The WPH Aces Player’s Championship Qualifier Preview

Posted on Apr 10 2015 - 1:45pm by DV

Much like golf’s tour, the R48 IV Regular Season Qualifier has served as a springboard for young talent to establish themselves as future stars in the sport. The qualifiers have electrified fans this season with several of the season’s best matches and highest drama, as dozens of top players from around the world aimed for a spot amongst the elite throughout the five-stop regular season.


Daniel Cordova and Stephen Cooney spent their entire R48 IV regular seasons in the Qualifier, earning career best 5th and 6th place finishes, respectively. Daniel Cordova earned his first invite to a R48 event in Salt Lake City’s WPH Ace’s Player’s Championship, while Cooney finished the regular season as the 9th ranked pro. Former two-time Elite 8 star Andy Nett returned to the R48 in New York City after a 12-month hiatus to become the first qualifier to advance to a R48 IV final.


Salt Lake City’s WPH Ace’s Player’s Championship Top Qualifiers


stephen+cooney+4Stephen Cooney: R48 IV Match Record: 9-8

In his first full season on the R48 tour, Cooney made a huge splash, moving to #9 on the R48 rankings with victories over Fink, Iglesias, Selestow, Perez and L. Cordova. Cooney could finish the season in the Elite 8 with a round of 16 victory in Salt Lake City. Cooney is a “rekill” specialist, mastering the left-hand paddle and fist rekills


Marcos Chavez: R48 IV Match Record: 4-8

Chavez earned Elite 8 invites to Tucson, Houston, San Francisco and New York, finishing a season’s best sixth in San Francisco with wins over Anthony Selestow and Daniel Cordova. Chavez dropped out of the Elite after a first round loss to Jonathan Iglesias in New York. Chavez is always flashy and was just a few points from entering Salt Lake City as a top six pro


Mike Schneider: R48 IV Match Record: 0-2

Schneider qualified for the first time on the R48 IV season in his first start at the NYAC, defeating R48 #13 Luis Cordova in the qualifier final. Schneider’s unorthodox game and massive hops pose problems for anyone in Salt Lake City’s draw


cordova1Luis Cordova: R48 IV Match Record: 6-7

Cordova started the season with an impressive 7th place finish at the U.S. Open, but has struggled since, losing in the round of 16 in his next three starts and failing to qualify in New York


Shorty Ruiz: R48 IV Match Record: 1-4

Ruiz qualified at the U.S. Open and led Paul Brady 14-7 (to 21) in their round of 16 match before falling in two straight. After losing to Daniel Cordova in the qualifier final in Tucson, Ruiz qualified for the second time in three attempts in Houston, defeating pro tour veteran Bill Mehilos


Anthony Selestow: R48 IV Match Record: 2-10

Selestow was one of just two players to qualify in every event on the R48 IV (Cooney), but failed to convert his qualifier success to main draw wins, losing in the round of 16 in all five R48 IV events. Known as “The Giant Killer” for wins over Chapman, Lenning and Fink, Selestow’s combination of athleticism and speed always makes him dangerous


vic+perezVic Perez: R48 IV Match Record: 4-8

Perez demonstrated flashes of brilliance during the R48 IV season, overcoming match point to defeat Mando Ortiz in Tucson to advance to the round of 8. Perez also defeated Irish star Martin Mulkerrins, but also surrendered three R48 IV Playoff match leads when holding match point (Cooney, L. Cordova, Cooney)


Joe Delsardo: R48 IV Match Record: n/a

“Smokin” Joe Delsardo made a name for himself as a standout wide receiver for the University of Pittsburgh, appearing several times on “ESPN’s Top 10 Plays” for outstanding catches and setting a then BCS Fiesta Bowl record for most catches against the University of Utah. Delsardo will target a return on ESPN, as he enters his first R48 qualifier in Salt Lake City will hopes of making it to Saturday’s ESPN coverage


Sal Duenas: R48 IV Match Record: n/a

Duenas is a 20-year veteran of the sport, having started at a 4-Wall small ball junior player and transitioning into one of the best 3-Wall big ball players in the world in the last decade. Known as the “Wizard,” Duenas plays a methodical and percentage game and whoever plays him in Salt Lake City will have to earn every point


sam1Samzon Hernandez: R48 IV Match Record: n/a

At 24, Hernandez has been one of the game’s greatest outdoor players for nearly a decade. Armed with the build of an NFL linebacker and the tenacity to match, Hernandez is one of the fiercest competitors in the sport. Hernandez bring his hybrid style of small ball/big ball and outdoor/indoor to the Race tour, disrupting the rhythm and comfort level of all of his opponents. Hernandez will be seeking his first successful qualifier attempt since the 2011 Simple Green U.S. Open


Jonathan Hingey: R48 IV Match Record: n/a

Jonathan Hingey has demonstrated flashes of brilliance over the past 12 months, defeating former R48 Elite 8 pros Aaron Garner, Abraham Montijo and Anthony Selestow. Hingey has struggled this season in the R48 qualifier, failing to qualify in his only attempts at the U.S. Open and New York. Hingey posseses all of the skills necessary to challenge the world’s best and look for him to surge up the rankings in the coming year


Mike Semplice: R48 IV Match Record: n/a

Coming off his victory in the WPH Pittsburgh Singles League, the Steel City’s top star Mike Semplice will make his second consecutive R48 qualifier start, losing in a nearly 100-minute one game to 25 match to 22nd ranked Adam “Weekend at Bernie’s” Bernhard at the R48 IV NYAC. Semplice has been close in previous R48 qualifiers, losing a close match to former Elite 8 invite Abraham Montijo several years ago



Abraham Montijo: R48 IV Match Record: 3-7

Montijo earned his first Elite 8 R48 invite in Tucson, parlaying his Elite 8 invite to a fifth place finish with victories over Marcos Chavez, Sean Lenning and Stephen Cooney. Montijo has struggled since, dropping his round of 16 matches in Houston (D. Cordova) and San Francisco (Brady) and failing to qualify in New York


To watch all of the action from Salt Lake City, tune into on Friday, April 17th and the Watch ESPN App ( on Saturday, April 18th and Sunday April 19th. The WPH Aces Player’s Championship is the culmination of a sensational Race season that has featured unparalleled dominance by Catriona Casey and Paul Brady and the emergence of new stars Daniel Cordova, Stephen Cooney, Danielle Daskalakis and Martina McMahon.



David Fink

WPH Senior Writer




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