Sunday, January 6, 2019

Waselenchuk wins 2019 IRT California Open

Kane Waselenchuk maintained his undefeated season on the International Racquetball Tour (IRT) Sunday with a win over Daniel De La Rosa, 15-8, 15-10, at the 2019 IRT California Open in Canoga Park, California. De La Rosa had to console himself with a win in the doubles final, as he and Alvaro Beltran defeated Alejandro Landa and Samuel Murray, 15-11, 15-8.

Early in game one of the singles final, Waselenchuk and De La Rosa were close, tied at 3-3 and 5-5. But a De La Rosa skip off a forehand pinch shot gave Waselenchuk the serve, and he scored five points on the next five rallies, making the score 10-5. Waselenchuk hit winners for all five of those points, including an ace drive serve to the right side.

De La Rosa got the serve back when Waselenchuk skipped a forehand reverse pinch shot, but Waselenchuk took the serve right back with wide angle forehand winner. He added two more points, and the second was another ace serve: this time a drive to the left side that made the score 12-5.

They went back and forth a bit from there, and De La Rosa picked up a few points to make it 12-8. Waselenchuk - a left-handed player - got the serve back with a backhand return winner off a half lob serve to the right side. He closed out the game from there with a forehand pinch winner, an avoidable call, and a soft backhand that De La Rosa couldn’t quite reach to keep the ball in play, making the final score 15-8.

De La Rosa started game two with what looked like a cat and mouse approach, which seemed to be a bad way to go, as Waselenchuk is a tiger. Yet De La Rosa got out to a 5-1 lead, so hard to be too critical of what De La Rosa was doing. De La Rosa was hitting soft shots, and then mixing in hard shots as well to try to keep Waselenchuk off balance.

Waselenchuk got to within a point at 6-5, but De La Rosa then extended his lead to 8-5. A Waselenchuk backhand winner made the score 8-6, but De La Rosa got the serve back with a forehand winner, and then called a timeout.

After the timeout, there was an exchange of sideouts, and then Waselenchuk took control. Waselenchuk scored a string of points, just as he had in game one, which took the score from 8-6 for De La Rosa to 12-8 for Waselenchuk. De La Rosa stopped the bleeding at that point, and scored two points of his own to trail by two at 12-10.

Waselenchuk took the serve back with a backhand cross court winner, and then called a timeout. On the next rally, De La Rosa skipped a shot, and although he appealed, the call stood, making the score 13-10. Then De La Rosa hit a winner to get the serve back.

De La Rosa hit a lob serve to the left side that Waselenchuk returned with a forehand reverse pinch shot pulling the ball off the left wall and over to the front right corner: a remarkable shot. Waselenchuk followed that up with winners on the next two rallies. A forehand cross court shot got him to game point, and then he won it with a forehand splat shot, 15-10.

The IRT began using the current match format of two games to 15 and tie-breaker to 11 a year ago at the 2018 California Open. Since then Waselenchuk has not lost a game to 15. He’s played no tie-breakers, and remains unbeaten on court in that period.

In the doubles final, De La Rosa and Beltran continued to prove they are the best men’s doubles team in the world. They are the reigning IRT US Open Champions, as well as the International Racquetball Federation (IRF) Men’s Doubles World Champions.

Yet the final looked like it might go the other way in game one, and that despite a 7-0 start by the World Champs. However, Landa and Murray came back and tied the game at 7-7, and then went ahead 9-8. But they failed to score on four service opportunities, and it was Beltran and De La Rosa who took advantage. They scored five points to go from 9-8 down to 13-9 up.

Landa and Murray did score two more points to make it 13-10, but that was as close as they got, as Beltran and De La Rosa closed it out, 15-10.

Beltran and De La Rosa got another good start in game two, going up 6-1. Landa and Murray came back, but only to 6-4, so Beltran and De La Rosa ran it up to 9-4. They maintained at least a four point lead from there, as they went on to win the game 15-8, and take the match in two games. Beltran hit the match winner, as he rolled a ball out of the front left corner with a backhand shot he took standing with his back right along the right side wall.

If you missed any of the action, you can look for it on the IRT media outlets: the IRT Network, the IRT YouTube channel or the IRT Facebook page.

2019 IRT California Open
January 3-6 - Canoga Park, California


Final - Sunday

4) Kane Waselenchuk d. 3) Daniel De La Rosa, 15-8, 15-10

IRT Doubles - Final - Sunday

1) Alvaro Beltran & Daniel De La Rosa d. 2) Alejandro Landa & Samuel Murray, 15-11, 15-8

Follow the bouncing ball….

Saturday, January 5, 2019

De La Rosa & Waselenchuk to face off in final of 2019 IRT California Open

Daniel De La Rosa, the #3 player on the International Racquetball Tour (IRT), upset #2 Rocky Carson in three games in the semi-finals of the California Open in Canoga Park, California, winning 15-14, 6-15, 11-10. In the final, De La Rosa will play #4 Kane Waselenchuk, who beat IRT #1 Alejandro Landa, 15-0, 15-9, in other semi.

De La Rosa came back from a large deficit to take game one, and the effort led to him not having much for game two, which Carson took advantage of to force a tie-breaker. In the breaker, De La Rosa led early at 6-3, but Carson came back, tied it at 7-7, and then went ahead 9-7.

Momentum shifted again, as De La Rosa tied the game at 9-9 with a drive serve to the right side that cracked out for an ace. He followed that up with a forehand winner on the next rally to reach match point at 10-9. But Carson fought off that point to get the serve back.

They exchanged sideouts with winning serve returns. Then Carson served a drive jam to the left side that forced De La Rosa to get out of the way, and then dive to keep in play. His dive was successful, but after getting to his feet for the next shot, De La Rosa slipped, so he was unable to return Carson’s forehand shot to the right side.

That made the score 10-10 with Carson serving for the match for the first time. De La Rosa fought off that point with a winning forehand shot. Carson thought there was a hinder, but the referee didn’t call one, which seemed like the correct call.

With his third match point, De La Rosa drove serve to the left, but it was short. On second serve, he hit a lob to the right side, and Carson took it early hitting a forehand overhead cross court shot. De La Rosa drove a backhand shot to the front wall, which forced Carson to hit a ceiling ball. That provided De La Rosa with a back wall set up, and he made no mistake driving a forehand shot to the right side where it cracked out along the wall.

In the other semi-final, if you blinked, you might have missed the first game, as Waselenchuk blanked Landa, 15-0. But Landa played quite respectably in the second game, and looked like he might be capable of forcing a tie-breaker. But Waselenchuk pulled away in the middle of the game and when he got to 12-8, it just seemed like it was a matter of time before the end.

De La Rosa could be a double winner Sunday, as he’s in the doubles final also with partner Alvaro Beltran. They defeated Sebastian Franco and Andree Parrilla, 15-10, 15-12, in a very good match. Midway through the second game, it looked like it might go breaker, as Franco and Parrilla led 10-8, but the veterans came through in the end.

The rally of the match happened early in game two, when the ball was in the front court. De La Rosa dove to the right to get it, and hit a pinch to the right corner. Franco dove over De La Rosa to re-pinch the ball to the left corner. The ball came to De La Rosa, who tried to re-dive despite still being on the ground, but he skipped the shot. Not sure we’ve ever seen one player dive over another player to make a shot.

De La Rosa and Beltran will play Landa and Samuel Murray in the final on Sunday, as Landa and Murray beat Jansen Allen and Felipe Camacho, 15-10, 15-7, in the other semi-final.

The final will be Sunday at noon, and it will be streamed live via one of the IRT media outlets: the IRT Network, the IRT YouTube channel or the IRT Facebook page. The doubles final will follow the singles final on Sunday. All times Pacific.

2019 IRT California Open
January 3-6 - Canoga Park, California


Semi-finals - Saturday

4) Kane Waselenchuk d. 1) Alejandro Landa, 15-0, 15-9
3) Daniel De La Rosa d. 2) Rocky Carson, 15-14, 6-15, 11-10

Final - Sunday

3) Daniel De La Rosa v. 4) Kane Waselenchuk - Noon

IRT Doubles - Semi-finals - Saturday

1) Alvaro Beltran & Daniel De La Rosa d. 5) Sebastian Franco & Andree Parrilla, 15-10, 15-12
2) Alejandro Landa & Samuel Murray d. 3) Jansen Allen & Felipe Camacho, 15-10, 15-7

IRT Doubles - Final - Sunday

1) Alvaro Beltran & Daniel De La Rosa v. 2) Alejandro Landa & Samuel Murray - 1 PM

Follow the bouncing ball….

Friday, January 4, 2019

Top 4 seeds make the semi-finals at 2019 IRT California Open

Alejandro Landa, the #1 player on the International Racquetball Tour (IRT), put a decisive end to Eduardo Portillo’s run through the draw at the California Open in Canoga Park, California, winning their quarterfinal match 15-3, 15-5. Landa will face IRT #4 Kane Waselenchuk in the semi-finals on Saturday, as Waselenchuk was equally decisive in his win over Andree Parrilla, 15-3, 15-5.

Third seed Daniel De La Rosa needed three games to get past Jose Diaz, 15-4, 6-15, 11-5. Both players were diving during the match, and De La Rosa needed to take injury time to deal with a wound to his right knee. He took one such timeout in game two, and then twice in the breaker. De La Rosa was clearly annoyed by injury, as it wasn’t hampering him at all, but still needed to be dealt with.

De La Rosa got the early lead in game three at 5-1, and he extended that lead to 9-2. Diaz kept fighting, and got to within four at 9-5. But De La Rosa hit a backhand return winner off a drive Z to the left. He followed that up with a great forehand splat for his first match point opportunity at 10-5.

The next rally was stopped by the referee seemingly because of a court hinder, although there were reportedly no court hinders, so it’s not clear why the referee stopped the rally. After play resumed, Diaz hit a backhand return winner off a De La Rosa backhand lob to the left side.

However, Diaz couldn’t take advantage, as De La Rosa hit a backhand ceiling ball into the back left corner that Diaz couldn’t return. De La Rosa won the match with his 2nd match point, when Diaz skipped a forehand shot: an unforced error that put a bad end on a good match.

For the 49th time

The last quarterfinal was the 49th match on tour between IRT #2 Rocky Carson and 7th seed Alvaro Beltran. Carson held a 26-22 advantage over Beltran in their 48 previous matches, and he made it 27-22 after coming back to win their quarterfinal, 8-15, 15-11, 11-8.

In the breaker, Beltran led most of the way. He was up 5-1, and then 8-5. But Carson held him at 8, while scoring six unanswered points to come back to win the breaker and advance to the semi-finals, when he’ll play De La Rosa.

Beltran fought off two match points with winning backhand serve returns, but on Carson’s third match point, he skipped a backhand shot that was the fourth shot of the rally to give the match to Carson.

It was the second time Beltran and Carson have played under the best of three games scoring system. They played a tie-breaker in the the first match also. Prior to today, 33% of their matches had gone tie-breaker with only 40% being over in three straight games. Carson has the edge in three game matches under the best of 5 games format: 8-5, but they are even in matches that go breaker, as both have won 8 under the best of 5 format and now one each under the best of 3 format.

The semi-finals are set for 11 AM and noon on Saturday, and they will be streamed live via one of the IRT media outlets: the IRT Network, the IRT YouTube channel or the IRT Facebook page. The final will be Sunday at noon. The doubles semis will be 2 and 3 PM on Saturday and the final will be 1 PM Sunday. All times Pacific.

2019 IRT California Open
January 3-6 - Canoga Park, California


Quarterfinals - Friday

1) Alejandro Landa d. Eduardo Portillo, 15-3, 15-5
4) Kane Waselenchuk d. 5) Andree Parrilla, 15-3, 15-5

3) Daniel De La Rosa d. Jose Diaz, 15-4, 6-15, 11-5
2) Rocky Carson d. 7) Alvaro Beltran, 8-15, 15-11, 11-8

Semi-finals - Saturday

1) Alejandro Landa v. 4) Kane Waselenchuk - Noon
2) Rocky Carson v. 3) Daniel De La Rosa - 11 AM

IRT Doubles - Semi-finals - Saturday

1) Alvaro Beltran & Daniel De La Rosa v. 5) Sebastian Franco & Andree Parrilla - 3 PM
2) Alejandro Landa & Samuel Murray v. 3) Jansen Allen & Felipe Camacho - 2 PM

Follow the bouncing ball….