Sunday, January 23, 2022

Parrilla defeats Waselenchuk to win 2022 IRT Suivant Consulting Grand Slam

Andree Parrilla defeated Kane Waselenchuk, 14-15, 15-2, 11-10, to win the International Racquetball Tour (IRT) 2022 Suivant Consulting Grand Slam in Lilburn, Georgia Sunday. Parrilla and Waselenchuk - who was the IRT’s #1 player for more than a decade - had played 13 times previously with Waselenchuk winning all of them. The win is Parrilla’s second IRT title, and his first since March 2018.

As close as the singles final was, the doubles final was even closer, as Roland Keller and Conrrado Moscoso defeated Javier Mar and Rodrigo Montoya, 15-14, 15-14, in what was a rematch of last year’s International Racquetball Federation (IRF) Men’s Doubles World Championship final, which was won by Mar and Montoya.

In the singles final, Parrilla’s strategy was to serve mostly to the left side - Waselenchuk’s forehand, which was interesting. Asked about it afterwards, Parrilla said “it’s been something that’s worked for me in the last matches we had,” although never as well as it did Sunday. Yet in the final “everything came out” for Parrilla, as he said.

”I don’t usually drive serve, and they were coming really good. I don't know what happened,” said Parrilla, adding “it was just my day.”

One of Parrilla’s signature serves is a Z serve to the left side, which he starts by standing right by the left wall. Parrilla then takes a few steps and hits the ball to the front right corner so it travels to the back left corner. He did that several times in the final, with generally good results.

Another aspect of the match that Parrilla did well was to hit wide angle passes. Waselenchuk’s a great player, but if he can’t reach the ball, then he can’t play it.

Game one was a see-saw battle. Waselenchuk started well, taking a leads of 4-1 and 5-2, only to see Parrilla tie the game at 5-5. Waselenchuk again went ahead 7-5, but Parrilla responded with five points to lead 10-7.

Then Waselenchuk tied it at 10-10, and went ahead 12-11. A point for Parrilla tied it at 12-12. Parrilla followed that up with a drive serve ace to the left side and a great forehand pinch shot to get to game point at 14-13.

However, Waselenchuk got the serve back with a forehand overhead cross court return off a Parrilla lob serve to the left side. He then hit a forehand cross court from his knees right by the left side wall to make it 14-14. Waselenchuk won it on the next rally with a forehand kill shot off a front court opportunity.

Game two was all Parrilla, as he took it 15-2, to force a tie-breaker.

They were close early in the breaker, and tied at 3-3. Then Waselenchuk took a 7-3 lead, and looked like he was going to get it done, especially as he held the lead up to 10-7. However, Parrilla fought off Waselenchuk’s first match point by hitting a forehand cross court winner.

Parrilla acknowledged after the match that Waselenchuk made some unforced errors in the final, and he made two of them on consecutive rallies to let Parrilla get within one at 10-9. Parrilla tied the match at 10-10 with a drive serve ace to the left side.

On match point for the first time, Parrilla again drove serve to the left side, and Waselenchuk hit a forehand cross court return. But the ball came off the right wall, and into the service box where Parrilla hit a forehand reverse pinch flat into the front right corner to win the rally, the game, 11-10, and match, 2-1.

This is only the second tournament Waselenchuk has competed in since prior to the pandemic, and although he looked good during his matches earlier in this event, Waselenchuk didn’t look spry or fresh in the final. Athletes will say there’s a difference between being fit and being match fit, and it could be Waselenchuk isn’t really tournament fit; that is, being used to playing an entire tournament rather than just a match or two.

Waselenchuk’s loss was his first (in a completed match) since April 2019, when Alvaro Beltran defeated him in Florida. Prior to that, you have to go back to 2013 in Kansas City, when Jose Rojas defeated Waselenchuk. Only three losses in eight and half years is pretty good.

After his semi-final win against Alejandro Landa, Waselenchuk was asked whether he would be playing more on tour, and he was decidely non-committal. We were surprised to see that he was entered in this weekend’s event, but the sponsors are big supporters of Waselenchuk, and he was at the event last year, even though he didn’t play in it.

Regardless of how Waselenchuk feels now, he’ll have some time to consider whether to play in the next IRT event, as they won’t be in action again until March 10-13, when the 43rd Lewis Drug Pro-Am will be held in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

If you missed any of the action from Lilburn, check out matches via the usual IRT media outlets: The IRT YouTube channel or the IRT Facebook page.

2022 Suivant Consulting Grand Slam, January 20-23, 2022
Lilburn, Georgia

IRT Singles - Final - Sunday

4) Andree Parrilla d. 6) Kane Waselenchuk, 14-15, 15-2, 11-10

IRT Doubles - Final - Sunday

4) Roland Keller & Conrrado Moscoso d. 3) Javier Mar & Rodrigo Montoya, 15-14, 15-14

Follow the bouncing ball….

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