Kane and Rocky faced off in the finals of the IRT’s 2014-2015 IRT season-opener. Rocky pushed Kane to four games, but was unable to pull off an upset. Kane carries his latest win into the 15th Annual Ghost of Georgetown Kansas City ProAm next weekend. Check back here as we’re pulling together highlights from the first-ever Krowning Moment Pro Invitational and Bobcat Open. All Tier 1 tournaments shown live on the IRT Network.
Kane Waselenchuk d Rocky Carson 11-8, 7-11, 11-3, 11-2
Kane Waselenchuk d Jose Rojas 11-6, 11-4, 11-1
Rocky Carson d Alejandro Landa 11-2, 13-11, 11-6
Rocky Carson d Marco Rojas 11-5, 11-4, 11-5
Kane Waselenchuk d Tony Carson 11-5, 11-3, 11-2
Alejandro Landa d Chris Crowther 11-7, 11-8, 5-11, 3-11, 14-12
Jose Rojas d Daniel De La Rosa 9-11, 11-6, 4-11, 11-4, 11-6
Marco Rojas and Rocky Carson start the quarterfinals off at 4 pm after Marco’s 5-game upset over Ben Croft. Heavy favorite Kane Waselenchuk breezed through the 16s to face Tony Carson at 5 pm. #16 Alejandro Landa knocked out #3 Alvaro Beltran in 4 games to face Chris Crowther at 6 pm. Jose Rojas takes on Daniel De La Rosa in the last slot of the Qs at 7 pm.
Round of 16:
Kane Waselenchuk d Matthew Majxner 11-2, 11-7, 11-9
Tony Carson d Jansen Allen 11-5, 11-8, 12-10,
Coby Iwaasa v Daniel De La Rosa
Jose Rojas d Andree Parrilla 11-4, 11-7, 11-7
Alejandro Landa d Alvaro Beltran 4-11, 11-9, 11-6, 11-7
Chris Crowther d Charlie Pratt 7-11, 11-7, 11-8, 11-1
Marco Rojas d Ben Croft 11-6, 9-11, 8-11, 11-2, 11-0
Rocky Carson d Danny Lavely 11-2, 11-7, 11-2
Krowning Moment Pro Invitational & Bobcat Open Kicks Off the Season
A fledgling collegiate racquetball team will get a boost from the International Racquetball Tour (IRT), ProKennex and the Tour’s top-ranked player when the first-ever Krowning Moment Pro Invitational and Bobcat Open kicks off the IRT’s 2014-2015 season Sept. 18-21 in San Marcos, Texas.
The Bobcat Open had been a Tier 4 and Tier 5 event for regional amateurs the last two years drawing over 100 players from more than 40 cities in 3 states before being upgraded to a Tier 1 event. Moreover, the tournament marks the return of professional top-tier racquetball to Texas after a hiatus of more than 10 years. “I think it is awesome because it’s one of the strongest racquetball states in the country, and this allows the Texas racquetball community the chance to experience and watch a top-level professional tournament,” said Jason Mannino, IRT president.
Only 30 minutes from Austin, the hometown of the Tour’s top-ranked player and the dominant force in professional racquetball the last several years, Kane Waselenchuk, lent his support to the event, giving back to the racquetball community as it serves as a fundraiser for the Texas State University Bobcat Racquetball Club.
The Club, comprised of about 15 players, has been in existence the last few years and competes in the Southern Collegiate Racquetball Conference. “This will help our team purchase new equipment and allow us to travel to the conference championships as well as other tournaments. But more important it will help us grow the sport of racquetball in Texas,” said Andrew Shafer, president of the Texas State Racquetball Club.
Shafer also said the tournament will stimulate his team by being able to watch – and interact with – the best players in the world. “Our guys have watched Kane play in person a few times, and have even seen some matches online. But to watch the pros compete in person is certainly better, and should go a long way toward inspiring them.”
Waselenchuk said he, his wife Kim, and ProKennex representatives began discussing the possibility of creating a Tier 1 event near his hometown of Austin at the end of last year’s IRT season. “At this time the Tour’s top 10 players have indicated they will play,” Mannino said. “ It has been more than 10 years since the pros have played in Texas, so this is a significant addition to our pro tour.”
The 2014-2015 IRT season includes over 15 pro stops throughout the country. JoAnna Reyes, Director of Player Operations for Pro Kennex, was instrumental in organizing the pro side of the Tour event, which takes place Thursday through Saturday. The amateur side of the tournament will be conducted on Saturday for singles and on Sunday for doubles so that the amateurs can watch more of the pro rounds. Viewing will be free to participants, including live streaming of the matches by the IRT Network in the player hospitality room.
“We plan on having the top players accessible in our ‘Player Village’, and will conduct a format so anyone can challenge their skills in certain areas against the top players,” Reyes said.
The top amateur players will be encouraged to test their skills in the professional bracket as well, and losers will be sent to a complementary Open bracket as consolation.
“What is really interesting is that matches will be played on the campus of Texas State University on 16 cement courts that are a throwback to earlier days of racquetball,” Reyes said. Four of the courts feature viewer-friendly glass back-walled courts, and courtside seating will be available.
The buzz surrounding the tournament is noticeable. “Bobcat club players are extremely enthusiastic about the opportunity to watch the pros play. We are just a stone’s throw away from racquetball hotbeds like Austin, San Antonio, Houston and Dallas, so we expect this to be a great tournament,” said Jody Morris, tournament director.
Reyes added that “being on a college campus while it is in session, being so close to some wonderful attraction, this is a tremendous and exciting environment in which to host a tournament.”
The number of amateur entrants has been capped at 150, although Morris said future tournaments may draw well over 250 players, not counting the pros. “We want to grow this tournament over the years, and the addition of the pros should help us do just that,” Morris said.
The list of pros who have indicated they will compete includes number one-ranked Waselenchuk as well as (in order of current rankings) Rocky Carson, Alvaro Beltran, Jose Rojas, Daniel De La Rosa, Ben Croft, Chris Crowther, Jansen Allen, Tony Carson and Marco Rojas.
Waselenchuk, 9-time world champion and winner of seven of the eight events in which he played last season, said the Krowning Moment Pro Invitational and Bobcat Open offers added incentive for him to continue his domination of the sport.
Asked if playing so close to his hometown of Austin gave him a little homecourt advantage Waselenchuk replied “Maybe a little bit, but it is not my home club so I am playing on courts that I am new to as well as the other pros. As for motivation, it is very motivating, it definitely gives you added incentive going into the tournament.”
A professional player lending visible support to promote a tournament is not uncommon – Mannino and former top professional Cliff Swain have done so in the past in tournaments in San Diego and Boston, respectively – but it is something that is unique in how it connects with the immediate racquetball community. “I think it is great when (professional) players get involved in a tournament in this way,” Mannino said. For Kane and Kim to get involved is great for the game.”
Mannino praised the organizers of the Novasors Kansas City Open, the tournament originally scheduled for Sept. 18-21, for agreeing to move their tournament to a week later. “Kansas has graciously moved their date to Sept. 25-28 to make room for the new event. Special thanks to Mike Wedel, one of the nicest guys you could ever meet, and the Kansas sponsors and the Overland Park Athletic Club for accommodating us.”