Washington, Mo. April 30, 2018- The final Tier 1 event of the 2017-2018 IRT (International Racquetball Tour) season has ended and the #1 ranked player in the world is, Rocky Carson.
Carson, from Ladera Ranch, California, has earned the nickname, “the ironman of racquetball”, and for good reason. He played in nine of the Tour’s 11 Tier 1 tournaments this past season. The San Antonio March Madness event down in Texas missed Carson’s presence due to a contractual obligation. Carson was unable to attend the World Doubles Open Championships in Denver, Colorado due to a mission trip that he and his wife, Jennifer, felt they were called to go on. The Carsons teamed up with IRT partner and non-profit organization, The Rapha House, to head to Cambodia and help those in need. Other than those two events, Carson played in every single Tier 1 tournament this past season, including the United Healthcare U.S. Open Championships, back in October.
May 21, 1979 Rocky Carson was born, 19 years later Carson was officially ranked as a professional racquetball player. In the 2002-2003 season, Carson tasted victory for the first time when he won his first Tier 1 tournament. Five seasons later Carson had his best season of his career, winning seven Tier 1 tournaments, including the U.S. Open and finishing the season ranked as the #1 player in the world. A lot has changed since the 2007-2008 season, including some IRT rules, but that hasn’t stopped Carson from contending for the #1 spot every year.
“Back when they added the two serve rule and some other changes are some things I’ve really had to get used to in my career,” Carson said. “My conditioning and routines are the same every year, the biggest difference this year is dealing with injuries. This has been the hardest season so far.”
Carson started the season with an injury to his knee at the first event of the year in Canoga Park, California where he still placed second. Surgery was the answer for Carson’s knee which lead to him not coming back in “tournament shape”, according to Carson. Dealing with injuries this season has made it difficult for Carson to have fun on the court.
“This was a tough year, it was hard to really enjoy playing with the pain I was dealing with,” Carson said. “Having to recover from an injury and then over-training to make it back out there played a part of it too. It was frustrating because I wanted to get back to what I know, but my body just didn’t let me do it.”
Pushing through injuries and continuing to make at least the quarter-finals all season long lead to an all important Tier 1 tournament for Carson in Sarasota, Florida. Carson came into the tournament as the #1 ranked player and would have to make the finals to lockdown that #1 ranking. The #3 ranked player in the world, Alejandro Landa, from El Paso, Texas, met Carson in the semi-final before getting beat by scores of 15-9, 15-12. Carson secured the #1 ranking for the season before losing to Kane Waselenchuk, residing in Austin, Texas, by scores of 15-5, 15-4.
Carson said he was aware that it was a tight race between him and Waselenchuk for that #1 spot, but that he tried not to pay any attention to it.
“I haven’t kept up with rankings since I was about 25, but I was getting phone calls and texts from friends about having a chance to end at #1,” Carson said. “I wasn’t sure what was going on points wise, but I knew I had a chance. I put a game plan together coming into Florida and it just felt great to go out there an execute.”
Humble as always, Carson wants to thank his family and friends that have supported him along the way. Carson also thanks all his fans and the Tour for their great support, and his many sponsors that he takes pride in wearing on his clothes when he competes. Carson, who will be 39 this month, continues to prove that age is just a number and that persistence pays off.
Head IRT Staff Writer:
Kelly R. Diesel