Saturday, October 7, 2017

Waselenchuk & Carson into final at 2017 UnitedHealthcare US Open

Kane Waselenchuk dropped a game for the first time in over 16 months, but still won his International Racquetball Tour (IRT) semi-final against Alvaro Beltran, 11-5, 11-0, 11-13, 11-3, at the 2017 UnitedHealthcare US Open in Minneapolis. The win puts Waselenchuk into his 13th US Open final, and he's won all of them. Waselenchuk will play IRT #2 Rocky Carson in the final, as Carson defeated 11th seed Alejandro Landa, 11-3, 11-4, 7-11, 11-6, in the other semi.

Waselenchuk's last game loss was in May 2016 to Beltran in the semi-finals of the Coast to Coast Open in Reseda, California. One hundred and six games later, and Beltran took a game off Waselenchuk again.

It didn't look likely to happen, as Waselenchuk won the first two games comfortably, including blanking Beltran in game two. For most of game two, Waselenchuk lob served to Beltran.

Even in game three after Beltran took the early lead at 4-1, Waselenchuk came back to lead 7-4, and it didn't look like any more games were be needed. He was four points clear of Beltran on his first match point at 10-6.

But Beltran kept fighting, and forced Waselenchuk into skipping some shots. Two match points went by as Beltran tied it at 10-10. Yet Waselenchuk got another match point when he hit a drive serve ace to the right side. But Beltran fought off that match point with a great backhand pinch shot, and a fourth match point with a backhand return.

Waselenchuk skipped two more shots to put Beltran on game point at 12-11. On the next rally, the ball went to the left side, and Beltran moved around to take it with his forehand, and flat rolled a reverse pinch shot out of the front left corner.

Thus, they were on to game four. Waselenchuk got his first point with his first serve, but he didn't get his second until the 19th rally, which made the score 3-2 in Beltran's favour. That was the start of Waselenchuk scoring 9 points on consecutive rallies - including two drive serve aces to the right side - to close out game four and win the match.

In the Carson and Landa match the first two games developed slowly, as neither played took a big lead. In game two, Carson tied it at 3-3 on the 21st rally. But after the games got into the mid-game, Carson took over with eight unanswered points to win game one, and five unanswered to win game two.

When Carson took a 6-2 lead in game three, it looked like he'd win in straight games. But Landa wasn't going to go that quietly. He came back and tied it up at 7-7. Landa held Carson off the score board from there, although it took 11 rallies to get the last four points and force a fourth game.

In game four, they again started slowly. After 15 rallies, they were tied 2-2. Carson then eased ahead at 5-2 and 7-4. But when Landa drew within one at 7-6, it looked like the match was headed to a tie-breaker. However, Carson hit two winners to make it 9-6, and then Landa hit a poor forehand pinch shot that skipped, giving Carson his first match point.

To his credit, Landa hit a backhand serve return winner to fight off that match point. Then Carson did likewise to get the serve back. After a hinder, Carson won the match with a backhand rekill right at the front left corner.

The win puts Carson in the US Open final for an 8th time. His only US Open win came ten years ago, when the event was still in Memphis.

The 2017 UnitedHealthcare US Open IRT final will be noon Sunday at the Life Time Athletic Target Center club in downtown Minneapolis, Minnesota.

2017 UnitedHealthcare US Open
Minneapolis, Minnesota - October 4-8, 2017

IRT Men’s Singles

Semi-finals - Saturday

1) Kane Waselenchuk d. 4) Alvaro Beltran, 11-5, 11-0, 11-13, 11-3
2) Rocky Carson d. 11) Alejandro Landa, 11-3, 11-4, 7-11, 11-6

Final - Sunday

1) Kane Waselenchuk v. 2) Rocky Carson - Noon

Follow the bouncing ball….

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