Friday, May 8, 2009

IRT Pro Nationals - Quarter finals

Play shifted to Navy Pier and the all Lucite portable court on Thursday for the quarter finals of the Motorola International Racquetball Tour (IRT) Pro Nationals in Chicago. In the best quarter final match, Mexican Javier Moreno's good run ended at the hands of his good friend and compatriot Alvaro Beltran, who defeated Moreno in five games, 7-11, 12-10, 11-9, 5-11, 11-8.

Early on, it looked like Moreno, not Beltran, would be moving on, as after winning game one he seemed to close out game two with a kill shot that would have made it 11-7. Indeed, Moreno was already off the court, before the referee informed him that the side judge had called his shot a skip. That gave Beltran the opportunity to come back and win the game, and he took full advantage, leveling the match at one game a piece.

One call never wins a match, but calling Moreno's shot a skip led to the match being 1-1 rather than 2-0 in Moreno's favor.

Beltran won a close game three, and it looked like it was going downhill for Moreno, and accelerating. But to his credit, he righted the ship by storming out to a 5-0 lead in game four, by using straight drives to the left side. He then led, 7-1 and 10-3, and closed it out 11-5, forcing the tie-breaker.

They were again close all the way in game five, including being stuck on 7-6 in Beltran's favor for eight serves. Moreno tied it at 7, but then Beltran pulled ahead 9-7 and went on to win, 11-8, after playing for two hours.

In other quarter final action, Jack Huczek made short work of Shane Vanderson, winning comfortably in three straight games, 11-3, 11-4, 11-4. Huczek lob served to the right side primarily, and Vanderson made several errors on the return.

Vanderson tried a variety of serves, but didn't settle on any. He did hit some nice Z serves to the left corner, but Huczek found a way to dig them out with good pinch shots.

The Rocky Carson-Andy Hawthorne quarter was, if anything, quicker, as Hawthorne was just not on. Afterwards, he said he "played pretty poor," so much so that we wondered if he was having trouble seeing the ball on the all Lucite court. Hawthorne confirmed that attributing his performance to not being able to see the ball and Carson's good play.

Carson used his usual style of hitting Z serves to the back left corner, which Hawthorne wasn't cutting off, and patiently keeping the ball in play until a winning opportunity came along. Then Carson killed the ball.

The first two games went quickly to Carson at 11-0 and 11-2. Carson got up 4-0 in game three, and it seemed it would be more of the same. But Hawthorne fought back and tied it at 5-5. But that was as much as he could manage as Carson pushed on to win game three, 11-5, and take the match in three straight.

Kane Waselenchuk also won in straight games Thursday, defeating Chris Crowther, 11-7, 11-7, 11-4, to set up a semi-final match-up against Alvaro Beltran. It will be their first meeting since the California Open, when Beltran handed Waselenchuk his first and only loss of the season.

Motorola IRT Pro Nationals
Quarter Finals

Kane Waselenchuk d. Chris Crowther, 11-7, 11-7, 11-4
Alvaro Beltran d. Javier Moreno, 7-11, 12-10, 11-9, 5-11, 11-8

Jack Huczek d. Shane Vanderson, 11-3, 11-4, 11-4
Rocky Carson d. Andy Hawthorne, 11-0, 11-2, 11-5

Semi Finals
Kane Waselenchuk vs. Alvaro Beltran - 7:30 PM Central
Rocky Carson vs. Jack Huczek - 6:30 PM Central

Follow the bouncing ball....

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