Wednesday, September 12, 2012

IRT Season Review & Preview

Once again the International Racquetball Tour (IRT) is kicking of its season with The Ghost of Georgetown racquetball tournament in Kansas City. This will be the 5th season The Racquetball Blog has covered the IRT, and we're looking forward to the boys getting back at it.

But before the ghosts come out of Georgetown, let's have a review of what happened last season in the 12 Tier 1 or Grand Slam IRT events.

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

1) Kane Waselenchuk - 9 wins, 1 seconds, 0 semi-finals, 0 quarter finals
2) Rocky Carson - 1 win, 6 seconds, 3 semis, 2 qtrs
3) Jose Rojas - 1 win, 0 seconds, 5 semis, 3 qrts
4) Ben Croft - 1 win, 0 seconds, 6 semis, 4 qtrs
5) Alvaro Beltran - 0 wins, 4 seconds, 2 semis, 3 qtrs
6) Chris Crowther - 0 wins, 1 second, 3 semi, 4 qtrs
7) Shane Vanderson - 0 wins, 0 seconds, 1 semi, 10 qtrs
8) Andy Hawthorne - 0 wins, 0 seconds, 1 semi, 7 qtrs
9) Tony Carson - 0 wins, 0 seconds, 1 semi, 3 qrts
10) Charlie Pratt - 0 wins, 0 seconds, 0 semi, 3 qrts
11) Javier Moreno - 0 wins, 0 seconds, 0 semis, 3 qtrs
12) Anthony Herrera - 0 wins, 0 seconds, 0 semis, 3 qtrs
15) Alex Landa - 0 wins, 0 seconds, 0 semis, 1 qtr
17) Polo Gutierrez - 0 wins, 0 seconds, 1 semi, 1 qtr

Event - Final - Semi-Finalists

Kansas City Final: Waselenchuk d. R. Carson - Semis: Hawthorne, Croft
US Open Final: Waselenchuk d. R. Carson - Rojas, Crowther
Red Swaine Shootout Final: Waselenchuk d. Crowther - Semis: Rojas, Croft
Seattle Pro-Am Final: Waselenchuk d. R. Carson - Semis: Rojas, Croft
California Open Final: Waselenchuk d. R. Carson - Semis: Beltran, Croft
New York City Pro-Am Final: R. Carson d. Waselenchuk - Semis: Crowther, Rojas
Salt Lake City Pro-Am Final: Croft d. R. Carson - Semis: Beltran, Vanderson
San Diego Open Final: Rojas d. Beltran - Semis: T. Carson, R. Carson
Florida Spring Break Pro-Am Final: Waselenchuk d. Beltran - Semis: Rojas, Croft
Party with the Pros Final: Waselenchuk d. R. Carson - Semis: Rojas, Croft
Stockton Pro/Am Final: Waselenchuk d. Beltran - Semis: Crowther, R. Carson
Ektelon Nationals Final: Waselenchuk d. Beltran - Semis: Gutierrez, R. Carson

The 2011-12 IRT Statistical Abstract

Total matches played: 498

Percentage of 3 game matches: 55.4 (276 of 498)
Percentage of 4 game matches: 24.1 (120)
Percentage of 5 game matches: 15.1 (75)
Percentage of matches that were defaults or data was incomplete: 5.4 (27)

Most points for in a victory: 54 - (i) Polo Gutierrez d. Ben Croft, 9-11, 11-9, 11-3, 11-13, 12-10, in the NYC Pro-Am & (ii) Jose Rojas d. Javier Moreno, 10-12, 11-5, 11-3, 11-13, 11-7 in the US Open

Most points scored in a loss: 51 - (i) James Swift in loss to Felipe Munoz, 3-11, 13-11, 11-3, 13-15, 13-11, in the Stockton Pro-Am & (ii) Cole Burr in loss to Ruben Gonzalez, 5-11, 13-11, 11-8, 5-11, 12-10, in the Salt Lake City Pro-Am

Most points in a 5 game match: 104 - Felipe Munoz d. James Swift, 3-11, 13-11, 11-3, 13-15, 13-11, in the Stockton Pro-Am
Most points in a 4 game match: 86 - Brandon Cortese d. Arthur Schmeiser, 11-9, 7-11, 12-10, 14-12 in the Red Swaine Shootout
Most points in a 3 game match: 65 - Anthony Herrera d. Mauricio Zelada, 14-12, 11-9, 11-8, in the NYC Pro-Am

Largest margin of victory 5 game match: 22 by Ben Croft over James Slamko, 11-4, 9-11, 11-3, 9-11, 11-0 at the Seattle Pro-Am
Largest margin of victory 4 game match: 23 by (i) Juan Herrera over Tyler Otto, 9-11, 11-4, 11-1, 11-3, in the Kansas City Pro-Am (ii) Teobaldo Fumero over Arthur Schmeiser, 9-11, 11-4, 11-4, 11-0, in the Kansas City Pro-Am, & (iii) Ben Croft over Arthur Schmeiser, 11-3, 11-4, 10-12, 11-1 in the Party for the Pros
Largest margin of victory 3 game match: 33 by Hiroshi Shimizu over Ron Briggs, 11-0, 11-0, 11-1 in the US Open

Smallest margin of victory 5 game match: -9 by Tony Carson in win over Mike Green, 1-11, 4-11, 12-10, 12-10, 11-7 in the NYC Pro-Am
2nd smallest margin of victory 5 game match: -6 by Javier Moreno in win over Chris Crowther, 11-7, 1-11, 11-8, 1-11, 11-4, in the Kansas City Open
Smallest margin of victory 4 game match: -2 by Agustin Tristan over Javier Moreno, 1-11, 13-11, 11-9, 11-7, in NYC Pro-Am
Smallest margin of victory 3 game match: 6 by Ben Croft over Josh Tucker, 11-8, 11-9, 12-10, in the Ektelon Nationals

Waselenchuk dominant... when playing

Kane Waselenchuk continued to dominate men's pro racquetball last season, when he was playing. But unfortunately for him - and all IRT fans - he had to retire during the final of the New York City Pro-Am and then missed the following two events. Waselenchuk's now on the other side of 30, so he's likely closer to the end of his career than the beginning, but he's still playing a very high level when he's able.

Consider that in the last four seasons Waselenchuk's entered 38 tournaments and won 34 of them. Of the four he didn't win, he defaulted due to injury in three (including the San Diego Open last season, when he was a late withdrawal, but the draw couldn't be changed) and only lost once. Curiously, that wasn't in five games or in a final, as Alvaro Beltran beat Waselenchuk in the semi-finals of the 2009 California Open in four games.

Given that record, it's clear who's the number 1 men's racquetball player in the world.

Who's number 2?

But who's number 2? Rocky Carson finished 2nd in the season ending rankings, and he did have a good season, winning one event and being runner-up in six others - more than anyone else. However, Carson's win was due to Waselenchuk's injury default, and in the events Waselenchuk missed, Carson wasn't the winner. Jose Rojas and Ben Croft were.

Yet it was Alvaro Beltran who had the best record of the over the last few events of the season, as he was runner-up in four of the last five events. Beltran seems to be fully recovered from the knee injury he suffered a few years back, but he'll be 34 next month so age isn't on his side. Carson is also over 30, while Croft and Rojas are 27 and 22, respectively.

Thus, this season's battle for the #2 spot could be quite heated.

Who else?

In last season's preview, we wrote that "it would be a shock" if "Tony Carson made an IRT semi-final," so consider us shocked that Carson did reach a semi-final, as he got to the semis in San Diego. Good on him for doing that.

Only one other player reached the semis outside of the top 8: Polo Gutierrez. We'd be happy to see more players get to the semis or farther, especially if it helps put some pressure on Waselenchuk to excel. But it's not clear which, if any, of the players outside the top 8 are going to have a break through this season.

Let's play ball

We're sure there will be some surprises this season (our fingers are crossed that they are good surprises), and we hope that you'll follow along with The Racquetball Blog as we find out just what they are.

Game on!

Follow the bouncing ball....