Wednesday, January 27, 2010

IRT Rankings - January 25, 2010

The top 6 players remain the same on the latest International Racquetball Tour (IRT) rankings. The undefeated Kane Waselenchuk remains the #1 player with Jack Huczek, a finalist in every IRT event this season, in second. The top 6 are rounded out by Rocky Carson in 3rd, Jason Mannino in 4th, Shane Vanderson 5th and Mitch Williams 6th.

Williams is actually tied for 6th with Chris Crowther, who's up from 8th in the last rankings.

Also ranked higher is Kris Odegard, who's up to 11th. He's made the Round of 16 in each event this season, but is still looking for his 1st quarter final break through.

Alejandro Landa and Charlie Pratt are up too. Landa rose to 15th from 18th and Pratt to 17th from 19th. Finally, Hiroshi Shimizu and Mike Green are back in the top 20 at 19th and 20th, respectively.

IRT Rankings (as of Jaunary 25, 2010)
Rank - Player - Points - Previous Rank


1 Kane WASELENCHUK - 4309 - 1
2 Jack HUCZEK - 3293 - 2
3 Rocky CARSON - 2786 - 3
4 Jason MANNINO - 2359 - 4
5 Shane VANDERSON - 2209 - 5
6 Mitch WILLIAMS - 1909 - 6
6 Chris CROWTHER - 1909 - 8
8 Ben CROFT - 1761 - 9
9 Andy HAWTHORNE - 1620 - 10
10 Alvaro BELTRAN - 1234 - 7
11 Kris ODEGARD - 1181 - 14
12 Javier MORENO - 1107 - 11
13 Juan HERRERA - 1035 - 13
14 Travis WOODBURY - 945 - 12
15 Alejandro LANDA - 924 - 18
16 Anthony HERRERA - 884 - 16
17 Charlie PRATT - 846 - 19
18 Polo GUTIERREZ - 817 - 17
19 Hiroshi SHIMIZU - 773 - 21
20 Mike GREEN - 747 - 22

Follow the bouncing ball....

Monday, January 25, 2010

Weekend round up

Ben Croft won the Garden State Open - a Tier 4 event on the International Racquetball Tour (IRT) held on the weekend in Fairfield, New Jersey. Croft defeated Travis Aldinger 11-8, 11-5, 11-6, in the final.

In the semi-finals, Croft beat Anthony Defusto, 13-11, 11-5, 11-4, and Aldinger beat Nick Montalbano, 11-7, 11-3, 11-5. Croft also won Men's Open doubles with Ruben Gonzalez, as they defeated Montalbano and Fabian Pedraza, 15-2, 15-8 in the final.

Aimee Ruiz won the Women's Open division by defeating Elise Wilson in the final, 15-5, 15-1.

New York City Pro-Am

Ruiz's and Gonzalez's victories were their second in as many weekends, as they both won in Syosset, New York. Ruiz defeated Brandi Jacobson Prentice in the Women's Open final after defeating Wilson in the semis. Jacobson Prentice beat Kimberly Ferina in the other semi.

Gonzalez won Men's Open doubles with Jose Rojas in Syosset. They defeated Alejandro Landa and Alejandro Herrera in the final and Anthony Herrera and Fabian Pedraza in the semis. Landa and Herrera beat Montalbano and Brad Kirch in the other semi.

Vincent Gagnon won the Men's Open division in Syosset. He beat Alejandro Herrera in the final, and Andy Hawthorne in the semi-finals. Herrera defeated Kirch in the other semi.

This Weekend

This coming weekend will be a busy one, as there will be three Tier 4 IRT events and one Tier 2 event. The latter is the long running Lewis Drug Pro Am in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, with Jack Huczek, Rocky Carson, Shane Vanderson as well as Croft, Gonzalez, Hawthorne and Alejandro Herrera all entered.

The Tier 4 events are the Wichita Open in Wichita, Kansas, Metroplex Racquetball Championships in Arlington, Texas and the Wilson Tour of Hope in Cincinnati, which is also a Women's Professional Racquetball Organization (WPRO) satellite event.

In addition, Racquetball Canada's National Team Selection Event is taking place in Brossard, Quebec, just outside Montreal. It's the last chance for players to qualify for the Pan American Championships in Honduras at Easter and their first opportunity to qualify for the 2010 International Racquetball Federation (IRF) World Championships in Korea in August.

Follow the bouncing ball....

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Dear IRT Network.com

The IRT Network has been introduced this season as a means to see International Racquetball Tour (IRT) events live on line for a fee. This idea began last season with the IRT's agreement with ESPN to have matches webcast on ESPN360.com. Unfortunately, the ESPN360.com deal fell through due to a sponsorship loss, as producing the matches that way was relatively expensive.

In comes the IRT Network. They do live webcasts of matches from the quarter finals through finals at all the IRT Tier 1 and Grand Slam events as well as some satellite events. Moreover, they archive the matches on their website for later viewing. This allows IRT fans to see these events when they can't be there in person, which is great.

But as with all things, even great things, there are ways it can be done better. Thus, we here at The Racquetball Blog offer some suggestions as to how the IRT Network could be better.

1. Camera angle. The IRT Network has quality pictures and several cameras. However, the best angle is not always used. What's the best angle? A view from the center of the back about 10 feet off the ground. Proof for this is on your television, as this kind of angle is exactly what's used in tennis all the time. Just watch some of the Australian Open.

Yes, it's nice to see the players from other angles occasionally, but most of the time we just want this one angle, which will allow us to see the whole court and both players. To their credit, RacquetballOnLine.tv has correctly had this from the start. In that regard, the matches they have archived are better for coaching/learning purposes than IRT Network matches.

We understand that it could be hard to get this angle in all the venues that you are webcasting from, but this is the biggest thing that can be done to improve IRT Network matches. Compared to this, the things we mention below are mere quibbles.

2. Spelling. Well, maybe this isn't just a quibble, because it's just wrong. He's the player that you've had in more games than any other. He's the #1 player on tour. And his surname has one (1) "c"! It's Waselenchuk, not Waselenchuck, as has been listed on his matches from the last two events.

After the California Open, we thought that you'd notice this and change it on your own. But you haven't. Please do.

3. Score box. Your current format for displaying match scores has (i) the current game score, (ii) player name, and (iii) number of games won, in that order. This can be improved by listing the player name first, then the score in each game and finally the current game score. People are used to seeing the latest score right-most on a display, so by putting it first you're currently going against that tendency (because left to right is the way we read things in most languages).

Also, by including the scores for each game played you are providing more information to the audience without having to say anything. It's a visual medium, so provide more info visually.

Thus, rather than what you have now, which is something like

9 - Jack Huczek - 1
8 - Rocky Carson - 1

we'd like to see something like this:

Jack Huczek - 8 - 11 - 9
Rocky Carson - 11 - 8 - 8

Again this is what's commonly done in tennis coverage these days.

4. Commentary. Doing commentary isn't easy. If it was, Bob Costas, Al Michaels and the like wouldn't stand out from the crowd so much. But given that please get the facts right. For example, during the NYC final it was said that Ben Croft's 9 points in game 1 of the quarters was the most in one game against Waselenchuk this season. That's wrong. Nine points or more have been scored against Waselenchuk on four other occasions, twice by Jack Huczek and once each by Jose Rojas and Juan Herrera.

Also, the play-by-play person shouldn't talk about himself. If Costas or Michaels talked about their sporting exploits when covering a sporting event, we'd be similarly annoyed, because we don't care about what they've done in the sport. (the color commentary person has the role of adding comments because usually that's someone who's played the sport at a high level) We're tuning because we care about the players and what's happening on the court. Not you. Nothing personal.

There's also too much explanation of game rules and whatnot going on. You're pretty much preaching to the choir with the webcasts, as it's unlikely that someone's just going to stumble along to them, so you can assume that viewers know most of the ground rules. Again this is what's done with other sports; Michaels doesn't explain all the rules of football all the time does he?

If something unusual happens, of course, give some explanation of that, but otherwise less can be more.

Less can be more in using sports clich├ęs too, and some have found their way into IRT Network matches. We're absolutely sure anyone who goes to the IRT Network match archives will absolutely hear what we mean. Nudge nudge wink wink.

Indeed, going through the archives is a good way to figure out how to improve, because it's only by looking at the IRT Network productions on record that things can be identified for improvement. Make no mistake: the IRT Network is a good thing, but as we said even good things can be improved.

We look forward to the IRT Network improving its webcasts.

Follow the bouncing ball....

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

2010 New York City Pro Am - Wrap Up

Apologies to The Racquetball Blog readers for our skimpy coverage of last weekend's Cactus Salon New York City Pro Am - the sixth event of the International Racquetball Tour (IRT) season, but the staff was on the road (playing racquetball in fact and with some success we're happy to say), so we saw little of the matches live.

However, we've taken a peek at some of them via the IRTNetwork.com archive, and there's a few remarkable things about them.

There's not much remarkable about the final, aside from the remarkable play of Kane Waselenchuk, which has become common place. It was again Waselenchuk versus Jack Huczek in the final. Again Huczek came to play, getting out to small advantages early with 2-1 leads in both games one and two. But those little leads were only a delay of what has become almost expected, as Waselenchuk won the final by comfortable margins in three games, 11-4, 11-3, 11-3.

The remarkable things happened in the semi-finals. Waselenchuk defeated Jason Mannino in game one of their semi 11-0, which is remarkable as Mannino has rarely been blanked in a game. But also remarkable in that game was Mannino drive serving, as he almost exclusively uses a half lob serve from a position in the middle of the service box. Obviously, that serve didn't lead to any points, but the serves weren't poor, just failed to lead to winning rallies.

Also, Mannino didn't use his typical pre-serve routine later in the match. Mannino usually bounces the ball twice into the front wall, walking up ahead of the service box and then hitting the ball around the walls before coming back to serve. But by game three against Waselenchuk he wasn't doing that at all.

The other semi-final between Huczek and Rocky Carson had some controversy late in game three, as Carson disagreed with the referee on a few calls, including one with Huczek serving 10-11, where Carson thought an avoidable should have been called against Huczek, although in our opinion, calling a hinder rather than an avoidable was the right call in that instance.

But we don't think Carson lost the match because of what happened in game three. He lost it because of what happened in game two, when he had leads of 5-1 and 8-6 and failed to carry them to victory. Had he done so, Carson would have held a 2-0 advantage in games, which would probably have led him to victory in the match. Instead, Huczek came back and leveled the match at 1 game each, and helped lead to his win.

Finally, it's also remarkable that Ruben Gonzalez made the Round of 16 in New York, because it marks the 28th straight season that he has made it to the Round of 16 or farther in an IRT main event. Twenty eight years! Huczek's not even that old!

The IRT takes a break from Tier 1 competitions for several weeks with the Florida Spring Break event the next Tier 1 event on the schedule. That will be in mid-March.

Until then everyone better be working on their games, because Waselenchuk has, and he's only going to continue to hold the edge until someone betters him. And that's going to take some work.

Follow the bouncing ball....

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Waselenchuk wins 2010 Cactus Salon New York City Pro Am

Kane Waselenchuk won again on Sunday in the finals of the Cactus Salon New York City Pro Am on the International Racquetball Tour (IRT). Waselenchuk defeated Jack Huczek in a battle between the #1 and #2 IRT players, respectively, winning 11-4, 11-3, 11-3.*

It's Waselenchuk's fifth tournament title this season, and all the victories have come over Huczek.

*Scores unoffical as they're based on a posting on the MeetAndPlay.com website.

2010 New York City Pro Am
Syosset, New York

Finals


Kane Waselenchuk d. Jack Huczek, 11-4, 11-3, 11-3

Follow the bouncing ball....

Saturday, January 16, 2010

2010 New York City Pro Am SF Results

Kane Waselenchuk and Jack Huczek, the #1 and #2 players, respectively, on the International Racquetball Tour (IRT) will again meet on Sunday in the final of an IRT Tier 1 event: the Cactus Salon New York City Pro Am. Waselenchuk has defeated Huczek on each of the 6 previous occasions they have played this season.

Waselenchuk reached the final by defeating fourth seed Jason Mannino, 11-0, 11-5, 11-8. But Huczek's semi-final match against third seed Rocky Carson wasn't so easy.

Carson won the first game, 11-7, then Huczek took the second 11-8. Huczek had the early lead in game 3, but Carson worked his way back into the game and match, taking a 11-10 advantage. However, Huczek simply wasn't to be denied, as he came back to win the third game, 13-11.

After that it was all down hill for Carson, as Huczek took a commanding lead in game 4 and pushed to to win it, and take the match 7-11, 11-8, 13-11, 11-1.

The final can be seen live over the web at the IRT Netowrk.com.

2010 New York City Pro Am
Syosset, New York

Semi finals

Kane Waselenchuk d. Jason Mannino, 11-0, 11-5, 11-8
Jack Huczek d. Rocky Carson, 7-11, 11-8, 13-11, 11-1

Finals

Kane Waselenchuk vs. Jack Huczek

Follow the bouncing ball....

Friday, January 15, 2010

2010 New York City Pro Am QF Results

The usual suspects will be in the semis Saturday at the Cactus Salon New York City Pro Am, a Tier 1 event on International Racquetball Tour (IRT), as there were no upsets in the quarter finals Friday night.

Top seed Kane Waselenchuk defeated Ben Croft, 11-9, 11-1, 11-3, which is an improvement for Croft over the scores he lost by to Waselenchuk last weekend in California. Second seed Jack Huczek needed four games to defeat Chris Crowther, winning 11-3, 5-11, 11-7, 12-10.

Rocky Carson, the third seed, beat Mitch Williams in three straight, 13-11, 11-7, 11-7, and Jason Mannino also won in three over Shane Vanderson, 11-4, 11-2, 11-2.

The semi-finals on Saturday can be seen live over the web at the IRT Netowrk.com. The first semi is Jack Huczek vs. Rocky Carson at 4:00 PM Eastern time with Kane Waselenchuk vs. Jason Mannino to follow at 5:00 PM Eastern.

2010 New York City Pro Am
Syosset, New York

Quarter finals

Kane Waselenchuk d. Ben Croft, 11-9, 11-1, 11-3
Jason Mannino d. Shane Vanderson, 11-4, 11-2, 11-2

Rocky Carson d. Mitch Williams, 13-11, 11-7, 11-7
Jack Huczek d. Chris Crowther, 11-3, 5-11, 11-7, 12-10

Semi finals
Kane Waselenchuk v. Jason Mannino
Jack Huczek v. Rocky Carson

Follow the bouncing ball....

2010 Cactus Salon New York City Pro Am 16s

After some interesting upsets on Thursday there were none in Friday's Round of 16 at the Cactus Salon New York City Pro Am, a Tier 1 event on the International Racquetball Tour (IRT), as all the top 8 players won their matches. Furthermore only two matches were more than three games.

Top seed Kane Waselenchuk defeated Jose Rojas by the comfortable score line of 11-2, 11-3, 11-3, and second seed Jack Huczek also won in three straight over Nick Montalbano, 11-3, 11-8, 11-4.

Only Mitch Williams and Shane Vanderson dropped games to their opponents in the 16s. Williams needed four games to fend off Anthony Herrera, 11-9, 11-6, 11-13, 11-8, while Vanderson also required four games to get by Alejandro Landa, 11-6, 11-6, 11-13, 11-2.

Matches from the quarter finals through the finals are being streamed live over the web at the IRT Network.com. The first quarter final is Jack Huczek vs. Chris Crowther at 5:30 PM Eastern time Friday.

2010 New York City Pro Am
Syosset, New York

Round of 16

Kane Waselenchuk d. Jose Rojas, 11-2, 11-3, 11-3
Ben Croft d. Vincent Gagnon, 11-5, 11-7, 11-5

Shane Vanderson d. Alejandro Landa, 11-6, 11-6, 11-13, 11-2
Jason Mannino d. Ruben Gonzalez, 11-2, 11-1, 11-7

Rocky Carson d. Brad Kirch. 11-4, 11-3, 11-2
Mitch Williams d. Anthony Herrera, 11-9, 11-6, 11-13, 11-8

Chris Crowther d. Kris Odegard, 11-7, 11-8, 11-8
Jack Huczek d. Nick Montalbano, 11-3, 11-8, 11-4

Quarter finals
Kane Waselenchuk v. Ben Croft
Jason Mannino v. Shane Vanderson

Rocky Carson v. Mitch Williams
Jack Huczek v. Chris Crowther

Follow the bouncing ball....

Thursday, January 14, 2010

2010 New York City Pro Am Qualifying Results

We have some unofficial results from qualifying at the Cactus Salon New York City Pro Am, this weekend's Tier 1 event on International Racquetball Tour (IRT). Unofficial though they come from a posting by Commissioner Jason Mannino on the MeetAndPlay.com website, so we're bringing them to you here.

There were a few upsets in qualifying. The two largest were by American junior players. Seventeen year old Nick Montalbano reaching the Round of 16 with wins over Jonathan Clay, 12-10, 11-4, 11-5, and IRT veteran Hiroshi Shimizu, 11-7, 11-5, 11-8. Montalbono will play Jack Huczek in the 16s on Friday.

Brad Kirch, 18, is also in the 16s on Friday as he defeated Alejandro Herrera, 12-10, 4-11, 11-9, 3-11, 12-10 the final qualifying round. It was Kirch's third match of the day, as he'd earlier defeated John Behm, 11-6, 11-9, 11-5, and Armando Landa, 11-2, 11-8, 6-11, 11-4. Kirch will play Rocky Carson on Friday.

Ninth seed Andy Howthorne was upset by 25th seed Vincent Gagnon, 7-11, 11-6, 11-6, 9-11, 12-10, in the last round of qualifying. It's less of an upset than it appears on paper though, as Gagnon is a veteran of the Canadian National Team and won the bronze medal at last year's World Games by defeating Alvaro Beltran, as well as taking a game off Huczek in the semi-final of that event. Gagnon will play Ben Croft in the 16s.

As anticipated Jose Rojas will face top seed Kane Waselenchuk in the 16s, as Rojas defeated Lee Connell in qualifying, 13-11, 11-3, 11-8.

Finally, legendary Ruben Gonzalez has made another Round of 16, as he defeated Charlie Pratt, 11-3, 12-14, 11-8, 11-3, in qualifying. Next up for Gonzalez is Mannino.

2010 New York City Pro Am
Syosset, New York

Qualifying Round 1

Chad LaForest d. Paul Smith, fft
Joseph Palazzo d. Tom Keogh, 11-6, 11-5, 11-13, 11-6
Nate Gagne d. Stacey Young, 11-4, 11-1, 11-0

Brad Kirch d. John Behm, 11-6, 11-9, 11-5
Jose Flores, Jr. d. Brian Lesieur, 11-5, 13-15, 12-10, 11-6
Ron Wojnoski d. Mitch Posner, 15-13, 11-0, 11-9
Nick Montalbano d. Jonathan Clay, 12-10, 11-4, 11-5

Qualifying Round 2
Lee Connell d. Chad LaForest
Vincent Gagnon d. Tanner Mattson, 11-1, 11-3, 11-4
David Horn d. Joseph Palazzo
Ruben Gonzalez d. Nate Gagne, 11-8, 11-8, 11-4

Brad Kirch d. Armando Landa, 11-2, 11-8, 6-11, 11-4
Jose Flores, Jr. d. Sebastien Boissonneault, 10-12, 11-8, 6-11, 11-4, 11-2
Luis Reveron d. Ron Wojnoski, 11-3, 11-4, 11-1
Nick Montalbano d. Jason Sylvester, 12-10, 11-4, 11-5

Qualifying Round 3
Q8 - Jose Rojas d. Lee Connell, 13-11, 11-3, 11-8
Q1 - Vincent Gagnon d. Andy Hawthorne, 7-11, 11-6, 11-6, 9-11, 12-10

Q4 - Alejandro Landa d. David Horn, 11-6, 11-4, 11-6
Q5 - Ruben Gonzalez d. Charlie Pratt, 11-3, 12-14, 11-8, 11-3

Q6 - Brad Kirch d. Alejandro Herrera, 12-10, 4-11, 11-9, 3-11, 12-10
Q3 - Anthony Herrera d. Jose Flores, Jr., 11-6, 11-3, 11-2

Q2 - Kris Odegard d. Luis Reveron, 11-8, 11-6, 11-6
Q7 - Nick Montalbano d. Hiroshi Shimizu, 11-7, 11-5, 11-8

Main Draw

Kane Waselenchuk v. Jose Rojas
Ben Croft v. Vincent Gagnon

Shane Vanderson v. Alejandro Landa
Jason Mannino v. Ruben Gonzalez

Rocky Carson v. Brad Kirch
Mitch Williams v. Anthony Herrera

Chris Crowther v. Kris Odegard
Jack Huczek v. Nick Montalbano

Follow the bouncing ball....

2010 New York City Pro Am Qualifying Rounds

The International Racquetball Tour (IRT) goes at it again this weekend. This time they'll be in New York City for the New York City Pro Am, and The Racquetball Blog has the draw for you below. There are 31 players in the qualifying rounds, which begin later today, as well as the top 8 seeded into the Round of 16.

The IRT changes its seedings for players ranked 5-8 in the Tier 1 events, so the potential quarter final match ups are different this weekend from last weekend's California Open. For example, Ben Croft could face top seed Kane Waselenchuk in the quarter finals; they met in last weekend's semi-finals. Also, Shane Vanderson and Chris Crowther have flipped sides of the draw, and could face Jason Mannino and Jack Huczek, respectively, in the quarters.

Another potential match is Jose Rojas against Waselenchuk in the Round of 16. Rojas had game points against Waselenchuk in game 1 of their US Open match before Waselenchuk snuffed out any hopes Rojas had of causing an upset.

The Legend Ruben Gonzalez is in the draw this weeekend. He might face Charlie Pratt in the last round of qualifying with the winner going up against Jason Mannino in the Round of 16 on Friday.

2010 New York City Pro Am
Syosset, New York

Qualifying Round 1

Chad LaForest v. Paul Smith
Joseph Palazzo v. Tom Keogh
Stacey Young v. Nate Gagne

Brad Kirch v. John Behm
Jose Flores, Jr. v. Brian Lesieur
Mitch Posner v. Ron Wojnoski
Jonathan Clay v. Nick Montalbano

Qualifying Round 2
Lee Connell v. Chad LaForest or Paul Smith
Tanner Mattson v. Vincent Gagnon
David Horn v. Joseph Palazzo or Tom Keogh
Ruben Gonzalez v. Stacey Young or Nate Gagne

Armando Landa v. Brad Kirch or John Behm
Sebastien Boissonneault v. Jose Flores, Jr. or Brian Lesieur
Luis Reveron v. Mitch Posner or Ron Wojnoski
Jason Sylvester v. Jonathan Clay or Nick Montalbano

Qualifying Round 3
Q8 - Jose Rojas v. Lee Connell or Chad LaForest or Paul Smith
Q1 - Andy Hawthorne v. Tanner Mattson or Vincent Gagnon

Q4 - Alejandro Landa v. David Horn or Joseph Palazzo or Tom Keogh
Q5 - Charlie Pratt v. Ruben Gonzalez or Stacey Young or Nate Gagne

Q6 - Alejandro Herrera v. Armando Landa or Brad Kirch or John Behm
Q3 - Anthony Herrera v. Sebastien Boissonneault or Jose Flores, Jr. or Brian Lesieur

Q2 - Kris Odegard v. Luis Reveron or Mitch Posner or Ron Wojnoski
Q7 - Hiroshi Shimizu v. Jason Sylvester or Jonathan Clay or Nick Montalbano

Main Draw

Kane Waselenchuk v. Q8
Ben Croft v. Q1

Shane Vanderson v. Q4
Jason Mannino v. Q5

Rocky Carson v. Q6
Mitch Williams v. Q3

Chris Crowther v. Q2
Jack Huczek v. Q7

Follow the bouncing ball....

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Open results from Coast to Coast California Open

Two more results of note from the Coast to Coast California Open: Jose Rojas won the Men's Open division, defeating Kris Odegard in the final. Rojas defeated Willie Tilton in one semi-final while Odegard took out David Horn in the other semi.

Also, Dawoud Gharfarshod and Mike Orr came out on top in Men's Open Doubles, where they defeated Craig Lane and Greg Solis in the final. Gharfarshod and Orr defeated Jonathan Dunn and Jason Geis in one semi and Lane and Solis beat Todd Entrikin and Dale Valentine in the other.

No scores were available for these Open division matches.

2010 Coast to Coast California Open
Canoga Park, California

Men's Open Final

Jose Rojas d. Kris Odegard

Semi final
Rojas d. Willie Tilton
Odegard d. David Horn

Men's Open Doubles Final
Dawoud Gharfarshod & Mike Orr d. Craig Lane & Greg Solis

Semi final
Gharfarshod & Orr d. Jonathan Dunn & Jason Geis
Lane & Solis d. Todd Entrikin & Dale Valentine

Follow the bouncing ball....

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Waselenchuk wins Coast to Coast California Open

Kane Waselenchuk continued his dominance of the International Racquetball Tour (IRT) Sunday as he defeated Jack Huczek in the final of the Coast to Coast California Open, 11-3, 11-5, 11-6. Waselenchuk has won all four of the IRT events he's played this season. His last loss on tour came in last year's California Open.

Waselenchuk went out front early in game one by taking a 7-0 lead using a variety of drive serves. Huczek clawed a few points back before Waselenchuk closed it out at 11-3.

In game two, Waselenchuk got a 3-0 lead, but Huczek came back to make it 3-2. However, Waselenchuk scored the next five points to make it 8-2. Huczek called a time out, and when play resumed Waselenchuk fault served to give the serve back to Huczek.

Huczek had also been drive serving to that point, but after the time out he lob served and had some success cutting the deficit to 8-5. But that's as close as it got as Waselenchuk closed out game two, 11-5.

Game three was the longest of the match. Early on the players went back and forth and after more than 10 rallies the score was only 3-3. But then Waselenchuk went on a run to 10-3.

But to Huczek's credit, he didn't give in, and fought off the first two match points. Huczek put together a three point run, but it was only delaying the inevitable, as Waselenchuk won game three 11-6 taking the match in three straight games.

Sunday's final confirms the IRT pecking order this season.

Waselenchuk is clearly on top, having won each of four events he's been in. Then comes Huczek, who been runner-up in each of the Tier 1 or Grand Slam events this season.

And then there's everyone else.

The next stop on the IRT tournament schedule is next weekend, when the players will all be in New York City for the New York City Pro Am.

2010 Coast to Coast California Open
Canoga Park, California

Final

Kane Waselenchuk d. Jack Huczek, 11-3, 11-5, 11-6

Follow the bouncing ball....

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Coast to Coast California Open - Semi-finals

Kane Waselenchuk and Jack Huczek will meet for the 4th time this season Sunday in the final the Coast to Coast California Open - a Tier 1 event on the International Racquetball Tour (IRT). Waselenchuk has won all three of their previous meetings between the top two IRT players.

Waselenchuk reached the final by defeating Ben Croft in the semi-finals, 11-5, 11-5, 11-0, while Huczek overcame Rocky Carson, 11-8, 7-11, 11-8, 11-1 in the other semi.

You can see the matches on the IRTNetwork.com, which will do a live web-cast of the final at Noon Pacific time on Sunday. Also, the IRTNetwork.com has archived the matches from earlier in the tournament (as well as matches from tournaments earlier this season) - quarter finals on down, as well as the Round of 16 match between Carson and Jose Rojas.

2010 Coast to Coast California Open
Canoga Park, California

Semi finals

Kane Waselenchuk d. Ben Croft, 11-5, 11-5, 11-0
Jack Huczek d. Rocky Carson, 11-8, 7-11, 11-8, 11-1

Final
Kane Waselenchuk vs. Jack Huczek

Follow the bouncing ball....

Coast to Coast California Open - QFs & 16s - UPDATED

The top three seeds have reached the semi-finals at the Coast to Coast California Open - the fifth event of the International Racquetball Tour (IRT) season. Second seed Jack Huczek will play 3rd Rocky Carson in one semi-final on Saturday, and top seed Kane Waselenchuk will face 5th seed Ben Croft in the other semi.

Croft is the surprise semi-finalist. He upset 4th seed Jason Mannino, 11-3, 7-11, 11-6, 11-3, in the quarter finals. It's Croft's second straight semi-final, as he was also in the US Open semis.

The event is being webcast on the IRTNetwork.com, and the quarter final matches are archived on the site already.

2010 Coast to Coast California Open
Canoga Park, California

Quarter finals

Kane Waselenchuk d. Chris Crowther, 11-4, 11-3, 11-3
Ben Croft d. Jason Mannino, 11-3, 7-11, 11-6, 11-3

Rocky Carson d. Juan Herrera, 11-8, 11-0, 9-2 - retired due to injury
Jack Huczek d. Mitch Williams, 11-7, 11-2, 12-10

Round of 16
Kane Waselenchuk d. Alejandro Herrera, 11-6, 11-1, 11-1
Chris Crowther d. Andy Hawthorne, 11-3, 8-11, 11-4, 11-3

Ben Croft d. Kris Odegard, 11-6, 11-7, 12-10
Jason Mannino d. Felipe Munoz, 11-4, 11-9, 10-12, 11-6

Rocky Carson d. Jose Rojas, 11-3, 11-5, 12-10
Juan Herrera d. Shane Vanderson

Mitch Williams d. Javier Moreno, 11-7, 11-1, 8-11, 10-12, 11-1
Jack Huczek d. Alejandro Landa, 9-11, 11-8, 11-3, 11-7

Semi-finals - Saturday

Kane Waselenchuk v. Ben Croft
Jack Huczek vs. Rocky Carson

Follow the bouncing ball....

Friday, January 8, 2010

Coast to Coast California Open - Qualifying Results UPDATED

The Coast to Coast California Open is through the qualifying rounds. This is fifth event of the International Racquetball Tour (IRT) season. On Friday, the Round of 16 will be played during the day and the quarter finals at night.

There were a few upsets in qualifying. Felipe Munoz seeded 20th defeated 13th seed Andres Herrera, so he'll now face Jason Mannino in the Round of 16. In an upset by the seeding but perhaps not by recent form, 19th Jose Rojas defeated 14th Anthony Herrera, and will now face Rocky Carson in the 16s.

Finally, 17th seed Alejandro Herrera and 16th seed Charlie Pratt scored 94 points in only 4 games with Herrera coming out on top, 13-15, 12-10, 13-11, 11-9. Ninety four is the most points by two players in a four match this season. Herrera will now meet top seed Kane Waselenchuk Friday in the Round of 16.

Some Round of 16 match ups that The Racquetball Blog anticipated are going happen, as Mitch Williams is up against Javier Moreno and Ben Croft will play Kris Odegard.

2010 Coast to Coast California Open
Canoga Park, California

Round of 16

Kane Waselenchuk v. Alejandro Herrera
Chris Crowther v. Andy Hawthorne

Ben Croft v. Kris Odegard
Jason Mannino v. Felipe Munoz

Rocky Carson v. Jose Rojas
Shane Vanderson v. Juan Herrera

Mitch Williams v. Javier Moreno
Jack Huczek v. Alejandro Landa

Qualifying Round 3
Q1 - Andy Hawthorne d. Keith Minor, 11-1, 11-4, 11-5
Q2 - Alejandro Landa d. Willie Tilton, 11-5, 11-7, 8-11, 11-6

Q3 - Juan Herrera d. David Horn, 11-5, 9-11, 11-4, 11-1
Q4 - Kris Odegard v. Armando Landa, 11-5, 11-7, 11-7

Q5 - Felipe Munoz d. Andres Herrera, 10-12, 11-9, 12-10, 11-4
Q6 - Jose Rojas d. Anthony Herrera, 11-2, 11-6, 11-8

Q7 - Javier Moreno d. Jason Geis, 11-8, 2-11, 11-1, 11-4
Q8 - Alejandro Herrera d. Charlie Pratt, 13-15, 12-10, 13-11, 11-9

Qualifying Round 2
Keith Minor d. Sebastien Boissonneault, 11-6, 11-3, 11-4
Willie Tilton d. Hiroshi Shimizu, 11-9, 11-4, 12-10

David Horn d. Tanner Mattson, 11-2, 11-4, 11-7
Armando Landa d. Dawoud Garfarshod, 11-7, 11-6, 3-11, 11-8

Felipe Munoz d. Jose Flores, ?
Jose Rojas d. Hank Minardo, 11-1, 11-1, 11-0

Jason Geis d. Luis Reveron, 11-5, 11-7, 11-1
Alejandro Herrera d. Majeed Shahin, 11-5, 11-7, 11-3

Qualifying Round 1
Majeed Shahin d. Blake Martin, 11-3, 11-7, 11-4
Hank Minardo d. Manual Flores, forfeit
Willie Tilton d. Brian Pineda, 11-1, 11-4, 11-6

Follow the bouncing ball....

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Racquetball Player vs. Handball Player: Who Wins?

As we wait in eager anticipation of this weekend's International Racquetball Tour (IRT) event - the Coast to Coast California Open - consider the question of who would win in a battle between a racquetball player and a handball player. Some people in the early 70s did more than consider that question. They put it to the test.

In the early 1970s, Bud Muehleisen was one of, if not the, premier racquetball player. At that time, he called up Paul Haber, who was then the premier handball player. Muehleisen asked about the possibility of them playing each other - racquet vs. hand, and what Haber thought the outcome would be.

"You would lose badly," was Haber's reply.

Thus, the challenge was on.

They played at least twice. An interview Haber about the event and some footage of them playing is available on line. They used a handball - not a racquetball, which was still being tinkered with, so they did not have the consistent playability that we enjoy today.

In their first match played in Memphis, Tennessee, Muehleisen won the first game, Haber the second, and then Haber won a close tie-breaker. Their second match was played in September of '72 in Long Beach, California. That time they also split the first two games with Muehleisen winning the first and Haber the second.

But the second tie-breaker when to Muehleisen, who won the second match 21-9, 18-21, 21-8.

They planned to play a third match, but we're unsure whether that happened.

Note: We found the video link above on Bud Muehleisen wikipedia page.

Follow the bouncing ball....

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Coast to Coast California Open - Qualifying

The draw for this weekend's Coast to Coast California Open, which kicks off the second part of the International Racquetball Tour (IRT) season, has now been released. There are 27 players in the qualifying rounds, so it could take three wins on Thursday to get to the Round of 16 on Friday.

Mitch Williams returns to competition after missing the US Open due to injury. He's seeded 7th and could face Javier Moreno in the Round of 16 in a battle of two left handed players.

Ben Croft, who surprised us in Memphis by getting to the semi-finals for the first time, is seeded 5th. He may face Kris Odegard, current Canadian Champion, in the 16s.

Another player to look out for is Jose Rojas, who also played well in Memphis. Since then he's won two gold medals - in singles and doubles - in his last year of eligibility at the World Junior Championships. Rojas reached the semi-finals of this event last year, and then lost to Rocky Carson. They will play in the 16s on Friday if Rojas wins his qualifying matches on Thursday.

Of course, given the season results so far, we'd expect the two top seeds - #1 Kane Waselenchuk and #2 Jack Huczek - to be in the final on Sunday. But this was the tournament that Waselenchuk failed to win last year, when Alvaro Beltran defeated him in the semi-finals.

If Waselenchuk, now a father for a second time, had as nice a holiday season this year as last, then perhaps he can be defeated again. Some players may have asked Santa Claus for that result, but the fat man doesn't usually deliver in January.

2010 Coast to Coast California Open
Canoga Park, California

Qualifying Round 1

Blake Martin v. Majeed Shahin
Manual Flores v. Hank Minardo
Brian Pineda v. Willie Tilton

Qualifying Round 2
Keith Minor v. Sebastien Boissonneault
Hiroshi Shimizu v. Brian Pineda or Willie Tilton

David Horn v. Tanner Mattson
Armando Landa v. Dawoud Garfarshod

Felipe Munoz v. Jose Flores
Jose Rojas v. Manual Flores or Hank Minardo

Jason Geis v. Luis Reveron
Alejandro Herrera v. Blake Martin or Majeed Shahin

Qualifying Round 3
Q1 - Andy Hawthorne v. Keith Minor or Sebastien Boissonneault
Q2 - Alejandro Landa v. Hiroshi Shimizu or Brian Pineda or Willie Tilton

Q3 - Juan Herrera v. David Horn or Tanner Mattson
Q4 - Kris Odegard v. Armando Landa or Dawoud Garfarshod

Q5 - Andres Herrera v. Felipe Munoz or Jose Flores
Q6 - Anthony Herrera v. Jose Rojas or Manual Flores or Hank Minardo

Q7 - Javier Moreno v. Jason Geis or Luis Reveron
Q8 - Charlie Pratt v. Alejandro Herrera or Blake Martin or Majeed Shahin

Main Draw

Kane Waselenchuk v. Q8
Chris Crowther v. Q1

Ben Croft v. Q4
Jason Mannino v. Q5

Rocky Carson v. Q6
Shane Vanderson v. Q3

Mitch Williams v. Q2
Jack Huczek v. Q7

Follow the bouncing ball....

Coast to Coast California Open - Preview

The draw for this weekend's Coast to Coast California Open, which kicks off the second part of the International Racquetball Tour (IRT) season, hasn't been released yet. But we've heard from IRT Commissioner Jason Mannino that 25 players are in the draw.

You might be hard pressed to recall what happened in the IRT events in the fall, as it seems so long ago now. In fact, there hasn't been a big IRT event since the US Open in October eleven (yes, 11!) weeks ago. So, perhaps a bit of a review is in order.

There were four main IRT events in the fall: two Tier 1 and two Grand Slam events. Kane Waselenchuk won both the Grand Slam events in Denver and Memphis, and the Tier 1 event in Terre Haute, Indiana. The other event was won by Mannino in Bowling Green, Kentucky.

Jack Huczek has been the runner-up in all four IRT events this season.

There have been 184 matches in those four events. Five of those matches have produced over 90 points between the players with the highest total being 95, which has happened twice.

Jack Huczek defeated Rocky Carson in the semi-finals of the Bowling Green event, 11-8, 10-12, 11-7, 7-11, 11-7, and Polo Gutierrez defeated Anthony Carson, 11-9, 11-5, 10-12, 10-12, 11-4 in the final round of qualifying in Denver.

In two matches, the winner has had fewer points than the loser, and Mannino has been involved in both of them. He defeated Jack Huczek in the final of the Kentucky Open, 11-6, 14-12, 6-11, 0-11, 11-7, despite winning 5 fewer points in the match. Mannino lost to Shane Vanderson, 3-11, 11-6, 11-5, 3-11, 11-7, although he scored one more point than Vanderson.

Those are a few of the remarkable things from the first half of the 2009-2010 IRT season.

This week's Tier 1 event in California event is followed up with another Tier 1 event in New York City next week. Then there will be another break until the end of February, when action switches back to California for the San Diego Open.

Follow the bouncing ball....