Monday, October 11, 2021

Weekend Round Up - IRT statement on the Waselenchuk decision & the Open Division winners from the US Open

IRT Statement on Kane Waselenchuk’s decision

The International Racquetball Tour (IRT) made an “Official Statement” prior to its US Open final on Sunday, which was posted on Facebook on Monday regarding Kane Waselenchuk’s forfeit of his semi-final match at the US Open versus Carlos Keller on Saturday. Waselenchuk’s decision was shocking, and in his post-match interview following his quarterfinal win he made no indication that he was even considering not playing.

The IRT’s statement read as follows:

”The IRT is disappointed in the decision by Kane Waselenchuk not to play in the singles semifinal at the UnitedHealthcare US Open on Saturday. It is an unfortunate decision that detracts from the tremendous play of all of the players and the celebration of the 25th anniversary of this event. The IRT is unaware of any injury or circumstances that would have prevented Kane from playing. The IRT provides the opportunity for open communication between all of our players and management. Our goal is to make the tour as successful as possible.”

There’s not a lot of content in that other than to express disappointment in the situation.

Of course, it’s a difficult situation for the IRT, who presumably aren’t interested in airing any “dirty laundry” in public, which is an appropriate stance for the organization to take.

Waselenchuk’s statement on Saturday about why he wasn’t playing cited “disagreements with the International Racquetball Tour,” so there is an onus on him to state what they are. The IRT can then respond to his statement. The IRT didn’t prevent him from playing. He chose not to play for reasons that are currently unstated.

While we would all like to have clarification on this situation, it won’t allow us to go back in time and have Waselenchuk and Keller play that semi-final. It’s always sad when a match isn’t played, regardless of the circumstances.

This situation was created by Waselenchuk, but that doesn’t mean the IRT had no part in it. We understand there has been friction between the two parties for some time, although the exact nature of that friction isn’t clear. Whether one of the parties somehow increased that friction Friday night or whether Waselenchuk tolerated that friction at the US Open as long as he was playing doubles with Sudsy Monchik is uncertain.

When Waselenchuk and Monchik, who were a fun team to see play, lost in the semi-finals Friday, Waselenchuk may have lost his real reason for being in Minneapolis. He’ll turn 40 next month, so Waselenchuk may be more focussed on the next phase of his life rather than racquetball. He has accomplished more than anyone else in IRT history, so his ability has been proven over and over.

Waselenchuk may have been intent on retiring after this US Open anyway, given his age and that Doug Ganim - the only tournament director the US Open has ever had - is retiring, which casts a shadow of uncertainty over the future of the event. Furthermore, Waselenchuk hadn’t played singles since prior to the pandemic, which suggests he might not be interested in competing anymore.

What’s clear is that this is a sad situation, and doesn’t reflect well on either party. Could they have done something so it wouldn’t have got to this point? Probably, though it’s difficult to say without knowing the causes of the friction, which will likely never be completely known.

If Waselenchuk has played his last IRT match, it will be a sad way to go out. But he’s left a legacy of excellence that will likely never be matched.

That is something to be admired.

Open Division winners at the US Open

The top seeds in Women’s and Men’s Open won their respective divisions on Sunday at the 2021 UnitedHealthcare US Open in Minneapolis, Minnesota. In the women’s final, Angelica Barrios beat 2nd seed Carla Muñoz, 15-12, 15-6, while in the men’s final Andres Acuña came back from a game down to defeat 3rd seed Erik Trujillo, 7-15, 15-11, 11-4.

In the women’s semi-finals, Barrios beat 5th seed Kelani Lawrence, 15-14, 15-5, while Muñoz held on to defeat 19th seed Erin Groves, 15-13, 13-15, 11-5. In the men’s semis, Acuña defeated 5th seed Set Cubillos, 15-4, 15-11, and Trujillo beat 10th seed Shai Manzuri, 15-2, 15-12.

Barrios’s win was a successful defense of the Women’s Open title she won at the 2019 US Open. The open division is usually off limits for players ranked in the top 8 on the pro tours, and given Barrios’s semi-final finish in the Ladies Professional Racquetball Tour (LPRT) divison in Minneapolis, she may not be able to make it three in a row next year, because she could be in the top 8 by season’s end.

A curious thing about the men’s division is that the 2nd seed Felipe Camacho lost his first match to Hector Barrios. Barrios then lost to Juan Francisco Cueva, who lost to Manzuri, who lost to Trujillo, who lost to Acuña. This means that Camacho gets the wooden spoon, or had the worst outcome in the division, which is an unusual thing to happen to the 2nd seeded player.

2021 UnitedHealthcare US Open Racquetball Championships
October 6-10, 2021 - Minneapolis, Minnesota

Women’s Open Singles - Final

1) Angelica Barrios d. 2) Carla Muñoz, 15-12, 15-6


1) Angelica Barrios d. 5) Kelani Lawrence, 15-14, 15-5
2) Carla Muñoz d. 19) Erin Groves, 15-13, 13-15, 11-5


1) Angelica Barrios d. 8) Maria Renee Rodriguez, 15-7, 15-5
5) Kelani Lawrence d. 4) Micaela Meneses, 15-10, 15-9

19) Erin Groves d. 6) Sheryl Lotts, 15-11, 12-15, 11-8
2) Carla Muñoz d. 7) Jenny Daza, 15-6, 15-9

Men’s Open Singles - Final

1) Andres Acuña d. 3) Erik Trujillo, 7-15, 15-11, 11-4


1) Andres Acuña d. 5) Set Cubillos, 15-4, 15-11
3) Erik Trujillo d. 10) Shai Manzuri, 15-2, 15-12


1) Andres Acuña d. 40) Luis Aguilar, 15-5, 15-0
5) Set Cubillos d. 13) Joe Kelley, 15-8, 15-6

3) Erik Trujillo d. 6) Edwin Galicia, 15-11, 15-13
10) Shai Manzuri d. 18) Juan Francisco Cueva, 15-12, 14-15, 15-8

Follow the bouncing ball…..

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