“The Ghost” Kicks Off New IRT season

2016 Ghost of Georgetown LogoTop ranked Kane Waselenchuk beat #2 Rocky Carson 11-4, 11-2, 11-0 in the 17th annual Ghost of Georgetown Championship Final to open up the 2016-2017 IRT Season and earn his 99th career Tour title. 

17th annual Ghost of Georgetown Pro Draw

Championship Final

Kane Waselenchuk d Rocky Carson 11-4, 11-2, 11-0

Championship Final Recap

Blog by Tim Prigo

Two familiar foes met in the finals at the 17th annual Ghost of Georgetown. The familiarity however, may be a negative for Rocky Carson, as he has not been improving against world #1 Kane Waselenchuk over the last few seasons. The match today in some ways mirrored this ever-growing schism in execution between the two. Waselenchuk and Carson had more competitive matches at the beginning of their careers. Waselenchuk has been able to widen the gap between him and all others in recent years to staggering proportions. Carson played well at the beginning of the match. He was helped by two crucial appeals. Carson won both to retain serve. He was able to keep a semblance of competitiveness throughout this game though he was always trailing by at least four points. Waselenchuk did offer some opportunities in the match, mainly in the first but Carson could not produce the necessary winners. After winning the first game 11-4, Waselenchuk really opened up on his serve, scoring usually on the third shot. Carson was not playing well from the second game on. He reverted to high wrap around shots and ceiling balls that pushed Waselenchuk back but these would result in rally ending winners. The third game was all Waselenchuk, scoring easily and quickly. Carson was missing many shots and Waselenchuk expertly slowed the game down once he sensed frustration, as to let him stew in the misery. The third game was a complete shutout, 11-0. Carson could only take solace in the fact that he only needed to play three games as the competitive gap continued to grow over the course of the match. Waselenchuk still has room for improvement and critiqued his match with Bradly Rogers in the postgame interview on the IRT Network. He missed some set-ups and some of his passes were off throughout the match that left the door open for Carson. The level of play may be too high for Carson to handle but more than that it is a difference in styles, like rock beating scissors. Carson has made one of the most successful careers in the sport relying on his rope-a-dope style, when he uses it against Waselenchuk it fails harshly. When Carson tries to play as more of a shooter he is out of his element. Waselenchuk must know this every time he steps on the court with Carson, bolstering his already high level of confidence.

Semifinals Recaps

Blog by Tim Prigo

Rocky Carson d Jansen Allen 11-9, 11-1, 11-7

Jansen Allen and Rocky Carson played in the first semifinal of the day. Allen, having only made a hand full of semifinals and having never beat Carson was likely to feel more pressure. It first appeared that he would meet this challenge head on as he started the match with smooth and exact kill shots. He was getting low on his shots and continually looked for the offensive opportunity. Allen was in command of the first game until Carson started hitting winners on the run. This made Allen try to hit even lower, resulting in many skips. In response to these skips Allen brought the ball up, way up, often leaving setups off the back wall for Carson to kill. With the scoreline at 7-7, Carson ripped hard drive serves hopping to tip the scales. It was his last three to four serves that won Carson the first game as he scored very timely crack aces to seal the win. Carson hardly skipped the ball at all the entire match. He also hit very hard drive serves all match, keeping Allen honest in his serve-return. Allen skipped far too many balls in the second while Carson seemed to get a racquet on every would be winner. Carson hit high wrap arounds and boasts deep into the back corners forcing Allen back. Towards the end of game 2 it was clear that Carson was comfortable and was in firm command of the tempo and pace of the match. After only scoring one point in the second, Allen looked a bit weak in the legs as he was no longer getting as low or as quick off the pivot as he had been in game 1. Carson continued to pound away at the ball while Allen did little more than throw balls back to the ceiling. Aside from the beginning of game 1, Carson controlled throughout.

Kane Waselenchuk d Alejandro Landa 11-3, 11-4, 11-2

Kane Waselenchuk dominated his semifinal. Alejandro Landa had a great tournament and also the most exciting match of the event in his previous round but was nowhere near the level needed to push Waselenchuk. Once again, it was clear that Waselenchuk is head and shoulders above the rest of the field by earning a finals berth via three commanding games. Everything worked off of Waselenchuk’s monstrous serves. Landa was never able to truly hit any dangerous returns, at best he was able to chest high pass his opponent. Waselenchuk went on point tears that were only interjected by his own occasional skips. The consistently high level of pressure that Waselenchuk applied to Landa showed in many of Landa’s shots. For instance, many times Landa had Waselenchuk beat in a rally but would try to go for the powerful perfect splat kill instead of an easy down the line winner. This mentality resulted in a lot of skips for Landa. These factors made the score-line very uneven as one or two missed opportunities against Waselenchuk usually result in donuts. Waselenchuk looks in the best form of his life, only time will tell if an opponent can step up and prod for weaknesses.

Semifinals

Rocky Carson d Jansen Allen 11-9, 11-1, 11-7

Kane Waselenchuk d Alejandro Landa 11-3, 11-4, 11-2

Quarterfinals Recaps

Blog by Tim Prigo

Rocky Carson d Markie Rojas 11-8, 11-5, 4-11, 12-10

Rocky Carson and Markie Rojas had the first quarterfinal of the 2016-2017 IRT Season. Carson controlled the match early by way of crisp down the lines and a steady stream of pinches that fell for winners. Rojas would come back from a four-point deficit to tie the game at 8-8. While in the server’s box and with momentum on his side, he double faulted. This changed the tide of the game and Carson ran out three straight points on the next service. The second game saw Rojas missing a lot of his setups. Carson hit an unusually high amount of ceiling and high wrap around shots to force his opponent to hit the ball from the backcourt. Carson won game 3 handily, perhaps noting the wet court conditions as reason to hit more “junk” shots than normal. Rojas played his best ball in the third. He was able to expertly pluck many of Carson’s shots on the fly or short hopped them for winners. The degree of difficulty that was required for these was very high. Having to win a game in this fashion, which he did in the third, is a tall order. It was still harder to pull out a match from Carson in this style. While Rojas was not able to shoot the ball as surgically as he did in game 3, he found his stride in game 4. Both players had settled in and traded side-outs far more often than points. Scoring was simultaneous from both players, as they remained tied for most of the game. The fourth and final game saw lots of long rallies and diving gets (primarily from Rojas). At 8-8, Carson was able to run off three very critical and timely points to end the match and thwart the building steam of Rojas.

Kane Waselenchuk d Felipe Camacho 11-1, 11-3, 11-3

Kane Waselenchuk wasted no time getting reacquainted with the quarterfinal round, as he ripped through Felipe Camacho in three devastating games. His serves, his down the lines and his soft touches up front were all on. Camacho had trouble returning serve and that was just the beginning of it. When Camacho was in the backcourt Waselenchuk would dink in winners. When he was in center or frontcourt Waselenchuk would pass or pinch-kill the ball. Not a lot to take away from this match other than Waselenchuk looked as formidable as ever.

Jansen Allen d Daniel De La Rosa 11-7, 12-10, 9-11, 11-9

In the third quarterfinal of the night, Jansen Allen faced Daniel De La Rosa. The first game was not shocking in that De La Rosa started slow, something he often does. Allen jumped all over the opportunity by staying low, hitting high percentage shots and going for winners at the appropriate times. After winning game 1, Allen seemed to lose momentum as De La Rosa began to get in his flow. De La Rosa played very offensively at the beginning of this game and it was paying off as he had a 7-2 lead on Allen. The courts were wet all night and Allen’s foot caught a wet spot during a rally causing him to hyper extend his groin. After a few minutes of injury timeout, Allen came back on fire. Ironically the injury timeout seemed to disrupt De La Rosa from building momentum. Allen, either due to injury or strategy slowed the pace of the game way down, methodically working in right hand side Z serves that would set him up. Allen came all the way back to steal the game 12-10. The third game resembled the previous one as De La Rosa took a commanding lead and worked on building up speed. Allen made an exciting run towards the end to tie the game at 8-8 but was not able to hit the crucial shots to take the game. In the fourth, it was all Allen, displaying his full arsenal of forehand pinches. Allen stayed up all game until a controversial avoidable was called on him. Allen was on the ground after hitting a diving ceiling ball and De La Rosa had the wherewithal to step back and tangle his leg in with Allen’s as he scrambled to his feet. Allen did not take this well and became visibly frustrated, allowing his opponent to go on a run from 3-8 to 9-8. Allen, with his back against the wall and the tide of the game shifting before him was able to call on some spectacular reverse pinches to get him back in the server’s box. Once Allen got the lead at 10-9 he skipped three match point opportunities. This knowledge may have added to his nerves but on the fourth attempt he was able to find the elusive winner for the match. This was Allen’s first ever victory over De La Rosa with De La Rosa taking their seven previous meetings.

Alejandro Landa d Jake Bredenbeck 11-5, 1-11, 11-9, 11-9

The match of the evening went on last. The court itself had taken a beating from the high intensity of non-stop play it saw throughout the day. This meant a lot of moisture and wet spots both on the floors and the walls. Around this time, the weather also turned storm-like outside further disrupting the climate on the court (Yes, this can actually happen.) Jake Bredenbeck and Alex Landa had a thoroughly entertaining match, one that is highly suggestible for a re-watch. Bredenbeck swung ferociously out of the gates but Landa was able to use this energy for his own gain, redirecting the photon-like ball into the corners for winners. Bredenbeck was over-swinging and while it looked spectacular when he made a shot, his percentages were poor and Landa cruised to a smooth 11-4 first game victory. Bredenbeck found the right calibration in game two however and absolutely crushed every ball he hit, this time more often than not for flat rolling winners. Landa could do little to stop the flood of points other than occasionally hurl himself across the court to try to pick up the rocketing ball. Bredenbeck won 11-1. Bredenbeck continued the effort by way of demonstrative backhand cross-court winners to open up the third, going up 5-0. To Landa’s credit he would often opt for ceiling balls and wrap arounds that would extend the rally rather than going for the winner outright. The method to this madness is that Bredenbeck had appeared to punch himself out, or at least lose some strength midway through the game. This allowed Landa to start working points off the serve to tie the game. The third and fourth game saw many long rallies, usually punctuated by slipping and sliding across the floor of the court. These rallies, though exciting, looked to put the fear of injury into Landa, as he seemed to be slipping the most. Often, a dive midway through the rally meant that a spill towards the end was inevitable. Between the sight of 230lbs Bredenbeck sliding half way across the court on his stomach and the general high level of play, the crowd became reinvigorated as it pushed the 10:00 o’clock hour. Both the third and the fourth game seemed to be even until the end when Landa settled down, took some pace off the ball and hit veteran-esque winners under pressure. Both the third and fourth were 11-9 in Landa’s favor.  

Quarterfinals

Rocky Carson d Markie Rojas 11-8, 11-5, 4-11, 12-10

Kane Waselenchuk d Felipe Camacho 11-1, 11-3, 11-3

Jansen Allen d Daniel De La Rosa 11-7, 12-10, 9-11, 11-9

Alejandro Landa d Jake Bredenbeck 11-5, 1-11, 11-9, 11-9

Round of 16s

Rocky Carson d Jose Diaz 11-8, 11-5, 4-11, 12-10

Markie Rojas d Samuel Murray 11-2, 11-3, 11-3

Kane Waselenchuk d Andree Parrilla 11-4, 11-0, 11-1

Felipe Camacho d Mauro Daniel Rojas 11-8, 11-8, 11-7

Daniel De La Rosa d David Bobby Horn 11-9, 6-11, 11-0, 12-10

Jansen Allen d Francisco Troncoso 11-3, 11-2, 11-0

Alejandro Landa d Jose Rojas 11-9, 11-1, 11-7

Jake Bredenbeck d Alvaro Beltran 9-11, 11-8, 11-8, 12-10

Thursday Pro Qualifying

Round of 64s

Mauro Daniel Rojas d Justus Benson 11-4, 9-11, 11-2, 8-11, 11-4

Round of 32s

Mauro Daniel Rojas d Sebastian Franco 9-11, 11-3, 7-11, 12-10, 11-5

Andree Parrilla d Brad Schopieray WBF- No Show

Alejandro Landa d Mauricio Zelada 11-2, 10-12, 11-8, 11-4

Jake Bredenbeck d Bradly Rogers 11-2, 11-8, 11-8

David Bobby Horn d Scott McClellan 11-2, 11-4, 11-2

Francisco Troncoso d Robert Collins 11-5, 8-11, 9-11, 11-8, 11-2

Jose Diaz d Charlie Pratt 8-11, 11-7, 11-1, 11-2

Samuel Murray d Mario Mercado 7-11, 11-5, 11-1, 11-9

“The Ghost” Kicks Off New IRT season

The 17th annual Ghost of Georgetown IRT ProAm presented by Novasors and hosted by the Kansas Racquetball Association (KRA) and The Athletic Club of Overland Park kicks off the 2016-2017 IRT Season on September 8-11, 2016.

“Being the first tournament of the season is exciting and can be unpredictable,” Ghost Tournament Director Mike Wedel said. “You never know who may have taken the offseason lightly and who worked hard to get ready. There have been some great upsets and matches that went right to the end.”

Many familiar faces are attending this year’s event, including world No. 1-ranked Kane Waselenchuk, No. 2 Rocky Carson, No. 3 Daniel De La Rosa, No. 4 Alvaro Beltran, No. 6 Jansen Allen, No. 12 Mauricio Zelada and No. 14 Scott McClellan. Also attending is local favorite Bradly Rogers, who upset Beltran in last year’s event.

Wedel said Rogers is ready to make another run.

“Not sure if you call it an upset after he beat Alvaro last year, but I know Bradly has been working very hard the past year,” Wedel said. “Other than Bradly, Daniel De La Rosa has been playing very well in the past few tournaments. It does help [having Rogers play] and gives all of the locals someone to rally around. Bradly has been working hard and I would not like to be the player that draws him the first or second round.  He has been working hard and I know he is coming into the tournament hungry.”

A recent move has made this year even more special for Rogers.

“It’s my favorite tournament of the year because the club was my home away from home,” Rogers aid. “I’m even more excited about it this year because I moved to Kansas City four months ago so now it really is my home. I push myself during the summer so that I come into the season in top shape. I have and always will love Kansas racquetball, and to start the IRT season year in and year out in Kansas just makes it that much more special.”

Waselenchuk defeated Carson 11-5, 11-0, 11-13, 11-2 to repeat as the Ghost champion last year. Waselenchuk appeared to suffer a right knee injury after he banged it on the wall returning a serve in game three tied 11-11 but bounced back and took game four to win the match.

Carson is no stranger to this particular tournament.

“The Ghost of Georgetown tournament is always exciting being that it starts our season,” Carson said. “All the pros are anxious to get on the court and play. Not sure how many times I’ve played this tournament but at least double digits. For me this tournament has some great moments as well as tough ones. Looking forward to kicking off the season in Kansas City again.”

The Ghost event is the only Tier 1 event before the 21st annual UnitedHealthcare US Open in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on Oct. 5-9.

The 17th annual tournament honors the former Georgetown Club that previously hosted the popular event (and since closed) at The Athletic Club of Overland Park. The club holds racquetball leagues throughout the year with divisions from beginner to advanced for men, women and youth players. The AC also boasts fifteen handball courts. Wedel said the handball contingency is almost as large as the racquetball members and something he worked on early when he started working at the club 12 years ago. He no longer works at The Athletic Club but continues to run five racquetball tournaments and two handball tournaments at the club each year. 

Built in the 1970s as a racquetball club, the AC has nine courts along with a restaurant and bar area adjacent to two courts aptly named the Courtside Fresh Grill & Bar. 

“It’s great for people playing handball and racquetball and everyone sits around and drinks and makes fun of them,” Wedel said.

The Courtside Fresh Grill & Bar will host the Player Appreciation Party on Saturday, Sept. 10, and will be a popular tournament viewing spot. All of the bleacher seating this year and viewing for the pro matches are free of charge, thanks to the sponsors. The pros will also participate in a pool tournament with the sponsors on Thursday, Sept. 8, and host a free junior clinic on Saturday, Sept. 10 at 10:30 a.m.

More than anything, Wedel said the Ghost has seen success because of the continued support of its sponsors.

“The title sponsor, Novasors and Bart Miller, has been the difference in our having the Ghost the last several years,” Wedel said. “Without sponsors like them there would not be an IRT event in Overland Park, Kansas.  

“I cannot tell you how much I appreciate all of the support we have received over the years. Our other great sponsors are Root Laboratories (Randy Root), Edward Jones (Leann Smith), Mail Print (Gina Danner), Raymond (Bud) Creekbaum, Terry Burn and John Atteberry. Of course, the Kansas Racquetball Association has been a big help also.”

By Dale Gosser

Dale Gosser is the Ektelon Regional Advisor for North Texas and racquetball coordinator for Life Time Fitness in Mansfield, Texas. He is the managing editor for the Cleburne Times-Review and Johnson County News newspapers as well as Community Life Magazine.