Houston’s third consecutive year hosting the Race 4 Eight produced a scintillating Friday of handball, kicking off the day with the qualifier. The highly anticipated return of former WPH #1 and 2013 R48 III Plummer Champion Allan Garner highlighted the morning of action, with Garner defeating Marco Lemus in his first R48 action in 25 months to move into the round of 16. Joining Garner in the round of 16 were perennial qualifiers Luis Cordova, Anthony Selestow, Adam Bernhard, and Jonathan Iglesias. Dave Munson and Tyler Hamel qualified for the first time on the R48 tour, with the latter becoming the first player to start a R48 qualifier and not lose a point. Memo Pallares qualified for the second consecutive R48 event to round out the impressive group of former, current, and future stars.
Friday’s Round of 16 action was intense in “H Town,” as the Race 4 Eight elite and qualifiers were gunning for spots in Saturday’s quarterfinals on ESPN. Paul Brady cruised to Saturday’s quarterfinals with a two-game sweep over Memo Pallares, Sean Lenning also cruised in two straight against Luis Cordova while third-seed Luis Moreno looked sharp in a two-game victory against former Houston resident Adam Bernhard. Emmett Peixoto crashed Dave Munson’s round of 16 Houston debut by bouncing the Chicago resident in two games. In a matchup of youth vs. experience, Killian Carroll faced Dr. Tyler Hamel with youth prevailing, as the Irishman 20 years Dr. Hamel’s junior advanced in two entertaining games. Jon Iglesias ended a five-match R48 losing streak against Daniel Cordova, emphatically ending his slump with a two-game blowout against the R48 #7.
Mando Ortiz entered the R48 V Houston having advance to the final in two of his last four R48 starts, while his rival Allan Garner was appearing in a R48 event for the first time since taking 9th at the R48 III Houston in 2013. Ortiz took advantage of Garner’s rust, building a 15-11, 13-2 lead in just 17 minutes. With Garner seemingly out of the match, “The Blonde Bombshell” caught fire, scoring 11 consecutive points to tie the score at 13. Garner earned a back wall setup with his right at the short line after a nearly perfect serve, but inexplicably missed the “plum.” Ortiz served out the match to advance, 15-11, 15-13.
David Fink and Anthony Selestow renewed their sensational rivalry in the round of 16. Selestow blitzed Fink 15-3 in game one and appeared on the verge of the upset at 12-10 in game two. Fink rallied, scoring the final five points of the second game to force a tiebreaker. Selestow utilized a hot served in the third frame, serving nine aces to build a 9-2, 12-4, and 14-8 lead. With both players exhausted and cramping after more than two hours on court, Fink rallied again, cutting the Selestow deficit to one at 13-14. Selestow earned the side out and after a near ace, killed the Fink serve return in the right corner for the match.
Brady vs. Carroll
Peixoto vs. Ortiz
Moreno vs. Selestow
Lenning vs. Iglesias
To watch Saturday’s R48 and SR48 action live on ESPN, go to the Watch ESPN App (here).
Log onto wphlive.tv, Like the World Players of Handball on Facebook, or follow the WPH on Twitter @dfwph and @wphlive for all of the handball news from Houston’s Race 4 eight V Stop #4! The World Players of Handball is a non-profit foundation aiming to grow the game of handball through innovation and inspiring the next generation of players through junior clinics with certified WPH coaches, junior tournaments and the Race 4 Eight tour.