Sunday featured the R48 and SR48 finals, R48 Playoff finals and the conclusion of the Texas State Doubles Championships.
Sean Lenning and Mando Ortiz met in the final for the third time in the last five Race 4 Eight events, with Lenning winning the previous two finals in Salt Lake City (2015) and Tucson (2015). Lenning cruised to the final with ease, winning all six games he played and never allowing any of his three opponents to score more than 10 points in any game. Ortiz entered Houston’s final in search of his first R48 title after losing in his first three trips to the finals. Ortiz defeated Paul Brady in Saturday’s semifinal in what instantly became recognized as the best match in the history of the R48 tour.
Mando Ortiz picked up where he left off in his semifinal win in the final, crushing Lenning 15-0 in just nine minutes to take a one-game lead. “Sean was just asleep in the first game and not making his serves or his shots,” Ortiz would later say. Lenning came to life in game two, finding his rhythm and his explosiveness to even the match at one game apiece.
The tiebreaker produced several dramatic momentum changes between two of the greatest offensive players in the history of the sport. Lenning raced to a 6-1 lead before Mando scored 11 of the next 12 points to seize control of the third frame. Ortiz would eventually lead 13-9, just two point from his first R48 title. Several long exchanges and multiple dives, floor timeouts, glove changes, and incredible shot making by Sean Lenning saw the score tied at 13, with Lenning two points from his sixth R48 title. A furious rally at 13-all revealed both player’s desperation to win the title, as each lunged and dove for multiple balls. Ortiz earned the side out and scored consecutive points to win his first R48 title.
“This is everything I’ve ever dreamed of,” revealed at emotional Ortiz on ESPN. “I know of all of the great mentors and champions that have come before me paved the way and I’m just so happy to be part of the club (of champions). Both my grandparents passed away this year and this is for them.”
Emmett Peixoto rebounded from his quarterfinal loss to Mando Ortiz to defeat Killian Carroll for the first time in the first round of the 5th place playoffs and clinched fifth by defeating Jonathan Iglesias. Luis Cordova dominated the 9th place playoffs, cruising past Daniel Cordova, David Fink, and Allan Garner. Tyler Stevens earned a R48 ranking for the first time by winning the 17th place playoffs, defeating Chicago’s Carlos Lemus in the final.
R48 Houston Finishes:
9th: L. Cordova
10th: Al. Garner
13th: Munson/D. Cordova/Bernhard/Hamel
Marcos Chavez and Tyler Hamel met for the third straight year in the SR48 Houston, with the pair splitting their previous two Houston encounters. Chavez defeated Hamel in the 2014 SR48 Houston final and Hamel defeating Chavez in the 2015 SR48 Houston semifinal. Chavez was in search of his sixth SR48 title, while Hamel was aiming fir his first.
Chavez quickly took control of the final, building a 15-5 halftime lead with a remarkable display of all-around handball. The Chavez express continued to roll in the second half, as Chavez applied pressure to cruise to his sixth SR48 title and retain his #1 SR48 ranking.
SR48 Houston Finishes:
To watch replays of the R48 and SR48 action from Houston, go to the Watch ESPN App (here).
To follow the draws and brackets from Houston, click here
Thank you to the Houston Handball Club for a spectacular weekend at the Race 4 Eight Houston. The incredibly generous players and supporters of the Houston Handball Club treated players and fans to a Thursday night dinner, nonstop hospitality throughout the weekend and a Saturday night banquet. Thank you! Thank you also to the entire WPH staff, to include Dave Vincent, David Fink, Kris Gurrad, Linda Manning, Ben Manning, Kara Mack, Jeff Kastner, Matt Titaino, Tom Flores, and Javi Flores.
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