Friday, September 11, 2009

Denver Quarter Finals

The quarter finals have begun in Denver at the Motorola World Racquetball Championships - the first tournament of the 2009-2010 International Racquetball Tour (IRT) season. The matches are being played outdoors, as the portable all Lucite court is set up in downtown Denver.

In the final match of the evening, top seed and defending champion Kane Waselenchuk found himself down 5-0 and 8-7 to Andy Hawthorne in game one of their quarter final contest. But he recovered. Won the first game, 11-8, and went on to take the match in three straight games, 11-8, 11-4, 11-3.

Afterwards Waselenchuk said he admired how Hawthorne's improved his game, and knows Hawthorne is "never going to give up, which is also something I admire."

Asked about the first game, Waselechuk said he "came out a little flat" which was unusual because he's often a fast starter. But Waselenchuk said he tried "working myself into the match" not forcing it, and that seemed to work for him.

Hawthorne did acknowledge that he's been working on his drive serve, and "didn't want long rallies" against Waselenchuk, so as to limit his opponent's opportunities.

In a battle of Californians, Rocky Carson easily defeated Chris Crowther, 11-1, 11-7, 11-0. Crowther said he felt he'd prepared well and was good going in, but he wasn't able to perform on the day.

Carson said "felt like I played great ball today," and "I executed my serve real well." Those serves allowed him to get ahead in the rallies, and kept Crowther off balance.

In the second quarter final of the day, Jack Huczek defeated Mitch Williams in three straight games, 11-6, 11-8, 11-6. Huczek used lob serves to Williams's backhand, which conviently were also into a bright spot on the court. Afterwards Williams spoke of how difficult it was to see the ball going into and out of that sunny spot.

Huczek also said it was challenging to play outside, but felt more comfortable on the Lucite court as he's played on it several times now.

For his part, Williams generally felt he struggled in the match, although he did feel he got some free points off of his drive serve, which he used almost exclusively in the match. Williams did have ace serves, but their number was almost identical to the number of faults he had. It's definitely a high risk-high reward strategy.

In the first quarter final, Shane Vanderson upset Jason Mannino, 3-11, 11-6, 11-5, 3-11, 11-7, to advance to the semi-finals on Saturday. Vanderson was only in two semi-finals all last season.

Afterwards, Mannino expressed his frustration at not executing his game plan, while Vanderson said he felt "lucky to pull that one one out."

There is online streaming of matches from the quarter finals on via The times of the remaining quarter finals are 4:30 PM, 5:30 PM (Mountain Daylight Time; GMT -6).

2009 IRT Motorola Racquetball World Championships, Denver

Quarter Finals

Kane Waselenchuk d. Andy Hawthorne, 11-8, 11-4, 11-3
Shane Vanderson d. Jason Mannino, 3-11, 11-6, 11-5, 3-11, 11-7

Jack Huczek d. Mitch Williams, 11-6, 11-8, 11-6
Rocky Carson vs. Chris Crowther, 11-1, 11-7, 11-0

Semi finals

Kane Waselenchuk vs. Shane Vanderson - 4:30 PM
Rocky Carson vs. Jack Huczek - 3:00 PM

Follow the bouncing ball....

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