Kansas, City, KS, WPH Press, 6/23/17- The KCAC proudly hosted the 2017 NassT 3-Wall singles at the famed two-court KCAC handball complex, featuring two of country’s the best 3-Wall courts and some of the most enthusiastic outdoor handball players and fans in the sport. Missouri’s Ryan Willis entered the open singles as the defending champion and top seed, but would have to contend with Missouri transplant and 2014 WPH 3WallBall Outdoor World Champion Nik Nahorniak and former Missouri State University All-American and former WPH Race 4 Eight Elite 8 invite Chip Morales.
On a scorching weekend on the third weekend in June that saw court temperatures hovering close to 110 degrees with stifling humidity, Chip Morales outlasted Ryan Willis in the upper bracket semifinal to advance to the final, overcoming a 16-20 deficit in the first game and pulling away in game two. “We were going point for point in the first game and we were both pretty exhausted,” Morales recalled. “Ryan took a 20-16 lead, I called timeout and came back in and hit five straight aces to close out the game. I started using my indoor serve and at 20-20, I hit a second serve down the middle with about two feet of hop that Ryan couldn’t return to close out the game. The second game was tied at eight but I was able to build a lead and finish off the match, 21-20, 21-12.”
3-Wall specialist and new father Nik Nahorniak demonstrated his tremendous 3-Wall skills in the bottom bracket semifinal, taking down rising star Hector Facio, Jr. in two close games. “Hector has all the shots but it just seems like he’s not changing gears or making the right shots, and that’s what you need to do against the top players,” stated Morales.
The Father’s Day final between the fathers of youngsters was a 2.5-hour classic, with both outdoor superstars pushing one another to the limit and demonstrating why they’ve been two of the best in the sport for the past decade. Nahorniak started quickly in the mid-morning final, building an 8-1 lead with his trademark overhand drives. “Nik was crushing the ball to the ceiling, pushing me back to the bleachers, and at that time of morning, you’re looking right into the sun and I was having a hard time seeing the ball,” stated Morales.
Morales battled back, eventually tying the score at 16 and taking his first lead at 17-16. Nahorniak regained the lead at 18-17 before being tied again at 18-all. “We were both playing well late in the first game and I felt like I had a good shot after the comeback,” stated Morales. “I just missed two left-hand kills and that was the difference in that first game.” Nahorniak would take the marathon 70-minute first game, 21-18.
Game two was tied at 10 before Morales caught fire in the service box to build a lead. “I just got into the groove with my serve and started to hit a lot of aces,” stated Morales. “It’s really a server’s court and I just happened to get the rhythm and force a tiebreaker.”
The pair traded points early in the tiebreaker, with Nahorniak executing great kills and Morales locating his devastating fly kill. With the score tied at two, Nahorniak found magic in service box. “Nik hit seven aces from 2-2 to really take the match out of my hands,” stated Morales. “The turning point was at 5-2. Nik hit a great serve and I somehow flipped the ball back into a great spot down the left side. I thought I had the rally won, but Nik made an amazing left-handed kill with the ball seemingly behind him. Following that, Nik hit two second serve deep crack aces that both died one foot from the back line.”
Final: Nahorniak def Morales 21-18, 15-21, 11-2
Thank you to WPH reporter Chip Morales and thank you to KCAC for a great event. Put the NassT on your calendar for next June!
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WPH Senior Writer