Sunday, November 3, 2019

Landa defeats Carson to win 2019 IRT Los Compadres Auto Sales Open

Alejandro Landa defeated Rocky Carson, 9-15, 15-14, 11-10, to win the International Racquetball Tour (IRT) Los Compadres Auto Sales Open in Fullerton, California on Sunday. Landa’s win makes him the winningest Mexican player on the IRT, as it’s his 4th victory, one more than compatriots Alvaro Beltran and Daniel De La Rosa. Landa is now tied for 19th on the all time IRT wins list with Steve Keeley, Gregg Peck and Steve Serot.

Landa got the win despite getting a blister on his racquet hand at 3-3 in game three that made it “hard to make contact,” he said afterwards, but added that win or lose the “blister was not [going to be] the excuse.” However, he was “really happy” with the win.

It was the first time playing Carson in a final, and Landa knew it would be difficult. “Rocky is really tough,” he said, “it’s amazing how many balls [Carson] can get.”

In the IRT doubles final, Alvaro Beltran and Daniel De La Rosa came back from 10-0 down in game one to defeat Carlos Keller and Conrrado Moscoso in two straight games, 15-12, 15-8. After that first game deficit, Beltran and De La Rosa outscored their opponents 30-10.

Early on in the singles final it didn’t look like it was going to be Landa’s day, as his shots were loose, and Carson was taking advantage of that. Also, Carson, 40, came out wearing knee pads and he made full use of them, throwing himself around the court like a player half his age.

After winning game one, 15-9, Carson had the lead early in game two, 4-1. But it was very slow going. Landa caught up to Carson at 4-4 and 5-5, then Landa pulled ahead. He got up 10-6 and 13-9.

But Landa stalled at 13. He called a timeout when Carson got within one at 13-12. Carson tied the game coming out of the timeout, when Landa skipped a ball that got jammed in the back left corner.

A Landa forehand winner did get him the serve back at 13-13, but Carson made a great backhand pinch return to deny Landa any points. Carson got to 14 first with a flat backhand cross court shot.

Landa hit the shot of the match on the next rally, as Carson hit a ceiling ball to the right side that Landa took with his forehand, hitting an overhead pinch shot for a great winner. He tied the game 14-14 on the next rally, when a ball bounced into the front court and Landa killed down the line with his forehand. He forced game three with a backhand cross court on the following rally to win game two 15-14.

Game two took 56 min to play. Whew.

A big talking point came on the first serve of the breaker, as Carson’s drive serve was called short. He appealed, and lost, which meant that Carson was without an appeal for the rest of the game, as IRT rules allow players only one unsuccessful appeal in game three. Landa was asked about it after the match, saying “you have to know when to use it [the appeal]. If you use it early in the tie-breaker, you take the risk” of not having it later.

Landa benefited from Carson’s lack of appeals at 2-2, when he drove serve to the right side, and it was called an ace by the referee, who was on the left side of the court, so perhaps the referee’s vision was blocked by Carson. A replay showed the serve was clearly short, but Carson couldn’t appeal it, because he had no appeals left.

That ace made it 3-2, ending a run of 9 sideouts at 2-2. But they continued to be close with score tied at 3, 4, 5, and 6. Then Landa scored four points to get to match point at 10-6.

That run ended when a Landa ceiling ball failed to get to the front wall. Oops. With the serve back, Carson scored three points to make it 9-10. Landa called timeout, but it didn’t stop Carson’s momentum, as he tied it at 10-10 with backhand down the right side.

But Landa held off Carson’s match point by hitting a flat forehand down the right side. He did the same thing on his second match point, ending another long rally in a match that had many long rallies, and winning the game 11-10.

Game three took 37.5 min, so the match took well over two hours.

In the doubles final, Bolivians Keller and Moscoso’s 10-0 lead in game one got Mexicans Beltran and De La Rosa to do something they’ve never done before: they switched sides to return serve. Beltran went to the left and De La Rosa to the right, and it worked, as they got a sideout on the next rally.

Interestingly, the Bolivians were double serving De La Rosa on the left side. It was curious strategy for a couple reasons. One, why are they picking on the younger player? And two, double serving an opponent means you are switching sides, which could be fine with two players who have played a lot together. But Keller and Moscoso haven’t.

They are the best two Bolivian players right now, but usually Keller plays with Kadim Carrasco and Moscoso with Keller’s brother Roland. That's what they did at the US Open last month. On Sunday, there were a few times that a lack of familiarity seemed to cause them to lose a rally. Even a few rallies are too many to give up to Beltran and De La Rosa.

After being down, 10-0, the Mexicans came back to tie it at 11-11, and then go ahead 12-11, when De La Rosa hit a backhand pinch winner. The Bolivians did get a sideout then, and tied the game 12-12 on a Keller backhand pinch shot. But they lost the next two rallies to put the Mexicans back in the service box.

That’s all they needed as Beltran and De La Rosa won the next three rallies with each of them hitting a pinch shot for the last two points and a 15-12 win.

Game two was a bit like game one, but in reverse, as Beltran and De La Rosa took a 5-0 lead with Keller and Moscoso coming back to tie it at 5-5. They actually went ahead 7–5, but that was short lived, as the Mexicans again took the lead at 11-7.

De La Rosa cut himself at 11-8, when he played a ball in the front court and, in doing so, reached out to the front wall cutting himself on the camera box installed a few feet off the floor on the front wall. That led to an injury timeout, but it just delayed the inevitable, as the Mexicans held off the Bolivians to win game two, 15-8, and the match in two straight games.

If you missed the finals, check out the IRT media outlets - the IRT YouTube channel or the IRT Facebook page - to see them.

The next IRT Tier 1 event will be the 2019 SPC John A. Pelham Memorial Tournament of Champions in Portland, Oregon, December 5-8.

2019 IRT Los Compadres Auto Sales Open, October 31-November 3, 2019
Fullerton, California

Final - Sunday

2) Alejandro Landa d. 1) Rocky Carson, 9-15, 15-14, 11-10

IRT Doubles - Final - Sunday

2) Alvaro Beltran & Daniel De La Rosa d. 8) Carlos Keller & Conrrado Moscoso, 15-12, 15-8

Follow the bouncing ball….

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