by Justin Johnson
If Daniel De La Rosa wrote a classic novel about Friday’s quarterfinal victory over Jose Rojas he could call it A Tale of Two Matches.
Two weeks after falling to Rojas in a five-game marathon at the Kansas City IRT Pro-Am, De La Rosa flipped the script and made quick work of his opponent at the U.S. Open with an impressive 11-2, 11-4, 11-5 win.
“In Kansas we had a battle,” De La Rosa said following Friday’s win. “After the tournament I learned some little things that I had to work on. We did that and it showed today on the court.”
The win puts De La Rosa in his first ever U.S. Open semifinal, where he will face No. 1 seed Rocky Carson. The two last met on September 26 in the 3WallBall World Championship in Las Vegas, where De La Rosa took the title from Carson in a tiebreaker.
De La Rosa is looking forward to the opportunity to face Carson again.
“Everything is mental,” he said. “I have the game. I have the shots. I have the conditioning and everything. But now it’s mental.”
Alvaro Beltran vs. Anthony Herrera
Any concerns about Alvaro Beltran’s lingering back issues were put to rest Friday as the veteran dove around the court on the way to a three-game victory over Anthony Herrera.
A slow start forced Beltran to fight his way back from a 1-7 deficit in the first, but shut down Herrera from there to win 11-7, 11-8, and 11-8. The three-game victory was an added plus for Beltran, who had to battle through a five-game tiebreaker in his opening round match and a four-game match in the round of 16.
“It feels good just to be in the main court and get a win against anybody,” Beltran said. “Whoever steps into that court is going to bring it and he’s going to give all he has, so winning my match and making the semifinals – I’m happy about it.”
Beltran looked fresh and rejuvenated after battling nagging injuries through the start of the 2015-16 IRT season.
“I’m glad I was able to get back on track the last ten days,” he said. “I felt like my back was much better and I started training a little harder. Before that I just couldn’t do anything, even tie my laces.”
Beltran’s quick victory over Herrera will also give him more time to recover before taking on Kane Waselechuk in the semifinals.
“I’m really happy to be here,” Beltran added. “I’ve been struggling with my back the last two years and it’s very frustrating for me because sometimes I feel that I’m playing really well and do well in a tournament and all of a sudden my back fails me. But I’m happy I’m still in the tournament and enjoying every second of it.”
Kane Waselenchuk vs. Jansen Allen
After a slower-than-usual start in his quarterfinal match, 10-time U.S. Open champion Kane Waselenchuk got on track and was his dominant self in an 11-3, 11-1, 11-1 victory over Jansen Allen.
“The serve at the beginning wasn’t really coming in like I wanted to, hitting the side wall and back wall instead of right in the corner,” Waselenchuk said afterward. “The rally play was great today. It felt good, it felt smooth, footwork felt really nice. Probably midway through the first game I think is pretty much when I kind of got in my comfort zone and really started cranking on balls.”
Waselenchuk cranked his way into a familiar position as he advances to the semifinals to take on Alvaro Beltran.
“It’s business as usual,” he said. “The quarterfinals is kind of where my tournament starts and I’m excited. I played well today. I hit the ball good, hit serves good, and I’m ready for tomorrow.”
Rocky Carson vs. Marco Rojas
Marco Rojas put up a good fight against Rocky Carson in the quarterfinals, but the No. 1 seed was able to put a stop to any momentum Rojas picked up in the match during an 11-4, 11-9, 11-5 victory.
After winning game one comfortably, Carson trailed early in game number. Facing a 6-2 deficit, he battled back to take a commanding 2-0 lead. Rojas mustered up another run in game number three to take a 5-4 lead, but the steady play of Carson was too much.
“If I gave him shots to work with he made most of them, so I had to capitalize on getting in front of him on the rallies and taking advantage of the first shot,” Carson said. “When I had it I think I did a pretty good job most of the time.”
Carson moves on to face Daniel De La Rosa in what should be an electric semifinal matchup.