Monday, January 22, 2018

Weekend Round Up - Franco wins IRT Futures Singles, Fernandez & Portillo Future Doubles

The International Racquetball Tour (IRT) had Futures divisions at this past weekend’s 40th annual Lewis Drug Pro/Am in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Sebastian Franco won the Futures Singles division by defeating Alejandro Cardona, 9-15, 15-13, 11-9, while Mexican teens Sebastian Fernandez and Eduardo Portillo took the Future Doubles title with a win over Canadian James Landeryou and Tim Landeryou, 15-11, 10-15, 11-7.

2018 LPRT Sweet Caroline Open

This week’s big event is the 2018 Sweet Caroline Open, a Grand Slam on the Ladies Professional Racquetball Tour (LPRT), in Greenville, South Carolina. There are 29 players entered in the event, including the top 8 LPRT players, and Samantha Salas will be making her season debut after having shoulder surgery following her victory in the last LPRT event of last season.

2018 IRT Lewis Drug Pro-Am, January 18-21 2018
Sioux Falls, South Dakota


IRT Futures Final

1) Sebastian Franco d. 14) Alejandro Cardona, 9-15, 15-13, 11-9

IRT Futures Semi-finals

1) Sebastian Franco d. 12) Tim Landeryou, 9-15, 15-9, 11-9
14) Alejandro Cardona d. 7) Gerardo Franco, forfeit

IRT Futures Quarterfinals

1) Sebastian Franco d. 9) Sebastian Fernandez, 14-15, 15-13, 11-3
12) Tim Landeryou d. 13) Dylan Reid, 6-15, 15-8, 11-4

14) Alejandro Cardona d. 11) Mauro Rojas, 15-1, 15-3
7) Gerardo Franco d. 18) Eduardo Portillo, 15-8, 15-8

IRT Futures Doubles Final

7) Sebastian Fernandez & Eduardo Portillo d. 5) James Landeryou & Tim Landeryou, 15-11, 10-15, 11-7

IRT Futures Doubles Semi-finals

5) James Landeryou & Tim Landeryou d. 1) Tommy Murray & Samuel Murray, 12-15, 15-9, 11-10
7) Sebastian Fernandez & Eduardo Portillo d. 3) Thomas Carter & Nicholas Riffel, 15-11, 15-6

Follow the bouncing ball….

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Landa wins 1st IRT title at 40th Annual Lewis Drug Pro-Am

Alejandro Landa became the latest man to win an International Racquetball Tour (IRT) event Sunday, when he defeated Daniel De La Rosa, 15-6, 7-15, 11-10, to win the 40th annual Lewis Drug Pro/Am in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. De La Rosa was the defending Lewis Drug champion, and was looking to win back to back IRT events, as he won the Los Angeles Open earlier this month. Instead, De La Rosa becomes the first player to lose a final by only one point since the IRT adopted the win by one rule at the start of 2018.

“It’s an amazing feeling,” said Landa of the win. “I can’t describe what I’m feeling right now. It was emotional. I cried a little bit. I think I’m going to cry more.”

“This is the best feeling ever,” he added. “This is why I train.”

The first two games were lop-sided, although after De La Rosa took a 6-0 lead in game two, Landa did tie it at 6-6. However, De La Rosa held Landa to only one point from there, outscoring him 9-1, to win game two, 15-7, and force a tie-breaker.

It looked like the tie-breaker wouldn’t be close either, as De La Rosa took a 6-0 lead again. Landa had scored a point, making it 2-1, but after De La Rosa scored his fifth point, Landa hit the ball in anger and the ball hit De La Rosa, so Landa was assessed a technical, which meant losing a point making the score 5-0.

De La Rosa made it 6-0, and Landa called a timeout. Coming back from the timeout, Landa got a side out, and then scored three points to cut De La Rosa’s lead in half, 6-3. They traded side outs, then Landa made the score 6-5.

They were back and forth from there, but De La Rosa was the only one scoring, and reached match point at 10-6 with a great forehand reverse pinch shot. Landa prevented De La Rosa’s win with a forehand kill shot in the front court.

With the serve back, Landa got his seventh point with a forehand pinch shot from the left side. Two more forehand winners - a forehand pinch, and a kill - got him to 10-9. Landa tied the match with a drive serve ace to the left side - De La Rosa’s backhand.

At 10-10, Landa hit another drive serve to the left with De La Rosa returning it with a ceiling ball. Landa drove a backhand down the left side, and De La Rosa tried rekilling it. But he left it up, which allowed Landa to kill it with his backhand to claim his first IRT title.

Asked what he was thinking when he served at 10-10, Landa said jokingly “I tried to ace him again,” but then added “I tried to make the serve in a good spot and put him in a defensive position.” And that’s how it turned out, as De La Rosa’s return was a ceiling ball that Landa was able to shoot, and it led to his winner.

Landa is the 37th man to win an IRT event, and did it in just the 4th all-Mexican final. De La Rosa has been in all four of those finals, and now has a record of 2-2.

Landa is the second 1st time winner on the IRT this season. The last season there were two 1st time winners was in 2011-12, when Jose Rojas and Ben Croft won back to back events. Before that you need to go back to the 2001-02 season, when Kane Waselenchuk and Jack Huczek won their first IRT events.

Landa was the 8th seed in singles, and the 8th seed in doubles also won, as Javier Mar and Rodrigo Montoya defeated 2nd seeds Jake Bredenbeck and Jose Diaz, 15-13, 15-12, Sunday. Also like Landa, it’s the first doubles win for both Mar and Montoya. It’s also the third time Bredenbeck and Diaz have come up short in a final this season.

The IRT will play next in two months at the 33rd Annual Shamrock Shootout in Lombard, Illinois, March 15-18, 2018. If you missed any of this weekend’s action, check out the IRT Facebook page or the IRT Network where the matches are archived.

2018 IRT Lewis Drug Pro-Am, January 18-21 2018
Sioux Falls, South Dakota


Final - Sunday

8) Alejandro Landa d. 2) Daniel De La Rosa, 15-6, 7-15, 11-10

IRT Doubles Semi-finals - Sunday

8) Javier Mar & Rodrigo Montoya d. 2) Jake Bredenbeck & Jose Diaz, 15-13, 15-12

Follow the bouncing ball….

Saturday, January 20, 2018

De La Rosa & Landa to meet in an all Mexican final at the IRT 40th Annual Lewis Drug Pro-Am

Daniel De La Rosa will have a chance to do what few players done: win back to back events on the International Racquetball Tour (IRT), when he takes the court in the final of the 40th annual Lewis Drug Pro/Am in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. De La Rosa, who won the Los Angeles Open earlier this month, advanced to the final with a win over fellow Mexican Alvaro Beltran, 15-13, 6-15, 11-10.

Beltran is the first player to lose by only one point in a semi-final since the IRT adopted the win by one rule at the start of 2018.

Beltran got to 10 first in the breaker by using his patented high lob serve along the right side wall. But at 10-9, De La Rosa hit it early, putting a forehand pinch shot into the right corner for a winner.

De La Rosa tied the game at 10-10 with a solid backhand shot that was the third shot of a rally he started with a drive serve to Beltran’s backhand. De La Rosa won it on the next rally with a backhand pinch shot after Beltran had made a great dive to hit a backhand ceiling ball and keep the rally going.

Standing in De La Rosa’s way on Sunday will be another Mexican: Alejandro Landa, who defeated Samuel Murray, 15-11, 15-7, in the other semi-final on Saturday. This will be the fourth IRT final between two Mexicans. The first three were all between De La Rosa and Beltran with De La Rosa winning the most recent ones (in 2017 & 2014) and Beltran winning the first (2013).

In fact, the Lewis Drug Pro-Am is the first IRT event to have an all Mexican final twice, as De La Rosa and Beltran were in the final last year, when De La Rosa took the title.

If De La Rosa wins Sunday, he’ll have four IRT titles, and move past a tie with Beltran and others into a tie with Steve Keeley, Gregg Peck and Steve Serot on the career wins list. But Landa could become the 37th man to win an IRT event, and it would be the second 1st time winner in the last three events.

The last time there were two 1st time winners close together was 2012, when Jose Rojas and Ben Croft won back to back events. Before that you need to got back to 2001 to 2002 when Kane Waselenchuk and then Jack Huczek won their first IRT events, which was within in the span of four events.

Back in the period of 1989 to 1991, there were eight 1st time winners over only thirteen events (8 in 13!). First time winners during that period were Mike Ray, Drew Kachtik, Tim Doyle, Tim Sweeney, Andy Roberts, Jack Newman, Dan Obremski, and Brian Hawkes. Those were the only wins for Sweeney and Hawkes, while Newman and Obremski only won one other time.

Also worth noting: this was the first IRT event with no USA players in the semi-finals. And that’s without Kane Waslenchuk, a Canadian and the #1 IRT player, in in the draw. There have been many times when only one of the four semi-finalists has been from the USA. Perhaps the first time was at Pro Nationals in Las Vegas in 2004, when Waselenchuk defeated Beltran in the final, and the semi-finalists were Mike Green from Canada, and the USA’s Jason Mannino.

There were two good semi-finals in doubles as well, and one upset, as 8th seeds Javier Mar and Rodrigo Montoya beat 4th seeds Jansen Allen and Felipe Camacho, 15-10, 15-12. Mar and Montoya will take on 2nd seeds Jake Bredenbeck and Jose Diaz in the final Sunday, as Bredenbeck and Diaz outlasted 6th seeds David Horn and Mauro Rojas over three games, 15-11, 11-15, 11-5.

The singles final will be on the IRT Network at 11 AM Sunday with the doubles final at noon.

2018 IRT Lewis Drug Pro-Am, January 18-21 2018
Sioux Falls, South Dakota


Semi-finals - Saturday

8) Alejandro Landa d. 5) Samuel Murray, 15-11, 15-7
2) Daniel De La Rosa d. 3) Alvaro Beltran, 15-13, 6-15, 11-10

Final - Sunday

2) Daniel De La Rosa v. 8) Alejandro Landa - 11 AM

IRT Doubles Semi-finals - Saturday

8) Javier Mar & Rodrigo Montoya d. 4) Jansen Allen & Felipe Camacho, 15-10, 15-12
2) Jake Bredenbeck & Jose Diaz d. 6) David Horn & Mauro Rojas, 15-11, 11-15, 11-5

IRT Doubles Semi-finals - Sunday

2) Jake Bredenbeck & Jose Diaz v. 8) Javier Mar & Rodrigo Montoya

Follow the bouncing ball….