Minnesota featured breakout performances from Race 4 Eight veterans, multiple first-time Race 4 Eight qualifiers, the crowning of a new Race 4 Eight #1, great matches, victory parties, hometown heroes, junior clinics, and ageless wonders. Read about the Top Moments from Minnesota below!
Mando Wins his Second R48 Title and Seizes the R48 #1 Ranking: Mando Ortiz was dominant in dismantling his first three opponents en route to the final, outscoring the three R48 stars by a combined score of 90-12. Ortiz was pushed in the final, but responded late in the tiebreaker with the match on the line to claim his second R48 title in 2016 and the #1 R48 ranking. “I really can’t believe I reached number one,” stated Ortiz at the victory party he hosted after the event. “Growing up and hitting the ball against the wall in my basement, I always dreamed of beating Tati, Vince, and Chapman and being number one and now that it has happened I just can’t believe it. It’s hasn’t sunken in yet.”
Luis Cordova takes down Sean Lenning in the quarterfinals and advances to his first R48 semifinal: Luis Cordova defeated Sean Lenning in the WAC’s Pre-Race Kickoff in September, but beating Lenning in the main draw of a Race quarterfinal to advance to the first semifinal of his career was the his career-defining victory for the Juarez legend. “I’m so happy to beat Sean for the first time in the main draw,” stated Cordova. “It was never easy, even with the big lead in the tiebreaker. I just kept telling myself to go for my shots.” Luis is now tied with his brother at #8 on the R48 Power Rankings
The camaraderie among the R48 pros: Despite playing an individual sport, the Race 4 Eight pros are like a traveling family, with the top players genuinely happy for one another after big wins, even at the expense of their own rankings. Race 4 Eight pros can often be seen encouraging their comrades during matches, offering moral support after difficult losses and celebrating their peers’ victories. The mutual respect and appreciation the R48 superstars hold for one another is truly one of the highlights of the tour
David Fink upsets Luis Moreno and advances to his first R48 final in 34 starts #shamelessplug: David Fink makes his first appearance on his “Top Moments” list, defeating Luis Moreno in Minnesota’s quarterfinals for the first time in 17 tournament matches and advancing to his first R48 final with a semifinal victory against Luis Cordova in his 34th Race 4 Eight start. “I always thought getting to the final would be an incredible accomplishment for me and it was, but sitting six points from the title in the tiebreaker (at 9-10) and coming up short was possibly even more heartbreaking than a first-round loss,” stated Fink
Marcos Chavez wins his second SR48 title of the season against his bitter rival and clinches 9th on the R48: The oldest player on the R48 tour routinely plays the most matches of any player on the tour at each R48 stop. Chavez essentially entered four divisions in Minnesota: the qualifier, the R48 main draw, the R48 Playoffs, and the SR48. Chavez won seven of his eight matches, including 9th place in the R48 against Jonathan Iglesias and his second SR48 title in his fourth consecutive victory against Naty Alvarado. You think the Dodgers and Giants or Duke and North Carolina have a heated rivalry…check out Chavez and Alvarado in action. Trash-talking? Check. Family social media blasts? Check. 20-year history of controversy? Check. Refusal to acknowledge a rivalry even exists? Check
Emmett Peixoto and Daniel Cordova nearly destroy one another in an epic battle: Emmett Peixoto and Daniel Cordova laid their bodies and souls on the line in a nearly two-hour quarterfinal clash that featured dozens of 40-shot rallies, more than 100 combined dives between the two in the match, and at least one mid-game vomit run from “The Rock.” Both stars played several hours later, with Peixoto having little to no energy in his semifinal against Mando Ortiz and Daniel Cordova cramping and struggling to stand up in the 5th place playoff against Andy Nett. Rest assured that you will never see athletes give more of themselves in any sport than Race 4 Eight stars in Race events
Andy Nett represents his home state with an impressive fifth place finish: “The Minnesota Dreamboat” brought pride to his legion of supporters in Minneapolis, knocking off Jonathan Iglesias in the round of 16 and taking down Daniel Cordova and Luis Moreno to take fifth. Nett has proven to be a wrecking ball coming out of the qualifier, advancing to the final from the qualifier at the 2015 NYAC and taking fifth from the qualifier in Minnesota in his last two qualifier starts. TMD has his sites set on playing more Race events this season, so look out Elite 8!
Leo Canales, Ryan Pesch, and Tyler Stoffel qualify for the first time: One of the youngest qualifier fields in the six-year of the Race 4 Eight produced three first time qualifiers between the ages of 19-26. Lake Forest College’s Leo Canales upset Race 4 Eight stalwart Anthony Selestow to qualify, Ryan “Depeche Mode” Pesch was electric in taking down Luis Moreno stunt double Dalton Beall, and Minnesota State All-American Tyler Stoffel edged former qualifier Carlos Chavez to make his pro debut. Congratulations to the up and comers!
Minnesota State University makes a huge splash: Minnesota State University Handball Head Coach Dr. Mike Wells and Assistant Coach John Stoffel escorted their thriving Minnesota State University handball team from Mankato to Minneapolis for Minnesota’s fall handball classic. More than 20 MSU handballers filled the University of Minnesota Rec Center’s courts throughout the weekend, ranging from pros to beginners, adding youthful energy and inspiring passion for the game. Thank you Coaches Wells and Stoffel!
Mando Ortiz hosts a Victory Party after winning his second R48 title: Just an hour after winning Minnesota’s Race stop in dramatic fashion, Ortiz hosted a Victory Party for seven of his closest friends at University of Minnesota’s legendary bar Sally’s-a very classy gesture from a classy champion. Ortiz insisted on footing the bill, treating his fellow Race stars to the best burgers in Minnesota.
JR WPH Minnesota Clinic
Junior WPH proudly hosted an instructional clinic for the University of Minnesota junior program, with youngsters between the ages of 8-16 learning from WPH Coaches David Fink, Vic Perez, and Ashley Moler. After practicing the sidearm kill and competing in a “lowest kill” competition, the youngsters played doubles points with the Race 4 Eight stars. “This is just so great for the kids,” stated University of Minnesota junior Coach Mitch. “To hear from the pros and get a chance to play points with them is what it’s all about.”
50-something Dan “The Hand” Armijo continues to rack up great results and a top three SR48 ranking: Conceding more than 10 years to many of his SR48 rivals, Dan “The Hand” continues to amaze by advancing to the semifinals or better in virtually all of his SR48 starts. Armijo has finished third in both SR48 events this season, putting “The Hand” in a great position to end the SR48 5 season in the top three
WPH Senior Writer