Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Remembering the past

On this day of remembrance we're looking back to 2006 and the US Open. There was a great deal of uncertainty on who would hoist the cup, as Kane Waselenchuk was unable to defend the title. Jack Huczek looked like the most likely candidate to take the title, because he'd won the first four tournaments of that International Racquetball Tour (IRT) season going into the US Open. Huczek hadn't even been pushed to a tie-breaker in any of the four tournament finals.

But Jason Mannino, the 1999 winner, had other ideas. In an epic semi-final match, which commentator Aaron Katz called "the best match I've ever seen with the most intensity and highest level of play," Mannino defeated Huczek in five games.

Mannino won the first two games with Huczek taking games three and four to force a tie-breaking fifth game - similar to Mannino's victory over Huczek in Kentucky last month.

In that fifth game, it was close all the way, but Huczek got a late lead at 9-7, and then 10-8. Huczek served for the match three times, but was unable to get the 11th point. Mannino tied it at 10-10 and then after a couple of side outs he finished off the match. Denying Huczek a chance to win the title that still eludes him.

In the final, Mannino faced Rocky Carson, who hadn't lost a game in the tournament. Carson led in both games one and two. He was up 9-6 in game one and 8-5 in game two, but he didn't get any more points in either game, as Mannino came back to win them both: 11-9, and 11-8, respectively.

Game three was all Mannino as he got an early lead at 6-2 and went on to win, 11-5, and claim his second US Open title.

Match Stats

The Racquetball Blog staff has been watching the 2006 US Open DVDs available from USA Racquetball. We also gathered stats for the matches from the quarter finals to the final (7 matches total) by counting the number of shots in each rally.

Each game in the Mannino-Carson final was over 4.00 shots per rally, which is relatively high. Of the 25 games in the 7 matches analysed, only seven averaged 4.00 or more shots a rally. The final match accounts for three of those seven games.

Curiously, the two games played with the longest rallies - on average - were from the quarter final match between Jack Huczek and Mitch Williams. While most matches averaged between three and four shots per rally, game two of Huczek-Williams had 4.52 and game four - the last of that match - had an astonishing 5.16!

The match with the shortest rallies was between Shane Vanderson and Alvaro Beltran, who had two games with rallies lasting under 3.00 shots per rally. They also had the game with the fewest rallies. In the fourth and last game of their match, won by Vanderson, was a mere 19 rallies. The 7 matches of the US Open had 37.40 rallies on average.

Follow the bouncing ball....

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