#2-ranked Rocky Carson outlasted #3 Daniel De La Rosa 12-10, 11-9, 9-11, 11-8 to repeat as Raising Some Racquet For Kids Champion Saturday night at The Heights Racquetball and Fitness Center in Huber Heights, Ohio.
Rocky Carson d Daniel De La Rosa 12-10, 11-9, 9-11, 11-8
Rocky Carson d Samuel Murray 10-12, 11-0, 11-9, 11-2
Daniel De La Rosa d Jansen Allen 11-5, 10-12, 7-12, 11-4, 11-1
Daniel De La Rosa d Markie Rojas 11-9, 11-9, 11-5
Rocky Carson d Mario Mercado 11-4, 11-3, 11-8
Jansen Allen d Alvaro Beltran 6-11, 11-9, 11-2, 5-11, 11-6
Samuel Murray d Jose Rojas 11-4, 11-6, 3-11, 11-4
Making his first IRT Tour quarterfinals appearance, #18-ranked Samuel Murray qualified for his first-ever semifinals appearance with a four-game win on #5 Jose Rojas. Murray and Jose Rojas had only met in one previous meeting, in the Round of 32s at the 2016 UnitedHealthcare US Open. Rojas won that meeting 11-9, 11-6, 11-1.
“Not the hugest surprise. An upset on paper but not the hugest surprise. That guy is underrated. That’s a good player,” IRT President Jason Mannino said of Sam Murray on the IRT Network broadcast.
Round of 16s
BREAKING NEWS: Top ranked Kane Waselenchuk has pulled out of the 2017 Raising Some Racquet For Kids tournament in Huber Heights, Ohio with the flu.
Ninth annual Raising Some Racquet for Kids Preview
According to tournament directors, Fabrizio Mora and Angie Ledgerwood (husband/wife) and Charles Knight, buzz is building at The Heights Racquetball and Fitness Club in Huber Heights, which hosted the successful return of an men’s International racquetball Tour (IRT) Tier 1 event in 2016 after a 12-year absence. For the first time, the tournament is also a USA Regional Qualifier.
One of the main aspects of the 2017 Raising Some Racquet For Kids is that the tournament raises money for preventing child abuse, as part of a national campaign by the Kappa Delta sorority. “Charity is a big portion of it,” Mora said. “And the other piece is that we want to bring high quality racquetball to Ohio.”
In eight years, the tournament — which has grown progressively from a local event to Tier 4 to Tier 3 to Tier 1 — has raised nearly $40,000 for the Council on Child Abuse of Southern Ohio and Prevent Child Abuse America, which respectively split the proceeds 80 percent/20 percent, said Ledgerwood, noting most of the money goes to the local organization.
In addition to the fundraising effort — highlighted by a popular silent auction that this year features Cincinnati Reds VIP tickets, among other items — the racquetball community is excited about seeing the outstanding skills of the top pros, said Mora, an accomplished player who will be competing in the Open Division.
In the IRT pro division, Rocky Carson is aiming to repeat as champion, even though he knows it will be tough with perennial favorite Kane Waselenchuk playing.
“There’s only one goal in mind when you go to a tournament and that’s to win it,” he said. “Not going to play in it, but to win it. That’s the hope I go in with every tournament.”
“And, obviously, Kane (Waselenchuk) has been very dominant for so long — that motivates me too. I want to be able to figure out, hey, what do I got to do? I feel like at times I’m figuring it out, and at times he takes his game to the next level.”
Asked if he ever thinks what it would be like to play in a different era than Waselenchuk, Carson said: “It would definitely be interesting if I didn’t have somebody that was playing at his level. No one has played at his level before. I feel like I’ve played at a level that is as high as any level out there that has ever been played, except for him.”
“But at the same time, I’ve really enjoyed my career and I don’t look at it and say I wish I would have been somewhere else or at a different time. I love doing it.”
Carson is self-effacing when talking about his career, saying he wants to “be great” — which most observers say he already is because he’s the most decorated men’s singles player in International Racquetball Federation (IRF) history, according to the IRT.
Six years ago, when he was in his early 30s, Carson — who is known for keeping in phenomenal shape — wondered how long he could sustain his high level of play.
Now approaching 38 in a few months, Carson said: “I don’t feel like I’ve slowed down. I couldn’t tell you exactly why — maybe it’s my training, maybe it’s my genes, maybe the Lord is blessing me with a long career. … I’m having as much fun now as I did when I was 20, if not more.”
“My goal would be to able to walk in there every match and compete,” he added. “If I can do that, I don’t know if I want to retire, unless I’m not enjoying it.”
His passion for the game has helped him keep a lock on the #2 ranking for several years. But he acknowledged that there are many talented players right behind him, including Daniel De La Rosa and Alvaro Beltran. Plus, he noted, there’s a crop of young players moving up the ranks.
That’s good news for fans who are anticipating a standout tournament thanks in large part to Mora, Ledgerwood and Knight.
None of it would be possible, Mora said, if it weren’t for the major tournament sponsors: Alegius Technologies; Kroger; John Helmick Success and Ertel Design.
Mora expressed special praise for a key sponsor, The Heights Racquetball and Fitness Club, located about an hour north of Cincinnati.
“We have a huge support from the club,” he said, noting they get free use of the facility to help maximize fundraising. “The club owners are fully on board with the costs. They are super excited to raise the money to prevent child abuse. They are super excited to partner with us to bring high quality racquetball to Ohio. … They have been unbelievable.”
More tournament information is available at
By Jim Medina
Jim Medina is an award-winning journalist who got hooked on racquetball at the former Dan Gamel’s Racquet Club in Fresno, CA. A graduate of Fresno State, he now lives in Oxnard, CA. He is an A-level player striving to raise his game with the help of a thriving racquetball community at LA Fitness in neighboring Ventura. He is a media consultant who can be reached at email@example.com.