After a two-hour tightly fought match that came down to 12-10 win in the tiebreaker, Jose Rojas took home the San Diego Championship, the first Tier 1 title in his career.
#4 Jose Rojas d. #11 Alvaro Beltran (6), 7, (4), 5, 10
Click HERE to view the pro draw for the 2012 San Diego Open.
San Diego Championhip Match Recap
by IRT Intern Brendan Giljum
Jose Rojas d Alvaro Beltran San Diego (6), 7, (4), 5, 10
Alvaro Beltran and Jose Rojas entered this game with both players having never won an IRT tier one event before. They were both looking to take advantage of a final match without Kane or Rocky in it. The first game went back and forth until Rojas reached his 6th point. Then he started skipping almost every open opportunity until Alvaro took the game 11-6. It seemed like he had nervous jitters in his first ever final match as he was missing shots he would normally put away with ease.
But in game two, Jose caught fire early and went up 8-3. Alvaro got into his head though after taking a time out and caught up making the score 8-7 before Jose got his serve back again. But Jose steadied the ship and finished out the game winning 11-7.
In Game 3 Alvaro went up huge 10-3 right off the bat Both warriors then went back in forth for several rallies, with Jose not wanting to go down without a fight and Alvaro missing a lot of first serve oppurtunities. Finally though, Alvaro ended the game on a hard fought rally and won 11-4 going up 2 games to 1.
Game four began with both players going toe to toe with each other until Rojas started to show more will power and determination. He started putting away most his shots and finally playing really smart racquetball. He continued this performance, allowing him to go on to win 11-5.
Game five was arguably one of, if not the best game of the year so far. Jose went up early by a score of 5-2, until Alvaro starting clawing back. Jose called a perfectly placed time out when he was still up 5-4 with Alvaro serving. Alvaro kept the intensity high and was not phased taking a huge 9-5 lead. It seemed like Beltran was destined to win his first tier one event of his long career in this game especially since he was acting out jogging gestures after each rally to suggest that he wasn’t tired. IT was that 9-5 deficit that Rojas found a second spirit, along with a great serve to the left side of the court, that propelled him forward to an 11-10 advantage. They went back and forth for a few rallies until Jose was able to scrape out a tough rally with a great closing pass shot to win his very first tier one event over a veteran professional in Alvaro Beltran.
Post Match Interview
With tears in his eyes and his voice choked, Rojas, a 21-year old college student, thanked “God himself” to begin the post-match interview before thanking his supporters and everyone in Stockton who was standing behind him. “It’s an unreal moment…no words can explain.” He lost the first match, skipping the ball and delivering short serves which might be expected of a young, anxious player. But, he made the adjustments as both players kept the score close, “trading punches,” points and games against the veteran Alvaro Beltran during the match. Rojas racked up a big lead in the fifth game, when the momentum switched to Beltran and Rojas took a time out. “I had a gut feeling that I had to take a time out..because he was playing lights-out.”
Rojas’ coach, Dave Ellis, commended the “great champion” Alvaro Beltran, recognizing Beltran was the crowd favorite and that everyone loves him, including Ellis and Rojas. Ellis noted he and Rojas had discussed mental toughness, which helped Rojas throughout the match, somehow finding rocket serves to the left side that kept the young player in the game with a comeback in game 2 and eventually the match.
A first-time Tier 1 Champion will be crowned at the SD Open, just weeks since Ben Croft took his first title at the MonaVie Salt Lake City ProAm earlier this month, for a differnt Tier 1 champion three times in row. In the evening’s first semifinal match, #11 Alvaro Beltran upset #2 Rocky Carson (10), 3, 5, 4. After losing game one, Beltran played three smart serve-and-shoot games to upset Rocky, hurting the #2 player’s chance to creep closer to Kane’s #1 ranking. Beltran has been climbing back up the rankings after an early exit last season due to knee surgery. He came to the San Diego Open with a 10-12 record against Rocky and will be looking for his first win in the finals after making 20 appearances since he first stepped onto Sunday’s center stage ten years ago.
#4 Jose Rojas defeated #9 Tony Carson 3, 7, (1), 6. Tony made his first semifinal appearance after taking out #17 Alex Landa, who forced Tony into four games after getting a pass into the quarterfinals (WBF) with #1 Kane Waselenchuk’s late withdrawl from the event. The second semifinal match was all Rojas, whose power and quick hands earned him a spot on Sunday, where he will try to take a title in his 8th attempt.
Final: Sunday February 26: #11 Alvaro Beltran v #4 Jose Rojas 12:00 pm PST
#2 Rocky Carson vs. #11 Alvaro Beltran – Saturday 4:00pm
#4 Jose Rojas vs. #9 Tony Carson – Saturday 5:00pm
Quarterfinal recaps by IRT Intern, John Beninato
Rocky Carson d Shane Vanderson 11-1, 11-2, WBF
Rocky controlled this match from the very beginning. Shane had a tough time with his back and Carson capitalized on this to an early 7-1 lead. Rocky used many different drive serves to both sides of the court and put a lot of pressure on Vanderson. Shane got off to a slow start in this one and lost 11-1.
Carson continued to hit some great drive serves in game 2 and kept Shane off balance. On a very tough serve, Vanderson had some trouble with the return and ended up tweaking his back. Shane could not move to the right and Rocky took advantage of this by serving to Shane’s forehand side. Vanderson took some time to stretch out his back, but ended up losing this game 11-2.
In game 3, Carson was still in the driver’s seat and looked to end this match quickly as a result of a Vanderson injury. The players had a couple points, but Shane eventually decided to bow out of this one and take care of his back. After the match, Shane mentioned that he injured his hamstring and the pain spread to his back. Hopefully Shane will recover in time for the next tournament and congratulations to Rocky who moves on into the semifinals.
Tony Carson d Alex Landa 5-11, 11-4, 11-8, 12-10
This match was huge for both of the players. No matter who won, he would be awarded a ticket to his first semifinal match at a pro-stop ever. A lot on the line translated into a very close first game. Landa looked very good in this game and pulled off the win, 11-5.
In game 2, Alex started to have trouble hitting his first serve. Another close game unfolded with both players having awesome shots. Tony left the ball up a lot in this game, but was still able to gain control and took this game 11-4.
Tony took the momentum he gained in game 2 and carried it over to game 3. Carson found that the lob serve to Landa’s forehand was very effective and almost stuck to it exclusively. Tony controlled most of the rallies and was able to keep the pressure on Alex. Carson, clearly driven to get his first semifinal, won this game 11-8.
Alex faced his last chance to drive this tough match to a tiebreaker. He got an early lead, but Carson started to change the momentum. Tony hit some incredible shots and took control of center court for most of the points. Alex fought from 6-9 to tie it up at 9-9, but Carson seemed to be hungrier and won this game and the match , 12-10.
Alvaro Beltran d Ben Croft 9-11, 11-7, 11-6, 11-8
Alvaro came out of the gate looking to stop the player who won the last pro-stop. Beltran stuck to a drive serve for much of the first game in order to get some points. The game was very even and when Alvaro controlled front court, he increased his chances of winning rallies. Both players were fighting which was reflected by the 4-4 score. Beltran used the corners to his advantage, but Ben took this game, 11-9.
Alvaro knew that Ben’s stamina could outlast his, so he wanted to end this match as quickly as possible. Game 2 was still very even and Ben displayed his ability to get nearly every ball in a rally. Both players were fighting hard, but a couple skips from Ben who was down 9-6 gave Alvaro game 2, 11-7.
Beltran found that a lob serve to Ben’s forehand got him points, so he focused on that in game 3. Alvaro took an early 4-0 lead in this one and seemed to be in control of the match after a slow start. Ben and Alvaro kept going back and forth on points, but Beltran was able to close out game 3 and put some more pressure on Ben, 11-6.
Ben needed to push hard in game 4 and change the momentum of the match. Alvaro controlled the previous two games and looked to end the match here because Ben’s fitness enables him to last in longer battles. Beltran showed a lot of confidence in the middle of this game, which put pressure on Ben to perform. Croft had to use an injury timeout in this game with what looked to be like a knee injury. Croft was able to return, but Alvaro kept the pressure coming and knocked out Ben to go to the semifinals, 11-8.
Jose Rojas d Javier Moreno 11-6, 11-5, 11-4
Jose came out in this match looking to end a very strong run from Javier Moreno. Rojas played to Moreno’s backhand because his forehand is incredibly good. Jose took an early 6-0 lead and kept the pressure on Javier to make shots. Rojas showed his drive to get to the semifinals and won this game, 11-6.
After he got the first game under his belt, Jose wanted to keep hammering Javier. Rojas took charge of the match and even though Moreno got amped up, he was unable to get the momentum going in his favor. Rojas stayed in the driver’s seat for this game as well and took it, 11-5.
Javier went into game three looking to try anything against a very powerful Jose Rojas. Javier tried to mix up his serves and shot selection, but could not string points together. Rojas and Moreno went back and forth early in this game, but as time went on, Jose wanted to end this battle in 3 games and earned his ticket to the semifinals, 11-4.
Round of 16 Results
:#17 Alex Landa over #1 Kane Waselenchuk, WBF
#9 Tony Carson d #8 Charlie Pratt 8, 8, 8
#4 Jose Rojas d #13 Juan Herrera 9, 2, 1
#3 Ben Croft d #14 Daniel De La Rosa 9, 7, 3
#11 Alvaro Beltran d #5 Andy Hawthorne (10), 5, 0, (5), 9
#7 Shane Vanderson d #26 Jose Diaz (9), 7, 5, 2
#2 Rocky Carson d #42 Colin Mohr 0, 4, 2
#12 Javier Moreno d #5 Chris Crowther 9, 6, (7), (6), 4
San Diego Open Returns; Kane Pulls Out
What happened to Kane?
Waselenchuk first injured his back during the Coast to Coast Open in Canoga Park which forced his forfeit in the Final of the Cactus Salon NYC IRT ProAm and withdrawal from the MonaVie Salt Lake City ProAm. Missing the San Diego Open Racquetball Championships might give rise for other top contenders, including #2 Rocky Carson to take the title. That might be enough to push Carson to the top ranking on the tour. Among those hoping to stop that from happening is #3 ranked Ben Croft, who is coming off of his first Tier 1 Championship title earned at the MonaVie Salt Lake City IRT ProAm and a National Doubles title with Carson earned earlier this month.
The San Diego Open Pro Stop has been a fixture in San Diego racquetball for over a decade and returns to the Sorrento Valley Racquetball and Fitness Center for the third consecutive year. With a storied history that boasts players like Charlie Brumfield combined with a new energy that includes over forty competitiors in the pro draw, skill & age divisions for amateur players, and the return of former champions like Ruben Gonzalez and Sudsy Monchik, the event brings the best of the old and new to the IRT season.
The management team includes IRT Director of IT, Chris Conrad and Aaron Embry, who serve as Tournament Directors offering unique off-court events along with matches that run on schedule 95% of the time. Sudsy Monchick, who is known for his engaging personality and dominating play before he retired from the men’s professional International Racquetball Tour (IRT), will announce select pro matches streamed live on the IRT Network free of charge from the Men’s Pro Qualifying to the Round of 16 on Thursday and Friday morning and for a small fee for the quarterfinals, which start Friday afternoon, semifinals on Saturday, and the Championship match on Sunday. Click www.irtnetwork.com for the complete schedule and to watch.
With experienced event staff, special guests, and a rich heritage, the San Diego Open sets the stage to become one of the top events in the country.