The Tucson Race 4 Eight IV Stop #2 and Junior WPH Benefit, Powered by ESPN and EDTL Handball featured the Race 4 Eight finals, Senior Race 4 Eight finals, a special women’s pro exhibition final, the 4-Wall big ball doubles pro final, a Junior WPH Skills Competition and Clinic, and several dozen junior and master’s division championships.
Race 4 Eight Finals: Brady vs. Moreno
Brady and Moreno met for the second time in two weeks in a major final, quickly reestablishing the hottest and most anticipated rivalry in the sport. Brady spent the time between his U.S Open victory training and recovering in Tucson, diligently acclimating himself to the Tucson Racquet Club show court and refining his arsenal. Brady cruised to the final with relatively easy two-game victories over Erik Torres, Stephen Cooney, and David Fink, while Moreno struggled with his game at times en route to the final, dropping the first game of his quarterfinal match against Abraham Montijo and winning an error-filled semifinal against Emmett Peixoto.
Brady and Moreno battled throughout game one, both reeling off six-point runs at different points in the first game and exchanging the lead six times before arriving at a 13-13 tie. Moreno inexplicably double faulted for the second time in the first game at 13-all, handing Brady the serve. Brady closed out the first game with two kills and a fist-pump to punctuate an emotional first game, sending a message to Moreno. Moreno took an injury timeout between the first and second games, as a result of banging his left knee into the left sidewall midway through the first game. Moreno appeared tentative to start the second game, falling being 11-0 and on the verge of receiving a finals’ bagel. Brady served for the match at 14-2 and the title appeared to be a mere formality, but three unforced errors and a blistering Moreno serve and shoot game closed the Brady lead from 2-14 to 11-14, inciting a frenzy amongst Moreno’s fans. Brady mishit the eighth shot of the rally at 11-14, hitting the sidewall, front wall, side wall and catching a crack on the third wall to earn the side out. Brady capitalized on his good fortune, scoring the 15th point on his seventh attempt and seizing the number one ranking on the WPH Race 4 Eight tour.
“Being the number one player in the world means everything to me,” revealed Brady. “That is why I play the game.”
“You just need to play perfectly to beat Paul,” stated Moreno moments after the match ended. “I know what I need to practice and I’ll be ready for the next time we play.”
Race 4 Eight Playoffs
With nearly $40k in end of the year bonus money hanging in the balance for the top eight on the Race 4 Eight IV points lists, every player plays and competes at their very best to accrue ranking points for the bonus bonanza in April of 2015. The Playoffs featured five matches that were extended into overtime, as well as several matches decided by only two points.
Abraham Montijo continued his incredible success on the Race 4 Eight tour by defeating Sean Lenning in the first round of the 5th-8th Playoffs, 26-24. Montijo faced Ireland’s Stephen Cooney in the 5th place final. Cooney overcame two match points in his first match in the 5th place Playoffs against Vic Perez, also winning 26-24. Cooney led 24-22 in the one game 5th place final against Montijo, when Montijo demonstrated clutch play and tenacious retrieving to stay in the match, ultimately scoring the match’s final four points to achieve his highest ever Race finish.
Jon Iglesias defeated first-time qualifier Daniel Cordova in the 9th-16th first round and held off R48 top 10 star Marcos Chavez 25-23 to advance to the 9th place final. Mando Ortiz overcame a disappointing first round main draw loss to Vic Perez by defeating Adam Bernhard and Erik Torres to advance to the 9th place final.
Iglesias faced Ortiz for the second time this season in the 9th place final, losing their first encounter in the round of 16 at the U.S. Open. Iglesias dominated the one game to 25 point final, building a huge lead and clinching 9th place, 25-15.
Tucson Race 4 Eight Stop #2 Finishes
1st: Paul Brady
2nd: Luis Moreno
3rd: David Fink/Emmett Peixoto
5th: Abraham Montijo
6th: Stephen Cooney
7th: Vic Perez/Sean Lenning
9th: Jonathan Iglesias
10th: Mando Ortiz
11th: Erik Torres/Marcos Chavez
13th: Anthony Selestow/Adam Bernhard/Daniel Cordova/Luis Cordova
Tucson Senior Race 4 Eight Finals: Alvarado vs. Chavez
Both Alvarado and Chavez are ranked inside the top 10 on the Race 4 Eight tour and added a tremendous amount of prestige and electricity by advancing to the first Senior Race 4 Eight final of the 2014-2015 season.
Alvarado started the one game match to 25 in elite form, serving aces and finding the bottom board with both hands en route to a 14-10 lead. Alvarado dove and just missed a rekill attempt that would have given him a 15-10 halftime lead. Chavez completely dominated from that point forward, taking the halftime lead at 15-14 and outscoring Alvarado 10-2 in the second half with incredible serves, finesse kills, and theatrical gamesmanship.
“Naty is such a great champion and he’s beat me 100 times to my two,” revealed Chavez. “I am just happy to have won this great tournament and I look forward to many more battles with him in the future.”
Senior Race 4 Eight Stop #1 Finishes:
1st: Marcos Chavez
2nd: Naty Alvarado, Jr.
3rd: Dan Armijo
4th: Chris Watkins
5th: Andy Schad
6th: Juan Conales
Women’s Pro Exhibition Final: Gawley vs. Davis
Jessica Gawley and Tracy Davis met for the third time in 2014, rapidly developing the most intense rivalry in North American women’s handball. Gawley had won their previous two encounters in 2014 but Davis looked to even the score on her home court.
Very little separated the two ladies throughout the nearly two-hour final. Davis rallied from a slow start in game one, overcoming a 1-6 deficit to take a 13-11 lead. Davis utilized her brilliant front court play, routinely ending rallies with fly kills and paddle kills and seizing game one, 15-13. Gawley appeared to be on the verge of forcing a tiebreaker, leading 14-12 in the second. Davis attempted and connected on an off-balance, 32-foot right hand kill to earn the side out. The ladies extended the match deep into overtime, with both serving for the game three times. Davis finally ended the match with a beautiful right-handed bounce pass shot to win the day’s most dramatic final, 15-12, 19-17.
4-Wall big Ball Pro Doubles Final
Timbo Gonzalez continued his big ball doubles dominance, teaming with Shorty Ruiz to defeat Noe Garcia and Chava Cordova in the final. Timbo has now won pro big ball doubles titles in 2014 in 1-Wall, 3-Wall, and 4-Wall.
Junior WPH Skills Competition and Clinic
The Junior WPH hosted a junior skills competition during the R48 finals, providing the opportunity for junior handball players to emulate their favorite pros. The juniors competed in lowest kill shot competitions, fastest shot competitions, and rally game competitions.
“We are very proud to provide opportunities for juniors at all of our events,” revealed WPH Development Director David Fink. “This event was a Junior WPH benefit and because of the generous donations received from our players and supporters, we will be able to host more junior clinics and form more junior programs across the country.”
Thank you to Dave Vincent, David Fink, Fred Banfield, Lolita de Vincent, Linda Manning, Kris Gurrad, Jeff Kastner, Tom Flores, Javi Flores, Tanner Cleveland, Scott Cleveland, Charlie Wicker, Brenda Hays, Ben Edtl and EDTL Handball, Ana Paolo, Matt Taitano, Anthony Selestow, the Tucson Racquet Club, and the entire Tucson Handball community for an incredible event.
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