Armagh’s Charlie Shanks and Mayo’s Dessie Keegan both exited the first USA Pro Stop of the 40×20 season in Cour deAlene, Idaho at the quarter final stage last weekend.
Shanks, who recently moved to New York, produced some of his best handball to qualify for the main event with two wins before dominating the highly rated Armando Ortiz (Norwalk, California) 21-3, 21-17 in the last 16.
He then went head to head with the number two ranked US player, Naty Alvarado from Spring Valley Lake, California but Shanks wasn’t to be deterred and he controlled the opening exchanges. He executed consistent top class hook serves with superb accuracy to help win the opener in comfortable fashion 21-3. After the restart, 28 year old Shanks continued to dictate proceedings and he led by seven points at the mid-way stage 11 to 4. But the highly experienced Alvarado, at 38 turned the tide and went on the attack at every opportunity. That strategy paid high dividends for the American as he levelled the match, winning 21-17.
Little separated the duo in the tiebreak and Shanks did have the opportunity to serve out for the match at 10-10 but he couldn’t manage to etch out that vital score to progress. The Californian regained service and did finish out, winning 11-10. Shanks will take great satisfaction from his performances and will certainly feel he can capture a Pro event in the not too distant future. Only two Irish players, Cork’s Tony Healy and Cavan’s Paul Brady have experienced such attainment.
Speaking after his quarter final loss, Shanks said, “Yeah, I thought I had him after the first game, but I think my level of play dropped while he raised his. But I had my opportunity in the tie breaker and I didn’t close it out.” The gruelling schedule of playing four matches in 48 hours will stand to the ever improving Shanks who will now rise from his current number ten position on the tour. He will hope to bounce back in a fortnight’s time when he will join fellow Irish player, Westmeath’s Robbie McCarthy to challenge for the 2011 Simple Green US Open. “I had to play two qualifying games on the Thursday, then beat Armando Ortiz on Friday morning and then I had to play Alvarado in the quarters later on Friday. It’s good to be competing out here and I’ve the US Open in two weeks time to bounce back.”