Killian Carroll entered Sunday’s final having lost just one match in the past 12 months, while racking up wins in three R48 events, adding his second national championship, and collecting assorted titles in Ireland and across the U.S. Mando Ortiz avoided elimination by mere inches in his quarterfinal showdown against Emmett Peixoto and parlayed his good fortune into his first finals appearance since winning the R48 6 Minnesota in November of 2016.
Ortiz entered the final with 3-2 head-to-head record in Race 4 Eight play against Killian Carroll and was aiming for his third Race 4 Eight title in Atlanta, while Carroll was seeking his second consecutive R48 title after winning the R48 6 Player’s Championship last April. Carroll and Ortiz played evenly in the first six service innings of the match, trading side outs with flat rollouts. Carroll took control after a close start, building a 12-4 lead and appearing to be on his way to a first-game lead. Just as Ortiz had done the day before against Emmett Peixoto when trailing 5-12, Ortiz caught fire, killing the ball from everywhere on the court to force overtime, eventually taking a 15-14 lead. Ortiz earned a back wall setup with his left hand to end the first game but misplayed his favorite shot, shanking the attempted kill in the ground. Following a three minute and 40 second timeout and equipment timeout, Carroll scored three points on six swings to steal game one.
Carroll raced to a 12-4 second game lead, but unlike game one, closed out the game by scoring three of the final four points of the match to clinch his fifth R48 title in six starts. “It was a great battle in there today,” stated Ortiz. “I really enjoyed it.”
David Fink and Luis Cordova renewed their rivalry that has gone back and forth over the past two seasons. Fink overcame hometown favorite Luis Cordova to take 5th, building a 14-3 first half lead and holding off a Cordova charge to avoid losing to both Cordova brothers in the same event.
NYAC teammates Stephen Cooney and Jonathan Iglesias met for the first time since the 9th place playoffs at the R48 6 NYAC in March, won by Iglesias. Iglesias improved with each match in Atlanta and played his best match of the weekend against good buddy Stephen Cooney, controlling the front court and dictating play en route to a comprehensive victory against the Irishman.
Thank you to Lance Wachholz and the entire E4 team for making the Atlanta R48 7 Stop #1 an incredible weekend, complete with endless hospitality and great camaraderie. Special thanks to Jason Chan & Rec ATL for opening their doors to a rowdy bunch. We hope to be back! Thank you to the WPH staff, players, and volunteers for showcasing the best handball players in the sport.
Atlanta R48 Finishes
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Sunday @ Race Stop #1 Broadcast Schedule Live on race4eight.com
ALL TIMES EASTERN
9th place final (10 am est): Jonathan Iglesias vs. Stephen Cooney
5th place final (10:45 am est): David Fink vs. Luis Cordova
Men’s final (11:30 am est): Killian Carroll vs. Mando Ortiz Jr.
Atlanta, GA, WPH Press, 10/7/17-
Saturday: Day Two
Round of 8
Second-seeded David Fink and seventh-seeded Daniel Cordova clashed in the first quarterfinal match of the morning. Fink owned a 2-1 head-to-head record against “Danos,” but Danos was determined to even the head-to-head record and advance to his second R48 semifinal. Cordova raced to an 11-5 first game lead. Fink cut the deficit to two at 9-11, but Cordova halted Fink’s momentum by scoring the final four points of the game to take a one-game lead. Cordova dominated the early part of game two, taking a 6-0 lead and appearing to be in complete control. Fink reeled off eight consecutive points and the pair traded the lead six times before reaching 13-all. Fink escaped a two-game sweep to force a third, where the veteran took a 9-2 lead. Cordova stormed back in front of his home fans, tying the score at 10. With both players exhausted after nearly two hours of play and multiple 20+ shot rallies, Fink led 13-12 with the win within his sights. Cordova killed a served that came around the revolving door, scored the 13th point, and after a side out, scored the final two points to advance.
Emmett Peixoto was finally back in full flight after a back injury and broken hand from the second half of last season and faced a motivated Mando Ortiz. Ortiz quickly built a 6-0 lead in game one, but Peixoto methodically climbed back into the match. Using a lob serve and a ceiling game, Peixoto frustrated Ortiz by pinning him in the back corners and executing offensive opportunities. Peixoto scored 15 of the final 16 points of game one and continued to dominate in game two, leading 12-5 and three points from his first R48 semifinal in 11 months. Ortiz started shooting for the bottom board with both hands and connecting, cutting Peixoto’s lead to one at 14-13. Peixoto served for the match and after a rally of 11 shots, Ortiz shot for the bottom board from 32-feet and connected, staying alive. Peixoto would serve for the match again at 15-14, hitting a crack serve on the left wall that he believed won him the match. Ortiz scooped up the crack serve and won an eight shot rally that Peixoto argued should have never taken place. The call eventually stood, fueling Ortiz and demoralizing Peixoto. Ortiz would score three consecutive points to win game two and dominate game three to advance to his first semifinal since February.
Sean Lenning erased a three-match losing streak to Luis Cordova in the third semifinal, crushing the hometown favorite in just 22 minutes. “I told Luis to just keep getting the balls back and try to wear Sean down but Sean never got tired and kept making his shots,” stated Cordova’s dad and coach Luis Cordova, Sr. Lenning proved that he is back in near top form with the impressive performance.
The final quarterfinal of the day pitted R48 #1 Killian Carroll against SR48 #1 Marcos Chavez. Chavez never appeared to have the self-belief to compete with the R48 Player’s Champion, falling in two lopsided games.
In the first semifinal, Mando Ortiz was seeking his first R48 final since winning Minnesota in November of 2016, while Daniel Cordova was seeking the first final of his R48 career. Ortiz neutralized Cordova’ hop serve and dominated the action with his serve, blasting aces in the left side wall and sneaking power serves down the right to keep Cordova guessing. Ortiz built a 14-5 first game lead and held off a late Cordova rally to win 15-9. With Ortiz leading 7-1 in the second, he appeared to hurt his chest on a dive at the short line. Ortiz was seen pointing at his chest to try to control his heart rate. Cordova scored seven of the next 10 points after Ortiz’s heart trouble, but missed an easy offensive opportunity at the short line with his right hand. Cordova would not score again after his unforced error, falling to Ortiz in two games.
Killian Carroll and Sean Lenning met in the final match of the evening and the two superstars did not disappoint. Lenning was in rare form, cracking aces, 38-foot kills, and even behind-the-back kills. Not to be outdone, Carroll found the bottom board on numerous occasions, while mixing in aces and incredible retrieves. The titans found themselves tied at 13, and as Carroll has routinely done in the past year, he found a way to win. The second game played out much like the first, with neither player able to build a lead of more than three points. With Carroll leading 10-7, Lenning tied the score at 11 with two aces and two kills. Carroll’s big game confidence carried him over the line again, as he scored the final four points of the match to advance to his fifth consecutive R48 final. “I’m always learning new things in every match,” stated Carroll to one of his fans.
Sunday Broadcast Schedule Live on race4eight.com
To watch the action live from Atlanta starting Sunday morning at 10 am est, go to race4eight.com
To follow the draws and results from Atlanta, go here
WPH Senior Writer
Friday: Day One
The WPH Race 4 Eight professional handball tour returned for its seventh season at the Ron Cook Peachtree Open/R48 7 Stop #1 presented by E4, featuring nine of the top 10 Race 4 Eight pros and top qualifiers from California, Arizona, Minnesota, Tennessee, Georgia, New York, and Ireland.
(Editor’s Note: To Watch LIVE go to www.race4eight.com)
A number of the game’s top stars were vying for a spot in Atlanta’s main draw in the Friday morning qualifier.
Marcos Chavez entered Atlanta’s qualifier as the highest ranked pro in the qualifier and cruised past future R48 star Ivan Burgos to advance to the main draw. Ryan Pesch built a 20-12 lead against New York’s Matt Chu and held off a late rally to qualify. Jon Iglesias had little difficulty with local star Vince Mailing, while Shorty Ruiz needed just 11 minutes to defeat Benjamin Poe.
Former Elite 8 invitee Stephen Cooney faced one of Juarez’s top stars, Marcos Reneteria. Cooney was too steady for the Southwest standout, advancing in just 17 minutes.
Former junior national champion and Triple A relief pitcher Nick Mattioni entered his first R48 qualifier and drew multiple-time qualifier and Canada’s highest ranked R48 star Ryan Bowler. With the pair tied at six after 20 minutes of play, Mattioni surged to an 18-10 lead and held off the Bowl Dog to qualify for the first time.
Minnesota State All-American
Tyler Stoffel crushed Dave Munson, earning his second trip to the R48 main draw.
Chavez def Burgos 25-13
Iglesias def Mailing 25-9
Montijo (pre qualified in Tucson)
Cooney def Renteria 25-7
Ruiz def Poe 25-5
Mattioni def Bowler 25-17
Pesch def Chu 25-18
Stoffel def D. Munson 25-7
David Fink needed just 16 minutes to win the first main draw match of the R48 7 season, disposing of Minnesota’s Ryan Pesch. Daniel Cordova faced fellow Lake Forest College alum and former nemesis Jonathan Iglesias, with the winner to face Fink on Saturday morning. Cordova took a 13-5 lead in game one, only to see Iglesias cut the deficit to one at 12-13. Three consecutive right hand kills sealed the first game for Cordova. The second was close in the first half before Cordova pulled away to advance to the quarterfinals.
Emmett Peixoto and Abraham Montijo battled for nearly 90 minutes in a clash of grinders. The pair sprinkled great shots with errors, with Peixoto ultimately winning both games by identical scores of 15-9. “I just did not feel comfortable on the court,” stated Peixoto. “I was having a hard time adjusting to the bounces but after the first half of the second game I was more confident.”
Mando Ortiz faced first-time qualifier Nick Mattioni in the fourth round of 16 match in the bottom bracket. Despite limited pro tour experience, Mattioni pushed the former R48 #1 to the limit in both games. Trailing 10-15, 8-13, Mattioni reeled off five straight points to tie the second game at 13. Mattioni was unable to convert an opportunity to score his 14th point and Ortiz took advantage, scoring the final two points of the match. “He’s got real potential,” stated Ortiz. “He should definitely come to more events.” “It’s just like professional baseball,” stated former New York Mets Triple A relief pitcher Mattioni. “It’s all about consistency. I just need to play at this level more often.”
Shorty Ruiz started quickly against Player’s Championship finalist Luis Cordova to start their round of 16 match, taking a 6-0 lead. Cordova called a timeout and scored 15 of the next 17 points of the game. Game two played out almost identically to game one, with Cordova trailing 2-7 before scoring 13 of the final 14 points of the game to advance. “I don’t know what happened,” stated an exasperated Ruiz after the match. “I was playing well and just fell apart after he called a timeout at 6-0 in game one and 7-2 in game two.”
Five weeks after winning his ninth 3-Wall national title, Sean Lenning appeared to be in midseason form in his first 4-Wall match since June, ousting the NYAC’s Stephen Cooney in two games. Lenning used a dominating serve to control the rallies, keeping the “Coon Doog” off balance and in the back of the court.
Team LAAC teammates Marcos Chavez and Vic Perez met for the second time in the round of 16 in the last three R48 stops. Chavez entered the match knowing a strong performance in Atlanta could catapult him into the Elite 8, while Perez knew he needed a good showing to earn consecutive Elite 8 invites. Chavez cruised to a comprehensive first game win with bottom board rollouts against his protégé, only to see Perez turn the tables in game two to force a third. Chavez led throughout the tiebreaker and arrived at match point, 14-10. Chavez missed an overhand kill attempt by inches, opening the door slightly for Perez. Perez cut the deficit to 11-14, but a side out and a 38-foot Chavez back wall kill clinched the victory. “I Chapman’ed that last shot,” boasted Chavez, referencing the deep back wall kill to end the match.
Killian Carroll faced Minnesota’s Tyler Stoffel in the final match of the evening and made quick work of the prodigy, dispatching the 20-year-old in two games. “Killian has actually improved his game since June,” stated WPH play-by-play broadcaster Dave Vincent. “He added a power reverse serve that’s just unbelievable.”
Fink vs. D. Cordova (10 am)
Ortiz vs. Peixoto (10:45 am)
L. Cordova vs. Lenning (11:30 am)
Carroll vs. Chavez (12:15 pm)
To watch the action live from Atlanta starting Saturday morning at 10 am est, go to race4eight.com
To follow the draws and results from Atlanta, go here
WPH Senior Writer