Rankings: Stage Set to Contest #1 for 2014-2015 IRT Season
With confusion abounding after the last ranking run, there was extensive conversation and explanation about the men’s professional International Racquetball Tour (IRT) ranking system following the Krowning Moment Pro Invitational Internacional in Edinburg, Texas and when the numbers remained unchanged for most of the top professional racquetball players and after the 2015 ProKennex Tournament of Champions in Portland, OR, May 14-17, 2015. Here’s why:
Kane went into his second namesake tier one of the season trailing the current #1, Rocky Carson, by 2 points, and defeated Carson in three straight games while giving up only 8 points. But by some act of mathematical wizardry, Carson came out ahead, enjoying a 76-point gain to 78 points. Huh? The simple explanation is that points are based on events over 12 months, not just one season. Players “replaced” points from the 2014 Ektelon Tournament of the Ages, held May 1-4, in Stockton, CA last season, with those from the Internatcional. Kane won both for a net zero affect, but Carson improved from a semifinal finish in Stockton to the finals in Edinburg to earn additional points.
Also confusing was that rankings remained unchanged for most of the top players after the 2015 ProKennex Tournament of Champions in Portland, OR May 14-17, 2015. The explanation there lies in the ranking system as well, which only includes a certain number of events per player each season.
With 12 Tier 1 and/or Grand Slam total in the 2014-2015 IRT season, each player is awarded the points for their top 11 events (singles and/or offering tier one points only). Because Portland awarded Tier 2 points, most of the top players didn’t include it in their top 11 events so points didn’t change. In fact, no movement occurred in the top 8 at all, so the landscape remains the same as pre-Edinburg. Here are the key takeaways…
With one Tier 1 event remaining in the season, the Fresno IRT Summer Kick Off ProAm will determine final rankings — most importantly the #1 position. Winning the event would guarantee the Canadian born Texan, Kane, the top year-end ranking, which many would argue is no surprise. But competing in at least 11 events during a season is extremely important for point totals, and becomes very difficult to accomplish with a mid-season injury. Waselenchuk missed 3 tier one events and left a 4th after winning his Round of 16 match. Despite the tight finish, Kane securing the #1 spot still feels a lot like the inevitable.
The uncertainty at the top is also contrasted by most of the top spots looking fairly secure going into the Fresno event. The only likely change, other than the one at the top of the rankings, is at the #5 and #6 spot, as Ben Croft will miss the Fresno event due to injury (more news on that coming soon), which means Jose Rojas will pull ahead of him and finish at #5. The top two Mexicans have the #3 and #4 spots more or less locked up, and Jansen Allen looks to have secured his highest season-ending rank at #7. Marco Rojas rounds out the top eight, with IRT Referee Charlie Pratt at #9. One, or both of these players could pull ahead of Allen with a stellar performance in Fresno, but it would likely take a semifinal or final appearance to overcome the gap.
The #10-12 spots are likely locked in as well, although Chris Crowther took part in the doubles event in Long Beach, Alejandro Landa competed in the Costa Rica Open, and Tony Carson did make an appearance at the Tournament of Champions, so there is a possibility that one or more of those players might compete in Fresno. One or both these players could potentially move up a spot or two in the rankings, but much like the case at the #7-9 rankings, an unusually high finish would be required to facilitate the jump. Speaking of jumps, Robbie Collins had the biggest one of the last run, moving up two spots to #13. Jose Diaz drops one spot to #14 and Matthew Majxner drops two to #16, as Tim Landeryou pulled ahead of Majxner by just one point at #15. Danny Lavely slipped to #17 but trails Majxner by only 23 points. With only 78 points separating the #13 and #18 players there is definitely room for movement within those spots depending on who plays the Fresno event and where they finish. With only one event left on the IRT schedule, there are definitely still some races that need to play out.
By Tim Landeryou