3 Ben Croft direct his fire to create and execute key scoring opportunities? Has #4 Crowther put his back problems to rest? These answers and more will start to play out when professional racquetball returns to Overland Park near Kansas City.
Also returning is presenting sponsor, NovaSors. CEO Bart Miller is competing, something he enjoys when he’s not leading NovaSors in offering outsourced call centers for other businesses. The drive to do better is what makes a good employee and a good racquetball player, according to Miller. “We allow other companies to get back to the business of running a business rather
than a call center and we do it cheaper and more efficiently than a 20-75 person operation could ever do on their own.”
New to the tourney this year will be a 4-hour live radio broadcast from The Athletic Club on 810 AM Sports Radio (2-6pm Central Time on Saturday), incorporating live cut-ins and interviews with Mike Wedel (Tournament Director), Jason Mannino (IRT President), Bradly Rogers, and Rosco Halsey, Edward Jones local financial advisor who sponsored the broadcast. Halsey first played the game as a twelve-year old learning from his dad. He made a run for the pros in the early 90’s, living in Texas and playing against guys like Mike Guidry, Aaron Katz, Tony Jelso, and Drew Kachtik, who, in one match “turned the volume up from 5 to 500” and the next thing Halsey knew he was “shaking his hand and telling him good game.”
After ten years in the oil and gas industry, Halsey began building a business offering the full range of Edward Jones financial services the old fashion way—knocking on doors, shaking hands, and working with other advisors who help each other succeed. The spirit of volunteerism that runs through the company extends into the community, where Halsey, who has a
personality as big as his heart, credits his faith walk for his success in reaching a top-five percent standing among the 12,000 Edward Jones offices nationwide and leads to his ability to support the radio broadcast.
Also new this year is expanded seating for the biggest matches, the IRT’s Students of the Game program with a special invitation and souvenirs offered to local students, a Juniors Clinic Saturday morning at 10:30, and more. You can follow the action in person, online http://enetlive.com/irt/ as the men’s professional International Racquetball Tour comes to KC for the first Tier 1 Pro Stop of the season.
If you would like to learn more about how NovaSors call Sales Director (Jim Schwab) at 913-744-3428. For more information about the 12th Annual Ghost of Georgetown Championships presented by NovaSors go to www.IRT-Tour.com.
By Jen Sinclair Johnson
With a communications degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Jen worked in financial marketing and commercial lending until pursuing freelance writing for newspapers, magazines, and as a gardening columnist. After discovering racquetball at her local YMCA, she quickly became a certified instructor, racquetball director, and tournament regular. She’s now overseeing the IRT’s marketing and communications while finalizing her first novel: a mystery set within the quirky community of her favorite sport.