Sunday, February 11, 2018

Carson defeats Pratt in National Team Qualifying at 2018 USA Racquetball National Doubles Championships

Rocky Carson and Rhonda Rajsich won the National Team Singles Qualifying Divisions Sunday at the 2018 USA Racquetball National Doubles Championships in Tempe, Arizona. Carson defeated Charlie Pratt, 15-5, 13-15, 11-7, while Rajsich had a walkover win against Kelani Bailey.

Carson dominated game one, going up 14-3. But Pratt fought off three game points before Carson finished it off at 15-5. That little spurt at the end gave Pratt momentum for game two, when he took the early lead 3-0, and 8-4.

However, Carson caught up at 9-9, and then he took the lead 12-9, as he scored six straight points and looked good to win the match in two straight games. Carson maintained the lead to 13-11.

At that point the match stalled, as they traded side outs for nine rallies. Pratt broke the deadlock, scoring two points to tie the game 13-13. Carson called a timeout, and - as often happens - won the next rally to get the serve back.

But Carson was able to use the opening to score, so Pratt got the serve right back. He scored two straight points, winning the game on his first game point with a spectacular shot that he took as he turned around in center court, hitting the ball at shoulder height and put a forehand into the front right corner.

Pratt’s momentum continued into game three, as he got the first two points to lead 2-0. But Carson took control from there, scoring four straight points to lead 4-2. He maintained the lead to the end, which came when a long rally ended with Pratt hitting a backhand down the line shot into the floor to make the score 11-7.

It was a small error, but errors like that were enough to be the difference between him and Carson.

The win puts Carson in the driver's seat for qualifying to play Men's Singles on Team USA at the International Racquetball Federation (IRF) World Championships in China this August. He qualified to play Men's Doubles on the team by winning the USA Racquetball Men's Doubles Championship with Sudsy Monchik on Saturday.

Thus, Carson could qualify to play both singles and doubles at Worlds. But would that be a good idea for a player who will be 39 in May? Carson's in great shape, but Worlds is a long event, lasting over a week, so playing two events during that period will be taxing. Carson is also the 5 time defending Men's Singles champion. Surely, he would want to defend that title, if possible. It will be interesting to see how this situation plays out.

As for the women’s final, Bailey won the Women’s Doubles title with Sharon Jackson Saturday, so perhaps she wasn’t feeling the need to play the need to play the singles final with Rajsich, as they have qualified for the US Team that will compete at Worlds. Regardless, it was disappointing that the women's final was not contested.

If you missed any of the action, you can watch archived matches via the USA Racquetball LiveStream Channel. The Men's Singles final is certainly worth a look.

2018 USA Racquetball National Doubles Championships
Tempe, Arizona
US National Team Divisions

Men’s Singles


Final - Sunday

1) Rocky Carson d. 2) Charlie Pratt, 15-5, 13-15, 11-7

Women’s Singles

Final - Sunday

1) Rhonda Rajsich d. 7) Kelani Bailey, forfeit

Follow the bouncing ball....

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