Los Angeles, CA, WPH Press, 5/21/17- The famed Los Angeles Athletic Club hosted the LAAC Spring Open, honoring the life of LAAC handball ambassador Wafe Risner. The pro singles field featured four of the WPH Race 4 Eight’s top 12 pros, as well as former 4-Wall and 11-time 3-Wall pro singles national champion Vince Munoz.
R48 #6 Sean Lenning entered the 2017 Wafe Risner as the defending champion and top seed, while R48 #4 and last year’s Wafe Risner finalist Mando Ortiz entered this year’s event as the #2 seed and seeking to defend his home court at the LAAC. Ortiz’s LAAC rival and WPH Senior Race #1 and R48 #11 Marcos Chavez grabbed the #3 seed, while R48 #10 Vic Perez and Vince Munoz earned the four and five seeds, respectively.
40-something Vince Munoz continued to amaze in the Wafe quarterfinals against R48 #11 Vic Perez just seven months after defeating R48 #1 Killian Carroll and R48 #7 Emmett Peixoto in doubles at last year’s Simple Green U.S. Open. Perez raced to a 16-10 first-game lead, only to see Munoz mount a comeback, hitting crack aces and kills to tie the score at 19. As always, Perez was unfazed after being tied at 19, using his six years of Race 4 Eight experience and wins against Mando Ortiz, Charly Shanks, Emmett Peixoto, and Luis Cordova to weather the Munoz storm, hitting a flat kill and a pass on the 40th shot of the final rally to take game one, 21-19. Game two played out similarly to game one, with Perez taking a 15-10 lead, only to see Munoz roar back to lead 19-17. “Vince really went back in time during his second game run, hitting flat rollouts from everywhere on the court to prove he can still play with anyone in the world,” stated top Southern California junior and WPH reporter Andrew Garcia. “Perez proved why he is a top 10 pro, going on a four-point streak to end the match.”
Top-seeded Sean Lenning cruised past Eli Barajas to advance to a semifinal showdown with Perez, while in the bottom bracket, Mando Ortiz and Marcos Chavez advanced in straight sets to face one another in bottom bracket semifinals.
Lenning vs. Perez
Sean Lenning controlled the action throughout his two-game win against Vic Perez, executing pass shots and kills to keep Perez off-balance. “It just never felt like Vic was in the match or had a chance to make a comeback in either game,” stated WPH reporter Andrew Garcia.
Ortiz vs. Chavez
Marcos Chavez started well against his LAAC rival Mando Ortiz, building 14-10 lead in the first and second games. Ortiz rallied in the first to take a one-game lead, 21-16, and rallied again in game two, ultimately taking a 20-16 lead. Ortiz appeared to hit an ace to win the match, but the referee called the serve shot, keeping Chavez’s upset bid alive. Chavez earned a side out and scored two points, but was unable to sustain his momentum, losing his serve and losing the next point to fall to the Race 4 Eight #4. “Marcos and Mando played a lot of long rallies and it looked like Marcos had a good chance to win both games,” stated WPH reporter Andrew Garcia. “It seemed like maybe Marcos got tired late in both games, having played a hard doubles match before his singles match with Mando.”
Lenning def Perez 21-14, 21-13
Ortiz def M. Chavez 21-16, 21-18
Sean Lenning and Mando Ortiz met for the second consecutive year in the Wafe Risner final, with Lenning winning last year’s final in two games against the former R48 #1. The pair met most recently in the quarterfinals of last month’s WPH Player’s Championship in Salt Lake City, with Lenning winning that match-up in two games.
Lenning entered the Wafe final still nursing a left shoulder separation sustained at February’s WPH 3WallBall Royal Flush, while Ortiz continued to be plagued by severe tennis elbow on his right arm. Both found ways to compensate en route to the final, with Lenning using underhand fist shots with his left and backhand shots with his right and Ortiz using more fist drives to take the pressure off his injured wing.
Lenning was unstoppable in Sunday morning’s final, decimating Ortiz with overwhelming offense and never allowing Ortiz to dictate play. Lenning built huge leads in both games in the two-game final, controlling the action with power and kills. “Sean just killed everything and it looked like Mando was out of gas,” stated WPH reporter Andrew Garcia. “Sean hit 10 aces in the match and on the points he didn’t win with aces, he hit flat rollouts.”
Final: Lenning def Ortiz 21-6, 21-9
Third place final: Perez def Chavez 21-13, 21-18
Race 4 Eight pros Vic Perez, Mando Ortiz, Sean Lenning, and Marcos Chavez kicked off the 2017 Wafe Risner with a sensational junior handball clinic on the first afternoon of the event, inspiring the next generation of Southern California handball superstars. The pros split the group of 15 junior players onto two courts, teaching serves, back wall technique, ceiling shots, kill shots, and introducing the proper pre-shot footwork and tactics. Following the instruction, the pros played doubles points with the youngsters, giving the next generation of players the opportunity to experience handball at the highest level.
“It was really nice to have all the kids around learning from the pros,” stated Coach Marcos Chavez. “The kids had played for two hours before the clinic and it was great seeing their passion for the sport. All of the kids were given WPH shirts, Owen Gloves, and lunch boxes and were all very appreciative.”
Huge thanks to Race 4 Eight pros Marcos Chavez, Sean Lenning, Vic Perez, and Mando Ortiz for coaching the clinic, the LAAC for hosting the clinic, and 2017 Wafe Risner/LAAC Spring Open tournament director Gary Cruz.
Thank you to WPH reporters Marcos Chavez and Andrew Garcia for the updates and pictures from the 2017 Wafe Risner LAAC Spring Open.
To follow the draws and results of all the brackets and divisions at the 2017 Wafe Risner/LAAC Spring Open, go here
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WPH Senior Writer