Saturday at the 2023 WPH R48 Icebreaker

Posted on Dec 16 2023 - 7:26pm by DV

Day 1

Tucson, AZ, WPH Press, 12/16/23

The third Race 4 Eight Icebreaker and twenty-fourth overall Icebreaker kicked off at the WPH’s Clark Park on Saturday, with the game’s best small ball stars aiming to etch their names onto the Clark Park Wall of Fame. In addition to the R48 Icebreaker, women’s and junior stars will also be in action in singles play.

Upper Bracket

Four-time Icebreaker champion Lucho Cordova entered the 2023 R48 Icebreaker as the defending champion and R48 #1. Lucho has not won a title since his 2023 Juarez R48 LTE win in April in Juarez and would have to overcome his surging brother Danos, five-time Icebreaker champion David Fink, 2023 Player’s Championship finalist Leo Canales, Jr., fourteen-time USHA 3-Wall national champion and R48 #6 Sean Lenning and nine additional Race 4 Eight pros to win his fifth Icebreaker.

Lucho shook off the rust after a hiatus from the court following early November’s R48 Memorial to defeat first-time qualifier Alberto Pizano in his opening round. The big ball star pushed Lucho in the first game, nearly stunning the R48 #1 before Lucho escaped 21-19 and cruised in game two. Ivan Burgos built an 18-3 lead on Mark Doyle in Doyle’s first Icebreaker start before Doyle closed the gap to three at 15-18. The comeback and momentum was halted there, as Burgos advanced to his third quarterfinal of the season.

Lucho and Burgos met for the sixth time in less than a year in the quarterfinals, with Lucho winning all five of their previous encounters, four in tiebreakers. Lucho would need another tiebreaker on Saturday, dropping the first game after leading 6-1 and rallying to win the next two. Burgos was in the tiebreaker late, but a return of serve kill attempt with his left from forty feet skipped at 8-6, giving Lucho the breathing room he needed to close out the match.

Jab Bike authored the upset of the day, sweeping current R48 Player’s Championship finalist Leo Canales, Jr. in two games and leaving Canales winless in the round of 16 this season. Bike’s dominating serve and overhand power were too much for Canales, who was pushed to the back court by Bike’s drives and was never able to apply pressure against this summer’s Icebreaker MVP.

Bike would meet the fourteen-time USHA 3-Wall national champion Sean Lenning in the quarterfinals, after Lenning was awarded an injury forfeit less than one game into his match with Danny Perez in the round of 16. Seeking his first Icebreaker title in his second Icebreaker start, Lenning was dominant against Bike, hitting aces to the short right crack and dictating play throughout to meet Lucho in Sunday’s upper bracket semifinals.

Bottom Bracket

2023 R48 Memorial champion Danos Cordova played a marathon first round match against Colorado’s John Chapman, defeating the former college basketball star in nearly ninety minutes to meet Shorty Ruiz in the quarterfinals. Ruiz dominated St. Louis’s Jeff Streibig in Streibig’s first Icebreaker start, serving a bagel in game one and closing out Streibig in the second. “This is really my first 3-Wall singles tournament and it’s really tough, especially playing someone like Shorty,” stated Streibig.

Danos and Shorty split matches this summer in the July and August Icebreakers, with Danos winning his first Icebreaker against Ruiz in the final in August. Danos was too strong for Shorty in the rubber match, advancing to Sunday’s semifinal. “I just missed everything, I should have listened to myself before the match,” lamented Shorty.

David Fink defeated a vastly improved Andres Cordova in his opening match to meet Sam Esser in the quarterfinals. Esser defeated former 3-Wall national finalist and former Icebreaker champion Abraham Montijo in two games in his opening match. “Abe wasn’t playing good in the first but we both played well in the second,” stated Esser.

Fink and Esser traded the lead throughout the first game of their quarterfinal, with Fink on edge from the beginning. Despite arguing virtually every call by their seasoned referee, Fink built a 16-13 lead in the first, only to see it quickly evaporate. Esser scored seven unanswered points and would serve for the game three times at 20. Fink cut the deficit to one with three straight ace serves to the left, then missed the biggest setup of the match at 19-20 and another error at 20-19 ended the game. “That’s the best I’ve ever seen you play,” Lenning joked to Fink between games.

Fink raced to a 6-0 lead in the second but quickly trailed 6-7 after a fly kill clinic from Esser. The five-time Icebreaker champion would eventually wrestle control of the match midway through the second, outscoring Esser 22-3 in the final twenty-five points of the match.

R48 Icebreaker

Round of 16

Lucho def Pizano 21-19, 21-10

Burgos def Doyle 21-15, 21-8

Lenning def D. Perez 19-5 inj. fft

Bike def Canales 21-16, 21-10

Fink def A. Cordova 21-10, 21-3

Esser def Montijo 21-4, 21-10

Ruiz def Streibig 21-0, 21-15

Danos def J. Chapman 21-14, 21-13

Round of 8

Lucho def Burgos 17-21, 21-9, 21-6

Lenning def Bike 21-9, 21-8

Fink def Esser 19-21, 21-10, 11-0

Danos def Ruiz 21-15, 21-6

Semifinals (Sunday, 10 am MST)

Lucho vs. Lenning

Danos vs. Fink

Women’s Open Singles

Women’s Icebreaker stars Mikaila Esser and Ashley Ruiz renewed their rivalry at Clark Park in the Women’s Pro singles, with WR48 #6 Clodagh Munroe making her first Icebreaker start to round out the women’s round robin field.

Ruiz dominated Munroe in the opening women’s match, while Esser also cruised past Munroe to set up a final between the undefeated Tucsonans on Sunday.

Saturday Round Robin

Ruiz def Munroe 21-11, 21-2

Esser def Munroe 21-6, 21-1

Final (Sunday, 10 am MST): Esser vs. Ruiz

Thank You!

Huge thanks to Saturday’s MVPs Scott Cleveland, Con Man Jim and Russ for manning the BBQ all day and making the perfect day at Clark Park even better.

R2 page for the 2023 WPH R48 Icebreaker HERE

Icebreaker Fun Facts HERE

Race 4 Eight Fun Facts HERE

Icebreaker pro player bios HERE

Race 4 Eight pro player bios HERE

WPH Coaching Centers HERE

WPH Workout Central HERE

2023/24 Race 4 Eight schedule HERE

David Fink

WPH Senior Writer

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