Kane Waselenchuk d Alvaro Beltran (5) 9, 1, 5 in the finals. Waselenchuk proved he can still win no matter what kind of pressure is applied, mental or back pain. Beltran fought hard for the second time in a row, but had no answer for Waselenchuk. Click below to follow the pro draw, and read the match recaps.
Click HERE to view the pro draw.
Finals recap by IRT Interm, Seth Brody
Waselenchuk d Beltran (5-11, 11-9, 11-1, 11-5)
As expected, this match proved a tough one for Kane Waselenchuk since he wasl dealing with a back injury that occurred several tournaments ago. Waselenchuk was not able to play to his full potential in the first few games. It appeared that his back needed a little more warming up than usual. Game 1 was not likely a game that Waselenchuk would like to remember. His mobility was lacking and it put Beltran in the driver’s seat which he used to cruise past a 3-3 tie and win 11-5. With a one-game lead and a slow-moving Waselenchuk, game 2 was Beltran’s golden opportunity to reaching one game closer to his first T1 win.
Game 2, Waselenchuk came out scoring a string of points to show that he can play hurt and still win. Beltran’s amazing hands had something to say. Beltran gave it the best effort he could and finally evened up the score at 8-8. It was a new game. If Beltran could win 3 points he would have had a huge advantage and the pressure would have been enormous on Kane’s mind and back. But it didn’t happen. Waselenchuk did what he does best and won his first game of the match 11-9. A close one, but it proved to be Beltran’s last chance at winning this match.
Game 3 was no contest. Waselenchuk was on fire and looked like the Waselenchuk of old. The champion was in the house and showed everyone why an injury could not stop him from winning 11-1.
The final opportunity for Beltran was game 4. Beltran scored the first point at 1-0 yet it was his only lead of the game. Beltran played hard but just couldn’t secure the necessary points at the right time. Beltran had two back-to-back T1 finals appearances, but could not bring it all the way through. Waselenchuk capitalized on Beltran’s misses and made his own brilliant shots and gets. Wasalenchuk’s win was the 60th T1 win for Kane Waselenchuk, who is now tied with Marty Hogan. Ten more and he will be tied with Cliff Swain at 70 wins.
Waselenchuk’s injury is a back issue. Many watched him play and after a shot he appeared to be limping and favoring his back. Other times, he appeared to be fine and dandy. with the pain seemingly temporarily subsiding bringing him to 100% again. Small movements of the fewest degree can be all that is needed to reinjure and cause extreme discomfort. The lumbar spine is designed as a stable region. Simply, form follows function. With that said, if Waselenchuk’s back is overworked, he will be compensating in other areas to help stabilize the back, such as the hips and thoracic spine, which are both mobile regions. It can even affect Waselenchuk down through his leg to his knees, which are also functionally stable joints. It’s a downward, and painful spiral if he doesn’t get the proper attention and quality care that he needs. Racquetball is a tough sport because every aspect of the body is used and abused. Proper rest and pain management are critical steps to recovering. However, with an athlete of Waselenchuk’s caliber and will to win, it’s difficult to stay away from the racquetball court. No one wants to rest, but for longevity, it may be exactly what he needs.
Next weekend in St. Louis, MO for the Party with the Pros T1 stop. It looks to be another exiciting and nail-biting tournament.
Semifinals recaps by IRT Interm, Seth Brody
Waselenchuk d Rojas (0-11, 11-0, 11-4, 11-1)
Jose Rojas beat Kane Waselenchuk 11-0 in game 1! There aren’t many words to describe how amazing and stunning that dominating performance truly was. Waselenchuk is still battling his back injury but really looked out of whack in the first game.
Then the unthinkable happened again; back-to-back donuts! However this time, it was Waselenchuk serving up a plate of melt in your mouth pastries. Rojas’s performance was stalled and the momentum shift was quick and pulled all the way to Waselenchuk’s side. Rojas, who previously won the San Diego Open in the last T1 stop two weeks ago has been playing with a huge boost of confidence. But with #1 player in the world back in action, that put a target on Rojas’s back.
Waselenchuk regained his composure. Maybe that 0-11 loss in game 1 was a warm up for the still-injured pro. Powering through, Waselenchuk would show the young champ how the veterans play. Waselenchuk won game 3 with a score of 11-4. Rojas was completely thrown off the wagon and lost his opportunity to take down Waselenchuk after only scoring one point in the last game 11-1. Rojas showed everyone that he could play. No one could doubt him but the first game’s 11-0 win would be something to talk about for a while.
The finals are set for a Kane Waselenchuk and Alvaro Beltran match up. It is expected to be a close and exciting duel. With Waselenchuk managing his injuries as best he can, and Beltran making two finals back to back, the odds could be in anyone’s favor.
Beltran d. Croft (11-3, 11-4, 11-5)
Jumping out the gate, Alvaro Beltran was locked in and ready to shoot. Ben Croft was injured from a previous tournament and it was clearly evident that this match would be lopsided all the way to the end. Beltran easily took game one, 11-3.
Game 2 was not much different. Beltran was in full control. Croft’s injury mixed with tremendous frustration did him in. Croft was not able to hold his anger in as IRT referee Charlie Pratt gave Croft 2 technicals throughout the match. Beltran would win 11-4 right after Croft took a lengthy equipment timeout.
It sure seemed like a good time for Croft to take the forfeit if the injury was too unbearable. However, as every racquetball fan knows, Ben Croft would not go down without swinging. He managed to muster up enough strength to play to the end. It couldn’t have helped that Alvaro Beltran was playing fantastic racquetball in this tournament. Beltran scored and separated himself from Croft while taking the game (11-5) and match. Beltran is now moving on to his second T1 final in a row and iwhere he will face off against the returning #1 player in the world, Kane Waselenchuk.
Quarterfinals recaps by IRT Intern, John Beninato
Ben Croft d Anthony Herrera11-1, 9-11, 7-11, 11-6, 11-8
Tremendous effort from an injured Ben Croft to pull out a win against Anthony Herrera! Ben showed signs of pain early on in this match and had trouble with his right hip flexor. Even though he had some trouble, he made some incredible shots in game 1 and capitalized on the skipped balls by Anthony. Croft took this one easily, 11-1 and it looked like his injured hip was not going to be a factor.
Herrera picked up his level of play in game 2 and hung with Ben at 6-6. Ben stuck to a variety of lob serves to Anthony, but could not string points together as Herrera went up, 8-6. Anthony started to play some great ball in this game and took it, 11-9.
As the match went on, Ben became noticeably injured and had a tough time moving around on the court. Even though he was in a tremendous amount of pain, Croft fought as hard as ever to stay in the tournament. Ben missed a lot of shots due to his injury and became very upset with himself. Herrera took advantage of this and started to pull away, but Ben fought hard and hit the floor in the hopes of taking this game. Anthony made Ben work hard and eventually got another win, 11-7.
Game 4 was Ben’s last chance to keep this match alive and dug deep to get points. Croft had to make the points shorter in order to reduce the wear on his body. He stuck to a lob serve and buried backhand splats for some quick points. Even though he was at less than 100%, Croft made some excellent shots and somehow forced a tiebreaker, 11-6.
No one would have expected this match to go to 5 games, especially since Ben looked to be close to forfeiting. It is absolutely incredible how hard he fought to extend the match length. Croft knew that a victory was within reach and hit some great shots. Both players had awesome gets and this game went back and forth at 8-8 for a long while. Croft started using a high lob z serve to Anthony’s backhand to get points and ended up winning this hard-fought battle, 11-8.
Jose Rojasd Shane Vanderson6-11, 5-11, 11-7, 11-3, 11-4
A great 5 gamer to finish up the round of quarterfinal matches! Game 1 looked very even with both players making shots and trading points. Shane stuck to a lob serve to Jose’s forehand to get points and Rojas used his drive serve. As the game went on, Vanderson slowly started to pull away and took control. His backhands were incredible and he made Jose work incredibly hard. Even though Jose made Shane hit extra shots to end rallies, Vanderson cruised to victory in this game, 11-6.
In game 2, Shane kept the pressure on Jose with some very aggressive shots. Everything worked for Shane and he had complete control of this match. Rojas struggled to find an answer to Shane’s shots, but ended up skipping the ball. At one point, Shane had a 7-0 lead on the #4 player and absolutely dominated the court. Jose started to make better shots towards the end of this game, but dropped this one as well, 11-5.
Jose needed to find something to do and it appeared that without his coach Dave Ellis, he had a tough time finding the key to victory. Vanderson took a lot of low percentage shots and made them consistently; showing that he has what it takes to beat the best players. Jose fought hard to stay in the match and the momentum started to shift. Shane cooled off in this game and started to skip the ball. Jose took advantage of Shane’s decreased confidence and took game 3, 11-7.
Rojas picked up his game later in the match and displayed his great shot making ability. Vanderson had a tough time getting back into what was working earlier and could not keep the pressure on Rojas. Shane skipped a ton of balls and gave away a lot of points to Jose. It seemed that Shane slowed down a lot in this game and did not have the drive to take control of the match again. Jose battled to get a game 5 and took this one, 11-3.
The tie breaker showed more of the same from both players. Jose stayed hot and made a lot of shots, while Shane could not string points together and skipped a lot of balls. This one went back and forth early on, but Jose clearly had the will to win. Vandersonkept digging a hole with his skipped shots and Jose rode on to victory in five, 11-4.
Alvaro Beltrand Rocky Carson 8-11, 11-7, 11-6, 11-5
What a great win for Alvaro! Both players got into the box and knew exactly what to do against the opponent. Rocky and Alvaro have played many times and have about an even record against each other. In game 1, Beltran stuck to a high lob to Rocky’s forehand, but Carson aggressively cut off the lobs and put pressure on Alvaro.It seemed to be a slow start to the match as both players skipped balls and left up shots.In the middle of this game, Alvaro slipped and injured his knee. Beltran took an injury timeout to make sure everything was okay and was able to continue. Unfortunately, he could not pull out a win in this game and lost 11-8.
Rocky kept with a drive z serve to Beltran’s backhand, but could not string point together. Alvaro took a 6-2 lead in this game and seemed to have new life after the injury in game 1. Carson fought hard and did his best to put some pressure on Alvaro. Rocky tied it up at 6-6 and suddenly it felt as if this match would go to tiebreaker with both players exchanging blows. Beltran knew that he needed to put pressure on Rocky and fought to win game 2, 11-7.
Carson came into game 3 with same exact z serve to Beltran, which made it very easy for Alvaro to time and return well. Rocky never really mixed up serves throughout this entire match, which seemed to be a very big mistake. Carson skipped a lot of shots and did not play as well as he can. Alvaro got close to shutting the door on Rocky with a win, 11-6 and Carson knew he would have to step up his game to force a tiebreaker.
Rocky came into game 4 trying to get himself fired up and did his best to keep the ball in play. This game was very close and Alvaro worked hard to end this one in 4. Rocky and Alvaro had some great points in this game. Both players had 3 points for a while and then Alvaro kicked it into high gear and went up 7-3. Beltran hit the ball very well in this game and defeated Rocky in 4, 11-5.
Kane Waselenchuk d Andy Hawthorne11-2, 11-4, 11-7
Even with a couple weeks off due to a back injury, Kane looked very sharp in this match and took control early on. Kane moved well in game 1 and had all the answers for Hawthorne’s shots. Waselenchuk controlled the court and Andy made a lot of mistakes. Hawthorne looked pressured and Kane capitalized on it. Waselenchuk took the first one easily, 11-2.
Kane stayed into control in game 2 and took an early 6-0 lead.Andy had to scrap to get points and put in a lot of work to get side-outs. Hawthorne moved very well around the court, and had some very nice serves and shots in this game. Unfortunately for him, Kane stayed in the driver’s seat and took game 2, 11-4.
Andy looked much better in game 3 and was even able to get a 4-2 lead on Kane. Hawthorne put the ball down when he had to and Kane hit a lot of uncharacteristic skips. Waselenchuk did not kill the ball as well as everyone knows he can. This frustration may have translated into anger at the referee because on all short serve calls, Kane had some words for Charlie Pratt. Andy made a late run in this game and was able to string some points together, but Kane got the win in 3, 11-7.
Round of 16 Results:
Kane Waselenchuk d Mike Harmon 8, 1, 6
Andy Hawthorne d Tony Carson 10, 6, (7), 9
Shane Vanderson d Javier Moreno 5, (9), (6), 0, 5
Jose Rojas d Brad Shopieray (10), 8, 0, (10), 5
Ben Croft d Arthur Schmeiser 6, (11), 4, 2
Anthony Herrera d Charlie Pratt WBF
Alvaro Beltran d Chris Crowther 9, 6, 4
Rocky Carson d Ruben Gonzalez 0, 3, 5
Alvaro Beltran d Rocky Carson (8), 7, 6, 5
Fans are eating up the action at the Florida Spring Break ProAm in Tampa!
Round of 16 Results:
R. Carson v. R. Gonzalez
C. Crowther v. A. Beltran
K. Waselenchuk v. Harmon
A. Hawthorne v. T. Carson
B. Croft v. A. Schmeiser
C. Pratt v. A. Herrera
J. Rojas v. B. Schopieray
S. Vanderson v. J. Moreno
Tampa Florida Hosts Spring Break ProAm March 7-11
#1-ranked Kane Waselenchuk is back in the men’s professional International Racquetball Tour (IRT) draw, defending his season-to-date points, now tied with #2 Rocky Carson. With three different Tier 1 Champions since an injury forfeit forced Kane out, the winner of the FL Spring Break ProAm is anyone’s guess. Follow the action here and live online: www.irtnetwork.com, with free early-round matches.
From the West Coast’s San Diego Open to the Gulf Coast, the pro tour arrives in Tampa for the Florida Spring Break ProAm, one of the biggestTier 1 events on the schedule. Last year, a record-setting 51 players in the pro draw joined over 266 contenders from 20+ US states and 9 countries to play the event.
Stockton Coach, David Ellis had the right idea. “Hey, Florida during spring break, what could be better?” It’s not just the downtown Tampa location, although walking distance to cultural attractions, entertainment, dining, nightlife, and spots unique to a sunny vacation hub are a plus. The wide-range of activities makes the annual event popular among amateurs, families, fans, and pros like #1-ranked Kane Waselenchuk. “The Florida pro stop is one of my favorites. It’s a great facility, fun vibe, and one of the best pro stops of the year. The weather is a bonus!!”
The main venue is at the Harbour Island Athletic Club and Spa, a premier facility with great viewing for spectators to watch the pros. “It’s a top-shelf club and a great venue where the players like coming because they’re treated well. It’s a nice place,” said Dee Perconti, who volunteers in the event. “Everyone loves it because they can walk everywhere. It’s along the Channel Side, so there’s beautiful water everywhere; a lovely setting with lots of restaurants, chichi shopping, and, with March Madness, a lot of games are in the arena, too.”
Of course, the main attraction is racquetball and event organizers have that down, too. As Ellis expressed, “It was great fun being at a Kim Roy run event where everything runs smoothly.” She builds on her experience, which also includes a series of satellite events in Florida and tier 1 pro stops in other states, to improve her events each year. Anyone who has met Kim Roy realizes she’s a high-energy dynamo with attention to detail and a passion for involving the racquetball community in the events.
Long-term players and top sponsors, Harlan Faircloth and Eric Foecking, support the Florida Spring Break ProAm to give back to the racquetball community they are happy to be a part of. Faircloth, who is with Core Engineering, a full-service environmental construction and engineering firm, sees the value in his investment. “Putting a little bit of money into something we love to do makes sense,” he said.
Roy relocated the event to Tampa for the first time last year in order to offer more courts and to give those attending a better experience. It was a good move, according to Foecking. “Kim did an amazing job in coordinating what had obviously been a fantastic effort, with over 250 players and matches distributed across the different sites. The things that go on behind the scenes, like feeding the players and providing transportation, she pulled off…it’s quite amazing.”
This year, the tournament promises to be even better for the players, fans, and the charity the event supports. Dee and Sal Perconti, who volunteer and play in the event set up a table displaying merchandize and information about Rapha House (www.raphahouse.org), an international organization that provides safety and recovery to children who are victims of human trafficking. The racquetball community’s support was “tremendously successful,” not just in funds, but also in contacts, outreach, and the way the community responded. “It was amazing,” said Sal. “John Scott did an interview on the IRT Network reaching thousands of people. Players got excited about what we were doing and wanted to get involved. Rocky Carson contributed to our mission trip.”
The Rapha House is now the IRT Network’s main charity, the Percontis have set up tables at more racquetball tournaments, and organizers have offered the Florida Spring Break ProAm auction online (http://auction.perconti.com/) so that people across the country can bid on items supporting the worthy cause.
The bidding is open now through the end of the tournament with more than 100 special items – a Cayman vacation, 7 autographed racquets by top Pros, some very special RB memorabilia, camps and lessons by the best coaches, real art, golf, tennis, gift cards, handmade Rapha items, and so much more. There’s something for everyone and remember, all the proceeds go to Rapha House.
Whether you enjoy the Florida Spring Break ProAm in person, bidding on the thousands of dollars worth of racquetball products and services, or watching live-streaming action through the IRT Network (www.irtnetwork.com) you can support a good cause along as world-class racquetball plays out in one of the country’s sunniest states.
For more information, visit the men’s professional International Racquetball Tour (www.irt-tour.com) and Florida Spring Break ProAm websites.