Saturday, March 9, 2013

IRT - Florida Spring Break - Waselenchuk & Croft win semis

Ben Croft, by his own admission, has had his worst season in awhile, but he's in the final of the International Racquetball Tour (IRT) Florida Spring Break tournament in Tampa, Florida after defeating 2nd seed Rocky Carson, 11-5, 11-7, 1-11, 4-11, 11-4, in the semi-finals. Prior to this, Croft hadn't made it past the quarter finals this season.

Kane Waselenchuk, the #1 IRT player, will be Croft's opponent in the final, as Waselenchuk defeated Jose Rojas, 11-6, 11-2, 11-3, in the other semi-final.

Croft started strong, hitting drive serves down the right side to Carson's forehand, and going up 7-1 in game one, which he won comfortably.

Game two was streaky, as Croft continued to do well going up 4-0. But then there was an avoidable hinder call against Croft as Carson went for a serve return, and Croft disputed the call. His frustration grew as Carson put points together and took a 6-4 lead.

But to his credit, Croft pulled it together again, and went on to win game two, 11-7.

In game three, Carson went to his usual strategy of hitting Z serves to the left with varying pace to try to put Croft off balance, and it worked. Carson won game three 11-1, although at one point it was 9-(-1), as Croft got called for a technical at 9-0, as he repeatedly hit the ball straight in after a rally as if he was practicing his down the line kill shot.

But that wasn't the only technical called in the match, as Carson got two called on him in game four, and we're not exactly sure what the calls were for. They both came early in game four, which took a long time to play. It seemed like they'd been at it for half an hour and only reached 3-3.

Then Carson put together a few points and took a 7-3 lead, so Croft called a time out. But that was to no avail, as Carson went on to win the game, 11-4.

Afterwards, Croft said he "tried to save some energy" in game four when it looked like it was going to go tie-breaker.

In the breaker, Croft took an early 3-0 lead, but Carson came back and they were tied at 3-3 and 4-4. Then Croft took an 8-4 lead, causing Carson to call time out. But Croft went on to win and make his first final of the season.

In the other semi-final, it was all Waselenchuk, who looks fully fit after missing two of the last three IRT tournaments due to injury. Rojas was close in game one, as they were tied 6-6. But three Rojas points were off serve return errors by Waselenchuk as Rojas hit nick lobs serves to the right side - Waselenchuk's backhand side.

Waselenchuk also lob served in game one, and asked about it afterwards he said he needed to "work his way into the match," because, at 31, Waselenchuk's not as young as he was when he'd just come out banging the ball.

Games two and three were comfortable wins for Waselenchuk. The match winning point was an ace drive serve straight down the left side that cracked out just past the service box.

Waselenchuk said the season's been "a struggle" but it's "nice to be playing healthy" again.

If Waselenchuk's 100%, Croft will have his hands full in the final on Sunday.

The IRT Network will web-cast the final at noon Sunday, and remember that clocks in North America are turned ahead overnight one hour for daylight savings.

2013 Florida Spring Break, Tampa, Florida

Semi-finals - Saturday

Kane Waselenchuk d. Jose Rojas, 11-6, 11-2, 11-3
Ben Croft d. Rocky Carson, 11-5, 11-7, 1-11, 4-11, 11-4

Final - Sunday

Kane Waselenchuk v. Ben Croft

Follow the bouncing ball....

No comments: