Tucson, AZ, WPH Press, 9/8/18- The second Tucson R48 Pre Qualifier + JR WPH Singles featured 45 junior handball players from Arizona, Texas, Montana, and Mexico, with juniors ranging from eight year-old beginners to 21-year old national champions. The JR WPH singles at the 2018 Tucson R48 Pre Qualifier demonstrated junior handball at its best, with the juniors showcasing a love for the sport, sensational handball skills, and infectious positive attitudes and sportsmanship.
University of Arizona college student Buddy Key overcame fellow college student and friendly college rival Carlos Espinoza in the semifinals of the A bracket to face Women’s Race 4 Eight star Dr. Ashley Moler in the final.
Key was too strong in the final, using his power serve and a number of hard kills and passes to earn his first A title.
Final: Key def Moler 15-9, 15-5
The B singles showcased the future of the sport, as the 18 junior players from Mexico, Tucson, and Phoenix had combined for more than 20 national titles. Each of the players in the 18-player field was under 19, giving this bracket a national championship vibe.
Andres Cordova, the younger brother of the R48 Elite 8’s “Flying Cordovas” entered the field at the last minute, but made the most of his 11th hour entry. Cordova ousted Tucson’s junior phenom Ayden Brule in the quarterfinals, followed by another impressive victory against Tucson’s Sophia Della Croce in the semifinals to advance to the final. Awaiting Cordova in the final was Cordova’s JR WPH Juarez teammate Eder Renteria, who overcame Tucson’s Miguel Sandoval and Phoenix’s David Frances to advance to the final.
In a matchup of what could be the top two players in the world in 10 years, Cordova’s left hand was too strong for Renteria, as the southpaw claimed the title.
Final: Cordova def Renteria 15-9, 15-9
Rene Sosa and Antonio Rivera played the most exciting junior final of the event in the Contender Singles, as Sosa overcame a one-game deficit to clinch the title against Antonio Rivera.
Final: Sosa def Rivera 9-15, 15-8, 15-5
Tucson’s Isabella Alvarez clinched the Novice round robin singles, defeating Luke Lambert and Alex Gonzales to win the title.
’18 Tucson R48 Pre Qualifier + JR WPH Singles + Doubles Sportsmanship Award Winner: Luke Lambert
8-year old Luke Lambert played in his first handball tournament at the ’18 Tucson R48 Pre Qualifier + JR WPH Singles and walked away with the most prestigious award of the event: the JR WPH Sportsmanship Award. Lambert competed in all of his matches with a huge smile, taught handball to the younger kids at the event, and exemplified all that is great about handball and competition throughout the day. Lambert only started playing handball just three weeks before the event and has not missed a day of practice since his first day hitting the ball. “Luke really picked up the handball bug and he’s loving the sport,” stated Luke’s coach Abraham Montijo.
“Luke was really proud of the Sportsmanship award and it certainly was a meaningful bonus to what Luke referred to as “one of the greatest days of his life!” stated Luke’s father Greg.
Thank you to Chris Hogan for bringing his group of high school players from Carl Hayden High School in Phoenix, Dan Willeford for bringing his Arizona State University Handball Team from Tempe, 2017 JR WPH Coach of the Year Drft Fernandez for bringing Team JR WPH Juarez from Mexico, Abraham Montijo and Fred Lewis for bringing the Fred Lewis Foundation Handball Team from Tucson, and all of the players and donors who made the ’18 Tucson R48 Pre Qualifier + JR WPH Singles such a wonderful event.
Keep an eye out on juniorhandball.org, as new clinic opportunities and recaps pop up weekly. Want to coach a clinic or a junior handball program? Need more information regarding junior handball? The Junior WPH group spans multiple countries, continents and oceans with clinics happening daily. We can help! Contact WPH Development Director David Fink at firstname.lastname@example.org
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