In 2014, the WPH signed an exclusive broadcasting deal with ESPN to cover all Race 4 Eight events and the WPH/WOR 3Wallball World Championships, organized and managed the Race 4 Eight tour and the WPH Outdoor Cup Series, and hosted over 600 junior handball clinics in the United States, England, Mexico, and Canada.
“Each year seems to top the previous year,” boasted WPH Executive Director David Vincent. “The WPH continues to innovate in all facets of handball, from the indoor and outdoor pro handball tours, junior clinics and tournaments throughout North America and Europe, and covering all things handball from across the globe on a daily basis.”
#10: Catriona Casey and Aoife McCarthy spend the summer in the U.S. coaching over 250 junior handball clinics in Arizona and California, running tournaments, and playing in Junior WPH fundraising exhibitions:
Women’s Race 4 Eight pros and WPH Certified Coaches Catriona Casey and Aoife McCarthy shined on the west coast all summer, coaching up to 10 junior handball clinics daily for over two months at the Tucson Racquet Club Summer Camp with WPH Rookies Coach Tanner Cleveland, playing Junior WPH fundraising matches and WPH Outdoor events, and serving as tournament directors and junior clinic coaches at the WPH Outdoor Series Nationwide Challenge. Casey and McCarthy also endeared themselves to the Tucson community, often playing with the local handball groups during lunch and instantly becoming Tucson favorites. The WPH and Tucson handball community cannot wait for the ladies to return!
The WPH hosted one of the sport’s biggest tournaments in 2014, with 220 players from four countries, including over 80 players under the age of 20. Hundreds of fans also gathered at beautiful La Mirada Park on the border of L.A. and Orange County to enjoy an incredible three days of handball. WPH Coaches David Fink, Sal Duenas, Samzon Hernandez, Ricky Ruiz, Catriona Casey, and Aoife McCarthy hosted a spectacular junior handball clinic for over 50 youngsters, while the world’s best outdoor 3-Wall big ball players competed for WPH Outdoor supremacy. Matches ran from sunset to sundown Friday through Sunday, as players of all ages and levels shared their love for handball on the sundrenched 3-Wall courts. Juan Santos claimed the men’s pro singles with a scintillating exhibition against his rival Samzon Hernandez, while Tanisha Groomes overcame a large first game deficit to defeat cross-over star Catriona Casey in the women’s pro final.
Catriona Casey completely dominated the Women’s Race 4 Eight tour, winning all four Women’s Race 4 Eight events ever held, including an undefeated 2014 WR48 campaign with victories at the 2014 NYAC Women’s Race 4 Eight I Stop #2, the 2014 WR48 Player’s Championship in Salt Lake City, and the 2014 WR48 II Simple Green U.S. Open. Casey has never lost a game in four WR48 events and will aim to continue her mastery over her peers in 2015.
Not to be outdone by her indoor counterpart, Tanisha Groomes also recorded an undefeated season on the WPH Outdoor Women’s Cup Series, winning Stop #1 in Pico Rivera, Stop #2 in Vegas, Stop #3 at La Mirada, and Stop #4 and the 3 WallBall World Championships. Groomes solidified her reputation as the best in the sport under pressure, fighting off match points in Pico Rivera and Vegas against Tracy Davis and Jessica Gawley, respectively, overcoming a 12-5 first game deficit in the finals of La Mirada against Catriona Casey, and battling back from a 10-14 first game deficit against Tracy Davis in the finals of the 3 WallBall World Championships.
“Watching these women in action is always a treat,” revealed WPH lead color analyst David Fink. “Both of these women demonstrate incredible poise under pressure and absolutely breathtaking shot making and skill. Watching them play one another at La Mirada was certainly one of the highlights of the year. The WPH is very fortunate to have Catriona and Tanisha playing in our events.”
#7: 280 Handball Entries at the WPH World 3WallBall Outdoor Championships in Vegas; combining Handball’s Big and Small one and three wall; alongside Paddle Ball and Racquetball making over 600 combined entries:
The WPH World 3 WallBall Outdoor Championships has become a fan favorite, as 280 handball players from across the globe traveled to Sin City to enjoy an unprecedented week of handball on the portable courts at the Stratosphere Hotel and Casino. Junior WPH held a special junior handball clinic for over 50 youngsters between the ages of 11-17 on the opening night of the event, while Timbo Gonzalez and Tywan Cook challenged two of racquetball’s top outdoor stars in a hands vs. racquet exhibition. Juan Santos and Tanisha Groomes captured the men’s and women’s 3 WallBall Big Ball World Singles Championships and WPH Outdoor Player of the Year honors and Nik Nahorniak, Jurell Bastidas, Danielle Daskalakis, and Gio Vazquez captured the men’s and women’s singles titles in the 1-Wall and 3-Wall small ball and big ball events.
Robbie McCarthy was unable to play in the final regular season event on the WPH Race 4 Eight III tour in Denver due to his commitment to the 40×20 All-Ireland Senior Championships and watched helplessly from Ireland, as Sean Lenning captured the eighth and final spot in the Player’s Championship field with a round of 16 victory over Luis Cordova. Several days later, Allan Garner was forced to withdraw from the Player’s Championship, opening the door for McCarthy to compete for $20k and the Player’s Championship. McCarthy took full advantage, overcoming #2 seed Emmett Peixoto in the round of 8, eliminating “Brady-slayer” Mando Ortiz in the semifinals, and outlasting #1 seed Luis Moreno in a sensational final that saw McCarthy four points from defeat in the second game and trailing 5-1 in the tiebreaker (more on this match later). McCarthy also won the 40×20 All Ireland Senior Championships and the 40×20 Irish Nationals, capping one of the best seasons in modern handball history.
Juan Santos lost in the round of eight at the WPH Outdoor Stop #1 in Pico Rivera and skipped the WPH Outdoor Stop #2 Vegas LTE, seemingly eliminating himself from contention for his second WPH Outdoor Player’s Cup Championship. Santos caught fire in the middle of the season, dominating the field at the WPH Outdoor Stop #3 at the Nationwide Challenge at La Mirada, including a masterful performance against his rival Samzon Hernandez in the final. Needing a victory and fourth place or worse finish by Samzon Hernandez to claim the Player’s Cup at the 2014 WPH/WOR 3 Wallball WPH Outdoor Player’s Championship, Santos delivered, dominating Ricky Ruiz in the final. Minutes later, Santos watched Hernandez drop the third place playoff to claim the Player’s Cup by mere decimal points on the year-end WPH Outdoor rankings
In the first encounter on the Race 4 Eight III Tour between the two best 4-Wall players on the planet, Paul Brady and Luis Moreno staged an epic battle over nearly three hours at the WPH R48 III Stop #5 in Denver. Brady had defeated Moreno in a tiebreaker in their previous encounter at the WPH R48 II Player’s Championship in Seattle, and would need another tiebreaker to overcome his rival in Denver. Serving for the first game at 20-18, Brady inexplicably floored two setups that would have won him the game and allowed Moreno to steal game one, 21-20. Moreno led midway through game two and appeared to be on the verge of defeating Brady for the second time, but Brady’s resolve and fierce determination enabled “The Gunner” to stay alive, as Brady scored 10 of the second game’s final 12 points to even the match at one game all. Brady built a seemingly insurmountable 8-0 lead in the tiebreaker, but Moreno rallied to tie the score at eight, capitalizing on a rare lapse in concentration from the four-time defending world champion. Brady nudged across the finish line with three consecutive points, keeping his undefeated WPH Race 4 Eight streak intact, for the time being
A part of the original Race 4 Eight Elite 8 at the start of the Race 4 Eight in 2011, Mando Ortiz was nearly a forgotten superstar entering the Race 4 Eight III season. Mando had not started a Race event in 18 months and entered the 2013 R48 III Stop #1 Plummer as an unranked qualifier. Ortiz quickly reasserted himself into the elite, making the finals at Plummer and the semifinals at the R48 Stop #4 at the New York Athletic Club with victories over Mulkerrins, Alvarado, Fink, and Peixoto. Ortiz’s brilliant comeback culminated with a stunning upset over Paul Brady in the opening round of the 2014 WPH Player’s Championship in Salt Lake City. Ortiz pushed Brady to the brink of defeat in their first encounter at the NYAC seven-weeks prior and completed his mission at the Player’s Championship, handing Brady his first tournament loss since 2008, second tournament loss since 2004, and first loss in a WPH Race 4 Eight event. Ortiz selected Brady in the reverse blind draw over his junior rival, Luis Moreno, and routed Brady in game’s two and three after dropping game one, punctuating one of the game’s greatest upsets with a double first pump
Junior WPH continued to enthusiastically promote and teach the game of handball to the next generation of players, hosting over 600 junior handball clinics in Arizona, Texas, England, Mexico, Canada, Colorado, New York, California, Pennsylvania, Nevada, Idaho, and Florida! Wow! Junior WPH hosted clinics at tournaments, schools, after school programs, Saturday leagues, summer camps, and colleges, leading every clinic with WPH Certified Coaches. WPH Certified Coaches stress the importance of fun, discipline, leadership, teamwork, independence, setting goals, and being physically active. 2015 promises to be even more exciting for Junior WPH! If you want to be a part of inspiring the next generation of handball players and all of the values that handball instills, please contact WPH Donor Development Director David Fink at firstname.lastname@example.org
The WPH was thrilled to announce our partnership with ESPN and the Watch ESPN App for all Race 4 Eight IV events and the 2014 WPH/WOR 3 Wallball World Championships from the Stratosphere on the Las Vegas Strip. Race 4 Eight events and the 3Wallball World Championships are carried live on the Watch ESPN App on Saturdays and Sundays during the events, with all matches archived for later viewing. “This is the single biggest breakthrough in handball,” revealed WPH Executive Director David Vincent. “Handball will now have the opportunity to be seen by tens of millions of people around the world. The WPH is incredibly proud to be appearing on ESPN and highlighting the best handball players in the world.”