Tucson, AZ, WPH Press, 1/8/18-
The mission of JR WPH is to inspire the next generation to develop discipline, sportsmanship, teamwork, integrity, and a physically active lifestyle through handball. Since JR WPH’s inception in 2013, JR WPH has provided opportunities for more than 7,000 youngsters to experience the challenge and thrill of learning and playing handball in structured, organized, safe, and supportive clinics and tournaments that emphasize camaraderie, friendship, and developing life skills and a lifelong commitment to physical fitness through handball.
JR WPH initiatives are supported by donors that are determined to grow the game and to provide opportunities for youth development through handball. To enable Junior WPH to continue to host junior handball clinics and tournaments across North America with Certified WPH Coaches, the World Players of Handball invites you to make a tax-deductible donation today in supporting the growth of the game. 100% of the donations received by the WPH go towards junior handball development. Donate on-line HERE or send your generous gifts through PayPal (HERE) or by mailing checks to: WPH, 3561 E. Sunrise Dr. Suite 125, Tucson, AZ, 85718. Become a WPH Patreon HERE
Check out all of JR WPH’s sponsored clinics and programs 2018 below!
JR WPH Florida Cup Clinic and Singles (January): JR WPH hosted an outstanding junior handball clinic and skills competition for nearly a dozen youngsters on Hollywood Beach’s pristine 1-Wall courts. Top 1-Wall elite stars Timbo Gonzalez and Allan Sanchez led the clinic for the youngsters, teaching the stiff-arm kill, out the door serve, and finishing the clinic by teaming with the youngsters in doubles points. “It’s really great to see the top players taking such an interest in working with the kids,” stated Florida Cup co-tournament director Mike Dembin. “It was really cool to have the kids on the court and enjoying themselves.”
Following the clinic, eight of the juniors played in the first JR WPH ranking tournament of 2018. “Little Solo” cruised to the final in the upper bracket, while LJ Dejesus advanced to the final in the bottom bracket. The youngsters demonstrated outstanding skills and even better sportsmanship during the sensational match, high-fiving one another on several occasions after good shots. Both junior stars served at 20-20 three times, with LJ ultimately closing out the match and winning the JR WPH Florida Cup title. Congratulations to all of the junior players and huge thanks to Solo Dolo, Timbo Gonzalez, and Allan Sanchez with helping to inspire the junior players.
2018 UWF Argo Classic Tournament (January): With a tremendous amount of local support from players like Bob Van Dyke and Joel Levy, this year’s Argo Classic Tournament was a huge success. The 2018 UWF Argo Classic Tournament had a record number of participants, and with some creative bracket management, all of the players played a minimum of three matches. Current UWF Handball Club President Ashley Gilliam did a tremendous job throughout the weekend of keeping the tournament on schedule and on time with minimal delay between matches, which as many tournament directors know is no easy task.
This year’s competition attracted collegiate players from Missouri State University, University of Texas, Texas A&M, and as always, a strong representation from our University of West Florida team. The UWF team has even started attracting interest from our varsity sports coaching staff, including our softball coaches, who excelled in their brackets.
Missouri State stars Sam Esser and Max Langmack met in the Men’s Open Singles final, with Esser edging his teammate in two close games. Christina Pecaut ensured a Missouri State slam in the open singles brackets, ousting Missouri State teammate Taylor Rumping in an 11-7 tiebreaker in the Women’s Open Singles final.
Overall this year’s tournament was a great success, and the event would not have been possible without the continued support of our local players, team members, and the WPH and USHA. Thank you to everyone that helped and came out to this year’s event, looking forward to seeing you next time.
“JR WPH is extremely proud to support the UWF Handball Club and the Argo Classic Tournament,” stated WPH Development Director David Fink. “The UWF Handball Club exemplifies exactly what JR WPH aims to create; an opportunity for young people to learn and love the sport of handball in a positive and fun environment. Thank you to Coach Morgan, Ashley Gilliam, and all of the UWF players for making the UWF handball program one of the best in the country.”
Junior WPH Singles at the ’18 Iceman (January): The 2018 WPH Iceman featured several dozen junior handball stars from Northern and Southern California. The youngsters took center stage at the Iceman, displaying exceptional skills and sportsmanship in Stockton’s biggest event. Junior national champion David Sanchez iii added another trophy to his mantle, winning the 19 and under singles, Louis Montes, Jr picked up his first JR WPH singles title in the 15 and under, while Tristen Hernandez captured the 10 and under singles.
“The WPH is extremely proud to provide opportunities for the next generation of handball players to play alongside the elite players in family-friendly events,” stated WPH Development Director David Fink. “Thank you to all of the junior players for their passion for the game and their sportsmanship, and thank you to WPH Outdoor Iceman tournament director Angel Hernandez for giving the youngsters the opportunity to shine.”
19 and under
1st: David Sanchez III
2nd: Marquis Mitchell
3rd: Louis Montes
15 and under
1st: Louis Montes, Jr
2nd: Antonio Rojas
3rd: Mateo Erazo
10 and under
1st: Tristen Hernandez
2nd: Victor Serrato
3rd: Daniel Sanchez
JR WPH Clinic in Montana (January): WPH Master Instructor David Fink hosted an exciting junior clinic for youngsters attending the R48 Montana Red Death tournament, with the youngsters having an opportunity to enjoy some court time at one of the country’s best handball events. Coach Fink taught the sidearm stroke, the serve, and organized a rally game to conclude the clinic. “Having fun is the most important aspect of playing handball,” stated Coach Fink. “If you are having fun, you will improve, and the better you get, the more fun handball becomes.”
JR WPH Harry Mellis Clinic in Manhattan (February): The JR WPH Harry Mellis junior handball program proudly hosted a junior handball clinic and Fun Day for more than a dozen junior handball players between the ages of 15-19 at Manhattan’s Westside YMCA on the second Saturday in February. JR WPH Harry Mellis Coaches Danielle Daskalakis and Sandy Ng were joined by multiple-time national champion Cesar Sala and Harry Mellis graduates Steven Woo and Kody Yan in coaching 4-Wall serves, back wall drills, 2-bounce games, and singles and doubles games with the coaches. Pizza and refreshments were provided for the youngsters after an afternoon of learning and playing alongside several of the game’s best coaches and players.
“The WPH has been a great supporter of our Youth Handball program throughout the years,” stated Lucria Ortiz, Esq., Senior Director of Fund Development & Communications, YMCA of Greater New York. “Thank you to the WPH for that commitment to our kids and their development in the sport. We are excited to have cemented a partnership with the WPH and we are grateful to have (JR WPH Harry Mellis Coach) Danielle on staff.”
“The WPH cannot thank Danielle and Sandy enough for their incredible commitment to giving back to the sport,” stated WPH Development Director David Fink. “Danielle and Sandy have earned worldwide acclaim for their sensational handball accomplishments, and are doing even more to grow the sport with the next generation of players. Thank you to Danielle, Sandy, Cesar, and all of the coaches and players associated with one of the country’s premiere junior handball programs at the Westside YMCA in Manhattan.”
The JR WPH Harris Mellis program practices twice a week, transitioning from the Big Ball to Small Ball each semester. Each lesson starts with handball drills and ends with various games designed to implement the lessons from the drills and to have fun. JR WPH Harry Mellis Coach Sandy Ng has an exciting junior tournament planned for this weekend at the Westside YMCA.
JR WPH Juarez Hosts 5-Week JR Tournament (February): JR WPH Juarez hosted a five-week junior handball tournament, starting in mid-January and ending on February 18, featuring 21 junior handball players from the JR WPH Juarez program. 2017 JR WPH Coach of the Year and JR WPH Juarez head coach Richie “Drft” Fernandez organized the five-week extravaganza, providing the junior players with various handball formats tailored to the level and age of the players. The more experienced players played full-court, while the less experienced players played the popular half-court “2 Bounce” game.
“I’ve had an opportunity to watch the Juarez youngsters play for several years and I am so impressed with their improvements and passion for the sport,” stated WPH Development Director David Fink. “The Juarez juniors are absolutely incredible to watch, both for their handball skills and their tremendous sportsmanship and eagerness to improve. Thank you to JR WPH Juarez and Coach Drft for providing opportunities for so many youngsters to learn and play handball in a positive, family-friendly, and structured program that emphasizes the importance of teamwork, camaraderie, discipline, and developing a physically active lifestyle through handball.”
JR WPH Juarez 5-Week Tournament Results
1-Alejandro Garcia Jr (Froggy)
3-Jose Villa Soto (Cheche)
7-Angel Araiza (Blondie)
Look for JR WPH Juarez to be back in action against Tucson’s Fred Lewis Foundation in the next installment of the “Battle of the Border” later this year.
JR WPH Clinic and Tournament in Southern California (March): JR WPH Southern California was thrilled to present an exciting junior handball clinic and tournament for 20 junior handball players at Boiseranc Park in Buena Park, CA on the third Sunday in March. Sal Duenas led the clinic for the youngsters, emphasizing the importance of good footwork and fundamentals, hydrating during matches, and always having fun on the court. Coach Duenas also stressed the importance of being humble, playing with integrity and sportsmanship, and respecting your opponent.
The youngsters had the opportunity to demonstrate what they learned in the junior singles tournament that followed the clinic. The 20 youngsters competed in four divisions, with all of the passionate junior players displaying outstanding sportsmanship and skills.
19 and under
Champion: Jesus Mendez
Finalist: Freddy Espindola
16 and under
Champion: Jesus Mendez
Finalist: Daniel Barrientos
13 and under
Champion: Eddie Rocha, Jr.
Finalist: Moises Barrientos
11 and under
Champion: Matthew Garcia
Finalist: John Garcia
Thank you to Tom Flores for organizing the clinic, Coach Sal Duenas for coaching the clinics, and to all of the junior players and parents for participating.
Homework in Handball at ASU (April): 29 competitors from Phoenix and Tucson squared off across four divisions in a one-day event that tested player’s skills in both big ball and small ball. This “Homework & Handball” tournament is part of a series of events developed by the Sun Devil Handball Club at Arizona State University. This program encourages excellence in academics as well as handball because ASU is interested in the development of the complete student-athlete.
After introductory remarks on sportsmanship, effort and learning, the players were given an ASU swag bag with eye guards, balls, t-shirt, gloves and college admission info. The morning event featured a big ball tournament where each competitor had three matches against opponents with closely matched skills. The players battled nonstop on ten courts at the beautiful Sun Devil Fitness Complex.
At 12:30 pm, the big ball competition finished and competitors, coaches and volunteers enjoyed a 90-minute lunch break. During the last 30 minutes of the break, the Sun Devils helped high school students understand the opportunities available in college.
Then the “me3” app was demonstrated, which helps high school students explore majors and careers that fit their interests and passions. This allows the student to design an academic pathway to the future that they want.
Then it was back in to the courts for small ball action. The afternoon format was similar to the morning only with a smaller, quicker blue ball!
Student-athletes participated from Carl Hayden HS, Camelback HS, South Mountain HS, the Fred Lewis Foundation and ASU. Jesus Castillo (CHHS) slammed, winning two Contender division events. Rodrigo Silva (CHHS) and Alejandro Sandoval (FLF) came up big on the day by splitting the Elite division big ball and small ball championships between them.
Special thanks to the coaches and volunteers including Chris Hogan, Abe Montijo, Don Stewart, Jim Reitmyer, Ben Fernandez, Fred Lewis and members of the Sun Devil Handball Club.
Big Ball Championship Results
Elite: Rodrigo Silva (CHHS) def Alejandro Sandoval (FLF)
Challenger: Fernando Hernandez def Belisa Camacho (FLF)
Contender: Jesus Castillo (CHHS) def Chris Cedeno (CHHS)
Successor: Camron Thompson (FLF) def Ben Fernandez (Phx)
Small Ball Championship Results
Elite: Alejandro Sandoval (FLF) def Rodrigo Silva (CHHS)
Challenger: Angel Mariscal (FLF) def Frank Huerta (CBHS)
Contender: Jesus Castillo (CHHS) def Eliezer Hernandez (CHHS)
Successor: Luis Madrigal (CHHS) def Carlos Ortiz (CHHS)
ASU Head Handball Coach
JR WPH UWF Heats Up in the Summer (May): The University of West Florida’s handball team enjoyed a sensational 2018 USHA Collegiate National Tournament, taking second place in Division 2 and sixth overall on the strength of Sierra Hansen’s All-American performance, becoming the first UWF player to reach the open division, as well as Argo stars Zach Babcock, Ryan Gaynor, Annie Wallace, and Alan Moore making the semifinals in their respective skill divisions.
In addition to the USHA Collegiate Nationals, the UWF Argos held tournaments and clinics at the UWF Rec Center during the 2017/2018 season, including a WPH-sponsored clinic from R48 #1 Killian Carroll, while also traveling to major handball tournaments in Texas and Missouri. The Argos not only improved their handball games, but also gained experience and built friendships with fellow handballers in the Southeast and Midwest.
The JR WPH sponsored UWF Argonauts have an exciting summer and fall planned, as the UWF handball fanatics will introduce new players at the Argos Kids Camp for youngsters between the ages of 6-15 and host freshman handball orientations at the start of school in the fall. “A lot of our players caught up on coursework after the collegiate nationals to wrap up the spring semester, but we’re all looking forward to getting back on the courts this summer,” stated UWF Handball Club founder and 2017 JR WPH Collegiate Coach of the Year Michael Morgan. “On top of coaching at the Argos Kids Camp and introducing new players at freshman orientation, we’ll start practicing regularly and hold a tournament or two during the summer months.”
UWF is one of the most active collegiate handball programs in the country and JR WPH is thrilled to support the Argos. Keep up the great work!
JR WPH Clinic at the ’18 WPH/E4 Torneo (June): JR WPH was thrilled to host an outstanding junior handball clinic at the 2018 WPH/E4 Torneo de Handball, featuring more than a dozen junior handball players coached by several of the Race 4 Eight’s Elite on the second weekend in June.
Race 4 Eight stars Luis Cordova, Daniel Cordova, Sean Lenning, Mando Ortiz, Shorty Ruiz, Dr. Ashley Moler and JR WPH Juarez Head Handball Coach and 2017 JR WPH Coach of the Year Drft Fernandez led the clinic for the enthusiastic youngsters, focusing on proper form to hit the ball, effective beginner serves, and first-strike kill shots following a good serve. “We first had the kids throwing the ball and explained how the throwing motion should be the same as the motion when you hit the ball,” stated R48 #6 and 2017 & 2018 Torneo de Handball champion Lucho Cordova. “The clinic was really fun and the kids loved it. After the instruction the pros signed autographs for the youngsters, mingled, and played cross-court two-bounce. At next year’s Torneo de Handball, we are going to try to incorporate a JR/Pro doubles to give the kids the opportunity to play with and against the pros.”
Thank you to Luis and Daniel Cordova, Sean Lenning, Mando Ortiz, Shorty Ruiz, and Dr. Ashley moler for giving the youngsters the thrill of a lifetime in sharing the court and learning from the world’s best players. Thank you to AreLee Cano de Cordova for the pictures. Special thanks to JR WPH Juarez coach Drft Fernandez for inspiring the youngsters on a daily basis, organizing clinics, traveling with the youngsters to tournaments, and everything Drft does to make the JR WPH Juarez junior handball program one of the best junior handball programs in the world.
JR WPH at the Tucson Lohse Downtown YMCA (July): JR WPH was thrilled to coach junior handball clinics for the Lohse Downtown Family YMCA Summer Camp in Tucson, AZ, featuring world-class handball instruction from JR WPH Certified Coaches. The first-time Lohse summer camp players learned the basics of handball, focusing on throwing and hitting the ball with both hands and eventually rallying and playing short-court points. The youngsters also participated in several physical fitness activities, to include relay-races, burpees, mountain climbers, and side-to-side jumps.
“JR WPH has held winter junior handball clinics at the Lohse YMCA and we were excited to introduce handball to the Lohse YMCA summer campers this summer,” stated WPH Development Director David Fink. “The youngsters really enjoyed playing handball for the first time and many of them improved dramatically from the beginning to the end of the clinics.”
“A few of the kids were apprehensive about playing handball for the first time and each of them told me after the clinics how much fun they had,” stated Lohse YMCA Camp Director Kendra Whetton.
JR WPH Clinic at the JR Vazquez (July): JR WPH proudly hosted a junior handball clinic at the JR Vazquez CA State 3-Wall Doubles Championships for the fourth consecutive summer, with WPH cross over stars Shorty Ruiz and Mando Ortiz mentoring nearly two dozen Southern California junior handball stars. The two SoCal handball superstars provided the youngsters with the thrill of a lifetime, as the aspiring handball players learned the sidearm stroke and the serve from the two greats.
“I am always happy to coach the next generation of players,” stated 3-time 3WallBall World Champion Short Ruiz. “The kids are the most important part of this game because they will be the ones to keep this game going, so I’m always happy to help the youngsters learn and enjoy the game more.”
JR WPH Coaches Handball at the TRC Summer Camp (June-August): JR WPH proudly led the handball coaching at the Tucson Racquet Club All Sports Summer Camp for the sixth consecutive summer, teaching weekly handball clinics for more than 700 youngsters between the ages of 7-16 throughout the 10-week summer camp. The youngsters learned the various handball strokes throughout the 10-week summer camp, as well as cross-training, conditioning, and hand-eye coordination exercises to improve their overall fitness.
“I’ve coached every sport there is throughout my 40-year career as a physical education teacher and coach and there is no sport that forces you to use both sides of your body and mind like handball,” stated TRC Summer Camp director Charlie “Coach” Anderson. “I love having the JR WPH Coaches as part of the camp because they are excellent at teaching the sport and organizing the lessons and playing handball is a great experience for the kids.”
“We’re extremely proud of what we’ve done this summer and for the past six summers at the TRC All Sports Summer Camp,” stated WPH Development Director David Fink. “Our coaches work extremely hard to provide the best possible experience on the handball court for the TRC Summer Camp youngsters. I really enjoy watching the kids from as young as seven to 16 learning and developing their skills on the handball court, and most importantly, having fun on the handball court.”
Hope in Handball Inspires in Harrisburg (July): Now in its tenth year, Harrisburg’s Hope in Handball youth development initiative continues to inspire young people to develop life skills, discipline, camaraderie, friendships, and a physically active lifestyle through handball in Eastern PA. Led by David Botero, Hope in Handball has enthusiastically provides opportunities for young people to develop leadership, integrity, and sportsmanship, as well as the opportunity to meet new people and experience new cities.
Hope in Handball recently hosted a one-day 1-Wall tournament on the newly renovated Evergreen Street Court in Harrisburg to encourage new players to handball. “This tournament was an invitation for the community to come out, enjoy handball whether you’re playing it or watching it, have fun with the family, and showcase and demonstrate your skills on the court,” stated Hope in Handball founder David Botero, speaking to CBS 21 News. “We have a lot of talented players in the Harrisburg area.”
Story on Hope in Handball on CBS 21 News HERE
Hope in Handball also hosted a summer camp in July, in which Hope in Handball current team members and recent graduates served as coaches and mentors to youngsters playing handball for the first time. “There was a lot of interest amongst the new players to continue playing,” stated Botero. “Our coaches used the WPH Coaching Manual for drills and ideas. Eight kids want to continue coming to our weekly program, planting those seeds!”
In addition to hosting community-building tournaments and summer camps, Hope in Handball meets once a week for handball practice at the Harrisburg YMCA.
The WPH is proud to have hosted Hope in Handball at several tournaments in PA, as well as providing instruction, equipment, and coaching training to the sensational Harrisburg youth development program. “I have been fortunate to have known Dave Botero for nearly 10 years and I am always overwhelmed and inspired by his passion for handball and developing the next generation of community leaders,” stated WPH Development Director David Fink. “Dave is truly one of the best ambassadors in handball and our sport is so fortunate that Dave is involved in such a major way. Thank you to Dave and all of the Hope in Handball mentors, players, and volunteers for making such a positive difference through handball in Harrisburg.”
Pictured: Hope in Handball 1-Wall tournament on the Evergreen Street Court, Hope in Handball weekly YMCA clinics, Hope in Handball founder Dave Botero picking up a game with WPH mega donor Rodney Fink. Photos courtesy of Hope in Handball and Dave Botero.
JR WPH Supports the 2018 USHA National Junior 3-Wall Championships (July): JR WPH was proud to support the 2018 USHA National Junior 3-Wall Championships in Venice Beach on the last weekend of July, featuring 84 junior handball players from California, Arizona, Kansas, Colorado, and Mexico. The 8-19 year-old junior handball stars played in as many as six small ball and big ball singles and doubles brackets on Venice Beach’s sun-splashed courts.
“Great weekend in Venice Beach,” barked Fred Lewis Foundation Executive Director and Head Coach Abraham Montijo. “We took 17 juniors to compete, and for 10 of 17, it was their first time competing in an out of state tournament. We brought seven national titles back to Tucson!”
“We hosted 84 junior players and their families at Venice Beach,” proudly stated tournament director and sponsor Marcus Hough. “My aim is to increase the attendance in the following years and thus infuse handball for years to come.”
Stay in School Junior Handball Tournament and Clinics in Brooklyn (August): JR WPH was thrilled to be one of the sponsors of Castle Hill Handball Association’s 3rd Annual Stay in School Handball Tournament, featuring more than 70 junior handball players between the ages of 5-17 at Castle Hill Ave. Handball Courts in Brooklyn, NY. Each participant of the Stay in School Handball Tournament received a free backpack with school supplies filled with school year essentials. In addition to receiving backpacks and school supplies for participating, the top three finishers in each age group won laptops, bicycles, tablets, and more.
When not competing in boy’s and girl’s singles brackets at the Stay in School extravaganza, the youngsters had the opportunity to learn from the best in the game. New York City 1-Wall stars Tywan Cook, Hector Velez, Allan Sanchez, and Carlin Rosa coached clinics for the youngsters throughout the day, emphasizing footwork and the fundamentals to making solid contact with the ball. The pros set up cones in various spots on the court, with the youngsters running through the cones and serving after reaching the final cone. The older junior players also had the opportunity to rally with and play points against the top players.
“Stay in school, that’s the main goal,” stated tournament director Richie Vera, speaking to New York City’s News 12. “We’re all thrilled to have hosted a great event that is going to set up the kids to be successful for the upcoming school year.”
“This event is all about getting the kids excited and giving the kids skills to reach their potential in the classroom,” stated handball ambassador and high school teacher Michael Dembin.
“The Stay in School event was amazing,” stated 2017 WPH Volunteer of the Year and JR WPH NYC 1-Wall Championships tournament director Veronica Figueroa. “There is nothing like watching children play handball, and for a grandmother like myself, watching your grandchildren play the game you love so much. Thank you to Richie Vera for donating the bikes and school supplies and for hosting another great Stay in School event.”
“Richie Vera and Castle Hill hosted another awesome event for the kids,” stated WPH/Castle Hill Florida Cup champion Hector Velez. “I played a couple of the kids in singles and had a great time. I had a lot of fun watching these kids who look up to the top players and it was really cool that so many of the top players came out to support the event. Carlin Rosa, Tywan Cook, Chris Miranda, and myself also played an exhibition doubles match to show the pro level of competition.”
“Richie Vera and the Castle Hill Handball Association are doing incredible things for young people in Brooklyn and JR WPH is so proud to support Richie, the Castle Hill Handball Association, and all of the young people playing handball,” stated WPH Development Director David Fink. “Nothing could be better than inspiring the next generation of handball players in a positive and organized event, all while providing the youngsters back to school supplies to ensure that the kids are prepared to succeed in the upcoming school year. Thank you Richie, the Castle Hill Handball Association, and all of the volunteers that made the 2018 Stay in School event such a success!”
3rd Annual JR WPH NYC 1-Wall Championships (August): JR WPH and the Lincoln Terrace Handball Association were thrilled to present the third annual JR WPH NYC 1-Wall Championships at St. John’s Recreation Center in Brooklyn, NY, featuring 75 junior handball players between the ages of 12-19.
The youngsters competed in eight singles brackets on a sun-splashed late-August day in Brooklyn, demonstrating not only outstanding handball skills, but also exemplary sportsmanship, self-respect, respect for one another, and a passion for handball.
“The goal of this event is to provide these youngsters with an opportunity to compete, while building friendships, camaraderie, and passion for handball,” stated JR WPH NYC 1-Wall Championship tournament director and 2017 WPH Volunteer of the Year Veronica Figueroa. “We hope these youngsters develop the discipline, integrity, and life skills through handball to become the next generation of community leaders. There is nothing that makes me happier as a tournament director, player, and mother and grandmother than to see these youngsters having a great time playing handball and demonstrating great sportsmanship, win or lose. For the third consecutive summer, we had a wonderful JR WPH NYC 1-Wall Championships and we look forward to many more in the future.”
Girl’s Champions and Finalists
Champion: Shkysi Cummings
Finalist: Aaliya Durant
Champion: Shnae Cummings
Finalist: Gabriella Sullvan
Champion: Jessica Lozada
Finalist: Jocelyn Rubero
Champion: Madison Borrero
Finalist: Veronica Watson Figueroa
Girl’s Sportsmanship Award Winner: Jenna Santiago
Boy’s Champions and Finalists
Champion: Marcio Moran
Finalist: Bruce Cruz
Champion: Chris Vidal
Finalist: Allan Luna
Champion: Fernando Hernandez
Finalist: Ismael Sinani
Champion: Brandon Martinez
Finalist: Jeniel Gonzalez
Boy’s Sportsmanship Award Winner: Jayden Zeigler
Thank you to 2017 WPH Volunteer of the Year Veronica Figueroa, the Lincoln Terrace Handball Association, and JR WPH for hosting and sponsoring the third annual JR WPH NYC 1-Wall Championships. The WPH is so fortunate to have handball leaders like “Ms. V” demonstrating the enthusiasm for growing the game to foster the next generation of handball players and community leaders.
Photos courtesy of Veronica Figueroa and the Lincoln Terrace Handball Association
’18 Tucson R48 Pre Qualifier + JR WPH Singles (September): 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.
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.
Junior WPH Hood River (September): The Oregon Handball Association is proud to announce a unique new partnership between the World Players of Handball and the Hood River Handball Association, forming a new Junior WPH sponsored team at Horizon Christian School in Hood River, Oregon.
This new Junior WPH Hood River program features two dozen handball players between 7th and 12th grade at the small private school, with half the class attending bi-weekly morning lessons and the other half attending bi-weekly afternoon lessons. Science teacher and Stenberg family patriarch Oscar Stenberg leads the classes, assisted by fellow science teacher Jim Brown and local player Ron Harder, as well as other members of the Stenberg family and other members of the Hood River handball community.
The first set of classes were held on September 14th at the Hood River Elks Lodge, with instructors Oscar Stenberg, Jim Brown, Ron Harder, and Helen Stenberg leading the classes, with Pat Harford and Jennifer Hinman assisting the afternoon class. Both the morning and afternoon classes had 11 players each in attendance and that number is expected to grow as the class continues.
The WPH Foundation was instrumental in establishing the program, providing dozens of gloves, goggles, and handballs for the new team. “Oscar contacted me wondering where he could obtain handball gear for his students” explained Oregon Handball Chairman Nick Flores. “I contacted the WPH immediately, and within a few days all the necessary handball gear was delivered directly to Oscar’s doorstep.” The WPH also provided their valuable curriculum to the Hood River coaches to help get the program started.
Students in the Junior WPH Hood River program are learning proper form and swing mechanics, and basic concepts and strategies of the game, as well as character traits that are essential for handball such as teamwork and integrity. Additionally, the program will have an ongoing goal of tournament participation for its students, and the students will be able to play in local tournaments at no cost thanks to the generosity of the Alten Handball Foundation. A concerted effort will be made to include Junior WPH Hood River students at the 2019 Oregon State Singles Championship to play against students from Sheldon High School in Eugene, as well as other local high schools.
R48 Atlanta ’18 JR WPH Clinic (October): The Missouri State Handball team made the 14-hour drive from Springfield, MO to Atlanta, GA, packing 10 players into two cars to attend the R48 8’s first stop of the year at the R48 8 Ron Cook Peachtree Open. Within minutes of arriving at the event, the MO State handball team was treated to a JR WPH instructional handball clinic, led by Race 4 Eight pros David Fink and Marcos Chavez. Fink and Chavez focused on the V Pass, the Power Serve, as well as handball conditioning exercises.
The 10 college students ranged from novice to open level players, with each thrilled to learn skills and drills to improve their handball games.
“We try to make it to every tournament we can because we love the tournaments and getting a chance to play,” stated MO State All American and team captain Sam Esser.
“The Race 4 Eight tour is an incredible platform to inspire young players and we’re thrilled to be able to provide opportunities for young players to share the court and be inspired by the best handball players in the world,” stated Fink.
JR WPH Clinics at the U of A Fall Break Camp (October): JR WPH coaches were thrilled to coach junior handball clinics for youngsters between the ages of 7-12 at the University of Arizona Fall Break Camp at the spectacular campus Rec Center. JR WPH Coaches tailored the lessons to each group, focusing on hand-eye coordination, agility, and balance exercises for the younger students to drill-based handball exercises and games for the older students.
“We loved that the kids had the opportunity to learn handball,” stated Rec Center director Allison Brown.
“JR WPH is proud to have held handball clinics at the U of A Rec Center each semester for the past five years,” stated WPH Master Instructor David Fink. “JR WPH is always excited to share our passion for handball and the lifetime benefits our great game provides to players of all ages and abilities.”
JR WPH UWF “I Love Handball” Fundraiser Classic (October): The University of West Florida proudly hosted the JR WPH UWF “I Love Handball” Fundraiser Classic at the HLS Facility on the campus of the University of Florida on the third weekend in October, featuring collegiate players from the University of West Florida and the University of Texas. JR WPH has proudly sponsored the UWH Argos Handball Team since 2013, one of the best collegiate handball programs in the country.
The University of Texas’ Jeremy Aguilar captured the four-man Men’s Open singles round robin, defeating Nicholas Wilson (FL), Mike Desgrottes (FL), and the 2017 JR WPH Collegiate Coach of the Year and UWF handball standout Michael Morgan.
Coach Morgan bounced back in the Open Doubles, teaming with Desgrottes to overcome Enrique Arancibi (TX) and Aguilar.
Avery Shepherd (TX) captured the Women’s Open singles, defeating Tiffany Duncan (FL), Annie Wallace (FL), and Bella Smith (TX).
“JR WPH is extremely proud to support the UWF Team and the exciting UWF events and clinics throughout each year,” stated WPH Development Director David Fink. “Seeing the University of Texas travel to Pensacola to challenge their UWF friends and rivals is awesome!”
Thank you to UWF tournament directors Kayla Fulghum and JR WPH Collegiate Coach of the Year Michael Morgan.
JR WPH at the 2018 Tucson Memorial (November): JR WPH proudly hosted a JR WPH Clinic and junior singles brackets at the 2018 Tucson Memorial, providing opportunities for the youngsters to learn from the game’s best and to showcase their talents at one of the sport’s premiere events.
JR WPH Clinic
WR48 superstars Catriona Casey and Ciana Ni Churraoin led a special Q&A session for a number of enthusiastic youngsters on Super Saturday at the 2018 Tucson Memorial, detailing their growth in the sport, their passion for the game, how they prepare to play in pro events and much more. The WR48 superstars then fielded questions from the awestruck junior players.
“The juniors were really interested in the types of drills and practice we do to improve,” stated first year Sports Psychology student at Mankato State and former WR48 finalist Ni Churraoin. “Catriona and I also discussed our tournament preparation and what makes handball so special.”
Thank you to Catriona and Ciana for inspiring the next generation of players and providing an opportunity for the youngsters to develop and understanding of what it takes to become a world-class athlete.
The 2018 showcased junior handball, with several dozen junior players from Tucson, Phoenix, El Paso, and Juarez demonstrating passion for the game and outstanding sportsmanship in the JR WPH singles.
Tucson’s Antonio Rivera won the Contender singles, defeating El Paso’s Osvaldo Marquez in the rising stars bracket.
2018 Tucson Pre Qualifier Sportsmanship Award Winner Luke Lambert won the Contender’s dropdown bracket, defeating Jaiden Chacon in a tiebreaker in the final.
Future R48 star Andres Cordova won the 17-and-under singles, defeating Phoenix’s Jesus Castillo in the final.
Phoenix’s Uziel Rodriguez clinched the 17-and-under dropdown, defeating Phoenix teammate Lorenzo Medrano in the final.
Sebastian Canales completed the 17/19-and-under Juarez junior singles sweep in the 19-and-under singles, defeating Phoenix’s Rodrigo Silva in the final.
Thank you to junior coaches Abraham Montijo (FLF), Drft Fernandez (JR WPH Juarez), Chris Hogan (PHX), and Dan Willeford (ASU) for bringing their teams to the 2018 Tucson Memorial.
“The juniors are the highlight of the event,” stated WPH Development Director David Fink. “While the pros inspire the juniors, it’s the juniors that inspire the pros and the rest of tournament players.”
JR WPH at Pima College (December): JR WPH proudly hosted a beginner handball clinic at Pima College’s 3-Wall courts on the west side of Tucson. Pima College sophomores gathered on a perfect early December afternoon to learn the rules of the game, handball fundamentals, and techniques to play the game. After the afternoon of drills, games, and rallying, each of the players were given gloves, eye guards, and handballs to continue their handball development.
“JR WPH is always willing and enthusiastic to host handball clinics to students of all ages and levels,” stated WPH Development Director David Fink. “Our donors are extremely passionate about seeing the game grow and our instructors are thrilled to have the opportunity to fulfill our mission to grow the game. We hope to see the new Pima College recruits on the courts for years to come.”
JR WPH Road Show Hits ASU in Tempe (December): JR WPH traveled 100 miles west from the WPH headquarters in Tucson to Arizona State University in Tempe to host collegiate and high school handball clinics and a special Q&A session at ASU’s 2018 Homework & Handball event at the Sun Devil Fitness Complex.
JR WPH Clinics
JR WPH coached multiple clinics at “Homework in Handball” for the Arizona State University Handball Team and Phoenix’s Carl Hayden High School Handball Team, with the players separated into groups of 4-5 by handball experience. The clinic lessons were tailored to each group’s level of play, with the players learning the “Dave Chapman Line Drill,” the power serve, the back wall return, the return of serve, and a number of drills to reinforce the proper stroke and shot selection.
“We really appreciated all of the lessons and we’re excited to start practicing all of the new drills and fundamentals while the ideas are fresh in our minds,” stated Carl Hayden High School Head Handball Coach Chris Hogan.
JR WPH Q&A
Following the clinics, all of the junior and collegiate players and coaches gathered for a special JR WPH Q&A hosted by WPH Master Instructor and R48 #5 David Fink. The youngsters were eager to understand all things handball, enthusiastically discussing cross-training for handball, hitting power serves with spin, the toughest players to play on the R48, and much more.
“I’ve never seen the kids so talkative,” stated ASU Head Handball Coach Dan Willeford. “They were really absorbing everything.”
“Coach Dan Willeford (ASU) and Coach Chris Hogen (Carl Hayden High School) are doing such a fantastic job introducing handball and developing passionate young handball players,” stated WPH Development Director David Fink. “I’ve never seen a more enthusiastic group of young players so interested in learning about the game. JR WPH is thrilled to be able to supplement the lessons that Coach Willeford and Coach Hogan are teaching on a daily basis. Phoenix junior handball is really booming!”
JR WPH Hood River Thriving (December): The first semester of the JR WPH Hood River program has wrapped, and as students are beginning their holiday break, Hood River instructors Oscar and Helen Stenberg are prepping for the next semester of handball classes.
Given the success of the first semester, the second semester is expected to be a much bigger group. The program has a number of experienced instructors, including the Stenbergs and their sons Michael and Andrew, local players Ron Harder and Pat Hartford, and former top five WPH Women’s pro Jennifer Hinman.
A total of 23 students were introduced to handball during the first semester in Hood River, participating in six handball sessions of approximately 75 minutes per session at the Hood River Elks Lodge. Students were initially introduced to the big ball and quickly transitioned to the white label small ball.
“The kids loved it and were looking forward to each class,” exclaimed JR WPH Hood River head coach Oscar Stenberg. “After Christmas, a new group will sign up for the months of January, February and March.”
JR WPH Hood River hopes to register students from the fall and upcoming winter semesters for the April 12-14 2019 WPH Oregon State Singles Championships in Portland. “We’re setting aside courts on Saturday for the high schoolers to compete,” stated Oregon Handball Chairman Nick Flores. “Students from Hood River will compete against students from Eugene’s Sheldon High School for the first Oregon High School Championship”.
“I would assume we will have a much bigger group,” stated coach Stenberg, discussing the upcoming winter semester. “We want to give a huge ‘thank you’ to the WPH for the generous support of our program”.
Junior WPH Hood River would not be possible without support from the World Players of Handball Foundation and the Hood River Handball Association. “The Oregon Handball Association would like to express gratitude for the WPH on this project,” stated Flores.
Thank you to Nick Flores for the update from JR WPH Hood River.
Portland R48 8/USHA 4-Wall Junior Nationals (December): JR WPH and the USHA proudly collaborated on the 2018 USHA 4-Wall Junior Nationals/R48 8 Portland to inspire junior handball stars with opportunity to meet, receive autographs, play, and learn from the pros, as well as showcasing two special junior feature matches live on ESPN3.
R48 Elite 8 Autograph Session
The R48 Elite 8 signed autographs for the star-struck juniors competing in the USHA 4-Wall Junior Nationals, handing out 8 x10 autographed pictures signed by each member of the Elite 8. “I’m Killian Carroll,” exclaimed an ecstatic 11-year old proudly holding his signed picture.
R48 Pros Take the Court with the Juniors
Throughout the collaborative USHA 4-Wall Junior Nationals/Portland R48 8 event, R48 pros could be seen in the courts with the awestruck juniors, playing two-bounce, giving advice and sharing their passion for the sport. “The highlight of my weekend was playing two-bounce with six of the juniors,” barked R48 Elite 8 pro Emmett Peixoto. “The kids were so enthusiastic and were really good players too. I can remember how inspired I was as a junior to watch and meet the pros and I’m honored to be able to provide the same opportunity for today’s juniors.”
Special ESPN3 Junior Features
17-and-under boys singles final: Ure vs. Pimentel
Junior stars Ray Ure (IL) and Jorge Pimentel (AZ) played for the 17-and-under USHA 4-Wall Juniors National Championship live on ESPN3, showcasing the next generation of junior handball stars. Ure and Pimentel dazzled the galleries with sensational rallies in the first half of the first game, with both junior stars extending rallies with incredible grit and determination. “Those rallies in the first game were amazing, both of the guys were diving and making great shots,” stated USHA Hall of Famer and Executive Director Vern Roberts.
Ure pulled away in the first game’s second half and cruised in game two for the 17-and-under championship. “I’ve been working really hard on my game and it feels really great to win this title,” stated Ure.
19-and-under Boys Singles: Walsh vs. Gaulton
The second USHA junior handball showcase match featured David Walsh (IRE) challenging Michael Gaulton (CAN) in the 19-and-under boys singles final.
Former R48 ranked pro Gaulton started well in game one, building a 7-2 lead before Walsh took over, scoring 19 of the final 23 points of the first game. Gaulton and Walsh were tied at six in game two when Walsh pulled away, using the back left corner glass to force errors and offensive opportunities and capitalizing against a quickly fading Gaulton.
“I was just gassed in there,” Gaulton would later say.
“We’ve been here (Portland) since the 23rd just waiting to play and I’m really happy to have gotten on the court and started playing. I spent countless hours watching Killian practice in our alley (in Ireland) and he inspires me. He’s living the dream winning titles in the U.S. and we all hope to reach his level.”
Thank you to the USHA for the sensational collaboration with JR WPH in providing the junior handball stars with an unforgettable week in Portland.
What a year for JR WPH!
Thank you to all of JR WPH’s donors for providing opportunities for junior handball players to learn and love the sport of handball.
To continue to support the next generation of players or to start, make a tax-deductible donation today. 100% of the donations received by the WPH go towards junior handball development. Donate on-line HERE or send your generous gifts through PayPal (HERE) or by mailing checks to: WPH, 3561 E. Sunrise Dr. Suite 125, Tucson, AZ, 85718. Become a WPH Patreon HERE
WPH Senior Writer
Produced by WPH