Race 4 Eight IV Stop #3 Houston Preview
The Houston Handball Club and the World Players of Handball proudly present the third Race 4 Eight stop in three years at Houston’s Tellepsen YMCA. Houston’s annual Race stop has quickly become a player’s and fan’s favorite. Charly Shanks won the inaugural Race stop in Houston in 2013, while Luis Moreno claimed his ninth Race title on his 26th birthday in 2014. 2015 promises to be the most exciting edition of the Houston Race 4 Eight, as Paul Brady aims to continue his assault on the Race 4 Eight, Luis Moreno looks to return to his winning ways, and a group of hungry pros aim to upset the two dominant stars. The Seniors will also be in action, as one of the best Senior R48 fields in history has assembled in the “Space City.”
Are you ready for the Race 4 Eight in 2015?
- Brady has won six of the seven Race events in which he has started, with an overall match record 24-1
- Brady captured the 2014 WPA for WPH Men’s Player of the Year
- Brady’s only loss in Race play was in the opening round of the 2014 WPH R48 Player’s Championship to Mando Ortiz
- Brady has defeated rival Luis Moreno three times in the last 10 months, twice in two games and once in a tiebreaker (Denver)
- Simple Green U.S. Open final when his arm clipped Luis Moreno’s shoulder on his forward swing. Brady played the finals of Tucson two weeks later with his left arm heavily wrapped
Luis Moreno is tied with Paul Brady in total ranking points, but enters Houston as the #2 player on the R48 Tour because Brady leads Moreno 3-0 in head-to-head matches in the last 12 months
- Moreno will be surpassed by Brady as the outright number one player after Houston, regardless of how he and Moreno finish
- Moreno and Brady are tied with 43 total ranking points, but Brady defends zero points in Houston, while Moreno defends 10. Even if Brady were to lose in the first round in Houston and Moreno were to win, Brady would still be the outright #1
- Moreno has only lost to Irish-born players in the main draw of his last seven Race starts (two titles, Brady x3, McCarthy x2)
- Moreno is undefeated against all U.S.-born Race pros except Allan Garner since the inception of the Race tour in 2011. Allan Garner has defeated Moreno three times in Race play (Tucson, LAAC, Plummer)
- Moreno leads the Race 4 Eight with nine overall Race victories, three ahead of hard-charging Paul Brady
Which other Race superstars could threaten to win the WPH R48 IV Stop #3 Houston?
- Emmett Peixoto has been one of the game’s most consistent performers over the past two years and reached a career high Race ranking of #2 in March of 2014. Peixoto has added offensive range to compliment his speed and percentage attack, and with recent tournament victories over Moreno, Lenning, and Ortiz, Peixoto could hoist his first Race trophy in Houston. The Rock is certainly rising!
- Mando Ortiz has started slowly this season, losing in the quarterfinals of the Simple Green U.S. Open to Naty Alvarado and in the round of 16 to Vic Perez in Tucson. Ortiz has demonstrated the ability to beat anyone when focused and in the zone, as evidenced by wins over Brady, Peixoto, Lenning, and Fink in the last 15 months. Which Mando will show up in Houston?
- Sean Lenning has rededicated himself to handball, practicing twice daily against top pros in Tucson. Although Lenning has started slowly this season, losing in the Round of 16 to Shanks at the U.S. Open and in the quarterfinals Peixoto in Tucson, anyone that has watched Lenning play recently knows that he is back to the form that saw him climb to #1 in early 2012. It appears to only be a matter of time before Lenning breaks through this season, and Houston could be his coming-out-party. Do not expect a third consecutive “Selestowing” in Houston
- David Fink played the best handball of his Race career at the WPH R48 III Houston in January of 2014, defeating former national finalist Martin Mulkerrins and R48 IV Player’s Champion Robbie McCarthy en route to the semifinals and his career best #2 Race ranking. Fink has struggled with a back injury since his semifinal run in Houston, but played inspired handball on his home court at the WPH R48 IV Stop #2 Tucson in November of 2014, reaching his first semifinal in 10 months before losing to Brady. Fink’s Houston run will likely go as far as his back will allow
- Marcos Chavez earned his second consecutive R48 invite, proving that 40 is still the prime of his handball career. Chavez dropped his round of 16 match at Tucson’s R48 IV Stop #2 but rebounded with a scintillating victory over Naty Alvarado in Tucson’s R48 final. Chavez is one of the game’s most exciting players, unafraid to attempt deep court and off-balance kills at the most crucial moments of any match and often connecting on them. Chavez is also known to talk some trash, further enhancing Chavez’s “must-see” spectacles
- Abraham Montijo earned his first career R48 Elite 8 invite by virtue of two R48 quarterfinal appearances in his last three starts with impressive victories over R48 I Elite 8 invitee Luis Cordova and SR48 #1 Marcos Chavez. Montijo flipped a coin for the final Elite 8 invite spot, by virtue of being tied with Anthony Selestow with 7.5 WPH Power Ranking points. See the coin flip here: https://wphlive.tv/the-300-coin-flip/
- The Race 4 Eight has seen qualifiers advance to the finals on two occasions, as Mando Ortiz became the first at the R48 III Stop #1 Plummer and Robbie McCarthy duplicated the feat at the R48 III Stop #4 NYAC
- Four qualifiers currently entered in Houston have advanced to the quarterfinals in Race events ( Cordova, Cooney, Selestow, Montijo)
- Qualifiers have defeated the Elite 8 in five of 16 (31%) round of 16 matches in the first two events of the Race 4 Eight IV. Eliminating the round of 16 matches qualifiers played against Moreno and Brady at the U.S. Open and Tucson (4 total), the qualifier have won five of 12 round of 16 matches (42%)
- Luis Cordova is the only qualifier entered in Houston that has qualified for a Player’s Championship (TPC I ’12)
- Adam Bernhard used to call Houston’s Tellepsen YMCA home before moving to Austin in the second half of 2014. Bernhard qualified at the WPH R48 IV Stop #2 in Tucson with an impressive victory over Samzon Hernandez in his qualifier final
- Anthony Selestow announced his arrival to pro handball in Houston in 2013, shocking #1 seed Sean Lenning in the opening round. Lenning was “Selestowed” again in Houston one year later on the same court. Selestow dropped a close tiebreaker to Stephen Cooney in Tucson two months ago but has shown noticeable improvements to his game in the past 12 months.
- Shorty Ruiz has dedicated himself to the Race 4 Eight IV. Ruiz Led Paul Brady 14-7 in the first game in the round of 16 at the 2014 Simple Green U.S. Open, proving that his hybrid big ball/small ball style can wreak havoc on the very best in the sport
- Stephen Cooney has made a huge splash on the Race 4 Eight IV in his first full season on tour, claiming 9th and 6th place respectively in the first two events of the season. Cooney’s two-handed balanced attack combined with his sensational court coverage presents a difficult challenge for any player in the draw
The Senior Race 4 Eight is heating up!
The Senior Race 4 eight continues to produce outstanding fields in its third season, often featuring the very best from the previous generation of outstanding pro handball. Houston is no exception:
- SR48 #1 Marcos Chavez, Naty Alvarado, Bear Meiring, Andy Schad, Chris Watkins, and Tyler Hamel headline an incredibly strong field at the SR48 III Stop #2 in Houston
- Naty Alvarado dropped a heated final to SR48 #1 Marcos Chavez at the SR48 III Stop #1 in Tucson, earning his second victory over “El Tigre” in 34 matches. Chavez trailed 14-10 in Tucson’s final but scored 15 of the next 17 points to claim the title, 25-16. Alvarado will undoubtedly be seeking revenge in Houston
- Tyler Hamel and Marcos Chavez played one of the best matches of 2014 in the 2014 SR48 Houston Final, with Chavez edging his rival of nearly 20 years 25-23 in nearly 90 minutes
- Andy Schad won the inaugural SR48 Player’s Championship in 2012, defeating hall of fame legend John Bike in the final. Schad has cooled off since, and recently lost to Dan Armijo in the opening round in Tucson two months ago
- Chris Watkins and Bear Meiring battled in the opening round in Tucson, with “Waddy Dog” holding off a late Meiring rally to hand Meiring his second consecutive loss on SR48 action (Chavez in the finals of the SR48 Player’s Championship)
To watch the Houston video preview with Dave and Dave, click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wx-3flITtd0
How can you watch all of the action live?
Download the Watch ESPN App at http://espn.go.com/watchespn/ to watch all of the action from Houston on Saturday and Sunday, January 24th and 25th, 2015. To watch bonus round of 16 R48 action on Friday, become a WPH All-Access Pass Holder at race4eight.com.