The 2016 WPH Player’s Championship Preview by David Fink

Posted on Apr 30 2016 - 12:30pm by DV

raceThe 2015-2016 WPH Race 4 Eight season has seen the game’s best players return to familiar spots and travel to new venues, with the top Men’s, Women’s and Senior Race 4 Eight pros picking up ranking points on both coasts, Arizona, Texas, Louisiana, and Utah. Paul Brady, Catriona Casey, and Marcos Chavez will enter the 2016 Player’s Championship as the top seeds in the R48, WR48 and SR48, respectively, just as they had at the 2015 Player’s Championship. Brady, Casey, and Chavez will all be aiming to solidify their number one rankings in Portland, but each will face formidable challenges en route to WPH Crystal in Portland.

< Editor’s Note:  When Brackets Become Available for this event, Track the Results HERE>  WPH Will Film LIVE from Portland, Oregon, May 7th & 8th on ESPN3 & WatchESPN App. Tune in to this very special encore performance of the 2015/16 WPH R48Pro Season Finale (Men, Women and 40+ Senior Players). Contact: ~ Website: &  ~ In conjunction with the United States Handball Association’s Master Singles>

Men’s Race 4 Eight

Paul Brady enters the 2016 WPH Player’s Championship as the game’s top star, having lost just three singles matches in international play since 2005. Brady has won 13 of 16 Race 4 Eight events in which he has entered, including four of five events in which he has started this season. Despite his unprecedented success, Brady has won just one of the three WPH Player’s Championships in which he has played, winning the 2013 Player’s Championship in Seattle and losing to Mando Ortiz at the 2014 Player’s Championship and forfeiting with a leg injury in 2015.

Sean Lenning will arrive in Portland as the defending Player’s Champion and on the heels of one of his best R48 seasons, capturing the title at the R48 V Tucson Memorial and advancing to the final in Houston and the Salt Lake City Aces.

Mando Ortiz announced himself as a consistent force during the R48 V season, moving into the top three in the R48 rankings for the first time and winning his first Race 4 Eight title in a sensational run that included wins against former or current WPH #1’s Allan Garner, Emmett Peixoto, Paul Brady, and Sean Lenning.

Killian “Flash” Carroll will play in his first WPH Player’s Championship in Portland, having advanced to the finals of New Orleans and the semifinals of Tucson and New York to secure a R48 top four ranking in advance of Portland.

Emmett Peixoto enters his fourth consecutive Player’s Championship in search of his first R48 title, having finished sixth or better in four of his six regular season R48 V starts. Peixoto will aim to end a streak that has seen him lose in the quarterfinals of three consecutive Player’s Championships.

David Fink enters his fifth consecutive Player’s Championship as an Elite 8 member and in search of his first R48 finals appearance. Fink advanced to the semifinals in New Orleans after skipping the Simple Green U.S. Open and Tucson Memorial with a back injury and added seventh and fifth place finishes in New York and Salt Lake City, respectively.

2015 WPH R48 Rookie of the Year Daniel Cordova avoided the sophomore slump, earning his second consecutive Player’s Championship Elite 8 invite on the heels of a strong season that saw “Danos” finish inside the top eight in four of his six starts this season.

Luis Cordova earned his second invite to the Player’s Championship and first since 2012, and will aim to build on a season that has seen him scores wins against Fink, Al. Garner, D. Cordova, Chavez, and Cooney. Despite drawing the top five Race 4 Eight stars in the five events in which he qualified, Cordova still finished inside the top 10 in all of his starts, while playing the most matches on the R48 V tour (26).

NAR48 Qualifier

Portland’s qualifier features 5-time R48 finalist and former R48 #2 pro Naty Alvarado making his second start of the season and first appearance in a R48 qualifier. Although absent from the R48 tour for the better part of the last two seasons, Alvarado still possesses plenty of game and will be a threat to any player in the Elite 8. Joining Alvarado in the strong Portland qualifier will be white-hot Salt Lake City semifinalist Jonathan Iglesias, former Elite 8 invitee Aaron Garner, Ireland’s Gavin Buggy, California’s Erik Torres, Tucson’s Abraham Montijo, cross over star Shorty Ruiz, Canada’s Shane Vigen and a number of other top players from around the globe.

cc1bWomen’s Race 4 Eight

Catriona Casey will travel to Portland from Ireland in search of her ninth WR48 title in 10 WR48 events, but will face one of the strongest WR48 fields in the three-year history of the tour. Casey has held the WR48 #1 ranking since winning the first WR48 event at the 2013 Simple Green U.S. Open and dominated the next six WR48 events after her maiden title, including victories at the 2014 and 2015 WR48 Player’s Championship. Two-time defending Women’s World Handball Champion Aisling Reilly ended Casey’s undefeated WR48 streak at the 2015 Simple Green U.S. Open, defeating her rival in a thrilling 11-9 tiebreaker to win her first WR48 title. Reilly will aim for her second WR48 title in two starts in Portland and her first WR48 Player’s Championship. Casey and Reilly have met in every major final in events in which both entered since 2013, but will have to contend with a mixture of veteran and rising stars in Portland. Former WR48 finalist Ciana Ni Churraoin, former WR48 finalist Jessica Gawley, WR48 #2 pro Danielle Daskalakis, all-around handball superstar Tracy Davis, and talented New York sensation Sandy Ng will each aim to dethrone the Irish stars en route to their first WR48 titles.

mcSenior Race 4 Eight

Marcos Chavez has dominated the SR48 tour since winning the 2015 SR48 Player’s Championship, winning nine straight matches and three straight SR48 titles. Chavez will be aiming for this third consecutive SR48 title in Portland and the first undefeated season in SR48 history. Chavez will face a strong field of SR48 stars, including his 20-year pro tour rivals Andy Schad and Dan Armijo, Dr. Dan Zimet, Ireland’s Gavin Buggy, Mexico’s Juan Canales, and a number of other SR48 contenders.

To read DF’s Race 4 Eight Fun Facts, click here

To read DF’s Elite R48, WR48, and SR48 Elite Stats, click here

To read DF’s interview with Naty Alvarado, Jr., click here

To watch the R48 Pros Interviewed by ESPN’s Kara Mack in Behind the Short Line, click here

To read DF’s Sunday recaps and Fun Facts from the first six stops of the 2015-2016 R48 V season, click here

To read the WPH Player’s Championship Press Release, click here

For the Race 4 Eight Rankings, click here

For the Race 4 Eight History of Champions, click here

To watch the action from the 2016 WPH Player’s Championship starting on Saturday, May 7th at noon est, go to the ESPN APP (here). To follow the draws from Portland, go here. For all of the handball news from around the globe, visit, Like the World Players of Handball on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @wphlive or @dfwph

ESPN1WPH RACE 4 EIGHT: The World Players of Handball’s Race 4 Eight V powered by ESPN featured six regular season stops, culminating with The WPH Player’s Championship in Portland. Similar to Nascar’s Nextel Cup and the FedEx PGA Playoffs, players earn points during the Race 4 Eight regular season stops to qualify for the season-ending Player’s Championship and season-ending bonus money. It all happens live on Watch ESPN!

The Race 4 Eight V held its first event in October of 2015 at the Simple Green U.S. Open in Fountain Valley, CA and its second event in Tucson in November. Following a holiday break in December, Race 4 Eight hosted its third event in New Orleans in January of 2016, the fourth event in Houston in February, the fifth event in New York City, and the sixth event in Salt Lake City.

For more information on the Race 4 Eight V Tour please contact World Players of Handball Executive Director David Vincent at or World Players of Handball Development Director David Fink at For more information on the World Players of Handball, please visit

David Fink

WPH Senior Writer