The Kane Dominance
Current World Champion and #1 ranked Kane Waselenchuk’s impressive Finals victory today at the 2011 Novasors Kansas City Open racquetball tournament dictates the course of the brand new 2011-2012 IRT season, and further solidifies Kane’s complete and unquestionable dominance of the IRT Professional Racquetball Tour.
Kane’s opponent today in the Finals, #2 ranked Rocky Carson, performed at a level that was the best racquetball he has played in several years. With one exception, and that being Alvaro Beltran, Rocky walked through his opponents in his prior matches with the same ease that Kane walked through Rocky in their Finals match today. The big difference is that this is routine for Kane, while it is an accomplishment for Rocky Carson. Kane defeated Rocky in three straight games 11-3, 11-5 and 11-1.
The recent retirements of #4 ranked Jack Huczek and #7 ranked Mitch Williams will only solidify the absolute dominance of the IRT Tour by Kane. Some say the only person that can challenge Kane is Alvaro Beltran. Alvaro lost to Rocky Carson in the Quarters yesterday in a controversial and much heated match that went 5 tough and grueling games, 12-10, 9-11, 3-11, 11-9 & 11-9. Kane’s current winning streak of 117 straight games began after he last lost a racquetball match in 2009 to Alvaro Beltran in Los Angeles, California. Alvaro has since undergone two knee surgeries and has been plagued with chronic back problems. His overall fitness has also been questioned, although he looks to be in outstanding physical shape for the start of the new IRT season.
Current #3 ranked Ben Croft is always an exciting player to watch and is never to be taken lightly. Ben recently began his new career as an executive at Racquetball Warehouse in San Luis Obispo CA, and it could be a challenge to maintain the top level of play and fitness necessary to compete on the Tour while he is working in a new career full-time. Ben Croft lost to Rocky Carson in the Semi-finals and was not very impressive in that showing. Ben lost in three straight games, 11–1, 11–4 and 11–5. On a positive note, Ben did not receive any technical fouls the entire tournament.
With the upcoming US Open Grand Slam tournament at the Target Center in Minneapolis MN in three weeks, I predict Kane to continue his dominance by winning an unprecedented and record-setting 7th US Open Championship title.
The IRT today has a lot of up-and-coming future stars from all over the world who are positioning themselves for the coveted IRT top 10 rankings. As I said in an earlier blog on 40By20.com, it is safe to say that the next crop of IRT Top-10 candidates will most likely have the name of “Herrera” or “Alejandro”, or be from a Spanish-speaking country. Even Kane’s Pro Kennex teammate and teenage protégé, Daniel De La Rosa of Mexico, is highly considered as a potential candidate to make the IRT Top-10 this year.
With the exception of Andy Hawthorne and Chris Crowther, there really are no “old-school” players left in the IRT Top-10 rankings. Andy had a very successful opening tournament in Kansas by making the Semi-finals before losing to Kane Waselenchuk in three straight games 11-5, 11-3 and 11-0.
Barring injury or the unlikely event of mental lapses due to sheer boredom, I fully expect Kane to finish this new IRT season undefeated, including victories at the scheduled three coveted Grand Slam tournaments – the US Open in Minneapolis, the Bolivia Grand Slam, and the Ektelon Nationals in Fullerton, CA.
Some say the sport would benefit from others to step up and challenge Kane yet I for one am enjoying watching this era of dominance and I am looking forward to several seasons of success by the person I can now describe as the greatest racquetball player of all time–Kane Waselenchuk.