Wednesday, September 7, 2016

2015-16 IRT Season Review & Statistical Abstract

The 2016-17 International Racquetball Tour (IRT) kicks off Thursday with the Novasors Ghost of Georgetown event in Kansas City, Kansas, so now's the time to review last season.

Kane Waselenchuk was the IRT's #1 player for the 8th straight season, as he won all 10 of the IRT events he entered. Rocky Carson again finished #2, winning three times on tour last season. But Daniel De La Rosa, a finalist in four the last five IRT events last season, moved up to #3 ahead of Alvaro Beltran, who dropped to #4.

Jose Rojas finished 5th, with Jansen Allen and Jose's brother Marco Rojas, who both moved up a spot from the season before to 6th and 7th. Ben Croft, who was 6th in 2014-15, finished 30th as a result of missing time due to his shoulder injury.

Rounding out the top 10 were three surprises. Felipe Camacho was 8th, up from 19th the season before, with Sebastian Franco 9th (from 31st in 2014-15), and 10th was Mario Mercado (117th in 2014-15). Safe to say no one saw that happening.

But they are good, younger players, and bring some more diversity to the IRT, as Camacho is Costa Rican, Franco Colombian and Mercado is originally from Bolivia but is now living in Colombia.

The new faces continued in the next ten, as six players were ranked between 11-20 who were not in the top 20 in 2014-15. That included Mauricio Zelada at 12th (23rd in 2014-15), Jake Bredenbeck 13th (29th), Scott McClellan 14th (28th), Andree Parrilla at 17th (25th), and Brad Schopieray 19th (60th). Special note to Troy Warigon who finished last season at 18th despite having no IRT ranking points in 2014-15.

Top 20 IRT rankings - Final Rankings 2016
Rank - Player - Country - Points

1) Kane Waselenchuk (Canada): 4262
2) Rocky Carson (USA): 3835.73
4) Daniel De La Rosa (Mexico): 2953.73
3) Alvaro Beltran (Mexico): 2666
5) Jose Rojas (USA): 2465.67

6) Jansen Allen (USA): 1947
7) Marco Rojas (USA): 1670
8) Felipe Camacho (Costa Rica): 1543
9) Sebastian Franco (Colombia): 1533.8
10) Mario Mercado (Bolivia): 1436.8

11) Robert Collins (USA): 1174.8
12) Mauricio Zelada (USA): 1092.13
13) Jake Bredenbeck (USA): 1060.8
14) Scott McClellan (USA): 860.13
15) Matthew Majxner (USA): 850.13

16) Charlie Pratt (USA): 746.8
17) Andree Parrilla (Mexico): 678
18) Troy Warigon (USA): 618.8
19) Brad Schopieray (USA): 524
20) Jose Diaz (USA): 481.8

Tournament by tournament

As suggested by the rankings, there were some new names in the semi-finals last season. Names like Camacho, Franco, Schopieray, Mercado and Bredenbeck. That's always nice to see, but there were not any new names in the finals, and when Kane Waselenchuk's name was in the final, it was on the winning side.

Waselenchuk did miss some of the events, which is not unusual for him, and it was generally due to injury, or in one case an emergency hernia surgery. He came back shortly after that surgery, but wasn't fully recovered and had to default a Round of 16 match in Sarasota. Nonetheless, Waselenchuk is clearly the #1 IRT player, when fully fit, as long as his health holds out, we expect that he'll finish on top again this season. Waselenchuk will be 35 in November, but racquetball players have been able to play at a high level at more advanced ages than that.

A case in point of playing well after 35 is Rocky Carson. Carson is 37, and still solidly the IRT's #2 player. Some will undoubtedly suggest that will change this season with the good play of Daniel De La Rosa, who is 14 years younger that Carson. De La Rosa was in the final of four of the last five IRT events last season. However, Carson won two of those events, including a win over De La Rosa. Also, Carson defeated De La Rosa this summer at the International Racquetball Federation (IRF) World Championships, so while there is an age advantage for De La Rosa, he's going to have to prove himself on the court if he's going move ahead in the rankings this season.

Regarding the other top players, Alvaro Beltran is a year older than Carson, yet he remains an elite player, and won an event last season, so he's still a force to be reckoned with. Jose Rojas seemed to have things on track in Sioux Falls, where he was runner up to Waselenchuk, but he only had one semi-final appearance after that, which was disappointing. Can he be more consistent this season?

Whether Ben Croft can come back from the shoulder injury and surgery that kept out most of last season is another question to be answered this season. Also, will any of those new names that have appeared in the top 20 last season take another step forward in their development and threaten the top players?

2016-17 Schedule

Last season there was a crazy period that saw players competing five consecutive weekends in the fall. This season is more spaced out with 13 events on the schedule: 5 before the new year and 8 in 2017. Twelve of the 13 events were on the schedule last year with the new one being the Monterrey Open in Monterrey, Mexico December 1-4, 2016.

The 2016-17 season begins Thursday with the Novasors Ghost of Georgetown Kansas City Open in Kansas City. That will be followed by the US Open in Minneapolis, October 5-9, when Waselenchuk will try to win a 12th US Open title.

2015-16 IRT Season - Event Summary
Event - Final - Semi-Finalists

Kansas City:
Kane Waselenchuk d. Rocky Carson - SF: Jose Rojas & Felipe Camacho
US Open: Waselenchuk d. Daniel De La Rosa - SF: Alvaro Beltran & Carson
US Open Doubles: Waselenchuk & Ben Croft d. Jake Bredenbeck & Jose Diaz - SF: Jose Rojas & Marco Rojas and Jansen Allen & Charlie Pratt
San Marcos: Waselenchuk d. Carson - SF: Beltran & Sebastian Franco
Atlanta: Beltran d. Carson - SF: De La Rosa & J. Rojas
Davison: Carson d. J. Rojas - SF: Cliff Swain & Brad Schopieray
Garden City: Waselenchuk d. Carson - SF: Franco & Beltran
St Louis: Waselenchuk d. Carson - SF: De La Roas & Mario Mercado
New York City: Waselenchuk d. Carson - SF: J. Rojas & Allen
Sioux Falls: Waselenchuk d. Jose Rojas - SF: De La Rosa & Rocky Carson
Lombard, IL: Waselenchuk d. Daniel De La Rosa - SF: Beltran & Bredenbeck
Huber Heights, OH: Carson d. Beltran - SF: De La Rosa & Franco
Sarasota, FL: Carson d. De La Rosa - SF: Beltran & Franco
Portland: Waselenchuk d. De La Rosa - SF: J. Rojas & Carson
Reseda, CA: Waselenchuk d. De La Rosa - SF: Beltran & Carson

The 2015-16 IRT Statistical Abstract

Total matches played:

Percentage of 3 game matches: 60.3 (229 of 380)
Percentage of 4 game matches: 24.7 (94)
Percentage of 5 game matches: 12.1 (46)
Percentage of matches that were defaults or data was incomplete: 2.9 (11)

Most 5 game matches played: 9 - Daniel De La Rosa (5 wins, 4 losses)
2nd most 5 game matches played: 7 - Alvaro Beltran & Rocky Carson (both 4 wins, 3 losses)

Most points for in a victory: 53 - (i) Thomas Fuhrmann d. Mario Mercado, 11-2, 8-11, 11-8, 9-11, 14-12, at the US Open; (ii) Tony Carson d. Mauricio Zelada, 11-6, 9-11, 9-11, 11-1, 13-11, in Sioux Falls

Most points scored in a loss: 50 - Rocky Carson loses to Daniel De La Rosa, 11-9, 10-12, 8-11, 11-8, 12-10, at the US Open

Most points in a 5 game match: 102 - Daniel De La Rosa d. Rocky Carson, 11-9, 10-12, 8-11, 11-8, 12-10, at the US Open
Most points in a 4 game match: 82 - Mauricio Zelada d. Juan Herrera, 11-5, 11-13, 12-10, 11-9 in Lombard, Illinois
Most points in a 3 game match: 72 - Matthew Majxner d. Brian Simpson, 11-9, 13-11, 15-13, in St Louis

Largest margin of victory 5 game match: 19 - Matthew Majxner d. Jonathan Justice, 11-4, 11-3, 10-12, 8-11, 11-2, in Atlanta
Largest margin of victory 4 game match: 24 - Kane Waselenchuk d. Rocky Carson, 11-5, 11-0, 11-13, 11-2, in Kansas City
Largest margin of victory 3 game match: 32 - Rocky Carson d. Jeremy Best, 11-1, 11-0, 11-0, in Atlanta

Smallest margin of victory 5 game match: -9 - Teobaldo Fumero d. Fernando Rios, 11-9, 1-11, 3-11, 11-6, 11-9, at the US Open
Smallest margin of victory 4 game match: 0 - Sebastian Franco d. Felipe Camacho, 11-8, 12-10, 3-11, 11-8, in Lombard, Illinois
Smallest margin of victory 3 game match: 6 - (i) Matthew Majxner d. Brian Simpson, 11-9, 13-11, 15-13, in St Louis; (ii) Daniel De La Rosa d. Jake Bredenbeck, 12-10, 12-10, 11-9 in Huber Heights, Ohio

Follow the bouncing ball....

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