Friday, March 2, 2018

Franco upsets Beltran in quarterfinals at 2018 IRT March Madness

Sebastian Franco upset 2nd seed Alvaro Beltran, 8-15, 15-11, 11-7, in their quarterfinal match to advance to the semi-finals at the International Racquetball Tour (IRT) March Madness tournament in San Antonio, Texas. Franco will play 3rd seed Jansen Allen in the semi-finals Saturday, as Allen beat Samuel Murray, 15-9, 15-8. Their wins mean there will be a 1st time finalist in San Antonio, as neither Allen or Franco have been in an IRT final. Coincidentally, both Allen and Franco will be playing their sixth career semi-final Saturday.

Beltran was in control against Franco in the middle of game two, as he’d won the first, and was up 8-0 in the second. But Franco turned it around completely, as he went from 8-0 down to 9-8 up. Franco went on to win 15-11 to force a tie-breaker.

In the breaker, they were close early on, tied at 2-2 and 3-3, but then Franco won seven points in a row to put him on match point. He didn’t covert it, and Beltran took advantage by scoring four points to make it 10-7.

Franco called a timeout, and when play resumed he got the serve back and won it on the next rally. After a short drive serve to the right - Beltran’s forehand - Franco hit a half lob Z serve to the right that Beltran took early with an overhead down the line. Franco hit a loose forehand that went over to the left side, where Beltran drove it down the line, Franco scrambled to keep it in play, hitting a backhand ceiling ball. Franco’s shot hugged the left wall, making it difficult for Beltran to hit it, and his shot failed to make the front wall. That was the winning point for Franco, 11-7.

The other semi-final between Daniel De La Rosa and Alejandro Landa will be a repeat of the last IRT final in Sioux Falls, which was won by Landa for his first IRT title. De La Rosa will be playing his 30th semi-final, and he’s advanced to the final 10 times, winning three titles. Landa will be in his 10th semi, and Sioux Falls was the first time he'd advanced to the final.

If Landa beats De La Rosa, he’ll have a chance to do what few have done: win back to back IRT titles. The last person to win back to back not named Kane Waselenchuk or Rocky Carson was Jack Huczek, who won three in row from January to March 2008.

Of the 37 IRT event winners, 17 have won back to back tournaments. A Landa win would put him with Davey Bledsoe as the only players to have two career wins in back to back tournaments.

The IRT Network will have the semi-finals Saturday morning at 10:10 AM and 11:15 AM with the final at 6:50 PM Saturday night. All times Central.

2018 IRT March Madness, March 1-4, 2018
San Antonio, Texas

Quarterfinals - Friday

1) Daniel De La Rosa d. 8) Andree Parrilla, 15-12, 15-10
4) Alejandro Landa d. Adam Manilla, 15-4, 15-5

3) Jansen Allen d. 6) Samuel Murray, 15-9, 15-8
7) Sebastian Franco d. 2) Alvaro Beltran, 8-15, 15-11, 11-7

Semi-finals - Saturday

1) Daniel De La Rosa v. 4) Alejandro Landa - 11:15 AM
3) Jansen Allen v. 7) Sebastian Franco - 10:10 AM

Follow the bouncing ball….

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