2016/17 R48Pro Preview

Posted on Oct 14 2016 - 1:25pm by DV

70e-1The Indoor 4 Wall Professional Handball Tour

The World Players of Handball’s Race 4 Eight tour Powered by ESPN returns for its sixth season, featuring one pre-season Pre-Race event, six regular season events and the Player’s Championship, with the world’s best players competing for more than $150k in prize and bonus money. The Watch ESPN App will carry weekend coverage of six of the seven ranking events, presenting 12 hours of live coverage on the Worldwide Leader in Sports on each broadcast weekend. The Race 4 Eight will travel to one new city on the 2016-2017 Race 4 Eight V tour, while returning to six handball hotbeds during the seven-month, seven-stop season that starts in October and ends in April.

The 2016-2017 Race 4 Eight VI season promises to be the most exciting season in history, with Race 4 Eight V breakout star and current Player’s Champion Killian Carroll poised to ascend to the top of the sport against a hungry group of challengers that includes Sean Lenning, Mando Ortiz, Luis Moreno and the rest of the game’s top players. Catriona Casey will strive to maintain her unparalleled Race 4 Eight dominance in the Women’s Race 4 Eight and Marcos Chavez will continue to test his Senior Race 4 Eight dominance against the best 40+ stars in the world.

Learn about the Race 4 Eight 6 schedule, players, film crew, tournaments, rules, history, junior clinics, blind draws, and so much more below!

scheduleThe 2016-2017 Race 4 Eight VI Schedule

Simple Green U.S. Open Stop #1: October 20th-23rd 2016

Minneapolis Stop #2: November 18th-20th 2016

Plummer Bash Stop #3: January 20th-22nd 2017

New Orleans Mardis Gras Stop #4:  February 17th-19th 2017

Houston Stop #5: March 3rd-5th 2017

NYAC Stop #6: March 23rd-26th 2017

Salt Lake City Aces Stop #7: April 21st-23rd 2017

To view links to all of the events, Race 4 Eight 6 Rules, Video Preview of the Race 4 Eight 6, and the current R48 rankings, click here

moreno2The Players

The World Players of Handball is fortunate to have some of the world’s greatest athletes playing on the Race 4 Eight tour. The sensational handball skills demonstrated by the R48 pros drives the tour, with each player awing live and broadcast fans at every venue. The Race 4 Eight players range in age from late teens to early 40’s, all striving for Race 4 Eight glory. The love of the game drives each of the players, as can be seen by the incredible efforts put forth by every player in every match. Meet our top stars!

R48 Men’s Pro

15pPaul Brady: After five consecutive world titles and 13 R48 titles through the R48 V season, Paul Brady has established himself as one of the greatest players to ever play the sport. Brady brings and unmatched attention to detail, preparation, focus, physical fitness and shot making to the sport, leaving nothing to chance tand winning more than 95% of the tournaments he has entered since 2005. Brady has hinted that his career may be coming to an end, so don’t miss any opportunity to watch this once in a lifetime superstar!

Sean Lenning: Known as “The Freak” for his ability to consistently make outrageously jaw-dropping shots, Sean Lenning enjoyed a spectacular R48 V season that saw him win one title while making the finals of four events en route to the season-ending #2 ranking. Lenning played in several of the most exciting matches of the R48 V season, proving that his game not only has a lot of flash but a lot of substance as well

2b-1Mando Ortiz: Perhaps the most electrifying player in the sport, Mando Ortiz is the only player on the planet that can flat kill the ball from anywhere on the court with either hand. The tour’s resident gunslinger combines a flair for the dramatic with a crowd-pleasing personality, making him a fan favorite across the world. Ortiz proved that he has the ability beat anyone in the game during the R48 V season, as evidenced by beating four consecutive former or current #1 WPH pros en route to his first R48 title in Houston in early 2015

Killian Carroll: In just his first full season on the Race 4 Eight tour, Killian Carroll captured the crowned jewel of the Race, the Player’s Championship. Carroll redefines tenaciousness and proved throughout the course of his first season on tour that no lead is safe and no player is unbeatable. Carroll has quickly become a crowd favorite for his shot making and retrieving ability. After finishing his maiden R48 season at #4, don’t be surprised to see Carroll finish his second season at #1

morenoLuis Moreno: Known as “The Natural” for his ability to make such a difficult game appear to be so easy, Moreno’s ability to make the game appear so effortless was the product of thousands of hours of practice, practice that enabled “The Natural” to win nine of the first 17 Race 4 Eight events from 2011-2014. Moreno experienced a somewhat disappointing Race 4 Eight V season by his lofty standards, but do not be surprised to see Moreno ascend back to the winner’s circle and the top of the rankings in the upcoming season

Emmett Peixoto: Peixoto brings unmatched speed and intensity to every match, making each R48 pro earn every point, while strategically and methodically searching for weaknesses and openings. The Handball Pro Emeritus at San Francisco’s Olympic Club, Peixoto has appeared in two Race 4 Eight finals and has been ranked as high as #2 on the Race 4 Eight tour. Peixoto will be a force during the R48 VI season, as he always is

dc2Daniel Cordova: In just two seasons on the Race 4 Eight tour, Cordova has already developed a reputation for the best hop serve on tour. The 2015 R48 Rookie of the Year creates offensive opportunities and points off his dominating serve, as he is able to fool even the game’s best returners. As youngest member of the Elite 8, look for Cordova to continue to climb the rankings, perhaps all the way to #1 in the coming years

David Fink: The fiery lefty has been just one of two R48 pros to have maintained a top 8 R48 ranking since the inception of the tour in 2011, reaching as high as #2 in January of 2014. Fink experienced an uncharacteristically inconsistent season during the R48 V, sprinkling great results with surprising ones. Fink is the oldest player in the Elite 8 and will aim to hold off the youngsters for at least one more season

luis-cordova-bio-picLuis Cordova: The youngest Elite 8 finisher in the history of the Race 4 Eight tour in 2012, Luis Cordova has maintained his position amongst the elite while serving in the U.S. military in Florida. Now residing in Atlanta, Cordova possesses one of the best right hands in the sport, as well as the ability to track down nearly every shot. Cordova just missed the Elite 8 at the end of the R48 V season, but expect to see this sharp shooter inside the R48 VI Elite 8


cc2Catriona Casey: Catriona Casey is perhaps the most skilled women’s player in history, possessing no discernable weaknesses, two equally strong hands and the ability to make match-changing adjustments on the biggest stages. Casey plays must-see handball, as her on-court elegance and grace in unmatched in today’s game. Casey has won nine of 10 WR48 events through the WR48 III season and there does not seem to be anything to stop her from winning nine of the next 10

Aisling Reilly: Reilly is the 2012 and 2015 Women’s World Singles Champion and the game’s #2 attraction. Reilly’s power and finesse is lethal combination, as the Belfast superstar can dominate her opponents with great offense and great defense. Reilly has not lost to any women’s player outside of Catriona Casey in more than three years and picked up her first WR48 title in a thrilling tiebreaker against Casey at the 2015 Simple Green U.S. Open

cianaCiana Ni Churraoin: Ciana Ni Churraoin took the Women’s Race 4 Eight tour by storm, advancing to the final in her first WR48 start at the 2015 NYAC Invitational at just 18 years old. Ni Churraoin became the first woman to win a game in WR48 play against Catriona Casey in the final of the 2015 WR48 NYAC, pushing the WR48 #1 to the limit in the process. Ni Churraoin possesses the two-handed power and athleticism to make her one of the game’s top stars for the next two decades

Danielle Daskalakis: Danielle Daskalakis is one of the game’s greatest all-around superstars, as she has demonstrated the ability to play at the top or near the top of virtually every handball code. Daskalakis owns one of the best serves in women’s handball and can hop the ball either way to earn first-strike kill opportunities. Daskalakis pushed two-time defending world champion Aisling Reilly to a tiebreaker in the semifinals of the 2015 WR48 Player’s Championship, proving that she has the game to compete anyone on the tour

4dTracy Davis: At 39 years of age, Tracy Davis is a living legend in the sport and still one of the best players in the game. Davis is unquestionably the fittest player competing in any of the Race 4 Eight brackets, as well as being one of the most well-liked. Davis wins and loses with class, always serving as an ambassador to the sport. Davis’ “serve-and-shoot” style makes her dangerous against any opponent and she will look to employ those tactics in the WR48 IV season against the best players from both sides of the pond


mc5_clipped_rev_1Marcos Chavez: The two-time SR48 Player’s Champion is a force on not just the SR48 tour, but the R48 tour as well. Playing as well in his early 40’s as he did in his mid 20’s, this crowd-favorite dazzles galleries and frustrates opponents with a mixture of finesse, speed and sneaky power. Chavez owns the most SR48 titles in the history of the tour and will look to reclaim his SR48 Player’s Championship during the 2016-2017 SR48 season

Andy Schad: Known as being one of the nicest guys to ever put on a pair of handball gloves, Andy Schad is also one of the most competitive. Schad scratches and claws for every point, often turning matches into street fights. Schad won the first SR48 Player’s Championship in 2013 and added his second SR48 title at the 2015 NYAC. Schad will aim for his third title and to maintain his elite status on the SR48 tour during the 2016-2017 SR48 season

gb1 Gavin Buggy: Gavin Buggy is the only player to have ever started a SR48 match and never lost and is also the only player to have started a match on ESPN and never lost (through September of 2016). Unknown to most American fans and aided by a super fan, Buggy stormed into the 2015 SR48 Player’s Championship and dominated the best SR48 field of the season, including squashing Marcos Chavez’s perfect SR48 season and bid for his third straight SR48 title. Buggy’s unorthodox style and his nearly 6’5 frame make him one of the most interesting players to watch in the sport

Dan Zimet: “Dr. Z” is one of the game’s greatest master’s champions, having won more than 20 national titles in 4-Wall, 3-Wall, and 1-Wall combined. Dr. Z. has taken his game to the SR48, where he has demonstrated his sensational handball skills. Dr. Z also writes a monthly column for WPH social media titled “Dr. Z’s Wrap-Around,” while serving as a part-time broadcast analyst during Race 4 Eight broadcasts

For Full Race 4 Eight Player Bios, click here

The Cities

logo-wac-wingsSeattle, WA: Pre-Race Stop #1 at the Washington Athletic Club (September 10th, 2016): The Washington Athletic Club and the World Players of Handball were thrilled to present the Pre-Race 4 Eight V Kickoff Stop #1 Invitational and Instructional Clinics at the famed Washington Athletic Club. The Washington Athletic Club served as the home of the first two WPH Race 4 Eight Player’s Championships in 2012 and 2013 and was thrilled to host the Pre-Race (non-ranking) kickoff event to the Race 4 Eight V season, featuring Sean Lenning, Mando Ortiz, Emmett Peixoto, and Luis Cordova

Champion: Mando Ortiz

Tournament directors: Randy Multack and Brian Henson

Read full recap here

Fountain Valley: The Simple Green U.S. Open of Handball R48 VI Stop #1 (October 20th 23rd, 2016): The Simple Green U.S. Open hosts the Race 4 Eight for the sixth consecutive season, offering the most single-event prize money of any event on the Race 4 Eight 6 tour. Known as the Festival of Handball for highlighting 1-Wall, 3-Wall and 4-Wall handball, the U.S. Open is a player and fan favorite, as legends are made on the backdrop of the Southern California coastline.

Tournament director: Naty Alvarado, Sr.

To read the full preview of the 2016 Simple Green U.S. Open, click here

university_of_minnesota_wordmarkMinneapolis: R48 VI Stop #2 November 18th-20th, 2016: The Race 4 Eight travels to the University of Minnesota and the sensational University of Minnesota Rec Center for the first time in the history of the tour for the R48 6’s second stop. Players will be treated to a college atmosphere and large crowds at the University of Minnesota’s two-wall glass exhibition court.

Tournament director: Kyle Kloss

Coeuer d’Alene: Plummer Helluva Family Bash R48 VI Stop #3 January 20th-22nd, 2017

Jake Plummer and family and the World Players of Handball are thrilled to host the eighth installment of the Plummer Family Helluva Handball Bash in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. The Plummer Family Bash is widely considered to be one of the best events in handball, combining spectacular handball with incredible Plummer family hospitality.

Tournament director: Jake Plummer and family

logoNew Orleans: Mardi Gras Open R48 VI Stop #4 February 17th-19th, 2017: New Orleans will host its second Race 4 Eight event in 13 months and third WPH Pro handball event in eight years. WPH pros traveled to New Orleans for an outstanding WPH pro stop that served as a precursor to the Race 4 Eight in 2009 and will return for its second Race 4 Eight Nola stop in 2016 to compete in one of handball’s most fan-friendly venues, featuring a three-glass wall show court. Expect fireworks as pros will dazzle on the courts by day and enjoy Bourbon Street and the French Quarter at night

Tournament director: Bob Caluda

Houston: Texas State Doubles R48 VI Stop #5 March 3rd-5th, 2017: The WPH returns to Houston’s Tellespsen YMCA for the fourth consecutive year for the fourth event of the 2015-2016 Race 4 Eight V season. WPH close friend and former MLB player and manager Art Howe joined the WPH broadcast in Houston last year, while off the court, players were treated to an outstanding welcome dinner by WPH R48 host and sponsor Ron Cole. The Space City will be a pivotal event for the R48 pros as each vies to ascend to the top of the rankings.

Tournament director: Ron Cole

nyaca2gKiJ-C_clipped_rev_1New York City: New York Athletic Club R48 VI Stop #6: March 23rd-26th, 2017: The Race 4 Eight V heads to New York City and the famed New York Athletic Club for the fourth consecutive year, featuring views from Central Park and midtown Manhattan from the NYAC rooftop. The NYAC is the tour’s most historic venue, connecting handball greats from the past century in one of the country’s most highly regarded athletic clubs. Players and their families are treated to an incredible Saturday night banquet, as well as the best amenities of New York City.

Tournament director: John Duggan and the NYAC Killer’s Club

Salt Lake City: Aces R48 VI Player’s Championship: April 21st-23rd, 2017: The Salt Lake City Aces has been voted the “Player’s Favorite” for its sensational hospitality and willingness to show all of the players a great experience in the Rocky Mountains. Hosting the R48 for the sixth consecutive year, the Ace Team hosts an incredible Saturday evening party and a spectacular venue for watching and playing world-class handball.

Tournament director: Lon and Matt Stalsberg and the Aces Family

30d-1The History

The World Player’s of Handball’s Race 4 Eight tour kicked off in October of 2011 with the Plummer Helluva Family Bash in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho and has hosted a total of 34 Race 4 Eight events through the first five seasons, featuring the top men’s, women’s, and senior handball players in the world. ESPN jumped onboard in 2014 and the Race 4 Eight has proudly broadcast every Race 4 Eight event live on ESPN3 since its first event on the Worldwide Leader in Sports at the 2014 Simple Green U.S. Open. Paul Brady, Catriona Casey, and Marcos Chavez have been the Race 4 Eight’s most prolific champions in the R48 Men’s Pro, WR48, and SR48, respectively, and each superstar will be aiming for more WPH Race 4 Eight Crystal this season. Check out the Race 4 Eight List of Champions and Finalists through the first five seasons below.

Race 4 Eight, Senior Race 4 Eight and Women’s Race 4 Eight Stops and Champions and Finalists: 2011-Present

R48 I: 2011-2012

  1. Plummer (ID)

R48 Champion: Luis Moreno (AZ)/Finalist: Naty Alvarado, Jr. (CA)

  1. U.S. Open (CA) R48 Champion: Robbie McCarthy (IRE)/Finalist: Charly Shanks (IRE)
  2. Tucson (AZ)R48 Champion: Luis Moreno (AZ)/Finalist: Sean Lenning (WA)
  3. Fresno (CA)R48 Champion: Sean Lenning (WA)/Finalist: Naty Alvarado, Jr. (CA)
  4. Atlanta (GA) R48 Champion: Luis Moreno (AZ)/Finalist: Naty Alvarado, Jr. (CA)
  5. Salt Lake City (UT)R48 Champion: Luis Moreno (AZ)/Finalist: Sean Lenning (WA)
  6. LAAC (CA) R48 Champion: Sean Lenning (WA)/Finalist: Al. Garner (TX)
  7. Seattle (WA)

R48 Champion: Luis Moreno (AZ)/Finalist: Sean Lenning (WA)

R48 II + SR48 I: 2012-2013

  1. U.S. Open (CA)

R48 Champion: Paul Brady (IRE)/Finalist: Charly Shanks (IRE)

  1. Tucson (AZ) R48 Champion:  Sean Lenning (WA)/Finalist: Al. Garner (TX)
  2. Houston (TX) R48 Champion: Charly Shanks (IRE)/Finalist: Naty Alvarado, Jr. (CA)

    SR48 Champion: Naty Alvarado, Jr. (CA)/Finalist: Tyler Hamel (TX)

  3. Anchorage (AK) R48 Champion: Luis Moreno (AZ)/Finalist: Charly Shanks (IRE)
  4. Denver (CO) R48 Champion: Luis Moreno (AZ)/Finalist: Sean Lenning (WA)

    SR48 Champion: Naty Alvarado, Jr. (CA)/Finalist: Matt Mclaughlin (MO)

  5. Salt Lake City (UT) R48 Champion: Charly Shanks (IRE)/Finalist: Luis Moreno (AZ)
  6. Seattle (WA) R48 Champion: Paul Brady (IRE)/Finalist: Shanks (IRE)

SR48 Champion: Andy Schad (D.C.)/Finalist: John Bike (CA)

R48 III + WR48 I: + SR48 II 2013-2014

  1. Plummer (ID)

R48 Champion: Al. Garner (TX)/Finalist: Mando Ortiz (CA)

  1. U.S. Open (CA) R48 Champion: Luis Moreno (AZ)/Finalist: Naty Alvarado, Jr. (CA)

    WR48 Champion: Catriona Casey (IRE)/Finalist: Aisling Reilly (IRE)

  2. Houston (TX) R48 Champion: Luis Moreno (AZ)/Finalist: Diarmaid Nash (IRE)

    SR48 Champion: Marcos Chavez (CA)/Finalist: Tyler Hamel (TX)

  3. NYAC (NY) R48 Champion: Paul Brady (IRE)/Finalist: Robbie McCarthy (IRE)

    WR48 Champion: Catriona Casey (IRE)/Finalist: Tracy Davis (NY)

  4. Denver (CO) R48 Champion: Paul Brady (IRE)/Finalist: Emmett Peixoto (CA)

    SR48 Champion: Bear Meiring (CO)/Finalist: Dave Vincent (AZ)

  5. Salt Lake City (UT) R48 Champion: Robbie McCarthy (IRE)/Finalist: Luis Moreno (AZ)

    WR48 Champion Catriona Casey (IRE)/Finalist: Aisling Reilly (IRE)

SR48 Champion: Marcos Chavez (CA)/Finalist: Meiring (CO)

R48 IV + SR48 III + WR48 II: 2014-2015

  1. U.S. Open (CA)

R48 Champion: Paul Brady (IRE)/Finalist: Luis Moreno (AZ)

WR48 Champion: Catriona Casey (IRE)/Finalist: Aisling Reilly (IRE)

  1. Tucson (AZ)R48 Champion: Paul Brady (IRE)/Finalist: Luis Moreno (AZ)

    SR48 Champion: Marcos Chavez (CA)/Finalist: Naty Alvarado, Jr. (CA)

  2. Houston (TX)R48 Champion: Paul Brady (IRE)/Finalist: Sean Lenning (AZ)

    SR48 Champion: Naty Alvarado, Jr. (CA)/Tyler Hamel (TX)

  3. San Francisco (CA)R48 Champion: Paul Brady (IRE)/Finalist: Emmett Peixoto (CA)

    WR48 Champion: Catriona Casey (IRE)/Finalist: Jessica Gawley (CAN)

  4. NYAC (NY)R48 Champion: Paul Brady (IRE)/Finalist: Andy Nett (MN)

    WR48 Champion: Catriona Casey (IRE)/Finalist: Ciana Ni Churraion (IRE)

    SR48 Champion: Andy Schad (D.C)/Finalist: Dan Armijo (AZ)

  5. Salt Lake City (UT)R48 Champion: Sean Lenning (AZ)/Finalist: Mando Ortiz (CA)

    WR48 Champion: Catriona Casey (IRE)/Finalist: Aisling Reilly (IRE)

SR48 Champion: Marcos Chavez (CA)/Finalist: Tom Sheridan (IRE)

R48 V + SR48 IV + WR48 III: 2015-2016

  1. U.S. Open (CA)

R48 Champion: Paul Brady (IRE)/Luis Moreno (AZ)

WR48 Champion: Aisling Reilly (IRE)/Finalist: Catriona Casey (IRE)

SR48 Champion: Marcos Chavez (CA)/Finalist: Naty Alvarado, Jr. (CA)

  1. Tucson (AZ)R48 Champion: Sean Lenning (AZ)/Finalist: Mando Ortiz (CA)
  2. New Orleans (LA)R48 Champion: Paul Brady (IRE)/Finalist: Killian Carroll (IRE)
  3. Houston (TX)R48 Champion: Mando Ortiz (CA)/Finalist: Sean Lenning (AZ)

    SR48 Champion: Marcos Chavez (CA)/Finalist: Tyler Hamel (TX)

  4. NYAC (NY)R48 Champion: Paul Brady (IRE)/Finalist: Mando Ortiz (CA)

    WR48 Champion: Catriona Casey (IRE)/Martina McMahon (IRE)

  5. Salt Lake City (UT)R48 Champion: Paul Brady/Finalist: Sean Lenning
  6. Portland (OR)R48 Champion: Killian Carroll/Finalist: Sean Lenning

    WR48 Champion: Catriona Casey/Finalist: Aisling Reilly

SR48 Champion: Gavin Buggy/Finalist: Marcos Chavez

To View The History of the Race 4 Eight Tour Through Season V, click on the R48 Fun Facts here

TR48PRO23aThe Preparation

So much preparation goes into each Race 4 Eight season, with players training year-round and administrators and broadcasters preparing venues, tour facts, player features, and so much more. The World Players of Handball is extremely fortunate to have the passion of the players and staff to make the Race 4 Eight the most exciting pro tour in handball history. .

“I can’t wait for the upcoming R48 VI season,” stated R48 Elite 8 staple Emmett Peixoto. “Although I dropped a bit in the rankings last season, I felt like I was playing better handball than all previous seasons; just a few shots shy from turning the corner. I know this season will be different. After a brief break from training, in order to rest my body and mind, I will be doing drills and working out four to five times a week in preparation for the season. I hope everybody will be doing the same. Let’s make this season the best yet. I will be ready.”

“This is a special year for the WPH as we are forming a relationship with a major TV network and have big hopes on the horizon for the expansion of handball’s image on a national mass-market scale,” declared WPH Executive Director David Vincent. “With ESPN and our group in early talks to sign a multi-year deal, this off-season we have sunk our energy into tying loose ends, shoring up and improving the tournament dynamics, and aggressively seeking alternative ways to fund the tour.  Visually you will see some improvements during the 2016/17 season; but moreover, I think the presentation will be more authentic, positive and presentable in years past.  As an announcer, I’ve been watching more tennis and studying the USHA rule book with hopes of improving my game.  Not all of us have a photographic memory like Dave Fink, so I need to earn my knowledge the old-fashioned way.”

“Getting my mind and body ready for the season requires a lot of planning and preparation,” revealed WPH R48 top 12 pro Stephen Cooney, who moved from Ireland to New York City to have the opportunity to compete on the R48 tour. “I won’t go into details as I like to keep some secrets but I will be giving myself every chance to bring my best game to the tour.”

“I am focusing on my overall wellness and fitness and setting goals,” revealed world-traveler and top 20 R48 pro Jonathan Iglesias.

“As I’ve always done, I’ll spend as much time in the court as possible to be prepared for the upcoming Race season,” stated one of the WR48’s breakout stars and fan-favorite Martina McMahon. “I play good challenge games against the Senior (elite) men’s players in Ireland and that really gets me ready!”

12mThe WPH Staff

The World Players of Handball Staff is comprised of the most passionate, most professional and most dedicated group of handball promoters in the world. The WPH is extremely fortunate to have a group of individuals that dedicate their lives to growing the great game of handball on a daily basis, with each team member holding specific responsibilities that are critically important to the success of the WPH. If you see one of our team members at an event, say hello and thank them for their incredible efforts in growing the game!

David Vincent: David Vincent formed the World Players of Handball in 2005 and ushered live handball into our living rooms for the first time. Since its inception in 2005, the World Players of Handball has broadcast more than 1,000 live matches! Dave Vincent serves as the lead play-by-play announcer for WPH Broadcasts Powered by ESPN, combining his unique perspective and personality with a lifetime of handball experience. DV brings 15 years of radio experience from Oregon and California to World Players of Handball broadcasts and provides professionalism and wit to the amazing game of handball. DV also serves as the Executive Director of the World Player of Handball at the WPH headquarters in Tucson, AZ, working daily to grow the game of handball through innovation.

David Fink: David Fink sat in the booth with David Vincent for the first time in 2007 and has not left since. Mr. Fink became the lead broadcast analyst for all World Players of Handball Broadcasts Powered by ESPN, providing candor and a player’s perspective. The DV/DF broadcast partnership has broadcast the best matches and best players in the sport for the past nine handball seasons, with the last two seasons on ESPN. DF often jumps from the court to the booth and understands the challenges and difficulty of the sport as well as anyone. David graduated with a Master’s degree in Sports Management from Duquesne University, using his education to not only serve as the broadcast analyst, but to also serve as the World Players of Handball Youth Donor and Development Director and WPH Senior Writer.

Kris Gurrad: Kris Gurrad has earned numerous Emmy awards in Portland, Oregon for his television engineering and producing work on local television networks. Kris started his television production career in his teens and quickly became the most in demand television commodity in Portland. Kris is simply one of the most talented television producers and engineers in the world and has dramatically improved World Players of Handball broadcasts since joining the team in 2011, adding a scoreboard, slow-motion instant replay, court sounds and several additional features that make the World Players of Handball Powered by ESPN Broadcasts so professional and appealing.

Linda Manning: Linda Manning is likely the hardest working broadcast technician on the planet. A devout perfectionist, Linda will stop at nothing to ensure that World Players of Handball broadcasts exceed all expectations. Linda operates the cameras at all Race 4 Eights events, as well as drives the WPH equipment van to each event. Regardless of the length of her drive, Linda immediately starts running cables and setting up for WPH Broadcasts to ensure that webcast fans will be treated to the highest quality production possible. Linda worked as a professor or mathematics for a number of years and transitioned to television production, working alongside her mentor, Kris Gurrad.

Ben Manning: No one was happier to welcome Ben Manning to the WPH Staff than his mother and lead broadcast technician Linda Manning, until the rest of the WPH Staff had a chance to watch Ben work. No amount of work is too much for Ben, as he often arises before the sun and works well into the night to ensure that handball’s hundreds of thousands of broadcast viewers enjoy the sport we all love

Jeff Kastner: Jeff Kastner was the original camera operator (and founder) of the World Players of Handball and has continued to greatly contribute to the World Players of Handball 11 years following its inception. Jeff has a degree in film production from Pacific University and owns his own production company titled “Jeff Kastner Productions” in Portland, OR. Jeff founded the World Players of Handball, alongside David Vincent, and the two pioneers are collectively responsible for ushering handball to our living rooms eleven years ago and allowing handball fans to enjoy all of the biggest tournaments from any part of the world. Jeff excels at creating stories and highlights and has used his editing mastery to create several phenomenal pieces throughout Race 4 Eight history. Jeff remains on the cutting edge of new technology and continues to be an incredible asset to World Players of Handball.

Lolita de Vincent: Lolita de Vincent serves as the head photographer at Race 4 Eight events Powered by ESPN, as well as serving as the WPH Inventory Director at the WPH’s home offices in Tucson. In the five years of the Race 4 Eight, Lolita has captured thousands of the best handball action shots ever taken. Lolita’s unmatched attention to detail, creative eye and superb organization skills makes her invaluable to the WPH Staff.

Tom Flores: Tom Flores serves as the WPH Outdoor Director, as well as the Race 4 Eight floor manager during Race 4 Eight events. Tom ensures that courts are running on time, referees are in place, and players know where to be at all times. Tom’s diligence ensures that ESPN matches start on time, and in turn, that handball presents itself with the same professionalism as any sport on the ESPN network

Javi Flores: Javi Flores serves as the WPH Outdoor Assistant Director, and works alongside his brother Tom and the WPH Film Crew and Broadcast team at Race 4 Eight events to coordinate courts, assign courts, report scores, and doing whatever is necessary to keep events running smoothly

Tricia Fink: Tricia Fink serves as the WPH Membership Director at the home offices in Tucson, sending out membership renewals and new membership forms daily. The WPH exists solely on memberships and donations, so Tricia’s work is a large part in what enables the WPH to host our events on ESPN and to provide opportunities for professional, junior and skill level players to play in the best handball tournaments in the world

Kara Mack: Kara Mack in unquestionably one of the premiere sideline reporters in the world of sports. Kara’s bubbly personality, her extensive knowledge of handball and the players, and her passion for the sport and ensuring that WPH broadcasts are on par or beyond any major sport makes Kara an indispensible member of the WPH Staff.

17cThe Rules

The World Players of Handball is always seeking to create the most fan and player-friendly rules to create the most exciting matches. Players and fans are asked each year how we can best present the sport on ESPN and the WPH Rules Committee is always evaluating new tweaks to enhance the playing and viewing experience. Check out a few of the Race 4 Eight VI’s rules and for more rules and clarifications, see WPH R48 Administrators David Vincent and David Fink or go to wphlive.tv and click on “Elite Handball”

  • All main draw R48, SR48 and WR48 matches are best of three games, all games to 15 points, win by two in each game (exception: Simple Green U.S. Open)
  • All R48, SR48, and WR48 Playoff matches are one game to 25, win by two (exception: Simple Green U.S. Open)
  • Players are given one incorrect video challenge per game in matches that are being broadcast
  • There are four-minutes between games and for halftime in 25-point games (exception: Simple Green U.S. Open)
  • Full the full list of Race 4 Eight rules, click here

The Blind Draw

The World Players of Handball’s Race 4 Eight tour strives to create the most excitement for the players and fans at each stop. Rather than the traditional blind draw that has pitted the Elite 8 pro’s name in a hat to be picked by the eight qualifiers, the World Players of Handball has created unique blind draws this season that will enable qualifiers to pick the pro he wants to play, pros to pick the qualifier he wants to play and more, all while avoiding repeat first-round matchups throughout the season! See below for the blind draw format at each stop.

Simple Green U.S. Open Stop #1: Open Draw with no qualifier

Minneapolis Stop #2: Blind Draw

Plummer Bash Stop #3: Open Draw with no qualifier

New Orleans Mardis Gras Stop #4: Throw back Blind Draw (The top four ranked qualifiers will choose from the 5-8 seeded pros, the bottom four ranked qualifiers will choose from the 1-4 seeded pros)

Houston Stop #5: Reverse Blind Draw (Elite 8 draw names & choose their opponents)

NYAC Stop #6: Reverse Blind Draw (Qualifiers draw & choose from Elite 8)

Salt Lake City Aces Stop #7 Player’s Championship: Qualifiers will be placed into the round of 16 based on their ranking

12084854_10153566101695519_2085257561_oJunior WPH Clinics at R48 Stops

The World Players of Handball is extremely proud to provide opportunities for junior and collegiate players to learn from the greatest handball players in the world at all of our Race 4 Eight stops. Race 4 Eight pros lead clinics at each event that focus on the handball fundamentals, cross training exercises, and mostly, having fun on the handball court. Race 4 Eight clinics have featured players as young as five years old to college seniors. Every level of player from beginner to young qualifier hopefuls have taken part in the clinics, with each gaining valuable knowledge from R48 pros and WPH Certified Coaches. The goal of the Race 4 Eight tour is to inspire the next generation of players and through the first five seasons of the Race 4 Eight tour, hundreds of youngsters from across the country have developed a love for the great game of handball through the Race 4 Eight junior handball clinics.

“We are extremely proud of the commitment our coaches and pros have made to introducing and teaching the next generation of players at Race stops,” declared WPH Youth Donor and Development Director David Fink. “Race events provide opportunities for new players to not only watch the best players in the world from the front row, but also to share the court with the game’s greats.

To follow all of Junior WPH’s initiatives, featuring more than 900 junior handball clinics per year across North America, go to juniorhandball.org

our-sponsorsWPH Race 4 Eight VI Sponsors

The World Players of Handball’s Race 4 Eight VI Powered by ESPN is possible because of our incredibly generous sponsors and partners that share the WPH’s passion for growing the game handball and enabling the sport reach hundreds of thousands of unique viewers on each Race 4 Eight broadcast. Our sponsors not only support the Race 4 Eight, but also the hundreds of junior handball clinics the World Players of Handball host each year. Please promote our sponsors by supporting their products and thanking them! Here is our incredibly generous list of Race 4 Eight VI sponsors:

Sports Mall

Tucson Racquet & fitness

Mesch, Clark & Rothchild

Tucson Rolling Shutters

Mined Out

R & A CPA’s

New York Athletic Club

Simple Green


The Ron Cole Company

Ace Disposal

Ace Advertising


Written by David Fink

WPH Senior Writer