Saturday, October 11, 2008

IRT - Canadian Classic Round of 16 and QFs

Things have gone according to the script as the top four seeds are through to the semi-finals at the Canadian Racquetball Classic on the International Racquetball Tour (IRT).

The most dramatic match occurred in the quarter finals between Jack Huczek and Mitch Williams. Williams had come out drive serving, but Huczek was able to handle the Williams' missles, and took the first two games. Williams changed tactics to lob or half lob serves, especially Zs to the Huczek's backhand. That switch helped Williams take games three and four, necessitating a tie-breaking fifth game.

In game five, Huczek took an early lead, and built it to 8-2. Then Williams hit a down the line shot and on the follow through struck Huczek, cutting his opponent above the right eye and breaking his own racquet.

A great deal of blood was shed on the court before Huczek could get off it and apply pressure and ice to the wound. But he managed to get it stopped with the help of others and came back on court to finish the match.

Upon returning, he made a few errors that allowed Williams to draw close at 8-6, and it looked like insult in the form of a match loss was going to be added to injury. However, Huczek got the serve back, and put together three solid rallies to win the game and match.

In their post-match talks, Williams apologized for hitting Huczek saying it was "totally accidental," and Huczek said he held "no hard feelings" towards Williams, although he was going to go "off to the hospital" to have the cut looked at.

Later, The Racquetball Blog asked Williams whether anything similar had happened to him, and he said that it had in fact. Williams has hit four or five people on tour, including Andy Hawthorne earlier on Friday in their Round of 16 match.

"I've got a big swing, and am left-handed, which people don't take into account," said Williams.

Williams also said he "should be winning some of these matches" that are so close. Friday it was a matter of few "loose points in the fifth game" that cost him.

Huczek will face Jason Mannino in the semi-finals. Mannino had a much easier time of it, winning his quarter final match against Shane Vanderson in three straight games, 11-1, 11-4, 11-8. Afterwards Vanderson said his performance was "pretty embarrassing." That's a harsh assessment, but there wasn't much evidence to dispute it. Vanderson's frustration boiled over when he was down 7-3 in game three and smashed his racquet into the right side wall, breaking it.

Mannino said he "was fortunate that [Vanderson] wasn't on his game," and it "wasn't Shane's best performance."

On the other side of the draw, top seed and IRT #1 Rocky Carson won a tough match with Ben Croft. Croft took the first game, 11-6, after being down 5-3 early on.

Game two wasn't close, as Carson had an early 5-0 lead, and rode that to an 11-3 victory. Game three was neck and neck to mid-game, when Carson led 6-5. He then pulled away to win 11-6.

In game four, they traded the lead back and forth, and were tied at 6. Croft got the next point, but that's as many as he'd get as Carson pushed through to win 11-7. However, it did take 7 match points before he put it away.

The last quarter final had two tight games, and then a blow out as Alvaro Beltran defeated Jason Thoerner in three straight. Beltran led throughout the first game, but Thoerner drew close at 10-9, only to lose 11-9.

In game two, it was Thoerner who built the big lead at 6-1, only to give it all up and then some, as Beltran went up 10-6. However, Thoerner fought back to tie the game and then go ahead 11-10. But he couldn't finish it off. Beltran got the serve back and finished off the game 13-11.

Game three was all Beltran, as he went up 8-0 and 10-1. Thoerner made it respectable getting to 5, when Beltran finished it off, 11-5.

Afterwards being the gentlemen they are, the players praised each others' play. Beltran said "Thoerner was tough in the first two games," and Thoerner said "Alvi played good today."

Round of 16 (seeding)

(1) Rocky Carson vs. Vincent Gagnon, 11-5, 13-11, 11-3
(8) Ben Croft vs. Greg Thomas, 11-6, 11-0, 11-0

(5) Jason Thoerner vs. Travis Woodbury, 11-7, 11-4, 6-11, 11-4
(4) Alvaro Beltran vs. Lee Connell, 11-1, 12-10, 9-11, 11-9

(3) Jason Mannino vs. Tim Landeryou, 11-4, 11-7, 11-7
(6) Shane Vanderson vs. Kris Odegard, 11-8, 11-9, 13-11

(7) Mitch Williams vs. Andy Hawthorne, 4-11, 3-11, 11-5, 11-2, 11-7
(2) Jack Huczek vs. Michael Burgess, 12-10, 11-5, 11-1

Quarter finals

(1) Rocky Carson d. (8) Ben Croft, 6-11, 11-3, 11-6, 11-7
(4) Alvaro Beltran d. (5) Jason Thoerner, 11-9, 13-11, 11-5

(3) Jason Mannino d. (6) Shane Vanderson, 11-1, 11-4, 11-8
(2) Jack Huczek d. (7) Mitch Williams, 11-7, 11-6, 4-11, 6-11, 11-6


(1) Rocky Carson vs. (4) Alvaro Beltran
(3) Jason Mannino vs. (2) Jack Huczek

Follow the bouncing ball....

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