Sunday, November 14, 2021

De La Rosa & Mercado into the IRT final at the 2021 Arizona Open

Daniel De La Rosa continued to show why he is the #1 player on the International Racquetball Tour (IRT) Saturday at the 2021 Arizona Open in Tempe, Arizona, as he won his quarterfinal and semi-final matches by wide margins. In the quarters, he beat 8th seed Jake Bredenbeck, 15-9, 15-2, and then in the semis, De La Rosa defeated 4th seed Andree Parrilla, 15-7, 15-2. The wins put De La Rosa one match away from four straight IRT titles.

Standing in the way of De La Rosa’s 4th straight win is surprise finalist Mario Mercado. Mercado is the 10th seed, but was equally impressive in winning his matches on Saturday. He upset 2nd seed Alejandro Landa, 15-5, 15-9, in the quarters, and then in the semis came back from a game down to defeat 6th seed Rocky Carson, 5-15, 15-13, 11-10. Mercado had to hold on in game two, as he had a lead that Carson closed, and it looked like the veteran might just win it in two games.

But Mercado held firm and forced the breaker. But in the breaker, Carson took a big lead, 6-0, which forced Mercado into a comeback role. It was a role he filled perfectly, as Mercado worked his way back into the game, getting within one at 7-6. Then he tied the game 8-8 with a lob serve service winner. When Mercado went up 9-8, Carson called a timeout.

A backhand winner by Mercado coming out of the timeout, put him on match point at 10-8. But Carson wasn’t going to go away that easily, and he hit a backhand pinch winner to keep the match going. He fought off a second match point, and then scored to make it 10-9. Carson had a set up to tie the breaker, but inexplicably skipped it. Yet Mercado couldn’t convert his 3rd match point.

A great backhand down the line flick by Carson tied the game at 10-10. Thus, it was Mercado’s turn to fight off match point, and he did so with a backhand winning return off Carson’s drive serve to the left side. Then Mercado converted his 4th match point, winning a long rally with a backhand pinch shot.

The win puts Mercado into an IRT final for the third time in his career, and first since February 2020, when he lost to Kane Waselenchuk in the final of the Lou Bradley Memorial in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin. He's yet to win on tour, while De La Rosa will be trying to win his 8th career titles, which would tie him with John Ellis for 13th most all time.

The IRT final will be 12:15 PM Sunday Mountain time. Look for the action via the IRT YouTube channel., as well as its Facebook page.

Arizona Open Racquetball Championships
November 11-14, 2021 - Tempe, Arizona

IRT Singles - Quarterfinals - Saturday

1) Daniel De La Rosa d. 8) Jake Bredenbeck, 15-9, 15-2
4) Andree Parrilla d. 12) Adam Manilla, 6-15, 15-2, 11-5

6) Rocky Carson d. 14) Sebastian Franco, 15-13, 15-6
10) Mario Mercado d. 2) Alejandro Landa, 15-5, 15-9

IRT Singles - Semi-finals - Saturday

1) Daniel De La Rosa d. 4) Andree Parrilla, 15-7, 15-2
10) Mario Mercado d. 6) Rocky Carson, 5-15, 15-13, 11-10

IRT Singles - Final - Sunday

1) Daniel De La Rosa v. 10) Mario Mercado - 12:15 PM

Follow the bouncing ball….

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