#2 Rocky Carson won the Mile High Pro/Am with scores of (5), 6, 7 WBF after #1 Kane Waselenchuk suffered a knee injury. Read the recaps and mark your calendar: there’re 5 satellite events on the 2012-2013 IRT season before Missouri’s Tier 1 St. Louis Party with the Pros April 11-14.
Click HERE to view the pro draw.
By John Beninato
#2 Rocky Carson d #1 Kane Waselenchuk (5), 6, 7 WBF-Injury
Unfortunately, Kane’s knee injury has prevented him from finishing another match. Kane looked solid early on in this one, but after some hard dives and tough points, he was forced to forfeit to Rocky.
Both players stuck to a drive serve in game 1 to make use of incredibly fast courts. Early on, Rocky and Kane got upset with some of Charlie Pratt’s calls and it conintued throughout the match. Kane started off very strong and took this game easily, 11-5.
Game 2 showed a huge change in momentum as Rocky took a 6-0 lead on his opponent. Rocky’s drive serves started to come in nicely and Kane skipped a lot of easy shots. Carson had to keep the rallies short if he had any chance of scoring more points.He abandoned his usual style of getting into longer rallies and stuck to a game plan of killing the ball. Suddenly, the pressure was on Kane to make shots and Rocky forced a lot of skips from the number one player. Waselenchuk tried to put together a late-game comeback, but Rocky tied up the match score with an 11-6 victory.
Kane showed more and more frustration with the referee’s calls and started to lose focus. Rocky continued to play well making Kane work hard. A few points into the match, Kane hit the floor hard going for the ball and had to take an injury timeout. After a few minutes, Kane decided to finish up the third game. He stuck to lob serves and moved very cautiously around the court. Even with this different style of play, it looked like Kane could still win this game. Rocky needed to keep playing hard and close out this game. Carson kept it together and took this one, 11-7.
After some more injury time, Kane ultimately decided to call it a match and forfeited to Rocky. Hopefully he can get his knee in better condition for the next pro-stop.
By IRT Intern Kathy Geels:
#1 Kane Waselenchuk d. #5 Jose Rojas 0, 1, 7
Kane Waselenchuk defeated Jose Rojas in three games. Rojas showed good fortitude, rebounding from low-scoring losses to grapple with Waselenchuk in game three. Waselenchuk used relentless consistency in games one and two to make simple work out of Rojas’ straight drives, before Rojas made an adjustment to angled serves in game three, giving him his first advantage, 4-3. The two grappled back and forth until 7-7 before Waselenchuk broke free to finish off the match. He moves on to play Rocky Carson in the finals.
#2 Rocky Carson d #6 Ben Croft (2), 9, 3, 1
In a surprising come-back, Rocky Carson defeated Ben Croft in spite of a blitzkrieg by Croft in the first game. Carson remained calm in the face of Croft’s combination of execution and fury, and switched over to his own drive-serve and re-kill strategy, taking an early five to zero lead in game two before Croft was able to pull himself back into the game. Too little, too late, however, as the two wrestled back and forth until Carson closed it, 11-9. Game three, Carson again got an early lead to 4-0 before Croft was able to challenge him, but could not recapture the intensity of coming out of the blocks. He came into the service box showing plenty of energy in the fourth game, but Carson successfully maintained his drive serve and kills, while Croft’s drives were less effective, and prone to double-faulting. Another technical foul may have done him the favor of a fairly quick loss, 11-1 to give Carson the match. Carson goes on to play the winner of the second semi between Kane Waselenchuk and Jose Rojas.
#1 Kane Waselenchuk d #8 Andy Hawthorne 1, 5, 4
#5 Jose Rojas d #4 Chirs Crowther (9), 10, 1, 7
#6 Ben Croft d #3 Alvaro Beltran 9, 9, (9), (4), 12
#2 Rocky Carson d #7 Tony Carson 4, (6), 0, 5
Round of 16
#1 Kane Waselenchuk d #17 Adam Manilla 5, 2, 0
#8 Andy Hawthorne d #9 Jose Diaz 7, (7), (5), 3, 5
#5 Jose Rojas d #12 Brad Schopieray 3, 3, 1
# 4 Chris Crowther d #13 Daniel De La Rose 1, 10, 4
# 3, Alvaro Beltran d #14 Arthur Schmeiser 3, 6, 3
#6 Ben Croft d #11 Anthony Herrera 8, 6, 6
#7 Tony Carson d #10 Alex Ackerman 4, (9), 10, 3
#2 Rocky Carson d #15 Andrew Gale 3, 3, 8
Mile High Pro/Am Preview
By Becky Wiese
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places as a national landmark, the Denver Athletic Club will provide men’s professional International Racquetball Tour (IRT) players and spectators a warm and welcoming environment as well as a unique and exciting experience in the heart of downtown Denver during the Mile High Pro/Am. The Denver Athletic Club, a state-of-the-art facility with a history that goes back more than 100 years, is the venue for all matches and features six championship courts, each with glass backs and a full balcony area for viewing, enabling fans to see each swing of the racquet and bounce of the ball.
The tournament itself features many of the top players in the world, including current #1 ranked and tour dominator Kane Waselenchuk. For several seasons, Kane has won every tournament he’s played, but injury has kept him from playing every event this season. #2 Rocky Carson, winner of both the New Jersey Open and NY Temperature Controls Pro Am, took Kane to five sets in the Coast to Coast California Open and currently holds the #1 season ranking. Other top players on the slate include #3 Alvaro Beltran, #4 Jose Rojas, and #5 Chris Crowther.
Tournament Director Debbie Beldring says about the slate of scheduled players, “All the top pros will be here, including Kane, who has broken all kinds of records and who is just unstoppable right now in his career…but some of the other pros are getting closer. Who knows, our Colorado pro Tony Carson may have home court advantage at the Mile High Pro/Am…the ball is much faster at the mile-high altitude!”
On the amateur side, the tournament offers sanctioned singles and doubles divisions for both men and women. Players to watch for in the amateur matches include top-ranked Colorado Junior players and Denver-area high school phenoms Adam Manilla (ranked #6 in Colorado) and Nick Riffel. Both will attend the University of Colorado in Boulder next year. Other players include members of the U.S. Racquetball Team (who represent the U.S. in International and Pan American competitions), collegiate and junior national champions, and national team players from countries such as Canada, Chile, Colombia, Japan, and Mexico.
The IRT Round of 32 begins on Thursday, March 21, while all amateur match play begins on Friday, March 22. The Round of 16 for IRT players is Friday and Quarterfinal matches will be played both Friday evening and Saturday morning. The pro Semifinals are Saturday evening and Sunday wraps up with the finals for every amateur division (men’s and women’s singles and men’s doubles) and the IRT final. These days will be jam packed with action and excitement and some of the best racquetball you can see anywhere!
The Mile High Tournament is also working to raise funds for two non-profit organizations: the Military Racquetball Federation (MRF) and the Wounded Warrior Project (WWP). The MRF organizes, promotes, serves, and works to grow racquetball and fitness throughout all branches of the military worldwide. It also sponsors a program called Racquetball Rehabilitation Clinics (RRC), which uses racquetball as a rehabilitation strategy for both the physical and mental challenges suffered from combat. Says Beldring, “Steven Harper with the Military Racquetball Federation really has a good program with the Racquetball Rehabilitation Clinics. I like using the sport of racquetball to reach out and help support and give back to our service men and women, and having a chance to make a difference in the lives of some of our nation’s heroes.”
The WWP’s mission is to honor and empower wounded warriors by providing support to warriors and caregivers through programs and services designed to nurture the mind and body and encourage economic empowerment and engagement. A silent auction and raffle will benefit both of these worthy organizations. Ralph Graham, founding partner and owner of GrahamGolden Technologies and one of the tournament’s sponsors, also appreciates the work done by the MRF and WWP. “I am impressed with the good work done by the Military Racquetball Federation’s Racquetball Rehabilitation Clinics and the Wounded Warrior Program in general, so I also like supporting those programs with my sponsorship.”
Graham, like the other sponsors, is an avid racquetball player and enthusiast.
Victor Manilla, who sponsors through American Motors says, “What excites me is the fact that anyone can play at any level. Male or female. Being a part of the tournament showcases what a great city that Denver, Colorado is, in conjunction with the DAC promoting the best racquetball professional players in the world.”
“We see this as a great opportunity to reach out to the community and bring attention to this great sport,” explains Lenny Schlernitzauer II, Sales Manager of Go Subaru Arapahoe AutoNation. Adds Robert Thompson, proprietor of Le Grand Bistro and Oyster Bar and Punch Bowl Social Food & Drink, “I’m looking forward to watching the highest level of competition in our sport…it makes all of us better to see the game as it should be played.”