Thursday, September 5, 2019

2019-20 IRT season kicks off in Georgia

The 2019-20 International Racquetball Tour (IRT) season begins today in Georgia with the 2019 Atlanta Open. There are 38 players in the draw, including the top 10 IRT players, as well as several notable players outside the top 10. Kane Waselenchuk, the IRT’s #1 player, won six of the nine events last season with no one else winning more than once. But Waselenchuk was beaten by Alvaro Beltran in Florida, at the the second last event of the season, and was down a game to Andree Parrilla in the semi-finals of the Syosset Open - the last event of the season.

Although he came back to defeat Parrilla, and then comfortably defeated Rocky Carson in the final, it wasn’t a strong finish to the season for Waselenchuk, who is widely acknowledged as the best men’s player ever - with 12 IRT #1 titles and 14 US Open Championships to back up that claim. However, Waselenchuk will turn 38 in November, and there is a crop of strong, young players now in their early 20s. How long can Waselenchuk continue to be the dominant IRT player?

The answer is probably for awhile still, but the task isn’t getting any easier. Consider what he’ll face this weekend. Wasalenchuk will likely face Javier Mar in the Round of 16, and Mar - a gold medal winner in Mexico in Men’s Doubles at last month’s Pan American Games - played well against Waselenchuk at last year’s US Open. Sebastian Franco or Rodrigo Montoya will likely be Waselenchuk’s hurdle in the quarterfinals.

In the semi-finals, Beltran, Parrilla or perhaps current Pan American Champion Carlos Keller will be awaiting Waselenchuk. Then in the final, he’ll probably face Rocky Carson, Alejandro Landa or Daniel De La Rosa. That’s a lot of good players. Waselenchuk won’t have to beat all of them, but he will have to beat four of them to win this weekend.

And Waselenchuk’s also playing doubles in Georgia. He and Ben Croft are seeded 4th, which seems a little low, but Croft is an infrequent player these days, and Waselenchuk only plays with Croft, so their doubles ranking is only 13th, which probably doesn’t accurately reflect their ability. But in playing two events, Waselenchuk will be doubly taxed, although most of the players are doing the same. Carson is the exception, as he’s only playing singles.

The start of a new season is always exciting, and we’re interested to see how things shake out. The top players are getting on in years - Waselenchuk at 38, IRT #2 Carson at 40 and Beltran at 41 in October - and the young guys are ambitious. You know they want to knock off the top guys, but none of whom will go quietly.

Time to make some noise.

Look for all the action via the usual IRT media outlets: The IRT YouTube channel or the IRT Facebook page. There will be two rounds of qualifying Thursday. The Round of 16 will be Friday morning at 10 and 11 AM with the quarterfinals Friday starting at 4 PM. The singles semi-finals will be 3 and 4 PM Saturday with the final at noon Sunday. The doubles semi-finals will be Saturday night at 7 and 8 PM with the final Sunday at 1 PM. All times Eastern.

2019 IRT Atlanta Open, September 5-8, 2019
Lilburn / Atlanta, Georgia

Qualifying Round 1 - Thursday

Sebastian Fernandez v. Lee Meinerz - 6 PM
Javier Mar v. Jimmy Lan - 6 PM

Rodrigo Montoya - BYE
Maurice Miller v. Troy Warigon - 6 PM

Kadim Carrasco v. Mauricio Zelada - 6 PM
Gerardo Franco v. Anthony Martin - 6 PM

Thomas Carter v. Darrin Prince - 5 PM
Carlos Keller v. Oscar Nieto - 5 PM

Justus Benson v. Austin Cunningham - 5 PM
Robert Collins v. Yacoube Keita - 5 PM

Eduardo Portillo v. Floyd McDonald - 5 PM
Nicholas Riffel v. Set Cubillos - 4 PM

Scott McClellan v. Michael Arterburn - 4 PM
Mario Mercado - BYE

Andres Acuña v. Destry Everhart - 4 PM
Eduardo Garay v. Dan Fowler - 4 PM

Qualifying Round 2 - Thursday

Q8 - Sebastian Fernandez or Lee Meinerz v. Javier Mar or Jimmy Lan - 9 PM
Q1 - Rodrigo Montoya v. Maurice Miller or Troy Warigon - 9 PM

Q4 -Kadim Carrasco or Mauricio Zelada v. Gerardo Franco or Anthony Martin - 9 PM
Q5 -Thomas Carter or Darrin Prince v. Carlos Keller or Oscar Nieto - 9 PM

Q6 - Justus Benson or Austin Cunningham v. Robert Collins or Yacoube Keita - 8 PM
Q3 - Eduardo Portillo or Floyd McDonald v. Nicholas Riffel or Set Cubillos - 8 PM

Q2 - Mario Mercado v. Scott McClellan or Michael Arterburn - 8 PM
Q7 - Andres Acuña or Destry Everhart v. Eduardo Garay or Dan Fowler - 8 PM

Round of 16 - Friday

Kane Waselenchuk v. Q8 - 11 AM
Sebastian Franco v. Q1 - 11 AM

Alvaro Beltran v. Q4 - 11 AM
Andree Parrilla v. Q5 - 11 AM

Alejandro Landa v. Q6 - 10 AM
Daniel De La Rosa v.. Q3 - 10 AM

Samuel Murray v. Q2 - 10 AM
Rocky Carson v. Q7 - 10 AM

IRT Doubles - Round of 16 - Friday

1) Daniel De La Rosa & Alvaro Beltran - BYE
8) Kadim Carrasco & Carlos Keller v. 9) Maurice Miller & Troy Warigon - 1 PM

5) Javier Mar & Rodrigo Montoya - BYE
4) Ben Croft & Kane Waselenchuk - BYE

3) Sebastian Franco & Mario Mercado - BYE
6) Andree Parrilla & Eduardo Portillo v. 11) Lee Meinerz & Darrin Prince - 1 PM

7) Gerardo Franco & Nicholas Riffel v. 10) Sebastian Fernandez & Andres Acuña - 1 PM
2) Alejandro Landa & Samuel Murray - BYE

Follow the bouncing ball….

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