The United States Handball Association proudly hosted the 60th Annual USHA 2015 National Junior 4-Wall Championships in Des Plaines, IL for 88 junior handball players from the United States, Canada and Ireland. The best junior handball players in the world played in both singles and doubles divisions, while enjoying numerous amenities at Des Plaines’ spectacular 144,000 square foot Lattoff YMCA.
Tucson’s junior prodigy Ayden Brule blitzed the Boy’s 9-and-under small ball singles round robin draw, outscoring his four opponents by a combined score of 168-19 en route to the title. Brule also dominated the Boy’s 9-and-under big ball singles, outscoring his four opponents by a combined 168-53 to capture his second title of the event.
Mankato (Minnesota) was proudly represented in the Boy’s 11-and-under small ball singles, as Mankato’s Zach Wells and Nathan Stoffel advanced to the finals of a division that featured players from Illinois, Minnesota and Canada. Zach Wells defeated his good friend and rival Nathan Stoffel in two well-played games to clinch the national title. “The boys played outstanding and showed great sportsmanship,” revealed Zach’s father and Minnesota State Handball Coach Mike Wells. “We are very proud of them. It was great to see that much (Mankato) purple in the finals!”
Hometown Des Plaines favorite Ray Ure validated his number one seed in the Boy’s 13-and-under small ball singles, defeating Cameron Lowe, David Sanchez and Andres Maldonado en route to the national championship. Ure teamed with Des Plaines teammate Johnny Cooke to win the Boy’s 13-and-under small ball doubles.
Rising Canadian star Ivan Burgos entered the Boy’s 15-and-under seeded number one and advanced to the final with impressive victories against James O’Donnell and Jorge Pimentel. Ireland’s Cian O’Driscoll survived a quarterfinal thriller against Canada’s Alex Carew and advanced to the final with a two-game semifinal sweep against Tucson’s Jose Maldonado, Jr. The international final was dominated by Canada’s Ivan Burgos, with the young Canadian demonstrating poise and variety against Ireland’s O’Driscoll en route to a two game sweep.
The Boy’s 17-and-under small ball singles saw both top-seeded Jesus Avila and second-seeded Michael Gaulton upset in the semifinals in a loaded draw. Ireland’s Sean Kerr cruised to the final with a two-game sweep against top-seeded Avila, while Northern California’s Agustin Martin defeated Gaulton in the match of the tournament, 11-9 in the tiebreaker. Kerr continued his stellar play in the final, defeating Martin in two games to take the Boy’s 17-and-under singles title across the Atlantic Ocean.
Tucson dominated the Girl’s 17-and-under small ball singles, with Tucson’s Marisol Maldonado and Kena Byrd-Jackson advancing to the finals with victories against Michelle He and Emily Sanchez, respectively. Kena Byrd-Jackson clinched the title in a two-game sweep. Maldonado and Byrd-Jackson teamed in the Girl’s 19-and-under doubles, advancing to the final to face Tucson Fred Lewis Foundation teammates Belisa Camacho and Sophia Della Croce. In the friendly FLF Girl’s doubles final, Maldonado and Byrd-Jackson were too strong, clinching the title in two games.
New York’s Harry Mellis Program’s Michelle He cruised to the title in the Girl’s 19-and-under big ball singles, outscoring her four round robin opponents 126-47
Ireland’s Johnny Woods entered the Boy’s 19-and-under singles as the number one seed and survived a difficult test in his quarterfinal match against Kansas’ Sam Esser but was not as fortunate in the semifinals, as Northern California’s Anthony Sullivan announced himself as a future star in defeating his Irish rival in an 11-1 tiebreaker. Awaiting Sullivan in the final was Minnesota’s silky smooth Tyler Stoffel. The precocious Stoffel had little difficulty in advancing to the final, defeating New York’s Jason Ke and Stephen Woo and impressively sweeping Modesto’s Luis Bustos in two games. Stoffel continued to dominate his competition in the final with a dazzling arsenal of two-handed offense, sweeping Sullivan in two games to seize the title.
Northern California’s Sullivan and Bustos teamed in the Boy’s 19-and-under doubles, advancing to the final to face Ireland’s Johnny Woods and Sean Kerr. Team NorCal’s chemistry and shot making was too much for Team Ireland in the final, as Sullivan and Bustos cruised to the title.
New York’s Harry Mellis Program’s Stephen Woo clinched the Boy’s 19-and-under doubles, defeating Harry Mellis teammates Jason Ke and Eugene Lau, as well as Illinois’ Jimmy Connolly en route to the round robin title.
To follow all of the draws and results from the 60th Annual USHA 2015 National Junior 4-Wall Championships, click here
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WPH Senior Writer