Season by Season Narrative Summaries
5/18/09: After a conversation on meetandplay and with Jason Mannino, I decided to move any editorialization from the
Year End Titles link and instead
create a season by season summary to try to capture the essence of the season in a couple of paragraphs. These summaries are editorial in nature,
represent my opinions and those opinions may not necessarily be shared by other pro tour fans, observers or players.
2018-19: Tour Champion: Kane Waselenchuk, his 13th pro title.
- August 2018: Kane Waselenchuk conducts a long-form interview on Dylan Reid's podcast and goes into details on his decision to "retire" from the sport. The gist of
the situation appears to be related to compensation; Kane is demanding "additional compensation" for showing up for events and the tour apparently
is not agreeing to do so. Then, in a series of Facebook posts and discussion strings, he expands on the reasoning/complaints with the tour, citing a
conference call in January 2018 and other events. This appears to be a lingering argument with the tour, which took away 1st place price money to
better fund the main draw round of 16 qualifiers.
- Aug 2018: Kane decides to take an appearance fee to appear at a competing non-Tier 1 event in Atlanta in September 2018... then
is compelled to instead enter the first Tier 1 of the season when it became clear from the IRT contract that he was facing hefty fines for not appearing. In a response
online, Tour owner John Scott defends his statements, has a public back-and-forth with Kane about a Jan 2018 conference call and other incidents, claims
that the tour "made no money" in 2017-18. At the end of the discussion, Kane and Scott seem to "agree to disagree" about some unstated conversation and
they decide to move on. Perhaps he's not "retiring." This story will continue as we see how many events Kane enters in the new season. Kane subsequently
enters the first Tier 1 of the season in Laurel, MD ... and then pulls out after the draws are made citing injuries from a "car accident."
- Sept 12, 2018: Alejandro Landa jumps Kane Waselenchuk for the #2 ranking when a points expiration issue causes the rankings movement
just prior to the Laurel event. The draw is re-seeded last minute with Landa as the #2 seed. Landa began the 2017-18 season ranked outside
the top 10, a pretty amazing rise up the rankings in a short amount of time. Landa loses in the semis, giving Samuel Murray his first career final.
He loses to Rocky Carson in the season's first event.
- 9/23/18: World Champ Rodrigo Montoya injures his right ankle in the final of the Sonora Open, putting his attendance at the US Open in doubt.
This could have been a huge blow for the player and the event, as Montoya is one of the top players in the world and doesn't get the opportunity to travel to
the US to play IRT events that frequently. 10/4/18: Montoya makes the event and plays with an ankle brace as a precaution, but does not advance nearly
as far as expected, losing in the 16s to Mario Mercado.
- 10/3/18: the US Open has an excellent Men's draw of 69 players, and includes 28 of the top 30 mens players by ranking. Importantly,
Kane Waselenchuk is in the draw, seeded #3. After an action packed tourney, Kane wins his 14th Title, without dropping a game. Kane does suffer a loss in
this event; he and Ben Croft lose in the Pro Doubles final to Beltran & De La Rosa, a rematch of both last year's phenomenal US OPen doubles final and
of the World Doubles final in Denver 2018. The mens draw towards the back half of the event goes much closer to chalk than 2017's event, with 6 of the
top 8 seeds making the quarters. #10 seeded Andree Parrilla is the big news maker, upsetting #7 Murray and #2 Landa to make the semis. Last year's surprise
quarter-finalist Moscoso could not repeat his feat, perhaps being fatigued from entering three events.
- 10/15/18: Commissioner Andy Kulbeck takes a "leave of absence" from the IRT. On 11/8/18, CEO John scott announces that Kulbeck has left the IRT
officially but remains associated with the organization as a consultant.
- 10/26/18: CEO John Scott makes several announcements via Facebook. First, he's signed a new "agreement" to serve as CEO til the end of next season
as a placeholder paperwork step to help "professionalize" the operations of the tour. He announces a new Tier 1 to coincide with a National Masters
event in San Antonio in March 2019, and lastly announces a new Grand Slam Event to be held in April 2019 in Syosset NY, an event he's calling a "Unity event"
in that its an attempt to get all the various organizations to work together. Lastly there's a tentative 3rd slam in the works, to be held in South America,
in addition to "4-5 more pending Tier ones" here in the US.
- 11/8/18: CEO John Scott announces the new org structure of the tour: Scott as CEO, Grisz as Chairman of the board, Mark Gibbs as CMO, and
Mark & Dean Baer are the new player liaisons. Scott also informs the players they can select a player representative. Lastly he officially notes
the departure of Kulbeck, who is stepping aside for personal reasons.
- 11/27/18: a mini-brew-ha-ha erupts on the IRT's facebook page over the rolling rankings that come out, showing Kane having dropped to #6. His complaint
seems to stem around the fact that there havn't been enough tournaments in the first half of the 2018-19 season for him to build up points that he
lost by virtue of missing most of the second half of last season. PRS does some
Ranking System alternatives in the blog that show how some different variations of points calculations would change or alter the current rankings.
Many people chime in, including two former commissioners and many players and IRT staff.
- 12/12/18: Rball makes the ESPN top 10 highlights again, this time a between-the-legs kill shot from the 2018 Pelham ToC in Portland by Kane
in his semis win over defending champ Pratt.
- 1/14/19: CEO John Scott undergoes emergency surgery and nearly dies due to internal bleeding, which requires a second surgery. He misses the
important Lewis Drug pro-am while recovering.
- 1/15/19: On the back of his best ever pro season, Jose Diaz breaks into not only the top 10 for the first time, but the top 8, earning a #7
seed for the Lewis Drug and his first professional bye. He's 7th in season-to-date ranks, tied with Alvaro Beltran as of the Lewis and sits 9th in the
rolling 12 month rankings.
- 1/18/19: Kane wins the Lewis Drug event, and ascends back to the #1 spot on tour, where he is likely to stay for a while as he does nothing but
regain points lost last season. This ends months of "discussions" in various online forums about the value of the rankings systems in use on tour.
- 1/31/19: part-time and former touring pro Tony Carson, who has played a few events since retiring from full-time touring, tears the achilles
tendon in his left leg and undergoes surgery. He's likely to be sidelined for nearly a year.
- Feb 1, 2019: John Scott resigns as CEO of the IRT via an facebook post,
which is then followed up by an official IRT Press Release here.
Scott had undergone emergency surgeries in Jan 2019 and revealed that he's suffering from Bipolar conditions, and he felt his recovery was precluding
him from effectively leading the IRT. Current IRT Chairman of the Board Mike Grisz will take on the role as acting-CEO effective immediately.
- 3/13/19: ahead of the IRT Shamrock Shootout in Chicago, the IRT announces that they've
teamed up with none other than Pablo Fajre, the owner
and operator of the competing World Racquetball tour, to do the
streaming of their live broadcasts going forward. As former CEO John Scott (who is still the largest investor in the tour despite stepping down
as CEO) notes, the tour has chosen Pablo's streaming solution as a replacement for Scott's enetlive.com solution going forward. This is potentially a
significant development; does this mean the end of the WRT? Does this mean that Fajre's events will become IRT events? Questions abound.
- 3/17/19: During his post-win interview, Kane announces that he'll be skipping the upcoming Bolivian Grand Slam event for family reasons. Per
Kane, flying to Bolivia is a 10-day commitment and he's decided to stay back to spend time with his daughters instead of traveling for the event.
- 3/28/19: The Bolivian Grand Slam event happens, the first time an IRT event has been held in the country. Unfortunately, the event was missing
a number of top pros: 5 of the top 10 did not travel. Kane, DLR, Sam Murray, Sebastian Franco, and Jose Diaz miss out on opportunities for double
points. The most significant impact will be on Kane and DLR in particular: Kane will lose the #1 ranking if Rocky wins but is not at real jeopardy of
losing the #1 overall ranking on the season but he has to attend the remaining events and score higher than Rocky. Meanwhile, DLR's absense will likely
drop him to 6th overall and removes most any chance of his retaining his top 4 status on the season. Thanks to the missing players, Montoya, Horn and
Bredenbeck all earn top 8 seeds, the first of which for Montoya in particular.
- 3/30/19: Conrrado Moscoso becomes the 40th player ever to win an event by taking his home-town Bolivian Open, defeating Carson in the final.
Moscoso ends up beating the 1st, 2nd and 3rd seeded players (Carson, Landa and Beltran) to take this event, though commentary in the chat circles seems
to discount the accomplishment due to Moscoso's playing on home ground and being more acclimated to the altitude. The win vaults Moscoso into the top 16
of rankings, and rumors abound that Moscoso will play the remaining slate of IRT events to try to repeat the feat.
- 4/7/19: Up and coming US junior Mauro (Daniel) Rojas announces on Instagram that he'll cease
playing US National events, but notes that he'll play Pro events when he can. But his post notes a recent engagement and promotion at work, and
seems to indicate more of a focus on work, school and his fiancee.
- 4/22/19: Former CEO John Scott divests himself of all ownership shares of the tour, selling them in totality to Slemo & Charity Warigon.
Scott's resignation in Feburary was just the first part of completely stepping away from the sport, a shocking development given Scott's long
involvement over the years. The Warigon's (whose son Troy is a part time tour player) hail from Suburban Maryland and now are the majority owners of
the IRT. Acting CEO Mike Grisz is now officially the CEO. This movement also marks the complete transition of the tour to a management structure
that is volunteer based, which should help improve the finances of the tour significantly going forward. Official announcement of this sale
made on 5/7/19 on www.irt-tour.com.
- 4/25/19: Tour Commissioner Andy Kulbeck returns to the fold (perhaps coinciding with the departure of Scott from the tour), travelling to the Florida
Pro-Am to help run the tour. He had taken a leave of absence in October 2018 for personal reasons (somewhat related to travel demands of the tour schedule);
it remains to be seen what his role will be going forward.
- 4/27/19: Kane loses a quarter-final match to Alvaro Beltran, breaking an 83-match winning streak and becoming the first on-the-court, non injury related
match loss since Sept 2013. Beltran loses in the final, giving Alejandro Landa his 3rd career title.
- 5/5/19: Kane wins the final Tier 1 of the season to secure his 13th pro title. The title was in doubt heading into the last event, with Rocky trailing
Kane by 136 points, meaning that a certain set of results could have resulted in Rocky overtaking Kane to take the title. However, when Kane secured a spot
in the finals, he earned enough points to guarantee the lead, and upon winning the event, he ensured that even the remaining non Tier1 events would have
no bearing on the year end title race.
- 5/19/19: Doug Ganim announces that he's
retiring as Executive Director of the US Open after its 25th iteration in 2020. He also alludes to possible changes coming in the structure of
the event after he retires, due to the "extremely high cost structure" of running the tournament in its current format. USA Racquetball owns the tournament
and has paid Ganim to run it since its inception, but these words have to be concerning to the pro tours since the US Open is by far the biggest pro
event on the schedule each year, and most years is the sole Grand Slam.
- 6/6/19: Jason Mannino announces on facebook that he and Cliff Swain will be playing in the 2019 US Open. It sounds like they'll play doubles together,
and possibly singles too, which would be pretty amazing.
- 6/14/19: The final IRT sanctioned event on the schedule occurs; the Black Gold event in Chihuahua, with a massive 47-person draw that includes a number
of top 10 IRT pros, the elite of Mexican rball, plus a travelling contingent of top Bolivians.
2017-2018: Tour Champion: Rocky Carson, his 2nd pro title.
- June 2017: Prior to the start of the new season, Major news is announced on Facebook and other social networking platforms:
the IRT tour has been sold to
a group of investors led by IRT Network's owner John Scott. The new company (E.J. Productions) will package the tour and its broadcast
network together, talks of new juniors programs and may also eventually include the LPRT. Current IRT President Jason Mannino moves into a
"consultant" role while Scott assumes the IRT Presidency (with the title "CEO."). Scott soon names former LPRT commissioner
Andy Kulbeck to be the new IRT commissioner as he steps into more of an executive/management position.
- Sept 2017: First event rebrands "Open" as "IRT Futures" and opens it up to anyone outside the IRT top 8 by ranking (not seeding,
as Parrilla was seeded 8th but played in the event. IRT also announces an increase in total purse and prize money in the Futures
event that makes it rather competitive with the WRT, perhaps an attempt to keep the draw sizes high.
- Sept 2017: First event of the year has a huge draw (37 players) and a number of the top WRT players ... and unsurprisingly
the seeds 5-8 all lost early. WRT regulars Parrilla, Montoya, Gerardo Franco and Horn all made the quarters, with other WRT regulars
like Bredenbeck and Fernandez putting up tough fights in the 16s. The Rojas brothers were missing (wedding), and Pratt no showed
(hurricane), but this was one of the better draws in recent memory. Kane pounded Montoya in a match that was closer than the score
in the semis and cruised to the win.
- Sept 2017: immediately after the event, IRT announces an "Exemption rule" for its top 8 players, enabling them to play one
non-IRT sanctioned event each season. This implies that the non-compete still exists for the top 8 players, which raises a thorny
question for those players who are good enough to be right on the cusp of the top 8 but who face an earnings-limiting decision if they
venture too close to the top 8. One has to wonder if the absence of Alex Landa (ranked #9 on the tour at the end of 2015-16)'s absence
from the opening event played a part.
- Sept 2017: someone in the investor group has some sway at ESPN: a highlight of Kane from the opening tournament making a kill
shot between his legs makes ESPN Sportscenter's top plays of the week..
I can't quite tell though but it does look like its a clip the 2016 Atlanta event, not the event that just occurred. Its a shame they
didn't use the Kane-Montoya rally at 4-0 in game one, one of the better rallies i've ever seen on tour. Nonetheless, its Racquetball
on Sports center, so perhaps I doth protest too much. Note: this 4-0 rally DID make it onto ESPN sportscenter top 10s a few weeks later
coinciding with the beginning rounds of the US Open, on 10/4/17.
- Sept 2017: a "petition" appears on all major Racquetball discussion outlets (Facebook, reddit, 40x20) which read like a rant about the prize
money changes, the costs, the food and the spectator ticket prices for the US Open. It clearly addresses some points of contention with
some of the lesser players and again highlights a growing complaint in the player base: the IRT's "protection" of its top 8 ranked players
with byes while the WRT provides no such protection. New owner John Scott wades into the discussion asking for patience, but it should
be interesting to see if there's some players who purposely miss the marquee event of the year. Participation in the IRT pro draw is down
33% from 2010 to 2016 on the Men's side and the tour probably wants to reverse that trend.
- Oct 2017: a robust draw for the first US Open underneath new ownership, reversing a 7 year trend of declining Men's pro draws. However
there's notable absences; all three Rojas brothers are absent, including 5th ranked Jose and 7th ranked Marco. The youngest brother
Daniel (Mauro) made some comments about dissatisfaction with the organization of the tour as his reason for not showing, but the absence of
Jose in particular is interesting. Marco has apparently graduated and taken a FTE teaching job, which may mean the end of his touring days.
Jose's linkedin page lists him as working full time; it seems that they have retired from touring at this point.
Meanwhile, the US Open also features the return of former #1 Sudsy Monchik, who has
become rejuvenated coaching the Ecuadorian nat'l team. He's teamed up with another former #1 Cliff Swain to play pro doubles, in what could
be a fascinating matchup of power forehands in the doubles draw. The draw features a number of dark horses, some of which face unfortunate
seedings (Landa-Montoya in the 32s for example, while others (Javier Mar) have somewhat clear paths to the quarters.
The play did not disappoint: Monchik makes the quarter finals as the #53 seed, beating Gerardo Franco in qualifying and then #12 Camacho
and #5 Allen in 5 games before falling to Beltran (The Monchik/Swain doubles combo lost their first match). Monchik's first pro appearance
since Feb 2012 was a rousing success. Veteran International player Fernando Rios, seeded #70 after having all his prior pro points expire,
took out promising US junior Dylan Reid and #6 seeded Sebastian Franco to make the round of 16 as the #70th seed before falling to Landa in four.
Bolivian Carlos Keller Vargas advanced to the main draw and took a game off of De La Rosa before falling
as the #67 seed. Reigning Mexican champ and #23 seed Javier Mar easily handled #10 seed Murray and #7 seeded Mercado in straight games before
being outclassed by Rocky in the quarters; he's clearly better than the #23 player in the world.
Meanwhile, the 2017 US Open was definitely a "coming out" party for several juniors who are not that well known to the rball world. Conrrado
Moscoso, who was playing in his first IRT or pro event and seeded dead last at #73, advanced to the
quarters and kept Kane on the court for nearly 1hr 15minutes as the 22-yr old showed what those who have followed the international game have
known for a while; he's legit. Canadian junior #52 seed Nicolas Bouquet took out two higher ranked players (Cubillos and Collins) before falling
to Beltran in the 16s. Mexican junior Eduardo Portillo, who is only 17 and still has one more year in 18U at the int'l level, advanced to the
round of 32 as the #64 seed (again, this was his first IRT event) and stretched Kane to 6,9,9 in a match where he absolutely flummoxed the champ).
Seven of the final 16 players were upsets by seed, and the final 8 featured the top four seeds plus the #11 (Landa), #23 (Mar)
and aforementioned Monchik (#53) and Moscoso (#73). There's often talk about how "thin" the depth on tour is; perhaps the fact that
there's constantly new faces challenging and taking out anyone seeded 5th or lower is evidence of how "deep" the player pool is outside
the top 3-4 guys. Lastly, a mention for Landa, who still seems to only play every other tour event but yet is a constant threat to
make the semi finals (he's made 4 semis out of the last 6 tournaments played). After outlasting Montoya in the 32s he made the semis
and took a game off of Carson before falling.
In the end, Kane beat Rocky in a 4-game final to capture his 13th US Open title. Kane looked tired and sluggish, perhaps the aftermath of
an amazing and emotional Mens doubles final the previous evening that had many observers calling it the best game of racquetball they've ever
seen. The 2017 US Open
did see Kane's amazing consecutive games winning streak come to an end; Beltran took a game off of him in the semis. His streak ends at
113 straight games won, dating to May of 2016 (where, ironically, Beltran was the last previous player to have taken a game from him).
This is by far the longest such streak in the tour's history, and includes the entirety of the 2015-16 season as noted elsewhere.
- Nov 2017: St. Louis event features more than 400 High Schoolers ... but just 22 players in the pro draw. No Rojas brothers, Mercado,
no Montoya, Landa or Parrilla. As a result, Horn gets a top 8 seed ... then gets switched to #5 in the draw. Parrilla had announced on
Instagram his intent to rest all of November in order to prepare for the final WRT event, noting he had played 22 tourneys already in 2017.
- Dec 2017: Kane withdraws from Portland tourney, and former touring pro Tony Carson plays his 2nd tourney in a row after several seasons
off and quickly dispatches De La Rosa in the 16s, leaving a wide-open draw. Furthermore, the event competes against the year-ending WRT
tournament, which takes away a number of the players who would normally make this draw more interesting. The four quarter-finalists from the
top side of the draw featured a combined 5 career semi finals and zero finals; in the end #8 seed Columbian Mario Mercado made the final, where he was easily
dispatched by #14 seed Charlie Pratt for Pratt's first career victory. Nonetheless, Mercado's finals appearance marked the first time in
tour history that a player from outside the 3 core racquetball countries (USA, Canada, Mexico) made a final.
- Dec 2017: just after the 12/2/17 Portland event, #2 seeded Rocky Carson underwent a small medical procedure/surgery on his knee, repairing
a small meniscus tear. The timing of the surgery and rehab gives Rocky just 5 weeks between events, but he comes back the 2nd week of January 2018
to make the semis.
- Dec 2017: Announcement made on Facebook that the tour, effective immediately, is
changing its scoring rules to match Amateur/International
scoring rules (two games to 15, tiebreaker to 11, all games win by one). Also announced that line judges will be used on an "as needed basis" depending on the availability of
camera angles. Instant replay will continue to be the primary appeal method. Official announcement here.
- Jan2018: #1 Waselenchuk suffers what looked initially like an innocuous knee injury in his easy semi-finals win over Mercado, but
defaults the final the next day, giving DLR the title. The injury turns out to be a Grade 2 MCL sprain, which keeps Kane out of the next four
tournaments and costs him nearly 3 months on tour. Details of the injury were sparse; it was known there was an issue with his knee, but
the severity and nature of his injury wasn't publicly disclosed until mid March's announcement
about his getting the green light to return. Amazingly, despite missing 3 straight tourneys Kane somehow maintained his season-to-date
points lead over Rocky, though Carson eventually surpassed him for the #1 ranking in the rolling rankings. Kane's absense opened a massive
door on tour, with three first-time tournament winners winning the three events he missed. Read on.
- Jan2018: #8 seeded Alejandro Landa becomes the 2nd first-time tourney winner in as many months on tour, winning Sioux Falls. The tournament
also sets a first on tour: the first time that all four semi-finalists were non-Americans. Just 2 of the 8 quarterfinalists were from the USA in
- Mar2018: #7 seeded Sebastian Franco, appearing in his first final, also took his first tour title and became the first player outside
of the top-3 countries to win on the tour. Two weeks later, #9 Andree Parrilla beat #11 seeded Bobby Horn to become the 4th player on the
season to get a first win, the 39th distinct winner in the history of the tour, and the first time (that we know of) where the finalists were both
outside the top 8/qualifiers. Amazing.
- Mar2018: Rumors surfacing that an "extra" IRT event may be in the works, with rumors that its being financed by none other than #1 Kane
Waselenchuk in an attempt to ensure there's enough tier 1 events to allow him to retain his title after missing so much time. My "back of
the envelope" math indicates that Rocky's inability to capitalize on his absence has left open the door for Kane to win the remaining two
events and ensure the title...we'll see what happens.
- Apr 2018: Despite the IRT issuing a press release indicating Kane was ready to resume playing ... he hosts a Facebook Live/AMA session in early
april where he announces that he's not ready to come back. This has huge implications on the end of year seeding. Meanwhile, Rocky fails to make
the finals in the 6th straight event, the 5th straight following his knee procedure, yet even despite this drop in form (Rocky made the finals in
each of the first 4 events of the year), he's some how in position to take the year end title.
- Apr 2018: a "major" announcement from the IRT: a sponsor (Mark Gibbs and wife) has now essentially paid for free broadcasting of all rounds on the IRT
going forward; no more paid subscriptions on IRTNetwork.
- Apr 2018: Kane finally returns to the tour, entering the Florida event (the last singles event of the season). However, he entered the tournament
trailing Rocky Carson by enough points that he did not control his own year-end title destiny. He needed Rocky to lose prior to making the finals ... which did
not happen. Carson downed #4 Landa in the semis 9,12 to secure a place in the finals and secure enough points to guarantee himself the year end title.
This secures Carson's 2nd year end title, his first coming a decade earlier in 2008. Carson, at the age of 38years, 323 days immediately becomes the oldest
player to win a year end title, surpassing Cliff Swain's feat at the age of 36years in 2002. Kane finishes the 2017-18 season with no on-the-court
losses but having missed four of the eleven events on the season thanks to his January knee injury. Carson becomes the first player to win a year
end title despite not winning a single tournament since the 1988-89 season.
- Apr 28, 2018: Immediately after downing Carson for the final title of the year, and hours after he was dethroned as champ after a decade on top,
Kane announces that he is "90% sure that he's retiring" in his post-game interview on the court
(go to the 46:30 mark of the Facebook live video). He's going to "take the summer" to think about it
but says that he "isn't enjoying playing as much as he used to" and he may just show up at the US Open to "play spoiler" next year. He qualifies his
announcement with a quick facebook post saying that his announcement had nothing to do with
"his injury or travel.". If Kane is indeed retired, here's a career wrap-up post on Facebook
detailing his accomplishments. [Editor's note: by Oct of 2018 its clear kane has NOT retired; the Apr 2018 statements were heat of the moment frustrations
with the tour, as became evident later on in public forums and discussions].
- May 2018: Final season points are published and here's a link to the PRS facebook wrap-up post
for the season.
2016-17: Tour Champion: Kane Waselenchuk, his 12th pro title.
- Sept 2016: First event of the year: still no Croft; his shoulder injury may be career-ending. Tons of "upsets" in the 32s, as the guys
ranked 9-16 take a
beating at the hand of players who don't play the tour as frequently. Franco, Zelada, McClellan, Collins, Mercado and Pratt
all upset by lower ranked (but probably better) players. Long time player Alejandro Landa entered his first IRT tournament
since the 2015 US Open and promptly beat #5 seed Jose Rojas in 3-straight; he then advanced past fellow upset winner Bredenbeck
to make the semis as a #21 seed (the highest seeded player to make a semi since I started capturing seeds in 2010). It seems like
every time Landa enters a tournament he upsets a ranked player and makes the quarters or semis.
- Sept 2016: Other start-of the season observations: the diversity on tour is starting to really show. Just four of the tour's
top 10 players are now American-born; 4 from USA, 1 Canada, 2 Mexico, two from Columbia and one from Costa Rica. 9 of the next 10
ranked players are from the USA, but the real power on tour is slowly migrating south. This is no surprise; the rise of the WRT
(which is heavily populated with Central and South american players) and the rise in popularity of the game in these countries
will only continue to drive this trend.
- Oct 2016: Kane handily wins his 12th US Open (9th in a row) with a 2,2,6 win over #2 Rocky Carson. As noticed by Evan Pritchard
at theracquetballblog, Sebastian Franco's quarterfinal appearance is the first time a South American has advanced to the quarters
of a major tournament. Up and coming player Jake Bredenbeck had split the first two games with Daniel De La Rosa in their quarterfinal
when he injured his shoulder diving, causing him to retire. Later that night though, he showed up in his Pro doubles match and played
*left handed* ... even drive serving at some point. However the news on his shoulder is not good: he tore the labrum in his shoulder.
He opted to rehab instead of going straight to surgery, so we may not see him on the tour for a while (he actually continued to play both
IRT and WRT events left handed for months afterwards).
- Oct 2016: Relatively new touring pro and Maryland native Mauricio Zelada takes an offer to start working for Gearbox Racquetball in San
Diego and abruptly quits the IRT. He finished 2015-16 season #12 with two quarter final appearances, but thanks to his involvement
with Gearbox presumably will now exclusively play on the WRT. He also broke his contract with the IRTNetwork, which may have
some longer term effects on the viability of that company to continue operating.
- Nov 2016: Landa strikes again: as a #15 seed he takes out #2 Seed Rocky Carson in a 2+ hour marathon match in Atlanta.
Its just the third time that a #1 or #2 seed has lost a non-forfeit match in the round of 16 since 2010. Thanks to a compressed schedule for the
tournament and the existence of doubles, Landa has just 90 minutes to rest before he plays his quarter final match (which he
wins in 3 close games over Allen). He loses in 5 close games to De La Rosa in the Semis (who injures himself at the end of the 5th game and
defaults the final), but all told he spends more than 8 HOURS on the court over the course of just 2.5 days, making the semis in singles and finals of doubles.
- Jan 2017: Kane cruises through the draw again and has won every event thus far on the season without dropping a game; he's
60-0 in 21 matches (one forfeit win).
- Mar 2017: Andree Parrilla makes the final of the Lombard event as a #14 seed; that's the lowest seed to make a final
(not including the under-seeded returns of Kane from suspension in 2008 nor Alvaro from injury in 2010) since Derek Robinson's
run to the finals as a #15 seed in Columbus 1998. Along the way he beat #3 seed De La Rosa in a 5-game stunner in the 16s,
then got revenge against Alejandro Landa (who had beaten him the previous week in mexican Nationals). Then in a 2 hour marathon he
took out #2 Carson, holding off rocky's late charge after jumping up big in the final game. In the final, Parrilla loses the first two
quickly but pushes kane to 12-10 in the third game, falling in 3 straight but making an impression. The win jumps him from #14 to #10,
just one slot ahead of Landa, whom he beat for the first time ever competitively en route to the finals.
- Mar 2017; one week after the Lombard event, Kane is a late withdrawl from the Ohio event due to flu-like symptoms. This
makes for a wide open draw, with all four top seeds (Carson, Beltran, DLR and Rojas) having taken round of 16 upsets at some point
this season. The tournament ended up with a first-time semi finalist (Canadian Samuel Murray) but more or less went chalk, with
#1 seeded Rocky taking out #2 seeded DLR in the final. Kane's points lead afforded him this break; he need only win one more event
this season to wrap up the title. However it moves Rocky to the #1 seed for the next tournament.
- May 2017: Kane Waselenchuk finishes the 2016-17 season Undefeated (29-0) but more importantly, he finishes the season
without having lost a GAME (85-0 in the match database). Four times during the season he was stretched to a 12-10 game win,
and had to mount a huge comeback in the semis of the final 2016-17 event (Jose Rojas was up 10-4 in game one of their
semi finals) to set this record. Kane secures his 12th pro tour title in the process and does not look like he's
slowing down anytime soon.
- May 2017: Season ending standings observations: the top 7 for the year are identical, in the same order, as last season's.
In #8, Sebastian Franco just beat out Mario Mercado for the last protected seed. However, the 9-16 saw some significant movement
and a number of new names that could shake up the tour in the coming years. Parrilla and Landa finished 10th and 12th respectively
despite playing the IRT just part time. Horn finished 13th in his first year touring "full time," Samuel Murray finished
14th in a huge jump from last year, and Bredenbeck finished 16th despite missing half the season through a shoulder injury. All five
of these players have posted significant wins over higher ranked players in the past couple of seasons, and it could make for
a very deep tour if they can play full time in 2017-18.
2015-16: Tour Champion: Kane Waselenchuk: his 11th pro tour title
- Sept 2015: Alvaro Beltran reportedly fined for playing in a competing tour event held by the WRT in his home town
of Juarez Mexico. Given that nearly every regular player ranked outside the top 10 also plays WRT events, we wonder
what the offical rule is with IRT players. I suspect the IRT is either top-8 or top-10 protected by non-compete contracts,
similarly to the way that certain players can or cannot play in non Tier-1 events.
- Sept 2015: Ben Croft returns to the tour after rehabbing from a serious shoulder surgery and drops what he calls "a rehab start"
game in the round of 16 to Felipe Camacho. Croft notes that he only was present at the event so as not to drop round of 16 points
and was clearly not ready to play, having only even been on the court once prior to the event. Croft took to social media to call out
Camacho as an "A player" as he apparently was smack-talking on the court during a match where Croft was clearly struggling. Camacho's
best ever result on tour prior to this was likely a round-of-32 defeat of Mauro Rojas in Fresno 2015 and had never even come close
to advancing past the round of 16 beforehand. Camacho eventually beat fellow upset winner Bradley Rogers in the quarters to advance
to the semis for the first time of his career.
- Oct 2015: Waselenchuk wins an unheard of 11th US Open title in October, beating upset-minded Daniel De La Rosa in the final.
Thanks to a rankings quirk, Kane entered the event seeded #2, which enabled De La Rosa to meet the #1 seeded Carson in the semis, where
he prevailed in a barn-busting 12-10 5th. De La Rosa at age 23 is who many pundits believe may take over on tour, but he falters in
the every next tournament, dropping a round of 16 match to Sebastian Franco (who then goes on to make his first career semi).
De La Rosa struggles in the next few tournaments, losing in the quarters in Davison and then no-showing in Garden City. The US Open
semis-loss is the second such upset loss in the season's sole major for Carson, who similarly was upset in the semis of the 2014
US Open, a loss that significantly hurt him at season's end (when he lost the points by just 32 points).
- Oct 2015: A number of regular player absences at the Atlanta event made for some weird seedings: #11th ranked Felipe Camacho
was seeded 5th by virtue of Waselenchuk, Croft, and Marco Rojas missing the draw, and then Camacho getting the lucky seeding scramble.
Other regulars on tour also missed the draw: Diaz and Fuhrman opted to play in the WRT event close to home. Thanks to the weakened draw,
both DC-area native Mauricio Zelada and Matthew Majxner made a quarter final for the first time, each "upsetting" a player ranked
slightly ahead of them at the time. Felipe Camacho also made the quarters in this tournament, with only Daniel
De La Rosa facing a seeded tour player in his quarter final. This has turned into a game-changing season so far for Camacho.
- Nov 2015: Waselenchuk withdraws from Davison event with a shoulder injury, too late to re-make the draws so he gets yet another
"loss by forfeit" instead of loss on the court. The main beneficiary is Brad Schopiery, who gets his career best result with a
bye into the quarters, where he pounded Felipe Camacho to make the semis (previous career best: round of 16). The bigger news was
the huge upset of Swain over Beltran in the round of 16, who then made shorter work of #6 seed Allen to make the semis at the ripe old
age of 49. Fringe tour player Tom Fuhrmann opted to enter the competing WRT event instead of the IRT event, perhaps signifying a change
in his playing status. Croft still MIA, nursing his surgically repaired shoulder.
- Nov 2015: Sebastian Franco is the next recipient of a gift into the semis as De La Rosa forfeits his round of 16 match in
Garden City. This enables Franco to get an easy quarter final win over Scot McClellan to make his 2nd semis of the season. In the next
event, yet another surprise early round loss from Alvaro Beltran (this time to Mario Mercado) paves the way for yet another
of the tour's newer players to make their way into the later rounds for the first time. Mercado, who had never advanced beyond the
round of 16, makes the semis in St. Louis. It seems like every week there's another first-timer in the semis this year, perhaps
a sign that a changing of the guard is coming. Camacho, Franco, Schopiery, Swain, Mercado. Lots of surprises this year.
- Dec 2015: Ben Croft announces that he has to take the rest of the season off
due to lingering issues with his off-season shoulder surgery. Croft has only played in 2 events and has fallen out of
the top 8 at this point (he sits at #11 as of this writing), so (in his words) there's little incentive to continue to play to keep
his protected ranking so he might as well shut it down for the season. He hopes to come back perhaps by the last event of the season.
- Mar 2016: Kane wins the Lombard, IL event and gives up a grand total of 19 points in four matches. Just a crazy show of
dominance in the event. His Semi-final win over Alvaro 2,0,0 was "injury aided" but he dominated DLR in the final.
- Apr 2016: Kane withdraws from the Ohio event last minute due to a medical issue. Statement from the tour: "Top ranked Kane Waselenchuk pulls
out of The 8th Annual Raising Some Racquet For Kids tournament in Ohio. After trying to battle through the pain, Kane was admitted into the hospital
this morning for emergency incarcerated hernia surgery. We will keep you updated as information is released." Post at IRT-tour.com:
http://www.irt-tour.com/kane-did-great/ . This injury clearly was still affecing him a month later at the Florida event, where he played
a tough Bredenbeck opponent and had to retire in the 5th. This is troublesome for Kane, because in his absense Rocky picks up two
tournament wins and, with two events back, Kane basically has to at least win one of them to guarantee the year end points title.
- May 2016: Sebastian Franco continues to make his mark on the tour; he's now made 4 semis and a quarter final this season after
not ever advancing past the round of 16 in seasons' past. He entered the Florida event ranked 9th but easily handled the 8th ranked
Camacho (himself also experiencing a big 2015-16 season) to advance. He also easily handled upstart Bredenbeck to make another semi. Franco
may not quite have the points to put himself into the top 8, but he's proved that he can beat those guys in the 5-8 section of the rankings.
- May 2016: Faced with having to win one of the remaining two events, Kane cruises through the draw in Portland, showing a bit of rust but
otherwise winning. In the final against De La Rosa, observers on irtnetwork.com's live feed noted that Kane looked like he was playing hurt and
were postulating that he may very well forfeit the match after losing the first game 11-5. However, disagreement midway through
the second game resulted with the two coming nose to nose on the court. This seemed to energize Kane, and he ended up stepping up his
game (injury or not) from there out, taking the 2nd game and eventually the match (5),9,3,3. This win sealed Kane's 11th title thanks to
Rocky's semis loss to De La Rosa. For good measure, Kane went on to take the season's final event the following weekend in Reseda, again
beating DLR in the final to seal his latest dominant title.
- May 2016: final top 10 observations: De La Rosa finishes the season by making 4 of the last 5 finals, but it wasn't enough to get him past
Rocky Carson for #2 on tour. However one has to think that the torch may have been passed in terms of who is the 2nd best player on tour.
2014-15: Tour Champion: Kane Waselenchuk
- Three missed tournaments early in the season (plus a fourth tourney with a forfeit loss in the quarters) due to the same inner-ear condition
that plagued him earlier in his career cost Kane Waselenchuk the #1 seed in tournaments starting in 2015 ... but more importantly, looked (at least
for a bit) likely to cost him the #1 season end title. It did not look like there would be enough events in the year to make up for the third
dropped event, giving Kane a huge dis-advantage over players like Rockey and Alvaro (who never miss an event). As late as May, Kane was still
the #2 seed and #2 ranked (by a nominal amount of points). But according to
points analysis, thanks to a late-season tourney addition, the last event of the season in Fresno ended up being a winner-take-all between Kane
and Rocky; whoever wins, takes #1 for the season. Sure enough, Kane swept through the tournament w/o dropping a game and clinched his 10th #1 title.
He was 42-1 on
the season (his sole loss being a quarter final default in the Nov 2014 Kansas event), but more impressively he only lost TWO GAMES the entire season.
He was 123-2 in games for the year; he dropped a game to Beltran in the semis of Sarasota, and he dropped one game
to Rocky in the San Marcos final. Just an unbelievable show of dominance from the 10-time champ. Any question about who the greatest
player to ever play this game should now be more than answered. Kane now has 10 titles, missed two seasons in his prime, and hasn't lost on the court
in a non-injury situation in years. The better question for Kane might be whether he's defeated again before he retires.
- Long time part-time player Alejandro Landa burst onto the scene early, making the semis of the first two events that he played on the season, including
the US Open. It remains to be seen of Landa will play more of the tour; he's never played more than half the events in a season but has multiple quarterfinal
and semi final appearances. He was the highest seed, by far, to make a semi-final on the season (seeded 13th and 14th in his two runs).
- Beltran achives a #1 seed in the St. Louis event that immediately follows the US Open, by virtue of his briefly passing Rocky in the rankings and Kane
skipping the event. With only 14 entries to the pro division, IRT commissioner Mannino and IRT staff member John Scott are forced to play to fill out the
round of 16 draw. Entire pro draw will take place in just two days. Opportunistic players looking to gain valuable ranking points (to say nothing of prize money)
must be kicking themselves at the missed opportunity.
- Long time tour player Chris Crowther missed an event for the first time since the 2005-6 season under rumors that his sponsor (E-Force) was no longer paying
his travel expenses. This likely ends the effective career of Crowther on the pro tour, with his having spent the last decade in the top 10 (and mostly in the top 6).
He played a couple of WRT events close to home, but his last match on tour looks to be
a round of 16 forfeit to Swain in Davison. He still finished the tour ranked 12th despite missing the last half of the season.
- Top-10 player Tony Carson suddenly dropped off the tour in November 2014. Reportedly he stopped playing due to a combination of injury and work reasons.
He's re-appeared at the end of the season, presumably healthy again, but he played only a handful of events afterwards (mostly in the mid-west, presumably drivable
from his him in Colorado).
- Long time tour player Ben Croft underwent shoulder surgery in late April 2015, causing him to miss the events at the tail end of the season. Luckily he hadn't
missed a tourney all year so he should maintain his top 8 ranking despite the injury. He was 5th on tour when he went under the knife and fell to 6th in the
season-ending rankings. He returned for the first event of the new season.
2013-14: Tour Champion: Kane Waselenchuk
- Kane continues his dominance on tour, winning his 9th title with a couple of tournaments to spare
- Kane's sole loss on the season was in the season opener to Jose Rojas, where he was hampered by an injury and lost in four. Rojas went on to take that tournament
for his 2nd pro title.
- Kane wins the 2013 US Open, and in doing so wins his 71st pro title, breaking Cliff Swain's record of all time pro titles.
- Despite Kane's dominance on tour, thanks to missing two events early in the season he was actually seeded 2nd at the season's fifth event (Rocky was seeded first).
Kane won that event and every event the rest of the way.
- Rocky and Alvaro continued their even-handed competition for the 2nd/3rd spot on tour, trading off spots in the final for most of the season. In the end, Rocky
squeaked out the #2 spot for the season.
- The big riser for the year was Daniel De La Rosa, who finished the season comfortably 5th in the rankings playing the tour full time for the first time (the year
prior he was in the top 10 despite missing half the events).
- Jansen Allen broke into the top 8 thanks to a consistent run of quarterfinals, but could not keep that lead going into the start of the next season (where he was
seeded 9th in the opener, just missing out on the bye into the 16s.
- Legend Cliff Swain played just four events but finished 13th on tour thanks to becoming the 2nd oldest player ever to make a pro semi final in his father's memorial
Red Swain event in November 2013.
- Charlie Pratt had a career best semi-final appearance in Florida in early 2014; this helped push him to an 11th place finish on tour, putting him back in the top-10
periphery where he had resided from 2009-2011.
2012-13: Tour Champion: Kane Waselenchuk
- Kane wins his 11th straight "Major" in October, and collects his 8th US Open title.
- Kane wins his 12th straight "Major" in May, finishing off a 41-1 season.
- Kane's sole loss on the season was an injury forfeit loss in the final of the March 2013 Denver event.
- Alex Ackermann and Daniel De La Rosa have major runs at the US Open, which assists both of them to top10 or near top 10 season-ending rankings.
- Ruben Gonzalez plays his final pro tournament at the US Open in October, losing in the 32s but still ranked #16.
- Tony Carson breaks into top 8 at the expense of Andy Hawthorne in Nov, finishes 7th on the season.
- New Jersey Open missing Kane (knee injury recovery), Croft (getting married), Pratt (ankle injury). Allows surprise semifinalist Nick Montalano.
Montalbano's career best showing prior to this was making three main draws (losses in rounds of 16).
- There was some rumors of Kane's possibly losing the season-ending title by virtue of missing too many events, which was partly due to Rocky's having
earned more cumulative season points by the time the last event had rolled around. This turned out to be baseless; the rules on the tour allow the dropping of two
events, which in Kane's case were two missed events due to injury. In reality the only way Kane would have been in jeopardy is if he missed the season-ending event.
2011-2012: Kane Waselenchuk
- Kane featured in nytimes article
- Kane fft in NYC pro am final ends a streak of 134 (137?) on-court wins
- Kane's injury causes him to miss the next two events, which were subsequently won by first time winners
Ben Croft and Jose Rojas. Rojas win over Beltran extends his own futility in finals to 1-20.
- Ruben's farewall tour, failing to make the top 10.
- Rojas ' climb up the rankings; finishing 3rd on tour.
- Sudsy returns and plays a few events.
- Vanderson announces retirement at the end of the season; he continues to play most of the events in 2012-13 though, still finishing in the top 10 on tour.
- Beltran returns in earnest to the tour, making four finals, finishing the year 5th but probably supplanting Rocky Carson as the 2nd best player on tour with
several head-to-head wins towards the end of the year.
2010-2011: Kane Waselenchuk
- Kane Waselenchuk completes his third straight dominant tour victory, winning 12 of the 13 tournaments he entered and with a 52-1 match record (his lone loss a
semi-finals forfeit to Huczek in NYC in January 2011), and extends his personal streak of matches won on the court (i.e., not counting forfeits) to well over 100.
The real news of this season follows...
- The 2010-11 season marks an interesting transition for the tour, and Racquetball in general. This is the first
season in years without the major sponsors of Verizon, Motorola or Choice Hotels. The US Open, a staple for
15 years in Memphis with marquee host club The Racquet Club, has moved to Minneapolis. And, after being held
at the Downtown YMCA in Houston for 28 straight years (every year since 1983), USAR national singles is moving to
a new site. The 2011 National event will be held in Fullerton, California and will be combined with a Pro event called "Ektelon National Singles," marking a new era
for the two marquee events on everyone's racquetball Calendar.
On the IRT side, 2010-11 marks the first new season under new leadership. Mannino's first order of business
was to implement some rule changes designed to address fan concerns about pace of play and player behavior. However,
the re-introduction of 2-serves to the pro game marks a seismic shift in player strategy. And, the first three
events of the season the impact of this new 2-serve rule was evident. Power players and heavy drive servers
were experiencing better success than the control players. Chris Crowther made the final of the 2nd event of
the season despite having advanced past the quarters in exactly one tournament in over 100 attempts previous and
was ranked 5th on tour after languishing for years on the periphery of the top 10. Ben Croft made the semis of the
first three events, catapulting him to the #2 ranking on tour after the US Open and resulting in a #1 seed in
the 2010 Corona Open draw when Waselenchuk skipped the tournament to nurse an injury (coincidentally, the first time
in the history of the tour that a #1 seed in a pro draw did not have a previous tournament win). And, Mitch Williams had two
semis appearances (and one injury fft) despite himself only ever advancing past the quarters twice in 70 pro
tournaments prior to this season.
Meanwhile, the control players on tour struggled to keep up. Huczek dropped out of the top 4 rankings within the first
three events for the first time in a decade. Vanderson struggled in the early parts of the season and (making matters
even worse for Shane) he was forced out of the US Open to deal with a horrible family tragedy, missing out
on valuable rankings points (and prize money) at the worst possible time. Carson made two of the first four finals
of the season ... but was upset in the round of 16 at the US Open and in the quarters of the Cali Major, costing
him major tourney points that are sure to be felt at the end of the season. Beltran (whose game isn't necessarily
a control or a power game) slowly worked his way back from an injury that basically cost him the entire 2009-10 season,
making the finals of the US Open and putting himself on track to regain top-4 status.
- Injuries and absences on tour started to add up. For the 2nd time in two seasons Mitch Williams had to retire
from a match with an arm injury. This time, it cost him a finals spot in the US Open and resulted in a labrum tear
(or was it a dislocated shoulder?) keeping him out for 4-6 weeks. After a setback during rehab, he retired from the tour effective 1/31/11.
Meanwhile, Alvaro Beltran's attempt to return from a season-ending knee injury in 2010 saw him make a couple of finals earlier in the season,
but he re-injured the knee and (apparently) had a second operation, costing him the bulk of the 2010
-11 season. He returned for the final event of the season still maintaining the #10 ranking, but at age 32 and being right at the typical
age that pro racquetball players retire anyway, Beltran may be done on tour.
- Speaking retirements, Jack Huczek suddenly announced his retirement
from the pro tour on 5/24/11. Huczek has finished his MBA from Oakland University and has taken a job with Ericsson. Rumors persisted
about a disagreement between Huczek and tour management, which would be a shame if true b/c Jack retires essentially in his prime.
The intended effect of the 2-serve rule has yet to affect the consensus #1 player, who continued his unbeaten
streak into its third season. But Kane was dropping games in the early part of the season. The 2-serve rule
allows power players such as Crowther and Croft to control sections of the match with the serve and gain traction
towards taking games off of Kane. However, Kane himself has a fantastic drive serve to right-hander's backhands that
can be lethal as well.
- Up and coming players for the season were led by Charlie Pratt, who made 5 quarterfinals on the year without ever having made one previously.
Pratt suffered an upset though at the season ending event at the hands of another rising junior, Taylor Knoth, who reached the quarters of the
Ektelon Nationals. Tony Carson got some marquee wins and made four quarter finals this season, including at the season's ending grand slam.
Jose Rojas' first full season on tour saw him reach a couple of semis and consistently place at least in the quarter finals, and he had reached the
#5 ranking by the end of the season. Finally Anthony Herrera made a quarter final for the first time in his career.
- Heading into the 2011-12 season, the pro tour may face a crisis of a different order. There's so little money on tour
that there is barely a "tour" at all. With Williams, Huczek and possibly Beltran retiring, there may be barely enough guys
regularly touring to fill out the top 8 seeds at each tournament.
2009-2010: Kane Waselenchuk
If his 2009 title (while going 49-1 on tour) was considered "dominant," then there's no other way to describe his 2010 title other than
"other-worldly." Kane won all 8 of the tournaments he entered (he missed one event mid-season due to the flu), ended the season in the middle
of a 58-match winning streak (easily the best ever seen on tour), and ends this season having won the last 14 touranments he has entered.
However, the most astonishing accomplishment of the season was his "games" won-lost record. He finishes the season a perfect 34-0 but was
102-3 in games. He only lost three GAMES all season. There is not much room for improvement on Kane's season.
In other tour news, It was a tough year on the tour's players from an injury standpoint. Alvaro Beltran missed basically the entire year
after tearing knee ligaments just before the season started. He made just one appearance; making the semis in the season's last event in his
home country in Tijuana.
Mitch Williams suffered a partially torn labrum in his hitting shoulder but only missed one tournament because of lucky scheduling.
Jack Huczek started the season as a model of consistency, becoming the beaten finalist in each of the first 6 tourneys before suffering a lingering
right quadriceps injury that cost him his competitiveness for the rest of the season.
Ben Croft served a 3-tournament suspension at the beginning of the season for events stemming from an on-court incident with Chris Crowther late
last season but roared back to make the semis of the US Open in his return. He also made his first final of his career and finished 6th in the year end rankings.
Jason Mannino ended a 15-year touring career by being appointed the new commissioner of the tour and winning the one event that Waselenchuk missed.
And lastly Jose Rojas played 6 of the 9 events on the year, made two quarterfinals and broke into the top 10 for the first time.
2008-9: Kane Waselenchuk
After a two year absense from the tour, 3-time pro champion Kane Waselenchuk made his return at the season opening 2008 Motorola IRT World
Championships in Denver. Having absoloutely zero rankings points he was forced to qualify for a number of events at the beginning of the season, leading to
discussions about whether in the future a "protected" ranking should be used for players who have laid off the tour for injury or other reasons (the ATP
Tennis tour uses such a system for 6-month or greater injury layoffs for its players and creates an artificial ranking for such players for their first
few tournaments back. However, the situation arises so rarely in Racquetball that a policy change may be deemed unnecessary).
Kane won his first three tournaments back and was undefeated half way through the season before Alvaro Beltran beat him in the semis in January 2009's
California Open. This loss would prove to be the ONLY loss of the season for Kane, who finished the year by sweeping the tour's three Majors, winning
10 of the 11 tournaments he entered, and compiling an astounding 49-1 record for the season. Statistically speaking, this was the greatest season ever
(surpassing Marty Hogan's 44-1 record in 1977). Kane completes the season easily winning his fourth Pro title at the age of 27 and starts discussions
about whether or not "King" Kane can surpass Cliff's 6 titles.
Kane also reached a number of interesting landmarks. His 24-match winning streak to end the season is one of the tour's longest in recent memory
(though not close to Hogans' 54-match winning streak in the 76-77 season). He pushed his career W/L Percentage to .847, surpassing (for the time being)
Hogan's long standing career mark in known sanctioned Pro events. He swept the three major tournaments (the first time that had happened since he himself
performed the feat in 2004-5). And he had even veteran players wondering if he had any competitors that could stand in his way of 3-4 more titles in a row.
2007-8: Rocky Carson
From the onset, the 2007-8 season looked as if it would be a statement season by Huczek. He had won his first title the prior season had won most of the
tournaments he had entered. The tour's other top competitors had the summer to consider their games and how to adjust to a suddenly dominant-looking Huczek.
Kane was still suspended and no one knew if he would ever return. Were we about to see a significant shift away from the power games of the tour's more
recent dominators? It seemed so: all four of the tour's top players were less pure "power" players and relied more on finesse and athleticism. It seemed
like a Yellen-esque transition away from the power game of the early 80s.
The tour was jolted at the season opening Motorola 2007 World Racquetball Championships in Denver. This was the first event of the season and was a new
Grand Slam tiered event. Some people complained about having such an important points event so early in the season, and in a high-altitude city to boot
(however; Tennis has always started its season with the Australian Open; so having a major event early on is not unprecedented in a racquet sport pro circuit .
Players who stayed in better shape or who were used to playing at altitude had the advantage. Sure enough, for the first time in recorded pro tour history the
#1 and #2 seeds were ousted in the round-of-16. Through expiring points, Mannino actually entered the season ranked #1 and lost to Polo Gutierrez 11-8 in the
fifth while Huczek fell in 4 games to veteran journeyman Javier Moreno. The door was opened and #3 Rocky Carson took advantage, winning the Grand Slam event
and taking a commanding points lead over his closest rivals.
The season devolved more or less to be the Rocky-Jack show. Of the tour's remaining 13 events that year, Rocky and Jack met in the finals no less than 10
times. Rocky took 6 of those 10 meetings, the most important of which was at the US Open in October. By winning the season's first two majors and
consistently reaching the finals, Rocky was able to open up a slight gap over his rival and eventually clinch the title prior to the season ending Pro
Nationals. The season was cruel to Huczek, who after his season opening loss made EVERY tournament final the rest of the way. It wasn't enough.
Eyewitnesses reported that Rocky had "figured out" Jack's game at Memphis; while the stats don't necessarily show this, Rocky definitely held the upper hand
and never seemed like he was going to relinquish the title all season.
2006-7: Jack Huczek:
The racquetball world is shocked when 3-time defending pro tour champion Waselenchuk tests positive for banned
substances and is suspended from competing for two years. This suspension gives the tour's top players (Huczek, Mannino, Carson and Beltran) renewed hope
for a #1 ranking. Jack Huczek, who nearly pipped Kane for the 2005-6 crown, took control of the tour early by winning the first four events. However, at
the season's first Grand Slam Huczek was upset in the semis and Mannino took the crown and significant points burst.
Mannino kept the pressure on Jack, winning 2 of the next 5 events, but as the season wound down Huczek found his rhythm and pulled away. Mannino suffered
a couple of quarterfinal losses later in the season that cost him the points needed to challenge Jack for the title. At the season ending grand slam Pro
Nationals event, Huczek beat Jason in the final and took the title by about 150 rankings points. Jack finishes the season winning 9 of 13 events but
splitting the two majors with Mannino, who finishes second. The season also demonstrates the gulf in talent between the top four players and the rest of
the tour; only 8 of the season's 52 semi finalists were not from the top four.
2006: Kane Waselenchuk (wins title in Pro National finals over Huczek)
2005: Kane Waselenchuk (most Dominant title in years; only 2 non-fft losses all season)
2004: Kane Waselenchuk (wins title in last match of season over Huczek)
2003: Jason Mannino
2002: Cliff Swain (Monchik injury just prior to US Open open's path for cliff to gain 6th title)
2001: Sudsy Monchik
2000: Sudsy Monchik
1999: Sudsy Monchik
1998: Cliff Swain
1997: Sudsy Monchik
1996: Sudsy Monchik (Cliff's rnd of 32 loss in Chicago, semis loss at Pro nationals gives Sudsy 1st title)
1995: Cliff Swain
1994: Cliff Swain
1993: Cliff Swain (returns from Tennis)
1992: Drew Katchtik
1991: Mike Ray (Swain left for Tennis)
1990: Cliff Swain
1989: Marty Hogan (only based on 2 tourneys, ignored 2 others)
1988: Ruben Gonzalez
1987: Mike Yellen
1986: Mike Yellen
1985: Mike Yellen
1984: Mike Yellen
1983: Mike Yellen (won all three major tourneys; only year this happened)
1982: Dave Peck (by points, not by Earnings, which Hogan won. Is this a Disputed title? Peck says no dispute. Hogan won DP/Leach Nationals, which upto 1982
indicated the National champ, hence controversy)
Prior to 1982, the pro champion was based on the year end tournament, not
points gathered during an actual tour. So, results from 1975-1981 the winner was
the winner of NRC Nationals
1981: Marty Hogan d Craig McCoy 9,12
1980: Marty Hogan d Mike Yellen 16,12
1979: Marty Hogan d Mike Yellen 10,14
1978: Marty Hogan d Charlie Brumfield 12,20
1977: Davey Bledsoe d Marty Hogan 20,19 (However, Hirsch and Hogan believe Hogan was 77's champ by
virtue of total wins. However,
at the time, the winner of year end championship was champion. My understanding of
the NRC points system at the time was that points were used for seeding, NOT for a
revolving tour. A points system wasn't implemented as the barometer of the year end
champion until 1981-2 season).
1976: Charlie Brumfield d Marty Hogan 8,(1),8 (Note: Hilecher won IRA nationals, but not in match database)
1975: Charlie Brumfield d Steve Serot (13),4,2 (Brumfield also won IRA's pro national final; is his "5th" national title?)
1974: There was an NRC Pro tour but no year end Nationals tourney.
Steve Serot had 2 wins, Steve Keeley 1 win, Charlie Brumfield 1.
Amateur/IRA champs pre 1974 (per USRA website)
1974: Bill Schmidtke d Steve Serot 16,(8),13 (corrected 11/1/08 from si.com archive article 6/74)
1973: Charlie Brumfield d Steve Keeley 8,(13),12
1972: Charlie Brumfield d Ron Rubenstein 11,0
1971: Bill Schmidtke Craig Finger (15),9,14
1970: Craig Finger d Charile Brumfield 17,12
1969: Bud Muehleisen d Charlie Brumfield (18),20,8
1968: Bill Schultz d Bill Schmidtke (14),12,18