Monday, January 12, 2009

Weekend Review

Often people are reluctant to say "we told you so," but not us here at The Racquetball Blog. No, no, no. We're happy to remind you that we told you Alvaro Beltran was the player most likely to beat Kane Waselenchuk.

Thus, when Beltran handed Waselenchuk his first defeat of the season at the California Open on Saturday, we weren't entirely surprised. Somewhat surprised, yes, as we did pick Waselenchuk to win the event, but less surprised than if he had lost to another player.

Jack Huczek almost beat him on Friday, as he and Waselenchuk went five games with Huczek being up 2 games to 1 before Waselenchuk came back and won 11-9 in the fifth. Playing such a tough match, which was the second of the day for Waselenchuk as there are two rounds of competition on Fridays of IRT events (Round of 16 and quarter finals), likely played a part in Waselenchuk's loss to Beltran.

Sadly for Beltran, he wasn't able to follow up what must have been an emotional win over Waselenchuk with a victory in the final. Thus, Rocky Carson successfully defended his California Open title. Since losing badly to Waselenchuk at the US Open, Carson has rebounded with two straight tournament wins in IRT Tier 1 events as well as a win in a Tier 4 event. So, no worries for Carson.

Tough times for Mannino

Who you might be worried for is Jason Mannino, who lost in the Round of 16 of the California Open, to Jose Rojas, current 18 & under World Junior champion. Mannino began the season with a strong performance in Denver, where he lost to Carson in the semi-finals in five games.

Since then, however, things haven't gone well for Mannino, as he's lost again to Carson, twice to Huczek, as well as to Shane Vanderson, winning only one game in those four matches. Moreover, he hasn't won an event in well over a year; the 2006 Kansas City event is Mannino's last victory.

Mannino's game style is very physically demanding. On the 28th, he'll be 34 years old, and he's asked a lot of his body in those 34 years. Also, Mannino's service game of precise half lobs doesn't lend itself to a lot of easy points.

Cliff Swain was competitive into his late 30s, because he had a drive serve that could win matches for him. Of course, it takes a lot of energy to drive serve well, but given a choice between expending a lot of energy either drive serving (à la Swain) or playing long rallies (à la Mannino), we know which we'd choose.

Far be it for us to say Mannino's never going to win another pro stop, as he's one of the fiercest IRT competitors, but we will say that after losing to a player barely half his age the signs aren't good.

Winning on a technical, not technicality

Quiz time, folks. Can you win a game on a technical? Technicals result in a point being taken away from the player or doubles team that is assessed the technical. As a point is taken away, it seems impossible to win a game after one is assessed, although if your opponent(s) is (are) assessed three technicals, he/she/they would lose the match, so you'd win the match that way.

But not a game.

However, if you are playing to win by two points - as they do on the IRT and WPRO as well as in Canada, then it is possible to win after a technical. In fact, it happened this weekend in the first game of the doubles match between Kris Odegard and Ryan Smith on one side and Francis Guillemette and Corey Osborne on the other at Racquetball Canada's National Team Doubles Selection event.

They were tied at 14, and then Odegard and Smith got the 15th point, so they were up 15-14. But Guillemette wasn't happy with the referee's call, and said as much. After some back and forth between them, the referee assessed Guillemette a technical, which decreased his side's score by one to 13.

That made the score 15-13 for Odegard and Smith, so they won game one. Sadly for them, they lost the match in a tie-breaker, but nevertheless they may have made racquetball history by being the first side to win a racquetball game on a technical.

Follow the bouncing ball....

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