Monday, January 23, 2012

A football analogy for racquetball

The day after the New York Giants and New England Patriots qualified for the NFL's Super Bowl seems like a good time to make a football analogy in racquetball.

In racquetball, we always want to put the ball where our opponent can't get to it. Generally, that means hitting the ball to the corners via either a pinch shot or a pass shot, which in football would be like the passing game and the running game.

Football people often talk about how the running game makes the passing game better and vice versa. Similarly in racquetball, hitting good passes will make your pinches better and vice versa, because your opponent will be looking for the one when you hit the other.

Passing in racquetball is football's running game: most frequently used, kinda boring, but essential for success. If you can't pass well, you're not going to be very successful on the racquetball court. Pinching in racquetball is like passing in a football game, because while it can produce spectacular results, pinching can go wrong more easily than the passing.

We often see players trying to rely on pinching when a good pass shot would do the job. The pass won't necessarily impress people, but it'll keep you in the service box. And isn't that where you most want to be?

Aside from the Super Bowl perhaps.

Follow the bouncing ball....

Thursday, January 19, 2012

IRT - Who's the best in 5gs?

During the IRT Network's coverage of last weekend's International Racquetball Tour (IRT) Cactus Salon NYC Pro-Am, the topic came up of player records in five game matches. Who's got the best record in matches that go five games? This question can be addressed through a perusal of the IRT Historical Archive kept by Todd Boss.

In questions of IRT excellence, we know the players likely to be on top: Kane Waselenchuk, Cliff Swain, Sudsy Monchik. And those names are up there in the five game (5g) stats, but not exactly as you'd think.

Waselenchuk does have a good record in five game matches, although he hasn't played nearly as many as most of the regular IRT players (as defined by the Historical Archive). Waselenchuk's won 28 of the 36 five game matches he's played for a .778 winning percentage, which is quite good. Better than almost any other IRT regular player.

But not every other IRT player.

Polo Gutierrez has the best record in five game matches. He hasn't played many, only 10 in fact. But he's won 9 of those 10 for a .900 winning percentage!

Now, you might think that as Gutierrez is an infrequent IRT player those 9 wins probably came in qualifying against, well, inferior opposition. And you'd be wrong, because over over half of those wins came against these players: Shane Vanderson, Mike Guidry, Jason Mannino, Jose Rojas, and last weekend, Ben Croft.

Quite impressive, really.

After Gutierrez and Waselenchuk, the next best five game winning percentages are Monchik with .692, Andy Roberts .680 and Marty Hogan with .671.

Gutierrez's 5g record is also impressive from the perspective of being higher than his overall winning percentage, which at .637 is also good. The difference between those two percentages (.263) is the most for any IRT player.

Other players who have better records in 5g matches than they do overall are Mitch Williams (.607, 17-11 in 5g versus .525 overall), Andy Hawthorne (.571, 16-12, vs. .505), Ben Croft (.633, 19-11, vs. .586), and Jason Thoerner (.550, 11-9 vs. .503).

The players with the most wins in 5g matches are going to be those with the longest careers, so it should be no surprise that Cliff Swain has the most wins in 5g matches with 65, followed by Ruben Gonzalez with 54, Marty Hogan 53, Andy Roberts 51, and Jason Mannino 46.

However, Swain also has the most 5g losses with 52, followed by Mike Ray with 48, Mannino 43, Gonzalez 38 and Tim Doyle 37.

The player with lowest winning percentages in 5g matches (playing at least 10 5g matches) is Dave Johnson, who won 7 of the 20 5g matches in his career for a .350 winning percentage. Javier Moreno is second worst at 9 for 25 (.360), followed by Dan Fowler (15 for 40, .375), Alejandro Herrera (7 for 18, .389) and Woody Clouse (16 for 41, .390).

One of the surprising things to those of us in The Racquetball Blog office is Jason Mannino's record in 5g matches. Mannino was a 'give it everything, leave it all on the court' type player, and we think those sort of players should do well in 5g matches. Andy Hawthorne and Ben Croft are that sort of player, and they both have better winning percentages in 5g matches than they do overall.

But while Mannino won more 5g matches than he lost, it was only a few more (46 wins, 43 losses), so he 5g winning percentage was much lower than his overall winning percentage (.517 v. .700).

Of course for most of his career, Mannino was one of the top 5 players, so he generally went deep in the draw, playing against other top 5 players. In fact, Mannino played five 5g matches versus Monchik, losing all five, three against Swain (losing two, winning one), and five against Waselenchuk (winning the first, and losing the next four). Take that 2-11 record out of Mannino's 5g record and you get 44-32 (a .579 winning percentage), which is better than his overall 5g record though still much lower than his overall winning percentage.

Who should win?

When you get to a tie-breaking game in a series, such as the fifth game in an IRT match, the series could go either way. If the opponents are of equal ability, then the odds of winning should be 50/50. But one player is always seeded higher than the other, which is supposed to reflect ability (to some extent), or at least past performances. Thus, the higher seeded player should win. It would be interesting to know the records of higher seeded IRT players in 5g matches.

Of course, as Polo Gutierrez can tell you, the higher seeded player doesn't always win. And that's what makes sport interesting.

Follow the bouncing ball....

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

WPRO Rankings

Paola Longoria reaffirmed her position as the #1 Women's Professional Racquetball Organization (WPRO) player, when she won the California Open in Canoga Park earlier this month, and the latest WPRO rankings confirm that. Rhonda Rajsich, who was runner-up to Longoria in Canoga Park, remains the #2 player.

However, Kerri Wachtel has moved up into the #3 position ahead of Samantha Salas, who's now missed two consecutive events due to an arm injury. Cristina Amaya has also dropped in the rankings, falling from 6th to 8th.

Adrienne Fisher remains 5th, followed by Krystal Csuk in 6th, Susy Acosta-Mendoza 7th, Amaya 8th, Jennifer Saunders 9th, and Angela Grisar in 10th.

Where's Cheryl Gudinas, former WPRO #1, you ask? She's dropped to 12th, although she did compete in the California Open, which was her first tournament after knee surgery, she lost to Saunders in the Round of 16. In fact, Gudinas is only 0.30 points ahead of T.J. Baumbaugh, who's 13th. It's Gudinas's lowest ranking for almost 20 years.

The next WPRO event is the Mile High Pro-Am in Denver, Colorado, March 8-11, 2012.

WPRO Rankings (January 9, 2012)
Rank - Name - Nationality - Points

1 Paola Longoria (Mexico) 1494.00
2 Rhonda Rajsich (USA) 1360.40
3 Kerri Wachtel (USA) 503.45
4 Samantha Salas (Mexico) 484.30
5 Adrienne Fisher (USA) 455.70
6 Krystal Csuk (USA) 377.60
7 Susy Acosta-Mendoza (Mexico) 371.50
8 Cristina Amaya (Colombia) 366.65
9 Jennifer Saunders (Canada) 337.00
10 Angela Grisar (Chile) 245.00

11 Da'monique Davis (USA) 222.75
12 Cheryl Gudinas (USA) 212.80
13 T.J. Baumbaugh (USA) 212.50
14 Kristen Bellows (USA) 200.90
15 Christie Huczek (Canada) 150.25
16 Linda Scales (USA) 140.00
17 Laura Brandt (USA) 106.50
18 Nancy Enriquez (Mexico) 106.00
19 Aimee Ruiz (USA) 100.00
20 Sharon Jackson (USA) 87.50

Follow the bouncing ball....

Monday, January 16, 2012

Weekend round up - Ackermann, Metcalf & Maher win

The International Racquetball Tour's (IRT's) main event was in Syosset, N.Y., but there three other minor IRT events this past weekend.

The most significant event happened in Austin, Texas, where Alex Ackermann won the Longhorn Open by defeating Jansen Allen in the final, 11-6, 11-7, 11-7. Ackermann got to the final by defeating the wily veteran Jimmy Lowe, 8-11, 14-12, 11-4, 11-4 in one semi-final, while in the other semi Allen had a five game war with Erik Leetch, winning 3-11, 12-10, 12-10, 11-13, 11-8.

Ackermann was a double winner in Austin, as he and Allen teamed up to take the doubles title by defeating Ryan Rodgers and Shai Manzuri in the final, 15-2, 15-14. Ackermann and Allen beat Allan Crockett and Rusty Powell in the semi-finals, 15-6, 15-9, while Rodgers and Manzuri needed a tie-breaker to get past Leetch and Dustin Webster, 13-15, 15-14, 11-1.

Over in Gainsville, Florida, Aaron Metcalf won the Orange and Blue Shootout with a win over Nick Hand in the final, 11-4, 11-0, 9-11, 11-5. Both Metcalf and Hand needed five games to win their respective semi-final matches. Metcalf, the top seed, beat Vinnie Ganley, 10-12, 11-8, 11-0, 7-11, 11-4, while 3rd seed, Hand, defeated 2nd seed Mike Mondello, 11-3, 11-3, 7-11, 8-11, 11-8.

Finally, the 2012 Missouri Racquetball Blizzard was won by Ryan Maher in St. Louis, as he defeated Drew Finke in the final, 11-8, 11-9, 11-9, in what was a battle of the 3rd and 4th seeds. In the semi-finals, 3rd seed Maher beat 2nd seed Joe Sharamitaro, 11-4, 11-8, 11-6, and Finke, the 4th seed, beat top seed Hal Rutherford in the other semi.

Time for rest and recovery

Kane Waselenchuk's withdrawal from yesterday's final of the Cactus Salon NYC Pro-Am as a result of aggravating a injury he picked up the pervious weekend competing at the Coast to Coast California Open highlights the stress that players can be putting themselves under when playing on the IRT.

Rocky Carson spoke to this during his post-match interview, saying "you can't recover in one week" from an injury. This is especially so when it's not really a week of recovery when you are finishing on Sunday and starting again on Friday, and then traveling on top of that.

There's a two week break in the IRT schedule prior to the MonaVie Salt Lake City Pro/Am February 1-4, 2012. But at the end of February the IRT schedule gets especially brutal, as the San Diego Open February 23-26 begins a stretch of seven Tier 1 events in ten weeks, including two stretches of back to back to back tournaments.

Moreover, the two weeks that the IRT has off in late March and early April is when the Pan American Championships will take place in Temuco, Chile, so some of the IRT players are likely going to be there representing their countries, which will be an added burden on their schedules.

It all adds up to a lot of racquetball.

In recent years, one of the big realizations in the realm of training has been how important rest and recovery are. But a schedule of 7 events in 10 weeks doesn't leave much room for that.

We tend to think of high performance athletes as being healthier than the rest of us, and that their fitness affords them some measure of insurance against illness and injury. But the reverse can often be the case. That is, often it seems that high performance athletes are not so much creating a broad base of health as honing their conditioning down to fine point from which it can be easy to fall off.

One thing for sure is that high performance athletes will recover from an injury faster than the rest of us, because they'll take the dedication and discipline from their training and apply it to their recovery and rehabilitation. But because they put themselves in physically stressful situations more often than the rest of us, they are more likely to suffer an injury.

Thus, no one should be surprised when a racquetball player gets injured. Waselenchuk makes everything look effortless, but it's not, and as Carson also pointed out, Waselenchuk plays more than anyone else, as he's been in the finals of almost every tournament for the last three and half seasons.

But we expect he'll do whatever is necessary to prepare for Salt Lake City, where a Waselenchuk winning streak can begin again.

Follow the bouncing ball....

Sunday, January 15, 2012

IRT - Carson wins 2012 NYC Pro-Am, as Waselenchuk withdraws

Rocky Carson said "I don't want to win like that," but win he did as Kane Waselenchuk was forced to retire during the first game of their final at the Cactus Salon NYC Pro/Am in Syosset, N.Y. The loss ends the winning streak of the International Racquetball Tour's (IRT's) #1 player's winning streak. Carson's win over Waselenchuk is his first since 2003 at Pro Nationals in Tempe, Arizona.

As the match began former IRT #1 Sudsy Monchik, doing commentary on the IRT Network webcast, revealed that Waselenchuk had tweaked his back during last weekend's California Open. Though he had played fine on Friday and Saturday, Waselenchuk's back was acting up Sunday morning as he prepared for the final.

Carson won the first five points of the match, and Waselenchuk did not appear to be moving normally. At 5-0 down, Waselenchuk took a time out that turned into 15 min of injury time.

He did come back on the court, and played a few more rallies, winning a couple of points. But at 6-2, Waselenchuk decided to call it a day.

Afterwards Waselenchuk said he "felt [the back injury] in warm up," as he "couldn't hit it with pace." He wanted to play but his body wasn't letting him. Also, Waselenchuk knew "I had to bring my top game" against Carson.

Joking he said "at least I didn't get a donut."

But for Waselenchuk "the main thing is to get healthy. There's a lot of season left," and his goal is to be #1 at the end of it. He also expressed confidence that he'll be ready for Salt Lake City, which is the site of the next IRT Tier 1 event.

Perhaps Waselenchuk would be well advised to pass on the New York City Pro-Am in the future, as this is the fourth time he's defaulted at it. Last year, he came down with flu that forced him to default prior to his semi-final match with Jack Huczek. Waselenchuk also defaulted two Round of 16 matches in the 2004 and 2006 New York City Pro-Am events.

We don't know if Waselenchuk loves New York or not, but if New York's in love with him, it's got a funny way of showing it.

The next IRT event is the MonaVie Salt Lake City Pro/Am February 1-4. Note the final will be Saturday night, so they will be playing the semi-finals and final on the same day. The finalists will need to have strong backs to play four tough matches in two days.

2012 New York City Pro/Am - Long Island, N.Y.


Rocky Carson d. Kane Waselenchuk, 6-2, injury forfeit

Follow the bouncing ball....

Saturday, January 14, 2012

IRT - New York City Pro Am Semi-finals

Once again the top two International Racquetball Tour (IRT) players will meet in an IRT final, as #1 Kane Waselenchuk and #2 Rocky Carson won their respective semi-final matches at the Cactus Salon NYC Pro/Am in Syosset, N.Y. on Saturday. But like in Friday's quarter finals Waselenchuk won in three straight games while Carson needed more games - this time a fifth game tie-breaker - to advance.

Waselenchuk beat 4th seed Jose Rojas, 11-4, 11-0, 11-6. After being in control in games one and two, Waselenchuk found himself behind in the middle of game three at 5-4. But he never looked fazed by Rojas's play, winning six straight points to reach match point at 10-5.

However, Rojas didn't roll over, and fought off three match points before succumbing to Waselechuk.

Afterwards when asked about some of the unusual shots he made, Waselenchuk said it's "just something that comes to my mind" and that it's not for the crowd.

Rojas felt he "played pretty well," although his arm was very sore afterwards. Waselenchuk also thought Rojas's game is "maturing" and that the player who's 9 years his junior could be #1 one day, though Waselenchuk will do everything he can to push that day as far into the future as possible.

The other semi-final went the distance before Carson overcame challenger Chris Crowther, including coming back from 2-1 down in games to win 11-3, 5-11, 4-11, 11-3, 11-6.

In the tie-breaker, Carson was down 4-1 when he skipped a serve, and then in frustration hit the ball out of the court, resulting in a technical penalty and loss of point. Thus, the score when to 4-0.

But it seemed to spur Carson on, as he won the next 10 points before Crowther clawed a couple back, which at that point seemed like it was just delaying the inevitable. And it was, as Carson won the match on his second match point.

The IRT Network will web-cast the finals of NYC Pro-Am on Sunday at noon EST.

2012 New York City Pro/Am - Long Island, N.Y.

Semi-finals - Saturday

Kane Waselenchuk d. Jose Rojas, 11-4, 11-0, 11-6
Rocky Carson d. Chris Crowther, 11-3, 5-11, 4-11, 11-3, 11-6

Final - Sunday Noon EST

Kane Waselenchuk v. Rocky Carson

Follow the bouncing ball....

Friday, January 13, 2012

IRT - New York City Pro Am Quarter finals

The top two seeds are through to the semi-finals of the Cactus Salon NYC Pro/Am in Syosset, N.Y. Kane Waselenchuk, the #1 International Racquetball Tour (IRT) player, won his quarter final match in three straight games versus Shane Vanderson, 11-5, 11-5, 11-3, and IRT #2 Rocky Carson had a bit more difficult as he dropped the first game against Andy Hawthorne before coming back to win in four games, 9-11, 11-4, 11-4, 11-8.

Polo Gutierrez, the big winner earlier on Friday, got over-powered by Chris Crowther, who took their match three straight, 11-4, 11-4, 11-4. Crowther will face Carson in the semi-finals on Saturday.

The closest match of the quarter finals was between Jose Rojas and Alvaro Beltran, as Rojas went up 2-0 only to see Beltran come back and tie it 2-2 forcing a fifth and deciding game. But in the end, Rojas won it, 11-9, 11-8, 8-11, 6-11, 11-6, and he'll play Waselenchuk in the other semi-final on Saturday.

The IRT Network is web-casting the semi-finals of NYC Pro-Am on Saturday.

2012 New York City Pro/Am - Long Island, N.Y.

Quarter finals - Friday

Kane Waselenchuk d. Shane Vanderson, 11-5, 11-5, 11-3
Jose Rojas d. Alvaro Beltran, 11-9, 11-8, 8-11, 6-11, 11-6

Chris Crowther d. Polo Gutierrez, 11-4, 11-4, 11-4
Rocky Carson d. Andy Hawthorne, 9-11, 11-4, 11-4, 11-8

Semi-finals - Saturday

Kane Waselenchuk v. Jose Rojas - 5 PM EST
Rocky Carson v. Chris Crowther - 4 PM EST

Follow the bouncing ball....

IRT - New York City Pro Am Round of 16

Polo Gutierrez has the first big upset of the Cactus Salon NYC Pro/Am in Syosset, N.Y. - the 2nd International Racquetball Tour (IRT) tournament of 2012, as he defeated IRT #3 Ben Croft in five games, 9-11, 11-9, 11-3, 11-13, 12-10. Gutierrez used a mixture of serves but no killer drive serves, and then hit many pinch shot winners with a nonchalant style. See ball. Hit ball. Roll ball out. Repeat as necessary.

Gutierrez could easily have won in fewer games, as he had a big lead in game one at 7-0 and still at 8-6, but lost. Then in games four, Gutierrez had a match points at 10-6 and then again at 10-8, but Croft fought them both off and forced a fifth game.

It was Croft who had the early lead in the tie-breaker, as he went up 4-1. Croft also led 6-4, and 9-8. However, Gutierrez had another match point at 10-9, only to see Croft tie it at 10. Then Gutierrez got the serve back and won two straight points wining the match on his fourth match point opportunity.

Earlier, the top two seeds advanced to the quarter finals with straight game victories. Top seed Kane Waselenchuk beat Ruben Gonzalez, 11-3, 11-3, 11-2 and 2nd seed Rocky Carson defeated young left-hander Brad Schopieray, 11-2, 11-3, 11-8.

The IRT Network is web-casting the Round of 16 and the quarter finals of NYC Pro-Am for free all Friday.

2012 New York City Pro/Am - Long Island, N.Y.

Round of 16 - Friday

Kane Waselenchuk d. Ruben Gonzalez, 11-3, 11-3, 11-2
Shane Vanderson d. Tony Carson, 9-11, 5-11, 11-5, 12-10, 11-7

Alvaro Beltran d. Charlie Pratt, 9-11, 11-6, 11-4, 11-9
Jose Rojas d. Alejandro Landa, 11-0, 12-10, 11-7

Polo Gutierrez d. Ben Croft, 9-11, 11-9, 11-3, 11-13, 12-10
Chris Crowther v. Agustin Tristan, 11-8, 11-5, 11-5

Andy Hawthorne d. Anthony Herrera, 11-5, 11-7, 11-6
Rocky Carson d. Brad Schopieray, 11-2, 11-3, 11-8

Quarter finals - Friday

Kane Waselenchuk v. Shane Vanderson
Jose Rojas v. Alvaro Beltran

Chris Crowther v. Polo Gutierrez
Rocky Carson v. Andy Hawthorne

Follow the bouncing ball....

Thursday, January 12, 2012

IRT - 2012 NYC Pro-Am Preliminary results

They're midway through qualifying at the 2nd International Racquetball Tour (IRT) tournament of 2012 - the Cactus Salon NYC Pro/Am in Syosset, N.Y. Sudsy Monchik, former IRT #1, who was playing in an IRT tournament for the first time since 2006, lost his first match to Agustin Tristan, 11-7, 11-3, 11-3.

Canadians didn't fare well in the last round of qualifying, as all three of those playing lost. Tristan defeated Vincent Gagnon, 11-1, 11-7, 11-2. Tony Carson came from two games down to beat Mike Green, 1-11, 4-11, 12-10, 12-10, 11-7. And the legend Ruben Gonzalez beat Lee Connell in four games, 11-6, 6-11, 12-10, 11-1.

Gonzalez will now have the first chance to end Kane Waselenchuk's winning streak this weekend, as they will meet in the Round of 16 on Friday.

The IRT Network will be web-casting the last round of NYC Pro-Am qualifying matches.

2012 New York City Pro/Am - Long Island, N.Y.
Round 1

Conrad Cole d. Mike Ziolo, 11-3, 11-6, 11-9
Jorge Trevino d. Jeremy McGlothin, 11-3, 11-3, 8-11, 11-6

Agustin Tristan d. Sudsy Monchik, 11-7, 11-3, 11-3
Mauricio Zelada d. Jack Goldberg, 11-2, 11-1, 11-1
Francisco Troncoso d. Abe Cardenas, 11-3, 11-4, 11-6

Round 2

Lee Connell d. David LaForest, 13-11, 12-10, 11-4
Ruben Gonzalez d. Mitch Posner, 11-5, 11-3, 11-7

Mike Green d. Conrad Cole, 11-4, 11-4, 12-10
Nick Montalbano d. Jorge Trevino, 11-5, 11-3, 12-10

Alejandro Landa d. Sami Harb, 11-6, 11-6, 11-1
Joe Palazzo d. Felipe Munoz, 11-6, 4-11, 6-11, 12-10 11-9

Eric Muller d. Arthur Schmeiser, 11-3, 11-6, 12-10
Polo Gutierrez d. Tom Keogh, 11-1, 11-3, 11-3

Agustin Tristan d. Vincent Gagnon, 11-1, 11-7, 11-2
Mauricio Zelada d. John Scott, 11-5, 11-2, 11-0
Hiroshi Shimizu d. Francisco Troncoso, 11-9, 11-8, 11-7

Round 3

Q8: Ruben Gonzalez d. Lee Connell, 11-6, 6-11, 12-10, 11-1
Q1: Tony Carson d. Mike Green, 1-11, 4-11, 12-10, 12-10, 11-7

Q4: Alvaro Beltran d. Nick Montalbano, 11-1, 11-2, 11-8
Q5: Alejandro Landa d. Joe Palazzo, 11-5, 11-8, 11-2

Q6: Polo Gutierrez d. Eric Muller, 11-4, 11-6, 11-6
Q3: Agustin Tristan d. Javier Moreno, 1-11, 13-11, 11-9, 11-7

Q2: Anthony Herrera d. Mauricio Zelada, 14-12, 11-9, 11-8
Q7: Brad Schopieray d. Hiroshi Shimizu, 3-11, 11-8, 11-5, 11-6

Main Draw - Round of 16

Kane Waselenchuk v. Ruben Gonzalez
Shane Vanderson v. Tony Carson

Charlie Pratt v. Alvaro Beltran
Jose Rojas v. Alejandro Landa

Ben Croft v. Polo Gutierrez
Chris Crowther v. Agustin Tristan

Andy Hawthorne v. Anthony Herrera
Rocky Carson v. Brad Schopieray

Follow the bouncing ball....

IRT - 2012 NYC Pro-Am Preliminary rounds

The International Racquetball Tour (IRT) has switched coasts for its second tournament of 2012, as they are on Long Island, New York for the Cactus Salon NYC Pro/Am. IRT #1 Kane Waselenchuk will try to continue his winning streak coming off a four game victory over IRT #2 Rocky Carson last Sunday in the final of the California Open.

But before that can happen there's three rounds of qualifying to get through on Thursday. The big feature in qualifying is Sudsy Monchik, former IRT #1, who retired in 2006. However, Monchik did play mixed doubles in last year's US Open, so he hasn't been completely inactive.

With no ranking points, Monchik is one of the lowest seeds in the event, which gives him a hard road to Friday's Round of 16. He'll first be up against Agustin Tristan, a good young Mexican player who played collegiately at the University of Alabama. If Monchik wins that, he'll face Vincent Gagnon, the #2 player in Canada and bronze medalist at last year's Pan Am Games. A win over Gagnon, and Monchik will be up against left handed veteran Javier Moreno, who was one of the gold medalists on the Mexican doubles team at the Pan Am Games.

Yes, Monchik has a difficult path to Friday's Round of 16. But welcome back, Sudsy! Good luck to you!

Alvaro Beltran was Moreno's partner on that Pan Am Games gold medal winning team, and Beltran's also in the qualifying draw. If he makes it through qualifying, Beltran will play Charlie Pratt, who defeated Beltran in last year's US Open.

The most interesting potential qualifying match could be Brad Schopieray versus Japanese veteran Hiroshi Shimizu, as it would be pit a good young player in Schopieray against a wily veteran in Shimizu. The winner of that bracket plays #2 seed Rocky Carson on Friday.

The IRT Network will be web-casting NYC Pro-Am matches beginning Thursday January 12 at 8 PM EST.

2012 New York City Pro/Am - Long Island, N.Y.
Round 1

Conrad Cole v. Mike Ziolo
Jeremy McGlothin v. Jorge Trevino

Agustin Tristan v. Sudsy Monchik
Mauricio Zelada v. Jack Goldberg

Francisco Troncoso v. Abe Cardenas

Round 2

Lee Connell v. David LaForest
Ruben Gonzalez v. Mitch Posner

Mike Green v. Conrad Cole or Mike Ziolo
Nick Montalbano v. Jeremy McGlothin or Jorge Trevino

Alejandro Landa v. Sami Harb
Felipe Munoz v. Joe Palazzo

Arthur Schmeiser v. Eric Muller
Polo Gutierrez v. Tom Keogh

Vincent Gagnon v. Agustin Tristan or Sudsy Monchik

John Scott v. Mauricio Zelada or Jack Goldberg
Hiroshi Shimizu v. Francisco Troncoso or Abe Cardenas

Round 3

Q8: Lee Connell or David LaForest v. Ruben Gonzalez v. Mitch Posner
Q1: Tony Carson v. Mike Green or Conrad Cole or Mike Ziolo

Q4: Alvaro Beltran v. Nick Montalbano or Jeremy McGlothin or Jorge Trevino
Q5: Alejandro Landa or Sami Harb v. Felipe Munoz or Joe Palazzo

Q6: Arthur Schmeiser or Eric Muller v. Polo Gutierrez or Tom Keogh
Q3: Javier Moreno v. Vincent Gagnon or Agustin Tristan or Sudsy Monchik

Q2: Anthony Herrera v. John Scott or Mauricio Zelada or Jack Goldberg
Q7: Brad Schopieray v. Hiroshi Shimizu or Francisco Troncoso or Abe Cardenas

Main Draw - Round of 16

Kane Waselenchuk v. Q8
Shane Vanderson v. Q1

Charlie Pratt v. Q4
Jose Rojas v. Q5

Ben Croft v. Q6
Chris Crowther v. Q3

Andy Hawthorne v. Q2
Rocky Carson v. Q7

Follow the bouncing ball....

Sunday, January 8, 2012

WPRO - Longoria wins 2012 California Open

Paola Longoria won her fourth tournament of the 2011-12 Women's Professional Racquetball Organization (WPRO) season by taking the Coast to Coast California Open in Canoga Park, California, and further solidifying her position as the #1 WPRO player. Longoria defeated a familiar opponent in the final, WPRO #2 Rhonda Rajsich, 12-10, 11-6, 11-7.

Longoria's now won eight of her last nine WPRO matches against Rajsich.

In the first game, it seemed like Rajsich might carry the day, as she held an 8-4 lead. Longoria fought back and took the lead at 9-8, and it looked like that would be it for Rajsich.

However, Rajisch came back and had two game points at 10-9, but she failed to convert them. Rajsich did fight off one game point herself, when Longoria led 11-10, but then Longoria finished the game off.

Both games two and three were close early, at 3-3 and 2-2, respectively, but then Longoria took leads in each game and although Rajsich drew close late in each game, she never tied it, as Longoria went on to take the match in three straight games.

The next WPRO Tier 1 event is the Mile High Pro/Am in Denver, Colorado March 8-11.

2012 Coast to Coast California Open, Canoga Park, California


1 Paola Longoria d. 2 Rhonda Rajsich, 12-10, 11-6, 11-7

Follow the bouncing ball....

IRT - Waselenchuk wins 2012 California Open

Kane Waselenchuk won another tournament on the International Racquetball Tour (IRT) Sunday, as he defeated Rocky Carson in the final of the Coast to Coast California Open in Canoga Park, California, 7-11, 11-1, 11-8, 11-8. Waselenchuk last lost on court in the 2009 California Open.

Carson got off to a good start against the IRT's #1 player by winning the first game. But Waselenchuk responded as he often does by making a statement in game two by allowing Carson only a single point.

In games three and four, Carson took early leads, but then had to play from behind as Waselenchuk won a streak of points. Afterwards, Waselenchuk said he was "very fortunate to win those games," and that Carson's "so tough when he's behind."

Waselenchuk attributed his first game loss to Carson playing well and himself being "a little sloppy" with his footwork. Also, Waselenchuk said he didn't feel as good when he woke up Sunday as he had on Saturday.

Carson spoke of how he can put pressure on Waselenchuk in "different ways," and Waselenchuk acknowledged feeling that pressure.

But as Waselenchuk said "I hit the shots when I needed to. Legs started working when they needed to. And here we are. The streak continues."

Waselenchuk will look to continue his winning streak next weekend at the Cactus Salon New York City Pro/Am on Long Island.

2012 California Open - Canoga Park, California


Kane Waselenchuk d. Rocky Carson, 7-11, 11-1, 11-8, 11-8

Follow the bouncing ball....

IRT - 2012 California Open - Semi-finals

Top seed Kane Waselenchuk's winning streak continued Saturday, as the #1 player on the International Racquetball Tour (IRT) advanced to the final of the Coast to Coast California Open in Canoga Park, California with a straight game victory over Alvaro Beltran, 11-4, 11-2, 11-2. It was an anti-climatic outcome for the anticipated re-match between Waselenchuk and Beltran, who is the last person to beat Waselenchuk on court. But that was three years ago.

Rocky Carson, the IRT's #2 player, will meet Waselenchuk in Sunday's final, as he defeated #3 Ben Croft, 10-12, 11-5, 11-4, 11-2, in the other semi-final.

Despite the loss, Beltran spoke after his match of feeling completely healthy, which he hasn't been for the last two years. That's caused the former top 4 player to drop in the rankings to #14, which means that he needs to play qualifying matches that the top 8 players don't have to play.

However, if Beltran continues to have semi-final results, he'll move up the rankings. But coming into the California Open he was over 1200 points behind 8th seed Charlie Pratt, and that's quite a difference to make up.

The IRT Network will be web-casting the California Open final at noon on Sunday Pacific Standard Time.

2012 California Open - Canoga Park, California


Kane Waselenchuk d. Alvaro Beltran, 11-4, 11-2, 11-2
Rocky Carson d. Ben Croft, 10-12, 11-5, 11-4, 11-2


Kane Waselenchuk v. Rocky Carson - Sunday 3 PM PST

Follow the bouncing ball....

WPRO - California Open - Longoria & Rajsich to meet again

Results continue to go according to form on the Women's Professional Racquetball Organization (WPRO) side of the Coast to Coast California Open in Canoga Park, California, as the two top seeds have advanced to the final. Paola Longoria, the #1 WPRO player, got to the final with straight game victories over 8th seed Jennifer Saunders, 11-5, 11-2, 11-6, in the quarter finals, and 4th seed Adrienne Fisher, 11-3, 11-7, 11-3, in the semi-finals.

Rhonda Rajsich, the #2 WPRO player, had slightly more difficulty in getting to the final, as she needed four games to beat 7th seeded Susana Acosta in the quarter finals, winning 11-5, 11-7, 9-11, 11-8, and then had close games versus 3rd seed Kerri Wachtel in the semis, but did win in three straight games, 11-9, 11-6, 11-8.

Thus, Sunday will be another Longoria-Rajsich showdown. Longoria has won seven of their last eight WPRO matches, as well as the gold medal final at last year's Pan American Games. Thus, it's clear who the favorite will be on Sunday.

The WPRO is streaming some of their matches via Ustream.

2012 Coast to Coast California Open, Canoga Park, California

Quarter finals

1 Paola Longoria d. 8 Jen Saunders, 11-5, 11-2, 11-6
4 Adrienne Fisher d. 5 Krystal Csuk, 4-11, 13-11, 11-7, 11-8

3 Kerri Wachtel d. 6 Cristina Amaya, 11-5, 11-6, 12-10
2 Rhonda Rajsich d. 7 Susana Acosta, 11-5, 11-7, 9-11, 11-8


1 Paola Longoria d. 4 Adrienne Fisher, 11-3, 11-7, 11-3
2 Rhonda Rajsich d. 3 Kerri Wachtel, 11-9, 11-6, 11-8


1 Paola Longoria v. 2 Rhonda Rajsich - 1 PM Sunday

Follow the bouncing ball....

Saturday, January 7, 2012

IRT - 2012 Coast to Coast California Open Quarter finals

Top seed Kane Waselenchuk, the #1 player on the International Racquetball Tour (IRT), will have a chance to defeat the last man to beat him on court, as he and Alvaro Beltran both advanced to the semi-finals of the Coast to Coast California Open in Canoga Park, California Friday. Beltran beat Waselenchuk in this tournament three years ago, and Waselenchuk hasn't lost a match on court since then.

Waselenchuk had an easier time of getting to the semis, as won both his matches on Friday in three straight games, defeating Alex Landa in the Round of 16, 11-5, 11-4, 11-0, and Tony Carson in the quarter finals, 11-6, 11-5, 11-1.

Beltran, on the other hand, needed five games to get past 4th seed Chris Crowther, 9-11, 12-10, 11-2, 4-11, 11-2, and four games to beat 5th seed Jose Rojas, 5-11, 13-11, 11-0, 11-4. Those wins are upsets by the tournament seeding but Beltran was a top 4 IRT player before suffering some injuries that have severely limited his playing time the last two seasons.

Things ran to form on the other side of the draw, as 2nd seed Rocky Carson and 3rd seed Ben Croft both won their Round of 16 and quarter final matches to get to the semi-finals.

Carson beat Taylor Knoth in the 16s, 11-5, 11-7, 11-9, and Shane Vanderson, 11-5, 5-11, 11-1, 11-6, in the quarter finals. Croft dispatched Daniel de la Rosa, 11-9, 11-9, 11-5, in the 16s despite being down significantly in both the first two games. He also defeated Andy Hawthorne in three straight games, 11-8, 11-8, 11-2, in the quarter finals.

The only upset in the Round of 16 was Tony Carson's victory over Charlie Pratt, but it did take five games as Carson fought back from 2-1 down to win it in the fifth, 9-11, 11-8, 8-11, 11-5, 11-8.

The IRT Network will be web-casting the California Open semi-finals at on Saturday and final at noon on Sunday. All times are Pacific Standard Time.

2012 California Open - Canoga Park, California

Quarter finals

Kane Waselenchuk d. Tony Carson, 11-6, 11-5, 11-1
Alvaro Beltran d. Jose Rojas, 5-11, 13-11, 11-0, 11-4

Ben Croft d. Andy Hawthorne, 11-8, 11-8, 11-2
Rocky Carson d. Shane Vanderson, 11-5, 5-11, 11-1, 11-6


Kane Waselenchuk v. Alvaro Beltran - Saturday 4 PM PST
Rocky Carson v. Ben Croft - Saturday 3 PM PST

Round of 16

Kane Waselenchuk d. Alex Landa, 11-6, 11-4, 11-0
Tony Carson d. Charlie Pratt, 9-11, 11-8, 8-11, 11-5, 11-8

Jose Rojas d. Juan Herrera, 11-2, 11-3, 5-11, 11-1
Alvaro Beltran d. Chris Crowther, 9-11, 12-10, 11-2, 4-11, 11-2

Ben Croft d. Daniel De La Rosa, 11-9, 11-9, 11-5
Andy Hawthorne d. Javier Moreno, 11-9, 12-10, 11-7

Shane Vanderson d. Anthony Herrera, 11-3, 11-7, 11-9
Rocky Carson d. Taylor Knoth, 11-5, 11-7, 11-9

Follow the bouncing ball....

WPRO - 2012 Coast to Coast California Open - Round of 16

The top eight seeds have all made the quarter finals of the Women's Professional Racquetball Organization (WPRO) Coast to Coast California Open in Canoga Park, California. Top seed Paola Longoria advanced to the quarters with a straight game win over Frédérique Lambert, 11-2, 11-4, 11-6. She'll play 8th seed Jennifer Saunders who defeated Cheryl Gudinas, 11-5, 11-9, 11-6.

Second seed Rhonda Rajsich had a more difficult time in the Round of 16, as she was down 2 games to 1 versus Aimee Ruiz, but Rajsich was able to win it in the fifth game, 1-11, 11-2, 8-11, 11-6, 11-6. Rajsich will play Susana Acosta in the quarter finals, as Acosta beat Da'monique Davis, 11-5, 11-2, 11-1.

Two surprise score lines for us were Krystal Csuk defeating Kristen Bellows in three straight, 11-8, 11-2, 11-5, and Adrienne Fisher needing five games to get past Linda Scales, 11-4, 11-9, 9-11, 5-11, 11-2. Surprising because Fisher is higher seeded than Csuk (4th v. 5th, respectively) and Bellows is a former top 4 player while Scales's current WPRO ranking (17th) is her career highest. Fisher and Csuk will play each other in the quarters on Saturday.

The fourth quarter final will see Kerri Wachtel take on Cristina Amaya. Third seed Wachtel defeated Marci Drexler, a former #2 ranked player on the women's tour, 11-5, 11-9, 11-3, after Drexler had defeated Jocelyn Loredo,10-12, 11-5, 11-2, 11-4 in the opening round. Amaya beat T. J. Baumbaugh in four games, 11-9, 11-6, 8-11, 11-5.

The WPRO is streaming some of their California Open matches via Ustream.

2012 Coast to Coast California Open, Canoga Park, California

Round of 16

1 Paola Longoria d. 16 Frédérique Lambert, 11-2, 11-4, 11-6
8 Jen Saunders v. 9 Cheryl Gudinas, 11-5, 11-9, 11-6

5 Krystal Csuk d. 12 Kristen Bellows, 11-8, 11-2, 11-5
4 Adrienne Fisher d. 13 Linda Scales, 11-4, 11-9, 9-11, 5-11, 11-2

3 Kerri Wachtel d. 19 Marci Drexler, 11-5, 11-9, 11-3
6 Cristina Amaya d. 11 T. J. Baumbaugh, 11-9, 11-6, 8-11, 11-5

7 Susana Acosta d. 10 Da'monique Davis, 11-5, 11-2, 11-1
2 Rhonda Rajsich d. 15 Aimee Ruiz, 1-11, 11-2, 8-11, 11-6, 11-6

Quarter finals

1 Paola Longoria v. 8 Jen Saunders - Noon Saturday
4 Adrienne Fisher v. 5 Krystal Csuk - Noon Saturday

3 Kerri Wachtel v. 6 Cristina Amaya - 11 AM Saturday
2 Rhonda Rajsich v. 7 Susana Acosta - 11 AM Saturday

Round of 32

1 Paola Longoria - BYE
16 Frédérique Lambert d. 17 Janel Tisinger, 11-8, 11-6, 11-5

9 Cheryl Gudinas - BYE
8 Jen Saunders - BYE

5 Krystal Csuk - BYE
12 Kristen Bellows - BYE

13 Linda Scales - BYE
4 Adrienne Fisher - BYE

3 Kerri Wachtel - BYE
19 Marci Drexler d. 14 Jocelyn Loredo, 10-12, 11-5, 11-2, 11-4

11 T. J. Baumbaugh - BYE
6 Cristina Amaya - BYE

7 Susana Acosta - BYE
10 Da'monique Davis - BYE

15 Aimee Ruiz d. 18 Laura Fenton, 5-11, 5-11, 11-6, 11-6, 11-2
2 Rhonda Rajsich - BYE

Follow the bouncing ball....

Friday, January 6, 2012

IRT - 2012 California Open Preliminary Results

Qualifying is over at the International Racquetball Tour's (IRT's) Coast to Coast California Open in Canoga Park, California, although not all results are in. But there haven't been any upsets so far.

In the final qualifying round, Alex Landa defeated Arthur Schmeiser, 11-2, 11-7, 11-2, and Taylor Knoth also had a three game victory over Andreas Herrera, 11-1, 11-9, 11-5. In the Round of 16, Landa will play top seed Kane Waselenchuk and Knoth will face 2nd seed Rocky Carson.

As expected the last round qualifying matches between Anthony Herrera and Jose Diaz, and Tony Carson versus Kris Odegard were closer, with the opponents splitting their first two games. However, neither required a tie-breaking game five, as Herrera defeated Diaz, 8-11, 11-5, 11-7, 11-8, and Carson beat Odegard, 11-5, 2-11, 11-6, 11-9.

The IRT Network will be web-casting the California Open Round of 16 from 11:30 AM PST on Friday January 6 (free), and then the quarter finals beginning at 5:30 PM PST (subscription required).

2012 California Open - Canoga Park, California

Qualifying Round 3

Q8: Alex Landa d. Arthur Schmeiser, 11-2, 11-7, 11-2
Q1: Tony Carson d. Kris Odegard, 11-5, 2-11, 11-6, 11-9

Q4: Juan Herrera d. Jaime Martell, 11-6, 11-6, 7-11, 7-11, 11-2
Q5: Alvaro Beltran d. Alex Ackermann, 11-8, 11-3, 4-11, 9-11, 11-3

Q6: Daniel De La Rosa d. Brad Schopieray, 11-0, 11-7, 11-6
Q3: Javier Moreno d. Ruben Gonzalez, 11-7, 11-4, 11-8

Q2: Anthony Herrera d. Jose Diaz, 8-11, 11-5, 11-7, 11-8
Q7: Taylor Knoth d. Andres Herrera, 11-1, 11-9, 11-5

Main Draw - Round of 16

Kane Waselenchuk v. Alex Landa
Charlie Pratt v. Tony Carson

Jose Rojas v. Juan Herrera
Chris Crowther v. Alvaro Beltran

Ben Croft v. Daniel De La Rosa
Andy Hawthorne v. Javier Moreno

Shane Vanderson v. Anthony Herrera
Rocky Carson v. Taylor Knoth

Qualifying Round 1

Sadao Funatani d. Josh Tucker, fft
Armondo Bermudez d. Alexi David Cocco Hayes, 11-2, 11-2, 11-6

Felipe Munoz d. Majeed Shahin, 11-2, 11-9, 11-7
Kris Odegard d. Alejandro Arango, fft

Jaime Martell d. Ryan Meyer, 11-0, 11-1, 5-11, 11-5
Coby Iwaasa d. Peter Wrigley, 11-7, 11-2, 11-7

Keith Minor d. Yuho Ariga, 11-6, 11-4, 11-2

Alex Ackermann d. Ernesto Ruiz, 11-4, 11-7, 11-0
Jeremy McGlothin d. Yuji Motino, 11-3, 11-6, 11-3

Andrew Gale d. Kevin Kringle, 11-5, 11-4, 11-1
Brian Pineda d. Darrell Bericuatro, 11-3, 11-7, 11-4

Ruben Gonzalez d. John Scott, 11-3, 11-3, 11-9
Hank Minardo d. Amir Shahin, 11-1, 4-11, 11-6, 11-13, 11-7

Jose Diaz d. Francisco Troncoso, 11-1, 11-1, 11-3
Jansen Allen d. Thomas Eisner, 11-3, 11-5, 11-1

Matt Majxner d. Grant Stalley, 11-8, 8-11, 11-6, 7-11, 11-1
Scott Burr d. Ryoki Kamahara, 11-9, 11-0, 13-11

Qualifying Round 2

Alex Landa d. Sadao Funatani, 11-4, 11-2, 11-6
Arthur Schmeiser v. Armondo Bermudez, 11-9, 11-2, 13-11

Kris Odegard d. Felipe Munoz, 11-7, 1-11, 11-5, 11-2
Jaime Martell d. Coby Iwaasa, 11-9, 7-11, 11-8, 11-0

Alvaro Beltran d. Keith Minor, 11-3, 11-3, 11-6
Alex Ackermann d. Jeremy McGlothin, 11-5, 11-1, 11-3

Daniel De La Rosa d. Andrew Gale, 11-9, 11-7, 11-5
Brad Schopieray d. Brian Pineda, 11-4, 11-2, 13-11

Ruben Gonzalez d. Hank Minardo, 11-2, 11-4, 11-2
Jose Diaz or Francisco Troncoso v. Jansen Allen or Thomas Eisner

Taylor Knoth d. Matt Majxner, 11-8, 11-1, 9-11, 11-1
Andres Herrera d. Scott Burr, 11-8, 11-5, 11-2

Follow the bouncing ball....

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

IRT - 2012 California Open Preliminary Rounds

The International Racquetball Tour (IRT) begins 2012 with the Coast to Coast California Open in Canoga Park, California. This will mark three years since IRT #1 Kane Waselenchuk was defeated on court, as he lost to Alvaro Beltran in four games at the 2009 California Open.

Since then Waselenchuk's won every time he's stepped on the court. Sadly, Beltran had a major mis-step on the court resulting in an injury that led to him missing most of the 2009-10 IRT season.

But Beltran's healthy now, and is one of the 45 players in the qualifying rounds that will happen on Thursday. Beltran looks likely to make it through qualifying and into the Round of 16 on Friday, as does fellow Mexican Javier Moreno, who partnered with Beltran to win gold in October at the 2011 Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico.

But there could be some good final qualifying matches, as Anthony Herrera will likely face Jose Diaz, Taylor Knoth will be up against Andreas Herrera, and Tony Carson battles Kris Odegard. However, for those matches to happen one or two wins have to be earned first, and woe can come to those who look past early matches in anticipation of what is to come.

The IRT Network will be web-casting California Open matches beginning Thursday January 5 at 9 PM PST.

2012 California Open - Canoga Park, California

Round 1

Josh Tucker v. Sadao Funatani
Armondo Bermudez v. Alexi David Cocco Hayes

Felipe Munoz v. Majeed Shahin
Kris Odegard v. Alejandro Arango

Ryan Meyer v. Jaime Martell
Peter Wrigley v. Coby Iwaasa

Keith Minor v. Yuho Ariga

Alex Ackermann v. Ernesto Ruiz
Jeremy McGlothin v. Yuji Motino

Andrew Gale v. Kevin Kringle
Brian Pineda v. Darrell Bericuatro

Ruben Gonzalez v. John Scott
Hank Minardo v. Amir Shahin

Jose Diaz v. Francisco Troncoso
Jansen Allen v. Thomas Eisner

Grant Stalley v. Matt Majxner
Ryoki Kamahara v. Scott Burr

Round 2

Alex Landa v. Josh Tucker or Sadao Funatani
Arthur Schmeiser v. Armondo Bermudez or Alexi David Cocco Hayes

Felipe Munoz or Majeed Shahin v. Kris Odegard or Alejandro Arango
Ryan Meyer or Jaime Martell v. Peter Wrigley or Coby Iwaasa

Alvaro Beltran v. Keith Minor or Yuho Ariga
Alex Ackermann or Ernesto Ruiz v. Jeremy McGlothin or Yuji Motino

Daniel De La Rosa v. Andrew Gale or Kevin Kringle
Brad Schopieray v. Brian Pineda or Darrell Bericuatro

Ruben Gonzalez or John Scott v. Hank Minardo or Amir Shahin
Jose Diaz or Francisco Troncoso v. Jansen Allen or Thomas Eisner

Taylor Knoth v. Grant Stalley or Matt Majxner
Andres Herrera v. Ryoki Kamahara or Scott Burr

Round 3

Q8: Alex Landa / Josh Tucker / Sadao Funatani v. Arthur Schmeiser / Armondo Bermudez / Alexi David Cocco Hayes
Q1: Tony Carson v. Felipe Munoz / Majeed Shahin / Kris Odegard / Alejandro Arango

Q4: Juan Herrera v. Ryan Meyer / Jaime Martell / Peter Wrigley / Coby Iwaasa
Q5: Alvaro Beltran / Keith Minor / Yuho Ariga v. Alex Ackermann / Ernesto Ruiz / Jeremy McGlothin / Yuji Motino

Q6: Daniel De La Rosa / Andrew Gale / Kevin Kringle v. Brad Schopieray / Brian Pineda / Darrell Bericuatro
Q3: Javier Moreno v. Ruben Gonzalez / John Scott / Hank Minardo / Amir Shahin

Q2: Anthony Herrera v. Jose Diaz / Francisco Troncoso / Jansen Allen / Thomas Eisner
Q7: Taylor Knoth / Grant Stalley / Matt Majxner v. Andres Herrera / Ryoki Kamahara / Scott Burr

Main Draw - Round of 16

Kane Waselenchuk v. Q8
Charlie Pratt v. Q1

Jose Rojas v. Q4
Chris Crowther v. Q5

Ben Croft v. Q6
Andy Hawthorne v. Q3

Shane Vanderson v. Q2
Rocky Carson v. Q7

Follow the bouncing ball....

WPRO - California Open Preview

This weekend is a two for, as the Coast to Coast Califorinia Open in Canoga Park, Califoria is both an International Racquetball Tour (IRT) and Women's Professional Racquetball Organization (WPRO) event. We'll go with the women first.

There are 19 players in the WPRO draw, including Cheryl Gudinas, who makes a return to the WPRO after missing two events due to knee surgery. As a result Gudinas is seeded 9th, which must be her lowest seeding in many years. She'll play Canadian Jennifer Saunders first, with the winner to likely face top seed Paola Longoria in the quarter finals.

Another remarkable inclusion in the draw is the last ranked player, because Marci Drexler twice finished as the #2 ranked player on the women's tour. But that was back in 90s. This weekend Drexler will be up against against Mexican Jocelyn Loredo with the winner facing 3rd seed Kerri Wachtel.

Two other initial matches will pit former doubles partners against each other. Krystal Csuk and Kristen Bellows were team-mates back in the day at Baldwin-Wallace College, and they'll face off in Canoga Park. As will Aimee Ruiz and Laura Fenton, who won the 2006 International Racquetball Federation Doubles World Championship together.

The Ruiz-Fenton winner will face #2 seed Rhonda Rajsich, while top seed Longoria's first opponent will be the winner of Frédérique Lambert and Janel Tisinger.

Samantha Salas Solis, #3 on the WPRO rankings, is missing another tournament due to her shoulder injury.

2012 Coast to Coast California Open, Canoga Park, California
Round of 32

1 Paola Longoria - BYE
16 Frédérique Lambert v. 17 Janel Tisinger

9 Cheryl Gudinas - BYE
8 Jen Saunders - BYE

9 Krystal Csuk - BYE
12 Kristen Bellows - BYE

13 Linda Scales - BYE
4 Adrienne Fisher - BYE

3 Kerri Wachtel - BYE
14 Jocelyn Loredo v. 19 Marci Drexler

11 T. J. Baumbaugh - BYE
6 Cristina Amaya - BYE

7 Susana Acosta - BYE
10 Da'monique Davis - BYE

15 Aimee Ruiz v. 18 Laura Fenton
2 Rhonda Rajsich - BYE

Follow the bouncing ball....

Monday, January 2, 2012

Top 10 Racquetball Stories of 2011

It's that traditional looking back at the past time of year, as we cast an eye back to the year that was, and highlight what caught our eye over the last twelve months. There were arrivals, departures, returns and continuities in 2011.

Here's The Racquetball Blog Top 10 Racquetball Stories of 2011:

10) Ruben Gonzalez. A legend of racquetball, former #1 on the International Racquetball Tour (IRT) and 4 time US National champion (once in singles, thrice in doubles), Gonzalez signed a contract with Ektelon to do a farewell season on the IRT with the goal of making the top 10 by his 60th birthday in 2012. Early results suggest he won't make that goal, but it's nice way to mark the end of a remarkable career.

9) Samantha Salas. Salas finished ranked 3rd at the end of the 2010-11 Women's Professional Racquetball Organization (WPRO) season, which was a career high and aided by her first tour win. This season, Salas was a finalist and semi-finalist twice, and also won two gold medals at the 2011 Pan American Games (in doubles and the team event). It was a great year for Salas, but it didn't end well, as she missed the last WPRO event due to a shoulder injury. Hopefully, Salas can recover and continue her fine play.

8) Retirements. The IRT lost two other significant players this year but with much less ceremony than Gonzalez is receiving. Mitch Williams chose retirement after suffering a serious injury at the 2010 US Open. Less expected and even less ceremoniously, former #1 Jack Huczek walked away from the IRT prior to the end of last season as he took a job outside of racquetball.

7) Rhonda Rajsich. Rajisch finished the 2010-11 season #1 after two seasons as #2. Rajsich won four WPRO events including the US Open for a record 4th time.

6) Gigi Rock becomes WPRO Commissioner. Shannon Feaster left the WPRO at the end of last season, and it was uncertain who the replacement would be. Along came Gigi Rock, a racquetball outsider and marketer by profession, who took the reins and is endeavoring to make more connections between the WPRO and other women's sporting groups, including the introduction of a new website.

5) Rocky Carson. Carson continued his excellent play in 2011, finishing 2nd on the IRT by winning one tournament, and reaching the final of every event except for one. He then represented the USA at the Pan Am Games, and won the gold medal in singles and helped Team USA earn silver in the team event.

4) International wins at Junior Worlds. The USA Junior Team won only one gold medal at Junior Worlds this year, which may be an all time low. Consider that they won 5 in 2010, 6 in 2009, 8 in 2008, and you can see what a drop off this was. The timing of the 2011 Junior Worlds coming as it did shortly after the US Junior Nationals in July may have had something to do with it. But certainly players from other countries are getting better. Mexico won multiple gold in 2011. Bolivia won gold for the fourth consecutive year, and Canada also won gold in 2011. Projecting this forward, it means it will only get more difficult for Americans to get on the international podium at both junior and senior events.

3) Racquetball returns to Pan Am Games. Speaking of international podiums, racquetball returned to the Pan American Games in 2011 with the event in Guadalajara, Mexico. All reports indicate it was a spectacular event, and the home nation cleaned up winning 7 medals overall, including 5 gold. The Pan Am Games are the largest sporting event short of the Summer Olympic Games, so racquetball's inclusion in the games is a great thing. The 2015 Pan Am Games will in Toronto, and racquetball should again be on the program.

2) Kane Waselenchuk. He plays. He wins. It's that simple. Truly remarkable. Next week, Waselenchuk will play in the California Open, which is the last tournament where he was defeated on court, and that was 3 years ago. He'll lose again, eventually, but don't ask us to bet on it happening any time soon, because we won't.

1) Paola Longoria. Waselenchuk was our top story the first three years we've done this, but this year we're giving the top story to Longoria. Longoria was Mexico's sportswoman of the year; a racquetball player signified as the best athlete in a nation! That's a tremendous honor. Then on arguably the largest stage for a racquetball event and in her home country, Longoria followed that honor up with three gold medals (singles, doubles & team event) at the Pan Am Games in Guadalajara. Oh, and two weeks before Pan Ams, Longoria won her second US Open title. Quite a year. She's put herself back in the #1 spot on the WPRO, and we expect her to be there for awhile.

There are The Racquetball Blog's top 10 racquetball stories of 2010. If you think we missed something, please leave a comment.

We look forward to another year of following the bouncing ball.

Happy New Year everyone!

Follow the bouncing ball....