Samuel Murray has made his first semi-final on the International Racquetball Tour (IRT) by defeating 4th seed Jose Rojas, 11-4, 11-6, 3-11, 11-4, in the quarterfinals of the Raising Some Racquet for Kids tournament in Dayton, Ohio. Murray will play top seed Rocky Carson in the semi-finals on Saturday, as Carson defeated Mario Mercado in three straight games, 11-4, 11-3, 11-8.
Murray started strong in both games one and two. Rojas staged a comeback in game two. After being down 8-2, he came back to 8-6, and it looked like Murray might succumb to the pressure of being in his first career quarterfinal. But Murray got the serve back with a forehand pinch shot, and then served game two out, winning three straight rallies.
Rojas wasn’t going to down without a fight, however, and he came out in game three at full force, going up 7-0 before Murray got on board. Murray got a few points late in the game before Rojas finished it off.
Rojas got the first point of game four, but they were back and forth early, and tied at 2-2. Then Murray got on a roll helped by two aces, the second of which was given after a video appeal of a short serve call. That second ace made it 7-2, and Rojas called a timeout.
When play resumed, Rojas got a sideout, but no points. They went back and forth a couple times without anyone scoring before Murray extended his lead with two forehand winners, the second was a great splat shot that made it 9-2.
At that point the writing seemed to be on the wall, although Rojas didn’t give in. It took 12 rallies for Murray to get the last two points. It ended when Rojas put a big back wall forehand set up into the floor.
There was also an upset on the bottom side of the draw, as 6th seed Jansen Allen pulled out the victory over 3rd seed Alvaro Beltran, 6-11, 11-9, 11-2, 5-11, 11-6. Allen will play 2nd seed Daniel De La Rosa in the semis. De La Rosa beat Marco Rojas, 11-9, 11-9, 11-5, in the quarters.
Allen started off slowly against Beltran, who is usually the slow starter. After dropping the first game, 11-6, Allen was down 8-4 in game two, when he started to pick himself up. He got four unanswered points to tie the score 8-8, and Beltran took a timeout.
Beltran got a sideout when play resumed, but he didn’t score. Allen managed to get two points to make it 10-8, but Beltran fought off the first game point with a forehand pinch return. Beltran then got within one with another forehand pinch. Allen called a timeout with Beltran serving 9-10.
Beltran drove serve short, which led to a lob nick serve to the left side that Allen returned with a winning backhand pinch shot. On his second game point, Allen made no mistake in hitting a forehand winner.
Allen cruised through game three with 4-0 and 7-1 leads en route to a 11-2 win. But Beltran fought back in game four by going up 6-0, and the closest Allen got was 6-3, as Beltran won comfortably 11-5, which forced a tie-breaking fifth game.
Beltran got the first point of the breaker, but Allen led early at 3-1 and 6-3. However, Beltran tied the game at 6-6, and Allen used his timeout. On the next serve, Allen hit a backhand return for a winner to get the serve back. Allen didn’t give up the serve from there on, as he won five rallies with winners. Beltran called a timeout at 8-6, and there was a hinder at 9-6, but Beltran didn’t serve again. Allen closed the game and match out by hitting a drive serve to the left for an ace, which was one of the few times he drove serve to the left, and he followed that up with another ace off a drive serve to the right side.
Allen will play in only his 4th semi-final Saturday. The first three were all against Rocky Carson, who won all three. He’ll play Daniel De La Rosa this time, although Allen’s record against De La Rosa is 1-8. But that win was this season back in September at the Ghost Of Georgetown tournament in Overland Park, Kansas.
This is the second consecutive IRT event with a first time semi-finalist. Last weekend Andree Parrilla was in the semis for the first time, and won his semi-final against Carson. Murray will look to do the same on Saturday.
The IRT Network will broadcast the semi-finals Saturday at 11 AM and noon with the final to follow at 7 PM.
2017 IRT Raising Some Racquet for Kids, March 23-25
Quarterfinals - Friday
1) Rocky Carson d. 8) Mario Mercado, 11-4, 11-3, 11-8
Samuel Murray d. 4) Jose Rojas, 11-4, 11-6, 3-11, 11-4
6) Jansen Allen d. 3) Alvaro Beltran, 6-11, 11-9, 11-2, 5-11, 11-6
2) Daniel De La Rosa d. 7) Marco Rojas, 11-9, 11-9, 11-5
Semi-finals - Saturday
1) Rocky Carson v. Samuel Murray - 11 AM
2) Daniel De La Rosa v. 6) Jansen Allen - Noon
Follow the bouncing ball….