What a racket: International racquetball invades Harbour Island


One of the most popular events on the International Raquetball Tour (IRT) comes to Tampa this weekend, when the Harbour Island Athletic Club hosts the IRT Florida Spring Break Pro-Am Tournament through March 9.

Not only does this tournament feature a plethora of the world's best racquetball talent, it also is one of the most fan-friendly events on the tour. The Harbour Island Athletic Club includes a show court for professional matches with seating for up to 400 spectators.

“Harbour Island has a unique and beneficial setup in that the courts have glass back walls with a basketball court immediately adjacent,” said Kim Roy, the tournament director. “This gives us a huge area to put up bleachers for this event.”

Four additional sites — Bob Sierra Family YMCA, Bob Gilbertson Central City Family YMCA, South Tampa Family YMCA, and University of South Florida — will provide courts for the competition, allowing up to 17 matches to take place simultaneously around Tampa. Each facility will enable almost 300 participants from more than 20 states and several foreign countries to enjoy playing and watching high quality racquetball. Amateur matches will not be scheduled during the pro semifinal matches on Saturday afternoon or the final on Sunday, enabling everyone to enjoy the excitement and intensity of the pro atmosphere.

Defending champion Kane Waselenchuk, who had been knocked out of the top spot by Rocky Carson late in the first half of the season, enters the tournament ranked first after recently winning four consecutive tournaments. Other top competitors include No. 2-ranked Rocky Carson and No. 3-ranked Alvaro Beltran, semi-finalists in 4 of the 5 tournaments Kane has won this season, as well as No. 4-ranked Jose Rojas, who defeated Kane in the semis early in the season.

Another intriguing aspect of this event features the doubles tournament card in which Carson, Rojas, #7 Chris Cowther, #8 Tony Carson, and #10 Jansen Allen may possibly play against each other after most played together as partners in the National Doubles Championships in mid-February.

Another perk of this tournament lets every registered player in the tournament receive a general admission ticket for the pro matches as part of the entry fee. In addition, the “Play the Pro” event gives amateurs the opportunity to play against a pro for one 11 point game.

Finally, guests can mingle with the pros during the “Party with the Pros” dance on Saturday night. For more info, visit: floridaspringbreakproam.com.

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