The International Racquetball Tour (IRT) awards ranking points based on a rolling, twelve-month calendar. This means that all points earned over the previous year (not just the current season) are included in the tally. The amount of points awarded ranges from 800 for the winner of a Grand Slam with $35,000 or more in prize money to 20 points for the winner of a one-day Shootout in a Satellite event.
In addition, a player’s lowest scores are dropped based on the number of Tier 1 tournaments. This means that the points in any given month of one year are “replaced” with results from that month in the year previous. If there are 12 or fewer Tier One events in the previous 12 months, only the lowest score will be dropped. If there are 20 or fewer Tier One events in the previous 12 months, the two lowest scores are dropped. If there are more than 20 Tier One event in the previous 12 months, the lowest three scores will be dropped.
IRT Seedings and the “Flip”
In the early ‘90s when guys like John Ellis started playing the International Racquetball Tour (IRT), they’d faced the number #1 player, usually Cliff Swain, every time. The IRT developed a system to shuffle the match-ups for the top 8 players. Now, the first tournament of the season and each grand slam remain a “straight” draw, where players are seeded according to their IRT rank: #1 at the top of the draw, #2 at the bottom, and the remaining players slotted in between.
In addition to a straight draw, the Tour uses three other combinations called the “Flip.”
Flip 1: 1 versus 6; 2 versus 5, 3 versus 8, 4 versus 7
Flip 2: 1 versus 7; 2 versus 6, 3 versus 5; 4 versus 8
Flip 3: 1 versus 5; 2 versus 8; 3 versus 7; 4 versus 6
The flip is applied twice for every straight draw on a flip-flip-straight-flip draw schedule. For example, during the 2013-2014 IRT Season, the first two tournaments were a straight draw: the opening NovaSors Ghost of Georgetown Kansas City Championships followed by a grand slam, the 2014 UnitedHealthcare US Open Racquetball Championships. The 2015 Coast to Coast California Open was a flip 3 draw, pitting the #5 ranked pro, Ben Croft against the current #1, Kane Waselenchuk so Croft was seeded 8th.
In addition to mixing up the competition when there’s no change in the rankings between Tour stops, the IRT seeding system increases the incentive for players to climb up the pro ranks since the top four players bump into a “better” quarterfinal match, competing against someone ranked 5-8 rather than in the top four. Conversely, those ranked 5-8 all face off against a top 4 player.
Tier 1 / Grand Slam Points
All IRT sanctioned events receive ranking points based on the level of the event. A minimum of $17,500 is required
to be a full ranking IRT stop (Tier One). Points are awarded with a multiplier based on the tier level and amount of
prize money awarded.