Sunday, February 16, 2014

Carson & Rojas, Ruiz & Tisinger win 47th USA Doubles Championships

Rocky Carson and Jose Rojas won the 2014 Men's US Team event at the 47th USA Racquetball Doubles Championships at the Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona by defeating Ben Croft and Tom Fuhrmann, 12-15, 15-14, 11-3, in a final that had a little bit of everything.

On the women's side, Aimee Ruiz and Janell Tisinger successfully defended their title by defeating Rhonda Rajsich and Kim Russell-Waselenchuk, 15-9, 15-10, in the final.

The men were close early in game one, and tied at 5-5. But then Rojas got hot, which led to a 11-5 lead for Carson and Rojas. It looked like they were run away with the game.

However, that didn't happen, as Croft and Fuhrmann kept plucking away at the lead. They cut it to two points at 11-9, then tied it at 12-12. Croft and Fuhrmann proceeded to win the first game with some help from Rojas, who skipped a few shots at the end of that game.

Similar story unfolded in game two, as they were close early, including a tie at 4-4. Then Carson and Rojas went on a run and took a lead at 9-4 and then 12-6.

But Croft and Furhmann held off the first game point at 14-7, and then cut into the lead as Carson and Rojas again skipped a few shots, which made the score 14-11.

Carson and Rojas got a side out at that point but again failed to convert two more game points. Then Croft and Fuhrmann got three points to tie the game at 14-14, and serve for the match.

Fuhrmann, a left-handed player, hit a ball that was right on the left wall, and got a good part of the wall in the process, resulting in a skip. And then it got interesting.

On the next rally, Rojas, who was playing on the left side, was moving backward in the court as Fuhrmann was moving forward, and Rojas went down clutching at his ankle.

It did not look good, and Rojas was helped from the court. But he got his ankle throughly taped, and after several minutes of injury time went back on court.

Now, the contact happened away from the play - Rojas was not moving toward the ball to take a shot, so it wasn't clear whether a hinder had been called. Not all contact is a hinder, but one was called after the fact, as Rojas, who had been serving as his team's first server, served when play resumed.

On that rally, a shot was hit that Carson and Rojas thought was a carry, but they couldn't appeal that call, as they had run out of appeals back when the score was 2-1, and the referee indicated that carries aren't illegal regardless.

That put Rojas and Carson half down, and Croft hit a winner for his team to regain serve. But they failed to score as Rojas hit a return winner to put them half down, and then a wide angle pass on the next rally to make it side out. Three match points missed.

Croft saved another game point with a return winner, but then skipped his next return, to give game two to Carson and Rojas at 15-14.

The tie-breaker started slowly, as Croft and Fuhrmann score the first two points, and then there was a series of sideouts. Carson and Rojas didn't score until the third time they were in the service box.

They tied at 2-2, and then were sided-out. Croft and Fuhrmann got only one point, before giving the serve back to Carson and Rojas.

At that point Rojas got hot, as he hit winners to end the next five rallies. Croft and Fuhrmann called a timeout at 6-3 down to try to cool Rojas off after hit four of those winners, but Rojas hit another on the ensuing rally.

Then Carson contributed two winners, which made the score 9-3. The last two points came off skips by Fuhrmann, who played well throughout the match despite being lowest ranked player of the four.

Carson was very vocal during the match, especially so after they ran out of appeals in game two. Their strategy seemed to be very much having Carson play up front, as Rojas took most of the shots from the back.

Carson confirmed that impression after the match when he said he felt "pretty fresh" and "didn't hit too many balls."

Asked about his ankle injury, Rojas said he felt it "pop three times," but he was "glad it happened," because it "calmed me down" and made him focus on his shot making.

In the women's final, Ruiz and Tisinger were ahead in both games almost all the way though the match. Tisinger, playing on the right side with the left-handed Ruiz, was especially effective with a lob serve right to the right side glass wall, which Russell-Waselenchuk found difficult to return well.

Also, Ruiz and Tisinger made more winners than Russell-Waselenchuk and Rajsich, who made hardly any, which could have been due to Ruiz and Tisinger trying to keep the ball away from Rajsich, the #2 player on the Ladies Professional Racquetball Tour (LPRT).

The victories are the 9th for Ruiz, 8th for Carson, 2nd for Tisinger and first for Rojas in the top level of USA Racquetball doubles competition.

Video of the doubles competition is archived on the USA Racquetball Network.

2014 47th USA Racquetball National Doubles Championships
Tempe, Arizona

US National Team Divisions

Men's Final

Rocky Carson & Jose Rojas d. Ben Croft & Thomas Fuhrmann, 12-15, 15-14, 11-3

3rd Place

Jansen Allen & Tony Carson d. Charlie Pratt & Jake Bredenbeck, 15-11, 12-15, 11-6

Women's Final

Aimee Ruiz & Janel Tisinger d. Rhonda Rajsich & Kim Russell-Waselenchuk, 15-9, 15-10

3rd Place

Cheryl Gudinas & Laura Fenton d. Hailey Miller & Jacqueline Paraiso, 15-4, 15-6

Follow the bouncing ball....

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