With only 2 major events left on each of the pro tour schedules, it feels a bit like the seasons are ending early. Since I've been pretty eager to see some pro action, I'm really looking forward to catching some of it online in the coming weeks.
I see two things from here. That these events will look big. And that they won't rightly reflect the current climate of racquetball. The events will be big on the ground, especially on the International Racquetball Tour side. The remaining Tier 1s, each being in played in hotbeds of racquetball action, both Stockton and Portland will have packed houses and full charts. With the long layoff due to the thinner schedule, it's logical to assume that the top players will be healthy and eager to show. It's gonna look great for the IRT on the ground and online, because there will be vibrant and loud, and I can see the IRT Network getting some good numbers.
Stockton and Portland have probably the best Juniors scenes in the country. Racquetball is alive and doing well in these places. Accessible driving distance for racquetball's strongest regions. With guys like John Ellis and his PlayRB group continuously promoting the sport on the ground regionally, they are keeping things jumping there. They hustle.
I'm of a mind that the IRT needs to know that as great as these last two events will turnout, (and these events will turn out big and raucous,) there is not enough of these to go around for growth. Not for the sport, for them internationally, as the name infers. Big-time growth for racquetball must feature the best players hard in this current model. Racquetball does seem to be growing some internationally. Though right now, the very best players in the world have a reputation that's hard to quantify, access and take advantage of by them. This may be a bit of an over-simplification, but I think this is something to consider hard.
I may not see some stuff that's going on, but it doesn't come from lack of searching and active engagement.