Friday, October 22, 2010

2010 US Open - Men's Quarter Finals

By his own admission, 3rd seed Ben Croft won in "the worst way" as Mitch Williams had to retire due to injury in their quarter final match at the 2010 US Open in Minneapolis. Williams, the 6th ranked player on the International Racquetball Tour (IRT) was leading 9-4 in the fourth game and up 2-1 in games on Croft when he dove to his left for the ball.

He landed on his left shoulder and it was immediately evident that Williams was in pain. He took a injury time out, and then tried to continue. But after two rallies Williams realized that he couldn't continue. Hitting forehand shots was too painful.

Afterwards, Williams said that he "dislocated his shoulder" and although it had popped back in, he wasn't fit to continue. Thus, the match went to Croft, 0-11, 11-13, 11-2, 4-9, injury forfeit.

Croft, who won the World Championship in doubles with Williams in August, felt awful that his friend was not able to continue. "I didn't deserve this match. Mitch did," said Croft and he vowed to play "for Mitch" in the semi-finals Saturday.

Williams's 11-0 score in game one was the first 11-0 game in a quarter final, semi-final, or final match at the US Open since 2005, when Cliff Swain beat Alvaro Beltran 11-0 in the quarter finals and then beat Jack Huczek 11-0 in the semi-finals.

Croft will play Beltran in the semis, as Beltran defeated Jose Rojas, 11-7, 11-3, 14-12. Despite being down 7-2 in game three Rojas continued to battle, and it looked like his efforts would be rewarded with a fourth game as he led 12-11. However, Beltran fought off game point and then won three straight points to take the match.

Afterwards, Rojas said that he "put too much pressure on myself" in games one and two, and in game three he was able to relax. Doing that from the start may have made a difference in the outcome, but Beltran was solid.

Both players used a variety of drive serves and then hit lobs down the right wall when they had to hit a second serve.

Beltran hasn't been to the US Open semi-finals since 2000, when he lost to Sudsy Monchik. Beltan won't want to wait another decade for this opportunity.

The first quarter final was a feisty affair, as Charlie Pratt - playing in his first career quarter final - took game one off against 4th seed Jack Huczek. But Huczek persevered and came back to win the next three games and take the match in four, 8-11, 11-5, 11-2, 11-5.

Both players used a variety of serves during the match, and made some fine shots and good gets to keep the ball in play, but they both protested some of the calls made by the referee, who had help from two linespeople.

Finally, two time defending US Open Champion, Kane Waselenchuk remains on track for a third straight title and sixth overall, as he defeated American Andy Hawthorne in the quarter finals by a decisive score line of 11-0, 11-1, 11-6.

Afterwards, Waselenchuk said "with no disrespect to Andy, I wanted to win 0, 0, 0." He almost accomplished that goal. But Waselenchuk also said he was "trying to make a statement" and he certainly accomplished that goal.

Next up for Waselenchuk is a renewal of his rivalry with American Jack Huczek in the semi-finals, which could also be a feisty affair. "I can't wait to play Jack," said Waselenchuk, who defeated Huczek in last year's US Open final.

The men's quarter finals continue on Friday at the Lifetime Fitness - Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The semi-finals will be on Saturday and final on Sunday.

2010 US Open, Minneapolis, Minnesota
IRT Men's Singles

Quarter finals

Kane Waselenchuk d. Andy Hawthorne, 11-0, 11-1, 11-6
Jack Huczek d. Charles Pratt, 8-11, 11-5, 11-2, 11-5

Ben Croft d. Mitch Williams, 0-11, 11-13, 11-2, 4-9, injury forfeit
Alvaro Beltran d. Jose Rojas, 11-7, 11-3, 14-12


Kane Waselenchuk vs. Jack Huczek
Ben Croft vs. Alvaro Beltran

Follow the bouncing ball....

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