Jake Bredenbeck picked up the biggest win of his career and arguably the biggest win of the 2015-2016 IRT season against No. 1-ranked Kane Waselenchuk, Daniel De La Rosa won a decisive battle over Jose Rojas in one of the IRT's most interesting rivalries, and you can almost hear Rocky Carson and Alvaro Beltran licking their chops for a chance at another Tier 1 championship now that Waselenchuk is out of the tournament.
Those were just a few of the story lines from Friday as the Florida IRT Pro-Am enters the final day of competition today. Semifinal action starts at 11:00 a.m. and the championship is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. tonight.
Bredenbeck and Waselenchuk battled into the fifth game before the world No. 1 and reigning IRT champion bowed out due to injury. Friday's performance earned the young Minnesotan another signature win in his pro racquetball career. With victories against both Waselenchuk and Carson this season, he is working his way up the charts in the IRT. Even though he is sure to be disappointed with a quarterfinal loss to Sebastian Franco, Bredenbeck is making his mark.
After putting an end to Cliff Swain's run into the round of 16, Daniel De La Rosa took out Jose Rojas in three straight games in the quarterfinals. Rojas held a 3-2 edge over De La Rosa this season in head-to-head matchups. The win solidifies the duo's rivalry and puts De La Rosa in a position to make his third final of the season. De La Rosa's two previous championship appearances both resulted in losses to Kane Waselenchuk. With Waselenchuk out of the field, it will be interesting to see how he performs down the stretch. De La Rosa will take on Sebastian Franco today, who will be playing in his second semifinal of the season.
The most interesting dynamic of the tournament may be the semifinal matchup between Rocky Carson and Alvaro Beltran. With Waselenchuk out of the tournament and their chances of capturing a Tier 1 championship improved, they are sure to be running on a little extra adrenaline as they fight to make the finals.
Some things to keep an eye on down the road:
How will Waselenchuk's early exit affect the points race for the year-end championship and how will it affect the rest of his season? With a recent surgery playing a role in this weekend's performance, how much of a factor will it play in the final two events of the year? And with the entire racquetball world witnessing the Bredenbeck victory, how will it affect the dynamics of future matches? Players often play fearlessly when they smell blood in the water, and this chink in the armor could be an added incentive for opponents to come out firing against the king of the court.