Saturday, October 7, 2017

Croft & Waselenchuk win IRT Doubles for 3rd time at 2017 UnitedHealthcare US Open

Ben Croft and Kane Waselenchuk won their third US Open International Racquetball Tour (IRT) Doubles title by defeating Alvaro Beltran and Daniel De La Rosa, 15-10, 10-15, 11-7, Saturday at the 2017 UnitedHealthcare US Open in Minneapolis.

Early it looked like it would go the way of the Mexican pair, as Beltran and De La Rosa led 8-3 in game one. But Croft and Waselenchuk slowly cut the deficit to one at 8-7. From there Croft drove serve jams off the left wall, so the ball came between his opponents, and sometimes cracked out. It was an effective strategy that led to seven points, putting Croft and Waselenchuk on game point at 14-8. Beltran and De La Rosa did get a side out as Croft skipped a shot and Beltran hit a great soft pinch, but they were only able to get a couple of points before Waselenchuk ended the game with a forehand cross court that got caught in the back right corner.

Game two had a similar story, as the Mexicans again led; this time 8-2. Croft and Waselenchuk closed to within one at 10-9, but they never caught up, as Beltran and De La Rosa were able to close it out, 15-10. Thus, we were on to a third game to decide the US Open championship.

After the first rally of game three, things got a little heated, and the players came together. It seemed the championship might be decided with shots that weren't off a racquet. But cooler heads did prevail, and when they got back to playing racquetball, it was again Beltran and De La Rosa who took the early lead, 5-1.

Once again, Croft and Waselnchuk came back. They tied it at 7-7, and then Beltran and De La Rosa got the serve back. Yet they couldn't score. Beltran skipped a shot that he'd been making all match, and then De La Rosa hit a lob serve in the middle, which he'd been doing for much of the match. But this time Waselenchuk returned it with a forehand reverse pinch for a winner.

The Mexicans didn't serve again as Croft and Waselenchuk scored four straight points. The winner came as Waselenchuk drove served to Beltran on the right side, and he wasn't able to return it.

It's the fourth year of IRT Doubles at the US Open, and Croft and Waselenchuk have won three of the four years. After the final, Waselenchuk declared he would not play doubles with anyone else but Croft, who's competitive appearances have been limited to doubles since injuring his shoulder two years ago.

2017 UnitedHealthcare US Open
Minneapolis, Minnesota - October 4-8, 2017

IRT Men’s Doubles - Final - Saturday

1) Kane Waselenchuk & Ben Croft d. 2) Daniel De La Rosa & Alvaro Beltran, 15-10, 10-15, 11-7

Follow the bouncing ball….

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