Sunday, March 28, 2010

IRT - Waselenchuk wins Open final

Kane Waselenchuk remains undefeated this season as he won again on Sunday in the final of the Open in St Louis, Missouri, defeating Rocky Carson 13-11, 4-11, 11-2, 11-1. It was the second straight International Racquetball Tour (IRT) tournament final between Waselenchuk and Carson, who played each other two weeks ago in Sarasota, Florida.

As in Florida, Carson started strong with a mixture of serves, but usually drives to the right side - the lefhanded Waselechuk's backhand side. They were back and forth in game one, with ties at 3 and 5 through 8.

But it was Carson who got to 10 first after several side outs at 9-8. Waselenchuk got a side out, then took a time out and leveled the score at 10. Carson regained the serve, and hit a drive serve ace to the back right corner. But in trying to repeat that on the next serve he served short.

Waselenchuk scored two points, and although Carson did get another chance to serve, it was Waselenchuk who took the first game 13-11.

Carson could have been excused for being down after losing a close game like that, but he kept up his strong play in game two, taking a 5-1 lead. They went back and forth at that score for 9 rallies until Carson was able to push on and make it 8-1. Waselenchuk got a few more points before Carson closed out game two 11-4.

In game three, Waselenchuk got an early lead at 3-1 and then there was another series of side outs. Waselenchuk got another point for 4-1 then a few more side outs. During this period Carson seemed to lose confidence in his service strategy.

Carson's strategy - a mix of drive serves and off speed serves to the right side with a few z serves to the left thrown in - had worked through games one and two, and he used the strategy effectively in Florida. But some good returns from Waselenchuk got Carson to try some lobs - left and right - which were returned for winners by Waselenchuk, who seized the momentum to push through to take game three 11-2.

It was more of the same in game four. Carson's frustration boiled over when he complained about the referee incorrectly calling the score and was given a technical for his objection, which made the score 3-0 at that point. Waselenchuk went on to win game four 11-1 and take the match.

Throughout the match Waselenchuk lob served to Carson's forehand save for a few occasions, including one drive serve in game two that went long. This was the strategy that Waselenchuk used against Carson in the second half of their match in Florida.

In the Don't Try This At Home department, Waselenchuk hit three pinch shots in the right corner from the back left that weren't much more than a flick of the wrist. The second of them was late in game one that made the score 10-10.

Waselenchuk's win reaffirms his dominance of the IRT this season, but Carson's second strong performance against Waselenchuk suggests that he - not Jack Huczek - may be Waselenchuk's strongest rival.

The last Tier 1 event of IRT season will be April 15-18 in Tijuana, Mexico.

IRT Open, St Louis, Missouri
March 25-28, 2010


Kane Waselenchuk d. Rocky Carson, 13-11, 4-11, 11-2, 11-1

Follow the bouncing ball....

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