Sunday, January 26, 2014

Waselenchuk a double winner at IRT 36th Annual Lewis Pro-Am

Kane Waselenchuk won twice on Sunday at the International Racquetball Tour (IRT) 36th Annual Lewis Pro-Am tournament in Sioux Falls, South Dakota as he took both the singles and doubles titles, wining the latter with Jason Mannino.

But Waselenchuk wasn't as dominant as he had been earlier in the tournament, which is likely down to the quality of his opponent, as Alvaro Beltran - the IRT's #3 player - fought hard throughout their match, but lost in three straight games, 11-6, 11-4, 15-13.

It was a very competitive match, unlike the three Waselenchuk won to get to the final. In those, his opponents scored only 7 points in 9 games. Beltran scored more than three times the points of Waselenchuk's first three opponents.

Waselenchuk's been involved in 15-13 games on three previous occasions, but they are all more than a decade ago. His record in 15-13 games is 2-1. The wins were against Jack Huczek in August 2002, when the first game of their match, and against Cliff Swain in January 2002, and the loss was against Mike Green in November 2003 in Chicago. Waselenchuk won the matches against Huczek and Green, but lost to Swain.

Beltran's strategy was to drive serve to Waselenchuk and usually to the right side, so to the left-handed Waselenchuk's backhand. Beltran did so from different spots in the service box, and also hit some drive serves to the left side and drive Z serves.

Beltran got at least the first three points in each game, and in game one it was the first five points. However, as some are fond of saying "it's not how you start; it's how you finish," and Beltran had a hard time finishing against Waselenchuk, who would step up his game roll point after point.

Although that roll got progressively more difficult as the match went along, as there were more rallies in game two than game one - despite Beltran scoring two fewer points. Waselenchuk needed 16 rallies to get the final five points in game two, when it took only five rallies to get the final five points of game one.

Game three was even closer, as Beltran also took a 5-0 lead and then fell behind 8-5 before tying the game 8-8. Waselenchuk then scored two quick points to have his first match point at 10-8.

But Beltran continued to battle, and the score went up and up. Beltran had a chance to win game three when he served at 12-11, but Waselenchuk got the serve back with a forehand down the line shot, and then served his 7th ace of the match - a drive serve to the left side - that tied the game at 12-12.

Waselenchuk won the match on his 7th match point. He hit a drive serve to the left side. Beltran hit a backhand pinch shot, which was left up and Waselenchuk hit the ball down the right side with a backhand pass shot.


Waselenchuk and Jason Mannino won the Pro Doubles title with a narrow victory over Rocky Carson and Jose Rojas, 13-15, 15-11, 11-9. Carson and Rojas looked the fresher team as the match started out, as they took a 9-1 lead in game one. But Waselenchuk and Mannino came back to tie it at 13-13.

But a side out ended a streak of eight points by Waselenchuk and Mannino, and gave Rojas and Carson a chance to end the game, which they took full advantage of. Rojas, playing the left side, got the winning point as he hit a soft serve that came off the side wall early and in between his opponents. Waselenchuk tried to return the ball off the short hop, but he skipped it resulting a 15-13 win for Rojas and Carson.

But Waselenchuk and Mannino put it together in game two, as they won it 15-11 to force a tie-breaker. In the breaker, It was Waselenchuk and Mannino who started well as they got out to a 7-2 lead.

Rojas and Carson battled back and drew within one at 6-7. Then after a side out at 9-6, Rojas and Carson tied it after three rallies ended with skips: two by Waselenchuk and one by Mannino.

However, Waselenchuk and Mannino held firm, and got the serve back. Waselenchuk hit a drive serve to the left side for an ace to give them their first match point. They didn't convert that, as Rojas and Carson got a half down. But then Mannino hit one of his customary half lob serves and Carson stepped up to hit it early with one of his customary overhead returns, but he pounded it into the floor, giving the game and match to Waselenchuk and Mannino.

The match was very entertaining, as one would expect with four of the best racquetball players in the world on one court. There are possibilities for more doubles next season, and we would welcome that.

There's a break in the IRT schedule for Tier 1 events, as the next IRT Tier 1 will be the Florida Spring Break Pro/Am in Tampa from March 6-9.

2014 Lewis Pro-Am 36th Annual
Sioux Falls, South Dakota


1 Kane Waselenchuk d. 3 Alvaro Beltran, 11-6, 11-4, 15-13

Pro Doubles


3 Jason Mannino & Kane Waselenchuk d. 1 Rocky Carson & Jose Rojas, 13-15, 15-11, 11-9

Follow the bouncing ball….

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