Big Time Doubles, Event Energy
This past weekend, the International Racquetball Tour had on of its most fun tour stops of the season. It was a doubles only event that brought a fresh energy to tour, giving the pros and the fans in a hotbed of racquetball big time competition and vibe. If you're into knowing a comprehensive breakdown of this event, Charlie Pratt, who along with partner Jansen Allen was a semifinalist in the pro draw and is known as the official-official referee on the tour, wrote a well-put together post event recap on his blog.
The Belmont Open in in Long Beach, California provided a much need shot in the arm for the IRT. Having had some unfortunate trouble with big events scheduled, this event was being talked about well in advance, with local Brian Pineda putting a ton of effort to making this thing happen. I note that this is important because Pineda is a young guy and these types of events are traditionally the lifeblood of the IRT. Having younger players step up to build up and promote tour stops is something that is going to be definitely needed to maintain the current pro tour model for the IRT. (Rollout's Jonathan Clay of New Jersey is another example of a younger generation that works hard to build his events the last couple of years, being a progressive haberdasher building reach whereever racquetball is played. (How bout that term Jon?))
Pineda has also been a part of the announcing crew on the IRT Network, providing a fresh voice for the online network. This was an important move, but, without creating more access beyond a subscription model, things won't get far beyond the club. Subscribing to the network is billed as supporting the sport, which may be true for some, but in today's world, this type of thing is restrictive in that, those with just a passing interest don't experience, even as much as a video recap or highlight, or something engaging to watch... something that they will spend 2 minutes watching that is very easy to connect to through social sharing without jumping through hoops.
With momentum on the IRT Tour coming off of this event, the relevant topic of discussion is the race for the number one spot between Kane Waselenchuk and Rocky Carson. 2 points seperate these two, with Rocky holding on to the very thin lead. For a few weeks there, it seemed that because of the breakdown of some key IRT events, that Rocky was set to settle as the new number one. But with the late addition of the Krowning Moment Pro Invitational Internacional in Edinburg, Texas, as well as another event being bumped up to a T1, there now seems to be drama to look forward to, amid the speculation that Kane's sponsor, who is a strong supporter of the IRT, may be behind creating more opportunity for Waselenchuk to retain the year end top spot. Either way, the question is on the table. Will Kane be the World #1 for his 10th time or will Carson be able to steel things up at number one.