Monday, February 12, 2018

Weekend round up - Wins for Croft & Connell

Remember Ben Croft? Formerly in the top three of the International Racquetball Tour (IRT)? Has won three US Open Doubles titles with Kane Waselenchuk? Well, he’s still playing, and playing singles.

On the weekend, Croft was in the 2018 Atlanta Singles tournament - a Tier 5 IRT event - in Lilburn, Georgia, where he won a five player round robin without giving up more than six points in any one game (to 15). Overall, Croft surrendered 7 points per match on average in winning the event.

David Stincer came second and Jimmy Lan was third.

Also on the weekend, Lee Connell won the 44th Annual Keystone Classic in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Connell defeated Trevor Webb in the final, 15-10, 11-15, 11-7. Ian Frattinger beat Kirby Shwaykosky, 15-6, 15-8 for third place. Connell and Frattinger won the Keystone doubles title with Matthew Kushnir and Logan Strand coming second in a five team round robin.

Coming Up

The next IRT event is the San Antonio March Madness, March 1-4 in San Antonio, Texas. The next event on the Ladies Professional Racquetball Tour (LPRT) is the 2018 LPRT Peachtree Open in Atlanta, Georgia, March 9-11. The World Racquetball Tour (WRT) will also be in action March 9-11 in Fridley Minnesota with the Life Time Series - Fridley event.

2018 IRT Atlanta Singles
Lilburn, Georgia - February 10-11, 2018

Men’s Open - Final Standings

1. Ben Croft - 4-0
2. David Stincer - 3-1
3. Jimmy Lan - 2-2
4. Marco Mijares - 1-3
5. Todd Upchurch - 0-4

44th Annual Keystone Classic
Winnipeg, Manitoba - February 10-12, 2018

Men’s Open - Final

Lee Connell d. Trevor Webb, 15-10, 11-15, 11-7

Men’s Open - 3rd place

Ian Frattinger d. Kirby Shwaykosky, 15-6, 15-8

Follow the bouncing ball….

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Carson defeats Pratt in National Team Qualifying at 2018 USA Racquetball National Doubles Championships

Rocky Carson and Rhonda Rajsich won the National Team Singles Qualifying Divisions Sunday at the 2018 USA Racquetball National Doubles Championships in Tempe, Arizona. Carson defeated Charlie Pratt, 15-5, 13-15, 11-7, while Rajsich had a walkover win against Kelani Bailey.

Carson dominated game one, going up 14-3. But Pratt fought off three game points before Carson finished it off at 15-5. That little spurt at the end gave Pratt momentum for game two, when he took the early lead 3-0, and 8-4.

However, Carson caught up at 9-9, and then he took the lead 12-9, as he scored six straight points and looked good to win the match in two straight games. Carson maintained the lead to 13-11.

At that point the match stalled, as they traded side outs for nine rallies. Pratt broke the deadlock, scoring two points to tie the game 13-13. Carson called a timeout, and - as often happens - won the next rally to get the serve back.

But Carson was able to use the opening to score, so Pratt got the serve right back. He scored two straight points, winning the game on his first game point with a spectacular shot that he took as he turned around in center court, hitting the ball at shoulder height and put a forehand into the front right corner.

Pratt’s momentum continued into game three, as he got the first two points to lead 2-0. But Carson took control from there, scoring four straight points to lead 4-2. He maintained the lead to the end, which came when a long rally ended with Pratt hitting a backhand down the line shot into the floor to make the score 11-7.

It was a small error, but errors like that were enough to be the difference between him and Carson.

The win puts Carson in the driver's seat for qualifying to play Men's Singles on Team USA at the International Racquetball Federation (IRF) World Championships in China this August. He qualified to play Men's Doubles on the team by winning the USA Racquetball Men's Doubles Championship with Sudsy Monchik on Saturday.

Thus, Carson could qualify to play both singles and doubles at Worlds. But would that be a good idea for a player who will be 39 in May? Carson's in great shape, but Worlds is a long event, lasting over a week, so playing two events during that period will be taxing. Carson is also the 5 time defending Men's Singles champion. Surely, he would want to defend that title, if possible. It will be interesting to see how this situation plays out.

As for the women’s final, Bailey won the Women’s Doubles title with Sharon Jackson Saturday, so perhaps she wasn’t feeling the need to play the need to play the singles final with Rajsich, as they have qualified for the US Team that will compete at Worlds. Regardless, it was disappointing that the women's final was not contested.

If you missed any of the action, you can watch archived matches via the USA Racquetball LiveStream Channel. The Men's Singles final is certainly worth a look.

2018 USA Racquetball National Doubles Championships
Tempe, Arizona
US National Team Divisions

Men’s Singles

Final - Sunday

1) Rocky Carson d. 2) Charlie Pratt, 15-5, 13-15, 11-7

Women’s Singles

Final - Sunday

1) Rhonda Rajsich d. 7) Kelani Bailey, forfeit

Follow the bouncing ball....

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Bailey & Jackson win Women's Doubles at 2018 USA Racquetball National Doubles Championships

Kelani Bailey and Sharon Jackson are the 2018 USA Racquetball Women’s Doubles Champions. They defeated Rhonda Rajsich and Sheryl Lotts, 15-10, 11-15, 11-8, in the final of the USA Racquetball National Doubles Championships in Tempe, Arizona. This is the first title for both Bailey and Jackson, and the win qualifies them to represent the USA in the 2018 International Racquetball Federation (IRT) World Championships in China this August.

Rocky Carson and Sudsy Monchik won the Men’s Doubles title Saturday, as they defeated David Horn and Mauro Rojas, 15-14, 15-8.

The women’s final was a streaky match. After dropping the first game, Rajsich and Lotts took a 8-0 lead in game two, only to see Bailey and Jackson come back to lead 10-8. That put them in position to win the match in two straight games. However, Rajsich and Lotts weren’t going to go quietly, as they came back to win game two 15-11 and force a tie-breaker.

In the breaker, Rajsich and Lotts again took the early lead at 5-0 with Bailey and Jackson coming back to 5-4, and then tying the game at 7-7. It was back and forth from there to 8-8. Bailey and Jackson scored points on back to back rallies to make it 10-8. But their first match point was lost because a penalty hinder was called on Bailey. They appealed but the line judges upheld the call.

With the serve back, Rajsich and Lotts had the advantage despite the score. However, back to back skips - first by Rajsich and then by Lotts - and they gave the serve back to their opponents.

Bailey and Jackson won it on their 2nd match point, as Bailey - playing the left side - drove serve to Rajsich, and the ball came out of the back left corner into the middle, where Rajsich hit it into the floor with her forehand. A disappointing end to a great match.

National Team Qualifying - Singles

Rajsich will have a chance at a measure of revenge on Sunday, as she’ll play Bailey in the final of the National Team Qualifying singles division. Rajsich defeated Erika Manilla, 15-8, 15-4, in one semi-final, and Bailey beat Lotts, 15-8, 15-8, in the other.

On the men’s side, it’ll be #1 versus #2 in the final, as top seed Rocky Carson defeated Jake Bredenbeck in the semi-finals Saturday, 15-13, 15-9, and 2nd seed Charlie Pratt fended off a strong challenge from David Horn, 15-6, 12-15, 11-6.

You can watch the finals live from Tempe via the USA Racquetball LiveStream Channel. The Men’s and Women’s Doubles finals will be early Sunday afternoon. Note the match times below are Mountain time.

2018 USA Racquetball National Doubles Championships
Tempe, Arizona
US National Team Divisions

Men's Doubles

Final - Saturday

2) Rocky Carson & Sudsy Monchik v. 4) David Horn & Mauro Rojas - 4:10 PM

Women's Doubles

Final - Saturday

3) Kelani Bailey & Sharon Jackson d. 4) Rhonda Rajsich & Sheryl Lotts, 15-10, 11-15, 11-8

Men’s Singles

Semi-finals - Saturday

1) Rocky Carson d. 4) Jake Bredenbeck, 15-13, 15-9
2) Charlie Pratt d. 3) David Horn, 15-6, 12-15, 11-6

Final - Sunday

1) Rocky Carson v. 2) Charlie Pratt - 1:50 PM

Women's Singles

Semi-finals - Saturday

1) Rhonda Rajsich d. 5) Erika Manilla, 15-8, 15-4
7) Kelani Bailey d. 6) Sheryl Lotts, 15-8, 15-8

Final - Sunday

1) Rhonda Rajsich v. 7) Kelani Bailey - 12:40 PM

Follow the bouncing ball....