Austin, TX, WPH Press, 9/30/18- The University of Texas Handball team played host to the 2018 Austin City Handball Championships at the famed Gregory Gym, featuring the top men’s and women’s players in Texas and surrounding states. Texas State champion and former R48 top 20 Adam Bernhard, R48 #22 Max Langmack, and former R48 top 25 pro Memo Pallares headlined the Men’s Open singles field, while tournament director and future WR48 pro Kristen Hughes and her collegiate rivals Kayla Jones and Taylor Rumping headlined the Women’s Open singles field.
Langmack entered the 2018 Austin City Handball Championships as the top seed and advanced to the final with impressive wins against Austin’s Jeremy Aguilar and Alejandro Almada. Bernhard entered as the #2 seed, forcing him to overcome his Austin rival Memo Pallares in Saturday’s semifinal. Bernhard and Pallares staged one of their classic two-hour battles, with Bernhard failing to capitalize on match point in game two before clinching the match in the third to meet Langmack in Sunday’s final.
Langmack had never defeated Bernhard entering Sunday’s final, but the 6”9 rising star entered the final brimming with confidence on the heels of impressive spring and summer tournament season.
“The match was a good one, as usual (when we play),” stated Langmack. “The first part of the first game we were mostly feeling each other out, the lead swapped about five or six times, as neither of us could get a run going. At 9-9, I started to find my serve and get a couple points ahead to 13-11.”
After eventually falling behind 13-15, Langmack took control of the game. “I hit a couple serves that died in the left and gave me a five point lead, which gave me room to stay ahead and close our game one, 21-15.”
“I went up 15-13 and lost 21-15, mostly on my own errors,” stated Bernhard.
Langmack continued to outplay the hometown favorite throughout most of the second game. “I kept the momentum rolling in the second and had a quick run of serve and shoot rallies that allowed me to jump out to a 6-1 and then 10-3 lead,” stated Langmack. “We traded points and ceiling rallies with Adam controlling rallies with his high lob serve, ceiling balls, and right corner fly kills.”
Bernhard charged back, tying the score at 17. “I made some adjustments to get back into the second game,” stated Bernhard.
“After Adam’s eight-point run, I got a side out with the tied the game at 17-17,” stated Langmack. “I took a timeout and regrouped, and relied on my serve to come back and give me some V-pass opportunities to close out the game.”
“Max played well, and hit some good shots to win late in the second game, but unfortunately, I played subpar,” lamented Bernhard. “
Final: Langmack def Bernhard 21-15, 21-17
Top-seeded Kayla Jones defeated Austin’s Avery Shepherd in the quarterfinals and Christina Pecaut in the semifinals to advance to the final. “The semifinals was a frenzy, with lots of long rallies and kills,” stated WPH reporter Max Langmack.
Kristen Hughes set aside her tournament director’s hat to overcome Missouri’s Katherine Lucas and Taylor Rumping in the bottom bracket to advance to the final. “The Hughes-Rumping match has become a real rivalry match,” stated Langmack. “The two had split their last two matches, so this was a rubber match. Kristen’s improved serve allowed her to overcome her rival.”
Hughes survived a close first game in the final, seizing the momentum of the match to dominate game two. “Hughes kept rolling in the final,” stated Langmack.
“Kayla and I had faced each other three other times in the last year—all three going to breaker, but with Jones ultimately winning,” stated Hughes. “Kayla has great serves and knows how to put the ball down. I focused on keeping her out of the front court with ceiling shots and passes.”
Final: Hughes def Jones 21-17, 21-17
Thank you to 2018 Austin City champion and WPH reporter Max Langmack for the updates from Austin.
Follow all of the brackets from the 2018 Austin City Championships HERE
WPH Senior Writer