Saturday, October 23, 2010

2010 US Open - No Yankees in men's final

Kane Waselenchuk will have a chance to win a third consecutive US Open title and sixth overall on Sunday at the 2010 US Open Racquetball Championships in Minneapolis, as he defeated Jack Huczek, 9-11, 11-6, 11-4, 11-6. But Huczek gave Waselenchuk all he could handle and undoubtedly surprised many observers with his strong showing. Waselenchuk called Huczek's play "unbelievable".

Indeed, Huczek was strong off the mark, taking a 5-1 lead in game one, and increasing it to 10-4. Waselenchuk got the serve back and called a time out. After that he switched from drive serving to lobbing and when on a 5 point run. However, his comeback fell short as Huczek finished the game 11-9.

Then in game two, Huczek again took the lead early at 5-1. He got it to 6-2, but then Waselenchuk again came back and this time held Huczek off winning 11-6.

Game three was close early, but after being tied at 2-2, Waselenchuk ran it up to 8-2, and then finished it at 11-4.

In game four, Waselenchuk took an early lead at 4-0 and it looked like the writing was on the wall for Huczek. But he came back and tied it a 4-4 and then 5-5. Then Waselenchuk ran it up to 9-5, and switched back to drive serving.

Huczek fought off one match point at 10-6, and then a couple of hinders were called that didn't go Huczek's way - one he thought was down before Waselenchuk could get it and the other felt it should have been an avoidable against his opponent. On the next rally, Waselenchuk closed out the game, 11-6, and took the match in four games.

Huczek used a variety of serves, although mostly hard drives either straight or Zs. Also dove for the ball often and not just to keep the play going but also made some winners.

Alvaro Beltran has reached the US Open final for the first time in his career with a semi-final victory over Ben Croft, 3-11, 0-11, 11-5, 11-7, 11-3. Beltran will be the first Mexican player to appear in a US Open men's final.

An upset by the rankings, as Beltran is ranked 19th and Croft 3rd on the International Racquetball Tour (IRT), but Beltran was the 4th ranked player when he suffered a knee injury in August 2009 that kept him out of action for most of the past year. With the tournament format this year that saw the top 16 players get seeded into the Round of 32, Beltran had to play two qualifying matches to make the 32s.

Those extra matches may have been the cause of Beltran's slow start on Saturday. Or it could have been Croft was on fire as he stormed out to a two game advantage, including a 11-0 second game. Croft was primarily drive serving but also used some lobs and hitting the majority of the serves to the Mexican's backhand. Croft also owned the front left corner, as buried many pinch shots there with his forehand.

Beltran scored the first point of game three and it was the first time he led in the match. Croft then went up 4-1, and it looked like it would be over in three games. But from that point on, it was all Beltran, who outscored Croft 32-11 the rest of the way.

Not that Croft ever gave up. He dove around the court for every available ball. So many times that his dive total might have reached triple digits. But Beltran was also diving and making winners.

In game four, it was close early, but then Beltran got up 7-3, and went on to win 11-7. Game five was all Beltran after Croft took the first point, as Beltran had a 10-1 lead. Croft fought off four match points, but it was just a matter of time at that point as Beltran won the fifth 11-3.

Afterwards, Croft said "the match started out great, and then ended horribly." He also expects to hear it from friend Mitch Williams for being up two games to zero and losing.

Sunday's men's final will be the first time in US Open history that an American is not involved.

The final is set for 1:00 PM CDT at the Lifetime Fitness - Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

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

Kane Waselenchuk d. Jack Huczek, 9-11, 11-6, 11-4, 11-6
Alvaro Beltran d. Ben Croft, 3-11, 0-11, 11-5, 11-7, 11-3


Kane Waselenchuk vs. Alvaro Beltran

Follow the bouncing ball....

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