Sunday featured the culmination of a scintillating WPH Outdoor Player’s Cup III season on the famed 3 Wallball courts at the Stratosphere Hotel and Casino, as well the 1-Wall small ball and 1-Wall big ball finals.
Men’s Player’s Cup 3-Wall Big Ball Singles Final: Juan Santos vs. Ricky Ruiz
Aiming for his third consecutive WPH/WOR 3 Wallball World Championship, Juan Santos faced a white hot Ricky Ruiz in the final. Ruiz entered the final on seven-match win streak, claiming WPH Outdoor Player’s Cup III Stop #4 Tijuana in his last start and dominating each of his opponents en route to the Vegas final. Santos also entered the match on a seven-match win streak, winning his last start at WPH Outdoor Player’s Cup III Stop #3 La Mirada and cruising to the Vegas final.
Santos dictated play throughout the final, using his unrivaled serve to run Ruiz off the court and earn offensive opportunities. A lethargic Ruiz had no answer for Santos’ exceptional play in game one, losing 15-6. Ruiz would be more competitive in game two, tying the score at 11 and in a position to force a tiebreaker. Santos regrouped and scored four consecutive points to claim the WPH/WOR 3 Wallball championship for the third consecutive year.
Santos would have to wait for Samzon Hernandez’s third place match with Chris Tojin to determine the Player’s Cup champion for the WPH Outdoor Player’s Cup III season. Needing to finish third to claim the Player’s Cup, a sluggish Hernandez lost to an inspired Tojin in two games.
“It feels great to be the Player’s Cup champion,” revealed Santos. “I have been practicing a lot to be sharp for this event and I am really happy to be the Player’s Cup champion.”
Women’s Player’s Cup 3-Wall Big Ball Singles Final: Tracy Davis vs. Tanisha Groomes
Davis and Groomes faced one another for the second time this season, with Groomes defeating Davis in a match of the year candidate at WPH Outdoor Women’s Player’s Cup III Stop #1 Pico Rivera.
Groomes displayed her steely resolve in overcoming match point in their first encounter and would need to draw upon that resolve in their rematch. Davis built a seemingly insurmountable 14-10 lead in the first game to 15, meaning that she would need to win just one rally out of the next five to win the game. Groomes earned her 11th point with a courageous deep court kill and won the next four points with towering two-wall serves to Tracy’s right and first strike kills. Groomes carried the momentum from her first game comeback to dominate game two, earning her the Women’s Pro 3 Wallball singles title and the WPH Outdoor Women’s Player’s Cup for finishing number one on the Women’s Player’s Cup III season.
“Winning these matches just means so much to me and I do it for my support team that is always there for me,” stated Groomes while receiving her trophies for player of the year and the Vegas championship. “I told myself to train and think like an athlete at this event and to not party while in Vegas and it worked. I can’t wait until next season.”
Men’s Pro 3-Wall Big Ball Doubles: Ricky Ruiz and Timbo Gonzalez vs. Samzon Hernandez and Manny Sanchez
Ruiz and Timbo entered the event as the number one seeds and undefeated as a team, winning their only two doubles Cup starts at the Vegas LTE Stop #2 and La Mirada Stop #3. Hernandez and “Razzle” Sanchez had long been considered the top doubles team in 3-Wall big ball handball and were determined to regain their doubles crown.
Hernandez and Razzle would eliminate any drama or theatrics early in the final, taking Ruiz and Gonzalez to the woodshed from the outset. Hernadez and Razzle overwhelmed their disjointed opponents and sent a message that they are the top team in 3-Wall big ball handball, winning 15-6, 15-8.
“It feels so great to win here after being in the final the past two years,” revealed Razzle. “My partner trusts me and I trust him and we played really well together today.”
“I really wanted to get the doubles after losing in the singles,” stated Hernandez.
Men’s Pro 1-Wall Big Ball Singles
Gio Vazquez claimed the men’s pro 1-wall big ball singles title when Rookie was forced to forfeit with a rib injury.
Men’s Pro 1-Wall Small Ball Singles: Jurell Bastidas vs. Gio Vazquez
Jurell Bastidas faced fellow New Yorker Gio Vazquez in the first small ball 1-Wall match ever streamed on ESPN3. Bastidas overwhelmed Vazquez with incredible low hop serves, earning aces and short returns. Bastidas built a 9-2 lead and never allowed Gio to “flame” at any point in the final. Bastidas ended the match with 9 aces and 22 kill shots against just eight unforced errors and added the 1-Wall small ball title to his 3-Wall small ball doubles title at the 2014 WPH/WOR 3 Wallball World Championships.
“Great serving,” shouted Vazquez to Bastidas after the match. “Your serves were incredible and you just played too good.”
Women’s Big Ball 1-Wall Singles final: Danielle Daskalakis vs. Tracy Davis
Despite playing one another over 20 times in tournament play, Daskalakis and Davis had never faced one another in big ball 1-Wall singles. Daskalakis has established herself as the top 1-Wall women’s big ball player in the game, but would have to defeat the greatest ever women’s outdoor player to win the title.
The two NYAC sponsored athletes put on an incredible show for the live audience and ESPN3 viewers, trading the lead 11 times before being tied at 20 in the one game match to 25. Daskalakis had the advantage in the service box, as she consistently hit low angled power serves that were aces or yielded weak returns. Davis stayed close by hitting a number of rekills and fly kills and extending rallies with her incredible athleticism. Davis made two unforced errors at 20-20, and after two Daskalakis kill shots, Daskalakis arrived at match point. Daskalakis closed out the match and her first ever win over Davis with one of her patented left-handed kills.
“I knew I would see Tracy in the finals,” revealed Daskalakis. “She is such a great champion and I am so happy to have won this title.”
Men’s Big Ball 1-Wall Doubles Final: Tywan Cook and Delbert Garnett vs. Justin Rodriguez and Carlin Rosa
Tywan Cook and Delbert Garnett started quickly in the men’s 1-wall big ball doubles finals, building a 12-4 lead. Cook and Garnett maintained their advantage and despite a late rally from Rodriguez and Rosa, clinched the title 25-18.
Thank you to Dave Vincent, Lolita Vincent, Aoife McCarthy, Tanner Cleveland, Matthew Titiano, Linda Manning, Kris Gurrad, Vlad Klym, Jeff Kastner, Steve Soto, Tom Flores, and Javi Flores for their tireless efforts in organizing the event, running the event and managing over 280 players throughout the week. The 3 Wallball Championships presents the most challenging week of the year for tournament organizers and volunteers, as 100 degree conditions and 20 hour days make the week in Vegas one of the most difficult of the year.
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