The 2016 Tucson Memorial Handball Open: Final Wrap

Posted on Nov 5 2016 - 6:40am by DV

dsc05916Sunday: Peixoto Slams, JR WPH Jurez Claims the BOB

(See Brackets HERE)

Pro Singles Final: Lenning vs. Peixoto

The longest running rivalry in pro handball took center stage on Sunday morning with the Memorial title at stake, with Sean Lenning aiming to defend his Memorial title and Peixoto looking to win his first.

Peixoto built a 7-1 lead to start the match, largely on Lenning errors. “Usually I start slow and I did today, but Sean was warming up in the early part of the game and missed some shots,” stated Peixoto. Lenning found his game after his slow start, outscoring Peixoto 20-4 to take a one game lead on the strength of his unorthodox kills and trademark power. “Lenning is the only guy who can hit these crazy left hand kills in the right corner standing straight up,” stated line judge Vince SanAngelo between games.

dsc06252Lenning appeared to be visibly tired early in game two, the result of playing his seventh match of the weekend and Peixoto’s relentless pressure. Peixoto took complete command of game two to force a tiebreaker. “Even though I lost game one, I was moving Sean around the court and making him do a lot of running,” stated Peixoto.

The tiebreaker was one-way traffic, as Peixoto scored the first eight points in just two service innings. Lenning avoided the shutout by scoring his first point at 0-8, but that would be the only mark for Lenning in the tiebreaker. Peixoto ended the match by outscoring Lenning 32-7, emphatically clinching his first Memorial title. “Emmett is just so steady and consistent,” stated Memorial finals referee Dr. James Bardwell. “Emmett just prods to find weaknesses and forced Lenning on the run throughout the match.”

Final: Peixoto def Lenning 13-21, 21-6, 11-1

dsc06892Pro Doubles Final

Peixoto completed the slam by winning the doubles with Luis Moreno, defeating Abraham Montijo and Jonathan Iglesias in two entertaining games. Moreno controlled the left side of the court, while Peixoto made incredible retrieves and kills from the right side to hold off a feisty Team Montijo/Iglesias

Final: Team Peixoto/Moreno def Team Montijo/Iglesias 21-11, 21-9

img_2319Battle of the Border (BOB) III

JR WPH Juarez faced Tucson’s Fred Lewis Foundation for the third time in two years in a special junior team competition aimed to build camaraderie, friendships, and team spirit between the two incredible junior programs. Team FLF captured the first two editions of the BOB, but the rapidly improving JR WPH Juarez squad was determined to take the BOB Cup back to Juarez. Team Juarez won the first two matches in the best of five format, and when Andres Cordova defeated Sophia Della Croce in the fourth match, Team Juarez clinched their first Battle of the Border Cup.

“Watching the kids cheering on their teammates and taking so much pride in being on their team was the highlight of the event for me,” stated WPH Development Director David Fink.

Battle of the Border III: JR WPH Juarez def FLF

14958269_10206422701041157_361868429_nWPH Victory Parties

The WPH hosted two victory parties following Sunday’s finals, with all of the players and tournament supporters enjoying lunch and desserts.


Thank you to the entire Tucson handball community for making the 2016 Memorial such a tremendous event. The hard work of dozens of passionate handballers living in the Tucson made The Memorial a sensational tournament.  We cannot begin to list all the wonderful peiople that really stepped up to help the growth of handball. Special thanks to Scott Cleveland, Doug Clark, Jeff Healam, Fred Banfield, Richie Estrella, Dr. James Bardwell, Jesse Aranda, Carlos Villegas, Charlie Wicker, Vince San Angelo, John Ross, plus conflicted Jim, Mark Thompson, Pistol Pete, Gurumeet Khalsa, the TRC and so many more folks that all pitched in to make this one of the best local events in our history.

David Fink

WPH Senior Writer

For the previous day’s write ups, please look below…


Saturday at The Memorial featured nonstop action, as the Race 4 Eight pros, JR WPH stars, and skill level and amateur player competed from early in the morning until late in the evening.

dsc04213The WPH Honors 2016 JR WPH Coach of the Year Richie “Drft” Fernandez

The World Players of Handball was proud to present JR WPH Coach Drft Fernandez with the 2016 JR WPH Coach of the Year in a ceremony with the WPH Executive Committee, WPH Staff, and several of the Race 4 Eight top stars. Coach Fernandez promotes, recruits, and coaches weekly junior handball lessons for more than 30 youngsters in Juarez, Mexico, building the most thriving junior handball program in North America. Coach Fernandez also arranges and travels with JR WPH Juarez youngsters to travel to tournaments, sometimes driving up to 16 hours each way to provide the youngsters with the opportunity to experience tournament handball.  Inscribed on the WPH Coach of the Year plaque presented by the WPH Executive Committee: “Through passionately promoting, recruiting, teaching, and mentoring the next generation of handball players, Coach Fernandez has created the most flourishing junior handball program in North America. The WPH is incredibly proud to have you on our team. Thank you!”

dsc05417Junior WPH Clinic with JR WPH Juarez

JR WPH hosted a sensational clinic with JR WPH Juarez, with WPH Master Instructor David Fink playing “King of the Court” singles with the JR WPH Juarez traveling team. “The kid’s energy and enthusiasm was amazing and so much fun,” stated Coach Fink. “We are so grateful that the juniors make the six-hour drive from Juarez to Tucson to be a part of the event. What’s most fun is seeing the improvement of all of the kids from one tournament to the next.” Following the clinic, JR WPH Juarez was WPH “geared-up,” with each of the youngsters receiving JR WPH jerseys.

Pic by Vern Roberts/USHA

Pic by Vern Roberts/USHA

Memorial Presentation

Tournament director Scott Cleveland hosted a special Memorial celebration between the pro singles semifinals matches, paying tribute to those we have lost in the handball community in the last year. “We feel so grateful to the pros for taking the time to come here and help us celebrate our friends and family in the handball community we have lost,” stated Cleveland during the touching ceremony.

dsc03776Pro Singles

The top four seeds cruised to the semifinals with little difficulty, setting up identical semifinal matchups from the Race 4 Eight 2 in Tucson in 2012. Sean Lenning started quickly in the first semifinal against David Fink, building a 17-4 lead with tremendous power and ace serves. Fink established some momentum going into game two, scoring five of the final nine points of the game. The second game was a shootout between two of the Race 4 Eight’s Elite 8, with Lenning holding a slight edge until Fink took his first lead at 18-17. Fink hit a crack serve on the left wall that Lenning scooped for a kill, triggering a three-point streak to serve for the match at 20-18. Fink regained the serve, tying the game at 20 before inexplicably double faulting to hand the serve back to Lenning. Lenning closed out the match to advance to his second consecutive Memorial final. “That second game was some of the best handball I’ve ever seen,” stated WPH Executive Committee member Doug Clark.

dsc05507In the bottom bracket, Emmett Peixoto fell behind 9-2 against hometown favorite Luis Moreno before changing gears and taking control of the match. “Every shot Luis hits has so much hop that I just tried to jam the ball right at him or bounce the ball at his chest,” revealed Peixoto. Peixoto controlled the match after the early deficit, using his all-around game to neutralize Moreno’s power and aggressiveness to advance to his first Memorial final.

Pro Singles Quarterfinals

Lenning def V. Natale 21-7, 21-6

Fink Iglesias 21-1, 21-3

Peixoto def Montijo 21-11, 21-10

Moreno def Fernandez 21-4, 21-12


Lenning def Fink 21-9, 21-20

Peixoto def Moreno 21-16, 21-13

Final: Lenning vs. Peixoto

For more information on The Memorial, click here

Stay tuned to this thread throughout the weekend for coverage from The Memorial.

David Fink

WPH Senior Writer

dsc03450Friday’s Recap

The Tucson Memorial Handball Open kicked off on Friday night at the Tucson Racquet Club, with six of the top 16 Race 4 Eight pros in action, as well as dozens of junior, skill level, and master’s division players from Arizona, California, New Mexico, New York, Idaho, Texas, and Mexico.

The outstanding pro and junior players are secondary to remembering the loves ones the worldwide handball community has lost at The Memorial. “The Tucson Memorial Handball Open was designed to honor and celebrate friends and family of the sport, that have passed, with the hopes of highlighting their life achievements, archiving their legacies, and sharing their stories,” stated Memorial tournament director Scott Cleveland.

dsc03437Match of the Night

2016 JR WPH Coach of the Year Richie “Drft” Fernandez faced WPH Statistician Dr. James Bardwell in match of cancer survivors in the pro singles. Both WPH team members won their battles with cancer in the past decade and staged a classic on The Memorial’s opening night. After splitting the first two games in just north of two hours, Fernandez and Bardwell traded the lead three times in the decider. Fernandez ultimately prevailed in a thrilling 11-6 tiebreaker. “I think it’s great to be able to play a match with two cancer survivors at The Memorial in an event that celebrates the lives of those we’ve lost, many to cancer,” stated Dr. Bardwell.

Sean Lenning, Luis Moreno, Emmett Peixoto, David Fink, Jonathan Iglesias, and Abraham Montijo advanced in the pro singles on Friday night, setting the stage for what promises to be a thrilling Saturday of action at The Memorial. The Race 4 Eight pros will be in action on Saturday, with all six playing singles and doubles.

Memorial Pro Singles Quarterfinals

Lenning vs. V. Natale

Fink vs. Iglesias

Peixoto vs. Montijo

Moreno vs. Fernandez

For more information on The Memorial, click here

Stay tuned to this thread throughout the weekend for coverage from The Memorial.

David Fink

WPH Senior Writer