At one point the Stockton ProAm was the longest running pro racquetball tour stop and organized by one of the original owners of the In-Shape Health Clubs for over twenty years, including the thriving 1980s. #1 Kane Waselenchuk continued to dominate the competition, winning a four-game final against #6 seed Alvaro Beltran, who made his third final appearance of the 2011-2012 IRT season.
#1 Kane Waselenchuk d #6 Alvaro Beltran (7), 2, 4, 5
Click HERE to view the pro draw.
#6 seed Alvaro Beltran upset #2 Rocky Carson 6, (9), 9, 11 in the first semifinal of the evening while #1 Kane Waselenchuk cruised past #5 Chris Crowther 2, 4, 0. Alvaro and Kane play for the championship at noon Pacific Time today.
#6 Alvaro Beltran d. #2 Rocky Carson 6, (9), 9, 11
#1 Kane Waselenchuk d. #5 Chris Crowther 2, 4, 0
#1 Kane Waselenchuk d #8 Tony Carson 11-0, 11-3, 11-1
The best racquetball player in the world cruised through the quarterfinals handily defeating Colorado’s Tony Carson in a very quick three games. Kane took advantage of the show court’s fast speed to keep the 8th seed on the defensive throughout the match, delivering blistering drive serves and precise drive Z serves. Kane moved into the Semifinals to face the #5 ranked player, San Diego’s Chris Crowther, Saturday at 5:00pm.
#5 Chris Crowther defeated local favorite #4 Jose Rojas 6-11, 11-7, 11-3, 11-7.
Jose was noticeably pumped up and came out firing in front of a very supportive hometown crowd. He controlled the first game by hitting bottom board kill shots and sending the taller Crowther around the court to take game one 11-6. Game two was very different. Crowther found his groove early and hit photon passes to both sides of the court. His power kept Rojas on the defensive and was able to tie the match with a game two victory of 11-7. Rojas wasn’t able to regain control as game three saw much more of Crowther dominating the rallies. Crowther took a quick game three 11-3. The hometown crowd rallied behind their local hero, but it wasn’t to be. Crowther fought hard and Rojas just wasn’t able to hit the critical shots when he needed to dial them in. Crowther took the match in 4 games and will move onto the Semifinals at 5:00pm Saturday against #1 Kane Waselenchuk.
#2 Rocky Carson defeated #7 Shane Vanderson 11-4, 11-8, 13-11
#6 Alvaro Beltran defeated #3 Ben Croft 9-11, 11-6, 11-8, 12-10
Round of 16 Results:
#1 Kane Waselenchuk d #41 Marco Rojas 4, 0, 0
#9 Javier Moreno d #8 Tony Carson 5, 7, 5
#5 Chris Crowther d #12 Ruben Gonzalez 2, 0, WBF
#4 Jose Rojas d #20 Jose Serrano 1, 3, 5
#3 Ben Croft d #14 Jose Diaz 6, 7, (5), 9
#6 Alvaro Beltran d #11 Brad Schopieray 5, 5, 6
#7 Shane Vanderson d #10 Anthony Herrera 11, 4, 7
#2 Rocky Carson d #11 Adam Manilla 4, 3, 4
Top Pro Withdrawls Open a Window in the Draw
By the time the Stockton ProAm presented by Ektelon draws were posted, top pros were seeded higher in an event promising some of the toughest competition all year due to the strength of the local Stockton players. #9 Ranked Tony Carson entered the In-Shape Health Club seeded #8, which is a ticket into the Round of 16’s, since Andy Hawthorne made the “smart decision” not to enter the event respecting his doctor’s advice after undergoing an emergency appendectomy earlier this month.
“I’d had a stomach ache for a couple of days. While it wasn’t a nine by any means, it’d started keeping me up at night. If I were at a tournament, I probably wouldn’t have bothered to get medical help since I didn’t feel that bad. But, I decided to see a doctor after my wife said I probably should just go in and get it checked out.” Two hours later, he was undergoing emergency surgery. “It was the scariest thing ever to hear that they’d already called a surgeon. I’d never had health problems and figured they’d just give me a pill or something and send me home.”
Even as he’s bummed to sit out Stockton, he’s feeling better and planning to play the Costa Rica Open next month and expecting to be 100% for Ektelon Nationals presented by Penn on Memorial Day weekend.
IRT Official Referee and #10 ranked pro, Charlie Pratt, will miss his first tournament in three years after he re-injured an ankle he’d most recently sprained during the Florida Spring Break ProAm in March, forcing his forfeit to Anthony Herrera at the time. “It’s not nearly as bad as when I originally injured it in the off-season ten months ago,” he explained. “I’d worn a brace for awhile when it was weaker, but then it was fine until I jumped for a ceiling ball and landed wrong, sending it back into injury mode.” He “played all right” during the St. Louis Party with the Pros tier one despite “hobbling around,” but when he got back home and continued training, he realized that he should keep away from competition this weekend. Since he wasn’t missing a lot of tournament money and points, giving it a little extra time makes sense. No need to worry on his behalf, though. “It’s not a serious issue. I’m just being precautionary.”
With the #8 ranked pro out of the draw, Tony Carson achieved the #8 seeding and will face #9 Javier Moreno at noon Pacific today. The other lunchtime match up will be the winner of the #1-ranked Kane Waselenchuk versus #41 Marco Rojas. While many might see the outcome of the match as a foregone conclusion, the younger brother of #4-ranked Jose Rojas won his first 3 games (including a WBF), to earn the right to face the world’s top-ranked racquetball player.
With a deep pockets of strong players, the Stockton ProAm is proving to be filled with interesting matches, including a 5-game epic battle where Felipe Munoz defeated James Swift (3),11, (3), (13), 11. Adam Karp, retired pro and IRT VP Event Development, pulled off two wins and took Jose Serrano to four games before bowing out in the Round of 32.
You can watch the Round of 16s free today in person (second level) or online on the IRT Network (www.irtnetwork.com) Today, starting at 11 am Pacific Time.
Round of 16 schedule:
#7 Shane Vanderson v #10 Anthony Herrera
#31 Adam Manilla v #2 Rocky Carson
#1 Kane Waselenchuk v #41 Marco Rojas
#9 Javier Moreno v #8 Tony Carson
#3 Ben Croft v #14 Jose Diaz,
#11 Brad Schopieray v #6 Alvaro Beltran.
#5 Chris Crowther v #12 Ruben Gonzales
#20 Jose Serrano v #4 Jose Rojas
Stockton ProAm presented by Ektelon is ON!
What did it take for a former top pro, national, world and Pan American champion to dust off his racquet and dig out directions to the local club? “A Tier 1 tournament,” joked Tournament Director John Ellis, referring to Adam Karp, IRT VP of Event Development who competed on the pro tour with Ellis. “For Adam, me, and some of the others, we’re coming back to what we enjoyed before even as we’re working to pull it off again.”
The “it” Ellis refers to is the Stockton ProAm which, at one point, was the longest running tour stop organized by one of the original owners of the In-Shape Health Clubs and held for over twenty years, including into the thriving ‘80s. “I remember the Stockton tier one finals on Sunday, feeling both sad that it was over and happy that people enjoyed playing, watching, and hanging out in the tournament atmosphere.”
As a beginner, Adam traveled from Southern California to play in Stockton. “I was in complete awe of the huge crowds, the level of competition, and the camaraderie. This event was one of the reason I became addicted to the game.”
In those days, top contenders included Scott Oliver, who ranked as high as #4 yet never won a pro stop and John Ellis, who won eight stops, but not, to his regret, in his hometown. He often battled players like current IRT President, Jason Mannino, who won more tier ones in Stockton than on any other courts. Yet, Mannino’s fondness for the event goes beyond a win-loss record. “Stockton has special meaning for many reasons. I grew up playing racquetball with John. Adam, who also resides there, was my roommate on tour for several years. Plus, I have many friends that live in the area. I’m excited to bring the IRT back to such a great racquetball environment.”
Well known as a racquetball powerhouse, the community has grown with the support of In-Shape Clubs, Ektelon, and under the guidance of Ellis, who is developing the next generation of players, including #4 ranked Jose Rojas, by fostering a unique team spirit for the individual sport. “It’s perfect timing. The young guys here are ready to play pro ball. I want them to have the pleasure of competing in their hometown. Playing in front of family and friends has as much meaning as playing a pro stop itself.”
They’ll have the chance as all of the top players converge in Stockton in the first tournament since March’s St. Louis Party with the Pros, which left many feeling physically battered and mentally fatigued from the grueling event schedule. All of the players constantly try to hide the pain the sport inflicts on their bodies. #3 Ben Croft was visibly limping and stiff during the semifinals. #1 Kane Waselenchuk had been fighting a nagging back injury that saw him warming up for more than an hour before his finals match. Yet, Kane still dominated, executing ferocious serves delivered with an unfaltering intensity that left #2 Rocky Carson with little recourse.
Rested and ready to play five weeks later, the pros will join over 200 people signed up to compete at the In-Shape Health Club, which boasts nine courts, and at another club with four courts nearby. And yes, Karp will join them. “I’m thrilled to see John and his incredible crew bring this historic event back to the IRT schedule. I know it’ll be a special event as the level of local talent here in Stockton rivals any city in the world. I guarantee we’ll see some local players make things very interesting in the pro draw.”
With plans for this event to continue “year in and year out,” Ellis’ past memories and future plans cement his commitment to make Stockton an ongoing IRT top-tier event. “Jose helped drive the decision. You never want to win anything more than your own pro stop. I’d be one of the happiest guys on the planet if Jose takes it. I cherish the idea of helping Jose and the other guys in their careers so they can make a living playing pro racquetball.”