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Strategy the Charm of Doubles

Meshing with partner adds team concept, extra satisfaction.

By Mort Leve and Fred Lewis

Playing doubles can be even more rewarding than singles because of the added complexities of the game and the team concept.

This can be especially true when your team is formed, like most, through friendships. 

Entire books could be written on doubles due to the number of variables involved. In singles, we often refer to the five situations that can occur during the course of a rally.

In addition to the serve, return of serve, defense, offense and shot anticipation, doubles brings about a sixth situation: when your partner is hitting the ball.

Classic court division: One offensive player shoots while the other clears out, and the
defensive players (left side of photo) split court responsibilities, one covering the left,
the other the deep right side.

Court division

There are two basic ways to divide the court in doubles.

One is to divide front- and deep-court duties. This can be a successful positioning tactic when you and your partner have very different skill levels or one player is exceptionally good in the front court and one is exceptionally good in the deep court. This also can be an effective way to divide the court in three-wall due to the larger area to cover.

However, most doubles teams will play more of a side-by-side positioning. Dividing the front court in half and then making the left-side player responsible for 12 to 15 feet of the deep court is the most common method.

Since all team efforts require a team leader, the left-side player usually assumes this responsibility in handball. Of course, we’re assuming this hypothetical team is made up of two right-handers, as most doubles teams are.

Ideally, the left-side player should possess the superior off hand — not necessarily the most offensive, but the steadiest. Being the captain of the team, the left-side player also has the best view of the action and can better control the play.

We can’t emphasize enough the need for communication between doubles partners.

The simplest method is the one recommended by the late Bob Davidson. The left-side player need only communicate two things: Either tell his partner to let the ball go through for him or tell his partner to take the shot. The words usually used are “mine” and “yours.”

Right-side responsibilities

Numerous situations in doubles can cause confusion. A common mistake by many inexperienced right-side players is to retreat in the court and drift to the left side to hit a ball that caroms off the right wall. This shot almost always should be hit by the left-side player, since he would be able to step into the shot and hit it with his strong hand.

Even if the right-side player moved quickly to the left to hit the ball with his strong hand, he would be forcing his partner to back up behind him and would be leaving the right side of the court open for the opposition’s return.

When the left-side player takes these shots, he can not only comfortably step into them with his strong hand, but the right-side player can also maintain his position in the court so he is prepared to react to the next shot.

Whenever the ball is heading toward the center of the court, the left-side player should communicate his intention of hitting the ball or calling for his partner to hit the shot. If he’s out of position, he can call for help.

But for the large percentage of shots in the center of the court, the left-side player should be communicating “mine.”

By taking these shots with his strong hand, the left-side player can be hitting offensive shots, whereas the right-side player would be forced to play them in a defensive mode.

Freezing an opponent

One of the most common strategies used in competitive doubles was first brought to the limelight by the team of Jim Jacobs and Marty Decatur. Jacobs and Decatur were arguably the most successful doubles team of all time, remaining undefeated for an entire decade.

Their very simple tactic was to “freeze” one of the players on the opposing team. They would hit every shot at one player on the other team, wearing him down and leaving the other player frustrated and cold, unable to get into the flow of the game.

Generally, they would try to isolate their play to the left side of the court, since it’s easier to keep the play to the left. Even though the left-side player is usually a stronger player than the right-side player, rarely is he capable of beating both you and your partner.

With the left-side player already taking about 70 percent of the shots for his team, it’s fairly easy to make him play 90 percent or more of the shots. When you consider that most left-side players are right-handed and the rallies are longer in doubles with more shots being hit, it’s also fairly easy to wear him down, especially his off hand.

You can start your freezing of the right-side player by hitting every serve to the left. It’s almost as easy to direct all your ceiling shots to the left, further working the left-side player into submission.

Finally, since you need to be in position to hit the ball where you want, you can direct all your offensive shots to the left. Powering all your kills and passes at the left-side player should eventually lead to more setups.
Thus, you’ll be freezing the right-side player out of the game.

It’s also important to note that it’s far more difficult to play the right side because of the discipline needed. The right-side player must keep his off hand out of the play, he rarely sees an offensive opportunity and he is forced to do the front-court retrieving.

It’s extremely hard for him to stay mentally prepared for every shot even when he’s not being frozen out. Freezing him out will often leave him useless to his left-side partner.

Though it’s more difficult, you can attempt to freeze out the left-side player if he is the far better player on the team or is part of a lefty-righty combo. You can attempt to hit all the serves, ceiling and offensive opportunities to the right, but you’ll need to take more precautions. Extra control is needed since any shot that caroms off the back wall will be to the right-side player’s strong hand rather than the left-side player’s off hand, if he’s right-handed.

With the opponent certain to shoot, the right-side player makes the correct
move to position himself at the short line.

Holding your position

Many right-side players make the mistake of rushing to a front-court position near the short line in every rally. There’s no need to take such a position when it’s obvious the play is in deep court. By positioning himself at the short line, the right-side player will be forcing the left-side player to take all the shots in deep court, regardless of the side to which the ball is hit.

Another result of rushing to a position in the front right is being vulnerable to passing shots and hard-hit shots at the feet. The right-side player should stay on the move as the play dictates. By staying on the move, he’ll also find it easier to stay mentally prepared.

About the only time the right-side player should be as far forward in the court as the short line is when he’s certain his opponent is attempting a kill shot in front of him.

A standard position behind the short line will allow for better anticipation and the opportunity to move into most of his shots. The closer to the front wall he positions himself, the easier he is to pass, the more often his partner will have to cover for him and the more often he’ll be forced into errors by hard drives.

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68th USHA National Three-Wall Championships

MAUMEE, Ohio -- The Labor Day Holiday brought warmer temps creating brutal conditions for players on the Lucas County Rec Center Courts.  Temperatures were already reaching the high 80s for the 9 a.m. finals that began the day.  The steamy courts didn't slow down the elite players who battled to reach the championship matches on the event's last day. 

Hillary Rushe won her third consecutive Women's Open Singles championship, defeating Kristen Hughes from Austin, TX in two games, 21-7, 21-12.  Rushe would pair with Carly Munson to win the Women's Doubles crown over Hughes and Leah Kirk, 21-15, 21-10. 

In an all-brother Men's Open Doubles final, Daniel and Luis Cordova, making their first final appearance as partners, outlasted Dane and Adam Szatkowski 21-15, 21-15.  No team could match the consistency and fire power of the Cordova duo the entire weekend en route to their doubles crown. 

In other action, Mark Zamora once again took two titles home on Monday, winning the 55s with Alan Frank and the 50s with Tommy Valenzuela. 

Richard Solomon won the 65 Singles before taking a 10-year hiatus.  This year, Solomon slammed the 75 division, winning with Norm Young on the final day.

Once again, the Toledo Handball Club delivered an exceptional event for all the players and families who attended the 68th USHA National Three-Wall Championships.  Thank you to all the exceptional volunteers who make this the best overall handball experience each year! 

See final results HERE.


 

MAUMEE, Ohio -- It's getting crowded at the top of the all-time list for Three-Wall Nationals titles.  On a September Sunday morning, Sean Lenning tied Vince Munoz by winning his tenth singles crown, defeating Daniel Cordova, 21-15, 21-2. 

This year's final was vintage Lenning:  shoot out to a big lead, then demoralize opponents with serves.  In the first game, Lenning strung out a strong 15-1 lead before Cordova could answer.  Cordova went on a 15-6 run, but couldn't secure game point.  The second game started the same way, but this time Cordova didn't answer.  Lenning continued to pile on points until he reached match point for this 10th title. 

The joy was short-lived as the Cordovas ousted defending champions Marcos Chavez and Lenning in doubles later the same afternoon.  The Cordovas play the Szatkowski brothers in an all-sibling final.  The doubles final will be played at 9 a.m. local time. 

In Women's action, Hillary Rushe looks to complete the three-peat bid in the Women's Open.  She'll face University of Texas' Kristen Hughes in tomorrow's final.

See Sunday's results HERE.


 

MAUMEE, Ohio -- A late summer heat wave brought higher temperatures to the courts followed by a brief rain delay in the afternoon on Saturday.  Play was suspended for a few minutes as the Toledo Handball Grounds Crew sprung into action, drying the courts with a team of propane blowers to continue play. 

In Men's Open Singles action, Sean Lenning battled Luis Cordova Jr. for a spot in Sunday's final.  Lenning was crushing the ball against Cordova, clearly focused on making the final, but his opponent made him work through two tough games before conceding 21-15 and 21-16. 

Three-wall fans braced for the second semifinal, a match-up between the always exciting Dane Szatkowski and young star Daniel Cordova.  Cordova jumped to a quick lead in the first game only to see Szatkowski come back to take a small lead.  While Szatkowski looked like the more experienced three-waller, Cordova's youth combined with a nasty serve which hopped out the back of the court, helped him prevail, winning 21-16, 21-12. 

Sean Lenning defends his title against Daniel Cordova in the Men's Open Singles final at 11 p.m.  Watch the Men's Singles Final LIVE HERE:  https://www.youtube.com/USHAHandball

In other action, Marty Clemens (shown swinging) defeated Mike Fagan for the Veteran's Golden (55-plus) title, 21-12, 21-18.  Dr. Dan Zimet cruised to another singles crown, defeating Jim Karner in the Veteran Masters (45-plus) final, 21-6, 21-5. 

Other title winners include:  Mike Driscoll (80-plus), Richard Solomon (75-plus), John Friedrich (65-plus), Casey Mayo (40-plus), and Fernando Alvarez (40B).

See Saturday's results HERE.


 

MAUMEE, Ohio -- The second day of action at the 68th USHA Three-Wall Nationals brought more intense matches in singles divisions and first round play for doubles.  In Men's Open Singles quarterfinal action, Luis Cordova Jr. stopped Bill Mehilos in two games, 21-11, 21-15.  Cordova plays defending champion Sean Lenning in tomorrow's semifinal at 11 a.m. 

Daniel Cordova plays Dane Szatkowski in the other Men's Open semifinal at 12 p.m.

See Friday's results HERE.


 

MAUMEE, Ohio -- The Toledo Handball Club proudly hosts the 68th USHA Three-Wall Nationals.  The draws and start times are now "live" for the event.  Action starts Thursday afternoon at the Lucas County Rec Center's eight regulation courts.

Handball fans will be following the results to see if defending champion Sean Lenning will continue to add to his amazing run in the singles, while teaming with Marcos Chavez to gun for another doubles crown.

Tournament registration and check-in begins on Thursday at 11 a.m.  Please note:  Draws and times may change.  Remember to check draws on the day of the event for any updates.  See draws on the R2sports tournament page HERE.

UPDATE:  USHA Board Member and Game Committee Chair Tom Sove will provide a Referee Clinic at the Lucas County Rec Center, Thursday (Aug. 30) at 6:30 p.m.  Everyone in attendance will become a Certified Handball Referee (and learn some in-depth insight to the rules!).

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63rd USHA National Junior 4-Wall Championships & WPH R48Pro VIII Stop #3

PORTLAND, Ore. --Daniel Cordova showed a new aggressive style of play that had everyone on their heels over the weekend, including Killian Carroll in the Sunday finale.

David Walsh said he got used to the tough glass sidewall and then came on strong to beat Michael Gaulton in the 19 singles final.  In the doubles, Gaulton got a bit of revenge by teaming with Alex Carew to edge David Walsh and Patrick Murphy in a tiebreaker.

David Sanchez added three 15 titles to his perfect resume in 2018.  Sanchez won the 15 small ball and big ball singles as well as the doubles with Andrew Negrete.  The singles win earned him a spot in the record books with Eric Klarman as the only players to win one-wall, three-wall and four-wall titles in the same calendar year -- a true slam!

Juniors were honored at the banquet on Saturday night with special awards, including the Alumni bags given to the juniors in their last year of eligibility who competed in at least four junior events.  Other special awards went to A.J. Wilkinson for Tom Lynch Best Newcomer, Joseph Lallier for the Vince Gabriele Sportsmanship Award, and Isaac Alberg for Most Improved. 

In pro action, Killian Carroll and Daniel Cordova were most impressive on Saturday and will meet on Sunday for the title.   See the broadcast schedule HERE.

The final results for the 63rd USHA National Junior 4-Wall Championships r2sports site HERE. 

The popular Junior Nationals drop-down format gets every participant at least three matches.  Here are those results that aren't shown on R2:

19-and-under A Semis: D. Peters d. A. Carew, def.; P. Cooke d. J. Gutierrez, 20, 11.

Final: Cooke d. Peters, inj.

19 B: J. Rivera d. B. Mendiola, def.; B. Hickey d. J. Cervantes, 7, 20; Roberts d. A. Silva, 3, 11; V. Ford d. S. Ure, 1, 2; A. Sandoval d. B. Buckles, (19), 7, 3.

Quarters: L. Mendez d. J. Rivera, 0, 1; Hickey d. Roberts, 2, 6; Ford d. J. Silva, 18, 4; E. Camacho d. Sandoval, 15, 11.

Semis: Mendez d. Hickey, 12, 12; Ford d. Camacho, 12, 8.

Final: Mendez d. Ford, 6, 9.:

19 Cons. Quarters: S. Ure d. A. Silva, 15, 17; J. Cervantes d. J. Silva, 15, 15; N. Roberts d. J. Rivera, 7, 14.

Semis: Buckles d. Ure, 16, 9; Cervantes d. Roberts, 0, 4.

Final: Cervantes d. Buckles, 13 (13), 2.

17 A: C. Peters d. Albert, 3, 4.

17 B Quarters: M. Madden d. D. Neri, 19, 5; J. Cooke d. O. Bustos, (19), 20, 5; D. Hamilton d. M. Morgenstern, 8, 14.

Semis: Madden d. M. Sandoval, 4, 4; Hamilton d. Cooke, 9, (19), 6.

Final: Hamilton d. Madden, 5, 3.

17 Cons. Semis: D. Neri d. M. Sandoval, 10, 8; Bustos d. Morgenstern, 15, 9.

Final: Bustos d. Neri, 19, 1.

15-and-under A singles: George Mitchell d. Fermin Victoria, 11, 11.

15B: A. Sanchez d. J. Lallier, (12), 12, 1; N. Stoffel d. A. Negrete, 2, (9), 4; Abraham Sanchez d. R. Asokan, 18, 6; Y.L. Tang d. A. Sandoval, 3, 18.

Semifinals: Sanchez d. N. Stoffel, 19, 17; Tang d. Sanchez, (6), 18, 9.

Final: Sanchez d. Tang, 13. (13), 10.

15 Cons. Semis: A. Negrete d. J. Lallier, (19), 16, 9; Asokan d. A. Sandoval, 10, 9.

Final: Negrete d. Asokan, 5, 11.

11-and-under A singles: C. Dean d. J. Smith, 9, 2.

11 B Semis: Valyavskiy, bye; T. Stradley d. N. Elliott, 17, 3.

Final: Stradley d.Valyavskiy, 7, 7.

11 Cons.: Valyavskiy d. Elliott, 13, 8.

 

13-and-under Big Ball A singles: Stradley d. Valyavskiy, 3, 14.

13 Big Ball B: Prelim: T. Simmons d. N. Elliott, (7), 15, 8.

Semis: C. Dean d. Simmons, 7, 7; J. Smith d. J. Middleton, 10, 4.

Final: Dean d. Smith, 8, 3.

13 Big Ball Cons.: J. Middleton d. N. Elliott, 11, 4.

 

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Chatten Hayes Blog: Handball in Zurich

Handball in Zurich

There wasn't. Handball in Zurich. But our sport got us there, in a manner of speaking, in early November 1994. Following the World Championships in County Clare, Ireland, David and I added time in Europe, then found ourselves worn out (tournaments can be that way). Flights from our original Italian destination didn't work out, so we hopped a train to Switzerland for a couple of nights before returning to Portland, Oregon.

Zurich glowed with lights on glittering water, frosty air and glistening packages of outrageous chocolates in shop windows. The holidays were so near; I spun toward my husband on an old stone bridge as we gazed at the city. "Let's come back for Christmas!" I exclaimed.

Twenty-five years have passed, and the genesis of that dream, handball, remains an enormous part of our lives. Friendships from those distant years continue, players age but still compete and enjoy their comrades at the courts, and every three years a select group comes together for the World Championships.

In 1997, in Winnipeg, Manitoba, I met the delightful, vivid Ranger Russell. He's an American whose home is in Belgium with his wife Joelle. Ranger cheerfully leads the Belgian Handball Team to world events and makes friends easily wherever he goes. I am blessed to be counted among his friends, and next week David and I embark upon our shimmering dream of a quarter-century ago. We'll join Ranger and Joelle in Brussels, deepening our long friendship while exploring Christmas markets, sharing meals and creating holiday memories.

As anyone reading this knows, handball is family. I hope you'll join us on this adventure!

 

 

 



There’ll be many flags on display beginning this week at the World Handball Championships in Minneapolis. National colors will fly, and be worn proudly, while some will represent loyalties of players and fans from specific counties, and even

particular cities.

Then there will be colors that have personal meaning, such as the Teal that’s now part of my daily look.


You see, every cancer has a color. Who knew? I didn’t, I Googled it and ended up at ChooseHope.com, one of many websites selling a rainbow of supportive accessories. Most people are aware of pink ribbons for breast cancer, and yellow wrist bands declaring it’s possible to live strong with any cancer. My particular journey with ovarian cancer is represented by teal. There’s even an acronym in the community: Treat Early And Live. Most ovarian cancers are found in the late stages and become very difficult to treat.

I’m getting more involved in service to others with cancer and cancer agencies as I approach the one-year anniversary of my surgery on September first. Linked below is the second feature I wrote for the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition (ovarian.org). Read carefully – you might even see the word “handball” in there! And comments from Portland’s Dr. Bob Gill, who is living with gioblastoma.

Hanging around the Championship courts in Minnesota, show your loyalties in every way and we’ll share a laugh. I’ll have on some teal, but I have a Team USA red, white and blue pedicure too.

READ MORE HERE:  http://ovarian.org/component/content/article/33/501


 
Quite enough can happen in just one day.  What about 3,175 of them? Almost nine years ago, Jay Maxwell, Tom Hussey and I were preparing for the start of the 2009 World Handball Championships at the Multnomah Athletic Club in Portland, Ore. I emphasize the start because it was a heck of a run-up. A bit like settlers crossing the Great Plains, watching and watching the Rocky Mountains never get any closer, suddenly we were “in the foothills” at last. Now. Oh, good heavens, now!

In the fall of 2004, not long after hosting a successful and popular national four-wall event, loyal and dedicated MAC handball folks gathered and thought, “Hey, maybe the next U.S. worlds would be doable.”      I remember we drew up a pro/con grid that day, the kind I made when choosing between less elaborate competing choices, like buying designer earrings:

     Pros: Pretty and desired.
     Cons: Expensive and unnecessary?

Come to think of it, in autumn 2004, perhaps those lists resembled one another!

During that long run-up, complications took root and grew. Waterford Crystal, which provided exquisite signature trophies for the world championships beginning in County Clare in 1994, ceased production. I visited Ireland and met with a very kind former employee at the closed Waterford factory. Noel Power supplied many thousands of dollars of product from remaining stock so Portland 2009 didn’t have to break the tradition of presenting world-class crystal to champions.
The MAC leadership changed too. Administrators who in 2004 and ’05 excitedly permitted and supported such a long horizon for a very involved event were gone from the club. Some plans became more complex under new club direction.
Additionally, by 2009, many economies had experienced enormous downturns. Global issues impacted daily activities. Yet our committee of 27 chairmen had held the grand vision and love of the event and each other for years. We just kept working.

“I thought it was a fabulous experience,” Maxwell said recently. “I still think it’s probably the best worlds that’s ever been put on.”

A breathtaking moment occurred on a summer Saturday close to the entry deadline. A committee member logged on to the website and saw entries, which had barely been trickling through the system, beginning to pour in. We called and emailed each other in disbelief throughout the day: “Are you seeing this?” “It can’t be real, right?” “Is it a computer error?”

I suppose all of us realized, just then, that we had indeed been holding our collective breath. Ultimately, our efforts created a world championships that welcomed 993 players from 10 countries for 12 days.
“The success was attributable to a fantastic facility and an amazing team of volunteers,” Hussey says today.

Now all the moving parts of hosting the worlds are back in our country, with the Minneapolis tournament’s needs expanded again by the growth of one very important aspect. One-wall handball changes dramatically each time the event is staged.

In 1994 the cheerful and persistent Irish one-wall organizer, Tom O’Connor, called it “the funny games,” and just a wee number of players arrived in County Clare from countries like Finland. A few Eton fives specialists appeared from England with peculiar gloves and strange rules and customs but no shortage of cheer.

O’Connor can be proud of that start. By 1997 the Winnipeg worlds committee built two side-by-side outdoor courts for the tournament. Mayor Susan Ann Thompson and host chair Bob Pruden produced a grand opening media event, and the walls were emblazoned with the spectacular and creative 1997 logo, my personal favorite of all time. Later years placed courts inside hockey rinks and gymnasiums, and the construction of multiple courts by Dublin in 2012 was the most visible and central setting for one-wall ever attempted.

Anyhow, nine years can make a hell of a difference indeed. I am so glad I’m not in the center! I’ve got other stuff going on, as many of my handball family are aware. Unlike October 2009 (and for years ahead of it), when I ate, slept, wept, sweated and dreamt handball, since September 2017 I’ve had the luxury to put all my energy into well-being and recovery from surgery and chemo for ovarian cancer. I’ve moved into survivorship and am evaluating what the journey has meant and will mean throughout my long life, including the unknowns.

But we all have unknowns. This may seem like a grim example, but when I was in treatment I read that a woman who survived the Las Vegas massacre was killed by a drunken driver a month later. Her story gives me a certain strength. I delight in each day because I’ve got a boatload to do, and I’m ready to devote my energy, passion and charisma to new things.

As you read this, handballers from every section of our sport will be in Minneapolis cheering friends, family and our U.S. dream team … and I’m not just talking about our great players in one-wall, four-wall and wallball. I’m talking about Steve Johnson and his crew of sponsors, administrators, facility directors, loved ones and everyone making this come together for us.

You can cheer at the courts and wave flags and have fun … and please, pat every single one of the hosts on the back as you go by. They’ve earned it!


 

What time is it? I’m journaling with morning coffee so … for Joe Santilli in Australia, it’s the wee hours of morning. Tomorrow.

Oh, sweet Joe. At the 2015 World Handball Championships, he gave me a pen, knowing I love writing. When using it, I think about Joe, Donna, and their sons. I hope we’ll all meet up in Minnesota.

I know many players who show up at the World Championships with a few simple gifts for friends and friends-to-be. Some are based on long knowledge of the recipient, like my pen; others seem cannily intuitive. At my first World Championships, in Phoenix 1991, a Japanese woman player, Kumiko, presented me with a tiny ceramic white kitty sleeping in a ball. I can’t remember who won our match, but I’ve still got the kitty.

As a host committee co-chair in 2009, I was showered with magnificent presents, among them a handsome lacquered box from the Japanese team. Irish friends and administrators brought me a number of lovely gifts, including a buttery-soft violet wool scarf from County Wicklow.

Globes were a theme that year. Bill Kelly, who’s shared desks, dinners, laughs and lamentations with me over many years, gave me an incredible globe which spins with light. It rests on an engraved pedestal commemorating the tournament.

Another globe came my way from Down Under that year, this one a delicate Swarovski crystal orb from Vic DiLuzio.

Ranger Russell seems determined to ensure that I have plenty of his adopted country’s national gear. I can now cheer for him in a shirt (2009) and snazzy ball cap (2015) in Belgium’s bold heraldic colors of red, black and yellow, both items embroidered with my name

Luxurious customized gifts are not necessary, of course. But bringing along a few goodies is fun and meaningful, often many years after the tournament.

Some “gifts” can be shared more than exchanged. I pick up a few picture postcards of my hometown – and Portland, not lacking anything for scenery, has a lot choose from – to show new tournament friends where I hail from. Another way to create special memories is recycling gear from bursting drawers and closets. Handball t-shirts get exchanged formally at some events and informally at others, and it’s fun to wear the rare ones back at the hometown courts.

Many souvenirs are easily tucked in luggage, airport security friendly, and not bulky for new friends to carry home. I can pick up inexpensive Oregon-themed buttons, magnets, keyrings, luggage tags and bookmarks nearly everywhere. In addition, some products are both portable and boldly local: Oregon Rain lip balms are going in my bag, and a few lightweight wooden Christmas ornaments, from Made in Oregon stores.

Journaling with Joe’s gift reminds me that, as I’m preparing for my 10th World Handball Championships, it’s time to pack more than clothes and cosmetics. In Minneapolis, I’ll be ready to present and receive small tokens of enduring friendships with my extended handball family. Travel safely, and see you there!

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The Tucson Memorial & WPH R48Pro VIII Stop #2

TUCSON -- The excitement and drama of the WPH R48Pro Tour was on full display for Sunday's finals in The Tucson Memorial.  Killian Carroll made his way back to another R48Pro final after falling in the semis in Atlanta.  Sean Lenning was looking for some redemption as well after suffering the same fate:  being bounced in the semis of that same tournament.  Playing in front of a raucous home crowd at the Tucson Racquet Club, Lenning's serve was zipping all over the court as he dominated Carroll in two games, winning the second R48Pro stop of the season, 15-10, 15-7. 

Carroll found himself in an early hole, trailing 9-1, but he was able to close the gap with some heart-stopping gets and precision kills.  But the day belonged to Lenning, as he kept Carroll guessing and off-guard with low drives to the right, and he ultimately slammed the door with a fortuitous right front corner kill. 

Sunday's final turned out to be that kind of a match for Lenning, while Carroll couldn't catch a break.  In the second game, and looking to force a third, Carroll was on the receiving end of an unfortunate bounce which hit his shoe, awarding the rally to Lenning.  After that, the momentum was in Lenning's favor, and he rolled to his first R48Pro victory of Season 8.

In ladies action, Catriona Casey (swinging above) faced a resurgent Ciana Ni Churraoin, but she was able to hold her late rally off for the victory, needing overtime in the second game to win, 15-7, 16-14.

In the Men's R48SRPro final, David Fink stopped Marcos Chavez for the title, 15-2, 15-11.


If you missed any of this weekend's action, you can watch the replay at WatchESPN.com or on the Watch ESPN App (iPhone or Android). 

See the final results and scores on The Tucson Memorial's R2sports site HERE.

The WPH put on another incredible show that carried some extra meaning.  Players and fans from around the world trekked to Tucson for this $50K "no entry fee" event that paid tribute to our fallen handball friends.  Read the WPH wrap-up and report HERE.

SATURDAY

Dave Fink tracks down a shot off the back wall in semifinal action against Killian Carroll.

Killian Carroll overcame a collision with the sidewall at 0-0 and a great performance by David Fink to earn a trip to Sunday's final.  After sliding into the wall at 0-0 after making a few great gets, Carroll won the first and was up 9-1 in the second before Fink made a great comeback to win the second. Carroll mounted another 9-1 lead in the third before Fink made another strong effort to get back into contention but Carroll closed it out for the win.

Between pro semifinals, Kara Mack explained the Memorial's significance.  

The WPH Qualifier Draw can make the preliminary rounds exciting and even unpredictable.  Unpredictable was indeed the case on Friday, as many players qualified for the first time.  In the top qualifier bracket, Richie Fernandez (Juarez, Mexico) toppled Marcos Chavez (Yorba Linda, CA), 25-21 while Tyler Stoffel (Mankato, MN), a collegiate All-American coming off a year of injuries, upended favorite Max Langmack (Springfield, MO), 25-12. 

In a historic R48Pro first, father and son, Leo Canales Sr. and Leo Canales Jr. (El Paso, TX),  qualified for the Pro Draw.  They were joined by Stephen Cooney (Ireland), Loren Collado (Orinda, CA), Braulio Ruiz (Tucson) and Abraham Montijo (Tucson).

Richie Fernandez (background) waits for Daniel Cordova to track down a ball off the back wall in first round action in the WPH R48Pro Draw.  Cordova advanced to the quarterfinals by defeating Fernandez, 15-6, 15-3. 

The Tucson Memorial and WPH R48Pro VIII Stop #2 boasts the top prize money purse of the year at $50K!  While the exciting action of the WPH R48Pro Season 8 resumes at the Tucson Racquet Club, the event honors those in our community who have left us, but also celebrates their lives through the sport we love most.

Be sure to catch Sunday's action!  Watch LIVE coverage on WatchESPN.com and the WatchESPN App  See the WPH Schedule).  Follow the draws on the tournament R2sports site HERE.

Read the WPH's official Press Release HERE.

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2018 USHA National Junior 3-Wall Championships

VENICE BEACH, Calif. -- The 2018 USHA National Junior 3-Wall Championships wrapped four-straight days of small ball and big ball singles and doubles at the Venice Beach Rec Center late Sunday afternoon.  Many of the top seeds advanced to finals in four divisions, giving them a huge workload on the final day. 

Jesus Mendez of Los Angeles made a huge splash at last year's juniors, winning the 15-Under Big Ball and Small Ball crowns.  This year, Mendez topped his previous feat, winning the Boys 17-Under Small and Big Ball singles and the Boys 19-Under Small and Big Ball doubles (hauling in four first-place medals!). 

Andrew Garcia (pictured swinging against Luis Mendez in the small ball final) came close, winning three divisions before narrowly losing in the 19-Under Big Ball Doubles final to Mendez and Eddie "Toro" Rocha, 15-3, 12-15, 15-13.  Garcia, playing in six matches on Sunday won the Boys 19-Under Small Ball singles, Big Ball singles and Small Ball doubles. 

After winning 15-Under One-Wall titles in New York last month, David Sanchez slammed 15-Under Small Ball crowns on Sunday, defeating Fermin Victoria, 15-4, 15-0 in the singles.  Sanchez teamed with Joahann Campos of Kansas City to take the doubles crown over George Mitchell and Anthony Sanchez, 15-9, 15-11.

In the 13-Under Small Ball final, Luis Fernandez of Santa Barbara's TGOP program edged Andres Cordova of Juarez, Mexico, 15-9, 10-15, 15-7.  In the 13-Under Doubles Small Ball final, the TGOP team Osby Perez and Daniel Mora outlasted Tucson's Ayden Brule and Rene Sosa, 15-8, 15-7.  

It was another tremendous National Junior 3-Wall Championships, hosted by the Southern California Handball Association.  Kids were treated with amazing backpacks, shirts and hats as well as a BBQ lunch each day at the beach.  A special "thank you" to the volunteers who braved the beach traffic and hot sun throughout the event:  Marcus Hough, Mark Zamora, Roy Harvey and the many others. 

Thanks to the First Ace & Presidents Club contributors, 43 of the 81 participants who traveled from out of town received travel fund assistance from the USHA!  Want to support First Ace or Join the Presidents Club?  Donate through our secure online store HEREThe United States Handball Association is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization.  Thank you for your support!

See the updated draws and results HERE.


 

 

VENICE BEACH, Calif. -- Big ball singles and doubles set the table for the day's matches at the Venice Beach Rec Center on Saturday in the 2018 USHA National Junior 3-Wall Championships.  

All four top seeds advanced to the semifinals in the Boy's 19-Under Singles.  The top seeds in the younger 13-Under bracket didn't fair the same.  Top-seeded Abraham Sanchez made a valiant effort but came up just short to Moises Barrientos, losing 0-15, 15-14, 15-7.  On the other side of the draw, Fernando Estrella stopped Luis Fernandez, 9-15, 15-8. 15-6. 

The 11-Under division provided the most thrilling match of the day as Jose "JJ" Arellano outlasted Christopher Reyes of Sun Valley, CA (shown swinging) 15-13, 13-15, 15-11.  

See the updated draws and results HERE.


VENICE BEACH, Calif. -- The afternoon sun finally broke through the marine layer that provided relief to players up to that point.  This also came at a time when quarterfinal and semifinal matches became more competitive and heated on the second day of the 2018 USHA National Junior 3-Wall Championships

This year's first national title went to Tucson's Team 520 player Sophia Della Croce in Girls 17-Under division, 15-14, 15-6.  Della Croce and teammate Belisa Camacho played to a 14-14 stalemate in the first game before Della Croce took the final point.  In the second, Della Croce's serve dictated the pace, and she used an ace to secure championship point.  Della Croce and Camacho paired to win the Girls 17-Under doubles later on Friday. 

In Boy's 19-Under action, Andrew Garcia earned a return to the final with a 15-11, 15-10 win over Jonathan Gutierrez in the semifinals.  Gutierrez kept each game close and wowed the Venice crowd with some amazing shots, showing tremendous poise to run down and return deep shots.  Garcia answered, showing off amazing hand control with fly-kills and soft paddle shots in the front court that landed beyond his opponent's reach.  

In the other 19-Under semifinal, Luis Mendez, last year's 17-Under champ looked unstoppable, stopping Brandon Ramirez (shown right) 15-8, 15-4.  Mendez and Garcia will face off in the Sunday morning final. 

The best match of the day was in the 19-Under semifinals.  Luis Mendez and David Ruiz gave Brandon Ramirez and Jon Gutierrez a tough first game but looked overwhelmed, losing the first game, 15-12.  In the second, Ruiz caught fire, delivering timely rekills and keeping rallies alive to take pressure off his teammate.  They held a comfortable 14-10 lead and appeared to be heading into a tiebreaker before Ramirez and Gutierrez scored three unanswered points to keep things close.  Facing a possible collapse, Ruiz again made another amazing front-court diving shot to help force the tiebreaker.  In the tiebreaker, Mendez and Ruiz cruised to a 15-3 win.  They'll face Andrew Garcia and Jesus Mendez in Sunday's final. 

Big Ball singles and doubles divisions kickoff on Saturday morning.  

See the updated draws and results HERE.

 


 


VENICE BEACH, Calif
. -- The Venice Beach Boardwalk was crowded with the usual summer tourist traffic. Many of the visitors stopped to watch and marveled at the talented athleticism of the juniors playing at the 2018 USHA National Junior 3-Wall Championships.  Banners hung across the event's canopy tents and on the bleachers indicating that National Championships were in progress, and many curious onlookers stayed to ask questions about handball and pulled out camera phones to film the action.

The day's biggest upset belonged to Los Angeles' Fermin Victoria (shown with coach Patrick Saito) who upset No. 1 seed Bryan Trejo of Santa Barbara in the Boy's 15-Under singles.  Victoria has been one of the most improved players in Patrick Saito's program out of Washington Irving Middle School. 

All junior players were given the royal treatment, getting a backpack, three shirts and a hat as part of their tournament swag bag.  Quarterfinal and semifinal play continues tomorrow.  (Intro image is of Michael Madden from Ft. Collins in first round action).

This year's Junior 3-Wall Championships, hosted and supported by the Southern California Handball Association and the Los Angeles Fire Department Handball, is packed with 80 players, traveling from Colorado, Mexico, Arizona and all over California.  Small ball competition started the event on Thursday, July 26, with Big Ball divisions beginning on Saturday. 

See the event's draws and start time at the official r2sports.com site HERE.

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6th Annual Coney Island Players Championship

BROOKLYN, N.Y. -- The 6th Annual Coney Island Players Championship was held In Memory of Michael Schneider Sr. (aka “Papa”), on Sept. 15. In addition to a strong field competing for prize money, many close friends of Papa Schneider were on hand, including Dan Flickstein and Hall of Famers Al Torres and Albert Apuzzi.

Tournament directors Jared Vale and Billy O’Donnell presented Mike Schneider Jr. with a plaque honoring his late father. The short presentation included a huge thank you to event sponsor Elliot Joseph, another close friend of Papa whose generous contributions keep this event as a highlight of the summer and to remember our fallen handball family members. 

After a week of awful weather in NYC, the sun finally came out for a perfect day of handball. The Open Singles division was stacked with 28 of the top one-wall small ball players in the world. The field included current World Champion William Polanco and National Champion Tyree Bastidas.

Once again, Tyree Bastidas proved to be the best in class; however his run to the title was met with several close matches. The most notable was tournament MVP Andres Calle, a NYC police officer, who came within one point of upsetting Bastidas in the semifinals. Yuber “Pee Wee” Castro scored a $100 Bounty by taking out Jurell Bastidas 25-17 in one of the most exciting matches of the day.  Pee Wee was unable to generate enough energy to take out Tyree in the final, no doubt a victim of reaching the final of two divisions. Castro retired in the final with Tyree leading 9-3.

Several open singles competitors also entered the 40+ doubles, making this one of the most competitive Masters divisions in history. Joe Kaplan, Anthony Jones and Eddie Perez joined Pee Wee as competitors in both divisions. It was a hard road to the final, which featured the teams of Jai Ragoo and Cesar Sala against Pee Wee Castro and William Polanco. Ragoo and Sala were able to topple Castro and Polanco after a one-hour match that saw several lead changes. At 14-all, Ragoo stepped up and took control, hitting several rally-ending shots that pushed his team to victory, 25-19.

Next year, The 7th Annual Coney Island Players Championship looks to increase the $5,000 purse and attract players from all over the country and the world!

Photos taken by Kirk Lewis.

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58th USHA National One-Wall Championships

BROOKLYN, N.Y. -- It was a big day for the Bastidas Brothers (with Dad Jose) as Tyree (right) edged Jurell to regain his singles title and then teamed together win the doubles over Alvaro Rebaza and Victor Lopierre.  The Yee brothers earned the same honors in the 65 bracket as Jerry took an injury default win over Daniel before outlasting Richard Kocher and Ron Frisina in the doubles final.

It was a beautiful day at the beach on Sunday, especially for the fans who got to see some of the best play ever on Court 1.  More titles were won on Saturday as Jai Ragoo won the seniors, Juan Martinez took the masters, Ray Lu earned the A and then lost the B final to Arnold Lee.

Final results are HERE

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