Q&A with No.2 Ranked Racquetballer Rocky Carson

The 2012 US Open Racquetball Championships conclude tomorrow afternoon at Lifetime Fitness in Target Center with the men’s and women’s finals. On the men’s side, No.1 ranked, 7-time champion Kane Waselenchuk looks to continue his stranglehold on the International Racquetball Tour against No. 2 Rocky Carson, a 5-time finalist and 2007 champion.

Carson, a native Californian and avid surfer who exudes a laid back, carefree attitude off the court - he says his goal is to play racquetball as long as possible and never get a “real job” - is known for his intense, physical style on it. While he’s been unable to unseat Waselenchuk, who hasn’t lost a fully played match in nearly 3 years, the 33-year-old has shown no signs of giving up the fight.

I spoke to Carson moments after he finished off No. 6 Chris Crowther 11-1, 11-4, 11-4 in the semifinals.

DZ: You’ve make it though to the finals, how do you feel?

ROCKY: I feel strong. I played well today. I am really happy with the way I played. I was able to make it somewhat of a quick match. I executed well and my arm felt pretty fresh. It’s a good feeling.

DZ: Does No. 5 feel different than the first four?

ROCKY: The first one is always (special) - the first time you get on the big stage - when you do that it’s always gigantic. It’s an honor to be there, but it’s not what I came for - I came to be the last one standing, so I still have some more work to do.

DZ: You had a 25-1 record against Crowther coming in, do you have to guard against overconfidence?

ROCKY: You know what, I try not to think about it when I play anybody. I try to think about the aspects of the game that I need to capitalize on when I am on the court rather than the record I have against the guy I play. If I don’t concentrate on those aspects, it’s not going to help my record.

DZ: Do you look a film, is that typical (of players on the tour)?

ROCKY: I think a lot of guys do. When I am at home, I don’t like to think much about work. As much as I love my job, I like to be away from it at times as well.

DZ: Do you have different strategies against different opponents or is it just about your game?

ROCKY: There are definitely some guys that I have to approach differently with serves and certain shots, but my game and the way I play once I get into a rally - it usually favors me. So I have to put a lot of pressure on my opponents and keep them from killing the ball. If I can do that, you are playing my game now.

DZ: What do you have planned for the rest of the day now?

ROCKY: I’m going to eat and probably relax, sit back and enjoy some matches. This is some fun racquetball to watch. I enjoy it as a player, but as a fan of the sport - this is good stuff.

DZ: Do you have trouble sleeping before a big match like (the final)?

ROCKY: I used to. My job is to execute my fundamentals. If I do that, good results usually come with it. My focus is on the little things, not the outcome for the most part.

DZ: Kane still has to play his match against (No 4. Alvaro) Beltran, but if past records are any indication, he’ll be playing tomorrow. Do you expect anything new from him? Do you have anything new in store (for him)?

ROCKY: I expect him to come out like he always does, ready to play hard, fired up. He loves this stage as well as I do and I want to come out and put some pressure on him,\ from the beginning, all the way to the end. If I can do that, I’ve got a really good chance of winning the tournament.

DZ: What do you plan on doing after the tournament?

ROCKY: Go home and spend some time with my family. Hopefully we’ve got some surf at home and we’ll get some time in the water.

DZ: If you weren’t play racquetball right now, what do you think you’d be doing?

ROCKY: Oh man, I love this sport. It’s given me so much and I think it’s going to give me things in my future as well, but you just never know. My dad owned clubs, that’s kind of how I got into this sport - lifted weights and played racquetball as well. What I am looking at is that I would like to be around that atmosphere most of my life. I love the active lifestyle.

DZ: You are No. 2 on this tour obviously, how much do players pay attention to rankings?

ROCKY: I look at it about once a year maybe. My job is to get on the court and win. If I execute that, the rankings take care of themselves. A lot of other guys worry about it a lot more, but my job is to execute my shots when I am on the court. If I can do that, my ranking usually stays up there pretty high.

DZ: It sounds like your overall philosophy is kind of to “keep it simple”.

ROCKY: Live in the moment, you know. If I worry about all the things I can’t do much about, then I am going to do is worry. Stay in the moment…one thing I learned on this tour from being on it a long time is that if I worry about my next shot instead of my outcome, it’s a lot easier.

(Photo by Freddy Ramirez: RestrungMag.com)

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