Sunday, October 27, 2019

Waselenchuk beats Landa to win 2019 IRT Arizona Pro-Am

Kane Waselenchuk, the #1 player on the International Racquetball Tour (IRT), won the Arizona IRT Pro-Am in Tempe, Arizona Sunday with a win over 3rd seed Alejandro Landa, 15-4, 15-7. Waselenchuk’s won three of the four IRT tournaments this season (he missed the 1st of the season). Despite the loss, Landa further solidified himself as the IRT’s #3 player behind #1 Waselenchuk and #2 Rocky Carson.

In the final, Waselenchuk jumped out to a 6-0 lead in game one, helped by an ace drive serve to the right that cracked out, and then a 2nd serve lob to Landa’s backhand that was a service winner, as Landa got his racquet on the ball, but couldn’t get it to the front wall.

Nonetheless, Landa was able to get something going, as he closed the gap to 7-4. However, then he wouldn’t score again, as Waselenchuk scored eight unanswered points to win game one, 15-4. Waselenchuk lob served a lot in the second half of the first game, as well as in game two. It was as if Waselenchuk said to himself “well, if my lob serve is being that effective, then let’s just keep using it.”

Waselenchuk led 4-1 early in game two, but they were going back and forth. Landa managed to catch up, and tie the game at 4-4, then take the lead 5-4 when Waselenchuk skipped a forehand touch shot.

The lead was short lived, as Waselenchuk hit a backhand serve return winner off a Landa drive serve to the right side. That led to four points on consecutive rallies for Waselenchuk, so Landa called a timeout trailing 8-5.

Landa got the serve back after the timeout, but Waselenchuk took the serve back immediately with a forehand winner off a Landa second serve lob to the left side. Landa then skipped two balls to make it the score 10-5.

Landa cut the lead to 10-7. But that was as close as he got as Waselenchuk got the serve back with another winning return off a Landa lob serve to the left side. Two backhand winners by Waselenchuk made it 12-7, then a penalty hinder was called on him, as he hit a serve that came off the right side wall into the middle and the referee judged Waselenchuk to be hindering Landa’s return. Waselenchuk appealed but the line judges upheld the referee’s call.

Waselenchuk was incensed, and expressed as much. He could have been given a technical, but the referee let it pass. Waselenchuk prevented Landa from scoring with a forehand cross court winner, and then finished off the match with winners on three straight rallies that showed the range of his game.

He made it 13-7 with a controlled, slow speed backhand pass down the right side with Landa standing on the left. Waselenchuk got to match point at 14-7 with a forehand kill shot that was the 3rd shot of the rally that began with a lob serve to the left side - Landa’s backhand. He ended the game and match on his 1st match point opportunity with a forehand pinch shot, 15-7.

Afterwards, Landa said he was “tired [but] happy to make the final.” Today’s final was at Arizona State University, but Landa also played a final on that court way back 2006, when he was in the Boy’s U18 final at the World Junior Championships. He also lost that final (to David Ortega). “I don’t like that court,” he said laughing.

If you missed any of the action from Arizona, most of the matches are archived at the usual IRT media outlets: The IRT YouTube channel or the IRT Facebook page. The IRT will next be in action next weekend in Fullerton, California for the Los Compadres Auto Sales Open. Play begins Thursday.

2019 Arizona IRT Pro-Am, October 24-27, 2019
Tempe, Arizona

Final- Sunday

1) Kane Waselenchuk d. 3) Alejandro Landa, 15-4, 15-7

Follow the bouncing ball….

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