Sunday, January 24, 2016

Waselenchuk, Carson & Beltran winners at 38th IRT Lewis Pro-Am

Kane Waselenchuk won for a seventh time this season on Sunday, as he defeated Jose Rojas, 12-10, 11-1, 11-6, to capture the International Racquetball Tour (IRT) 38th Annual Lewis Pro-Am in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

But in game one, it seemed that Rojas would carry the day, as he came out with the same great form he showed in beating Rocky Carson in the semi-finals on Saturday, and took a 6-1 lead on Waselenchuk. Rojas extended that lead to 10-4, and looked to be on the verge of capturing game one

But Waselenchuk seemed to sense that a change was needed, and switched to lob serves, which seemed to get Rojas out of the zone that he was in, as skipped some serve returns trying to make aggressive returns. Indeed, the last three points of the game were skips by Rojas.

Game two was all Waselenchuk, as Rojas had difficulty even getting to hit another shot after Waselenchuk returned his serves. In game two, Rojas was not hitting the ball as well as he had early in game one, and many of his shots seemed to go right to Waselenchuk, including the game winner, when Rojas drove a ball cross court right to where Waselenchuk was standing, which Waselenchuk just hit a touch shot for a winner.

In game three, Rojas got back to what had made him successful in the semi-finals and got him the lead in game one, as he took a 4-0 lead. But Waselenchuk came back and took the lead 7-4. Rojas kept it close, and got within two at 7-5 and 8-6, but Waselenchuk maintained the lead, and won it 11-6 with a backhand pinch shot.

Rojas played well this weekend, and he did pressure Waselenchuk, who rose to the challenge. But if Rojas’s form is a result of new techniques and training, rather than merely some fortunate play, then he could rise to be #2 by season’s end.

However, Waselenchuk is still the clear #1 IRT player, and speculation on who might be the next #1 needs to look several years into the future.

In the IRT Doubles division, #1 seeds Rocky Carson and Alvaro Beltran defeated #2 seeds Felipe Camacho and Daniel De La Rosa, 15-7, 15-3. The match was somewhat closer than the scores suggest. They were tied at 6-6 in game one before Carson and Beltran went on a 9-1 run.

Early in that run, Carson and Camacho did a bit of shoving. They seemed to exchange some words early in the game, when Camacho thought a ball skipped and Carson disagreed. Then at 9-7, a ball came off the left wall and as Carson went to set up for it, Camacho seemed to get in the way of Carson’s racquet on the set up. Carson held up, likely looking to get an avoidable call. Camacho didn’t think it was an avoidable, or perhaps even a hinder, and in expressing that went toe to toe with Carson, who ended up stepping on Camacho’s foot, as they shoved each other.

De La Rosa and Beltran, as well as the referee, got between Carson and Camacho, and nothing more came of the incident, as both were warned by the referee that that behavior wasn’t going to be tolerated.

Beltran scored the game winner after Carson hit a Z serve to Camacho, who returned it cross court, where Beltran calmly hit a forehand pinch shot flat into the right corner.

Although game two was 15-3, ended by another Beltran pinch shot, it took a long time to get going. After 27 rallies, the score was still only 4-1 for Carson and Beltran. But then they went on a seven point run, making the score 11-1, and the writing was on the wall.

De La Rosa and Camacho were playing together for the first time, we believe, and it was an interesting pairing. Both are right handers, and usually in such a team, the stronger player would go on the left side, so that he could take balls in the center with his forehand. However, Camacho usually plays right side doubles in international competitions, including at the 2015 Pan American Championships, when he and Teobalo Fumero were runners up to Beltran and Javier Moreno.

Thus, for most of the match Camacho was on the left side - the side Carson was on, which led to some of their altercation - and De La Rosa was on the right. They did try to change it up some, and tried to double serve both Carson and Beltran at times, but that was all because they were desperate to score points.

Camacho and De La Rosa beat some good teams to reach the final in Sebastian Franco and Mario Mercado in the quarterfinals and the Rojas brothers in the semi-finals, but they weren’t able to beat the top seeds.

The IRT will be back in action in March, when the KMPI International takes place in Edinburg, Texas March 3-6.

2016 38th Annual Lewis Pro-Am, January 21-24
Sioux Falls, South Dakota


1) Kane Waselenchuk d. 6) Jose Rojas, 12-10, 11-1, 11-6

IRT Doubles - Final

1) Alvaro Beltran & Rocky Carson d. 2) Felipe Camacho & Daniel De La Rosa, 15-7, 15-3

Follow the bouncing ball….

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