Top ranked Kane Waselenchuk successfully defended his Krowning Moment Pro Invitational and Bobcat Open Title at Texas State University in San Marcos. Waselenchuk, beating #2 Rocky Carson 11-6, 11-3, 11-2 for his third straight victory this season. Follow @PRORACQUETBALL on Twitter; at Facebook.com/IRTfan, and watch live at IRTNetwork.com
Final Match Recap
Blog by Tim Prigo
Familiar opponents once again met in the finals. Familiar outcomes were to be avoided at all costs for world #2 Rocky Carson as he took on #1 Kane Waselenchuk in Saturday night’s final. Carson, for all his skill, athleticism and racquetball I.Q., has not managed in recent years to be much more than a second fiddle to Waselenchuk. A player above the rest of the field, yet reduced to the role of active observer of Waselenchuk’s glory. There is bad news and good news for Carson to take away from this match.
Firstly, the bad news. Carson once again lost in three games. He lost by a lot of points in all 3 games and looked absolutely out of his element, especially in the 3rd game. He at times had trouble returning serve for multiple points and would hang his head, watching his feet slowly move towards the back wall as Referee Mat Majxner tallied each ace. Waselenchuk played incredibly and towards the end of the match had disheartened Carson so much that his fate was all but sealed. Waselenchuk’s serves were so superior in this match that it would be hard to imagine anyone successfully retrieving them. Waselenchuk was hitting the ball more squarely and setting his feet better than he had all tournament. In addition, his motivation must have been through the roof as he was playing in front of his home crowd.
Now, the good news for Carson, however small and seemingly inconsequential, has the potential to be great. In the first game, Waselenchuk ran 10 very fast points to bring the score line to 10-0. There is not much anyone can hope to achieve with Waselenchuk playing this well, but he would eventually give up chances. When, at 0-10, Carson earned the serve he looked altogether different. Carson played, albeit for 6 points, the best racquetball of his career. He had found a style, a rhythm that matched up well against Waselenchuk. Granted, old habits die hard, but Carson must go back and watch those points again and somehow try to imitate that success again but for an entire match. He did not simply get hot but he changed his shot selection, where he dropped the ball on his serve and saw opportunities for kill shots where he would usually opt for a ceiling ball, pass or wrap arounds. This is a tall order but Carson showed that he, at least momentarily, had the ceiling to do it. Waselenchuk makes everyone better and has raised the bar for not only Carson but for all other Tour players.
Semifinal Match Recaps
Blog By Tim Prigo
Kane Waselenchuk and Alvaro Beltran played the first semifinal on Saturday. It was evident early on that Waselenchuk wanted to close the match out quickly as he hit big serves. He was putting everything into both his first and second serves. Yet, the first game stayed tight throughout as Beltran, impressively, re-killed many of his serve-returns. In addition, Waselenchuk double faulted three times. Beltran had a legitimate chance of winning the first game but as is often the case, when Waselenchuk gets to the end of a game he is the first to run points to 11. Had Beltran gotten hot around the 8-8 mark he might have been able to stay in the match. When game two began, it was evident that Beltran would have little chance as Waselenchuk continued to hit demonstrative serves but was able to cut the faults to a minimum. Most of the rallies in this game were three shot exchanges favoring Waselenchuk. As opposed to games one and three, Beltran had no chance of winning game two as Waselenchuk played at a mythical level. The last game of the match saw some of the Waselenchuk errors from game one return but it was Beltran who fumbled more balls into the floor. Considerably agitated, the Mexican let out screams of frustration late in the game as he blew a 6-1 lead. His disappoint was well warranted as he often masterfully moved Waselenchuk out of center court and had him pinned against the wall only to see his set ups go into the floor.
Rocky Carson took on Sebastian Franco in the second semifinal. This, being one of the biggest matches of Franco’s career, would have an extra layer of pressure for the young Colombian. He lost the match in three games but showed the racquetball world that he was ready to make the jump to the elite top 10. Carson used his around the world shots countless times in the first game, stretching out the rallies and making Franco run. Franco was able to stay with Carson in this marathon style play as he is extremely well conditioned and did not lack energy late in the rally to put down his shots. The talking point of the match, which ran throughout every game, is that Carson was absolutely crushing his drive serves. Often times, Carson cuts his serves or chooses placement and finesse over power. He, in this match, rocketed serves that were on par with Waselenchuk’s in the velocity department. Perhaps this new strategy will carry over into the finals as Franco could do little more than go the ceiling or stand helplessly by as serve after serve fell in for point after point.
Semifinal Round Results:
#1 Kane Waselenchuk defeated #4 Alvaro Beltran 11-8, 11-4, 11-7 in the first Krowning Moment Pro Invitational and Bobcat Open semifinal in front of a packed standing room only crowd at The Texas State University Student Rec Center in San Marcos.
#2 Rocky Carson beat RYDF athlete Sebastian Franco 11-8, 11-3, 11-7 and will face top ranked Kane Waselenchuk in the Krowning Moment Pro Invitational and Bobcat Open Championship Final tonight at 7 p.m.
Semifinal Round starts Saturday
The Krowning Moment Pro Invitational semifinal round is set! Kane Waselenchuk vs. Alvaro Beltran on Saturday at 11:15 a.m. Central; Sebastian Franco vs. Rocky Carson follow at noon. Follow @PRORACQUETBALL on Twitter; at Facebook.com/IRTfan, and watch live at IRTNetwork.com
Quarterfinal Match Recaps
Blog By Tim Prigo
The big upsets happened early on. Both Daniel De La Rosa and Jose Rojas made a round of 16 exit. Rojas was ousted by little known, yet long time layer, Mexican Edson Martinez. Rojas must have been aware that Martinez was a threat as they have competed against each other in Junior World’s for their respective national teams. Martinez needed only 4 games to complete the deed and Rojas’s frustration was evident as he pulverized his racquet on the floor immediately following the end-game handshake. De La Rosa’s loss was even more surprising as he had made it to the finals in the previous tournament, the UnitedHealthcare US Open Racquetball Championships grand slam. This however, could have been part of his ruination as it was no secret De La Rosa was extremely fatigued following that event.
Kane Waselenchuk started his quarterfinal match particularly stale. He skipped 10 balls in the first game against fellow Texan Jansen Allen. This showed in the score line as Allen coasted to victory in the first, 11-3. The next game was a complete turnaround. Waselenchuk’s serves, his down-the-lines and his pinches all connected with pinpoint accuracy. Waselenchuk skipped two balls this game, accounting for Allen’s two service attempts. Waselenchuk dominated the court winning 11-0. The next two games went as expected. Allen scored very little and Waselenchuk never allowed a ball to come off his racquet at (what seemed like) less than 120 mph. The speed and power from Waselenchuk really upset Allen’s rhythm from the first rally. Allen had a fit of points in the 3rd, which saw him come back to 7-8 from a 3-8 deficit. But, one crucial missed set-up near the front wall cost him dearly as he was never able to regain serve after that.
New faces peppered the quarterfinals in the next match of the night. Two Reaching Your Dream Foundation athletes, Robbie Collins and Sebastian Franco made their first ever quarter at a tier 1 event and one of them would be destined for their first semifinal berth. The first game was a long one, and a close one. The two traded side outs far more than they traded points. Nothing separated the two from the early going. At the 45 minute mark, Robbie Collins served at 10-9 for the game but was unable to put Franco away. Franco battled back and was able to push the game to 12’s. Eventually, up 13-12, Collins found the winning shot and closed the first game.
In the second, it was again very close, this time the lead slightly favored Franco. Collins certainly had his share of chances to secure a stranglehold over the match as the duo reached a 9-9 tie but it was Franco who was able to make the final push to the finish line and tie the match at one game apiece. Collins was never to regain any substantive momentum, though he did shoot the ball well all match. Franco was able to hold center court for much of the next two games, dictating the rallies and sending Collins running from left to right.
Alvaro Beltran is always a threat and Marco Rojas would have to truly earn a semifinal appearance could he get there. The match began with both players shooting the ball well. At 5-5, with the game and the match impetus very much in the balance, Beltran went on a scoring flourish, closing out the first game never allowing Rojas back in the box, 11-5. Rojas played good and at times he played great. Rojas, not under a contract from a major racquet manufacturer has missed out on many recent events which fueled speculation about his match-readiness. Rojas completely determined the second game, barely allowing Beltran to score. Rojas could have won this game 11-1 if he did not catch the skips at game point, handing over 3 straight points. Beltran showed his resilience by coming back to win the next game by a very slight 2-point margin. Beltran, as usual, stayed within himself and forced Rojas to the floor nearly every other rally in the third game, edging out the win 11-9. Rojas regained his composure and played his best ball in the fourth. He put together what could be considered a ‘complete’ game. From his service game to his lateral movement to his shot selection, Rojas looked like he could be a top 3 player. This brilliance was not to stay however, as the 5th game started Rojas looked out of answers. Beltran played as if he knew he was going to win, loose, relaxed and completely confident. Rojas was not to fulfill the promise of his potential in Texas, game 5 to Beltran, 11-4.
Rocky Carson defeated Edson Martinez; Kane Waselenchuk took out Jansen Allen; Sebastian Franco defeated fellow Reaching Your Dream Foundation athlete, Robert Collins and Markie Rojas took Alvaro Beltran to five games before falling to the #4 pro.
Rocky Carson d Edson Martinez 11-4, 11-3, 11-7
Kane Waselenchuk d Jansen Allen 3-11, 11-0, 11-7, 11-3
Sebastian Franco d Robert Collins 12-14, 11-9, 11-5, 11-4
Alvaro Beltran d Markie Rojas 11-6, 4-11, 11-9, 3-11, 11-4
Round of 16 Results
Kane Waselenchuk d Jody Morris 11-7, 11-2, 11-8
Jansen Allen d Felipe Camacho 11-6, 9-11, 11-5, 11-7
Rocky Carson d Andree Parrilla 11-5, 11-7, 11-6
Edson Martinez d Jose Rojas 5-11, 11-8, 11-8, 11-5
Sebastian Franco d Daniel De La Rosa 2-11, 11-4, 11-6, 6-11, 11-7
Robert Collins d Mauricio Zelada 11-6, 11-7, 6-11, 4-11, 11-7
Marco Rojas d Scott McClellan 11-2, 11-9, 11-5
Alvaro Beltran d Jake Bredenbeck 4-11, 11-7, 11-5, 11-5
Krowning Moment Pro Invitational and Bobcat Open Returns in 2015
Kane Waselenchuk will once again lead the top pros of the men’s professional International Racquetball Tour (IRT) to his home state of Texas for the second annual Krowning Moment Pro Invitational and The Bobcat Open on Oct. 22-25 at Texas State University (TXST) in San Marcos.The first-ever Krowning Moment Pro Invitational and The Bobcat Open during the 2014-2015 IRT season successfully ended a more than 10-year hiatus of professional top-tier racquetball in Texas and continued a yearly fundraiser for the TXST Bobcat Racquetball Club. The money raised at the tournament will help outfit the team in gear and pay for travel expenses to tournaments like the Southern Collegiate Racquetball Conference (SCRC) Championships and National Intercollegiate Championships.
“Club wise we are super duper excited,” said TXST Bobcat Racquetball Club President Alex Maloof. “We just want to host a good tournament and give our players a good experience.”
Maloof, a senior criminal justice major, along with other club members will be participating in the tournament while also overseeing the brackets and making sure the tournament runs smoothly. “I really encouraged some of my junior members who want experience to sign up for it,” he said. “It’s a much different atmosphere then just playing on the court with us during club practice.”
The Bobcat Club Racquetball team restarted five years ago. With around 10 to 12 members, the club meets at The Student Recreation Center (SRC) at TXST every Monday and Wednesday from 6-8 p.m. “I expect that number to be probably 20 to 25 when our tournament rolls around,” said Bobcat Coach and Pro Kennex Regional Coordinator Jody Morris.
The Bobcat Open started as an open tournament and grew from a Tier 5 to a Tier 4 to last year’s Tier 1 at TXST when it became a Krowning Moment event. Centrally located in Texas off the San Marcos River, the campus is home to more than 36,000 students and is halfway between Waselenchuk’s hometown of Austin and San Antonio.
The third top-tier tournament of the 2015-2016 IRT Season will have the world’s best pros competing at the six court SRC, which features four glass back walls. Amateurs are encouraged to enter the pro division with a complimentary open division for participants who lose their first round match.
Waselenchuk enters the tournament as the defending champion at his namesake tournament. “Typically he’s the man to beat and people are pulling for the underdog, but at this tournament everybody is cheering for him so that makes it exciting,” said Morris.
Morris also expects great matches like the five game tiebreak quarterfinal between Chris Crowther and Alejandro Landa. Landa upset Alvaro Beltran in the Round of 16s before he beat Crowther to advance to the semifinals. “14-12 in the fifth game,” Morris said of Landa’s run at the tournament. “It was just a phenomenal match. That match went on and on and on. His match with Chris last year was a match to be remembered. That was the match of the year for me last year at our tournament.”
By Eric Mueller
Eric Mueller started working with the IRT after joining the 2014 UnitedHealthcare US OPEN Racquetball Championships Media Team, where he garnered coverage for top racquetball pros and amateurs in their hometown media while also helping to provide updates to the racquetball community during the tournament. With a degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, Mueller also brings experience in sports reporting and news writing for newspapers like the Pioneer Press in St. Paul as well as the Southwest Journal and the Downtown Journal in Minneapolis. Mueller has also worked in marketing and public relations for the St. Paul Saints professional baseball team, Gopher Athletics at the University of Minnesota and the 2015 Cowles Cup Champion Chicago Bandits professional softball team.