Carson took Waselenchuk to a 4-game final, reaching an early lead in the 4th before Waslenchuk drew three quick points to tie. The players exchanged heart-pounding rallies and diving gets for points until Waselenchuk put it away for the match, taking his 134th win on the court where he last lost three years ago.
By IRT Intern Seth Brody
Waselenchuk d Carson (7-11, 11-1, 11-8, 11-8)
Game 1 between #1 Kane Waselenchuk and #2 Rocky Carson had a different look than usual. Carson was in control. Carson turned Waselenchuk back into a human. Carson led the entire game and was able to win game 1 11-7. The unexpected play from Waselenchuk was odd and new in the sense that maybe Carson can pull off the upset in his own backyard. For a while it seemed as if Waselenchuk was playing an unknown opponent.
Then, there was the inevitable game 2. Waselenchuk morphed back into his superpower ways and pushed over Carson 11-1 to tie it up at one game for each. Carson may have floundered in game two, but the match was not over yet. Game 3 began with Carson on a streak, reaching an early lead at 3-0. The suspense was growing and the whispers were getting louder. Waselenchuk, seemed sluggish throughout the match. But, he never threw out the white flag and came back with a vengeance, keeping up point for point with Carson, eventually nudging past for an 11-8 win and a one game lead (2-1).
In the important game 4, again, Carson took an early lead much like he did in game 3. However, Carson seemed unable to forget that he was playing against a different type of player. Waselenchuk fought back and little by little he was able to get ahead, winning 11-8 to take the game and the match, continuing his streak of perfection. But it was not so easy to win this time. Carson played an amazing match while at times putting Waselenchuk against the ropes. Carson can go home happy knowing he may be one step closer to breaking the Waselenchuk code. Yet. the champ remains undefeated. Waselenchuk knows what he did wrong and what he did right. There is no doubt that his preparations for next week are already in the works.
With plenty more exciting racquetball in the 2011-2012 season, Waselenchuk will be tested again as the tour moves on to the Cactus Salon NYC Pro/Am in Syosset, NY.
The first semifinal match was close to start, Ben Croft hung in the game with Rocky Carson. However, as the match time lengthened so did the difference in scores as Carson moved on to the finals. Immediately afterward, all that history-repeating-itself talk ended as Waselenchuk allowed Beltran only six points during the match, bringing his run to 133 in a row.
Carson d Croft (10-12, 11-5, 11-4, 11-2) – By IRT Intern Seth Brody
As expected, the match between #3 Ben Croft and #2 Rocky Carson would be a hard fought, close match. At least for the first game, this was the case. Croft used his speed and quickness to stay in the game. Croft kept the score nice and tight. As the game rolled, so did the intensity. At times, after Croft dove with no apparent fear, all I could say was “wow” in disbelief. Croft took the momentum and charged over Carson to win 12-10. Game 2 did not go in the same direction for Croft. Carson seemed to be warming up in game 1 as he dominated the rest of the match. Croft raised the heat in the court, as some words were shared between the two players. Carson then did as he knows best and took his first game of the match 11-5. Game 3 started the same way as game 2. Carson controlled the game while Croft hung on. Throughout the match, Croft dialed in, executing well and getting a point. Then, unfortunately, Croft was off a bit and Carson cruised by him, scoring more points. Game 3 went to Carson 11-4. Game 4 favored Carson as Croft spiraled downward, trying to hold on to a last attempt to even out the score. Carson overpowered Croft with phenomenal execution and won the match as Carson took game 4 easily, 11-2.
#1 Kane Waselenchuk d #13 Alvaro Beltran (11-4, 11-2, 11-2) By IRT Intern Seth Brody
Before they stepped onto court, this was one of the most anticipated matchups in a long while for the IRT. Kane Waselenchuk has won 132 straight matches since losing to Alvaro Beltran three years ago. I’m not positive what odds Vegas would have set for this match, but it certainly would have caught some attention. However, as we all know how the world of sports works, the talk ends when the game begins. Beltran is coming in to this semifinals match after knocking off his quarterfinal opponent, #5 Jose Rojas, in four games. Then there is Kane Waselenchuk, bringing the forest fire with a little bit of smoke. The match was lopsided from the start and in favor of Kane Waselenchuk the entire time (11-4, 11-2, 11-2). Always being a great sport, Beltran played hard and put in the work. It just wouldn’t be enough to bring down Waselenchuk. Quick and efficient is the way Waselenchuk works best, and no one, even his last victor, could disrupt the machine.
The finals are set as #2 Rocky Carson and #1 Kane Waselenchuk go at it once more.
#2 Rocky Carson d #7 Shane Vanderson 5, (5), 1, 6
#1 Kane Waselenchuk d # 9 Tony Carson 6, 5, 1
#3 Ben Croft d #6 Andy Hawthorne 8, 8, 2
#13 Alvaro Beltran d #5 Jose Rojas (5), 11, 0, 4
Round of 16 Results:
#1 Kane Waselenchuk d #16 Alex Landa 6, 4, 0
#9 Tony Carson d #8 Charlie Pratt (9), 8, (8), 5, 8
#5 Jose Rojas d #12 Juan Herrera 2, 3, (5), 1
#3 Ben Croft d #14 Daniel De La Rosa 9, 9, 5
#13 Alvaro Beltran d #4 Chris Crowther (9), 10, 2, (4), 2
#6 Andy Hawthorne d #11 Javier Moreno 9, 10, 7
#7 Shane Vanderson d #10 Anthony Herrera 3, 7, 9
#2 Rocky Carson d #15 Taylor Knoth 5, 7, 9
Coast to Coast California Open Preview
The IRT broke a decade of Tier 1 records for entries at the start of the second half of the 2011-2012 IRT season with the Coast to Coast California Open in Canoga Park, CA, Jan. 5-8, with 300 participants from 8 countries, including 53 competing in the pro draw. It’s the only Tier 1 event where the WPRO (Women’s Professional Racquetball Organization) and the IRT together vie for over $35,000 in prize money.Overall, last year’s tournament was, “phenomenal, as expected,” said Rick Roussin, attendee and CEO of sponsoring Coast to Coast Computers, which sells computer supplies like ink and toner cartridges, including the high quality Diamond Series brand as a budget and environmentally friendly alternative to other brands. “The place was always full with people. The finals were great both days.”
It’s the fifth year for a tier one event at the club, which has seen steady growth after scheduling just under 200 entries the first year and over 270 entries in 2011. One of the reasons for the success is that it’s a round robin tournament, allowing players to compete at their age and skill level. Located at the Spectrum Club and originally built as a racquetball club next to a roller skating rink, the large facility boasts twenty courts. Now, the rink’s space is part of the club and houses exercise equipment and classes, leaving plenty of room to watch and play racquetball. “It’s the premier facility in the valley,” explained Randy Lam, who helps organize the event. “With a big, varied clientele, the people are everything.”
Relationships are among the top reasons Roussin sponsors the event. After the 2011 tournament he explained, “I did this because I love the sport and want to promote it. It was a super positive experience. I can’t think of any other sport with people who are great athletes and you can get anywhere near them, let alone spend the weekend rubbing shoulders with the top ten players.” With a party-with-the-pros Saturday night, live music, pro/am sponsored doubles, and plenty of food all weekend, attendees will have ample opportunity to play, watch, and shake off the post-holiday blues.
Of course, the experience includes on-court competition, too. Tournament Director, Debbie Tisinger-Moore explained the energy around the club. “Our members love watching the pros.” Last year, the top seeds on the men’s side advanced to the semis, except for a couple of upsets including Alvaro Beltran, who withdrew after suffering a back injury during the qualifiers and with the defeat of Mitch Williams by Charlie Pratt in the Round of 16’s.
This year, anything can happen. Kane Waslenchuck will step on the court looking to extend his 130-match winning streak spanning three years. With the strong California racquetball community and proximity to south of the border, where many fierce competitors and fans reside, the Coast to Coast Open will be a great way to start the new year.
For more information about the Coast to Coast California Open contact Tournament Director, Debbie Tisinger-Moore, 818.884.5034 firstname.lastname@example.org or Randy Lam at RJLAM@hotmail.com; IRT President, Jason Mannino at Jason@irt-tour.com; or Gigi Rock, WPRO Commissioner, email@example.com.