Sunday, January 6, 2019

Waselenchuk wins 2019 IRT California Open

Kane Waselenchuk maintained his undefeated season on the International Racquetball Tour (IRT) Sunday with a win over Daniel De La Rosa, 15-8, 15-10, at the 2019 IRT California Open in Canoga Park, California. De La Rosa had to console himself with a win in the doubles final, as he and Alvaro Beltran defeated Alejandro Landa and Samuel Murray, 15-11, 15-8.

Early in game one of the singles final, Waselenchuk and De La Rosa were close, tied at 3-3 and 5-5. But a De La Rosa skip off a forehand pinch shot gave Waselenchuk the serve, and he scored five points on the next five rallies, making the score 10-5. Waselenchuk hit winners for all five of those points, including an ace drive serve to the right side.

De La Rosa got the serve back when Waselenchuk skipped a forehand reverse pinch shot, but Waselenchuk took the serve right back with wide angle forehand winner. He added two more points, and the second was another ace serve: this time a drive to the left side that made the score 12-5.

They went back and forth a bit from there, and De La Rosa picked up a few points to make it 12-8. Waselenchuk - a left-handed player - got the serve back with a backhand return winner off a half lob serve to the right side. He closed out the game from there with a forehand pinch winner, an avoidable call, and a soft backhand that De La Rosa couldn’t quite reach to keep the ball in play, making the final score 15-8.

De La Rosa started game two with what looked like a cat and mouse approach, which seemed to be a bad way to go, as Waselenchuk is a tiger. Yet De La Rosa got out to a 5-1 lead, so hard to be too critical of what De La Rosa was doing. De La Rosa was hitting soft shots, and then mixing in hard shots as well to try to keep Waselenchuk off balance.

Waselenchuk got to within a point at 6-5, but De La Rosa then extended his lead to 8-5. A Waselenchuk backhand winner made the score 8-6, but De La Rosa got the serve back with a forehand winner, and then called a timeout.

After the timeout, there was an exchange of sideouts, and then Waselenchuk took control. Waselenchuk scored a string of points, just as he had in game one, which took the score from 8-6 for De La Rosa to 12-8 for Waselenchuk. De La Rosa stopped the bleeding at that point, and scored two points of his own to trail by two at 12-10.

Waselenchuk took the serve back with a backhand cross court winner, and then called a timeout. On the next rally, De La Rosa skipped a shot, and although he appealed, the call stood, making the score 13-10. Then De La Rosa hit a winner to get the serve back.

De La Rosa hit a lob serve to the left side that Waselenchuk returned with a forehand reverse pinch shot pulling the ball off the left wall and over to the front right corner: a remarkable shot. Waselenchuk followed that up with winners on the next two rallies. A forehand cross court shot got him to game point, and then he won it with a forehand splat shot, 15-10.

The IRT began using the current match format of two games to 15 and tie-breaker to 11 a year ago at the 2018 California Open. Since then Waselenchuk has not lost a game to 15. He’s played no tie-breakers, and remains unbeaten on court in that period.

In the doubles final, De La Rosa and Beltran continued to prove they are the best men’s doubles team in the world. They are the reigning IRT US Open Champions, as well as the International Racquetball Federation (IRF) Men’s Doubles World Champions.

Yet the final looked like it might go the other way in game one, and that despite a 7-0 start by the World Champs. However, Landa and Murray came back and tied the game at 7-7, and then went ahead 9-8. But they failed to score on four service opportunities, and it was Beltran and De La Rosa who took advantage. They scored five points to go from 9-8 down to 13-9 up.

Landa and Murray did score two more points to make it 13-10, but that was as close as they got, as Beltran and De La Rosa closed it out, 15-10.

Beltran and De La Rosa got another good start in game two, going up 6-1. Landa and Murray came back, but only to 6-4, so Beltran and De La Rosa ran it up to 9-4. They maintained at least a four point lead from there, as they went on to win the game 15-8, and take the match in two games. Beltran hit the match winner, as he rolled a ball out of the front left corner with a backhand shot he took standing with his back right along the right side wall.

If you missed any of the action, you can look for it on the IRT media outlets: the IRT Network, the IRT YouTube channel or the IRT Facebook page.

2019 IRT California Open
January 3-6 - Canoga Park, California

Final - Sunday

4) Kane Waselenchuk d. 3) Daniel De La Rosa, 15-8, 15-10

IRT Doubles - Final - Sunday

1) Alvaro Beltran & Daniel De La Rosa d. 2) Alejandro Landa & Samuel Murray, 15-11, 15-8

Follow the bouncing ball….


Unknown said...

What is the prize money for 1st place to win this tournament? Or is there any money?

Unknown said...

Great update as always Evan.