Sunday, January 19, 2020

Waselenchuk wins 2020 IRT Longhorn Open

He promised a win, and Kane Waselenchuk - the #1 player on the International Racquetball Tour (IRT) - delivered a win in his hometown of Austin, Texas on Sunday at the 2020 IRT Longhorn Open. But it didn’t come easily, as Waselenchuk faced an rejuvenated Daniel De La Rosa in the final. Yet he did win in two straight games, 15-9, 15-10. In the three matches leading up to the final, Waselenchuk gave up 13 points total, so Sunday’s match was the stiffest test he’d faced.

“This feels the best out of all of them,” Waselenchuk said after the match, comparing today’s victory to his many previous titles, because he was playing in front of so many friends and family. When he hit the final shot - a drive serve to the right side that stuck in the back right corner for an ace, Waselenchuk’s celebration seemed to have a sense of relief, as well as joy. “It’s an amazing feeling,” he said of winning in front of so much support.

Waselenchuk put “a lot of pressure on [himself] to win,” so he almost wanted “to play perfect” even though he knew that wasn’t realistic. But he started out the match pretty well, going up 10-1 in game one.

However, De La Rosa dug in, and scored six points on consecutive rallies to cut Waselenchuk’s lead to three at 10-7, and then two at 10-8. But the IRT #1 scored four in a row as a response to reach game point at 14-8. De La Rosa fought of three game points, scoring one of his own in the process, before Waselenchuk finished it off, 15-9.

It was “almost like too much adrenaline” that wore off in the middle of game one, said Waselenchuk afterwards.

De La Rosa built on the momentum he gained in the second half of game one to take the lead early in game two, and carried it into the middle of the game. He led 7-2 and 8-3, but Waselenchuk went from being behind, 8-4, to being ahead, 10-8, by winning six consecutive rallies. De La Rosa took a timeout, when the score was tied 8-8, but that didn’t stop Waselenchuk.

De La Rosa did get a couple more points, but once Waselenchuk was in the lead, it seemed that it was only a matter of time before he was going to win.

Nonetheless, De La Rosa felt “happy” after the match, because although he thought Waselenchuk “played good,” De La Rosa felt “I played really good.” He’s “enjoying playing racquetball” again, which bodes well for future IRT events - though maybe not for other IRT players, because as Waselenchuk said De La Rosa’s “a great player” and he can threaten even the IRT’s best.

Waselenchuk won for the 5th time this season, and will maintain his #1 ranking. De La Rosa’s runner up finish was his best of the season. He’d only been in one semi-final prior to this, and is ranked 6th on tour. De La Rosa’s ranking may not change, as he’s over 400 points behind Alvaro Beltran, who was a semi-finalist in Austin.

The IRT is back in action next weekend with the Lewis Drug Pro-Am in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and they’ll play the Lou Bradley Memorial in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin the weekend after, January 30-February 2. If you missed any of the Longhorn Open action check out the IRT YouTube channel.

2020 IRT Longhorn Open, January 16-19, 2020
Austin, Texas

Final - Sunday

1) Kane Waselenchuk d. 7) Daniel De La Rosa, 15-9, 15-10

Follow the bouncing ball….

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