After a “just all right” warm-up, Kane knew he wouldn’t be playing the “lights out” game he had in the semifinals of the 2014 Cactus Salon ProAm, an event he missed the past two years. He knew he’d have to keep fighting to pressure his opponent, #3 Alvaro Beltran. He did, taking Cactus Salon NYC ProAm title in four. Click to read how the match played out.
#1 Kane Waelenchuk d #3 Alvaro Beltran 10-12, 11-5, 11-3, 11-4
Alvaro came out with a plan to “take it to” Kane – and that he did, playing one of best games he’s played in a long time, at a high level and with high intensity. At the same time the #1 player started out slowly, having a hard timing handling Alvaro’s drive serving his backhand. Alvaro took game 1, 12-10.
The question when game 2 started was whether Alvaro could maintain the same level of intensity or whether he’d take the second game off and rest, much as he’d done during his semifinal match against Daniel De La Rosa. Alvaro did seem to have run out of gas a bit, switching from the drive serve to a high lob, which Kane killed almost every time. Still, Alvaro was able to score first, playing smart and keeping in the game with the two players tied at 5-5. That’s when Kane pulled away, notching up the next five points to bring his score to game point. At 5-10, Alvaro got in the box but missed a set up, sending Kane to the service box for where he closed out the game 11-5, for a tied match at one game each.
In game three and almost an hour into the match, Alvaro went back to the drive serve and scored first keeping the score close early. An avoidable called on Alvaro got into his head, as he’d argued for a replay, which Kane had gotten in a similar set up in game two. Soon after, Kane’s disagreement with a short serve called against him only seemed to fuel his fire as he dialed into the ball, took his game up a level, and racked up point after point, pulling ahead 9-2 before Alvaro scored again. At 3-10, Avlaro had another chance to make a run but couldn’t pull it off before Kane finished the game 11-3.
After a “just all right” warm-up told Kane he wouldn’t be playing the “lights out” game he had the night before, he knew that he had to keep fighting and that “for a fact” he’d last longer if he kept up the pressure against Alvaro. In game 4, Kane continued to get better and stronger as Alvaro tired, making unforced errors. Kane kept the pressure on, taking game four 11-4 for the match.
#3 Alvaro Beltran d #7 Daniel De La Rosa 13-11, 1-11, 11-6, 5-11
Alvaro Beltran took off to an 8-1 lead as Daniel De La Rosa looked off-balance early on. The #3 ranked seed dialed in and fought back, trying it up at 10-10. With six chances at game point, Alvaro couldn’t close it out, as both players exchanged serves and rallies. Daniel served a jam ace at 10-10 to pull ahead to 11-1 for the first time in the game. An avoidable call against Daniel by IRT referee Charlie Pratt at 11-11 put Alvaro back in the box where he finished off the game with a flick-wrist sideways shot in front and Daniels skip on the next serve to win it, 13-1 after a 44 minute game.
Daniel brought the same intensity from the game 1 into game 2, with a sharp-serve-and-shoot strategy taking him to a quick lead. Alvaro seemed to be taking the game off, but scored a few before Daniel finished off the game 11-3.
Game three saw Alvaro wake up and the two kept it close, tying it up at 2 each before Alvaro pulled ahead 8-2. Daniel got back in the serving box and took a timeout, scoring to 3 on a great drive serve and to 4 on an Alvaro skip, as the #3 player started cooling off. A two-bounce call on Daniel put Alvaro back in the box, but he couldn’t score. Daniel tried to repeat his game 1 comeback, notching up the score to 6-8, before Alvaro took off with the win, 11-6.
Daniel racked up a quick 5-0 lead in game 4. As Alvaro was slow to get on the board, getting his second point on Daniel’s skipped ceiling ball and his third on an avoidable. Daniel pushed on, flat-rolling the ball at 9-3 to reach game point at 10-3, but skipped. This was Alvaro’s turn to claw back the score, 4 -10 and 5-10 when an avoidable call against him put Daniel back in the box for the win, 11-5.
Daniel served first in the tiebreaker, but Alvaro earned a trip to the serving box with a diving cross court shot in front. Alvaro looked solid, keeping the score close. Then he started to pull away, moving Daniel all over the court to bring the score 5-1. Daniel picked up momentum, racking up 3 for a score of 3-5 where the two got stuck. Two hours into the match, Alvaro slowly eked ahead and, again, the two exchanged points and rallies until Daniel started to cool off. Alvaro pulled ahead, 10-5, missing game point and giving Daniel another trip to the box before he pulled away with the game and match, 11-5.
#1 Kane Waselenchuk d #5 Markie Rojas 1, 4, 1
Kane drew to a commanding lead of 10-1 before he closed it out with a perfect between the legs wide-angle pass – facing the back — to take game 1, 11-1.
Game 2, Markie started playing really well, ace serving and powering down to bring the score 4-9. Scoring a few points showed him that he’s capable of putting pressure on Kane as he started looking more confident on the court. Kane won, 11-4.
Game 3 Markie scored first. The two players hit long passes and shot hard without many pinches at all. Kane again pulled to a large lead, demonstrating the technique that’s seen him breaking all records on the Tour to take game 3 for the match, 11-1.
Markie Rojas d David Horne 4, 4, (4) 7
This was a routine win for Markie taking him to his second semi ever where he’ll face Kane Waselenchuk.
#7 Daniel DeLa Rosa d #2 Rocky Carson in four, ( 9 ), 1,9,5
After a slow start and going down 6-0 in game one, Daniel played his serve-and-shoot-and
shorten rally game against the #2 pro, giving the Daniel his second win in a row over Rocky.
#1 Kane Waselenchuk d Crowthers 5, 6, (8), 5.
The top seed has too much talent for Crowther’s game
#3 Alvaro Beltran d Jansen Allen
Round of 16 results:
#2 Rocky Carson d #18 Nick Montalbano 4, 0, 4
#7 Daniel De La Rosa d #10 Andy Hawthorne 1, 6, 10
#1 Kane Waselenchuk d #17 Alejandro Herrera 3, 2, 1
Jansen Allen d Vincent Gagnon
David Horn d Jose Rojas 7, 5 , 9
Suffering from the flu, an ailing Rojas tried several times to get back into each game, but a very athletic Horn played too well, takinng him out in 3.
Chris Crowther d Jose Diaz 6, 8, 5
Crowther inserted too much pace and tough serves for the inexperienced Diaz.
Alvaro Beltran d Anthony Herrera 8, 10, 6
Too many forehand skips from Anthony lost the match, but Anthony did play two competitive games against a sharp Alvaro.
Marco Rojas d Adam Manilla
2014 Cactus Salon ProAm: Longest Running Tier 1
by Nick Rynerson
After kicking off the New Year at the Coast to Coast California Open, the men’s professional International Racquetball Tour (IRT) made the eight-hour flight to Long Island, New York for the Cactus Salon NYC IRT Pro/Am, now in its 16th year. Tony Carson and Ben Croft are out due to injury, but expect to see some incredible competition from aces like Kane Waselenchuk and Rocky Carson along with some unexpected competition from young guns like #4 Jose Rojas and local favorite, Nick Montalbano.
Tournament Director, Tom Keogh, believes that the Cactus Salon Pro/Am offers a distinctly professional, exciting outlet for competitive racquetball. With the Cactus Salon & Day Spa back as the title sponsor and Temperature Controls on board supporting the longest running tier-one event in the country, amateurs traveled from all over the country to play in the event. Keogh prides himself in heading up one of the paramount amateur competitions on the Tour. “[This tournament] creates a professional atmosphere,” said Keogh. “The people who are here really want to be here.”
Keogh and Synergy Fitness Club have intentionally creating a professional environment, where attendees are encouraged not just to watch great racquetball but to play great racquetball. Of the 275+of racquetball enthusiasts coming out to watch the pros, many of them will be competing on one level or another at the beautiful and expansive Synergy Fitness Club in Syosset, New York’s 40,000 square-foot facility.
The 60+ professional and amateur racquetball players will be playing in a club with deep racquetball roots. According to tournament director Tom Keogh, the featured glass court has a reputation for being remarkably difficult and has featured some celebrated matches over the years. But the complex courts, great facilities, amazing amateur turnout, and top-notch tradition are not the only things to look forward to.
Coming on the heels of two tournaments in four weeks—all over the country—the Cactus Salon Pro/Am will be a test of endurance for the pros. Injuries are a real concern during this New Years marathon. Waselenchuk, who has been injury-riddled over the past year, must stay healthy to compete with back-to-back tournament champion Rocky Carson. #7 ranked Daniel De La Rosa—competing in Syosset for the first time—is a player who has the talent to upset the veterans like Waselenchuk, having defeated the reigning champion during the Novasors Kansas City Opener.
Carson has won the tournament for the last two years. But barring any new injuries occurring in Reseda, a healthy Kane Waselenchuk is as close to an unstoppable force as the racquetball world knows. So while most are favoring Waselenchuk, #1 Rocky Carson has proved to be an immovable object in Long Island. So when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object, there is always some well-deserved excitement. Still, this tournament should be far from a simple two-man show—injuries and upsets are certainly likely to make an appearance and wreak havoc on the best-laid plans of Kane and Carson.
Professional matches start Thursday, January 9th and last until noon on Sunday, January 12th. If you can’t make it out to the tournament, major pro matches will be streaming online at www.irtnetwork.com .