With the top seed playing the 2nd seed, Saturday’s final of the International Racquetball Tour (IRT) Raising Some Racquet for Kids tournament in Dayton, Ohio should have been a close match, and it was, as Rocky Carson narrowly defeated Daniel De La Rosa in four games, 12-10, 11-9, 9-11, 11-8, to win his first event of the season. The win extends Carson’s streak of winning at least once an IRT season to seven straight seasons, and it was the 25th win of Carson’s long career.
Carson drove served throughout the final, and it was especially effective in the fourth game, when he hit four aces to the left side. But match point was a drive serve to the right side that cracked out, and caused a skip return from De La Rosa.
In the middle of game one, it looked like De La Rosa was going to come out on top, as he led 8-5. They were close the whole way, but De La Rosa was first to 10, leading 10-9. But Carson fended off that game point with a great sidewall front wall shot from deep in the court. Carson then won it with three straight points on consecutive rallies. De La Rosa thought there should have been a screen on the last one, but none was called.
De La Rosa was undeterred though, as he took a 3-0 lead in game two. However, Carson came back with six straight points to lead 6-3. De La Rosa then got three of his own to tie it 6-6. Carson took his turn to put a run together, and took a 10-6 lead. A backhand skip by Carson gave the serve back to De La Rosa, who cut the lead to one at 10-9, but a forehand winner by Carson stopped De La Rosa there. On his second game point, Carson hit a jam drive serve to the left side that De La Rosa couldn’t return.
Two close games, but Carson won them both, and when he went up 5-1 in game three, it looked like he’d win in three. But De La Rosa didn’t quit. Instead, he came back and tied it at 6-6. Fifteen rallies later, and it was 7-7.
They tied again at 9-9, and it was De La Rosa who got to 10 first with a forehand cross court shot. Carson fought off De La Rosa’s game point with a forehand wide angle pass, but he couldn’t score himself, as De La Rosa got the serve back with a forehand shot. De La Rosa then won it with a forehand cross court to force a fourth game.
In the fourth, Carson again took the early lead at 4-0 and 6-1. Carson continued to put the pressure on, and took the score up to 9-2. Cue the comeback, as De La Rosa got the next six points to make the 9-8. His streak was stopped, when De La Rosa skipped an open opportunity on his backhand.
De La Rosa wouldn’t serve again, as Carson got his 10th point with a backhand push shot into the left corner, and then won it with the drive serve to the right side.
De La Rosa used a straight lob to the right side for most of the match. Carson generally returned it with an overhead cross court shot. De La Rosa did vary his serve more later in the match, especially in game four.
The next IRT event will be the Florida Pro-Am in Sarasota, April 27-30.
2017 IRT Raising Some Racquet for Kids, March 23-25
Final - Saturday
1) Rocky Carson d. 2) Daniel De La Rosa, 12-10, 11-9, 9-11, 11-8
Follow the bouncing ball….