Friday, October 9, 2009

Kentucky Pro Am - Quarter finals

Top seed Rocky Carson survived a five game battle with Chris Crowther, 10-12, 11-5, 11-6, 8-11, 11-6, to advance to the semi-finals at the Kentucky Pro Am Racquetball Championships in Bowling Green.

Crowther played well, although he needed to come back in each game. Carson got to 8 first in each game, but in the first and fourth he let the lead slip away.

The fifth game started slowly and sloppily, and it seemed both players were tired from what was already a long match. After 13 rallies, it was only 1-1. But then Carson took a commanding 6-1 lead. Crowther managed to narrow it to two points at 8-6. However, that was as close as he got, as Carson took the tie-breaker 11-6.

Afterwards, Carson acknowledged that it was a tough match, and felt he had a few mental lapses that allowed Crowther back in it. Yet to Crowther's credit, Carson felt he made many serves that he thought would be winners only to see Crowther successfully return them.

Carson's semi-final opponent will be Jason Mannino, as Mannino beat Andy Hawthorne in a see-saw battle, 11-6, 2-11, 11-4, 11-2. Hawthorne had early leads in the first three games, but was only able to take advantage of it in game two.

After the match Hawthorne said he's trying to change some aspects of his game to add a control dimension to his self-described scrappy style. Hawthorne also wants to improve his drive serve, as he feels that's essential to his success.

Second seed Jack Huczek was the first player to the semis after an easy victory over Travis Woodbury, 11-0, 11-4, 11-4. It was Woodbury's first quarter final appearance on the International Racquetball Tour (IRT), and he said afterwards that he was nervous during the match, especially in the first game. Woodbury also hurt his chances by foot faulting several times with his drive serve.

Nonetheless, Woodbury can use the experience for the future, and take heart from his Round of 16 win over Mitch Williams, which was Woodbury's first over a top 10 player.

Huczek will face Shane Vanderson, who defeated Juan Herrera, 11-1, 11-8, 7-11, 11-8. Vanderson played well in the first game, and Herrera seemed flat. Afterwards Herrera said he was still feeling tired, as he played a five game match in the Round of 16 against Alejandro Herrera.

That fatigue seemed to continue into game two, as Vanderson took a 7-1 lead. But then Herrera started pecking away at the lead, getting it to 7-3, then 8-4, 8-5, and leveling the game at 8-8. However, Vanderson won it 11-8.

Then in game three it was Herrera who had the lead. He used a mixture of half lob serves to both the right and left, Vanderson's forehand and backhand, respectively. Although Vanderson tied it at 6-6, Herrera was able to push on and win 11-7.

In game four, Herrera again had the lead early at 5-2 and 6-3, but Vanderson tied it at 8-8, and pushed on to win the game 11-8 and take the match.

The semi-finals will be on Saturday, and final on Sunday. Matches can be viewed over the internet via the IRT Network.

2009 Kentucky Pro Am Racquetball Championships
Quarter Finals

Rocky Carson d. Chris Crowther, 10-12, 11-5, 11-6, 8-11, 11-6
Jason Mannino d. Andy Hawthorne, 11-6, 2-11, 11-4, 11-2

Shane Vanderson d. Juan Herrera, 11-1, 11-8, 7-11, 11-8
Jack Huczek d. Travis Woodbury, 11-0, 11-4, 11-4

Semi-finals - Saturday
Rocky Carson vs. Jason Mannino - 5 PM Central
Jack Huczek vs. Shane Vanderson - 4 PM Central

Follow the bouncing ball....

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