Sunday, September 21, 2008

Waselenchuk wins after two year absence

Kane Waselenchuk, a former number 1 player on the International Racquetball Tour (IRT), completed his successful return to the IRT with a victory over Rocky Carson, the current IRT number 1, in the finals of the 2008 Motorola IRT Racquetball World Championships in Denver on Sunday. But Carson did push Waselenchuk to the limit, as the match went five full games, before Waselenchuk emerged on top, 11-6, 11-6, 8-11, 8-11, 11-1.

In game one, both players had a slow start, but Waselenchuk took the lead at 7-3. Carson got it back to 8-6, and there were several side outs at 9-6, but that's as close as Carson would come, as Waselenchuk won 11-6.

Waselenchuk stormed out to a big lead in game two, as he got up 6-0. Carson cut the deficit to one, when he trailed 7-6, but then Waslenchuk finished it off, taking the last point with a drive serve ace to the right side. Carson may still have been thinking about the controversy at 9-6, when a side judge called one of his gets two bounces. Carson protested, but the referee's view was blocked, so he did not overturn the call.

Carson got an early advantage in game three, going up 3-1, and he extended that to 10-4. Waselenchuk closed it to 10-8, but Carson took a time out, then got a side out and finished off the game.

Game four was tight all the way, as they were tied at 2, 4, 5, and 6 before Carson pulled into the lead at 9-6, and went on to win 11-8 to set up a tie-breaker. This was great for Carson, but he was 0 for 2 in five game finals last season, losing both those matches to Jack Huczek.

Unfortunately for Carson that streak continued Sunday, as Waselenchuk got an early lead in the tie-breaker. Although Carson got an early point to make it 3-1, he never really got on track. He took a time out a 8-1, and got a side out immediately after that. But nothing came of that as Waselenchuk went on to win it 11-1.

Afterwards Waselenchuk said "seven matches is my limit," as he got tired middle of the final having played three qualifying matches prior to the main draw. It was his seventh match in four days.

He said "I was coming up with everything" in the first two games, but Carson "fought hard. He fought real hard," so Waselenchuk had to dig in and fight hard too.

The result was his first IRT Grand Slam win in over two years, a successful completion to his IRT return, and perhaps the sign of what's to come this season.

Open Final

In the men's Open final, Mexican Alejandro Landa took the title by defeating Anthony Herrera, 15-12, 15-6. Landa almost qualified for the Pro draw, losing in five games to Jason Thoerner in the last round of qualifying. Landa was second in Boys 18 and under at the 2006 World Juniors, and seems to be a player to watch for the future.

Follow the bouncing ball....

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