Saturday, May 17, 2014

Waselenchuk wins 2014 Pro Kennex IRT Tournament of Champions

Kane Waselenchuk ended the 2013-14 International Racquetball Tour (IRT) season on a high, as he won the 2014 Pro Kennex Tournament of Champions in Portland, Oregon. It capped a season that began with his first loss (in a completed match) in over four years, when Jose Rojas beat him in Kansas City back in September.

But Saturday Waselenchuk defeated IRT #2 Rocky Carson, 11-4, 11-1, 11-1, to close out another season as the number one men's racquetball player. It's Waselenchuk's 9th season as #1, which is an IRT career record.

In the semi-finals, Waselenchuk defeated Daniel De La Rosa, 11-7, 11-5, 12-10, and Carson eked out a win over Ben Croft in five games, 7-11, 11-4, 11-6, 9-11, 11-6.

Croft began that semi-final on fire, going out to a 6-0 lead in game one. But at 6-1, Croft had racquet problems, as his racquet came out of his hand due to the tether coming off or the handle separating. Regardless, he was slowed somewhat and Carson took advantage, tying the game at 7-7.

However, Croft was able to put things back together and close out game one, 11-7.

The other feature of the first game was that Carson was unhappy with the refereeing early in the game, and then later in the game both players were yipping at each other. It's unclear what was said, but we can be certain that pleasantries were not being exchanged.

That interaction cast a chill over the rest of the match, and especially games two and three, where little was said by either player, and both were won by Carson, 11-4 and 11-6.

Carson had a good lead early in game four also at 6-1, and looked to be on the way to a four game victory, but Croft spoiled that plan by putting together a run of points that tied the game at 6-6.

Carson again went ahead 9-6, only to see Croft come back again to win game four 11-9, and force a fifth game tie-breaker.

In the fifth game, they were toe to toe with neither player ahead by more than two points until they were tied at 6-6. From that point on Carson relied on his 3/4 Z serve to the left side - Croft's backhand, and Croft didn't have an effective response to that serve.

Although he didn't win, Croft gave his all in the match, as he dove across the court several times, and clearly seemed to have caused more damage to his already injured right shoulder. But he persevered, and came close to causing the upset.

2014 Pro Kennex Tournament of Champions, Portland, Oregon


Kane Waselenchuk d. Daniel De La Rosa, 11-7, 11-5, 12-10
Rocky Carson d. Ben Croft, 7-11, 11-4, 11-6, 9-11, 11-6


Kane Waselenchuk d. Rocky Carson, 11-4, 11-1, 11-1

Follow the bouncing ball....

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