Monday, August 31, 2009

IRT 2008-09 Season Review & 2009-10 Preview

Next week, the International Racquetball Tour (IRT) kicks off its 2009-2010 season in Denver with the 2009 Motorola Racquetball World Championships. Thus, it's time for The Racquetball Blog to review what happened last season, as you might have forgotten some of the details over the summer.

There were thirteen main IRT events last season. Below are the results by player and then by event.

IRT Rank - Player - Wins - Seconds - Semis - Quarters

1) Kane Waselenchuk - 10 wins, 0 seconds, 1 semi, 0 qtrs
2) Rocky Carson - 2 wins, 5 seconds, 4 semis, 1 qtrs
3) Jack Huczek - 1 win, 5 seconds, 5 semis, 2 qtrs
4) Alvaro Beltran - 0 wins, 2 seconds, 8 semis, 3 qtrs
5) Jason Mannino - 0 win, 0 seconds, 4 semis, 6 qtrs
6) Shane Vanderson - 0 wins, 0 seconds, 2 semis, 8 qtrs
7) Mitch Williams - 0 wins, 1 seconds, 0 semi, 10 qtrs
8) Ben Croft - 0 wins, 0 seconds, 1 semis, 9 qtrs
9) Chris Crowther - 0 wins, 0 seconds, 0 semis, 9 qtrs
10) Andy Hawthorne - 0 wins, 0 seconds, 0 semis, 3 qtrs
11) Jason Thoerner - 0 wins, 0 seconds, 0 semis, 4 qtrs
19) Javier Moreno - 0 wins, 0 seconds, 1 semi, 1 qtr
24) Jose Rojas - 0 wins, 0 seconds, 1 semi, 0 qrts

Season by Event - Finalists and Semi-Finalists

Motorola World Racquetball Championships
Final: Waselenchuk d. Carson - Semis: Mannino, Beltran
9th Annual Ghost of Georgetown; Kansas City Pro-Am
Final: Waselenchuk d. Huczek - Semis: Beltran, Mannino
Kentucky Open
Final: Waselenchuk d. Beltran - Semis: Carson, Huczek
Canadian Racquetball Classic
Final: Huczek d Carson, - Semis: Mannino, Beltran
13th US Open
Final: Waselenchuk d. Carson - Semis: Huczek, Vanderson
Juarez Open
Final: Carson d. Huczek - Semis: Mannino, Croft
California Open
Final: Carson d Beltran - Semis: Rojas, Waselenchuk
New York City Pro-Am
Final: Waselenchuk d. Huczek - Semis: Carson, Beltran
Seattle Open
Final: Waselenchuk d. Huczek - Semis: Carson, Beltran
San Diego Open
Final: Waselenchuk d. Huczek - Semis: Carson, Beltran
Florida Spring Break Pro-Am
Final: Waselenchuk d. Carson - Semis: Huczek, Beltran
Dennis Rosenberg Pro-Am
Final: Waselenchuk d. Williams - Semis: Vanderson, Huczek
Motorola IRT Pro Nationals
Final: Waselenchuk d Carson - Semis: Beltran, Huczek

At the top

Unless you've gotten a great deal of sun this summer, you likely haven't forgotten how dominant Kane Waselenchuk was last season. There have been few, if any, seasons as good as Waselenchuk had. But it raises questions as to what will happen this season.

Will Waselenchuk's dominance continue? He seemed to have something to prove after sitting out two seasons due to his suspension. But will he be able to sustain that dominance in the coming season?

How will the other top players react to the beatings they took last season? Both Rocky Carson and Jack Huczek pledged to work hard over the summer to be able to compete better this season. But they both played in the World Games in July and Huczek got married in August, so they may not have had as much time to work on their games as they really need to beat Waselenchuk.

Is Mannino still a contender?

One thing you might not have realized - we hadn't - is that Jason Mannino has not made a semi-final since last November's Juarez Open, which was one of the events Waselenchuk skipped. Mannino only made two semis in events that Waselenchuk played in, and those were the first two events of the season.

Mannino at 34 is the oldest of the top players, and his physical game style has likely taken a big toll on his body over the years. It's an open question whether he can still be a threat to win on tour. Given his ferocious competitiveness we wouldn't want to bet against Mannino, but the evidence is not favorable.

Other contenders - Can someone step up?

Was Mitch Williams's surprising run to the final in the second last event of the season something that will be a blip or will he step up his level of play and go deep in the draw on a regular basis. The Racquetball Blog believes Williams has the serve to pressure with the top players (read: Waselenchuk) but he needs to be solid in the rest of his game. At 28, Williams is not a youngster, so he needs to do it now.

Alvaro Beltran, the only player to beat Waselenchuk last season, and Shane Vanderson have on occasion shown that they have the talent to win events, but they have yet put enough of those occasions together to get to the winner's circle. Thus, consistency is the question mark with them as it is with Williams.

Performance through commitment

We hope that players who are trying to make a breakthrough this season understand that talent is only one aspect of performance, and that talent alone is not enough to achieve your maximum potential. You also need to consider physical training, mental training, nutrition, technical training (i.e., sport specific skills), and biomechanics (i.e., movement analysis). If you ignore any of these aspects, you will not be achieving your potential.

It's a big commitment to attend to all of those aspects. But if you want to win, then that's what you have to do.

This season we'll see which IRT players have made that commitment, and which haven't.

Follow the bouncing ball....

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