Kane’s 8th U.S. Open Title Notches New Record & Place in Racquetball History

Written by Jim Winterton

Host of Coach’s Corner on 40By20.com

11 November 2012

Kane Waselenchuk took home an unprecedented 8th U.S. Open title, which is just one of the startling statistics that will put this man’s place in racquetball history in perspective. Read more for a look at how he marched through the brackets enroute to the finals at Life Time Fitness in the Target Center in downtown Minneapolis on October 7. Then, stay with me while we slog through the stats. I decided to hit the Todd Boss Data base when approached to write this article and I have something to say when we come out the other side!

In the early rounds of the US Open, Kane defeated Mauricio Zelada  (3, 2, 5) and Alejandro Landa of Mexico (3,2, 0).  In the Quarters, Tony Carson took the only game off of Kane the entire week, when Carson won game two 13-11 but lost the match, (1), 11, (4), (4). In the semi-finals, Waselenchuk took out Alvaro Beltran, who is on the comeback trail, in three hotly contested games (8, 9, & 8)  to face Rocky Carson in the finals, when he took home the championship in three, (8, 5, & 5).

Here’s  Some More Numbers:

Highest percentage of wins and losses-Kane Waselenchuk with 350 wins and 42 losses. That is a winning percentage of 89.3%. To put that in perspective, Marty Hogan’s winning percentage was 84%, Sudsy Monchik’s 79%, and Cliff Swain’s 78%.

Most tournament wins-This is the only major category where Kane is not number—yet. Cliff Swain has 70 while Kane Waselenchuk is at 65 (including the 2012 US Open and Red Swain Shootout in Michigan). The only other active player on the top-ten list is Rocky Carson with 14 tournament wins. Barring injury or unforeseen circumstances, Cliff’s record for most tournament wins will fall this season, too.

Most consecutive match winning streaks-In the top ten streaks Kane has the top two with 81 and 53. Marty Hogan has the next two spots with 49 and 47. As a side note here, Kane has four streaks in the top 12 streaks of all time. Hogan has three streaks and Cliff Swain and Sudsy Monchik have two each.

Top two tournament winning streaks belong to Kane, 12 and 10 respectively. Hogan has the next two spots with 9 and 9. Only one athlete has win 3 streaks in the top ten. Guess who has #5 spot? That’s right–Kane.

These are just a few interesting facts to put this record in perspective. I’m aware that fans want something exciting, like a five game match, when Kane plays. But, step back and look at the performances. When I first started coaching Kane, I marveled at the audience reactions. They didn’t know what to do when they saw him make unbelievable shots look routine. The best way I can describe it is like this:  Kane makes shot and then a sound occurs, sort of like 100 people sucking a gulp of air at once. Afterwards….silence. Nobody knew what to do because they didn’t know if their eyes had just tricked them.

This leads me to Kane’s place in racquetball history. Racquetball is a new game by historical standards. The athletes today are better conditioned, stronger, and faster. Today’s game is played harder, lower, and with lighter racquets. The game has changed. While the level of play is not even, it is better than the 90s, 80s, and 70s.  If you think this field of players is weak, I challenge you to play any pro, from Rocky on down. Rocky and Alvaro have won world tournaments. They are awesome athletes and very tough competitors. This author knows how tough they are because I have coached them and against them. They are great champions. Last year, the theory was that Ruben Gonzalez was going to end in the top ten by playing the pro tournaments. That did not happen because the younger players were too good. While Ruben was a great champion, the young players on tour are not chopped liver either.

Kane has changed the sport forever. How? I do not ever remember watching a coach actively involved in a pro match until Kane hired a coach. Today, every player has a coach. Other changes include the shots he has patented. Kane reintroduced the touch shot, and perfected the between-the-legs shot. What he does, from his ritual of hitting the ball before he serves down to the tee shirt he wears under his collared shirt, is copied. One thing nobody has copied yet is his level of play.

One other way Kane has changed the game is all the talk of who was the greatest ever. Why has such a discussion even started? Because Kane is the greatest player in the current audience’s eyes; he has been unofficially anointed as such. The videotape does not lie, and the stats don’t lie. Everyone can try to ignore it, but Kane is here, and I don’t think he is going away soon.

Hall of Fame Coach Jim Winterton, has been coaching racquetball since 1973. Over the past 38 years Jim has taught, competed with, and coached the top names in the game. Honing his craft over those years, Jim never lost touch with the ultimate goal, helping people. In 2011, Jim did something no coach has ever done before, coached the number one male and female pros in the world.

“My philosophy is simple, ” I care more about the people I coach, than the titles they win. The racquetball success is a bonus. I am blessed to have great athletes to work with.”

–Coach Jim Winterton

Learn more about Coach Winterton at:

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