The WPH Aces Player’s Championship produced a number of scintillating matches, including three unforgettable finals and three very deserving Race 4 Eight Player’s Champions. Thank you to the WPH broadcast team, Ace Disposal, the Utah Handball Association and all of the people who made this event such an incredible experience for players and fans.
Sean Lenning (+10%): Lenning claimed his first WPH Player’s Championship in Salt Lake City, defeating Mando Ortiz in the best R48 final of the season. Lenning rebounded from a dismal R48 III season to win the R48 IV Comeback Player of the Year, rise to #3 in the WPH Power Rankings and stake his claim as a potential future #1
Catriona Casey: (+10%): Casey withstood her greatest challenge in WR48 history, overcoming a 15-2 first game loss in the Salt Lake final against her arch rival, Aisling Rival. Casey demonstrated the poise of a champion, staying calm and patient to outduel Reilly in a riveting three-game final. Casey remained undefeated in WR48 play, winning all seven WR48 events held since 2013
Marcos Chavez (+10%): Chavez repeated as the SR48 Player’s Champion, defeating Ireland’s Tom Sheridan in an exciting final. Chavez finished the season as the SR48 #1, while also finishing inside the R48 top 12. Chavez also serves as a mentor to Mando Ortiz and Vic Perez, two of the R48’s youngest and greatest stars. Wow!
WPH Broadcast Team (+10%): The WPH broadcast team produced the greatest broadcast in WPH history at the WPH Aces Player’s Championship, providing multiple camera angles, super slow motion replays, spotlighted player features, interviews, special guest hall of fame analysts and network-level graphics and production quality. Thank you DV, DF, John Bike, JT Hingey, Kara Mack, Kris Gurrad, Linda Manning, Jeff Kastner, Jean Kastner, Matt Titaino and Lolita de Vincent
The Ace Disposal Team and Utah Handball Association (+10%): The Ace Disposal Team and Utah Handball Association presented one of the WPH’s greatest events in history, complete with unlimited hospitality, multiple parties, multiple divisions for players traveling from all parts of the country, Canada and Ireland and the friendliest tournament staff and sponsors in the sport. Thank you to Lon, Matt and Melissa Stalsberg, Ruben Garza, Gary Scogin, Ted McManus and the rest of the volunteers, sponsors and supporters of the tournament
Mando Ortiz (+8%): Ortiz entered Salt Lake City with a 6-8 record and not having advanced past the quarterfinals in five regular season R48 IV events. Ortiz discovered the Salt Lake City magic that saw him defeat Paul Brady in last season’s R48 Player’s Championship in Salt Lake City, advancing to the finals in the toughest part of the draw. Ortiz defeated Luis Cordova (9th place finisher), WPH #3 Emmett Peixoto and WPH #2 Luis Moreno en route to the final two. Ortiz’s personality, intensity and shot making make him a crowd favorite in every city
Tom Sheridan (+8%): Tom Sheridan made a huge splash in his first R48 and SR48 starts, qualifying in the R48 with an impressive victory over top 20 R48 pro Erik Torres and advancing to the finals of the SR48 Player’s Championship, defeating then SR48 #1 Andy Schad along the way. This late 40’s lefty has serious game!
Daniel Cordova (+5%): R48 Rookie Daniel Cordova advanced to his first R48 semifinal in Salt Lake City, defeating Stephen Cooney and Mike Schnieder and finishing 4th. Cordova entered the R48 IV season unranked and ended the season at #7 to clinch R48 IV Rookie of the Year honors. Congrats!
Aisling Reilly (+5%): Although Reilly came up short in the finals against Catriona Casey, the current women’s world champion dazzled galleries and broadcast viewers with stunning skill and talent. Reilly played in two of the best matches in WR48 history, defeating Martina McMahon in a thrilling three-game semifinal and losing to Casey in an even more thrilling three-game final
Martina McMahon (+4%): McMahon finished third in her second consecutive WR48 start, pushing world champion Aisling Reilly to the limit in the semifinals and proving that she has the game to compete against the world’s best. McMahon is one of the game’s smoothest stars and will be threatening Casey and Reilly for the most prestigious titles in the women’s game for many years
Jessica Gawley (+2%): Gawley bounced back from a dreadful start at the WR48 NYAC ’15 by finishing 5th in Salt Lake City. Gawley played her best handball of the season in defeating Martina McMahon in the first game of their quarterfinal clash, ultimately losing in a tiebreaker. Gawley’s fitness and love for the game should allow her to remain amongst the women’s elite well into her 40’s
Paul Brady (-2%): Unfortunately for the R48 IV Player of the Year and winner of all five R48 IV regular events, Brady was forced to withdraw in his opening round match in Salt Lake City with a quad injury, eliminating any chance for a perfect season. Like Brady’s favorite movie character Arnold Schwarzenegger, “He’ll be back.” Count on it
Stephen Cooney (-3%): With a chance to finish the season in the R48 Elite 8, Cooney needed to defeat Daniel Cordova in Salt Lake’s round of 16. Cooney played nowhere near his best ball against the R48 Rookie of the Year, coming up short and finishing outside the top 8 in his R48 rookie season. Despite the disappointment, Cooney played an incredible season, starting the season unranked and finishing the season at #9 on the R48 Power Rankings
Andy Schad (-3%): The tour’s nicest guy entered the SR48 Aces Player’s Championship as the SR48 #1 player and needed to make the finals to finish the year at #1. Tied at 21 in the semifinals and just four points from the year-end #1 SR48 ranking against Tom Sheridan, Schad pulled a calf muscle and was unable to offer any resistance during the final stretch of the match. Get better soon Andy!
WPH Senior Writer