Ben Croft won the Minot Open - a Tier 4 event on the International Racquetball Tour (IRT) - in Minot, North Dakota on the weekend, defeating Shane Vanderson in the final, 5-11, 7-11, 11-9, 11-6, 11-3. It was Croft's second victory over Vanderson in as many weekends, as they met in the final of the Turkey Shootout in Garden City, Kansas last weekend.
The Minot Open was an old fashioned racquetball tournament with playing until all hours, nice trophies and great hospitality.
Croft's slow start in the final might have been a bit of a hangover from his Saturday schedule, as he was only able to get to Minot Saturday afternoon due to a flight cancellation on Friday. That meant he had to play three matches in a row.
But by that last match - the semi-finals - Croft was dialed in, as he only gave up three points to veteran Richard Eisemann, 11-0, 11-2, 11-1. Vanderson also won his semi-final match in three straight games, as he defeated Canadian Lee Connell, 11-4, 11-1, 11-4.
In the final, Croft served mainly backhand lob Z to the left side, which was to Vanderson's backhand, although Vanderson's known to be very strong with his backhand. Asked about that strategy afterwards, Croft explained that "Shane has a good forehand too, so if you play too much to his forehand he's going to get in a groove and now you're dealing with two hot sides."
Croft's lob Z was hard to cut off, so it was difficult for Vanderson to hit an aggressive return. Croft often hit it so it wasn't really a Z more like a Y serve, as it's pace didn't bounce off the side wall and back wall, where it might have been easier for Vanderson to return.
The Racquetball Blog interviewed Croft after the match and we'll bring that to you in coming days.
Minot Open, Minot, North Dakota
December 9-11, 2011
Ben Croft d. Shane Vanderson, 5-11, 7-11, 11-9, 11-6, 11-3
Richard Eisemann d. Lee Connell, 11-5, 11-7, 11-7
Ben Croft d. Richard Eisemann, 11-0, 11-2, 11-1
Shane Vanderson d. Lee Connell, 11-4, 11-1, 11-4
Follow the bouncing ball....