2011 Lawler Sports IRT ProAm
2011 Lawler Sports IRT ProAm – Terre Haute, IN Tier 1; Kane Waselenchuk continued his winning streak with a 5-game win over #2 Rocky Carson. Miss the match? Click onto the IRT Network for archived matches and live action. This Terre Haute tournament will join the lineup soon!
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#1 Kane Waselenchuk d #2 Rocky Carson 6, 7, (9), (9), 6
Kane Waselenchuk needed five games and an hour and a half to take it, but walked away the Champion of the Lawler Sports ProAm. Afterward, Rocky Carson expressed how hard he’d worked and how he’d need a rest after this week. “I put everything I had into it today…it’s hard to lose those.”
Carson came out with an early lead in the first game. Waselenchuk came back to tie it at 5 before showing quick hands up front to win it quickly. In game two, Waselenchuk fired seven kill shots to take a 9-0 lead, slowing down only after a penalty hinder followed by a Carson timeout. Back in the box, Carson’s comeback ended at 6-9, as his unforced errors helped Waselenchuk take the win.
Carson needed a victory in the third game to stay in the match. It didn’t look like he’d get it as Waselenchuk ran up an early lead, switching from lobs to drive serves. Carson fought back, with a combination of his own steady play and unforced errors from his opponent to walk off the hardwood with an 11-9 score in his favor.
With another must-win for Carson, he came out with a strategy that slowed down the game with a soft drive serve dubbed “the Ruben Gonzales slice” to Waselenchuk’s backhand. It worked, giving Carson a 6-2 lead before Waselenchuk took a timeout. Even after the break, Carson’s continued slow pace earned him 11-9 win.
The tie-breaking game saw Waselenchuk rocketing drive serves to Carson, who gave up unforced errors and 1 point to Waselenchuk’s 5. With the score at 5-1, Waslenchuk spiked his knee on the floor and took an injury timeout. Before the allotted seven minutes had passed, Waselenchuk came back strong and won the fifth game 11-6 for the match.
#1 Kane Waselenchuk d #4 Jack Huczek 10, 9, (9), 6
Overall, the second semifinal match was an exhibition of high-caliber racquetball. Huczek’s strong pinch shots kept him in the match yet Waselenchuk proved stronger, winning 3 out of the 4 games.
The first game saw Waselenchuk come out strong, reaching a 4-0 lead before he starting giving Huczek a lot of unforced errors and skips and the lead at 6-4. Huckzek called a time out, ran up a 10-7 score to serve game point, and then double-faulted. Waselenchuk came back to tie and eventually win the first at 12-10.
Huczek started out fast in game two, taking a 2-0 lead, building his tally to 8-3 with hot backhand pinches. Waselenchuks then enjoyed a run that gave him a 9-8 lead before Huckzek called a time out. The break didn’t help the ailing Huczek as Waselenchuk won game two 11-9.
Huczek came out strong in game 3 once again, reaching a 6-3 lead with his sharp backhand and forehand pich shots that kept Waselenchuk off balance for an 8-5 and then a 9-5 lead. Waselenchuk managed to come back and tie the game at 9, before Huczek’s ace serve and Waselenchuk’s unforced error gave Huczek the game at 11-9.
Waselenchuk came out in game 4 firing to a 7-3 lead. He looked more relaxed than he did during the first 3 games. Huczek made a run to get to 6, but Waslenchuk held steady to the end of the game, winning 11-6.
#2 Rocky Carson d. #3 Ben Croft 4, 7, 4
In the first game, Croft hit a ten-string of backhand shots and Carson’s going to the ceiling, getting unforced errors from Ben to win the game 11-4. Game two saw Croft continuing to make unforced errors with his backhand and Carson controlling the game, again with ceiling ball rallies, although the score remained close until, about halfway through the game Croft’s technical (hitting the ball after the rally) changed the momentum of the game. Carson won the second game 11-7. Croft came out in the third game looking sharper, taking a 3-0 lead by making the backhand shots he’d been skipping earlier. Carson didn’t let up, continuing to pressure Croft’s backhand with the ceiling shots that saw Croft skipping 50% of the time. The unforced errors from Croft helped propel Carson to an 11-4 win in the third for the match. Carson will face the winner of the Huczek v. Waselenchuk Semifinal match, playing now. You can catch the action live on the www.IRTNetwork.com.
Friday night’s quarterfinals played out according to seed as the top four players advanced to Saturday’s semifinal rounds with #3 Ben Croft facing #2 Rocky Carson in the first match of the evening.
#3 Ben Croft d. #11 Anthony Herrera 6, (7), 4, (5), 8
#2 Rocky Carson d. #7 Chris Crowther 6, (8), 4, 9
#1 Kane Waselenchuk d #9 Charlie Pratt 3, 3, 2
#4 Jack Huczek d #5 Andy Hawthorne 8, 9, 3
In the first quarterfinal match of the evening, Chris Crowther, who hasn’t pushed past the quarterfinals since facing Anthony Beltran in the IRT Mexico Open last April, took the match to four games, but still couldn’t keep #2 Rocky Carson from advancing to the next round.
Ben Croft, with eight quarterfinal appearances this season alone, proved the veteran player and walked away with the win after five games against #11 Anthony Herrera, whose quarterfinal appearance here marked the first of his career.
After graduating from the University of Colorado last December, Herrera is approaching the Tour differently than when he fist joined full time. “Now that I’m finishing up school I can focus on training and playing racquetball, approach it like a full time job. You have to if you’re going to compete with the top guys.” Herrera’s work ethic paid off and should see him playing more quarterfinal appearances this year.
Croft will take his 2-11 v #2 Rocky Carson to the semifinals at 4 pm Saturday EST.
#1 Kane Waselenchuk defeated #9 Charlie Pratt in three games to face #4 Jack Huczek who defeated Andy Hawthorne. Huczek took home the championship at the Cactus Salon NYC ProAm last weekend after Waselenchuk withdrew to illness.
ROUND OF 16’S
Single-digit temperatures outside Terre Haute’s Indiana State University courts couldn’t keep the competition from heating up as two matches competed for early Lawler Sport IRT ProAm favorites. The Round of 16’s ended with a career-first quarterfinal appearance for one player, a hard-earned five-game win for another, and something for everyone in the others. Click here to read the Lawler Sports IRT ProAm Friday Round of 16’s Match Recaps
#7 Chris Crowther d #10 Juan Herrera 4, 2, 0
Andres’ brother Juan Herrera took on Chris Crowther in what looked to be one of the most competitive of the day. Until Crowther, with his blistering drive serves, won the match in three, bringing his all-time record to 7-0 against this Colombia native who relocated to the United States.
#2 Rocky Carson d. #15 Andres Herrera 3, 5, 5,
While Juan battled Crowther, Andres took on Rocky Carson, who seemed to keep him uncomfortably guessing the court as the former #1 player served up a mix of lobs, drives, and Z-serves as he coasted into the next round.
#1 Kane Waselenchuk d #33 Dan Case 1,1,1
Waselenchuk gave a triple lesson in why he’s number one, as the Kane train took off early and kept running, showing little signs of any lingering issues from last week’s injury when he won in three straight against this top-ranked player out of Kentucky.
#9 Charlie Pratt d #8 Shane Vanderson 8, (7), (5), 8, 9
After Charlie won the first game, Shane seemed to get in his groove winning the second and third games uncontested. Right when viewers might have thought Pratt was done he stepped on the gas to close out the match, taking it to a close fifth game. The IRT’s official referee will now make his third trip to the quarters this season.
#11 Anthony Herrera d #6 Jose Rojas (10), 3, 10, (5), 10
Rojas and Anthony Herrera battle it out on court #9. Herrera lost the first but won the next two before Rojas came back in the forth to push him to the limit and the match to the 5th and final game. Rojas reached possible match point at 10-6, until Anthony Herrera scored 6 points in a row to earn the tie-breaking victory, bringing his record to 1-1 against Rojas, and his first appearance to the Q’s of his career.
Three other matches rounded out the draw:
#4 Jack Huczek d #13 Alejandro Landa 6, 2, 4
#3 Ben Croft d #14 Tony Carson 4, 6, 4
#5 Andy Hawthorne d #12 Alejandro Herrera 12, 8, 0
Match Recaps provided by Russ Mannino
2011 Lawler Sports IRT ProAm: A Preview
Mathematically speaking, the whole is never greater than the sum of its parts. The sum is equal – not more or less. Manny Rodriguez doesn’t follow that kind of math. “The smartest move I made was bringing Kim Roy to the team. The 2011 Lawler Sports IRT ProAm would not be happening if she hadn’t joined when she did.”
Rodriguez credits Roy with “completely” making the difference. It’s not just the organization Roy brought to the second year of this Tier 1 pro stop, but that she changed his approach to the tournament and the prize money. “I did not have a plan. It’s more like I had a dream.”
Having a dream (especially during the week we celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King Junior’s birthday) is a great place to start. Roy credits Rodriguez as the force driving the event. “If it were not for Manny’s dream, there would not be a pro stop in Indiana. I just was the person behind the scenes.”
Rodriguez “pulled it off the first year,” learning from his experience and wanting to benefit from Roy’s. After four or five years at the helm of the IRT Florida Spring Break ProAm, which is moving to Tampa for the first time this year (March 10-13), she knows how to run a Tier 1 tournament, hosting 260 people from eighteen U.S. states and seven countries last year.
Rodriguez cited the Terre Haute Convention and Visitor Bureau as the largest sponsor for the Lawler Sports IRT ProAm event, with Terre Haute recognized as Indiana’s 2010 Community of the year for it’s vibrant downtown, river, outdoor art, and much more. ( http://www.terrehaute.com/). Lawler Sports is a big supporter of his efforts to bring the tournament to Indiana State University in Terre Haute. With glass-walled courts and second level viewing of all ten courts, it’s a great stop for any player or fan.
Perhaps surprisingly, smaller contributors are also critical to making the event happen. Ask how many, and Rodriguez will need to think about it. “Oh, good question! The total number of people who have contributed is about 250, including the entries, which really help. Then we always have the volunteers, too. Really, it’s a group effort between the big sponsors, contributors, and players. What this means is that there’s a lot of positive energy.” And the sum of what each individual contributes creates a greater whole.
Rodriguez’ goal is simple. “To grow the game through the pro game. I think that the pros bring so much entertainment value to and around the sport. What they do is unbelievable! More people have to be exposed to this.” With the number of tournament entries received doubled from last year, it’s well on its way to success, by any definition.