Saturday, October 24, 2015

Waselenchuk & Carson to meet in final of 2015 IRT Krowning Moment Pro Invitational

Kane Waselenchuk, the defending champion and #1 International Racquetball Tour (IRT) player, defeated Alvaro Beltran, 11-8, 11-4, 11-7, in the semi-finals of the 2nd Annual Krowning Moment Pro Invitational in San Marcos, Texas Saturday. He’ll play IRT #2 Rocky Carson in the final Saturday night, as Carson beat Sebastian Franco, 11-8, 11-3, 11-7, in the other semi-final.

Waselenchuk had periods of brilliance in his match, but also some lulls as Beltran put up a strong fight against the defending champ. One of the brilliant periods came at the start of the match, as Waselenchuk jumped out to a 5-0 lead in game one, including two aces for the first two points of the game.

But 19 rallies in, and it was still 5-0. Then Beltran started piling up the points, and tied it at 5-5. Waselenchuk again went ahead, but not by much at 7-6.

Then he scored three points to make it 10-6. Beltran fought off two game points, and scored twice more to make it 10-8. Waselenchuk ended the game with a drive serve to the left. Beltran hit a backhand return cross court, and Waselenchuk hit a soft backhand pinch shot into the front right corner.

In game two, the resistence came early, as after eleven rallies and they were tied at 1-1. Then Waselenchuk put a run of points together, scoring six - including three aces - over the next ten rallies to make it 7-1.

After a Beltran timeout, he got the serve back, and scored three points to make it 7-4. Two of those points were skipped service returns by Waselenchuk. But a Waselenchuk forehand cross court shot got him the serve back, and he scored four straight points without giving up serve to win game two, 11-4. The winner was a drive serve ace to the left side that cracked out.

In game three, Beltran took a big lead early, as he went up 6-1. However, Waselenchuk dug in, and came back to tie it at 6-6 and then 7-7. There were several sideouts in the middle of game three, but then Waselenchuk scored three points on consecutive rallies to make it 10-7. Beltran fought off the first match point with a great forehand return pinch, but he failed to score on his serve, as Waselenchuk got a sideout.

Waselenchuk ended game three much as he ended game one. He drove serve to the left side. Beltran returned it cross court, and Waselenchuk hit a backhand softly down the line.

Both players primarily drove serve in the match. Waselenchuk hit 10 aces or service winners, and Beltran hit six.

Carson and Franco played a similar match, as the first and third games were close, but the second wasn’t. And Franco - like Beltran - had a big lead in game three, as well as a small lead in game one, but he wasn’t able to capitalize on either advantage.

In game one, Franco went up 3-0 with Carson coming back to tie it at 3-3 and 4-4. Then Carson pushed on to make it 10-4. Franco held him there and scored four points to make it 10-8 before Carson finished off the game 11-8 with a forehand winner.

Carson grabbed a 4-0 lead in game two, which led to a Franco timeout. Franco did score his first points after the timeout, but Carson maintained the advantage, and won comfortably at 11-3.

In game three, Franco went up 6-0, and it looked like they might be going to at least a fourth game. But a Carson timeout at 6-0. Then there was some controversy as Carson was called for a fault for not checking whether Franco was ready to return serve before serving. This was at 1-6, and on Carson’s second serve, so he lost serve.

And in doing so lost it on the referee, smashing the ball into the back wall towards the ref, and demanding to talk to the IRT President Jason Mannino. Mannino confirmed that the referee’s call was correct, so Franco got the serve, although no technical was assessed against Carson, which was surprising.

Franco got a point on the next rally to make it 7-1, but that was his last point of the match, as Carson seemed to get fired up by the incident with the referee, and pushed on to score ten unanswered points and close out the match in three straight games.

Waselenchuk and Carson met in the final of last year’s Krowning Moment event, which Waselenchuk won in four games. The game he dropped to Carson in last year’s final was one of only two games Waselenchuk lost on tour last year (aside from a loss due to injury).

The final will be 7:00 PM Saturday night. You can follow the action via the IRT Network.

Second Annual Krowning Moment Pro Invitational, October 22-24, 2015
San Marcos, Texas

Semi-finals - Saturday

1) Kane Waselenchuk d. 4) Alvaro Beltran, 11-8, 11-4, 11-7
2) Rocky Carson d. Sebastian Franco, 11-8, 11-3, 11-7

Final - Saturday

1) Kane Waselenchuk v. 2) Rocky Carson - 7 PM CDT

Follow the bouncing ball….

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