Gearbox Racquetball just sent out a notice about some new commercials they’ve produced to be aired during the ESPN Racquetball Broadcasts (dang, now I need a blog post about that, too). Hey, if a Gearbox racquetball racquet can make a blind guy with a seeing eye dog or a an actual hamster good at the sport, I’ll take one
And Rafeal, I REALLY hope you guys post some photos or behind the scenes video from the “Hamster Court”!! Please!!
Gearbox Hamster – For the record, my guess is that the hamster with the Red shirt is played by Javier Moreno, and the one in the blue shirt is either Alvaro Beltran or Rafael Filippini
Gearbox Champion – Pretty funny, but the “unrated version” seems to be getting tons more hits
Kane left no fans disappointed this weekend at the 2008 Steadman Hawkins IRT Greenville Open, where he dispatched two top IRT players on his way to a tournament win. In the seminfinals, Kane met Alvaro Beltran (#3 IRT), and was able to make an immediate statement winning in three games – 3, 10, 0. This win would create a showdown in the finals against current IRT #1, Rocky Carson. Although the scores of the games are missing from the official online draws (1, 5, -10, 5 ?) the four game victory for Kane will undoubtably set the tone that he is ready and waiting to reclaim the top spot on the tour. There are going to be some brutal qualifying matches in the coming months as Kane makes his way back into the top 8. I guess the bright side is that some qualifying players who don’t normally make the main draw will get a chance to play against one of the most dominant players in the sport.
Normally end-of-season Tier 2 events (not affecting year-end outcome of rankings for most pros) don’t get much attention from racquetball fans outside of the host city, but the 2008 Steadman Hawkins IRT Greenville Open is generating some buzz. This event marks the return of one of the greatest players the sport has ever seen, Kane Waselenchuk. Armed with his new racquet, the Krowning Moment KM175, Kane will be testing the waters of the IRT tour against some of the tour’s top players, including: Shane Vanderson, Alvaro Beltran, and Rocky Carson (**assuming all top seeds advance).
Kane will play Shane Vanderson at 5:30PM EST TONIGHT, and you can bet I’ll have some updates online as soon as they are ready. Assuming Kane picks up where he left off two seasons ago, he’ll play in the semifinals at 4:30PM on Saturday, and then in the finals at 12:30PM on Sunday.
I decided to go back and take a look at the finishes of the IRT players for the 2007-2008 season, and below you will find a summary table for all Tier 1 and Grand Slam Events – 13 in total (**except two quaterfinalists from Allentown, PA where the draws are completely MIA). The rankings you see are from about mid-season, so the actual year-end rankings are not accurate. There is a definite trend for the top 7 or so players, with the 8th spot up for grabs at each of the events. The top two athletes also dominated throughout the season, with Jack and Rocky only giving up a single tournament win to another player.
Through some discussions with Mike Boatman, I learned that the IRT was distributing IRT Pro Player Trading Cards at the 2008 IRT Pro Nationals in Chicago! It looks like the top 10 players were included, but it’s not clear if they are intended to be for the 2007-2008 season or if they are more of a “one time thing”. These cards will apparently be sold through the IRT Store, however they weren’t listed on the site at the time of this post. I’m very curious to see the details (like cost and how many are available), so if anyone has an inside line, please comment below!
Anyone watch the first match aired last week on the Tennis Channel? It was the 2008 quarterfinal match between Alvaro Beltran and Shane Vanderson. IMO, it turned out great! I will admit the (non racquetball related) commercials got a little tiring, but it awesome to see our sport on TV. I know an HD broadcast is a little much to ask for at this point, but I have my fingers crossed if we ever make it on ESPN.
Tomorrow night, Wednesday Frebruary 27, 9:00PM EST, is the next match. I would HIGHLY recommend tuning in if you have the Tennis Channel!
While still unsigned by a major sponsor, Kane Waselenchuk was able to reclaim his unofficial title of “best player on tour” with a win over Rocky Carson in the finals of the San Diego Open Racquetball Championships this weekend. All questions of Kane’s physical and mental focus were laid to rest after his 5-game victory in the finals.
Another player making waves at this event was SoCal’s own Rocky Carson. He first upset number four seed Alvaro Beltran, followed by a five game stunner over number five Jason Mannino. Looks like Carson’s win over Mannino at the 2005 US Open was no fluke. Carson kept steam into the finals, but there was no stopping Kane’s victorious return to the tour.
Well, the New York City Pro-Am Racquetball Championships turned into a great event for IRT matchups! Huczek starts tough with four game victories first over Mike Guidry in the quarterfinals and then Jason Mannino in the semis. Vanderson capitalizes on a Kane Waselenchuk forfeit for a spot in the lower semis, while Alvaro Beltran wins a 3-hour, 5-game battle royale with Cliff Swain for his. Beltran then moves to face Huczek in the finals after four close games with Vandy. The finals were close, but Huczek closed out the first three games for his second consecutive title of the season.
The IRT pros will converge on Schaumburg Illinois October 28-30 at the STP club to test their skills in the first pro doubles event in 5 years on the tour. The event will also offer singles divisions for men.women and juniors. Many of the top ranked professionals will be playing the event . Look for the likes of Kane Waselenchuk and Mike Guidry, Jack Huczek and Rocky Carson, Cliff Swain and Alvaro Beltran, Shane Vanderson and Josh Tucker to name a few.The racquetball fans of Chicago and the Midwest will be treated to some great doubles. Entry forms are available on the IRT site. Just click on the tournament link on the front page. We look forward to seeing you at the event!!
TOP SEEDS ADVANCED TO THE SEMIFINALS OF THE CHICAGO OPEN IRT PRO DOUBLES
All the top seeds advanced tonight in Chicago with relative ease in the first three matches of the evening . After a little scare in the first game winning 12-10 Swain/Beltran settled down to defeat Minor/Amatulli in three games. Keith Minor of KWM Gutterman Intl. is a sponsor of the event and very active in keeping racquetball alive in the Chicagoland area as is John Amatulli. The next match up featured tour commissioer Dave Negrete and fitness specialist to the pros, Eugene Coyle against Jack Huczek and Rocky Carson. After handling the commssioner’s trash talking Carson turned on the heat as did Huczek to win in three straight. No fines were issued. The next match featured an odd team of lefties, the best in the world Kane Waselenchuk and multiple US doubles champion Mike Guidry versus two time 18 and under world junior champion Ben Croft and one of the IRT ‘s top 12 Andy Hawthorne. Kane showed why his is the best in the world and Guidry held up the left side to defeat Team Ektelon in three games. The last match of the evening proved to be the best as Team Head was well represented with Shane Vanderson and Josh Tucker adavncing over Jason Thoerner and Kyle Veenstra in a five game battle. This was the match of the night and the crowd showed their emotions coming to their feet numerous times thoughout the match.
The semifinals will begin at noon central with Swain/Beltran vs. Guidry/Waselenchuk and in the 1pm match Vanderson/Tucker vs. Carson/Huczek. The finals will held at 7:30pm Saturday evening.