Saturday, December 2, 2017

Pratt wins 1st IRT event at 2017 John Pelham Memorial / ProKennex Tournament of Champions

Charles Pratt won his 1st International Racquetball Tour (IRT) Tier 1 event Saturday night at the 2017 IRT John Pelham Memorial / ProKennex Tournament of Champions in Portland, where he grew up playing. Pratt’s win makes him the 36th man to win an IRT event, and the single victory ties him with Ben Croft, Mike Guidry, Brian Hawkes, Tim Sweeney and Rich Wagner.

Pratt defeated Mario Mercado, 11-4, 11-1, 12-10. Mercado’s appearance in an IRT final was the 1st of his career, and the 1st time a South American born player has reached an IRT final. Pratt was only playing his fourth career semi-final today, and Mercado his second semi-final.

Pratt was in control in games one and two, as he jumped out to big leads on Mercado in both games. In game one, Pratt was up 6-0 before Mercado got on the board, and he was up 7-0 in game two.

But Mercado never quit, and in game four he looked like he was going to turn it around. They were close early in the game, tied at 2-2 and 4-4. Then Mercado put together some points to lead 7-4, and 10-6. To that point Mercado hadn’t trailed Pratt.

But Pratt saved game point with a backhand serve return. Two serve return skips by Mercado made the score 10-8 in Mercado’s favour, and he called a timeout to regroup. But that didn’t help, as Pratt hit a drive serve ace to the left side when play resumed, which made the score 10-9.

On his next serve, Pratt drove the ball to the right, and he buried Mercado’s return into the front left corner with his backhand to tie the game 10-10. Pratt drove serve to the left next, and Mercado hit a pinch backhand return that Pratt dove to hit, and made a winner into the front corner. 11-10.

With his first match point, Pratt drove the ball to the left, which began a long rally that included a diving get by Mercado. But Pratt ended the rally with a backhand winner that sealed his 1st IRT victory.

It was an outstanding comeback.

The IRT is now on a break for the holidays. The next IRT Tier 1 event will be the LA Open presented by Coast-to-Coast in Canoga Park, California January 4-7, 2018. That will by followed by the Lewis Drug Pro-Am in Sioux Falls, South Dakota January 18-21.

2017 IRT John Pelham Memorial / ProKennex Tournament of Champions, November 30-December 2
Portland, Oregon


Charles Pratt d. 8) Mario Mercado, 11-4, 11-1, 12-10

Follow the bouncing ball….

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