Saturday, July 23, 2016

Carson & Longoria are IRF World Champions

Repetition is often key in sports, and there was repetition in the singles finals at the 18th International Racquetball Federation (IRF) World Championships in Cali, Colombia, as both defending champions won again. Women’s Singles Champion Paola Longoria of Mexico won for the third time in a row, and Men’s Singles Champion Rocky Carson won his fifth consecutive title. Carson’s win extended his record number of championships, while Longoria’s three title tie her with Americans Michelle Gould and Cheryl Gudinas.

In the women’s final, Longoria defeated Ana Gabriela Martinez of Guatemala, who at only 17 years old, was a surprise finalist, 15-12, 15-5. Longoria and Martinez also played in the group stage of the tournament, which Longoria won comfortably. But the final was so comfortable, as Martinez was close with Longoria in game one.

They were tied at 5-5, but then Longoria went ahead to 10-6. However, Martinez didn’t quit, as she drew within two at 12-10 and 13-11 before Longoria closed it out at 15-12. Unusually, on the game point Longoria lob served, and hit a forehand winner on the third shot of the rally. That was unusual, because Longoria generally drive serves on every serve, and that was her strategy for most of the match, but not on that game point.

In game two, Longoria got an early lead at 3-0 and 6-2, and Martinez was never closer than four points after that, as Longoria won her third Women’s Singles World Championship in two straight games.

Carson defeated Mexican Daniel De La Rosa, 15-12, 5-15, 11-5, in the Men’s Singles final. Carson led throughout game one, although De La Rosa drew within two down 13-11. Game two started slowly, as they were still tied 4-4 after 27 rallies.

But then De La Rosa won the next seven rallies to lead 11-4. Carson took a timeout at 7-4, but to no avail. De La Rosa went on to take game two comfortably at 15-5. His strategy seemed to be to make Carson do a lot of work, as De La Rosa hit a lot of ceiling balls. Usually, it’s Carson being patient versus an opponent, but the tables seemed to be turned in game two.

In the breaker, De La Rosa got the early lead at 2-0, but after they were tied at 3-3, Carson went out to an 8-4 lead, and he didn’t look back from there. There were some calls that went Carson’s way, but when the difference is six points, it’s difficult to say that those calls were the difference. Carson got the match point on an forehand overhead cross court shot that De La Rosa couldn’t retrieve.

Thus, over 18 IRF World Championships, Rocky Carson has won 5 Men’s Singles titles, or almost a third of them. It’s an incredible record.

The IRF will be posting match videos to their YouTube channel, so if you missed the final, you’ll be able to watch it there.

18th IRF World Championships
July 15-23, 2016
Cali, Colombia

Women's Singles - Final

1) Paola Longoria (Mexico) d. 15) Ana Gabriela Martinez (Guatemala), 15-12, 15-5

Men’s Singles - Final

1) Rocky Carson (USA) d. 10) Daniel De La Rosa (Mexico), 15-11, 5-15, 11-5

Follow the bouncing ball....

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