Saturday, April 27, 2013

IRT - Tournament of Champions - Waselenchuk & Croft win semi-finals

Kane Waselenchuk, the #1 International Racquetball Tour (IRT) player, reached the final of the 2013 Ektelon Tournament of Champions in Portland, Oregon, with a three game victory over Jose Rojas, 11-4, 11-6, 11-7.

Ben Croft will be Waselenchuk's opponent in the final, as Croft also had a three game victory in defeating Rocky Carson, 11-0, 11-9, 11-8.

Waselenchuk never trailed on Friday, when only gave up six points in six games, but he was behind almost right off the bat as Rojas had a 2-1 lead in game one. Waselenchuk then won seven straight points to hold a 8-2 advantage, and went on to win it 11-4.

In game two, Waselenchuk had the early lead and was up 7-4 when Rojas closed the gap to one point at 7-6. They stay there for several rallies, exchanging side-outs, before Waselenchuk ran four points to take game two, 11-6.

In game three, Waselenchuk again had the early lead, but this time Rojas caught up and passed him, as he took a 7-6 lead on the IRT's #1 player. However, Waselenchuk again had a successful response, as he held Rojas at seven and scored five straight points to win the game and match.

Both players primarily drove served through out the match. Rojas early on was hitting drive serves to the left, although that's Waselenchuk's forehand, as the left wall was glass, which might have provided some distraction. Later in the match, Rojas drove serve to the right side - Waselenchuk's backhand, and that seemed to be more successful, although not ultimately so.

Croft came out on fire against Carson, scoring five points in the first game before Carson even got on the board. Croft extended that lead to 9-1, when Carson was assessed a technical, resulting in a loss of point and a 9-0 score line.

After losing another rally that gave Croft his tenth point, Carson took a time out even though he'd used his time out earlier in the game, so another technical resulted, making the score 10-(-1). Carson did get another point to make the score 10-0, but Croft ended the game before he could get into positive numbers.

Croft again held the advantage early in game two at 3-0, but Carson battled back and tied the game at 4-4 and 5-5 before Croft again got a three point lead at 8-5.

Carson then called a time-out, and came back in and scored four unanswered points to go up 9-8. Croft's turn for a response, and he had one, tying the game at 9-9 and then serving an ace to get his first game point at 10-9. Croft converted that game point by drive serving down the right side and Carson skipped the return.

In game three, Carson got the early advantage at 4-2 and maintained that advantage until Croft tied the game at 8-8. Then Croft drove serve on second serve, and hit an ace to make it 9-8. The tenth point came off a third shot backhand pinch to the front left corner, and the game and match winner was a Carson serve return skip, just as at the end of game two.

Croft played well, so it was a surprise when he said afterwards that he hadn't been on court since the St Louis tournament two weeks ago. Croft added, "I wish I'd drive served earlier in my career," as he's been very successful with it this season, including drive serving on second serve.

The IRT Network will web-cast the final at 7:00 PM PDT Saturday night.

2013 Ektelon Tournament of Champions, Portland, Oregon


Kane Waselenchuk d. Jose Rojas, 11-4, 11-6, 11-7
Ben Croft d. Rocky Carson, 11-0, 11-9, 11-8


Kane Waselenchuk v. Ben Croft - 7 PM PDT Saturday

Follow the bouncing ball....

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