Tucson, AZ, WPH Press, 12/9/17- JR WPH was thrilled to present the 2017 Tucson Amateur Championships, featuring the JR WPH Collegiate Singles, Amateur Singles, and 50+ doubles. Players between the ages of 18-67 from Tucson and Phoenix competed in the one-day handball extravaganza at the Tucson Racquet Club.
JR WPH Collegiate Singles
A dozen collegiate stars from Pima College and Arizona State University battled for the first JR WPH Collegiate Championship. Fred Lewis Foundation star Carlos Espinoza entered the event as the top seed and cruised to the semifinal with an impressive win against Arizona State’s Esteban Morales. FLF star Noe Rios and FLF alum and current Arizona State star Esteban Camacho played the closest match in the quarterfinals, with the longtime friends and rivals needing overtime to decide a winner. Rios rallied from a 24-25 deficit to score the last three points and advance to the face Espinoza.
In the bottom bracket quarterfinals, ASU’s Derek Doyle edged FLF’s Alejandro Sandoval, while Pima College’s Dylan Key ousted ASU’s Javier Davila.
Despite both living in Tucson, Espinoza and Key met for the first time in the Collegiate Final. Key started strong in the final, racing to a 10-2 lead and seemingly on the verge of a one-game lead in the best of three game final. Espinoza closed the gap and eventually tied Key at 11, then carried the momentum to a one-game lead.
Espinoza continued to apply pressure in game two, building an 11-6 lead and eventually reaching match point at 14-11. Key played his best ball of the match with his back against the wall, tying the score at 14. With the score tied at 15, Espinoza was able to win consecutive points to clinch the title. “Carlos just played great,” stated a gracious Key. “That was a really fun match.”
Carlos Espinoza def Esteban Morales 25-5
Noe Rios def Esteban Camacho 27-25
Derek Doyle def Alejandro Sandoval 25-20
Carlos Espinoza def Noe Rios 25-10
Buddy Key def Derek Doyle 25-7
Final: C. Espinoza def Key 15-12, 17-15
3rd Place Final: Rios def Doyle 25-20
The ’17 Tucson Amateur Singles Championships featured 22 players, with the one-day format testing not only the skills of the players, but the conditioning as well. Top-seeded Tucsonan Victor Espinoza survived a semifinal scare from the come-backing Sloth (DV), ousting the hop-shot master in a close battle, 25-19 to advance to the final. This is the first handball appearance for the sloth since the USHA 4 Wall Nationals.
Dr. James Bardwell cruised to the final, ousting Tucson transplant by way of Pittsburgh, PA, Brian Williams. “I told Brian to get something to eat before the match because I was going to take him on a tour of the court and I wanted him to have fuel.” Despite the semifinal loss, Williams produced the biggest upset of the tournament in defeating Phoenix’s Edgar Medina in the quarterfinals.
Dr. Bardwell was intent on continuing to play tour guide in the best of three game final and succeeded early, pushing Espinoza around the court en route to a 12-5 lead. Espinoza crawled back into the match, running down the doctor’s best pass shots and winning rallies with kills. Sadly, the match ended with an injury forfeit with Espinoza serving at 11-12, as the doctor suffered a leg injury.
Victor Espinoza def Esteban Camacho 25-8
The Sloth def Carlos Espinoza 25-23
Dr. James Bardwell def Dylan Key 25-11
Brian Williams def Edgar Medina 25-12
Dr. Bardwell def Williams 25-11
Final: V. Espinoza def Dr. Bardwell 11-12 inj. fft
9th place Final: Dr. Ashley Moler def Beth Blackstone 25-3
Seven teams entered the 50+ doubles, with several of the one-game matches crossing the one-hour barrier. Steve Hamrick and Art Benitez cruised to the final in the upper bracket with a comprehensive win against Jeff Healam and Steve Torowicz, while Andy Wills and Tom Daniels ousted Pete Jorgenson and Khalsa in the bottom bracket to advance to the final.
The nearly one-hour final produced a number of 20+ shot rallies, as the Tucson foursome fought for every point and the championship. The dominating serves of Team Wills/Daniels proved to be the difference, as Wills and Daniels overcame a very game Hamrick and Benitez.
Joe Neidlinger and Scott Hotchkiss needed overtime to overcome Scott Cleveland and Mike Bonelle for fifth.
Hamrick/Benitez def Healam/Torowicz 25-8
Wills/Daniels def Jorgenson/Khalsa 25-13
Final: Wills/Daniels def Hamrick/Benitez 25-18
5th place final: Neidlinger/Hotchkiss def Cleveland/Bonelle 26-24
Thank you to all of the players for participating and a special thanks to Coach Dan Willeford and the ASU team for making the trip from Phoenix.
WPH Senior Writer