Day 3: Sunday
Tucson, AZ, WPH Press, 11/3/19-
The 2019 Memorial concluded on Sunday, as the R48, WR48, and SR48 crowned its champions. Pro/Am Doubles, R48, WR48, and SR48 playoffs, and amateur singles and doubles brackets also took center stage on Sunday. “The Memorial means so much to us and our handball community in Tucson,” stated Memorial tournament director Scott Cleveland. “This tournament is a success because everyone steps up to help. We look forward to this event all year and we are proud to host players from around the world and welcome them back each year.”
Sean Lenning was aiming to repeat as Memorial champion in his record-breaking 21st R48 final, while Martin Mulkerrins became the eighth qualifier to advance to a R48 final. Lenning and Mulkerrins had split their four head-to-head encounters since their first matchup in 2013, with Lenning winning their R48 clashes and Mulkerrins winning their matches at the USHA Nationals.
Martin Mulkerrins entered his first final with a champion’s mindset, knowing he would need his best to win. “Look, Sean is one of the most talented players to ever play so I can’t worry about what he’s doing and just focus on myself and play the best game I can.”
Mulkerrins played patiently in the opening stages of game one, extending rallies and forcing Lenning to hit 10 or more shots in the majority of rallies. Mulkerrins opened up his game from there, taking a 10-3 lead with laser serves and kills. Lenning cut the deficit to 9-10 with a brilliant streak of aces and kills, but Mulkerrins slammed the door shut with five consecutive point and dominated game two from the outset to become the second qualifier (Brady) to win a R48 event.
Courtesy of WPH Patreon:
“We watched the tape of my matches in Atlanta and I made the corrections,” stated Mulkerrins. “I needed to serve better and take my chances and I was able to do that. I just delighted with the result.”
Final: Mulkerrins def Lenning 15-9, 15-6
David Fink bounced back from a quarterfinal loss to Lenning to defeat Shorty Ruiz in the 5th place semifinals and overcame a four-match losing streak against Lucho Cordova to win fifth for a record-breaking 11th time.
Emmett Peixoto dominated the 9th place playoffs, defeating Stephen Cooney, Abraham Montijo, and Vic Perez to win 9th.
Dylan Hernandez overcame a 16-24 deficit to defeat Max Langmack in the 17th place final, earning his first R48 ranking.
5th place final: Fink def Lucho 25-21
9th place final: Peixoto def Perez 25-16
17th place final: Hernandez def Langmack 27-25
3rd: Canales, Jr./Carroll
6th: L. Cordova
11th: D. Cordova/Montijo
13th: Kerr/Coughlan, Jr./Chavez/Cooney
17th: D. Hernandez
Catriona Casey was seeking her 19th WR48 title in her 21st final and to repeat at the WR48 Memorial champion, while Ciana Ni Churraoin was seeking her first WR48 title in her fourth WR48 final.
Catriona Casey listened intently the Ni Churraoin’s post-match interview following CNC’s semifinal win against Aisling Reilly, emphatically stated that she would be coming for the WR48 on Sunday. Casey was ruthless in the final, leaving no doubt as to who is the best player on the WR48 tour, systematically dominating CNC in two lopsided games.
“I’m just happy I’ve made every WR48 stop and I love to win,” beamed Casey. “Ciana is a great player and it was my movement that made the difference today. I was able to dig a lot of balls today.”
Aisling Reilly defeated Danielle Daskalakis to win third, while Megan McCann earned a WR48 ranking for the first time, defeating Ashley Moler for fifth place.
3rd place final: Reilly def Daskalakis 25-18
5th place final: McCann def Moler 25-9
SR48 Final: Fink vs. Chavez
David Fink and Marcos Chavez met for the seventh consecutive SR48 final, with Fink winning five of the first six finals since their first SR48 clash at the 2018 SR48 Las Vegas. Fink and Chavez were especially dominant en route to the final, as the SR48 top two ranked pros defeated their opponents by a combined score of 120-20 en route to the final.
Chavez played sensational handball in game one of the final, racing to a 10-3 lead. “It was obvious Marcos had a game plan and he was executing it to perfection,” stated ESPN announcer Dave Vincent.
“I just really wanted to be competitive with Fink in the final so I was really pushing myself,” Chavez would later say.
Fink took control in game two, firing three consecutive aces to take a 9-5 lead. Fink would lead 12-6 but Chavez caught fire, scoring four consecutive points to pull within two and five points of the title.
“I felt like I was hitting good shots but Marcos was just anticipating everything and forcing me to take more chances,” stated Fink.
Fink scored the final three points of game two and charged to a 14-5 lead in the lead. Fink found his stride at 10-5, striking four consecutive deep court kills. “I knew he was feeling comfortable when he started making those shots,” stated Chavez.
Chavez fought off two match points to serve at 8-14, but two consecutive errors gave Fink his second consecutive SR48 Memorial title.
“Even at 14-5, I wasn’t comfortable,” stated Fink. “I knew Marcos could still make a run. I am really excited to win this one.”
Final: Fink def Chavez 10-15, 15-10, 15-8
George Garcia, Jr. avenged his close three-game loss to Leo Canales, Sr. in the SR48 third place final, overcoming the Juarez star in three close games. Norcal’s Pete Papathemetrios fulfilled a lifelong dream to earn a ranking, playing superb and inspired handball to win 5th, defeating James Bardwell in a tremendous match.
“I’m so excited to see Pete earn his ranking,” stated Vincent. “He’s worked very hard at his game and the results are evident.”
3rd place final: Garcia, Jr. def Canales, Sr. 15-6, 12-15, 15-8
5th place final: Papathemetrios def Bardwell 25-22
3rd: Garcia, Jr.
4th: Canales, Sr.
2019 Memorial Sportsmanship and Volunteer Award Winners: Pete Papathemetrios and Matt Goode
The WPH Memorial Committee was thrilled to present Pete Papathemetrios with the Memorial Sportsmanship Award and Matt Goode with the Memorial Volunteer of the Year on Sunday at The Memorial. “Pete had an outstanding weekend of handball on and off the court,” stated Memorial tournament director Scott Cleveland. “When Pete wasn’t playing, he was refereeing, cleaning the courts, and doing whatever he could do help the tournament. Matt picked up trophies and helped run the junior singles tournament, among other tasks throughout tournament week. We could not be more excited to recognize Pete and Matt for their outstanding contributions to this year’s event.”
Thank you to the entire WPH staff and volunteers for an outstanding event. Thank you to the generous donors for making the event possible. Thank you to the Tucson Racquet and staff. Thank you to Don Curry and Fred Lewis for the Saturday night BBQ. Thank you to Che Lowenstein, Linda Manning, Kris Gurrad, Scott Cleveland, Jeff Healam, Fred Banfield, Lolita de Vincent, Dave Vincent, David Fink, Carlos Villegas, Tricia Fink, Steve Soto, Kara Mack, Renee Sitter, Bill Selby, Shorty Ruiz, Ashley Moler, and all of those who made the 2019 Tucson Memorial an unforgettable event.
Follow the draws and results from the R48 IX Tucson Memorial HERE
Watch the Tucson Memorial ’19 on ESPN3 replay HERE
WPH Senior Writer
Day 3: Saturday
Tucson, AZ, WPH Press, 1/2/19-
(Editor’s Note: Watch the Video Wrap Up for the Men’s Bracket Courtesy of Patreon, HERE)
Martin Mulkerrins and Lucho Cordova met for just the second time in the bottom bracket quarterfinals, with Cordova taking their first encounter in a tiebreaker at the 2019 Player’s Championship in May. Lucho appeared to be in control in game one, leading 10-6. Mulkerrins hit a squirrely return of serve that bounced out of Cordova’s reach, giving Mulkerrins a side out. Mulkerrins parlayed the good break into a six-point streak, taking a 12-10 lead. Cordova charged back, serving for the game at 14-12. A huge front wall to back wall setup should have ended the game for Lucho, but the Juarez superstar flubbed the game point attempt and completely lost control of the match. Mulkerrins scored the final four points of the first game and dominated game two to advance to the semifinals.
“I suppose I got the rub of the green with three straight ace serves off the left side wall,” stated Mulkerrins. “We arrived here on Monday to be more acclimated and it’s helped. We hiked Sabino Canyon and have enjoyed the weather.”
Leo Canales, Jr. ad Niall O’Connor both advanced to their first R48 quarterfinal and one would advance to his first semifinal. Leo led 10-3 in game one but could not stop an O’Connor charge, as O’Connor cut the deficit to one at 12-13. O’Connor was called for the first second serve foot fault in R48 history serving at 12-13 and never recovered, losing the final two points of game one and never challenging in game two. “I’ve been playing the tour for a year and a half so it’s feels great to make a breakthrough,” stated Leo. “I can’t even believe it, I’ve trained hard and had high hopes coming into this tournament. I just tried to serve right and everything starts with the serve and I was putting the ball away well.”
Sean Lenning and Killian Carroll met in a rematch of last year’s Memorial semifinal and produced a nearly identical result. Lenning controlled the majority of the rallies with his first serve, pushing Carroll side to side and ending rallies with freakish kills. “I’ve never seen anyone end so many rallies from his knees,” stated ESPN announcer Adam Bernhard after Lenning’s fifth kill from his knees.
Lenning took game one but appeared to be in trouble in game two, trailing 1-6. Although Carroll dominated the first third of the second game, Lenning sailed past the R48 #1 in just 90 seconds, retaking control of the match.
An exhausted Lenning served for the match at 14-10 but was unable to convert three offensive chances in the nine-shot rally. A second match point also slipped away and shades of the McCarthy Memorial comeback against Lenning started to creep into the Lenning fans’ minds. “I knew if it went tiebreaker I was done,” Lenning would later say.
Lenning earned a side out at 12-14 and finished the match with an ace on the right side wall. “The fans support and extra prize money really motivate me,” stated Lenning.
Martin Mulkerrins met Leo Canales, Jr. in the second semifinal of the evening and just as in their previous two encounters in Salt Lake City and Atlanta this year, Mulkerrins dominated. Mulkerrins led 10-3 in game one and fought off a feisty Canales to win 15-8 and never allowed Canales into the second game to cruise to his first R48 final. “Leo is a tough player so I knew I had to keep pushing,” stated Mulkerrins. “We’re right where we want to be (in the final) and know we need to play our best to win.” When questioned who the “we” are, Mulkerrins stammered away.
Lenning def Fink 15-2, 15-2
Mulkerrins def Lucho 16-14, 15-5
Canales, Jr. def O’Connor 15-12, 15-6
Lenning def Carroll 15-10, 15-12
Mulkerrins def Canales, Jr. 15-7, 15-1
Catriona Casey advanced to the semifinal with a convincing win against Kyra “K3” Vidas to face New York’s Danielle Daskalakis, who defeated Tucson’s Ashley Moler. 2D started well in the semifinal, leading 2-0 but the optimism ended there for the New Yorker, as Casey scored 29 consecutive points and eventually advanced to the final. “Danielle is very good and has a lot of really unique shots so I had to be at my best,” stated Casey.
(Editor’s Note: Watch the Video Wrap Up for the women’s Bracket Courtesy of Patreon, HERE)
Ciana Ni Churraoin and Aisling Reilly met for the second time in seven months, with CNC winning their first encounter at the 2019 WR48 San Francisco. Reilly demonstrated her improved play, patiently dissected the Mankato graduate student in the first game and standing two points from the match at 13-all in the second. A hinder call went against Reilly and her subsequent confusion over the score completely deflated the two-time world champion. CNC pounced, taking game two and coming back from an 8-10 deficit in game three, scoring the final seven points of the match to advance to her second WR48 Memorial final.
Daskalakis def Moler 15-3, 15-5
Reilly def McCann 15-11, 15-7
Ni Churraoin def Tuohey
Ni Churraoin def Reilly 10-15, 15-13, 15-10
Final (Sunday, 10:45 am PST): Casey vs. Ni Churraoin
David Fink and Marcos Chavez found themselves in unique and similar positions in their semifinal SR48 matches, as both nearly lost to their challengers in their last encounters. The SR48 #1 and #2 both sent messages to their adversaries, as Fink rolled past SR48 #3 George Garcia, Jr. in just 14 minutes and Chavez dismantled Leo Canales, Sr. “Not today,” barked Chavez. “Last time I didn’t play as hard as I should have against Sr. and that was disrespectful to him and myself. Today I played as hard as I could and sent a message.”
Fink def Garcia, Jr. 15-2, 15-4
Chavez def Canales, Sr. 15-2, 15-1
Final (Sunday, 10 am PST): Fink vs. Chavez
JR WPH was thrilled to host the 2019 JR WPH Singles at the Memorial, featuring more than 30 young handballers from Tucson’s Fred Lewis Foundation, Phoenix’s Carl Hayden High School, California, Texas, and Mexico. Thank you to Greg Lambert, Abraham Montijo, Chris Hogan, Matt Goode, and Spence Hatcher for running an outstanding event! “We had a great time and it was really fun watching the kids,” stated Lambert, proud father of 13-and-under champion Luke. “Everyone was patient and showed great sportsmanship. I loved running the event.”
WPH Mega Supporter Jeff Healam Honored
The WPH Staff, Executive Board, and the entire Tucson handball community were thrilled to honor WPH Executive Board member, WPH donor, Tucson Memorial co-director, and WPH Randolph 3-Wall Park co-engineer Jeff Healam with the well-deserved WPH Lifetime Achievement Award. “Jeff has been one of the WPH’s greatest supporters since the WPH relocated to Tucson in 2009,” stated WPH Development Director David Fink. “Jeff (alongside Benny Young) has quarterbacked the WPH Randolph 3-Wall Park, served as one of the WPH’s greatest financial and professional supporters, and serves as a tournament director in the WPH’s most important event, The Memorial. Thank you Jeff, we are so fortunate to have your support and passion for the game and the WPH!”
Follow the draws and results from the R48 IX Tucson Memorial HERE
Tucson Memorial ’19 Broadcast Schedule on ESPN3: Sunday, November 3, 9 am-12:30 pm PST HERE
WPH Senior Writer
Day 2: Friday
Tucson, AZ, WPH Press, 1/1/19-
Nearly all 200 of the 2019 Tucson Memorial players were in action on a beautiful November Friday in Tucson, with many of the 200 competing in more than one bracket.
The top eight seeds advanced comfortably in Friday’s qualifier finals, as Ireland’s Martin Mulkerrins and Niall O’Connor defeated Juarez stars Markos Renteria and Richie Fernandez, respectively. Team Ireland added three more qualifiers, as Fergal Coughlan, Jr. qualified for the third consecutive event by defeating the LAAC’s Dylan Hernandez, Sean Kerr defeated fellow Next Gen star Max Langmack, and the NYAC’s Stephen Cooney overcame Texas’ Adam Bernhard in the longest qualifier match of the event. Tucson’s Abraham Montijo dominated Chicago’s Marco Lemus.
Canales, Jr. direct entry via Tucson Pre Qualifier
Mulkerrins def Renteria 25-9
Montijo def M. Lemus 25-2
Coughlan, Jr. def D. Hernandez 25-15
Kerr def Langmack 25-14
O’Connor def Fernandez 25-21
Cooney def Bernhard 25-20
R48 Main Draw: Upset Friday!
After going 8-0 in the round of 16 in the first stop of the season at the R48 IX Atlanta, the R48 Elite 8 were stunned in the Memorial’s round of 16, as four of the eight were sent packing.
R48 #1 Killian Carroll survived the upset madness in his opening match, overcoming NYAC teammate Stephen Cooney in two games. “I was wrecked in there (after playing two singles matches and a doubles match before playing Killian),” stated the Coon Dogg. “Killian really didn’t have to do much.”
Sean Lenning and Fergal Coughlan, Jr. met in the round of 16 for the second consecutive tournament. Lenning needed to pull a rabbit out of his hat in their first encounter, rallying from a 1-8 tiebreaker deficit to win. Lenning would need no magic against the three-time qualifier today, dismantling the Irishman is two games.
R48 IX Portland Classic champion Lucho Cordova had little difficulty overcoming Sean Kerr, while David Fink beat fellow Tucsonan Abraham Montijo in two games.
And the upsets….
Fresh off his third R48 win in Atlanta, Daniel Cordova started strong against Next Gen star Niall O’Connor, taking the first game with relative ease. O’Connor dominated game two and stood tied with Danos at eight in the third. With his first round of 16 win within his grasp, O’Connor caught fire, scoring the final seven points of the match to move into the round of eight for the first time.
Leo Canales, Jr. was seeking his first round of 16 win and dominated R48 #7 Marcos Chavez in game one. The veteran worked his way into the second game, standing tied at eight. Leo executed two ace serves and a back wall kill to retake control of the match and an ace on match point sent Leo into the quarterfinals. “This feels so good,” exclaimed a beaming Canales.
Martin Mulkerrins dropped his round of 16 match to Vic Perez in two close games in Atlanta and made his revenge swift and decisive in the rematch. Mulkerrins needed just 19 minutes to dismantle Perez, announcing himself as a favorite in the draw. “Martin is just playing on another level and hitting the ball a ton,” stated Tucson handball fan Andy Wills.
Shorty Ruiz defeated R48 #8 Emmett Peixoto in their last matchup, overcoming match point on Peixoto’s home court at the Olympic Club in March. The rematch would take place on Ruiz’s home court and Peixoto started well, taking an 8-1 first-game lead. Ruiz quickly tied the score, hitting great serves and kills. “My serve was really coming off today,” stated Ruiz. Ruiz outscored Peixoto 14-3 to close out game one and took control of game two after being tied at six to defeat “The Rock” for the second consecutive time. “I just put no pressure on him and did nothing well,” lamented Peixoto. “Shorty did what Shorty can do, and that’s hitting one-inch high kills from everywhere, like Mando (Ortiz) can do,” stated Dave Vincent.
Round of 16
Carroll def Cooney 15-4, 15-6
Fink def Montijo 15-7, 15-6
Lenning def Coughlan, Jr. 15-4, 15-5
Cordova def Kerr 15-8, 15-5
Mulkerrins def Perez 15-6, 15-2
Round of 8 (Saturday)
Carroll vs. Ruiz (9 am PST)
Lenning vs. Fink (10 am PST)
Lucho vs. Mulkerrins (11 am PST)
O’Connor vs. Canales, Jr. (noon PST)
The top four seeds advanced in straight sets in the SR48 quarterfinals, as SR48 #1 David Fink defeated Jesse Aranda, SR48 #2 Marcos Chavez defeated Pete Papathemetrios, Leo Canales, Sr. defeated Mike Semplice, and George Garcia, Jr. rallied from a 4-14 deficit in game two against James Bardwell to win in overtime in a game later protested by Bardwell – Bardwell’s bad bounce appeal protest was reviewed by the Memorial rules committee and deemed a legitimate win for Garcia.
SR48 Semifinals (Saturday)
Fink vs. Garcia, Jr. (2:30 pm PST)
Chavez vs. Canales, Sr. (3:30 pm PST)
The WR48 played its opening rounds on Friday, with the top eight women advancing to the quarterfinals.
WR48 Round of 8 (Saturday)
Casey vs. Vidas (9 am PST)
Moler vs. Daskalakis (9 am PST)
Ni Churraoin vs. Tuohey (10:30 am PST)
Follow the draws and results from the R48 IX Tucson Memorial HERE
Tucson Memorial ’19 Broadcast Schedule on ESPN3 HERE: Saturday, November 2, 9 am-7 pm PST, Sunday, November 3, 9 am-12:30 pm PST
WPH Senior Writer
Saturday’s Broadcast Schedule:
Men’s Pro Quarterfinal Singles – Scoring Format: 15, 15, 15 win by two
9am Kilian Carroll (MA) vs Braulio Ruiz (AZ)
10am Sean Lenning (WA) vs David Fink (AZ)
11am Luis Cordova (TX) vs Martin Mulkerrins (IRE)
12pm Leo Canales Jr (TX) vs Niall O’Connor (IRE)
Women’s Pro Singles – Scoring Format: 15, 15, 15 win by two
1pm Women’s Semis: Casey or Vidas vs Daskalakis or Moler
145pm Women’s Semis: Reilly or McCann vs Ni Churraoin or Tuohey
Senior Men’s 40+ Pro Semis – Scoring Format: 15, 15, 15 win by two
230pm Fink vs Garcia
315pm Canales Sr vs Chavez
Men’s Pro Semifinals – Scoring Format: 15, 15, 15 win by two
4pm Upper bracket semi (TBD)
5pm Lower bracket semi (TBD)
To watch, go to WatchESPN.com, select channel 3 (Ie ESPN3), log in with your local TV or Satellite’s provider credentials and then search for handball on that channel.
OR….. Become a WPH Patreon and get the private link: patreon.com/wphlive
Day one: Thursday
Tucson, AZ, WPH Press, 10/31/19-
The fifth annual 2019 Tucson Memorial kicked off with opening round Halloween Night play in the R48 Qualifier, marking the 60th event in the history of the Race 4 Eight tour, with the tour spanning 16 states in the R48’s first eight seasons. The 2019 Tucson Memorial features the largest prize purse of the 2019 handball season ($35k), with the top R48 Men’s pros, Women Race 4 Eight, and Senior Race 4 Eight (40+) pros vying for one of the sport’s most prestigious prizes. The Tucson Memorial was created in 2015 to honor handball friends and family who were sadly lost, a tradition that has evoked wonderful memories of handball players and fans who spent their lifetimes playing and supporting in the sport.
The largest qualifier field of the R48 IX season crashed the Tucson Racquet Club on Halloween night, with each qualifier hopeful taking the first steps towards R48 ranking points.
Shorty Ruiz qualified for the 15th time in his last 16 attempts, defeating Pittsburgh’s Mike Semplice to setup a round of 16 clash with R48 #8 Emmett Peixoto in Friday’s Memorial main draw. Leo Canales, Jr. earned his spot in the ’19 Memorial main draw by winning the Tucson R48 Pre Qualifier in September and will play R48 #7 Marcos Chavez in Friday’s main draw.
The remaining qualifier spots will be filled on Friday morning, as the best from the U.S. and Ireland will compete for the remaining six spots in the R48 Memorial ’19 main draw.
Follow all of Thursday’s results from the R48 IX Tucson Memorial HERE
Tucson Memorial R48 IX Press Release HERE
Tucson Memorial ’19 Broadcast Schedule on ESPN3: Saturday, November 2, 9 am-7 pm PST, Sunday, November 3, 9 am-12:30 pm PST
2017/18 R48 and WR48 Match Analytics HERE
Handball Terminology + Instruction and R48 Rules HERE
Race 4 Eight Pro Player Bios HERE
Full Race 4 Eight IX Preview HERE
WPH Power Rankings HERE
DF’s R48 Fun Facts and Trends HERE
Race 4 Eight History of Champions and Finalists HERE
WPH Senior Writer