Saturday, May 9, 2009

IRT Pro Nationals - Waselenchuk defeats Carson to take title

Kane Waselenchuk described himself as "a man on a mission" this season and that mission is now complete, as he won the Motorola International Racquetball Tour (IRT) Pro Nationals in Chicago Saturday, finishing the IRT season as its #1 player having won 10 of the 13 main events. Waselenchuk lost only once this season, and also became the first to win all three Grand Slam events in one season.

Waselenchuk beat IRT #2 Rocky Carson in Saturday's final, 11-8, 11-1, 11-6, to take home the winner's check of $10,000.

Carson won the first point of the match, but then Waselenchuk came in and ran five straight points to make it 5-1. To his credit, Carson battled back and trailed by only one at 9-8. But then Waselenchuk closed out game one, 11-8, with the game point coming off a service return error by Carson.

In game one, Waselenchuk served lobs to the right - Carson's forehand - as he did in their US Open final. Asked afterwards why he chose that strategy, Waselenchuk said he felt "I get a few more opportunities on that side," and "it keeps him off balance."

That's consistent with Carson's comments when we asked him if that lob serve was really that tough. Carson said the difficulty comes in the "way [Waselenchuk] covers the court after the serve."

Carson often used a half speed cut serve to the right side in game one.

Game two was all Waselenchuk, as he got out to a 5-0 lead. A Carson time out led to one point, but that was all, as Waselenchuk maintained the momentum, winning 11-1.

In game three, Carson took the lead early at 4-1. But Waselenchuk got the next eight points, to lead 9-4. Carson clawed a couple back, but that only delayed the inevitable on this day, as Waselenchuk pushed on to win 11-6 and take the match in three straight games. The match winner came after another lob serve forced a weak return from Carson that Waselenchuk flat rolled out of the front left corner.

Afterwards, Carson said he "was happy with the way I played this season," but Waselenchuk "played as good as I've seen anyone over an entire season."

Carson told us he "felt comfortable on the court," but that it "comes down to execution." Waselenchuk's execution Saturday was just better than Carson's.

Waselenchuk said he "couldn't plan this any better," as what he planned last summer is now a reality. Also he said he's "ecstatic," about how it all played out.

Waselenchuk said he "put a lot of hard work in, and hard work pays off."

Waselenchuk told us he plans to take some time off, but then get back and "work even harder. " He said there's "nothing specific" that he'll work on, but feels "about 70-75% of my maximum potential" now so there's room for improvement. "I'm never going to stop learning," he said.

If this is how Waselenchuk performs at only 70-75%, then the rest of the IRT players should be on notice. And for his part, Carson said he was going to work hard in the off season to come back and take on Waselenchuk next season. Jack Huczek also said as much yesterday following his semi-final loss to Carson.

The semi-finals and finals were taped for broadcast this summer on the Versus network.

Motorola Pro Nationals

Kane Waselenchuk d. Rocky Carson, 11-8, 11-1, 11-6

Follow the bouncing ball....

1 comment:

JTK said...

I heard there was some blow up at the Croft/Crowther match. Is The Racquetball Blog going to report on that?