Andree Parrilla had a stunning win in the semi-finals of the International Racquetball Tour (IRT) 32nd Annual Shamrock Shootout in Lombard, Illinois, as he took out the #2 IRT player Rocky Carson, 3-11, 11-8, 4-11, 11-5, 11-8, to reach an IRT final for the first time in his career. Indeed, it was his first appearance in the semi-finals, and only the third time he’s reached the quarterfinals.
Parrilla will face Kane Waselenchuk, the #1 IRT player, in the final Sunday, as Waselenchuk comfortably defeated IRT #4 Alvaro Beltran, 11-2, 11-2, 11-5. Although Waselenchuk didn’t look quite as sharp as earlier in the tournament, he was still hitting some rockets both on the serve and during rallies.
After dropping the first game, 11-3, Parrilla led early in game two, 3-0. Carson came back and tied it at 4-4, and then went ahead 7-4. Parrilla took his turn in coming back and tied it 8-8, and then went on to win 11-8, levelling the match at a game a piece.
Game three went to Carson, who got out to a 6-2 lead, and never looked back, winning it with a backhand down the line shot. But again Parrilla bounced back, as he got on the board first in game four at 2-0. They were back and forth after that until the score was 5-5. From there Parrilla scored six unanswered points. Carson called a timeout at 8-5, but to no avail.
Two of the shots of the match came on either side of that timeout, as Parrilla hit overhead forehand pinch shots into the front left corner. It seemed that he cut the ball - moved the racquet across it - as he hit those off speed winners. But Parrilla won game four with a more conventional shot: a backhand pinch shot that was flat out of the left corner.
That set up the breaker. Carson served first, but a Parrilla forehand pinch created a side out. Parrilla went up 5-0 before Carson got the serve back with a backhand pinch return. Carson scored a point, but then lost serve. He got the serve back right away, but Carson gave up the serve with an uncharacteristic double fault, as he put a drive jam serve long.
That error led to four more Parrilla points, and a 9-1 lead. Of Parrilla’s nine points, eight were winners. The most impressive of those came from a diving pinch kill shot after Carson had hit a good backhand serve return. With the score 9-1, Carson called a timeout, and when play resumed he got the serve back with a backhand winner.
Cue Carson’s comeback. He went from 9-1 to 9-6 relatively quickly, and then Parrilla called a timeout. But that didn’t stop Carson’s comeback, as he scored two more points to make it 9-8. A forehand pinch shot got Parrilla back the serve, and then he managed to hit a backhand winner that was initially called a skip, although both players seemed to think it was good. A video review confirmed the players’ opinions, and Parrilla had his first match point.
One match point was all Parrilla needed as he hit a forehand pinch shot for a winner on the ensuing rally to reach his first career IRT final.
Waselenchuk and Parrilla have met four times on tour with Waselenchuk winning all four matches in straight games. Indeed, Parrilla hasn’t scored more than five points against Waselenchuk in any game and no more than 10 in a match. Their last meeting was earlier this season at the 2016 US Open, when Waselenchuk blanked Parrilla in the Round of 16, 11-0, 11-0, 11-0.
If there was betting on Sunday’s final, it would be an over-under on how many points Parrilla will score.
The IRT Network will broadcast the Shamrock Shootout final Sunday at 1 PM.
2017 IRT Shamrock Shootout, March 16-19
Semi-finals - Saturday
1) Kane Waselenchuk d. 4) Alvaro Beltran, 11-2, 11-2, 11-5
Andree Parrilla d. 2) Rocky Carson, 3-11, 11-8, 4-11, 11-5, 11-8
Final - Sunday
1) Kane Waselenchuk v. Andree Parrilla - 1 PM
Follow the bouncing ball….