Tuesday, January 19, 2010

2010 New York City Pro Am - Wrap Up

Apologies to The Racquetball Blog readers for our skimpy coverage of last weekend's Cactus Salon New York City Pro Am - the sixth event of the International Racquetball Tour (IRT) season, but the staff was on the road (playing racquetball in fact and with some success we're happy to say), so we saw little of the matches live.

However, we've taken a peek at some of them via the IRTNetwork.com archive, and there's a few remarkable things about them.

There's not much remarkable about the final, aside from the remarkable play of Kane Waselenchuk, which has become common place. It was again Waselenchuk versus Jack Huczek in the final. Again Huczek came to play, getting out to small advantages early with 2-1 leads in both games one and two. But those little leads were only a delay of what has become almost expected, as Waselenchuk won the final by comfortable margins in three games, 11-4, 11-3, 11-3.

The remarkable things happened in the semi-finals. Waselenchuk defeated Jason Mannino in game one of their semi 11-0, which is remarkable as Mannino has rarely been blanked in a game. But also remarkable in that game was Mannino drive serving, as he almost exclusively uses a half lob serve from a position in the middle of the service box. Obviously, that serve didn't lead to any points, but the serves weren't poor, just failed to lead to winning rallies.

Also, Mannino didn't use his typical pre-serve routine later in the match. Mannino usually bounces the ball twice into the front wall, walking up ahead of the service box and then hitting the ball around the walls before coming back to serve. But by game three against Waselenchuk he wasn't doing that at all.

The other semi-final between Huczek and Rocky Carson had some controversy late in game three, as Carson disagreed with the referee on a few calls, including one with Huczek serving 10-11, where Carson thought an avoidable should have been called against Huczek, although in our opinion, calling a hinder rather than an avoidable was the right call in that instance.

But we don't think Carson lost the match because of what happened in game three. He lost it because of what happened in game two, when he had leads of 5-1 and 8-6 and failed to carry them to victory. Had he done so, Carson would have held a 2-0 advantage in games, which would probably have led him to victory in the match. Instead, Huczek came back and leveled the match at 1 game each, and helped lead to his win.

Finally, it's also remarkable that Ruben Gonzalez made the Round of 16 in New York, because it marks the 28th straight season that he has made it to the Round of 16 or farther in an IRT main event. Twenty eight years! Huczek's not even that old!

The IRT takes a break from Tier 1 competitions for several weeks with the Florida Spring Break event the next Tier 1 event on the schedule. That will be in mid-March.

Until then everyone better be working on their games, because Waselenchuk has, and he's only going to continue to hold the edge until someone betters him. And that's going to take some work.

Follow the bouncing ball....

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