The 2017-2018 Race 4 Eight VII Preview

Posted on Sep 12 2017 - 4:35am by david

The 2017-2018 Race 4 Eight VII Preview

The 2017-2018 Race 4 Eight VII Schedule

Atlanta Ron Cook Peach Tree Open Stop #1: (Qualifier + R48) October 6-8, 2017: Enter Atlanta here

Tucson Memorial Stop #2: (Qualifier + R48, WR48) November 10-12, 2017. Enter the Tucson Memorial here

Montana Red Death Stop #3: (Qualifier + R48) January 26-28, 2018. Enter the Red Death here

Las Vegas Bob Harris Royal Flush Stop #4: (Qualifier + R48, WR48, SR48, WPH Outdoor) February 9-11, 2018. Enter the Bob here

Houston USHA National Master Doubles Stop #5: (Qualifier + R48, SR48) March 9-11, 2018. Enter Houston here

NYAC Bert Kossoff Invitational Stop #6: (Qualifier + R48, WR48) April 12-15, 2018. Enter the NYAC here

Salt Lake City Aces Stop #7: (Qualifier + R48, WR48, SR48, WPH Outdoor) May 4-6, 2018. Enter Salt Lake City here

The 2017-2018 Race 4 Eight VII

The World Players of Handball’s Race 4 Eight tour Powered by ESPN returns for its seventh season, featuring six regular season events and the Player’s Championship, with the world’s best handball players competing for more than $150k in prize and bonus money. The Watch ESPN App will carry weekend coverage of five of the seven Race 4 Eight VII events, presenting 12 hours of live coverage on the Worldwide Leader in Sports each weekend. The Race 4 Eight will travel to two new cities on the 2017-2018 Race 4 Eight VII tour, while returning to five handball hotbeds during the eight-month season that starts in October and ends in May.

The 2017-2018 Race 4 Eight VII season promises to be the most exciting season in history, with Race 4 Eight #1 star and two-time defending WPH Race 4 Eight Player’s Champion Killian Carroll leading the pack against a hungry group of challengers that includes Elite 8 stars David Fink, Luis Moreno, Mando Ortiz, Sean Lenning, Luis Cordova, Emmett Peixoto, Daniel Cordova, as well as a number of other great players all seeking Race 4 Eight titles and the top spot. Catriona Casey will strive to maintain her unparalleled Race 4 Eight dominance in the Women’s Race 4 Eight and Marcos Chavez will aim to extend his Senior Race 4 Eight dominance for another season against the best 40+ stars in the world.

Check out everything you need to know about the upcoming R48 VII tour!

The Players

The World Players of Handball is fortunate to have some of the world’s greatest athletes playing on the Race 4 Eight tour. The sensational handball skills demonstrated by the R48 pros drives the tour, with each player awing live and broadcast fans at every venue. The Race 4 Eight stars range in age from late teens to early 40’s, all striving for Race 4 Eight excellence. The love of the game drives each of the players, as can be seen by the incredible efforts put forth by every player in every match. Meet our top stars below.

R48 Men’s Pro

Killian Carroll: Killian Carroll dominated the Race 4 Eight VI season, winning three of his five starts, including his second consecutive Player’s Championship and finishing the season as the dominant #1. Carroll added his second USHA national pro singles title in June, further cementing his spot as the #1 star in the sport. Carroll has a knack for winning close matches and making dramatic comebacks to rip the heart out of his opponents, making him handball’s silent assassin

Current ranking: #1

David Fink: The fiery lefty has been just one of two R48 pros to have maintained a top 8 R48 ranking since the inception of the tour in 2011 and reached the pinnacle of the sport during the Race 4 Eight VI season, ascending to the #1 spot on the heels of three consecutive R48 finals appearances. Fink stood just three points from his first R48 title in his third finals appearance last season and will set his sights on capturing his first R48 crystal during the R48 VII season

Current ranking: #2

Luis Moreno: After winning nine Race titles in his first 17 starts from late 2011-early 2014, Luis Moreno reclaimed his spot in the R48 top three during the R48 VI season. Moreno added his 10th R48 title at the 2017 Plummer Bash (second most all-time), making him one of the Race’s most dominant stars in history. Moreno oozes with talent and when clicking is virtually unstoppable, as he proved in decimating the field at the 2017 R48 VI Plummer Bash. Moreno played his best ball in three years in the middle of last season and will challenge for the top spot in the R48 VII season

Current ranking: #3

Mando Ortiz: Perhaps the most electrifying player in the sport, Mando Ortiz is the only player on the planet that can flat kill the ball from anywhere in the court with either hand. Ortiz combines a flair for the dramatic with a crowd-pleasing personality, making him a fan favorite across the world. Ortiz proved that he has the ability beat anyone in the game, as evidenced by beating four consecutive former or current #1 WPH pros en route to his first R48 title in Houston in early 2015. Ortiz struggled with tennis elbow during the R48 VI season but still finished the year at #4, a testament to his will and talent

Current ranking: #4

Luis Cordova: The youngest Elite 8 finisher in the history of the Race 4 Eight tour in 2012, Cordova enjoyed his breakthrough season during the R48 VI, making the semifinals in New York and the finals in the next stop at the Player’s Championship. Cordova possesses one of the best right hands in the sport, as well as the ability to track down nearly every shot. Cordova will be in the hunt for Race titles and the #1 ranking during the R48 VII season

Current ranking: #5

Sean Lenning: Known as “The Freak” for his ability to consistently make outrageously jaw-dropping shots, Sean Lenning suffered a left shoulder injury during the R48 VI season that hampered his ability to play his sublime brand of handball. Despite playing with 1.57 arms for the second half of the R48 VI season, Lenning still finished the season in the top five. An off-season to heal his ailing shoulder should see Lenning return to the form that has seen him capture five R48 titles in his stellar Race career

Current ranking: #5

Emmett Peixoto: Peixoto brings unmatched speed and intensity to every match, making each R48 pro earn every point, while strategically and methodically searching for weaknesses and openings. The Handball Pro Emeritus at San Francisco’s Olympic Club, Peixoto caught the injury bug midway through the R48 VI season, suffering back spasms in New Orleans and a broken hand in New York. Peixoto has appeared in two R48 finals and has been a fixture in the R48 Elite 8 since 2012. Do not expect that to change in the upcoming season

Current ranking: #7

Daniel Cordova: In three seasons on the Race 4 Eight tour, Daniel Cordova has developed a reputation for the best hop serve on tour. The 2015 R48 Rookie of the Year creates offensive opportunities and points off his dominating serve, as he is able to fool even the game’s best returners. As youngest member of the Elite 8, look for Cordova to continue to make strides towards the top five in the upcoming season

Current ranking: #7

Paul Brady: After five consecutive world titles and 14 R48 titles through the R48 VI season, Paul Brady has established himself as one of the greatest players to ever play the sport. Brady brings and unmatched attention to detail, preparation, focus, physical fitness and shot making to the sport, leaving nothing to chance and winning more than 95% of the tournaments he has entered since 2005. Brady played in just one R48 event during the R48 VI season, winning it without dropping a game. Brady’s tournament schedule has been reduced dramatically, but when “The Gunner” enters, look out!

WR48

Catriona Casey: Catriona Casey is perhaps the most skilled women’s player in history, possessing no discernable weaknesses, two equally strong hands and the ability to make match-changing adjustments on the biggest stages. Casey plays must-see handball, as her on-court elegance and grace is unmatched in today’s game. Casey has won 12 of 13 WR48 events through the WR48 IV season and there does not seem to be anything to stop her from winning nine of the next 10. Casey dropped just one game during her three WR48 starts last season, proving that the gap between she and her peers in widening

Current ranking: #1

Martina McMahon: 2M is one of the game’s most natural athletes, combining timing, speed, power and perfect form. McMahon has established herself as a main event star, winning major titles in Ireland and appearing in the semifinals and finals of all of her WR48 starts over the past two years. McMahon is one of the best players to not yet win a Race title, a title she could very easily shed in the upcoming season

Current ranking: #2

Aoife McCarthy: Aoife McCarthy is one of the greatest shot makers on the WR48 tour, possessing the ability to hit controlled fist kills and pass shots with either hand, while consistently executing back wall kills and dominating power serves. McCarthy earned a career high #3 ranking at the end of last season, finishing in the top seven of all three of her starts. McCarthy will be a threat against any WR48 star next season.

Current ranking: #3

Aimee Ulbert: Atlanta’s Aimee Ulbert took the WR48 by storm during her 2017 rookie season, finishing fourth in both of her 2017 starts, notching impressive wins against WR48 top stars Tracy Davis, Aoife McCarthy and Jessica Gawley. Ulbert possesses two strong hands, with her “off hand” left often seeming to be more dangerous than her right. Ulbert is fiercely competitive and exceptionally fit, making her very difficult to beat

Current ranking: #5

Tracy Davis: At 40 years of age, Tracy Davis is a living legend in the sport and still one of the best players in the game. Davis is unquestionably the fittest player competing in any of the Race 4 Eight brackets, as well as being one of the most well liked. Davis wins and loses with class, always serving as an ambassador to the sport. Davis’ “serve-and-shoot” style makes her dangerous against any opponent and she will look to employ those tactics in the WR48 V season against the best players from both sides of the pond

Current ranking: #5

Suz Koehler: Suz burst onto the WR48 last season and pushed several of the WR48 stars to the limit in her first two WR48 events. Despite lacking in pro experience, Suz competes as well as anyone on tour. Look for a major breakthrough next season

Current ranking: #8

Dr. Ashley Moler: Dr. Moler is one of the most experienced women’s pros on the WR48 tour, combining 4-Wall and 3-Wall expertise into her all-around game. Dr. Moler recently graduated from chiropractic school, giving her more freedom to train, practice, and travel. Look out for Dr. Moler in the upcoming WR48 season

Current ranking: #8

SR48

Marcos Chavez: The three-time SR48 Player’s Champion is a force on not just the SR48 tour, but the R48 tour as well. Playing as well in his early 40’s as he did in his mid 20’s, this crowd-favorite dazzles galleries and frustrates opponents with a mixture of finesse, speed and sneaky power. Chavez owns the most SR48 titles in the history of the tour and will look to continue to dominate the SR48 tour during the 2017-2018 season

Current ranking: #1

Dan Armijo: Dan Armijo is one of handball’s crown jewels, boasting one of the game’s best personalities combined with unmatched longevity. Armijo has been playing pro handball for more than 30 years, a testament to his talent and diligence in maintaining his fitness. Armijo finished the 2016-2017 SR48 season ranked #2 in his mid 50’s and is showing no signs of slowing down on the SR48 circuit

Current ranking: #2

Chris Watkins: The Waddy Dog authored one of the Race 4 Eight’s greatest comebacks in the seven years of the tour, trailing Dan Armijo 9-21 in a one-game match to 25 at the 2017 SR48 Player’s Championship before rallying to oust “The Hand” en route to the final. Watkins displayed his ability to score points in bunches during that comeback, the hallmark of the Alvarado School in which he was groomed. Waddy will be aiming for his first SR48 title during the 2017-2018 season

Current ranking: #4

To see the Race 4 Eight player bios, go here

The Cities

Atlanta R48 VII Stop #1 October 6-8, 2018: The Race 4 Eight tour returns to Atlanta for the first time since 2012 and first stop of the 2017-2018 Race 4 Eight VII season, bringing the game’s best players to the Southeast’s Mecca of handball at the RecreationAtl. Sponsored by E4, Atlanta’s Peach Tree Open/Ron Cook Memorial will feature E4’s sponsored superstars, Luis and Daniel Cordova, aiming to capture their hometown event. The Cordova brothers will face a stellar field in Hotlanta, all of whom will be seeking a strong start to their respective Race 4 Eight seasons. Watch all of the action from the Peach Tree Open/Ron Cook Memorial on wphlive.tv

Tucson R48 VII Stop #2 November 10-12, 2018: The WPH is thrilled to host the Race 4 Eight 7’s second stop of the season at the home of the WPH in Tucson, AZ. Tucson’s Memorial tournament was started as a tribute to all of handball’s friends and supporters from Tucson and around the world that are no longer with us. The tradition has produced a lot of laughter and tears, as players and fans recall great memories of friends lost. The Tucson Memorial will feature the R48 Men’s Pro, Women’s Race 4 Eight, Big Ball pro singles, 4-Wall Pro/AM doubles, dozens of junior handball stars, as well as age division and skill level brackets, with all of the action broadcast on ESPN3

Montana R48 VII Stop #3 January 26-28, 2018: The Race 4 Eight will head to beautiful Garden City-Missoula, Montana, for the third stop of the 2017-2018 Race 4 Eight 7 season. Montana’s Red Death event has long been one of the game’s best tournaments and will now host its first Race 4 Eight event, showcasing the world’s best handball players in the North West. Players will contend with altitude of 3200 feet in Missoula, meaning fitness will be a key to taking the Red Death title. The Red Death will be broadcast on ESPN

Las Vegas R48 VII Stop #4 February 9-11, 2018: The WPH has held major events in Las Vegas since the start of the 3WallBall Championships in 2010, adding the 4-Wall Royal Flush/Bob Harris Open in 2017. The Race 4 Eight will debut in Las Vegas in 2018 for the fourth stop of the Race 4 Eight 7 season, featuring the R48 Men’s Pro, WR48, SR48 and WPH Outdoor. The city that never sleeps promises to be electric in the middle of February, as the game’s greatest men’s, women’s, senior and Big Ball stars will be in action just several miles from the Las Vegas Strip. This event will be broadcast on ESPN

Houston National Master Doubles R48 VII Stop #5 March 9-11, 2018: The WPH returns to Houston’s Tellespsen YMCA for the sixth consecutive year for the fifth event of the 2017-2018 Race 4 Eight VII season. WPH close friend and former MLB player and manager Art Howe has joined the WPH broadcast every year in Houston, while off the court, players are always treated to an outstanding welcome dinner by WPH R48 host and sponsor Ron Cole. The Space City will be a pivotal event for the R48 and SR48 pros, as each seeks to ascend to the top of the rankings.

New York Athletic Club R48 VII Stop #6 April 12-15, 2018: The Race 4 Eight V heads to New York City and the famed New York Athletic Club for the fifth consecutive year, featuring views from Central Park and midtown Manhattan from the NYAC rooftop. The NYAC is the tour’s most historic venue, connecting handball greats from the past century in one of the country’s most highly regarded athletic clubs. R48 and WR48 players and their families are always treated to an incredible Saturday night banquet, as well as the best amenities of New York City.

Salt Lake City Aces R48 VII Player’s Championship May 4-6, 2018: The Salt Lake City Aces has been voted the “Player’s Favorite” for its sensational hospitality and willingness to show all of the players an incredible experience in the backdrop of Rocky Mountains. Hosting the Race 4 Eight for the seventh consecutive year, the Ace Team hosts an outstanding Saturday evening party and a spectacular venue for watching and playing world-class handball. The R48, WR48, and SR48 will all be in action at The Aces, as the sport’s best will aim for the most coveted prize in the WPH

The History

The World Player’s of Handball’s Race 4 Eight tour kicked off in October of 2011 with the Plummer Helluva Family Bash in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho and has hosted a total of 41 Race 4 Eight events through the first six seasons, featuring the top men’s, women’s, and senior handball players in the world. ESPN jumped onboard in 2014 and the Race 4 Eight has proudly broadcast nearly every Race 4 Eight event live on ESPN3 since its first event on the Worldwide Leader in Sports at the 2014 Simple Green U.S. Open. Paul Brady, Catriona Casey, and Marcos Chavez have been the Race 4 Eight’s most prolific champions on the R48 Men’s Pro, WR48, and SR48, respectively, and each superstar will be aiming for more WPH Race 4 Eight crystal this season. Check out the Race 4 Eight List of Champions and Finalists through the first six seasons below.

Race 4 Eight, Senior Race 4 Eight and Women’s Race 4 Eight Stops and Champions and Finalists: 2011-Present

R48 I: 2011-2012

 

1.    Plummer (ID)

R48 Champion: Luis Moreno (AZ)/Finalist: Naty Alvarado, Jr. (CA)

2.    U.S. Open (CA)

R48 Champion: Robbie McCarthy (IRE)/Finalist: Charly Shanks (IRE)

3.    Tucson (AZ)

R48 Champion: Luis Moreno (AZ)/Finalist: Sean Lenning (WA)

4.    Fresno (CA)

R48 Champion: Sean Lenning (WA)/Finalist: Naty Alvarado, Jr. (CA)

5.    Atlanta (GA)

R48 Champion: Luis Moreno (AZ)/Finalist: Naty Alvarado, Jr. (CA)

6.    Salt Lake City (UT)

R48 Champion: Luis Moreno (AZ)/Finalist: Sean Lenning (WA)

7.    LAAC (CA)

R48 Champion: Sean Lenning (WA)/Finalist: Al. Garner (TX)

8.    Seattle (WA)

R48 Champion: Luis Moreno (AZ)/Finalist: Sean Lenning (WA)

 

R48 II + SR48 I: 2012-2013

 

9.    U.S. Open (CA)

R48 Champion: Paul Brady (IRE)/Finalist: Charly Shanks (IRE)

10. Tucson (AZ)

R48 Champion:  Sean Lenning (WA)/Finalist: Al. Garner (TX)

11. Houston (TX)

R48 Champion: Charly Shanks (IRE)/Finalist: Naty Alvarado, Jr. (CA)

SR48 Champion: Naty Alvarado, Jr. (CA)/Finalist: Tyler Hamel (TX)

12. Anchorage (AK)

R48 Champion: Luis Moreno (AZ)/Finalist: Charly Shanks (IRE)

13. Denver (CO)

R48 Champion: Luis Moreno (AZ)/Finalist: Sean Lenning (WA)

SR48 Champion: Naty Alvarado, Jr. (CA)/Finalist: Matt Mclaughlin (MO)

14. Salt Lake City (UT)

R48 Champion: Charly Shanks (IRE)/Finalist: Luis Moreno (AZ)

15. Seattle (WA)

R48 Champion: Paul Brady (IRE)/Finalist: Shanks (IRE)

SR48 Champion: Andy Schad (D.C.)/Finalist: John Bike (CA)

 

R48 III + WR48 I: + SR48 II 2013-2014

 

16. Plummer (ID)

R48 Champion: Al. Garner (TX)/Finalist: Mando Ortiz (CA)

17. U.S. Open (CA)

R48 Champion: Luis Moreno (AZ)/Finalist: Naty Alvarado, Jr. (CA)

WR48 Champion: Catriona Casey (IRE)/Finalist: Aisling Reilly (IRE)

18. Houston (TX)

R48 Champion: Luis Moreno (AZ)/Finalist: Diarmaid Nash (IRE)

SR48 Champion: Marcos Chavez (CA)/Finalist: Tyler Hamel (TX)

19. NYAC (NY)

R48 Champion: Paul Brady (IRE)/Finalist: Robbie McCarthy (IRE)

WR48 Champion: Catriona Casey (IRE)/Finalist: Tracy Davis (NY)

20. Denver (CO)

R48 Champion: Paul Brady (IRE)/Finalist: Emmett Peixoto (CA)

SR48 Champion: Bear Meiring (CO)/Finalist: Dave Vincent (AZ)

21. Salt Lake City (UT)

R48 Champion: Robbie McCarthy (IRE)/Finalist: Luis Moreno (AZ)

WR48 Champion Catriona Casey (IRE)/Finalist: Aisling Reilly (IRE)

SR48 Champion: Marcos Chavez (CA)/Finalist: Meiring (CO)

 

R48 IV + SR48 III + WR48 II: 2014-2015

 

22. U.S. Open (CA)

R48 Champion: Paul Brady (IRE)/Finalist: Luis Moreno (AZ)

WR48 Champion: Catriona Casey (IRE)/Finalist: Aisling Reilly (IRE)

23. Tucson (AZ)

R48 Champion: Paul Brady (IRE)/Finalist: Luis Moreno (AZ)

SR48 Champion: Marcos Chavez (CA)/Finalist: Naty Alvarado, Jr. (CA)

24. Houston (TX)

R48 Champion: Paul Brady (IRE)/Finalist: Sean Lenning (AZ)

SR48 Champion: Naty Alvarado, Jr. (CA)/Tyler Hamel (TX)

25. San Francisco (CA)

R48 Champion: Paul Brady (IRE)/Finalist: Emmett Peixoto (CA)

WR48 Champion: Catriona Casey (IRE)/Finalist: Jessica Gawley (CAN)

26. NYAC (NY)

R48 Champion: Paul Brady (IRE)/Finalist: Andy Nett (MN)

WR48 Champion: Catriona Casey (IRE)/Finalist: Ciana Ni Churraion (IRE)

SR48 Champion: Andy Schad (D.C)/Finalist: Dan Armijo (AZ)

27. Salt Lake City (UT)

R48 Champion: Sean Lenning (AZ)/Finalist: Mando Ortiz (CA)

WR48 Champion: Catriona Casey (IRE)/Finalist: Aisling Reilly (IRE)

SR48 Champion: Marcos Chavez (CA)/Finalist: Tom Sheridan (IRE)

 

R48 V + SR48 IV + WR48 III: 2015-2016

 

28. U.S. Open (CA)

R48 Champion: Paul Brady (IRE)/Luis Moreno (AZ)

WR48 Champion: Aisling Reilly (IRE)/Finalist: Catriona Casey (IRE)

SR48 Champion: Marcos Chavez (CA)/Finalist: Naty Alvarado, Jr. (CA)

29. Tucson (AZ)

R48 Champion: Sean Lenning (AZ)/Finalist: Mando Ortiz (CA)

 

30. New Orleans (LA)

R48 Champion: Paul Brady (IRE)/Finalist: Killian Carroll (IRE)

 

31. Houston (TX)

R48 Champion: Mando Ortiz (CA)/Finalist: Sean Lenning (AZ)

SR48 Champion: Marcos Chavez (CA)/Finalist: Tyler Hamel (TX)

 

32. NYAC (NY)

R48 Champion: Paul Brady (IRE)/Finalist: Mando Ortiz (CA)

WR48 Champion: Catriona Casey (IRE)/Martina McMahon (IRE)

 

33. Salt Lake City (UT)

R48 Champion: Paul Brady/Finalist: Sean Lenning

 

34. Portland (OR)

R48 Champion: Killian Carroll/Finalist: Sean Lenning

WR48 Champion: Catriona Casey/Finalist: Aisling Reilly

SR48 Champion: Gavin Buggy/Finalist: Marcos Chavez

 

R48 6, SR48 5 + WR48 4: 2016-2017

 

35. Simple Green U.S. Open (CA)

R48 Champion: Robbie McCarthy (IRE)/Finalist: Mando Ortiz (CA)

WR48 Champion: Catriona Casey (IRE)/Finalist: Aisling Reilly (IRE)

SR48 Champion: Marcos Chavez (CA)/Finalist: Naty Alvarado, Jr. (CA)

 

36. Minneapolis (MN)

R48 Champion: Mando Ortiz (CA)/Finalist: David Fink (AZ)

SR48 Champion: Marcos Chavez (CA)/Naty Alvarado (CA)

 

37. Plummer (ID)

R48 Champion: Luis Moreno (AZ)/Finalist: David Fink (AZ)

 

38. New Orleans (LA)

R48 Champion: Killian Carroll (IRE)/ Finalist: David Fink (AZ)

 

39. Houston (TX)

R48 Champion: Killian Carroll (IRE)/Finalist: Luis Moreno (AZ)

 

40. NYAC (NY)

R48 Champion: Paul Brady (IRE)/Finalist: Killian Carroll (IRE)

WR48 Champion: Catriona Casey (IRE)/ Finalist: Martina McMahon (IRE)

 

41. Salt Lake City (UT)

R48 Champion: Killian Carroll (IRE)/Finalist: Luis Cordova (MEX)

WR48 Champion: Catriona Casey (IRE)/Finalist: Martina McMahon (IRE)

SR48 Champion: Marcos Chavez (CA)/Finalist: Chris Watkins (CA)

The Preparation

So much preparation goes into each Race 4 Eight season, with players training year-round and administrators and broadcasters preparing venues, tour facts, player features, and so much more. The World Players of Handball is extremely fortunate to have the passion of the players and staff to make the Race 4 Eight VI season the most anticipated season in history.

“I can’t wait for the upcoming R48 VI season,” stated R48 Elite 8 staple Emmett Peixoto. “Although I dropped a bit in the rankings last season, I felt like I was playing better handball than all previous seasons; just a few shots shy from turning the corner. I know this season will be different. After a brief break from training, in order to rest my body and mind, I will be doing drills and working out four to five times a week in preparation for the season. I hope everybody will be doing the same. Let’s make this season the best yet. I will be ready.”

“We had a schedule sent off to ESPN very early in the year and prepared for this upcoming season by literally starting earlier in 2016 to solidify the 2017-18 schedule,” stated WPH Executive Director Dave Vincent. “Right at the time we submitted the schedule to ESPN we attracted an eighth stop [Atlanta], which caused a redraft and delayed our announcement [in a good way] until all logistics were covered.  ESPN approved the schedule a month later, but less than a month after that Simple Green cancelled their event in 2017; causing another major shake-up with the schedule and relationship with ESPN.  We are just now recovering from some hardships and positive additions to the tour schedule and feel very good about our upcoming purpose and direction for 2017/18; even if we have worked on this season for a good eight months.”

“I’m really excited for the upcoming Race 4 Eight season, especially as we will have 4 stops, including two new locations for the WR48,” stated WR48 #1 Catriona Casey. “Currently, I’m training for the 60×30 All-Ireland Singles and Doubles Championships, which will be played throughout August and September. I will then turn my attention to adjusting back to the 40×20 court to prepare for the Tucson Memorial in November. I’m particularly fond of the handball community there and look forward to returning! This season is sure to be very competitive and should provide the perfect lead-in to the World Championships in August.”

“I can’t wait for the season to start,” stated 2017 Women’s Race 4 Eight Breakout Star Aimee Ulbert. “I’m hitting it hard with my diet and lifting so I can keep in shape. I’m definitely going to get in more practice now that I have been to some tournaments and can see what improvements I need to make!”

“I’ve realized I need to improve my game off the court by doing little things to improve my left,” stated WR48 top 8 pro Suz Koehler. “So I take a ball with me everywhere I go and don’t use my right at all. My coworkers have accepted the bouncing wall noise. Lol. But on the court I try and play consistently with little to no stopping for two of three hours to build my stamina. Lifting three to four times a week in between practice days.”

“I am training very hard. I have introduced more weighs as well as increasing cardio,” stated Ireland’s R48 qualifier Peter Funchion. “I’m training a lot with my brother Patrick and that makes things easier.”

“Getting my mind and body ready for the season requires a lot of planning and preparation,” revealed WPH R48 top 12 pro Stephen Cooney, who moved from Ireland to New York City to have the opportunity to compete on the R48 tour. “I won’t go into details as I like to keep some secrets but I will be giving myself every chance to bring my best game to the tour.”

“As I’ve always done, I’ll spend as much time in the court as possible to be prepared for the upcoming Race season,” stated one of the WR48’s breakout stars and fan-favorite Martina McMahon. “I play good challenge games against the Senior (elite) men’s players in Ireland and that really gets me ready!”

The WPH Staff

The Race 4 Eight VII season will be dedicated to Ben Manning, one of the WPH’s hardest working and most dedicated film-crew members who sadly died after a battle with cancer just weeks after the conclusion of the Race 4 Eight VI season. Ben is survived by his mother, Linda, who serves as the glue to the WPH Film Crew. Ben will be missed dearly by all who knew him.

The World Players of Handball Staff is comprised of the most passionate, most professional and most dedicated group of handball promoters in the world. The WPH is extremely fortunate to have a group of individuals that dedicate their lives to growing the great game of handball on a daily basis, with each team member holding specific responsibilities that are critically important to the success of the WPH. If you see one of our team members at an event, say hello and thank them for their incredible efforts in growing the game!

David Vincent: David Vincent formed the World Players of Handball in 2005 and ushered live handball into our living rooms for the first time. Since its inception in 2005, the World Players of Handball has broadcast more than 1,000 live matches! Dave Vincent serves as the lead play-by-play announcer for WPH Broadcasts Powered by ESPN, combining his unique perspective and personality with a lifetime of handball experience. DV brings 15 years of radio experience from Oregon and California to World Players of Handball broadcasts and provides professionalism and wit to the amazing game of handball. DV also serves as the Executive Director of the World Player of Handball at the WPH headquarters in Tucson, AZ, working daily to grow the game of handball through innovation.

David Fink: David Fink sat in the booth with David Vincent for the first time in 2007 and has not left since. Mr. Fink became the lead broadcast analyst for all World Players of Handball Broadcasts Powered by ESPN, providing candor and a player’s perspective. The DV/DF broadcast partnership has broadcast the best matches and best players in the sport for the past 10 handball seasons, with the last three seasons on ESPN. DF often jumps from the court to the booth and understands the challenges and difficulty of the sport as well as anyone. David graduated with a Master’s degree in Sports Management from Duquesne University, using his education to not only serve as the broadcast analyst, but to also serve as the World Players of Handball Youth Donor and Development Director and WPH Senior Writer.

Kris Gurrad: Kris Gurrad has earned numerous Emmy awards in Portland, Oregon for his television engineering and producing work on local television networks. Kris started his television production career in his teens and quickly became the most in demand television commodity in Portland. Kris is simply one of the most talented television producers and engineers in the world and has dramatically improved World Players of Handball broadcasts since joining the team in 2011, adding a scoreboard, slow-motion instant replay, court sounds and several additional features that make the World Players of Handball Powered by ESPN Broadcasts so professional and appealing.

Linda Manning: Linda Manning is likely the hardest working broadcast technician on the planet. A devout perfectionist, Linda will stop at nothing to ensure that World Players of Handball broadcasts exceed all expectations. Linda operates the cameras at all Race 4 Eights events, as well as drives the WPH equipment van to each event. Regardless of the length of her drive, Linda immediately starts running cables and setting up for WPH Broadcasts to ensure that webcast fans will be treated to the highest quality production possible. Linda worked as a professor or mathematics for a number of years and transitioned to television production, working alongside her mentor, Kris Gurrad.

Samantha Kocher: Samantha Kocher joined the WPH Webcast Staff in 2016 and has an incredible addition to the team. A graduate of the University of Portland, Samantha is never seen without a bright and infectious smile, even when carrying a 50-pound camera on her shoulder for an entire day! Samantha lives in Gladstone, Oregon, a stone’s throw from WPH Webcast staffers Kris Gurrad, Jeff Kastner, Linda Manning, Kara Mack, and Ben Manning

Jeff Kastner: Jeff Kastner was the original camera operator and founder of the World Players of Handball and has continued to greatly contribute to the World Players of Handball 12 years following its inception. Jeff has a degree in film production from Pacific University and owns his own production company titled “Jeff Kastner Productions” in Portland, OR. Jeff founded the World Players of Handball, alongside David Vincent, and the two pioneers are collectively responsible for ushering handball to our living rooms 12 years ago and allowing handball fans to enjoy all of the biggest tournaments from any part of the world. Jeff excels at creating stories and highlights and has used his editing mastery to create several phenomenal pieces throughout Race 4 Eight history. Jeff remains on the cutting edge of new technology and continues to be an incredible asset to World Players of Handball.

Lolita de Vincent: Lolita de Vincent serves as the head photographer at Race 4 Eight events Powered by ESPN, as well as serving as the WPH Inventory Director at the WPH’s home offices in Tucson. In the six years of the Race 4 Eight, Lolita has captured thousands of the best handball action shots ever taken. Lolita’s unmatched attention to detail, creative eye and superb organization skills makes her invaluable to the WPH Staff.

Kara Mack: Kara Mack in unquestionably one of the premiere sideline reporters in the world of sports. Kara’s bubbly personality, her extensive knowledge of handball and the players, and her passion for the sport and ensuring that WPH broadcasts are on par or beyond any major sport makes Kara an indispensible member of the WPH Staff.

The Rules

The World Players of Handball is always seeking to create the most fan and player-friendly rules to create the most exciting matches. Players and fans are asked each year how we can best present the sport on ESPN and the WPH Rules Committee is always evaluating new tweaks to enhance the playing and viewing experience. Check out the Race 4 Eight VII’s rules by going to wphlive.tv and clicking on “Elite Handball”

Basic R48 Rules:

·      All main draw R48, SR48 and WR48 matches are best of three games, all games to 15 points, win by two in each game

·      All R48, SR48, and WR48 Playoff matches are one game to 25, win by two

·      Players are given two video replays per game in matches that are being broadcast

·      There are four-minutes between games and for halftime in 25-point games

The Blind Draw

The World Players of Handball’s Race 4 Eight tour strives to create the most excitement for the players and fans at each stop. Along with the traditional blind draw that has placed the Elite 8 pro’s name in a hat to be picked by the eight qualifiers, the World Players of Handball has added unique blind draws that will enable qualifiers to pick the pro he wants to play, pros to pick the qualifier he wants to play and more, all while avoiding repeat first-round matchups throughout the season. See below for the blind draw format at each stop.

Atlanta Stop #1: Blind Draw

Tucson Stop #2: Blind Draw

Montana Stop #3: Qualifier Choice

Las Vegas Stop #4: Throwback Blind Draw

Houston Stop #5: Elite 8 Choice

NYAC Stop #6: Blind Draw

Salt Lake City Aces Stop #7 Player’s Championship: Qualifiers will be placed into the round of 16 based on their ranking

Junior WPH Clinics at R48 Stops

The World Players of Handball is extremely proud to provide opportunities for junior and collegiate players to learn from the greatest handball players in the world at all of our Race 4 Eight stops. Race 4 Eight pros lead clinics at each event that focus on the handball fundamentals, cross training exercises, and mostly, having fun on the handball court. Race 4 Eight junior clinics have featured players as young as five years old to college seniors. Every level of player from beginner to young qualifier hopefuls have taken part in the clinics, with each gaining valuable knowledge from R48 pros and WPH Certified Coaches. The goal of the Race 4 Eight tour is to inspire the next generation of players and through the first six seasons of the Race 4 Eight tour, hundreds of youngsters from across the country have developed a love for the great game of handball through the Race 4 Eight junior handball clinics.

“We are extremely proud of the commitment our coaches and pros have made to introducing and teaching the next generation of players at Race stops,” declared WPH Youth Donor and Development Director David Fink. “Race events provide opportunities for new players to not only watch the best players in the world from the front row, but also to share the court with the game’s greats.”

WPH Race 4 Eight VI Sponsors

The World Players of Handball’s Race 4 Eight VI Powered by ESPN is possible because of our incredibly generous sponsors and partners that share the WPH’s passion for growing the game handball and enabling the sport reach hundreds of thousands of unique viewers on each Race 4 Eight broadcast. Our sponsors not only support the Race 4 Eight, but also the hundreds of junior handball clinics the World Players of Handball host each year. Please promote our sponsors by supporting their products and thanking them!

Here is our incredibly generous list of Race 4 Eight VI sponsors:

Sports Mall

Tucson Racquet & fitness

Mesch, Clark & Rothchild

Tucson Rolling Shutters

E4

Mined Out

R & A CPA’s

New York Athletic Club

Simple Green

3WallBall.com

The Ron Cole Company

Ace Disposal

Ace Advertising

JR WPH

David Fink

WPH Senior Writer