Center Court: 2015 UnitedHealthcare US Open Racquetball Championships
#2 Kane Waselenchuk defeated #4 Daniel De La Rosa 11-5, 11-8, 11-3 to win his 11th UnitedHealthCare US Open Title. In Pro Doubles, #1 Kane Waselenchuk/Ben Croft beat #7 Jake Bredenbeck/Jose Diaz 15-0, 15-5 to repeat as UnitedHealthcare US Open Doubles Champions.
Men’s Pro Singles Championship Final
Match Blog by Tim Prigo
Daniel De La Rosa reportedly passed out within an hour after his semifinal epic due to dehydration. Speculation surrounded the young player as if he would be physically able to step on the court and compete 15 short hours after his last match. Meanwhile Kane Waselenchuk, had played more racquetball than just about any other pro and was on the court 11 hours previous for his doubles final. Waselenchuk, though having more matches was considered the fresher of the two. This narrative of De La Rosa cramping and losing consciousness on Saturday night would carry over into Sunday’s final as it was clear from the get-go, this was not the same warrior from the previous night. De La Rosa did not play bad per se, it was that he was never allowed by his body to properly compete in the match. As stated many times prior, one would need to have EVERYTHING working and working well to beat a player as great as Waselenchuk on a stage so big. Mentally there was the feeling that De La Rosa was confident and sharp but physically his legs had given up. Perhaps the greatest irony of the match is that Waselenchuk did not shoot the ball lights out like many have grown accustom to. He left many balls up and the rallies were extended at times when they would normally be over. If there ever was a chink in the armor of Waselenchuk it was today, but De La Rosa was just to exhausted to do anything about it. The match went according to script and the most notable goings-on came in the third game when De La Rosa threw out some playful taunts towards Waselenchuk in effect to engage the fans. Waselenchuk did not take this to heart and continued to congratulate De La Rosa on every good shot. Kane Waselenchuk captured his 11th title, in three games. He never dropped a game of singles the entire tournament and no player scored more than nine points in a single game. He played doubles with a severely injured partner and won that too. No criticism to his game can be aptly made as he proved once again that he is head and shoulders above all others now and perhaps for all time.
Men’s Pro Singles Semifinals
In the first semifinal,#2 seed Kane Waselenchuk beat #3 Alvaro Beltran 11-4, 11-1, 11-9, advancing to compete for his 11th championship match, scheduled for Sunday noon. He’ll face off against fellow Pro Kennex athlete, #4 Daniel De La Rosa, who battled through two injury timeouts to beat #1 Rocky Carson 11-9, 10-12, 8-11, 11-8, 12-10.
Match Blog by Tim Prigo
The first semifinal went as expected. This is not to say it was not an exciting match as Alvaro Beltran is one player who consistently finds the correct angles against Kane Waselenchuk. Waselenchuk breezed through the first two games, not showing any signs of fatigue or shoulder soreness from the previous day’s matches. Beltran had more life late into the match, scoring nine points and nearly stealing the game. Beltran to this point had played a lot of racquetball and the fact that it took him so long to shake the cobwebs only speaks to this fact. To beat a player like Waselenchuk one cannot take two games to warm-up.
Daniel De La Rosa is the 4th-ranked player in the world and won his first Tier 1 title last season but no singular event in the young Mexican’s career has put him on the map like this semifinal match against Rocky Carson. De La Rosa started out strong, making little mistakes. He skipped very few balls and put down all of his set-ups. He was able to capture the crucial game one over Carson. As the second game reached a 6-6 tie, the official match clock ticked just over an hour. As the two traded side-outs, appeals and time-outs the feeling that something special was unfolding became more tangible. De La Rosa had an opportunity to go up two games to none but Carson resiliently objected, coming back from an 8-10 deficit. Carson scored four straight points, forcing De La Rosa to dive, often multiple times in one rally. In the third game it was clear that De La Rosa was suffering from fatigue, Carson capitalized on this, continuing to run his opponent around the court. De La Rosa ceaselessly dived, almost every other rally, continuously landing awkwardly on the floor, shoulder and arm first. De La Rosa found his reserves in the fourth game, shooting the ball extremely well and not having to go to the floor as much. He was able to put more power into his set-ups. Entering the fifth game, it was clear that Carson was physically better suited for the task at hand but De La Rosa was once again calibrating his shots, killing far more balls than the #1-ranked player. Mid-game, De La Rosa came up from a dive, stretching his right calf out- apparently cramping. As he called an injury time-out and hobbled off the court, many wondered if anything could be done, as cramping is usually a match ender. When time resumed, De La Rosa was for intent and purposes, crippled. Carson began chipping away at De La Rosa’s 4-0 lead and the inevitable seemed to be chasing the young gun at a sprint. De La Rosa, facing cramps, dehydration and an opponent who will not tire undoubtedly weighed heavily on him. This is why the crowd continued to erupt after every, pinch, splat and re-kill he hit. At 8-3 De La Rosa was so close to the finish line, but seemingly was going to fall heart-breakingly short. Carson marched his point line ahead, scoring in bunches, acing De La Rosa and expertly exploiting his lack of mobility. Carson served for the match at 10-8 but was sided out by De La Rosa. When De La Rosa wagged his finger as to say ‘not yet’ it was a sign that even though the odds were stacked against him, the young player’s confidence was through the roof. This picked up the morale of the heavily favoring De La Rosa crowd. Often times crowds can pick a player up, but here it seemed as if De La Rosa picked the crowd up, gesturing some iteration of ‘don’t worry about me I got this.’ De La Rosa was unable to score but he continued to fend off match point, once, twice and even a third time. Each time wagging his finger at Carson and each time the electricity of the crowd growing to a fever pitch. De La Rosa eventually found the recipe with lob serves to the forehand and tied the score at 10-10. He scored another point, giving him his first match point. The next point will certainly be debated and divisive among racquetball fans for some time to come. The crowd, realizing they were breathing rare air, hung on every step and flick of the wrist, watching the two players dive to dig up balls and play extremely tight to one another. Carson now behind De La Rosa late in the rally raised his hand for a hinder but it was not called and Carson fell backwards as he hit a weak boast into the corner. De La Rosa pinched the ball into the corner and Carson still on the floor was unable to get near the second bounce. No hinder called, game Daniel De La Rosa in a 3 hour and 15 minute match.
#2 Kane Waselenchuk d #3 Alvaro Beltran 11-1, 11-4, 11-9
This was a rematch of last year’s Championship when Waselenchuk won in three. Waselenchuk was 38-4 all-time against Beltran and 12-0 the past three seasons going into the US Open.
#4 Daniel De La Rosa took down #1 Rocky Carson 11-9, 10-12, 8-11, 11-8, 12-10
In one of the most exciting matches of the tournament, De La Rosa earned a spot in Sunday’s Championship against fellow ProKennex team member, #2 Kane Waselenchuk. De La Rosa battled through two injury timeouts to beat the top seed, Rocky Carson, in five tight games.
Men’s Pro Singles: The Quarterfinals
Match Blog by Tim Prigo
The quarterfinals kicked off with the budding rivalry between Daniel De La Rosa and Jose Rojas. Whenever these two meet in a tournament, sparks fly and bodies follow. Rojas and De La Rosa are among the most acrobatic, energetic and talented young athletes on the planet. They are both also highly popular among the fans for their charismatic and at times fiery personalities. Today seemed different. The take away from this match was a question: what happened to Rojas? Indeed, I do not even think Rojas knew as he stalked around the court oscillating between looks of bewilderment and defeat. Shoulders slouched, footwork lackadaisical and the fire within – extinguished. De La Rosa did play great, actually, he played fantastic. We expected fantastic from him but no one expected sub par from Rojas. De La Rosa clinched his first ever semifinal appearance in a grand slam event and he did so without having expended much energy. This is an exciting prospect for De La Rosa fans as he is clearly not battered and looks to have his best ball in front of him.
Kane Waselenchuk started his match against Jansen Allen a bit off. Leaving many balls up and looking a bit slower than usual, many speculated that his doubles match had taken a toll on his body. Though this seemed to be the case, allowing Allen to stay close early in the first game, any doubt was soon wiped away. Waselenchuk went on a scoring fury, working his offensive agenda from his serve. He was able to hold Allen to a total of 5 points the entire match. Waselenchuk was in control to such an extent that mid-match he began hitting trick shots. During the second game, Waselenchuk hit a spinning, behind-the-back, between the legs, perfect cross court pass. Allen was out matched and looked befuddled towards the end of the match. It is difficult to say that Waselenchuk was fatigued from his prior matches with such a dominating performance. His brief first game lull is more likely attributed to him not being properly warm.
Heavy must be the weight on Marco Rojas as he has yet to have his break-out performance (one many are expecting) and he is yet to best Rocky Carson. These expectations made Marco’s loss all the more notable. In the past he has taken games from Carson but his performance, while not poor, was so average based on the duo’s history that it looked more defeating than it actually was. Carson was able to slow the tempo and play within his comfort zone. Though Marco held the lead twice in the match he never made a believable case that he actually could win. With Carson setting the pace and style of play, Marco was unable to hold momentum for any meaningful amount of time.
Alvaro Beltran faced off against tour veteran though largely inactive player, Anthony Herrera. This inactivity coupled with the fact Herrera had zero stadium court time in the tournament favored Beltran even more heavily than it usually would have. Questions about Beltran’s injuries and his fitness always seem to surround him late in a tournament and indeed it looked as if Herrera may push him as he played fiercely from the outset. Hitting hard and putting down shoulder high balls. This was not to be the theme of the match as it was Herrera who first showed signs of fatigue. Beltran was able to run Herrera around the court late in the first game to exasperation and he never seemed to fully recover. Beltran shot the ball well and played with a certain lightness that made much of the match appear to act as a rehabilitation for the aging Mexican. Herrera certainly has the talent to push a player the caliber of a Beltran but he will need to work on his fitness and play more events to do so.
The top seeds reached the quarterfinals, with the exception of Ben Croft who forfeited his Round of 16 match.
#4 Daniel De La Rosa defeated #5 Jose Rojas 11-2, 11-4, 11-5
#3 Alvaro Beltran defeated #22 Anthony Herrera 11-7, 11-8, 11-8
#2 Kane Waselenchuk defeated #7 Jansen Allen 11-3, 11-1, 11-1
#1 Rocky Carson defeated #8 Markie Rojas 11-4, 11-9, 11-5
Men’s Pro Doubles Championship Final
In Pro Doubles, #1 Kane Waselenchuk/Ben Croft beat #7 Jake Bredenbeck/Jose Diaz 15-0, 15-5 to repeat as UnitedHealthcare US Open Doubles Champions.
Men’s Pro Doubles Semifinal Round
#7 Jake Bredenbeck/Jose Diaz defeated #6 Charlie Pratt/Jansen Allen 15-10, 15-12
#1 Ben Croft/Kane Waselenchuk defeated#4 Jose Rojas/Marco Rojas 15-10, 15-2
Men’s Pro Doubles Quarterfinal Round
Every pro doubles quarterfinal went to tie breaker.
#1 Ben Croft/Kane Waselenchuk defeated #8 David Horn/Andree Parrilla 5-15, 15-6, 11-10
Croft and Waselenchuk were forced to play in an I formation as Croft could hardly hit a forehand. This left the team of Andre Parilla and David Horn to instinctively focus in on Croft. Though Croft provided some auxiliary support to Waselenchuk, he was not able to do much. This put a lot of pressure on Waselenchuk as he hit the vast majority of the team’s shots. Down 9-10 in the tiebreaker and facing match point and elimination Waselenchuk rose to the occasion. He single-handedly sided out first Parrila then Horn. He next stepped up into the server’s box and scored the next two points, covering the entirety of the hard wood on every point. Waselenchuk made the end of the tiebreaker look like a lopsided game of cutthroat.- By Tim Prigo
#4 Jose Rojas/Marco Rojas defeated #5 Chris Crowther/Javier Moreno 12-15, 15-7, 11-3
In the second pair of pro doubles quarterfinals, upsets were the name of the game.
#6 Charlie Pratt/Jansen Allen defeated #3 Alejandro Landa/Daniel De La Rosa 15-9, 6-15, 11-5
#7 Jake Bredenbeck/Jose Diaz defeated #2 Alvaro Beltran/Rocky Carson
The team of Bredenbeck and Diaz, two Reaching Your Dream Foundation (RYDF) athletes, pulled off the major upset of the night and perhaps the tournament as they fended off 2 match points down 8-10 in the tiebreaker. They were able to regain serve and close out the match. – By Tim Prigo
Pro Match Blog: The Early Rounds
by Tim Prigo
The men’s pro qualifier started early Thursday morning. With IRT points strewn about the qualifier draw based more on IRT activity than merit. The upsets to the seedings then were not all together surprising except for one. #1 seed in the qualifier, Cliff Swain, lost in his first match against Mexican Jamie Martell. Martell played offensive and kept the pressure and intensity high all match on the aging Swain for a 4-game win. Martell carried over his good form, besting a very tough Mauricio Zelada in the round of 32’s. Martell continued to impress in his round of 16 match-up against Rocky Carson. Though Carson won in 3 games, Martell pushed Carson. Fran Davis, Carson’s coach later commented that Martell played exceptionally well and that Carson had his hands full with a world class athlete.
Charlie Pratt vs. Jake Bredenbeck gave another early round match that was highly competitive. Bredenbeck captured the victory in a five-game battle. However disappointing this was to Pratt, it was equally difficult for Bredenbeck going forward as he expended a huge amount of energy in the match. Bredenbeck next faced Marco Rojas in the 16’s. Bredenbeck’s style is power and if that power fades away due to exhaustion then it would be challenging to see him beating a player as skilled and fresh as Rojas. Bredenbeck took the first game but like a punched-out-boxer, faded away as the match went on. Rojas advanced to the quarters.
Alvaro Beltran and Alejandro Cardona’s Round of 32 match was highly anticipated, especially to the Mexican fans as Cardona is considered in the same class as De La Rosa. One thing was clear from this match, especially at the outset, Cardona was not used to such a laid back style. Beltran, having practically mastered the amalgam of eagle eyed sniper and laid-back caballero upset Cardona’s game-plan. Cardona eventually found his footing and traded off games with Beltran. In the 5th game, Cardona stayed close to Beltran in the score line but was always trailing. This allowed Beltran to stay relaxed and finish out the game and capture the match. Hopefully Cardona will continue to play IRT events as many were left wondered how he would fare against other top 10 players. Beltran, only having 2 hours to rest was practically still sweating when he stepped back on the court for his round of 16 match against David Horn. Speculation surrounded this match as Horn advanced easily in his 32’s and is known for his superior fitness whereas Beltran, in the twilight of his career had a previously taxing match. Beltran was once again able to defy the march of time by beguiling Horn into many serve-return-kill rallies. This impeded Horn from playing the highly athletic running game that he had probably hoped to get Beltran into. Beltran dropped a game to Horn but never looked in a position of danger as he did at times against Cardona.
Many wondered what would become of Ben Croft coming into this event after surgery to a torn labrum last spring. In singles, he won in 5 games in the round of 32 against Majeed Shahin. This however proved to be possibly a mistake as he only looked to appear further injured as the match pressed on. He would then forfeit his next round to Anthony Herrera, putting Herrera into the quarterfinals.
Jansen Allen made it to the quarterfinals as well but his road was much tougher. In the 32’s, Allen was down two games to none against Adam Manilla, and was even down in the third game 8-4. He was able to rally back and find his mojo to take that game and the next two to advance to play Jose Diaz. While Diaz is an extremely talented and athletic player, Allen had found his rhythm and had a much easier time in this round, winning in 4. Kane Waselenchuk, Rocky Carson and Daniel De La Rosa did not drop a single game en route to their quarterfinal berth.
The IRT Pro Round of 16
After winning his second match since shoulder surgery last April, Ben Croft did not make his Round of 16 match against Anthony Herrera fueling speculation about his ongoing recovery. Croft took an injury timeout in the second game of his Round of 32 match against Majeed Shahin. The Round of 16s is on now, watch it live on the IRT Network and follow the results on the IRT website.
Daniel De La Rosa defeated Javier Moreno 11-3, 11-7, 11-3
Jose Rojas defeated Felipe Camacho 11-9, 11-1, 11-1
Anthony Herrera defeated Ben Croft WBF – No Show
Alvaro Beltran defeated David Horn 11-7, 9-11, 11-4, 11-6
Jansen Allen defeated Jose Diaz 11-4, 2-11, 13-11, 11-5
Marco Rojas defeated Jake Bredenbeck 9-11, 11-2, 11-7, 11-5
Kane Waselenchuk defeated Chris Crowther 11-2, 11-3, 11-4
Rocky Carson defeated Jaime Martell 11-8, 11-8, 11-2
Men’s Singles IRT Pro Round of 32
Thursday’s Round of 32s featured 5, five-game tiebreakers and multiple upsets. Ben Croft beat Majeed Shahin in his second match since his April shoulder surgery. Jaime Martell continued his run at The US Open after he beat Cliff Swain with a victory over Mauricio Zelada to advance to the Round of 16s. Reaching Your Dream Foundation Athlete Jake Bredenbeck also defeated Charlie Pratt.
Men’s Singles IRT Pro Qualifier
Men’s Singles IRT Pro – Qualifier: Second Round Wednesday
The Men’s Singles IRT Pro Qualifier kicked off The US Open in Minneapolis, MN on Wednesday. Players competed for 16 highly coveted spots in the Pro Main Draw which starts on Thursday at 9 a.m. RYDF player Jaime Martell upset the #1 seed in qualifying, Cliff Swain, 9-11, 11-9, 11-4, 11-7 to claim the first qualifying spot in the Pro Main Draw. #2 seed in qualifying Scott McClellan was also beat by Gerardo Guevara 11-0, 11-4, 11-5.
Sebastian Franco def. Luis Avila 11-4, 11-2, 11-2
Gerardo Franco def. Nicholas Riffel 11-5, 10-12, 11-8, 11-7
Teobaldo Fumero A. def. Fernando Rios 11-9, 1-11, 3-11, 11-6, 11-9
Javier Moreno def. Francisco Troncoso 11-6, 10-12, 11-6, 11-3
Jaime Martell def. Cliff Swain 9-11, 11-9, 11-4, 11-7
Thomas Fuhrmann def. Mario Mercado 11-2, 8-11, 11-8, 9-11, 14-12
Christian Longoria def. Brad Schopieray 12-10, 11-6, 11-3
Jake Bredenbeck def. Maurice Miller 11-1, 11-6, 13-11
Alejandro Cardona def. Lee Connell 11-4, 11-1, 11-5
David Horn def. Cesar Castillo 11-4, 11-9, 11-2
Anthony Herrera def. Jeremy Best 11-5, 9-11, 11-0, 11-6
Majeed Shahin def. Hiroshi Shimizu 11-5, 10-12, 11-5, 11-8
Thomas Carter def. Trevor Webb 5-11, 11-5, 11-0, 11-7
Gerardo Guevara def. Scott McClellan 11-0, 11-4, 11-5
Adam Manilla def. Daeyong Kwon 11-7, 11-3, 11-2
Andree Parrilla def. Jose Daniel Ugalde 11-6, 7-11, 11-3, 11-4
Men’s Singles IRT Pro – Qualifier: First Round Wednesday
Jaime Martell def. Troy Warigon 6-11, 11-6, 11-9, 11-6
Thomas Fuhrmann def. Michael Silvio 11-2, 11-0, 11-4
Mario Mercado def. Noslen Jimenez Garcia 7-11, 11-4, 11-9, 11-8
Brad Schopieray def. Tanner Gross 7-11, 11-1, 11-5, 11-9
Christian Longoria def. Jeremy McGlothin 11-1, 11-3, 11-3
Maurice Miller def. Lee Meinerz 12-10, 11-9, 11-3
Jake Bredenbeck def. Donald Gilbert 11-1, 11-0, 11-2
Luis Avila def. Joel Adler 11-6, 11-2, 11-5
Nicholas Riffel def. Christian Wer 11-5, 11-9, 11-8
Gerardo Franco def. Dylan Reid 12-10, 9-11, 5-11, 11-6, 11-7
Teobaldo Fumero A. def. Yasutaka Mizuno 12-10, 11-9, 11-7
Fernando Rios def. Sadao Funatani 11-2, 11-2, 11-2
Francisco Troncoso def. Andrew Clarke 11-2, 11-2, 11-9
Cesar Castillo def. Jose E Ubilla 11-5, 11-3, 11-9
Alejandro Cardona def. Eddie Vann 11-1, 11-1, 11-1
Lee Connell def. Yuki Nakano 11-6, 11-0, 11-8
Majeed Shahin def. Shawn Royster 11-5, 11-4, 11-7
Hiroshi Shimizu def. Aaron Booker 11-0, 11-5, 11-2
Jeremy Best def. Andres Acuna 6-11, 11-13, 11-9, 11-1, 12-10
Trevor Webb def. Edwin Galicia 11-2, 11-3, 4-11, 11-4
Adam Manilla def. Abraham Cardenas 11-1, 11-1, 11-4
Daeyong Kwon def. Mike Orr 9-11, 12-10, 11-8, 11-4
Andree Parrilla def. Noel O’Callaghan 11-6, 11-4, 11-6
Jose Daniel Ugalde def. Cruz Acosta 11-4, 11-1, 11-0
Gerardo Guevara def. Ryan Maher 7-11, 11-4, 12-10, 11-1
Reaching Your Dream Foundation Athletes at The US Open:
*David Bobby Horn
*Qualified for US Open Singles Pro Draw which starts on Thursday.
Center Court: 2015 UnitedHealthcare US Open Racquetball Championships
In racquetball, much as in life, expectations are not always met and aspirations often remain out of reach but for four days in October, the ideal and the real coincide. For the last 20 years, racquetball fans have been offered a view, however momentary, to see racquetball as they think it should be seen. The 2015 UnitedHealthcare US Open Racquetball Championships is more than just a tournament. It is the zenith of our sport not only for its competitors but it is also the embodiment of the community’s ethos. The collective personality of the indoor game is on display and the sense that dreams can be made or broken there is more palpable in the autumnal Minneapolis air. In short, the US Open allows us to imagine, to think what if?
From October 7-11 the Target Center in downtown Minneapolis, Minnesota will be abuzz with racquetball’s largest grand slam event. Boasting more than 800 professional and amateur players, over $67,000 in prize money and 1,400 stadium court seats. The main venue, the Target Center, underwent $17 million worth of renovations in the last year making it one of the world’s premier racquetball facilities. The epicenter of the event, the made-for-TV stadium court, is a site that every racquetball fan should behold. The court is professionally wired for sound, equipped with laser lights and is composed of clear Lucite acrylic walls making the viewing experience virtually seamless. A new introduction this year will be the 8,000 square foot player and fan village. Food, beer, and industry vendors are among a few of the offerings on show.
The US Open is now officially sanctioned with the International Racquetball Federation (IRF). This historic deal allows players to receive funding from their governments and earn IRF points as well as IRT points. IRF president Osvaldo Maggi hopes to develop more ‘Global Majors’ and eventually introduce World Cup style country competition. With the IRF present, all major governing bodies of the sport are now partnered with the event. The Heroes division is also a new addition, open to all persons who are current and former Military, Police, Fire and EMT. Not only does this recognize public excellence in the Racquetball community but allows those individuals to compete for a coveted US Open title.
Keeping with the spirit of the IRT, the US Open will focus heavily on it’s charitable endeavors. All proceeds from the 32 team Pro/Am charity Doubles will go directly to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. The online auction will benefit Rapha House, St. Jude and JDRF. One of the more interesting pieces of racquetball memorabilia is a 2003 tournament poster from Syosset, New York signed by 14 of the sports brightest talents. Among others, signatures include, Kane Waselenchuk, Rocky Carson, Jason Mannino, Sudsy Monchik, Cliff Swain and Ruben Gonzalez.
Pro doubles will make their sophomore appearance at the event. This will prove to be a star-studded affair as all of the men’s professional International Racquetball Tour (IRT) top singles players will pair up to vie for the prestigious title. This is one of the most popular divisions for fans to spectate as rallies often last longer than in singles and team dynamics between the world’s best players are on exhibit. The reigning champions, Ben Croft and Kane Waselenchuk, would have gone in the heavy favorites but with the uncertainty of Croft’s shoulder injury the winner’s circle is very much up for grabs. While teams and match-ups are not yet set in stone, one can anticipate Rocky Carson pairing with Alvaro Beltran and Daniel De Le Rosa with Jose Rojas.
Kane Waselenchuk has won seven titles in a row since 2008. Before that in 2007, Rocky Carson was champion. Besides these two, no current player has ever won the trophy. Odds are that Waselenchuk will win in dominant fashion. If he does not completely dominant, chances are that he will still win. Carson would be next in line to win but seeing as he cannot solve the Waselenchuk riddle, this seems slim. This does not offer a lot of hope for the rest of the field.
The US Open has always been a place for racquetball fans to dream. Logic and statistics aside, The US Open has a certain atmosphere and pressure that not all players are accustomed to. Think of consistency aficionado Jack Huczek never winning a title in his prime and compare that to a 39-year-old Cliff Swain making the finals in 2005. The question becomes, what player(s) can thrive off of this high-pressure climate? Who will be able to harness the crowd’s energy (think Jason Mannino in 2006)? The IRT for all of Waselenchuk’s dominance, is not short on talent. Player’s like De La Rosa, Beltran and Rojas will need to play at their ceiling to have any chance of winning but they will also need a bit of US Open magic to win the biggest event in the 2014-2016 IRT season. If Waselenchuk wins, it will most likely be beautiful racquetball, of which may never be seen again. He would also march farther away from his predecessors in the history books but one cannot help but to wonder, what if? After all, it is the US Open.
By Tim Prigo