The last regular season stop of the R48, SR48 and WR48 season culminated with three finals, as well as the Playoff finals from each tour. The upset riddled event in the “Big Apple” produced more predictable results on Sunday, as the top players continued to collect WPH crystal.
Paul Brady advanced to his fifth consecutive final of the season, while former R48 top 8 pro Andy Nett advanced to his first final of his R48 career after a one-year break from R48 competition. Brady bulldozed his way through a strong upper bracket, easily defeating Vic Perez, Mando Ortiz and Naty Alvarado. After three seasons of near misses on the R48 tour, Andy Nett shocked Luis Moreno in the opening round, easily dispatched of qualifier Colin Crehan in the quarterfinals and stunned a white hot Sean Lenning in the semifinals. “I think the year off helped me to refresh physically and mentally,” revealed Nett after his two-game semifinal victory over Lenning.
Brady simply overpowered and overwhelmed Nett in a one-sided, 17-minute final. Brady served first and won the first 10 rallies, establishing a 10-0 lead before Nett stepped into the service box. Nett would only serve twice before Brady scored his 14th point, eventually scoring three points before Brady would score the final point of the game. Game two was no different, as Brady dominated from start to finish, capping his fifth R48 title in five events this season with a frighteningly easy 15-3, 15-0 romp.
Emmett Peixoto rebounded from his first quarterfinal loss of the season by claiming 5th place with victories over Mando Ortiz and Jon Iglesias.
Daniel Cordova and Stephen Cooney squared off in a 9th place final with the winner to receive an Elite 8 invite to Salt Lake City’s Player’s Championship. With the stakes high, Cordova attacked Cooney with an incredible two-way hop serve, building a 15-7 halftime lead against the Irish bulldog. Cooney would continue to fight, but Cordova simply had too much firepower, ending rallies with both hands and tracking down nearly every Cooney pass shot and kill shot attempt. “I was so tired when I got to 20 then 22, but I knew I had to keep pushing,” revealed Cordova after his 25-14 victory. “I got lucky on the shot I hit to win the 24th point and that relaxed me to hit the left-handed kill to win to 25th point.”
R48 NYAC Finishes:
tie 3rd: Lenning/Alvarado
tie 7th: Crehan/Ortiz
9th: D. Cordova
tie 11th: Moreno/Perez
tie 13th: Chavez/Fink/Selestow/Schneider
Catriona Casey continued to dominate her WR48 opposition en route to the final in New York, scoring an astounding 76 consecutive points in WR48 play between her semifinal victory in San Francisco and her quarterfinal victory in New york. Casey would encounter more resistance in New York’s semifinals, as she trailed 6-1 in the game one against a vastly improved Aoife McCarthy. Casey scored 29 of the final 30 points in the semifinals to advance to the final to setup a rematch of the USHA Collegiate National Final against her doubles partner Ciana Ni Churraoin. Ni Chrraoin cruised to the final of her first WR48 start, never allowing more than seven points in any game in impressive victories over Leslie Amminson, Jessica Gawley and Martina McMahon.
Catriona Casey started the final by scoring 22 of the first 23 points of the match to lead 15-1, 7-1. Ciana Ni Churraoin elevated her game midway through the second frame, changing the momentum and stunning Casey and the gallery by applying aggressive pressure to the WR48 #1 and scoring 11 consecutive points to take a 12-7 lead. Ni Churraoin would close out game two 15-12 to force the first tiebreaker in WR48 finals history. “Ciana was hitting the ball really hard and hopping it up to two feet during the rallies,” declared WPH WR48 #2 pro Jessica Gawley between games two and three.
Casey entered the tiebreaker in unchartered WR48 tour history, having never been pushed to a tiebreaker in her first 18 career WR48 matches. Casey played conservatively in the deciding game, pushing the ball into the backcourt and placing the pressure on Ni Churraoin to play defense with her back against the back wall. Ni Churraoin made eight unforced errors from the deep court in the tiebreaker, providing Casey with a comfortable lead. Leading 12-6, Casey opened up her game, executing two left-handed kills and a right-handed kill to close out her most difficult challenge in her six WR48 title runs. “I knew I would be in for a very difficult match,” revealed an emotional Casey while receiving her third WR48 trophy of the season. “I love being pushed and I know what I need to work on. This match was worth two or three weeks of training for my upcoming All Ireland Final next weekend.”
Martina McMahon played nearly perfect handball in her 25-10 3rd place victory over Aoife McCarthy. McMahon executed 21 kill shots in the match in a seemingly effortless display of top level handball. Danielle Daskalakis defeated California’s Yvonne August (via Castro Valley/East Bay/Lafayette/Fresno/U.S. Virgin Islands) for 5th place, staking her claim as the top American on the WR48 tour.
WR48 NYAC Finishes:
2nd: Ni Churraoin (Curran)
Dan Armijo entered the SR48 NYAC ’15 as the top seed in a pro stop for the first time in his 32-year pro handball career. Armijo validated his ranking, defeating NYAC member Chris Hlavatovic in his opening round and Andy Rousseau in the semifinals. Andy Schad advanced to his first SR48 final since winning the 2013 SR48 Player’s Championship, defeating Canada’s Denis Gingras and California’s Chris Watkins. Armijo and Schad traded victories throughout their pro tour careers in the 1990’s and early 2000’s and continued to do so on the SR48 tour. Armijo defeated Schad in their last encounter before the SR48 NYAC final at the SR48 III Stop #1 Tucson, executing three of the most improbable shots late in their quarterfinal clash to win, 25-23.
Andy Schad quickly ended any suspense in the NYAC SR48 final, darting to a 15-1 lead against a discombobulated Dan Armijo. Schad continued to execute flawlessly in the second half, making just four errors in the 25-3 rout and leaving no opportunity for Armijo to perform his late-match magic. Schad claimed his second SR48 title and his first since winning the 2013 SR48 Player’s Championship. “This feels great,” revealed an ecstatic Schad in the post-match trophy presentation. “Danny didn’t have a great day and I was able to take advantage of it. Thank you to the WPH for all you guys do for the sport.”
Danny Bell faced weekly sparring partner Denis Gingras in the SR48 5th place final. “We could have played this match in Quebec and mailed the results,” joked Bell as he prepared to play his friend that he has played three times a week for over 20 years. Bell earned his second victory in SR48 history to notch a top five SR48 finish.
SR48 NYAC Finishes:
Recognizing John Duggan, the Kossoff Family, the Killer’s Club and the New Athletic Club
The World Players of Handball would like to thank John Duggan, the Kossoff Family, the Killer’s Club, the New York Athletic Club, Tommy Solario, John Moran and all of the NYAC staff and handball members for their incredible hospitality, generosity and passion for making the WPH NYAC R48 2015 one of the best events on the R48 calendar.
Thank you to Dave Vincent, Kara Mack, David Fink, Lolita de Vincent, Kris Gurrad, Linda Manning, Jeff Kastner, Jean Kastner, Abraham Montijo, Luis Cordova, Aoife McCarthy, Catriona Casey, Anthony Selestow, JT Hingey and all of those who worked tirelessly throughout the weekend to make the WPH NYAC a tremendous event; John Duggan, volunteers, supporters and advertisers; EDTL Handball, Ben EDTL, WPH BOD.
To watch replays from all of the Saturday and Sunday’s R48, WR48 and SR48 action, go to the Watch ESPN App embedded at www.race4eight.com. WPH Members can always see repeats at the member’s only page, with password – https://wphlive.tv/member-area/member-only-videos/
What is Next?
The World Players of Handball will be honoring the Ace Clean-up Team with a return visit to the Sports Mall in Salt Lake City, Utah, for the season finale of the Race4Eight Professional Handball Tour. This time, bringing along event sponsor(s), EDTL Handball and ESPN. That’s right, the WPH secured a seven stop deal with ESPN & the WatchESPN App that also includes this stop. Players from around the world will be on hand to participate. The very best in the game! Online Entry> PDF 2015 Aces Paper Entry>
“This is how it works,” A message from WPH director, Dave Vincent. “We are opening up the tour to allow ANYONE to enter; not just Salt Lake, but EVERY-STOP-ON-TOUR! We have a pro round of 16-men’s bracket that starts with the very top eight players on the planet. These players are waiting in the round of 16, like hungry wolves for eight newbies [qualifiers] to show up and you could be one of those eight. We have had 50 year olds enter, we have had women enter, we have had junior players try their hand at making the Elite Top 16. Salt Lake will be no different.” Vincent continues by adding that qualifier rounds begin at 9am on Friday, April 17th, 2015 at the Sports Mall in Salt Lake City, Utah. By 12pm, the WPH will know exactly who will be into the Elite Top 16. “If you want more than just the Pro Qualifiers, no problem,” says the R48Pro co-creator. “We are offering National Championship-style amateur divisions, plus 40+ Senior Pro Tour’s best and Women’s Pro Fixtures. In fact, these brackets have been designed for local greats to enter, play and disrupt the regular tour players; who are vying for season ending points and bonus money.” The World Players of Handball highly encourages all women, amateurs and 40+ seniors that are not regulars on tour, to enter and play in these unique pro brackets.
The Salt Lake City Aces Clean-up Crew will have a special Pro/Am money doubles, Open singles and tons of money events alongside amateurs in singles, doubles and so much more!
“You cannot find a better hometown, yet big tournament vibe than Salt Lake City,” barks David Fink, WPH Commentator and top five ranked pro. WPH will bring along ESPN & the WatchESPN App and will film right from the two-sided glass show-court in Utah. You are invited and we ask that you spread the word!
Questions? Ask Vincent: firstname.lastname@example.org