TUCSON — The anticipation for the finals on Sunday morning was high at the Tucson Racquet Club, and players and fans came in bunches to tune in to the Women’s Classic final, Men’s Pro final, and the age division Master Singles finals.
Ashley Ruiz and Mikaila Esser squarred off in the Women’s Classic final. Each player resides in Tucson and are great friends, who know the other’s game well.
Ruiz blitzed Esser to begin the match, jumping out to a 13-0 lead before Esser could get on the board. Esser played even after that, but Ruiz’s lead was insurmountable. Not much changed game two, as Ruiz continued her dominant form and and controlled the match from beginning to end, clinching the title for third consecutive time, 21-11, 21-8.
Danielle Daskalakis beat Clodagh Munroe for third place while Kristen Hughes defeated Taylor Bell for fifth place in the Women’s Classic division. Nichole Alberg won the drop down division.
The Men’s Pro final followed with Luis Cordova Jr. taking on Sean Lenning, a rematch of the last WPH LTE stop in Juarez that went to Cordova. Lenning came out strong and built a 14-8 game one lead. He then missed a kill shot by just inches that would have won him the first game. Instead, it was a sideout and Cordova rallied all the way back to win the game. He continued that strong play in game two, and won the match 16-14, 15-1.
The Master Singles brackets were very strong this year and all the winners and finalists should be proud of their performance. The finals on Sunday had some very exciting matches.
In the 35 plus division, Abraham Montijo overcame a one game defecit to defeat Braulio “Shorty” Ruiz in a tiebreaker to earn his second national title of the year.
Chris Tico played 10 years down in the 40 plus division and still came out on top. He defeated Jorge Lopez in the finals and played exceptionally.
Leo Canales Sr. defeated John Henning in the 55 plus singles final. It was a rematch of last year’s final that also went to Canales in a very close match.
Joe Tierney entered the 60 singles division for the first time and immediately came away with a title, outlasting Tom McGrath in two games.
Gary Scogin continued his dominance in the 65 plus singles division, taking down Michael Linnik for another national title.
Scott Spann won a loaded the 70 plus singles division that was full of strong players and former national champions. Spann outlasted Gary Eisenbooth in the finals.
Grey Raya added another national title by claiming the 75 singles division over Art Brooks.
Lastly, Jerry Zimmerman defeated Jim Ward in the 80 singles divsion in a thrilling tiebreaker match. It is hard to believe the level of play these guys can still perform at in the 80 plus division.
The Master Singles champions:
35+: Abraham Montijo
40+: Chris Tico
55+: Leo Canales Sr.
60+: Joe Tierney
65+: Gary Scogin
70+: Scott Spann
75+: Greg Raya
80+: Jerry Zimmerman
Thank you to all the supporters, volunteers and players who competed in the tournament. Thank you to the WPH for running the pro event alongside the Women’s Classic and Master Singles. It made for a great mega-event!
Watch a replay of the finals on our Youtube channel HERE
TUCSON — As match play continued through Saturday, the excitement around the Tucson Racquet Club reached a fever-pitch level with the table being set for Sunday’s finals.
In Women’s Classic action, top-seeded Ashley Ruiz cruised in her semifinal contest, defeating Collegiate All-American Clodagh Munroe of Minnesota State Mankato, 21-6, 21-1. Ruiz was dialed in to reach a second consecutive Women’s Classic final with well-placed passes and impressive power.
On the other side of the draw, Mikaila Esser faced an uphill battle against Danielle Daskalakis after dropping the first game. She regrouped to take the second and rode the home crowd momentum to win the tiebreaker, punching her ticket to the final with scores of 13-21, 21-14, 11-9. The two Tucsonans will meet again in Sunday’s final.
The gallery stayed packed for the WPH R48Pro LTE quarters and semifinals. Sean Lenning pulled off a quarterfinal upset, stopping Martin Mulkerrins, 15-8, 14-16, 15-8 in the quarterfinals. Lenning advanced to the final after David Fink had to withdraw due to injury.
In the opposite semifinal, the “Flying Cordova Bros.” kept the crowd pounding on the glass with an array of dazzling handball. Top-seeded Lucho Cordova was able to best his brother Danos to earn his spot in the final, 16-14, 8-15, 15-2.
Players, families and handball fans enjoyed a special Saturday Night Reception at the Handball Hall of Fame. USHA Executive Director Matt Krueger thanked those in attendance for supporting the tournament and presented the 2023 Marty Decatur Sportsmanship Award to El Paso’s Manny Talamantes.
Talamantes was grateful for the gesture and naturally deflected any praise telling the group, “Everyone deserves this. Handball players are great people and easy to be around.”
Sunday’s finals begin at 9 a.m. Pacific, with the Women’s Classic at 10 a.m., followed by the WPH R48Pro LTE final at 11:15 a.m.
See updated draws and results HERE.
This year’s edition of the USHA Hall of Fame Tournament will feature a WPH R48LTE Stop #8, the National Masters Singles and the Women’s Classic. All the action begins Friday, April 14 at the Tucson Racquet Club, starting with the Men’s R48LTE preliminary round at Noon.
Match start times are available HERE.
With 126 participants, the courts will be buzzing from Friday through Sunday. Reserve seating for the exhibition court is still available, but seats are selling fast! Tickets can be purchased by calling 520-795-0434, or see the tournament desk outside the Tucson Racquet Club’s Handball Lobby.
Draws will be posted, April 13 at 10 a.m. Pacific. (Please note: draws and times are tentative and may change up until the first match played. Please double-check your times up until the day of).
We’re happy to bring players great hospitality, including a 5 p.m. Saturday dinner at the Tucson Racquet Club followed by a reception at the Hall of Fame Museum. Follow this post for schedule updates and more information.
Can’t make it to Tucson? Show court matches will be streamed on the USHA YouTube Channel.