Monday, March 18, 2019

Weekend Round Up - Wins for Manilla & Portillo

Erika Manilla and Eduardo Portillo won the Women’s and Men’s Open divisions, respectively, on Sunday at the 34th Annual Shamrock Shootout in Lombard, Illinois. In the Women’s Open final, Manilla beat Masiel Rivera, 15-14, 15-6, while Portillo need a tie-breaker to defeat surprise finalist Maurice Miller, 15-11, 13-15, 11-3.

In the women’s semi-finals, Manilla beat top seed Brenda Laime, 15-11, 15-11, while Rivera defeated veteran Adrienne Haynes, 15-7, 15-3.

In the men’s semi-finals, Portillo defeated Eduardo Garay, 15-9, 15-7, while Miller, the 6th seed, upset 2nd seed Gerardo Franco, 15-11, 15-9. In the quarterfinals, Miller knocked off Mario Mercado in two straight games, 15-11, 15-13. So, although Miller didn’t win the event, he had a very good tournament.

Coming up on the racquetball schedule is the Bolivia Grand Slam in Cochabamba, Bolivia, March 27-31, which is both an International Racquetball Tour (IRT) event and a Ladies Professional Racquetball Tour (LPRT) event, so, like the US Open, it will be a true pro Grand Slam event. Following that, the focus remains in South America, as the 2019 Pan American Championships will be in Barranquilla, Colombia, April 12-20. The defending Pan American Champions in are Carlos Keller of Bolivia and Rhonda Rajsich of the USA in Men’s and Women’s Singles.

34th Annual Shamrock Shootout, March 14-17, 2019
Lombard, Illinois


Women’s Open Final

Erika Manilla d. Masiel Rivera, 15-14, 15-6

Semi-finals

Erika Manilla d. Brenda Laime, 15-11, 15-11
Masiel Rivera d. Adrienne Haynes, 15-7, 15-3

Men’s Open Final

Eduardo Portillo d. Maurice Miller, 15-11, 13-15, 11-3

Semi-finals

Eduardo Portillo d. Eduardo Garay, 15-9, 15-7
Maurice Miller d. Gerardo Franco, 15-11, 15-9

Quarterfinals

Eduardo Portillo d. Edwin Galicia, 15-10, 15-2
Eduardo Garay d. Felipe Camacho, 15-8, 15-8
Maurice Miller d. Mario Mercado, 15-11, 15-13
Gerardo Franco d. Kyle Ulliman, 15-4, 15-3

Follow the bouncing ball….

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Waselenchuk defeats Carson to win 2019 IRT Shamrock Shootout

Kane Waselenchuk gave another demonstration of why he is the #1 player on the International Racquetball Tour (IRT) on Sunday, as he defeated IRT #2 Rocky Carson, 15-10, 15-10, to win the 34th Annual IRT Shamrock Shootout in Lombard, Illinois. Waselenchuk is undefeated this season, and also won the IRT Doubles title in Lombard on Saturday night with partner Ben Croft.

In game one, Waselenchuk got out to a 5-1 lead, which Carson cut to 5-3. But Waselenchuk won the next four points to lead 9-3, so Carson called a timeout. When play resumed, Carson got a side out, and scored three points on consecutive rallies to trail 9-6. Then the game stalled, as they exchanged sideouts. Over the next 11 rallies only one point was scored, and that by Waselenchuk, making it 10-6.

Carson broke the stalemate with a run of four points on consecutive rallies and tie the score at 10-10 with a drive serve ace to the right side, which is the lefthander Waselenchuk’s backhand side. Thus, there was a slight hope that Carson might win game one. Waselenchuk has not lost a game since the IRT changed its match format to two games to 15 and tie-breaker to 11 in January 2018. Waselenchuk’s never played a tie-breaker in this format.

But Waselenchuk dashed any hopes Carson had by getting the serve back with a forehand reverse pinch, and then scoring the next three points to make it 13-10. Carson got the serve back courtesy a Waselenchuk backhand skipped shot, but that was a short lived opportunity, as Waselenchuk hit a backhand winner off a Carson Z serve to the right side that Waselenchuk took early. Carson used that Z serve - a moderate speed, 1/2 lob type serve - often on second serve in the match, but it never seemed that effective against Waselenchuk. Two forehand winners later, and Waselenchuk had won game one, 15-10.

Game two started a bit slower, but had a similar story line. They were separated by a point with Waselenchuk up 4-3, but he won the next five rallies to make it 9-3, and then 12-3, to put the writing on the wall. Credit Carson for not giving up, as he got within four at 12-8, and again at 14-10. He fought off two match points with good forehand cross court shots, but Waselenchuk hit a forehand winner on his third match point to end the game, 15-10, and the match in two straight games.

Something surprising in this match was that Waselenchuk lob served a lot of the time. In fact, he may have lob served over 50% of the time. That’s unusual for him, because often Waselenchuk will lob serve on less than 10% of his serves. Generally, Waselenchuk hits drive Z serves on second serves, rather than lob serving. But he did play both singles and doubles in this event, so perhaps Waselenchuk didn’t want to hit too many drive serves, which take a considerable amount of energy, much more than a lob serve.

If you missed any of the action, check out the IRT Facebook page, where the matches are archived. The next IRT event will be the Bolivia Grand Slam in Cochabamba, Bolivia, March 27-31. That will also be a Ladies Professional Racquetball Tour (LPRT) event, so, like the US Open, it will be a true Grand Slam event.

The last two events of the 2018-19 IRT season will be the Florida IRT Pro-Am in Sarasota, Florida, April 26-28, and The New York Unity Championships in Syosset, New York, May 1-5.

2019 IRT Shamrock Shootout, March 14-17, 2019
Lombard, Illinois


Final - Sunday

1) Kane Waselenchuk d. 2) Rocky Carson, 15-10, 15-10

Follow the bouncing ball….

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Waselenchuk to play Carson in final of 2019 IRT Shamrock Shootout

Once again on a Sunday, International Racquetball Tour (IRT) #1 Kane Waselenchuk and IRT #2 Rocky Carson will face off in an IRT final, as they won their respective semi-finals at the 34th Annual Shamrock Shootout in Lombard, Illinois. Waselenchuk beat 5th seed Andree Parrilla, who is the defending Shamrock Shootout champion, 15-5, 15-2, and Carson defeated Rodrigo Montoya, 15-12, 15-2.

Both semi-finals had similar story-lines, as the players were close early in the first games, but then the higher seed cruised through game two. Waselenchuk actually found himself down 5-2 against Parrilla, but turned the ship around, as he got 13 unanswered points to win 15-5. Parrilla only served three times during that run.

Montoya also led in game one against Carson at 9-7. But Carson got the next five points to lead 12-9, and though Montoya closed the gap to one point at 12-11, Carson never gave up the lead, winning 15-12.

Doubles Final

Ben Croft and Waselenchuk came back from a game down to defeat Alvaro Beltran and Daniel De La Rosa, 11-15, 15-9, 11-5. It was the third time these teams have faced off, as they met in the finals of the last two US Opens. Croft and Waselenchuk won in 2017, and Beltran and De La Rosa won in 2018. With today’s win Croft and Waselenchuk are up 2-1.

But early in game one, it looked like Beltran and De La Rosa would carry the day, as they took a 9-1 lead. But Croft and Waselenchuk came back and closed the difference to two at 13-11. There was a sense that Beltran and De La Rosa needed to win game one to win the match, as momentum had shifted. A De La Rosa backhand pinch shot get them back the serve, and they managed to get the two points they needed with the second coming off another De La Rosa backhand pinch winner.

In game two, they were close early with a tie at 2-2, but then Croft and Waselenchuk scored five points on as many rallies to lead 7-2. They stayed ahead by multiple points, although Beltran and De La Rosa made a push near the end that cut the deficit to two at 11-9. A Croft forehand pinch shot got his side the serve back, and they closed it out with four straight points. That forced a third game tie-breaker.

They were again close early in the breaker with ties at 2, 4, and 5. Croft hit a winner to break the 5-5 tie, and then Beltran made an unforced error by skipping a shot near the front wall that made it 7-5. Beltran redeemed himself with a pinch winner on the next rally that got his side the serve back, but they were unable to score as Waselenchuk hit a winner and then De La Rosa was assessed a penalty hinder.

When Waselenchuk made it 8-5 with a pinch winner, Beltran and De La Rosa called a timeout. Coming out of the timeout, Croft extended his side’s advantage with a pinch shot from the deep court, 9-5. De La Rosa skipped a forehand reverse pinch to give his opponents match point at 10-5. The first match point wasn’t converted, as De La Rosa hit Waselenchuk’s racquet as he was going for a ball, so Waselenchuk was assessed a penalty hinder. But Waselenchuk still was to serve, and he got the match winning point by hitting a drive serve to the left side that De La Rosa could only get his racquet on as it cracked off the left side wall.

The matches have been streamed on the IRT Facebook page, so look for the singles final there at 1 PM Central Time on Sunday. And if you missed any of the action, you can see the matches on Facebook also.

2019 IRT Shamrock Shootout, March 14-17, 2019
Lombard, Illinois


Semi-finals - Saturday

1) Kane Waselenchuk v. 5) Andree Parrilla, 15-5, 15-2
2) Rocky Carson d. Rodrigo Montoya, 15-12, 15-2

Final - Sunday

1) Kane Waselenchuk v. 2) Rocky Carson - 1 PM

IRT Doubles - Final - Saturday

6) Ben Croft & Kane Waselenchuk d. 1) Alvaro Beltran & Daniel De La Rosa, 11-15, 15-9, 11-5

Follow the bouncing ball….