Season by Season Narrative Summaries

5/18/09: After a conversation on meetandplay and with Jason Mannino, I decided to move any editorialization from the Year End Titles link and instead create a season by season summary to try to capture the essence of the season in a couple of paragraphs. These summaries are editorial in nature, represent my opinions and those opinions may not necessarily be shared by other pro tour fans, observers or players.

  • 2016-17: Tour Champion: tbd
  • 2015-16: Tour Champion: Kane Waselenchuk: his 11th pro tour title
  • 2014-15: Tour Champion: Kane Waselenchuk

    highlights


  • 2013-14: Tour Champion: Kane Waselenchuk

    highlights


  • 2012-13: Tour Champion: Kane Waselenchuk

    highlights


  • 2011-2012: Kane Waselenchuk

    highlights


  • 2010-2011: Kane Waselenchuk
  • 2009-2010: Kane Waselenchuk

    If his 2009 title (while going 49-1 on tour) was considered "dominant," then there's no other way to describe his 2010 title other than "other-worldly." Kane won all 8 of the tournaments he entered (he missed one event mid-season due to the flu), ended the season in the middle of a 58-match winning streak (easily the best ever seen on tour), and ends this season having won the last 14 touranments he has entered. However, the most astonishing accomplishment of the season was his "games" won-lost record. He finishes the season a perfect 34-0 but was 102-3 in games. He only lost three GAMES all season. There is not much room for improvement on Kane's season.

    In other tour news, It was a tough year on the tour's players from an injury standpoint. Alvaro Beltran missed basically the entire year after tearing knee ligaments just before the season started. He made just one appearance; making the semis in the season's last event in his home country in Tijuana. Mitch Williams suffered a partially torn labrum in his hitting shoulder but only missed one tournament because of lucky scheduling. Jack Huczek started the season as a model of consistency, becoming the beaten finalist in each of the first 6 tourneys before suffering a lingering right quadriceps injury that cost him his competitiveness for the rest of the season. Ben Croft served a 3-tournament suspension at the beginning of the season for events stemming from an on-court incident with Chris Crowther last last season but roared back to make the semis of the US Open in his return. He also made his first final of his career and finished 6th in the year end rankings. Jason Mannino ended a 15-year touring career by being appointed the new commissioner of the tour and winning the one event that Waselenchuk missed. And lastly Jose Rojas played 6 of the 9 events on the year, made two quarterfinals and broke into the top 10 for the first time.


  • 2008-9: Kane Waselenchuk

    After a two year absense from the tour, 3-time pro champion Kane Waselenchuk made his return at the season opening 2008 Motorola IRT World Championships in Denver. Having absoloutely zero rankings points he was forced to qualify for a number of events at the beginning of the season, leading to discussions about whether in the future a "protected" ranking should be used for players who have laid off the tour for injury or other reasons (the ATP Tennis tour uses such a system for 6-month or greater injury layoffs for its players and creates an artificial ranking for such players for their first few tournaments back. However, the situation arises so rarely in Racquetball that a policy change may be deemed unnecessary).

    Kane won his first three tournaments back and was undefeated half way through the season before Alvaro Beltran beat him in the semis in January 2009's California Open. This loss would prove to be the ONLY loss of the season for Kane, who finished the year by sweeping the tour's three Majors, winning 10 of the 11 tournaments he entered, and compiling an astounding 49-1 record for the season. Statistically speaking, this was the greatest season ever (surpassing Marty Hogan's 44-1 record in 1977). Kane completes the season easily winning his fourth Pro title at the age of 27 and starts discussions about whether or not "King" Kane can surpass Cliff's 6 titles.

    Kane also reached a number of interesting landmarks. His 24-match winning streak to end the season is one of the tour's longest in recent memory (though not close to Hogans' 54-match winning streak in the 76-77 season). He pushed his career W/L Percentage to .847, surpassing (for the time being) Hogan's long standing career mark in known sanctioned Pro events. He swept the three major tournaments (the first time that had happened since he himself performed the feat in 2004-5). And he had even veteran players wondering if he had any competitors that could stand in his way of 3-4 more titles in a row.


  • 2008: Rocky Carson

    From the onset, the 2007-8 season looked as if it would be a statement season by Huczek. He had won his first title the prior season had won most of the tournaments he had entered. The tour's other top competitors had the summer to consider their games and how to adjust to a suddenly dominant-looking Huczek. Kane was still suspended and no one knew if he would ever return. Were we about to see a significant shift away from the power games of the tour's more recent dominators? It seemed so: all four of the tour's top players were less pure "power" players and relied more on finesse and athleticism. It seemed like a Yellen-esque transition away from the power game of the early 80s.

    The tour was jolted at the season opening Motorola 2007 World Racquetball Championships in Denver. This was the first event of the season and was a new Grand Slam tiered event. Some people complained about having such an important points event so early in the season, and in a high-altitude city to boot (however; Tennis has always started its season with the Australian Open; so having a major event early on is not unprecedented in a racquet sport pro circuit . Players who stayed in better shape or who were used to playing at altitude had the advantage. Sure enough, for the first time in recorded pro tour history the #1 and #2 seeds were ousted in the round-of-16. Through expiring points, Mannino actually entered the season ranked #1 and lost to Polo Gutierrez 11-8 in the fifth while Huczek fell in 4 games to veteran journeyman Javier Moreno. The door was opened and #3 Rocky Carson took advantage, winning the Grand Slam event and taking a commanding points lead over his closest rivals.

    The season devolved more or less to be the Rocky-Jack show. Of the tour's remaining 13 events that year, Rocky and Jack met in the finals no less than 10 times. Rocky took 6 of those 10 meetings, the most important of which was at the US Open in October. By winning the season's first two majors and consistently reaching the finals, Rocky was able to open up a slight gap over his rival and eventually clinch the title prior to the season ending Pro Nationals. The season was cruel to Huczek, who after his season opening loss made EVERY tournament final the rest of the way. It wasn't enough. Eyewitnesses reported that Rocky had "figured out" Jack's game at Memphis; while the stats don't necessarily show this, Rocky definitely held the upper hand and never seemed like he was going to relinquish the title all season.


  • 2007: Jack Huczek:

    The racquetball world is shocked when 3-time defending pro tour champion Waselenchuk tests positive for banned substances and is suspended from competing for two years. This suspension gives the tour's top players (Huczek, Mannino, Carson and Beltran) renewed hope for a #1 ranking. Jack Huczek, who nearly pipped Kane for the 2005-6 crown, took control of the tour early by winning the first four events. However, at the season's first Grand Slam Huczek was upset in the semis and Mannino took the crown and significant points burst.

    Mannino kept the pressure on Jack, winning 2 of the next 5 events, but as the season wound down Huczek found his rhythm and pulled away. Mannino suffered a couple of quarterfinal losses later in the season that cost him the points needed to challenge Jack for the title. At the season ending grand slam Pro Nationals event, Huczek beat Jason in the final and took the title by about 150 rankings points. Jack finishes the season winning 9 of 13 events but splitting the two majors with Mannino, who finishes second. The season also demonstrates the gulf in talent between the top four players and the rest of the tour; only 8 of the season's 52 semi finalists were not from the top four.


  • 2006: Kane Waselenchuk (wins title in Pro National finals over Huczek)
  • 2005: Kane Waselenchuk (most Dominant title in years; only 2 non-fft losses all season)
  • 2004: Kane Waselenchuk (wins title in last match of season over Huczek)
  • 2003: Jason Mannino
  • 2002: Cliff Swain (Monchik injury just prior to US Open open's path for cliff to gain 6th title)
  • 2001: Sudsy Monchik
  • 2000: Sudsy Monchik
  • 1999: Sudsy Monchik
  • 1998: Cliff Swain
  • 1997: Sudsy Monchik
  • 1996: Sudsy Monchik (Cliff's rnd of 32 loss in Chicago, semis loss at Pro nationals gives Sudsy 1st title)
  • 1995: Cliff Swain
  • 1994: Cliff Swain
  • 1993: Cliff Swain (returns from Tennis)
  • 1992: Drew Katchtik
  • 1991: Mike Ray (Swain left for Tennis)
  • 1990: Cliff Swain
  • 1989: Marty Hogan (only based on 2 tourneys, ignored 2 others)
  • 1988: Ruben Gonzalez
  • 1987: Mike Yellen
  • 1986: Mike Yellen
  • 1985: Mike Yellen
  • 1984: Mike Yellen
  • 1983: Mike Yellen (won all three major tourneys; only year this happened)

  • 1982: Dave Peck (by points, not by Earnings, which Hogan won. Is this a Disputed title? Peck says no dispute. Hogan won DP/Leach Nationals, which upto 1982 indicated the National champ, hence controversy)
    Prior to 1982, the pro champion was based on the year end tournament, not points gathered during an actual tour. So, results from 1975-1981 the winner was the winner of NRC Nationals

  • 1981: Marty Hogan d Craig McCoy 9,12
  • 1980: Marty Hogan d Mike Yellen 16,12
  • 1979: Marty Hogan d Mike Yellen 10,14
  • 1978: Marty Hogan d Charlie Brumfield 12,20

  • 1977: Davey Bledsoe d Marty Hogan 20,19 (However, Hirsch and Hogan believe Hogan was 77's champ by virtue of total wins. However, at the time, the winner of year end championship was champion. My understanding of the NRC points system at the time was that points were used for seeding, NOT for a revolving tour. A points system wasn't implemented as the barometer of the year end champion until 1981-2 season).

  • 1976: Charlie Brumfield d Marty Hogan 8,(1),8 (Note: Hilecher won IRA nationals, but not in match database)
  • 1975: Charlie Brumfield d Steve Serot (13),4,2 (Brumfield also won IRA's pro national final; is his "5th" national title?)

  • 1974: There was an NRC Pro tour but no year end Nationals tourney. Steve Serot had 2 wins, Steve Keeley 1 win, Charlie Brumfield 1.

    Amateur/IRA champs pre 1974 (per USRA website)

  • 1974: Bill Schmidtke d Steve Serot 16,(8),13 (corrected 11/1/08 from si.com archive article 6/74)
  • 1973: Charlie Brumfield d Steve Keeley 8,(13),12
  • 1972: Charlie Brumfield d Ron Rubenstein 11,0
  • 1971: Bill Schmidtke Craig Finger (15),9,14
  • 1970: Craig Finger d Charile Brumfield 17,12
  • 1969: Bud Muehleisen d Charlie Brumfield (18),20,8
  • 1968: Bill Schultz d Bill Schmidtke (14),12,18