Known affectionately at “T,” Tanisha Groomes is one of the greatest athletes in professional women’s sports, having won an astounding 13 of 16 starts on the WPH Outdoor Women’s Singles tour during the five-year history of the tour.
Groomes started playing handball in 2008, just before she turned 20, and within four years, had already established herself as the top star in women’s 3-Wall Big Ball handball. At just 5’2, Groomes packs a tremendous punch, hitting one of the hardest balls in the women’s game. Groomes was raised in Buena Park, CA, the city she still calls home. T honed her athletic skills playing competitive softball and basketball and cites Allen Iverson as her favorite athlete. T plays and trains for handball tournaments at Independence Park in Fullerton, CA.
Groomes’ greatest strength is undoubtedly finding ways to win when facing seemingly insurmountable odds, as evidenced by her sensational comebacks throughout her WPH Outdoor career. Groomes has faced match point and come back to win seven times, proving that no lead is safe and no match is ever over.
WPH Senior Writer David Fink had a chance to sit down with WPH Outdoor Women’s #1 Tanisha Groomes to discuss what makes handball so special for her, who are her most challenging opponents, how she overcomes losses, how she manages to stay cool under pressure, and much more. Enjoy!
DF: What makes handball so special for you?
T: I never thought it would be something that I’d be good at, and now I have the option of competing with a partner or on my own. It’s also taught me how to appreciate a win and accept a loss without giving up or blaming anyone for it.
DF: Who are the most challenging opponents you have faced on the Women’s WPH Outdoor tour and what makes each of those opponents so difficult to play?
- Tracy and Sandy Ng. Every year I’ve faced them in the doubles final and I’ve always fallen short of that title when it comes to defeating them as a team. Sandy has great power and both her left and right hand and Tracy has the experience to out play opponents by finding their weakness and constantly exposing them
- Catriona Casey. She is an amazing player. She is very consistent, hardly misses any of her shots and is always there even when you don’t expect her to be. I always have to try and not rally with her because if I make one mistake or hit it slightly wrong it’s a set up for her.
- Danielle Daskalakis. She has a good angled serve to the left with some spin and its very low. It forces me to run all the way out and gives her time to set up for her next shot after my return to have me cross all the way to the other side. I also feel we have a similar game, she’s just opposite of me. Playing Danielle is like playing myself as a lefty.
DF: You have faced match point and won seven times in your WPH Outdoor career, far more than any player on the WPH Outdoor or Race 4 Eight tour. To what do you attribute this ability to come back when you are seemingly out of a match?
T: Hmm, its honestly a lot of pressure and stressful, as much as I try to play and keep going like its not, but Tracy (Davis) once told me not to think about the score or look at the game like its over. I just focus on getting the ball back or making as many points until the ref officially says “Game.”
DF: How will you prepare for the WPH Outdoor 3WallBall Outdoor World Championships coming up September 21st-25th?
T: A lot of cross training, practicing, practice matches? I’ve been doing a lot of cardio in the gym and home with “Shaun T” DVDs, weight lifting, swimming and trying to play handball almost everyday until a few days before the tournament.
DF: You’ve won the Women’s WPH Outdoor Player’s Cup for being the Women’s #1 player each year the Player’s Cup has been held since 2012 and you’ll be aiming for your fifth Player’s Cup in a row this September. What does it mean to you to be the #1 Women’s WPH Outdoor player in the world?
T: It’s a great feeling to be able to compete every year in front of new people, and be recognized just for doing something that I once looked at as fun and a way to stay active. I’ve always been into sports because of my family, but now to travel and win trophies make new friends and just have a good time while playing is a great feeling.
DF: What has been your most memorable match in your five-year WPH Outdoor history and why?
T: Playing Danielle (Daskalakis) the semifinals in Vegas 2013. It was the first time I lost a match in singles.
DF: You’ve lost so infrequently over the course of your WPH Outdoor career, in fact only three singles losses in 16 events. How difficult are those losses to overcome?
T: The first one was the hardest one, but it also helped me realize that I’m not going to win every game or every time I enter a tournament, and just as long as I give it my all no matter what the outcome is, I know I tried and left everything on the court.
DF: You have really embraced cross over play, having playing several small ball events in the past two years and 1-Wall events. What do you enjoy about crossing over into different handball codes?
T: Crossing over gives me a chance to play other top women in their element, and to see how different each game really is. I like small ball and 1-Wall because it forces me to use my left hand more and learn how to be comfortable with it like it was my right. I just need more practice so I can compete more in those events as well.
DF: What has the WPH meant to the sport of handball and being able to play and watch live matches on ESPN3?
T: I don’t think I would be where I’m at when it comes to handball if it weren’t for the WPH. Every event, all the people I’ve met, and anyone that has heard or now knows me and has seen me play is because of WPH. The whole WPH staff has really done a lot and helped handball grow and continue to grow.
DF: You have tremendous support from your family and inside the handball community at virtually all of your matches. How much does that mean to you in a sport that is really just you against another opponent?
T: When I play, I try to block everyone out, especially my family and friends that root for me to win, because I feel like if I fall short not only am I letting myself down, but them as well. So sometimes it can be a lot of pressure when facing a tough match, but after games or before I appreciate everyone that comes up to me with words of encouragement, just to say hi or even tell me how they’re kids like how I play. I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t have as much support as I do now.
Tanisha Groomes WPH Outdoor Bio
Hometown: Buena Park, CA
Strong hand: Right
Home court: Independence Park (Fullerton)
Favorite athlete: Allen Iverson
Favorite pre-match music: Hip-hop
Best/favorite shot: Right hand right corner kill
Current WPH Outdoor Ranking: #1
Highest WPH Outdoor Ranking: #1 (current)
Best WPH Outdoor Finish: 13-time Champion
Strengths: serve, right hand kills, clutch, comebacks
Tanisha Groomes is one of the most dominant athletes in professional sports, having won an astounding 13 of the 16 WPH Outdoor singles events in which she has entered (81%), including an 18-match winning streak to kick off her WPH Outdoor career. “T” is perhaps the quickest learner in handball, having started playing handball less than four years before winning her first WPH Outdoor title. Groomes’ best asset is her ability to play her best when she is seemingly out of a match, as evidenced by overcoming match point down seven times in 16 events. Groomes is one of the most exciting players in the sport, always willing to go for her shots, regardless of the score or magnitude of the moment. Groomes has developed sensational rivalries with Catriona Casey, Tracy Davis, and Ciana Ni Churraoin, with the four elevating Women’s WPH Outdoor Singles to the most compelling division in the sport
Catch Tanisha Groomes in action at the WPH/WOR 3WallBall World Outdoor Championships in Las Vegas September 21st-25th. The 2016 WPH/WOR 3WallBall World Outdoor Championships will feature Groomes, Tracy Davis, Danielle Daskalakis, Sandy Ng, Juan Santos, Samzon Hernandez, Alfredo Morales, Shorty Ruiz, Rookie Wright, Timbo Gonzalez, Tywan Cook, and so many more of the best outdoor WallBall players in the world.
For more information and/or to enter the 2016 WPH/WOR 3WallBall World Outdoor Championships, click here. The WPH will proudly partner with the Watch ESPN App to broadcast the handball, racquetball, and paddleball action from the 2016 WPH/WOR 3WallBall World Outdoor Championships starting on Friday, September 23rd and running through Sunday, September 25th. Make sure to download the Watch ESPN App here to be ready to watch the best WallBall players in the world compete in WallBall’s largest event in history.
WPH Outdoor Player’s Cup: The World Player’s of Handball’s WPH Outdoor Player’s Cup Series was formed in 2012 to showcase the game’s best 3-Wall Big Ball Stars. Since 2012, the WPH Outdoor Player’s Cup Series has hosted 28 events in California, Mexico and Nevada, creating the stage for hundreds of top big ball stars to compete against one another in professional, competitive and family-friendly events that promote sportsmanship and community spirit while inspiring the next generation of players. The WPH Outdoor V season features events in Southern California, Utah, and Nevada. To see the fill schedule, click here. All WPH Outdoor events host Junior WPH clinics with WPH Outdoor Elite players serving as mentors and coaches and junior tournament divisions starting at nine-and-under for boys and girls.
For more information on the WPH Outdoor Player’s Cup Series, please contact World Players of Handball Executive Director David Vincent at firstname.lastname@example.org, World Players of Handball Development Director David Fink at email@example.com or WPH Outdoor Director Tom Flores at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information on the World Players of Handball and the WPH Outdoor Tour, please visit wphlive.tv
WPH Senior Writer