Friday, March 12, 2010

IRT - Florida Spring Break Round of 16 Results UPDATED

Ben Croft is the first semi-finalist in this weekend's Florida Spring Break tournament, a Tier 1 event on the International Racquetball Tour (IRT), in Sarasota, Florida. Croft defeated Jose Rojas in the first quarter final match of the day, 11-1, 8-11, 11-4, 11-4.

After losing the first game 11-1, Rojas found himself down 7-3 in game two. He called a time out, and the next chance he got in the service box, he switched from half lob serves to drive serves - primarily to the right side. That proved successful as he rode that to win the second game, 11-8.

However, Croft adjusted, and again got out to large leads in games three and four, which he didn't relinquish, winning in four games. Afterwards, Croft said the biggest change he'd made in the off-season was to change from a two handed backhand to a one handed one. He also emphasized how important it is to hit the ball down the line, which Croft did very effectively against Rojas.

Rojas was in the quarters, because Jack Huczek, the 2nd seed, retired during their match in the Round of 16. Huczek has been hampered by an injury and apparently that flared up again against Rojas.

Croft will play Rocky Carson in the semis, as Carson defeated Mitch Williams in the quarter finals, 11-8, 11-5, 9-11, 11-0. Williams was often his own worst enemy as his drive serves were faults several times, and he acknowledged that after the match saying he "couldn't hit an effective drive serve." In fact, he served half lobs at the end of game three, which helped him win that game, although it did take four game points to get it done.

But Williams said he felt "off balance all night" and "never knew where the ball was." He was the victim of several strange bounces during the match.

For his part, Carson said the conditions did play into his game style, as he's "used to playing sloppy," and has no problem winning ugly.

IRT #1 Kane Waselenchuk is also through to the semis after defeating Shane Vanderson, 11-2, 11-1, 11-6. Waselenchuk was in complete control in the first two games, but in game three, Vanderson got on a streak and held a 6-3 lead. Unfortunately for him that's all he got, but perhaps it gives him some inspiration for how he should be playing all the time, as during that streak he really seemed to go for everything.

Waselenchuk changed serves in an attempt to cool off Vanderson, switching to lob serves from the drive serves he'd done to that point. The strategy worked, as Vanderson didn't score again, despite getting in the service box more than once. But on two of those opportunities Vanderson fault served, which didn't help him any.

Afterwards, Vanderson compared his reaction to Waselenchuk's performance in the first two games to that of Arnold Palmer's reaction to Jack Nicklaus, saying "he plays a game I'm not familiar with."

Both players said the court conditions were tough, as it's very humid in the facility and the walls are sometimes wet resulting in the ball sliding along them rather than taking a true bounce. Waselenchuk said the conditions meant moving his feet was even more important than it usually is, so that he could adjust to whatever the ball was going to do.

Both the quarter finals can be viewed for free live over the internet via the IRT The Round of 16 goes through Friday afternoon with the first quarter final match scheduled for 5:30 PM Eastern.

And kudos to the IRT Network for improving their program. The score line displayed during matches now has scores for all games in the match visible. Previously, only the score for the current game was displayed, but now which is a definite improvement.

Also, the primary camera angle that is being used is better. It's at the back center about 10 or so feet off the ground and provides a good view of the action. They do have a couple of other angles, but they are not overusing them.

IRT - Florida Spring Break, Sarasota, Florida
Round of 16

Kane Waselenchuk d. Cliff Swain, 11-3, 11-7, 11-3
Shane Vanderson d. Andy Hawthorne, 9-11, 11-9, 11-2, 11-2

Chris Crowther vs. Alejandro Landa, 11-2, 11-6, 11-9
Jason Mannino vs. Alejandro Herrera, 11-4, 11-7, 7-11, 11-2

Rocky Carson d. Hiroshi Shimizu, 11-0, 11-2, 11-5
Mitch Williams d. Charles Pratt, 11-6, 11-8, 11-4

Ben Croft d. Juan Herrera, 11-8, 11-4, 12-10
Jose Rojas d. Jack Huczek, injury forfeit

Quarter finals

Kane Waselenchuk vs. Shane Vanderson, 11-2, 11-1, 11-6
Chris Crowther vs. Jason Mannino

Rocky Carson d. Mitch Williams, 11-8, 11-5, 9-11, 11-0
Ben Croft d. Jose Rojas, 11-1, 8-11, 11-4, 11-4

Follow the bouncing ball....

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