Saturday, October 4, 2008

IRT - Kentucky Open semi-final results

Kane Waselenchuk's victory on Saturday in the semi-finals of the International Racquetball Tour's (IRT's) Kentucky Open in Bowling Green was his sixteenth consecutive match win from start of the IRT season. Waselenchuk defeated IRT #1 Rocky Carson, 11-3, 3-11, 11-5, 11-9. It was their third meeting of the season, and Waselenchuk - a former IRT #1 - has won all of them.

Their match started slowly. Although Carson did have an early lead in game one at 3-1, Waselenchuk stepped his shot making and won the next 10 points to take that game 11-3. Game two was a complete reversal, as Carson went ahead early at 6-1 and stayed ahead to win 11-3.

In the turn game, after 16 rallies the players were tied 1-1. Carson eked ahead at 3-1, but Waselenchuk took the next five points making it 6-3, when Carson called time out. He won the next point to close it to 6-4 and kept it close at 7-5. But that's as close as it would be, as Waselenchuk finished it off, winning game three 11-5.

Game four was back and forth with Waselenchuk holding little advantages. They were tied at 2 and at 3. Then Waselenchuk went ahead 6-3. Carson tied at 6, then fell behind 9-6 only to come back and tie it at 9.

At that point Waselenchuk regained serve, but first took a time out. After collecting himself, Waselenchuk came back in and finished off the match, 11-9.

Waselenchuk will face Alvaro Beltran in the final, as Beltran upset IRT #2 Jack Huczek, 11-7, 11-4, 6-11, 4-11, 11-7. Beltran played very well for two and a half games, but then Huczek switched the momentum and came back to force a fifth game.

Beltran had early leads in game one at 4-0 and 6-2 before Huczek leveled it at 7, but that's as close as he'd get, as Beltran closed it out 11-7. Game two started very slowly as the players were tied at 1-1 after more than a dozen rallies. Then Beltran moved ahead to lead 8-3 and pushed on to victory at 11-4.

Game three - the turn - saw the momentum of the match flip from Beltran to Huczek, although that looked unlikely as Beltran got up 6-1. However, six was as many points as Beltran would score that game, as Huczek replied with 10 unanswered points to win it 11-6.

Huczek's momentum continued in game four, as he stormed out to a 7-1 lead. Beltran fought back for a few points, but Huczek won comfortably at 11-4. At that point, Huczek had won 21 of the last 25 points. The trend continued in game five, as Huczek got up 4-0.

But then Beltran got to serve and earned three points to make it clear he wasn't going to fold his tent and quietly go home. They continue neck and neck to 7-6, Huczek leading, and there's a rally that perhaps Huczek should have won, as Beltran appeared to cross the encroachment line too soon, and also maybe hit the rally ending shot after two bounces. But the referee saw none of that.

They went back and forth for a few rallies, and then Beltran went ahead for the first time since 1-0 in the fourth game, taking a 9-7 lead, and pushing forward to win 11-7.

Huczek may feel the non-call in game five was pivotal, but Beltran was fully deserving of the win. He played very well in the first two games, making excellent touch pinch shots in the front court and having no trouble returning Huczek's serves. By the end of game two, Huczek was clearly frustrated.

Sunday's final will be the third meeting of the season between Waselenchuk and Beltran. Waselenchuk won the two previous matches losing only one game to Beltran and giving up an average of 5.14 points per game.

Semi Finals (IRT ranking)

(14) Kane Waselenchuk d. (1) Rocky Carson, 11-3, 3-11, 11-5, 11-9
(4) Alvaro Beltran d. (2) Jack Huczek, 11-7, 11-4, 6-11, 4-11, 11-7


(4) Alvaro Beltran vs. (14) Kane Waselenchuk - Sunday at noon Central time

Follow the bouncing ball....

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