Saturday’s action at the X-Fest II featured the conclusion of the 3-Wall Small Ball Men’s and Women’s Singles, the opening rounds of the 3-Wall Big Ball Men’s and Women’s Singles, the 1-Wall Men’s and Women’s Big Ball Doubles, and the JR WPH California State Championships and JR WPH X-Fest II junior handball clinics.
JR WPH hosted a tremendous junior handball clinic for more than a dozen youngsters competing in the X-Fest II JR WPH Cal State Championships. WPH Master Instructor David Fink was joined by WR48 and WPH outdoor star Ciana Ni Churraoin for the sensational clinic, with the pair teaching the youngsters the right corner kill, fly kill, out-the-door serve and how to kill the ball low. The youngsters then had the chance to play points against Ni Churraoin, with a few winning rallies against the Irish superstar. “This is the best clinic I’ve ever seen in all of my years in handball,” stated Albert “Alley Cat” Martinez. “The kids were having so much fun and I loved watching all of the different games and drills.”
The juniors demonstrated incredible skills and sportsmanship throughout the JR WPH Cal State Championships, with the 9-yeat-olds rallying from the back line and the older kids looking like A players. Although just winners and finalists were awarded trophies, all 56 youngsters who entered the event were winners, as each demonstrated inspiring passion for the game and a joy for playing handball.
9-and-under champion/finalist: Jose Avellano/Sean Yep
11-and-under champion/finalist: Oscar Calvillo/Jesse Barrientes
13-and-under champion/finalist: Daniel Barrinetos/Michael Bautista
15-and-under champion/finalist: Jesus Mendez/Mauricio Ortiz
17-and-under champion/finalist: Jesus Mendez/Marco Alatore
18-and-under champion/finalist: Octavio Romero/Daniel Vazquez
19-and-under champion/finalist: Oscar Siordia/Martin Nicajo
Mando Ortiz entered the small ball singles as the #3 seed and advanced to the final with a close tiebreaker victory against David Fink in the quarterfinals and a two-game sweep against WPH Outdoor #1 Juan Santos in the semifinal. Timbo Gonzalez authored one of the greatest upsets in WPH Outdoor history, ousting X-Fest defending champion and 7-time 3-Wall national champion Sean Lenning in the quarterfinals. Gonzalez dropped game one, evened the match by winning game two, and found himself trailing 7-0 in the tiebreaker before he stepped in to serve. Gonzalez scored 11 of the last 12 points of the match to stun Lenning. Gonzalez defeated Samzon Hernandez in the semifinals to advance to the final. Ortiz played aggressively in the final, serving power hops and first-striking with both hands. Ortiz cruised in game one and appeared even more comfortable in game two in winning the small ball bracket and clinching his first WPH Outdoor title.
Catriona Casey advanced to the small ball singles final with a two-game sweep against Tanisha Groomes, while Ciana Ni Churraoin ousted former 3-Wall national champion and 10-time USHA 1-Wall national champion Tracy Davis. Casey and Ni Churraoin will face one another in Sunday’s final in a rematch of the small ball 3-Wall singles final from the X-Fest I.
Timbo Gonzalez and Shorty Ruiz arrived at the X-Fest II having won the last two WPH Outdoor V doubles titles, having won the 1-Wall doubles in Downey in March and the 3-Wall doubles title at the Vegas Lte. Team Gonzaruiz cruised to the final with breathtaking handball, as the top seeds defeated Samzon Hernandez and Chava Cordova in the semifinals. Juan Santos and Alfredo Morales survived match point in their semifinal, as Santos and Morales defeated their OC neighbors Sal Duenas and Kevin Gonzales 21-20 to advance to the final. Team Gonzaruiz raced to a 17-7 lead in the one game to 21 1-Wall doubles final, but Santos and Morales stormed back, scoring 10 straight points to tie the match at 17. Gonzalez and Ruiz took a timeout and reversed the momentum, scoring the final four points of the match to take their third doubles title in as many events.
The semifinals of the 1-Wall Big Ball Women’s Singles produced the two most dramatic matches of the day, as Ireland’s top two outdoor stars battled the WPH Outdoor #1 and the living legend of outdoor women’s handball. The simultaneous women’s 1-Wall semifinals featured a combined 17 lead changes, as well as being simultaneously tied on four separate occasions. What theatre!
10-time 1-Wall national champion Tracy Davis faced defending X-Fest Women’s champion and WR48 #1 Catriona Casey in the upper bracket semifinal, while WPH Outdoor #1 and 12-time WPH outdoor women’s singles champion Tanisha Groomes faced the most recent WPH Outdoor women’s champion Ciana Ni Churraoin. Casey jumped to a 7-0 lead before Davis stepped into the service box, while just a few feet away Groomes was in complete control, leading 12-5. Davis demonstrated the 1-Wall prowess that has seen her rewrite the 1-Wall record books, storming back to lead 20-16. Groomes continued to pad her lead on the adjacent court, building a seemingly insurmountable 18-11 lead in the one-game match to 21. Davis missed a cross court pass by two inches on match point to hand Casey the serve and the WR48 #1 took advantage. Casey scored four consecutive points before a side out, but quickly returned to the box with a left-handed return of serve rollout in the right corner. Meanwhile, Ni Churraoin was mounting her own comeback, tying her match at 18. Casey served for the match at 20-20 but inexplicably hit an overhand rally-shot wide. Davis used the 1-Wall “essence,” killing the ball in front of herself and standing still to block Casey out for the match. Ni Churrain made it 10 straight points to end the match against Groomes to setup a Sunday final with Davis.
Sunday will feature the exciting conclusion of the X-Fest II Men’s and Women’s 3-Wall Big Ball Singles and Men’s 1-Wall Big Ball Doubles and Women’s 1-Wall Big Ball Singles to crown the 2016 X-Fest II Men’s and Women’s champions. Juniors will also be in action, as the youngsters will compete in the JR WPH X-Fest II 3-Wall Big Ball Doubles.
To follow the draws and results from the X-Fest II, go here
X-FEST II LEADERBOARD – XROSSOVER CHALLENGE
WOMEN’S LEADERS (As reported on division brackets through R2sports.com as of 3:30am, 6/12/16 – Results do not reflect the outcome of Tracy Davis vs Tanisha Groomes semifinal big ball 3 wall semifinal)
|1. 20.2 CIANA NI CHURRAOIN|
|1. 20.2 CATRIONA CASEY|
|3. 16.85 TRACY DAVIS|
|4. 13.5 TANISHA GROOMES|
|5. 4.95 KATE MORAN|
|5. 4.95 SABRINA ZAMORA|
MEN’S LEADERBOARD (as of 6:11am postings on r2sports.com. Some incomplete rounds do exist as of this ranking. Kevin Gonzales vs Edgar Vizcaino rd 16 of the big ball 3 wall singles has not been reported)
|10||12.4||KEVIN P GONZALEZ|
The X-Fest II will not be broadcast, but log onto wphlive.tv, Like the World Players of Handball on Facebook, or follow the WPH on Twitter @dfwph and @wphlive for all of the updates from the X-Fest II and all of the handball news from on and off the court! The World Players of Handball is a non-profit foundation aiming to grow the game of handball through innovation and inspiring the next generation of players through junior clinics with certified WPH coaches, junior tournaments and the Race 4 Eight tour.
WPH Senior Writer