The world’s best and brightest pro racquetball players landed in Syosset, NY for the 16th annual NY Temperature Controls IRT pro/am. With a month break for the holiday, players were fresh. Most notably, Kane Waselenchuk returned to the draw seeded #2 for the first time in years, behind #1 Rocky Carson’s 142 point advantage. Waslenchuk won in a 4 game final over #3 ranked Alvaro Beltran last year, and a healthy Kane remained the heavy favorite, and defeated top seed Rocky Carson 11-4, 11-7, 11-6 for the title and 82nd title on the International Racquetball Tour.
Recaps by Tim Prigo
Kane Waselenchuk d Rocky Carson 11-4, 11-7, 11-6
The IRT is no stranger to a Carson-Waselenchuk final. But after not seeing this match-up in many months, the question that appears is, will anything change? Both players have dominated their sides of the bracket, Carson losing only one game en route to the finals and Waselenchuk losing none. Waselenchuk remained as stoic and focused as ever before the match, commenting, “It doesn’t really matter. It’s just another round.” On the other hand, Carson was more forthcoming about his excitement for the coming match. “This is what we live for. I know him. I know myself. We come to win tournaments. This is the biggest hurdle of the whole tournament, right now.”
Game One- The game began with a highly contested rally that ended with a Carson sideout. Waselenchuk got out to a 1-0 lead from a setup that Carson popped to the ceiling from a hard cross court pass. Long rallies characterized the beginning of this game, and both players were moving well. Waselenchuk dialed in his service game, hitting aces and garnering weak returns for an imposing 5-0 lead. Carson got on the board at 1-5 from a smooth serve-return-kill rally that began with a hard z-serve to the Waselenchuk backhand. The longer rallies have favored Carson, and when he is able to get Waselenchuk into long running exchanges he comes out with the point. Serving at 3-7, Carson hit the right side line for a passing shot that was clear of Waselenchuk’s wheel-house. Carson served, 4-7. Waselenchuk abruptly stopped any momentum against him by going on a run to finish the game. On many of these last game rallies, Carson was just an inch or two away from getting the ball, but the pace that Waselenchuk put on his shots proved to be (slightly) too much. 11-4, Waselenchuk.
Game Two- Waselenchuk began the game with a low hard z-serve for an ace. Carson did well possesing center court when the rallies got under way. Fortunately for Waselenchuk, he was able to do most of his scoring before Rocky had time to float into position. At 1-3, Carson was able to mount a solid 2-point run to tie the game. Carson was able to trade points with Waselenchuk, and the middle of game two saw both players gridlocked at 5. At 7-7, a long exciting rally witnessed Carson diving towards the back wall to retrieve hard Waselenchuk passes before, at 38 feet and shoulder high from the right side, Waselenchuk rolled the ProPenn HD into the corner. At 10-7 Waselenchuk opted for an off-speed z-serve to the forehand that resulted in a rally where Carson was running wildly, covering the length and the breadth of the court. Carson’s excellent effort came up short. Waselenchuk walked away with the game, 11-7.
Game Three- Carson scored first but was unable to uphold any sort of sustained effort and quickly fell behind 5-1. Waselenchuk looked formidable. Every shot had a purpose, and that purpose was to end the rally. This game was possibly the best he looked all tournament. As soon as Carson’s fate looked all but sealed, Waselenchuk began to skip. Carson was unexpectedly able to push the score up to 4-5. Waselenchuk’s early game gallantry may have given way to his mid-game lull. As if only to catch his breathe, Waselenchuk was soon back in the driver’s seat and scored from the service box. Like an illusionist, he hid his intentions until the last possible moment. At 10-6, Waselenchuk served an off-speed drive to Carson’s backhand that Waselenchuk was able to put away for the game at 11-6, securing the tournament victory and his 82nd title.
Top seed Rocky Carson defeated De La Rosa 11-3, 11-4, 11-6 in the second semifinal. Carson will face Kane Waselenchuk in Sunday’s New York Temperature Controls ProAm Championship Final at 12 p.m. EST. Waselenchuk defeated Ben Croft in the first semifinal 11-9, 11-3, 11-2.
Kane Waselenchuk d Ben Croft 11-9, 11-3, 11-2
Kane Waselenchuk seemed eager to play his first semi-final in months and commented that he felt “good, ready to go….my strategy doesn’t really change all that much, just go in and play my game and see what happens.” His impressive record would have few doubting his straightforward approach to his match against Ben Croft. Croft, after coming off a solid victory against Alvaro Beltran in the quarterfinals, noted that he too felt “good, a little sore from hitting a lot of drive serves, I love the fact that this is the first time he is the #2 seed in 11 years that works out perfectly for me. I haven’t had much success against him so I am going to go out there and kill balls. He is one of those players you can’t rally with cause he is going to kill the ball if you don’t. I may make a few more unforced errors this time but I am going to try to roll the ball out.”
Game One- Waselenchuk came out with an ace, but then double-faulted. Croft had some success with his lob serve, but was unable to capitalize on the weak return for a point. Croft regained the serve and continued with the lob, earning a returnable shot that he couldn’t put down.
Back in the service box, Waselenchuk rattled off three quick points before double-faulting. Croft was able to find his stroke, working off the high lob to the backhand. Croft got red hot and went on a run to 8-4. Waselenchuk scored in bunches, bringing the score line to 7-8. Croft pulled ahead 9-7, but it wasn’t long before Waselenchuk answered back with an ace to the forehand, then one to the backhand. Tie game, 9-9. A hard down-the-line pass got Waselenchuk to his first game point and he put the next rally to bed with a crisp down-the-line kill off of a weak Croft service return. 11-9 Waselenchuk.
Game Two- Waselenchuk came out with an overhead kill to be first on the scorecard. At 1-0, Waselenchuk served a barely returnable hard-z to the backhand that set him up in the back court on the backhand side for point two. Both players hit repeatedly to the ceiling in the next rally, but it was Croft who faltered and left some daylight off of the backwall for Waselenchuk, who expertly put it away. The fans were treated to a classic Waselenchuk ‘tweener’ that Croft was able to return only to see his efforts buried into the left corner the following shot.
Waselenchuk went on a tear, never missing a shot that he connected with at knee height or below; 8-1. Though Croft tried a variety of serves including the forehand lob that he had success with in the first game, he was unable to find point opportunities. At 10-2, Waselenchuk hit a shot that cracked out on the side wall glass. 11-2.
Game Three- Croft got out in front first off of two Waselenchuk skips, 2-0. It wasn’t long however, before Waselenchuk was in the box and scored from ace serves. Croft, now trailing 2-5, absolutely sacrifices his body, diving and twisting for every shot. This was much to the crowd’s delight as they were treated to some of the best gets all tournament. It was not, however, enough to make any headway in the score line as Waselenchuk continued to march forward to the beat of 7-2. Kill shot after kill shot thudded against the front wall from Waselenchuk’s racquet. Before long it was match point. At 10-2, Waselenchuk rocketed a serve to Croft’s backhand that resulted in a three-shot rally before Croft was caught out of position. The ball passed him by. Match went to Waselenchuk, 11-2.
Rocky Carson vs Daniel De La Rosa 11-3, 11-4, 11-6
Rocky Carson came in the elder but fresher of the two, as his match against Marco Rojas was earlier in the day and also only 4 games. “I am looking forward to playing. I scrapped through yesterday and I was ready to fight. No matter what, every time I play him [De La Rosa], it is going to be tough. I plan on having to play hard and battle for three hours if it needs to be.”
De La Rosa had an absolute late-night war against Jose Rojas in the previous round. Not only was the match a grueling one, but De La Rosa was suffering from a pulled groin. He pointed out that, “after my match I had to take an ice bath becuase my body was hurting so badly. I pulled my groin but it is alright. It’s okay for this match. I have to do my best every single match so my strategy is to simply play my best like I always try to do.”
Game One- Carson came out with a serve-return-kill rally to start the match and get on the board first. He looked the stronger of the two, powering down-the-line passes against De La Rosa for a 3-1 advantage. It awas unclear how De La Rosa’s injured leg would affect the match, but he appeared to be moving well. At 2-4 De La Rosa took a time-out. When time resumed, De La Rosa hit a thunderous backhand for a point but couldn’t put a run together. Carson quickly gave him a sideout. The two trade side-outs for 15 minutes, scoring few points. Carson slowly made headway, scoring infrequently but consistently. De La Rosa was unable to come up with winning rallies when he got to in the service box. At 3-9, De La Rosa appeared to move moving a bit slowly. Although valiant efforts were made on his part to get torque on Carson’s shots, he succumbed 11-3.
Game Two- De La Rosa got out to 2-0 lead, hitting a couple of winners that Carson left off the back wall. Again the two trade sideouts without any scoring for upwards of ten minutes. Carson broke the static to tie the game at two a piece. Carson and De La Rosa again entered into a stalemate of points. Like the game previous, Carson broke it by going on a five point scoring tear. Using his slow and controlled trademark tempo, Carson was able to sneak away point after point.
Down 3-8, De La Rosa shot for the kill, but was unable to connect with the front wall before the floor. Though Carson was De La Rosa’s senior by 14 years, it was Carson who looked less fatigued, perhaps partly because of De La Rosa’s long battle the night before and his injured leg/groin. At 10-4 Carson served a backhand hard-z serve that De La Rosa popped up to the ceiling. Carson was able to put low down-the-line for the game winner, 11-4 Carson.
Game Three- De La Rosa came out swinging hard and connecting on his shots. For the first time in the match, the wind appeared to be at his back. A flurry of kills landed in both corners. 5-0, De La Rosa. Carson was having difficulty putting anything away and called a timeout. When time resumed, Carson was still unable to find his first point. De La Rosa scored another. At 0-6, De La Rosa returned a serve that he hit out of the court for Carson’s first point of the game.
Carson, looking to find some traction in the game, began serving straight-in drives to De La Rosa’s backhand. This produced potent success as Carson scored five points in a row. This scoring drive tied the game and showed Carson’s athleticism as he extended many rallies by way of diving gets. Carson pulled ahead at 8-6. The momentum of the game did a complete 180-degree turn against De La Rosa. Carson, tried to make the final push, and crowded many of De La Rosa’s shots. Though he was called for one avoidable, the pressure seemed to work as De La Rosa left many of his shots up. At 10-6, Carson served a hard drive to the backhand that De La Rosa returned low on the front wall. Carson, from his knees, rolled the ball into the right hand corner for the game and match, 11-6.
(2) Kane Waselenchuk d (7) Jansen Allen11-0, 11-5, 11-3
Before the match, there was speculation amongst many in the crowd as to how Kane Waselenchuk would perform against a top tier player after his time away from the IRT. Jansen Allen would provide that answer. Waselenchuk appeared very focus pre-match and commented that he felt, “As good as I can.” Meanwhile Allen knew that after a tough 4 game match against Danny Lavely that “any opportunity I have (against Waselenchuk) to put the ball away, I’m going to have to take.”
Game One- Waselenchuk begins with a serve-return-kill rally then flat rolls the ball the next rally for a 2-0 lead. Kane begins to bombard Allen with his serves earning 2 more points. Its clear that Allen is shooting bottom board as he is skipping most of his shots,but just barely. At 6-0, Waslenchuk serves a blistering ace to the backhand. Allen calls timeout. Waselenchuk, appears spry and powerful for the beginning part of this first game, putting many speculations temporarily to rest. Allen is having difficulty catching up to the serves and Waselenchuk is dominating every aspect of the ensuing rallies. He finishes the first game in controlling fashion, 11-0.
Game Two- Allen strikes first, 2-0. Allen appears to be more on top of Wasalenchuk’s s serves and his returns are earning him side-outs. The rallies in this game are much longer than the previous game and Allen is able to stand toe to toe with Waselenchuk and exchange passes, pinches and kills. At 5-5 Waselenchuk hits a shoulder high 38 foot chest high pinch roll out to go up. Waselenchuk begins to roll, killing the ball from everywhere on the court and jumps to 8-5. Allen timeout. Waselenchuk’s waves continue to be tidal as he runs the game out 11-5.
Game Three- Waselenchuk begins much like he did in the first. Targeting and hitting his setups while keeping Allen on the move. At 3-0 Waselenchuk hits an ace Z that jumps off the back wall nearly 10 feet. Allen is able to come up with some well placed passes to score two points but quickly finds himself back in the returners box. Waselenchuk now up 6-2 continues his assault on on the bottom 6 inches of the front wall, scoring winner after winner. Not only is Waselenchuk hitting kill-shots but his passes come at completely unexpected angles, as Allen is continually left out of position. At 10-3 Waselenchuk hits a crack ace to the forehand that skids into Allen’s shins for the match. 11-3.
(1) Rocky Carson d (8) Marco Rojas 7-11, 11-7, 11-7, 11-3
Rocky Carson comes into this match the favorite and watching his opponent warm up explained that his “body feels healthy, I am looking forward to getting in there and playing hard. If I can execute, I have a good chance of winning. Marco Rojas who came off a dazzling victory over Charlie Pratt earlier in the day said that he was “feeling juiced to play,” and that “i have to stick to my game plan and try to make him work and feel uncomfortable.”
Game One- Both players miss their first couple of setups and trade side-outs. Rojas hits an ace to Carson’s backhand. The following rally Rojas sticks a ball that is coming into his body into the left hand corner for a roll-out via a between the legs jumping connect. Rojas scores another ace, this time to Carson’s backhand for a 3-0 lead. Rojas is working the lines expertly and subsequently Carson. At 6-0 Carson takes the first timeout of the match. Whatever game plan Rojas alluded to before the match seems to be working. When time resumes, it is more Rojas, now employing the corners in his offensive to go up 8-0. Carson switches his return positioning but to no avail as Rojas capitalizes on another forehand ace. Rojas appeared infallible until Carson was able to get him out of the box at 10-0 and score 3 consecutive points. Rojas timeout. Rojas was able to get back in the box and earna setup that to many onlookers appeared to be a true roll-out, never bouncing, but was called a skip. Carson’s campaign of attrition begins to have affect, slowly chipping away at the lead, 6-10. Rojas gets back in the box for his 5th game point but is unable to capitalize yet again. Carson is able to get into the rallies and no longer is Rojas on fire. Rojas is however able to pull out the game at 11-7 after his 6th attempt.
Game Two- Carson strikes first, 1-0. Rojas skips the next serve and it seems as Rojas’s cooling is not over. Rojas does rally back and is able to put two points on the board and temporarily slow Carson’s momentum. At 2-3 Rojas serves to Carson’s backhand and receives a weak return that he is able to put down, reminiscent of the first part of game one. Both players trade side-out after side-out, with solid play and few unforced errors. Carson goes on a 3 point run that ends with a Rojas time-out. Rojas comes back looking composed and his next few shots reflect that as he calmly puts down multiple set-ups. 5-6. Carson skips to even the score line at 6. Carson comes up with multiple forehand kills that are irretrievable and shoots out to a 10-6 lead. With game point, Carson serves a hard z serve that Rojas puts into the floor for the game, 11-6.
Game Three- Rojas begins with a crisp down the forehand line pass for a 1-0 lead. With both players moving and shooting well, the match appears very much up for the taking. After 20 minutes the score line was tied at 3’s. 15 minutes later it is 5-4 in Carson’s favor. Every serve and every rally is hard fought and both players and fans alike hunker down for what surely will be a long contest. Carson gains the slight edge at 6-4and Rojas takes a timeout. The timeout is a fruitful one, Rojas goes on a two point run to tie the game at 6’s. Carson, as expected, counter-punches and goes on his own run to get to 9-6. Again, they trade side-outs giving the crowd many exciting rallies but resulting in no points scored. The stalemate breaks when Carson puts down an off the back wall winner for game point. He easily scores in the next rally as Rojas’s feet appeared in glue. Final score, 11-7 Carson in a 40 minute game.
Game Four- Though Marco had moments of brilliance in the first 3 games the continuous onslaught of pressure from Carson is a a heavy burden for any player to shoulder. Rojas, though resilient, and scoring points began to show signs of match fatigue, mostly mental. At 5-3, Carson flicked a shot from his hip into the right hand corner for a winner and Rojas’s body language connoted defeat. At 6-3 Rojas takes a timeout. Rojas made great effort to get back in the match but the bell had all but tolled for him as he faced Carson in the box serving for the match at 10-3. Carson scores for the match, 11-3.
(6) Ben Croft d (3) Alvaro Beltran 12-10, 11-4, 7-11, 11-7
There was a lot of buzz surrounding the well being of Alvaro Beltran’s injured right ankle coming into this highly anticipated match against Ben Croft. Beltran said before the match that, “My ankle hurts every time I put pressure on it and it’s hard for me to feel safe and maybe I shouldn’t be playing but my competitive nature overtakes everything. My game plan is just to roll balls and anticipate shots instead of running, hopefully get control of center court.” Ben Croft came off a very solid match against Jose Diaz. “I feel good and I had a good warmup, it gives you a lot of confidence. I just have to focus and play my game, people are saying he is hurt and I’m not saying he is not, but I don’t buy it, you gotta go in there and play as hard as you can.”
Game One- Beltran hits a half drive z to the forehand with perfect pace to earn an ace and the first point of the game. The next rally he kills the ball off one foot. Croft skips the next shot to put Beltran up 3-0. Another perfect z to the forehand for point 4. Croft, next, tries to cut off the z but puts it into the floor, 5-0. Beltran twists his body the next rally to extend and hit a soft but perfectly placed boast that rolls out. So far, Beltran has not had to move much, something the match may hinge upon. Croft is unable to push the issue. At 8-4, Beltran’s injured ankle is playing little part in the game. Croft is able to find his drive serve and scores two aces to bring the scoreline to 6-8. The ensuing rally sees both players enter into a long exchange where they dive over one another multiple times resembling a synchronized swimming performance. Croft comes out on top of that rally and the momentum suddenly shifts. Croft begins to score from everywhere on the court, never allowing Beltran to find his footing. Croft with a diving kill comes from 1-8 to 10-8 to have the first game point. Croft serves a backhand drive but Beltran is able to get the sweet spot of the frame on it and pass him for a side-out. Beltran strikes two points with hard passes to tie the game at 10-10. Croft fires back and finds himself up 11-10 where he hits a backhand drive serve that dies in the corner and garners him the game. 12-10.
Game Two- Croft forces Beltran to make a weak return off his first serve of the game and scores, 1-0. As the rallies continues and the match clock ticks, Beltran’s ankle appears a noticeable hindrance in his get-ability. Croft pays no mind and continues his diligence at the service line, rocketing photons. Beltran is now relying solely on his signature high lob to the forehand when he is in the box. Croft, up now 8-1, shows no sign of taking his foot off the petal. Beltran proves that he is not yet done, by marking up the scorecard to 4-8, utilizing smart off speed shots. Croft moving well, and hitting the ball with extraordinary force finds himself with game point once again at 10-4. A hard drive serve to the backhand begets a return-kill for the game. 11-4, Croft.
Game Three- Beltran gets off to the lead by way of a Croft skip. Beltran appears more hobbled with the passing of each rally. The left leg limp becomes more noticeable as Beltran skips on his rightfoot following several shots. Beltran is able to take the lead at 4-3 however. Ironically, Beltran is hitting the ball better in this third game than in the previous two. It is a hard z serve to the backhand that is setting him up for many scoring opportunities. 6-3, Beltran. At 7-4 Beltran misses a plum setup and Croft gets in the box and goes on a 3 point run to tie the game. Beltran timeout. This timeout propels Beltran back in the box and onto his own flourish of points that allow him to close out the game in dominating fashion, 11-7.
Game Four- Beltran comes out with a 3-0 lead and appears to have carried over the momentum from game two. Croft finds his rhythm and resiliency before long and is carried to 3-3 on numerous diving gets and hard pinches into the corners. At 6-6 both players continue to stay close, trading blows and side-outs, 7-7. Croft wills his way to 9-7, and with passions running high is able to run out the match 11-7 Croft.
(5) Daniel De La Rosa d (4) Jose Rojas 11-13, 6-11, 11-4, 13-11, 11-3
This match-up features two of the IRT’s brightest rising stars. Many in the crowd stuck around well past 11:00 pm to watch these two face off in what proved to be the match of the night. Daniel De La Rosa commented before the match, “I feel cold, its cold outside, I love this place the glass court is amazing and the people are beautiful. So lets have fun just a little bit. I need to be focused all the time and I know Jose is a tough player but I want to take him down.” Alternatively Jose Rojas had his sights also set on the victory. “I feel great, confident, need to stay within myself. I gotta not try to do too much, he is a good player but so am I.”
Game One- Rojas jumps out to a 5-0 lead. De La Rosa is struggling to find his footing early in the match as Rojas serves are coming in with unexpected pace. De La Rosa begins to settle into the game and starts to hit demonstrative backhands from 38 feet for winners. De La Rosa is hitting lights out and goes on a scoring tear to bring him to 9. At 7-9 Rojas hits a perfect ceiling ball that De La Rosa sends sailing out of the court for a point, 8-9. De La Rosa becomes frustrated over a call and on the next rally puts extra miles per hour on the ball earning a side-out. Rojas, holds his ground however, and is able to score for his first game point. De La Rosa fends him off and gets in the box and scores 3 straight points in a row to bring him to the lead at 11-10. De La Rosa serves a high lob to the forehand and Rojas is able to hit a low pass cross court that dies in the back right corner. Rojas follows it up with a serve-return-kill rally to bring him to 12-11. Rojas is able to move De La Rosa out of position and wins the first game off a penalty hinder. 13-11,Rojas.
Game Two- The two come out nose to nose again. Long rallies with diving gets accent the beginning of the second game as both display their athleticism and get-ability. It is Rojas who again finds himself up early, 3-1. De La Rosa, though often times looking frustrated with his shot selection is able to come back and tie the game at 4-4. Rojas has played solid all match thus far and is putting some exceptional shots into the corners. At 5-9, De La Rosa puts two down the line and pass his opponent to inch closer to a very pumped up Rojas. Rojas was not to be denied as he willed himself back into the service box and into the books with the game two victory, 11-7.
Game Three- De La Rosa gets on the board first but is quickly sided out by Rojas. Rojas has looked flexible, fast on his feet and explosive all match. De La Rosa strategically takes pace off the ball and this change up throws off Rojas, who begins to leave shots up. De La Rosa takes full advantage of this and goes up 9-0 on an uninterpreted scoring push. Rojas is finally able to get De La Rosa out of the box and score a point, but that would be a short lived reprieve. De La Rosa sends Rojas sliding for a pass that he ultimately can not get a racquet on. At 9-1 Rojas mounts a small comeback to draw the score to 4-9 but De La Rosa imposes his will and takes the 3rd game 11-4.
Game Four- Rojas jumps out, 2-0. De La Rosa, however, comes back and ties the game at 3-3. De La Rosa has also begun to limp on his right leg which assumes some sort of injury, though one could not be pin-pointed. At 4-4 De La Rosa hits a shoulder high backhand from 38 feet that flat rolls and takes the lead 5-4. Then he strikes again with an ace serve to bring him to 6-4. Rojas will not be suppressed for long as per the theme of the match thus far and comes back to tie it and then take the lead at 7-6. De La Rosa, back in the box scores of a high lob to the forehand that gets a weak return. Neither player can score more than a point at a time, and the tension of the match builds as both players simultaneously march towards 11. At 7-6 Rojas takes a timeout. When time resumes Rojas scores, 8-8. A long rally follows and Rojas earns a set up near the front wall that he puts down to go up 9-8. Both players dive multiple times in the next rally, one that is arguably the best of the tournament. Rojas earns his first match point, 10-8. Rojas skips. De La Rosa in the box. The tension in the club becomes palpable as the fans react to every swing. De La Rosa rolls one 9-10. De La Rosa wags his finger as if to say not yet. Rojas gets back in the box but skips. The duo both get a point, 11-11. De La Rosa serves a soft lob against the wall that sticks and Rojas skips it. Rojas skips another 13-11.
Game Five- Both players have been sacrificing their bodies every game,who will fold first? De La Rosa goes ahead 2-0 but his limp looks worse than games previous and he can be seen wincing as if in great pain. This late in the match cramping could be suspected. At 5-0 however, Rojas is the one unable to score a point. Rojas, while not in pain, appears the more fatigued of the two. At 0-5 Rojas cannot connect with the front wall and his brief stay in the servers box is just as a place holder. De La Rosa scores 3 more and is now up 8-0. Rojas feeling that the end is near steps up his play to score his first second and third point of the match in quick succession. At 8-3 Rojas is angered by a no call that puts De La Rosa up 9-3. De La Rosa then rolls a backhand for match point but skips his next shot to put Rojas back in the box. De La Rosa wins back the serve and again serves for the match and this time wins it off a Rojas skip, 11-3.
Round of 16s:
11 am EST
#2 Kane Waselenchuk d #15 Mauricio Zelada 11-3, 11-3, 11-2
#7 Jansen Allen d #10 Danny Lavely 11-7, 6-11, 11-1, 11-5
12 pm EST
#1 Rocky Carson d #16 Samuel Murray 11-5, 11-1, 11-2
#9 Marco Rojas d #8 Charlie Pratt 11-4, 11-7, 11-9
1 pm EST
#3 Alvaro Bletran d #14 Robert Collins 11-1, 11-8, 9-11, 6-11, 11-2
#6 Ben Croft d #11 Jose Diaz 11-5, 11-4, 11-2
2 pm EST
#4 Jose Rojas d #20 Mitch Posner 11-0, 11-0, 11-0
#5 Daniel De La Rosa d #12 Matthew Majxner v 11-0, 12-10, 11-3
2015 New York Temperature Controls IRT ProAm
A preview by Tim Prigo
The world’s best and brightest pro racquetball players landed in Syosset, NY for the 16th annual NY Temperature Controls IRT pro/am. With a month off, players are fresh after the holiday break. Most notably, Kane Waselenchuk returns to the draw seeded #2 for the first time in years, behind #1 Rocky Carson’s 142 point advantage. Waslenchuk won in a 4 game final over #3 ranked Alvaro Beltran last year, and a healthy Kane remains the heavy favorite to win again.
Kane has struggled with an ongoing inner ear issue, one that has forced his withdrawal from two tournaments and a forfeit in a 3rd. Since his absence, #2 Rocky Carson rolled through the competition capturing two Tier 1 titles until, seeded #1, he faced #4 Daniel De La Rosa in the semi-finals of December’s New Jersey Open. De La Rosa won in 4 games en route to his first tier 1 title, after defeating #2 seed, Alvaro Beltran in the finals. Beltran has been in two of the last three finals, and most certainly can feel another Tier 1 title within his grasp. All four top seeds are going to be looking to raise the first-place check come January 18th.
Jose Rojas has also struggled with his health over the last several tournaments falling from #4 to#5 ,in part due to De La Rosa’s win in New Jersey. This no doubt does not sit well with the highly-competitive Rojas who will be shooting to get into his first final of the season. #6 Ben Croft can always make a run deep in the draw and he may come out with a something-to-prove attitude after his lackluster performance in New Jersey. Other players to watch include #11 Charlie Pratt, who made the semi finals in New Jersey, #12 Alejandro Landa who has beaten several top players this year and #8 Marco Rojas.
This is not New Jersey however, this is New York, and with that comes the local color that really fuels the atmosphere of this event, according to tournament director Tom Keogh. “ We are very loud, very raucous…. the people here are not afraid to voice their opinion.” He chuckled. “I think there are more arguments on our courts than most any tournament, but hopefully not many fights.”
For 16 years Tom Keogh has been organizing and running this tournament out of the Synergy Fitness Club in Syosset, New York. The impressive facility is over 40,000 square feet and boasts ten all glass-back-wall courts and one of the most unique and talked about courts in all of racquetball: the 3- wall-glass show court. The show court makes for one of the most unique viewing experiences in the game today. Throwing many players off their game while allowing others to succeed. “It is very hard for a player to see the ball, and depth perception from the back corners is very tough.” The court has seen upsets in the past, most notably the only tier 1 career title for retired IRT pro Mike Guidry.
Keogh, along with his second-in-command Meredith Gilbert, plan on reaching capacity at 240 players. The astonishing size of some of the draws sets the groundwork for one of the most intense tournaments of the year. In recent years there has also been a large contingent of players coming down from Canada. Last year twenty eight Canadians made the trip to New York, with even more expected this year. Keoghh is happy that people would travel to his tournament . “…It adds an interesting element to our event.”
New York Temperature Controls, which, true to its name, manages indoor climate for commercial spaces. Ironically, one cannot imagine the Synergy Fitness Club in Syosset from January 15th to the18th running anything but hot.
By Tim Prigo