Des Plaines, IL, WPH Press, 12/30/17- The 62nd Annual USHA National Junior 4-Wall Championships highlighted the last week of 2017 in Des Plaines, IL with 87 boys and girls handball stars from across the U.S., Canada, and Ireland competing for the prestigious national trophies. Freezing Illinois temperatures could not stop the action-packed week of junior handball, as future stars etched their names in junior handball history.
Irish junior stars Tadgh O Neill and Sean Kerr ousted the 19 and under bracket’s top two seeds in the semifinals, as O Neill defeated defending champion Anthony Sullivan in the upper bracket semifinals and Kerr survived San Francisco’s Coleman McGrath after being just three points from elimination in the second game. The Irish stars split the first two games in the final, with Kerr able to regain the momentum in the match after dropping game two to control the action in game three to hoist the trophy.
Kerr was unable to slam the 19’s, as California’s Sullivan and Luis Bustos defeated Kerr and O Neill in two close games to win the 19 and under doubles.
Boy’s 19 and under Small Ball Singles
Sullivan def O’Keeffe 21-9, 21-19
O’Neill def Gaulton 21-1, 21-0
Kerr def Bustos 21-18, 21-6
McGrath def Burgos 21-12, 21-16
O’Neill def Sullivan 21-15, 21-17
Kerr def McGrath 11-21, 21-18, 11-4
Final: Kerr def O’Neill 21-11, 16-21, 11-5
19 and under doubles final: Sullivan/Bustos def Kerr/O Neill 21-17, 21-18
Ireland’s Michael O Malley cruised to the final in the upper bracket, while Canada’s Alex Carew was dominant in the bottom bracket to meet O Malley in the final. Carew edged O Malley in a close first game in the final, but O Malley took control of the match after game one, allowing Carew to score just 10 combined points in games two and three.
O Malley def Hallahan 21-0, 21-1
Coman 3rd def Peters 8-21, 21-11, 11-8
Carew def Roberts 21-6, 21-0
Cervantes def Pimentel 21-12, 21-20
O Malley def Coman 3rd 21-9, 21-2
Carew def Cervantes 21-11, 21-5
Final: O Malley def Carew 19-21, 21-8, 11-2
17 and under doubles final: Cervantes/Ford def Richer/Roberts 21-3, 21-17
Ray Ure was the class of the 15 and under bracket, as he decimated the field on his home courts. Ure outscored his three opponents 126-26 en route to the title, including an impressive two-game sweep against his California rival and doubles partner David Sanchez III in the final. Ure and Sanchez clinched the doubles, defeating Adam Perez and Oliber Bustos in the final.
Ure def Bersford 21-6, 21-4
Bustos def O’Donnell 21-7, 21-4
Campos def O’Sullivan 21-5, 21-3
Sanchez def Lallier 21-1, 21-3
Ure def Bustos 21-1, 21-2
Sanchez def Campos 21-13, 21-14
Final: Ure def Sanchez 21-9, 21-4
15 and under doubles final: Ure/Sanchez def Perez/Bustos 21-1, 21-2
Minnesota’s Zach Wells and Nathan Stoffel faced one another for the 13 and under crown, just as they had two years ago in the 11 and under bracket. The friends and frequent practice partners played a close first game, with Wells edging his frequent partner in game one and running away with game two to win the title. Stoffel and Wells teamed to win the doubles, defeating Ayden Brule and Abraham Sanchez in the final.
Boy’s 13 and under Small Ball Singles
Wells def Miller 21-1, 21-5
Sanchez def Coman 21-1, 21-4
Asokan def Kerins 21-3, 21-1
Stoffel def Cunningham 21-6, 21-0
Wells def Sanchez 21-13, 21-9
Stoffel def Asokan 21-16, 21-12
Final: Wells def Stoffel 21-14, 21-2
13 and under doubles final: Stoffel/Wells def Brule/Sanchez 21-15, 21-12
Tucson’s Ayden Brule earned his 10th national title at the age of 11 by winning the 11 and under singles, as the Tucson prodigy was never threatened in any of his three matches en route to the title.
Brule def Tullo 21-0, 21-0
Mule def Conneely 21-0, 21-3
Dean def Valera 21-11, 21-3
Wells def Kessler 21-1, 21-1
Brule def Mule 21-3, 21-7
Wells def Dean 21-0, 21-5
Final: Brule def Wells 21-0, 21-12
Ireland’s Megan McCann produced the most dominant singles performance of the event, outscoring her three opponents by a combined 126-12 en route to a dominant title.
Girl’s 19 and under Small Ball Singles
Byrd-Jackson def Hong 21-1, 21-0
Lovie def Roberts 21-1, 21-2
McCann def Della Croce 21-0, 21-0
Camacho def Frisbie 21-0, 21-8
Byrd-Jackson def Lovie 21-13, 21-2
McCann def Camacho 21-0, 21-2
Final: McCann def Byrd-Jackson 21-7, 21-3
Illinois’ Rimata Halbi won two thrillers en route to the 13 and under national title, overcoming Ella Gantley in an 11-6 tiebreaker in the semifinals and Saoise Kelly in an 11-10 tiebreaker in the final. Wow!
Girl’s 13 and under Small Ball Singles
Halabi def Z. Klicker 21-1, 21-7
Gantley def I. Klicker 21-1, 21-1
Kelly def K. Klicker 21-0, 21-3
Peters def Gillespie 21-3, 21-0
Halabi def Gantley 20-21, 21-6, 11-6
Kelly def Peters 21-4, 21-6
Final: Halabi def Kelly 21-12, 16-21, 11-10
Thank you to the USHA for a great week in Des Plaines!
For more information on the United States Handball Association, go to ushandball.org
To view all of the brackets and results from the 62nd Annual USHA National Junior 4-Wall Championships, go here
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WPH Senior Writer