WPH Outdoor Player Bios

Posted on May 9 2017 - 9:15am by david

WPH Outdoor handball pros have become superstars and celebrities for their dazzling skills, larger-than-life personalities, and flare for the dramatic on the biggest stages during the first six seasons of the WPH Outdoor tour. Check out your favorite WPH Outdoor pro’s bio below.

Samzon Hernandez

Age: 9/25/1990

Height: 5’11

Hometown: Hawthorne, CA

Strong hand: Right

Home court: Paramount Park

Favorite pre-match music: none

Best/favorite shot: stiff-arm left kill/pass

Highest WPH Outdoor Ranking: #1 (2012, 2017)

Best WPH Outdoor Finish: 13-time Champion (most in history)

Strengths: power, intensity, stiff-arm left, court coverage, aura

Summary: Samzon Hernandez was recognized as being the best Big Ball player in Southern California in his mid teens, traveling to virtually every court in L.A. to challenge and defeat the best player on his home court. Nothing changed with the inception of the WPH Outdoor tour in 2012, as Hernandez won nine of the first 16 WPH Outdoor events, all five WPH Outdoor Simple Green U.S. Opens, and 13 events overall. Hernandez appeared to be unbeatable throughout much of the first three seasons and while he has not won with the same regularity since, Hernandez still possesses the skills and burning desire to win to dominate once again. Don’t be surprised to see Hernandez start another dominating run

Juan Santos

Age: 6/24/1994

Height: 5’9

Hometown: Orange, CA

Strong hand: Right

Home court: El Camino Real Park

Favorite athlete: Ronaldinho

Favorite pre-match music: none

Best/favorite shot: Right-handed left corner kill from the right side of the court

Highest WPH Outdoor Ranking: #1 (2013-2016)

Best WPH Outdoor Finish: 12-time Champion

Strengths: finesse, offense, serve, anticipation, calm under pressure

Summary: Playing with serenity unique in pro handball, Juan Santos appears to simply float around the court. Santos is never rattled or rushed, even in the closest matches. Santos has won four Player’s Cup Player of the Year trophies in the first five years of the tour. Santos relies on his unmatched anticipation to be in the perfect position to hit virtually every shot, and once in position, Santos delivers precision kills or passes. Santos plays the game unlike any other on the WPH Outdoor tour, making him a treat to watch and the greatest challenge for his peers

Timbo Gonzalez

Age: 10/16/1991

Height: 5’10

Hometown: Brooklyn, NY

Strong hand: Right

Home court: St. James Park

Favorite athlete: Steph Curry

Favorite pre-match music: Hip hop

Best/favorite shot: Left-hand whip to the right corner

Highest WPH Outdoor Ranking:  #2 (2017)

Best WPH Outdoor Singles Finish: Champion (Downey ’16, Vegas Lte ’16)

Strengths: power, front court play, quickness, agility, intensity

Summary: Timbo Gonzalez is one of the fiercest competitors in the sport, playing each point as if it’s his last. Gonzalez is the top 1-Wall Big Ball player in the world but has proven that he can adapt to 3-Wall and 4-Wall as well, as evidenced by his 3-Wall singles title at the WPH Outdoor Vegas Lte ‘16 singles and finals appearances in several other WPH Outdoor singles events. Gonzalez’s matches are rarely lacking drama, as the opponent, the referee, the cameraman, and the fans become part of the spectacle. Gonzalez creates must-see matches with his sensational athleticism and compelling style of play and has his sites set on the WPH Outdoor #1 ranking. Recent history has shown that his goal is attainable

Shorty Ruiz

Age: 6/2/1987

Height: 5’5

Hometown: Brea, CA

Strong hand: Right

Home court: Obregon Park

Favorite athlete: Lebron James

Favorite music before a match: George Michael (Careless Whisper)

Favorite shot: Right hand right-corner kill

Highest WPH Outdoor Ranking: #3 (2016)

Best WPH Outdoor Singles Finish: 3rd

Strengths: lob, power, unpredictable shot making

Summary: Shorty Ruiz has been revered for his outstanding skills since his teenage years, combining power, a full arsenal of shots, and a crowd-pleasing style to his all-around game. Ruiz was the first player to be ranked on the Race 4 Eight and WPH Outdoor tours simultaneously, proving that his all-around skills translate indoors and outdoors with the big ball and small ball. Ruiz was carried off the court by his fans after slamming the 2011 WPH 3WallBall Championships, defeating David Chapman and Sean Lenning along the way.  Ruiz is a big-game player who loves the biggest stage and should hoist many WPH Outdoor huge titles in the coming years

Ricky Ruiz

Age: 1/27/1989

Height: 5’11

Hometown: East L.A., CA

Strong hand: Right

Home court: Obregon Pak

Favorite athlete: Kobe Bryant

Favorite pre-match music: 90’s rap

Best/favorite shot: sidearm right corner kill

Highest WPH Outdoor Ranking: #2 (2014)

Best WPH Outdoor Singles Finish: Champion (Tecate 2014)

Strengths: two-handed attack, all-around game, experience, competitiveness

Summary: Ricky Ruiz comes from a handball family and has been on the handball court since before he could walk. His experience in the game is obvious to anyone who watches this Southern California superstar, as Ruiz combines a small ball indoor game with the big ball outdoor game to make him one of the game’s most dangerous players. Ruiz has the ability to end rallies from anywhere on the court with either hand, while also possessing the experience to rally and frustrate his opponents with superb defense. Ruiz already owns one WPH Outdoor singles title and with his skill set, don’t be surprised to see him add a few more in the coming years

Manny Suarez

Age: 5/26/1994

Height: 6’3

Hometown: Long Beach, CA

Strong hand: Right

Home court: Drake Park

Favorite athlete: Kobe Bryant

Favorite pre-match music: Tupac

Best/favorite shot: overhand spike kill to the left corner

Highest WPH Outdoor Ranking: #1 (January 2017)

Best WPH Outdoor Singles Finish: Champion (Iceman ’17)

Strengths: reach, overhand kills, disposition, power, tenacity

Summary: Manny Suarez burst onto the WPH Outdoor scene with a bang, winning the first singles event he ever entered at the 2017 WPH Outdoor 6 Iceman, toppling Timbo Gonzalez and Samzon Hernandez in the semifinals and finals, respectively. Suarez became the first WPH Outdoor pro to win his first singles starts in his triumph at the ’17 Iceman, then validated his standing as one of the best indoor big ball players in the sport, advancing to the semifinals of his second indoor start at the Salt Lake City Aces ’17. Suarez is one of the tallest players in WPH Outdoor history, and uses his height and reach to cover the court with great efficiency. Because of his spectacular game and friendly nature, Suarez is a WPH Outdoor fan-favorite. Look for him to add to his WPH Outdoor singles resume in the near future

Alfredo Morales

Age: 10/4/1993

Height: 5’11

Hometown: Tustin, CA

Strong hand: Right

Home court: Frontier Park

Favorite athlete: Kobe Bryant

Favorite pre-match music: The Pretenders, Foo Fighters

Best/favorite shot: Right-handed left corner kill

Highest WPH Outdoor Ranking:  #4 (2015)

Best WPH Outdoor Finish: Champion (X-Fest II ’16, Salt Lake City ‘17)

Strengths: lob, back court play, finesse kills, strength

Summary: Known as “El Hombre,” Alfredo Morales is one of the smoothest and most gifted players to ever compete on the WPH Outdoor tour. Possessing the ability to hit lobs to the top of the wall or rollouts with either hand with devastating consistency, Morales has the ability to make the game look easy, even against the best players. Morales was the best player to have not won a WPH Outdoor singles title entering the 2016 X Fest II, having lost all four WPH Outdoor finals in which he appeared. Morales changed that with a dominating wins against the WPH Outdoor #1 and #2 stars Juan Santos and Timbo Gonzalez at the X Fest II, routing both en route to winning what most believe will be his first of many WPH Outdoor singles titles

Chava Cordova

Age: 2/12/1992

Height: 5’8

Hometown: Los Angeles, CA

Strong hand: Right

Home court: Paramount Park

Favorite athlete: Catriona Casey

Favorite pre-match music: none

Best/favorite shot: Right-handed kill shot

Highest WPH Outdoor Ranking: #3 (August 2015)

Best WPH Outdoor Finish: 3rd

Strengths: flexibility, sneaky power, whip with both hands, speed

Summary: Freakishly talented Chava Cordova has been a regular in WPH Outdoor semifinals since his early 20’s, always on the cusp on breaking into the elite group of WPH Outdoor singles champions. Cordova possesses two equally strong hands that can end rallies from virtually anywhere on the court. Cordova often plays the most exciting matches against the game’s top players and as he comes into his prime, Cordova will be on the short list of favorites in each WPH Outdoor event

Kevin Gonzalez

Age: 7/15/1993

Height: 5’8

Hometown: Santa Ana, CA

Strong hand: Left

Home court: El Camino Park

Favorite athlete: Kobe Bryant

Favorite pre-match music: Drake

Best/favorite shot: Left-handed left corner kill

Highest WPH Outdoor Ranking: #4 (May 2016)

Best WPH Outdoor Finish: 3rd

Strengths: strategy, rallying, streaky, unorthodox offense

Summary: Kevin Gonzalez in the top-ranked left-handed player in WPH Outdoor history, with his left being one of the most lethal strong hands in the sport. Gonzalez’s unique style forces matchup problems for virtually every player on the tour, as players have to adjust to playing a lefty, while also playing longer rallies than which they are normally accustomed. Gonzalez has been ranked as high as number four on the tour and has his sites set even higher in the coming years

Lobo Valencia

Age: 1/21/1981

Height: 5’5

Hometown: Anaheim, CA

Strong hand: Right

Home court: Buena Park

Favorite athlete: Neymar, Jr. (soccer)

Favorite pre-match music: Calle 13-Vamos a portarnos mal

Best/favorite shot: soft kill

Highest WPH Outdoor Ranking: #5 (June ’15)

Best WPH Outdoor Finish: Champion (X-Fest ’15)

Strengths: lob, tap kills, shot selection

Summary: One of the most underrated players on the WPH Outdoor tour, Lobo Valencia has the ability to defeat any player in the game. Valencia disguises his lob better than any player in the sport, luring his opponents to the front court by appearing to setup for a kill and flipping the ball effortlessly over their heads. Valencia also owns one of the deadliest shots on the tour, the soft (tap) kill. Valencia has the rare ability to consistently deaden the ball off his hand and roll the ball flat, even with his opponents racing to cover the kill. Valencia is one of the few players to defeat WPH Outdoor #1 Juan Santos in WPH Outdoor play, proving that while he may not be the short list of favorites entering an event, he is capable of winning the biggest titles on the tour

Sal “Wiz” Duenas

Age: 9/16/1983

Height: 5’9

Hometown: Santa Ana, CA

Strong hand: Right

Home court: Any court, any time

Favorite athlete: Anderson Silva (UFC)

Favorite pre-match music: Yeezy

Best/favorite shot: Left-handed underhand kill

Highest WPH Outdoor Ranking: #4 (September 2015)

Best WPH Outdoor Finish: 3rd (June 2013)

Strengths: two strong hands, strategy, consistency, don’t judge the book by its cover

Summary: Known as the Wizard of Orange County, the Wiz has been a fixture in the WPH Outdoor top 10 since the inception of the tour in 2012. Duenas is the only player in WPH Outdoor history to have played in every official WPH Outdoor event, no small feat considering events have spanned two countries and four states over the history of the tour. Duenas uses his lifetime of handball experience to find ways to win, even when the odds seems to be stacked against him. Duenas’ adaptability is likely his greatest strength, as the proud father of two is one of the best in the sport at making mid-match adjustments to frustrate and overcome his rivals

Tanisha Groomes

Age: 9/29/1988

Height: 5’2

Hometown: Buena Park, CA

Strong hand: Right

Home court: Independence Park (Fullerton)

Favorite athlete: Allen Iverson

Favorite pre-match music: Hip-hop

Best/favorite shot: Right hand right corner kill

Current WPH Outdoor Ranking: #1

Highest WPH Outdoor Ranking: #1 (current)

Best WPH Outdoor Finish: 13-time Champion

Strengths: serve, right hand kills, clutch, comebacks

Tanisha Groomes is one of the most dominant athletes in professional sports, having won an astounding 13 of the 16 WPH Outdoor singles events in which she has entered (81%), including an 18-match winning streak to kick off her WPH Outdoor career. “T” is perhaps the quickest learner in handball, having started playing handball less than four years before winning her first WPH Outdoor title. Groomes’ best asset is her ability to play her best when she is seemingly out of a match, as evidenced by overcoming match point down seven times in 16 events. Groomes is one of the most exciting players in the sport, always willing to go for her shots, regardless of the score or magnitude of the moment. Groomes has developed sensational rivalries with Catriona Casey, Tracy Davis, and Ciana Ni Churraoin, with the four elevating Women’s WPH Outdoor Singles to the most compelling division in the sport

Tracy Davis

Age: 3/30/1977

Height: 5’9

Hometown: Brooklyn, NY

Home court: Asser Levy/Coney Island/West 5th St.

Strong hand: Right

Favorite athlete: Venus Williams, Serena Williams, Michael Jordan, Rookie Wright

Favorite pre-match music: HAM by Kanye West

Best/favorite shot: Any shot that ends the rally

Current WPH Outdoor Ranking: #3

Highest WPH Outdoor Ranking: #2 (September 2013)

Best WPH Outdoor Finish: Champion (3WallBall ’13)

Strengths: Serve, fly kill, poise, paddle kills

At 39 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 WPH Outdoor brackets, as well as being one of the most well liked superstars in the game. 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 a threat to hoist any trophy on the WPH Outdoor series. With age, Davis’s desire to compete has only intensified, as she will invariably display emotions during a match that would have never been seen a decade

Danielle Daskalakis

Age: 3/5/1990

Height: 5’4

Hometown: Brooklyn, NY

Strong hand: Left

Home court: Westside YMCA

Favorite athlete: Derek Jeter and Ronda Rousey

Favorite pre-match music: Southpaw soundtrack

Best/favorite shot: Power serve with reverse

Current WPH Outdoor Ranking: n/a

Highest Race 4 Eight Ranking: #3

Best WPH Outdoor Finish: 2nd

Strengths: serve, front court play, hops, competitiveness

Summary: Danielle Daskalakis has established herself as one of the best all-around handball players in the world, ranking at or near the top in women’s 4-Wall, 3-Wall, and 1-Wall. Daskalakis owns the best serves in women’s handball and often follows her devastating serve with a first-strike kill. Daskalakis’ impressive all-around play makes her a fan favorite in every city in which she competes and a threat to any player on the Women’s WPH outdoor tour. Daskalakis brings a hybrid outdoor-indoor style to the Women’s WPH Outdoor tour that befuddles even the greatest stars in the women’s game, as evidenced by Daskalakis’ impressive tiebreaker victory againdt WPH Outdoor #1 Tanisha Groomes at the 2014 3WallBall Outdoor World Championships. Daskalakis is also one of the WPH’s top coaches, leading the WPH sponsored Harry Mellis Westside YMCA junior handball program in weekly clinics in Brooklyn and coaching JR WPH clinics across the country. Danielle is truly an ambassador in the world of handball, idolized and by junior players and revered by fans and peers

To view the WPH Outdoor Rankings, go here

To view the WPH Outdoor History of Champions, go here