2014 WPH Women’s Player of the Year Catriona Casey has entered the Del Grande Group/EDTL Handball R48 San Francisco Pro Qualifier, joining one of the strongest R48 IV qualifier fields of the season. Casey will be participating in her first R48 qualifier, several months removed from winning her second consecutive WR48 Simple Green U.S. Open title and nearly a year after claiming the first Women’s Race 4 Eight Player’s Championship.
“I expect that qualifying will be very tough,” revealed the current WR48 #1. “While I have some experience in sparring with male pros, I know competitive action is a completely different ball game. I do hope to give a good account of myself, as I’m not there to waste anyone’s time. The women’s competition is obviously my main priority. If I thought playing both would compromise my efforts in the women’s bracket in any way I wouldn’t do it.”
Casey will not be the first woman to play in a men’s pro qualifier, as former number one women’s pros Anna Engele and Priscilla Shumate both dabbled in pro qualifiers in the early 2000’s. [Megan Mehilos, arguably the best American Women’s Player, has played in pro level men’s events within the past 10 years and with some success] “Catriona seems to be able to handle tournament pressure better than anyone I’ve encountered,” stated 11-time USHA 4-Wall National Women’s Singles Champion and future Hall of Famer Anna Engele. “Catriona will do very well in the qualifier. She’s an amazing player. Catriona is one of the most composed and intelligent players I’ve ever seen play the game, and I wish her the best of luck and hope she enjoys the experience.”
“Having played Catriona on a number of occasions, I know she has all of the shots and requisite skills to succeed against any player in the qualifier draw,” revealed former Senior Race 4 Eight finalist and WPH Executive Director David Vincent. “Casey’s foray into the San Francisco qualifier is incredibly exciting for our tour and I can’t wait to watch her in action. I think she could win her opening round and I do expect her to advance to a men’s final.”
Casey anticipates having to make slight adjustments in her playing style and strategy in the qualifier when challenging the game’s top stars in the R48 qualifier. “I think I’ll have to be more aggressive in my approach and maybe take more risks than I normally would. I look forward to playing the one game to 25 format, as it should be fun!”
The qualifier will not be broadcast LIVE, due to some filming restrictions; however, the WPH will chronicle Casey’s play.
“Like,” the World Players of Handball on Facebook, log onto www.wphlive.tv or follow the WPH on Twitter @dfwph and @wphlive for all of the updates from the Del Grande Group/EDTL Handball R48 San Francisco!
To watch Friday’s bonus round of 16 R48 main draw coverage, log onto race4eight.com. Coverage begins at 4 pm pst on Friday, February 13th. To watch live R48 and WR48 action on Saturday and Sunday, February 14th and 15th, tune into the Watch ESPN App (http://espn.go.com/watchespn/).
To follow all of the action from the event, click here: http://www.r2sports.com/tourney/home.asp?TID=13055
Watch the full San Francisco Video Preview, HERE:
WPH Senior Writer