The World Players of Handball Foundation was incredibly dynamic in 2015, as we continued to revolutionize how the game of handball is promoted, instructed, covered, broadcast and introduced.
- 750+ JR WPH junior handball clinics
- 2000+ junior players attending JR WPH clinics and tournaments
- 7 Junior WPH Sponsored Teams
- 9 Live Broadcasts
- 160+ Hours on ESPN
- 440 articles posted to WPH social media
- Grant approved from Tucson Conquistadores for Team Junior WPH Tucson
- $15,000 donation from an anonymous donor group
- 111 unique WPH donors
- 6 Race 4 Eight events
- 5 WPH Outdoor events
- 27 Days of live broadcasts (min of 8 hours); 20+ days on ESPN
World Championships; USHA 4 Wall Nationals Championships; USHA Collegiate 4 Wall National Championships; WPH Player’s Championship; US Open of Handball; WPH R48Pro Tour (6+ stops); Vegas 3WallBall Outdoor World Championships (Racquetball, Handball & Paddleball)
R48 and WPH Outdoor Highlights:
- Tucson Memorial with more than 215 players (highest non national event in over 15 years);
- Vegas 3WallBall Outdoor Worlds more 320 participants (more than any outdoor handball event in 15+ years)
- Big Ball 3Wall Junior/Pro Nationwide Challenge more than 200 participants (3rd year in a row)
- First Ever Crossover small ball/Big Ball 3 Wall Event in Venice Beach (max capacity);
- More than 40 players in the Tucson qualifier bracket (1st year we averaged 14-16 players)
- Houston Race Stop sold out qualifier bracket 2 hours after going public with the website registration
- New York qualifier had a waiting list of qualifiers before the entry went live and sold out in 6 hours
2015 WPH Top 10 Moments
The World Players of Handball Foundation enjoyed an incredible 2015, complete with more than 750 junior handball clinics, numerous junior handball competitions and a number of incredible matches. Choosing just 10 top moments was nearly impossible. Enjoy 2015’s best!
- WPH 3WallBall Outdoor World Championships Final: Juan Santos vs. Samzon Hernandez
The 2015 WPH 3WallBall Outdoor Championship final would not only determine the WPH 3WallBall Outdoor World Champion, but also the Hemborg Cup Champion for 2015 WPH Outdoor Player’s Cup Player of the Year. Santos had been unbeatable at the 3WallBall World Championships since 2012, winning three consecutive WPH 3WallBall Outdoor World Championships entering the 2015 final. The 3WallBall World Championships had not been kind to Samzon “The Machine” Hernandez in recent years, as one of WPH Outdoor’s most prolific champions had been unable to win a 3WallBall Outdoor singles championship since 2011, including a disappointing fourth-pace finish in 2014. “Vegas has really been Samzon’s kryptonite,” revealed WPH Executive Director David Vincent.
Hernandez appeared to be en route to ending his Vegas slump, building a one-game lead in a spectacular 12-11 first game triumph. Hernandez was on the verge on capturing the title and the Hemborg Cup WPH Outdoor Player of the Year in game two, leading 10-9 and just two points from the claiming the WPH Outdoor Player of the Year. Santos was steady under pressure, scoring the final three points of the game to force a tiebreaker.
With both players exhausted from the enormous pressure, grueling rallies and the 105-degree Vegas heat, Hernandez summoned his best handball in the tiebreaker, arriving at match point, 11-8. Needing to win just one of the next four rallies to win the match, Hernandez attempted his patented stiff-arm left “on the rise” kill. The shot looked perfect coming off of The Machine’s hand but missed by less than an inch, keeping Santos’ hope for his 3WallBall four-pete and 2015 WPH Player of the Year alive. Santos quickly scored the next two points to tie the score at 11, with the next rally to determine the WPH 3WallBall Outdoor World Champion. With both players pushing themselves to the limit during the 23-shot rally at 11-11, Hernandez lined up a cross-court pass shot from the right with Santos pinned on the right wall that would have ended the match. Unable to drive the ball past a running Santos, Santos ultimately earned the advantage in the rally, luring Hernandez into the front court and executing a perfect lob over the outstretched arm of Hernandez to win his fourth consecutive WPH 3WallBall Outdoor World Champion and the Hemborg Cup.
“I always know it’s going to be a battle against Samzon because he’s one of the best,” stated an ecstatic Santos after the match. “I was really happy to win this one and share it with my entire family that came to watch me this weekend.”
For a full recap on the match, click here
- Junior WPH Hosts 750 Junior Handball Clinics in 2015
The World Players of Handball Foundation and Junior WPH were proud to present more than 750 junior handball clinics in eight states and two countries for more than 2500 young people in 2015. With clinics at YMCA’s, schools, universities, athletic clubs, summer camps, Race 4 Eight events, WPH Outdoor events and local and regional tournaments, Junior WPH provided hundreds of opportunities for young people to develop sportsmanship, leadership, integrity, discipline, teamwork, camaraderie and a physically active lifestyle through handball. Junior WPH clinics are possible because of generous donors to the World Players of Handball. If you would like to donate to the growth of the next generation of young people through handball, please contact WPH Youth Donor and Development Director David Fink at email@example.com
For the 2015 Junior WPH Portfolio, click here
For the list of Junior WPH Sponsored Programs, click here
- WPH Outdoor Xrossover Big Ball Semifinals: Alfredo Morales vs. Samzon Hernandez
The WPH Outdoor Xrossover Big Ball Men’s semifinal between WPH Outdoor legend Samzon Hernandez and emerging star Alfredo Morales produced one of the most unpredictable endings to one of the greatest upsets of the year. “El Hombre” dominated game one against Hernandez, leading 10-4 before closing out “The Machine” 11-8 to take a one-game lead. Leading 10-8 in game two, Morales was on the verge of knocking out one of handball’s giants in two games. Hernandez scored two points to tie the second game at 10 and after a furious 16-shot rally that saw both players scramble from the back court to the front court three times, Morales appeared to have ended the match with a diving kill. Hernandez also dove, taking off from the short line and landing violently on Venice Beach concrete to save the match, flipping the Morales kill back to “El Hombre.” Still on the ground, Morales was unable to hit his next shot with any authority, weakly returning the ball back to Hernandez who lofted a power lob over the head of Morales. With all of the momentum on the side of “The Machine,” Hernandez quickly built an 8-3 lead in the tiebreaker, a seemingly insurmountable rally-scoring deficit. Morales summoned the best handball of his life, unfathomably scoring the eight of the final nine points of the match to advance to the final. “I don’t know how it happened,” Morales would later say. “I just kept playing and somehow it worked out.”
For a full recap on the match, click here
- WPH Outdoor Xrossover Junior Mega Clinic and Tournament
In one of the most exciting junior handball weekends in recent memory, junior handball players from Southern California, Northern California and New York were treated to the Junior WPH Mega Clinic and junior tournament at Venice Beach, featuring more than 100 junior players taking clinics and playing points with WPH Coaches David Fink, Catriona Casey, Ciana Ni Churraoin, Aoife McCarthy, Timbo Gonzalez, Ricky Ruiz and Alfredo Morales. With the backdrop of one of the most famous beaches in the world on one of the most celebrated outdoor handball facilities in the world, the Junior WPH Venice Mega Clinic and junior tournament was one of the World Player’s of Handball’s greatest achievements of 2015. Thank you to the more than 45 donors who contributed to the incredible weekend at Venice Beach, making the junior handball extravaganza an unforgettable handball experience for juniors, coaches and handball fans.
For a full recap on the Mega Clinic and event, click here
- WPH Women’s Race 4 Eight III Stop #1 Simple Green U.S. Open Women’s Final: Aisling Reilly vs. Catriona Casey
Appearing in 2015’s WPH Top 10 for the second time, Catriona Casey and Aisling Reilly is simply the rivalry that never disappoints. Regarded as the best rivalry in handball, Casey and Reilly have faced one another in the finals of every major women’s 4-Wall event since 2013, with both ladies enjoying their share of successes on the world stage. Coming off a devastating tiebreaker defeat that saw Aisling Reilly capture her second consecutive World Handball Championship in August, Catriona Casey was eager to erase that memory and maintain her undefeated WR48 record in the finals of the 2015 Simple Green U.S. Open two months later. Casey was in complete control in game one, scoring effortlessly taking control of the match. As Reilly has demonstrated in the past, a sub-par first game is no indication of the outcome, as Reilly roared back in game two to force a tiebreaker. In a rivalry that is as famous for its great play and dramatic finishes as it is for its contentious nature, both Casey and Reilly were on edge on the tiebreaker. With neither superstar able to seize the momentum in the decider and the match was hanging in the balance at the two-hour mark at 9-9, Reilly patiently waited for her opportunities and executed, scoring the final two points of the match to end Casey’s seven-tournament undefeated WR48 streak and claim the 2015 Simple Green U.S. Open.
For a full recap on the match, click here
- WPH Broadcast of the 2015 World Handball Championships: Men’s Quarterfinals
The 2015 World Handball Championships Men’s Quarterfinals produced the best 10 consecutive hours of live handball in the history of WPH handball broadcasting with four spectacular quarterfinal matches. In the afternoon’s first quarterfinal match, Killian Carroll rebounded from what started as a blowout, trailing 16-3 just 12 minutes into game one. Carroll rallied to win game two to force a tiebreaker and shocked Moreno to win a sensational 11-9 thriller.
Robbie McCarthy and Sean Lenning met for just the second time in the second quarterfinal and staged an unforgettable classic. Splitting the first two games, neither McCarthy nor Lenning would relent in the decider, with each executing flawless serves and kills. McCarthy reached 10-7 in the tiebreaker and seemingly on the verge of a semifinal appearance but Lenning earned a side out and scored three consecutive points to arrive at his first match point at 10-10. In one of the most bizarre endings in recent big match history, McCarthy’s left-hand fist to the ceiling attempt hit just inches below the ceiling and caromed high off the back wall and bounced into the front left corner. Unable to take a full swing as the ball nearly bounced into the front wall, Lenning was barely able to return what appeared was going to be a match-ending setup opportunity. McCarthy executed a two-wall pass off of Lenning’s return and served out the match on the next rally to win 11-10.
Former R48 finalist Diarmaid Nash met frequent rival and R48 top four pro Emmett Peixoto in the next quarterfinal and methodically and systematically took “The Rock” apart in two games, playing the best handball of the afternoon in the process.
4-time defending world champion Paul Brady faced seasoned rival and former R48 #1 Charly Shanks in the final quarterfinal of the afternoon in Canada. After taking game one convincingly, Brady found himself trailing 19-13 in game two in a stunning reversal against the power serving and gritty two-time R48 champion. Shanks stalled at 19, as Brady scored the final eight points of the contest to continue his quest for five consecutive world titles.
For a full recap on the four thrilling matches, click here
- WPH Race 4 Eight Tucson Memorial “Cuevas Tiebreaker”
The World Players of Handball’s Race 4 Eight Tucson Memorial/Junior WPH Benefit honored the members of the worldwide handball community that we have sadly lost throughout the years and produced one of the most touching tributes to one of the most beloved members of the Tucson handball community. Tucson Memorial R48 finalists Sean Lenning and Mando Ortiz played a “Cuevas Tiebreaker” after completing their two-game final. “If you played in Tucson and lost the first two games, you’d always play a third game, known as the “Cuevas tiebreaker,” revealed WPH board member and ambassador Doug Clark. “We were fortunate that Sean and Mando were willing to honor Al Cuevas and the other members of the handball community that we’ve lost and give the crowd a great show.” Lenning and Ortiz entered 2015’s Top 10 for the second time with the “Cuevas Tiebreaker,” which was also the second Race final the pair played against one another in 2015.
Full a full recap on the “Cuevas Tiebreaker,” click here
- Simple Green U.S Open Men’s Semifinals: Paul Brady vs. Sean Lenning and Luis Moreno vs. Robbie McCarthy
The 2015 Simple Green U.S. Open Race 4 Eight V Stop #1 produced two scintillating tiebreakers featuring the top three R48 stars and a former WPH Player’s Champion and current World Doubles Champion.
Luis Moreno and Robbie McCarthy renewed a rivalry that started as teenagers in the junior divisions and continued on the world stage, with Moreno defeating McCarthy at the 2012 World Handball Championships on McCarthy’s home soil and McCarthy defeating Moreno in successive matches at the NYAC and the WPH Player’s Championship on the Race 3 Eight III tour. Moreno and McCarthy matched one another shot-for-shot for nearly three hours until finally reaching 8-8 in the tiebreaker in the thrilling semifinal at the 2015 Simple Green U.S. Open. Moreno was able to cross the line with three consecutive points to win one of the best matches in R48 history.
Brady and Lenning continued a Simple Green U.S. Open rivalry that produced two of the best matches in the history of the illustrious event, an 11-10 Brady tiebreaker win in the finals of the 2007 Simple Green U.S. Open and an 11-9 Brady tiebreaker win in the semifinals of the 2012 Simple Green U.S. Open. Brady and Lenning did not disappoint in their 2015 Simple Green U.S. Open clash, as the two R48 giants battled under the brightest lights in the sport. Lenning surged to a one-game lead and a 15-14 in game two against the 5-time defending world champion and stood just six points from upsetting the king of the sport. With the sold out Simple Green U.S. Open gallery on the edge of their seats, Brady proved why he is the best player in the world, scoring 18 of the next 20 points of the match to narrowly escape defeat against Lenning for the third time a the Simple Green U.S. Open.
For a full recap on the matches, click here
- WPH Player’s Championship R48 and WR48 Finals: Sean Lenning vs. Mando Ortiz and Catriona Casey vs. Aisling Reilly
Catriona Casey and Aisling Reilly kicked off the 2015 WPH Player’s Championship Sunday in the best rivalry in handball. Reilly was just one month removed from defeating Casey in the 2015 All Ireland Senior Championships and continued her momentum in game one against Casey, routing the WR48 #1 15-2 in just 11 minutes. Casey demonstrated her poise and ability to make adjustments, building a huge lead and holding off a late Reilly rally to force a third game. The third game witnessed several momentum shifts and very few mistakes, with Casey ultimately maintaining her undefeated WR48 record in a thriller
The Men’s finals featured two surprise finalists, as fourth-seed Sean Lenning advanced through the upper bracket and sixth-seeded Mando Ortiz surged past Emmett Peixoto and Luis Moreno in the bottom bracket. Lenning and Ortiz staged an instant classic with the WPH Player’s Championship on the line, trading the first two games and battling down to the wire in a spellbinding display of handball. Lenning earned his first WPH Player’s Championship, while a new rivalry was undoubtedly born
For a full recap on the matches, click here
- WPH Outdoor Back to School Bash featuring more than 120 junior players
The 2015 WPH Outdoor Back To School Bash featured one of the best vibes of any handball tournament in recent memory. Flanked by the backdrop of stunning Southern California sunshine, the WPH Outdoor Back to School Bash featured multiple junior clinics with WPH Coaches David Fink, Sal Duenas and Jonathan Iglesias, as well as singles and doubles junior divisions for more than 120 young players. “The juniors certainly stole the show at the Bash, as their passion and enthusiasm for the game was infectious and inspiring to all players and fans at the event,” stated WPH Executive Director David Vincent. The Back to School Bash junior participation was boosted by the 2015 Player’s Cup WPH Outdoor Stop #4, featuring the game’s best 3-Wall Big Ball stars playing singles and doubles
For a full recap on the Back to School Clinics and Tournament, click here
WPH Senior Writer