October 24th, 2010 by John Ellis
I slept in today as it’s 7AM PST and I just drilled a 5 Hour Energy to get going. The Big Show is about to begin and I’m looking forward to taking in some great racquetball for the next four hours or so. Of course, setting my NFL fantasy lineup and making sure I’m ready to go for a big day of watching NFL football takes precedence these days…… What a great day of watching racquetball yesterday. The WPRO matches were a little anti climatic but we all kind of expected that and actually hoped that would be the case. We want Paola vs Rhonda, period. The IRT matches were both very intriguing and high quality entertainment. I preferred the Beltran/Croft match just a bit more because of the evolution that we all witnessed in the greatness that is Alvi!! I mean he completed looked out of it in the first two and by game three I thought there was no chance of Alvi even competing in the match. Then all of a sudden, there he is, getting better with each rally until there was absolutely no denying him. Ben aided the cause a bit with average play, but let’s not forget that Ben’s average play up 2-0 on most players easily wins the match. Alvaro took it from him because he’s a veteran that’s been in a ton of huge matches and he wanted it more. That’s the bottom line, Alvi wanted in more than Ben deep inside his sole. That’s some cool stuff right there!!!…… With the Kane/Jack match, we knew Kane would get it together at some point. For a second I thought Jack might win but then Kane went on a 29-2 run and was up 2 games to 1. Props to Jack for playing very well and giving himself a chance to win. More props to Kane for winning a tough match when he was playing average for himself. BTW, he still won kind of easily in four, although he didn’t cover my line of 15 total points for Jack……… I did not watch any CPRT matches yesterday but my finals prediction is in place and it should be a decent match today. I’m pulling for my boy Woody Clouse!! Here we go………
IRT Finals (12PM): #18 Alvaro Beltran vs #1 Kane Waselenchuk
This is a classic finals match up of two veteran players. Kane is the greatest of all time already and may just be playing at his peak these days. Alvi is the greatest of all time never to win an IRT Stop and that isn’t even debatable. What is debatable is whether Alvaro has won a stop or not. He did win a Tier One event in Virginia back in the early 2000’s but there is a definite asterisk on that win. The asterisk wasn’t applied to the finals in which Alvi beat Jack in an awesome five game win. But rather the round of 32 and 16 as the courts were so wet and slippery that all of the players got together and decided that everyone would get the same prize money and ranking points but play out the event at their own risk. By the finals the courts were fine so I’m not sure if Alvi claims the victory and I don’t mind if he does because I know I made the same money that weekend and same ranking points. So you decide for yourself and Alvaro can as well. If he wins today then there are no more questions about the topic. What a first win it would be too!! However, it’s not going to happen and it won’t even be close. I believe that Kane will come out and put so much pressure on Alvi that he won’t be able to get the himself even into the match enough to elicit the crowd’s help in route to a win. The crowd will want to pull for Alvi to make it a great match and even win but Kane will have none of that today. I’ve seen it twice before with Kane beating up on the second greatest ever in Clifford Swain at the US Open Final. Kane had his close match yesterday, which obviously had him concerned throughout the match. He’ll loosen up today and the talent will be on full display in a three game win that will last about 50 minutes. Great tourney for Alvi and he’s one of my favorite players, but like I mentioned yesterday, we’re just in the middle of the Reign of Kane. We still have another 6-8 years of this conversation to go. He’s that good and the rest of them are that average.
WPRO Finals (11AM): #2 Rhonda Rajsich vs #1 Paola Longoria
This is obviously the match of the day and could have even been played after the IRT match and most would stay to watch. I know I would if I was in Minneapolis. Both ladies are rolling through the draw, taking out tough opponents yesterday without much concern. This is meant to be this year and could also be the finals match up for the next few years. I have no idea what the overall match up record is and to be honest, it doesn’t matter that much to me. I’ve noticed that generally there are no runs of three wins in a row for either gal. Sometimes one or the other will win two in a row but then it ends at that. Who’s turn is it? I have no idea on that either as I do not follow every Rhonda vs Paola match up. Ask my dad and he’s liable to tell you who won the last 25 match ups as he’s the “gopher boy” for Shannon and the ladies of the WPRO!!! Actually, not sure now that I want my dad to read this, I might get in trouble!!…….. I’m going with Rhonda Rajsich today in a really exciting and hard fought five games. No real reason why I’m picking Rhonda over Paola, just a gut feeling. I hope it does go five for all of the fans in attendance and all of us at home watching. The WPRO Finals going five actually gives the IRT match a little more hype as the fans will feel the excitement build with each close point. Plus, I love the idea of many of the players in attendance racing through the Minneapolis airport frantic, trying to catch the last flight out so they can get back to real life at home and away from the Racquetball Vacation they were all on!!! I don’t miss that at all!! Enjoy these two drastically different women get it on in what promises to be an epic encounter.
CPRT Finals (10AM): #14 Jeff Bell vs #1 Woody Clouse
Jeff Bell is very good for those of you who do not know who he is. He’s one of those guys that could easily by a top 20 player on the IRT if he dedicated his time to RB instead of the real life and job he has. I actually expected him to be in the finals today when I first saw the draw. Where in the hell is Cliff and Ruben? I know they’re both there and them not playing hurts this division and tour…… Woody is very well known and like Jeff could easily be a top 20 player on the IRT at 44 or however old he is. Whatever his age is, I know for a fact that Woody is in better shape then he was at 30 or even 25. Woody has dedicated himself to winning tournaments on the CPRT, making up for all of the losses he took as a full time IRT player. I don’t mean that in a bad way at all, it’s hard to win on the IRT during any era. I really admire my great friend as he’s continued to grow as a player over the years and Woody at 44 would beat Woody at 25 at least 50% of the time. Woody at 50 may just be better than the Woody right now and that reminds me a lot of Ruben…….. I’m taking Clouse in four decent games today. It will be a very nice warm up match for the two big matches to follow and the level of play will be that of a Round of 16 IRT match so expect big time shot making. This is not old man’s ball with the idea of just entertaining. Real prize money is on the line and of course the title of US Open Champion.
Congratulations to Doug Ganim, the USAR and IRT Network for a successful US Open presentation. I have no idea if this event is indeed successful but from my angle it looks great. I hope the party was better than it was in Memphis over the last four years that I was there. I’m sure it was, Minnesota racquetball players know how to party and drink like Canadiens!!…….. This is my last blog about the Open. Check back for new topics later this week. As always, keep em rollin…………… I will be today if you know what I mean!!!