Tournament of Champions Highlights Racquetball’s Elite 8
The ProKennex Tournament of Champions (TOC) is the last International Racquetball Tour (IRT) event of the 2013 – 2014 season that all the pros want an invite to attend, but only a select few will be in attendance. The reason is that this tournament is reserved for the best players on the tour, so unless you’re a real contender … you won’t be there.
The ProKennex TOC is the IRT’s year-end event that will be held at the prestigious Multnomah Athletic Club (The MAC – www.themac.com) in Portland Oregon from May 15 – 18. The MAC is known for its ability to host high quality events and top ranked players. The MAC is a premier club with 10 back-wall glass courts that have plenty of viewing area, along with the ability to snap photos and videotape the incredible matches that will happen throughout the tournament.
The MAC’s racquetball professional (Pro) Hank Marcus commented on the upcoming tournament by saying, “MAC and all of Oregon is excited to be continuing the tradition of ProKennex Tournament of Champions. The history of racquetball’s legends playing on MAC’s Court 10 goes back to the 80’s.” Some of the legends who have played at The MAC include: Marty Hogan, Mike Yellen, Dan Obremski, Mike Ray, Andy Roberts, Drew Kachtik, Tim Doyle, Ruben Gonzalez, Marty Hogan, Cliff Swain, Mike Guidry, John Ellis, Sudsy Monchik, Jason Mannino, and many more.
The players who have already punched their ticket to be at this event are: #1 Kane Waselenchuk, #2 Rocky Carson, #3 Alvaro Beltran, #4 Jose Rojas, and #5 Ben Croft. The #6 and #7 positions will most likely be confirmed by Daniel De La Rosa and Chris Crowther, respectively — at the Ektelon Battle of the 209 two weeks prior.
Based on the IRT rankings as of 3/31, #6 De La Rosa has a chance to move into the #5 slot over Ben Croft who has a 5 point advantage. However, the real battle is for the last spot to receive an invite to the TOC. The players battling for this last slot are #8 Tony Carson and #9 Marco Rojas, as there are only 38 points separating each from an invite to this premiere event or the beginning of their summer break.
This tournament would not occur without the collaboration between The MAC and its staff, ProKennex President and CEO (Michael Martinez), IRT President (Jason Mannino), Tournament Director (Elliott Saunders), and the MAC’s Pro (Hank) to deliver a high-quality professional event. Notwithstanding any of these contributions, this event would not be possible without the commitment of The MAC, which is one of the largest and historically significant racquetball clubs in the U.S. The MAC has hosted racquetball events since the 1960’s, as well as being the creator and only host to the ProKennex TOC.
Tournament Director Elliott Saunders added, “It is great to be a part of such a prolific tournament that has such a rich history. Being able to bring the pros to Portland and showcase them for the Pacific NW is an opportunity I would not pass up!”
The presenting sponsor of this event is ProKennex Racquetball, which is an industry leader in the delivery of advanced technology and high quality gear for professional and amateur players. ProKennex’s President and Chief Executive Officer, Michael Martinez, conveyed his excitement about its sponsorship, “ProKennex Racquetball is extremely pleased to be the title sponsor of the IRT season ending Tournament of Champions. Our commitment has been and is to the pro game and by sponsoring this event it further exemplifies our dedication to the sport of racquetball.”
ProKennex also sponsors the #1 player on the IRT tour and 8-time world champion Kane Waselenchuck along with the quickly rising #6 player in the world Daniel De La Rosa. At last year’s final, Waselenchuk bested Ben Croft in three games: 11-3, 11-4, and 11-7.
Can anyone go the distance against Kane to put some doubts into his mind during the last tournament of the year? This might not be likely, but it’s also not impossible. Will this battle of the elite 8 be the beginning of the changing of the guard on the IRT tour? Only time will tell, but there are a lot of excited fans awaiting the outcome.
This article originally appeared on the International Racquetball Tours (www.irt-tour.com) website on 4/29/14.